§ Resolution reported,
§ 1. "That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 185,600, 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, 1914."
§ Resolution read a second time.
On Thursday last, before the Closure fell, I ventured to express regret that the Committee stage on Vote A was not allowed a longer time. I did that because I believed that if the Committee had been able to fully consider the position of our Army, it might have been possible to obtain support from both sides of the House for an increase in the establishment of our Army. I listened 1392 to the debate throughout, and I was particularly struck by the remarks which fell from the supporters of the Government as to their desire to increase in every possible way the efficiency of our Army. To-day it is impossible to make an alteration in the total number of men, but I should like to give a few reasons why I believe it would be to the advantages of our Army and of our country to add to our peace establishment. We know that the peace establishments of our Regular Army were lowered in the year 1904–5. That was done under a Unionist Government. I do not advance my arguments from a party point of view; I am trying to promote the efficiency of the Army. Those reductions were made at a period when it was found difficult to obtain the numbers we were then trying to enlist in our Army. Since then a considerable reduction has been made in the number of battalions, and that difficulty ought not still to exist. With this reduction in battalions it has become more than ever necesasry to have an increase in the establishment of the remaining battalions. It is unnecessary for me to point out to the House how much better a trained soldier is than a Reservist in the first six months after the Reservist is called up from the Reserve. We all know that the man who is in training is more likely to be of service on the immediate outbreak of war than a roan who has been away from the Colours, and who probably has become rusty, not only in his military capacity, but not having led an outdoor life he is unable to do the marching or fulfil any of the requirements of a soldier.
In the course of the debate on Thursday attention was directed to the had proportion of Reservists to trained soldiers in our Expeditionary Force. Knowing something, as I do from personal experience, of leading a company in war, and also of training a company in peace, I say it would be of great advantage to regimental officers if you enabled them to have a greater peace establishment, so that if our Army is called upon to fight, those officers, who Members in all parts of the House acknowledge are doing their best to increase their own efficiency, should have a fair chance to do their best and fulfil the duties we have cast upon them. Unless we do increase our peace establishments I maintain that we are giving them a very difficult task to perform when they start in a campaign. Under our present regulations it is possible that our Army may find 1393 itself expected to take its position in the fighting line ten days after mobilisation. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that we should have a very large body of trained soldiers and fewer Reservists in the Expeditionary Force. I am glad to see the Secretary of State for War has conic in, as I am glad to know that he has the same feelings in this connection. When I read his speech I welcomed certain words he spoke. They form only a short part of his speech, but they show that he, at any rate, is considering the question of increasing the number of trained soldiers and reducing the number of Reservists in our Expeditionary Force. His words were:—I have had several criticisms from hon. Gentlemen opposite, and from one hon. Gentleman on this side of the House, who say that in our Army—which should be the most efficient Army in the world, seeing that it is a small one—we do not have a sufficiently large proportion of men actually serving in the ranks, and that we rely to too large an extent upon Reservists to fill them up.I do not wish to attach greater value to those words than the right hon. Gentleman meant. On that occasion he was speaking more directly of the Artillery, but if it is sound in regard to the Artillery, I urge that it is also sound as regards the Infantry. The right hon. Gentleman added:—I have not got so far as I could wish in that regard, but I have got some way."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 19th March, 1913, col. 1084–5.]Under the present Army Estimates and under Vote A, I venture to say, as regards our Infantry, and as regards our Expeditionary Force as a whole, that we are considerably reducing the establishment of our Regular Army. I know the right hon. Gentleman has told us that there is a net decrease of 1,000 or 500, but if he will turn to Vote A, page 12, he will see that in our establishment there is a reduction of 2,800 over and above that 1,000. That 1,000 is taken from other branches of the Service, and the decrease in the establishment is not a question of 1,000, but of 3,800. That is a misfortune, and a thing that ought not to be, because, instead of decreasing the establishment of our regiments, we ought to increase it. I can only now, at this late stage, hope that the Secretary of State will consider the advisability of increasing these additional numbers, which he is reducing from 3,850 to 1,000. If he will do his utmost to see even this additional thousand is kept in the ranks this year it would be an advantage. He may ask me how that is to be done. I can only offer a suggestion, but I believe it could be done, and I believe it would be to the advantage of our Army if a certain 1394 number of men were allowed to prolong their service with the colours. You may say, if a man goes to the Reserve, he is costing less than if he stayed with the Colours. But there are a great number of men, who are not always our worst soldiers, who may find it difficult to remain in permanent employment in civil life, and I hope hon. Members below the Gangway opposite will support me when I say it would be to the advantage, not only of these men themselves, but of advantage to recruiting in the Army, if we allowed a certain number of men to serve for long service, and be able to give backing to our Expeditionary Force if it has to be sent abroad. One of the things that deters men from joining the Army is seeing so many old soldiers out of employment and not having a chance of continuing to serve in the Army as they are willing to do, simply because we do not look after them at all in their after life. This is wrong. It would be a great advantage to keep a certain number of trained soldiers longer with the Colours, and this could be done even under the Estimates as they are, although it could only be done to the extent of the additional thousand, which are now left, unless the right hon. Gentleman could reinsert the words "three thousand eight hundred and fifty" instead of a "thousand." But if he can only give us a thousand, and try the experiment of keeping these men with the Colours for this year, it would be a step in the right direction, and would show us what we can do and how many men would come forward to accept these terms.
We have, in this question of recruiting, a very difficult one to face, and when one knows that the Secretary of State has proposed to make it more easy for men to rise from the ranks I am only too glad to welcome the scheme, but I am doubtful as to the great number of men whom it will induce to join the Army. I should like to see more men coming forward, and it is only by giving them the possibility of making the Army their service through life that we shall be able largely to increase the number of recruits, and perhaps get men of greater stamina than we are now getting. I have been a regimental officer all my life, and I have never wished to take any other part than leading men. Many of us in the Army have always felt it was the finest part of the soldier's life to have touch with the actual men who joined. I have always had the interest of the men at heart, and wished to see them getting every advantage they could from 1395 the State compatible with what we can give them. It is unfair to our trained soldiers to expect them to go on our Expeditionary Force with a large number of Reservists that they have to take, and it is unfair to the Reservists to expect them to be fit to go without some preliminary training. Moreover, to benefit the men, we must keep our officers as efficient as we can, and on the question of pay we can no doubt do a certain amount to encourage our officers, and a great point with them is not to allow them to find themselves absolutely stuck for promotion. The proposal of increased pay only while the man is serving may make our officers hang longer to the Army than perhaps is altogether desirable. I only put this forward as a matter worthy of consideration, as I feel convinced that we do not want to make promotion slower than it is at present. I have no doubt it is a difficult matter, but I put it forward in all good faith, believing it desirable not to make promotion slower than it is at present.
With regard to the point of pay, the first criticism I would make on the scheme is that, if I am not mistaken, the increased pay of a captain is only given after a man has served as a captain for-three years, and his total service exceeds twelve years. That ought to be altered, and any man who is a captain, and has served twelve years, should get the increased pay, as it may often be in some regiments that a man may not get his company before twelve years, whereas in many regiments be may get it in as few as six or seven and may be drawing the pay directly he gets his twelve years' service, whereas a man who has got twelve years' service who has been in a regiment with slower promotion does not get his pay till after he has done fifteen years' service. It would not be a very great alteration and it would be an improvement in the scheme. The only other point I wish to draw attention to is with regard to the men who are going to be given a commission after three years' service. I hope and believe that it is not only in the future that men will be promoted from the ranks after three years' service. If this scheme is brought forward, and this extra money is voted to men who rise from the ranks, there may be non-commissioned officers at present in the ranks who will not be entitled to compete for these commissions, even though they may have as many as seven or eight 1396 years. It would be unfair for those who are now serving not to give them the same opportunity of taking advantage of this extra grant of money as those who are only going to join in the future. If that is the case it is a scheme which we should all welcome, and if we can only consider these two or three points it will be of advantage to our forces. I hope the matter of the peace establishment will be very carefully considered, as we all should wish that those men who come forward to serve in the Army and, if called upon to fight this country's battles should fight under the most favourable circumstances, so that victory can be assured, as far as is humanly possible, by the foresight of Members of the House.
§ Sir COURTENAY WARNER
I wish to say a few words of congratulation on the system of extra pay for officers, because it is a system which would encourage promotion from the ranks and make it possible for men to take commissions who are thoroughly fitted for it, and though it is quite true that all non-commissioned officers do not make good officers, many of them do. The hon. and gallant Gentleman may set his mind at ease as to the question of whether non-commissioned officers who are now serving will be eligible for these commissions, because there is no idea of keeping men out or in any way making it difficult for them. I think the idea is that they cannot be made into officers with less than three years' service. It is only a general minimum. That is quite clear from the Secretary of State's speech in Committee. Another thing I should like to speak about is the curious way people have of discussing the numbers which are available for home defence. When they strike men off from the Expeditionary Force because they are too young, those men are supposed to vanish into thin air, but instead of disappearing altogether they go to the Reserve battalion, and the men—boys, if you like to call them so—under twenty years of age who are not taken abroad with the Expeditionary Force are very good soldiers many of them, and are drafted into the Reserve battalion, and day by day they are growing into strong men, and are making the nucleus of the drafts as they are required month by month. Of course, in this way, by the draft of these men and by the draft of Reservists, who have to stay at home, the curious thing that no one seems to realise is that the Special Reserve battalion on mobilisation, instead of being 600 or 700 or 1397 500 strong, should be more like 1,300 or 1,400. I know from the statistics of one or two battalions that there is a certain number of Reservists who cannot take foreign service, and they and the men who are not taken by the battalion as being too young are also drafted besides the men actually in the Reserve battalion. I do not think, in any case, there would be a Special Reserve battalion on mobilisation which would be under a thousand strong. Of course, it is quite true that some of these would be under the age of twenty. Surely the trained Regular soldiers under the age of twenty would be a good help in the defensive operations of the Territorials or anything of that kind. These would be real battalions. It is quite true that the Special Reserve would become on mobilisation feeding battalions. They would be home battalions, but in a few months they would be in the same position as the Regulars and equal to the Line soldiers. I do not think it is fair to suggest that these men have to be sent abroad at once, and that they will vanish into thin air, which is the general calculation made by some people in estimating the strength of the Army.
As to the change in the matter of pay, it is true that in certain regiments promoion is slow, and that is one of the difficulties of the Army. When you refer to the slowness of promotion I do not think it is quite fair to use that argument now, because there are more staff appointments and more promotions in the British Army at the present time than there has ever been in the past. Regimental promotion is not any faster than it used to be, but in the higher ranks there is more promotion than in years past. I believe that all through history there have never been so many posts to fill, and that is not because of spendthrift tendencies on the part of the War Office to make posts for men, but because extra men are wanted for highly technical purposes. For instance, in the Aviation Corps there are over 1,000 men. There are a great many more officers in that corps than there would be in a Line regiment of similar strength. In the same way there is a greater proportion of officers required in the Engineers and the Artillery nowadays than in days gone by. The staff, of course, is immensely more numerous than it was in the old days. I think it is hardly fair to take this moment in referring to the slowness of promotion. I congratulate the Secretary of State upon the increased pay to be given to officers. 1398 I think that it is the right way to encourage men to join the Army and to induce them to remain regimental officers.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
I desire to call the attention of the House to the subject of military aviation. Before criticising the speech which the Secretary of State made last week, I would like to refer particularly to one or two points. As to engines for aeroplanes, I can cordially agree with him that for a long time past we have been deficient. I think there are only two English engines which have passed satisfactory tests. I am credibly informed that the makers of these engines, and the makers of aeroplanes, in this country have been starved before getting orders from the War Office. Up to the present time there has been no market for aeroplanes for ordinary civilians—Members of this House or the public outside—for purposes of pleasure. The only market is that provided by the Secretary of State for War. I desire to congratulate him on the proposal to give a prize of £1,000, or more, for British engines. But far more important than that is the promise he has given for large orders. It is impossible unless orders are promised for any engineers to start manufacturing aeroplanes and engines, because of the expensive plant which has to be laid down before even a single engine can be manufactured. I would like to make it quite clear that I have no interest, direct or indirect, financially or otherwise, in any firm of aeroplane makers. I think that it is advisable to say so at the outset of my remarks, because the right hon. Gentleman has not fulfilled the expectations held out a year ago in regard to British manufacturers.
