HL Deb 13 June 1904 vol 135 cc1435-54

who had given notice "To call the attention of the House to the defects of equipment, training, and organisation of the third branch of the Auxiliary Forces, the Imperial Yeormanry," said: I wish your Lordships to consider whether the Yeomanry, as at present constituted, is ready to take its part as a fighting force in defence of the Empire. From the fact that His Majesty's Government did not include the Yeomanry in their reference to the Commission on the Auxiliary Forces, I think it is fair to draw the inference that the Government do not appreciate the grave state in which that force is. The present moment is, I think, a suitable one for the discussion of this matter. There is shortly to be an important debate on the subject of the Auxiliary Forces generally, and I think this discussion to-day may lead to suggestions being brought forward which will be of value in the consideration of the general subject. I do not propose to discuss questions which affect only individual regiments or districts, but shall confine my remarks to those points which affect the Yeomanry as a whole. I would like, with your Lordships' permission, to read two statements which appear in the Report of the Duke of Norfolk's Commission. The first is— We are agreed in the conclusion that the Volunteer Force, in view of the unequal military education of the officers, the limited training of the men, and the defects of equipment and organisation, is not qualified to take the field against a Regular Army. The second statement is— We are forced to the conclusion that the Militia, in its existing condition, is unlit to take the field in the defence of the country. We think, however, that these defects arise from causes beyond the control of the officers and men. I will not go into that matter further, beyond observing that these extracts are not without their significance.

I venture to say that the Yeomanry are by no means ready as a fig n ting machine. In the first place, the force is not armed. Those regiments that have swords issued to them have not enough to go round, and the great majority of Yeoman have no we upon beyond the rifle. I do not think I need dwell upon the necessity of a steel weapon of some kind in defence. All the mounted troops in Europe possess such an arm, and I do not see why the Yeomanry should be the only force without it. The musketry of the Yeomanry, judged by the Returns, is no better than that of the Volunteers, and, owing to our system of instruction, there is little hope of improvement. In the Yeomanry Regulations it is laid down that every officer, before rising to the next rank, must qualify in a course of musketry; but on looking through the Army List I find that over half the regiments of the Imperial Yeomanry contain only one officer, or have no officer, who has been through the higher course. We all know the indifference in the Cavalry on the question of musketry, and as these men are now the only instructors who instruct the Yeomanry squadrons it is not possible, under the present arrangements, that these squadrons will ever reach any high standard of efficiency in musketry. There is at present no method for training the senior officers of the Yeomanry. If they go to a school they are put in the same class as subalterns, and are taught in exactly the same way. They have also the power, it is true, of being attached to cavalry regiments, but I think any cavalry soldier will know exactly the amount of instruction which, under existing circumstances, they are likely to get there, or the chance they will have of handling troops.

Another weakness is in organisation. I am not to-night going into the question of mobilisation, or into the question as to who are to command various units. I understand that the War Office have some scheme on this subject which is shortly to be made public. But on the question of organisation I think it is fair to offer criticism at the present moment. Just as companies constitute regiments so, in time of war, regiments will have to be made up to constitute brigades. Now, who are going to act as commanders? I do not ask for individual names, but what class of officer is be going to be? Is the officer who is to command a Yeomanry brigade to be a Yeoman? I do not think that is possible. Or is he going to be a cavalry officer? There are great difficulties in the way of his being a cavalry officer. The cavalry drill and the Yeomanry drill are two distinctly different things, and, moreover, there are no means, at the present moment, of getting the necessary connection between those who understand cavalry drill and those who understand Yeomanry drill, because both of the books are out of print. A cavalry officer, accustomed to command a smart regiment or brigade in which a certain depth is occupied, will not be able to handle efficiently a brigade where the extent of ground covered and the time taken in manœuvres are entirely different. If a cavalry leader takes over a Yeomanry brigade at once, he will require a considerable period in order to get full work out of that brigade, and to find out what his Yeomanry officers know, and, still more, what they do not know. We have heard nothing about this question having been considered, and no steps have been taken to put commanding officers of Yeomanry in touch with officers commanding brigades.

