HL Deb 15 May 1885 vol 298 cc571-96

in rising to move— That the present state of the Auxiliary Forces, deficient as they are in the organization and equipment necessary to enable them, if required, to take and keep the field, demands the immediate and earnest attention of those who are responsible for their efficiency and for the security of the country, said, that in 1870 it was known that the Emperor of the French, in picking a quarrel with Germany, asked the Secretary of State for War whether France was prepared for war. The answer was historic and well known. General Lebœuf Said they were prepared jusqu'au dernier bouton. What was the result of all this? Before even the French Army had crossed the Frontier the Chief of the Commissariat wrote to the Minister of War at Paris, dating from Metz, July 24, 1870— The 3rd Corps will leave Metz entirely tomorrow, I have neither attendants to nurse the sick, nor administrative clerks, nor ambulances, field stores, baggage waggons, weighing machines. In the 4th Division (the Cavalry Division) I have ^0 officials at all. I beg Your Excellency to help me out of this difficulty. The great headquarters cannot come to my assistance, although there are more than 10 officials there. They well knew the result of the Franco-German Campaign—how the French intended invasion was rolled back upon France, how armies were netted by hundreds of thousands at a time, how the Emperor surrendered at Sedan, how at last Paris itself surrendered, how two Provinces were torn from France, and how the French people were made to pay £400,000,000 indemnity. He referred to those events because the showed the result of trusting to smooth official statements; and because he believed that the consequences would be in England even worse, if they had, under present circumstances, to send in an emergency an Army into the field and to depend on its Auxiliary Forces. Of the Army, he only desired to say that at the time of the reforms carried out in the Army in 1871 they were assured that the Reserve in 1880 would amount to 80,000, whereas it only amounted to 34,000 in 1884; and the result was this—that while they had obtained a second line at the expense of the first, which was prac- tically non-existent, only amounting to 30,000 rank and file of 20 years and upwards, they could not engage in the smallest war, and send efficient troops—seasoned men—abroad without depleting the regiments at home; and with regard even to the regiments sent abroad, he had been informed that there was one regiment doing garrison duty abroad 900 strong, having about 300 men who had never fired a shot—though this was a Rifle regiment—and having about one-third of its men under the age of 19 years. If they compared the year 1864 with the year 1884 they found this very strange result—that in 1884 there were 975 men less, including the Reserve, than in 1864 without it. In 1864 the Return of all ranks was 216,791; in 1884 it was 181,227, or 35,564 less; and if they added to the strength of the Army in 1884 the 34,000 First Class Reserve they only obtained 215,227, which was 975 less than the strength of the Army alone in 1864. That was certainly a curious state of things, especially having regard to the fact that the Army Estimate for 1884 was £15,790,000, and the Estimate for 1864 only £13,520,000. As regarded the Army, therefore, those figures, which were incontrovertible, showed that, however gallant the Army might be, it was not such that the nation could trust to it alone for its defences. It was to establish that proposition that he had made this allusion to the Army. He would now refer to the Auxiliary Forces—the Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteers. Two years ago he brought forward a Motion, which was carried, and which declared— That having regard to the present defective military organization and to the great importance of the Militia Force, it is essential that the Militia be forthwith recruited up to their established strength; and that the Militia Reserve should, as intended by its originator, the late General Peel, and as recommended by the Militia Committee of 1877, be borne in excess of the Militia establishment. There was a discussion on that occasion; and, though a11 those who had held Office opposed the Motion it was carried by the patriotism of the House by a majority of five Inbringing forward that Motion he have the following figures. The Militia Establishment in 1883 was 128,069, but only men were enrolled. De-during 30,000 men who belonged to the Militia Reserve, and also those men who were under 19 years of age and who could not be regarded as real soldiers, deducting also the Artillery and one-fifth for casualties, there were left 36,638 rank and file. Their Lordships would probably not be surprised to hear that the Resolution carried in that House had been treated as waste paper, and that nothing had been done which it recommended. In 1884 the rank and file of the Militia Establishment was nominally 129,737; but the number present at training was only 93,925, and after deducting the 30,000 Militia Reserve and the men under 19 years of age, Artillery, and one-fifth for casualties, there remained 27,473 available men. That was the state of affairs regarding the numbers of the Militia. As regarded organization, nothing could be worse. They were wanting in Transport, in Field Artillery, and in Cavalry. He had communicated with some Militia officers on the subject, and one of them—a most efficient officer—had replied— The state of the Militia is precisely what that of the Navy was before the recent scare, and their Lordships knew what that meant. This officer said that the system of sending recruits to the depots to be trained, instead of at once attaching them to their regiments, discouraged enlistment. He also regretted that the Adjutant and permanent Staff of a regiment were no longer appointed by the Commanding Officer. The result of the existing state of things was that the command of a Militia regiment was not as desirable a prize as it was formerly, and that the Militia was inefficiently officered. Many young men entered the Force with the sole object of obtaining commissions in the Line, and consequently left it at the end of two years. The fraudulent enlistment and desertion that occurred in connection with the Force were very great. With regard to equipment, his informant complained that the want was almost total. The pouches of the men could only contain 20 rounds of ammunition; their knapsacks were worn out, and their belts obsolete. They had no leggings, water bottles, or helmets, and were but imperfectly provided with greatcoats. The fact was that the Militia was not in the state in which the public believed it to be, either in point of numbers or organization. Public opinion ought to be brought to bear upon the subject, and more cognizance taken of this invaluable Force. As to the Yeomanry, he held that every effort should be made to keep that old Constitutional Force up to the proper standard. In time of need it might render invaluable service to the country. He came now to the last branch of his subject—namely, their Volunteer organization. Sir Edward Hamley, in a recent article in The Nineteenth Century entitled The Volunteers in Time of Need, said— Since their first establishment the Volunteers have largely increased in numbers. There was, a time, some lo years ago, when for some years the Force kept diminishing. But since 1873, when the number enrolled stood at 172,000, of whom nearly 19,000 were non-efficient, it rose steadily, till it stands now at 240,000 enrolled men, of whom less than 7,000 were non-efficient. That so many men, of whose lives leisure forms hut a small part, should give so much of it to this almost gratuitous service proves that they have taken up the task in no holiday spirit, and is one of the hopeful signs of the times. Sir Edward Hamley also pointed out that in a case of necessity the Volunteers would probably form two-thirds of our defensive Army. Now, it was a melancholy fact that this Force, so enthusiastic and patriotic, was, as an Army, practically inefficient. Their muskets were of the very worst kind, and they had none of the absolute requisites to enable them to take and keep the field. As a result, if those men should be suddenly called to take the field sickness would prevail to an alarming extent. At a recent discussion at the United Service Institution a statement was made of the articles, greatcoats, valises, water bottles, leggings, &c, of which the Volunteers were in need; and it was agreed that a certain additional sum—10s.