§ 8.30 p.m.
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words:this House, realising the importance to the country of a strong and efficient Territorial Army, urges His Majesty's Government to encourage and stimulate recruiting in every way in order to bring the Territorial Army to its full peace establishment and to do everything in their power to maintain and increase its efficiency.As a Territorial soldier, I welcome this opportunity of drawing attention to the Territorial Army in this House, for it is not often that the Territorial point of view is placed before its Members. It is not often that there is any particular stress laid upon this vital and integral part of the armed forces of the Crown. It is an organisation which, as the Financial Secretary has said this afternoon, carries on at all times valuable and important work under great difficulties, and, in many cases, with considerable inconvenience to the Members who compose it. The year 1932 in particular was by no means an easy year for the Territorials. They suffered much in efficiency and in numbers as a result of the sacrifice which they were called upon to make in the name of economy. Those sacrifices and burdens at the time were gladly borne as it was their contribution to the National effort. They now feel, however, that, in order to counteract the ill effects which resulted from those sacrifices, special efforts must now be made on their behalf. The Financial Secretary's extremely able speech this afternoon, and particularly his sympathetic reference to Britain's second line Army, will I am sure do much to encourage, stimulate and renew interest in the Territorials, and will, at the same time, remove many of the uncertainties, misconceptions, and difficulties which exist.
The three chief obstacles which the Territorial Army has had to face in the last 18 months have been reduction of War Office grants, which have made the question of administration by no means easy, the cancellation of camps in 1932, and the tardy announcement that camps will be held this year. Those factors have 1441 reacted detrimentally upon the strength and efficiency of all ranks, as is seen when we compare the recruiting figures of 1931 with those of 1932. In September, 1931, there were 30,000 recruits, whereas in the year September, 1932, when recruiting was deplorably lacking there were only 14,000, less than half the number of recruits approved in the previous year. This is a very serious state of affairs, and particularly when the wastage is taken into consideration. I mean by the wastage, those men who leave the Army after the expiration of their service or for any other reason. For example, in the month of January of this year we find that while 1,617 recruits were finally approved for service, 2,156 men left the Army, making a net loss in that month of 539. The same is true of the preceding months. In the last few weeks the recruiting on the whole has been much better but is still bad, though the recent announcement that camps would be held this year has already acted as a fine stimulus.
There can be no doubt, despite what the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) said this afternoon, that to have gone without camps for two years in succession would have been a devastating policy and would, in my opinion, kill the Territorial Army altogether, for camps are the axis round which the entire organisation of the Territorial Army revolves year after year, and they form the only real recruiting ground for the next 12 months. The statistics issued in Army Estimates show that the Territorial Army, as the Financial Secretary pointed out this afternoon, is some 44,000 men short of its establishment of 162,000. The strength on the 1st February was only 119,628. These figures indicate a considerable and an alarming drop in numbers over the figures for the corresponding period of last year. It is a serious position especially when it is remembered that there is no longer any militia for us to fall back upon and that the numbers of the Army Reserve are strictly limited. It would be a disaster if the Territorial Army was allowed to dwindle away like this, for if it did it would make all the more difficult a reduction in the Regular Army, which might come about by virtue of any agreement between the Powers in regard to disarmament. It is only with the knowledge that we have a strong and 1442 efficient defensive Army ready for use that we are able to press forward our claims for lower armaments on the rest of the world. Without the Territorial Army that would be a step which any Government would hesitate to take. The alternative to an efficient Territorial Army can only be an increase of the Regular Army and that would involve far greater expense to the country. On the other hand, with the Territorial Army at full strength it is possible that further cuts may yet be made in the Regular Army, provided that other countries agree to similar and corresponding cuts.
I suggest that a reduction could be made in the Regular Army, when the time comes, by abolishing or at least modifying the traditional idea of having one Infantry battalion at home and one abroad. Instead of having one Infantry battalion at home it might be possible to have a stronger and better equipped depot, from which could be sent drafts to foreign stations. That would effect a considerable reduction in personnel and of expenditure, and with an efficient Territorial Army carrying out still further obligations there would be no diminution of security. The obligations of the Territorials have becomes greater and greater, and with the handing over to them of coast defence and a large part of Air defence, enlistment in the Territorial Army now means more than ever that the officers and the men are assuming a more serious responsibility in performing voluntarily a public service of vital national need.
The Territorial Army is not merely a movement, like the Boy Scouts or the Boys' Brigade, great as those movements are, but an integral part of the Defence Forces of the Crown, and as such they deserve more support and recognition. That is the first thing that the Territorial Army asks, namely, that it should have definite, wholehearted and more active support from the Government. At times the Territorials have felt that the War Office and the Government have not been fully conscious of the difficulties with which the Territorial Army is confronted. That feeling is probably exaggerated, but not altogether unfounded, for some of their actions within recent times seem to have shown very little appreciation of the problems involved. I make these observations in all sincerity and earnestness.
1443 For example, when in September, 1931, it was decided, for financial reasons, to restrict recruiting, instructions were issued from the War Office to the effect that the maximum strength of all units had to be reduced to 97 per cent. of the strength of any particular unit on the 1st August, 1931. In order to get down to that figure cases were not infrequent where men had to be dropped out of the Service who might have continued service longer, and many admirable recruits were turned away during the period that that Order was in operation. Then there followed the Order cancelling the camps for 1932, and recruiting fell off badly. It was bound to do so. That evidently came as a shock to the War Office, because the Order in Council was hastily rescinded. But the restrictions were withdrawn and the Order was withdrawn too late, because the damage had been done. My criticism is not so much of the policy but of the method. If the Government considered that a reduction in numbers was necessary, it should have been possible to have achieved that result by arrangements with units without the hasty issue of orders and an equally hasty cancellation, when it was too late. The Department of the War Office which makes a special study of the Territorial Army ought to have known that cancellation of the camps, or even talk of cancellation, would reduce the number of recruits automatically.
Speaking in the House a short time ago, in reply to a question, and again this afternoon, the Financial Secretary intimated that, as a stimulus to recruiting, a review will be held in London, but that it will be confined to the two London Divisions. That is all very well if it is meant to raise the strength of the London units, but if it is meant to be an honour or reward to the Territorial Army, then I think the review ought to be composed of representative detachments from the whole of the Territorial Army from all over the country, giving pride of place to those units which have the biggest strengths. If it is meant for London only, then the honour will be going to the two worst units from the recruiting point of view. It would be unwise to hold a review for the London units unless it was clearly stated that it was an effort made by the London district to help the London units, and not an honour conferred on 1444 the Territorial Army as a whole. In that case it would be far better to call it an inspection and not a review.
Admittedly, London's problems are quite different from those of other commands. If the Government and the War Office think that a review of this kind would stimulate recruiting in other areas, well and good, but for my part I believe that the chief reason why the London units are still so much below strength is that no longer are many of these units in suitable recruiting districts. It would be better for the Government to take the brigade's and ancillary troops away from their old districts altogether, and to begin afresh in the new suburbs which have sprung up since the War, where the best and perhaps some of the most suitable types of potential recruits are to be found. That policy would involve a good deal of expenditure and may not be possible at the present time, but it is a suggestion which the Financial Secretary and the Government ought to keep in mind, because that is the only way in which the London units, and particularly the technical units, could get up to full strength.
To effect alterations of that kind and to get the Territorial Army appreciated at its proper value there ought to be Territorial Army officers at the War Office and on the staffs of the Territorial Brigades and the Territorial Divisions. If that is found not to be suitable or convenient, then, at the least, there ought to be a Territorial Army general officer at the War Office, in order to advise the Director-General of the Territorial Army. He could act as a technical officer or assessor. Although that suggestion has been put forward at various times no valid reason has ever been given why that appointment should not be made. There are men well qualified to do the job and willing to give the necessary time to do the necessary work.
