§ 1. "That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 3,000,000, 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, during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1916."
§ Resolution agreed to.
§ Resolution reported,
§ 2. "That a sum, not exceeding £1,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of the Pay, etc., of His Majesty's Army (including Army Reserve) at Home and Abroad (exclusive of India), which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1916."
§ Resolution read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ Colonel YATE
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House whether any increase of pay is to be given to officers of the Army in the near future?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Tennant)
The hon. and gallant Member and the House is of course aware that an increase of pay for officers was sanctioned last year. I do not know whether the Secretary of State has in mind the bringing in of another scheme, but this 1329 is hardly the time when the attention of the officials of the War Office and the Treasury should be occupied with so difficult and complicated a matter. Their time is fully occupied already and such a matter might well be left until after the War is over.
§ Mr. PETO
Can the. Under-Secretary give us any information with regard to the question of the deductions from the pay of officers serving with the Indian Contingent? I had an official Order on the subject, but I have unfortunately mislaid it and can only speak from memory. But I understand the officers are called upon to pay £7 per month for each of the two horses they require. They have also to provide their own servants, because in the Indian Army, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, questions of caste come in and the officers have not such good facilities for getting men from their own regiments as officers in the British Army. They also have to provide syces to look after the horses, and the total deductions amount to about £15 a month. I understand that the War Office is responsible, under the arrangements made with the Indian Government with regard to the Expeditionary Force, for the payment of all over and above the ordinary expenses in India, and I am very anxious to be assured that this additional financial responsibility undertaken by the War Office shall not be met at the expense, to a large extent, of officers actually serving at the front. But that is the effect of the deductions, and it is proposed thus to minimise the additional expense which would otherwise fall on the War Office. This is felt to be a very real grievance by officers serving in France under much more onerous conditions, as they find themselves a great deal worse off on active service than if they were fulfilling their ordinary duties in India. I cannot think that that is the intention of the War Office, and I should like information on the point. I would like also to ask your ruling, Sir, as to whether we are at liberty on the Report stage of this Vote to raise the same or, rather, similar questions, with the same latitude as on the Committee stage, or is Debate on this Vote strictly confined to the question of pay?
§ Mr. BALDWIN
I wish to raise a question of recruiting as it affects the drawing of men from the industries of the country, and to make a suggestion which, I think, might be productive of good by drawing men from industries where they are less required.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
This relates only to pay. Unless the hon. Member proposes to increase pay all round, when perhaps recruiting would be more rapid, it would not be in order.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
There is some misconception in the minds of Members because, on the Committee stage, there was a general discussion on the Vote for men and pay. It was not quite understood when the question regarding the Vote for men was put that all subjects which were relevant to that were not to be discussed on the Pay Vote. I understand that some latitude is allowed by the Chair on these occasions, and, possibly, it might be extended to this case.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
None of the indulgence is allowed by me. The indulgence has been given by the Chairman of Committees. This question arises regularly every year. Hon. Members seem to think that they have the liberty on the Report stage to discuss the same questions as were discussed in the Committee stage. That is not so. The rule is that when the House is in Committee on the Army or Navy Estimates on Vote A a general discussion upon any matter connected with the Army or the Navy may be raised. That rule does not hold good when the House is sitting on Report stage.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I have not the faintest idea what he said. I am not aware at all of what happened in Committee.
§ Mr. J. HOPE
May I suggest that the misapprehension with regard to the matter was rather that the discussion of Votes A and I was interchangeable, that the same discussion would be allowed on Report as in Committee, and that hon. Members were not sufficiently vigilant 1331 when Vote A was taken, or probably thought that they would be allowed to discuss the same things again.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It is quite clear that the House having passed Vote A, which is for men, the question now is whether they should pay them or not, and at what rate. That is what we are now discussing, and that may be discussed.
§ Sir FREDERICK BANBURY
On the point of Order. I presume the pay of a recruiting officer and recruiting sergeant is included in this Vote? If that is so, would it not be in Order to discuss whether for their pay the recruiting officer and the recruiting sergeant are doing their duty?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If the hon. Member wishes to cut down the pay of the recruiting officer or to criticise his action, now is his opportunity.
§ Mr. PETO
There are one or two little matters with regard to pay to which I ask the right hon. Gentleman's attention. One is the question of the bounty which is paid to Class 1 of the National Reserve. Several questions have been asked the right hon. Gentleman, one, I think, the day before yesterday by the hon. Member for the St. Augustine's Division of Kent (Mr. Ronald M'Neill). He was referred to a reply given upon the 4th February to the hon. Member for Chertsey (Mr. Mac-master). That question cannot be left exactly where it is. These men feel that they have a very real grievance. Those who come up for service in the Regular Army receive their £10 bounty, which, of course, in one form or another, goes to increase the pay they receive, but those who join a Territorial regiment do not get any bounty at all. The Financial Secretary answered the hon. Member for Chertsey as follows:—The distinction to which the hon. Member refers is in accordance with the agreements made in each case with the men. There were good grounds for attaching the higher bounty to the undertaking to serve in the Regular Army."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th February, 1916, col. 143.]That was the whole point raised by the right hon. Member for the Strand. He would admit at once that at the time these agreements were entered into there were good grounds for some distinction. But that distinction has, in practice, vanished, because the vast majority of Territorial battalions are prepared to volunteer, and have, in fact, volunteered, for foreign service. Therefore 1332 most of the National Reserve are undertaking the same responsibilities and duties, yet in the one case they get the £10 as an addition to their pay and in the other nothing at all. It is a very fine distinction. If the distinction was good at the time the arrangement was made, I would submit to the right hon. Gentleman that it does not hold good to-day. At any rate, it is a case of hair-splitting which the ordinary man in the National Reserve does not understand. He does not see why, if he is fighting alongside his fellow National Reservists, under exactly the same conditions, in the same place, and undertaking the same duties, that in the one case a man should have the £10 and in the other nothing at all.
