HL Deb 04 June 1883 vol 279 cc1574-611

My Lords, I have a Notice to call attention to the state of the Auxiliary Forces. No Motion is appended to it, as I did not wish to bring one forward, unless secure of a majority to carry it. But I shall hope to indicate a course which might be usefully adopted, and submit it to the judgment of your Lordships. My Lords, to explain the Notice, and give myself a locus standi with regard to it, it may be necessary, for a moment, to refer to a debate in this House, about four years ago, on the 28th of April, 1879. The proposal was for an inquiry as to whether the Militia ought not to be available for service in all garrisons, either of the United Kingdom or the Empire. It was much supported in the House, although it was not ultimately brought to a division, in consequence of some remarks from the illustrious Duke who often sits on the Cross Benches. I am no friend to annual Motions; but still inclined to think that, if the whole subject of the Auxiliary Forces passed away, that debate would be more sterile than it ought to be. At the same time, the blemish I propose to touch is not the same as that which occupied attention at the period referred to. My Lords, it is not only because four years have passed that the subject needs consideration, but because late events prepare us to consider it. It is only after military efforts, or after military incidents, that we can hope to gain attention for a topic of this nature. In 1879 the close of the war between Russia and the Porte had disposed the House to examine our armaments. In the present year the campaign in Egypt has renewed a tendency to do so. To pass by the Session would be fatal to those who have improvements to suggest, or criticisms to bring forward. The deficiency I wish to mention is common to both the most conspicuous of the Auxiliary Forces. It does not apply, however, to the Yeomanry so much, for reasons I need not go into at present. I am not without anxiety as to the effect of anything which falls from me on the officers of the Auxiliary Forces. It is far from my intention to disparage them. The Volunteer Force gained the object for which it was suddenly created in 1859—namely, that of adding to security under the French Empire. The Militia have had many witnesses to back them. Gibbon, the historian, himself a captain of the Hampshire Grenadiers, has spoken of the discipline they had attained, when, in the middle of the last century, they had been some time embodied. Mr. Clode, whose industry and talent deserve acknowledgment from all who go into these questions, has made a curious remark, which may be a well-founded one—that had there been Militia in Scotland in 1745 the Pretender would not have established the position from which he inarched triumphantly as far as Derby towards the capital. No one doubts that, in the long war from 1793 to 1815, the Militia were of service. They may well be proud of the united auspices under which, in 1852, they were re-organized. The measure was brought about by the Duke of Wellington, who urged Governments to have recourse to it; by Lord John Russell, who determined to adopt it; by Lord Palmerston, who interfered to fix the shape it should assume; by the late Lord Derby and Mr. Disraeli, who, coming into power, ultimately carried it. The drawback of the two Forces is not one for which the officers can be held responsible. It is, that they command inadequately trained and but approximative soldiers. None of the men receive instruction for a twelvemonth. My Lords, all military writers have concurred that it is impossible to gain efficiency under that period. To cite a string of references might appear pedantic. There is but one opinion among those whose pages I habitually consult, Sir John Burgoyne, General Macdougall, General Hamley, and, above all, the author of The Soldier's Pocket Book, who is not now among us. Upon the Continent, the same opinion is apparent. It is exhibited more clearly in the system of one year volunteers, by which, in France and Germany, young men, who support their own expenses, are permitted to escape the triennial period imposed by general conscription. It is assumed that one year is the shortest time in which they can become adapted to campaigning. Supposing it could be reduced a little, and you take 300 days as a minimum for the preliminary training. The recruit in the Militia has no more than 63, and in the Volunteers no more than 32 at present. Now, in this sphere, the great discovery of modern times appears to be that, if a soldier is once formed by the true quantity, the just measure of preparatory exercise, a slight amount of annual discipline preserves his faculty from rusting; but that, if the basis of original consecutive instruction is deficient, no subsequent amount of intermittent drill can possibly replace it. If the Militiaman and Volunteer went through much more in a few years than ought at first to have been given, it would be useless for efficiency, because it had not been concentrated. I quite admit that, upon joining the Auxiliary Forces, I was under the impression that a short period of drill, with two or three months at an encampment, might qualify men in essentials. Reflection and experience have led me to an opposite conclusion, which the military world had long ago arrived at. My Lords, the result is, about 300,000 men locked up in the United Kingdom, who would require, as it is generally estimated, an additional six months to ripen them for service. It is excessively improbable that a margin of the kind would be attainable. The rapidity of modern wars has now become proverbial. But, unless Auxiliary Forces are qualified to meet an enemy when required to do so, they are not free from disadvantages. In the first place, they involve expense which might be otherwise distributed. It is calculated that 40 regiments might be added to the Line by a transfer of the Vote for the Auxiliary Forces. Next, they absorb men, at least a part of whom might flow into the Regulars. After that, they cheapen and deteriorate the value of titles, and of grades which used to be exclusively professional. Last of all, during the period of service, they are so much strength withdrawn from the productive labour of the country. That evil is, of course, enhanced, when merchants, stockbrokers, and traders, become commanders of battalions, and thus are led to interrupt the business on which their own prosperity depends, together with the wealth of the community. My Lords, as these Auxiliary Forces cannot serve abroad, or even in Colonial garrisons, their function is either to resist invasion, or avert it. They are not qualified to resist invasion, from the defective preparation which they go through. They are not suited to avert invasion, from the extent to which their inefficiency is published. No Foreign Government is overawed or influenced by the mere number of our Auxiliary Forces. The reason is, that military attachés have now become an institution of diplomacy. It is true they are not always listened to, as the memorable case of Baron Stoffel may remind us. But Baron Stoffel was not listened to as an expositor of strength, and might have found more willing ears had he been led to chronicle deficiencies. The military attachés in our capital are sufficiently enlightened to point out that, for six months after war begins, the Auxiliary Forces of Great Britain will be useless. The remedy—although it may not be attainable immediately—consists in giving every Militiaman and every Volunteer 300 drills before you count him as effective. Of course, objections have to be considered; and, as regards the Volunteers, improvement must be reached by cautious, gradual, and even tentative proceedings. The difficulty of training the Militiaman during a twelvemonth would be reduced by the number of brigade depots scattered now over the country. Expense, no doubt, would be augmented, as it must be, by any change which tends to national security. But it is better to pay more for a defence, than much for an illusion. Expense, however, would not be increased without a countervailing diminution. If Militiamen were at once transformed into real soldiers, you might, upon the principle I have already stated to the House, reduce, perhaps, by one-half, the annual exercise which, on the present footing, does not render them efficient. As regards the Volunteers, it would be necessary to enlarge the capitation grant. But there is reason to suppose you will have to do that, in any case, whether or not a new condition is exacted. Officers of Volunteers are now weighed down by the expenses they incur. To preserve the Force, it may be indispensable to free them from the embarrassments their sense of duty leads them to submit to. On this subject, and the interior of regiments in the Force, I venture to direct the House to the article by Captain Leese, of the Central London Rangers, in The United Service Magazine of this very month, and, therefore, easy to refer to. The Blue Book of the War Office has also witnesses upon it. The upshot is, you can extend the drill, whenever you extend the capitation grant. But, as to extravagance, no system is more costly than that of spending £1,000,000 on 300,000 men who would be useless to the country. There is a further answer to the objection of extravagance. We have been extravagant already. The sums expended in redeeming Purchase and providing for retirement are far greater than those which will be needed to transfer an inefficient Army of Auxiliaries into an efficient one. Those sums have not been accurately given. Some reckon them at £2,000,000; others at nearer £20,000,000. But can there be a question as to the comparative importance of the objects. Can it be doubted that to give lighting power to the Militia and the Volunteers is more essential than it was to establish officers who had not paid for their commissions, even admitting—if you like it—that such officers are better, braver, and more instructed than the former ones? As well might you contend that tulips and champagne are more essential than sea-coal and bread to a well-regulated household, as that a body of non-Purchase officers are more required by the State than the discipline of Auxiliaries who are to guard it in emergency. The next objection which requires to be encountered, but in passing only, is that some improving process is going on already, by which the change required is certain to produce itself; that it is useless to precipitate a foredoomed result, or to disturb a safe and steady evolution. It is true that, since the War of 1870, many changes have arisen. But, as regards preliminary drill, nothing has been done in the Volunteers; while, for the recruit of the Militia, one month has been added. According to this ratio, one month in a decade, the true standard will be reached in 80 years, or towards the middle of the 20th century. Have men who reason in this manner the slighest power to guarantee the country against peril in the interim? Will they be living all that time to watch our security? Can they pretend to hold that, until the middle of the 20th century, you will never want a ready trained Militia; that every war will give six months of leisure to improve it; that during that six months the Regulars are certain to suffice for all important operations? My Lords, if we reflect with coolness for a moment, we shall see that the series of extraordinary measures which have followed the excitement of 1870 involve new grounds for such reform as I have pointed to. The Militia Reserve has been adopted as an important element of strength in the sum total of our armaments, for foreign, as well as for domestic service. The statement of the Government, on Friday last, in "another place," has made it more important. If long service is partially restored, the Army Reserve is partially diminished. The Militia Reserve is, therefore, less than ever immaterial. But it consists of men who have not received one-quarter of the training which is necessary. According to the Army Re-organization Committee, page 34— A raw recruit trained for 56 days at preliminary drills, and then receiving 28 days' instruction for three or four consecutive years, cannot possibly be regarded as a trained soldier. The illustrious Duke on the Cross Benches, at page 313, corroborated these expressions. The inadequacy of the Militia Reserve—in discipline and quality—is a glaring and indefensible anomaly. It ought to be improved, or else discarded altogether. It can only be improved by bringing to the proper standard the recruits of the Militia. Another feature of the new reforms will strengthen the position which I have brought before your Lordships. According to the favourite and repeated language of the War Office, Auxiliary Forces, under their new system, are, to a great extent, united with the Regulars. They have, in theory, the same centres to refer to, the same commanders, in the last instance, to direct them. At this moment, the 60th Rifles, with its headquarters at Winchester, has several Militia regiments and some Volunteer corps subordinated to it. Amalgamation of the kind is futile and deceiving, unless Auxiliaries, as far as possible, are raised to the military value of the troops with which it is the official boast and the official watchword to align and to identify them. Unless they are so raised, the language which we hear so often is but a method of imposing upon popular credulity. The supposed amalgamations would dissolve as soon as war began; and, therefore, never have in any way contributed to national resources. To add a great deal to the preliminary drill of the Militia and the Volunteers would not, indeed, remove their inequality with Regulars, but make it far less glaring. There is but one more objection indispensable to notice. It is, that if Auxiliary Forces have been of use before, although they were not drilled up to the standard of efficiency, they may be still of use, in spite of their admitted imperfection. Now, Volunteers at the beginning of the present, and end of the last century, were embodied as fast as they were organized, and went on perpetually drilling to be ready for invasion. When the chances of invasion were thought to have passed away they were disbanded altogether. As to Militia, down to recent times it might be calculated that there would be six months after a war began to finish and mature them. The wars of 1859, of 1866, and 1870, render it impossible to count on doing so any longer. It does not, therefore, follow that because, in 1852, a half-trained Militia was an institution of considerable value, at present it has any. Those who now insist on its inadequacy, or even on its uselessness, are not arraigning the sagacity and policy by which it was at first contrived, or afterwards withdrawn from abeyance. My Lords, it may be seen at a glance that there are certain barriers of national security which lie within each other. The Auxiliary Forces may be regarded as the nearest and the most interior. It clearly cannot be depended on. But such a fact might be accepted or passed over, if those beyond it were impregnable. The Army stands immediately beyond it. At present, Ireland requires 20,000, Egypt 10,000, London a greater force than usual. Seventy thousand is the utmost we could hope to bring into the field against an enemy. If an invasion did arise, it cannot be pretended that 70,000 men would be sufficient to encounter it. We are, therefore, thrown upon the Navy. There is, at least, a great division of opinion on its adequacy. Lord Henry Lennox, Sir Edward Reed, and a considerable school have frequently disputed it. Our Naval barrier has failed in well-known instances of history. Experience as yet can tell us nothing about iron-clads, except, indeed, that in a fog they are highly capable of running down each other. The outer circle of defence consists in foreign policy. It is easy to imagine combinations or alliances, which would diminish the chance of war, or take away the prospect of invasion. But they are not apparent at this moment. The conclusion is, that we are thrown back on the Auxiliary Forces, and that to correct their weakness may be the only path of safety to the Empire. My Lords, I do not wish to occupy the House much longer, and am impatient to hear remarks from other quarters on the subject. But it would be too much against my feelings to sit down without alluding to the extraordinary article of Captain Kirchhammer, an Austrian Staff Officer, upon the military weakness of Great Britain. Although it appeared in The Nineteenth Century of April, 1881, it has not been replied to; it ought not to be forgotten, and it entered much into the grounds which have induced me to bring the subject forward. Captain Kirchhammer goes over an exhaustive survey of our obligations and resources, concluding that, unless the latter are increased, the former will be entirely abandoned. Captain Kirchhammer has referred to various transactions in which our policy has failed, as having no solution but the want he has delineated. As he reasons, without reference to one Party or another, since 1856 wars have taken place, Treaties have been framed, and boundaries overthrown, without the approbation, or against the protest, of Great Britain. The public conscience will sustain him. But if, as he contends, our objects have been usually frustrated, it arises either from the incapacity of statesmen or the insufficiency of armaments. It is less invidious, possibly more just, to connect it with the last-mentioned cause, and to proceed at once to such remedial measures as are possible. My Lords, no one can deny that, if the Auxiliary Forces were qualified for actual service, which they are not, a great improvement would be realized. No one can deny that it is much easier to labour for that end than it would be to enlarge the Army or the Navy. As there are, no doubt, financial problems to consider, well-organized inquiry is essential. No Government will undertake so great a change without authority beyond itself to recommend it. I have reflected carefully upon the methods of inquiry. Of late years, Committees of the War Office have abounded. They have not been useless, and they are not uninstructive; but their effect is weakened by their number. The War Office is entitled to repose after so long a parturition. A Commission might be nominated; but the tendency and turn of a Commission depend, in no small degree, upon the Government. Should the Government be prejudiced against a certain line of change, it is not easy to depend upon a body springing wholly from its fiat. A Committee of this House is, therefore, a more desirable tribunal. Both Parties would contribute to it. Diplomatists and military men, together with the officers of the Auxiliary Forces, may be blended in it. There would be no lack of witnesses to throw a light on the deficiency, no lack of witnesses to ascertain how far it can be prudently corrected. This House has little scope for active legislation. In resisting or amending what it disapproves, its function, we have seen of late, is doubtful and precarious. Inquiry has thus become its sphere more urgently than ever. It could not better occupy its vacant time or unexhausted energy at present, than in preparing to render the Auxiliary Forces, which add a burden to finance, a means of safety to the Realm, as well as influence beyond it. Although I do not move for a Committee, it may easily be brought about by the concurrence of your Lordships.


