§ During the continuance of the present War, Sub-section (1) of Section 87 of the Army Act, and Sub-section (5) of Section 9 700 of the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act, 1907 (which relate to prolongation of service in certain cases), shall have effect as if after the words "not exceeding twelve months" where they occur in those Sub-sections respectively there were inserted the words "or in the case of the present War not exceeding the duration of the War."
§ Mr. KING
I beg to move to leave out the words "Sub-section (1) of Section 87 of the Army Act and".
The title in the margin is "Prolongation of expiring terms of service." This raises part of the large question about which there is a very great deal of feeling and, in some quarters, at any rate, a very intense feeling. This question arises really under this Bill in four forms: (1) The prolongation of the service of the men of the Regular Army who are now at the front; (2) the prolongation of the service of the men in the Territorial Force who are now at the front; (3) the calling back to continue their service of the men of the Regular Army, who have under this Bill rejoined the Army; and (4) the recalling to the Army of the men of the Territorial Force who have already during the course of this War been liberated from service, and who are now to be called back. This is a very large and a very important question. My Amendment invites the Committee to consider only the first of those questions, although they all obviously hang together, and you cannot dissociate one without raising the whole question.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member began his remarks with a preamble which seems to foreshadow a Debate on the Clause. He has already informed the Committee that it is impossible to differentiate and deal with one part without raising the whole question. Under those circumstances, will it not be for the general convenience if, instead of moving this Amendment, the hon. Member deals with those points on the Clause?
§ The CHAIRMAN
Then the hon. Member must strictly confine himself to the Amendment which he proposes to move.
§ Mr. KING
I entirely agree with your remarks, Mr. Chairman, and the preamble which I was putting forward was simply in order that after the strain of the last half-hour we might quietly come down to a careful consideration of this point. Under the terms of service upon which 701 men joined the Army before the War they have to serve a certain number of years, and it is laid down by Section 87 of the Army Act that if their term of years expires while the country is at war that term may be extended another year, but the 87th Section in the Army Act, which is well known, contains in the most explicit and decisive language this promise, that even if the man's service is continued for a whole year after his term of service and the country is then at war, even in that case he has to be set free. The first part of the Clause which I am proposing to omit says, in fact, that this definite and solemn offer that was made to the man to go year after year with extra service, even in time of war, is to be treated as a scrap of paper and torn up. Practically from the very moment that this idea was put forward there has been a strong feeling of resentment and protest against it, and it found notable expression in this House on the 20th January, when the right hon. Gentleman now sitting upon the Front Treasury Bench (Mr. Long), in reply to a suggestion that these men ought to be brought under the purview of the first Military Service Bill, used these words:As the Bill stood it would include men who had completed their service and received their discharge and had now become civilians. It would be a gross injustice to impose compulsory service upon men who had voluntarily undertaken and performed most loyal and in many cases heroic service for their country.What was gross injustice in January has become the Government policy in May. For my part I see neither military nor political reason why what was gross injustice four months ago should now become the policy of this Parliament. I have made inquiries, and I find that men are leaving the Army at the present time, and many of them are doing so without being pressed or invited by their officers to stay on May I take this opportunity, Mr. Whitley, to protest against all Ministers being absent from the Treasury Bench, and against the way the Government are treating this House. This Bill is ordered to be brought in by "the Prime Minister, Mr. Secretary Bonar Law, Mr. Secretary Samuel, Mr. Long, Mr. Attorney-General, Mr. Tennant, and Mr. Forster," and not one of them is now sitting on the Treasury Bench, which is empty. Under these circumstances I beg to move that you, Mr. Chairman, do now report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I cannot accept that Motion, because the right hon. Gentleman 702 (Mr. Long) has informed me that it is a mere momentary absence. Of course, if it were not so, I should accept this Motion.
§ The CHAIRMAN
If the hon. Gentleman does not trust me, he must take other means, and what he has said is disrespectful to the Chair. I can see that this Debate is going to be one that cannot lead to the real point which the Committee desires to deal with, because it must be kept in the form of differentiating between the Regular Army and the Territorials, urging that one shall be exempted and not the other. I suggest again that I think it would be best either not to proceed with this point now or speedily dispose of it, in order that we may arrive at the point which the Committee really desires to discuss.
§ Mr. KING
I beg most respectfully to apologise to you, Mr. Whitley, for the words I uttered just now, which might seem disrespectful. I have no doubt they were, and I will only answer by saying that I meant no disrespect, and I sincerely regret the remarks I made. I wish, however, to repeat my protest, and in view of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has so many colleagues I think it is regrettable that he could not find one to take his place during his absence. [The right hon. Gentleman here returned to the Treasury Bench.]
§ The PRESIDENT of the LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. Long)
Absent, for one minute.
§ Mr. KING
There are plenty of other Ministers who might have been here. I see the point of your suggestion, Mr. Whitley, that my Amendment does differentiate between two classes of men, and it is intended to do so. From my point of view, the class of man which my Amendment would exempt from further service has a much greater claim to this sort of exemption than the man in the Territorials. As a rule, the man in the Territorials has served two or three years. Many of them had only served a few months before the War began. The case of the man in the Regular Army is very different. In almost all cases the man will have served seven or eight years, in many cases he will have served fourteen years, and in quite an appreciable number of cases he will have 703 served twenty-one years. I have had sent to me to-day a letter from a man, and this is his record: He is a private, and he came out of the Army only the other day. His service pay for good conduct was 7d. per day, and his total pay was therefore 1s. 7d. per day. His exact age is forty years and six months, and he has served in the Army twenty-two years and twenty-one days. On the completion of his period of re-engagement he had his conduct marked as "exemplary." Yet when that man left, on 26th January this year, it was never suggested to him by his commanding officer that he should remain in the service. He has come back; he has made engagements and has taken up a business which he cannot possibly get anyone else to take, and that man of exemplary character and good conduct for twenty-two years is to be brought back into the Army.
On a point of Order. Is not the hon. Member dealing with Clause 3 rather than with Clause 2? The soldier whose case he is quoting is not now in the Army.
§ Mr. KING
I called the attention of the Committee to the fact that he was not in the Army now, but, of course, his case is typical of a great number of men who are leaving the Army every day. This Bill is going to treat them all in the same way, and I take one instance which is typical of the two classes. This man of exemplary character is not asked by his commanding officer and is not invited to stay. I take it, therefore, that it is well known that his feelings are against staying. Yet he is going to be compelled to stay. I say that man is not going to be an effective or efficient soldier. If anything, he is going to be a cause of discontent and possibly lack of discipline in the ranks. This view was put before me by an officer who is a very intimate friend of mine, and who, speaking probably from the military point of view, urged that the retention of very old soldiers who have done ten, twelve, fifteen, and up to twenty years' service, among men of a different character, of a different age, and of different experiences, is not good for the discipline or the conduct of the Army. I am now going to give another case. A constituent of mine two days ago wrote to me a letter which is a human document that has touched me very much indeed. It is a very serious point which he puts. This man comes of a regular military family. Previously he was in the Army, and afterwards he went 704 into the Territorials. He has been through the whole of this War, and now, his time being expired, he has come home. This is how he writes—
§ The CHAIRMAN
This does not come under the hon. Member's Amendment. It is just what I anticipated. The hon. Member has an ingenious Amendment in advance of other hon. Members, but if he really wants to take the decision of the Committee upon it I hope he will do it briefly, so that we may get to the point we really want to discuss.
§ Mr. KING
I am sure it is in order. I do not intend to prolong this discussion in a way that it not agreeable to others as well as to myself, but the case of the time-expired men who have been many years in the Army is a very serious one. If there is one case more than any other which justifies separate treatment it is this. I really cannot agree to the suggestion that I should withdraw the Amendment.
