§ Resolution reported, "That an additional number of Land Forces, not exceeding 500,000 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, in consequence of the War in Europe, for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1915."
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
(indistinctly heard): There are several points I wish to put before this Resolution is carried. The right hon. Gentleman stated that an excellent response had been made to the appeal for recruits but that the number had fallen short of the demands made upon them. I should like to know whether other arrangements have also fallen short. There is some reason to believe that the provision made before the War for recruits and for the furnishing of camps and the like was insufficient for the needs which have since been experienced, not merely in respect of enrolment of recruits, but even in respect of the Territorial Army. I know from my own knowledge that Territorial soldiers called out have no straw, or palliasses I think they are called, to sleep upon. They are overcrowded in a most inconvenient way in all sorts of buildings, not at all suited to such a purpose. It would have been far more convenient to have placed them in camp under canvas, or in huts. I do not understand why these provisions were not made, and I should like to ask the Under-Secretary to explain to the House how much equipment was in store before the War broke out with a view to these contingencies, because, after all, although the response has been very magnificent, I do not think that it can reasonably be said to have been unforeseen. To say that such a splendid response was entirely beyond expectation is like saying one does not know of the law of gravity. I should have 794 thought that it was one of the first things the War Office would have most naturally borne in mind. It is very regrettable that so many of the Territorial Army coming to their duty should have found themselves in such a position of discomfort. The War Office and the Imperial Committee of Defence have been considering these possibilities for a great many years. They have arranged many things in a most admirable way, but these, which seem the most obvious of all, appear to have been overlooked. I hope the Under-Secretary will be able to explain what equipment there was. I dare say I am using the word "equipment" in an erroneous sense. I mean provision in the widest sense—palliasses for the troops to sleep upon and tents for them to live in. What equipment was there both for the Territorial Force and the other auxiliary arms which came to the Colours? The Prime Minister told us that this could not have been foreseen, but I think it must have been foreseen by all those who knew what war would mean. There are a great many people who think the War Office deserves criticism, but who, nevertheless, think the utmost should be done to strengthen their hands and to support confidence in them.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Tennant)
I am sure I am the last person to think that the great response which the country has made to our appeal in this national emergency may be construed into a vote of confidence in the War Office. I am sure the Noble Lord will acquit us of any such arrogance on our part. The Noble Lord has asked me what provision was made prior to the outbreak of hostilities. Full provision was made for the entire Territorial Force. The Noble Lord shakes his head, but I can assure him that was so, because, although in some cases certain Territorial soldiers have been denied some things, such as palliasses, it does not follow that there was not full provision made for the camp which the Territorial Force would have gone to had there been no outbreak of hostilities. Of course that was so, but when mobilisation came the whole of the camp arrangements made broke down and fell through. The Territorial Force was distributed over places in a manner of which nobody had any idea before the outbreak of war. I 795 think that is really a perfectly simple explanation, and one which I hope my hon. Friends will understand. I do not think it is really quite fair to any of us to say that it was as obvious as the law of gravity that a great response would be made in this emergency. Of course we knew that, but the Noble Lord alluded to a period prior to any outbreak of war, and he really took us to task for not having made provision for a condition of things which was not only unforeseen, but unforeseeable. Surely it was unforeseeable, first of all, that we were going to War to this extent! Full and ample arrangements were made for the Expeditionary Force—so ample were they that, although we have increased our Army by 400,000 or 500,000, it is remarkable what provision we have been able to make.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I should like to ask the War Office if they would pay greater attention than is being paid to the hospital accommodation provided, not for the sick and the wounded from the front, where I believe most that is possible is being done on the best lines, but for troops, particularly of the Territorial Force, which are now in places where there are no proper quarters for them. I have in mind a particular place, which I will not mention but the facts of which I will send to the War Office. There are some thirty-patients on one floor, where there is no bathroom and no hot-water arrangements, and only one sanitary accommodation both for nurses and patients. There has been two cases of scarlet fever in the last two days, and there is no infectious hospital. There are 9,000 troops quartered in this small district where normally there are no troops at all, and the arrangements are such as in medical opinion may give rise to a very serious epidemic. I hope that the War Office will pay serious attention to the hospital accommodation provided for the troops who are now stationed in such large numbers throughout the country. It is not only a question of the accommodation provided for the troops while they are in health, but the season is advancing, with men billeted in large numbers in small houses, if any epidemic breaks out, the consequences will be most serious. I know well that the whole resources of the War Office must be and 796 are being very severely strained in providing for the Expeditionary Force, and I hope that they will realise that the only way of dealing with this kind of question is devolution as far as possible. There are scores and hundreds and thousands of civilians, medical and professional men of all classes, who are only too anxious to place their services and property at the disposal of the War Office, and in a time like this it is impossible that everything can be worked by rule from one centre. The one thing that cannot be decentralised is authority. It must come from one centre. If the War Office, however, will give any individual or individuals in any district who are responsible people the authority which the War Office alone can give, these things will not happen. If the War Office will insist on keeping all the authority and the whole of the machinery in their own hands, then the consequences may be very serious. But I hope that they will bear these suggestions in mind, so that troubles may be met half way, and we may not be faced with epidemics of illnesses among our troops at home at a time when they are so urgently needed in good health to fight our battles abroad.