said, that the subject introduced by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stratheden and Campbell) was, at that moment, of such great importance, and had so extensive a bearing upon the condition of our Military Forces, that he (Viscount Cranbrook) was glad to have the opportunity of calling attention to some Questions which he had on the Paper last Friday, but which had been postponed, with respect to the policy of the Government on those matters. A Question had been also put in the House of Commons upon this subject, and had been dwelt upon at considerable length on Friday last; and it was of great importance that their Lordships should be fully and accurately informed with reference to the military resources of the country. He quite agreed with the noble Lord opposite, who had brought this subject under the notice of the House, that there never had been a time when it was of more importance that the Auxiliary Forces of the country should be placed upon a satisfactory footing. There was nothing more lamentable, when the Army was said to be in a state of disintegration, that the same condition should also fall on the Militia—that the Militia was not up to its strength, nor anything like it; and that the Militia Reserve was said to be in an unsatisfactory condition in respect to numbers. In short, the condition of the Army generally was such, that the prospect could not be looked upon altogether without some cause for alarm. Although he did not wish to exaggerate or excite that alarm in any unnecessary degree, they had had rumours and newspaper reports, tending to show that there was uneasiness in the country with respect to its resources, and that, after the great expenditure which had been made in the Army of late years, they had not that efficient organization which they ought to have. He must say that that was a state of things that ought not to be allowed to exist at a time when there were clouds on the horizon in more than one quarter which might, at any moment, break, and require the country to be able to display its strength. He could assure the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Morley) that he was not about to make any attack upon the Department he represented, nor to seek to make the question a Party one, because it was too important for any consideration of that character to enter into it; and, beyond that, he was assured that all of their Lordships were desirous of combining together for the purpose of doing everything that was necessary in order to render the small Force which we could put into the field as perfect as possible. He had been four years at the War Office, and when he resigned the Office of Secretary of State for War he left the Army overflowing. In 1877 the Army was some 2,000 over the Establishment, and recruiting was going on at such a speed that it was possible to send men into the Reserve at a rate that promised to raise the numbers of the latter very considerably. In the month of March, 1878, when he introduced the Estimates, the Army was some 1,700 in excess of the Establishment. What he wished to know was, how it was that this flow of recruits into the Army had been suddenly checked? In 1877 he introduced the system of deferred pay, and also increase of pay to the noncommissioned officers; and from the time when those advantages came into operation there was a rapid increase in recruiting. He could say also, with respect to the character of the recruits, that the illustrious Duke the Commander-in-Chief, having taken pains to examine the matter in 1878, was able to say that, up to that time, they were of a good class; that the officers reported of their regiments that they were of the same class as in former years, and were calculated to make good soldiers. He (Viscount Cranbrook) contended, however, that although there was no change in the material, it must be remembered that, if young men of 18 years of age were enlisted as recruits, on the short-service system, for six or seven years, the first two years of their service must necessarily be thrown away; and, consequently, there was not time to get the full use of them as trained soldiers. Such men might be very good soldiers as far as actual fighting was concerned; but they would be unable to bear up against the hardships of a long and arduous campaign. The maximum age for enlistment had been raised last year to 19; but that, in his opinion, was entirely a mistake, and not the proper remedy; because lads of the class from which recruits were drawn did not always increase in strength between 18 and 19. They were of a class which was generally ill-fed and ill-lodged; and, from 18 to 19, there was little improvement in their condition, and they rather lost than gained in comparison as regarded physique and powers of endurance, with those who entered the Army at the earlier age, when they were well fed and cared for. He would not hesitate to take them at 18; because at 19 they would be equal to any men of the same class at 20 if left to themselves. Moreover, there was certain to be a great loss, in point of numbers, by raising the minimum age for recruits, inasmuch as most young men of 19 had already marked out their line of life. But, although he was in favour of recruits of 18 being taken, he thought that they should not be put to heavy and severe work until they had arrived at maturity. The question was, how all this was to be accomplished; and there were, no doubt, great difficulties in the way of carrying out the desired object. He had understood from what had fallen from the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War in the other House, on Friday night, that it was the intention of the Government to permit men to re-enlist for 12 years, and that at the expiration of the term they might, with the approval of their commanding officers, continue for 21 years. The statement upon that point of the noble Marquess, as reported, appeared to be a little obscure; but that seemed to be its substance. He wished, however, to point out that it was not altogether a satisfactory statement, for it left the matter uncertain, and the men, when re-enlisting for a long period, would like to know what would become of them after the period of their second enlistment had expired, because they would then be cut out from all civil employment; and they would wish to know what the country was willing to do for them in the shape of pension and emolument. He did not think that that point had received sufficient attention. The short-service system had, no doubt, brought them into a serious difficulty in this respect—that to send very young recruits out to India was to send them to their death; and, therefore, they could not supply either India or the tropical Colonies with young recruits. If there were two periods of service to choose from, men would usually choose the shortest term, as they would think that it gave them a longer time in which to make up their minds. He entirely disagreed from those who thought that we should have two Armies—one founded on long and the other on short service; and he sincerely trusted that that was not to be among the experiments about to be made. The deficiency that would occur in the Reserve by permitting the men to re-enlist in the Line might be met by allowing the Reserve men to re-enrol themselves for a further term. When they considered, however, what had occurred with regard to the Reserve they would see what a difficult question this was to deal with. When Lord Cardwell first brought forward his scheme establishing the short-service system, he calculated that the Reserve would amount to some 80,000 in 1880. We were now in 1883, and he (Viscount Cranbrook) believed that, at the outside, the number of the Reserves did not exceed 28,000 men. And even that had been brought about by exceptional circumstances. It had been by endeavouring to get men into the Reserves, whenever the Army was overflowing; and, in that way, the number had been more at certain times than it could possibly have been under Lord Cardwell's system. He (Viscount Cranbrook) was himself instructed, in 1877 or 1878, that he might calculate on having, in 1882, 43,000 men in the Reserves; and yet they saw how those calculations failed, from the enormous waste there was in the Army, owing to the mysterious disappearance of the men. If they made those calculations on paper they found themselves misled in the end; because they had not that to rely upon which was the ground work on which they proceeded in former days. The noble Lord opposite (Lord Stratheden and Campbell) had alluded to one subject in which he (Viscount Cranbrook) himself had always taken great interest, and that was the question of Militia Reserves. Of course, they could not have a Militia Reserve if they had not a Militia. It was very material, no doubt, that the Militia should be well trained; but they would never have a good Militia that would give themselves up to the prolonged period of training for 300 days of which the noble Lord spoke. The men were men with other businesses. They came out when they were called upon; and the noble Lord rather exaggerated the deficiencies of the Auxiliary Forces, when he spoke as if the Militia could not immediately be called into use. They knew perfectly well that there were numbers of Militia regiments which, for himself, he should not hesitate to place in garrisons to set free troops of the Regular Army—regiments well fitted for active service, and composed of men who, in a short time, would be perfectly adequate to have care of those garrison towns. This was proved at the time of the Crimean War. And when they had called out the Reserves, and the Militia Reserves with them, he remembered the illustrious Duke saying that, after they had been out for some weeks, it was extremely difficult to tell a Militia Reserve man from the Regular Army Reserve man. He (Viscount Cranbrook) deduced from that the lesson that in the multiplication of Militia lay the chief defence of the nation. They must, then, take care to keep the Militia regiments up to their full strength, and increase the number of those whom they took into the Militia Reserves. If they did not do so, those steps they were taking backward from short service would result in what had resulted in the history of the Army before—that the time would come when, under some great crisis or crash, such as that of the Crimean War, from the want of trained men to send out as reliefs, when the old troops were for the time destroyed, we must either send out young recruits, wherever we could get them in the market, or the Army must be left without recruits at all. The essential thing for this country was that it should have something to fall back upon. And one of our great defects had been that, with respect to carrying on our little wars—for instance now, when we were using the Army of Occupation in Egypt—no steps were taken to raise the Army beyond the ordinary peace Establishment; but they threw onerous duties on an Army which was reduced in its numbers, and therefore they made the Service unpopular by the very fact that they were putting upon the men duties which they ought not to discharge In London, at that moment, they had the Guards brought down, he knew not how many, below their strength, and with sentry duty aggravated beyond anything in former times. He should like his noble Friend (the Earl of Morley) to tell him how many nights in bed the ordinary Guardsman now gets in London. It was a most material point. They were sapping the strength of those men, if they did not get a sufficient number of night's rest, by means of the arduous and disagreeable duties to which he had alluded; therefore, if the Service was to be made popular, the men must be relieved as much as possible of the irksome duties which they had to per- form, which could only done by having a sufficient number of men. And if such was the state of matters in England, what were they to say of India? How many regiments were efficient in India? He gathered, from the statement which was made the other night, that there were at least 5,000, which was more than five battalions, wanting of the 50,000 men which we supplied to India. He hoped and believed there was no danger of another Mutiny. He hoped and believed there was no risk of complications happening in India which might call for a great force on the part of this country; but he could not but recollect that, if there had been only two regiments in particular places in India at the time of the Mutiny, it was not impossible that great outbreaks would have been put down at once, instead of developing and expanding as they did. Five thousand men, one-tenth of their whole Army, wanting in India was a most formidable deficiency. He would have been almost afraid of speaking about it in that House some weeks ago; but the fact had been published everywhere, and there was now no secret about it. But when they realized what it meant the fact was more serious; because it meant that the supply had to be sent from this country, and sent, too, from among the matured men, leaving the country still weaker, with an Army composed of youth and immaturity. With reference to the system of short service, which had existed since 1870, he would say that it had had a most ample and fair trial. He would undertake to say that, under the Government of which he was a Member, so far from putting any impediment in the way of its working, they did everything they possibly could to have it fairly and fully tried; and if it was now breaking down, let there not be any shame or feeling of repugnance towards taking a step, as they might call it, backward, if it was necessary, in order to bring about efficiency; but let them do it boldly and determinedly, and give the Army rest when they had done. Let them know what the Army wanted, and the terms and conditions in which recruits were to be expected in the Army, and let them have the best men that could be got. Let them do something to put our Forces on a proper and permanent footing, with the Auxiliary Forces in the background as a defence, containing within it a large Reserve, able to take the field with the Regular Army, not at the beginning of a war, but as a real Reserve to fall back upon whenever occasion might arise; for the Government should not forget, with regard to what was called the first line of defence, that a great deal of apprehension was felt as to whether our ships were sufficiently strong in themselves, or sufficiently armed, as compared with the fleets of other nations. This, however, was not the occasion to discuss Naval affairs. Let them not shrink from the expense of filling up the Militia and extending the Militia Reserve, and thus be ready to supply wants which would arise, because in that way only could they make themselves secure. Thanking their Lordships for their kind attention, he begged to ask the following questions:—How far below the numbers voted the Army now was, and what was the deficiency in each arm of the Service; what was the deficiency in the Militia, and, if any, in the Militia Reserve; what changes had been made in the terms and conditions under which recruits were taken, and at what rate were they coming in; what was the deficiency in the British troops in India, and how distributed, and what means had been and were being taken to supply it; at what age and after what service were soldiers sent to India; and what was the effect on the Reserves of the present state of things?