On the question of staff, I think it will be admitted that the condition of the Yeomanry is even worse. The fifty-six regiments will, no doubt, be divided into eighteen brigades, but you will want considerably more than eighteen staff officers to run those brigades. The more untrained the units the better trained your staff officer must be Now, where are the staff officers to come from for the Yeomanry brigades if we went to war tomorrow? In the Army List you will find two lists of qualified staff officers—the first is a list of those who have passed the Staff College, and the second a list of those who are qualified for staff duties. You will no doubt expect cavalry officers to do the staff work of the Cavalry; yet if you look through the List from end to end you wilt find only one man. I do not speak of those who are at present occupying other posts. I only refer to those of major and captain rank. If you have not got cavalry officers, what other officers will you have to command your brigades? Will you have Yeomanry officers? Your difficulty in not having any instruction for senior Yeomanry officers comes in there; and, if you mobilise to-morrow, is it likely that the various commanders of regiments would hand over their best officers to run a brigade for any man, especially for a General they did not know?

I come now to the question of signalling. We in the Yeomanry are supposed to be the advance guard, the scouts of the Army, and, as is well known, it is not only necessary for men in the advance guard to get information; the next thing must necessarily be the rapid transmission of it. Yet what do we see in the matter of the training of the Yeomanry force in signalling? At the present moment there is not one regiment in the whole force qualified for signalling. Therefore, however good the work they may do in front may be, it is totally lost because they are unable to transmit it. Again, in the matter of transport, things are even worse. I will take the Northern District. In Scotland there are 100 battalions of Volunteers, Militia, and Regulars. There are there exactly two transport companies. Is it likely that they are going to give the whole of those two companies to the Yeomanry? I do not think that is in the least probable. So far as I can make out, there is not one single officer who has got a certificate for any knowledge of transport; and you have got no qualified wheelwrights or saddlers, for the reason that you do not pay them. If they do exist in certain regiments if is by fortuitous chance and not as the result of the action of the authorities. This fact, if it does not disqualify the Yeomanry, at any rate limits the good the force can do in the field.

I can assure your Lordships that I am very far from taking a pessimistic view of the Yeomanry as a whole. I regard the force, if properly worked, as capable of being made a most efficient body. It only requires a little thought at the War Office, and, what is more necessary, action there, to get over most of these difficulties. I do not think we are asking too much. At present, Yeomanry officers, when they go for a musketry course to Hythe, have a week's instruction in Maxims and other things they will probably have nothing whatever to do with afterwards. Why not have a division of the course, and make short courses locally for musketry, with the longer course at Hythe for those who wish it? We really must have some course of instruction specially for senior Yeomanry officers, and one for junior officers. In no school are scholars in the sixth standard taught in the same class as those in the first standard; yet this is what takes place at present in regard to the instruction of Yeomanry officers. As to the question of brigadiers, I do not ask that they should be appointed at once, but I think they might be provisionally appointed. Commanding officers would then know who they would have to command them, and would be able to find out their views on the different subjects that crop up.

With little difficulty, again, the signalling could be made efficient. The total grant, if the signallers are qualified, is the princely sum of £12. This is a sample of the help which the War Office gives to commanding officers to assist them in making their units efficient in signalling. The solution with regard to transport is so obvious that I will not dilate upon it. There ought to be some method of paying wheelwrights and saddlers and men who are essential to running transport. In the South African War a number of officers paid wheelwrights and saddlers themselves because it was absolutely necessary to have with them men able to do the small jobs which always crop up in a campaign. The Yeomanry are far from being in a satisfactory condition at the present moment. I do not speak as regards units, but the whole Yeomanry as a fighting force; and, when appealing to His Majesty's Government to meet the Yeomanry in some form, I would ask them not to rush into reforms as rapidly as they are in the habit of doing, but, in consultation with the senior Yeomanry officers, to go thoroughly into the matter.