§ Mr. LONG
I find the utmost difficulty in following the speech of the hon. Gentleman or in ascertaining what is the object which he desires to attain. Apparently, his desire is to leave out the Clause, because some of his remarks were directed to the undoubted hardship which is inflicted by calling upon time-expired men to renew their service. Nobody has ever doubted that hardship. I have expressed my views about it frequently, and nothing but the sternest necessity would have induced the Government to do it. As far as this Amendment goes, it can be disposed of in a moment. I accept most gratefully the suggestion from you that we should pass from wholly irrelevant matters, such as the one under discussion, to really serious matters which are raised by Amendments which follow immediately, and with reference to which I shall be prepared to state what is the view of the Government. This Amendment would only make the case worse and the hardship greater. The hon. Gentleman, while objecting to compelling time-expired men to continue their service, proposes to prolong the service of Territorials. He bases 705 his suggestion on the fact that the Regular soldier may probably have given much more time to the Service than the man in the Territorials. I confess I wish he had looked a little more into the matter before he put down his Amendment, because he ignores the fact that the great bulk of the Army now serving abroad has been raised for the same period of service as those in the Territorials. There are very few of the old Army left. The old Army was a very small one. A great many of them have already passed out, and the Territorials and the New Army as regards terms of service are on very much the same footing. There is no ground from a military point of view for the difference which the hon. Gentleman seeks to draw. He would not in any way lessen the hardship inflicted by the Clause, whilst he would increase the sense of injustice by applying the Clause to some and leaving others out. I hope that the Amendment may now be dismissed and that we may proceed to discuss matters of real importance.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause," put, and agreed to.
§ Question, "That the words proposed be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
I beg to move, at the end of the Clause to add the words "provided the man referred to in such Sections is under the age of forty-one."
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
On a point of Order. Referring to the observations you made when the Amendment of the hon. Member for Somerset (Mr. King) was being discussed, I understood it was your desire that there should be, as soon as possible, some Amendment before the Committee that would give an opportunity of discussing the whole question of time-expired men. It is too late when the Amendments have been discussed.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member misunderstood me. When we come to the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," then will be the opportunity to discuss the whole Clause.
§ The CHAIRMAN
No, there are certain Amendments, such as the one now called upon, which must be disposed of before we know what we are considering and which may modify the view of the Committee when we come to look at the Clause as a whole.
§ Sir E. CARSON
Might I suggest, for the convenience of the Committee, that we might at the earliest moment have my right hon. Friend's statement, which we were promised, as regards the time-expired men? If we knew what was the programme of the Government in relation to the time-expired men, in which subject many of us take a deep interest, it might really prevent a great deal of discussion and a good many Amendments one way or the other. I would suggest that very often, with the general consent of the House, we have such a general statement, and it would relieve many of us from the necessity of having to put forward arguments for discussion.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
It might be convenient on this Amendment of mine, though certainly limited to a small section of men, to take the general discussion.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
Does not this Amendment, as a matter of fact, raise the whole question? I think it would be very advisable that the right hon. Gentleman should make his general statement right away, and that we should not keep on with these pettifogging little Amendments.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am always anxious to met the views of the Committee, providing it assists the progress of business, which is not always the case; but if that is done it must be in substitution for the general discussion on the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The CHAIRMAN
We cannot have two general Debates, and if I give way it must be on that understanding.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LONG
I do not quite understand where we are being left by all these suggestions. It would be quite competent for me, without in any way infringing the Rules of Order, to make a statement on the Amendment of my hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Ashley). He proposes a limitation upon the number of time-expired men to be taken. It would be quite in order in dealing with that matter, so far as I understand the rulings of this House, if I stated what are the views of the Government in regard to that and one or two other Amendments on the Paper which follow, and also what the Government propose to do in respect of the men who are brought in under this Clause. I conceive that I could do that when I follow my hon. Friend, and I submit that would be far the most convenient course. If we are, first of all, to have a general discussion of that kind and then, as last night, to renew the discussion upon subsequent Amendments dealing with the Territorials as apart from Regulars, it seems to me we shall be wasting time.
§ Colonel LOCKWOOD
May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman's statement will cover not only the Amendment as to the limit of age, but also my Amendment which provides for Home defence only?
§ Mr. BARNES
If we take the discussion on the Amendment of the hon. Member for Blackpool (Mr. Ashley), and we have a general statement by the right hon. Gentleman upon it, will that preclude the moving of the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Deptford (Mr. Bowerman) and the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Wardle), which is somewhat similar in intention?
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
If the general discussion takes place now, as suggested, and you deprecate a repetition of the discussion on the question that the Clause stand part, will it not be possible if a general discussion now takes place, to provide that the discussion which takes place on the Question that the Clause stand part should deal with any subject which has not 708 been touched upon in the general discussion. The right hon. Gentleman is hardly correct in his reference to the discussion of yesterday. They were entirely different points.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Do not go back to that. I think I have the mind of the Committee now. It is suggested that the hon. Member for Blackpool should move his Amendment and the Minister, in reply, should make a rather broader statement, dealing with certain other Amendments. Then I think it would be the best to pass on and deal with the specific Amendments and leave an opportunity for discussion on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Sir J. D. REES
Will the right hon. Gentleman's present proposal include a statement upon another point in regard to which he promised a statement at Question Time, namely, the order in which the unattested married men are being called up as compared with the attested married men?
§ Sir J. D. REES
My object was to ask where it will come, as you were discussing; where the statements are to be made.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
In view of your ruling, Mr. Whitley, that we may enlarge our discussion, I would like to say before I deal specifically with this age limit of forty-one that I am sure the Government fully sympathise with the hardship of these time-expired men being kept in the Army. No one in this House wants to keep them there if it can possibly be avoided, and it is only because the necessity of the military situation brings us to this point that we have got to keep them there. Before I leave the general point may I urge this upon the Government, that if they are going to keep these men they ought to give them a few weeks' furlough, so that they can go home and see their families before they undertake these new obligations? To my own personal knowledge this would remove great discontent and make the situation much more easy.
In reference to this specific Amendment, I want equality of treatment as far as 709 possible all round. The Clause without my Amendment does not give equality of treatment. If the Committee will carry its mind back to the abortive Bill which was introduced by the Government, they will remember that that Bill was still-born in spite of the eloquence of the President of the Local Government Board, because all Members of the House denounced it as unequal in its incidence and harsh to certain men who were called up. My right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Sir E. Carson) denounced it because it was unfair to certain people, and did not give them equal treatment. The hon. Member for Ince, from the Labour Benches, denounced it in scathing terms, in one of the most powerful speeches I have listened to in this House, because it was unfair to some men, taking some and leaving others. The hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division (Mr. Leif Jones), from the anti-compulsionist point of view, also denounced it. All parts of the House denounced it and the Bill had to be withdrawn. I did hope that in this Bill—the main features of which I strongly support, and which hon. Members on these benches urged upon the Government for months past should be brought in—absolute equality of treatment would be given to every man who is going to be called up. We see in Clause 1 that everyone between the ages of eighteen and forty-one is, as far as humanly possible, given equality of treatment, and everybody between those ages have got to serve, whether they are married or single. In Clause 2 there is, I think, a grave injustice to certain men. These men may not be very numerous. Of course, I have no means of laying figures before the Committee, because I have not access to War Office records, but undoubtedly there are a substantial number of men who will be treated worse than other men who are in exactly the same position as they are, and exactly the same age. Every man who is between the ages of eighteen and forty-one is to be called up to the Colours, and every man between eighteen and forty-one is to be obliged to continue his service until the end of the War.
Take the man of forty-two, whose period of service comes to an end this week. He is absolutely exempt from military service under this Bill. This Bill leaves him outside its four comers, and he can go back to civilian life, but a man of exactly the same age, possibly in the same regiment and in the same company, whose period 710 of service expires the day after the passing of the Bill, may be kept on as a soldier until the end of the War, possibly for two and possibly for three years. Men of forty-five and men of fifty whose periods of service expire after the passing of this Bill are to be kept on until the end of the War. I do appeal to the Committee and to the Government to consider this matter seriously. I feel very strongly on this point, and I ask that these men should not be kept on. Their numbers cannot be very considerable, and if we in this House a fortnight ago threw out a Bill, brought in by all the strength of the Coalition Government, because it gave inequality of treatment, shall we to-day deliberately insert in this Bill a case which is just as hard and just as wrong and just as unequal as any of those that came up two weeks ago? A man of forty-two or forty-three is getting on in years. His military value, except as an instructor at home, is not very great, and I do not think that a man who has, to use a common expression, "done his bit," should be compelled to continue his service at these ages, if at all possible. Certainly there should not be some men of forty-two brought in while some men of forty-two are left out. I think the point is perfectly clear. This Bill was introduced in order to bring into the military net men from eighteen to forty-one and not men outside those ages. This Bill does bring within its scope men of forty-two or even up to fifty, and therefore, in order to remove this injustice, I move my Amendment.
