§ Order for Committee read.
The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Lieut.-Colonel Guinness)
I beg to move, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
In moving that you do leave the Chair, Sir, I must ask the indulgence of the House in that the task of justifying the Army Estimates has fallen to me and not to my Noble Friend the Secretary of State for War, who cannot be here in support of the policy for which he is responsible. I also regret that the House has been inconvenienced by the lateness in laying our Estimates. The War Office is in the midst of very great difficulties and administrative problems. Troops are stationed abroad, and there is great uncertainty as to how long they will remain. Even in keeping the Estimates back as we have done we have not, been able to get a very accurate Estimate, for instance, of the strength for which we shall have to provide in Turkey. I am afraid the House will consider, when they look at the smallest of the British force for which we have provided in the Near East, that in spite of our delay in laying the Estimates we have proved over-optimistic.
The Army Estimates have been reduced this year by over £10,000,000. They are now £52,000,000, as against £62,000,000 last year. The Memorandum of the Secretary of State shows how fully the Government has carried out the reductions recommended in the. Geddes Report. The Vote for personnel shows a reduction of 55,000 men. Owing, however, to the exodus of four years special short-service men, the Army at the beginning of the financial year will be about 12,000 short of establishment. Recruiting, however, is excellent, and there is no doubt that we shall make up the shortage in a very reasonable period. The intake for normal engagements of service for the year which is just finishing has been 39,000 recruits as against a pre-War average of 29,000.
1830 It would be impossible and improper for me to prejudge at this stage the possibilities of further economies in the Army Vote beyond saying that the Army Council have very carefully examined the expenditure, and see no considerable additional reduction in establishment which would not involve dropping below the line of great. danger. The British Army has never been designed to meet the German or any other European menace. Its size has been regulated to the task of keeping the marches of the Empire and the maintenance of law and order. These responsibilities remain undiminshed, and there have been added to them responsibilities for large mandated territories in three different continents. The risks, therefore, are far greater than at any other period before the War. Of the reduced Army, in spite of these greater risks, we have 31,000 men serving in Germany, Turkey and Mesopotamia, where there was never any pre-War liability of any kind. Unless, therefore, we made too great a provision before the War, it is clear that with our existing liabilities we have already run very grave risks in cutting down, as we have by 21 battalions of in fantry, nine cavalry regiments, and 49 batteries of Royal Horse. and Field Artillery, as compared with pre-War days, when, as I have pointed out, our commitments were smaller.
The justification of the decision last year was the urge of remorseless financial necessity. The maximum retrenchment in our defence forces is possible, and only possible, while the world remains exhausted by war. It needs not any specialised knowledge at the present time to see the danger points in Europe and the Near East which have been left by the War, stresses of economic and territorial pressure, reinforced by armed and trained men who are only with difficulty held back by treaties and diplomacy. These European risks, however, do not directly concern my argument. In any ease, at their maturity they would be beyond the scope of the Regular Army and its Reserves. There are, however, certain standing risks to the British Empire in Asia and elsewhere with which it is the normal function of the Regular Army to deal, and which it is the duty of the General Staff closely to watch. Such risks in the main dictate the size. 1831 of the standing Army and its Reserves. Our present establishment is sufficient to enable us to deal with these risks if they materialise singly. Should they, however, materialise simultaneously, we are not now in a position effectually to deal with the situation.
For the moment we are exceptionally weak owing to the smallness of our Reserves. On the other hand, we have a great, but wasting, asset in the many men of war training who would still be available in an emergency. We are advised by the General Staff that with the present reduced Army we are facing the same heavy risks as before the War, with dangerously decreased resources. The slowness of mobilisation, due to the shortage in our Reserves, must add to the danger and might well mean that any trouble with which our Regular Army and its normal Reserves could deal in the initial stages, in the normal ease of our Reserves being up to strength, might spread to such a volume as to be beyond the scope of our standing Army without a very large call on national effort.
The statement of the late Secretary of State a year ago showed that, while we should be able to mobilise before the War one and a half cavalry divisions and six infantry divisions within 10 days, we should in the future be able to mobilise only one cavalry division and four infantry divisions, not in 10 days, but in four months, and of the four infantry divisions we should only be able to mobilise one immediately and from existing resources and without special enlistment. The speed of mobilisation must, of course, increase as our fighting and technical reserves fill up, but it would not be in the public interest to state year by year the exact position in this respect. As a special measure, pending the normal growth of our reserves, 10,000 men with war training will be enlisted directly into Class D of the Reserve, and of this number practically the whole may be said to be in sight within three weeks of the announcement having been made. Unfortunately, more difficulty has been experienced in the case of 8,000 trained men whom we have tried to take directly into our Reserve. This scheme has been in force for two years, but I am sorry to say that out of the 8,000 asked for we have only secured so far 5,400.
1832 Much as the Army Council desire to retain the old and distinguished Militia battalions which are now in abeyance, I regret that it has not been found. possible in present conditions to justify the cost of their re-establishment. A scheme which would really supply an alternative is being examined. Under it the infantry depots may be organised so as, on mobilisation, to form cadres on which to build reserve units for replacement of the militia battalions. Although we cannot at the moment see our way to take any definite action about the infantry Militia, we are providing in the Estimates this year £350,000 for the institution of technical Militia to supply us with our trained personnel, telegraphists, mechanical transport, etc., without which quick mobilisation is impossible. The House will understand that these changes in the Reserve, and possible changes in the depots, will merely affect the speed of mobilisation, but not the size of the force which we can mobilise.
The Army itself must. feel an even more lively interest than the House of Commons in the stabilisation of our establish went. Fifteen hundred officers have been axed under the Geddes recommendation, and the process has naturally caused most acute anxiety throughout the Army. Such is the feeling of insecurity that parents are showing reluctance in putting their sons into the Army, and we are now faced with a very serious difficulty in finding cadets for Sandhurst, which at the present time is 88 short of establishment. This serious position is the more remarkable in view of the great increase of pay now received by officers in the Army. They are to-day getting from two to two-and-a-half times pre-War rates. My Noble Friend the Secretary of State appreciates the gravity to the interest of the Army of a continuance of the present anxiety, and with a view to allaying it he is going to press the Government to come to an early decision in the matter of establishment which may, we hope, enable us to announce definitely the end of the compulsory retirement of officers, except under the prescribed conditions under the Royal Warrant as to age and period of service.
Very great economies of detail have been carried out to get the Estimates down to the figure laid before the House. Non-essentials have been cut 1833 out and we have been obliged to sacrifice many desirable services such as the grant to cadets, owing to the overriding necessity of keeping the maximum of fighting men. Establishments are still being care fully overhauled and the guiding principle has been to create an Army capable of quick expansion. With this object it is specially necessary for us to train leaders. I stress this point because I have been asked a good many questions which suggest that our arrangements are too lavish in respect of higher ranks as compared with continental armies. That appears to me to be misleading. Our Army, in the case of the small wars in every type of country and under every variety of condition, must be prepared to deal with far more complex and differentiated conditions than those for which continental armies are designed. The late struggle also taught. us the necessity of an Army in this country being adaptable to the needs of a great national effort. Continental armies organise their manhood in peace time, and their proportion of leaders to men must necessarily be smaller when the cadres are half full than with us, where the leaders exist in peace time merely as an empty cadre to be filled up when necessity arises.
Although no large saving is in view on establishments, some economy may be found in future years in the cost of personnel. The House will remember that under the Royal Warrant for pay, published in 1919, officers' terms are to be reviewed in July, 1924. It has not been thought advisable to consider the variation of pay of other ranks until that of officers can also be reconsidered. In any case the effect of changing the pay of other ranks, if decided upon, must be small at first, as no reduction can be made during the term of any existing engagement, when the change of conditions takes place. Considerable changes have been made in establishments. In both the cavalry and infantry a headquarters wing has been added as part of the organisation to include the administrative personnel, and it is hoped in this way to simplify the training of companies and squadrons in peace and their handling in war. I should mention that the headquarters wing will also include a fighting factor in the machine gun sections. The six cavalry depots have been abolished and a central cavalry depot has been created at Canter- 1834 bury. In the same way eleven artillery depots have been concentrated in a central artillery depot at Woolwich.
Although considerable reductions have been made, the Army continues to spend from 00,000 to £700,000 a year in research. It, is difficult to give the exact figures, because research expenditure is rather closely interwoven with technical establishments, and I do not think we can expect, that this expenditure on research and experiments can ever vary directly with our establishments. If we cut down our numbers it becomes more than ever necessary to get the fullest benefit from scientific research and the improvement of war material. There was great waste of life in the Great War from the lack of knowledge, and the evolution of armaments was bought at a very high cost. It is, I believe, true economy in peace time to spend money on research, and so to avoid the ordering of wrong material when war comes with mass production. Much progress has been achieved during the year in tank design. Whereas the endurance of the track of the latest tank which was available during the War was only 150 miles, and the speed per hour was only eight miles, the present models have an endurance of 1,000 miles for the, track and a speed of 25 miles an hour. It is hoped during 1923–4 to equip a whole Tank battalion with the new light. tank.
It has been decided also to substitute mechanical transport for horse wagons in the divisional trains, and this will involve on mobilisation the provision of a considerable number of 30-cwt. lorries. To encourage the manufacture and the existence in this country of this type. of vehicle in commerce, a small subsidy payment of £40 apiece is now being offered for lorries of 30-ewt. carrying power in accordance with War Office specification. The estimates contain provision for a school at Bland ford for boys, who will be taken and trained to trades. Bland-ford already possesses a large camp of huts and this was found to be the most economic site for adaptation. Difficulty has been found for several years past in securing the growing number of skilled personnel necessary for technical work. Blandford school will eventually take 1,000 boys at the age of 14, of whom 330 are expected to enter during next year.