There is one other matter on which we have not had a definite announcement from the Under-Secretary, which is also a very real grievance—that is the question of officers commanding who have only the rank of major. We were told on the Committee stage that in cases where the colonel in command of a regiment was a prisoner of war it was the custom of the War Office to give the temporary rank of lieutenant-colonel to the officer left in command, and that after three months that was confirmed and he would be given that permanent rank. We have regiments at the front which are and have been commanded for as long as five months by officers who have only the rank of major, and where there is not the slightest probability of the officer who was commanding the regiment coming back. I do not wish to mention the actual regiments—I can mention them to the right hon. Gentleman and I dare say they are well known to the War Office—but I could refer to actual cases of which I know where these officers have had all the responsibilities of commanding their battalions as long as five months under war conditions and have been left in the position of major.
§ Mr. PETO
He was promoted to general of a brigade. The right hon. Member who raised this question asked whether there was any probability, after three, four, or five months, of the officer who had been promoted to the rank of general of a brigade coming back to command the battalion again, and, even if there were, would there be any hardship done? The only answer the right hon. Gentleman gave at the time was that if these officers were promoted 1333 temporarily at first and confirmed in their rank afterwards; after the War there might be a surplusage of brigadier-generals. I do not think that the House is quite satisfied with the position, and I should like to know from the right hon. Gentleman if the War Office have decided that the promotion to substantive rank of lieutenant-colonels of officers who are doing the duties now, will be carried out as in other cases after a reasonable interval.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
There are three points connected with the pay of officers to which I wish to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman. They are small points, but they are worthy of attention. The first is the case of Territorials who have volunteered for foreign service. They were mobilised in England and immediately put upon field service rations. They wished to go to the front, but they were sent to India. They make no complaint of that, but when they were sent to India the field service ration was taken away and they are, therefore, in a worse financial position than their fellows who were mobilised in England and did not volunteer for foreign service, but who still receive full and proper pay in England. It is an obvious injustice that those Territorials who volunteered for foreign service should be penalised at the expense of their brothers in the same regiment who did not volunteer for foreign service, who remain in England, and who are receiving a larger ration, than those who have volunteered for India. The second point is as regards the pay of Indian Medical Service officers. When they are working in India they get certain allowances, and they have come in very large numbers to the front. If they are in the fortunate position to be entrusted with a regiment, possibly there is no great cause of complaint as to their pay, but if they are serving with field ambulances, as a large number of them are, they are put upon what is called, I think, "unemployment pay," which means that they are in a very much worse position than they were in India, to the extent in some extreme cases of £20 a month. I asked a question on this subject, but the answer that I got did not deal with the case where a person is brought from India and is serving with the field ambulance on the Continent. If he was doing military medical work in India he would be receiving considerably more than he is receiving at present.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I am not sure. I had great difficulty in finding out whether it is paid by the Indian Government or not, but I believe it is paid by the War Office.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If he is still paid by India, it is not included in this Resolution. If he is paid under the Army Medical Service and forms part of the Army Medical Service, he would be paid under Vote 2 and not under this Vote.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I will take the opportunity of renewing, probably rather more coherently than I have clone, my application when it comes to the proper Vote. My third question, as regards the Army Service Corps, would come under this Vote. There was a rise in the remuneration of officers in the Army Service Corps not very long ago. It really seems to me more theoretical than practical, because since the time when that rise occurred two great reductions have been made from the pay of officers in the Army Service Corps which certainly there do not seem any very good reason for. In addition to the ordinary pay the officer gets what is called "corps pay," and he used to be allowed half-a-crown corps pay in the Army Service Corps. A similar fund exists in Artillery and other regiments. But that half-a-crown corps pay was reduced, for some reason or another, to two shillings, and at the same time, until recently, an officer in the Army Service Corps had his servant free of charge. That privilege was taken away as well. When he comes to captain's rank, I am told, though I have not the exact figures, that he literally is worse off than he was before the pay was raised some little time ago, because of these deductions. I ask the right hon. Gentleman for an answer on these two points.