said, he could assure the noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Cranbrook) that he (the Earl of Morley) echoed the sentiment with which he began his very able and interesting speech—that questions relating to the Army were of a very serious and important nature, and ought not to be made, in any sense, Party questions. He was quite sure that the noble Viscount himself, who had had so much experience at the War Office, and knew from experience the difficulty and responsibility of the post of Secretary of State for War, was quite as anxious as those who were now charged with responsibility were that the Army should be as efficient as possible. The Notice given by the noble Lord who opened the debate (Lord Stratheden and Campbell) was somewhat vague in its character, as, until he (the Earl of Morley) heard the speech, he had not the remotest idea of the points to which the noble Lord was going to call attention in the general condition of the Auxiliary Forces. The noble Lord, however, was very bold in his suggestions, and a little rash in his assertions, as to the efficiency and use of both Militia and Volunteers. He (the Earl of Morley) entirely concurred in what had fallen from the noble Viscount opposite—that the noble Lord who opened the debate had very much underrated both the efficiency and the value of our Auxiliary Forces, the Volunteers and Militia, and last, not least, the Militia Reserve. But the noble Lord made a very extraordinary suggestion—the only one which he (the Earl of Morley) could really grasp throughout the whole of the speech—for improving the condition of the Auxiliary Forces—namely, that the military training of recruits for both branches of the Auxiliary Forces should be increased to 300 days. He was afraid that, if that suggestion were adopted, they would shortly not have many remaining of the 300,000 men who, the noble Lord said, were now uselessly locked up. He would now turn to the more important questions which the noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Cranbrook) had addressed to him with regard to the Army generally; and he would, in the first place, deal with the second question put by the noble Viscount, relating to the Militia and the Militia Reserve. But it was only right that he should explain to the House that it was by no means easy to give exact figures; and, therefore, that those he gave must be taken with certain qualifications, which he would endeavour to explain in the course of his statement. He would, however, place the matter before their Lordships' House as clearly as it was possible for him to do. The present enrolled strength of the Militia, as nearly as he could give it, was 109,767, which was something like 20,000 men below the Establishment. That might sound alarming, and the fact was certainly anything but satisfactory; but it must be remembered that this was just the time of year when the Militia was at its lowest strength. He would also remind the noble Viscount that the Militia was always considerably below the Establishment; and during the last 12 years the deficiency had always existed, and at times had been a great deal more unsatisfactory than the figures he had given. There was another point that also affected the general strength of the Militia in the last two years—that the Irish Militia, which consisted of 28,000 men, had not been called up, and recruiting had consequently been stopped; this diminished, of course, the enrolled strength of the entire Force. Up to the present time, they had been recruiting most satisfactorily both in England and Ireland; and he should not be far from the mark when he said that, during the present year, they had obtained about 18,000 recruits for the Militia. In respect to the Militia Reserve, also, the period immediately before the annual training was the most unfavourable time of the year to take. The number of the Force was something over 25,000 men, which was a deficiency of a little under 5,000. There, again, the Irish Militia came in; and, comparing the state of the Militia Reserve in 1882 and 1883, the decrease was almost entirely borne on the Irish Establishment. That was to be expected; and he had no doubt that, at the end of the present training, we should largely make up the deficiency existing in that branch. He then came to points relating to the Army generally, and he would take the figures in respect to the deficiency as given in the official Return of the 1st of May. At the same time, he must here again remind their Lordships that figures taken at this time of the year required qualification. To meet the existing deficiency which he admitted, it was proposed to alter, to some extent, the qualifications now required from recruits, and the terms on which they were enlisted. He proposed to lay a Memorandum on the Table, explaining definitely what changes were to be made. At this period of the year reliefs were constantly returning from India, taking their place on the English Establishment for a short time, and then being discharged; so that at one time the English Establishment might be temporarily above, and at another time considerably below, its strength. On the 1st of May, then, the deficiency in the number of the English Establishment was:—Artillery, 1,450; Engineers, 82; Guards, 940; Infantry of the Line, 6,200; and Colonial Force, 240. That gave a total deficiency of 8,900; but, deducting 400 excess in other branches of the Service, there was a net deficiency of 8,500 men at home. Now, in India, at that date, there was hardly any deficiency at all—only 321. Those figures, however, really gave an inaccurate idea of the real state of things, for they gave an exaggerated idea of the deficiency on the Home Establishment, and an inadequate idea of the deficiency on the Indian Establishment. The deficiency on the Home Establishment was to be qualified in this way. The strength of the Infantry in the last Estimates was raised by 2,400 men, the object of that being to raise the strength of the regiments on the roster, and to prevent their being too much attenuated after the drafts were sent out from them to India in the autumn. It was clear that that increase could not have taken place within the last month, nor, indeed, was it anticipated, even if they got the recruits, that it could take place immediately, the object being to strengthen the low-strength battalions by degrees, so as to prepare them for sending out drafts in the trooping season. To get at the true deficiency at home, therefore, it was obviously fair that he should deduct that 2,400, which brought the deficiency down to 6,100 in round numbers. It should be borne in mind, also, that, at this time of the year, men from India were returning home; that they were kept on the Indian Establishment until they were disembarked in this country; and that they were then borne for a short time on the Home Establishment before being discharged. The waste of the Army was, therefore, far greater now than at any other time of the year, because of men coming home in large batches from India, and being discharged as invalids, or as having served their time. Practically, the whole annual waste of the Indian Army was concentrated into the first half of the year, and was made up gradually by recruiting throughout the whole year. Thus, they must always anticipate that, the number of men annually leaving the Colours being, under the short-service system, larger than it was formerly, the deficiency would always be larger also. They could not safely reckon without a normal deficiency in May and July of 2,000 or 3,000 men from that cause, and that would reduce the abnormal deficiency at home to something like 4,000 men on the figures he had just given. On the 1st of May 7,000 men had already returned from India who had been discharged altogether from the Army or had gone into the Reserve. It was calculated that, at the end of the trooping season, when all the troops would have returned home from India, about the end of the present month, the deficiency in India would be—in Cavalry 368, and in Infantry 4,603. In the Artillery there would be a small excess of about 30, so that the total deficiency would then be about 4,941 men. He admitted that that was a state of things to which the noble Viscount opposite was quite justified in calling attention, and asking for an explanation; and he would, as far as he could, endeavour to explain the reasons that led to it. He thought he might fairly say, from the figures he had quoted, that the total deficiency on the Indian and English Establishments amounted to something between 6,000 and 8,000 men. He did not wish to enter at length into a comparison between the long-service system and the short-service system; but it was a curious fact that upon the 10 years from 1863 to 1873 there had been invariably, on the 1st of January, a very large deficiency on the Establishment, amounting, on the average, to something like 4,000 men. Taking, however, the nine years following, from 1873 to 1882, there had been in every case, with one exception, a surplus of strength on the Establishment; and, taking that into consideration, he thought it could hardly be denied that they had been more successful in the short-service system than in the long-service system in keeping the Army up to its Establishment, and in a state of efficiency as regarded numbers. He had been asked what was the cause of the present deficiency. This subject must be considered from two points of view. In the first place, the outflow from the Army had to be considered; and, in the second place, the inflow into it. The outflow from all causes was commonly called the "waste," but this was a misleading term; those who left the Army to go into the Reserve, or at the termination of their time of service with the Colours, could not be placed in the category of waste at all. He would divide the men who left the Colours into three classes—1, those discharged from unavoidable causes; 2, those who left of their own accord; 3, those who left in consequence of the Rules of the Service. First, taking the cases which were inevitable in all systems—namely, those arising from deaths from invaliding and discharges for bad conduct—he found an invariable tendency to decrease during the last 20 years; and if noble Lords would look at the figures, they would see that the discharges from the causes he had mentioned were rapidly decreasing. Secondly, as regards men who leave the Army of their own accord, either legally by purchase, or illegally by desertion, he believed that they must always have men going from those two causes. With regard to desertions, it must be remembered that among them must be taken the cases of men who had deserted, and therefore were counted as deserters several times; and, therefore, the number of desertions could not be taken as the actual amount of "waste" arising from that cause. They had been as watchful as they could be in regard to the matter of desertions, and had inflicted punishments of very great severity on the men who had been convicted of fraudulent enlistment during the past year; and he believed they had had a remarkable effect, and he hoped they would tend to discourage desertions in the future; indeed, during the present year there was a marked decline in the numbers of deserters. This decline had now been continued for some years. A third class of men left the Colours in accordance with the Rules of the Service—namely, those who left the Army to go into civil life, or into the Reserve; that depended entirely on the existing arrangements. Last year the depletion from these causes had been very considerable indeed, and higher than in previous years, and for this reason—that in 1870 they had enlisted a large number of long-service men—namely, for 12 years, and in 1876 a large number of short-service men—namely, for six years; and the term of enlistment for both expired last year. So that there were, in 1882, what remained in the Army of no less than 46,000 men enlisted in 1870 and 1876 whose term of enlistment terminated last year. That he believed to be the principal cause of the deficiency—a deficiency which he deplored as much as the noble Viscount—resulting from this double drain on the Service. They had to obtain recruits to supply the places of these two classes of men in the same year; but they had only the ordinary inflow. No doubt, this cause of deficiency would diminish year after year; still, he was prepared to admit that there would be from the short-service system more than the average outflow of past years. As regards the inflow of recruits, the noble Viscount opposite had asked him how he accounted for the check in recruiting; and he thought he should be able to account for that in a very satisfactory manner. If he had to say that they had had a smaller number of recruits wishing to enter the Army, it might be justly said that the Army was more unpopular; but they had found that really last year a larger number of men had had recruiting notices sent them than in any previous year. The total number of men applying to be received last year was more than 45,000; but, out of that number, only 23,000 had been approved. The reason of that was that, in the first plane, the age had been raised from 18 to 19; and, in the second place, the medical examination had been very much more stringent. The standard itself had not been raised; but the instructions given to the medical officers had been of a much more stringent character, and had been more stringently carried out. In the third place, though he did not attach so much importance to the fact, the not calling out of the Irish Militia had, no doubt, affected the recruiting for the Army to a very considerable extent. As to the progress of the