HC Deb 30 July 1913 vol 56 cc657-77

Considered in Committee.

Postponed proceeding resumed on Question proposed on consideration of Question, "That a sum, not exceeding £443,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of the War Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1914."

Question again proposed. Debate resumed.


Owing to the extraordinary interest taken by hon. Members opposite in the affairs of the Church and the universities I have not very much time, and I will therefore deal with only two or three points. I should like to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the fact that the whole burden of the song of every single hon. Member on this side has been nothing personal against himself, nothing against the way in which he is trying to help us, but rather that he does not trust us, and that there is a want of frankness in the statements he makes in his answers to questions. This want of frankness is making the country more nervous than the speeches of other people who, in various parts, are preaching, rightly or wrongly, compulsory service. If the right hon. Gentleman will tell us exactly how we stand in this country, he will find that everybody is willing to help him. We should know exactly where we are, and then the nervousness of which I have spoken will disappear, because the people will really realise their responsibility. Will he tell us what he considers to be the establishment of the Territorial Force? Does he consider the present establishment is adequate, and does he view the enormous shortage of numbers in the force with equanimity? If not, how does he propose to remedy it? That is what I ask. He inquired what were our plans? We really want to know what his plans are.

I come next to the question of aeroplanes. I do not want to spoil the admirable speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Somerset (Mr. Sandys), who touched upon the question in dispute as to the number of aeroplanes, but I should like the right hon. Gentleman to tell us how many squadrons he has got really fit to be mobilised for war, because, in my humble opinion, it is not so much the number of aeroplanes we ought to have—although that is important, of course—but it is that the aeroplanes we have got should be effective and we should be able to use them at a second's notice. I admit he has had rather bad luck. That is not our fault, nor is it his, but if he had spoken more strongly of his requirements in the matter of aeroplanes, I believe he would have got a better backing up. As to the aeroplane loan, money is put down for buildings, for land, for transport, and for one hundred and one other things. My contention is that it should be a separate Vote, and that it should have been differently allocated. If he had a thousand aeroplanes ready for war he could not mobilise them, because he has got neither the transport nor the separate parts. If he will try and impress upon the country what he wants more than numbers is actual efficiency, I think the people would soon understand and back him up. I do not desire to diminish anything my hon. Friend said upon what I may call an almost personal question. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman thinks he will be able to demolish the case put forward by my hon. Friend, seeing that he was so optimistic during the delivery of that speech. I do not, however, see how he is going to demolish it.

I wish also to touch upon a minor question, but it is important from the fact that it shows exactly the sort of method pursued by representatives to the War Office in this House in answering questions. I asked a perfectly innocent question intending, however, to get information on a minor point of some importance. The question was why were the Yeomany not armed with another weapon? If they are going to be armed with another weapon, what weapon would it be, and when would they be armed with it? Time will not permit me to deal with the question of how they ought to be armed. I have very strong opinions on that matter, opinions which coincide probably with the views of the great majority of those at the War Office, because I am perfectly certain the general trend of opinion in the War Office is that the Yeomanry Force is not sufficiently efficient to use the sword, and would probably make better use of the bayonet which takes less training. But a much more serious point arose out of my question, which I never anticipated, and which I cannot believe to be true. It was this:— The Yeomanry are armed with swords Ian mobilisation. The right hon. Gentleman has carried a sword as long as I have, and he knows that it is a most difficult weapon to use, and it is only used in attack. We do not want swords for defending Cavalry, for that would spoil the whole Cavalry arm. There is no possibility of the Yeomanry being trained in the use of the sword during a fortnight's training. I am perfectly certain that not to give the Yeomanry their arms until the enemy are on our shores is an absolute mistake. If you are going to follow the system of not arming the troops with weapons that it is very difficult to use, and which require a lot of training, you are simply going to turn this into a cemetery instead of being a field of victory; our homes will be destroyed, and our men killed, leaving widows and orphans. That is what will happen if you pursue this policy of keeping swords in store, and not give the troops an opportunity to be trained in the use of the weapon, more especially when the men have to carry the rifle on the right arm so that they cannot use it freely with the sword.


I wish to call the attention of t he Secretary for War, before he replies, to the position of the Royal Army Medical Corps. I think every Member, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree that the health of the Army was never better than at the present moment. It is a number of years since an increase of pay has been given to the Army Medical Department, and I have not the slightest doubt that owing to the National Insurance Act there will be considerable difficulty in getting the best of the medical men to join the Service. Everyone will agree that it is absolutely necessary that our troops should be the pick of the profession in order that their health should be maintained in time of peace, and that the members of the Army Medical Corps should be well equipped surgically where operations are necessary. Though I cannot expect the right hon. Gentleman to make any suggestion tonight, yet I hope he will sympathetically consider the position of the Royal Army Medical Corps, so that it may be enabled to look after and maintain the health of the troops in both times of peace and of war.