§ Colonel LOCKWOOD
There is a question I should rather like to put to the Under-Secretary for War upon which I have entered into communication with him privately. The subject is of considerable importance, and it is the digging of trenches for defensive works, especially in the Eastern Counties. The digging of these trenches, I presume, is carried out naturally under the auspices and by the command of the officer in charge of Home defence. The digging of these trenches has entailed a good deal of hardship and 1335 brought a good deal of trouble, especially on those small farmers on whose land they have been dug.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I do not think that will come under the Vote for pay. I cannot say off-hand what Vote it will come under, but it will not be under the pay of the men digging the trenches.
§ Colonel LOCKWOOD
No. It would come under the question of the pay of the officer who ordered these trenches to be dug.
§ Mr. RONALD M'NEILL
I wish to say a word or two on the question of the payment of separation allowances before the Vote passes out of our control, more especially as I rather gathered from the answer given by the Prime Minister this afternoon that we are unlikely to have an opportunity of discussing it on another occasion.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
This is entirely a Vote for the pay of the men employed. The separation allowances will surely come under non-effective charges, Vote 14.
§ Mr. R. M'NEILL
I submit that the separation allowance depends upon the amount which is allotted to the wife or dependant, and that the amount paid by the Government is strictly dependent on the allotment which he makes and which comes directly out of his own pay, and therefore it would come under this Vote.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
As I understand, the man allots a certain portion of his pay. The pay is under this Vote. The Government supplements that with further sums, and those further sums are taken under Vote 14.
§ Mr. TENNANT
And the amount which the man allots to his wife would not alter the pay which he receives, which is the point we are discussing.
§ 4.0 P.M.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It seems to me that that would mean a very large increase in this Vote. What is suggested is that the sum which the man now sends to his wife out of his pay should be borne by the State. That would mean a very large addition, and I do not think that would be covered by this Vote. It would require another Vote altogether to enable that to be granted, and legislation as well.
§ Mr. R. M'NEILL
May I submit this point? This is a Vote for the men's pay. Now a compulsory deduction is made from the pay of the soldier for the benefit of his wife or dependants. The particular point I wish to bring forward is that the payment is not made with sufficient promptitude.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is a criticism of the Pay Department. If the hon. Member puts it in that way, what he criticises is the action of the Army Pay Department. That is borne on this Vote.
§ Mr. R. M'NEILL
The particular point which I wish to bring forward, as I have done once or twice before in Debate, is that the allowance to the wife is not paid in sufficieut time. The Financial Secretary to the War Office has shown a certain amount of official complaisancy in regard to this matter. In the Debate on 10th February last, the hon. Gentleman said:—I think I may fairly claim that in the case of wives and children the payment is now made much quicker than if the man had to receive it in ordinary civil occupation. I gave various causes for the delay, such as the case where a man does not declare himself properly and there is some difficulty as to identification. But, setting those cases aside, I can fairly claim that the machinery is working smoothly and well."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th February, 1915, col. 655.]That is why the other day, in answer to a question, I said that a certain amount of delay was inevitable.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Mr. Baker)
That is a quotation from the OFFICIAL REPORT. If the hon. Member will look at a further statement I made in that Debate, he will find that I was referring to the past and not the present.
§ Mr. R. M'NEILL
I am not able to say at the present moment that my complaint holds good, but I do not think that the hon. Gentleman in any reply which I have been able to find has been able to show that there has been no great delay in the payments as regards wives and children in the past. I brought a number of cases before him and he has not up to the present time said anything about them. It is quite true that he contends that cases of delay have been exceptional, and that as a general rule there has been no delay in the payment of separation allowances. In one particular I am glad to be able to confirm what the hon. Gentleman said. I knew a case of an hon. Member of this House who is doing duty to his country, having enlisted as a private in the Army. I have permission to mention the very gratifying fact that within a week of the enlistment of the hon. Member for South Derbyshire (Sir H. H. Raphael) his wife was in receipt of separation allowance. Therefore in that particular case we have the gratifying knowledge that Lady Raphael was put by the War Office beyond the possibility of destitution. But when it comes to what the hon. Gentleman opposite holds out as an assurance that this very regrettable and mischievous delay will not take place again, I find that the language he used is exceedingly vague. He said:—I think that now that we have direction to accept the existing machinery and the existing basis upon which dependence is to be judged, the surest way of removing the difficulty is to get some common basis established between the pension officer and the pensions committee, and also get the pensions committee to proceed with a greater knowledge of the scheme and a greater desire to deal with their cases more promptly."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th February, 1915, col. 686.]Could there possibly be a vaguer assurance than that this practical mischief will be done away with? I think the Under-Secretary said that such fault as there has been lay not so much with the pension officer as the pensions committee. It really does not matter much to the people concerned whether the fault lies with the one or the other. They look to the War Office to see that the amount cut off the soldiers' pay is handed over to the wives or dependants with great promptitude. I said last week that I was not in a position to suggest better machinery for doing this than the machinery of the old age pensions committees. I remember that a circular was issued some time ago to the pension officers or the pensions committees in which it was pointed out that this was 1338 purely voluntary work on their part. An appeal was made to their patriotism to put their machinery at the disposal of the War Office for this purpose. I quite understand that there may be some difficulty in the War Office bringing any real pressure to bear on the pensions committees, and, therefore, having regard to that difficulty, the committees are carrying out a purely voluntary and patriotic work. If the Government say that the delay of which I now complain is to be attributed to these committees, and then express a pious hope that the committees will proceed with a greater desire to deal with cases more promptly, that is really no assurance that the delays will be avoided.
