HC Deb 07 March 1927 vol 203 cc975-1008

Motion made, and Question proposed. That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 166,4500, all ranks, be maintained for the Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland at Home and Abroad, excluding His Majesty's Indian Possessions, during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1928.


I wish to draw attention to several points on this Vote. Before doing so, speaking as an unofficial Member who has no connection with the military or naval Forces, may I say that it seems a pity we have to enter upon the discussion of these Estimates, dealing with the military side of the nation's expenditure, without the advantage of any central committee to give those of us who have no technical knowledge a general review of the whole military position as it affects the Army, Navy and Air Force at the present time. Even those who are unconnected with the Forces know that the recent. War made an enormous change in the whole system of armaments. Looking at the matter from the financial standpoint, it seems to me that we have made a great mistake in leaving the decisions on these matters to such a large extent in the hands of the branches of the military and naval forces which are concerned. We leave to the War Office experts or to the naval experts the decision as to what part of their equipment or what branches of their forces have become out of date. In today's Debate we have heard from those connected with the Army a discussion as to whether or not the horse is out of date. I suppose when we come to consider the Naval Estimates we shall he told by certain naval experts that ships of a certain class, even great battleships, are no longer required. But the final decision is to a large extent left to the particular branch concerned. This, in all probability, only leads to a waste of money, because no Service cares to dispense with any of its branches—at any rate it will hesitate before doing so. I hope the Government at some time will consider the possibility of setting up a Committee representing all the various branches, which will consider the whole military position and give decisions on these questions instead of leaving them to be dealt with piecemeal as is done at the present time first in the Army and then in the Navy Debates

The points which I wish to bring before the Committee will I fear receive the support of neither Front, Bench. I confess I heard with amazement the speech of the ex-Secretary of State for War in reply to the speech of the present Secretary of State for War. My experience of Debates on military matters is that you first have a speech from the Secretary of State for War and then a speech from his predecessor in that office, or whatever party he may belong, and they throw bouquets at each other across the Floor of the House and join in telling us what a wonderful establishment the Army is, while the Gentleman in office is congratulated on the way in which he has presented his statement. But I thought my right hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. Walsh) would have been saved from one thing. I must say I heard with great amazement that part of his speech where he dealt with the way in which the Estimates were presented to the House and informed the smiling Secretary of State that the accounts before us were as near perfection as they could possibly be. He said that he was able to get all the information he wanted out of these accounts Speaking from an experience of two or three years on the Public Accounts Committee I must congratulate my right hon. Friend on being able: to find anything in these accounts. I should be delighted if I might have an hour with him in order that I might learn more about the Army accounts than I have been able to gather from the Estimates presented to us. There are several points which I desire to put to the Secretary of State for War and also to the ex-Secretary of State for War who has told us that he is able to explain this mystery. They are evidently combined in order to prevent the House knowing what is the financial position of the Army. I must remind the Committee that, just a year ago, I followed my leader at the War Office in criticising the very system of accounts which to-day he has blessed. I was criticising the Government for the weak way in which they had given up the recommendations of the Lawrence Committee. My right hon. Friend was Secretary a State for War at a time when the present Secretary of State for War girded at him because he was not standing by the new system of accounts. The present Secretary of State for War has been converted to the old system of accounts, and in doing so he was supported by a very enlightened monarch Charles II. Now, to-day, I find that my right hon. Friend hits himself become converted to the system of accounts which we had in the reign of Charles II.

I should like to ask whether any of the hon. Members opposite on the back benches can get any definite information on special matters connected with the administration of the Army from the accounts as they are presented to-day. Let us take a number of a different item. I wonder how many hon. Members realise what the Army has under its control Do they realise that the Army runs a large number of schools, that the Army has—or had a year or two ago—a factory employing about 800 people? Do they realise that the Army has bakeries and large electrical generating stations, and that in one place the Army supplies a large part of the town with electricity? I recommend hon. Members to look at these accounts. They can, at any rate, see the headings of a number of these things, but I do not think they will find any accurate information as to the cost of these various items. I have here the Army Accounts for the year 1924–25, which were made up on the system adopted at the close of the War, when the costing system was introduced into the Army accounts. The present Secretary of State for War takes credit for having made great economies" and with having saved £200,000 or £300,000 in getting rid of the accountants who initiated that system. Any business firm could effect economies on those lines. They could simply sack the whole of the staff who keep their accounts. But I do not believe that the costing system need have cost anything like £200,000 or £300,000, if the matter had been gone more fully into, and if, instead of having the old system running side by side with the new one, more attention had been paid to the recommendations of the Lawrence Committee. The distinguished Chairman of that Committee had had great experience in the Army and in the City—quite a unique experience—and he recommended the system of costing accounts. It was only a subsequent Committee that persuaded the War Office to go back on the old lines. I suggest that hon. Members should take the list of the schools and institutions which are run by the War Office, and compare the figures under the costing system and then look at the figures given to them today. I take a school like the School of Equitation, and I find that that now costs £28,000. That is put down as the cost to-day, but a year of two ago the cost was £61,000. The School of Artillery costs to-day £58,000, but the cost a year or two ago was £237,000. When hon. Members examine matters more fully, they find that in a school like the School of Artillery there is not only the cost of instructors, but also the cost of the material used, and that might amount to something like £100,000. If a new Member comes into the House and looks at the accounts as they are to-day, he finds that the school is only costing £58,000. He is unaware that, if he wants to know what the school costs, he has to make an allowance for the material used.

I ask hon. Members to look at other figures on the same basis. The School of Military Engineering costs £64,000. In these accounts two years ago, the cost was £115,000. Hon. Members will find also other large items that under the present system do not come in but which would have been brought in under the costing system. Taking the whole range of schools and educational establishments and considering how the accounts relating to them are presented to the Committee, I put it to hon. Members that they have no means of knowing whether these establishments are being run in an economical manner, or in an extravagant manner. I might go on and take some of the other items that appear, such as the electricity supply stations, about which no definite information is given. Full particulars ought to have been presented to this House. We were promised by the right hon. Gentleman that the figures should be given with regard to a number of these special grants. It is plain to many of us who were members of the Public Accounts Committee that we could have under the costing system far more information than we have had under the old system of accounts.