Colonel SEELY

The Debate has ranged over a large number of subjects. The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken gave me notice last night that he wished to say one word about the Army Medical Corps, and I have one word to say in reply. It is quite true that the health of the troops has never been better, and one cannot but attribute it in a considerable measure to the remarkable services rendered by the Royal Army Medical Corps. It is not so very long since the Army doctor was regarded as inferior in technical and scientific attainments to members of the medical profession elsewhere. But now that is all changed, and I have it on the authority not only of those who direct that corps themselves, but of medical gentlemen of great distinction on the civil side, that the Royal Army Medical Corps is second to none in its scientific knowledge, its attainments, and its devotion to its work. Seeing that this great improvement in their knowledge has coincided with this remarkable improvement in the health of the troops, as to which I gave figures in March. I think it is not unreasonable of the hon. Gentleman to ask that we should carefully consider any grievances that they may have, and I promise to give them sympathetic consideration. To mention only one other minor point before I reply to the principal points raised, there is the point, raised by the Noble Lord (Marquess of Tullibardine) with regard to the Yeomanry and the sword. The most careful consideration was given to that question by my military advisers. They are of opinion that the plan they have decided upon is the best. I need hardly say that I take full responsibility for that decison. I think the Noble Lord will find upon consideration that the arrangements made are not unreasonable, and that in the case of the corps he commands, which is without doubt one of the very best corps that has ever been raised in this country— one may say that without wishing to pay him a compliment—they will not be seriously jeopardised by the arrangements made, and that his anticipations of disaster to the country are quite groundless. More than that I can hardly say without injustice to those to whom I have to reply upon other points.


Will the right hon. Gentleman say why it is decided to issue on mobilization?

Colonel SEELY

That is just the point. We have decided to issue on mobilisation for reasons I could give at greater length did time permit. The hon. Member who opened the Debate in a speech to which we all listened with great interest, was not quite so gloomy as on previous occasions, but he did tell us that he seriously believed the country was in great danger. I gathered that he thought our principal danger was the danger of an attack from overseas upon these islands. I may say at once that I join issue with him on that point. I do not believe, and I speak after the fullest, consideration, that that is the principal danger against which we have to guard. I shall have a word to say in a moment about the Territorial Force, but I frankly join issue with the hon. Gentleman, speaking with such knowledge as I have been able to acquire during the years I have been in office, in his assumption that Home defence—Horne land passive defence, if I may use that phrase, is our most vital need. I do not believe that is so. There are many great problems that confront us, but I do not believe that the defence of this country against invasion upon a large scale by land forces is the principal danger against which we have to guard.


I did not say that it was.

Colonel SEELY

No, but I gathered it from what the hon. Gentleman said. He devoted most of his speech to the question of Home land defence. I have been asked this definite question by him, and more than one other speaker in this debate: "When you fixed the numbers of the Territorial Force at 330,000, did you fix that as a maximum or a minimum; and are you satisfied when the force is not at its full strength?" I answer that at once in this way: When the numbers were fixed my predecessor in office indicated upon snore than one occasion and definitely stated in his speeches that it might be anticipated that the numbers would not often, I think the phrase was, be above 250,000. I am not going to accept my predecessor's dictum if by it he meant to say that we are satisfied with the 250,000. We are not satisfied. We wish the numbers to be brought up to their full strength, and we shall take whatever measures we think best to secure that result. But if I am asked, "Do you not consider, when your forces are so much below strength, that the country is in imminent danger" I reply that in our judgment that is not the case. The fact that the forces are below strength is no cause for serious alarm of invasion from overseas. That brings me to the next point.

I should have been glad, if time had permitted, to have stated fully our views on Home defence, but the Committee will appreciate that it is really impossible to do so now. I told the Committee in March that the Prime Minister had decided to appoint a special inquiry into this important matter. That inquiry is now proceeding. It has held meetings, it has had the advantage of hearing the very best military opinion, and it has the advantage of having as one of its members the late Leader of the Opposition. Its sole object is to get at the truth, and a good deal has already been ascertained that required learning, and on which action has been taken. The inquiry is not concluded, though it will be within a reasonable time, and for me to state now what measures we are to take and what rearrangements we should have to make—and we should certainly have to take measures and make rearrangements— would be impossible while the inquiry has not concluded, and to anticipate in any way what those conclusions will be would be most undesirable and contrary to all precedent and not in in the interest of the State.

