* LORD MONKSWELL
My Lords, I rise to ask His Majesty's Government if it is the fact that in October, 1894, contracts had been entered into with private firms for a supply of cordite, and that no other contract with private firms for land purposes was found necessary till February, 1899; and to ask on what grounds it has been stated that the supply of cordite and small arms ammunition was insufficient when the late Government quitted office in 1895 is based; and to move for Papers. I desire, in the first place, to remove a misapprehension under which the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs apparently labours. On a former occasion, when I proposed to move my Motion in another form, the noble Marquess said it was necessary that he should have time to prepare his defence, thereby conveying the impression that I was the aggressor. But, my Lords, I am not the aggressor in this matter. I am merely defending myself against a 460 bitter and serious attack. Surely it is my duty, as well as my right, to defend myself, and the Government of which I had the honour to be a member, from such an attack as that which has been made. It has been said that, if the attack deserved to be met at all, it ought to be met in the House of Commons. I scarcely think that the right hon. Gentleman who leads the House of Commons would be obliged to the noble Marquess the Prime Minister for the suggestion that this question should be raised there. The House of Commons has plenty to do with its Rules of Procedure and with, two most important and contentious Bills recently introduced—those relating to Irish Land and the Education Bill. The Leader of the other House will, therefore, not be obliged to the Prime Minister for suggesting that Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman should move the adjournment in order to discuss the criticisms of the Secretary for War.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND LORD PRIVY SEAL (the Marquess of SALISBURY)
My contention was one affecting the order and practice of Parliament. It is not our business here to settle disputes that have arisen in the other House, and it is not the business of the other House to settle disputes that have arisen here. Each House must settle its own affairs. It will be endless if we have to settle here every difficulty that has arisen in the other House simply because the House of Commons, owing to the growth of business of another character, has not the time to settle it.
* LORD MONKSWELL
I do not think that the rule enunciated by the noble Marquess has been strictly observed. In the year 1893, when the Home Rule Bill was before the House, the Earl of Selborne, a distinguished predecessor of the noble Earl on the Woolsack not only referred to statements made in that session in the other House, but quoted a passage from a speech by Mr. Asquith. Surely this is, to some extent at all events, a matter of convenience, and not of strict constitutional procedure. Here this matter can be discussed at any length that noble Lords please without 461 in the least interfering with public business and without any damage to the prospects of legislation. The defeat of the late Government in 1895 was in more ways than one a very remarkable circumstance. It was remarkable in the first place because the House was induced to take the opinion of a then private Member with regard to the important question as to what reserve of ammunition was or was not sufficient, instead of the opinion of the Secretary of State and his responsible expert advisers; and it was remarkable in the second place because the defeat took place contrary to the confident expectations of those who are generally well-informed in such matters. I do not desire to go into ancient history. I should be perfectly content to let bygones be bygones; but this question has been raised quite gratuitously in the form of a very serious attack. My object tonight is to nail to the counter a false coin which has been current in certain circles for seven years past. I credit the Secretary of State for War and the noble Marquess with believing at the time, contrary to the opinion of the then Secretary of State and the War Office experts, that large reserves of small arms ammunition were desirable, and even of considerable importance. But I find it a little difficult to credit them with any very strong feeling in the matter; and I will explain why. When the late Government was turned out of office, a small Supplementary Vote of £70,000, as well as £40,000, saved by the out-going Government owing to the fall in the price of materials, was taken for small arms ammunition, though the statement had been made that there was a shortage of 80,000,000 cartridges. It was stated that, instead of a reserve of 40,000,000 or 50,000,000, we ought to have had a reserve of 130,000,000.