The most important question of all is the question of stores. I know the answer that is going to be given when I mention the question of stores. I know that the Secretary of State for War will tell me that he has appointed a Sub-Committee which is considering the question of stores to-day. But the question of stores is the keystone, to a certain extent, of the whole position of accounts. In the first place, as was pointed out to the Committee last year, the House does not even know how much it is spending. The Estimates this year show that it was estimated to be saving £1,000,000, but no information is given as to the enormous amount of stores which the Army has. If the Army takes £2,000,000 of stores out of its reserves, instead of there being a saving of £1,000,000, it means that the Army has spent £1,000,000 more. Figures were given last year to show how the actual total expenditure of the Army really is quite different from what it appears here, and although you may have theoretically a saving, yet, if the Army has used up a large number of stores—and the speech of the Minister indicated that they were using up these stores—the House does not know whether there is any saving or not. The Minister has given us no information. The figures talked about a year ago was £100,000,000. Now we are told that a sum of £20,000,000 was reduced by about £5,000,000. But whatever the question may be, the stores are valued at millions of pounds. I suppose that even the Minister would not deny that probably to-day there are something like £40,000,000 or £50,000,000 worth of stores. If there are not, we should like to know where a lot of them have gone, because the impression given to us was that it was far larger a short time ago.

The Army tell us they cannot value the stores, but when I asked the experts in the Navy when the question came before the Public Accounts Committee, they told me that in the Navy they could value the stores, and I am left wondering why a, thing can be done in the Navy that cannot be done in the Army. What we really want to hear from the Minister is whether he can give us any information about the amount of stores, whether it is expected that the Committee which is sitting is likely soon to report on the question, and whether he can give us any hope that in future years, at any rate, side by side with these Estimates, even if they are to be left in this unsatisfactory condition until a Labour Government comes in and puts the whole system on a more business-like footing, we may know exactly the value of the stores in hand at the beginning of the year, and at the end of the year exactly the value of the stores again, so that we may know how much the Army have taken out of their stores. We shall then be able to find out whether or not the Minister is really making an economy. One of the bouquets which my right hon. Friend threw across earlier to-day was to the effect that there were never any Supplementary Estimates for the Army, but the Minister takes his own Supplementary Estimates obviously by working the stores. It is quite likely that my right hon. Friend would not want to point that out, because you never know when you may want to do it yourself when you get back again into office. I wish to express my profound disappointment at the way in which the accounts are presented to us. I regretted last year that the change was made, and I hope, at any rate, that the Minister will give us some satisfactory account with regard to the stores.


Some speakers spoke earlier about the excessive reductions which have been carried out in the Army. I quite appreciate that this is no time for large forces being kept up, but our Imperial responsibilities are enormous, and security must be assured. I think a very good example was in the organisation of the Shanghai Defence Force, and to mobilise this small force it was necessary to call up the Reserves, which points to a reduction in units beyond the point to which such reduction should safely be carried. There is another point on which economy should not run riot, and that is in regard to facilities for the Staff College, which ought to be considerably increased, and this is particularly necessary in a small army where rapid expansion may be essential. I believe that in a recent examination there were 500 candidates for 50 vacancies, so that if increased facilities could be afforded, the expenditure would be more than justified and would produce great efficiency. I hope accordingly that these two points may have the attention of the Secretary of State.

I do not want to go into too close a discussion of the Territorial Army, but having been a commanding officer in the Territorials, besides a Regular officer, I can perhaps look at the question with some detachment, and I sympathise with the remarks of most of the speakers, and fully appreciate the effect on the Territorial Army. I think it is an open question as to how far it will affect recruiting or otherwise, because though in many cases men may join for the bounty only, I am glad to think that a very large number will join without considering it. But the serious point that has been raised in this connection is that it is really a reward for efficiency, so that I do hope the Secretary of State will remember that a portion—10s.—is given for musketry. Commanding officers know what difficulty there is sometimes to get men to the ranges, and I feel sure that a sum like this is much appreciated. In fact, it is almost a necessity, and if my right hon. Friend could see his way to do something in the way of efficiency pay in addition, I think the Territorial Army would bear the loss of the bounty in the spirit which animates that Force. One or two speakers said the question might have been referred to commanding officers, but such action would create an impossible position, as a subject would never finish if every question of this nature had to be referred to commanding officers.

1 do wish to associate myself with the hon. and gallant Member for Montrose (Sir R. Hutchison) in regard to Territorial Associations, because I think without any disregard of their value and duties a good deal might be done to reduce expenditure in this direction. It is not easy perhaps in all cases, as some of the city associations have large sums, but in the sparse country districts, particularly where units come under more than one association, I think very much more would be got out of the units by treating them on a capitation basis. It would increase the incentive of units in their own organisation and stimulate local effort and keenness in the counties or towns from which they are raised by furthering local responsibility instead of putting it up to Associations. After all though, as he said, they are absolutely necessary on mobilisation, I think the Association would always be ready and available to assume that responsibility in case of emergency We are very gratified to note increase in mechanisation, also that progress has not been allowed to supersede the horse or other animal transport, and are all very grateful to the Secretary of State for not having carried this too far. I think we must all realise that the upkeep of these mechanised units is going to be much more costly than the mere mechanisation in the first instance.

This leads me, finally, to deal with one or two other savings which have been put forward as difficult to effect unless we can have some co-ordination in a Ministry of Defence or otherwise, and this was particularly emphasised by the hon. Member who has just sat down. I think everyone recognises that the Chief of Staff's Committee has proved an invaluable preliminary, but the Chief of Staff of any particular arm must necessarily be biased in favour of his own arm. Reference has been made by the advocates of a Defence Ministry that the Chiefs of Staff should be able to criticise the expenditure proposed by other arms, but this is impossible, and he can only be properly concerned in the expenditure recommended for his own arm. Consequently the recommendations of the Chiefs of Staff can only be considered and given effect to by a Minister of Defence, in view of the bias referred to. Although I think the framework is all right, it must eventually lead up to the organisation of a great Imperial Staff and which personally, have great hope may come from the Imperial College just opened. This will enable an Imperial trend of thought to be produced which can work under a Minister of Defence and which will leave the present Ministers of each of the arms responsible for the administration and organisation of those arms. I think that can be perfectly easily arrived at, and in view of these alterations probably a. Commander-in-Chief could suitably be substituted for the War Council in charge of the particular arms.

This does not make a very drastic change, and I think the Minister of Defence will easily justify the extra expenditure in his appointment by the efficiency, which is bound to result, in Empire knowledge and organisation, and also in arriving at the correct proportion of armaments and the expenditure necessary upon them. I think this proposal would meet the views which have been expressed in favour of having the Estimates co-ordinated and put on some basis which would do away with the present system of each arm fighting for its own interests against those of other arms.