§ Mr. R. M'NEILL
My point is that it is a matter for the War Office, but the War Office in this House puts the blame upon the pensions committees whether they have a right to blame them or not. My point is that if the War Office is not able to perform this important piece of work in an efficient manner, then they should employ somebody else. We must look to the War Office to employ the best machinery that can be got to do it with as little delay as possible.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I understand from your ruling, Mr. Speaker, that this Vote includes the pay of recruiting officers. In these circumstances I wish to draw attention to some of the methods employed by recruiting officers. Only the other day the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) drew the attention of the Prime Minister to an advertisement. There have been other advertisements of a similar kind. Only yesterday there was another advertisement addressed to patriotic shopkeepers in which they were asked:—Have you shop assistants between nineteen and thirty-eight, and if so, how many?The suggestion in that advertisement is that if patriotic shopkeepers have young men in their service between nineteen and thirty-eight years of age, they might be able to get women to do the work. It seems to me that this form of advertisement is highly objectionable. Here we are having a sort of indirect compulsion applied to men to enlist. It seems to me that it 1339 would be far better to withdraw these advertisements altogether, to abstain from this objectionable form of advertising, and to go in for an honest form of compulsion. Not only is it objectionable in principle, but by employing these methods we are incurring a very considerable waste of the taxpayer's money, while the efforts of these recruiting gentlemen are being employed in a way which is not at all profitable. Their services might be used in a way which would be of far greater military advantage to the country. We have therefore not only a waste of money, but also a waste of effort.
It seems to me that a further point arises in regard to this matter. It is as to whether the men who are earning this pay are entitled to receive it according to the Regulations All the advertisements to which I have referred speak of the age between nineteen and thirty-eight. It is common knowledge that there are a great many people enlisting, and who are becoming entitled to pay as soldiers and to separation allowances, who are not within these ages. Obviously this money which is being voted as pay for the soldiers is being paid under present circumstances to some men who, under the definition of the War Office, cannot hope to become efficient soldiers. It seems to me that under these circumstances if men outside the age limit are obtaining the pay, it is perilously like obtaining money under false pretences. I hope, now that the matter has been brought to the notice of my right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, and more particularly to the notice of the Financial Secretary, it will be put right. However, the matter of advertisement is one which I think it desirable to call to the attention of the War Office authorities. Either at the present time they are able to secure the number of recruits whom they are able to train and equip without any objectionable advertisement, or they are not. If they are not, then it would be better to adopt another system, and not have a pseudo voluntary system which is not in reality a voluntary system at all, but which introduces compulsion in its very worst and most objectionable form. I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to give us an assurance on that point, and will also be able to assure the House that some sort of censorship will be exercised over the form of the advertisements which are put into various newspapers in order to obtain recruits for the New Army.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
I should like to ask a question in reference to a case of a woman in my Constituency. Her son joined the Navy, and she got a separation allowance. Her husband has now joined the Army. Is she entitled to draw for them both?
§ Mr. BAKER
I imagine that in the circumstances the woman is entitled to draw the Army separation allowance. I cannot say whether she is properly drawing the Navy separation allowance. The hon. Member for Kent (Mr. M'Neill) raised certain matters in connection with the delay in the payment of separation allowances. He complains of vagueness in the statement which I made the other night. I certainly thought that I had been precise in my observations. I do not pretend that there is no delay in connection with the payment of separation allowances to wives and children, but what I did and do say is that all the delay due to the fault of the War Office is being, so far as is humanly possible, eliminated. There must remain over certain other causes of delay which it is not possible for us to remove in regard to the payment of dependants' allowances. In attempting to apportion the delay between the pension officer and the pension committee, I certainly do not intend to press heavily on the pension committee, but it so happens that in the course of the Debate the pension officer has come in for considerable censure, and I only wish to put on record the result of my own observations and information that in cases where the pension officer has been blamed, and the case has been investigated, it almost always appeared that the pension officer was not open to any censure. The hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson) raised various questions to-day with regard to the disadvantages from which he said the Army Service Corps were suffering. I can assure him that his views will be considered carefully. He certainly need not think that the military or financial authorities at the War Office are likely unduly to depreciate the claims of that corps in view of the very great and valuable services which they have been rendering. He also referred to medical officers serving in India. That, with all due respect to you, Mr. Speaker, I think is a question which belongs not to the War Office but should be addressed to my hon. Friend who sits here (Mr. C. Roberts).
