HC Deb 21 March 1933 vol 276 cc201-16

"1. 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 India Possessions (other than Aden), during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1934.

2. That a sum not exceeding £9,284,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of the Pay, etc., of His Majesty's Army at Home and abroad, excluding His Majesty's Indian Possessions (other than Allen), which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1934.

3. That a sum, not exceeding £2,840,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of Works, Buildings, and Lands, including military and civilian staff, and other charges in connection therewith, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1934.

4. That a sum, not exceeding £911,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of Miscellaneous Effective Services, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1934.

5. That a sum, not exceeding £3,524,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of Rewards, Half-Pay, Retired Pay, Widows' Pensions and other Non-effective Charges for Officers, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1934.

6. That a sum, not exceeding £4,473,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, and Kilmainham Hospital; of Out-Pensions, Rewards for Distinguished Service, Widows' Pensions, and other Non-Effective Charges for Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers, Men, etc., which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1934.

7. That a sum, not exceeding £227,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of Civil Superannuation, Compensation and Additional Allowances, Gratuities, Injury Grants, etc., which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1934."

3.32 p.m.


I beg to move, to leave out "148,700," and to insert instead thereof "148,600."

I should like to ask one or two questions of the Financial Secretary to the War Office with regard to the numbers provided in these Estimates. He told us, when introducing the Estimates, that it was not necessary to apologise for the present size of the British Army. I want to ask whether any consideration has been given to the new circumstances caused by the new quota scheme of the Prime Minister for the Continent? We have had proposals in which the various States have been allotted quotas of so many men. Where exactly do we come in that quota scheme? When the announcement was made, it was said that it was a Continental business, but that subsequently the forces of other States would be brought into some kind of alignment. As I understand the scheme, there were numbers of 200,000, 100,000 and 50,000 men and so forth allotted on a militia basis of eight months' training. We have a Regular Army and a Territorial Army. If one takes the Regular Army we come in somewhere about the same as Spain, we are rather less than Rumania, but more than Yugoslavia. Taking in the Territorial Force, we are above everybody except Russia. I do not know upon what principle those allocations have been made. I do not know whether it is the Socialist principle, to each according to his needs and from each according to his means. I should like to know whether, as a matter of fact, the War Office have considered these Establishments in the light of those proposals.

It is always said that our Army exists mainly as a police force for the British Empire. I would also ask the hon. Gentleman to consider what possible threats there are to the British Army. If the proposals of the Prime Minister come off and there are considerable reductions on the Continent, I take it that we shall want some reduction in the Army at home and also in the Army overseas. I hope, therefore, that the hon. Member will tell us something about the matter. I would also like to ask him about some smaller specific points, one of which is in regard to the increase in the numbers of the Royal Engineers. On page 10 of the Estimates a slight increase is shown in the numbers of the Royal Engineers, and the note says: The increase is due mainly to a revision of establishments of Fortress Companies abroad. I should like the hon. Member to explain where those fortress companies are and the reasons which have led to a revision of these establishments upwards. The next point is one which I raised last year. It is the question of the very high percentage of officers and non-commissioned officers to rank and file in our regimental establishments. It is now something like one officer or non-commissioned officer to every five men. It rises in the Cavalry to something like one to every four and in the Household Cavalry one to every three. In a modern army, with the intelligent and educated men we have in the ranks, there should not be the need for so large a proportion of officers or non-commissioned officers. The answer which is always given to me is that it is necessary because we have a small Army which is only a nucleus and that therefore if you have a large number of officers and non-commissioned officers you have room for expansion. That may be so, but it seems to me to affect the training of the men to have such a large proportion of officers. How does that apply to the Cavalry? The establishments of the Cavalry show a higher proportion of officers and non-commissioned officers than any other arm of the Service, and the Household Cavalry the highest of all. Whatever cause there may be for retaining the amount of Cavalry which we now have—I take it that the plea will be put up that it is retained mainly for possible operations in uncivilised countries—I do not imagine that anyone expects that cavalry would be used to a very large extent if there were a European War again. I think that the lessons of the last War were against it. It is very unlikely that you would want a rapid expansion of cavalry. Certainly you would not want a rapid expansion of the Household Cavalry. Therefore, there is a clear case for a considerable cutting down of the numbers of officers and noncommissioned officers in the Cavalry units.