After listening to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. Gillett) I gather that the business of an ordinary Member of this House is to sit in a state of faith and amazement while experts quarrel about figures which they do not understand; but when these Votes are before the House there are other issues at stake than mere complications of accounts. Not only are the Government the biggest spending force in the nation, but they are also the largest employers in the nation, and when these accounts are before the Committee private Members have one of their few opportunities of bringing forward some of the grievances of the men who are in the service of the Government. On this occasion I desire once more to raise the question of the moral responsibility of the Government for the lack of provision for their old servants. This matter has been before the Committee, or the House, on several occasions, and in spite of every effort which has been made by the men themselves and those who represent them, no step forward has resulted. I hope I have not acquired any reputation here for wild words or reckless statements, but I say, with all earnestness, that moderation seems to be made an excuse for ignoring these complaints. Year after year we bring before the Committee a matter which we regard as affecting the national honour, but we get no forwarder in our work.

The main complaint which I desire to bring before the Committee is that the ordnance factory workers alone among the Government workers are deprived of pension rights. The Admiralty workers have them, and there ought to be some real reason why what is given to one section of Government workers is denied to the other. My hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury pointed out that the Admiralty, can give an account of stores, whereas the War Office cannot. The Admiralty can also arrange a pension scheme for their workers, whilst the War Office seem incapable or unwilling to do so. What sin have these workers before the lathe and the furnace in Woolwich Arsenal, Enfield and other places committed that they should be deprived of privileges which other Government workers enjoy, and have enjoyed for a very long time. Prior to 4th June, 1870, the ordnance factory workers enjoyed pension rights. On that date they were abolished by a Treasury minute, and no reason has ever been assigned why those privileges were withdrawn. Naturally the men never accepted this discrimination against them, which was the result of that minute. The first phase of their complaint was an agitation to restore the old conditions, deputations wore out their boots going to the War Office, and ever since 1870 this demand has been going on. One Government after another promised something and never kept its word; there was always some reason for putting the matter off. The men were received and dismissed. Decade after decade followed, and nothing was done.

One Government said the nation could not afford it, although at that time the country was positively choking with wealth. Another Government said that a non-contributory scheme of pensions was wrong. When the first demand was exhausted the workmen accepted the principle of a contributory scheme and appointed a Committee to work out the method by which it should be achieved. Various schemes were formulated which the Government would neither accept nor reject, but they always promised that something should be done. With them it was always jam to-morrow, but never jam to-day. When the Labour Government came in, the agitation had got so far that the main principle was accepted by the War Office, provided that the Treasury would agree. That was the real trouble. You might as well ask the east wind to respect old age as to ask the Treasury to help their old servants. Consequently the proposal was rejected as it was expected it would be. We feel that if money had been wanted to enable us to invade other people's territory, or if the names of the workmen at Woolwich and Enfield had been something like Koltchak or Denikin instead or Smith or Brown their claims would have been recognised. These men are willing to pay sums to a contributory scheme equal to those paid by other servants of the State who have pension rights. They are willing to forego their gratuities, and the idea is to formulate a scheme on a 5 per cent basis, a man to be established for pension after 10 years of continuous service. The exact method of what is equitable must be left to experts, but whatever is counted equitable the men will pay. I understand that the Government's new excuse is that since the Contributory Pensions Act was passed and the Old Age Pension age was reduced to 65 there is now no need for pensioning off old workers because at 65 they will be rewarded as a return for 30, 40 or even 50 years' service by the munificent pension of 10s. a week.

That leads me to ask another question. If the ordnance factory workers are to be deprived of a pension because the Old Age Pension Act gives them 10s. a week, are the other workers to have their pensions withdrawn in order to restore them to equity? If not, the grievance of the workers in the ordnance factories still remains. These old age pensions are really pensions awarded to men because they have reached a certain age, at which they are no longer able to take care of themselves, but the pensions for which we are asking are to be regarded as deferred pay, or an insurance scheme, to which the workers contribute. There is this further problem. If men are discharged from the Government service at 60 years of age, as they are, what are they to do until they reach the age of 65, when this munificent 10s. per week will be given to them? If they are too young to draw the old age pension at GO, then they are young enough to work for further years until they are able to qualify for the old age pension. If it be said that they are offered a gratuity based upon so many years of service, it may be answered that that gratuity is only enough to keep them for a few months, and would very soon be wrung from them by the profiteer.

Not very long ago, the Prime Minister told us a moving story about a firm that he knew, where old gentlemen past work were kept on, sitting on wheelbarrows and so on, because the firm could not find it in their heart to turn these old servants away, to turn them on to the streets or into the workhouse. The Prime Minister is now the employer of a great many men in that position. Since the Armistice, over 2,000 old gentlemen, having been in the Government's service for 30 or 40 years, have been turned off and become chargeable upon their friends or upon the public funds. They are existing—starving—and just waiting in hardship and sorrow until the curtain falls upon their lives. Without any desire to exaggerate, I think any decent private firm would be ashamed to see its old workers discharged in that manner. If this contributory pensions scheme could be arranged, it would not be operative in its full sense for 15 years, and by that time I, at any rate, have, faith in our nation being in a sufficiently prosperous state to meet whatever demand might be made upon it. Meanwhile, however, there are these old gentlemen for whom no provision has been made, and who have only the workhouse before them. I know of case after case where men have worked for 30 and 40, and sometimes 50 years for the Government, and have given the Government good service.

It is no use making sentimental appeals to this House, but, if it were, I would be inclined to remind hon. Members of what the Psalmist said, in a Book which is much honoured, but little read: Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth. That is the position with these workmen for whom I speak. All that I ask of the Government to-night is that they should not close the door, but that, if they are not able to meet this demand at the present time, they should leave the door open for future negotiation to take place, whereby we can arrange such a scheme as will be equitable, as will allow the men to pay towards their superannuation allowance, and take from the Government this stigma of neglect of its old people. A few years ago, the negotiations collapsed, during the period when Mr. Haldane was Secretary of State for War. Lord Kitchener promised the men these pensions if they would only wait until the War was over. The present Chancellor of the Exchequer, in 1920, urged them to wait still another 12 months; Colonel Jackson, when he was at the War Office, begged them to wait until the minimum establishment had been reached; and so it has gone on year after year, until now we find ourselves back at the point from which we started. I hope I have not placed too much emphasis on this matter, but it is of very real moment to men who are employed by the Government, and who have only poverty to look forward to; and it is, if I may say so, a most serious matter for the nation itself if it continues to neglect its moral responsibility to trusted and loyal workers.

Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE

I think the Labour party must be grateful to the last speaker for pouring oil on troubled waters. On this side of the Committee certainly we have enjoyed the quarrel between the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Gillett) and the late Secretary for War. The hon. Member for Finsbury has the idea that the Labour party is going to put the Army on a business footing and proceeded to quarrel with his party's late Minister of War to show how it should he done. But I would remind him that the late Secretary for War did use the words, if armies must exist…he would congratulate the Secretary of State. an evident attempt to provide for the pacifist or left wing part of his party. Those of us who have the interest of the country at heart make us doubt whether the Army will ever be put on a business footing by the Labour party.

I should like to ask if we are entitled to discuss air defence on this Vote, because, while the Air Force is responsible for air squadrons, the Army is responsible for anti-aircraft defence, including anti-aircraft guns and searchlights. I wish to draw the attention of the House and the country at large to the great difficulty in any discussion of air defence in this House. To take an instance, supposing an invading air squadron comes across the North Sea. It is then engaged by the Navy. If it comes up the Humber and wanders for a few minutes across the land it comes under the Army. While they are over the Humber they are looked after by the Navy, and in both these operations they are apparently engaged by air squadrons under the Air Force. I think there can be no co-ordination until we get the whole air defence of the country under one Ministry. I should like to know also why it is that we have doubled our antiaircraft guns. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the steps he has taken, but is it for the sake of the air defence of the country from the Air Force point of view or the defence of the mobile army from the Army point of view, because there is a great deal of difference. If it is for the sake of the air defence of the country, where are you going to station the anti-aircraft guns? At present, as far as I know, both in the Territorial Army and the Regular Army, the whole of the anti-aircraft defence is stationed in London and near it. How long would it take guns to reach the Midlands, or would they ever be spared from London to defend the Midlands, and if not what are the antiaircraft defences of the Midlands with the exception of air squadrons? Does the right hon. Gentleman think air squadrons are sufficient to defend the Midlands? I think they are not.

I should also like a few words with the right hon. Gentleman as to how they are getting on with research in antiaircraft defence. Have they got to the limit of gun power, and will there have to be other forms of scientific invention? I should also like to ask him is he satisfied that he has got an artillery reserve in the anti-aircraft artillery personnels by retaining the artillery men of the anti-aircraft in the Army. I think on the outbreak of War the whole of the anti-aircraft defence, including artillery, will have to be handed over to the Air Ministry, so why not do it now? A change on the outbreak of war is a very grave state of affairs. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has had any representations from the manufacturers in the Midlands as to their defenceless state. We hope that there is no Air Force that is an immediate danger to us on the Continent of Europe, but we have to remember that the speed and range of aircraft is increasing every day and that we have potential enemies not very far from the Continent of Europe. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to improve the anti-aircraft defences of this country the best thing he can do is to increase the Territorial Force. At the present time the whole of his anti-aircraft Territorial artillery are situated in London. He has no. Territorial artillery in the Midlands or the North of England. I should like to know whether he is confident that the number of men which he proposes to recruit for anti-aircraft artillery will make it efficient, as far as their training is concerned. I understand that the mechanical tractor part of our anti-aircraft force is out of date and old-fashioned compared with other countries. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will be able to tell us something about this. I congratulate him on increasing the anti-aircraft force.


I desire to raise a matter in connection with the employés in the War Department, more especially in the Aldershot Command. I understand that it is quite a common thing for the operatives in the building industry to be employed by the War Department, and I am given to understand that for the last two years there have been matters under discussion concerning the wages paid to the building trade operatives in the Aldershot Command. It will be within the recollection of the Committee that for the building industry in this country there is what is known as the National Wages and Conditions Council. It is the function of that Council to determine the wages and hours of labour for the industry. For that purpose, the country is split up into regions or areas. The Aldershot Command comes into one of those regions and the National Council, the responsible authority, composed of workmen and employers, have from time to time met in conference to decide the wages and hours. During the last two years the War Department in the Aldershot Command have, refused to recognise the rate of wages and hours of labour set up by the National Council. Now this House, for a number of years past, has endorsed the Fair Wages Clause, and we invariably endeavour to see, as employers, that those conditions are observed. I should like to hear to-night that the Minister in charge of this Department, if he is not already conversant with the facts I am bringing to his notice, will be prepared to investigate the matter and will give us a little more information as to the reason why these conditions are not enforced—perhaps on the Report stage.

Almost every Member in this House would subscribe to the desire for peace in industry and, if we are to have peace in industry, the Government ought to set a good example. The trade unions concerned have so far refrained from withdrawing any labour from the War Department in the Aldershot Command. They have shown a considerable amount of restraint, and I hope the Department will show its appreciation of that restraint by being prepared to recognise the trade union conditions as laid down by the National Council. The argument that has so far been put forward is that certain employers in the area are not at the moment paying those rates of wages. The employers who are not paying the rates of wages or recognising the conditions of labour are employers who are not federated and are not parties to the National Federation of Building Trade Employers. They stand on the same basis as a man who is not a member of a trade union, and they are in a position to make their own conditions. The Government, however, has generally been prepared to recognise the associations or the committees set up for the purpose of fixing wages and hours, and I hope that the Minister in charge of the Department will make investigations and give the Committee the assurance that trade union conditions are to be recognised in the future.


I would like to call the attention of the Committee for a moment to a subject which is of very great importance outside this House and which will also I hope receive the sympathy of all parties. It is within the knowledge of the Committee that men are discharged from the Army for certain injuries or diseases, and that it depends upon whether these injuries or diseases are held to be attributable to conditions of service, whether a man will get a pension. A man, for instance, may serve in the Army a certain number of years and be discharged for a certain disease which is held not to be attributable, and that man gets no pension. In certain cases of injury or disease there probably is not much difficulty in deciding as to the attributability, but there are certain diseases which make this principle difficult to apply and the principal one is consumption. I should like to draw the attention of the Committee to the state of affairs in the Army in connection with men discharged as suffering from consumption. The House should bear in mind that these men who enter the Army are men who undergo a very strict medical examination, who are A.1 men, men of fine physique, and who, having got into the Army, live a healthy life under the best conditions, with good food, plenty of exercise and the very best medical attention. On the slightest sign of any illness or disease they are at once looked after and probably there is no body of men in the country who have a better or a healthier life than the men in our services. Yet there is one difficulty. A man having undergone a certain number of years of service may develop sickness; he may become consumptive. He is examined by his medical officer and discharged from the Army, and the case is referred to Chelsea to say whether it can be held to be "attributable" or not. And this is where the great difficulty comes in. I should like to make it perfectly clear that I have absolute faith in the bona fides of the Board at Chelsea.