1835 The War has naturally dislocated our pre-War Army, and the resulting resettlement and re-education and reorganisation have been much complicated by the necessity for the strictest retrenchment. Training has been carried out under difficulties owing to the numerous calls on units, in emergencies, both at home and abroad. We have lost valuable training facilities over 30,000 acres in Ireland, and we are asking the House to vote £180,000 this year towards a scheme which will eventually accommodate two brigades of Infantry, two brigades of Artillery, a Tank battalion, and a Signal Service Training Centre, in a new area which will give facilities equivalent to those which we have lost in Ireland. We have not yet decided the details as to the site, but it is certain that a large set-off will eventually be obtained by throwing up unsuitable and obsolete accommodation which will no longer he necessary if this scheme is adopted. We are spending considerable sums in training officers and instructors in the complexity of modern war and its weapons. But we have been obliged to cut down the provision for the general education of the Army, and the Army Education Corps has been accordingly reduced by about one-half. On the other hand we are making a start next month, at Catterick and Hounslow, with vocational training centres for instructors, who will go back to their units and pass on their instruction in brick-laying, upholstery, market gardening, and other trades which are useful in civil life. Courses in the same subjects will also be given at the end of their engagements to selected men, to help them to start in industry after demobilisation, and in this way we hope to do something towards repaying the debt to the soldier, and removing the reproach to the State of unemployment. among so many who leave the Colours.
The House always takes a very useful and lively interest in the details of Army organisation, and especially lately in the establishment and cost of the War Office. The War Office cost has been cut clown in the Estimates by nearly £300,000, and the staffs of the Commands have been cut down by £100,000. Of the total cost, only £969,000 under the -War Office head would have been shown as the cost of the War Office under the old arrangement of Votes, and the remaining 1836 £353,000 would have been distributed under other heads. The figure of £969,000 is just over double the corresponding provision of £457,000 in 1914, and the main cause of this increase is the great post-War volume of work. Letters to the War Office are still more than double what they were pre-War, and the cost is further explained by the fact that not only the Army, but the Civil Service is getting very much higher pay than was given eight years ago. Much of the reduction is of course the natural result of winding up the legacies of the War. At the same time, while the present tension exists throughout the world, it must continue necessary to employ an abnormal number of staff officers in obtaining information and preparing for contingencies.
The reconstruction of our military forces must also impose a heavy burden which, for the moment, rules out-any fair comparison with the pre-War period. But a close scrutiny is being made of organisation and administration, so as to secure the greatest efficiency and economy. The present system is based on the recommendations of the Esher Committee. It was primarily designed for the control of a small army, but the Esher Committee very wisely—to use their own phrase—took as their main object "the establishment of a system in peace which has its exact analogue in War, which will train officers in peace for their war duty, and which will provide machinery which cannot be disorganised on the despatch of troops for service abroad." That they succeeded in designing a system suitable not only for peace, but for war, is shown by the fact that this administrative foundation, on which was built the small pre-War army, carried efficiently in War the colossal administrative burden of the whole nation in arms. The Esher Committee certainly have no reason to be ashamed of the foundation that they digged.
It is our duty to examine closely, in the light of war experience, our present organisation, and to find out and correct. any defects. Administration has been complicated by the development of new armaments and methods of warfare and the improvisation of machinery to work them. Personally, I believe that the Esher system is so elastic that overlapping, if it has taken place, can easily be corrected by fresh delimitations of 1837 responsibility between Departments, with out any fundamental changes. The pre War control of expenditure, which, of course, depends largely on our organisation policy both in peace. and war, was probably more open to criticism than the system of directing organisation. This country certainly did not wage war cheaply. Enormous waste took place, not only under the War Office, but in all directions. In war, owing to the system of Votes on Account, all Parliamentary control of expenditure went by the board. Perhaps no system could altogether have avoided this trouble. But it is clear that, in peace time, House of Commons control can only be achieved by proper accounting as the foundation for the annual Estimates. Economy can be achieved by big cuts, but it can be better applied by a small-bladed scalpel. Big cuts are often disastrous, but unless you have a micro scope of scientific accounting to enable you to distinguish between sound and unsound expenditure, you cannot possibly use your scalpel. As far as the War Office are concerned, efforts are being made to improve the control of expenditure by a new system of accounts, which was introduced for the first time in the Estimates of 1920–21. They allow, not only the House of Commons and the War Office, but also officers of all stages of responsibility, to know and control the cost of the Services which they administer. The whole system of Army Votes was developed from the time when the House, in its jealousy of the power of the Crown, thought merely of limiting the numbers of the standing Army and its expenditure and not of getting good value for the money.
To take an instance. Neither the officer commanding a hospital nor the War Office could know what was the expenditure on any hospital, either in total or per patient, under the old system. The officers' pay was found in one account, the men's pay was passed in another, and rations, nurses, drugs, furniture and building all came out of various Votes, and were never brought together either locally or centrally in any intelligible account. The old system was an admirable, if costly, method of preventing dishonesty. It was designed rather to defeat misappropriation than to bring about business management. The officer had no means of knowing what anything 1838 cost, and it must cause a dangerous tendency to think that cost did not matter.
The new system of Votes is built up on a scientific system of cost accounting, details of which are shown in the Army Account—this blue volume which I hold, and which is published every year. The great aim of the system, apart from Parliamentary and War Office control, is to enable an officer to see and check expenditure on waste in his own sphere of responsibility, and it should thus enable real decentralisation of financial control which previously was far too much concentrated in the Finance Department of the War Office. I do not for a moment wish to suggest that the accounts in their present form are perfect. They are still in an experimental stage, but I do join issue with those who think, because formerly we had no effective system and contented ourselves with cash accounts, produced by the Royal Army Pay Corps, and nothing but cash accounts produced by them, those accounts being combined in different Votes under the War Office by a Civil Service personnel, that we ought on that account to be debarred from taking advantage of modern accountancy in controlling business.
All these questions of organisation and business are being considered by two Committees. The first is a Treasury Committee with Lord Weir as Chairman, Sir John Chancellor, Assistant Secretary of the Committee of Imperial Defence, and General Sir Herbert Miles. This Committee is examining the establishments, not only of the War Office, but also of the Admiralty and the Air Force. They have taken evidence in the case of the War Office which shows that they are interpreting widely the latitude given under their terms of reference to indicate how variations in policy would affect economy. The second Committee is a War Office Committee presided over by Sir Herbert Lawrence, and its function is to inquire into the administration and accounting of Army expenditure. I am sure that the detailed criticism which has been, and no doubt to-day again will be, directed against Army administration by the House of Commons, will be carefully considered by these Committees, while the wider aspect of Imperial defence organisation is being examined by special cum- 1839 mittees of the Committee of Imperial Defence. The terms of reference of the most. important one were paraphrased by the Prime Minister last week.
I now turn to the Territorial Army, which is the real second line of the Regular Army for Imperial defence. The figures of the Territorial Army now amount to 6,000 officers and 130,000 other ranks. It has a reduced establishment of 8,000 officers and 172,000 other ranks, so that it is practically three-quarters full strength. There is also a reserve of officers amounting to 4,000. I suggest to the House that this is a very cheap insurance for £5,250,000. Although the bounty is being reduced, and four years' enlistment has been substituted for the shorter term in the interests of economy, the Force under these conditions has fully held its own. The final figures of net gain for February over discharges will probably reach an increase of nearly 2,000. Many units are up to strength, and in a position to choose the men whom they will accept. The greatest difficulty at the present time seems to be in London. Of the 12 weakest battalions in the Territorial Army, six are found in the London Divisions. Lloyds, however, true to their patriotic traditions, have set an excellent example by forming a Lloyd's Anti-Aircraft Battery of Artillery, which, I am glad to say, is now up to strength, with several on the waiting list. We are hoping that other organisations and employers may see their way to help the Territorial Army by becoming responsible for infantry companies. The spirit in the Territorial Army is admirable. It is remarkable how those who work hard during the week are prepared to give up their small leisure to Army training and week-end camps.
Perhaps the most striking feature of the year in the Territorial Army is the start which is being made in raising Air Defence formations. Two Air Defence Brigades have been formed in London, and those who have joined undertake to come up for service during a national emergency, even if the Territorial Army as a whole has not been called up. The Voluntary Aid Detachments have been correlated to the Territorial organisation by means of certain functions which have been assigned to the County Associations. A general V.A.D. Committee has now been set up, combining not only the tech- 1840 nical side—the Red Cross and the St. John Ambulance Association—but also the County Territorial Associations, the War Office, the Admiralty and the Air Ministry. Under this control we look forward to the development of the Voluntary Aid Detachments as a permanent and valuable part of our organisation for war.