My Lords, I do not intend to take up your Lordships time by any lengthy remarks this evening, because I understand there are some officers directly associated with the Yeomanry who desire to speak on this occasion. I would only like to refer to a few of the points which my noble and gallant friend Lord Lovat has brought forward. In regard to musketry, I cannot lay too great a stress on the necessity for every branch of the military service being experts in musketry. It is just as necessary for the Yeomanry as it is for the Infantry soldier, and I can quite understand the difficulty which Lord Lovat points out which arises from the want of sufficient instructors. If musketry in a regiment is to be learnt satisfactorily the officers must take the lead. They must themselves understand how to teach their Men.

There is no doubt that it is difficult in Yeomanry regiments, especially like Lord Lovat's, which is scattered in the North of Scotland, for the officers to come all the way down to Hythe to get a musketry certificate. I am sure that when this matter is brought to their notice, the War Office will endeavour to meet that difficulty by making some arrangement by which perhaps a less decided certificate can be given to officers for a course sufficiently long to enable them to train their men at some local range under local conditions? It is hardly to be expected that a sufficient number of officers can come all the way from the North of Scotland to the south of England to go through a musketry course, but at the same time it is absolutely essential, if the men are to be expert in musketry, that their officers should know how to teach them. With regard to the weapon, it has been thought necessary that every soldier should have some weapon with which to defend himself. The rifle is his first weapon, but he must have something besides. It was decided, wisely as I think, that the Yeomanry should not be armed with the sword, but with something else, and the only other weapon at present available is the bayonet. I cannot remember how it was—and I failed to get the information at the War Office to-day—that the bayonet was not given to the Yeomanry. The question was discussed, but there is no record showing exactly how it was that the distribution was stopped. That is, however, another suggestion to which I think the War Office will be sure to respond when it is called to their attention. I do not for a moment hold a brief for the War Office, but I am sure that my noble friend the Under-Secretary will give satisfactory answers on the several points which the noble and gallant Lord has brought forward. All I would say is that the Yeomanry is a service which is well worthy of encouragement, and of every effort to make it efficient. In future wars we shall require more mounted men to do the work: than have hitherto been the case, and the Yeomanry is the force I look forward to as the body which will be in England to take the part of the mounted troops abroad. Everything, therefore, I hope will be done to encourage the Yeomanry and to meet their wishes as far as the financial difficulties can be overcome.


My Lords, I wish to associate myself with the remarks which have fallen from the noble and gallant Field-Marshal, and also with what was said by the noble and gallant Lord opposite. Although musketry is, perhaps, the most important part of our defensive armour, no changes whatever have been made in the way in which Yeomen obtain their instruction in musketry. The same system obtains to-day as when the men were attested under the Volunteer Act. For instance, although a Yeoman is a Militiaman to all intents and purposes, it was with some difficulty that I obtained permission for my trop to use the Government ranges and this stipulation was added, that I should not only pay for the canvas of the targets but should employ the Government markers and not be permitted to put my own men in the butts. I contend that not only should ranges be provided by the Government, but also markers. There is another matter in which a more sympathetic attitude might be shown, and that is in the choice of inspecting officers. I know a case of a regiment this year which was inspected by an ex-cavalry captain whose name does not and has not for the past fifteen years appeared in the Army List. This can hardly be taken as a compliment to a Yeomanry regiment in which were serving officers who had seen a considerable amount of service in the Regular Army. Last year the regiment to which I have the honour to belong was inspected by the present Inspector-General of Cavalry, and that inspection did the regiment more good than any five inspections it had had before. And for this reason. Not only did the Inspector-General take the officers into his confidence, but he took the men also. He called up each Group Leader and pointed out their faults in a most sympathetic manner. That, I consider, is something like what an inspection of a Yeomanry regiment should be. It should have for its object the promotion of the highest possible efficiency in each particular unit.