1341 The hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Peto) raised another point with regard to certain deductions from the pay of Indian officers which have been made while they are serving in France. I should point out to him that those officers are getting rates of pay which are higher than the British rates, and they are being subjected to deductions precisely the same as they would be subjected to in India, but I can assure him that the matter is under consideration and is a subject of consultation with the Government of India at this moment. He then referred to the question of the payment of bounties to reservists. There has been some misunderstanding in connection with these bounties, though there was never any ambiguity about them before the War broke out. These bounties were instituted simply to induce National Reservists to undertake specific obligations in time of peace. The object of asking them to undertake such obligations was that the military authorities might know precisely the number of men they would be able to call up for special purposes. The bounties had nothing to do with enlistment. They were given simply to assure the Adjutant-General's Department that they would be able to call on a certain number of men for a particular form of service, either abroad or at home.
§ Mr. R. M'NEILL
Surely the whole difference has been made by the War, because as I understand it the principle was that bounties should be paid to men willing to engage themselves when wanted to serve with the Regular Army. That carries with it an obligation to serve abroad or at home as the case may be. The obligation on the Territorials was only for Home defence. When the present War broke out an enormous number of Territorials became practically Regular soldiers, and are being used abroad. Surely the distinction, which may have been perfectly fair before the War broke out, becomes a gross injustice. The men who joined for active service should be treated on the same footing whether they originally belonged to the Territorials or the Regular Army.
§ Mr. BAKER
That would be so if it were not that the bounty was paid in respect of quite a different reason. The bounty was given in respect of the undertaking which the man took at the time. I can assure the hon. Member that there is complete agreement on the question. All the military and civil authorities agree that there 1342 is really no justification for altering the original purpose of the bounty and converting it to another use. These men to whom the hon. Member refers, it is perfectly true, serve abroad side by side with the others, but there are men who, when invited, did not accept the obligation to joining the Regular Army. The bounty was given for that purpose and no other. The distinction between the two classes is perfectly well founded.
I would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary for War, in reference to regimental sergeant-majors in Territorial Forces while serving in France—
§ Mr. J. HOPE
I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the War Office have done their best to dissuade other Departments, public authorities or semi-Government Departments, from entering into competition with them in the matter of recruiting, because I have come across one or two, as I think, rather glaring cases. In one case I will confess that I have not seen the advertisement myself, but it has been reported to me that the Controller of the London Telegraph Service has actually advertised for men between the ages of twenty and thirty-five to be taken on in his Department. Another advertisement which I have seen is one by the Port of London Authority advertising for male clerks without any stipulation as to age. I submit that it is utterly wrong for a public authority to come into the market practically in competition with the Recruiting Department of the War Office, and I would suggest to the War Office that they ought to do their best to put a stop to advertising of that kind. Have they been in touch sufficiently with the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee to enable the latter to confine their energies to parts of the country where they are most wanted? For instance, I was asked to go to a recruiting meeting the other day, and when I got there I found that there was not a soul in the room who was appreciably younger than myself. There was not a man of military age there at all, and, in fact, the whole village had been most patriotically denuded. Surely it is possible to issue 1343 some kind of report separating the country into those areas where recruiting has been good, and all the young men have gone, and those where there is still a great deal to be done! Otherwise there will be a very great waste of energy, and I think that with the leave of the superior authorities there could be published some kind of chart of the country, not giving the numbers away, but showing the incidence of recruiting and indicating the places where it has been good, less good, and bad. That would, I think, lead to a very great saving of effort among those who are trying to improve recruiting in the Army.
§ Mr. RADFORD
I would like my right hon. Friend to answer a question which has been put to me by a Constituent of mine who is serving in the Army. This constituent is a lance-corporal. Under the regulations 9d. a day of his pay is, I believe, compulsorily allotted to his wife. In the case of my correspondent he thinks that this is a grievance, the reason being that, in addition to the separation allowance, his wife is entitled to an income of about £2 a week, and therefore is in comparatively affluent circumstance, while the lance-corporal who is in the service, though before the War he was in possession of good wages, finds himself now with only a few coppers in his pocket. I should like to ask my right hon. Friend whether it is necessary that this apparently anomalous state of things should continue, or whether the Army would refer my correspondent to the unremitting generosity of the wife who is comfortably off.
§ Mr. WILLIAM THORNE
I would like to ask the Under-Secretary whether he can give an explanation in regard to the West Ham Battalion. A considerable time ago the War Office gave permission to raise a battalion in West Ham. The matter was taken up by the local authorities and the result has been, as I understand, that about 700 or 800 men have already joined. They were under the impression that they were going to obtain separation allowances. It appears that the major portion of the men are allowed to reside in the borough, and the mayor and council have been told that in consequence of the men residing in the borough they are not entitled to separation allowances. This is causing a great deal of dissatisfaction, because they have joined under a misapprehension. I would ask the Under-Secretary if he can give any reason for this.
§ Mr. TOOTILL
I understood the hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary for War to suggest that all the payments of dependent and other allowances have now been settled and adjusted. Is he aware that some of these dependent allowances have actually been delayed for a period of fourteen weeks? In the Lancashire area I have gone about at recruiting meetings and I have found intense dissatisfaction prevailing in respect of these delays. I do not know the cause, and the hon. Gentleman may know it better than I, but I do think that these should be entirely avoidable. They ought not to go on to the extent of thirteen or fourteen weeks, and if matters, as the hon. Gentleman suggests, are not settled on a firm and intelligent basis, I hope that once for all satisfaction will be given.