§ Mr. LONG
The speech my hon. Friend has made is really directed solely to the question of age. That is all that his Amendment deals with. As an old soldier himself, he has put with great force the case of men now serving upon whom we are laying this very heavy burden of compulsory re-engagement. He has made a strong appeal to us to impose some limit of age upon the time-expired men similar to that which is proposed under the Act upon the men already time-expired. There is another Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Wardle) dealing with the same subject, which seems to us to be rather better than this one, because that provides that the Section shall not apply to the case of men who have served a period of twelve years or more and who are over forty-one years of age. That would exempt men not only of forty-one 711 who have had twelve years' service, but it would cover all the cases that my hon. Friend has in mind. At the same time the inclusion of the provision as to twelve years' service is a valuable addition to the definition of those who are to be excepted. I need hardly say, I have said it before on previous stages, that, whether I speak for myself or whether I speak for the Government, we profoundly regret the necessity to call upon these men to serve again. They have given magnificent proofs of their loyalty and devotion, and they are entitled, if any men in the world are ever entitled to anything, to rest and release from the arduous character of the service which they have rendered to the State. But as I have said before they are, many of them, the very best men that the Crown has got. They are men whose services are of great value. They are, many of them, men who have risen in the ranks, and they have training, experience, knowledge, and everything that goes to make a really invaluable soldier. Therefore, the Army Council feels that at this stage of the War it is impossible for the Army to relinquish control over these men, and they must call upon them to serve again. That being so, it is only just to remember when my hon. Friend suggests that we are tearing up scraps of paper—
§ Mr. LONG
I beg the hon. Member's pardon, I thought he did. I do not complain of it, because, after all, it is quite true that these men have an expectation, and you are breaking that. It is no use attempting to conceal the fact. That is a plain statement of the case, and it is only justified by the fact that the country requires the services of these men at a moment of great difficulty, and feels bound to ask them to accept this additional burden. The men who will be covered by this are not inconsiderable in numbers. I am advised that there are something like five thousand men who become time-expired in the course of every month. Therefore, from the point of view of numbers, their retention is of sufficient importance, apart altogether from their qualities as fighting men. The Government think that, on the whole, the suggestion that has been made in one or two quarters that there should be a limit of age with regard to the men now 712 serving is one for which there is a great deal to be said, and I am prepared oh behalf of the Government to agree that the limitation shall be forty-one upon the men who are now serving and who come under the operation of this Clause. As to the words, my hon. Friend will, I know, allow me to have the words reconsidered, and I rather gathered from his gesture just now that he would accept the other suggestion that we should incorporate not only the limit of age but also the limit of the twelve years' service.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
Do I understand that a man over forty-one will be held to continue his service if he has not done twelve years' service?
§ Mr. LONG
Yes, of course. If he has done twelve years' service and is over forty-one then he is exempt. I do not think there is any practical difference between us, because the others must be infinitesimal in number. If the hon. Member compares the average soldiers' ages and the average years' service, he will see that in all probability one Amendment covers the one as well as the other, but I think the principle is a better one and one we would rather accept, that is why we include the twelve years' service.
Major-General Sir IVOR HERBERT
What is going to happen with regard to a man who might wish to remain on, but who, in present circumstances, would have a right to retire? When the right hon. Gentleman says there is going to be a limit fixed at forty-one years, I suppose it would not preclude a man staying on voluntarily if he wished to do so?
§ Mr. LONG
Oh, no, certainly not. I would point out that it must not be held that the War Office by making this concession are thereby laying down that forty-one is the limit of age at which men should be called upon to serve, or that they are conceding anything except as to the men who are already time-expired. You could not have a better illustration than the case my hon. Friend gave—the case of a man whose time had expired before this Bill passes, who becomes forty-one and is not liable to re-engagement, while, on the other hand, a man whose time expires after the passing of 713 this Bill when it becomes an Act, comes under the operation of the Bill and has to remain. If the Amendment of my hon. Friend, in a slighly altered form, be adopted that injustice would be removed, and we shall get all the men now serving up to the age of forty-one. Of course, any who wish to re-engage will be able to do so. This change will have no effect upon the general policy of the War Office in regard to the men they have serving or any other of the responsibilities they have to bear in connection with the War. With regard to the provision we are able to make for these men, unquestionably they are entitled to the most generous treatment in regard to bounties. The exact form the bounty is to take and the exact amount has not yet been decided as between the Treasury and the War Office, but I have discussed this Vote with the Secretary of State and the Adjutant-General, and I am authorised by them to say that everything will be done that can be done to secure fair treatment for these men. They will be considered, where possible and practicable, for promotion. As to the bounty, the Secretary to the Admiralty, the Secretary of State, the Adjutant-General, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have, in discussion with me, stated that it shall be on the most generous terms.
I have said what will be done in regard to promotion. There only remains one other question, that is the question of furlough. I agree with my hon. Friend that is a most valuable concession, and one to which these men are well entitled. The suggestion has already been adopted in regard to men who have voluntarily reengaged, for instance, a great many of the men serving in Egypt have re-engaged on these terms, and they have been given a month's furlough, and, in addition, the time that is occupied on the voyage out and back, otherwise the time would be negligible. There have been some difficulties in carrying this out owing to transports not always being available to bring the men home or take them back, therefore men have been detained here over and above their ordinary time. That is no hardship to them, because I do not suppose they object to the extra furlough, but it is a complicated matter for commanding officers in particlar theatres of war. Notwithstanding that fact, wherever it is possible, the Army Council are prepared to arrange it. I am quite sure the Committee will under- 714 stand that if I say this on behalf of the Army Council, I am not thereby exposing them to be attacked because hereafter, in some particular cases, it may be found impossible to arrange for furlough at the time. It will be quite obvious to the Committee that in the case of some of these men their time may expire at a moment when it is quite impossible to grant any furlough at all. The men may be required for actual fighting purposes at the time, or it may be a time when the Commander-in-Chief thinks they may be required. Therefore, it might be impossible at the time to make this concession. I have to enter that caveat, because I know that when once a promise of this kind is made, if any exceptions to it occur, those exceptions are at once made the occasion for attacking the Army Council. I really cannot expose them to any more attacks by any statements I make here. Therefore it must be clearly understood that this system of furlough is to be arranged wherever it is possible and practicable, and that everything will be done, where the Army Council can do it, to prove to these time-expired men that they recognise the services they have given and realise fully the immensity of the sacrifices they are making. I hope this will somewhat lessen the natural hostility in certain quarters of the Committee to this proposal, and I can say generally that nothing would have induced the Army Council or the Government to put forward this suggestion but a real conviction that it is necessary in the interests of the country, if we are to pursue this War successfully to its conclusion, to keep these men being, as they are, among the best of the soldiers of the King.
§ Sir E. CARSON
I am bound to say I feel more sympathy for these men than I do for any other men who are brought within the purview of this Bill, and also equal sympathy for the men who have already been discharged and who have settled down but are now once more going to be called upon to serve. If it were not for the public exigencies, as they have been stated by my right hon. Friend, I should certainly myself have moved the omission of this Clause altogether. The right hon. Gentleman will have done a great deal to satisfy the natural disappointment of men who are on the eve of getting their discharge by the sympathetic way in which he has met their claims here this afternoon. I should like to put one or two more points to him. 715 I am glad he says that they are to get furlough. I hope that they may have as long a furlough as possible with their wives and families and children. I wish that before the Bill left this House that we could have before us the scheme, what has been called the generous scheme of bounties, and all the other treatment these men are to get. I tell my right hon. Friend, openly and squarely, that I do not like these things being left over. That always creates great disappointment. Probably the men form much higher estimates of what they are going to get. If they are going to receive really decent benefits, let them know now in order to encourage them in the very hard work through which they have to go. Exactly what a bounty means I do not know. I should have thought it would have been a great encouragement to these men if they received an increase of pay. Another way of doing it would have been to count these extra years of service in some way or other—I should not have thought it a very difficult thing—in fixing their pensions.