Taking the general question of numbers, there has not been any very large increase, but—the question was raised by one of my hon. Friends—we ought to be expecting a steady decrease, due to the fact that mechanisation and so forth makes troops more mobile and improvements in armaments make them more effective. While the hon. Member says that he does not apologise in the least for these Estimates—he referred back to Mr. Tom Shaw—we expect there to be a steady decrease. I am aware that our establishments at home very largely depend upon our establishments in India, and that any real reduction of our forces at home must depend on settling the Indian difficulties. It may be that as long as we have an army in India and also have to keep an army at home we cannot get any effective reduction, but it must be remembered that in addition to our regular troops there is the Territorial Force, and the Reserve, and if the proposal for a limitation of continental forces comes into effect and some of the work which now falls to the Regular Army is handed over to the Territorials, we ought to be able to see a considerable reduction in armaments. I am moving a reduction in Vote A in order to voice our general objection to armaments and our wish that they should be reduced. We propose to go to a vote upon it, not upon the other items in the Army Estimates, and in this way register our protest against an expenditure we think is unjustified if the Government are right when they say that they cannot find money for other objects.

3.42 p.m.

Brigadier-General CLIFTON BROWN

I want to ask one or two questions of the Financial Secretary, and I am encouraged to do so by his statement the other night that he had made notes of every speech and intended to give a reply. In looking through his reply I can find no answer to one point except that the matter is being considered. In the Estimates it says that there has been a change in the organisation of the battalion and that it now comprises a headquarter wing, one machine gun company, three rifle companies, and is to have four anti-tank weapons and two Lewis gun machines for anti-aircraft defence. This point was raised by the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Ross) and the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford (Brigadier-General Makins) and the only reply given was that the matter is still under consideration—


This is the Vote for men and does not deal with the number of guns.

Brigadier-General BROWN

I wanted to deal with the number of guns, but if that is out of order I will leave it. But there are certain things shown in these Estimates which are not really there. My complaint is that the Army Estimates should not show things which are not really there or which are represented by other things. It is about time we knew that the Army Estimates represented what was true and the things that were there. I do not suppose that the War Office have given the Financial Secretary any answer to this point and I must protest that the matter has not received proper attention. We have a small Army and the least we can do is to see that it is properly equipped. You cannot organise these things at the last moment, and it is about time that we gave up sending out armies improperly equipped when any little frontier trouble breaks out. It took Lord Kitchener 10 years to organise against the Mahdi in Egypt; and we have no right to risk that sort of thing again. Our soldiers should be properly equipped. The War Office with their swollen staff and their pigeon holes are always capable of looking after themselves, and it is up to us to see that the men are properly armed and equipped.

3.46 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel APPLIN

I hope the Financial Secretary will not listen to the plea put forward by the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) in regard to our Cavalry. If there is one thing which we learnt from the War it is the value of cavalry at the beginning of a war. If it had not been for the cavalry at the beginning of the Great War we should never have held the enemy back. Therefore, it is essential that the numbers should not be further reduced, and I hope that the War Office will not tamper with the small but very efficient cavalry force which we still have, and that they will not be mechanised or turned into something else. In war time it is essential to have the earliest information of the enemy, and the best way to obtain that is by personal reconnaissance. Aeroplanes can only give you information of masses of men, it requires the man on the horse to tell you where and what developments are taking place. Our field officers are mounted for the one purpose of being able to go forward and find out exactly the situation. Without cavalry we should be unable to fight a war in Europe or anywhere else.

There is another point—the number of officers in the infantry. We have a large number of subaltern officers with long service, largely due to the fact that senior officers have not been retiring. If a larger number of senior officers were retired it would bring promotion to the junior officers. If these junior officers find that there is no hope of promotion they will not continue, and I suggest that subaltern officers who have 10 or 12 years' service should be given the rank of captain without pay. It would not add anything to the expenditure, you could give them brevet rank. In the Royal Engineers it has been found necessary not only to promote officers after 10 years service but to pay them as captains. I am asking very little for the infantry. I am only asking that these officers should be given brevet rank, not paid, and I feel certain that it would add to the efficiency of the Army and keep these officers in the Service.