* LORD MONKSWELL
That was the statement of the present Secretary of State for War, and from the speech of the Colonial Secretary I infer that he thought the shortage amounted to something like 500,000,000 rounds of ammunition. The £110,000 which was 462 asked for by the new Government would have provided only 25,000,000 rounds; and having asked for so little where so much might have been expected, one might suppose that the new Government would at least have taken care that they got what they asked. This point is so important that I trust the House will allow me to quote the words of the present Secretary of State for War in the session of 1895. The right hon Gentleman protested strongly because the supplies were sometimes delivered late by the contractors, and he added—We have laid it down for our special guidance that it is not sufficient to take the vote and give the order, but that we must receive the ammunition.I have looked into the Appropriation Accounts for the year 1895–6, and I find that of the small sum of £70,000 asked for in the Supplementary Estimate, less than half was spent in the year, owing, as it was explained, "to delay in the delivery of trade supplies." The sum unexpended at the end of the financial year was £39,326. Notwithstanding the original statement that we were 80,000,000 cartridges short, the Government only asked for 25,000,000, and of that number they received a paltry 15,000,000 or so. Is it conceivable that if Parliament had known what was to happen it would have turned out the late Government? I wish to know whether the Government sat still under this breach of contract, which, according to their previous statements, must have seriously menaced the safety of the Empire; whether they punished the contractors; whether these contractors still supply the War Office; and whether the Government will publish the correspondence which must have taken place between the War Office and the contractors. You may depend upon it that contractors will not make contracts which they cannot fulfil if they know that a penalty will be exacted, and I should like to know whether a penalty was enforced in this case.
I would further ask the noble Marquess the Foreign Secretary to say whether it is not the fact that during the time that he was Secretary of State for War the reserve of small arms ammunition fell below the amount at which it stood when the late Government was turned 463 out of office. I can understand that seven years ago the present Secretary of State for War and the noble Marquess were persuaded that large reserves were desirable, but I cannot understand how that belief can have survived the experience of the war. How can it be maintained that if we had been in power when the war began a want of ammunition would have compelled us to clear out of South Africa in three months? That is the accusation which has been brought against us. What has happened? It has been shown that Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman's provision for the supply of cordite was ample; it has been admitted that the contracts he made in 1894 sufficed till February, 1899. The noble Marquess may say that, although he made ample contracts for cordite, he did not make ample contracts for the supply of cartridges. I would remind the noble Marquess that Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman was the first to put the supply of cordite cartridges out to contract, and that he entered into two experimental contracts, capable of indefinite expansion, each for the supply of 5,000,000 cartridges, to be delivered within the year.
The only issue, therefore, appears to be between storage and manufacture. We thought that there ought to be ample opportunities for obtaining ammunition from manufacturers as well as from our own factories; but we did not consider it desirable to have a greater storage of ammunition than was fairly reasonable. The question of storage is a difficult one. If cordite is stored too largely, there is always the danger of explosion and deterioration, and of the supply becoming obsolete owing to a change in the guns, and other reasons. The question that I raise to-night—and it is an important question for the future—is this—Were Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman and his experts right, or were they wrong? This is a question which might have been discussed till doomsday but for the occurrence of this remarkable circumstance—that when the war broke out in 1899 there was practically little or no reserve of small arms ammunition at all. [The Marquess of LANSDOWNE dissented.] Of course, I am open to correction. In 1899 nearly all the small arms ammunition was composed of Mark IV. cartridges. 464 Those cartridges had been in use for some two years, and, curiously enough, it was not until the summer of 1899 at Bisley that suspicion was aroused with regard to them. An inquiry was held during the early part of the Autumn, and the cartridges were condemned. The result of that condemnation was that the Mark IV. cartridges, which composed the bulk of our ammunition, had to be converted into Mark V. That conversion did not commence until about the time when the war began, and the consequence was that every cartridge sent out to South Africa after the outbreak of war was made during the war. Therefore the war was carried on, not only without the large reserve of ammunition which the present Secretary of State for War and the noble Marquess thought necessary, but practically without any reserve in England at all.
What was the reserve in South Africa when the war began? In South Africa there was an enormous quantity of these Mark IV. cartridges, and as they could not be converted into Mark V. in South Africa, they were sent back to England to be so converted, which occasioned the loss of at least two months. Again, with regard to the reserve in South Africa, Ladysmith was made a great place of arms, but after Ladysmith was invested no military stores there were available outside. It does seem to me that the fact that we were able to hold on in South Africa in this extraordinary concatenation of untoward circumstances was a complete vindication of the judgment of the late Government that it was unnecessary to have a large reserve of ammunition, and that it was much better to rely upon manufacture. I say that as regards reserve we could not have been worse off than the present Government, which had none. Some day, I presume, there will have to be an inquiry as to this Mark IV. ammunition, and why it was not condemned before. I am not, however, bringing any accusation against the noble Marquess with regard to that. But what I say is—granted we should have muddled over Mark IV. cartridges as badly as the present Government did; granted we should have shut up our military stores in Ladysmith as they did; granted we should have displayed no more judgment and foresight as to the magnitude of the operation than they did—where is the sense 465 or fairness of asserting that we should have been compelled to clear out of South Africa in three months? This assertion is made on behalf of a Government that had practically no reserve of small arms ammunition at all. What the noble Marquess has to show is that this assertion is not as baseless as I venture to say it is odious. I should like to have Papers with regard to the conversion of the Mark IV. ammunition, and the length of time this ammunition continued to be manufactured; and I wish to know whether the Mark IV. ammunition is still in use in India, It would also be interesting to know how many cartridges were turned out every week after the commencement of the war. I should like also to have the correspondence between the War Office and the contractors with regard to the delays in sending in the supplies, and I further press the noble Marquess to tell me whether or not it is the fact that during his administration of the War Office there was a time when there was a smaller reserve of small arms ammunition than we had when we were turned out of office in 1895.