§ Mr. TENNANT
I can only speak a second time by permission of the House, and there are one or two questions which I think demand an answer. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Devizes (Mr. Peto) asked me a question with regard to promotion, and what we propose to do. I do not know whether the hon. Member heard what I said last week, but I may state that I am not in a position to make any other statement than that which I made rather fully on that occasion. I do not know whether the hon. Member would care to argue the case, but, for my part, I think it would hardly be respectful to the House to repeat my observations made so recently. I can assure him of this one fact, that in regard to the case he particularly mentioned, that of a colonel promoted to brigadier-generalship, the question of making the officer succeeding him in command of the regiment a temporary colonel is a matter in respect of which we have asked permission to do so. We have to ask the permission of another authority—the Government—which has to give its full approval to the suggestion which comes from the War Office. That is now in their keeping. The difficulty which surrounds conferring full substantive rank on the man who succeeds to the command of the regiment is one which I think is not fully appreciated by the hon. Member. A brigadier-generalship has always been a purely temporary rank, and at the end of the War the brigadier-general has no brigade, and he generally reverts to the position of colonel. If he did not do so he would really be penalised in respect of his excellent service, and would not be in as good a position as he would 1345 otherwise have been. That being so, surely the hon. Gentleman cannot advance the argument that it is desirable to give substantive rank to the man who succeeds. It would be very hard that the man who had been singled out for promotion should be actually penalised because it is desired to do a good turn to the man who is taking his place. I do not see that there is anything further to be said.
§ Mr. PETO
In the case I have mentioned it was that of an officer commanding who had continued to be major for a period as long as five months though doing the duty of colonel of the regiment. The colonel has been in command of a brigade for that period It is surely much more likely that he will be in command of a division than that he would return to command the regiment at the end of the War. There must be some period after which the officer commanding ought to be given substantive rank.
§ Mr. TENNANT
All these things are hypothetical; no one can say what is really going to happen. I do think, however, that a major commanding a regiment should be given temporary rank, and I hope that will be done. My hon Friend the Member for North-West Lanark (Mr. Pringle) and the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. James Hope) both spoke about the question of advertising, though in rather different senses, in respect of recruiting. The hon. Member for Sheffield referred to instances where there was advertising in competition with recruiting, and my hon. Friend Mr. Pringle referred to advertisements issued directly from the War Office. The War Office is a very large place indeed. I have had a good deal to do this last year, and I confess that I have not come in contact with the advertising branch, but I hope the House will excuse me for not having had it directly under my supervision. I can only tell my hon. Friend that I think it would perhaps be desirable that the advertisements which are issued from our Departments should be viséd like a passport, and I quite agree that the case quoted by my hon. Friend is one in which it might have been desirable to use the blue pencil. In regard to the competition mentioned by the hon. Member opposite, I will mention what he says, and I hope that public authorities will not directly compete with our recruiting.
§ Mr. TENNANT
It is difficult for the War Office to interfere with such a body as the Port of London Authority. We have no jurisdiction at all, nor should we have any over such a body as a railway company. A railway company, however, is not a good example, because railway companies are under the control of the Government; but a water company, for instance, or some company of that description, over which we really have no control. I ought to state, nevertheless, that I think there is a genuine desire among the whole of the outside working world, among those who control great industries and enterprises outside, to co-operate with the War Office, and I have always found them extraordinarily ready, as a rule, to do anything we considered desirable, and I am sure that we will be most anxious to co-operate with them. I must acknowledge those services from the outside public in a manner to which I think they are entitled in every way. Since the hon. Gentleman has raised this subject, I will see if something can be done to obviate the difficulty to which he has drawn attention. In reply to the hon. Member for Islington (Mr. Radford), it is quite within the competence of the lady to whom he refers to waive her right to any separation allotment, and if he will kindly represent the case to her in that way, I have no doubt that what I suggest will be done. My hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Mr. W. Thorne) raised the question of the separation allowance, where the men in the battalion are living at home, and do not get this separation allowance. Surely my hon. Friend will realise that separation allowance is designed to compensate the wife of a man for being separated from her husband. When he is living at home that condition can hardly be said to arise. In those circumstances I trust my hon. Friend will not think it necessary to consider that his constituents are aggrieved because they are not being paid separation allowance.
§ Mr. TENNANT
My hon. Friend has great reasoning power, and I have no doubt he will be able to impress upon them the facts of this matter. I do not think the Member for Bolton (Mr. Toothill) could have been in the House when the Financial Secretary for War made his observations, because the hon. Gentleman directed a great part of his remarks to explaining the reasons for the somewhat 1347 unfortunate delays which have occurred in the past, and he expressed the hope, which I believe to be well-founded, that those delays will be obviated in the future. That being so, I do not think it necessary that I should repeat the observations which have been made by my hon. Friend, and which will appear in the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
Can the right hon. Gentleman say anything on the question of the Territorials in England having larger service rations than the Territorials who have volunteered for foreign service?
§ Mr. TENNANT
If the hon. and learned Gentleman will put a question down, I think the Financial Secretary will be able to give a reply.