On the question which has been put in all quarters of the House as to what steps we intend to take, apart from rearrangements and reconstructions with regard to more money for the Territorial Force in order to pay the men for their loss of time, we are satisfied that in many cases men who serve in the Territorial Force suffer as a consequence of their service financially. We are satisfied that that is not reasonable. The suggestion has been put forward that we should take the money from the Regular Army and give it to the Territorial Force. I will dispel that illusion at once by saying that so long as I hold my present office I have no such intention and shall certainly do nothing of the kind, because I do not consider that our Regular Army is more than adequate to the vital needs of the Empire. It has been suggested that we should pay the insurance contributions of the men, and their employers, who belong to the Territorial Force. A memorial was most influentially signed by hon. Friends of mine, and, I understand, would have been signed in almost equal numbers by hon. Members opposite urging that solution. I am not clear that that is the best solution.


So far as I and some of my hon. Friends are concerned, we signed it under a misapprehension. I meant for the time they were in training.

Colonel SEELY

That has already been done. The suggestion was, I think, understood by most of my hon. Friends that it was to be for the whole year, the advantage being that you did by this in some way recompense the employer for the loss he sustains as well as the man. I am not clear that that is the best way. There are manifest advantages, but there are manifest disadvantages, and therefore perhaps it will be better to adopt some other method by which we could compensate the man who takes up the burden of national service for the loss of time and money he sustains by belonging to the Territorial Force. I do not wish to go further to-night as to the methods we shall adopt, but some such methods we shall adopt, and I shall propose at the proper time next year.

I turn from the question of Home defence to the question of aviation. With regard to the matter of aeroplanes, I said to the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lee) that it seemed to me that the whole controversy was uninteresting, and I think so still. The interest would lie if the hon. Gentleman could suggest that I had endeavoured to conceal the true position from the House, but, as he himself is the first to admit, the exact contrary is the case, because it was at my invitation that he and the hon. Member (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) went to see all there was to be seen without detriment to the public interest and, as he himself told us, he had access to all official documents, some of which he has misread in the most comical fashion. But it is quite clear from what he has told us that my sole object was to dispel the illusion that we have no aeroplanes at all to speak of, or only twenty or thirty, as has been suggested in some newspapers. My object was to let these two hon. Gentlemen, or any others, see for themselves what there was. My instructions to General Henderson were that the flying was to go on just the same, that no aeroplanes were to be stopped in their work on account of their visit whenever it took place, and that every facility should be given to them, and every material document, other than those of a secret nature, was to be shown to them. All that was done, and now you have the hon. Gentleman coming down here and trying to make the House believe that I have been trying to deceive the Reuse, while all the time the House has had the advantage of all the information we could possibly give it. May I explain to the hon. Gentleman how it comes that he has fallen into error. He has fallen into error as among the documents he has received was a document showing the number of aeroplanes in flying order, under repair, and under reconstruction. I have these documents brought to me every week, and it is on these documents, one of which he holds in his hand, and on these documents only, that I have given information to the House. I have disclosed to the House the full number of aeroplanes of which we are in possession, and I shall continue to do so, so long as the House insists upon it, as I think it is their right to get the information. But I do suggest to the House that it would be wise to call a halt in making public the actual number of aeroplanes we have, not now, but for the future, for these reasons: No other nation does it, as I shall show in a moment. They take the greatest care not to give that information.

In order to make the Committee understand how the matter is dealt with, I would say that since the Royal Flying Corps was started on 13th May last year we have bought, paid for, and had delivered 130 first-rate aeroplanes—the best we could find. Of these a small number have been damaged past repair, and many of them have been reconstructed from time to time. An aeroplane is totally different from a gun, with which the hon. Gentleman compared it, inasmuch as it has to be repaired frequently. The revolving engine is an extraordinary efficient engine, but it has this drawback—all good things have drawbacks—that every thirty hours you have to dismantle it and take it down. Another has to be taken down every forty hours, Moreover, owing to the exceptional strain and the elaborate precautions necessary in order to secure safety, tests have to be made of wires, struts, and stays. All that is going on day by day. The hon. Gentleman says he did not see them flying. Does he suggest that they do not fly? I can assure him that every day our flying men are flying over the country, and I am glad to think, with surprisingly few accidents. The Central Flying School at Salisbury Plain has a record now of 100,600 miles flown, apart from short distances, without a single accident of any kind, that is to say, serious accident involving loss of life. That is a most remarkable record. The Military Wing have a record of 135,000 miles flown, and the accidents there have been of a similar proportion. Considering the dangers run, and the dangerous nature of the country, accidents have been less than in the case of any other country. All that will tend to show the Committee the immense amount of work that has been done. Aeroplanes have to be constantly repaired and overhauled, and at any given moment of the aeroplanes which are fit for flying—it is difficult to give a precise figure—I should be on the safe side when I say that at least 40 per cent, ought to be under supervision or repair in order that flying may be conducted in safety. Had I given orders for the hon. Gentleman to go down on a day when there would have been no flying for a week, he would have come down to this House to make a humble and ample apology, which I assure him I do not want, because all the machines then available would have been in flying order. As it was, everything went on just the same.