I am convinced that they do all in their power to view the case from a sympathetic standpoint, but the difficulty is this: We are all breathing the germ of consumption every day, and it is a well-established fact that the large majority of people in this country suffer from consumption at some time or other during their life, and get cured, that is the large majority. It is impossible for any man to say how or when a consumptive germ may have obtained entrance into the human system, and the medical board at Chelsea are in this awkward position. They have this man, whose medical history is before them, and they have to decide to the best of their ability whether this disease is attributable to the conditions of service. In the case of consumption it is practically an impossibility. No doctor can prove how or when that germ entered the system. The best they can do is to form an opinion, and whether it is possible or probable that the conditions of service may or may not have something to do with it. This is a difficult position for the medical board. The human factor comes into the case very definitely, and it is one of the most difficult things to estimate. A doctor on a board one morning may be in good health and charitably inclined. He may give the man the benefit of the doubt. Another day he may be much more serious or suspicious, and may turn down a case which at another time he would have considered "attributable." And so we have the illogical position that, although a man may develop consumption during his period of service and in the service, yet it is held to be not due to the conditions of service. That is an absolutely untenable and illogical position.

11.0 p.m.

I understand that certain diseases are held as justifiable causes. For instance, if a man has had malaria or dysentery, or a bad cold through exposure, or pneumonia, and he develops consumption, it is possible that the Board would hold it to be "attributable,' and yet you will find that a man who has had malaria or dysentery or cold or pneumonia and working under the same conditions will not develop consumption. Therefore it may not be due to the conditions of service; there is some other factor in the man himself. If the War Office were absolutely logical they could take up the position and say that no case is due to the conditions of service. If they took that position we could not say a word against it. They could take up the position and say that all cases were attributable, but the difficulty is that in some cases they say it is and in others that it is not. It naturally causes a great deal of dissatisfaction in the country. The man feels that he has not been treated fairly or justly by the War Office, and his relatives feel the same. It is a matter of common knowledge that hon. Members are constantly getting letters of such cases. I would like to mention one or two cases. I have here the case of a man who in a letter mentions that he was suffering from tuberculosis after serving continuously for 17 years and three months. He was wounded and gassed in France, but at Chelsea his case was turned down as "non-attributable." He has a wife and three children to support and is receiving 12s. 3d. pension a week. I have half-a-dozen cases like that. This man had spent the greater part of his life in the service. He had been wounded and gassed, and he developed consumption, and yet the consumption was held to be non-attributable to Army service. On the surface that seems to be absolutely wrong. If any case should be "attributable," I should say that that would be a, likely case. But Chelsea turned it down, and, of course, appeal is useless, because in the first place the Board judges from a man's medical history sheets—


I gather from the hon. Member that he is dealing now with war pensions. That subject would not be in order on this Vote.


I am not dealing with war pensions. I am dealing with the case of men who served in the Army and were discharged for disease without any pension. The case I happened to quote was that of a man who had done 17 years in the Army and had served during the War, but I am not dealing with war pensions at all, because I recognise that that subject tames under the Ministry of Pensions Vote. I am dealing with pensions granted by the War Office through the Chelsea Commissioners. Facts such as I have stated mean that we have a body of men in this country who are dissatisfied. We have a certain number of Members in this House who also are uneasy. I ask the Secretary of State for War to give us some definite idea as to the position of the War Office on this matter. As far as I can see there are only three possible remedies. The first is for the War Office to take a stand definitely, and to say "It is impossible to prove in any of these cases that the consumption is attributable to the conditions of service, and therefore we will wipe it out altogether." That would be a very harsh decision but a perfectly logical one. The second remedy appears to be for the War Office to schedule a certain number of conditions or diseases which could be held to be predisposing causes for consumption, and if a case of consumption developed after any of these it would be held to be "attributable" without any further trouble.

The third and last suggestion, and one which I have thought of for some time and favour most, is a system of insurance, under which all men in the Service would be compulsorily insured against the possibility of contracting consumption. If a man at any time developed the disease it would not then be necessary to ask how, when or where he contracted it. It would only he necessary to say to him: "You have consumption; you are discharged; you are entitled to a pension as long as you live or until you are cured." That would be the easiest, beat and quickest solution of the difficulty. This matter is of great importance and is causing a great deal of uneasiness in the country and while the War Office and their medical advisers are, I am sure extremely sympathetic, I should be glad if there was solve possibility of turning their sympathy to practical advantage.


I wish to add but a few sentences to what has been so eloquently said by the last speaker. What is required is an appeal tribunal before which these men could appear. Only one-third of the candidates who present themselves for the Army are accepted, and they are only accepted after a rigorous test and when they have satisfied the examiners that they are, in every respect, fit. If, owing to the cramped conditions in which they are compelled to live or the dampness to which they are subject, they are invalided out with a disability they have no redress. Not only are their careers in the Army broken, but ill-health prevents them from seeking any other career and they are left derelict. I cannot see how the Secretary of State in common humanity can resist this demand for an appeal tribunal. It is a simple procedure. The tribunal can only give one of two decisions, and on what grounds the War Office can refuse to give a last chance to a man who has been broken in the service of the State I fail to understand. As the representative of a Service constituency many of these cases are brought to my notice. I do not propose to trouble the Secretary of State with them at this late hour, but I am sure he knows the sorrow which has been caused by the lack of a proper appeal tribunal. At the present moment men are judged entirely by the War Office doctors. They are not allowed to argue their ease and are not allowed representation at the hearing of their case. This state of things should be remedied.

Lieut.-Colonel FREMANTLE

I wish to congratulate and thank the Secretary of State for War in reference to the action which has been taken since the discussion on this Vote last year concerning the Royal Army Medical Corps. On that occasion the hon. and. gallant Member for Derby (Sir R. Luce) pointed out the extraordinarily dangerous position in which the fighting services were placed owing to the insufficiency of the Royal Army Medical Corps. A Committee was sitting at that time inquiring into the medical services, and it is only since that time that the Committee's report has taken effect. Certain improvements were made in the pay of the service, and it was hoped that this would lead to better recruiting of the Army Medical Service so as to meet the great deficiency which existed. Before the War the establishment of the Army Medical Corps in officers was something like 1,000. Since the War it went down to 900, and there were under 800 officers on the strength last year. Now the numbers have been increased, but out of 45 vacancies per annum there are only ten being replaced each year. This year 15 came forward and were accepted towards filling 25 vacancies. We are in the position of being behind hand, and the result is that the Secretary of State for War has to appeal for short-service officers. He is now taking officers on short service, for a few years, at the end of which time they are being bribed by gratuities to return to civil life. They will be serving with the colours for only five years, and by the time they have become useful officers they will be returning to civil life. We are carrying on with an elderly service, which is always increasing in seniority, and that makes for great dissatisfaction among the officers serving.