—ought to be given to Volunteers to enable them to procure those articles, the grant being made on the principle of payment by results. Another matter to which attention was drawn at the meeting was the desirability of forming a Volunteer Reserve. That, however, did not exhaust the catalogue of wants. More ranges were needed, and Morris's tubes for shooting practice should be provided for all regiments. It was said that there was ample transport in the country; but what use was that when the transport was not organized? When the crash came there might be chaos here beyond anything that had been found in France. With regard to Auxiliary Cavalry they had none; and yet they ought to look to the Yeomanry as the proper Cavalry Force in aid of the Volunteers. It would add greatly to the efficiency of the Yeomanry if they were made a Rifle Cavalry Force, and were armed with a rifle good at 2,000 yards, instead of a carbine as now, which carried only 1,000. The men should be trained to use this arm on foot as well as on horseback. If he were the Secretary of State for War he would be inclined to say to the Yeomanry—" You are capable of being made a most efficient Force. We are ready to assist you; but we insist upon your becoming Rifle Cavalry. If you do we will increase your grant." He hoped the country would take this home—that they had at present a Royal Artillery insufficient in number for an Army even on a peace footing, and absolutely insufficient for an Army on a war footing, as regarded the proper proportion of guns, horses, equipments, and men. It had not that reserve of men, horses, or equipment which would be necessary for war. As regarded the Militia, there was no Field Artillery of any kind. The illustrious Duke on the Cross Benches (the Duke of Cambridge) would bear him out that this was the old story mooted in 1870. He asked his noble Friend (the Earl of Morley) the other day a Question about the 40-pounders they had got. His noble Friend declined to give any information, upon the ground that it would be indiscreet to do so; but the fact was that the only people who would be kept in the dark upon the subject were the people of England, as through their Military Attaches Foreign Governments knew every particular of every gun we had. The 40-pounder was not as good as a gun half its weight; but it might be improved. Let some use be made of those guns; let them be handed over to the Volunteers. That was what General Hamley proposed—that those guns should be given to the Volunteers, and that stores should be built; and he calculated the whole cost at £800,000. The total cost of Volunteers numbering 214,000 was £769,400. Of that sum the capitation grant amounted to £388,800, stores to £93,000, Adjutants £67,400, and Sergeant-Instructors £85,100. He hoped he had said enough to induce their Lordships to support his Motion. He thought he had shown that whether they looked at the Army or the Auxiliary Forces everything was in a condition in which it ought not to be. That was due to the policy of both sides. They dreaded to spend money on things for which money was required; and there was a want of courage on the part of those who were responsible, and who ought to come forward and state what was wanting in money and otherwise to make their Forces efficient. This question was in the Slough of Despond of Party rivalry. General Hamley said in The Nineteenth Century of last March— The reason of this disastrous neglect lies in the extraordinary means by which we are content to administer our Departments of War. They are in the hands of Ministers 'who never set a squadron in the field or the division of a battle know,' but who are pledged to maintain the interests of a particular political Chief and political Party. I speak not of any particular Party nor any particular Minister—it is the vice of the system. It is not peculiar to these Departments that they postpone the interests of the country to the interests of Party. There is no more powerful projectile with which to assail a political adversary than a charge of extravagance. Accordingly, at every crisis the Leaders use these missiles to bombard each other:—'The right hon. Gentleman's Administration cost the country £6,000,000 more than that over which I had the honour to preside.' 'Not at all; the noble Lord forgets that a much larger expenditure than that was entailed upon us by his own policy,' &c, to the great edification and delight of his hearers. If the speakers were to be perfectly frank on these occasions, like the inhabitants of the Palace of Truth, their avowals would take something of this character—'I found my best claim to your confidence on a remission of taxation. The expense of preparing for war is very irksome in time of peace. As I hope for peace in my time, the odium of meeting war without preparation will not fall upon me. I have, therefore, reduced this item of expense to the lowest point consistent with the maintenance of appearances. I have allowed the Army to become a huge simulacrum; I have encouraged the cheapest of national defences—the Volunteers—to enrol themselves, but chiefly at their own expense. I have withheld from them all that could render them of service in case of invasion. I have left the walls of our most important fortresses incapable of resisting attack, for to render these defensible, expensive works would be necessary. I have left the Navy short of ships, and the ships short of guns. While Foreign Powers are vying with each other in the effort for military superiority, I have displayed in this respect a masterly inactivity. I am told that in given possible circumstances we might be invaded and even conquered. But let us hope that the contingency is remote, and not to be considered of any importance in presence of the fact that I hope next year to take 1d. off the Income Tax.' Now, strange to say, it is by no means incredible that a popular Minister might address an audience in these very terms, not merely without disapproval, but with applause. The political prescience of our rulers is bounded by the next quarter's taxes. Yet there have been, and they may come again, times when such a policy would have led, not to Westminster, but to the Tower. But it was not by money alone that all that was required could be done. To put their military system on a sound footing, they ought to revert to the old Constitutional law, which was only in abeyance of the ballot for Militia service. Commissions had reported in its favour, and Ministers had spoken for it. Recently the Parliamentary Elections (Redistribution) Bill had been taken out of the lines of Party. But whether a borough was to be absorbed in a county or not was a trifling thing. But tills was a question that was vital to the nation—a question in which their Empire, their homes, and everything that was dear to them were at stake, and yet it was made the shuttlecock and the battlefield of Party. He would advise Her Majesty's Government to endeavour to come to an understanding with the leading men on the other side with a view to bring back the old Constitutional system by which every man who was born a free citizen was born also liable to serve in the ranks for the defence of his country. He thought that the Militia ballot should be so applied that when a man attained 20 years of age, unless he was serving mainly at his own expense in some other Force—such as the Yeomanry or the Volunteers—he should be liable to serving in the Militia. Thus a man would only once in his lifetime run the chance of compulsory service. If such a regulation were adopted, he felt confident it would have a most salutary effect upon the youth of the nation, and consequently upon the nation itself; for, even when speaking in the presence of the right rev. Prelates opposite, they would bear him out when he said there was no greater moral agent than the drill sergeant. It might be alleged that the ballot interfered with trade and commerce. On that point he wished to refer to words spoken a short time ago by Prince Edward of Wales—wise words of early promise spoken when presenting' prizes to the Cambridge Town Volunteers. The young Prince first urged his hearers to become good shots, and then went on to say— It was, however, on account of its beneficial results to the individual citizen, arising from control and discipline, that he considered the Volunteer Service of chief value to our country. He was deeply impressed with this by his five years' naval training. The value of military training, he considered, was exemplified in the most striking way in the case of Germany, and he did not believe the military system of that country weighed nearly so heavily upon her peaceable and mercantile subjects as soma would persuade themselves. The steady expansion of the German trade and population within the last 20 years was the best proof that the military discipline, so far from hindering, on the contrary, aided both individual and national achievement. Method and order, temperance and persistency, combination and en-terprize—these were the virtues, that, whether in the workshop, the study, the counting-house, or the camp, promoted success in life. The practical suggestions he had made he had not included in his Motion, because he thought such matters were better left to the discretion of the Government. What he asked was that they should seriously consider the question of compulsory service, and apply the sound old English principle in the most lenient but effective manner they could. He, however, left the question of the best means of attaining the end in view to the Government. All that he now asked their Lordships to do was to pass the Resolution that he had placed on the Paper; and he did not think that the Government could do otherwise than accept it, because it simply stated a truism, and to reject it would be abnegation of their duty, of which he could not think they would be capable. He asked the Government, therefore, to make their home defensive forces effective, and to have them properly organized; for, at present, they were neither. By adopting that course they would do much alike to give security to the Empire, to render their shores inviolate, and—by making England strong—to promote the peace of the world. Moved to resolve, "That the present state of the Auxiliary Forces, deficient as they are in the organization and equipment necessary to enable them, if required, to take and keep the field, demands the immediate and earnest attention of those who are responsible for their efficiency and for the security of the country."—(The Earl of Wemyss.)