It was quite obvious to us that everything was not going on just the same. I should like to have made that clear. It was an inspection.

Colonel SEELY

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that he is quite wrong. It is not a fact. I have more official knowledge than he has.


I was there.

Colonel SEELY

But perhaps he may not be aware that I am often there myself, and possibly know more about aeroplanes and flying and going up than moat people, because it is my duty. However, the whole matter is a barren controversy. It became a barren controversy from the moment that the hon. Member for Brent-ford (Mr. Joynson-Hicks), whose absence from this House I greatly regret, though I am glad to hear that he is on the high road to recovery, said a month or two ago that he never suggested that he did not believe me personally, but that I was, he assumed, acting on information supplied to me by my officers. The same thing came out in the speech of the hon. Gentleman to-day, and I ventured to interrupt him at once, and was very properly called to order, but I could not refrain from at once protesting against the statement of the hon. Gentleman. He said that it wars an advantage to me in this controversy that he had not got his own experts, and that therefore he accepted the statements of the officers.


That was not the point.

Colonel SEELY

That was what the hon. Gentleman said.


I said nothing of the kind.

Colonel SEELY

Yes. The hon. Gentleman said that he had to accept the words of the officers, and had no independent verifications.


I did not draw that conclusion.

Colonel SEELY

He doubted the words of our officers.


I must protest very strongly against this entire misrepresentation. What I did say was that we were deprived of the assistance of experts, which would have been most valuable. I then went on to say that as we had not got that expert assistance we decided not to take into consideration those requirements which we first wanted, namely, as to whether the machines could fly 50 miles an hour and ascend 3,000 feet, and I said that that decision to minimise our requirements was to the advantage of the right hon. Gentleman.

Colonel SEELY: I wrote down the words at the moment as they came from the lips of the hon. Gentleman. He accepted the officers' statements. He will find that in the OFFICIAL REPORT; and it is all of a piece with the other statements that I have acted on information wrongly supplied by my officers. I cannot tell those two hon. Gentlemen how deeply those officers resent these imputations upon them. I speak here of what I know, and they do deeply resent it. Whatever they say against me I do not mind, I assure you, but for them to assume, as has been assumed, that officers are giving me wrong information, here it is: "Wrong information supplied by your officers "— that I do protest against most strongly, and especially as to those men, of all others, who are running such great risks and doing the country such admirable service. I do protest and in future let them attack me. What is it all about. It comes to this that you want a great many aeroplanes, and if you want to have a hundred aeroplanes ready to fly at any given moment you would be wise to have two hundred. It seems to have been assumed we have not got the number because we have not got the money. That is a complete delusion. At this very moment there are on order over ninety aeroplanes, and although there was a delay with the engines and a very large. proportion are overdue, that is so in every other country to-day. The science is so new that you have not got the number of men who can really construct these delicate machines in which the least mistake would mean loss of life. You have not got them in sufficient numbers to construct them in anything like the numbers we want. I am glad to say that that difficulty is drawing to an end in this country, and I foresee that in a very short time we shall be able to get not all the aeroplanes we want, nor all the aeroplanes I have got money for, but more rapidly than we can get them now, and of the very best type.

I am also glad to say I have been able to make arrangements with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to accelerate considerably our aeronautical programme. I have been able to arrange for a greatly increased supply of spare parts, to which the Noble Lord the Member for Perthshire (Marquess of Tullibardine) drew attention. I have been able to arrange for completion of the squadrons at an earlier date than originally intended. All this will be carried out by the new Aviation Department under General Henderson, which I announced to the House the other day. This will be an experiment in War Office administration. General Henderson will have the staff, both materiel and personnel, and all the services connected with aviation under his supervision. As the Committee knows in other matters, the materiel, the men, the guns, and the contracts are all in different departments. In this case General Henderson will have supervision of the whole. That is the plan which France adopted some little while ago. I believe it will be best for this entirely novel kind of service. I think we are fortunate in having obtained the services of a man like General Henderson who, in addition to being a distinguished soldier, was one of the first to actually pass his brevet as a certificated pilot. We must have a practical flying officer and a general as well to supervise the whole of this complicated business

I may be asked how many men we have. Though in the matter of aeroplanes one can ask as to the different types, in the matter of men there is no difference. We have 191 officers and men in the Royal Flying Corps who are certificated flyers, and this time last year, I forget how many there were—about twenty, or something of that kind, so that the advance has been remarkable. Of these, eighty-two have passed the highest military certificate, which involves a long course of the most arduous kind. More are under training, and I anticipate that a further twenty-five will have passed this certificate in the course of the next fortnight. These trainings of officers will go on. We know that we are a nation which can produce flying men of the highest type and ability. We have a type of man who knows how to do desperate things without becoming a desperate character. That is the problem which others have had to face but which all nations have not been able to solve. It is remarkable that our flying officers have shown exceptional attainments in other directions, both intellectual and otherwise.