This is one of the most serious points, to my mind, in the Army position to-day. It has been recurring year after year, and at any time we may be faced by the possibility of a terrible scandal that would go to the root of popular confidence in the Army if there were a serious outbreak of war. We are to be greviously disappointed, it would seem on the surface, by the very poor response received so far to the appeal of the Secretary of State for War; but I am sufficiently optimistic to hope that we need not be disappointed. It is too early yet to judge the result of the new terms which have been granted; but there is one thing perfectly certain: you will not get a sudden turn of the tide and see young men going to the medical services of the fighting services unless the fighting services take direct and vigorous methods to attract them. It can be clone if the campaign is driven home, and I hope that the best recruiting officers—those officers whom we have in the service and who recognise the terms and improvements that have been granted—may he sent into their own hospitals and medical schools to try to attract young recruits. In that case, the tide may be turned, hut it will take vigorous action.

In as much as there has been a proposed reduction in the Territorial medical service at the expense of the casualty clearing stations, I think the position is serious. If the Territorial Army is called out, we will have the same position as we had in the last War in casualty clearing stations. They will have to be improvised suddenly by people who do not know the work. The first shock of battle means a vast number of men wounded and hurled down upon clearing stations which do not know their work. I would like to know whether the Secretary of State for War cannot make, arrangements, while he is cutting down the organisation, by which the trained personnel will still continue to be trained, so that they may be qualified for the clearing stations in the event of the outbreak of war.


I want to stress the point with regard to the building trade at Aldershot. I cannot understand the answer which was given by the War Office to the Building Trade Council, in which they said that, because a particular rate is not fully operative in the district, they are not prepared to pay a reasonable wage to those employed in the building trade. So far as those of us who are members of that particular Whitley Council are concerned, we have furnished the War Department with the figures of those who are receiving the rate. We realise that there are certain people employed in Aldershot who are not in receipt of the rate, but why the Government should follow the lead of the sweating employer and shelter them-selves behind him is difficult to understand.

We are told, in regard to the question of stores, that the War Department cannot furnish us with a return showing the value of the stores. That rather surprises me, because my members who happen to be engaged in the service of the War Office in the Stores Department have to take stock at certain intervals, and if there is an article missing, they arc hauled over the coals. In one case that I can quote the man had a money penalty imposed on him for a particular article that was missing when the stock was taken. If they have that stock taken and that return is furnished to them, why cannot they tell us in this House the value of the stores in their possession? Reference was made to-night to the absence of pensions to those employed in the industrial department of the War Office, and I think it is time they had pensions, but I cannot agree with the hon. Member for East Woolwich (Mr. Snell), who suggested that there should be contributions paid by the workpeople. I do not know how they are going to find these contributions out of the 49s. per week wage which is paid at Woolwich at the present time. I hope, however, that the pensions are going to be agreed to.

There is one other point, and that is the action of the Secretary of State in deciding that when a deputation comes to him from a clerical association he is not prepared to receive certain people. I understand that because a somewhat strong statement was made by the secretary of one of the clerical associations in the Civil Service, the Secretary of State refuses to receive that particular individual.


Hear, hear!


Probably the hon. Members who cheer are not aware of the circumstances. At any rate, it shows the anti-trade union bias of some of the hon. Members opposite, but I suggest to the Secretary of State that it is time for him to be quite big enough to get over even strong statements made by people in the Civil Service, and not to take upon his shoulders the deciding as to who shall or shall not form part of any deputation that waits upon him. I hope lie will look into that question, and even if he, did feel sore—I know nothing of the circumstances, and there may be plenty of ground for grievance so far as the right hon. Gentleman is concerned, but surely a Minister of State should be big enough to get over that. I put these points in the hope that we shall have a reply upon them, and I hope too that, when they are talking of peace in industry, the War Department will try and help those of us who have been doing our best in that direction, and that when we are asking for arbitration, the War Department will not keep us waiting for three years for arbitration, as they have done in the case of our stores people.


A great many points have been raised in the course of this Debate, and if T only reply to them briefly, it is not because I do not recognise that many of them are important and deserving of fuller consideration, but because I do not wish to keep hon. Members longer than is necessary. Let me thank the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ince (Mr. Walsh) for the speech with which he opened the Debate. I am very sorry if I got him into trouble with his supporters at the back with regard to the accounts. They are probably both right, because undoubtedly the Estimates, as they are presented to the House to-day, are very much more informing to the average man, but to the accountant who specialises in accounts it may be that the old form does give something which the ordinary man, like the right hon. Gentleman and myself, cannot find from them.

The right hon. Gentleman was afraid that there was slacking off in our action with regard to vocational training centres. Let me assure him that the abolition of the command centres was not because we want to reduce the opportunity for training—not at all. It was because the training in these centres, or in some of them, at any rate, was not as efficient, and it was turning out men only partially trained, who were not doing credit to themselves or to the training centres generally, and they were giving the training centres a bad name as being theoretically trained when, in fact, they were not practical men at the trades for which they were trained. We are increasing facilities for training at Catterick and Hounslow, and at Aldershot we are opening up another Army training centre on a large scale and which will be as well equipped as Catterick and Hounslow. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Abingdon (Major Glyn) made a very good suggestion, that the, men who are being trained at the vocational training centres should be linked up to line battalions or regiments in Canada. I will pursue that. I hope that something really practical can come of that. We have a large number of battalions in Canada allied to battalions in this country, and if they are willing to help men of the home battalions when they get the other side, I can think of nothing which would create more good feeling and good comradeship in their new surroundings.

The hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson) seemed afraid we were going to destroy the Duke of York's School. That is a myth which has got started and which seems to me extremely difficult to overtake. At present no decision whatever has been taken to increase the buildings on the ground of the Duke of York's School. It is true that there is a community there, the accommodation for which is being reconsidered, but no proposal has been considered at present for increasing the building there, and I can assure the Committee that a very, very good case will have to be made out for any alteration in the present building. This I am certain of, we have no intention of destroying the open space there.