There is one other point I must mention, and that is as to the numbers shown in this Estimate, 148,700 of all ranks. The majority of these ranks are infantry, and the infantry are armed with rifles. We might reduce those numbers very considerably if we had not foolishly run away from the lesson of the War and disbanded our Machine Gun Corps. If we had our Machine Gun Corps back again we could reduce the numbers of our infantry very considerably. I ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office to consider once more the reviving of the Machine Gun Corps. That would not add to the numbers of the personnel of the Army, and it would give vastly greater power. Just as we claim that the Air Force is able to replace men on the ground, so I am certain that the machine gunners, properly organised and trained in units, would reduce the number of infantry required, and in any war they would add greatly to the efficiency of the Army. I feel keenly about it because I have all my life been a tutor of machine guns. In fact I am somewhat responsible for the regulations in the text books of to-day. I suggested this organisation seven years before the War, but the suggestion was then laughed at. When the War came the War Office turned to the very organisation that I had suggested.

3.52 p.m.


The hon. and gallant Member has suggested the revival of the Machine Gun Corps. I am told by my Army friends that there are machine guns with all infantry battalions. Might we not abolish a considerable number of cavalry regiments and have them replaced with machine guns? I know that some of the generals will be up against me in this proposal. I notice that there are 11 regiments of cavalry at home and two in Egypt. That is apart from the Household regiments. Could we not save half of the regiments at home and have more armoured car regiments, and so have more practical and up-to-date methods of fighting? I feel strongly that it is necessary that some of us who are modern should do everything we can to encourage the Army to be absolutely up-to-date. Speaking seriously, I do not think that cavalry, apart from occasional scouting in certain country, can be very valuable in the future. We have to remember the value of the Air Force. I ask the Financial Secretary whether he does not think it possible, in the interests of economy, for some more of the cavalry regiments to be squeezed together in one unit, and at the same time whether it is not possible still further to develop the mechanical side of the Army. It is up to some of us who are not immersed entirely in this or that section of the Army to try to give the commensense point of view in these matters.

3.54 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel ACLAND-TROYTE

I would not have risen but for the remarks of my Devonshire neighbour, the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams). He being a sailor is, I imagine, thinking of the horse marines and not of the cavalry, and I thought the horse marines were abolished. Any reduction of cavalry would be a very great mistake indeed. I have served nearly all my life as an infantryman, and I fully realise the tremendous value of cavalry to the infantry. There are people who say that the cavalry did not do a great deal during the War. Those who say anything of that sort entirely forget Allenby and Palestine, and that without the cavalry there we should have been completely at a loss. Some people may think it possible to replace some of the cavalry by means of mounted infantry. The mounted infantry were a very fine force, but they could not do the work of cavalry. Cavalry work is distinct, and the numbers of the cavalry instead of being reduced should rather be increased. The expense of an armoured car regiment is considerably greater than the expense of a cavalry regiment, so that there would be no saving in that way. The hon. and gallant Member for Enfield (Lieut.-Colonel Applin) suggested that the Machine Gun Corps be revived. I do not think I agree with him. Really the machine gunner has first to be an infantryman. Otherwise he cannot do his work properly. I entirely disagree from my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay.

3.57 p.m.


As not infrequently happens in these Debates, we are hearing the different views of Members of the House, ex-members of the Service, and very often these views admirably answer the views previously expressed by equally gallant and equally distinguished Members. In this case I think Torquay has been answered by Tiverton. With regard to the Amendment, that the numbers under Vote A should be reduced, I think that from the way the hon. Gentleman moved it and the absence of any such criticism during the main Debate on the Army Estimates, there is considerable doubt, even in the minds of hon. Members opposite, as to whether there is any real ground for reducing the numbers of the Army. The hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) to a large extent provided the reply to his own speech, for he referred to the situation in India, to the reasons which make it necessary for us to maintain troops in that part of the world, and suggested that similarly we had to maintain troops in other distant parts of the world, and that we had to maintain some relation between the number of troops at home and the numbers serving abroad. That really is the answer to his case.

References to the armed forces of Continental States have very little bearing upon the British Army, which is not an Army designed for Continental warfare. The ex-Kaiser was strongly condemned at the time of the War for having described our Army as a "contemptible" force. I do not know exactly what was the German word he used, but from the point of view of Continental warfare it is a force of no account as it exists to-day. It has never been designed to take part in great Continental wars. It has been designed for the purpose which it has fulfilled for so long, the purpose of maintaining order in the British Empire. I think that the hon. Member for Lime-house made no attempt to make out a case for reducing the numbers on the grounds he mentioned. A small point arose in regard to the increase in the Royal Engineers. If hon. Members will look at the figures they will see that officers have been reduced by one, and "other ranks" have gone up by 126. One hundred and twenty-six in a total of between 5,000 and 6,000 is so small a number as to be hardly worthy of comment. The reason for the increase is the anti-aircraft works and lights, which necessitate more personnel than they have demanded in the past.