There is another matter to which I should like to draw the attention of His Majesty's Government—namely, the period of re-attestment. It seems to me rather hard that after a man has served his first three years he should be asked to re-attest for another three years. There may be excellent reasons for that, but I cannot help feeling that we should retain a larger proportion of our older men, who are so necessary to a regiment, if the period of re-attestment was made from year to year after the first period of service had expired. The Yeomanry service would gain considerably by such a change. His Majesty's Government would also do well to thoroughly consider what has been said in regard to the question of signalling. There are in most regiments a very keen lot of young fellows ready to take up signalling and do their best to perfect themselves in it; but in order to obtain the Government grant you must, I think, have fifteen men who are thoroughly trained, and it is necessary for them to go through a three months course. It is quite impossible to obtain the number of men in any Yeomanry regiment who are able to give up that amount of time. I think that for the Yeomanry a more simple system of signalling might be adopted. I do not wish that it should be taken from any of my remarks that I am not deeply sensible of the immense amount the War Office has already done for the Yeomanry service, but I do appeal to them to further encourage the men in the great interest which they now take in the force.


My Lords, I take the opportunity of congratulating my noble and gallant friend opposite on having brought this subject forward, independent of any more elaborate discussion upon the Report of the Duke of Norfolk's Commission. I am glad, however, that I am not able to take the altogether pessimistic view that my noble friend does of the Yeomanry force. In the first place, I do not understand why he should have relegated it to the low grade he has done. He refers to it as the "third branch" of the Auxiliary forces. My impression is that the Imperial Yeomanry are now Militia, and are, therefore, the first branch; at any rate, they always were the second. The noble and gallant Lord has pointed out—and I am quite certain the noble Earl the Under-Secretary of State for War is only too grateful to those of us who belong to the Imperial Yeomanry for any suggestions we can give him—various directions in which it is possible to help us. My own idea is this, that what has got to be kept in view is not whether the force is competent for the defence of the Empire, as my noble and gallant friend opposite said, because the Yeomanry as a force is not intended for the defence of the Empire, but whether it is competent for the defence of these Island.

It is reasonable to ask His Majesty's Government to put us in the position where we should be most useful for that purpose, but it is entirely unnecessary that we should be placed in a position to be able to go outside these Islands.


I used the term"Empire" in the sense of the greater including the less.


In the matter of transport, my noble and gallant friend is very critical of the present arrangements, can quite understand that from his I great experience in South Africa he sees the enormous defects, if you can call them such, there are in the present arrangements; but, at any rate, they are an advance on what obtained before the war. In the case of my own regiment, I have been able to make a contract for such allowances of carts as are laid down in the regulations. I have not the slightest doubt that on the day of mobilisation those carts will be there, and for the work. We have to do I believe they will be sufficient. It must be remembered that any scheme for the attack and invasion of England must be by a rush, and, if that is so, we may depend upon it that it will have to be replied to by a similar rush on our part against the invaders. There will be very little time to think of elaborate preparations for transport, heavy or light, or of the artificers—wheelwrights, saddlers, and so on. These are undoubtedly very necessary in a long I campaign, but I doubt if they are highly essential in the kind of campaign which would undoubtedly take place in the event of an invasion of England. Therefore, upon points of that kind I confess I do not see with the Same eye as my noble and gallant friend opposite.

But there are one or two points upon which I absolutely agree with him and with the noble Marquess. I do think it is ridiculous that we have got no second arm. We have the rifle, and some regiments have a certain number of swords, though not enough to arm all their men. But we have not got the arm which is generally attached to the weapon, the sword bayonet. The noble and gallant Field Marshal thinks the Yeomanry ought to have it, and has been trying to ascertain from the War Office why we have not got it. My regiment had it one year and then it was withdrawn. Why it was withdrawn I cannot say. If the War Office will only lay down which weapon we are to have, I am certain the men will give as close attention to its drill as they did when they had swords. At the present moment I have about half as many swords as I have men. A certain I number are issued to each squadron for the purposes of sword drill. Nevertheless, the men have given their whole attention to the rifle and do not care for the sword as they used to.