I can promise the Committee that no effort shall be spared to continue and accelerate our aviation programme. I announced to-night an acceleration and the increased money for that purpose. I hope to be able next year, if I am so fortunate as to have to submit the Estimates then, to give a satisfactory account of the progress of this new science. In conclusion on this branch I would utter one word of warning as to the statements which have been madecomparing ourselves with foreign Powers. If anyone wants to understand aeronautics he cannot do better than read some remarkable articles which appeared in the "Times" a short time ago. I say this with the more readiness in that the "Times" has not always supported my administration of the War Office. Those articles contained a better and fuller statement than any I have read elsewhere of the progress in aeronautics in this and foreign countries. I have now been responsible for this business for about two years. I do not know who the writer is, but the articles are certainly written with more. knowledge than any others I have read. Here is what the writer says about France:— The Army is credited with the possession of 585 machines. The last sentence is thus cautiously worde[...]t for the sake of drawing attention to the fact that many figures relating to pilots or machines are entirely untrustworthy. A year ago the French Army wag officially said to possess 208 aeroplanes susceptible of being utilised. As a meater of fact, it possessed under 100 which were fit to take the field. I commend that to the hon. Member for Wells (Mr. Sandys) as being the opinion of one who obviously has very good knowledge of the subject. I do not say that it is true, but that a well-informed person should say that only a year ago France had less than 100 machines fit to take the field shows that one must accept with caution statements as to the number of aeroplanes in the possession of foreign Powers.

With regard to Artillery reorganisation, the question as to numbering the batteries has nothing whatever to do with increase or decrease of the strength. It is purely a matter of the numbers to be allotted to different batteries. So far as war efficiency is concerned, there is no reason why the old cumbers should not have been retained. Artillerymen themselves objected to that, because it would have meant that batteries with an historic past would have remained in the training brigades. Therefore, we decided, in deference to Artillery opinion, to renumber the batteries. We could not make a "general post" of the Artillery, quite apart from any question of money, without impairing efficiency. I had the advantage of a conference yesterday with Lord Roberts, who was good enough to come specially to London to see me on the point, and other Artillery officers. Although I do not think they were quite satisfied with any of the solutions suggested, because any solution is so difficult. I think, on the whole, the best plan will be to adopt the solution I have announced to-day at Question Time, of allowing a nucleus or delegation of one of the older batteries to proceed with the records to the renumbered battery, and thus you will retain continuity of history. I think that will be a solution which will commend itself to my hon. Friend behind me, and to the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench opposite.

In regard to the rifle I had notice that this question would be raised by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Finsbury. I had intended, in any case, to say a word about it. We have carried out the programme announced by my predecessor two years ago with regard to the new rifle. A thousand rifles were issued to the troops for trial. In many respects the rifle has fulfilled expectations, and in some respects it has more than fulfilled them; but in one particular, namely, sus- tained rapid fire, the ammunition shows a failure in that excessive heat is produced. The hon. Member for Sussex had one of these rifles for practice, and brought this to my notice; at the same time it was also brought to my notice by the experiments of the troops. This difficulty is not insoluble. But it is very real, and we cannot proceed as rapidly as we intended with the proposal laid down. Apart from these considerations facts have come to our knowledge which show that there may be considerable further developments and advances in rearmament with small arm weapons. Our policy has been, and must be, never to be behind others, but in so far as may be to be in front of all others in Army matters. Our Army is so small in comparison with other armies that it should be our duty always to have the very best weapons, and I go so far as to say, the very best weapons irrespective of cost. Active steps have accordingly been taken to ensure that we shall not behindhand in this matter.