With regard to the question of the cavalry—and I am surprised that my hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) for once resisted the temptation to voice his well-known views with regard to that arm of the Service—there, again, opinions on one side have been very much controverted by opinions on the other side. The hon. and gallant Member for Tiverton (Lieut.-Colonel Acland-Troyte) is perfectly right in reminding the House of the great service which the cavalry performed in one area of War on the last occasion. I think when officers and military experts are charged with not having learned the lessons of the last War satisfactorily, we ought to remember that part of the lesson, and we ought all to be on our guard against making the mistake, which, I think, has been very frequently made in the past, of learning the lessons of the last War too completely, and assuming that the next war is going to be exactly the same. Nobody knows, nobody can possibly tell, people can only speculate upon the conditions which will prevail in future warfare, and I think it is certainly too early, if the time ever comes, to assume that the function of the cavalry is finished.

As far as my own opinion is concerned, although it is of very little value in such matters, I am convinced that the cavalry has been sufficiently reduced already, and I can assure the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) that we are as anxious as he is to bring the Army up to date in every way. There, again, we are hampered and delayed by the limitation of expenditure which is imposed upon us, and, of course, also by the natural caution which must accompany any progress in that direction, owing to the uncertainty under which we always work as to whether the latest invention is the last invention, and whether the newest thing is really the best. That is always a satisfactory and convincing reason, to my mind, for not proceeding too rapidly in that direction.

With regard to the question raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Enfield (Colonel Applin) about the block and delay in promotion, I know that he feels strongly on this point. There are many extremely hard cases of officers who have been held back from promotion far too long, which is due, as my hon. and gallant Friend himself said, largely at the present time to the reluctance of officers to leave the Service towards the end of their career, owing probably to the financial and commercial position, the depression and the fact that opportunities and openings elsewhere are not so numerous and attractive as at other times. The same applies to junior officers. The normal wastage of officers is not taking place. As my hon. and gallant Friend knows, the Army Council have gone very carefully into this question in all its bear-bags, and have decided that the award which was made last year of 2s. a day extra to lieutenants on completion of 13 years' service was, on the whole, a better way of dealing with it than granting the brevet rank of captain. The hon. and gallant Member thinks that officers themselves would prefer the brevet rank. Probably they would prefer both if they could have it, but whether they would prefer rank without pay or pay without rank is largely a matter of opinion.

Lieut.-Colonel APPLIN

This is a very important point. Some of these officers with 15 and 16 years' service, and married, find themselves in the position that people say, "He is a fool; he could not pass his promotion examination," or "He has been passed over for promotion," or "There is something wrong with him." It is a stigma on him because he has not any military rank. That is the point.


I fully appreciate the point, of my hon. and gallant Friend. It is very hard, and it may, in some cases, lead to misconstruction as to their value and their service; but we have made 'a special arrangement, of which I have just told the House. Whether they would rather suffer a possible loss in the estimation of their friends or the substantial loss in their pockets is a matter which can only be decided according to opinion.

Lieut.-Colonel APPLIN

Why cannot they have both?


My hon. and gallant Friend referred to the fact that artillery and engineer officers are promoted, in any case, after a certain number of years' service, but that has never been the rule in the Cavalry, Infantry and Tank Corps, and if you were to adopt that rule a great many would suffer from it, as a great many would benefit from it. In the Artillery and Engineers, nobody is promoted to that rank until he has had so many years' service, whereas in the Cavalry and Infantry a great many are fortunate enough, owing to unexpected wastage in the higher commands, to attain that rank long before their contemporaries in the Engineers and Artillery attain that rank, and the Cavalry and Infantry could not possibly expect to have it both ways.

Lieut.-Colonel APPLIN

I am only suggesting a brevet, which costs nothing, but does give Army promotion.


I am well aware of my hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion. The matter has been gone into very carefully by the Army Council, and the decisions which they made were, of course, largely due to the military members of

the Army Council who have experience and are fully in touch with all arms of the Service. They consider that this was the better way of dealing with it. I entirely appreciate my hon. and gallant Friend's point of view, but I do not think that the grievance, although a real and genuine grievance, can be dealt with more satisfactorily than it has been dealt with already.