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
Speeches such as that we have just had from the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) might, I think, be better delivered after the War is over. No doubt some mild forms of criticism may be admissible relating to the management of affairs, but I would point out that, so far as the Territorial Associations are concerned, those which were responsible for equipment were always limited in their operations financially. They were only able to buy uniforms for men who had actually joined, and it was all a question of money with them. In addition to that, no barrack provision in the event of mobilisation was made by the Territorial Associations whatsoever. It may be remembered we had an all-night discussion in this House, when the late Sir Charles Dilke was a Member here, and the Territorial Bill was being passed through Committee. We were then told that the Territorial Force was to be mobilised purely for defensive purposes, and we asked if the War Office were taking powers sufficient to deal with the housing problem. 797 We know perfectly well, those of us who have had any experience in the matter, that in these days, when the population is so overcrowded, it is utterly impossible to billet a huge army upon civilians. It could not be done, whatever we might be willing to pay for it, and therefore there is not the slightest doubt that in the future both the War Office and the Territorial Associations will have to work on the basis that when the Territorial Force is mobilised adequate housing accommodation must be provided for the troops. There has been a failure in that direction on this occasion.
Let me say, so far as the equipment of the Expeditionary Force is concerned, the results have been most remarkable. We have heard it stated that on historic occasions commanders in other countries have announced that their armies have been ready in every particular, and yet, when the prophecy has been put to the test, the statement has been found to be empty of fact. But on this occasion, judging from conversations I have had with many officers, I gather they are simply astounded at the magnificent organisation which has enabled our Expeditionary Force to be sent abroad in so smooth a manner. But still, on more than one occasion, I have asked in this House if, in the event of a raiding force landing in this country the War Office had made ample preparations for dealing with the hundreds of thousands of recruits who would immediately demand to be trained for warlike purposes. The answer has always been—and I find on looking back on the records of this House that a like reply has been given to many similar questions—that the War Office authorities have declared that they are ready to arm, maintain, and equip the whole population whenever it is necessary. We know now that that is an empty statement. We know, as a matter of fact, that, beyond maintaining the Expeditionary Force abroad and keeping up a constant supply of both men and material, no arrangements have been made by the War Office for dealing with the extra recruitment which might be anticipated in the case of a great national emergency. We know, however, that the War Office are doing their best. But they are faced with great difficulties. Still, in view of the fact that we have such a splendid soldier at 798 the head of affairs, a man of such wonderful organising capacity, I think we may take it for granted that any criticisms we may venture to offer here would only amount to throwing sand in the axle, and would not assist in the great work which is in hand. It is for that reason that I do not propose to call attention to much correspondence I have received, complaining of existing working arrangements and, in some cases, of absolute obstacles being put in the way of recruits and others who want to assist in the defence of their country. Any failure, I think, has been largely due to the absence of initiative in the locality concerned, and I am not sure that even now there are not some local depot officers who really do not understand the powers which have been given to them by the telegram that was issued a short time ago by Lord Kitchener. I am afraid that some of them are anxious to avoid using the powers they possess, although, if they did use them, they clearly would obviate and do away with many of the grievances of which we have heard so much from time to time. While there are shortcomings—as I suppose there always will be in everything—I believe we can trust the man at the head of affairs, and we should remember that our petty criticisms may hinder rather than help him.