desired to support the noble Earl who had just sat down. They must maintain suffi cient naval and military strength to uphold their interests wherever they were put in danger. They were apt, when anything unexpected happened, and when some Foreign Power trod on their toes, to forget, perhaps, how many toes they had. Even a glance at the births, marriages, and deaths column of The Times would show them how widely their people were scattered over the world, and how many interests they had in every quarter of the globe. They were in constant danger of coming into conflict—not necessarily hostile conflict—with those who had greater regard for their own interests than for ours; and the disputes that arose from time to time were not always arranged to the credit of this country. The agents of their Foreign Office in different parts of the world required to have some backing to strengthen their hands. The British Flag waved with most effect from the topmast of an iron-dad, and more respect was shown to their "thin red line" when it was not so very thin. The noble Earl had called attention to that most important element of military strength—the proper maintenance of their lie-serve Forces. He must express his sense, which he was sure their Lordships shared, of the patriotic spirit in which the Volunteers and the Yeomanry had maintained or increased their numbers to the public advantage at considerable personal sacrifices. The Militia certainly had his sympathy in its troubles, for troubles they were. In numbers, in the establishment of officers, in equipment, in musketry training, and in other points, it was very far below what the country ought and could afford to make it. The valuable services performed by the officers and men under considerable disadvantage were but slenderly remunerated. As encouragement to good men to enlist, he urged that to soldiers of merit on leaving the Service some preference should be given in regard to public employments. The claim of such men was admitted, indeed, but was not sufficiently recognized in practice. They assumed that all Parties were anxious to maintain the honour of the country; but the way to do so, no doubt, was to keep up a supply of the proper means of asserting themselves under all circumstances. Even in a narrow financial view, it was more expedient to expend an extra £1,000,000 a-year for strengthen- ing their military resources than to suddenly pass spasmodic Votes of Credit, which had amounted probably to £20,000,000 within a few years.