§ Sir E. CARSON
If that is to be done it ought to be made perfectly clear. There is another thing which I should like to have, if feasible. It may not be possible, because I know that in Army matters there are many points to be considered. I should like, if it were feasible in some way or other, something corresponding to the right which the men who have already got their discharge have, namely, that right of going before tribunals in particular cases should be afforded to these men. I do not say that you ought to set up a tribunal for them, but there must be many special cases of special hardship where it is essential to some of these men who have to stay on with the Colours when they have made arrangements to come home. The men who are already discharged are in the position of having got whatever you do get on leaving the Army, of which I have not the slightest idea; I am sure it is not very much. They have also got the right, before they come back to serve, to go before a tribunal just like any other man. It would cause satisfaction to many of these men, if their commanding officer or whoever it may be felt they had a special case, if that case could be sent in to be put before the Army Council, or whoever it is that adjudicates upon these matters. It may be that that is a suggestion which 716 is not feasible, but I do not see why it should be impossible. If it is worth considering I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider it.
There is another thing I should also like to say in regard to these men. You are constantly requiring at home good old soldiers, non-commissioned officers and others, for the purpose of training your men here. I would urge that it ought to be one of the regulations that as far as possible these time-expired men who have done their duty, and who have the first claim to be brought home, should have home billets, if I may use that term. That is all I have to say. On the question of age, I think the right hon. Gentleman has made a most important confession, and one which, from many letters I have received, I think will be very much valued by these men. To have left the men who are already discharged at forty-one comfortably at home and to have taken on the men who are over forty-one compulsorily would have seemed to me to be an injustice. I am very glad the right hon. Gentleman has put forward the scheme of counting in the twelve years' service and making the service depend somewhat, at all events, upon their discharge. If the right hon. Gentleman will meet these other suggestions in the same sympathetic way he will do a great deal to allay the dissatisfaction which I think exists amongst a certain section of these time-expired men.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
There are one or two points which still remain obscure after the speech of the President of the Local Government Board. I should like to know whether the time that a man spends in the reserve is to be included and counted as service. [HON. MEMBERS: "Speak up!"] It appears to me that the concession that has been offered by the Government does not after all amount to very much. I have been endeavouring to ascertain what is the age at which recruits joined the Army before the War broke out. I have not been able to ascertain that, but I think it is common knowledge that a vast number of those who join the Army join it at an age much below twenty-nine, and if that were the case, it seems to me that the concession which has been offered by the Government is going to affect a very small number indeed. Suppose that a young man joins at twenty-six or twenty-seven—and it is common knowledge that most of them join at a much earlier age than that, 717 many of them at nineteen—and he enlists for the full term of twenty-one years, that man is not going to be affected by this concession at all.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
Of course I knew that quite well, but I meant altogether. At the final term of enlistment, for the purpose of extending to twenty-one years' service, that man will be considerably over forty-one years of age, and yet he is not going to be benefited at all by the concession the Government has made. All these time-expired men are entitled to our full sympathies, and surely they are entitled to the largest measure of compassion for the greatest length of service. The right hon. Gentleman gave us no figures as to the total number which was likely to be affected by this concession of twelve years' service coupled with the age of forty-one. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson), who has on a great many occasions expressed his deep sympathy with these men, appears to be quite satisfied with the concession the Government has made. He spoke on the matter about a fortnight ago, and then expressed even deeper sympathy than he has uttered to-day, and upon that occasion he committed himself to the statement that there were about 40,000 of these men whose time was about to expire. Arising out of what I said just now in regard to those who enlisted below twenty-nine or thirty, and who have had an extended length of service, it must follow that only a very small number of this total of 40,000 will get the benefit of the concessions the Government has announced. The reason why no greater concession is to be given is because these men cannot be spared. Suppose we take it at 20,000, or even 30,000. Is it Seriously put forward that military necessity demands that these 30,000 men should be continued in the Army when under this Bill you are creating a reserve of 1,000,000 between eighteen and forty-one? The thing is perfectly absurd, and it is entirely inconsistent with the grounds upon which the advocates of this measure of Conscription have based their argument. They said there were men who were not doing their duty and they ought to be compelled to do their duty, and now they have taken up the position that a million of this reserve of 1,200,000 are to be kept at home for the next six months at any rate, and are not 718 to be placed under military training, and you are going to keep these 30,000 or 40,000 time-expired men still in the arduous work of the trenches. Therefore the concession which the Government has foreshadowed is a very small one, and we who are responsible for Amendments of a much wider character cannot remain satisfied with it.
§ Mr. MACMASTER
The number of men is not very great, but they are the very salt of the Army, and render important services. I trust when these time-expired men are called up, those who have special rank in the naval and military service will be restored to a like rank when they return to the Army. I know there is a great deal of uncertainty on this point in the country. I know it from the number of letters I have received and from some observations I have seen in the Press, and it is only fair to these men who have done their full service that when they are recalled they will not be recalled in a position of inferiority to that which they held in the service.
§ Captain CASSEL
I am giving the Bill my support in the best way I can—by keeping silent; but I should like to say one word in answer to the hon. Member (Mr. Snowden). He says if these men are only 30,000 in number, it really does not matter so much from a military point of view. That is an entire fallacy, as is obvious to anyone who has had experience of the actual conditions. These men who have served a long time are for the most part non-commissioned officers. Many of them are company sergeant-majors. The whole working of a company depends very often on the senior non-commissioned officer, and these men have had experience of the work of the trenches, and their value is infinitely greater than their mere numbers. That certainly is a point of very great importance, and I view with some reluctance—speaking from six months' experience—even the concession which the Government have made. I feel it is made because these men have done such splendid service, but from the military point of view to lose your company sergeant-major at the moment when you want him most is a most serious matter. The question is altogether more important from the military point of view than the numbers would appear to indicate.
Major-General Sir IVOR HERBERT
I rose to express almost identical feelings with those which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has so very well expressed, and which come with much greater force from him with his recent experience, than they would from my somewhat antiquated experience, but I think the hon. Member (Mr. Snowden) did not seem to realise, when he spoke of 20,000 men that it is not 20,000 men in one lump. It is 20,000 men distributed all over the Army that is in the field, and every single unit in that Army is dependent for its efficiency on perhaps some two or three or four or five or more of these men. Therefore the use of numbers like that in a lump gives a very false idea. I put a question to my right hon. Friend a short time ago as to whether men of this class would be allowed to remain on if they wished to do so, and I think I can say from my experience, which I hope is borne out by that of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, that men of that age and of that experience will go on to the very last. There is no limit to the sense of duty which they have. Both the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Long) and the right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) have touched on the point as to the benefits which these men are to receive from the State. I have been given to understand that the Amendment standing in my name which raises this question directly would be technically out of order. I do not wish to try to manœuvre around that position, but at the same time I should like to state what the classes of men are who will have to be provided for, and who will come under the Clause generally. The Clause generally may apply to various classes of men whose terms of service have expired. You have the class to which we have just lately been referring. They are the men of the Regular Army serving for the pension for long service. Then you have the men in the Regular Army serving the normal term, and the term of service might be expiring at twelve years, and who then, in normal conditions, might take on for pension service.