We must buy a certain number of foreign aeroplanes, for improvements are being made in the construction of machines by France, Germany, and America, day by day, and it is important that we should have the best types. But in the event of war breaking out we shall have to rely on English manufacturers, and I am anxious that the policy of the War Office should be that our manufacturers should have a continuous supply of orders, so that their works can be kept going. I am afraid that during the past year they have been very largely starved. I think the whole industry has been starved by lack of orders from the Government. With regard to the management of the Royal Flying Corps at the Army Aircraft Factory, I cannot, on the information I have received, think that the machines, as to the matter of 1399 repairs, are cared for as well under Government control as under private control. The policy of France is not to have these very delicate instruments under the sole control of the Army Department, and instead of being repaired by ordinary French artificers, they are sent back to the makers. After a machine has done a certain number of miles, or a certain number of hours in the air, a representative of the maker is sent to overhaul and tune up the machine. I think much might be done in that way to limit the number of very serious accidents which take place, and which, I am bound to say, must take place for some years to come in connection with this new form of warfare.
As to the Monoplane Committee, I cannot help feeling that a great deal of delay has taken place. Some months ago the Secretary of State was frightened by the accidents which were taking place, and he issued an Order proprio motu, that no flying should take place in monoplanes. As the result of that Order, fourteen or fifteen new monoplanes were put back into the shed unused, and almost uncared for, while there were men who were ready and desirous to fly them, and who would have had to fly them in the event of war taking place. The Committee reported on 3rd December last, but no steps were taken in consequence of the Report. It was not made public until 4th February. During October, November, December, January, and February, these valuable monoplanes remained unused. The House will realise that with the small number of machines we have had, our officers and men should have had the opportunity of flying or practising upon really the best monoplanes the Army had. I do not know even yet whether the right hon. Gentleman has issued an Order that flying may take place upon these monoplanes. I believe they are still not being used for flying or practice by the officers of the Royal Flying Corps. It is rather interesting to notice that there are more monoplanes than biplanes flown in the French Army. I think the First Lord of the Admiralty has been giving his time and attention to monoplanes for the Navy. If they are too dangerous for the Army, I wonder the Secretary for War did not communicate with his colleague who is at the head of the Navy as to the risk in connection with monoplanes. The Navy have been flying their monoplanes, though the Army have not been allowed to do so.
1400 The real gravamen of my complaint against the right hon. Gentleman is that he has not fulfilled the expectations which he held out to the House a year ago with regard to the Royal Flying Corps. On 4th March last year he said that the Army and Navy Flying Corns would be always on a war footing, and that the peace and war establishment would be the same. He told us then that this scheme involved the purchase of 131 aeroplanes. I wish to ask whether during the past six months the Aviation Service has been on a war footing, and whether he has purchased 131 aeroplanes during the past year? I am bound to say, in fairness to the right hon. Gentleman, that he did not pledge himself to purchase 131 during the year, but we were led to assume that a very large proportion of them would be purchased during the year. He told the country a few days ago at a public meeting that, admitting we started far behind, they would agree that our progress had been greater than that made in any country in any one year. Starting far behind has nothing to do with the party on this side of the House. Aviation has come into use during a period the present Government has been in office. Aeroplanes began to be employed during the time that Lord Haldane was Secretary of State for War, and if he started badly the responsibility is on the present Government. The right hon. Gentleman pledged himself that there should be three squadrons forming the Royal Flying Corps, that they should each fly twelve machines, and that there should be for each squadron six spare aeroplanes for casualties. Personally I should have thought, having regard to the enormous number of accidents, small or large, which must take place, that if these squadrons were to be kept up to a war footing, there should be a 100 per cent. instead of 50 per cent. of spare aeroplanes.
These three squadrons were to have eighteen machines, making fifty-four in all. These machines were to be kept on a war footing. I want to know from the right hon. Gentleman whether at any time during the past year these three squadrons have been on a war footing. I wish to know further whether the fifty-four aeroplanes are efficient, ready to go to war at any moment. You cannot say that the aircraft of the Army is on a war footing unless it is prepared to go to war at any moment. My information is that if war 1401 had broken out at any time during the past year, or even during the past three months, so far from these squadrons being on a war footing, there would not have been twenty-five efficient aeroplanes which the right hon. Gentleman could have sent to war. Possibly the right hon. Gentle-may may not agree with me as to what is meant by efficient. He told us last week that there were 101 aeroplanes in the Army. When my right hon. Friend asked if they were efficient, he replied "That depends upon what you mean by efficient." He fenced the question. May I tell the House what I regard as efficient? I would say that an aeroplane to be efficient must be as good as the bulk of those in the French Army. It must be capable of starting off at once, flying at a speed of at least 50 miles an hour, and able to rise in the air at least 3,000 feet. Anything short of that I do not consider efficient. An aeroplane may be efficient for the purposes of instruction; it may be good enough to use in a school-room for the practice of these young officers, but that is not a war footing. I think the right hon. Gentleman has confused, and he certainly has confused the House, between aeroplanes on a war footing and aeroplanes which the Royal Flying Corps possess for the purposes of instruction. I have questioned him from time to time as to the number of aeroplanes possessed by the Royal Army Flying Corps as recently as, I think, the 18th January and the 22nd January. The right hon. Gentleman gave me a very different figure from this figure of 101. If the right hon. Gentleman has got 101 efficient aeroplanes, I have nothing further to say. If they are efficient for war purposes, all the complaint I have made falls to the ground, and I shall be forced to acknowledge my fault and to say that the right hon. Gentleman has done far better than I thought he had done. But I do not think that those figures are consistent with the figures which he gave me in answer to questions in this House as recently as the 9th January.
I asked him then whether he was aware that the French Army had bought over 400 aeroplanes during the past year, in addition to the 218 they possessed last year, and how many aeroplanes we had belonging to the Royal Flying Corps, Military Wing, and how many belonging to the Central Flying School, and how many could fly at a speed exceeding 60 miles an hour. The right hon. Gentleman answered that he had got no information as 1402 to the French Army. I should have thought he might have got information in regard to that; but let that go. These are the figures which he gave us on the 9th January. He repeated them on the 22nd January in reply to other questions by myself. He said that the Royal Flying Corps, Military Wing, possesses twenty-nine aeroplanes and the Central Flying School twenty-six. Of these, twenty-six and nineteen respectively are in flying order. That is scarcely two months ago, and he now tells the House that he has got 101 machines ready to fly. Where have the balance of the machines come from? He cannot tell us. In the boast which he made in a speech he said that he had got 101 of these machines. If seventy of them are school machines, let him say so. But in the whole of this paper squadron he told us two months ago that there were only twenty-six machines that could fly. Of these twenty-six machines I think I am right in saying that at least twelve were these monoplanes which were not then in flying order. I asked again the question only a few days ago with regard to particular machines. It is only by getting the exact details that we can find out whether we have got the machines which the right hon. Gentleman has rather boasted that we have.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Colonel Seely)
I said so. I did not boast. Let us clear this away. I say we have got 101 aeroplanes. If the hon. Gentleman doubts me let him say that it is untrue.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
That is exactly what I am trying to say inoffensively, that we have not got 101 effective aeroplanes. I say that from the information which I have been able to get, based very largely on his own figures—
§ Colonel SEELY
I say on my full responsibility as a Minister that we have got 101 aeroplanes which we are flying. I understand the hon. Gentleman to say that that is not true. That is a very unusual statement to make. We certainly have got 101 aeroplanes.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
Do not let the right hon. Gentleman impute more than I have said. Throughout my speech I have tried not to be provocative. It is a matter of vast importance whether we have the machines or not. We may have 101 aeroplanes that can fly, and you might have 101 tom-tits that can fly, but that is no 1403 good for the purposes of the Army. What I am concerned about is, How many of these 101 are efficient for military purposes? The right hon. Gentleman told me about two months ago that he had only twenty-six on the military side that could fly. I do not care how many he has got in the schools for use or training. He could not use in war these machines after they had been buffeted about in the Army Flying Schools for months with beginners flying upon them and coming down crash upon them. He dare not send any miliary flying corps out to war with those machines. The right hon. Gentleman made a most extraordinary suggestion in his speech the other day. He said that though some of these machines are machines on which he would not let officers fly in times of peace, yet in times of war there were so many bullets, troubles, and other dangers going about that they might take an extra risk and fly on these machines. I do not think that he could really have meant what he said. Of these twenty-six machines which were in flying order, twelve are these monoplanes as to which I asked him whether they have been flown for over six months, and whether they have not got to be altered before they can be flown. Later, on the lath of this month, I asked him about them. He said:—I may state that all the machines referred to are in flying order, but they are not being flown pending some alterations in conformity with regulations of the Monoplane Committee.How can a thing be in flying order if it is not being flown pending alterations? If a thing has got to be altered it is not in flying order. Everybody knows that there have been very serious foreign complications during the past six months and the past six weeks. Everybody knows that if war should break out it would be with absolute suddenness. How many of these 101 machines could the right hon. Gentleman send out with the Expeditionary Force or any other force? At the outside, twenty-five machines. The other day he sent one of these very squadrons which are on this Footing from Farnborough to Montrose. That squadron would be one of our first squadrons to send out with an Expeditionary Force. How many machines flew from Farnborough to Montrose? If you cannot send your first squadron fully equipped to fly to Montrose in time of peace, what is the good of telling the House of Commons that you have got 101 machines and can fly them? If you cannot 1404 get one squadron of eight or twelve machines to fly to Montrose they could not fly across the Channel.
The right hon. Gentleman must tell us with greater frankness what these machines can do. I asked him whether they could fly sixty-five miles an hour, and he said that it was not in the public interest that the House should know that. When did he begin to think that? I suggest that he began to think that when my questions, which I am afraid I rather showered upon him during the last three months, got a little too near the point, because only three months ago he was quite prepared to tell me how many machines we have got which could fly seventy miles an hour. Here is an answer which I got from him on 27th November. I asked him how many areoplanes which were effective in the sense of having a speed of seventy-five miles an hour were in the Royal Flying Corps. The right hon. Gentleman had not developed his theories of secrecy then. He said that there were five aeroplanes which can fly seventy miles an hour and fifteen more were on order which will be capable of similar speed, and that there were twenty-six trained military pilots capable of flying these very efficient machines. Every information which I asked for two months ago was given to me with regard to the speed of seventy miles an hour. He was very frank with me up to the time when I began to ask his colleague the First Lord of the Admiralty questions with regard to the naval side of aeroplanes. The First Lord of the Admiralty was rather, I will not say more clever, but more cautious than the right hon. Gentleman. He first developed this idea of secrecy. It was the First Lord of the Admiralty who said, "It is not, in the public interest to answer your questions on various points, and though the Secretary of State told you how many could fly at seventy miles an hour it is not in the public interest to tell you how many can fly at sixty-five miles an hour." I think that it is in the public interest and the interests of the country that we should know. If I ask the First Lord of the Admiralty how many "Dreadnoughts" he has got, and what is their speed, or how many torpedo boats he has got, this House is entitled to know. Otherwise we should not vote the Navy Estimates. If I want to know the velocity of a 13.5 inch gun or anything of the kind, I am entitled to get the information. Why 1405 am I not entitled to know how many effective aeroplanes we have got and the pace at which they can go?
This policy of secrecy has been set up almost entirely because of the fact that he has not got a sufficient number of effective aeroplanes to man these three existing squadrons. Beyond those squadrons the right hon. Gentleman seems to think that the aeroplanes are only for the Expeditionary Force. He referred once or twice to the Expeditionary Force the other night. In his Memorandum he told us that in addition to the Aeroplane Squadron which was formed last year, these three paper squadrons, the fifth and six squadrons are to be raised in 1913–14–I hope they will be a little more effective than the second, third and fourth—and he said:I looked forward confidently to the establishment on a firmer basis during 1913–14 of six out of the eight units required to complete our Expeditionary Force.So that he admits that all this preparation, so far, is required for our Expeditionary Force. What of our Army Defence? If he is going to send these six squadrons with their eighteen aeroplanes each all at once with the Expeditionary Force, what is going to take place at home? What is going to defend our shores and do the scouting for the Army? The right hon. Gentleman has done away altogether with one branch of this question and that is the question of the large rigid airship. Who made the decision that Zeppelins were not needed at all in the British Army? Is it a Cabinet decision or a decision of the Committee for Imperial Defence, or a decision of the right hon. Gentleman's military advisers in the Royal Flying Corps, or his own decision? I do not know how far one is permitted to refer to what one knows of the views of officers in the Royal Flying Corps, but I do know at all events that some officers are very anxious that there should be Zeppelins in the Royal Flying Corps. I was asked the other day whether I advocated heavier than air or lighter than air craft. In the present position of affairs I advocate both. Nobody can know which is going to be the arm of the future, because they are both in the experimental stage. Still, one great nation pins its faith to airships, which can keep afloat for days and nights, which can spy out the whole of our naval and military preparations, which can take back information, which are equipped with wireless telegraphy, and which can carry twenty or thirty people on board. The right hon. Gentleman says, I will not have one.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Maclean)
The hon. Member is now entering on rather a wider subject than that which is under discussion. I may point out that the whole of this Debate is, strictly speaking, out of Order on the Report of this Vote, but owing to the circumstances under which Supply is being taken a wider discussion than usual is being allowed. I trust the hon. Member will keep strictly within the limits allowed, and confine his observations to purely Army aviation. I think perhaps I ought to add that the fact of this discussion having been allowed on this occasion this year should not in subsequent years be referred to as involving the right to enter upon a discussion such as that which is being allowed to-night.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
I understood the ruling of Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Whitley) who preceded you, Sir, in the Chair, was that the discussion could be taken as widely as the right hon. Gentleman took it the other day. The Secretary of State for War did deal with this subject at considerable length, but, in deference to your views, Sir, I will not touch on the naval aspect of the subject, but will merely say that I think the Secretary for War has taken up the position far too quickly, front the Army point of view, that the Army are never to have Zeppelins. His contention was that small machines could be easily packed and sent abroad with the Expeditionary Force. He dealt with the Expeditionary Force and the Expeditionary Force alone, and, on the whole subject of airships, his point was that small machines could be easily packed and sent abroad with that force. I agree that a Zeppelin could not be sent abroad with the Expeditionary Force, but I think it is highly premature for the right hon. Gentleman, as responsible head of the Army, to say that the Army should not have an airship. These airships have only been in existence some few years, and yet he has decided that he will not have a Zeppelin and he will not have an airship at all; he will go without it. I think that is taking a very heavy responsibility, and a responsibility of a heavier kind as applied to airships than to aeroplanes. If the right hon. Gentleman gave an order for half a dozen big airships to-morrow he could not get them built in less than eighteen months, either in this country or any other.
