HL Deb 22 May 1900 vol 83 cc884-7

My Lords, I rise to call attention to Army Order 91 of 1900, and to ask the Secretary of State for War whether, as an incentive to officers and men to remain as long as possible in brigade camps, he would consent to modify Clauses 5 and 11, and not require that the pay specified in Clause 5 should depend on at least 50 per cent. of the members of the corps complying with the conditions laid down in the Order. I think everyone who has been in touch with the Volunteers of late years will admit the effect which training in camp has upon their efficiency. I know from my own experience that a week in camp does more good than all the rest of the drills which the Volunteer may put in during the year. I therefore most readily approve of the action of the noble Marquess in trying at the present moment, in a year which he called a year of emergency, to encourage Volunteers to remain longer in camp than formerly. The noble Marquess has issued an Army Order on this subject. To a great extent that order is a liberal one, and gives considerable advantages which Volunteers did not possess before. At the same time, I think some of the conditions imposed by this order are hard on Volunteers, particularly on those who go into camp with great difficulty. It is a matter not only of pay to them, but of convenience to their masters, and though many employers of labour are very anxious indeed to help those men under them who belong to the Volunteer force, they are sometimes, by the very arrangement of their business, unable to do so. For instance, in my own county the men in the large factories work in companies, or gangs, and if two or three men are withdrawn, the whole of the gang is upset and very great difficulty arises; and the longer these men remain out of the factory the greater is the difficulty. The Army Order proposes that a special grant of £2 2s. should be allowed to the corps for each man who remains in camp for at least fourteen days, twelve of which must be week days. Article 5 gives pay at Army rates to all ranks on the actual days they are in camp; but this pay is to be on the same condition as the premium or grant of £2 2s. a day. I think the noble Marquess might have given his grant in a somewhat different way. He might have increased it according to the proportion of men going into camp. But he has taken quite a different course, and has made both the premium of two guineas and the pay entirely conditional on 50 per cent. of the corps being present in camp for a certain time. No doubt the noble Marquess has good reasons for putting it in this way, but I would urge that he should not make the condition of 50 per cent. being in camp necessary for the pay as well as for the grant. Those who enter camp are no doubt the most deserving men, who ought to be supported and encouraged, but they cannot always persuade their companions to join them in sufficient numbers to make up the 50 per cent.; and I think it extremely hard that the very men who are doing their duty loyally by staring in camp as long as possible should be entirely at the mercy of other men who may not be so zealous in the service.


My Lords, I am as anxious as the noble Lord to deal considerately with the Volunteers in regard to the conditions we have attached to their attendance at these brigade camps, but I should be very reluctant indeed, and I am not prepared, to relax the special conditions to which the noble Earl has called attention. In order to induce Volunteers to undergo this training we have allotted them terms which are admittedly not illiberal. We give them a special capitation grant of two guineas for each man; we give them the pay and the allowance of a soldier, and separation allowance for wife and family. We provide the necessary camps. These are all very considerable concessions, and the burden on the taxpayers will not be inconsiderable. I think, on the other hand, we have a right to insist that the special course of training undergone by Volunteers attending these camps shall be thorough and substantial, and if that be the case it seems to me to be most important that a substantial portion of the strength of each corps should be present in camp. We have fixed that proportion at 50 per cent., and although I do not want to go into minor details, I may tell the noble Earl that we are prepared to calculate that 50 per cent. under very liberal conditions. The other requirement is that that 50 per cent. shall spend at least fourteen days in camp out of the full period of twenty-eight days for which the camp is to last. Two of the fourteen days being Sundays, it is only twelve working days altogether. I am encouraged to believe that these conditions are not regarded at any rate as prohibitive by the Volunteers themselves, because I am glad to be able to state to your Lordships that out of a total of 216 Volunteer corps no less than 179 are going into camp under the conditions I have described. In the 12th clause of the Army Order a special arrangement has been made to meet the case of corps who are unable to be present in camp for the whole fourteen days and also to meet the case of men belonging to corps who can attend for fourteen days but are not themselves able to attend fourteen days. In such case the men will be entitled to the usual camp allowance up to thirteen days. It may be interesting that I should state how the Government propose to deal with Volunteers serving in Government departments who may desire to be present in camp. The matter is of some little importance, because we are not without hope that the manner in which we are prepared to deal with our employees may afford an example to other employers of labour. What we propose is that Volunteers who apply for special leave in addition to ordinary leave shall receive it up to a maximum of a month, provided that their whole attendance in camp is not less than fourteen days or more than a month. During such special leave they will receive full civil and military pay for fourteen days and military pay for the remainder of the time. Volunteers who spend the whole or part of their ordinary leave in camp will receive during that leave their full civil and military pay.

House adjourned at twenty-five minutes past Six of the clock, to Friday next, Three of the clock.