There is ample room for progress in the relations of the Army Council with the Territorial Army, particularly in regard to the question of conditions of service. That is a matter in regard to which there is dissatisfaction. It centres round what is popularly called the pledge that the man takes when he joins the Army. This is a, matter of supreme importance, because it cuts?t the roots of the whole Territorial Army. There is much uncertainty and a good deal of 1445 feeling as to what this pledge is likely to be. When the Territorials were formed in 1907, and subsequently reconstituted after the War, it was stated, probably as an inducement to recruiting, that the men would only be called upon to serve with their own friends and units. Now, there is talk that such a titling would be impossible in a future war and that the men would have to go where they were sent, just as they had to do in the last War, either to different Territorial corps, or as members of the Regular Army.
I realise the difficulties of this question, but it is the uncertainty both from the administrative and the active service point of view as to what the pledge is likely to be that is hindering the proper development of the Territorial Army at the present time. If the pledge was altered to one of general service, then it means at the very least still another sacrifice and another responsibility on the part of the Territorials. It may be that the whole question of the organisation of the Territorial Army, its status and its connection with the Army Council and the War Office will have to be reviewed. This is a difficult question, and the Army Council would be well advised to walk warily in considering it. It is uncertainties like these, the chopping and changing, that makes the Territorials disheartened. They are apt to take the edge off enthusiasm, to breed disappointment and even to cause resentment. The Territorials must be made to realise that they are being taken seriously and not merely shoved about from pillar to post by some whim or fancy.
I trust that during the forthcoming lecture tour, which I understand is being made, indeed has been begun, by the Under-Secretary of State, that any doubts on this question will be swept away. I congratulate the Under-Secretary of State on making this tour. I feel that more could be done by the Government and by responsible Members of it to push the Territorial Army in public on every possible occasion, and I am quite certain that a recruiting campaign of this kind will be of considerable value. But valuable as meetings and speeches undoubtedly are, what is required more than all the oratory in the world is a better appreciation of the psychology of the Territorial soldier and a greater show of 1446 sympathy in making small concessions which would go further in keeping up the strength of the units than anything else.
There has been a great deal of unreasonable talk and propaganda against the Territorial Army on the ground of disarmament, and it has undoubtedly affected recruiting. It is perfectly clear, from statements made in various quarters, that there has been some misapprehension as to the relations between the Territorial Army and the ideas of the League of Nations for peace and disarmament. Disarmament, short of international agreement, can and must only be governed by the minimum requirements of security, but when this security proviso is understressed, or insufficiently stressed, there is a danger that the potential recruit will get the impression that he is not wanted. That is what has happened in many cases. There has been so much talk, quite proper talk, about disarmament and so little talk about the necessity of security that many men think that there is no need any longer to join the Territorial Army. That is an impression which the Secretary of State can correct by pointing out to the nation and to the potential soldier that by joining the Territorial Army he is not doing anything to impair the peace of the world, but is actually strengthening our national and Imperial position alike. It cannot be too strongly stressed that the existence of a strong and efficient Territorial Army is not incompatible with our views on disarmament and is in no way contrary to our relations with the League of Nations, as is recognised in a pamphlet recently published by the League of Nations Union.
The Territorial Army menaces no one with aggression, for by its very nature and conditions of service it cannot be anything else but a defensive organisation. It requires time for expansion, mobilisation and training and, therefore, cannot be by the greatest stretch of imagination a menace to the peace of the world. On the other hand, it provides a physical indication of our intention not only to fulfil our international obligations should one be required to do so but also to defend our own country should the emergency arise. In view of recent reductions and possible further reductions in the Regular Army the importance of the Territorial Army as a national reserve has become greater than 1447 at any time in the chequered history of the corps. I urge the Financial Secretary, and the Government to do everything in their, power to make the Territorial Army not only more efficient and up to strength, but an organisation of which the wholes nation may be proud.
§ 8.49 p.m.
§ Colonel BALDWIN-WEBB
I beg to second the Amendment. The House is indebted to the hon. and gallant Member for Keighley (Captain Watt) for his Choice of subject, and the Territorial Army generally will recognise that in him we have an officer who has at heart the best interests of the force. I should like to pay my tribute to the Financial Secretary, in whom we believe we have a good friend. I hope that my remarks this evening will be taken as a desire to help the Financial Secretary and the Department. The responsibilities of the Territorial Army are wider and greater than they have ever been before. It is essentially a defensive force. It has to defend these shores, and in view of the fact that our Regular Army has been reduced to such a point the responsibility of replacing it at home is such that I feel I am on safe ground in urging that we must see that the Territorial Army is maintained at full strength and full efficiency. It is also a good cause. The Territorial soldier must be a good citizen. He is disciplined, taught self restraint, and it is good that we should have units of such men scattered about the country. In my own area it is a source of pride to many villages and small towns to have a Territorial unit. It does an immense amount of good. A disciplined force of citizen soldiers in China, in my opinion, would have prevented the invasion which we have recently seen.
I endorse the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Keighley when he said that an efficient Territorial or citizen army enables us to go further and with greater confidence in real disarmament. It is the right line to take. Real disarmament can only be carried out when we have confidence in a citizen army. A severe blow was dealt to the Territorial Army when camp was suspended last year, but out of evil cometh good. There has been a far greater feeling of comradeship and friendship between the regular Army and the Territorial Army 1448 since last year, which will have beneficial results in the future. The statement that annual training will be carried out this year is already having a good effect upon recruiting in the county of Staffordshire. For the month of February enlistments show an increase of 60 over the same month last year, and of 10 over those of 1931. I think the sites for annual camps deserve attention. In my opinion it is necessary that the Territorial Army should have one seaside camp every other year.
The Government can help the Territorial Army by encouraging employers, local authorities and public bodies generally, to give the necessary time for the men to attend annual training. My experience is that conditions vary very much. In some parts of the country employers make up the pay of the men who are away training, in other parts of the country it is difficult to get permission for the men to attend their annual training. I hope the Financial Secretary will take steps to urge upon local bodies the necessity for granting the men these facilities. Whilst there is complete liaison between the Regular Army and the Territorial Army, I am afraid that as regards the administration in the War Office there is a feeling that a policy of pin pricks goes on in some ways. It is difficult for the Territorial soldier to understand what is wanted and why he is treated so differently. The Financial Secretary has told us this evening that savings on certain departments can be spent frequently in another department. In the case of the Territorial Army if a saving is made in one branch no allowance is made in another, with the result that confusion arises. If certain grants are inadequate, others are too large. I would like to see equal treatment of both Armies. It must be remembered that the Territorial Army, man and officer, is giving its spare time to this work. It should be given far greater consideration and should not be submerged in a mass of red tape and correspondence, as is so common now.
A few words about the establishment of the Territorial Army. Many of the departmental branches, like the Royal Army Service Corps, Royal Engineers, and Royal Army Medical Corps, are so small that efficient training is impossible. For instance, take the case of the 1449 Divisional Royal Army Service Corps. Whereas before the War the establishment of men and materiel was something like 94 per cent., to-day it is less than 9 per cent., with the result that there must be considerable delay in time of emergency before this essential part of divisional organisation can function properly. The mechanisation of the Territorial Army should be carried out on lines similar to those of the Regular Army. I would like to see Territorial units responsible for the maintenance and repair of their own vehicles. Now the units are responsible only for running repairs. It is necessary that they should be given greater responsibility, so that by carrying out that work they may be training their personnel in readiness for the time when they may be wanted.
The Territorial soldier when once trained does not, in my opinion, have a proper opportunity of keeping himself trained. Certain units, the Royal Artillery in particular, have no allotment of ammunition, once they have been trained. It may be that a Territorial soldier goes on for years and never fires a gun. That is a very serious matter and should have the attention of the Financial Secretary. I wish to say something also about the pledge, to which reference has been made. In my opinion the change of attitude of the War Office, coming at this time, is far more serious than we realise. A well-informed letter on the subject appears in the "Times" this morning, and I will read this passage:Take away the pledge and we are back to the condition of the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act of 1907. The Territorial and Reserve Forces Act laid down clearly that a man in the Territorial Army could not be compulsorily transferred outside his own corps, and that he could not be compulsorily transferred to the Regular Army. In place of these two restrictions, which many may think sufficiently elastic, the War Office is suggesting the introduction of general service. This is the second proposed alterations, and goes far beyond the mere removal of the pledge. The legal effect of the suggested new terms for enlistment would be to make the Territorial Army available for draft-finding purposes to the Regular Army.I sincerely hope that the War Office will give very careful consideration to the matter before this step is taken. I have here a telegram from a battalion commander in the North of England, who says: 1450I absolutely agree with the letter in to-day's ' Times ' and hope that careful thought will be given to the matter.I would again pay my tribute to the Mover of this Resolution and express our indebtedness to him for choosing this subject.