It is rather a serious position to say that we are not to have one at all, not even for experimental purposes, and that he 1407 will cut off our Army from all developments in an arm which the greatest military nation in Europe considers to be in the right direction in aerial warfare. I do not want to particularise any nation, nor do I speak in any hostile spirit, but I would point out that the German authorities consider it necessary for Army purposes to have airships; and the cost of airships being so small as compared with the cost of our whole Army, the right hon. Gentleman in his Estimates could have taken enough to give us at least half a dozen, or even two or three airships for experimental purposes. The whole provision which the right hon. Gentleman makes is utterly inadequate to keep our country abreast of other foreign countries in regard to the development of aerial warfare. He has only taken half a million to spend, while France has taken £1,800,000, and Germany is spending considerably over a million on air services. We are to be left, so far as I can see, with nothing more definite than the six aeroplane squadrons, if we get them with sufficient aeroplanes. I do not see how the right hon. Gentleman is to get more out of the money he has allowed himself. I do not grudge the £200,000 for the Royal Aircraft Factory, but it is not enough. Very little is left for new machinery, and even if new machinery became out of date in six months, it ought to be prepared. We ought to have an Air Service, I will not say adequate, but bigegr in proportion to our Army than the Air Service of any foreign country, because of the very smallness of our Army. The right hon. Gentleman claimed with assurance that he was right when he said that because we had a small Army we only needed a small Air Department.
§ Colonel SEELY
I did not say that. I gave the proportion, but I expressly disclaimed that it was the basis.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
Why did the right hon. Gentleman draw a comparison at all? Surely the comparison should have been with what is needed for aerial warfare altogether. We have a very small Army on land, and we may need even a bigger Air Army in proportion than any foreign country. That is the basis I think to which he should have regard in framing his Estimates. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will believe that in dealing with his Estimates I am in no way reflecting on him. Though he is responsible for the Estimates he puts forward, 1408 one knows that he is guided very largely by technical advice. In regard to the 101 aeroplanes, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to give to this House an assurance as to the actual number of aeroplanes that can fly 50 miles an hour, and that are fit to go to war to-morrow morning.
§ Sir W. BYLES
The hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down, has pitched his speech in precisely the same key as the long procession of speeches to which I listened on Wednesday and Thursday. They are all alike, alarmist; they all hold England up as being helpless, paralysed, and not prepared for impending disaster. They tell us we have 185,000 men, but that that is not half enough, and they complain about the Territorials, and that the Reserves are an entire delusion, and one hon. and gallant Gentleman said the Artillery were utterly inadequate, and we are told that the rifle is not up to date, and the flying fleet, as we have just now heard, is largely a sham, and we are told that there is a shortage of horses, and that altogether we are in a bad plight, and that nothing is right. I am sure hon. Members opposite must have spent a miserable holiday with sleepless nights, or if they did sleep, they would dream of some modern Moltke descending on our defenceless shores; because I have no doubt the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Lee) will be quite equal to destroying His Majesty's Navy, as rapidly as on Thursday he destroyed the Army. I admit it is the duty of the Opposition to oppose, although on this subject they sometimes say, and I think wisely, that the question of the Army and the Navy ought to be kept aloof from party politics. At any rate Parliament is giving to His Majesty seventy or eighty millions of money for the defence of the Empire, and we representing the people, are taking it out of the pockets of our own constituents. Is it all badly spent? Is there no good got from it? For my part, I discount those criticisms by about 95 per cent.; because I remember when the Opposition themselves were responsible, the muddle which they made of the Army, and the revelation of absolute incompetence, with discredit of our military reputation when they plunged the country into war. The country will remember that, and, remembering it, will pass these Votes, and approve of the policy of my right hon. Friend the War Secretary.
I want to deal with the question put by the hon. Member for South Birmingham 1409 (Mr. Amery), on Thursday last, namely, what are all these men for, and do we want all of them. We shall have to feed them and clothe them, and house them, and of course, we take them away from productive work, and the men who pay for all this, will have to feed and clothe themselves and their families, and they can ill spare, out of their wages, the cost of maintaining soldiers. If I thought a standing Army was necessary for the country, I would hold my tongue, but I do not. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Monmouth (General Sir Ivor Herbert), in a very able speech on Thursday, said, that the real defence of this nation was in the Navy, and that if the Navy was able to defend our shores we did not require an Army to do it as well, but that if the Navy was overborne, why, then, the Army was equally unnecessary, because we should be starved out in a fortnight. I thought that was very interesting, coming from a military Gentleman of some eminence. I do not know why an hon. Member opposite laughs; perhaps he does not know that the hon. and gallant gentleman to whom I am referring is a soldier of some eminence, who deserves the honour of his fellow countrymen. I have no faith in standing armies; some of my colleagues have. I think the less of them the better. They are more or less a menace always to the liberties of the people.
What will those men be doing the next twelve months, the men provided by this Vote? I suppose they will march up and down the barrack yard in Birdcage Walk, and at all other barrack yards, and some of them may be sent out on punitive expeditions to kill a few natives, innocent natives perhaps, or they may be used for police duty at home to quell disturbance possibly arising out of labour disputes, and to trample on, and perhaps fire on, an unarmed and innocent crowd. That is about all we shall get for our money. I do not believe in foreign nations raiding our shores; I believe that is all nonsense. I do not believe anybody wants to raid them. A statesman and Member of the other House, with whom I used to sit on these benches, and who is a distinguished Member of the Unionist party, says that there are really no foreign nations; that we are all tied together by strong invisible threads. That I believe, and yet the cry of the benches opposite, day after day, and speech after speech, has been that we have not enough of these soldiers, and 1410 they are Oliver Twists crying for more, Yesterday, Mr. Garvin, the well-known policy maker of the Tory party, said, in the "Observer":—We spend £75,000,000 and we do not get security. … If we spent £80,000,000 we might gain security.And he also said that the Government is risking the lives and property of the people of this country owing to a few cranks in Parliament who cry out about extravagance. I am one of those cranks, and my only complaint is that there are not enough of us. I do not believe the pacifists in the country are adequately represented in this House. Would anyone dream of saying that if and when the Estimates did rise to £80,000,000, Mr. Garvin and his school would not be carrying on the same alarmist nonsense and screaming for £85,000,000? Behind Mr. Garvin there is a greater man—I mean Lord Roberts, who wants to make us all soldiers, and thinks there is nothing like leather. I should like to associate myself with the observation of a Cabinet Minister, not now on the bench, who said that a country is in a bad way when statesmen are so weak as to allow soldiers, armament makers, or scaremongers to direct their policy. I desire to pay every homage to Lord Roberts as a soldier; I recognise that he has rendered immense service to his country in moments and in places of great danger. Now we are considering him as a statesman, and in the rôle of statesman I maintain that he is misleading his countrymen, and I felt it to be my duty even to warn my Constituents in that sense. He may disclaim as much as he likes that it is conscription, but his teaching and policy inevitably lead to conscription. That would be, in my judgment, a calamity for our country, a calamity not less but perhaps greater than Protection, which is the other great calamity which the party opposite dangles before the electors to wean them away from their allegiance to Liberalism. Can hon. Members tell me any other great calamities which the Tory party are offering besides conscription and Protection?
§ Sir W. BYLES
Is not a reference to impending conscription and to the writings of public men upon that subject within the scope of the Debate as it was interpreted on Wednesday and Thursday last?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I called the hon. Member to order, not for his reference to that topic, but for his references to the general policy of the Conservative party. Those are not in order on this Motion.
§ Sir W. BYLES
I beg your pardon for having transgressed. I have nothing more to say on the subject of Protection. I shudder when I think of the possibility of the flower of England's manhood being sent to what I think was once called "the vicious seed-bed of barrack life." I hope and believe that my fellow countrymen will resist that whoever offers it to them. They have tried it in Australia and New Zealand. I believe that their Defence Acts were hatched in Victoria Street, Westminster, probably with the assistance of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Page Croft). Happily in both those countries it is a disastrous failure. The people there call them the "Black Statutes," and they have set up a Freedom League to oppose them. Their leading military supporter in the "Melbourne Argus" states:—Compulsion is failing perilously. Great numbers of boys are ignoring their duty. If disobedience becomes at all general, compulsory service will break down.I hope it will. I am glad that it is breaking down. I believe it will be just as great a failure if it is ever tried in this country. The Army people are belittling the Navy; the Navy people are belittling the Army. My counsel would be to rely on neither, but on diplomacy, on a frank foreign policy, on open-handed friendship with the world. The Foreign Secretary of the great Western Republic said a day or two ago, and a proud boast it was, that that Republic stands erect whilst the Empires around are groaning beneath the weight of armaments. That is an enviable position. I hope and believe that England has no enemies. I am not like hon. Members opposite, constantly peering for some foreign foe. I believe that as long as England behaves herself among the nations she may and will be everybody's friend, and will continue to enjoy the friendship of every other nation.
§ Sir CHARLES HUNTER
As an old soldier, I will not follow the hon. Member opposite (Sir W. Byles) into his intricate argument about military matters. I have no doubt that he knows a great deal more about these questions than Lord Roberts, but I very much question whether the country will take that view when it reads his speech to-morrow morning. The Army Debate has already ranged over a 1412 very wide field, and I am somewhat reluctant to introduce fresh subjects, although they are certainly subjects of some importance. The mere fact that they are important shows how inadequate is the time originally allotted for the discussion of this very important branch of the defence of the Empire. I must, at all events, thank you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, as I am sure other Members would wish to do, for your courtesy in allowing considerable latitude for the Debate to-night. The matters I am anxious to bring before the House are certainly very divergent: first, the disposal of the troops in South Africa, and, secondly, the pay of officers. Shortly before the termination of last Session we were asked to vote £67,000 for bringing back a certain number of troops from South Africa. That was the inauguration of a new policy, or perhaps it would be more correct to say the continuance of an old policy, and a very excellent policy too, namely, that when a self-governing Dominion has become self-supporting as regards defence, we should, as a natural sequence, remove the troops from that country. That policy has been followed with great success in New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.
As regards South Africa, I admit that there are particular advantages in keeping troops there and also in bringing them back. South Africa is undoubtedly an extraordinarily healthy country. I have no hesitation in saying that the fighting condition of the troops there is 25 per cent. or 30 per cent. better than the fighting condition of the troops in any other part of the world. South Africa is also an extraordinarily good training ground. The grounds for training troops in extended order are becoming more and more limited, and South Africa is one of the few countries where you can at present train all three respective arms of the Service together. Moreover, and this perhaps is still more important, South Africa is an extraordinarily good strategic point. It is a point from which, with thoroughly trained troops, you could reinforce India or Egypt in the event of the Suez Canal being closed in time of war. The disadvantage about South Africa is that the maintenance of troops in that country is very expensive as compared with other countries. According to the Estimates, the number of troops in South Africa is about the same as the number in Egypt, but the cost is about £120,000 a year more. The present Estimates amount to about £660,000, and the whole of the upkeep of the large garrison 1413 there since the war has been borne by the taxpayers at home. I do not think that that is quite right. If the troops have to be kept there solely for strategic considerations, well and good; it is the bounden duty of the taxpayers here to maintain them. But if they are kept there for the benefit of South Africa, and I am perfectly certain that the Secretary of State has had considerable pressure brought to bear upon him to allow the troops to remain in South Africa, I think that the South African Union Government undoubtedly ought to pay, and to pay willingly, a certain amount of the upkeep of the troops there I want to know from the right hon. Gentleman whether or not he is going to continue that policy of withdrawing troops. I cannot find in this particular Estimate any allowance for the extra sea-passage of troops home. I think he ought to tell us what is going to be the policy pursued as regards South Africa. Whatever happens I sincerely hope, and every soldier will sincerely hope, that no power on earth will ever induce him to withdraw from the Cape Peninsula, where there is a large naval dock, one of the docks in the world where "Dreadnoughts" can be berthed.