said, he did not think that any Government could object to some such Resolution as that moved by the noble Earl. The object was to call the attention of the public and of the Government to the condition of the Auxiliary Forces. The noble Earl who introduced the Resolution referred to the Regular Army and to the Militia, and he desired to trouble their Lordships with one or two points in relation to the subject. It could not, bethought, be known, either to their Lordships or to the country generally, that a surprisingly large number of those who joined the Volunteer Forces bad, from time to time, entered the Regular Army. No less than 300 men of the corps which he had the honour to command had entered the Regular Army. Those men were not what they might call the lower order of artizans. Many of them had been earning from £1 to £3 per week; and yet occasions had arisen when, in consequence of labour being short, they had resigned, and had been passed into the Regular Forces. The Government, under such circumstances, should give the best attention and assistance they could to the Auxiliary Forces. This was not a question entirely for the consideration of the Government; but whether the country was prepared to consent to the additional expense of making the Auxiliary Forces as efficient as possible. The Militia Force had been the recruiting Force for the Regular Army; but in the Volunteers they now had another source of recruiting, which would be much more valuable than their Lordships could at present conceive of. He earnestly hoped that the Government would, as soon as the great pressure of expenditure had somewhat diminished, turn its attention to the Volunteer Forces, and make them as efficient as their Lordships could possibly desire them. He thought it most lamentable that it was not thought expedient to give the Volunteer Forces some Field Artillery. It was, he knew, the opinion of His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief that, it was not expedient, to give any portion of that arm of the Service to the Auxiliary Forces; but he could not help pointing out what would be the effect of such a policy in time of war. He could not suppose that anyone who knew the condition of the Artillery Force in this country would state that there was a sufficient Force of that branch of the Service to support the action of the Regular Forces, the Militia, the Yeomamy, the Volunteers, and the Reserve Forces. No military man, certainly with the Returns before him, would stand up arid say that the country was provided at the present time with an adequate Artillery Force. What must be the condition of things in the event of an immediate attack upon the country? Nobody knew better than His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief that of all branches of the Service none took so long to learn as the Artillery.


said, that only the other day he sent 20 guns to the Force commanded by the noble Lord.


said, it was true that His Royal Highness was good enough to concede the guns for a single day, but they were not the sort of guns that would be used in the Army at all; they were known to be obsolete. It was an act of kindness on the part of His Royal Highness to concede the guns, but they had not in the Volunteer Force to play at soldiers; they went into the Service for the purpose of making sacrifices in the interests of the country. He repeated that it was an act of kindness to give the guns for the use of the Force I at Brighton; but to say that Field Artillery was conceded when the guns were obsolete—-well, he would make no comment. He was not in the Volunteer Force to play at soldiers and go out with obsolete guns; any man who be came a Volunteer for that purpose was contemptible. What must happen in time of war was this. The Militia Artillery and Volunteer Artillery would be sent into forts; that was the present idea. If the men could learn Artillery drill in one, two, or three months, there might be some reason for that; but Artillery drill, with the guns of the new character now being provided, could not be learnt in six or nine months. If that be so, he submitted that they must send perfectly unskilled and ignorant men into the forts, and take the Volunteer and. "Militia Artillery to serve the field guns—and why? Because they would not have a single man in the country capable of doing Field Artillery work. No one know so well as the Commander-in-Chief that they could not make a Field Artilleryman in four or five months. There was no alternative I but to make use of Volunteer Artillery, to give them guns, and let them do the best they could with them in time of peace. He did net ask for and extravagant number. There were very few regiments in the Volunteer Artillery Service who desired these guns—very few who could afford to have them. Unless a regiment was very strong, or unless the Government gave larger grants, the expense attending them could not be paid. Ho appealed to His Royal Highness to reconsider his decision, and say whether he could not concede, to half a-dozen or a dozen regiments, say from two to four guns of Field Artillery. He had gone into the Volunteer Service with an overwhelming desire to do his duty as a soldier; and he felt it was a positive injustice to the country not to utilize the services of men of intelligence, and who made great sacrifices to serve their country. The Government ought to endeavour to get as much as they possibly could for the money grant, and that could only be done by acting in the direction he had indicated. Another point he desired to mention was the appointment to the Volunteer Adjutants. When the Volunteers were first established, many of the Adjutants were men who had been non-commissioned officers, and who had earned those posts by their services in the Regular Army. A great error had been committed in depriving noncommissioned officers of the privilege of being appointed to those posts, for which they were so admirably fitted, and which were regarded as rewards for long service. Those, comfortable berths were now given to officers in the Regular Service; and if he refrained from stating what had been the experience of himself and others, it was because he would not wound the feelings of a large number of officers now in the Volunteer Service. Another grievance was that Adjutants were compelled to retire at the age of 55, although they might be in perfect health, and quite able to discharge their duties with efficiency. It was a loss to the country that a man whose services were invaluable should thus be got rid of. He trusted that on both those points the present practice or Regulations would be reconsidered and revised.