In conclusion, I should like to bear testimony to the splendid efficiency and discipline of the whole. Army under very trying circumstances. I will not deal with their duties abroad, but the task which the Army had to perform in Ireland was one of singular difficulty, calling for very great self-control and forbearance. The personal regard, overriding all political bitterness and misunderstanding, which was shown by the Irish people on the evacuation by the British Army of Southern Ireland, was very strong evidence of their splendid discipline and conduct. Since the War, life in the Army has been very uncomfortable. Moves have had to take place frequently and at short notice. Troops have been living almost under war conditions, deprived of the usual amenities, and separated for long periods from their families. In addition to this, they have been harassed by a feeling of great insecurity and anxiety owing to compulsory retirements on the ground of economy. In spite of those adverse conditions, the spirit anti discipline of the Army are beyond all praise. All ranks seem to have recognised the necessity for economy, and the whole Army is showing loyal cooperation in the very painful task to them of cutting down establishments, which has been imposed upon them by the necessity for retrenchment. I hope the House will accept the Estimates which we have laid, and that the Army Council will be allowed to stabilise and rebuild the Army on the scale now recommended.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
In the first place, the hon. and gallant Gentleman is to be congratulated on his first presentation of the case for the Army to this House of Commons, and I think also that the House is to be congratulated on the presentation that he has made, with the one regret that he is not the Secretary of State instead of the Under-Secretary, because, after all, it is desirable that this House, in the case of one of the big spending Departments, should have the 1841 responsible Minister here to answer criticisms that are made. I would also congratulate the hon. and gallant Gentleman upon the fact that he is able to state his case for the first time since the War with the Estimates in our hands. It has been rather trying in the past to deal with the Army without having the Estimates in our possession. We have now got them, and although we have only had them for two days this is a presage of better things to come and that in the near future we may be able to get back to the normal course of events. The cost of the British Army is really dictated, I think, by two causes. We have seen during this year a reduction of £10,000,000. For that reduction the hon. and gallant Gentleman is not to be praised or blamed. That reduction is due to his predecessor in the Coalition Government, as a result of the Geddes axe. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colchester (Sir L. Worthington-Evans). who was then in charge of the War Office, made that reduction of £10,000,000. Therefore it must not accrue to the credit of the present Government. Unfortunately, we have seen no further attempt at reduction from the present Government. The position is in the condition of solution, with no further reductions made, but vague hopes of future reductions when they become possible. That immediately brings us to the enormous cost of the Army Services. The reduction has been £10,000,000 since last year, but it is still £52,000,000 against £28,000,000 before the War, and that increase is one that must not be put down entirely to the increase in the cost of living, because we have not the same article that we had before the War. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] No, not so efficient. The cost of the Army is dictated by two causes. In the first place, human nature being what it is, there is in every man in the Army a desire to retain the strength and dignity of his command. We have got to realise that. Arguments will be used in favour of a large Army, quite honestly, because those who use them believe that the safety of the country depends on their particular unit, whether it be cavalry, infantry, machine guns or tanks, being kept at its previous standard. No doubt that is only natural. At the same time, it is important that we should realise it, because it is the Minister responsible to this House 1842 and representing the War Office, who has to control and fight that natural tendency towards extravagance. We must Daly upon the hon. and gallant Gentleman to do all that is possible to counteract this natural tendency towards keeping the units large, and the commands large and keeping departments above what is absolutely necessary for efficient management. That is one reason why the cost of the Army does not drop as it ought to drop.
The next reason is the existence of a quite honest and justifiable desire to minimise the risks of disaster to this country. I think all hon. Members on the other side of the House feel that if the country could at the same time be kept safe they would desire to reduce the cost. of the Army in order to save the taxpayers' pockets. It is then mainly a question of risk. Now, risks are comparative. There are always risks in our private lives and in the public life of the State. There is the risk of bankruptcy, of financial disaster, which is as great and as real as the risk of any other sort of disaster. The last War proved that a sound financial system, a sound financial basis in a country, is of greater value or, certainly, is of quite as much valise as many battalions. When we are brought up, as we are to-clay, between two alternative risks, the risk to our financial position on the one hand and the military risk on the other hand, we have got to measure the one against the other, instead of looking solely at: the military risks while the financial risks are, in effect, every whit as serious to the community. I have said that a sound financial position is a greater safeguard than many battalions, but the measurement of these risks really depends upon our foreign policy. It is policy which creates the risks. It is policy which dictates the amount of insurance we must provide against risks. Therefore, in discussing an Army Vote, we have to consider how far our foreign policy is leading us to further expenditure upon the Army and to expenditure beyond that which we should consider necessary, had we a foreign policy of a different character.
During the last year, by the mercy of Providence, we have got rid of one of the worst bits of our foreign policy. We have cleared the Army out of Ireland. We have saved that enormous wastage which was draining our resources and 1843 involving work which only a very large army could perform. How far has the removal of Ireland from our responsibilities enabled the present Government to make reductions beyond those reductions which were authorised by the late Government and were advocated by the Geddes Committee at a time when conditions prevailed in regard to Ireland different from those which exist to-day? Has the abandonment of Ireland—the reduction of the Irish Command and the removal of our troops from Southern Ireland—enabled the Government to make any further reductions in the Army, beyond those reductions which were contemplated when the Irish garrison was needed and when, apparently, there was no end, or little likelihood of an end, to the need for that garrison in Ireland. It must be remembered in that connection that we are losing income through the abandonment, of Ireland, and, therefore, we have a right to demand from the Army that there should be if possible an equivalent reduction in expenditure. I turn from Ireland to a branch of our foreign policy which is at present creating an excessive demand upon the Army, and that is the maintenance of the force in Egypt. In Egypt, I believe, we have two cavalry regiments and nine infantry battalions. In the old days the Army of Occupation in Egypt, was paid for by the Egyptian taxpayer. Now that Egypt is independent, I suppose our Army in Egypt is paid for by the British taxpayer. I should like to know whether that is so or whether I am wrong?
No change has ever been made in the original arrangement, come to in the time of Lord Cromer, under which the Egyptian Government made a contribution of £150,000. Although that Army costs millions nowadays no increase has ever been made.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
In that case, the east of our Army in Egypt—our much larger Army in Egypt—does come upon the British taxpayer. There we have a direct instance of where our somewhat muddled and changeable foreign policy has definitely added to our liabilities and to the calls upon the Army by creating the, need for this large force.
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. and gallant Member 1844 again, but I think he must have misunderstood what I said. Although the Army in Egypt is costing millions, that does not mean that you will be able to reduce the Vote by millions, by taking them out of Egypt, because those millions would be spent in any case in keeping your Army against risks elsewhere. What I meant to point out to the hon. and gallant Member is that he will find in the Votes a total sum spent on the Army in Egypt. That is not the same thing as saying that it is spent on Egypt because we have designed our Army not for Ireland or for Egypt but for the standing risks of the British Empire, which are far larger than the risks which have been removed or may be removed, in either of those places.
Mr. DEPUTY - SPEAKER (Captain Fitzroy)
If the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle - under - Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) proposes to go into foreign policy, I must point out to him that a discussion on foreign policy would be quite out of order on this Vote.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I am quite aware of that. I would not dream of discussing foreign policy when there are no representatives of the Foreign Office here. All I am discussing is the additional charge upon the people of this country for the maintenance of an Army in little packets throughout the Globe. The hon. and gallant Gentleman says the Army in Egypt would have to be maintained in any case. If he looks at the Geddes Report he will see that one of the arguments used there for the reduction of the Army was that smaller garrisons could be maintained, and that not, only the foreign garrisons, but also the parallel battalions under the Cardwell scheme in this country, could be cut down and the personnel of the Army reduced. I would also remind the Under-Secretary that the Geddes Committee deliberately recommended the reduction of the personnel of the Army not to 160,000 but to 136,000. That figure has by no means been reached at the present time. They recommended that a great many whole battalions abroad could be reduced to half battalions, and the parallel battalions here reduced at the same time. What I am trying to make quite clear is that it is our foreign policy which creates the demand for British troops, and thereby swells these Estimates. The Egyptian 1845 case is only one. Turning to Constantinople, we find another case where we have an indefinite demand upon the Army of this country.
I may say that we have a demand there for our troops which has become very expensive—I think we have been told that our army of occupation at Constantinople cost us, up to the negotiations at Lausanne, no less than £20,000,000. That expense is still going on. I am not quite clear whether it appears in these Estimates or whether it is going to come in as a Supplementary Estimate, but it is going on month after month, and, at the same time, our army there is incurring the very gravest risks. Everybody who knows the risks of having a mere packet of 8,000 or 9,000 men in the middle of a fanatical population, in an enormous town whence removal may be extremely difficult, will agree that it is not merely the financial difficulty, but the actual danger to our troops which should cause the Under-Secretary to urge vigorously the reduction, at any rate, of that little packet and the lightening to that amount of the calls upon His Majesty's Treasury. I pass from Egypt and Constantinople to the Rhine Army. There is another demand upon us and another need for a larger army, which we should not otherwise have. Last year it was estimated that we should get. £1,500,000 from Germany to help to pay the cost of the Rhine Army. We were told that might not cover the cost, but that it was expected we should get that sum in reparations from Germany, and I should like to know if we have got it. When the: Under-Secretary, or his representative, comes to reply, perhaps, I hope, we shall hear also what they expect to get this year from the same source, if anything.