recruiting this year, he thought he could give a very satisfactory account. Up to the 1st of May 8,665 recruits had been obtained; and, judging from the Returns of former years, he thought they might calculate that this rate would give 29,000 recruits in the course of the year, and that number would be amply sufficient for all their normal needs. In the month just past, excluding last week, they had been receiving recruits at the rate of 640 per week; and the number for the last week but one was 768. The Returns for last week, which were not complete, as they excluded London and some other large districts, would amount to about 750. It was perfectly true that the increase was due to several special causes, and partly to the lowering of the age and standard. In April last a Circular had been issued to commanding officers of districts, authorizing them to accept men under 19 years of age, if they thought they were likely to become good soldiers; and at the same time they were permitted, on the same conditions, to take men between 5 feet 3 inches and 5 feet 4 inches in height. As for the age of the recruits, it was undeniable that some thousands of men—say, 4,000 at the least—were lost to the country last year, because they could not be taken when they were less than 19 years old. Now, it was in theory highly desirable that they should have no men in the Army under 19, or even 20 years of age, and this was easily managed in countries where there was conscription; but where the Army was recruited from Volunteers, they had to consider at what age they could get the largest number of men, and the best qualified men. The fact was that at 18 men were beginning to settle their occupations for life, and the recruiting authorities, if they did not take them then, lost them altogether. He did not by any means anticipate that the present recruits would prove mere weeds. The authorities had great confidence in the discretion of the medical officers; and not only were the medical examinations more strict now than they used to be, but the regulations recently made provided that recruits should remain for their first course of drill at the depots for three months—an arrangement which kept them under the observation of the medical officers who passed them, and the commanding officer who approved of their being enlisted, and saw them through their course of training. With respect to the Guards, the deficiency was, as he had stated, 940 men; and he greatly deplored that deficiency, especially considering the extra duties—performed, however, with the greatest alacrity—which had been thrown upon the officers and men of the brigade during the last few months. It was now proposed to reduce the standard of height to 5 feet 7 inches, and, at the same time, to reduce the age for enlistment tol8, as in the rest of the Army. This reduction had hardly had, as yet, time to operate. He might, in passing, notice that the system of paying sergeants for obtaining recruits had been altered in July last, and regularly-paid recruiting sergeants were now employed throughout the country. This change might have temporarily checked recruiting; but he was confident that this was a right and proper change, and the success they had had with recruiting this year proved that the check, if check there had been, was only temporary. The policy of the War Office was not to entrap young men into the Army by false pretences, but to induce men to join by letting them know exactly what they were about in doing so, and the favourable conditions of the Service on which they were entering. By that means, it was hoped that a more than sufficient number of recruits would be obtained for their ordinary requirements. These recruits, however, would not be available for the Indian drafts, which, in consequence of the deficiency already stated, would be abnormally numerous next autumn; because it was laid down that no men should be sent to India who were under 20 years of age, or who had less than one year's service. These regulations respecting service in India remained unaltered. It was proposed to endeavour to reduce the demand for drafts by offering inducements to men now in India to extend their service with the Colours; and the War Office was now in communication with the India Office as to the expediency of taking steps in this direction. The offer of £5 was made to men willing to extend their service to 10 years; but that was done just before a large number were returning home, and a very small proportion of them availed themselves of the offer. Further communications were now passing between the War Office and the India Office. With a view of making good the deficiency both at home and abroad, and also of endeavouring to render the Service more popular throughout the country, by giving greater elasticity to the conditions under which soldiers now served, they proposed to make changes of some importance in these conditions. They proposed to allow every man who had been enlisted, or who would be enlisted as long as this Order was in force, to extend his service to 12 years; and then—subject to the conditions which had always existed—namely, that he was an efficient soldier, and had been approved by his commanding officer—he would be allowed to re-engage, and to serve for 21 years, when he would receive his deferred pay and a pension. Further, with a view of meeting the Indian demands next autumn, they proposed to give a bounty of £2 to all men in regiments which had a battalion in India, who were between their fourth and seventh year of service, and who re-engaged for 12 years. This bounty was not new in principle, for now men who were allowed to extend their service to 10 years for foreign service were, in the regular course, granted £2 on embarkation. Practically, they now proposed to give the £2 in anticipation, so that they might be ready to send the men to India when required. It might be said against these proposals that, if carried into effect, they would involve a return to long service, and, consequently, a diminution, if not destruction, of the First Class Reserve. This he denied. The essence of long service was that a recruit should be bound to remain in the Army for the best part of his life—namely, for 12 years. Short service bound him only for seven or eight years. It was not proposed to alter this in any way, but to open the door to those who desired, of their own accord, to remain with the Colours for a longer period, or even to serve on for pension. At the present time this proposal would have a double advantage. If many men extended their services, it would relieve them from what was, he admitted, a difficulty, as it would diminish the demands, which India would make upon them next month, and would, at the same time, render the Home Army more able to meet those demands, by having a larger proportion of men qualified for Indian service in the ranks; and it would assist in making good the deficiency in the total Establishment, the existence of which he admitted. It would, at the same time, test the question whether there were, as they were frequently told, large numbers of men who were driven out of the ranks, against their own wishes, by their regulations. The Re-serve would, no doubt, suffer in proportion to the number of men who extended their services, or who re-engaged; but, at a time like the present, when there must be a deficiency either in the Reserve or in the First Line, it seemed to him obviously expedient that the deficiency should be rather in the Reserve. When their Establishments were again complete it would be easy to replenish the Reserve by allowing men to leave the Colours before the termination of their first engagement, as had been done on former occasions when recruiting was more than sufficient to supply casualties. Moreover, an addition would this year be made to the First Class Reserve by enrolling a certain number of men—the Estimates provided for 2,500—in the Supplemental Reserve first instituted last year, which was to be composed of men who had completed 12 years' service, and which was not to be liable for service till all the First Class Army Reserve had been mobilized. The principle on which the proposals he had described were based was that the greatest latitude should be given to the soldier in making his choice as to the term for which he would serve. In the case of the Foot Guards, it was proposed to carry this principle a step further, and alter the terms of enlistment. It was proposed to enlist men for the Foot Guards for only three years, to allow them, at any time within that period, to extend to seven, and in the seventh year to extend the service to 12 years, when, subject to the usual conditions, they, like the rest of the Army, would be allowed to re-engage for pension; the difference between the enlistment for Guards and the Line being that the former would, in the first instance, be enlisted for three, the latter for seven years. In both cases the men would have the option of serving longer. The exigencies of supplying drafts for abroad, and the necessity for preparing the Infantry battalions high on the roster for service in the First Army Corps, rendered it at present difficult, if not impossible, to apply the three years' system to the Army generally. He should add that Guardsmen who left after only three years' service would not earn any deferred pay; but if they served on, the deferred pay which they would receive on leaving the Colours would be reckoned from the date of enlistment. The scheme would, he hoped, help to supply the deficiency now existing in the Guards; and the experience of its working in a limited corps, which had no foreign service, would be very instructive. On the one hand, they had been told constantly that if they only reduced the term of service to three years they would get any number of the best class of recruits; and they would largely increase their powers of selection, and, by keeping them for a shorter period with the Colours, double their Reserve. On the other hand, it was stated that they were driving out of the ranks, by their regulations, men most anxious to serve on. The experiment they were about to try in the Army generally, but more crucially in the case of the Guards, would give a definite answer to these opposing theories. Possibly it might be found that there was truth in both, and this would be the most satisfactory solution of the question. He frankly admitted that he, judging from past experience, did not anticipate that a large number of men would avail themselves of the offers of re-engaging for pension. Among other things, the receipt of a considerable sum of ready money, as deferred pay, was an inducement to many men to leave the Army and start themselves in civil life. He had now answered all the noble Viscount's questions, except one, which related to the strength of the First Class Army Reserve. At present the strength of this Force was 28,700, and in the course of the month it would probably reach 30,000, as it would receive a number of men returning from India. Moreover, they hoped this year to add to the Reserve Force the 2,500 men of the Supplemental Reserve already mentioned. He had now, he hoped, given frank and clear answers to all the questions put to him by the noble Viscount. He had admitted the deficiency to which the noble Viscount had very properly called attention, and had, as far he could, given the causes which had resulted in this deficiency, both as regarded the increased outflow of men from the Army, and the diminished inflow of recruits in the last year, and shown that it was due to abnormal causes, and not to the reluctance of recruits to join the Army. He had also explained the measures which it was proposed to adopt to meet their present difficulties. Those measures were of an experimental and, possibly, of a temporary character. They in no way abandoned, as some unjustly said, the principle of short service; but they carried as far as could be done, with the exigencies of a Foreign Army to meet, the principle that the soldier should be free to leave or to remain in the Army, according to his wishes or the circumstances of his life. Experience alone would show how this system would work, and how far it might require modification. It was, of course, open to the Secretary of State to introduce such alterations in future as circumstances might require; but he wished to explain distinctly—as there seemed to be some misapprehension on the subject—that such future modifications would only affect the men enlisted after their publication. The men now in the Army, or who hereafter enlisted under the conditions which had been described, would, of course, not forfeit any privileges they might have obtained in consequence of any change of Regulations effected after their own enlistment. Under short service they had obtained more than double the number of recruits given them by long service. And the applicants to enter the Army were annually increasing, and were, as he had shown, sufficient for their annual wants. The deficiency now existing—the gravity of which he did not for an instant depreciate—was the result of abnormal causes, and he believed that the measures which he had described would gradually diminish and finally extinguish that deficiency. He maintained strongly that such deficiency as existed could in no degree be attributed to the system of short service, and he hoped they would never diverge from the path on which they entered when Lord Cardwell introduced that system. Experience had shown that no other system would yield an adequate supply of recruits, and none of the Committees or Commissions which had considered the question had been able to suggest any other system which would give them a Reserve.