Then again you have the men enlisted in the New Army who have only taken a very limited engagement, and who will be compelled to remain on in some cases beyond the period of that limited engagement. Of course the majority of the men in the New Army have joined for the period of the War, and there will be no question of their continuance. But in the 720 early part of the War there were some who enlisted for a short time of service, not necessarily the duration of the War—in many cases it was for three years, and it is conceivable that the War may last over that time, although we hope not. Then, again, there are men who have re-enlisted in the Army and who had previous service with the Colours—pensioned service—and who came back again and enlisted on various terms. If those terms of service are being extended it would seem right to include the extension within the limits of pension service in normal cases, and the men should have the benefit of that.
There is another point I would like to press on the right hon. Gentleman, and that is the value which is to be attributed to such service as that. We have had on many occasions in this House Debates on the question of soldiers employed in civil capacities under the Government. I have urged myself, and hon. Members on both sides have urged, that soldiers should be allowed to count for pension their Army service as part of their term in the Civil Service. We shall have cases after this War of men who have left lucrative positions in the Civil Service, and who have gone back into the Army. They will be sacrificing the period they are in the Army, because they will not be able to count it for pension under the Civil Service Regulations, which lay it down that they shall not count that service for civil pension. Owing to our haphazard methods in the way of raising our Army, whenever we have to deal with the question of the terms of service and the benefits that are to accrue, we are brought up by the complication of numbers of different cases which may arise. I am not quite sure whether I am making my meaning perfectly clear, but I was encouraged by the tone taken by the President of the Local Government Board in expressing his sympathy, and by the promise he gave with regard to bounties. I hope, therefore, that this question of increased pensions will not, be overlooked.
With regard to bounties, in my Amendment, which I understand it will not be in order to discuss, I dealt with the question as affecting the Territorial Force only—a Force which does not come within any of the regulations governing pensions. I rather deprecate the application of the system of bounties to men who have put in pensioned service or to men who come within the limits of the pension rules. I think it will be agreed that the bounty 721 system, as a rule, is not satisfactory, and that where it is possible to place men within the category of pensionable service it is far better to do so. I hope I have been able to make my meaning clear, and that my right hon. Friend, who I am sure will give me a sympathetic answer, will also give one which is satisfactory. I should like to reinforce what fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Trinity College. All of us in this House would like before we part from this Bill to get some clear idea of what the men are going to have. It is all very well to say that the Treasury will consider the matter and that they will do so sympathetically. But the fact remains that expectations are aroused which perhaps may be exaggerated, and it is therefore far better that men should know at once what they are going to get, for the better the terms the more encouragement they will be afforded.
§ Captain AMERY
I think there will be absolute unanimity in the House in supporting the Government in every measure for treating these time-expired men generously. But when it comes to a question not of generosity of treatment but of a concession such as that which the right hon. Gentleman has indicated—of lowering the age beyond which a man will not be kept to forty-one—I do feel, when you are looking at it from the point of view of the national interest, that the suggested concession is a most unfortunate one. If the suggestion be that these men shall not stay in the trenches any longer, but shall be utilised for training purposes at home, I would agree, and I would like to see it brought forward in that form. If the concession is really carried out on the lines suggested, it will mean that that most valuable class of men, the sergeant-majors who have the training of the New Army, are going to be lost to the Service. They are not very numerous, perhaps, but they are a most important factor, and from the point of view of training they are of inestimable value. In fact, every single man is worth hundreds of other men. They are physically fit men. On the other hand, as everybody knows, these men, although of great value to the Army, are not, by reason of the fact that their whole life has been devoted to military service, likely to prove of any great industrial value. What will happen will be that most of them, with the proceeds of their bounties, will set up in a little shop, seeking to support themselves in some perfectly legitimate and laudable way, but they will not be 722 found in any occupation of vital importance to the carrying on of this War by this, country.
The right hon. Gentleman said yesterday he would favourably consider a suggestion to add a provision to this Bill which would enable the House of Commons by Resolution to extend the age to forty-five. Personally I have not the slightest doubt, whether it is done by Resolution or by a new Bill, that the age will be extended to forty-five before very many months are over. What does that mean? It means that when you let these men go, when you have lost their services, it may be temporarily, to the Army, and when they have set up in business for themselves, they will, by a Resolution of the House of Commons, or by a new Bill, be suddenly brought back again to the Army. That would appear to me to be a most unfair, a most unfortunate, and, above all, a most uneconomic proceeding. The better method would have been to do as I have ventured to suggest, to make the age of liability of everybody called up higher. Then these men would remain and would have no grievance. These men are very much wanted from the point of view of Army training. The great mistake which the Government seem to make again and again is not to take a sufficiently serious view of this War It is always saying, "We are quite prepared to fight to the last man and to the last shilling." But when one makes any suggestion which is based on the assumption that they may possibly have to fight to the last man and the last shilling, and that therefore it is necessary to organise your men and your money in the most efficient way in the meantime, so as to make quite sure there is no waste, their cry is always "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." They say, "We may perhaps have to take every man some day. We may perhaps find ourselves in financial difficulties and have to impose more heavy taxation. But give us peace in our time and do not worry us." Fortunately a few of us have been worrying the Government during the last few months to do something, and if only the Government had not taken the line that they have persisted in we might have had a much more effective Service and a great deal of hardship as well as of weakness might have been avoided.
§ Sir ERNEST LAMB
I believe that not only in this House but all over the country there is a great deal of sympathy with 723 these time-expired men. I have been very much struck with what fell from the hon. and gallant Member for Monmouth (Major-General Sir Ivor Herbert) when he said that there was practically no limit to the sense of duty on the part of these men. The hon. and gallant Gentleman declined to use the word "sacrifice," because he objected to it. I want to point out we have to remember in considering this question in connection with this Bill that there is an element of compulsion attached to it. If, as is no doubt the case, there is almost no limit to the sense of duty on the part of these men, you will still get those who are willing to serve to come back to the Colours, because the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board has told us in an interjection that the voluntary principle will still stand for these time-expired men. But is it fair to suggest that men who have put in twenty-one years' service should be compelled without apparently recourse to any tribunal to consider any special circumstances should come back to the Colours? I believe the country is alive to this injustice, and I do not think the Government will carry public opinion with them if they attempt to force these men when it has already been demonstrated that it is unjust.
Those who do not voluntarily stay with the Colours will feel that they are serving under a sense of grievance, and we shall not be getting what we should get by their free gift of service to the country. I hope that the Government will not be content with the slight concession which has been made, but will accept the Amendment of the hon. Member opposite. I hope we shall be able to come to a decision on this point at once, because I believe there is a general feeling of sympathy in all parts of the House with these men, and we can then proceed to the consideration of other Amendments which are of very great importance.
§ 6.0 P.M.
I have had a certain amount of experience, and I wish, if I may, to put in a word on behalf of the claims of these old soldiers. I am afraid the Committee has been rather led away from the real issue. Nearly every one of these men has got promotion, and I hope the Committee will see that they get fair treatment. Promotion, I would point out, in itself is not much encouragement. What we have to do is to see if we keep them 724 that they are given the pay they are worth. We have been told that these men are worth a great deal more as soldiers than they would be as civilian workmen. Let us see then that they are paid a wage which they are really worth. Having been in the trenches with them for months I know what these men have done. I know they have been looking forward to coming home. I know that they are ready to do anything they can for their country, and I do hope care will be taken not to inflict a great hardship upon them. I do not wish to press this too far, but do let us see that they do get fair terms, and that before this Bill leaves the House these men are going to have a real reward for what they have done.