It is obvious therefore, as I have said, that foreign policy must determine the cost of our Army. Unfortunately, it is also the case that your weapon determines, to a certain extent, your foreign policy. If you have got a large Army, if you have a bright weapon, the tendency is to rely upon that Army and to use that weapon. We want not only to change the policy which calls for a large Army, but to reduce the large Army, so that our policy may change likewise. This leads me up to the main point which we on this side of the House 1846 wish to put before the Under-Secretary, and it is that in dealing with the Army Estimates and reducing expenditure upon the Army, we are hound to look in future to the summoning of a Conference similar in character to the Washington Conference, but dealing with armaments throughout Europe. I find I have difficulty in urging, for instance, a. real reduction in our Air armaments, when we see in other countries enormous increases in that particular form of armament. The same remark applies to th Army and the Navy. It would facilitate the re-establishment of pre-War expenditure upon fighting Services, if we, in conjunction with America, could get some sort of Conference whereby all the nations might agree together, as at Washington, to reduce post-War armaments. It is on those lines that the saving of a future is likely to come, and I urge the Under-Secretary to do what he can to get his Government to move in that direction. It is not only of vital importance to us, hut to the whole of Europe, that something in that respect should be done. A proportionate reduction in the armies and army expenditure of the different European countries would be infinitely more imporant than the proportionate reduction of the naval expenditure which resulted from the Washington Conference. I pass to the next question of the numbers of the Army and the efficiency of the Army. The Geddes recommendations were to disband eight cavalry regiments and 28 battalions of infantry. I gather that 24 of those battalions have been disbanded—24 or 23, f am not certain which—but the other four battalions have not been touched; but that is nothing to the cavalry. I believe that out of eight cavalry regiments for disbandment, only four have been disbanded, and I. should have thought that one of the lessons of the late War was that, under modern conditions, cavalry were singularly helpless in the face of barbed wire and machine guns.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
But the reduction of eight cavalry regiments has not taken place. What I cannot make out is the exact position of the hon. and gallant Gentleman in the matter of numbers in 1847 the Army. Last year the Secretary of State declared that they were budgeting to reduce the Army from 201,000 men to 153,000 men. He took credit for the fact that he was cutting down the Army by exactly the amount that the Geddes Committee recommended, only he was starting from a different datum level, and that he was going to reduce to 153,000 men, but now we are told that the hon. and gallant Gentleman this year is going to reduce the Army, not from the 153,000 to which it was reduced last year, but from 215,000 to 160,000. Really that means, if you compare the two statements, that the size of the Army has increased from 153,000, to which it was reduced last year, to 160,000, to which it is to be reduced this year. If you look at the figures in detail, under Vote A, you will find that there has been no reduction whatever actually in the numbers involved. Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman, when he replies, could tell me what the figure is in the 1922–23 Estimates, which precisely coincides with the 160,000 for whom he is budgeting in these Estimates, and, further, how he squares that particular figure with the statement of the right hon. Member for Colchester that he was reducing it last year from 201,000 to 153,000.
The figures of the right hon. Member for Colchester were, of course, tentative at this stage of the Estimates last year. The hon. and gallant Member will remember that he talked of a reductionof 24 line battalions, whereas after these figures were given the infantry reduction was changed to 22 battalions, namely 12 Irish battalions and two battalions in each of the five four-battalion regiments. The establishments were not then worked out, and it was no doubt impossible to estimate the necessary establishment to provide the reserves for the four and a half divisions which that House accepted as necessary. These establishments have now been gone into, and it is not merely a question of fighting troops, but taking them all round, including the Colonial militia troops, they involve this Vote of 160,000 to get that standing and reserve establishment considered necessary for the safety of the Empire.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
That has not answered my question. I am afraid we 1848 shall have from every Under-Secretary of State for War in the years to come the same pretty promise of a, reduction each year. The real difficulty is this. We have cut down the numbers of the Army, we have reduced the expense of the Army by £10,000,000 this year, but the real difficulty is that the Army is no longer an efficient machine similar to that which we had before the War. It is not fair to the country or to the taxpayer to say, "Here we are charging £52,000,000 as against £28,000,000," and to pretend to be giving them the same thing. Are you? We know you are not. In 1914 the British Army was in the best condition that it has ever been in the long history of this country. We were able to put four divisions across the sea immediately. Now, with this present Army, you could put one division across the sea immediately, and four in four months following. There is a. long, long gap between the position of the Army to-day, and its readiness to perform its European task, and the position of the Army before the War. We are not getting the same Army, and when the hon. and gallant Gentleman tells me that the Army does not exist to garrison Egypt or Constantinople or Ireland, but that it exists for the great risks of European wars—
I did not say that. I said the standing risk in Asia and in Africa had not been reduced in any way, and I made it clear that the British Army was not controlled in its establishments by any idea of a European war.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Standing risks in Africa and Asia can practically be met by garrisons in Egypt and Constantinople; but the whole point is that we had in 1914 an efficient weapon. Now, by the admission of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, we have not quite the same weapon, and it is not fair to say that, by merely spending another £24,000,000 on the Army, they have managed to give the country the same thing. They have not. They have given us a very inferior thing, comparatively speaking. One of the dangers is that people are not realising that they are not getting now from the Conservative and Coalition Governments anything like so efficient a weapon as was provided by the much-abused Lord Haldane in the year 1914. In fact, our 1849 Army to-day compares best with the Army we had in 1902, after the Boer War. It is not so bad as in 1895, but it is not anything to be superlatively proud of in respect to its readiness to face those big European risks. Overseas, we can send one division, and the reserves are not available at present. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is getting 10,000, and hopes in years to come that the Army will build up its reserves once more. But it is worse than that.
The real position is specially difficult, because the reductions have not been so much in the numbers in the Army as in the ancillary services, and in modern warfare it is the ancillary services which really count. Warfare has become mechanical, and the numbers do not matter so much as the readiness of the machine. The tendency of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's predecessor was, I think, to maintain the fighting units, and the ancillaries suffered in consequence. Signals, tanks, medical service, machine guns, Army Service Corps—in all those there were substantial reductions, and that is only natural, because it is the costly services that you seek to reduce when you have to save money somewhere.
Sir LAMING WORTHINGTONEVANS
It is not true that signals have decreased. They have increased on this year's Estimates.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I have figures here, and I must have misread them. However, I withdraw. I will say that the tendency is always, if you have to cut down, to cut down on the expensive services, the valuable services, and, of course, it is these services which one is least able to improvise in case the risk turns into a war. We should see that those particular auxiliary services are maintained, even at the expense of the fighting unit. It takes a longer time to make the machine than to make the fighting man, and therefore, when we are cutting down the expenditure on the Army, as we are at the present time—and further cuts will have to be made next year—it is essential that we should see that we cut rather the numbers than 1850 the auxiliary services. One can be improvised—not easily, but possibly—whereas the other cannot be improvised. So I say we are getting a less efficient Army, but the tragedy of it is that, in spite of that, we are getting a more numerous War Office. The Army in 1914 had, for its War Office staff and command staff, 942 officers. Last year the figure was 1,266 and this year it is 1,173, so that this staff at the War Office has increased, although the weapon which it is controlling has depreciated, both in-numbers and in immediate fighting efficiency.
The War Office is, of course, an extremely difficult administrative weapon to curtail. I am glad to hear that there has been this Committee appointed to go into the question of staffs and see what can be done. When you are reducing establishments, it is almost inevitable that all the people on those establishments should immediately start corresponding with each other, in order to make jobs for themselves, and overlapping inevitably occurs. That is one of the difficulties in any administration, but it is particularly difficult when people see their work vanishing and know that they may get "the sack" shortly. One of the worst cases of overlapping in the War Office is the existence and position of the Ordnance Master-General of the Ordnance. The Department of the Master-General of the Ordnance was the Department at the War Office which, in 1915, forced the country into establishing the Ministry of Munitions to do its job properly, but now the Master-General of the Ordnance is really the fifth wheel of the coach. He is supposed to supervise the Royal Factory at Woolwich, to deal with designs, and to deal with matters concerning the material of the artillery. I do not know, not being in the War Office, whether it is so, but. I put it to the hon. and gallant Gentleman that he will probably find, in the staff under the Chief of the General Staff, people—mere majors and captains, very likely—doing exactly the same work, and capable of doing it as well, as the Master-General of the Ordnance. The Master-General of the Ordnance appears to date back a long time. I think the hon. Member for Staffordshire was Master-General of the Ordnance in 1453, and it has gone on ever since.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
It may have been revised and brought up to date, but does the hon. and gallant Gentleman deny that that Department fulfils at the present moment duties and a position which could be carried out by the ordinary subordinates of the Chief of the General Staff, without any serious loss to the whole of the administration of the Army in this -country? There you have got one of those survivals which has survived the War, which is now surviving the peace, and the result is not only the enormous staff at the War Office, but the difficulties caused to all the other Departments there by reason of this sort of vermiform appendix which still exists in the body of the War Office administration. It is a curious thing, but if you watch the War Office you will find that, as years go on, every three or four years they indulge in a game of musical chairs, and every official changes his department, but the difficulty is that up to now they have, never played the game properly and taken away one of the chairs, so that there will be fewer seats for the mighty. I do think that when things change next year, or even before, it might be possible to reform that department of the War Office out of existence, and at the same time to see that these functions are carried on as well as ever.
That brings me to the question of the cost accountancy in relation to finance. I am glad to be able to congratulate the hon. and gallant Gentleman on the action taken by the War Office to obtain really a decent cost accountancy for once. We have got to read over the Army Estimates, and these absurd general statements of the cost of wages and other things. Now we can see what are the prices of the articles produced at the military factories. Now we can see what one battalion costs as against another. Now we shall be able in future years to see whether the cost per battalion goes up or not, and we shall be able to see whether Mechanical Transport Department is providing a service or services equivalent to the expenses of the Department. Every business man must realise, if you are going to get efficient finance, that it is absolutely essential that you should have the exact cost. No man would attempt to carry on any manufacturing business 1852 in this country without a costings Department. Might I suggest that the hon. and gallant Gentleman should use his influence with his Leader to press forward a similar system in the Navy. Why is it that in the last three years the Army has been adopting this new system, experimenting with it, and, I think, have improved it, and all this time the sister Service, the Admiralty, have continued the old system. We want the greatest possible economy not only in the Army but also the other fighting Services. Then, on the financial side, I know of no more terrible fund than the Terminal Charges Fund, which now stands at £3,588,000 for a war which ended five years ago. Even so, the expenses of the War are still being booked up against the taxpayer each year. How long are these terminal charges to go on? there a chance of this 3½ million coming to an end, or shall we sec next year another unfortunate figure put down for terminal charges, and that six years after the close of the War?