said, he was extremely gratified at the discussion which had been brought about by the reference of the noble Lord (Lord Stratheden and Campbell) to the condition of the Auxiliary Forces. It was a question, he need hardly say, of the greatest importance, and he was glad it had been so exhaustively dealt with as it had by his noble Friends on both sides who had addressed the House on the subject. As a rule, it was undesirable that Army arrangements, which were not working as smoothly as one could wish, should be brought prominently before the public; and it was not desirable the public should imagine that there was a much greater deficiency of men than there ought to be; but the subject having been brought forward, the best way was to deal with it fully and frankly, as his noble Friend (the Earl of Morley) had done. It was a matter of perfect indifference to him (the Duke of Cambridge) whether they had long or short service; all that he wanted to see was a good Army, as good a one as could possibly be had for its small size; and the test of whether one system was better than another, was its success in drawing men out of the labour market. If they found one system better than another for that purpose, and that under it they could get the best men, they should adopt it. The system of short service as carried on abroad was peculiar, but a very simple and a good one. All the men were bound to serve, and the result was that men were never wanted; that was, one-third went home, and one-third joined the Army at the same time, and in two or three months were ready for all duties. But in this country, that could only be done by conscription, and that he was not in favour of. About one-third of the whole Army in Germany was discharged into the Reserve every year; and, on the very day they left, their places were filled up by recruits. In our Service the men joined by enlistment, and, as a consequence, we had weak battalions, as the labour market offered other attractions, and it became a question as to the power of money in that market, and as to what we could get the men for; and we could have no Army at all unless we were prepared to pay for the inducements to enlist. But, under conscription, recruiting cost nothing, for the law obliged every man to serve for a time. We had, therefore, all the disadvantages of short service, without the advantage that resulted from the law forcing men to serve. He should prefer men to enlist at 19 or 20; but we could not get men at that age, because they were otherwise employed. The boy of 18 had not made up his mind with regard to any business; and, therefore, he was more easily attainable for the Army. Lads who entered at that age made good soldiers in the long run; but, at first, they could only be employed on light work. They could not be sent for service abroad. Therefore, if we could take younger men, they could be trained, and they would be better soldiers at 20. It was the same with young men as with young horses; they would work better if they had been trained to it. But these younger men should not be called soldiers at all; they should correspond to boys in the Navy; and the Army should train boys to be soldiers, as the Navy trained boys to be sailors. We ought to have 10,000 more men, as we were now called upon to send to India, on an average, one-fourth of the battalions every year. Between 200 and 250 men had to be sent on an average every year as a draft from 450 men on the Home Establishment. Consequently, occasionally only 200 men were left at home, and generally the home battalion was not up to its full strength. Of course, the Army was bound to assist the Civil power in keeping the peace; and, at the present time, the Guards alone were 940 under the Establishment, and yet they were called upon to supply 74 sentries more in London than had ever been required within his recollection. At the same time, although the men disliked that duty, they discharged it with alacrity and without complaint. Of course, the men would not stay unless it were made worth their while to do so. As to the question of deferred pay, he found men would take the £18 and go, rather than have the prospect of receiving a larger sum, or even a pension, at the end of a longer period of service. In that way, deferred pay operated against long service; but it was given for the excellent reason that men should not loaf about the country after they had left the Army. If a soldier on his discharge got £18, he had something to start with in life, and he could not say that he had been neglected by the State. If he chose to squander away the money, that was his own affair. He believed, however, that if we could induce men to come to the conviction that this deferred pay might be put into the savings bank to accumulate, it would be better both for the men and for the State. He did not think the shifting of men from one regiment or battalion to another was desirable, as it tended to make men dissatisfied. People had an idea that a soldier was a sort of man who did not care where he went or what he did. It was probably true that he did not care where he went; but, at the same time, he liked to be with the men he had made friends of. Men were not shifted about in the Cavalry, and what was the consequence? Why, that men could always be got for that arm of the Service; and, at the present time, it was over its strength, while the Infantry was 6,000 below theirs. He believed that when men enlisted, they did not much care where they went; but, once in a regiment, they wanted to stay in it and remain with their comrades. His noble Friend had said that he could not imagine anything better than the system of Reserves. But if they had no Army, they could not expect to form or keep up a Reserve; for where were the men to come from to go into that Reserve? He thought that they ought to get more Reserve men from the Militia; and, although he was not in favour of conscription, there ought to be some means of keeping up the Militia to its full strength, whether by conscription or any other means—although, of course, they could never have conscription, as our whole system was opposed to it. It was also, he thought, a great mistake to keep recruits too long at a depôt. They ought to be sent to their regiments as soon as possible. With regard to the subject of desertion, it was known that, in many instances, men had deserted because they had been compelled to stay at the depôt. They should be required to present themselves at the depôt, and should be sent on to their regiments without delay. He knew that desertion was made a profession of by some men, who deserted over and over again for the purpose of getting a sum of money and a free kit; but they were not allowed to mark or tattoo the men; and, therefore, it was in many cases impossible to know whether a man had been in the Army before or not. Let the men be marked or tattooed in some way, by a special system of vaccination, so that it might be known that they had been in the Army. There was, no doubt, an enormous number of desertions; but they were much fewer, in reality, than they appeared to be, because, if one man deserted four or five times, these desertions were represented over and over again as separate instances. He felt satisfied at the discussion which had taken place, and he trusted good would be the result. Whether there were short or long service he cared comparatively little; but what he did greatly care for was, that we should have an efficient Army.