§ 9.2 p.m.
I oppose this Amendment and must express my surprise at hearing a discussion like this so soon after the' Debate in which the Lord President of the Council warned the country and this House of the meaning of a future war. I recall that the Lord President of the Council outlined the dangers of any future war, and showed how life in all its phases would be eliminated and civilisation practically wiped out.
I do not care to interrupt, but what I said was that having an efficient Territorial Army was in no way incompatible with our views on disarmament.
I am quite aware of what the hon. Member said. I listened to his speech, and he put his own point of view very well, but I cannot agree with his' Motion. The Lord President of the Council, in the speech to which I have referred, spoke of the danger in the air. He told us that future wars would be fought in the air. He made an appeal to the young men and women of this country and of the world to recognise this danger. I am surprised to-night to hear young Members of this House suggest the enlargement and building up of Home forces, which inevitably can be of no use unless their advocates have in mind some future war. That is what tin training of these men has in contemplation. Such an appeal, coming from young men of "the age of the Mover and Seconder of this Motion, is to me a, definite indication that the warning which fell from the lips of the Lord President has had very little effect on younger Members of the Tory party.
It appears very sad to me that these Estimates should indicate an expenditure this year of more than £1,000,000 of additional money upon the Army, even without prosecuting the policy suggested in this Amendment, which would, obviously, further increase our Army Estimates. Yet this is at a time when we have a Government which, from its inception, 1451 has been attacking wages, reducing unemployment benefit and expenditure on education, and other such matters on the ground that the country cannot afford to maintain these important public services. We have heard from the Financial Secretary to the War Office about the difficulty in recruiting and about the inferior condition physically and mentally of many of the recruits who have offered themselves. But it was pretty obvious that, with the conditions of distress and poverty which young men to-day have to face, such a situation would inevitably arise. I cannot understand the policy of the Government, or the attitude of its supporters who come here and ask for an increase of £1,500,000 in Army expenditure, after 18 months of the strictest economy in public services, and the cutting-down of unemployment pay, resulting in the starvation of women and children in our industrial areas.
In spite of that, not only have the Government the effrontery to ask the House for this additional sum for the Army, but we find young men, who are supporters of the Government, those who might have been expected, after the call of the Lord President of the Council, to give a lead to world peace and prosperity, advocating the building up of home defence. What is in the minds of these hon. Members when they speak of home defence? Defence against whom? Who is expected to be the invader? [An HON. MEMBER "Scotland !"] Why this fear? May I suggest that if the young men of this country were employed at decent wages and properly fed, you would need no Territorial Army. They would be ready to defend their country at any time they were called upon to do so. [HON. MEMBERS: "They are now !"] What are the conditions now? The hon. Member said that the Territorial Army was suffering from a want of recruits. Is that any wonder, when we see a Government deliberately lowering the standard of life of our young men in every possible way? Every Measure brought in by this Government without exception has been in that direction, and not one Measure has been brought forward that has been likely to alleviate the suffering and distress in our industrial and mining districts.
1452 Therefore, we in this party cannot approve of spending any further money on armaments and warfare while the country's conditon is as it is at present, and while the National Government plead for economy in all other directions. If we have £1,500,000 to add to any Estimate it ought to go into the homes of the unemployed men who, with their families, have been suffering privation for the last six years. Nor can we approve of an Amendment of this description, and I am only sorry to hear young men like the two hon. and gallant Members who have spoken, putting forward such an Amendment at this time. They know that the Government which they support have attacked the standard of living of the wage-earners and sought to economise on our public services and in those circumstances it is, as I say, effrontery to expect that we who see, day by day, what is going on, should support further expenditure of this description.
§ 9.10 p.m.
§ Mr. MICHAEL BEAUMONT
The hon. Member for Hemsworth (Mr. Price) will forgive me for saying that I find some difficulty in discovering the relevance of his speech to the Amendment. Some of it would have been admirable if delivered on the main Vote. Still more of it would have been pertinent to the Motion moved yesterday by the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) and some of it would have been relevant to the Foreign Office Vote. But it had little to say about the question of the efficiency of the Territorial Army which is the matter now before the House. Whatever may be said of the need or lack of need for increased military expenditure and the possibility or impossibility of future hostilities, few reasoning people doubt that, if any expenditure is justified on defence, if we are to have any form of armed forces, the Territorial Army is at once the most valuable and the most vital.
The hon. Member for Hemsworth said that if people were properly paid and had the glorious conditions of life which he and his friends so desire to give them, and so signally failed to give them during the Labour Government's time in office, the young men would be ready and willing to defend the country, if necessary. But they would not be trained if the hon. Member's ideas were followed, and in the event of a future war exactly the same 1453 thing would happen as happened in 1914. We should wait for years while we were learning how to fight. If you postulate any form of defence this form of defence, the Territorial Army, is, I repeat, the most valuable and the most vital. There is no danger of what hon. Members opposite shrink away from, in their fear of militarism. There is no danger of building up an expensive standing Army. There is no danger of an armaments race which hon. Members opposite regard as a cause of war. What is being done in the Territorial Army is to train citizens, in their spare time, from the ordinary avocations of life, to be able to defend their hearths and homes if necessary. Not even the most ardent believer in the success of the international machinery which exists for the avowed purpose of promoting peace, but apparently with the successful achievement of sundry wars, can object to such a useful and valuable purpose.
I want to mention two matters affecting the Territorial Army, One, which has already been dealt with by the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment, is the question of the pledge. When that matter came before the Territorial Association, of which I am a member, I suggested that though it was perfectly true that in the event of hostilities breaking out, the strict carrying out of the pledge would be impossible, it was ill-advised and undesirable to revoke that pledge at present, in view of the fact that it was not practically possible to put anything satisfactory in its place. The excitement, if I may so term it, in the Territorial Army as a result of the pledge emanates from the treatment of that Army during the War. The Territorial Army, realising now that they are virtually the only reserve that this country has, have no desire to be unreasonable. The day for playing at soldiers on the part of the Territorials has long since gone by. They want now to be part of a composite whole, and they want to be useful. They do not want to put frivolous objections in the way of organisation, but they want, to feel sure that in their training and exercises they are being trained as a unit and as units, and that they will have a reasonable chance, in the event of active service, of serving under the officers and with the people who have trained them.
1454 Both the officers and the men want to feel that this work is building up the unit and is building up something which is a living entity and will be treated as such in time of war, should such a thing occur. Above all, they want some assurance, if possible, that they will not be treated as mere drafting units for the main force, that they will not simply be put there as a training unit from which the Regular Army will be recruited. I feel sure that if the War Office can give some binding undertaking that the Territorial Army, in the event of mobilisation, shall be treated as a, unit, and not merely as drafting depots, they will be perfectly content to abide by that decision.
The other matter, rather more technical, that I desire to raise is the question of mechanisation, particularly of artillery units. The House will probably know that since last year the whole of the Territorial field artillery has been mechanised. That may or may not be a good thing—that is a matter for far greater experts than I am to discuss—but they are not being mechanised as the Regular Army has been mechanised. They cannot be; there is not the money. That is perfectly understood. They cannot be given the new tractors, the new light cars, which are provided for the units of the Regular Army. The mechanised units of the Territorial Force have to work with Morris lorries and Morris-Cowley cars. I have not a word to say against the very valuable products of those works at Oxford, but I do say that Morris-Cowley light cars, bought, as they must be bought, on the cheap, make training and reconnaissance for our artillery work practically an impossibility.