It would be a most insane and most unwise policy to leave the defence of that dock, which might be of paramount importance in case of war, to be undertaken by other than Imperial troops. I have touched upon the want of contributions as regards military matters in relation to South Africa. Looking through general contributions from the other countries, I see that South Africa does not pay a single farthing, which is most remarkable considering that nearly all of our Colonies which subscribe to the upkeep of the Army or the troops in their own district have increased their subscriptions. For instance, an island like Mauritius has increased the amount of her payment by £1,000; Ceylon has increased her payment by £2,500; the Straits Settlements have increased theirs by £53,000; and South China has increased hers by £30,000, making a total altogether of £86,500. When you look at the original increase of the Estimates this year it amounts to £360,000. The general public have the impression that the whole of that £360,000 increase will fall upon their shoulders. Unless I am very much mistaken by these figures and by what appears in the rest of the Army Estimates, £86,000 of that is the extra subscriptions coming from the Colonies, and ought to be deducted from this £360,000.
1414 I should like to refer to the other question that I referred to in my opening remarks, and that is the pay of the officer. I think I can thoroughly congratulate the right hon. Gentleman, and I feel perfectly certain that every hon. and gallant Member on this side will, as regards this statement concerning the advantage to be given to men promoted from the ranks to commissioned rank. Although I believe I am correct in saying that the right hon. Gentleman has never actually served in the Regular Army, I can congratulate him most heartily on having thoroughly interpreted the feeling of the officer of the Regular Army as regards his brother officer promoted from the ranks. The right hon. Gentleman very wisely entirely exploded the notion that there is any reluctance among the officers of the Army to receive into their midst as a friend and a comrade a man who has been promoted from the ranks. I myself served in a regiment where a man was promoted from the ranks from a battalion where it was rather a rare occurrence. From the very first he was made a friend of, and everything that possibly could be done was done for him. While I served in that regiment he was one of the most popular men in it. I hope we shall never again hear any complaint about the reluctance of the officers of the Army to receive the ranker. If there is one thing that the officer of the Army is above all other things it is that he is a gentleman throughout. Now, as to the increase of pay. The right hon. Gentleman has certainly made a beginning with an increase of pay for the officers. The amount is to be £136,000 a year. For years and years we have heard a great deal about the inadequate pay of the British officer. I regret to say that visionary promises have been thrown out by Secretaries of State for War on both sides. Considering the importance of the matter and the difficulty of getting officers, and officers of the right stamp, and of keeping them when you have got them, I feel that even this increase is all too inadequate. It is a very large matter to deal with, but to anyone interested in Army matters, and the defence of the country, it is of the utmost importance that you should be able to maintain your continuous supply of officers. At the present moment we are just and only just keeping our heads above water as regards officers. Considering the rate at which we have gone downhill in the last few years in respect to the numbers submitting themselves with examination for the Army, it will not be very long, I 1415 am afraid, before we shall find it even more and more difficult to obtain the class of men we wish for.
The right hon. Gentleman in his statement about the increase of officers' pay stated, I think, that the subaltern is to receive an increase of pay after six years. It is an admitted fact that for the first three years of their service, subalterns really are for all intents and purposes probationers. Perhaps when they join it is not so advisable to increase their pay. But I and many others would like to see a large sum, say a sum approaching £100,000, granted for disposal and distribution by the War Office or any Committee that might be set up to be given entirely to subaltern officers who qualify themselves in, we will say, making themselves efficient in French and German, or getting the distinguished certificate at Hythe, or distinguishing themselves in flying. It would be impossible to lay down any hard and fast sum from a Parliamentary point of view that they should receive for these different attainments, because flying necessarily would be very much more dangerous, and perhaps not so much sought after by officers as the other qualifications. But they would help the service, and would help the fighting capacity of the Army generally. We would have young fellows going in for, and perhaps receiving £40 or £50 a year, as an extra inducement to perfect themselves in these different qualifications. This would also benefit enormously the man promoted from the ranks, because I quite realise the fact that the man promoted from the ranks will be a man of very exceptional ability indeed, and therefore he will be the man who will also go still further to qualify himself in the various subjects I have mentioned.
As regards the captains and majors, I should naturally try to persuade the Government to give as much as ever possible to both, because the regimental officer, after all is said and done, is the man on whom really you have to depend above all others in war, by his leading of the troops that really will actually decide the battle. It is the regimental officer who is generally overlooked, not only at the time of war, but at the time of the distribution of honours. But at the same time I feel very strongly that the staff officer is a man of the utmost importance, and he has been entirely ignored in the right hon. Gentleman's statement as regards increase of 1416 pay. The ordinary officers of the Line regiment can be made out of the ordinary stuff that presents itself, but the staff officer is a very exceptional man indeed. The men making staff officers require very long training, and very often even when they receive that training men have not the aptitude for being staff officers.
Everyone will agree that as war becomes more scientific, and it is becoming more scientific every day, you require more and more staff officers. The staff officer now without any extra pay being granted to him has gone through great hardships and very often privations to qualify and get through the staff college. He has had to have expensive tutors, very often which he probably cannot afford very well, and that particular class of man is still in the prime of life, and there is an undoubted fear in the Army at the present moment that their is a drift and a steadily growing drift of staff officers and majors and senior captains from the ranks into civil life. A man reaching that age, which, as I say, is the prime of life, finds there is no opportunity of future advancement for him in the service, and he has to hunt about for some civil work, and we all know that civilians are keenly and anxiously looking forward for these men. It is a great danger to the Army that these very men—the men you ought to keep there if you want to have the Army properly staffed—are at the present moment going away into civil life. Therefore, I regret most deeply that the right hon. Gentleman has not been able to make any extra allowance for the past staff college men. I should say that a past staff college man is undoubtedly worth £100 a year extra to the country. There are not a great number of them. As a matter of fact there are only 664 such officers altogether. That is not a large amount, and if they had, up to the rank of Lieut.-Colonel, £100 a year extra and majors and lieutenants £50 a year extra, which I think would retain their services in the Army for the country, the sum total would only amount to £46,400 a year, and I am still of opinion that the non-effective and retiring allowance of Staff College men ought to be increased. The Staff College man who has a staff billet, as they say in the Army, is well paid. He does not require any extra allowance, but the men who have qualified themselves and held staff appointments all their lives may be incapacitated by sickness or illness and when they leave the Service they feel very deeply indeed, I 1417 think, that they have to retire upon exactly the same pay as a man who has just gone through his military service and has been able to pass his examination in the ordinary routine. I think that all Army men would be only too glad to see some extra pay and some extra small pension to past Staff College men. I hope and trust that the right hon. Gentleman therefore will go still further than he has gone as regards the pay of the Army, though at the same time I do not hesitate to congratulate him most sincerely upon the statement he has made.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. MUNRO-FERGUSON
There are two or three points which I would like to put before the Secretary of State for War, and which I think ought to be answered perhaps more definitely than they have been up to now. Before doing so, I should like to express some regret that the hon. Gentleman (Sir W. Byles) had not an opportunity of serving in His Majesty's Forces, and I think if he had he would have formed a very different opinion of British manhood and of the British Army to that which he has expressed in his speech. His reference to the great Republic was distinctly amusing, because that Republic has simply devoted to the payment of pensions for service during the Civil War more than is devoted to the pay of the British Army. I only refer to that speech because I think if it represents the views of the pacifist party nothing more unfortunate could happen than that that party should have any influence. We are dealing with facts up against which we find ourselves, and I think we may well shelve the views of the pacifist party as regards these specific points. I put down some questions with regard to the Artillery in respect to what reorganisation means and the saving of expenses or the possible reduction of guns. The question of establishment and the numbers available ought, I think, to be made clear. As regards the Infantry of the Regular battalions, as I understand, there are fifty-two in India, twenty-two elsewhere abroad, and seventy-four at home, making 148 battalions in all. There are seventy-four Special Reserve battalions, twenty-seven Extra Special Reserve battalions, altogether 249 battalions, and there are Reserves for all branches of the Service. The establishment of the Infantry battalions are for India 1,033 of all ranks, which amount to 52,700 men; in the Oversea Dominions the establishment is 932 1418 for 20,500 men; at home the establishment is 891 and 65,900 men, the Special Reserve 703 and 52,000 men, and the Extra Special Reserve 604 establishment and 17,300 men. What I would like to know is what is the real strength, and I think these figures ought to be given to the House. I think these figures ought to be considered independently of the numbers in the National Reserve, because, after all, that is a mere registry of names. It may come to a great deal, and I think it will, but at present it is a mere registry. The Secretary of State for War has made what I would call a generous provision for it, and allowed the association to effect the registry and see what they can get.
As regards the question of officers, what has to be shown is that the aid which has been given will bring forward candidates from the ranks in sufficient numbers, and that those officers from the ranks will be properly distributed. I doubt, after full consideration, whether the promised aid is sufficient. The amount is £150, but why has that amount been fixed. The amount will vary from something below £150, up to £300, according to the regiment. I think it ought to be possible to make promotion from the ranks in the Cavalry, but with £150 it cannot be done. Does the War Office intend to make sure that in future it will not be obligatory to go to certain tailors, or will it be possible to obtain the uniform from Government Stores? That would make the whole difference. In any case I do not think the outfit allowance ought to be £150 for all regiments, and the officer, whether promoted from the ranks or otherwise, ought to be able to get his uniform at a reasonable rate. There is no army better dressed or more cheaply clothed than the German Army. Of course, I am not advocating an outfit allowance of £300, but unless you take the necessary precautions you will have to give £300 for certain regiments. I want to know if the increase of pay to lieutenants for six years' service is to include three years' service in the ranks, and will the rates of pay be the same throughout the whole of the Army? Will rankers, or others serving, who desire promotion, be made absolutely free in respect of messing and regimental rates? Unless a man can order what he likes at the mess, or unless messing expenses are greatly reduced, the cost will be more than the officer promoted from the ranks will be able to meet.
That raises the question of whether the allowances will be adequate, because, to 1419 break up the mess would be an immense change, and one in my opinion, to be deprecated. In the battalion in which I served occasionally, we had messes and no messes, and I attach enormous weight to the preservation of the system of messes. I think the allowances will have to be larger if we are really to get officers in any number from the ranks, as we should do, and as I think we must do, not only to make up our deficiencies in the officers' corps, but to encourage recruiting, and bring in the right kind of men who wish to work their way up. There is the question of the scale of retiring pay for officers who have been promoted from the ranks. I think those points form the crux of the whole question, and unless they are met your recruiting will not be popular. I do not think the £50 scholarships are a sufficient substitute for a system like that for a French college for non-commissioned officers. We have to meet the same problem that the French had to meet, and I think it would be well to pay full attention to the system which the French have found successful. As to the pay on promotion, officers from the ranks get 5s. 3d per day, or£1 16s. 9d. per week. After three years' service they get 6s. 6d. per day, or £2 5s. 6d. per week, and after six years' service they get 9s. per day, or three guineas per week. At least their expenses would be £1 8s. messing, 2s. 6d. subscriptions, and 2s. 6d. for the servants, and that amounts to £1 13s. That leaves a balance of 3s. 9d. for clothing, uniform, recreation, travelling, and amusements. No man could live upon that, and there would be a constantly increasing debt, until the 9s. per day was reached, or until there was promotion.