§ Moved, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty for Papers relating to the alleged insufficiency of the supply of cordite and small arms ammunition when the late Government quitted office in 1895. (The Lord Monkswell.)
* THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Lord RAGLAN)
My Lords, before proceeding to answer the questions of the noble Lord, I desire to congratulate him on having omitted that part of his original question which referred to the condition of the artillery, which, I venture to think, he is wise in not bringing before your Lordships' House. The question on which the late Government was turned out of office was not the question of the cordite contract, as the noble Lord seems to imagine. The late Government was impeached in 1895 on the amount of small arms ammunition in its possession, and was also attacked on the amount ordered and provided. This amount was deficient, and I believe the deficiency was due to the fact that in previous years the amount taken for 466 ammunition had not been spent, and no attempt was made to make up the deficiency which was known to exist. It is correct that in the year 1894 the Government made a contract with certain firms for the supply of about 1,200 tons of cordite, to be spread over three years. Of that 1,200 tons about 1,000 tons was for the use of the Navy and 200 tons only for the Army. During the years to which the noble Lord's Question refers 700 tons of cordite was ordered from contractors for the use of the Admiralty; but the noble Lord has forgotten that the ordnance factories were also beginning to deliver large quantities of cordite for the use of the War Office. During those four years 825 tons of cordite was turned out by the Government factories, and 160 tons was obtained from the trade, in addition to 450 tons in the shape of small arms ammunition from the ordnance factories. The amount of cordite actually provided by the trade and the ordnance factories during those four years was, therefore, something like 2,200 tons, of which 1,435 tons was for the use of the Army. I am afraid I cannot follow the noble Lord's figures with regard to the supply of small arms ammunition stored at the time the late Government relinquished office. When the late Government relinquished office in 1895 there should have been in existence, according to their own scale, 146,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition. The actual amount that was in existence was 92,000,000 rounds, the deficiency, therefore, being 54,000,000. When the present Government came into office in July, 1895, they immediately introduced a Supplementary Estimate and gave orders for fresh ammunition. A contract was put out for 14,000,000 rounds of ammunition, which was as much as could be obtained between that date and the end of the financial year. It required a considerable period to make up the supply of ammunition to the amount the Government considered it should have been. But between the years 1895 and 1899 very large demands were made on the Army for the Egyptian campaign, in the course of which a very large quantity of ammunition was expended. In addition to that, the amount of ammunition used in the ordinary annual practice 467 was largely increased, and, therefore, the ordinary wastage was much greater than ever it had been before; but such were the arrangements made by the new Government that when the war broke out in 1899 there were 168,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition in store.
* LORD RAGLAN
Some of it certainly was Mark IV. That was at the end of the practice season, when 40,000,000 or 50,000,000 rounds had been expended, and the reserves of ammunition were at their lowest. The fault found with the late Government was that they did not maintain their own authorised equipment. It is not a question of reserve ammunition; it is a question of the amount of equipment for an army in the field. That equipment was not maintained, and there was no reserve over and above that equipment. It was not for want of having their attention called to the matter that the Members of the late Government omitted to examine it. Their attention was called to it by the present Secretary of State for War in 1894, when Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman acknowledged that the reserves of ammunition were not what he could wish them to be. In 1895, in a private letter, the present Secretary of State for War drew the attention of Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman to the deficiency of ammunition; but no steps were taken to bring the supply up to the requisite amount, and he brought the matter forward in Parliament, with the result that the Government of the day was defeated.