How about the other side of the question? In previous years—not in this year —the Army has to a large extent been subsisting on the stores that were created or produced during the War, and which were not exhausted at the end of the War. They did not credit to the Liquidation Department the stores they took over. These stores have been used which otherwise the Army would have had to buy in open market; therefore their accounts do not accurately represent, as I understand it, the real cost of the articles. We ought to know not merely what the expenditure of the Army is as shown in the Estimates, but also how much they are drawing from stores which were charged in previous Estimates to the capital account of the Army. I would like to have that figure from one of the hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench. What, too, about the growth of the non-effective Vote? In 1914 it stood at under 24,000,000. It is now 7½ millions. Really, that is worse than in the case of the effective Votes.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
I hope that will show itself in the Estimates of next year. The percentage at the present time runs to about 16 per cent. of the cost of the 1853 Army, which is enormous. Are we certain this does cover the sums given to the officers who have been compulsorily discharged? That they are not allowed pensions which go on year after year?
Some of them have got pensions earlier than otherwise they would have got them, and that partly accounts for the large non-effective Vote. The cost is very largely due to the fact that you have had to compensate officers, but this will be making for economy in future years on effective Votes.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
So much for that question. If you want really to reduce expenditure I think that the hon. and gallant Gentleman outlined one way in which it could be done. It has got to be done! The pay of the officers was put up in 1919 at the topnotch of prices. There is no doubt about it that now the Army is the most well-paid profession in this country into which you can put a lad. If you want to do well for a boy put him into the Army as a sub-lieutenant. He will do far better there than he could in any civil profession at the present time. A lad of 22 gets, I think, about £350 a year, and he is doing well at that. That pay before the War, as I remember, was 5s. a day; now it is £350 a year, together with allowances. Here, I think, something might be done. The House will remember that the report upon which this scale of pay was based was drawn up in order to enable a poor man's boy, as an officer, to live upon his pay. We voted it almost with enthusiasm when we remembered what these men did who were always in the list as "second lieutenants except when otherwise stated." That pay at that time was not excessive. Now I think reform ought to some along. I think we might make that review at the same time, not injuring the position or the interests of tie second lieutenants in the. Army. More can be done now by really severely criticising and scrutinising the mess accounts than by increasing the pay.
I would like, if I could get it, some sort of comparison between the cost of living of a lieutenant on board one of His Majesty's ships of the Fleet, and the cost of living of, say, an officer of parallel rank, that is a captain who is living in barracks. I believe we should find that the cost of living for the naval lieutenant would he about one-third the cost of 1854 living of a captain in one of His Majesty's regiments. If by careful supervision you can bring down the cost of living and the mess accounts which fall upon the officer at the present time, you would not only ease the country of a great deal of unnecessary taxation, but you would make it easier for that man to live, and to marry, and easier for him to find the profession in which a man can work which does not involve a large amount of expenditure than utterly unnecessary for any officer in any other service.
The last thing I wool to talk about is the depots which have been scrapped. I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on getting rid of these unnecessary depots. I notice that cavalry and artillery depots have been scrapped except one in which the authorities have effected a concentration. Why should not we at the present time take the money that it is contemplated to spend on the new training school at Blandford—apparently they are starting the fresh new school at a time when they have these depots and barracks.
Buildings at Blandford already exist, and of all our available buildings, are considered most suitable for adaptation.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Is there need to allocate further money? I note the memorandum of the Secretary for War says:Notwithstanding the urgent need for economy, it has been necessary to provide considerable sums for the purchase of land and for major (Part I) building services, in view of—My own feeling and information is that if you kept one or other of these places it would form a very suitable nucleus, perhaps with nuclei over the country, for these central establishments. I am very glad this sort of training is being undertaken, because, as a matter of fact, as hon. Members know, the needs of the Army in warfare, for this sort of training and service is enormous already and likely to grow with any sort of war that came about. While pressing for these new training establishments, I do want to point out on one side of army reform, 1855 that the energetic Geddes Axe has been exceedingly busy dealing with Army education. That really is regrettable. Army education has suffered. The hon. and gallant Gentleman says it is reduced by 50 per cent. That is not the way really to deal with economy; if by reducing one sort of expenditure you curtail the sort of expenditure most likely to be reproductive, then the last state of your Army will be worst than the first. The country will not really benefit by this enormous reduction in Army education. The fatal idea seems to be at the War Office that what is wanted is not general education but special training, and that the man ought to ho trained as a bricklayer, or as a miner or a ploughman is trained, to have skill with his hands and not skill in the thinking part of him. For the Army, as well as for civil life, I am quite certain that the best thing now is to develop the thinking part and not to develop mechanical ingenuity. What we want are not machine tools trained to produce wealth, but people who will have a wide vision and be able to think for themselves; whose character has been built up by their life in the Army, and who are turned out, not inferior citizens, fit only to be hewers of wood and drawers of water, but citizens capable of thinking and acting for themselves and of standing up for their rights.
- (a) The inception of an important scheme for the accommodation of troops in the North of England;
- (b) The establishment of a central training school for boy artificers at Blandford."
Education is very different from vocational training. I hope that even under this Government we shall see a real increase rather than an increase in mere vocational training. The question of the central training school at Blandford I desire to draw attention to, and the additional expenditure for what is apparently a manœuvre ground to take the place of the Curragh. I do think that might be postponed. Clearly, what we want to do to-day is to get the landlords of the country to give their permission to move the troops over their grounds when those grounds are only used for sport. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] Yes, we can buy those grounds at an enormous figure in order to enable our troops to fit themselves for saving the country in some future war Really, when you are dealing with grouse moors—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear:1—yes, the most suitable manœuvring ground in the world is Alder 1856 shot. What could that land be used for except for manœuvres? What. about other expenditure for accommodation?
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
You always provide accommodation for the troops. But you could get land perfectly well during the War under D.O.R.A. at far less cost to the taxpayer. The fact of the matter is that once you start this wonderful scheme of providing new manœuvring grounds, of moving up expenditure for barracks, and factories for making all the necessities for the Army, you are incurring a liability for a gigantic further expenditure, and I submit that that is not the time to incur that expenditure. What we want to do is to make it an efficient but a smaller Army, and we can only do that, by an international agreement. Those of us who want economy as well as efficiency will not he found to be at all behind in regard to any movement to get into contact with the United States and other European Governments' in order to come to some international arrangement to reduce armaments. In this country we have the financial soundness as well as the mechanical aptitude for improvising war, and that would help us and save us at the same time from a risk greater than foreign invasion, that is the risk of financial collapse and the ruin of our position as the foremost financial Power in the world.
Major-General Sir ROBERT HUTCHISON
I only want to intervene for a few moments in this Debate. On this occasion perhaps I may be able to speak a little more freely than I have in the past. I welcome the statement which has been made by the Under-Secretary of State for War. It was a very clear statement, and I find myself in agreement with most of it. There are two points upon which he anticipated my criticisms with regard to the War Office, and the system of accounts in the Army. My first point is that I am satisfied that our staff organisation as regards the Headquarters of the Army does require some reconstruction and reorganisation. Before the War, with an Army, which had the menace of the German Army on the Continent, consisting of six divisions with two cavalry 1857 divisions, we had a War Office staff of 174 officers. At the present time, with a very much reduced Army and with far less chance of war, we have a staff of 312 officers employed.
It seems to me that from the point of the work which the staff has to do that is wrong and it ought to be put right. It is well-known in the service that a large staff must create work for itself. The excuse which the right hon. Gentleman gave for the additional staff was more letters and more correspondence. My idea is that if you cut clown the staff you immediately cut down the correspondence. I am satisfied that no one would be more happy and cheer more loudly any reduction of the War Office staff than the Army as a whole. There is another argument and it is that this large staff produces a great deal of what is called paper work which cannot be adequately dealt with in the time, and the result is that a mass of papers come up which demand some attention, with the result that the really essential things are often overlooked in the general mass of papers with which they have to deal. I would suggest for consideration whether it would not be possible. straight away to go back to very nearly the pre-War establishment at, the War Office and sec how it worked. We have had a large number of additional staff handling the distribution of the medals and there are still nine engaged in that work. I cannot see why an efficient staff about the size of what it was in 1914 ought not to suffice to do all this work. I am satisfied that we are not getting value for the amount of money which we are spending on the Headquarters Staff at the War Office.
As regards the actual organisation of the headquarters of the Army. I think my right hon. Friend who has just spoken said that the Masters-General of time Ordnance ought to be merged into the other members of the Army Council, and I think he is right. The duties of the Masters-General of the Ordnance have largely disappeared. They are old, and the experience of the War has proved my contention, and I do not think alone on this subject, because many officers at the War Office agree with me that the duties of the Masters-General of the Ordnance, such as the general designing of machines and such duties, might be taken over by the General Staff, and the 1858 actual provision of material could be taken over by the Quartermaster-General. I submit to the Under-Secretary that suggestion, and no doubt he will put it before the Committee which is now looking into the question of the establishment of the War Office, certainly something on these lines ought to be very carefully considered.