The point of view of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just spoken led me to put down an Amendment dealing with the question of reward for these men, because we heard again to-day that the proposal of the Government is to give either promotion or a bounty, whereas, as the hon. and gallant Member has pointed out, promotion would not be the best course in the case of these men, who might not in all cases be suitable for promotion. You might quite likely promote men not suitable, who would not help the Army. With regard to the question of bounty, I do not think that that is what he wants, or deserves after the special claim which we are putting on him to serve again, after having done, perhaps, fifteen months' or nearly two years' service already. I would much sooner that this service should count towards pension in the future. The particular class of men to which this should apply is not the man who has nearly completed twenty-one years' service, because he automatically comes on to the pension, and a bounty would not help him half so much, to my mind, as a slight increase in the pay. But the man with twelve years' service is the man, I think, who deserves special treatment, especially if part of his twelve years has been served in the Reserve, because that portion of his service in the Reserve disqualifies him for a pension, which is not quite what the President of the Local Government Board said just now, that all service counts for pension. It does not. It is only service with the Colours that counts for pension, if he is discharged at the end of fourteen years. That is the case which most undoubtedly applies to the claims of all the younger men who are being pressed now for further service. I 725 hope that the question of pension will be much more closely considered than the question of bounty. In reference to the Territorial Force, those men have been placed on a four years' basis, and they can extend themselves to an eight years' basis, and they can be kept on, in a national emergency, for an additional year. It may well be that those men who are now compelled to stay on until the end of the War should get a bounty, because I think that a bounty in this case is the most suitable in due proportion to the service that they serve. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Trinity College suggested an increase of pay to these men. There, again, I do not think that that is exactly what is wanted. I think that a pension is much more suitable than an increase of pay, and I hope that that will be the line to be adopted.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Mr. Forster)
In connection with the question of pensions, I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend who has just sat down that it has been engaging the very careful and sympathetic attention of the authorities at the War Office. I am not prepared at the moment to say that the extra service will count for the pension which is payable at the end of fourteen years' service. We have not come to a definite decision at the moment on that point, but I hope that my hon. and gallant Friends will be satisfied with the assurance that the extra service which the man compulsorily retained, or the man who goes back after discharge renders, will count either towards the qualification for pension or towards an increase in the amount of the pension. Generally speaking, the added service that these men will render will count towards pension. There is no use in counting a short period of service for earning the grant of a very small pension. Therefore, I share the view that in dealing with Territorials and short-service men who are compulsorily retained it is far better to give them their reward in the shape of a bounty. To put the thing in a nutshell, so far as my view is concerned, I think that we should see as far as possible in rewarding these men for their services that we should compensate them for the element of compulsion by awarding them a bounty. I only wish that I was in a position to say exactly what that bounty would be. I quite realise the anxiety of the House to know what the Government decide on that point, and my right hon. Friend says that he hopes to 726 make every effort to inform the House on this point to-morrow. I hope, with that assurance, that the Committee will now bring the discussion to an end.
§ Commander BELLAIRS
I am not going to make a speech, but I am going to make a suggestion. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman is going to consider the question of exempting some of the time-expired men. If so, will he endeavour to place the Army and Navy as nearly as possible on the same footing? Seamen may serve for five years and the Marines for two years, beyond their time of twenty-two years, in this War, so that takes them well beyond forty-one years of age. A sense of injustice will be created in the Navy if you make great differences in the Army. I think the right hon. Gentleman had better take that point into consideration, because, after all, these men are exceedingly good men and too valuable to part with in such a War. They have retained the men in the Navy, and I do not see why a corresponding rule should not be followed in the Army.
§ Mr. LONG
The hon. Member for Birmingham talked about my decision and so on. The decision is one which has been arrived at by the Army Council, and they arrived at their decision with a full knowledge of the number of men affected, and what the result will be in regard to the number of men who are covered by this Amendment. I do not want there to be any misunderstanding. The effect of the Amendment of my hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Ashley) will be this, that this Clause will apply to men of twelve years' service, and those who are now serving and who are over the age of forty-one. Therefore men of twelve years' service will be exempted from it. That means that this Clause will not apply to those who are now serving who are prepared to re-engage and to come under the definition of my hon. Friend. With regard to men in the Navy and the system in operation there, I do not think that it is possible for the Army Council to make the arrangement suggested without notice. I quite agree with my hon. Friend that these are the most valuable men whom we have got, and I am quite sure that the Army Council will take care to see that no avoidable injury is done, I appeal to the Committee to accept the compromise offered on 727 behalf of the Government. I do not suppose for a moment that it is sufficient for everybody, but it is very important that we should get on. There is a very great deal of work to do, and this Bill must be finished. The Army Council impress upon me that every day makes a difference to them. It is very urgent that we should get through with it, and I most urgently appeal to the Committee to let us come to a decision with reference to this Amendment.
Major-General Sir IVOR HERBERT
I would not delay the passage of this Bill by one minute if I could help it, but there is a small point on which we hoped to hear the Financial Secretary give an answer to-day. Perhaps he overlooked it. That was the question of bounty, or pension, as to whether the Army Council or the Treasury will consider the question of the man counting his service in the Army towards his Civil pension. After the War we shall a great many cases of that sort arising.
§ Mr. FORSTER
Obviously I am not in a position to reply to that question. It should be addressed to the Treasury and not to the War Office, but we shall take care that the point is pressed strongly upon the Treasury.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
It would meet the wishes of the Government, I suppose, if I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment, with a view to supporting the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Stock-port (Mr. Wardle) later on.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
It is better to have a Division on this Amendment. It is really the same as the Amendment in the name of an hon. Friend of mine a little afterwards. We have the double condition introducing a very unknown quantity and quality. Therefore I think we will have to resist the withdrawal.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
If the Amendment is not withdrawn, I do not see how we can take the Amendment to which the hon. Member now refers.
§ Mr. MACDONALD
On a point of Order. Does not this Amendment raise a different point altogether from the Amendment of the hon. Member who comes on afterwards?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
If you negative this Amendment I shall not feel justified in taking this other one, because it is covered substantially by the discussion which has taken place.
§ Mr. WHITEHOUSE
I submit, on a point of Order, that some of us wish to take the opinion of the House on the proposal to release these men when they attain the age of forty-one, without the condition that they shall have served the fourteen years. That is why we propose to refuse leave to withdraw the Amendment, in order that we might divide in favour of the Amendment moved by the hon. Gentleman opposite. That is the difficulty in which we find ourselves. Perhaps you will be good enough to enable us to give effect to our wishes.
§ Mr. LONG
I am sorry to interfere with the speeches of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, but we have the decision already announced on behalf of the Government. We are prepared to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Blackpool in the form in which it appears on the Paper in the names of two hon. Gentlemen who attach to the age a period of service. It is immaterial to me if the Committee decides that, but I must ask them to come to a decision. If my hon. Friend presses his Amendment in its present form I shall vote for it, but it must be clearly understood that if the forms of the House do not enable me on the part of the Government to amend it so as to bring in the period of years of service, I shall vote for it on the understanding that I shall move to amend it on the Report stage.
§ Mr. BARNES
I am rather deceived by what has taken place. I distinctly asked the Chairman at the beginning of this Debate, when the right hon. Gentleman agreed that he would give a general statement, whether, if that statement were made and a debate took place on the Amendment which is proposed by the hon. Member for Blackpool, I would be in order with the Amendment standing in my name on the next page. I was assured that I would be in order. If this Amendment is defeated, will my Amendment become out of order?
§ Mr. TENNANT
May I make a suggestion—it is that we should modify the pre- 729 sent Amendment by inserting the words "for the period of twelve years or"?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
If the right hon. Gentleman moves that as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment I should accept it.
§ Mr. TENNANT
I suggest that the Amendment should be amended by inserting, after the word "sections," the words "has served the period of twelve years."
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I think it would be much better that the Amendment should be put in writing, or it can be moved on the Report stage. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board accepts the Amendment of the hon. Member for Blackpool (Mr. Ashley), but he reserves to himself the right on the Report stage to move an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, which would really be substantially the same as that submitted by the Under-Secretary for War.
Words, "Provided the man referred to in such Sections is under the age of forty-one," there inserted.
§ Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS
I beg to move, at the end of the Clause, to add the words, "But this Section shall not apply in the case of an only surviving son of a parent who has already lost one or more sons in the present War."
This raises a point which I have been asked to bring forward, but it will not affect many cases. I think it will be admitted that in appeals to the tribunals the only son of a widow is not called upon by those tribunals. I am told by my hon. Friend near me that this is very generally understood. I think it is a small concession which the Amendment asks for. There are cases where the elder son, for instance, is one of the time-expired men. The younger sons have gone to the War, having volunteered after it began. One or more of them is cut off or killed. The eldest son only is left, and his friends are looking forward to the expiration of his time of service, as he is the only son. As I have said, I do not think it will affect many men, and I submit it for the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman in order to see whether we can accept it or not.