§ LORD TWEEDMOUTH
My Lords, I do not think the noble Lord has altogether answered the Question that was put to him by my noble friend. The Question that my noble friend asked was—Whether it was not a fact that, owing to certain circumstances which probably were not the fault of the Government at all there was a great shortage of ammunition at the commencement of the war, and yet, owing, to the arrangements that had been made by Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman and his 468 advisers before leaving office, that shortage was able to be supplied without any difficulty whatever. It is very easy for noble Lords on the Bench opposite to deal with this matter in a light-hearted way. They have obtained all the fruits of the defeat of the Government in 1895, and we have had to bear the blame of what I believe was really only a misunderstanding. What was said on this subject at the time naturally rankled in the minds of those who were then responsible for the War Office—and I would remind the House that my noble friend Lord Monkswell was the Under Secretary of State for War—and, I think, in the minds of those who were then the military advisers of the War Office. By the irony of events, as it seems to me, it has been sufficiently proved that the arrangements sanctioned by Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman, and which were declared to be adequate by his military advisers, have turned out to be adequate. What was the policy of my right hon. friend in 1891–95? I would remind the House that at this period cordite was not a perfected powder. I can speak from my own personal experience. I used cordite in 1894–95 both for range and sporting purposes, and, so far as I could form an opinion, cordite was certainly inferior to other powders which I was able to use. I think the best proof of what I say is that even now there is a Committee sitting to inquire into this very question of cordite. My right hon. friend took the view that it was not desirable, until further experiments had been made, to have an over-large store in the national armouries, and I think that was a sound view to take. It was considered desirable to rely, not only on the Government manufacture of explosives, but also to encourage the establishment of other manufactories in different parts of the kingdom. At the time of which I am speaking great manufactories were being established in the north of Ireland and in Cornwall, with both of which the Government, entered into contracts, which, I believe, have since proved exceedingly satisfactory. The policy of my right hon. friend was to have a certain moderate amount of ammunition in reserve—I think the amount laid down as the standard was 100,000,000 rounds—but to rely largely 469 on the power of manufacture when the demand arose. Accordingly encouragement was given, as far as possible, to the establishment of these private manufactories.
The new Government on taking office, were, of course, obliged to increase the store of ammunition. Then came the most unfortunate part of the whole thing, the decision that Mark IV. ammunition was likely to produce the best results. Accordingly, the ammunition which the Government stored in the various arsenals throughout the world was principally Mark IV., but in the years 1898–99 Mark IV. was issued at Bisley and it was then discovered that the bullets did not give the best results. They were very apt to strip, and accidents happened which were attributed to the use of Mark IV. ammunition, which was also declared not to be altogether satisfactory for the purposes of accuracy in the use of the rifle. At the Hague Conference it was held that Mark IV. did not come within the recognised ammunition for civilised warfare. When the Government went to war they found themselves with great stores of Mark IV., which they wisely determined not to use and so avoid any possible charge of inhumanity. Therefore, at the beginning of the war this Mark IV. ammunition was useless for all practical purposes; and then it was that the Government fell back on the arrangements that had been made by Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman. I think we have a right to ask from the noble Marquess some explanation of these matters.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
What we say is that this is not the House to raise the question, which originated in the other House.
§ LORD TWEEDMOUTH
I maintain that this is the proper House in which to raise the question, because the Minister who was responsible at that time sits in your Lordships' House. I do not think there is any necessity to go into disputes between Parties in the House of Comnons. That is beside the question, and I do not wish to raise it. All that I desire is to get from the noble 470 Marquess a statement as to whether or not I have fairly stated the real facts of the case.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, I cannot help thinking that the noble Lord who raised this question has strangely misapprehended the Parliamentary aspect of this question. He has told the House that he had raised it for the purpose of replying to the bitter and gratuitous attack which had been levelled at him and his friends. That attack certainly has not been made in this House. The noble Lord appeared very anxious to take up a challenge which he supposes to have been thrown down in another part of this building, and he attempted to meet it by the unusual Motion of which he gave notice before the Easter holidays. Let me first say this—that neither in nor out of this House has there been any attempt on our part to level a gratuitous attack on the noble Lord or on those associated with him. If there has been an attack, it has been of the kind which I believe is not unknown in warfare—offensive defence. The noble Lord's friends made a bitter and violent attack on public men with whom we are in the habit of acting, and in order to meet these attacks those who were the subject of them were compelled to carry the war into the enemy's country. His Majesty's Government have been frequently taken to task since the out break of the war for the alleged inadequacy of their preparations. These attacks are natural enough. We endeavour to meet them, but we do not resent them in the least. But what we take exception to is that charges of want of foresight and preparation should be made against us, and made with very great acrimony, by persons who were at one time themselves responsible for the military administration of the country, and who were very far from being better prepared for a great emergency than we were. I certainly believe that from every point of view they were in their time much less well prepared than we were when the war broke out in 1899. I observe a very important change in the amended Motion of the noble Lord. The noble Lord's original Motion dealt not only with the 471 question of cordite, but with the question of artillery—a very important question indeed. The noble Lord has shown great discretion in omitting that part of his indictment, probably for the reason that on further inquiry he found that the investigation of that particular count was not likely to result very favourably for him and his friends.