§ Mr. BALDWIN
I wish to call attention to the question of advertising, and to express my ardent wish that the whole system of recruiting advertisements maybe wiped out, because I think we have now got to a point in recruiting where the continuance of the present methods, with no alteration, will lead to harm in two ways: It will lead to the harm that you will not get the men you want, and it will lead to the harm that the new men you do get will very likely be taken from those very industries which, up to now, have shown themselves to be the most willing recruiters, but which, at the same time, it is most important, for the productive part of the country, should be kept in full work. I was very pleased to hear a few words fall from the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the support he has had from the large employers of labour in this country. I do not wish to refer to what has taken place in the past, because this is hardly the occasion for it, but I do wish to call the attention of the House to the position in which we find ourselves to-day, and what I think should be done for the immediate future. There are many large industries in the United Kingdom at the present moment which have sent as many men to the Army as they can spare without seriously curtailing their powers of production. There are many industries in the country that have not done so. Where you have an industry which is wanted very much at the present time, and where you have sent all the available men into the service of the country, you are faced with this difficulty—that when you begin to take away any more from that industry you run the risk of bringing such works, or a 1348 large portion of them, to a standstill, and by that, not only do you cripple the productive power to that extent, but if the work is that of manipulating raw material for other industries in this country you are also penalising to that extent far more industries than you can possibly be aware of. You have to remember, further, that we have in this country to-day, and on the Continent, a very large force; we do not know the figures, and we shall be told that there are no figures at all.
That renders it very difficult to make any criticism that I might wish to offer, and makes it practically impossible to indulge in any accurate criticism. I think, however, I may say without fear of contradiction that you have millions probably of men who are withdrawn from productive work in this country, and who have to be fed and clothed and equipped, and transported, while you have left in this country as working men a large body less those taken away for active service, and that reduced number have to carry on the trade of the country, provide additional recruits, and they have themselves to be fed and clothed. In addition to doing all this work for their own fellow countrymen they provide a very material reserve for supplies to all the allied countries. Under those circumstances it seems to me that if we go on recruiting in the higgledy-piggledy fashion in which we have been recruiting for the last few months we may do a great deal of harm. It is of the very first importance, not only to get the men, but to maintain the productive capacity of our country at the highest point possible commensurate with obtaining the necessary number of men. Is there any machinery to enable us to do that? There is no machinery that we in the country know of, but the Government may be able to tell us that there is, and I hope there is. They must know in the War Office, if they know nowhere else, what the figures of recruiting are, and which are the best recruiting districts in the country. They must know also, or they ought to know, and they do know of course, every detail of what is required for the clothing, feeding, and equipment of all those men. In other words, they can translate all those necessities in stores into figures of the men and plant requisite for the production of those necessities. But if this knowledge is confined to the War Office alone, then it seems to me, and I can assure the House that it seems so to many business men in this country, that it is not enough.
1349 I cannot help thinking that there is an opportunity at this particular juncture to effect a systematic co-ordination of forces that might be of very great assistance. If we could only co-ordinate the representatives of the big employers of labour, and representatives of the working classes with representatives from the War Office and the Board of Trade, it seems to me, it might then be possible to schedule all the country into districts, and as to the various industries. That committee might then know in what parts of the country they might look to get men, and that committee might also know what industries they could safely take men from, and what industries they could not take men from without seriously interfering with the production of necessities for the clothing and equipment of the Army. There would be one further advantage in the creation of such a committee. When the War comes to an end, we shall be faced with a far greater problem in the reconstruction of our industries than we have been faced in the last six months in the interruption of our industries caused by the War. The knowledge acquired by such a committee would be invaluable at that time to advise the military authorities as to how and in what proportion the men should be drafted back from the Services into civil life. At that time there will be industries which will want every man they can get hold of, and there will be other industries which for the time being will have very little work to do, and in those cases it would be of the greatest assistance if the men could be kept in the ranks of the Army for some time longer. I make those suggestions without any desire to criticise what has been done. I offer them in the hope that they may be thought worthy of consideration in this House, and in the hope that the Government may be able to take some steps in recruiting in the future on the lines which I have indicated.
§ Mr. PARKES
I am very glad indeed that my hon. Friend has raised this question, which is a most important one. I think it may be said that the manufacturers of this country at the present time are hampered by two great considerations: The one is the scarcity of men and the other is the scarcity of coal. We are all, of course, delighted to see that at the commencement, and later on in the War the number of men who are offering themselves voluntary for the defence of their country. That is a most desirable thing, but I must say I speak the voice of a great many 1350 business men in this country when I mention that lately they have looked upon this question with something bordering upon alarm as to the extent to which it is going. I quite agree with my hon. Friend that there are certain industries in this country which are absolutely necessary for the supply of the requirements of the War, and I think those industries should be protected to a large extent from great drafts being made upon their men to such an extent that they cannot supply those requirements as desired. We must not only supply the requirements of our own country, but requirements of our Allies as well. It is almost as important to provide those supplies. There must be a great many working men left in this country for the purpose of supplying those great requirements of ourselves and of our Allies. I know as a matter of fact, that in the Midland districts certain contracts have been brought to a standstill owing to the scarcity of men and of coal. That is a very serious thing, and if it goes on in the future in the same proportion as it has gone on in the past, then it will lead in many cases to a state of paralysis in the country. I am told that there are certain areas in this country which are not touched yet scarcely in the matter of recruits, and I believe that refers particularly to country districts. If that is so, I do not see why men should be taken from the towns, and from industries where they are required rather than from places where they are not so much required.