§ Mr. LONG
I am very much obliged to my hon. Friend, but I hope he will not press his Amendment, for this reason: It is quite true that in the parent Act the tribunals have power to release men before they 730 become soldiers in respect of this and other reasons; but it is very undesirable to impose a legal limitation which will have to be put into effect, not by the tribunals sitting to inquire into all cases, but by officers commanding at the front, who may have cases of this kind which might prove to be quite incorrect, and which would involve them in a great deal of work. At present the military authorities have power, where special cases are brought to their notice, to deal with them, and already, in more than one instance, the military authorities have so dealt with such cases. I am quite convinced that in special cases of this kind the military authorities will lend a ready ear to any application that is made.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Colonel LOCKWOOD
I beg to move, at the end of the Clause, to add the words "and for Home defence only."
I do not want to add anything to what has been said in regard to the services of time-expired men. The men to whom I refer are perfectly willing to continue, though they have been through the whole of the War, but if they are required to continue their service they ask that they should serve at home and not at the front. I had in my possession yesterday a letter from a time-expired man who had been wounded once, gassed once, and buried alive once. That man has done his work at the front, and we cannot expect the human machine to be in the same state of fitness for work at the front as it was before those injuries were inflicted upon it. But the writer of the letter is perfectly willing, and so are hundreds of others in the Service—men who are in the same predicament, men who have done their work at the front, and who are ready to continue their work because they believe that the State requires their assistance, but who ask that they should be reengaged and allowed Home service only, and not service at the front.
§ Mr. LONG
I hope that my right hon. and gallant Friend will not press his Amendment. I have consulted our military advisers and the Army Council and their view can be easily and shortly presented to the Committee. It is that it would be impossible really to give these men an absolute right to Home service, and it is absolutely essential that some of these men should in many cases remain where they are stationed at the front. I am assured that they are ready to return to 731 the positions they have there. The Army Council, where possible, and still more where it is desirable, in such a case as the gallant man to whom my right hon. Friend referred, would wish to make such provision as would enable the men to render the best service at the front, but they could not incur an obligation of this kind, which it would be very difficult to carry out, and which would be taken advantage of by a large number of men, while it would materially reduce the efficiency of our Army. I hope my right hon. and gallant Friend will not press his Amendment. I have great sympathy with its object, so have the Army Council, and, from personal experience, I may state that no one has greater sympathy with this object, or is more anxious to carry it out in the case of time-expired men, than is the Government, in whose hands the ultimate control of this part of the administration rests.
§ Colonel LOCKWOOD
In deference to what has fallen from my right hon. Friend, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment, though I confess it is with regret.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Mr. SHIRLEY BENN
I beg to move, at the end of the Clause, to add the words, "but a soldier retained in the Army under this Section shall have the right of reengaging for such further period of Army service as will qualify him for pension."
After the last discussion which has taken place on the Amendment of the hon. Member for Blackpool, and after the eloquent expression of sympathy felt for time-expired men which has fallen from my right hon. Friend, it is not necessary for me to take up the time of the Committee in discussing either the merits of the men or the hardships imposed upon them. I want to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether he does not realise that the older a man is when he leaves the Service, the less able he is to take up a skilled trade. The object of my Amendment is to allow these men to remain with the Colours until they can come in for pension, or, if they should not be eligible for pension, that they should be given some sort of employment by the Government which would be at a wage sufficiently high for them, but a wage not too high to prevent their getting industrial employment.
§ Mr. FORSTER
I think I understand what my hon. Friend really wants, but the form of words in his Amendment would give every soldier in the Territorial, Regular, and other Forces, after a short period of service, the right to re-engage up to the full twenty-one years. I do not think he wants to go so far as that. What I think he really wants is that when a man becomes time-expired, after the end of twelve years' service, he shall have the opportunity, if he wishes to do so, of re-engaging for pension.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. JOWETT
I beg to move to leave out the Clause.
I think it is necessary to understand the present position after the Amendment which has been accepted and the promised alteration by the right hon. Gentleman. As I understand the position with regard to time-expired men, it is that they shall not be allowed to leave the Army unless they fulfil a two-fold obligation; that is to say, that they shall have attained the age of forty-one and shall have served twelve years in the Army, with a year added for war time. With all due respect to those more familiar with Army conditions, I think the concession is a small one, and so far as I can gather can only apply to very few time-expired men. We were told in the course of the discussion that if all time-expired men were to leave the Army it would mean a very large proportion of men who are indispensable, and particularly sergeant-majors and non-commissioned officers. There is a large number who belong to neither, and, in my opinion, they are in the majority. It is a serious matter this repeated tearing up of scraps of paper. The whole world is becoming littered with scraps of paper in the course of this War. I am not going to argue the question, but it is necessary to mention different examples of the tearing up of scraps of paper and the discarding of rights of men who have done their duty. The Territorial units were to be kept together. That is a scrap of paper that is torn up, as they are to be interchangeable. The Territorials were to be enlisted for home service. That is another scrap of paper torn up, and now, on top of all these, there is this additional outrage, for I con- 733 sider it is an outrage, put upon those who have done their duty and have borne the heat and burden of the day in the trenches by keeping them there whether they want to remain or not. I am quite certain a large number of them are quite willing to go on, but they want to go on as free men and with proper consideration. Those of them who do not wish to go on are fully entitled to their freedom. Some of them have been looking forward to that freedom while in the trenches undergoing their hard and arduous time.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
I desire to refer to the case of miners and men working in reserved occupations prior to the War and who after the declaration of war were called to the Colours, went to France, completed their engagement and have returned to the mines. We have a number of those men in my Constituency.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think that is so. The hon. Baronet has not observed that the case to which he refers comes under Clause 3, and not that which we are now discussing.
§ Colonel CHURCHILL
There is one very small point to which I should like to draw attention. The right hon. Gentleman has made a concession in regard to men of forty-one years of age whose engagement expires after twelve years' service, and they are to be free to leave the Service. I suggest to him that that is going beyond what is really necessary. These men are most useful as instructors at home, and by their long service have experience and authority for this special work. I see no reason why they should be released altogether from the Service. I would suggest to the Government to consider whether it would not be sufficient to say that a man of forty-one years who has served twelve years shall be released from obligations to serve abroad. In that way a certain class of men will be retained for purposes which they will be perfectly content to discharge and for which they are exceedingly well fitted.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
I offer a very strong protest against any reconsideration of the concession which was given on my Amendment. That Amendment has been on the Paper for several days, and the concession has been given after full consideration. 734 Under this Bill we are trying to get in everybody between eighteen and forty-one, and we should not go outside the four corners of those ages. If you do, you are creating inequalities, injustices, and bad feeling.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
Probably no proposal in this Bill has met with so much, I do not say opposition, as expressions of regret as the one we are now considering. Sympathy for the time-expired man has been most profusely expressed in all quarters of the House. In my opinion there are a great many hard cases. I would not go so far as to say that the case of the time-expired man is more serious than that of some others which are included in this Bill, but if I were to attempt to regulate these cases in the order of gravity I think the time-expired man comes second after the proposal to conscript children. I rose mainly to say that the Clause as amended is not satisfactory to my Friends or to myself, and on the Report stage, when the Government propose an Amendment to deal with the twelve years' service men, I want to give them warning that we shall endeavour to make the proposal of a more far-reaching character. The concession of the Government is practically nothing at all, it will create a new grievance, and you will have men in the trenches who have far longer service there than men who are going to be released. There are other objections to the concession which we shall put forward when the proper time comes.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Jowett) referred to the seriousness of this repeated breaking of engagements into which men have entered under the solemn promise and trust of the Government. I wonder do the Government realise what effect this is going to have upon the confidence which men have hitherto reposed in the pledged word of the Government. Hon. Members opposite who have for years been agitating for compulsory military service will remember that Lord Roberts always met the arguments which its opponents advanced that compulsory service for Home defence might in time of war be changed by order of the Government into compulsory service in foreign lands by saying that that could not be done, and that a Territorial Army raised under a system of compulsion would be for Home defence only, and that the men thus enrolled 735 would not without their consent be sent abroad in time of war. All that has gone. I wonder if the Government realise what effect that is going to have upon the future of our military organisation in this country. There is one thing it will certainly do, and that is to destroy the voluntary system once and for all, because you are not going to get men in the future to volunteer into the Territorial Force when they have this precedent constantly before their eyes, and when they realise that lay volunteering for Home defence they make themselves liable for foreign service if war breaks out. This is a most serious matter. As my hon. Friend said, the whole of Europe is littered with torn-up treaties and obligations and scraps of paper. I find that the military correspondent of the "Times" newspaper, in the same article yesterday from which I have already quoted, describes this very proposal as the tearing up of a scrap of paper. On what grounds do the Government justify it? They justify it on the grounds of military necessity. On what ground did Prussia justify her action in tearing up the Treaty of 1839, and the invasion of Belgium. She justified it solely on the ground of military necessity. We have had a great many indications of Prussian methods in this country, and this is the latest of them, the tearing up and regarding of solemn obligations merely us "scraps of paper." The seriousness of this policy cannot rest at to-day. The effect of it will be long and far-reaching. I firmly believe that the Government are creating for the future problems of the utmost and terrible gravity.