I had intended to abstain from offering any observations until after the speech of the noble Earl who represents the War Office (the Earl of Morley); but I have been so pointedly appealed to by the noble Lord who has just sat down that it would ill become me to allow any time to elapse before answering the observations of the noble Earl. I am glad, however, in one respect, that the noble Lord has referred to me in the way he has, since it enables me to assure your Lordships that a finer regiment, better turned out, with position and field guns, than that under the command of the noble Lord at Brighton the other day I have never seen. I made that remark on the ground; and I have great pleasure in repeating it in this House. I cannot, I must confess, understand what the noble Lord means when he says we have no Field Artillery for the Volunteers. The Field Artillery to which the noble Lord refers requires the most minute manipulation and driving. It is one of the most delicate and difficult arms of the Service. I certainly am of opinion that, unless that arm is practised from day to day, it is impossible for the Field Artillery to be properly and efficiently worked. It is on that ground I object altogether to the noble Lord's statement of what he considers, and some Volunteer officers consider, as suitable Field Artillery for Volunteers. What is the object of the Militia and the Volunteers? It is the defence of the country. It is not to go abroad. It is true, the Militia do go abroad; but where do they go? They go to garrison towns. Have we not Militia Artillery and Volunteer Artillery? We have large bodies of Volunteer Artillery, which can be put into our forts and batteries on the coast. We want to keep the enemy from landing on our shores. We do not want Volunteer Field Artillery within our shores, because no enemy should be permitted to land on the coasts of this country. We have both Volunteer and Militia Artillery, which can be put into our forts and batteries on the coast; and unless we have to contemplate the almost impossible contingency of an enemy landing on our shores, Volunteer Field Artillery can be of little or no use. I have never had the slightest objection to the heavier kind of Field Artillery, which would practise the Volunteers in gunnery; and. I hope that every Volunteer Artillery regiment will follow the example of the noble Lord, and fit themselves for working batteries of position as well as the guns in the batteries round the coast. The noble Lord said we gave them obsolete guns. I am not aware that the 20-pounder is an obsolete gun. It is a heavy gun of position; I wish we had more of them. If we have not enough, it is a mere matter of expenditure. As for saying that the 20-pounder is a bad gun, or an obsolete gun, I am sorry to contradict the noble Lord. It is a mistake, because it is the best position gun you have. The 40-pounder is no doubt a heavier gun; still, I should like to see 40-pounders exchanged, to some extent, for 20-pounders. That, again, is a matter of expenditure. The next thing I wish to refer to is the question of the Adjutants. I have no doubt that the noble Lord has a very good Adjutant in his regiment, and I am glad to hear it. I am satisfied that he has very good material in his regiment, and that he is very well supported. I have not otherwise heard of complaints about the Adjutants. On the contrary, I have recently seen Yeomanry corps, Militia corps, which had Adjutants appointed on the new system of five years. They said that the greatest advantage had arisen to corps in general by the new system of Adjutants—and why? It stands to reason. A man comes from the Regular Army, and he knows that if he does not perform his duty well he is sure to get a bad name, not only in the corps in which he serves, but in the Army generally. What was the case formerly? A man was appointed, for instance—a very good man—and he got old and inefficient. The consequence was that, perhaps from personal feeling, having been in contact a long time, it would be said—"Oh, let him go on a little longer; he has done so well." Now, no question arises, and as soon as the five years are over, as a matter of course, he goes back to his regiment. If he goes back to his regiment, and is known to have been a bad Adjutant, he would probably not be promoted in the Army. I believe the present system is a sound one, and I should grieve, indeed, to see any change made. The noble Lord said that the new system of selecting Adjutants debarred officers from rising from the ranks. I can only say that if an officer of the Army who had risen from the ranks was well qualified to be an Adjutant, he would be selected in preference to another in order to give him a good berth for the time. There is not a large number of non-commissioned officers risen from the ranks; and I am not aware of any Regulations preventing their being appointed to Adjutancies. I think I have answered the noble Lord in the several remarks he has made. I consider this one of the most important subjects that could possibly be brought before the notice of your Lordships; but the mischief and the misfortune is that though your Lordships are asked to come to a Resolution, which no doubt would have a great effect, still you are not in a position to carry out what your Resolution implies. Your Resolution would imply a very largo additional expenditure. It is no use denying that it is a matter of money. Many of the matters brought forward this evening by the noble Earl and the noble Lord would be most desirable. I quite admit that the efficiency of the Militia, and the efficiency of the Volunteers, would be greatly improved if they had all the advantages which the Army at large possesses in the shape of accoutrements, arms, and so on; but that, again, is entirely a question of expenditure. The question is—If you have only a certain sum of money, are you to give it to the Volunteers and to the Militia, to the disadvantage of the Army, or are you to give it to the Army, and so try to make it more efficient? If the question was put to me, I cannot for a moment hesitate as to which I should give it. I should say the first thing is to make the Army efficient; and, having done so, the next thing is to make the Auxiliary Services, whether Militia or Volunteers, as nearly as possible identical in point of efficiency with the Army itself. Of late we have been trying to do this to the fullest extent; but we are always hampered with the difficulty of expenditure. There is the question of accoutrements, which you may say is a small matter; but I must say that I think appearance is everything with a soldier. To make a good regiment, you must make a man not only proud of himself but of his regiment—well equipped, well found, and with all the acquired smartness that belongs to the Regular Army. I may mention to your Lordships that I saw two London regiments, not selected, being embodied in the present circumstances; they were completely equipped like any other battalion of the Army, and I can only say that, considering they had only been two months embodied, they were as efficient as you could possibly expect. I was perfectly astonished to see what could be done in such a short time. I agree that it would be a great advantage if the whole of the Militia were equipped as those battalions were; but, unfortunately, the difficulty of expenditure always comes in the way. We cannot overcome that difficulty without going to another Assembly, who are not always quite disposed to see these matters in the same light as ourselves. I have said before, and I say it again, that questions affecting military matters and the defence of the Empire ought not to be made, and they are not, Party questions in themselves; but they become Party questions because of the question of finance. Naturally, with every Government, there is an indisposition to impose increased taxation; but without increased taxation you cannot have large establishments, whether for the Army or for the Navy. If, therefore, you can get rid of this Party question by coming to some understanding as regards finance, I think it would be of the greatest possible benefit to the public. If anything which is said to-night can produce such a result, I, for one, should greatly rejoice. The noble Earl advanced some views on other points with which I entirely agree, and I quite concur that Yeomanry regiments ought to be encouraged. As to the shooting power of the Yeomanry, I am not one of those who have a very bad opinion of the carbine.