Last year, when I raised this point, the Financial Secretary said that it was proposed to go on with mechanisation ill order that the Territorial Army should not be less efficient. My contention is that with the best will in the world it makes them less efficient. The machines put at the disposal of the Territorial Army for reconnaissance work render such training as is absolutely necessary if those units are to be made efficient absolutely impossible. You cannot go across country in these cars with any idea of getting speed, mobility, communication, or idea of country, and if the Financial Secretary or the hon. Member now representing him on the Front Bench doubts what I say,. I shall be only too 1455 pleased, on a Sunday, when we have a parade, to take him along and show him.
If it is impossible, as I believe, to give us up-to-date and thoroughly modern. machines, it is worth while considering whether, for reconnaissance purposes alone, if not altogether, it would not be possible for those units who desire it and believe that it would improve their efficiency to go back either to the horse transport or, failing that, to the hybrid system which existed before last year, under which the reconnaissance staff was mounted on horses while the guns were pulled by tractors. Most people who have tried all three systems will agree, I think, that the present system of complete mechanisation under the existing conditions is the worst of all. I know there is the question of expense to consider, but I submit that the old issue of horses was grossly extravagant, and that it would be possible to go back to the old establishment with a great deal less expense than was formerly incurred; and I ask the War Office to give very earnest consideration to the question whether something on those lines cannot be done and the efficiency which I believe has been lost by the change regained.
I wish to conclude, as I began, by saying that I am convinced that, whatever the merits or demerits of the existence of an armed force may be, the country owes a very deep debt of gratitude to those officers and men, and particularly the men, who give up their leisure time, their only leisure time, to training themselves, making themselves efficient, and learning to defend their country in the Territorial Army. This House and the country would be guilty, not only of a grave dereliction of duty, but of the greatest possible folly if they did not make every effort to see that that enthusiasm, patriotism and energy are rewarded by the greatest possible assistance in every way in the endeavour to make the Territorial Force thoroughly efficient.
§ 9.23 p.m.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
I have listened for some hours to the discussion this evening on the subject of the Army Estimates, and I listened with especial pleasure to the case put by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Keighley (Captain Watt), who introduced this 1456 Motion. Let me hasten to add that I do not agree, probably, with two sentences of what he said, but that does not prevent my saying that be presented his case with remarkable ability. I confess that the speeches that I have heard to-day make me wonder where I am. To-day the Prime Minister has left for Geneva to discuss disarmament, in the hope of saving something from the Conference that is going on there. This afternoon a Minister of his Government presents Army Estimates in which he 'demands £1,500,000 more for armaments, and the hon. and gallant Member who introduced this Motion is not even satisfied now with what is being done, but, like Oliver Twist, is asking for more. Another curious fact that interests me is that the one and only time on which the hon. and gallant Member who seconded the Motion and I have appeared on a public platform together was last year, when we appeared together on the League of Nations Union platform.
I am really wondering where I am, for the hon. and gallant Member who introduced the Amendment, if he will forgive my saying so, almost scared me to death. From' his remarks I had visions of some imminent invasion of this country. It almost appeared that we were in deadly danger. When you speak of danger, as it has been spoken of here to-night, you go a long way towards creating the circumstances which present it. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has invited us to consider two propositions. One is that the circumstances call for the stimulation of recruiting in every way in order to bring the Territorial Force up to full peace establishment, and, secondly, that everything should be done by the Government to increase the efficiency of the Force. In introducing his Amendment the hon. and gallant Gentleman adduced a number of arguments. I thought he did not quite do justice to the Memorandum from which he was quoting. It is quite true that the Memorandum contains the statement he quoted, namely, that the number of recruits in the year ending September, 1932, was 14,653 as against 30,142 in the previous year, a decrease of 15,489. That is in the first paragraph, but there is a second paragraph which says:The last quarter of 1032, however, shows a marked improvement, as 5,061 recruits were taken, as compared with 1,813 in the corresponding period of 1931.
§ Mr. JONES
Yes, but there is a little difference between the last few weeks aid the last quarter. It looks as if the improvement was sustained for three months. The point I want to make is that it would appear that the effect of the cancellation of the camps last year had been quite unintentionally exaggerated by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. The sentence I have quoted was printed in February, so that it is clear it was referring to the last quarter of 1932. Obviously, then, that takes you back very close to the time when the camping period expired. Therefore, it is not strictly true to say that the immediate effect of the cancellation of camps last year was to destroy recruiting for the Territorial Army. The facts are against that. I would like to ask one or two questions about this matter. First of all, it would seem that the Amendment is very largely couched in terms which were perhaps encouraged or fathered by the Government, as some previous Amendments have sometimes been The hon. and gallant Gentleman secured a fortunate place in the Ballot, and no doubt the Patronage Secretary encouraged him and stimulated him' as to the sort of subject it would be proper from the Government point of view to move. Perhaps he even provided the hon. and gallant Member with an appropriate draft; I do not know. Anyhow, he has delivered an appropriate speech in support of the draft.
In what circumstances are we considering this Amendment this evening? The hon. and gallant Gentleman who spoke last referred to mechanisation. Of course, I do not speak as an expert at all, but everyone knows that mechanisation is one of the characteristics of the age in business generally. I understand from discussions here, and in Committee upstairs also, that mechanisation is used to an ever-increasing extent in the armed Forces of the Crown. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will look at another paragraph on page 6 of the Memorandum he will find this statement:Hitherto Divisional Royal Engineers and Divisional Signals have been allowed, if so desired, to use mechanised transport instead of horse transport, as laid down in their peace establishments. It has now been 1458 decided to place these units on a permanently mechanised basis, and new establishments are now under consideration.What relation has that to the subject we are discussing now? If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will have the curiosity to look at the figures in relation to the strength of the Territorial Army he will find that in the year 1923 the strength was 140,000. In 1928 it was 139,000, and in 1932 it was 126,000. Let us remember that this mechanisation process is also taking place, and the more you mechanise clearly the more do you add to the actual strength of the Forces which you are mechanising; otherwise, what is the point of mechanising? I only put forward the view of a layman, but it would seem to me a clearly reasonable deduction to make that if you mechanise your unit you bring it more into accord with modern conditions and by that you make it a more efficient fighting instrument from the modern point of view.
§ Brigadier-General NATION
Mechanisation, as far as it has gone at present, is purely in regard to transport. There is no reduction in the number of men excepting as regards drivers.
§ Mr. JONES
Of course, I cannot possibly presume to pit my knowledge of this matter against that of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. That would be sheer presumption, and I am not going to do it. As an outsider and a layman, looking at this objectively, all I am saying is it seems to me a logical deduction to make that if you mechanise on a large scale you bring your fighting machine more into accord with modern standards of efficiency from various points of view. If that is conceded, that is the point I want to make. In spite of that, hon. Gentlemen have raised great alarm because a certain number of thousands have been taken off the strength of the Territorial Army. Surely hon. Gentlemen do not put up the claim that in addition to making a unit more efficient on the mechanical side, it should retain the same number of men that it used to have. The introduction of machinery postulates a lesser necessity for the same number of men. When hon. Gentlemen opposite come to discuss other Estimates, such as the Home Office or the Ministry of Labour, or some other Civil Department, they will want to know why 1459 the Government are not introducing mechanical devices in order to do away with the labour of a number of men; yet in regard to the Territorial Force, they want mechanical devices plus the men [HON. MEMBERS "No !"] If hon. Members concede to me that the coming of mechanical forces entitles us to do away with a certain number of men, there is no need—
§ Mr. M. BEAUMONT
The difference is this. In the case to which the hon. Member refers the machines installed are the most up-to-date and therefore encourage efficiency. So far as the Territorial Army is concerned, because the House is unwilling to increase the Vote, largely because of the feelings of the hon. Gentleman and his friends, the machines installed are not of the best and therefore do not increase efficiency to the same extent.