§ Colonel MEYSEY-THOMPSON
I want to ask hon. Members opposite whether they wish to win the War and to help the country?
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I am not called upon to answer questions put by the hon. Member, but if I did reply my answer would be that the methods incorporated in this Bill are far more likely to lose the War for us than to win it.
§ Colonel MEYSEY-THOMPSON
The necessity that hon. Members opposite deplore has been brought about entirely by their own act. They have done nothing to help recruiting since the War began. 736 They have adopted obstructive tactics, they have objected to every form of compulsion and now, when we are forced into the military necessity of providing trained men quickly, we find ourselves in this position and they obstruct still. I would ask them, if they want to help the country, to abandon their obstructive tactics, and to withdraw these Amendments, which only waste the time of the House.
§ Mr. KING
How are the men who will be affected viewing the action that we are now taking? We are refusing to thousands of men the right to which they have been looking forward, of returning to their homes, their families, and their businesses. I have received a number of intimations that the feeling caused by this policy is very serious, and is damaging the enthusiasm, the spirit, and the discipline of the Army. I have read only this week a letter from a constituent of mine, of whom I can speak in high terms. Writing from France, where he has been for a year, he states that he had previously served in the Regular Army and in the City of Bristol Engineers. He says:—On the understanding that I should be given the rank of corporal, which I have held, on my re-enlistment, I left my wife and eight children, two of whom have since died, and my business as a master builder, which is now probably ruined.It is a rather long letter, and I will quote the conclusion to which he comes:My great grandfather was a major in the Scots Greys, my father an officer in His Majesty's Navy, I have a brother serving as an officer, and my father fought in the Crimea and Indian Mutiny. I can therefore claim to have strong military traditions. My feeling to-day is that in my country's need I was willing to carry on to the end, but I cannot bring myself to serve under the gross injustice now laid upon me. I am come out here to fight for honour and justice, and now I am treated in this way. I feel that I would rather die by the hands of my own comrades, facing a shooting party, a martyr to justice, honour and promises, than carry out a policy which is contradictory and unjust in itself.I know this man. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name!"] I am not going to give any more indication which may lead to his identification. I am glad and surprised to have received this letter at all; but I have had other indications that there is the strongest feeling of resentment in the ranks. I do not say that it is universal, or even that it is the feeling of the majority of the men who are being forced to stay on, but I say without any hesitation whatever that it does exist, and that it is a danger, a cruelty, and a shame. If we are going to win the War by calling on these 737 men on the plea of military necessity in this way, we are going to make the War unpopular, weaken our national cause, and not add to our strength in the field.
§ Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 232; Noes, 33.739
|Division No. 9.]||AYES.||[6.52 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Goddard, Rt. Hon. Sir Daniel Ford||Needham, Christopher Thomas|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Goldman, C. S.||Neville, Reginald J. N.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Newman, John R. P.|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Grant, J. A.||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Norman, Sir Henry|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Greig, Colonel James William||Norton-Griffiths, J. (Wednesbury)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Gretton, John||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Astor, Hon. Waldorf||Griffith, Rt. Hon. Ellis Jones||Parry, Thomas H.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Gulland, John William||Pearce, Sir William (Limehouse)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Pease, Herbert P. (Darlington)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Pennefather, De Forblanque|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir F. G.||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Phillips, Sir Owen (Chester)|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Hancock, John George||Pratt, J. W.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. George N.||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Prothero, Rowland Edmund|
|Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc, E.)||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Harris, H. P. (Paddington, S.)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Harris, Percy A. (Leicester, S.)||Randles, Sir John S.|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bellairs, Commander C. W.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Durham)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Henderson, Lt.-Col. Hon. H. (Ab'den)||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Benn, Com. Ian Hamilton||Henderson, John M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Reid, Rt. Hon. Sir George H.|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Henry, Sir Charles||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Bird, Alfred||Hinds, John||Robertson, Rt. Hon. J. M.|
|Bliss, Joseph||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Boyton, James||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Rowlands, James|
|Brace, William||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Broughton, Urban Hanlon||Horne, Edgar||Rutherford, Sir John (Darwen)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Houston, Robert Paterson||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hudson, Walter||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Burdett-Coutts, William||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)||Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Hunt, Major Rowland||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Cassel, Felix||Illingnorth, Albert H.||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Cator, John||Ingleby, Holcombe||Shortt, Edward|
|Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George||Jackson, Lt.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)||Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Walton)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Jacobsen, Thomas Owen||Smith, Sir Swire (Keighley, W. R.)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Robert (Horts, Hitchin)||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Joynson-Hicks, William||Sutton, John E.|
|Coats, Sir Stewart A. (Wimbledon)||Larmor, Sir J.||Swann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Sykes, Col. Alan John (Knutsford)|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Layland-Barrett, Sir F.||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Lee, Arthur Hamilton||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Levy, Sir Maurico||Taylor, Theodore, C. (Radcliffe)|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Tennant, Rt. Hon. Harold John|
|Craig, Col. James (Down, E.)||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Crooks, Rt. Hon. William||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Dalrymple, Hon. H. H.||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Tickler, T. G.|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Tootill, Robert|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Mackinder, Halford J.||Touche, George Alexander|
|Dixon, Charles Harvey||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B.||Macmaster, Donald||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Du Cros, Arthur Philip||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Turton, Edmund (Russborough)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Wardle, G. J.|
|Edge, Captain William||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Macpherson, James Ian||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Fell, Arthur||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Watson, Hon. W.|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Meux, Sir Hedworth||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Meysey-Thompson, Major E. C.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Middlebrook, Sir William||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N. W.)|
|Forster, Henry William||Millar, James Duncan||Williams, Col. Sir Robert (Dorset, W.)|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||Mills, Lieut. Arthur R.||Williams, Thomas J. (Swansea)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Gardner, Ernest||Montagu, Rt. Hon. E. S.||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Morison, Hector||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Gilbert, J. D.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Wolmer, Viscount||Yate, Colonel C. E.||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Wood, John (Stalybridge)||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)||Young, William (Perthshire, East)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.— Mr. Bridgeman and Mr. Geoffrey Howard.|
|Worthington-Evans, Major L.||Younger, Sir George|
|Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Anderson, W. C.||John, Edward Thomas||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Arnold, Sydney||Jones, Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jowett, Frederick William||Radford, George Heynes|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||King, Joseph||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Lamb, Sir Ernest Henry||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Clynes, John R.||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby H.||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Snowden, Philip|
|Glanville, Harold James||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Mason, David M. (Coventry)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Molteno, Percy Alport||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.— Mr. Whitehouse and Mr. Goldstone.|
|Hogge, James Myles||Morrell, Philip|
|Holt, Richard Durning||Outhwaite, R. L.|