I will ask the Committee not to press me further on this most important subject, but to accept this assurance which I now give on behalf of the Government as a whole—and the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whom I have specially consulted on this matter—that nothing shall be left undone and that no consideration of expense shall stand in the way of securing that the Army shall be provided with the very best possible weapon at the earliest possible moment. The new ammunition, that is the Mark 7 ammunition, for the old rifle has shown much better results than we anticipated, for we anticipated that there might be difficulty. We have got a much lower trajectory—which, no doubt, the right hon. Gentleman will be glad to hear of—for he rightly attaches importance to it—and we have retained rapidity of fire, and that is in itself satisfactory for the new bullet. In all respects the ammunition is quite excellent. I am glad to tell the House that that is the result of prolonged trial, for the Musketry Returns of the Army have come in, to a. large extent, already, and they show that the Mark 7 ammunition has been a complete success. When saying this I do not wish to detract in the very least from what I have previously said as to every effort being made to provide the best possible weapon at the earliest possible moment. I am prepared to satisfy the request of the hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr. Hunt), but in view of the shortness of time, perhaps he will allow me to circulate the information in reply to a question that perhaps he will put down?


I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his courtesy in leaving me a few minutes in which to reply, but the time is so short it is quite impossible even to attempt to deal with many of the questions be touched upon. I shall, therefore, confine myself to what took place between the right hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friend the Member for Somerset (Mr. Sandys). I always had this opinion, at least, of the right hon. Gentleman, that he intended to be fair, but I never heard a statement of a more deliberately misleading kind of what had been stated by an hon. Member of this House than that made by the right hon. Gentleman. He accused my hon. Friend of saying—

Colonel SEELY

On a point of Order. May I ask is the right hon. Gentleman in order in saying I deliberately misrepresented what the hon. Member said?


I do not think it should be said the right hon. Gentleman intentionally misrepresented what the hon. Member said. I think the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to say there was misrepresentation, but we should not accuse one another of intentional misrepresentation.


I bow at once to your ruling, and perhaps I may make the further apology that I was hurried in what I said, otherwise I should have put myself in order. The point is he did unintentionally most seriously misrepresent what was said by my hon. Friend. He accused my hon. Friend of saying he doubted the word of the officers. No one who heard the speech of my hon. Friend, in my opinion, could accept that as a correct statement of what he said. What my hon. Friend said was this: that instead of having expert advice which would enable them to decide whether the machines fulfilled the tests laid down by my hon. Friend and the hon.

Member for Brentford, they accepted the statements of the officers that the machines were ready to fly, and that that was a great concession to the right hon. Gentleman. So it was, and my hon. Friend immediately proceeded to explain and the right hon. Gentleman could hardly fail to understand it that it was a concession made to him for this reason that he waived the other tests that they could rise 3,000 feet and fly fifty miles an hour. It was in that sense and that sense only that my hon. Friend said that in accepting the word of the officers he made a concession. Let me carry that a little further. The right hon. Gentleman said we did not accuse him of intention to deceive. We certainly did not; but when he claims all this was done on his own initiative he entirely forgets what happened. My hon. Friend made a challenge and he accepted it. What was it? The challenge was that there were now not 120 aeroplanes, but eighty which could efficiently fly. That was the test, and what happened? They went down and found that the total number that could fly was not eighty, but fifty-one, on a most liberal compulation. And more than that; the right hon. Gentleman said that he had 120 machines in first-class working order. What did they find? They found from an official statement that, included in that 120, were some described as damaged, others waiting instructions as to their disposal, others wrecked and only waiting authority to be knocked off. The whole of that does not prove there was intention to deceive, but it proves the right hon. Gentleman is rash in the extreme in the statements he makes in this House, and further, if in a. case of that kind we cannot accept a, deliberate statement made in that way, how can he expect us to accept any assurance made by him in other matters in which it is impossible to have a test?

Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £442,900, be granted for the said Service."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 247; Noes, 280.

