HC Deb 18 March 1913 vol 50 cc825-6
10. Mr. HUNT

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to a book just published, with the permission of the War Office, in which it is stated that our military affairs are at present in a deplorable state and that no recruit under twenty would be of any fighting value; and what steps he proposes to take to remedy the present insufficiency of our military forces?

The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Colonel Seely)

I need hardly say that the book referred to has no official sanction, seeing that it contains a severe indictment of the conduct of our military affairs by successive Governments for the past eighty years and a scathing condemnation of our present naval policy.


What is the name of the book?

Colonel SEELY

I do not know that the hon. Gentleman would like to read the book. I cannot remember the name of its title, but I have a copy.


Could the right hon. Gentleman say how it is that the War Office, of which he is the head, gave direct permission for the publication of this book which contains far more than Lord Roberts has ever said, and yet they denounce Lord Roberts' scheme?


Did the War Office not give the permission because they thought the book could do no harm?

Colonel SEELY

I could not answer that without further reference to this work. With regard to the point raised by the hon. Member (Mr. Hunt) there were grave irregularities, so I am informed, but they affected far more the Admiralty than the War Office. Of course, the particular statements referred to ought not to have been uttered, as I have already stated, but proper action will probably be taken by the Admiralty, and any further questions should be addressed to them.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say why direct permission was given in the book by the War Office if they did not approve of it?

Colonel SEELY

I have indicated—of course direct permission to make criticisms of such a kind would never conceivably be given—that any question as to further action to be taken should be addressed to the Admiralty, which, the hon. Member will see if he reads the book, is far more directly concerned than the War Office.




The hon. Member has carried it far enough for one day.