There has been a good deal of overlapping between the duties of the various military members. I suggest that the handling of the personnel of the Army is purely a matter for the Adjutant-General, and should not be dealt with by other members of the Army Council. I hope that reform will be carried out, and I am sure it would not only save money, but would save in the actual provision of personnel. My next criticism is with regard to the officers. I think, possibly, it would save in staff if the officers, generally were handled by the military secretary entirely. At the present time part of them are handled by the Adjutant-General and the others by the military secretary. I think it would be all to the good of the Army if the military secretary could take over, not only appointments, but the general posting of officers, and in that way you would get a saving in staff, and at the same time you would speed up the machine. The Army Council as a whole is, to my mind, a machine which does not carry out the functions put to it by the Esher Committee. As a matter of fact, this Committee seldom meets. I believe there are two cases when it did meet. One was to consider the unfortunate Dyer case, and the other was to consider whether they would give bagpipes to the Irish regiments.
As a rule the business is carried out by the military members Possibly in the reconstruction, if any is contemplated, the Army Council could be the body that deals with all the business it is required to do, instead of half the body dealing with part of it. I know that view has been expressed by previous Ministers who have occupied high positions in the War Office. I would just like to make one criticism on the general organisation of the War Office. After the South African War it was found necessary to appoint the Esher Committee. I am satisfied now, that the Great War is over and the experience we have absorbed from that War, we really ought to appoint 1859 a similar committee to go into, not only the organisation of the War Office, but the general organisation of our Army as a whole, and our Army system. I ask the Government to consider that suggestion. I know there are many things which have gone by the board, and it is almost impossible to expect the military members to reorganise themselves. I suggest the appointment of a small but strong committee, consisting of two civilians and one big soldier who is not employed, and I think such a committee might, with great advantage to the State and the Exchequer, go thoroughly into our Army organisation.
As regards the staff, there is one other point which I would like to touch upon, and it is that it seems to me out of place to have such a large staff in Egypt. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who spoke before me called attention to the number of troops there. I do not propose to touch upon that point at all. At present there are three battalions and three cavalry regiments in Egypt, but it seems to me that the staff there is far too large for the work they have to do. I think, in cutting down the number of troops in that area, the reduction of the staff has been overlooked. Is it necessary to have an important senior officer in command there when Lord Allenby is also there as High Commissioner? I have no doubt the Under-Secretary will agree with me on that point.
Then there is the question of the administration .of the Army; and this is a question which ought to command very close attention. The administration is not really on good lines. I know you have had the new system of cost accounting brought in during the, year 1919. I believe that the Select Committee of National Expenditure in 1918 did recommend that this system should be brought into the Army. I believe that was quite right, because our accounts before that time were in a chaotic condition, but I am afraid that the cost accounting is not producing the results desired. We have now got a corps of Army accountants, and all over the various units we have representatives of those accountants very largely doing paper work. There are about 901 of these people at home, according to the return which has been published, and this includes officers. The 1860 results of their labour are not really made easy by the administration of the Army. In other words, the actual faults found in the cost of the Army have not been translated into better methods by the administration.
In order to get a good result from the cost accounting scheme you must link up more closely the officer in charge of the administration with the cost accountants. These officers have never really been brought into close touch with finance. I think one of the great defects of our Army system is that the officers are not brought close up against, the cost of what they are ordering and doing. At the present moment the cost accounting system is not doing what it ought to do in bringing matters before the notice of those who have to administer the Army. It is perfectly evident that those who administer in peace time will probably be those who will have to administer in war time, and I am sure a great deal of the excessive expenditure in the South African War and the late War might be avoided in the next war if the officers in peace time are brought close up against finance. It is interesting to note that the Esher Committee said, on page 16 of their Report:There can he no doubt that, in proportion as officers are accustomed to financial responsibilities, the economy which they alone can secure will he effected.That is very true, and one sees all over the Army that the effect of decisions in administration is not considered from the point of view of cost and finance generally. There is one point in regard to the administration of the Army that I should like to make, and that is that while it is quite suitable to have a system of cost accounting for workshops electrical plant, hospitals, supply depots mechanical transport or educational establishments, it is, on the whole, quite useless to have it, for units like an infantry battalion, a cavalry regiment, or a battery of artillery. I would beg that some inquiry be made into the general application of this system of cost accounting in the Army. I know that a few officers who have studied the matter have represented their views to the War Office, but nothing, so far as I know, has come out of that representation The system in itself is all right, hut the application of it is all wrong at the present time. A great deal of very useful information 1861 was collected during the War by the Surveyor General of Supplies, and it seems to ice that, in the application of the supply system to the Army, Navy and Air Force, and particularly to the Army, there is a great deal of overlapping. There are great hospitals for all the Services, transport appliances for all the Services, and the buying of supplies is done separately by the different Services. It seems to me that the distinguished Lord who was at the head of the supply system in the latter stages of the War must have collected a great deal of very valeable information on the subject of the supply system, and I suggest that the Government might save a great deal of money if they had some central combined system to deal with supplies, transport and hospitals for all our Services at home.
With regard to the question of our officers, I am in entire agreement with the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the reason for the large number of officers was that, on the expansion for the purposes of war, we had to have officers to officer our incoming men. That is perfectly sound, but, as the Territorial Army must be the basis of our security in any national danger, because our Regular Army is not big enough, and can never be big enough, to deal with it, I suggest that there ought to be some closer link between our Regular Army and our Territorial Army. The fault in the last War was that for long they were kept entirely apart from Regulars. The hon. and gallant Gentleman shakes his head. I know that in some cases Territorial troops were brought over and mixed into our battalions in France, but although they did ultimately come over in divisions, full use was not, made of that framework on which to build a National Army. I submit that a scheme should be carefully worked out whereby the Regular Army could be knit more into the Territorial Army, and that that is the real really economical way of producing a cheap Army. In connection with that, might I draw the attention of the hon. and gallant Gentleman to a Committee which sat in 1919 at the War Office, whose Report, I have no doubt, has been relegated to the usual pigeon-hole, although it is really a most interesting Report. In it an attempt is made to arrange a system whereby the Regular Army could be knit 1862 to a Territorial or National Army, and in that direction I think a great deal can be done which would probably save money on the Regular Army and help the Territorial Army.
Lieut.-General Sir AYLMER HUNTERWESTON
Before I begin to talk on the particular subjects on which I desire to address the House, I should like to reply to one or two things that have been said by the hon. and gallant. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir R. Hutchison). With most of what he said I am in agreement, but there are one or two points on which I think he is not quite so much au fait as, perhaps, he might be if he had thought over them a little more. One point on which I entirely agree with him is that the Territorial Army and the Regular Army should be linked up. He added that that was not so in the War, but why was that? It was owing to the fact that a statesman and soldier, for whom we all have the greatest admiration and respect, did not really understand what the possibilities of the Territorial Army were, and, therefore, instead of building up on the basis of the Territorial Army, as would have, been desired by many of us, including my hon. and gallant Friend and myself, who before the War were employed at the War Office, a new Army was started, which was named after the great Field Marshal. If I may say so, in reply to what the hon. and. gallant Gentleman said, it was owing to that that full use was not made of the wonderful organisation of the Territorial Force, which had been built up by Lord Haldane and the others who were working with him at the War Office. I do not, therefore, agree with the particular application which has been made by the hon. and gallant Member for Kirkcaldy, but with the general underlying principle I am in entire agreement.
Further, with regard to the number of officers, it must be remembered, in regard to the Territorial Force, with which both he and I had a great deal to do before the War, that that Force must, as time goes on and as the officers with war experience gradually get fewer, depend very much upon the trained young officers of the Regular Army for its efficiency. The reason for the great efficiency of the units of the Territorial Force before the War was the fact that highly-trained regular officers 1863 were posted to their formations, and gave them a thorough training for war. The best of our regular officers were sent, in considerable numbers to the. Territorial Force before the War. Therefore, I would deprecate any feeling that, because more use can be made of the Territorial Army, we should not require to have a large number of regular officers. I believe the efficiency of the Territorial Army in the future will be closely linked up with having highly-trained regular officers of the Territorial Army in sufficient numbers to be able to give them help in helping themselves in their training. On the question of officers generally, I should like to add, to the reasons that have been put forward by the Under-Secretary of State, the fact that we have a situation in our country which is entirely unlike anything in any other country. Our peace Army is not a national Army, but a small Regular Police Army which is required to protect our frontiers and give us security all over the world. The very fact that the Army is so small makes it necessary to have a large proportion of officers. Furthermore, owing to its small size, numbers of officers must be away from the units, and, therefore, the establishments must be considerably increased. For that reason, and for many others which I need not now go into, I should consider it to be in the worst interests of the Army, and, therefore, in the worst interests of the nation—for their interests are the same—if there were to be any reduction in the proportion of officers now in the Army.