said, he hoped there would be no question of conscription for the Militia. His Royal Highness the illustrious Duke (the Duke of Cambridge) had stated that the question of maintaining the efficiency of the Army was merely a question of money. He (the Earl of Galloway) would admit the truth of the argument; but he would also say that the efficiency of the Militia was equally a question of money. The Militiaman was the cheapest soldier we had. If we wanted a Reserve, it was to the Militia we should have to trust, and not to the Army. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Morley) had assigned, as the real reason of the deficiency of the Army, that, in 1876, about 24,000 enlisted on short service, and left the Service last year. But the noble Earl went on to say that many men enlisted in 1870, on long service, whose term expired in 1882, forgetting that in Infantry regiments the period of enlistment on long service was 10 years, and not 12.


said, he gathered, from what had been said, that the Army had been in a state of transition for about 15 years, and that the last state of the Army was worse than the first. Voluntary enlistment, short service, Indian reliefs, and low Establishments could not work together as a military system. The short-service system had admittedly broken down, and the system of linked battalions had proved to be a failure. He called attention to the circumstance that it still was extremely difficult for a soldier, however meritorious, to obtain a Government office or civil employment upon his discharge, although everybody agreed that such appointments ought to be open to him. The remedy for present deficiencies would be a return to longer engagements, and breaking up the linked battalions. An attempt was announced in the former direction, but under Regulations so complicated that it was very difficult to understand them. Indeed, an attorney would be required with each regiment, in order to explain to the men the nature of their engagement. The noble Earl asserted that no change of system was intended by what was now proposed, and if he thought that 12 years and seven years were the same thing, he could have the benefit of that opinion. He hoped that the new departure now about to be followed by the War Office would prove much more successful than the present arrangements.