As a rule the life of those who become competent officers from the ranks has been a hard one, and so has the life of a great many officers who come into the Army through Sandhurst, and who have had no supplementary allowance. I have heard it described by one who has gone through the mill, and he says these unfortunate officers have had to hold on until their clothes were worn out, and when they could not get any more they had to go. That is not a condition which would bring success to the new system, from which I for one hope so much. Another point which ought to be considered is the percentage of selected warrant and senior non-commissioned officers to be given the rank of captain on promotion. I know that this has been done in war, but that it will 1420 be a novelty in time of peace, and it will have advantages in certain cases. I understand non-commissioned officers and men are to have at least three years in the ranks before nomination to a commission. A very important point arises with regard to selection. Nomination would naturally be made by the officer in command, but the selection will be all important, because there must be no suspicion of favouritism or jobbery, and it will be necessary to have an independent Board of Selection. Nomination is simple enough, but selection is quite different. Then, as regards the retiring allowances, I have some examples by me showing service in the ranks and with commission counting from twenty to twenty-seven years of retired pay. Under the old regulations there was the same retiring allowance for all—£200 a year—but now it is £250 in certain cases. In those cases only half service in the ranks is counted along with commissioned service, and the commission must be held for ten years before the service in the ranks, or in warrant rank counts in making up the necessary twenty years. There are some awkward comparisons which could be made under that regulation. I think the provisions, as we have heard them so far, are not adequate for the object, and, if they were made so, it would be an immense stimulus to efficiency and to recruiting in filling up the deficiencies in the commissioned ranks.
There are one of two specific points I would put briefly with regard to the Second Line. I will not refer to ranges, because I think the urgency of dealing with them is being recognised. The urgency has not yet been recognised—and will not be generally recognised by the War Office until there is some provision made—for allowances for the second week of camp, and out-of-pocket expenses for musketry and drill. I am quite aware that as regards the business system of the association the War Office has taken a general interest in the matter, and, in perfecting that system of business, I believe much good will be done, but nothing that will be done in that way can obviate the need to consider whether some additional attractions cannot be given to keep men in camp for the second week's training, and to meet the out-of-pocket expenses for musketry and drill. I think, too, some encouragement might be devised or some recognition given to employers who are of real assistance in giving them leave for camp. There might very well be some 1421 recognition of the services of officials and leading men on the association. It cannot be said that the Honours Lists in our day are not on a sufficiently generous scale, and, at a time when knights are made in squadrons and other honours are given in proportion, and when perhaps the most honourable position of all is to remain unadorned, it might be possible, as the honours are going round, to give some proportion of them to those who have done so much to create the Second Line of defence, because they, after all, are persons who never, or at least very seldom, appear in these very long lists. I have seen very few names of those with whom most of us are familiar in connection with the Territorial movement in the Honours List.
I am certain that, as regards the general efficiency of that force, something will have to be done in giving bounties for efficiency in training and in musketry, and I am also satisfied that provision will have to be made for the physical training of youths. After all, the Scout movement shows how the interest of boys is excited by appealing to their patriotism and by giving scope for their physical energies. It would be a great matter to know that the Secretary of State for War would co-operate with the Minister for Education in any way that he could to that end. It would be well enough if the Second Line was not left so entirely to the energies of the Secretary of State for War. I have not noticed that many Ministers, except the Secretary of State for War of his day, have really given a helping hand to the movement. Those of us who are really keen for voluntary service, and who intend to abide by it, and to make it a success, are all bound to do all we can, through zeal, through time, or through money, to fill up the Second Line and render it thoroughly efficient. I have heard it said sometimes that perhaps a very full call is being made upon the voluntary spirit. I have heard it said by a distinguished secretary of an association who is all for voluntary service, that the voluntary spirit is being crushed rather than fostered through the great demands made on its altruistic patriotism. We have an extraordinary list when you come to think of how the voluntary spirit is being evoked. There is the Territorial Force, the Territorial Force Reserve, the Territorial Technical Reserve, the Territorial Voluntary Aid Detachments, the Cadet Corps, the Officers' Training Corps, and so on. The Government must 1422 meet the claims for necessary allowances under these heads as well as the claim with respect to promotion from the ranks, which is a matter which applies equally to the First and Second Line of Defence. I have put forward the heads under which the existing or contemplated allowances will, I think, have to be reconsidered. The total sum involved is not a very great one, but I think it will make all the difference as regards the completion of that provision for defence which the Government itself holds necessary, and in holding it necessary I warmly support them.
§ Captain PEEL
We have a Committee sitting and inquiring into the whole question of the Special Reserve, and I should like to thank the Under-Secretary for all the interest he has taken in that Committee. I have great hopes that, though the task of the Committee may be a very long one, we shall get some favourable results from it. There is just one point rather outside the scope of the Committee which I should like to mention, and that is with regard to Special Reserve of the Brigade of Guards. The officers of the Special Reserve of the Brigade of Guards may not join over the age of thirty-five, and I am assured that there are a great many captains who would gladly join the Special Reserve of the Brigade of Guards if the age were extended to forty. The Under-Secretary has already received a paper from me with regard to what is called the reorganisation of the Essex and Suffolk Garrison Artillery of the Territorial Force. We have done pretty well in Suffolk, where the Territorial Force, particularly with regard to the Artillery, stands up to strength. There is an establishment of five companies, one at Felixstowe, two at Harwich, and two at Ipswich, and they are up to strength at the present moment. Under the reorganisation scheme the five companies are to be reduced to two. If the five companies are to be reduced I suggest that they should be reduced to three, one at Harwich, one at Felixstowe, and one at Ipswich. At the present moment Felixstowe is over strength. It has been so successful that it had to refuse twenty-five men after the annual recruiting week. The company at Felixstowe is to be reduced to half a company and the half is to be sent to Harwich on mobilisation. The proposed company at Ipswich is to be sent twelve miles to Felixstowe in order to 1423 mobilise there. When you have got Felixstowe over strength, why should not you leave the company there and allow the men to mobilise at the place where they live? The Secretary for War has said that the Territorial Force is doing very well, but it is still 16 per cent. under strength. This reorganisation will leave these particular companies 30 per cent. short of their present establishment. The numbers at present at Harwich and Felixstowe are nine officers and 174 non-commissioned officers and men. Under the reorganisation scheme there will be six officers and 120 men, a reduction of three officers and fifty-four men. At Ipswich there are four officers and 136 non-commissioned officers and men. In future there will only be six officers and 120 men, a reduction of sixteen. We have heard a great deal from the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down about the call of patriotism and voluntary service and how far it will get the number of men we want, but where you have got all the men you require, where you have them up to the establishment and over establishment, I think it will be very hard upon those parts of the country which have done their duty if their establishment is reduced. I referred just now to the fact that there was a recruiting week at Felixstowe last year. If you do away with that company in the future, what will happen with regard to Territorial enlistment in that district? Felixstowe is a town which is constantly increasing in population, and if you do away with this company and bring it down to half a company and send the other half to Harwich, in a very few years interest will flag and instead of full strength you would have a very few men in Felixstowe, and when you call again for men from Felixstowe, to start possibly an Infantry battalion, you would find no response. I hope the Secretary of State for War and the Under-Secretary for War, who is, in a way, the godfather of the Territorials, will take these points into consideration and that if they are going to reduce the five companies by reorganisation they will reorganise them not from five to two but from five to three and retain the company at Felixstowe. I leave the matter in their hands with the earnest hope that they will see that it is to the best advantage of the Territorial Force that this fine set of men shall not be dispensed with.
§ Mr. DAVID MASON
I should like to put some questions to the Secretary of 1424 State for War. In the Memorandum which has been issued he states that—economies have been effected by the reduction of the garrison in South Africa, and by other means; but these have been swallowed up by the steady growth of the Pension Votes, the continued rise in the price of commodities of almost every kind, and a large but unavoidable increase in the charge for clothing.I hope the hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken will excuse me if I do not refer to his remarks, but I trust he will not be disappointed in his desire to strengthen the Territorials. I believe the men would be forthcoming for the force, and if they are forthcoming he surely will rejoice if they come voluntarily rather than by coercion. The particular question which I wish to ask the Secretary of State is, Will he explain to the House what the amount of these economies is? He states that economies have been effected by the reduction of the garrison in South Africa. All of us must rejoice that it has at last been brought about. Many of us on this side have hoped for it, and now that it is done I think we may congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on having seen fit to bring about the reduction. I saw a statement in the "Economist" newspaper that these economics amounted to £519,000. The increase in the Estimates amounts to £360,000. I think it has been pointed out by some of the authorities on this question that if you have a reduction abroad you are entitled to a corresponding reduction in the units at home, and some go so far as to double the amount and to argue that we ought to have something like £1,000,000 available.
§ Colonel SEELY
May I answer my hon. Friend at once. The figure of £519,000 is one which I do not understand in the least. It is a very small saving, amounting to less than one-tenth of that sum.
§ Mr. MASON
That is precisely what I wanted to elicit, and that was my object in giving the figure. I hope he will give us the exact figure a little later. If we know the number of soldiers who are being brought home we will be able to judge of the accuracy of the figures. I do submit that when he states right off, as he does, that these economies have been swallowed up by the steady growth of pensions and the rise in the price of commodities, which occurs in more than one paragraph, he does not by any means account for the saving from the considerable reduction of the garrison in South Africa. If he will give us the number of troops brought home, then the experts may calculate what ought to have been saved by that 1425 reduction. The hon. Member for Brentford (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fareham (Mr. A. Lee), in his speech the other day, referred to the question of the increase in the number of aeroplanes, and really, as one listened to them, one wondered what would satisfy them or hon. Members opposite. Will they state the number of aeroplanes they would like? Will they ever be satisfied? I am afraid it is impossible for us to satisfy them. I do not pretend to be a military expert; I have no idea what is the requisite number, but I venture to suggest that we are not a Continental Power and that we have not a frontier like France or Germany. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fareham practically abolished the British Navy. He told us, in most lurid language, that a fleet of aeroplanes would come from the Continent, and drop bombs upon us, and reduce us to a parlous condition. I hope that on Thursday next, when we are discussing the future increase in the Navy, we will find him suggesting that it is rather a waste of capital and a mistake to overdo expenditure in that direction, as we have developed this wonderful system of aeroplanes, which will make the Navy useless. One must have a limit to one's ideas in regard to the matter. Is the right hon. Gentleman ever to be pleased or satisfied with anything done on this side of the House? If we had 500 aeroplanes he would probably want 1,000. Surely hon. Members can offer some definite suggestion. I venture to hope that they will show us how we can get along with a fewer number of aeroplanes, or else spend less on naval armaments. I agree with my right hon. Friend (Mr. Munro-Ferguson) as to the speech of the hon. Member for Salford on his animadversion on Army life. I have always paid my tribute to the British Army. We know that in the past the brilliant victories of great soldiers have done a great deal for this country, but surely we can try to reduce our Estimates and bring about a state of affairs which will enable us to get along with a smaller expenditure. Are we to pursue the same course in our debates in regard to aeroplanes as we formerly pursued in regard to "Dreadnoughts"? Is there no end to this continual criticism of our expenditure, or is the only policy of the hon. Members opposite a policy of despair? No one suggests that you should abolish the Navy and the Army, but can we not agree upon some system whereby we may 1426 reduce these Estimates? The hon. Member (Mr. Lee) laughs. I am perfectly serious. Can he offer no suggestion by which we may be able to relieve this country and the world generally of this enormous burden? That does not necessarily mean that we are in favour of abolishing both Services to-morrow, Perhaps the hon. Member will offer a suggestion of a practical character, either by means of international arbitration, or improving our relations with other Powers. I am sure that if he offered some suggestion to that effect, it would be responded to from this side. I hope the Secretary for War will be able to give an answer to my questions, for I believe some considerable economy may be brought about. I regret exceedingly that this economy has been swallowed up in other directions. I hope we may look forward to some cessation of this enormous expenditure, either on the Army or on the Navy, and I ask hon. Members opposite if it is not possible to find some way whereby we can make some progress against this ever increasing expenditure, and unite to bring about a cessation of what has been well described by the Prime Minister as sterilising expenditure.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
I was about to apologise, and I really do still apologise to my hon. and gallant Friends, for intervening in this Debate, but I am slow to make that apology after listening to the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down, because a more useless waste of the time of the House I have seldom witnessed. He repeated the same questions over and over again, when he knew perfectly well that Members whose interest is deep in this subject, and who are experts upon it, of which he himself gave no sign, are anxious to speak. I rise solely to speak upon one point, and the right hon. Gentleman will admit that I have some claim to speak as an expert on that point. He knows that I have during the whole course of its existence acted as Chairman of the Qualifying Board in the War Office. That has given me an opportunity of judging the position, as it now exists, with regard to the officers of the British Army, and I have some knowledge of it as the representative of two universities, who are both agreed that they not only might, but ought, to contribute to the officering of the British Army, but can only do so under fair conditions. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on having for the first time 1427 begun the attempt to put the pay of the British officer on something like a business footing. I am afraid I cannot go much further than that. He is entitled to the praise of having been the first Minister of War who really tackled the subject in earnest. I welcome the beginning, and I am certain he will get strong support. It is a tardy recognition of the fact that we have for long been working upon old-fashioned ideas which are utterly unsuited to the new system. When we abolished the purchase system it virtually became inevitable that we should change the system with regard to the pay of our officers. The Army is no longer to be the appanage of the rich; it must be open to every subject of this Empire. It is of no use the House shutting its eyes to the fact that up to the present time we have been officering the British Army practically gratuitously and without pay.