I shall be surprised—at least I shall regret—if the hon. Member for Limehouse insists upon forcing, although I understand it is his intention to force, his Amendment to a Division, because so far as a gesture towards peace goes, this is really not one which would convince anyone in the world that we were set upon disarmament. Supposing we were to reduce the present number of our Forces by 100 men, I think the view of other Powers would be that we had lost our senses.

Brigadier-General BROWN

Will my hon. Friend say why on Vote A, page 38, a misleading description is given of the "Organisation of the Battalion," and things are described which are not there?


I do not think that I should be in order on this Vote in explaining or in dealing at all with the question of anti-tank guns, which is, I understand, the point of the question.

Brigadier-General BROWN

It is referred to in Vote A, page 38.


Vote A deals only with the number of men.

Question put, "That '148,700' stand part of the Resolution."

The House divided: Ayes, 207; Noes, 30.

Division No. 90.] AYES. [4.10 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Conant, R. J. E.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Briscoe, Capt. Richard George Cook, Thomas A.
Albery, Irving James Brocklebank, C. E. R. Cooke, Douglas
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks.,Newb'y) Cooper, A. Duff
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Browne, Captain A. C. Copeland, Ida
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Buchan, John Crooke, J. Smedley
Atholl, Duchess of Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Burnett, John George Dalkeith, Earl of
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Butler, Richard Austen Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)
Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury) Campbell, Edward Taswell (Bromley) Davison, Sir William Henry
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.) Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley) Dawson, Sir Philip
Beit, Sir Alfred L. Caporn, Arthur Cecil Denville, Alfred
Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley Castlereagh, Viscount Drewe, Cedric
Bernays, Robert Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Christie, James Archibald Duggan, Hubert John
Blindell, James Colfox, Major William Philip Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J. Dunglass, Lord
Eastwood, John Francis Kimball, Lawrence Ross, Ronald D.
Eden, Robert Anthony Knight, Holford Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Elliot, Major Rt. Hon. Walter E. Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Rothschild, James A. de
Elliston, Captain George Sampson Lambert, Rt. Hon. George Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)
Elmley, Viscount Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Emmott, Charles E. G. C. Leech, Dr. J. W. Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Emrys-Evans, p. v. Lees-Jones, John Rutherford, John (Edmonton)
Essenhigh, Reginald Clare Leighton, Major B. E. P. Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)
Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.) Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Salmon, Sir Isidore
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.) Lindsay, Noel Ker Salt, Edward W.
Everard, W. Lindsay Lloyd, Geoffrey Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)
Fox, Sir Gifford Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G. (Wd. Gr'n) Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Fuller, Captain A. G. Loder, Captain J. de Vere Savery, Samuel Servington
Ganzoni, Sir John Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Scone, Lord
Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Mabane, William Skelton, Archibald Noel
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.
Gibson, Charles Granville Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John McEwen, Captain J. H. F. Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Gluckstein, Louis Halle McKie, John Hamilton Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.) Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton Soper, Richard
Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.) Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Grimston, R. V. Marsden, Commander Arthur Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.
Gunston, Captain D. W. Martin, Thomas B. Spens, William Patrick
Guy, J. C. Morrison Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Hales, Harold K. Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale Strauss, Edward A.
Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon) Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres Strickland, Captain W. F.
Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zett'nd) Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.) Stuart, Lord C. Crichton.
Hammersley, Samuel S. Morrison, William Shepherd Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.
Hanley, Dennis A. Muirhead, Major A, J. Sutcliffe, Harold
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Munro, Patrick Tate, Mavis Constance
Hartington, Marquess of Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Templeton, William P.
Hartland, George A. Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth) Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Nunn, William Touche, Gordon Cosmo
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Herbert, Capt. S. (Abbey Division) Palmer, Francis Noel Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Holdsworth, Herbert Peake, Captain Osbert Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston) Peat, Charles U. Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Hopkinson, Austin Petherick, M. Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour.
Hornby, Frank Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston) Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Horobin, Ian M. Pownall, Sir Assheton Wills, Wilfrid D.
Horsbrugh, Florence Raikes, Henry V. A. M. Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries) Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Hurd, Sir Percy Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian) Womersley, Walter James
Jamieson, Douglas Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley
Jesson, Major Thomas E. Ramsden, Sir Eugene Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)
Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter) Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)
Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Reid, David D. (County Down) Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)
Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Ker, J. Campbell Roberts, Aled (Wrexham) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Kerr, Hamilton W. Rosbotham, Sir Samuel Captain Austin Hudson and Lieut.-
Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward.
Attlee, Clement Richard Groves, Thomas E. Parkinson, John Allen
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Grundy, Thomas W. Price, Gabriel
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton) Thorne, William James
Buchanan, George Hirst, George Henry Tinker, John Joseph
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Wallhead, Richard C.
Cripps, Sir Stafford Kirkwood, David Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Daggar, George Leonard, William Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Logan, David Gilbert Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Dobbie, William Lunn, William
Edwards, Charles Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Maxton, James Mr. D. Graham and Mr. G. Macdonald.