§ Mr. JONES
The hon. Gentleman is changing his ground now. His complaint now is that the mechanisation thats taking place in the Army is not as efficient as he wants it to be. That is for him to argue. My general proposition is that if you mechanise, and to the degree that you mechanise, it ought to justify a reduction in the number of personnel. Hon. Gentlemen cannot have it both ways. They cannot retain the full strength of personnel on the old standard of 1925, let us say, and at the same time demand an extended mechanisation.
§ Mr. GLUCKSTEIN
Perhaps I can make it clear. The hon. Member is confusing two kinds of mechanisation. Mechanisation in an office is something which increases efficiency and reduces the necessity for man power, but in the Army up to the moment all that mechanisation is being used for is to increase mobility. It has not produced a number of military robots, but it has obtained mobility.
§ Mr. JONES
It seems to me a logical proposition to deduce from what the bon. Gentleman has said that if you increase the mobility of a force you will require less men. I will not, however, venture where angels have refused to tread. I want to bring the discussion on to another plane, since hitherto perhaps I have been treading on unfamiliar ground. If I were a Member of this Government, I 1460 should feel thoroughly ashamed of this proposition. The Government have in the last 18 months visited the homes of the working classes with the most dire consequences arising from their policy. Let me refer to a Department with which I am fairly well acquainted, and here I can argue on familiar ground. Not many weeks before Christmas there was a great controversy in the land in which Tories, Liberals as well as Labour people took the side against the Government on the question whether we should save £400,000 upon secondary education. Similar demands have been made with regard to unemployment and unemployment benefit, and yet to-night here is an Amendment moved from the Government side of the House by an hon. and gallant Gentleman who, not satisfied with an extra demand on the Estimates for £1,500,000, is demanding an extension of the expenditure of public money upon the Territorial Force.
What is the case for that? It is to allow so many thousands of men to be able to go this year for some 14 days to the seaside or elsewhere. It was stated in the House this afternoon that the mere fact that the Government were not able to have camps last year had an adverse effect upon recruiting, and because of that we are invited to spend £900,000 more. But all that money is not for holiday camps. There are parts of the expenditure which could quite easily be postponed. I challenge the hon. Gentleman who is defending the Vote to deny it. A substantial sum is to be spent on unnecessary buildings.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
If the hon. Member thinks that he is in order, he will no doubt develop his point, but I am not clear at the moment that he is in order. We are not discussing now any particular Vote or the Estimates generally, but the particular Amendment on the Paper.
§ Mr. JONES
I am devoting myself to a point which other Members have discussed, but I will give way to your Ruling. The point which I want to make is that the hon. and gallant Member who moved the Amendment invites the House to demand from the Government increased effort in this direction. My argument as against the Amendment is that the provision which is made is too much. I think that that is related to the point under discussion. We are invited to spend £900,000 upon the development of the Territorial Army. Even this year, in these very Estimates, there is provision for all sorts of things—grants to county associations, payments to county associations for buildings and ranges. Yesterday morning I received from my own constituency, which has not anything approaching a rifle range or a Territorial Association, an invitation from the head of a Territorial Association to be present at a meeting for the purpose, presumably, of erecting a hall for this activity. I ask, What case is there, from the point of view of immediate urgency, either for the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for the Government's proposal? No one can argue that if we do not proceed with the proposal to spend so many thousands upon these halls the country will be in danger.
We are asked to undertake this expenditure at a time when we have taken £400,000 from secondary school children. I have not worked it out, but I am told that the decrease in the Education Estimates this year comes to an average of 2s. 11d. per child. If anyone suggested to-night that we should steal 2s. 11d. from a child's money-box in order to send somebody else to the seaside it would be at once denounced. The Noble Lord opposite, of course, finds great amuse-merit in that statement. He will go to the seaside in any case, and I have no doubt that he and his friends will find no difficulty about sending their children to secondary schools—Eton or elsewhere. This money is to be found at the expense of depriving secondary school children of the poorer classes of legitimate educational opportunities—a deprivation practised in the name of economy. At the same time hon. Members come to this House demanding expenditure upon a service which, to say the least of it, is not so immediately urgent as all that, 1462 and in these times of national difficulty could very well be left for another year. If hon. Gentlemen will consult the returns they will find that the number of people who attended camps in 1931 was very little less than the number who attended in the previous year—indeed, it was more than in the previous year. The number of men attending camps has not declined substantially in the last eight or 10 years. There is a decrease of a few thousands, but it is almost a negligible figure. All this story about the danger of destroying recruiting is sheer, unadulterated bluff.
§ Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT
I would remind the hon. Member, when he is referring to last year, that such camps as were held were arranged at enormous sacrifice and with tremendous difficulty, and owing to the unusual manner in which barrack facilities, and so on, were placed at the disposal of the Territorials.
§ Mr. JONES
The hon. and gallant Member has missed my point. I was not speaking of last year, because I know there were no camps last year, but of 1931, the year when the Labour Government were in office. Taking the year 1931, and going backwards over the previous 10 years, it will be found that the number of people who have attended camps, broadly speaking, and taking things by and large, has remained almost stationary. Last year there were no camps, but in spite of that the report presented to us to-night on' the Territorial Army indicates quite clearly that in the last quarter dealt with there was an increase of 5,000 in the number of the recruits. How can it be argued, therefore, that the fact of there being no camps has destroyed recruiting?
There is substance in the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hemsworth (Mr. Price). He asked, What right have you to expect these people to respond to your recruiting appeals when you have been attacking them along other lines in the name of economy? "After all, those whom you hope to recruit will be mainly members of the working class, sons of the working class, unemployed if you like, full of a sense of injustice, feeling that the Government has, in the name of economy, abused economy in order to attack them 1463 by reducing their unemployment benefits. Surely you cannot expect those same people to say to you generously, "Very good, I will forget all that, I will join up." Of course not. Treat the people decently and you will win their confidence. Treat them in a way that repels them, and they will not extend their confidence to you. In the last 18 months they have been so much attacked through the reduction of the social services that you cannot expect from them the response which enthusiastic recruiters would desire.
I do not pretend to hide my own feelings. I am an unrepentant pacifist, and I make no apology for it. I wish the hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved this Amendment and his colleague who seconded it had found it possible to show a more generous response to the appeal of their own leader, the Lord President of the Council, who told them recently that if we are to get a lead in disarmament in the world, if we are to initiate the spirit of disarmament, that initial effort and inspiration must come from the young people of the world. It is the young people, not the older people who to-night have asked for extra expenditure upon the instruments of armament, at a time when our neighbour across the sea, the French Prime Minister, has actually carried through the Senate in the name of the French nation a reduction in the armed forces of France this year to the tune of £5,000,000. Those who know something about the difficulties that all French Prime Ministers have, will know what a gallant effort that must have involved, yet when France reduces her Army Estimate by £5,000,000, Britain comes forward with an increase of £1,500,000. I say quite clearly, on behalf of myself and my hon. Friends, that we can have neither part nor lot in this Amendment, and that we shall take the first opportunity we can of challenging it.
§ 9.56 p.m.
§ Sir REGINALD BLAKER
In rising to take up the challenge which has been thrown down by the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) I am conscious of the fact that both inside and outside this House there are many thousands of young men who are quite satisfied and quite proud to endeavour 1464 to fit themselves for the defence of their country. I am satisfied that when we reach the sere and yellow leaf, and presumably the years of discretion at which the hon. Member for Caerphilly has now arrived, we shall at least have the grace and the courtesy to thank those who follow after us and who take up the burden.
§ Sir R. BLAKER
I do not intend to refer to-night to resolutions passed by young men in other places. Anyone who wishes to make a helpful contribution to a Debate upon the Territorial Army must recognise and accept two facts. The first is that the Territorial Army is to-day a necessary and vital portion of our defence. I am not saying whether we are wise or unwise to have allowed our armaments to sink to a state in which we have to rely upon what I might call the free services of the Territorial Army. The fact has to be admitted. The second point is that no suggestion which can involve an increased expenditure this year is within the realm of practical politics. I am a little surprised to hear from hon. Members opposite that this Amendment is a demand for increased expenditure. We have had enough experience of the difficulties of the War Office, those of us who have tried to obtain grants and have indented for stores that we urgently need, and we know that it is impossible to-day to ask for any increase, however desirable in the name of efficiency that increase may be. If I make observations to the Financial Secretary to the War Office, I hope that he will realise that I do so in a constructive rather than in a destructive spirit. The reference by the hon. Gentleman opposite to a trip to the seaside was a slur upon Territorial soldiers who give up their holidays in order to train. I take it as a slur, and I think that many people outside this House will so regard it.