I fully admit the room and the admirable opportunity there is for promotion from the ranks. There are plenty of men in our race who begin in the position of ordinary soldiers in the ranks, who in that position prove their great power of leading men, and are worthy of being raised to such responsibility. I am also glad that the right hon. Gentleman has helped the initial stages, which are so hard for men promoted from the ranks, by increasing the outfit pay and their ordinary daily pay. We all know that there are dangers in that system. As has already been pointed out, it may be transformed into a system whereby those who have had ample opportunities for entering the Army as officers in the ordinary way sink down to this as an easier means of entrance. I am not sure that it is quite so easy as the Financial Secretary said to guard against this by examinations for promotion. I have had a great deal to do with examinations, and I am not confident about examinations for promotion.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Mr. Harold Baker)
The hon. Gentleman is under a wrong impression. I said that we did guard against that danger by means of the Secretary of State's nomination and not by means of examination. The Secretary of State can select each year those candidates he desires, and he can then eliminate the undesirable ones.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
I think I am right in saying that the hon. Member referred to pro- 1428 motion examinations as a certain guarantee. I am not very fond of promotion by examination in the Army. I do not see any other great profession where a man has to go through examination before he gets promotion. It is not the case with the Home Civil Service, it is not the case with the Indian Civil Service, and it is not the case with the ordinary positions of life. The man gets promoted because he shows himself to be efficient, and you must trust to that for your promotion. Do let us have an end to these continual examinations that make life a burden. I would also point out to the right hon. Gentleman that, good as promotion from the ranks is, useful as it is, and much as I welcome it, it cannot, of course, transform the whole condition of the British Army. I have looked through the Returns which the right hon. Gentleman laid before us the other day, and I find that in about twenty-eight years there were 2,100 men promoted from the ranks, including quartermasters. Taking that number, that means seventy-five in a year out of a total of about 11,000 or 12,000 officers. That is not a very large number, and it will not leaven the whole of the officers of the British Army.
But when we have got past this point of promotion from the ranks, there is something more to be considered. If you wish to attract the proper men into the Army—men of energy, men of ambition, men of ability—you must open to them the ordinary motives which decide a young man of that character and of that class in the choice of his career. You must make it worth his while to enter the Army.
The Army, as the Secretary for War knows, has plenty of attractions. It arouses enthusiasm, it stirs the imagination, it quickens the blood, and it attracts young men of the right sort. No man will join the Army out of lust of gaining money. You must offer him the ordinary inducements that are necessary in the eyes of common sense. You must make him feel sure that after a hard apprenticeship, after a tough struggle, he will, if he proves himself efficient, after a certain number of years, gain a living wage that will enable him to marry and bring up a family. That is not the case at the present time, and the right hon. Gentleman knows it. A parent, even of limited means, will try hard to struggle and give his son, even at a heavy cost to himself, the support that is necessary in the early years of his military career; but he will not do so if there is 1429 not an adequate prospect for his son in the Army. Very few professional parents are in a position to say that they can permanently provide their sons throughout life with an adequate addition to the Army pay which will enable them to live. Parents will make sacrifices, and the right sort of man will strive however great may be the hardships, to attain the end he has in view, but he must see a competency after a fair number of years offered to him. On this point I would offer one word of advice to the right hon. Gentleman. I am quite ready to give all possible assistance to special cases in the early stages of their military career, and I am very glad that in the case of the promoted rankers the Secretary for War is prepared to offer what he calls Secretary of State scholarships. That is a very good thing, but I would offer other scholarships for special merit. But do let the right hon. Gentleman beware of the danger, the fatal mistake of coddling up this profession by making its early stages too easy. I have had plenty of dealings with the teaching profession throughout my career, and I say that nothing has injured the teaching profession so much as this, that you take the apprenticed teacher from his parent's hands when he is fourteen or fifteen years of age and the parent and the apprenticed teacher knows that in all the years afterwards he is supported by the State. What is the consequence of that action upon the profession? Undoubtedly what follows is that the profession is underpaid in the later stages.
If you make the early stages of the subaltern artificially easy, if you take the responsibility off the parent, and make it too easy for the young man entering upon his profession, then you will inevitably reduce the pay in the later stages, and lower the market value of that profession. I would, therefore, beg the right hon. Gentleman not to commit any such mistake as this. I would ask him to remember that a parent who sends his son to the Bar, into the medical profession, or into any of the great professions, has to make himself responsible for greater or, at any rate, as much expenditure as a parent who sends his son into the Army. He is ready to do that, but he must have the bait held out to him which is held out in these other civil professions—the bait of a living wage. How are we to measure the needs of the addition that is necessary to the pay of officers? I am not going to be afraid of suggesting a much larger figure than that which the 1430 right hon. Gentleman has put down. Everyone knows, as an ordinary matter of worldly wisdom, that no man is wise or prudent to join the Army as an officer unless he can reckon upon a private and independent income of at least £150 or £200 a year. The right hon. Gentleman accepts that view. If not, I would like him to make that admission. I maintain that that is the measure of the need of what should be added to the pay of officers.
It is no use comparing the British Army with foreign armies, and the pay of the British officer with the pay of officers in those foreign armies. The right hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that the officer in the foreign army, particularly the German and the French Armies, are paid in many ways that the officer in the English Army does not experience. They have immunities; they have privileges; they have honours; they have a position in society which is not granted to the officer in the British Army. Everything is made easy for the officer in the German or the French Army. What is the case in regard to the officers in the British Army? The office for which the right hon. Gentleman is responsible, instead of helping the British officer, seems to use a perfectly diabolical ingenuity in making his lot as uncomfortable as possible. I am not exaggerating in the slightest degree. For instance, will the right hon. Gentleman not say that the housing of married officers at Aldershot is a crying disgrace to the War Office? It is impossible for the married officer at Aldershot to obtain a house to accommodate himself and his family at anything but a ruinous rent, and many of these officers have to house their families in lodgings in London, while they themselves are serving at Aldershot. That is a disgrace to the War Office. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will use his best efforts to remove it. It is a state of things that would not be tolerated for one moment either in the German or the French army. It is errors of that sort that make the position of the British officer so much less desirable than that of the French or German officer. I only ask that the right hon. Gentleman would not confine his generosity, much as I thank him for it, to £150,000, but to a sum which will give to officers of ten or twelve years' standing a substantial increase in their pay, and which will raise them to something approaching the position of men in other professions. I put it at something like 5,000 men at £200, which would cost £1,000,000. The country would have 1431 worth for the money, and it would meet in a large measure what it is necessary to meet—the anomaly which has existed far too long, and which now calls for redress if you are to establish your Army on a proper business footing, namely, that your officers are not paid at a rate on which it is possible for them to support themselves, and that they are assumed to be men of private means.
§ Mr. CROFT
With regard to aviation, I will only say that I think we are entitled to a definite answer from the Secretary of State for War as to the exact number of efficient machines we have ready for war. As to that part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech last week, in which he referred to the Territorial Force, I regret that I have not had the opportunity of saying a word or two upon it before now. I wish particularly to refer to the right hon. Gentleman's statement where he was trying to convince us that the Territorial Force, although below strength, could easily be filled up by drawing on other heterogeneous forces which he brought to the notice of many of us, I am afraid, for the first time. He said that there were 105,000 men who had left the Territorial Force since its formation, and that we could rely on a very large number of them to fill up the 16 per cent. below strength at the present time. He was very emphatic about that. He said:—We know that the whole of them, practically, because they have said so, are anxious to rejoin on the declaration of war or even in time of imminent national danger."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th March, 1913, col. 1088.]I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has any right to say that, because there is no possible check that has yet been applied which can give any proof that it is a fact. I have since I was permitted by age to be a member of the Volunteer Force, and afterwards the Territorial Force, taken a very great interest in the working of these forces, and I really think the right hon. Gentleman takes far too much for granted when he says that practically the whole of these men will be ready to come forward to fill the gaps in time of war. He carried the comparison further and compared these Reserves, which are no Reserves at all—for they have never definitely said that they would come forward—with the Reserves of the Bulgarian Army. He said that the Bulgarians, instead of having to fill up a 16 per cent. deficiency, filled up something like 80 per cent. Why 1432 did the right hon. Gentleman introduce that comparison if he did not mean it to blind the eyes of this House to the true facts of the question in relation to the shortage of Territorial troops? I say that to compare 105,000 men who have made no definite arrangement to reinforce the Territorial Force in time of war with the Bulgarian Reserves, who are compelled to come in in time of war, is to make a comparison which is not justified, and the right hon. Gentleman must be driven to an extreme limit if he has to fall back upon arguments of that kind to convince the country that the Territorial Force need not be worried as to numbers.
The right hon. Gentleman went on tell us of various other forces we could rely upon in time of stress to fill up the ranks. He mentioned the National Reserve. He was too modest. Why not mention the Chelsea Pensioners and the Boy Scouts? The right hon. Gentleman himself is a skilled tactician and thoroughly understands this question. No one in this House believes that it would be possible to bring the Chelsea Pensioners or the Boy Scouts into the Territorial Force and place them against trained troops. I think a great proof that the right hon. Gentleman and his predecessor have failed in their work is that the right hon. Gentleman is driven to rely on arguments such as these, because he knows perfectly well that if war were suddenly to break out you cannot by introducing rifle companies into the Territorial Force make that force efficient in six months. You will not make the force efficient if you bring in men who have no training whatever, and who have had no military practice except in the finding of a range in a miniature rifle shooting hall. When we come to the question of filling up the gaps, we must agree with the right hon. Gentleman when he said that all is not well with our Army. If that is so, I say that your Estimates are insufficient and that it is high time to make some drastic change by which all will be well with our Army. I do not think there are many Members who agree with the hon. Member for Salford (Sir W. Byles), who tells us that we must not threaten Continental military Powers. I do not think anyone will deny that our Army has greater work to perform than any other Army, although we do not wish to see our Army of the same dimensions as those of Continental Powers. We have 28,000 miles of land frontier—four times as much as any other Power in the world. We 1433 know perfectly well that we cannot rely entirely on the Navy. Those days have gone by. A naval Power cannot, without an army, crush a Continental army, because modern invention has so improved communication that you can no longer destroy a commercial nation on the seas. We must recognise that if we are to have any voice whatever in the counsels of Europe we must have an adequate Expeditionary Force to maintain the balance of power on the one hand, and if we are to maintain peace, on the other hand, we must have a greater home defence army to fill up the gaps in that Expeditionary Force when it leaves these shores.
It does seem to me that we are not recognising the absolute failure in numbers and efficiency of the Territorial Force at the present time. I am not speaking against the men, with whom I have served. We have been doing what we ought to have been doing, while the authors of this scheme have been doing nothing whatever, with the exception of Lord Haldane and the present Secretary of State for War, to make it a success in the country. The Members of the Government, with the exception of those connected with the War Office, have not been going around outside and advising their countrymen to join us. I have searched very carefully the speeches of all the hon. Gentlemen opposite, and all they have done is to criticise us as to proposing an alternative. [An HON. MEMBER: "Will you provide one?"] I have produced three schemes, if the hon. Member will do me the honour of reading them. It should be recognised that this is not a party question at all. I have advocated them, not because they will win votes—we know perfectly well that they will not—but because we believe that peace can best be maintained by having this a really effective force. I may very briefly point out exactly what I refer to with regard to the numbers of the force. It will be remembered that when Lord Haldane laid down his Territorial scheme in this House on the first occasion, when I had the pleasure of hearing him from the Strangers' Gallery, he then told us that it was absolutely essential that we should have an establishment of 315,000. That was the minimum upon which we could rely with safety. That minimum has not been reached, and I quite agree with the Secretary of State for War when he tells us that all is not well with our military affairs. I think that that obviously must 1434 be so, because otherwise he would be in conflict with his previous chief.