§ Mr. BURDETT-COUTTS
I want to say a few words in support of the appeal made by my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Pretyman) in favour of some organisation being set on foot in time to bring in civilian aid in dealing with the medical needs of the troops in this country. My words will be very few, but I can assure the House they will be earnest in purpose and based on some experience. I know quite well that in the early stages of responsibility for a war there is a perhaps natural disinclination on the part of any constituted power to recognise that its main capacity is not equal to the need of the times, and then when the need arises, when the pressure comes, when a great amount of sickness develops, there is no organisation ready and prepared to afford the civilian aid which is always ready in this country and properly available. Very often offers are accepted and forms of civilian aid are taken which are not the best that might be secured if 799 earlier consideration had been given to the subject. Therefore, I only rise for the purpose of saying that, because there is no need now, and apparently no evidence of need, yet it should not be taken for granted that that need will not arise, and every possible step should be taken by the War Office to avail itself of civilian aid and to do something towards organising civilian aid, or allowing civilian aid to organise itself, to meet the medical needs, at least, of the soldiers in this country.
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Mr. JONATHAN SAMUEL
The point raised by the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Pretyman) is a very important one, not only in the interests of the Territorial Force or the recruits who are stationed in the towns or county villages, but also to the public health in the various districts. I am very much surprised to learn that in a district mentioned by the hon. Member there was no isolation hospital belonging to anybody. That indicates to me that the place is very badly governed.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
There is a small cottage where a few people can be put, but there is no proper isolation hospital.
§ Mr. J. SAMUEL
That indicates that there is a very serious lack of control on the part of the local authority. I am going to make a suggestion to the War Office which is a practical one. In all our well-governed towns and counties throughout the country we have a very large number of isolation hospitals. These hospitals are more or less occupied in many cases; for instance, we have small-pox hospitals, which are not used at all. I would advise the War Office to get into communication with every local authority of a district where troops are stationed, so that when the first case of scarlet-fever, typhoid, or any other infectious disease occurs, I am quite sure the local authority will make all provision to isolate that case and prevent any epidemic. That is the only way, unless the War Office itself makes adequate provision for hospital accommodation. Where they do not, the local authorities might, and would, in my opinion, provide accommodation for the first cases, so as to prevent an epidemic.
800 I should like to say one word with regard to the question of recruiting raised by the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. John Ward). I have had ten days' experience inside a recruiting office in my own town, and have seen there the very serious defects of the War Office with regard to recruiting. Here again I should like to make one or two practical suggestions to the War Office as to the difficulties of which I have experienced, which we ourselves overcame by disregarding their method. It was heart breaking to see men, who had given up their situations in which they had been earning from £2 to £5 a week and who had come forward, compelled to stay about a recruiting office, in some cases for three or four days. I was quite willing to try to rectify this very serious delay. The delay is caused in this way: The officer sent down by the War Office to organise the recruiting office was, in my opinion, lacking in the essential knowledge to organise a recruiting office in the proper way. There are five forms to be filled up for every recruit. That takes up an enormous amount of time. In the case in which I was interested in my own town the War Office had only provided one medical register, and the physical condition of every man examined by the doctor had to be entered up in that medical register. We found from experience that the doctor could pass about 200 men per day, while the clerk extracting information from the medical register and writing up the five forms necessary before the man could be sworn in by the magistrate could only turnout on an average three or four per hour. That meant that he could not turn out more than thirty or forty papers per day, while the doctor was turning out over 200 per day. We experienced congestion there. What we did was to disregard the book and to make extracts in the form of sheets.
I suggest to the War Office that they should disregard the book and that the particulars which a doctor has to note as to a recruit's height, chest measurement, and physical condition, should be placed upon a sheet, and that those sheets should be provided by the War Office. Then you could get nine or ten men to extract the information from those sheets, instead of getting one clerk to extract them 801 from the book. I hope the House will understand the point. We were able by this means to provide a very large surplus number of men ready to pass the recruiting officer, and at one stage we had 160 men ready under our system for the recruiting officer. It is the medical register which causes the detention of these men. A very large number of these men had been called up as Reservists. They depended upon receiving the bounty the following day, but they had no chance under the old system, and therefore this new system was adopted. As recruiting is more or less suspended at the present time, I suggest that the War Office should put one man in every recruiting district and make him responsible, because the recruiting officer himself cannot look after the whole organisation, as he is engaged the whole day approving the recruits and passing them into their several units. We have seen this suggestion carried out in my own town with success. There is nothing more depressing to a man than that he should be compelled to stay about a recruiting office for three, four, or even five days unemployed. Many of these men got tired and wanted to go back to their work, because they were discouraged by the system. We had great difficulty in getting them to continue with their recruiting on account of this very serious delay. I do not know whether I shall be in order in raising the question with regard to the pay for the wives and compensation. I notice the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) shakes his head. I thought I was treading on rather dangerous ground. I hope, however, in view of the meetings which are now taking place in different parts of the country that the War Office will attend to the recruiting conditions and give better facilities for passing the recruits. If men are passed by the doctor, they ought to be passed in at least two days by the recruiting officer.