The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) called attention to the Votes for stabling at Catterick. So enlightened are we that the stabling has been put up in such a form that it can be converted without difficulty to a garage. If mechanical transport does indeed supersede the horse, we shall not have to rebuild; a slight conversion will suffice. At Weedon, where there is a school of equitation, the hon. Member called attention to increased expenditure on stabling. Until the horse gets into the museum, where it was consigned by one hon. Member this afternoon, it is necessary to house it. At present horses are in huts at Weedon and those huts are not watertight. It is not economic, even if it were humane, to put valuable animals into bad stables, and consequently it is essential to have improved stabling there. In Egypt exactly the same thing is happening. The Remount Department are converting war-time huts into more permanent buildings. The same hon. Member wanted further opportunities for rankers. I do not know whether he knew it but we are extending the "Y" cadet arrangement to the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. "Y" cadets will go to the Royal Academy in addition to those who are now going to Sandhurst. My hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham (Sir Assheton Pownall) thought that the "Y" candidates would be handicapped because they would get in at a later age. He suggested that there should be an ante-date. I am perfectly willing to consider whether that is required, but I do not think we should do it just at the moment. As hon. Members know, a captain can remain a captain till he is 45, and a major can remain until 50 before being turned out, and it seems to me that these "Y" cadets would start with a considerable advantage. They must be very well equipped or they would not be "Y" cadets at all, and I think there is very little doubt that with the present arrangements for accelerated promotion they are not likely to get left if they continue-to fulfil the promise which their "Y" cadetship has given to us.

My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bute and Northern Ayrshire (Sir A. Hunter-Weston) and the hon. Member for Abingdon have called attention to the desire to have a Committee of Imperial Defence Debate before the Army, Air Force, and Naval Estimates are separately discussed. I am not in a position to say more than that, speaking for myself. I should welcome it. I am not quite sure how it could be done; whether it would be possible to put down one of the Votes which cover the Committee of Imperial Defence or the new Imperial Defence College. I am not sure, but it is not for me to do more than say that I myself should welcome it very much. The hon. Member for Southampton (Lord Apsley) called attention to the danger of reducing establishments. He urged that we should try to get larger squadrons rather than smaller ones. He pointed out how difficult it was for the officers and men to take an interest in their work if their numbers were so small. I agree that if we could have larger units it would be better from the point of view he was mentioning. But the real anxiety, he went on to say, was as to the future of the Army, and he asked whether I could give an assurance that there would he no more cuts. As regards cavalry I have already said what the present intentions are. If experience shows that the plans we are now putting into operation are right and successful, there will be a continuation of those plans and a gradual conversion; hut subject to that I hope it is true, and so far as I can see it is true, that there is no room for further cuts in the effectives of the Army, and I do not think that any one who joins the Army now need have any fear that his occupation will be destroyed by reason of further cuts.

The hon. Member for East Woolwich (Mr. Snell) raised again the question of a pension for the civil employés at Woolwich. He stated that the Admiralty had such a scheme and compared the War Office with the Admiralty, naturally to the detriment of the War Office. That is not quite accurate, because the Admiralty scheme affects only one-third of its employés, but the scheme put forward by those employed at Woolwich would cost on these Estimates £220,000 a year. I should very much like to see that nobody in the industrial employment of the State should be turned out either at 60 or 65 years of age without some provision being made for them but 5s. a week additional per employé would be the cost to the State. I would like to point out in this connection that on the Army Estimates to-day there is nearly £500,000 a year being paid out of these Votes for the Government share of the National Health and Unemployment Insurance and Old Age Pensions. Therefore I cannot see my way to add to the Non-effective Votes at the expense of the Effective Votes. If £220,000 is taken from these Votes it means affecting some other units of the Army which have already been reduced to bed-rock cost. As a matter of fact, there is less need than there was, because now at 65 these workers will be entitled to pensions under the Old Age Pensions scheme, in addition to the bonus they get for their service of one week's pay for every year of service.

The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) asked me to remove the ban upon receiving a certain gentleman whose name is Mr. Brown and who represents the Civil Service Clerical Association. What happened was this: I never made any hones about receiving Mr. Brown until I saw in a journal for which he is responsible a statement that the establishment officer at the War Office was a, liar. When Mr. Brown came before me on a deputation I asked him whether that was what he had written and if he took the responsibility for it and he said he did. I then said that he must leave the room and I would not see him. Of course, I could not ask that officer to answer questions in the face of a man who had called him a liar. It is simply a question of the treatment of a civil servant who is entitled to protection by those who employ him, and I shall not receive Mr. Brown until that gentleman withdraws that statement and apologises. When he has done that, he can come to see me when he likes. We have to receive people sometimes whom we would perhaps prefer not to receive, hut I do not select those who come to see me. I am, however, always polite to them and I shall be polite to Mr. Brown when he has shown the ordinary courtesy which he ought to observe in public life.

The hon. Member for Royton (Dr. V. Davies) raised the question of pensions for those invalided out of the Army on account of consumption. This is about as difficult a medical question as can be raised, and it is really not one, I think, with which this Committee can usefully deal. My hon. Friend said that it would be perfectly logical to refuse pension in all those cases—logical but harsh. The medical profession may not yet be able to diagnose these cases sufficiently thoroughly to be always right, but surely it is better, in those eases which they think are attributable, not to be logical or harsh, but to give a pension, and that is what we do. We may not give it in every case in which we ought to give it, but that is not the fault of the administration; it is due, if I may say so, to the incomplete knowledge which the medical profession have as yet attained as to the causes of consumption. I do not blame them. They are doing, as my hon. Friend says, their very best, and they are doing it honestly; and I am afraid that that is all we can expect from even the medical profession—to do their best and apply their knowledge honestly, saying which cases they think are attributable, when a pension is granted, and which cases they think are not attributable, when a pension is not granted. There is a fourth alternative, which I think is better than all the three that my hon. Friend suggested, and that is the course which we are now following.

My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for St. Albans (Lieut.-Colonel Fremantle) referred to the deficiency in the numbers of our medical officers. We are doing our best to fill up, and the course my hon. and gallant Friend suggested, of going round the medical schools and hospitals, is being followed. The Director-General of Army Medical Services is to my knowledge going to some of these himself, and I believe the proposal as to officers going back to their own schools and hospitals is being followed. I know that it was discussed more than a year ago, and I think it is being done, but I will make inquiry to see that that course is followed if it is thought better than what is now being done.