§ Mr. MORGAN JONES
I must explain that I was not the first person in this Debate to use the word "holiday." The first was the Financial Secretary himself.
§ Sir R. BLAKER
I would remind the hon. Gentleman that the Financial Secretary explained exactly and precisely what 1465 was meant by that word. The sense in which the term "seaside holiday" was hurled across the Floor of the House will be regarded by fair-minded people as a slur upon the serving Territorial soldier. Either we take the attitude that the Territorial Army is not required, in which case it is a criminal waste to expend any money on it, or we must be sure that the money which is spent brings the Territorial Army to the maximum state of efficiency in proportion to the money which is at disposal. I understand that the hon. Member for Caerphilly will have no part or lot in supporting an Amendment which merely calls upon the Government to make this Government service efficient. I must confess that I am a little surprised that an hon. Gentleman with his experience should get up boldly and say that he does not desire one of the public services to be run efficiently, even though it is financed by taxpayers' money.
We know that the absence of camp has been borne with good spirit, as indeed every privation which is placed upon the Territorials will be borne. The decline in recruiting is not entirely due to the absence of camp. In theory, every newly-joined Territorial is entitled to two suits, one new and one part-worn. In practice, it is very difficult, from the stores that are at the disposal of local associations, to provide that new suit, but if we are to give a man a pride in his regiment—we take just as much pride in our volunteer branch as professional soldiers take in their regiments—and a self-respect—I am speaking of that portion of the House that can appreciate those qualities—you must give him a suit of clothes in which he can keep his self-respect.
It is within the knowledge of most hon. Members that a soldier is entitled to give the girls a treat when he walks out, and that is a right and proper thing to do. [Interruption] People often laugh at the recreation of those who work hard all day. I believe that there is more in it than is printed upon picture postcards. I know from time to time that some of us feel that local associations are not entirely able to benefit the units which they have to administer. I put forward this suggestion: In some areas where there are big employers of labour, a representative of a big firm upon an association can be quite a good link between the unit and those who supply its 1466 labour. In the home counties, where you possibly have 83 men drawn from 75 different employers, obviously the main original idea of the nexus between the employer and the soldier has failed. I suggest that if we could have divisional associations rather than county associations, there would be a saving, and I believe that administration would be very much simpler. I know that kit and clothing are questions of great difficulty, but I would remind the Financial Secretary that some of the clothing that is made and issued is apparently designed for a human frame which no doctor would ever recognise. A very small grant per head is allowed for alterations, but it is not a question in many cases of alteration, but of almost entire re-making. I would impress upon the Financial Secretary the vast importance of trying to tighten up the supply of really decent, serviceable kit.
There is another point to which I should like to refer. It is a very small question —so small that some hon. Members may wonder why I raise it; but it is a pinprick, and, as a pinprick, it is all the more dangerous. Many hon. Members know that a statutory deduction is allowed from an officer's earned income of £7 10s. in respect of upkeep of his kit. That is not a vast sum, and it does not involve a vast saving to the Exchequer if it is cut off; but because, and only because, no annual camp was held, and, therefore, no officer drew any pay, that allowance was taken off; but the upkeep of his uniform was demanded just the same. I say quite frankly that I think that that was a mean economy, and one which has done a great deal more harm than good. I do not raise the point because it affects me; it does not. I beg the Financial Secretary to realise that while we in the Territorials are prepared to make the best of a very bad job, yet at the same time we do ask him to do all that he can for us in regard to considering whether some units outside the London area should take part in some form of review, in order to let people know what I say and what I believe, namely, that we are a remarkably fine body of men.
§ 10.8 p.m.
§ Mr. COOPER
I must apologise to my hon. Friends who have moved and seconded this Amendment for not having 1467 heard the whole of their speeches. The points raised in the Debate have included some of minor importance, some small points, and one or two of a more general kind. My hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne (Sir R. Blaker) concluded his remarks by referring again to a question which was dealt with by the Mover, namely, the suggestion that, if there is a review this summer, it should include more than the London units. As I said in my opening speech this afternoon, I can give no further information as regards the review, as no definite decision has yet been taken on the subject; but in any case I feel that it must be of a local character. It can only be held, if at all, in London, and great expense would be entailed in fetching units from all parts of the country, while great difficulties would naturally arise if one unit were to be selected as against another. Much as I should like to make such a review a general review in which all parts of the country and all parts of the Territorial Army would be represented, I think that, if it is held, it will be necessary to confine it, this year at any rate, to the units in the immediate locality.
The Mover also referred to the desirability of the Territorial Army being more represented at the War Office than at present. There are officers at the War Office whose sole duty it is to consider the welfare of the Territorial Army, and there is a member of the Army Council who is to a large extent in charge of the Territorial Army. That is not myself, but the Under-Secretary of State for War. While I am prepared to consider any suggestions for increasing the representation of the Territorial Army at the War Office, I do not really think that there would be any material object to be gained. I do not think that the majority of Territorial officers and men feel that they are suffering under any disability or grievance with regard to administration at headquarters owing to the fact that there is no Territorial officer engaged at the War Office. If such an officer were selected, he would have to give up the whole of his time to the work, and I am not sure that there are many Territorial officers—indeed, it is not in the nature of the Territorial Army that there should be—who would be prepared to give up their 1468 time in that way. There is, as my hon. and gallant Friend knows, the Director-General of the Territorial Army at the War Office, with his own staff, and his sole concern is with the Territorial Army; while, as I have said, there is a representative to a large extent of the interests of the Territorial Army on the Army Council.
Some reference has been made in the course of the Debate to the new duties which the Territorial Army have recently taken over in regard to coast defences. I am glad to say that the reorganisation which this has necessitated is now practically complete, and training this year will take place on the basis of those new duties, responsibilities and liabilities which the Territorial Army have undertaken. There can be no greater proof of the confidence which the Army Council place in the Territorial Army than that they should have been, as they are now, rendered responsible for the defence of the coasts of this island.
Reference has been made by more than one speaker to the question of the pledge, and I should like to make the situation perfectly plain at once. It is that no decision has been taken, or is likely to be taken in the near future, or, I think, will be taken without those who represent the Territorial Army, that is to say, the Committee of Territorial Associations. They have been asked to give their views, and they have already discussed the matter. They are going to discuss it again, though perhaps not in the immediate future. There is no hurry about the matter, and no danger of any precipitate conclusion being arrived at. They will be given full time to weigh all the pros and cons, the Army Council will certainly listen with the greatest attention to the views which they put forward, and, undoubtedly, the decision will depend upon those views. In any case, should the alteration suggested take place, it would affect only those joining in future; there is no question of extending it retrospectively to those who are now members of the Territorial Army.
I would like to assure my hon. and gallant Friend that there is no intention whatever of rendering the Territorial Army a mere drafting unit for the Regular Army; that has been expressly denied over and over again. If the 1469 arrangement is agreed to finally, it will alter the present position, under which men join the Territorial Army solely in order, in an emergency, to enable the authorities to do what is almost inevitable in a great crisis such as a war, and that is to move from one unit to another a certain few members of any Force. The intention is that the Territorial Army shall continue to act as in the past, and, if it should be sent abroad in the event of war, it will be as units serving as such. But anyone who knows anything of the organisation knows that it is inevitable that limits of this sort placed by legislation on those responsible for the administration can only lead to great difficulty. If it is thought that any alteration would adversely affect the requirements of the force, no such alteration will be made. My hon. Friend can rest assured that no alteration will be made in a hurry, it will not be made without the very care-fullest consideration and will not be made without the consent of those who represent the interests which will be principally affected.