§ Mr. MEYSEY-THOMPSON
With regard to what the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has said as to the detention of recruits after they have been examined and the inadequate provision made for them, may I say I have had considerable experience of the matter since the War broke out, and I can only say that the reason for these difficulties was that im- 802 mediately on mobilisation the recruiting staff was necessarily called away, and a new staff was provided which had not, I quite agree, adequate knowledge of the district in which they were placed. That was unavoidable, but the War Office and the various recruiting staffs in the different parts of Yorkshire, of which I can specially speak, did their utmost to meet those difficulties, have met them to a very great extent at present, and are providing further facilities for the future. These recruiting officers have worked night and day to try to get their offices in order. They have done extremely well, and have been supported by the War Office. Sometimes I have had to criticise the War Office, but on this occasion I think the War Office has worked well and done their very best. It is rather unfair to come down and blame them when you have now an entirely new staff and have not got non-commissioned officers to fill up these forms, which, I agree, are very complicated and difficult to fill up. When we are making every endeavour to put these recruiting offices in order, the criticisms of the hon. Member are rather belated and unfair to the War Office and recruiting offices in the different districts. One thing which has immensely alleviated our difficulties has been that the War Office has now granted 3s. a day to those men for whom we cannot provide accommodation in the depot or barracks—that is, 3s. a day to provide for messing allowance until the men are sent forward. I do not know whether the hon. Member was aware of that.
§ Mr. MEYSEY-THOMPSON
I feel very grateful to the War Office for having done this. I think it is possible to make the attestation forms more simple. That would enable us to get the men through quicker. I hope the War Office will make a note of that; in fact, I am sure they will. I deprecate the calling of recruiting officers over the coals. They have done their very best, and have done a great deal to alleviate the difficulties we first experienced.
§ Colonel YATE
I should like to ask the Under-Secretary of State for War a question with reference to what has been said as to the inadequate provision 803 of clothing and equipment for the Territorial Force. Is he aware that this want of provision of clothing and equipment is largely due to the autocratic or the centralising action of the War Office itself? In one case, which I can call to mind, the County Territorial Association wrote asking for permission to expend a certain portion of their reserve funds in providing a complete set of spare clothing for all their men. The War Office wrote back absolutely refusing to give permission. The association again applied and urged that they should be allowed to purchase the clothing, but the War Office wrote back and said that if they dared to do such a thing they would surcharge them. The consequence was that when mobilisation came, all that clothing which would have been ready was absolutely wanting. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see that the measures of devolution recommended by my hon. Friend should be more largely enforced, and that the County Territorial Associations should be allowed to do the work which has been entrusted to them without this autocratic action on the part of the War Office.
In connection with the point raised by my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Yate) I would refer to the statement issued by the War Office on Saturday, or yesterday, that they have plenty of clothing. If that is the case, will the right hon. Gentleman use his influence to get that clothing released as soon as possible? There are Reservists who have been called up for three weeks—they are not new men, but Reservists—who are still in plain clothes. If the War Office has all this clothing handy it should be issued forthwith, and they should hurry up the Pimlico Clothing Department and get the clothing sent out. There is a great deal in the men having their uniform. I should like to answer one point raised by an hon. Member opposite, who accused the War Office of not having sufficient equipment for the Territorials. The difficulty arises really from the fact that the enemy are not playing the game by not allowing us that six months which his party always contemplated.