As to the complaint of the noble Lord, I understand it to be this—That whereas Lord Rosebery's Government was defeated on a question connected with cordite, the Government which followed it lived, so to speak, for four or five years on the proceeds of the foresight and preparations of Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman. I think those who followed the remarks of my noble friend will have seen how completely that assertion falls to the ground. It is perfectly true that before leaving office Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman had given very large orders for cordite to the trade. The cordite question is one thing, and the small arms ammunition question, on which Lord Rosebery's Government was turned out, is quite another. But of that large order for cordite given by Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman, only 200 tons was for land service; the rest was for the Admiralty. Let me say in passing that the 1,000 tons which fell to the lot of the Admiralty were very far indeed from tiding the Admiralty over the years 1894–99. During that period the Admiralty was obliged to order—in 1898—about 800 tons more cordite. The noble Lord found it, however, convenient to omit altogether from his argument and from his calculations the cordite supplied by the ordnance factories. Our great effort when we came into office was to increase the output of the ordnance factories.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
Yes, intended! From the ordnance factories during those periods to which the noble Lord's Motion has reference I 472 find we obtained 825 tons of cordite for land service—that is four times as much as the 200 tons of cordite included in Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman's order. But that is not all. The noble Lord has talked about cordite and his Motion relates to cordite, but he knows perfectly well, and his speech showed it, that you cannot consider this question without taking into account not only orders of cordite, but orders of small arms ammunition? I find that between the years 1894 and 1899 we obtained from the ordnance factories no less than 228,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition—that is, about the equivalent of 450 tons of cordite—and that we also obtained from the trade 82,000,000 rounds or the equivalent of about 160 tons of cordite; so that, as my noble friend says, that much-vaunted order given to the trade by Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman, so far from sufficing for our wants during the years 1894 to 1899, had to be supplemented by other orders amounting to 1,400 and odd tons of cordite, either in the shape of cordite or in the shape of small arms ammunition, from other sources.
Now I come to the action of His Majesty's Government when it came into office in 1895. I will not repeat the figures which have been given to the House by my noble friend, but I am here to state in the most positive manner that when we took stock, we found ourselves face to face with a very large deficit in the amount of small arms ammunion which we should have had in order to provide the supply required by the then authorised scales. That deficit was a large one at the time we took office and threatened to become a much larger one at the end of the practising season, during which large quantities of ammunition are consumed by the troops. Then, says the noble Lord, why did not you make up that deficit by issuing very much larger orders than those which you actually ordered? He says, and I believe it is true, that the expenditure immediately authorised did not exceed £110,000. The answer to that is perfectly simple. We could not get the cordite, we could not get the ammunition; we could only order what there was a reasonable prospect of obtaining, and that amount 473 was not a very large one. Why? Because the outgoing Government had left things in such a condition that the producing power, both of the trade and of the factories, was of an extremely limited kind, and it would have been ridiculous if we had taken enormous sums of money, which we could not spend, and issued immense orders which we had no prospect of obtaining. But ever since that time we have been steadily and consistently building up our reserves and supplies of small arms ammunition. I give to the House this figure, which seems to me worth consideration. At the end of March, 1895, the reserve of small arms ammunition, including everything, stood at 90,500,000 rounds; at the same date in 1899—
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
If the noble Lord wanted this minute information about particular dates, he should have said so in his notice. In his notice he does not say a word about small arms ammunition. His notice refers to cordite, and yet he complains that we cannot tell him the exact number of rounds of small arms ammunition.
§ LORD TWEEDMOUTH
The noble Marquess will find on referring to the Paper, that small arms ammunition is mentioned in the notice.
§ * THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I beg the noble Lord's pardon; I am wrong. I am afraid I cannot tell the noble Lord the exact number of rounds at the intermediate dates. But I bear witness that we did steadily, while in office, continue to build up a large reserve of small arms ammunition, and in 1899 we had a reserve which was actually double the reserve held by the late Government in the spring of 1895. That was the case, in spite of the very large demands which were made upon us by the Egyptian campaign and by the increase of the number of rounds authorised for practice purposes. Both noble Lords asked me, I think with very great earnestness, whether there was a moment during our tenure of office when our reserve 474 fell below the reserve held by Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman immediately before he left office. I should be very much surprised to find that it was so. My strong impression is that our reserves went on increasing. They fluctuated, no doubt, but I doubt whether at any moment the reserve fell to such a figure as that at which it stood when we took office in 1895.
The noble Lord pressed me very much on this point—whether in the reserve of ammunition for which we took credit, a considerable quantity of Mark IV. was included. Certainly it was. The noble Lord will remember that Mark IV. ammunition was found fault with for various reasons. It was quite obvious that we could not transform it by a stroke of the pen into ammunition of a different kind; but it would be altogether misleading the House to say that, because part of our reserve consisted of ammunition of this particular class, that ammunition was valueless for military purposes. One of the complaints of Mark IV. to which the noble Lord opposite adverted was that it was considered by the Hague Conference to be of a kind calculated to inflict needless injury and suffering upon the persons who might be wounded by it. We did not accept that view. We combated it. At the same time we desired very much that the ammunition used by the British Army should be of a kind to which no one could take exception upon grounds of humanity, and we, therefore, modified the pattern. But that complaint went to show, not that Mark IV. was useless or innocuous, but that it was too dangerous and too deadly in its effects upon those against whom it might be used.
There is another point to which I should like to call the attention of the noble Lord. He referred several times to the importance of securing sufficient sources of supply for ammunition. Now, we took great pains to develop those sources of supply, and I think it may interest your Lordships to know that, whereas in the year 1895–96 all the small arms ammunition that we could obtain from the trade was 1,500,000 rounds, we were able in the first six months of the war to obtain from the trade no less than 28,000,000 rounds. With regard to the ordnance factories, I find that, whereas in the year 1895–96 we 475 obtained from that source only 14,000,000 rounds, in the first half-year of the war we obtained no less than 42,000,000 rounds. That is to say, the trade and the factories at the beginning of the war were producing small arms ammunition at the rate of 140,000,000 rounds a year. I think that shows that we were not entirely unsuccessful in placing the supply of small arms ammunition upon a somewhat better footing than that on which we found it when we took office. My noble friend suggests that everything which was done after we took office ought to be credited to the meritorious schemes of our predecessors. He will forgive us if we do not quite admit that and if we take a little of the credit to ourselves. I confess that the whole of this discussion strikes me as being of a somewhat unreal description. We have been considering really whether Lord Rosebory's Government was turned out in 1895 owing to a mistake. I am afraid that, whatever may be the result of the noble Lord's researches, all the King's horses and all the King's men will not set Humpty-Dumpty up again. Therefore this discussion strikes me as being not a very useful one. What surely we have to consider is not so much the state of affairs in 1895, as whether at the present time our sources of supply are adequate, and whether there is anything which can be done—and I am sure noble Lords on both sides of the House will be glad to co-operate to that end—to make our military position in respect to small arms ammunition, artillery, and other such matters stronger and more satisfactory than it is at present.
* LORD MONKSWELL
The important question on which the Liberal Government were turned out of office was the small arms ammunition question. At the same time I should be prepared to join issue with the noble Marquess in reference to artillery. In the time of the Liberal Government the Jameson Raid had not taken place, and the state of things was entirely different from that which had to be dealt with later. The noble Marquess, in referring to small arms ammunition, has urged that 476 the county was bound to be in a dangerous position for eight or nine months after the Liberals left office. Why then did not the Government to which he belonged strain every nerve to get the requisite amount of cordite? It is said that the matter was one of cartridges as well as cordite. The great complaint on which the Liberal Government was turned out, however, was deficiency of cordite. I would press for correspondence between the noble Marquess and the contractors who had promised to deliver 10,000,000 rounds in the course of the year and only delivered 1,500,000 rounds. If the noble Marquess wishes to make out that he had a larger supply at the beginning of the war than we had, he ought to tell the House the proportion of Mark IV. ammunition in stock at that time.
§ On Question, Motion negatived.