I should like to reiterate the protest that the last speaker made against the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones) referring to the annual training of the Territorials as a holiday camp. I was the first to use the expression "holiday," but I made it perfectly plain that I wily used it when I urged employers of labour to grant their employés a holiday in order to go to camp. It is not a holiday for the men when they get there. It is very wrong, when people are prepared to give up the short and all too hard-earned holidays that they get in the year to making themselves fit to serve their country in an emergency, that they should be taunted with the fact that they are having an easy holiday. It is idle for the hon. Gentleman to attempt to argue that the decision to give up camps last year had no effect. I am surprised that so experienced a Parliamentary speaker and so fair a debater should have the unfairness or the lack of good sense to descend to such an argument. How can he maintain that proposition when the universal testimony of every single person who knows anything about the Territorial Army, from the lowest to the highest ranks, is unanimous in considering that this is the sole 1470 reason why recruiting has gone down? The hon. Member pointed to the fact that recruiting this autumn was slightly higher than it was last year. That is simply due to the fact that last autumn people were already aware that peat cuts would be made in Army expenditure, and they felt it more than probable that camps would not take place this year, whereas in every answer that I have given to questions during the past year I made it as plain as I could, until I got ultimate authority, that it was the intention of the Army Council, if possible, to hold camps during the present year, and that is why recruiting went up in the autumn.
The Secretary of State stated some time in the autumn, in the strongest language he possibly could without having the authority of the Government to say that camps would take place, that everything he could do would he done in order to ensure that camps would take place. Recruiting immediately went up, and yet the hon. Gentleman assures us that the two matters were quite unconnected with one another. I really think that for the moment his enthusiasm in the cause of peace must have run away with him. He says with pride that he is a pacifist. I maintain that I am as good a pacifist as he is. If to be a pacifist;s to consider war as the greatest disaster that can befall the world, to believe that any effort that one can make to secure the influence of peace is the most valuable effort one could make, then I am as good a pacifist as he is. But I do not believe, although I give him full credit for his belief, that you secure the cause of peace by asserting loudly that in no possible circumstances will you he prepared to fight, and if he takes the view that it is not necessary to defend yourself in a world which has not been made safe from war, I should like to have heard him argue the case that he put forward.
Hon. Members opposite throughout the Debate have talked vaguely about disarmament, but not one of them has made a single sensible suggestion as to how we should benefit either the world or this country by diminishing our Army. If he had wished to argue that case he might have said he did not consider that the Territorial Army was an Army which a nation that loved peace could maintain. He might have argued that we should spend all our energy on strengthening 1471 the Regular Army at the expense of the Territorial Army and cut down expenditure in that way and that that would in some way reassure the other nations of the world that we had no intention to go to war. That would at least have been an argument, although it is not my view. It seems to me that the Territorial Army is one of the least provocative armies in the world. It is an army of private citizens, an army of people who are prepared, for the love they bear their country, to give up a great deal of their leisure to prepare themselves for its defence in an emergency. They are now entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the shores of their own country.
If it is maintained that it is a provocative force and a menace to the peace of the world, then I should like to hear hon. Members opposite attempt to develop that argument instead of simply coming down and waving the flag—there is no more provocative flag in the world—of the extreme pacifist and denouncing
§ the Territorial Army and advocating the abolition of camps which would undoubtedly lead to the complete destruction of that force. We have had the great assistance of my hon. and gallant Friend who moved the Amendment and of the hon. Members who supported it. Their suggestions with regard to what we can do in the way of improving the Territorial Army will be borne in mind by the War Office and those responsible. I hope that this part of the Debate may lead to some fruitful result for the Territorial Army, as the early part of it may have led to some fruitful result for the Regular Army.
In view of the reply of the Financial Secretary to the War Office, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Question put, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 190; Noes, 33.1473
|Division No. 78.]||AYES.||[10.23 p.m.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Crookthank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Knebworth, Viscount|
|Albery, Irving James||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Apsiey, Lord||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J, C. C.||Law, Sir Alfred|
|Aske. Sir Robert William||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe||Dickie, John P.||Leckie, J. A.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Drewe, Cedric||Leighton, Major B. E. P,|
|Atkinson, Cyril||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Little, Graham-, sir Ernest|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Lloyd, Geoffrey|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Ayiesbury)||Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Lovat Fraser, James Alexander|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th.C.)||Emrys- Evans, P. V.||Mabane. William|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||MacAndrew, Lt.-Col. C. G. (Partick)|
|Benn. Sir Arthur Shirley||Everard, W. Lindsay||Mac Andrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)|
|Bernays, Robert||Foot. Dingle (Dundee)||McCorquodaie, M. S.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy (Yorks., Skipton)||Fremantle, Sir Francis||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Gledhill. Gilbert||McKeag, William|
|Borodaie, Viscount||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||McKie, John Hamilton|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Goff, Sir Park||McLean, Major Sir Alan|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Graves, Marjorie||Magnay, Thomas|
|Brown,Brig. Gen. H. C.(Berks., Newb'y)||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Burghley, Lord||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Mlddlesbro, W.)||Mailaileu, Edward Lancelot|
|Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley)||Grimston, R. V.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Martin, Thomas B.|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Hamilton, Sir George (Illord)||May how, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Carver, Major William H.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Harbord, Arthur||Milne, Charles|
|Chapman, Col. R.(Houghton-le-Spring)||Hartland, George A.||Moore. Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Headiam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Moreing, Adrian C.|
|Christie, James Archibald||Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Morgan, Robert H.|
|Clayton, Dr. George C.||Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division)||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Hopkinson, Austin||Mulrhead, Major A. J.|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Hornby, Frank||Munro, Patrick|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Nail, Sir Joseph|
|Colviile, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Conant, R. J, E.||Jackson, J. C. (Heywoed & Radcliffe)||North, Captain Edward T.|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Jamieson, Douglas||Nunn, William|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Janner, Barnett||O'Donovan, Dr. William James|
|Copeland, Ida||Jennings, Roland||Palmer. Francis Noel|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Pearson, William G.|
|Cowan, D. M.||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Peat. Charles U.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Penny, Sir George|
|Crooke. J. Smedley||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Perkins, Walter R. D.|
|Petherick, M.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Pike, Cecil F.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Shaw. Helen B. (Lanark, Bothweli)||Train, John|
|Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Slater, John||Vaughan-Morgan. Sir Kenyon|
|Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Ramsden, Sir Eugene||Somervell, Donald Bradley||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Ray, Sir William||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham||Soper, Richard||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Robinson, John Roland||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fyide)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Ropner, Colonel L.||Stevenson, James||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Rosbotham, Sir Samuel||Stones, James||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Ross. Ronald D.||Strauss, Edward A.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut-Colonel George|
|Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Strickland, Captain W. F.||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Runge, Norah Cecil||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton|
|Rutherford. Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Salmon, Sir Isidore||Templeton. William P.||Captain Austin Hudson and Mr. Womersley.|
|Salt, Edward W.||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Thompson, Luke|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Edwards. Charles||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Maxton, James|
|Batey, Joseph||Hicks, Ernest George||Mliner, Major James|
|Brown. C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilliy)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Buchanan, George||Kirk wood, David||Price, Gabriel|
|Cape, Thomas||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Lawson, John James||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Cove, William G.||Leonard, William||Williams, Dr. John H. (Lianeily)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Lieweilyn-Jones, Frederick||Williams, Thomas (York, Dun Valley)|
|Daggar, George||Logan, David Gilbert|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Lunn, William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES —|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||McGovern, John||Mr. G. Macdonald and Mr. Croves.|
Resolution agreed to.
§ Supply accordingly considered in Committee.
§ [Sir DENNIS HERBERT in the Chair.]
§ NUMBER OF LAND FORCES.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 148,700, all ranks, be maintained for the Service of the United Kingdom at Home and abroad, excluding His Majesty's Indian Possessions (other than Aden), during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1934.
§ 10.31 p.m.