First Resolution read a Second time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agreed with the Committee in the said Resolution."

4.20 p.m.

Brigadier-General NATION

I wish to ask two or three questions with regard to this Vote. I observe that provision is made in this Vote for three new services. In the first place there is the provision of accommodation at Pinehurst, Aldershot for the Royal Tank Corps at a total estimated cost of £61,000 of which £20,000 is to be spent in the financial year 1933 and £35,000 in future years, £6,000 being the estimated expenditure to 31st March. Another new service is the provision of accommodation at Salisbury for the chemical staff at a cost of £44,000 of which £10,000 is to be spent in the coming year and £34,000 in future years. There is also an item of £116,000 for the purchase of land. In view of the statement submitted by the British Government at Geneva which, if accepted, will involve a reduction of all our heavy batteries, either by equipping them with smaller guns, or by the reduction of units, should this new expenditure be undertaken. There are 28 medium batteries and 25 heavy batteries, and, as regards tanks, five battalions which would have to be reorganised or rearmed with smaller guns and tanks. In view of those reductions this is hardly a time at which to embark on expenditure for new buildings.

I would like the Financial Secretary to give the House some information as to whether this accommodation for the Tank Corps at Aldershot at a cost of £61,000 is absolutely necessary in view of the new establishment which tank battalions may have to adopt. Then, in view of the possible reduction in heavy batteries, could not the tank battalions be accommodated in some of the quarters that will be vacated. With regard to the chemical staff at Salisbury, as we propose that chemical warfare should be abolished altogether, is it necessary to spend £44,000 on this new service? Finally, I should like the Financial Secretary to give us some information as regards the purpose of this land purchase which represents £116,000 in the Estimate. I do not want to know where the land is but I think we are entitled to know what it is for.

4.23 p.m.


Three points have been raised by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. The first is as to accommodation provided for the Royal Tank Corps. Of course, the War Office when these Estimates were drawn up were not aware and could not then be aware of the latest proposals—many proposals have been made during the past year or more—with regard to disarmament. It is still much too early, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman himself must realise, for us to alter our Estimates in any way or make different provision with a view to the possible effect of the acceptance of these proposals, if they are accepted, by the various Powers on the Continent whom we have to consider. The same remark to a large extent applies to the hon. and gallant Gentleman's criticism of our expenditure on chemical research work. He is well aware that it has been agreed to abolish chemical warfare, but I do not suppose he would suggest that it would be wise at this time to abolish all preventive measures and give up every kind of defence against the possibility of a chemical attack on this country.

I do not think that anybody in any camp of political opinion would suggest at the present time—I have never heard it suggested among any of my most extreme pacifist friends, and I have a great many—that it would be wise to assume that no Power in the future would ever make use of chemical warfare and that it was therefore perfectly safe to abandon all defensive measures in that respect. As I have often informed the House, such research work as is being carried on in regard to chemical warfare in this country, is entirely with a view to protection from possible gas attack in some future emergency. The importance of such work can hardly be over-estimated. It is therefore obviously necessary to continue such research and such work. With regard to the purchase of land, representing, I think, some £100,000, that item covers a good many different purchases in different parts of the country where site extensions are necessary. We have these dealings in our Land Department year after year. We very often sell as much land as we acquire, and very often show a profit on the land of which we dispose. This year the sum mentioned is considered necessary in order to provide training for the troops. The hon. and gallant Member himself suggested it would be impossible to state exactly where all this land is situated, but I can assure him that we have only decided to purchase it after the most careful consideration, and it is, in the opinion of our military advisers, necessary for the welfare and training of the troops.


Resolutions reported,

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