The hon. Member for Rochdale and another hon. Member wanted me to consider the position with regard to the building trade at Aldershot, and I will go into that. I cannot deal with it now, as I have had no notice of it, and have no information as to the actual circumstances. The hon. Member for Rochdale and the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Gillett) raised the question of stores. I dealt with this question at some length last year, and I was told from the other side of the House—I am not sure it was not from below the Gangway—that our clothing stores were worth £25,000,000. I had had all sorts of vague rumours, hut that was stated as a definite fact. I immediately made inquiries and had them valued, and the value of the clothing stores—I forget the exact figure—was found to be between £5,000,000 and £6,000,000, and not £25,000,000. Another Figure that has been given from the other side to-day is é100,000,000 as the gross total, and I expect that that will be found to be equally exaggerated, but I am not sure. What is happening is this: I set up a Committee as the result of a, suggestion of the Public Accounts Committee, and that Committee has either reported or is on the point of reporting. I have not seen the Report yet, but I am told by a member that they have got some method of valuation of stores. If they have and it is a reasonable one as regards expense, I shall be only too glad to have it because I agree there is always this criticism, not of the War Office Estimates alone, but of every Department's Estimates, that if there are stores they are not shown in the cash account, and consequently the actual expenditure of cash and stores may in any one year be greater than the cash expenditure shown in the accounts. It is due to the annual system of incomings and outgoings rather than the profit and loss account separated from the capital account, a system which we do not follow in our public accounts.

The hon. Member for Finsbury also complained about the costing system. I went into it at great length last year and will not do it again now. We have not scrapped it altogether. We are continuing it for the productive operations of the Army. The hon. Member referred to our bread baking and our electricity works. Those are costed at this moment, and we have retained it for exactly those things. He then suggested that the School of Artillery was not properly shown in the accounts because, besides the cash, there was the material expended. That is true. There is material expended, but how would it help the House if you had a a castings account of the School of Artillery? Would it help you to say whether that school was well conducted, whether it was doing what it ought to do, and teaching what it ought to teach or not? Of course, there is material expended, but you could not see from the accounts, even with that in, whether it was economical or extravagant, and indeed I am willing to take that as the test of what has happened, namely, that this sort of school is not costed whereas the productive operations of the Army are costed.

The only other thing I want to deal with is the abolition of the Territorial bounty. It has been suggested that I ought to have consulted the commanding officers of the units. That would be quite impracticable. How could you expect them to desire that the bounty should be cut off? They would not have had an opportunity of judging. They have not the slightest idea of our other expenditure. They have not the means of saying what other economies could be made and of balancing one against the other. I did consult the Council of Territorial Associations. I very much regret that I could not give them more time to consider it. They had 12 days. They considered it by a committee. When the deputation came to me, I offered to go to the meeting of the Council that was going to be held then or thereabouts, as I had done several times before, to explain what the alternatives were. I am sorry there was not more time, but anyone who knows how Estimates are done will understand why. It was not until about the end of January or the first week in February that I knew what my other commitments were, and what reductions in the total I had to make in my Estimates. Until that moment there was always the fear that rather more might have to he taken off the Territorial Vote, and I was very glad when I was able to abandon the question of reduction of establishments, which would hare given a larger saving on the Vote. I am sorry that there was not more time, but there was not the time available, in the very nature of things, and I hope that the Territorial Associations will realise—


Why was not there more time?.


How could there be more time? I did not know until the beginning of February what cuts had to be made. It is no use going to Territorial Associations and saying: "There may have to be this cut, or there may have to be that cut." That would only upset them for no good purpose. Until you were ready to make a proposal it was no use going to discuss with them the proposal, or any alternative. There have been varied opinions expressed in Committee about the effect of cutting off the bounty. On the one side there has -been a repetition of the opinions I have heard outside. Some seem to think that it is going to be very serious. Some think it will not be so serious. Some are not complaining so much of the bounty being cut off but that it was done so suddenly, and that those who would otherwise have re-engaged with the bounty were not given an opportunity of re-engaging with the bounty. If you are going to cut off the bounty it is better to do it suddenly, and not give notice of it. If you give notice of it, even a week's notice, those who are nearest at hand and hear of it, rush in and get the bounty for four years, while those who are just as efficient and have had just as long service, for some reason or other are not able to go and they do not get the bounty. If it is to be done at all, it is far better, and it is right, that it should be done at once. The complaint is made that a good deal of moral harm has been done.


Hear, hear!


My hon. Friend says "Hear, hear!" He is largely contributing to that moral harm, because if this matter is exaggerated it is going to do harm. If on the other hand it is taken, not as a pleasant measure but as one of the necessary economies, and everybody puts their shoulder to the wheel, it is not likely to do anything like as much harm as it will do if people are encouraged to grumble and exaggerate the difficulties. I can assure the Committee that I am not going to take any risk of permanent harm to the Territorial Army, which is our second line of defence. It is the line from which in the last event, in the event of a great national crisis, additional troops would have to be raised and raised in their own divisions, not as drafts for the Regular Army but as the sole means of increasing the fighting forces of the Crown. The Government have no intention of doing anything which will interfere, obviously and permanently, with recruiting. We shall watch the position and if there is any such fear I shall have no hesitation whatever in coming to the House to press for one of the alternatives which hon. Members have suggested to-day. The hon. and gallant Member for Bournemouth (Sir H. Croft), who has done so much for the Territorial Army, and whose knowledge is so great, has made a suggestion that some form of proficiency pay may be required in order that the men can have an inducement to attend to their musketry sand their drills and so forth. That is a suggestion which I shall bear in mind and, if there is any indication that there is any serious likelihood of a damage to recruiting and that such an alteration as that would undo that harm, then hon. Members may rely that I am not going to stand in the way of the final proficiency of the Territorial Army.


May we hope that this matter is cot finally disposed of now?


I do not think it is possible to do so. I am certain the Territorial Associations and also the officers of the Territorial Army will give this matter a proper and a fair test. It will not he possible in a week or a month or two months to see what the effect of the abolition of the bounty is going to be. Hon. Members have said to-day that a considerable number of men about to re-engage have not re-engaged because of the abolition of the bounty. I do not wonder. If there is a sort of atmosphere of suspicion they become affected by it and they will very likely say, "No. I am not going to reengage." Let all that atmosphere of suspicion be cleared up, let there be goodwill in this matter, and let us see what effect, if any, the abolition of the bounty will have. Given that, I am quite certain that the suggestion which my hon. and gallant Friend has made will be considered, and whatever may be necessary to preserve the efficiency and the numbers of the Territorial Army will be proposed to this House.

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