Division No. 237.] AYES. [11.0 p.m.
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Banbury, Sir Frederick George Beckett, Hon. Gervase
Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R. Banner, Sir John S. Harmood- Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)
Anstruther-Gray, Major William Baring, Major Hon. Guy V. (Winchester) Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)
Archer-Shee. Major Martin Barlow, Montague (Salford, South) Bennett-Goldney, Francis
Astor, Waldorf Barnston, Harry Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-
Baird, John Lawrence Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.) Beresford, Lord Charles
Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.) Bathurst. Charles (Wilts, Wilton) Bigland, Alfred
Baldwin, Stanley Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks Bird, Alfred
Blair, Reginald Hall, Frederick (Dulwich) Paget, Almeric Hugh
Boles, Lieut.-Colonel Dennis Fortescue Hall, Marshall (E. Toxteth) Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)
Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffiths- Hamersley, Alfred St. George Parkes, Ebenezer
Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid) Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham) Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)
Boyton, James Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.) Peel, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.
Bridgeman, Wiliam Clive Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence Perkins, Walter Frank
Bull, Sir William James Harris, Henry Percy Pete, Basil Edward
Burdett-Coutts, W. Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Pollock, Ernest Murray
Burgoyne, Alan Hughes Helmsley, Viscount Pretyman, Ernest George
Burn, Colonel C. R. Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon) Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.
Butcher, John George Henderson, Sir A. (St. Geo., Han. Sq.) Quilter, Sir William Eley C.
Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.) Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.) Handles, Sir John S.
Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.) Hewins, William Albert Samuel Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel
Campion, W. R. Hibbert, Sir Henry F. Rawson, Colonel Richard H.
Cassel, Felix Hickman, Colonel Thomas E. Remnant, James Farquharson
Castlereagh, Viscount Hills, John Waller Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Cater, John Hill-Wood, Samuel Rolleston, Sir John
Cautley, Henry Strother Hoare, S. J. G. Ranaldshay, Earl of
Cave, George Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Rothschild, Lionel de
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Hope, Harry (Bute) Royds, Edmund
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University) Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)
Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin) Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian) Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)
Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W. Horne, E. (Surrey, Guildford) Salter, Arthur Clovell
Chamberlain. Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.,E.) Horner, Andrew Long Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)
Chambers, James Houston, Robert Paterson Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)
Clay, Captain H. H. Spender Hume-Williams, William Ellis Sanders, Robert Arthur
Clive, Captain Percy Archer Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. Sanderson, Lancelot
Clyde, J. Avon Ingleby, Holcombe Sassoon, Sir Philip
Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, E.) Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)
Cooper, Richard Ashmole Jessel, Captain H. M. Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Courthope, George Loyd Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'pool, Walton)
Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.) Kerry, Earl of Smith, Harold (Warrington)
Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe) Keswick, Henry Spear, Sir John Ward
Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet) Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Stanier, Beville
Craik, Sir Henry Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)
Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian Kyffin-Taylor, G. Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)
Croft, H. P. Lane-Fox, G. R. Starkey, John Ralph
Dalrymple, Viscount Larinor, Sir J. Staveley-Hill, Henry
Dalziel, Davison (Brixton) Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle) Steel-Maitland, A. D.
Denison-Pender, J. C. Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End) Stewart, Gershom
Denniss, E. R. B. Lee, Arthur Hamilton Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)
Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott Lewisham, Viscount Swift, Rigby
Du Cros, Arthur Philip Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W.) Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)
Duke, Henry Edward Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury) Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)
Duncannon, Viscount Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury) Talbot, Lord Edmund
Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M. Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey) Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)
Faber, George Denison (Clapham) Lansdale, Sir John Brownlee Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)
Faber, Captain W. V. (Hants, W.) Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston) Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)
Falle, Bertram Godfray Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droltwich) Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)
Fell, Arthur MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh Tobin, Alfred Aspinall
Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey Mackinder, Halford J. Tryon, Captain George Clement
Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert M'Calmont, Major Robert C. A. Tullibardine, Marquess of
Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes M'Mordie, Robert James Valentia, Viscount
Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A. M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's) Walker, Colonel William Hall
Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue Magnus, Sir Philip Walrond, Hon. Lionel
Fleming, Valentine Malcolm, Ian Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)
Fletcher, John Samuel Mallaby-Deeley, Harry Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid)
Forster. Henry William Mason, James F. (Windsor) Weston, Colonel J. W.
Foster, Philip Staveley Middlemore, John Throgmorton Whaler, Granville C. H.
Gardner, Ernest Mildmay, Francis Bingham White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)
Gastrell, Major W. Houghton Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)
Dibbs, George Abraham Moore, William Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud
Gilmour, Captain John Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton) Wills, Sir Gilbert
Glazebrook, Captain Philip K. Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton) Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)
Goldsmith, Frank Mount, William Arthur Wolmer, Viscount
Gordon, John (Londonderry, South) Neville, Reginald J. N. Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)
Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton) Newdegate, F. A. Wood, John (Stalybridge)
Goulding, Edward Alfred Newman, John R. P. Worthington-Evans, L.
Grant, J. A. Newton, Harry Kottingham Wright, Henry Fitzherbart
Greene, Walter Raymond Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield) Tate, Colonel C. E.
Gretton, John Nield, Herbert Yerburgh, Robert A.
Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.) Norton-Griffiths, J. Younger, Sir George
Guinness, Hon.W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds) O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)
Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne) Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Hunt and Mr. Sandys.
Haddock, George Bahr Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)
Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour) Agnew, Sir George William Arnold, Sydney
Acland, Francis Dyke Ainsworth, John Stirling Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry
Adamson, William Alden, Percy Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)