The Government will have to look into this matter very carefully in the future, and I think that they will have to make some arrangements about it. It may be that so many men will not be required in the future, but still I believe that men will be required right up to the termination of the War. Manufacturers would look with dismay on the future if the men engaged in industrial operations are to be taken in the same proportion as they have been up to the present. I am glad that you, Sir, have allowed this matter to be discussed, because I believe it has not been thoroughly discussed before. We are all proud of the men, but of necessity we must look at the other side of the question as well. Government requirements have to be supplied, and if that could not be done it would be very awkward. There is what is no doubt a subsidiary aspect at present, namely, the question of finance. If our industries are to be paralysed to a large extent, it 1351 becomes a matter of pounds, shillings, and pence as to where the resources are to come from. That is a secondary question just now, but it is one of the aspects to be borne in mind, and we certainly require industries to go on—consistent, of course, with raising a sufficient number of men.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HUME-WILLIAMS
Those of us who have taken part in recruiting have, I think, more than once met with an experience of this kind: You have two employers engaged in the same trade, and often in the same locality, and one employer takes a keen view about the War, and, as far as he can, encourages his men to enlist. The other employer, engaged in the same trade, does not take the same view, and does not bring any sort of persuasion to bear upon those employed in his works. The result of it is that the loyal employer finds his works largely depleted of his workmen, while the man in competition with him, who has not shown an equal amount of loyalty, has his full complement of men. The same class of contracts go out to the two firms, and the unloyal man, as I may call him, is able to fulfil his, while the other is not. I speak from some experience of this matter, and I will give the right hon. Gentleman the names, if he cares to have them, in which that has actually occurred. It does strike the loyal employer, the man who has done his best, as a great hardship that he is handicapped in competition with the other man. I agree that the solution is not easy so long as you have got a voluntary system in the country, since, of course, you must depend on voluntary efforts, and that is hard to control. I think a solution might perhaps be found in some such suggestion, if the Government would adopt it, as that made by my hon. Friend (Mr. Baldwin), to the effect that you might have in large industrial centres, and possibly in the counties, a central committee representing the Parliamentary Recruiting Committees, which are spread over the whole of the districts. At present we have in nearly every large town, and in small towns, and certainly in every constituency, Parliamentary Recruiting Committees which are in touch with the central Parliamentary Committee in London, from which they take their orders. Would it not be possible to have a sort of clearing house in each centre, a sort of executive of those Parliamentary Recruiting Committees, which could take cognisance of the sort of facts which I 1352 have laid before the House, and which could bring such pressure as they could to bear upon the employers who have not put personal effort into the campaign to try and bring them into line with those who have? It might perhaps be done in this way: If you had a central representative committee of that kind the War Office might possibly think fit to consult them as to the allocation of Government contracts. That might be useful, because if this central committee knew that a particular industry was likely to receive Government contracts it would be quite legitimate, and in the interests of the country, to suggest to an employer that he should relax his recruiting efforts, because a Government contract was likely to come to him and his men would be needed for the service of the country at home. That is a mere suggestion on my part. I agree that the question is a hard one. But the grievance exists, and I have no doubt whatever that some remedy, if it could be found, would be of use.
§ Mr. HEWINS
I do not believe myself that there is any reason whatever for apprehending that the numbers required for the purpose of carrying the War to a successful conclusion, and at the same time keeping the necessary production up to the necessary level, will not be found quite ample. I have no fear about that. I am sure that the suggestion of my hon. Friend has only this in view, that we should get a higher degree of efficiency and larger numbers for our purposes if the effort to obtain those numbers were more organised than it is at the present time. I may put the question this way: We have a Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, whose efforts have been extraordinarily successful, and that committee has convoyed to the country the perfectly correct impression that all parties are united, and that there is no difference of opinion as to the importance and necessity of carrying the War to a successful conclusion, and of dropping all other questions of controversy. At the same time we want to organise, not only from the purely naval and military point of view; you want also to organise the business forces of the country for the purposes of war. I cannot help feeling that if there was some kind of consultation such as my hon. Friend has suggested between the Recruiting Department of the War Office and the heads of the great labour organisations and business concerns of the country, many 1353 of the difficulties which occur might easily be adjusted, and the net result would be a larger number of recruits and also greater efficiency in the production which must be carried on. I only want to make it quite clear that we are interested in this question, because we believe that on the lines of organisation thus indicated you might get far better results than you do at the present time, although those results are marvellously good. But we want every possible man that we can get, and if the employers and leaders of labour felt that there was this readiness to consult the efforts they made would be even greater than they are at present.
§ Question put, and agreed to.