I wish to emphasise the remark of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Burdett-Coutts) as to the great import- 804 ance of the War Office utilising local committees for the organisation of our New Army. When we passed the Committee stage of this Bill last week we had a great scheme before us of a Central Committee, and devolution to Territorial Associations, which were to be strengthened for equipping and assisting in recruiting, assisting in finding camps, and generally organising the New Army of one million men which we are now voting. Since that Committee stage further orders have gone forth from the War Office. We have been working in the country helping to organise committees to carry out this work—volunteer civilians who do not ask for any pay, who are prepared to give their whole time, business men who will give up their businesses and go and help in any centre where they are asked, and devote themselves entirely as business men to seeing that this Army is comfortable, properly fed and equipped, and as rapidly as possible training centres, small or large, are found, huts or tents are put up, and public buildings are utilised. These men who have done this—and I am one of them, and have been at it for two or three days—have, suddenly received instructions by telegram from the War Office to say that their further services are not required, and that the War Office is going to undertake the entire duty of equipping the New Army. I have every confidence in the War Office, and I believe they are doing splendid work. I do not want to criticise them in any way, but I want to try, as far as I can, to persuade them that there are volunteer civilians, capable business men, who are prepared to give their time and their energy, not to take the place of the War Office, but merely to assist their representatives in various districts. I know from my own experience that the officers commanding depots, and recruiting officers and others, are absolutely worked to death at present, and the War Office held out under their nose this tempting bait of civilian assistance, and now they have withdrawn it again, and these poor fellows are plunged back into the abyss of overwork.
As regards the remarks of the hon. Member (Mr. J. Samuel), I can assure him that in Lancashire and Cheshire we have gone much further than he went. We have had nothing but civilians in the recruiting 805 offices: in many cases magistrates have assisted civilian doctors in examining and passing the medical test, volunteer clerks filling up attestation forms, and perhaps one recruiting officer loafing about in the background and approving them when they were passed. Even they in some cases were volunteer retired officers who came down in uniform and did the work themselves. I want the War Office to reconsider their decision. If they are going to deal with these men decently it must, in my opinion, be done with the help of civilians. I do not want to cast any slur upon soldiers at home, but all their best colleagues and non-commissioned officers are doing other work and are more usefully employed. We civilians who cannot go out and fight can, at any rate, assist in this work for the War Office, and we are only too anxious to do it. I should not have raised my voice on the subject at all at present only that I know that the House of Commons will very soon be prorogued, and then we shall have lost control. It is just as well to put on record the ambition of the civilians to bully their Members of Parliament—in every Division, I am sure, it is the same—and ask, "Why cannot we help in this congestion? Why cannot you get us permission to rig up a committee, and we will give you our time and our service and do everything we can for nothing?"
§ Mr. WORTHINGTON EVANS
Would the Financial Secretary deal with the question of recruiting in Essex? Some two weeks ago we were told not to recruit the Essex Regiment because it was full, except for ordinary long-service men. That held good for about a week. Then we were told there might be a 1,000 new men in the Essex Regiment, so we recruited 1,000, and two or three days ago we were told that the Essex Regiment was full again, and we could not any longer recruit in Essex for the Essex Regiment. I put it to the Government that it is very much more easy to recruit for a regiment which bears the county title. It does not very much matter what happens to the regiment afterwards, whether it is sent not to the regular depot, but is attached somewhere else for the purpose of training, but for goodness sake let us be able to tell our men that they can join the county regiment! Would 806 the hon. Gentleman say what the policy of the War Office is with regard to that, and whether extra service battalions will be created, and whether it will be publicly notified that they will be created, so that we can continue to recruit for these regiments? There is another point I should like him to deal with. We are in some difficulty by the quick change in the qualifications of recruits. The height and chest measurements have been increased. There is a large number of men who had made up their minds to join, but for various reasons were unable to join last week. They had arrangements to make with their employers, or they had some small job to finish, but they were coming in to-day or to-morrow. These men now find that although they were qualified last week, they are not qualified this week, and if they go and are refused on the ground that they are not up to the standard, they are sent back. Perhaps in some cases they have even abandoned their work at the end of last week. In cases not as bad as that, if they are refused on the ground that they are not up to standard, I think the Government will find that it will be very difficult to get them out again if the standard is subsequently reduced.