It only shoots half as far as the rifle.


I admit that it does not shoot the same distance as the other weapon; but it shoots wonderfully well for its size. There is no question that on horseback the smaller weapon is much more easily carried than the long weapon. [The Earl of WEMYSS dissented.] My noble Friend shakes his head. No doubt he has some knowledge and experience, but I have also some knowledge and experience; and I can only say that I would much rather ride with a carbine than with a long weapon. I can see no reason why, if it should be wished, the arming of the Yeomanry with long rifles should not be acceded to; but personally I am satisfied with the carbine. I agree with the noble Earl that we ought to try and get yeomen to shoot better. Then conies the general question of shooting—a most difficult one, I admit. With a splendid arm, we now have ranges so extended that shooting practice is very dangerous. This country is so thickly populated, and there are so few places where you can shoot with impunity, that the question of suitable ranges is becoming a very serious one. It affects not only the Yeomanry and the Volunteers, but the whole Army. That is, unfortunately, the difficulty we have in the matter. Then there is the question of the expense attendant upon shooting. A Volunteer going out shooting has to pay his own way. I do not know how to get over this difficulty, except by additional expenditure; and if you have additional expenditure you must deduct from something else. There are many difficulties Ave have to contend with; and, such being the case, I am glad to have had an opportunity of bringing to the notice of your Lordships the great difficulty which any Minister or any Administration has to deal with in regard to the military or naval affairs of this country. My noble Friend wishes to see the Militia full; but to get recruits we must go into the labour market, and if they do not find that the advantages offered are sufficiently attractive they will not join. That brings us again to the matter of expenditure. I believe that the Militia is in a very efficient and good condition, except as to numbers. My noble Friend also referred to the difficulty about getting officers. That is, no doubt, the fact; but I understood him to say it was a mistake to pass officers from the Militia into the Army.


No; I did not say that.


Well, he said that young men only came into the Militia to pass in to the Army, and that is very much the same thing. He would prefer the Militia officers staying in the Militia. That may be desirable. But a large number of young men are attracted to the Militia so as to be able to pass into the Army; and if they were prevented doing so, why there would be still fewer officers. I have made these observations not at all in a controversial spirit, but to explain how matters stand, and to show the difficulties in which every Government is placed in regard to this matter.


said, he would not go into the question of the ballot or the Army Reserve; but would remind the House that the Volunteer Force was a very cheap Force—that it cost about as much as an iron-clad, which was not much to pay for a Force of 200.000 men. The noble Earl had alluded to three points—organization, clothing, and equipment. With regard to the first but little remained to be done. Corps formerly scattered over the country had been formed into consolidated regiments and attached to territorial districts—one of the changes which remained to be accomplished was the consolidation of small corps in large towns in to regiments of two battalions. That would save much expense as regarded ranges and other items.


said, this was certainly desirable; but it was left entirely to the Volunteers themselves to say where they should go.


With regard to the Volunteer Artillery, it was the most valuable portion of the Force; and anyone connected, as he had been, with the National Artillery Association, could not fail to be struck by their admirable practice at Shoeburyness, which had elicited warm praise from officers of the Royal Artillery. He was very glad to hear the illustrious Duke speak in such high terms of the late Captain Darley's organization. Those who had been to Brighton Reviews must know how admirably the system had answered, and how they marched past with their farm horses. That was a system which he should like to see more encouraged. Captain Darley, in his evidence before the Royal Commission, stated that at any time he could lay his hand on 300 horses. If he could do that, others could do the same; and there should be a system of registration somewhat like what the noble Earl had sketched out. There was, he presumed, a Mobilization Scheme in the pigeon-holes of the War Office. The Volunteers should, in time of peace, be told off for practice at the batteries, which they would be required to man in case of invasion, instead of going to Brighton and acting as Infantry. One word as to Field Artillery. The noble Lord opposite had always been in favour of field guns for the Volunteers; but he was well aware that without great expense the manning and keeping up a field battery was impossible. He (Viscount Hardinge) quite approved of the suggestion contained in the Report of the War Office Committee, that a special allowance should, in certain cases, be given to those corps who would undertake the organization of a hold battery. As to Cavalry, it was, of course, impossible to have a due proportion of Cavalry for so largo a force as the Volunteers. The Auxiliary Cavalry consisted of the Yeomanry; and it would be well that instead of their paying so much attention to parade movements they should pay more attention to outpost duty and skirmishing. It was idle to talk of converting them into Mounted Infantry. The Light Horse organization had failed for want of support; and in these times of agricultural depression it is not likely that Mounted Volunteer corps would be properly kept up. As regarded clothing and equipment, the Force should be uniform in those respects; and he would much prefer that the Government should provide great coats and valises, rather than see them provided out of a 10s. grant. The men would wear their greatcoats off parade; and as in most corps they were not made answerable for wear and tear there would be no security against their being misused. The Government should also provide water bottles, and have a sufficient number of regimental carts in store. As for general transport, each Brigade Colonel should register all the carts available in his district, so that in case of need he should know where to lay his hands on them. Every encouragement should be given to the new Ambulance Corps, and the necessary appliances should be provided at the public expense. All these military questions were, unfortunately, decided not on their merits, but according to the pecuniary exigencies of the moment. He should, therefore, support the Motion of the noble Earl.