I am also in entire agreement with the hon. and gallant Member for Kirkcaldy in thinking that a small Committee should be appointed to revise the War Office. This is a subject on which I have spoken in this House for the last three years. I have given my ideas of the composition of the Committee, and I entirely support what the hon. and gallant Member says. I believe that under our present Prime Minister a Committee has been appointed which, after it has gone into various matters with which it will deal first, will proceed to a decision as to how the War Office should be organised, whether the various members of the Army Council rightly hold their places, and whether the allocation of duties at the War Office is correct. Personally I do not consider 1864 that it is. I have strong views on that, but I do not think it would be of any advantage at the present moment to say what those views are. I hope, however, that the Committee will go very thoroughly into the matter and find a solid basis on which to build up its recommendations. That can only be done by first going fully into our resources of defence. Here let me say that I greatly regret that the procedure I asked for last year, of putting the Vote for the Committee of Imperial Defence before the Estimates for the three Services, has not been followed. I would ask the Under-Secretary of State to bring that matter to the notice of the Cabinet, so that it may be considered next year. In order to get a thoroughly sensible discussion of the Navy, Army, and Air Force, we ought first to consider the rôle of all these three Services as one defence force, and it seems to me that the right occasion for such a discussion which I believe in times past has been most fruitful and interesting, would be on the Vote for the Committee of Imperial Defence. Then we can discuss the broad matters of policy which concern all three Services, and we shall be able to devote our attention entirely to the discussion of those matters which are germane to each particular Service when the Estimates for each are before the House. Unfortunately, that is not the case at the present time.
The first essential to the efficiency of the Army and of the other Services is that there should be a proper co-ordinating authority, and I cannot refrain from saying one or two words upon that. All of us, who have this matter at heart, welcome the decision of the Prime Minister to appoint a Committee to go into this matter, and we trust that that Committee will be composed of Members who will be able to give continuous thought to this subject. I hope that the nucleus of that Committee will be a very small number of Members outside the Government, who can give continuous attention to the subject, not for a few days or a few weeks, but for months. It will in addition to that nucleus have to have the close attendance of Cabinet Ministers. It is obvious that with our system of government it is injudicious to have an outside committee sitting without the close attendance of Cabinet 1865 Ministers. We have seen in many cases with outside committees that their report is turned down. That would not be possible if the Cabinet had been carried along with the Committee throughout its consideration. I therefore suggest, for the consideration of the Government, that this Committee, as finally composed, shall consist of a, very small nucleus of people outside the Government, who can give entire attention to it for a long period of time, and have, as joint members, members of the Cabinet whose Departments axe really concerned.
Further, I hope the terms of reference will be very wide. It has been one of our great faults in the past that we have always tried to do the job by catching hold of one little corner of a huge subject. You cannot get really intelligent and proper organisation unless you go to the root of the whole matter, and I trust the terms of reference will be such that we shall be able to consider the whole of our resources for defence, think of what may be the possibilities of the use of those resources in the future, and then, having considered both those, they might base our various resources, not only in the three Fighting Services, but in the nation at large, so that they may be properly utilised if, which Heaven forbid, there should, in the future, ever be any necessity for their utilisation. It is useless to think of matters of defence if you do not take what is the greatest necessity of all and build up on that what you require for the lesser requirements of our police Army in peace time. I suggest to the Government that, whatever be their decision as to what is the best co-ordinating authority for these three Services, whether it be a Ministry of Defence or otherwise—we all know the difficulties and I do not intend to enlarge on it—what in the opinion of myself and of many others are the most important matters that any such Ministry of Defence (or Committee carrying out the duties of the Ministry of Defence, which may possibly be the best solution under the present conditions of our Cabinet Government) its duty should he first to co-ordinate the policy of the three Fighting Services on lines approved by the Government; secondly, to assign to each Service its definite responsibility for the defence of the Empire: third, to see that special provision is made to enable each Service 1866 to discharge the responsibilities thus laid upon it; fourth, to subject the establishments of the three Services to continuous scrutiny to ensure that the forces provided are adequate for, but not in any respect in excess of, the requirements for the policy laid down by the Government; and fifthly, to review the Estimates of the three Services to ensure that the funds available shall be disposed of to the best advantage. It is, indeed, a thing of the greatest importance to the three Services and, therefore, to the country.
I should like to draw attention to a great fallacy underlying the argument of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle - under - Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) on the matter of manœuvre grounds. He seems to think troops could manœuvre over any land at any time without doing any harm. He furthermore thought a suitable place to carry out manœuvres would be a grouse moor. I was, before the War, responsible in a large degree for the training of the Army and had to do with big manœuvres, and have, therefore, had to go very carefully, as part, of my duty, into this question of manœuvre grounds. I can assure the House there is nothing on which money can be better spent than in providing proper manœuvre grounds for the Army on which they can carry out proper exercises under conditions as nearly as possible approximating to war. The old manœuvre grounds we have, such as that at Aldershot, are completely out of date. It is absurd to have troops deploying for action on one end of the Aldershot ground when they are under artillery fire from the other end. Another thing is that the manœuvre grounds in the South of England now are within range of a foreign country's aeroplanes, and it is very questionable whether it is advisable that all our military headquarters and big training grounds should be within range of aeroplanes from another country, however friendly it may he. I entirely endorse the policy adopted by the Government of putting one of our big training grounds in such a place that it is far from any foreign country. With regard to what has been said as to the Master-General of Ordnance, that is a point which had better be left to the Committee appointed by the Prime Minister. It is no use for any of us, whatever our opinions may be, to give a mere ex parte statement. 1867 We may have our ideas, and they may be strong ones, but it is better to leave such a thing to the decision of a Committee which will be able to hear every side of the question and to come to a right decision. All I wish to point out is that, though we have the name Master-General of Ordnance now, it is in no way comparable to what was the Master-General of Ordnance in the old days. That was a huge Department which was entirely separated from the rest of the Army. Then we had the Army divided into two.
When the revision of the War Office is under consideration, as I hope it will be by this Committee, I hope it will be careful to see that our financial administration in the War Office is made more economical and efficient. There can be no doubt that in any private or any other business it is advisable that responsibility and financial power should go hand in hand. It is foolish to appoint to high office an officer with great experience of administration and then to tie his hands in the matter of finance. Give him the money for his Department to carry out what he has to do and let him spend it as he considers right within the limits laid down. We all know that is not the case at present and we know why it is. That is a point on which many of us would like to speak on another occasion but, not now. I have already spoken on the question of the financial control of the War Office both from inside and also from outside. The Treasury control of these various Departments is extraordinarily uneconomical and requires careful revision in the light of present-day requirements.
There is one point on which I wish to enter a strong caveat, and that is what we have heard about a possible reduction of British units in India. Whatever may be the requirements of the Army in India, we must remember that we in this House must consider not only the local requirements of India, but also the needs of the Empire, and especially of our fellow countrymen out there. No decision should he allowed to be come to on such an important matter by any local Legislature, great and important though the Indian Legislature is. Everyone will agree that our responsibility is to 1868 see that our fellow countrymen are kept in security, and, furthermore, that we do not allow anarchy to occur in any country which is under our control, administration, whatever you like to call it. I rejoice to say I have among my personal friends some natives of India, with whom I was in very close personal association in the five years I spent there, and with whom I still correspond. I know they are equally of opinion with myself that it is necessary For the security of their country that the proportion of British troops should he large. The moral ascendency of the British troops is great, and the use of native troops is often attended with great difficulty. A very small body of British troops has often a far greater effect than a large number of native troops. Therefore I beg that, if anyone from motives of economy should desire a reduction of our strength in India, it should only be done after the most careful consideration, not only of local, but of the general needs. We have not only to consider the immediate needs. It is not for any Government in any part of our great Empire to say, "We have so much, enough for our immediate requirements." They have to think what is required in case reinforcements are wanted, and it is not fair that we should have to keep troops specially for reinforcing any particular part of the Empire because the numbers now there are insufficient for their proper requirements.
I wish to say a word on the relations between the Services we are now discussing and the Air. I am of opinion that in the interests of the Army itself, which naturally I think of most, having spent my life in it, it would be most regrettable f there was any splitting up of the Air Service. I consider that we are able to get from the Air Force the services that we require by having air units posted to the Army, and the same applies to the Navy. The bugbear which has been put out, more by the other Service than this one, that the air units so posted to the land or sea service would not be under the control of the commander of those other Services is a delusion. I had Air Force units under my command for three and a half years when I was in France. There was never any question of interfering with their internal organisation. There was never any question 1869 of deciding what method should be adopted to carry out the objects in view, but because there was no such interference it did not mean that the air units were in any less degree under the command of the commander. Promotion, it is true, goes by efficiency in the Air Force, but it is none the less true that the Air officers are dependent on the reports they get as members of the Army Corps, and therefore the arguments adduced that the air units posted to any naval or military command would not be under the commander and might look beyond him leaves me quite cold. I hope, therefore, that there will be no alteration in the existing administration of the Air Force. To sum up, I think that the matter of most importance to the Army at the present time is this Committee which the Prime Minister has appointed. I think that from that, if the work is properly carried out by an efficient. Committee, which concentrates over a sufficient length of time, we shall be able to improve the efficiency of the Defence Services as a whole, and of the Army and of the War Office to a degree that can only be compared with the immensely increased efficiency obtained after the Esher Commission.
§ Sir GODFREY COLLINS
Two hon. and, gallant Members have just addressed the House and brought to the Debate first-hand knowledge of a very difficult problem. They will excuse me if I do not follow them on those particular subjects. They both referred to the inquiry into the administration of the War Office. Let me remind the hon. and gallant, Member for Ayr and Bute (Sir A. Hunter-Weston) that the War Office, in its main outline of organisation, stood successfully the stress and strain of war. The main features of its administration successfully stood five years of war, and if they were investigated again the broad outline of organisation at the War Office would be found to be successful. This is the last Estimate of the three Fighting Services, and we are now permitted to know the total cost of those Services. The Army Estimates are about £52,000,000, but to that figure must be added two sums of some consequence. The first is the total cost of the stores which have been drawn from stock without replacement this year. I find, on examination of the Estimates, that that amounts to £3.293,000—the Financial Secretary will 1870 correct me if I am wrong. In addition to that, the Army Estimates take £1,250,000, which they anticipate to receive from Germany toward the cost of the Army of Occupation. Therefore, the true cost of the Army for the year, is not £52,000,000, as revealed in the Estimates. To that £52,000,000 must be added these two sums of money, and so the total cost is £56,543,000. The War Office, are optimistic if they expect to receive £1,250,000 from Germany toward the cost of the Army of Occupation. I hope their anticipations will be realised, and that the War Office may be the Department to secure some payment from that country towards the cost of our Army. Let me also add that although they expect to receive £1,250,000, the total cost of the Army of Occupation in the coming year is £2,000,000.