said, he wished to correct his reference to the proportionate number of men sent as a draft to India every year, by stating that he had said 250, instead of from 160 to 200.


said, that he was glad to find that at last the Secretary of State for War had determined to face the difficulty, and to resort to optional long service. When Lord Cardwell's scheme first came before their Lordships, it was supported by many noble Lords, on the understanding that there should be 24 per cent of men enlisted on long service; but that understanding had not been kept. Lord Airey's Committee, of which the noble and gallant Lord on the Cross Benches was a Member (Lord Napier of Magdala), had recommended such a percentage, but their recommendations had been disregarded. While so many men were sent into the Reserve there was no ground for wonder at the deficiency on the Establishment, which had now to be remedied by a partial re-introduction of long service. Under these circumstances, he thought the short-service system had been somewhat overdone, for the Reserve had been filled with three years' men. The noble Viscount (Viscount Cranbrook), who had left the House, had, merely because recruiting was brisk, sent into the Reserve large bodies of three years' men; and they were now suffering from the effects of it—from the large number of three years' men who were claiming their discharge. Then Lord Card well refused to send Reserve men to the Cape, because he said that they were only intended for a great European war. But such a war might not occur for half-a-century, and, therefore, that was the weak point about it, for no Government would take the responsibility of calling it out for a small war, lest it should become unpopular. It was owing to this, that in the late wars, such as those at the Cape, we were obliged to trust to a "scratch pack" of volunteers, half of whom were boys, instead of sending out the Reserves. He was bound to say that when Lord Beaconsfield called out the Reserves, they answered fully to the expectations formed of them. At the present moment, out of the regiments at Aldershot, only two were fit, and the remainder would have to be filled up by the old, objectionable system of volunteering, or calling up the Reserves. He should like to know what state the 12 regiments were in which were first for service. What would they do in case of war? Why, call out the Reserves! He thought it would have been much better if the Government had intimated their intention of creating a moderate Reserve and a good fighting Line. They never had had a good fighting Line under the short-service system, because half of the regiments were composed of boys. He thought they had in the creation of a good Reserve more or less sacrified the fighting Line, and he was glad, therefore, that some modification of the existing system had been resolved upon. He certainly hoped that the experiment which was about to be made would be successful. For his own part, he believed more in the Militia than in the First Class Reserve, which must necessarily be a fluctuating body. If, however, it was intended, as it should be intended, to make the Militia the backbone of the Army, much greater attention should be paid to bringing the Militia up to its Establishment, and filling up the numbers of the Militia Reserve. More attention should be paid to the training and shooting of that Force and of the Militia Reserve, which could not be done without a larger expenditure of money. It would be far better if commanding and inspecting officers of Militia were required to pay attention to the shooting of those Forces, than to mere parade drill and marching past. Whatever system was adopted, whether of long or short service, he trusted the present deficiency was only temporary, and that we should eventually be provided with a good fighting Line, which was of paramount importance.