said, no one was more desirous than he was to promote the interests and efficiency of the Militia Force; but he differed from the noble Earl on 1he Cross Benches (the Earl of Wemyss) as to the measures he had suggested with that view. The noble Earl had quoted the opinions of a Colonel of Militia. Had the noble Earl made further inquiries, he would have discovered that a great many Colonels did not share those opinions. For his part, he was in favour of the system by which recruits were drilled tit the depôts, and he lit Id that the present practice in regard to Adjutancies was preferable to that formerly existing. His special object, however, in rising, was to reply to an observation of the noble Lord opposite (Lord Truro), and to state that from his own personal experience, and from ail he had heard from others, the Adjutants of both Militia and Volunteer Corps performed their duties in an admirable and efficient mariner.


I said, he thought that the present depôt system was doing good in bringing together the Regular and Auxiliary Forces. Those Forces, however, were not even yet brought together as much as was desirable. As to the subject of equipment, he would observe that it was of very little use to maintain a Volunteer Force if through an absence of equipment the Force could not perform the duties which would be entrusted to it in the emergency of war. The men were ready to go at a moment's notice wherever they might be wanted; but their spirits would not avail them much if they were insufficiently equipped and insufficiently provided with ammunition. They ought to be so equipped as to be able to take the field and keep it. They ought not to be short of supplies. Every Volunteer regiment ought to possess a small field carriage, to contain reserve ammunition and small necessary supplies. The horses could be provided when the occasion for using the vehicle arose. He should support the Resolution of the noble Earl.


said, that he came down to the House expecting to hear some observations upon the Volunteer Force only; but the discussion had ranged over a variety of questions. He had had some 26 years' experience with the Volunteers; and he considered that if it were desired to maintain that Force in efficiency something more should be done for it. Seven years ago a "War Office Committee appointed by the late Government to inquire into the condition of the Force communicated with the Commanding Officers of all the corps throughout the Kingdom. They were asked what was the total expenditure of their respective corps; how they spent the capitation grant; whether they found that grant sufficient for its purposes, and, if not, where the surplus came from? In fact, the Committee investigated the financial position of every corps in the country. The result was remarkable. Out of 278 Commanding Officers who sent in answers only 38 had been able to keep within the limits of the Parliamentary grant of 30s. per man. That was seven years ago, and matters had not improved in that respect since. He did not believe that there were now 38 corps throughout the country which could keep within the capitation grant. There were various matters which had to be provided for out of the grant. The expense of headquarters was heavy, especially in towns where the rent was high, and sometimes they had to build. Then there were the ordinary drills, the marchings out, which could not be done without expense, and the care, maintenance, and repair of arms, gun and drill practice, and reviews, which formed a very heavy item. Then the brigade drills imposed by War Office Regulations came very heavy on the corps, and also the permanent staff, band, and refreshments. The Committee thought that something might be done by consolidating the battalions. But now that the consolidation had been carried into effect, the expenses were still not brought within the capitation grant. Then there was the expense connected with the organization of the Volunteers. If they were to be at all efficient in case of invasion they must have organization and means of locomotion and of acting together in large bodies. Now, 25 years after the establishment of the Force, the men were not provided with great coats, water bottles, or transport. Seven years ago the Committee of which he spoke called upon the Volunteers for very considerable further sacrifices with a view to increased efficiency. The Volunteers complied with the requisitions. They were asked for 30 drills the first year, and nine drills in the second; but now they were asked for 30 drills in the second year. It was hardly possible to carry demands for efficiency further; the men were efficient in their drill, and it was not fair to ask any more from the Volunteers themselves. Neither could a cut-and-dried scheme be made which would fit everyone. The only way to meet the requirements of the case was to raise the capitation grant; and though 30s. was not enough he believed that 40s. would be sufficient, and that that was the general opinion throughout the Volunteer Force. He hoped his noble Friend would encourage them with some hope.