I understand the policy is to recruit another 500,000 men. No doubt the Government has considered whether they are going to get 500,000 on the very severe standard which is now enforced. If the idea is merely to mark time in recruiting would it not be better to take the names of men who would be willing to come in when vacancies occur rather than to increase the standard now and perhaps drop it at a future date, because these men who are cut out by the present high standard will not be willing to come forward later seeing that there is bound to be in their minds some argument of this sort: "When I wanted to go, you would not have me, and now you ask me to go, I will not go"? People will come if they are asked for in a proper way, but they will not come if they think they are being fooled, and it seems to me it would be far better for the Government, rather than alter the standard, frankly to say, "We have as many men as we want for the moment but we should like the names to be taken of others who will come, so 807 that we can give them notice when the time comes and we are ready to deal with them." I should also like to ask the hon. Gentleman whether he can get rid of that duplicate form. There is no doubt the forms are extremely complicated and a great deal of time will be saved if they could be simplified. Between now and the next outburst of recruiting, would it not be possible to simplify the forms, perhaps by dropping the duplicate form?
§ Mr. W. PEARCE
Without any desire to criticise the War Office, I think they are really attempting too much. I have come from a district within the last two or three days where there are three or four camps, and nearly 20,000 men are being taken care of, and the impression I got was that it was impossible to do the whole of this work effectively from the War Office in London and that sufficient power was not given to the local authorities. From using my eyes and observation generally, the impression I got was that the work might be done very much more quickly and more effectively if more local power were given to the authorities themselves, and the whole thing was not managed by the War Office.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Mr. Harold Baker)
A number of valuable suggestions have been made this afternoon, and I can assure hon. Members who have made them that they shall be submitted to the proper authorities at the War Office, and shall receive the fullest consideration. There was a powerful plea put forward by the hon. Member (Mr. Hamilton), and also by the last speaker, that we should introduce a larger element of local assistance into our work. I think in principle that is an admirable thing. But this condition, of course, must be observed, that it should be fitted harmoniously and properly into the military machine. So far as that can be done it will be an aid and not a hindrance. The arguments which have been used in favour of that plan will receive the fullest attention. Then there was the suggestion with regard to hospitals which came from the hon. Member (Mr. Pretyman), and which has been supported by others. That, too, I will see is properly submitted to the medical authorities 808 Some of the suggestions which have been made can hardly be met across the floor of the House by a direct answer at the present moment—some of the points which were raised by the hon. Member (Mr. Worthington Evans), for example—but with regard to the question of local regiments the general policy of the War Office is to make the fullest use of the spirit and the energy which comes from the localities themselves, and although, of course, I cannot say what particular orders may have been given in one particular case, he may be assured that the general idea in the mind of the Secretary of State, which is still being carried out, is to make regiments with local designations, relying on local feeling and a local supply of recruits.
Then there was one other matter, the question of county associations, which was touched on by the hon. Member (Mr. John Ward) and the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Yate). I do not think they stated that matter really quite fairly to the War Office. These associations before the War broke out had clothing and equipment not merely for the strength of the battalions in their charge but for the establishment, and they have been able to draw on that to meet the influx of recruits which has come to them since the outbreak of war. Certainly it is not quite fair to say there has been a deficiency of provision by associations owing to any financial stringency at the War Office. You need only turn to that annual Report of their finances which comes to this House every year to see the large number of associations which have handsome surpluses, and it must be admitted that they have been treated with great generosity by the War Office, and have also managed their own affairs with great skill.
§ Colonel YATE
The case I brought forward was a case where they had a surplus and proposed to invest it in duplicate sets of clothing, and the War Office refused to allow them to do so.
§ Mr. BAKER
That is quite true. The point of the hon. and gallant Gentleman was that they were not allowed to provide duplicate sets. I think he will see that it is not a good plan to allow varying practice with local associations—some in a position to introduce a duplicate set and 809 some not. You must have one uniform rule in this matter if you are to know where you stand. We at the War Office neither hope, nor expect, nor wish to escape criticism. The criticism to which we have been subjected this afternoon has almost all, if not all, been of a helpful kind, but I should like to endorse the plea put forward by my hon. Friend (Mr. J. Ward) against criticism by way of anticipation which might fairly be postponed to a later period. We have had very little indeed of that, and I acknowledge most gratefully the way in which the House has dealt with the many matters in their minds which concern the Army.
Will the hon. Gentleman assure the House that he will do his best to expedite the clothing of the Reserves—not the new men?
§ Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution," put, and agreed to.