Addison. Dr. Christopher Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire) Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)
Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D. Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P.(Stroud) Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)
Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple) Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds) Nuttall, Harry
Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset) Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Barnes, George N. Harvey. A. G. C. (Rochdale) O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)
Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.) Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West) O'Connor. T. P. (Liverpool)
Barton, William Hayden, John Patrick O'Doherty, Philip
Beale, Sir William Phipson Hayward, Evan O'Donnell, Thomas
Beauchamp, Sir Edward Hazleton, Richard O'Dowd, John
Beck, Arthur Cecil Helme, Sir Norval Watson O'Grady, James
Henn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George) Hemmerde, Edward George O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)
Bentham, G. J. Henderson, Arthur (Durham) O'Malley, William
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Henderson. J. M. (Aberdeen, W.) O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)
Boland, John Pius Henry, Sir Charles O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Booth, Fredrick Handel Hewart, Gordon O'Shee, James John
Bowerman, Charles W. Higham John Sharp O'Sullivan, Timothy
Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North) Hinds, John Outhwaite, R. L.
Brace, William Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. Palmer, Godfrey Mark
Brady, Patrick Joseph Hodge, John Parker, James (Halifax)
Brunner, John F. L. Hogge, James Myles Parry, Thomas H.
Bryce, J. Annan Holmes, Daniel Turner Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)
Buckmaster, Stanley O. Holt, Richard Durning Pearce, William (Limehouse)
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich) Phillips, John (Longford, S.)
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Howard. Hon. Geoffrey Pointer, Joseph
Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North) Hughes, Spencer Leigh Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar) Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)
Byles, Sir William Pollard Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Primrose, Hon. Neil James
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) Pringle, William M. R.
Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich) Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe) Radford, G. H.
Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood) Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Raffan, Peter Wilson
Chapple, Dr. William Allen Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney) Raphael, Sir Herbert H.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Joyce, Michael Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)
Clancy, John Joseph Keating. Matthew Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)
Clough, William Kellaway, Frederick George Reddy, Michael
Clynes, John R. Kelly. Edward Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock) Kennedy, Vincent Paul Redmond, William (Clare, E.)
Condon, Thomas Joseph Kilbride, Denis Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. King, Joseph Richardson, Albion (Peckham)
Cory, Sir Clifford John Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton) Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Cotton, William Francis Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) Roberts, George H. (Norwich)
Cowan, W. H. Lardner. James C. R. Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)
Craig, Herbert James (Tynemouth) Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West) Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)
Crumley, Patrick Leach, Charles Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)
Cullinan, John Levy, Sir Maurice Robinson, Sidney
Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy) Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)
Davies, Ellis William (Elfion) Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich) Roche, Augustine (Louth)
Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Lundon, Thomas Roe, Sir Thomas
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Lyell, Charles Henry Rowlands, James
Dawes, James Arthur Lynch. A. A. Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
De Forest, Baron Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester) Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas McGhee, Richard Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Devlin, Joseph Maclean, Donald Scanlan, Thomas
Dillon, John Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.
Donelan, Captain A. MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South) Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)
Doris, William Macpherson, James Ian Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.
Duffy, William J. MacVeagh, Jeremiah Sheehy, David
Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley) M'Callum, Sir John M. Shortt, Edward
Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.) McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook
Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor) M'Laren Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding) Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)
Elverston, Sir Harold Manfield, Harry Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)
Esmende, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.) Markham, Sir Arthur Basil Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.) Marks, Sir George Croydon Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert
Essex, Sir Richard Walter Marshall, Arthur Harold Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)
Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G. Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)
Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson Meagher, Michael Sutherland, John E.
Ffrench, Peter Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Sutton, John E.
Field, William Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix) Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward Millar, James Duncan Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)
Fitzgibbon, John Molloy, Michael Tennant, Harold John
Flavin, Michael Joseph Molteno, Percy Alport Thomas, J. H.
France, Gerald Ashburner Montagu, Hon. E. S. Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Furness, Sir Stephen Wilson Mooney, John J. Touimin, Sir George
Gill, A. H. Morgan, George Hay Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Gladstone, W. G. C. Morrell, Philip Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Glanville, H J. Morison, Hector Verney, Sir Harry
Goldstone, Frank Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)
Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough) Muldoon, John Walters, Sir John Tudor
Greig, Colonel J. W. Munro, Robert Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Grey, Rt. Han. Sir Edward Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C. Wardle, George J.
Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke) Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C. Waring, Walter
Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.) Needham, Christopher T. Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay
Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster) Webb, H.
Hackett, John Nolan, Joseph White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Hancock, John George Norman, Sir Henry White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)
Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale) Norton, Captain Cecil W. White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Nugent, Sir Walter Richard Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Whyte, A. F. (Perth) Wilson, John (Durham, Mid) Young, William (Perthshire, East)
Wiles, Thomas Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs, N) Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough) Wing, Thomas Edward TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.
Williamson, Sir Archibald Wood, Rt Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)
Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)

Original Question put, and agreed to.

It being after Eleven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Resolution to be reported to-morrow (Thursday); Committee to sit again To-morrow.

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