said, he wished to remind the House that the Duke of Wellington had said that it was the old soldiers and the non-commissioned officers who formed the strength of the Army, and that half-a-dozen old soldiers in the barrack-room were worth all the non-commissioned officers. He (Lord Napier of Magdala) fully endorsed that opinion. His experience of the short-service system convinced him that a mixture of the older soldiers with the younger men was most desirable, inas- much as the latter were not so much, interested in the Service as the former were. In fact, they might almost be said to have no interest at all in it. It was so short, that they did not care for the non-commissioned officers, and they hesitated to offend their comrades. Under these circumstances, Lord Airey's Committee were perfectly justified in recommending a mixture of 25 per cent of long-service men. He hoped that the new scheme would answer the expectations formed of it. One thing, however, the soldier wanted particularly to know—namely, in a definite way what was before him.


said, that the present system had landed us in an anomalous and disastrous condition of things, and he could only hope that the return to long service which had been proposed would work satisfactorily. He must say that he admired the great amount of ingenuity that had been displayed by the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Morley) in his attempt to show that the Government were not about to revert to that system; but what was the proposal for 21 years' service, but a return to it? Successive Secretaries of State for War had found themselves bound to administer the short-service system under the Acts of Parliament, and to keep on going straight ahead. In the general rejoicing at the change of policy on the part of the Government on this question, it must not be forgotten that our position with regard to the Army was a critical one, inasmuch, as our Establishment was greatly under its strength. It was useless to attempt to disguise the fact that, in the change now about to be adopted, we were returning to the long-service system, and it was greatly to the credit of Her Majesty's Government that they had had the pluck to acknowledge the position in which we were placed, and to propose the only possible remedy for it. The Government bad undoubtedly congratulated themselves upon the improved condition of recruiting; but they appeared to forget that that was the result mainly of their having lowered the standard of height, and of having widened the limit as to age. With regard to the different periods of enlistment, he must remark that it was most desirable that a recruit should know, with certainty, what he had to expect in entering the Army. It was proposed that a recruit should be able to enter the Guards for three years, that then he should have the option of enlistment for seven years, then for 12 years, and finally should be able to complete his 21 years. There were thus four terms of enlistment proposed, on complicated conditions, which he (Viscount Bury) was satisfied would never be understood by recruits. He thought that when a man re-enlisted at the end of 12 years' service, his deferred pay, amounting to £36, should be given him, instead of being placed in a bank by the Government until his full term of 21 years had expired. He wished to know whether it was true that a number of men who had returned to this country a short time ago, their term of service having expired, had refused to re-enlist in the Guards, although a bounty of £2 10s. a-head had been offered to them? Something should be done to stop the waste and dribble from the Army, which from desertions, deaths, and other causes, had now amounted to the enormous number of 300 per 1,000 in the first three years of service.


said, that in view of the great deficiency existing in the numbers of the Army, he would entreat the Government, as a remedy for that unsatisfactory state of affairs, to increase the pay of the soldier in the way that it had been increased in the Police and among Railway servants generally. It would astonish their Lordships if they knew the number of old soldiers who were going about the country as tramps, and that fact alone was almost sufficient to explain why so few recruits came forward. He had lately been working on a Vagrancy Committee in Warwickshire, and he found that no less than half the beggars at the Warwick Union had been soldiers; and he believed it was likewise the case at Oxford. He would suggest that the Government, through the Local Government Board, should ask masters of Unions to give in Reports, showing what the real number of soldiers tramping the country was. Desertion was also a fruitful source of expense to the taxpayer, and it was all because they would not treat the deserter in the good old-fashioned way of branding him with the letter "D." He did not see why they should be so delicate and nice with a scoundrel who had broken his oath, and deserted his Colours. He hoped that the Government, having made a change, would go on with it, and let them return to the long-service system, with a Militia Reserve to fall back upon, for it undoubtedly was the only means of maintaining an efficient Army.


said, he would suggest that the second year of a recruit's drill might be spent more advantageously than under the present system, by teaching him in entrenching, flag signalling, and outpost duty. What the Auxiliary Forces wanted was organization. It was something like a scandal upon their military administration—and he was not referring to any particular Party—that that Force, after so many years, was absolutely deficient in that means of organization to enable them to take the field. As to the Militia, he had always held that it was the backbone of our military system; but that backbone was normally in an invertebrate condition, it being openly admitted that it was in an unreliable state. The noble Viscount (Viscount Cranbrook) groaned over the condition of the Militia in 1883; but the condition of the Militia in 1883 was not one bit worse than it had been in any of the last 15 or 20 years; and as the noble Viscount had told them he was himself in Office for four years, he (the Earl of Wemyss) wanted to know why he did not address himself to put it in a proper state? The strength of the Militia Reserve was also of great importance. When the Militia Reserve was called out, it was immediately deducted from the strength of the Militia. This was not intended by its originator, the late General Peel. On the contrary, the Milltia Reserve was to be al ways borne in excess of the Militia Establishment. If the Militia Force were called out, they could not possibly give more than 30,000 or 40,000 men for the field. He held that a good Militia Reserve was our best sheet anchor; and his conviction was, that not only the Militia, but the Army, would never be sound until the Militia was kept fully up to its Establishment by a return to the old Constitutional form of recruiting for it.


said, he wished to point out that the number of desertions from the Army last year was 251 less than in 1881, although the number of deserters recaptured was 32 less. As to recruiting, one of the greatest difficulties to be contended with, in reference to both the Army generally and the Militia was the severity of the discipline that was at once, and injudiciously, applied to recruits. A Circular was issued some time since to non-commissioned officers, pointing out that the want of tact and forbearance with young recruits had tended to make the Service unpopular with them, and that the result had not been advantageous to the Service. Another fact to be regretted was, that of the large number of recruits obtained so few, comparatively speaking, came up for attestation subsequently.


said, he rose to explain for a moment. He had been so much misinterpreted by the noble Earl the Under Secretary of State for War (the Earl of Morley), that he might have interrupted him at the time, but did not care to do so. The noble Earl had described him as recommending that Volunteer recruits should at once be burdened by 300 drills. The very words he (Lord Stratheden and Campbell) had employed were, that, in that Service, we should resort to cautious, gradual, and even tentative proceedings. Nor, in the Militia, was he the advocate of any change at all, until the subject had been thoroughly investigated. According to the noble Earl, the counsel he (Lord Stratheden and Campbell) had offered would put an end to the Auxiliary Forces. He was surprised to hear from a Member of the House, that a Committee of the House would have an influence so fatal. A Committee of the House was the only counsel he (Lord Stratheden and Campbell) had urged, and, in the long course of this discussion, not one objection had been offered to it.

House adjourned at a quarter before Eight o'clock, till To-morrow, a quarter past Ten o'clock.