Having said that, I agree that the Army Estimates show a very appreciable reduction, and from my plate in the House of Commons I am anxious to congratulate the War Office on securing that reduction. I have had occasion from time to time to criticise—not always, I am afraid, with that good temper which I would desire—the Estimates presented by the Government. I think that this year and in the coming year the War Office have interpreted correctly the desires of the nation, and that they have made a serious and definite attempt to curtail the expenditure of the Army. During the last two years no doubt it will be so during the corning year—the War Office have been criticised, not only in the House of Commons, but outside. I believe that the criticism the War Office has received has been effective and has made that Department to-day a more effective and economical administrative machine. Would that the public would apply the same criticism to the Admiralty! The Admiralty is the spoilt child of the British public, which it is useless to criticise. It will not accept criticism, but the War Office, as these Estimates reveal, has benefited from the criticism of the past, and has been able to reduce its Estimates very considerably. Let me analyse the total cost of the fighting forces for this year. The total cost of the Army is some £56,500,000, the total cost of the Navy, on the same basis, is £53,000,000, and the Air Estimates are some £12,000,000. The cost of the fighting services in the 1871 Middle East is some £6,250,000—£127,750,000, five years after the Armistice! Will not everyone say that this large sum is excessive, and outside the necessities of the case?
The Government of the day have formulated a policy that there will be no world war during the next generation. It is one thing to formulate such a policy; it is another thing to carry that policy into effect. After 1815, the Duke of Wellington formulated a similar policy, that there would be no upset in Europe for a generation. The Government of that day acted on that policy, and three years after Waterloo such large reductions took place in the cost of the fighting Services that the war taxation imposed during the War was repealed. I agree that this afternoon we are discussing the Army Estimates, but the total cost of the fighting Services has some bearing on our discussion. The size of the Estimates at present under discussion is settled, I think, speaking broadly, by the number of men. Once that point is settled, the main features of the Estimates are determined. The number of men which our Army requires must be settled, or is rather influenced, by the foreign policy of this country. If Great Britain is going to continue to occupy territory which does not belong to her, then the War Office will be called upon in the future to maintain troops in those areas. I will not argue, this afternoon, whether we should maintain troops on the Rhine, at Constantinople, in Palestine or in Mesopotamia.
There will be other and more suitable opportunities for Debates on that subject, but with troops in those areas any large reduction in future in the Army Estimates cannot be obtained. We must curtail our commitments abroad if we are going to see a further reduction in our Army expenditure. If I can judge public opinion outside, it has no desire to occupy territory which does not belong to this country. The public has no hankering for further territory in any portion of the globe, and I hope that during the coming year the foreign policy of this country will be so modified that the War Office may be enabled to withdraw troops from different quarters and so be in a position to present reduced Estimates during the coming year.
1872 There are, in India, agents at work which may enable the War Office to reduce their Estimates. As the House knows, Lord Inchcape and his Committee have been investigating the problem of India and the number of troops that may be required there. Yesterday I put a question to the Under-Secretary of State for India. I asked him if he would statethe number of British troops which will be stationed in India if the recommendations of Lord lnchcape's Committee are accepted.The answer was;If the proposals of Lord inchcape's Committee are adopted the total number of British fighting troops in India will be 63,040 ‥ ‥"—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 14th March, 1923; col. 1586, Vol. 161.]If my information is correct, the Commander-in-Chief in India has accepted the recommendations of the Lord Inchcape Committee. Therefore, we may anticipate that the size of the Army in India will be reduced. The Estimates reveal that some 71,000 troops—I think British troops—are in India, today. If Lord Ineheape's recommendations are accepted, there will be a smaller British garrison in India, and, as the House well knows, the number of troops in this country is influenced largely by the number required for India. I hope the Under-Secretary will concentrate on that subject, and if that recommendation is accepted it may be possible to reduce the size of our Army in that proportion.
Mention has been made on more than one occasion of a question affecting large sums of public money. I refer to the number and size of our administration units in proportion to the number of our fighting troops. Page 8 of the Estimates reveals that there are 130,000 fighting troops on the Establishment of the Army, and some 18,000 troop; for administrative purposes. In other words, for every 1,000 troops the Army to-day requires 140 men, non-fighting troops, administrative units. I have been enabled to make a comparison with the French Army. I agree that any comparison with the French Army is naturally open to criticism, but I take that Army as a basis, and I find that the administrative units in the British Army are double in size to the administrative units in the French Army for every 10,000 men. If that be at all accurate—and I have had it on 1873 high authority—I think there is room for some possible reduction. The Under-Secretary may say that the numbers of our administrative units need not be large, can be enlarged equally in time of War; and that you must have a certain number of highly skilled individuals so as to take charge of a large number of troops if the Army is enlarged. That argument held good before the War, but to-day, with the large reservoir of skilled officers and men, who have served in those administrative branches during the War, it will not hold good. Therefore, I press upon him to consider, during the coming year, whether our administrative units cannot be reduced in number, so as to provide either an increased number of fighting troops or a reduction in the size of the Army Estimates.
One other question is the size of the commands. The Under-Secretary in his opening statement pointed out, if I followed him correctly, a very considerable reduction which had taken place in the cost of the War Office and the. Commands. I had closely examined these Estimates, and. it appears to me that that reduction is snore apparent than real. The size of the staff at the War Office to-day in comparison with last year shows that for the current year the number is 1,173 in comparison with 1,158 for last year. The numbers show no reduction, but there is a slight increase. I agree that the total reduction is some £660,000, but the Irish Command has disappeared with the passing into law of the Irish Free State Bill, and. the necessity for the Irish Command in Dublin or in Ireland no longer exists. The cost of that Command last year was some £439,000. I hope I have, made that point clear to the Under-Secretary and that I may have some answer in the later stages of the Debate. The two hon. and gallant Members who have preceded me will agree with me, I am sure, that when the number of officers and men in the Army is being reduced the first cut should be in the size of the staffs. If the staffs showed an example in reducing their numbers the officers and men throughout the Service would take more kindly to the axe falling.
I now pass from that to the Army of Occupation on the Rhine. The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, speaking in this House on Monday, 1874 referred to the position of our Army in that country. He was asked whether the British Army there was now surrounded, and whether it had contact with unoccupied Germany. His answer was, "It is not so now. It is all very well to laugh, but the situation has changed." If I understood these words aright, they meant that at some time our Army was surrounded, and was not in touch with unoccupied Germany. The prestige of this country demands that if we send our troops to any portion of the globe they should be maintained in keeping with the honour and dignity of this country.
I would ask the -Under-Secretary a question in connection with McGrigor's Bank. I understand the Committee presided over by Lord Askwith distributes the money. Does he think the work of that Committee will shortly finish, and is he satisfied with the present Army agents? I ask for an official assurance. We have had this kind of assurance given before. This does not only concern the public purse; it concerns a large number of officers whose fears have been aroused, and I think some assurance from the Under-Secretary would pacify these people. Before I sit down, let me once again congratulate the War Office on having effected a large reduction; £10,000,000 in one year. I believe that the force of circumstances and pressure of events will force this country during the next few years to a still further reduction in the size of our Army. The bad social conditions of our people, our empty Treasury, all demand not only that this Government, but that any Government that sits on those benches in the coming year, shall curtail the unproductive expenditure on our fighting forces to a much smaller figure than we are being asked to vote, this year.
§ Sir FREDERICK BANBURY
I see in the paper which the War Office circulate that the lay of the officers and men of the Army amounts to some £13,000,000, as against £7,000,000 in 1914, though we have only now 160,000 officers and men, as against 183,000 at that time. I understood the Under-Secretary for State to say that next year this question will be considered. I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Godfrey Collins) that the Army should be cut down any more. A more foolish suggestion I have not heard for many years. I would like to point out 1875 to my hon. Friend that by reducing the pay of the officers and men he would be able to employ a much larger number of men in the Army. If that was done, we would have a stronger Army, which is essential, and we would be doing something to relieve unemployment. It would be far better that some of the unemployed men should be learning their business in the Army than receiving the dole and doing nothing for it. The raising of the any of the Army took place in 1919, when there were wonderful ideas about the future of this country. I do not believe the raising of the pay attracted more officers and men to the Army. I believe you could have got as many officers and men at. a much lower rate. The cost of living does not affect the men in the Army. Lodgings, food and clothing are prodded for the men. Even assuming the cost of living did affect them, the rise in the cost of living is only 77 per cent., and the pay has increased by 150 per cent.. I quite understand that you cannot make a drastic change of this sort in a hurry, but I hope, as suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend, that next year this question of pay will be revised, and that with the savings the number of men in the Army will be increased. I trust that if other Members of the House speak en this question they will support my suggestion, which, without further cost to the taxpayer, will give us a stronger Army, and, in fact, will relieve the taxpayer of the cost of the dole to those men who enlist. It will strengthen the Army and give the unemployed a good profession.