The Territorial Force and the Special Reserve are below the established strength at the present time by 80,000 men. That is a very big number, and a very small Army, compared with the other armies of the world. In addition, the Special Reserve has practically become nothing but a recruiting ground for the Regular Army. The great complaint one finds in all the Special Reserve battalions throughout the country is that the men not only do not join in sufficient numbers for the present strength, but directly they have joined they pass on to the Regular Army. The consequence is that when that Special Reserve comes up there will be very few old soldiers and a very large number of boys in the ranks. The result is that we find that in stamina and physique the Special Reserve is undoubtedly inferior to the old Militia, though, of course, the six months' training will produce better recruits than we had in the old days. Passing from that, we find that the Territorials fail in strength and training, and are inadequately disciplined. I remember the speech made by the hon. and gallant Member for Monmouthshire, and when I refer to inadequate discipline I do not mean that these men are insubordinate, but that they have not the discipline to go under fire in the field. Lord Haldane recognised at the time that the Territorial Army is not disciplined to go under fire at present, but the right hon. Gentleman places his chief faith in the question of numbers, and it is with regard to these that I wish to say one word. The Territorial Force is something like 60,000 men short at the present time. It is between 50,000 and 60,000. About the middle of April a very large proportion of the present force is going. Therefore the force will be between 60,000 and 70,000 short in a few weeks' time. We may take it at 60,000. I should say that that is so from the returns which I have seen of men who are going. They may be more lucky in other battalions.
The attendance in camp last year, out of a total establishment of 310,000, was only 161,000, who were present for the whole fifteen days. Sixty-seven thousand were present for eight days. The result was that at the end of the week, after you had got your men to a certain state of efficiency, you suddenly began with an entirely new battalion, and the men who had gone on to a certain extent had to be kept back until the new men were brought on 1435 and trained up. It would be far better to make them fulfil their training compulsorily, or else have a compulsory week and expose the thing, because the present system is a bad one. Out of the total establishment of 310,000 we have 80,000 men in the Territorial Army either nonexistent or untrained. Last year out of the number who were trained, I do not think it is unreasonable to say that there are something like 50,000 who are certainly unfitted to take the field. If you took this total of 130,000, it leaves in your Territorial Force only 180,000 who would be prepared to take part in the defence of their country. Out of this, a large proportion it is perfectly safe to say, 50,000, are totally inadequately trained with respect to musketry? If you leave alone the question of the inadequacy of the musketry, we have only got 180,000 effective men. Can anybody suggest that even a large proportion of that number could really be concentrated to meet a raid at any particular time? You have got to leave a large number of troops in Scotland—we do not know where a raid is likely to come—and you have got to leave a large number in Ireland, because, at any time, there might be trouble in Ireland, and you will have to withdraw your Regular service in Ireland for your Expeditionary Force, and perhaps at the same time, you will have to defend your dockyards, your arsenals and lines of communication, and railway bridges. The right hon. Gentleman is well aware that out of his 180,000 effective Territorials, I am not exaggerating when I say that he will be very lucky if he can get 100,000 of his men to go comfortably to meet a raid within a short time.
If that be the case, suppose a raid were possible of 70,000 trained troops—and it cannot be denied that it is—it would be a wicked gamble to oppose 70,000 trained troops to 100,000 Territorials. One has only got to read military history; one has only got to follow what Stonewall Jackson did in the War of Secession with a very small number of troops, not very much more highly trained than the troops opposed to him, to realise how almost essential it is to do everything in our power to keep this Territorial Army, which will not be fit to manœuvre in the field under fire, as far as possible behind earthworks, and how essential it will be for us to have, at any rate, as large a number as possible, to oppose forces of trained soldiers. I believe it to be absolutely imperative that the 1436 trained Expeditionary Force in this country should be at least 250,000, if it is going to have any effect at all, but I do believe that the time has come when we want to have not a very highly trained Reserve, but a large Reserve in this country. Lord Haldane, I believe, originally desired to raise 900,000 men. That is what we desire to do, and we believe this that without any great expense at all, the Territorial skeleton being a good one, the idea being perfectly sound, those who are preventing the universal adoption of that service, which, to those who have tried it, is a pleasure and a recreation, those who try to obscure the issue with some political purpose, in order to prevent the extension to the Territorial Army of the universal principle, are doing a great harm to the country, and I believe that they do not recognise that if they were carrying out the idea, they would not be interfering with a man's profession, and would not be interfering with his work. I do hope that this House will consider—I admit it may not satisfy all Regular soldiers—the universal application of the present Territorial idea. I believe it would be no hardship to the men of this country, and, if you did that, you could free your Expeditionary Force and your Navy in time of trouble, so that they need not worry about these shores; you would have a sufficiently large Territorial Army to resist a raid of 70,000 or even 100,000, and at the same time it would be so large that the best men could volunteer and fill the wastage in your Expeditionary Force. I believe that if the right hon. Gentleman will consider the further application of a splendid idea in a universal respect it will meet with the approval of men of all parties in this country.
§ Colonel LOCKWOOD
I only wish to put one question to the right hon. Gentleman, and it rather concerns the subject raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr. Croft), in regard to the figures of 105,000 ex-Territorials, who, the right hon. Gentleman said, would rejoin on mobilisation, or, to speak more correctly, who he hoped would rejoin on mobilisation. What I want to find out from the right hon. Gentleman is whether he spoke from knowledge of the facts and figures, or whether he only spoke from faith. Unlike others perhaps greater than myself, I am unwilling to enter into a definition of what faith really is, but I cannot make out myself, nor can I satisfy myself, what are the 1437 figures on which he founded that statement. Let me take his figures. Of the 105,000 who might rejoin, I personally, from information furnished to me, would strike out 30 per cent. or 35 per cent. of men who have never completed the four years' training. I go further, and I would deduct those men, whom some may perhaps describe as rotters, or whom I would describe as social failures in the Territorial Force, who have been got rid of for one mistake or another. I should further take away men who have died—I do not think even the right hon. Gentleman would dispute death—or who, if they have not died, have emigrated. Then there come the class of men, of whom perhaps I am one, who are too old to serve their country. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] Those were not included in the right hon. Gentleman's statement. In short, when you have deducted those classes I have mentioned, I am not far out in saying that 10,000 men at the outside—even if the right hon. Gentleman's faith was amply fulfilled, and all these other men were glad to flock to the Colours—would be a very liberal estimate, instead of 105,000. At all events, I am quite sure the right hon. Gentleman will give us what figures he can in support of the statement he has made. Like many other private Members who speak on the Army, and always end by proposing that a draft should be made on the Treasury, I would suggest that a bonus of £5 should be given to every Territorial who completes four years' service, and a bonus of £4 on the completion of four years in the Territorial Reserve. That would be, at all events, some incitement to men to join this force which the right hon. Gentleman thinks is so large, but which I think would be so very small. These are questions which I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider, but I wish him more especially to direct his attention to the figures.
§ Mr. HUNT
The Secretary of State for War said, when he produced the Estimates last year, there were only twelve officers out of fourteen officers and 182 men who could fly, and that they had then seventeen aeroplanes. I think that shows how disgracefully the Government, neglected the art of flying. We surely know now the danger to which we are exposed in consequence. This year, the right hon. Gentleman said, we have 123 flying officers, of whom fifty-five had passed the highest test, and there are only eight men 1438 out of 600. The right hon. Gentleman said we had 101 aeroplanes in possession of the War Office capable of flying as far as he could decide. That does not sound to me as if the right hon. Gentleman really knows whether those aeroplanes can fly or not. I am given to understand, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will tell—
§ Mr. HUNT
The time is not my fault. I am going as quickly as ever I can. I am given to understand that a great many of those aeroplanes do not belong to the War Office at all, but that an officer was sent round to the flying schools to find out how many machines the War Office could have a call on if they were wanted, and that those were counted in the 101.
§ Mr. HUNT
I am only asking the right hon. Gentleman was that the case. There are 120 aeroplanes owned by private people in France on which the French Government have got a call, more than we have over here. Was it the case that some of the Army aeroplanes were rendered incapable of being used because they were not looked after? The right hon. Gentleman did say something about it, but he did not tell us whether it was true or not. Of those 101 aeroplanes which the right hon. Gentleman believes to be capable of flying, some are not fast enough to be any good in war and others are very useful in war, but they are too dangerous to use in peace. That is the right hon. Gentleman's own account. In other words, some are like rather fat, underbred hunters, which may be able to rise at their fences but can only go about as fast as you could kick a hat backwards. Others can get along fairly, but are so groggy on the legs that they tumble down on the flat and break the rider's neck—not altogether a cheery look-out in the stress of modern war. The right hon. Gentleman said that we have got the best aeroplane in the world, and that several of them are of a type superior to any owned by any other country, and yet he told us that if anyone tried to find out what foreign countries were doing about aviation, he would find himself immediately confronted with a blank wall. He cannot possibly know how good the aeroplanes of other countries are. His assertion that we have got the best aeroplane in the world is guesswork and bluff. Apparently the right hon. Gentleman does not even know the 1439 number of aeroplanes which are possessed by Germany—all he does is to quote the "Morning Post," and he said 150. I am only quoting what the right hon. Gentleman said. The French Government are, I believe, understood to possess 500 of their own, besides 120 private aeroplanes, on which the French Government have got a call. Does the right hon. Gentleman think it likely that Germany has only 150 and France from 500 to 620? Does he think that in Germany some of their aeroplanes are too slow for war and others too dangerous for peace? So much has the art of flying been neglected by the Government that, although the Secretary for War tells us, without apparent justification, that we have the best aeroplanes in the world, yet we cannot make them because our engines are inferior to those of foreign Powers. This is entirely the fault of the Government, because they gave the makers of engines no encouragement. They are now going to do so by offering a prize. We are all behindhand. That ought to have been done at least three or four years ago, and would have been done if the Government cared as much about the national safety as they do about catching votes. The right hon. Gentleman said that we have no large dirigible balloons of the Zeppelin type, and that we are not going to have any. The Government are deliberately declining to build any of these "Dreadnoughts" of the air, although the right hon. Gentleman admitted that they were possessed by many other countries. He said to us: "What about the safety of this country from invasion by hostile aircraft? What about a large number of airships of great size, which might come over here from a hostile country, and the fear that the whole of our stores of explosives might be blown up?" Those are the right hon. Gentleman's own words. He admitted that Germany had five military airships of a rigid type and of large size, capable of being used at night and of carrying and discharging high explosives op to our docks, ships, magazines, and stores. We know that Germany has more than five big airships—probably, with privately owned ones, more than double that number, and that she can build them more quickly and easily than we can. We cannot do it because the Government have neglected to build these great "Dreadnoughts" of the air. Let me ask the Secretary of State for War what state we should be in if there was a crisis of the kind that we had lately, and 1440 if the enemy began the war by sending a dozen of these Zeppelins over here at night to discharge tons of high explosives on our arsenals and big towns? The right hon. Gentleman put forward as an argument in our favour that no Power would be so foolish as to put all its eggs into one basket—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The hon. Member is doubtless aware that there is a rule against reading speeches.
§ Mr. HUNT
I am trying to get on as quickly as possible; and I have a good many quotations here. I have seen hon. Member's opposite with very full notes and a box to put them in. The right hon. Gentleman told us that no Power was so foolish as to put all its eggs into one basket, and that we had not made that mistake either. I submit that is not true. Every other nation, as he said, has got numbers of airships of large size, and we have none, and we are not going to have any. Our basket has no eggs in it at all. For the defence of the country all our eggs are in the aeroplane basket. There are not very many of them, and some of them, for war purposes, are about as rotten as election eggs. The right hon. Gentleman explained that although he did not claim to know the number of the aeroplanes in Germany, that in proportion to the number of German soldiers, we have four times as many aeroplanes as Germany. That argument is perfectly childish. I might just as well say that Germany has more warships than we have because we have a larger number of sailors. We are admittedly inferior in the number of aeroplanes, and we cannot make them because we cannot make the engines. We have no large dirigibles at all for home defence, nor even any little balloons in boxes. The War Secretary explained that our two or three little jack-in-the-box dirigible balloons are better than any other kind of portable airship owned by other nations. I cannot see how he has got through the blank wall that foreign countries oppose to us to prevent us finding out what they are doing. There is our little balloon which, it is stated, can go 45 miles an hour. My information, from a man who at all events has been in one of them, is that they can only go that fast when they have got a very high wind behind them. Before I give way to the right hon. Gentleman I should like 1441 to be assured that there will be another opportunity for discussing the points I wish to raise.
§ Colonel SEELY
I must acknowledge the courtesy of the hon. Gentleman opposite for sitting down so promptly, and I can assure him that anything that lies in my power I will do to enable him to finish his speech on another occasion, or to add any remarks to it. Of course, the matter rests with Mr. Speaker or the Chairman, as the case may be, when we come to discuss Vote 1, which, by an arrangement to which the Prime Minister assented, will be an occasion when we can discuss these larger questions which we are discussing, and to which the hon. Gentleman was addressing himself when with great consideration he was good enough to sit down. I was anxious if I could to reply to-night to several points which have been raised by hon. Members in all parts of the House, who naturally wish for an immediate reply if it can be given. I am the more anxious to do it because in almost every case the points raised have been non-controversial points—certainly always non-party points—presented to the House in a non-controversial spirit, which again I would venture with great respect to the House to asknowledge most gratefully. With two exceptions we have continued this Debate on the Army in a spirit which I confess I have never seen before. It does seem to be a fact that the party in Army matters has been forgotten. The first thing which we more than welcome is the assistance that the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for the City is going to give in the work of the Imperial Defence Committee. It is an entirely new departure, though it has been in contemplation to keep that Committee outside party. It is all a symptom of a new spirit that we must as far as possible acknowledge.