said, that he felt some difficulty as to the remarks he had to make, seeing that the speech of the noble Earl on the Cross Benches (the Earl of Wemyss) and those of the noble Lords who followed had ranged over so vast a field. He thought he might claim for the Government that they were as anxious as the noble Earl could be to improve the efficiency of the Volunteer Force; and they were only too glad to receive any suggestions which might help them to do so. But the only suggestion which he had heard from the noble Earl were, in the first place, one with respect to the adoption of the ballot. But when the noble Earl spoke of the ballot in connection with the efficiency of the Volunteer Force he was dealing with a matter which hardly came within the proper range of the discussion. He did not think there was the slightest chance of the ballot being applied in this country, and, indeed, he believed it would be unnecessary, for the moment danger threatened their shores the ranks of the Volunteers and the Militia would, he was sure, be full. An important point had been raised when it was said that it was absolutely necessary to increase the capitation grant of the Volunteers; but before coming to that he might be allowed to reply to some of the criticisms made by the noble Earl, who commenced by making a most unfair comparison between 1864 and 1884, the conclusion he arrived at being that the Government had entirely sacrificed their first line of defence, and that now there were fewer men in the Army than then. What were the real facts of the case? He had with him the figures relating to the year 1865 and the figures relating to 1884. The noble Earl said that in the year 1864 they had 216,000 men of all ranks. The number in the following year was 208,000. At present the number was 188,000. But how were the men distributed in the former year? They had 118,000 men abroad, and they had this year only 89,000. In 1865 they had at home an Army available for any service that might be required of 80,000, and on the 1st of January, 1884, they had 86,000 men in addition to 40,000 Reserves. Therefore the noble Earl, so far from being right in the figures he quoted, was absolutely and entirely inaccurate. He did say, most distinctly, that the way in which the noble Earl quoted the figures was calculated to mislead the public. He repeated that in 1865 they had at home 80.000 men, and they had now 86,000 men, and 40,000 Reserves. They also had at the present time in Egypt a force which was equivalent to a whole Army Corps. The noble Earl said that the changes which had been made since 1871 had tended to weaken the Army. He ventured to think that any fair-minded man would admit that the figures he had quoted entirely upset that theory, and established the fact that the country at the present time was far more capable of placing an Army Corps in the field than ever. Then with regard to expense, His Royal Highness had already called attention to the misleading calculations of the noble Earl. The expenditure in 1864, the noble Earl said, was £4,000,000 less than now. But had the noble Earl made any calculations as to how far the increased expense was due to armaments, ammunition, stores of all kinds, increase of soldiers' pay, and increase of barrack accommodation, which became necessary in consequence of improvements introduced into the Service? The way in which the noble Earl had quoted the figures was most unfair, and apt to mislead the public. He wished to say a few words as to what fell from him with regard to the Militia. He could not say that the Militia Force had escaped the attention of the Government. They had a most earnest desire to improve its efficiency; and he should be glad if the noble Earl could tell them how they could attract more men to the Force. The noble Earl stated that the organization of the Militia was deplorable. He joined issue with him there, and asserted that it was not in a deplorable state. Then the noble Earl said that depot training discouraged enlistment. He most distinctly gave a contrary opinion, and certainly the general opinion was absolutely at a variance with that of the noble Earl. Since the establishment of depot training they had a larger number of men than ever passing into the Militia. He did not deny that the Militia was considerably below its establishment, and no one deplored that fact more than he did; but, at the same time, it was a fact that the Militia had never been nearly up to its authorized numbers, and he must say that there never was a period when the officers and men were more efficient than now. The noble Earl said that much evil was done in consequence of the Adjutants not being appointed by the Commanding Officers. He thought he might be allowed to say that, as far as he knew, that opinion was absolutely contrary to the opinion of almost all officers of Militia or Volunteer battalions. One of the most useful changes made in the organization of the Auxiliary Forces was that by which regiments every five years received new blood. As to the Yeomanry, he quite agreed with what had fallen from almost every speaker. It would be most unfortunate that anything should be done to discourage that Force, which he thought should be made as efficient as possible, as that branch of the Auxiliary Service would be of immense use in case of invasion. Then, with regard to the Volunteers, he fully admitted the enormous value of that Force, which had been growing year by year, not only in numbers, but also in efficiency. Every fresh demand that had been made upon the Volunteers had been met with cheerfulness, perseverance, and energy. As the noble Earl had stated, a very important Committee sat seven years ago to inquire into matters relating to the Volunteers. When the present Government came into Office they found that some of the recommendations of that Committee had been carried into effect with great benefit to the Force at large. Subsequently, the present Government had carried out all the recommendations of the Committee. As to the supply of great coats and water-bottles, the Committee thought that every requirement would be met if a certain number of these articles were kept in store ready to be issued to the Volunteers when required. There would be great difficulty in storing all the articles that might be used in an emergency; and if they were issued to the Volunteers there would be a risk of their being used for non-military purposes. The suggestion that the capitation grant should be increased by 10s. he heard with surprise, seeing that the Committee was of opinion, that the grant was sufficient for all purposes, with the exception of three items, and that with proper organization the grant need not be increased. In the face of the Report of the Committee, the Government could not propose to increase the grant. The camp allowances had been increased to even a greater extent than the Committee contemplated. This year 88,000 men had expressed a desire to go into camp. The War Office had assented to the application of the whole number, although it was twice as great as that of seven years ago, the actual expense being four times greater. It should be remembered that the Volunteer Vote was not a stationary Vote. In 1879–80 it was a little over £500,000; this year it was £600,000, being an increase in the six years of £93,000. It was highly expedient that their Lordships should not commit themselves to any increased expenditure without very careful consideration. He admitted that the Volunteers were not equipped read)' to take the field at once; but he did not suppose that the whole of any Army in the world was able to do so. They could not separate the Volunteers or the Militia from the Army Estimates generally. He should be glad if £100,000 more for the Volunteers could be got from the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but he should not like it to be done at the expense of the other Services, or without considering whether the money might not be more properly employed. It was not a proper way of arguing the question to ignore expense, actual and relative. Looking at the matter in all its bearings, he thought it would be very unfortunate if their Lordships were to pass a vague Resolution which could have no practical effect, but which might bind those who supported it to an increased expenditure in the future. The Secretary of State for War yielded to no one in his desire to render the Auxiliary Forces efficient, or in his appreciation of the services they performed by the stimulation of private enterprise. Nothing in their power would be wanting to render them as efficient as it was necessary that they should be.


in reply, said, it had not been denied that their military strength was greater in 1864 than it was now. He repudiated the suggestion that the House of Commons would refuse to sanction expenditure asked for by the Government, particularly if the Secretary of State, or the Commander-in-Chief, were prepared to resign in case of refusal. What were they paid for if not to let the country know its real position? By resisting this Motion the noble Earl (the Earl of Morley) was repudiating his own ruison d'etre as Under Secretary of State for War.

On Question? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 20; Not-Contents 23: Majority 3.

Resolved in the negative.