§ Sir FRANCIS FREMANTLE
I want on this Vote to raise once more a matter of considerable importance—namely, the number of officers in the medical service, and I hope the Committee will allow me to mention the subject and ask for a reply. The number of medical officers in the Army is always very much below establishment. I have raised this question now regularly every other year for the last 14 years without getting any satisfaction, and I think it essential to bring the matter before the Committee again as the medical service provides what is necessary for the army in peace and in war time. Whatever our views may be in regard to war and peace it is most essential to keep the medical service intact and efficient. The medical service has been working on a deficiency 1474 in establishment strength for years, and the position is just as serious as ever this year. The total establishment of medical officers required for the Army on the Home establishment is 826 and the actual number on the strength is 669; a deficiency of 154 medical officers, or a deficiency of 35 per cent. That is not made up by temporary commissioned officers who are employed, 48; and by retired officers employed, 54.
The position is more serious than the, actual numbers suggest. The work is only kept up by having two-thirds of the officers serving abroad. The percentage of majors, captains and lieutenants at home is 42 and abroad 58, and the period at home is only about two years. As soon as they come back from service abroad they have only two years at home before having to go abroad again. That is partly the reason why you cannot get officers into the Army Medical Service. They know that when they marry they will have to spend the greater part of their time abroad, because the War Office is able to fill up the positions at home by temporary commissioned officers, and they cannot get temporary commissioned officers to go abroad. That becomes worse and worse every year. The result is that the War Office cannot get young medical officers into the service. It is, 1475 becoming more and more an old service, a service of old men. This position was definitely recognised in 1931. At that time a memorandum on the health of the Army stated:The number of new officer entrants in the Royal Army Medical Corps and its supplementary Reserve, which has been most unsatisfactory since the Great War, has fallen still lower during the past year, and the deficiency of regular officers is causing grave concern.When the matter was discussed in this House the Financial Secretary to the War Office said that all were agreed that this was a very serious matter, and he added that several of his predecessors at the War Office had been concerned about it. That has been the case. In 1920 I made a speech on the subject and the then Secretary for War, now the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), treated it as if it were a jest. He said that I thought more about the sanitation of the Army than about its efficiency. Now the War Office does recognise that the medical services are vital to the efficiency of the Army. It was admitted that the deficiency in officers affected not only the War Office, but also the Admiralty and the Air Force, and it was added that an inter-Departmental Committee between the three services was being set up with the object of finding some solution of the problem. That was two years ago.
The committee has been sitting under Sir Warren Fisher. It is not the first time that Sir Warren Fisher has sat on a committee on this subject. He was chairman of a committee in 1925 and that committee reported. He sat again on a committee in 1931. I myself gave evidence before that committee 15 months ago, and now we hear that the committee is proceeding to consider its report. Evidently no solution of the problem has been found, or the report is being delayed because the committee cannot face the solution that is necessary. Therefore we shall not get any further forward, and each Secretary for War will say in turn: "It is a serious problem, but we cannot meet because it is mainly a financial question." I hope for something better than that. I have made several suggestions and so have the Briteish Medical Association. I want a statement from the Financial Secretary, not simply that he is waiting for the com 1476 mittee's report, the contents of which he probably knows, but that he will put it to the Government and the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the health services are essential to the Army and that we cannot face the possibility of another war with depleted services.
§ 10.40 p.m.
§ Brigadier-General NATION
I must apologise for intervening again in these discussions. but I claim the indulgence of the Committee for a short time while I turn once more to the question of the strength of the Territorial forces. I regret very much that I was not called in the discussion on the Amendment referring to the Territorial Army and I take this opportunity of raising the subject again. It has been said that the loss in numbers has been mainly due to the question of camps, but while I think that to a certain extent it is due to that, it is by no means the only reason. There are other reasons which are important. In the Memorandum accompanying the Estimates the Secretary of State says that the relations between the Regular Army and the Territorial Army are improving and in a speech made by the Director-General of the Territorial Forces about last December—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I would remind the hon. and gallant Member that we cannot have repeated in Committee, speeches which would be more applicable to a question which has just been disposed of by the House.
§ Brigadier-General NATION
I was only mentioning those matters to the extent of proving that there are other reasons for the fall in these numbers. The numbers in the Territorial forces have considerably reduced during recent months and this is to be observed particularly in regard to the London divisions. These divisions are down to 5,000 each, only about half the numbers in divisions in other parts of the country. It is a very serious reduction, and this has nothing whatever to do with camps.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I have already pointed out to the hon. and gallant Mem- 1477 ber that while a pretty wide discussion is allowed on Vote A the objection to the speech which I think he proposes to make, is that it would be more appropriate to a question which has just been disposed of and cannot be re-debated in Committee.
§ Brigadier-General NATION
I accept your Ruling and will reserve my remarks to a further discussion.
§ 10.43 p.m.
§ Captain GUNSTON
I wish to ask my hon. and gallant Friend the Financial Secretary to the War Office, if we can be assured a little more in regard to cases of cerebro-spinal meningitis and whether any special medical officer has been detached from duty to investigate this serious matter. I am glad to see that the number of cases has been reduced since last year, but 67 cases in the Home Commands is a very serious number. I would ask in what units these cases have occurred. I understand that they have been confined to a few units, but, where they have occurred, the effects have been serious. Has any special staff been investigating these cases? Have they tried to get the latest remedies? Some of the troops, I am told, are a little doubtful about the effect of the inoculation or vaccination or whatever treatment has been used to counteract this terrible and painful malady.
I would ask whether any of our medical officers have consulted medical officers in the Dominions. I hear that during the War the commanding officer of a Canadian regiment stamped out this most terrible disease by giving more blankets round to the men and by nailing the windows open, so that they were living practically in the open air. I believe that many of the medical officers in other parts of the world hold that this disease is spread by keeping men in the same barracks and using the same blankets. Will my hon. Friend inquire whether it would be possible to take the opinion of other nations and to find out if, by changing the men's quarters, abandoning barracks, at any rate for a. considerable period, and taking the men right away from where this disease may be, there is a likelihood of stamping it out.
§ 10.46 p.m.
§ Mr. COOPER
I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for St. Albans (Sir F. Fremantle) that I will not speak with any undue levity of the important question which he has raised, although I am afraid I am unable to give him a much more satisfactory reply than the right lion. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) gave him on the occasion to which he referred. It is a very serious question, this question of obtaining sufficient recruits for the Royal Army Medical Corps, and we have been considering it for a long time. The committee which was set up, as he said, some few years ago to go into the matter was much impressed by the evidence that he gave. I confess that the work of that committee may have slackened about a year ago, when, owing to financial conditions, there seemed to be very little prospect of obtaining funds for anything, even for so good a cause as this, and it was considered that there was no way of obtaining these recruits except by increased expenditure.
I know my hon. Friend has his own suggestions, which I understand and which I have studied, and I think that if they could be brought into force, which would need a great deal of collaboration with local authorities, they might overcome the difficulty. That committee, which was never dissolved, but which suspended its activities for a short space of time, partly owing to the cause which I have already mentioned and partly owing to the many responsibilities then resting upon Sir Warren Fisher, has now resumed its sittings, and is actively pursuing its inquiries with a view to finding a solution of this question. I can assure my hon. Friend that the matter is really now under close consideration and that we hope that some solution will be arrived at in the very near future.
With regard to the question of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Thornbury (Captain Gunston), this matter also is one of great importance, and we are fully alive to the importance of the health of the troops. In answer to my hon. and gallant Friend, I will quote, not the right hon. Member for Epping, but a former Prime Minister, Mr. Disraeli, who said the motto of the age should be:" Sanitas sanitatum, omnia sanitas."1479 The health of the troops is a matter of deep concern at present. With regard to cerebro-spinal meningitis, the figures this year, although still giving cause for great anxiety, are falling off. The number of cases for the past year was 67, out of which number 26 proved fatal. That is a remarkably low figure for fatal cases. We are doing all that we can to keep in touch with all the latest developments of science, both in this country and in foreign countries, with regard to this disease, and I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that everything that we can do in the endeavour to lessen it, we shall do.