The Army, like the question of foreign affairs, is one on which we cannot divide ourselves on altogether party lines. There are some special points which have been raised on which I must reply, and the first is with regard to the proportion of serving soldiers. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Stafford (Sir T. Courtenay Warner) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Leith Burghs (Mr. Munro-Ferguson) drew attention to the total numbers. It is quite true, in my judgment, since I was appealed to, and I know in the judgment of every soldier, the more men you can have serving with the Colours, other things being equal, the 1442 better, but other things, of course, are not equal. In the first place, by getting a larger number of Reservists the average age of our units is increased. I cannot go into the whole question of the relative values of units brought up to war strength and units like those mentioned as serving in South Africa and compare their relative merits. There is no unanimity of opinion upon that. Some soldiers set great store by having men rather older than the average men in our Army recruited as it is to-day. There is no doubt that in the case of the Artillery, which is the most technical of the three branches, there is a very real and special advantage in having a large proportion of men serving in the ranks and a smaller proportion of Reservists. I do not claim the step we have taken this year goes far enough, but it is a step in that direction, and I believe the right direction; but if you carry it further, not only with regard to the Cavalry, which is a small matter, but with regard to the Infantry, you would be brought up against the question of maintaining the Cardwell system. I am not going into the whole Cardwell system, which is the system under which we have worked, and which has proved so useful, not only for our overseas garrisons, but in a great and increasing degree in recent years for the Expeditionary Force it has been very real, efficient, and valuable. That our Expeditionary Force has improved enormously I am glad to think everyone on this side of the House is agreed. I can only say to both my hon. Friends that I accept the thesis that in the Artillery force you should have a greater proportion of men serving. We have done something, and if we have not gone further it is because of further difficulties with regard to the maintenance of an adequate Reserve. Unless you are going to change the system under which we work, which manifestly now is not the time to do the thing, is to perfect what we have got. Questions have been asked with regard to numbers. Some hon. Members asked, "How comes it that you say you will only be 500 short. Other hon. Members make out it will be 3,800 or 2,800 plus the Royal Flying Corps. The explanation is a technical one, but not at all difficult. It is that we have not taken the same number of men as in previous years, because we do not find it necessary. To make it quite clear I will say this: If under our system of voluntary enlistment we obtain the number of men 1443 we require, as I hope the numbers under Vote A will be 500 less than the year past, not 3,800 or 2,800, but 500, and if I am asked why there should be 500 reduction, the reason is what I gave the other day, that as we get rid of the Special Service Section of the Royal Artillery, we do not require the large number of men hitherto engaged in training. With regard to the general structure of the Army I can make no claim to have made any appreciable change with regard to numbers.
The next point is in regard to the number of aeroplanes. I must confess that I have been a little puzzled by the attitude of one or two hon. Gentlemen who feel themselves unable to accept a plain statement. I do not in the least complain, but it seems to me to be a little unusual. When an hon. Member says something is so, somebody else may say, "I do not believe it," but it is, of course, very discourteous. I do not, however, complain. Now we have got a little further, because the hon. Member for Brentford (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) has been good enough to give us a definition of what he calls an efficient aeroplane or one efficient for war. It is very difficult to define an aeroplane efficient for war. You can make it one of high speed or low speed, facility for landing, etc., and he has taken a figure which he says he will take for the purpose of this Debate, and he will call a machine efficient for war that will fly fifty miles an hour, rise to 3,000 ft., and continue to fly at fifty miles an hour at that height. I have got on to our experts on the telephone since the hon. Member spoke, and I can tell the House that, making every allowance and with a determination to understate rather than overstate, we are in possession of over eighty aeroplanes which come up to that standard. My belief is that on the hon. Member's statement the number would be about eighty-seven, but in order to be on the safe side I say it is over eighty. And so we may clear away that suspicion which I regret has come into this Debate, because there need be no suspicion about it.
We were working up to secure over 150 by the 31st May. We have had great difficulties owing to delays. I impute no blame to the manufacturers, because in a new industry in all countries there always must be delays, especially to secure safety. Delay has been delay caused in the manufacture of the suitable stays, because we found 1444 some kind of stays were dangerous. This comes out by accidents, and we have had scientific investigation at the Royal Laboratory at Kew. Consequently we have had to go to our manufacturer and say, "You cannot make the stays up to your specification because it will not be safe." That has happened very often and has been the cause of delay. Working on the programme laid down the position is that by next Monday we shall have added a further number of twenty-six, all of which will be far above the standard laid down by the hon. Member for Brentford; and in the course of the following eight weeks a further twenty-one will be added, if the deliveries are made as expected. I hope after this statement we shall have no further disputes. I want to be quite frank with the House. If we get the deliveries we shall have to-day week 127, of which at least 110 will come up to the hon. Gentleman's standard, and by the 31st of May we shall have 148, and possibly the number may be accelerated, of which at least 130 will come up to his standard. I do not wish to argue whether that is wholly adequate or inadequate to our needs, but the people who have been concerned in this difficult business of aeronautics have worked very hard indeed to make so enormous an increase in personnel and material as from 12 to 123, an increase of over 900 per cent.—all men who can fly and the great majority of them very expert flyers—and from 17 to 101, and within a few weeks more to 148. To have made so great an advance with so few mistakes reflects great credit, not on me, but on those who work under me.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
There was a further addition to my suggestion, and that was that they should be ready to start for war within a reasonable time.
§ Colonel SEELY
Oh, yes; these eighty are ready to go and will fly at 50 miles an hour, and will continue to fly at 50 miles an hour at 3,000 feet.
§ Colonel SEELY
I believe they have been paid for. I hope we have got them safe. We certainly have got to pay for them, whether the money has been actually handed over or not. If we get delivery, we shall have 127 by this day week and 148 by 31st May; and we have now in 1445 possession 101, unless there have been two delivered during the holidays. Speaking for the Army and for the whole of my expert advisers, in spite of all that has been said, we have no intention now, whatever we may have in the future, of getting a Zeppelin. All my expert advisers agree that for the Army, for its Expeditionary Force, to get a Zeppelin and pay for it would be a much more foolish proceeding than to take the money and throw it into the sea. Anyone who has studied the question of rigid balloons knows it is impossible to manage them unless you have a shed in which they can go. You may be able to moor them for a time, but the danger of having them destroyed in a storm is such that it, would not be worth while to take them with an Expeditionary Force. No nation, and certainly not ours, would be well advised to have one without a shed. It may be said, "Why do other nations have them? Are the Germans and the French all fools to have the rigid balloon?" No, of course not, because they are two great nations, with a coterminious frontier, along which they can dot their sheds, and, if so dotted, it is quite conceivable they are going to be of value in war. They have a fair prospect of success in being able to rise from their sheds to manœuvre, not over the battlefield, because no doubt they would be destroyed there by the vertical guns, but at such a distance that they could well see the main movements of the enemy, or, at any rate, the great flanking movements which make the difference between success and defeat, and then return to their sheds. A great number of them might be destroyed—we all know what happened to a Zeppelin the other day—but they would have a fair prospect of success. You could not, however, with an expeditionary force, put up a shed in a moment. You would have to build it, which is a very long business, and by the time you had done that the war might be over. That is a thing which none of my expert advisers would ever advise me to do, and I certainly have no intention of doing it. Some great change may take place in the aeronautical world which may make it possible for the Expeditionary Force to use one of these Zeppelins. When that day comes we shall be prepared to take the necessary action. As to the part of the Territorial Force, and the 105,000 men to which the right hon. Gentleman opposite specially directed himself, as did also an hon. Friend, if they will do me the honour to look at what I said they will see 1446 that I specifically said, not once but twice, that I was not dealing with the question of efficiency—that was another matter—but with the question of numbers alone. I repeat, so far as the numbers alone are concerned, that the 16 per cent. shortage is not the serious part of the problem of our national forces. Not only is that my opinion, but I am advised by my advisers that that is not the serious thing. The 105,000 men are not those who have left for the various causes enumerated by the hon. and gallant Gentlemen, or who have left this world, it is an estimate formed by experts of those who would leave the force on the expiration of the period of engagement. If you deducted Volunteers as well as Territorials the number would be larger.
§ Colonel SEELY
You must have arrived at it by an estimate. We have very expert mathematicians in the War Office who can calculate almost everything, and it is remarkable how often even these prophesies are fulfilled, because they have to make very careful computations, not only of matters of this kind, but of what will happen from year to year. It is really remarkable how frequently in that case they are proved to be absolutely right. The same people have made this estimate, and I believe they are right. I believe there can be no doubt about this 16 per cent., and in this I am supported by the chairmen of county associations whom I have had the opportunity of consulting in the matter. The presidents of county associations and the commanding officers and other persons who have discussed the matter with me at great length are all agreed, and they impressed it upon me at the time that I was making further provision for the National Reserve, that it was really unnecessary to make this further provision for the purpose of filling up the War establishment of the Territorials because these men would undoubtedly provide the necessary number. With regard to the problem of invasion, I will not speak on that to-night, not because of the want of time, but because it would be more convenient to deal with it on the day when the Prime Minister will himself speak on the whole question both of the Army and the Navy. It is a naval problem even more than a military one, and he will discuss the matter as 1447 a whole, and also the Sub-Committee of Imperial Defence, to which I have referred, and which will have proceeded further in its labours. In the opinion of my advisers, the danger of an overwhelming force striking us a blow at the heart and paralysing us is a danger which is not a danger that we need fear. The question of raids we will deal with, of course, when the whole question is discussed at another time, but I repeat that if we regarded such a blow at our heart, which would bring the national life to a standstill and rob us of our liberties, as a likely contingency, there is no step that we would not ask the country to take in order to avert such a danger.
I do regret one thing, and one thing only, in this Debate, that one or two hon. Gentlemen—I think there were two—were so ungenerous as to attack distinguished soldiers who serve upon the Army Council to-day. It is very unusual to make those attacks. It is much better to attack the man who is responsible here. But, since the question has been raised, although it is unusual to offer a eulogy of any one in the service of the Crown, I feel bound to say this: That for various reasons the present First Military Member of the Army Council, Sir John French, has rendered quite exceptional services to the State, and is now capable of rendering them. Not only did he command our forces in the field with signal success, not only did he earn the compliments of the whole Army, and of the whole Empire—because men from all parts served with him—but he earned the respect and esteem of his enemies. Now that our enemies have become our friends he is enabled to take a comprehensive survey of the whole of the military problems of the Empire; and if, as I hope and believe, we took a long step forward in the course of the last few months towards securing that Imperial co-operation in land warfare between all parts of the Empire, which is the ideal that all of us, even the most peaceful men, hope for, then I say unhesitatingly that the men who come to write the history of these times, with a knowledge of all that has taken place, will say that it has been due in a large and exceptional measure to Sir John French. I must say in regard to several points raised that I have made a note of all the points that have been raised. With regard to the increase in the officers' pay, I hope that not only this House, but the whole country, will take note of the fact 1448 that every single speaker, not only on this side and the Labour Benches, but hon. Gentlemen opposite, and some belonging to the most exclusive regiments, have joined in one unanimous statement that so far from it being the wish of the Army to prevent men rising from the ranks, the British Army as a whole, the officers as well, welcome it. I think it is indeed a satisfactory thing that that unanimous testimony should have been paid to the principle that we welcome ability in the British Army from wherever it may come. With regard to the withdrawals from South Africa, it is impossible to state the exact amount of the savings, because they will be found in many Votes. The savings have not become effective because the necessary cost of clothing, etc., will swallow up the initial savings made.
§ Colonel SEELY
I could not give the exact numbers off-hand. There is Artillery and Cavalry. That I will deal with in the memorandum I will send to my hon. friend. With regard to making South Africa pay, which the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggested, of course Ceylon and Mauritius would pay more and on a totally different footing. I do not think that is a proposition we could make. South Africa, I am sure, is quite willing to pay according to her needs.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
The right hon. Gentleman has left me a minute in which first to pay from my heart a tribute to the services rendered by the distinguished soldiers at the War Office; and, secondly, to say that the whole tenor of this Debate and of the right hon. Gentleman's speech shows that the work of the Committee has only been begun, that it has begun well, that when it is resumed after the general Debate it will be advantageous to focus this discussion on the points of officers, aeronautics, and the general sufficiency of our land forces.
It being Eleven of the clock, Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of 17th March, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.
§ Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution," put, and agreed to.