As regards musketry, it is a little ungracious, perhaps, to criticise the War Office. The authorities are endeavouring, within such pecuniary means as are allowed them by the Treasury, to give opportunities in all parts of England for the study of their profession by soldiers; but, as a matter of fact, it is impossible, with only one school of musketry at Hythe, to train all the officers of the Auxiliary as well as the Regular Forces who are anxious to learn musketry. I would venture to suggest that a course as long as a month is hardly necessary in the case of officers of the Auxiliary Forces. This is one of the great difficulties. As regards signalling, the position is this. A grant is allowed to a regiment if it can produce a certain number of men who are signallers. I think the number is twelve; but those men cannot be called signallers unless there is an officer in the regiment who has gone through the school for two months. I have an officer in my regiment who is extremely anxious to get a certificate for signalling so as to qualify the men for the grant. In order to get it he is called upon to leave his business for two months in the year, which, of course, is impossible. He is ready to go to school in the town in which he lives, which happens to be a garrison town, but the authorities will not allow that. He must go the town where the school is. I think some modification of that regulation might be possible. Not that the grant is of very much value. It is more that the men should be encouraged by the knowledge that they are an organised group of signallers.

I do not, as I say, take the pessimistic view that my noble and gallant friend opposite does of the Imperial Yeomanry. I have known the Yeomanry for over thirty years. I knew what it was before the war, and I know what it is now, and we cannot be too grateful to the Government and especially to Mr. Brodrick for what he has done for that force. I firmly believe that if the kind of attack upon this country to which I have referred, and which I have always understood is the only kind of attack possible, should take place, the Yeomanry force will be a most useful body to set against it. There is this to be remembered, that every year the Yeomanry is turning into the civil population something between 3,000 and 5,000 men who have been taught to ride about the country with a rifle in their hand, and many of whom are first-class shots. Notwithstanding the various' defects to which attention has been called, which I do not think are of the importance my noble and gallant friend imagines—although I join with him in the wish that the War Office maybe able to help us in arriving at a greater state of efficiency—I contend that the Yeomany force is doing a great deal of good in the country.


My Lords, I wish to make one or two remarks on the points raised by Lord Lovat, and on the question of inspection to which the Marquess of Winchester referred. I am entirely in accord with the noble Marquess as to the great importance of inspections, and I agree with him that some sort of continuity of inspection is desirable. I am not sure, however, that the noble Marquess fully appreciates the difficulties with which the War Office have to deal in this connection. Those difficulties arise principally from the fact that so many regiments come out at the same time, necessitating a very large number of inspectors. I think the difficulty might to a certain extent be overcome if the Yeomanry would help the War Office by making their arrangements so that the regiments did not all come out at the same time. If a variation of a few days was made it would be possible to meet the difficulty.

I will take as an instance Yorkshire. An officer might be able to inspect the Yorkshire Dragoons on Monday and Tuesday, the Hussars on Wednesday and Thursday, and the East Riding Regiment on Friday and Saturday. That would enable one officer to do this district, whereas three were required last year. We had to employ twelve inspecting officers last year. The only legitimate inspectors, putting on one side, of course, the late Commander-in-Chief, were the Inspector-General of Cavalry, the Inspector-General of Yeomanry—which position, I believe, is about to be done away with—and the Assistant Adjutant-General of Cavalry. After these three were employed it was necessary to go all over England to find other inspectors, and your Lordships will easily imagine the difficulty that arose. I believe that arrangements have been made this year to inspect the regiments in the Army Corps or in the district to which they belong, but this has not entirely done away with the difficulties the noble Lord alluded to, because in the North-Western district there is not a single cavalry regiment quartered, and inspectors will have to be borrowed from other parts of the country. I venture to suggest that some staff officer, preferably an ex-cavalry colonel, should be attached to each of the headquarters of districts so that he may be able to inspect the regiments in his district and also have charge of them at other times of the year, look after their musketry, etc., and act as brigadier. I venture to suggest with all due deference to Lord Lovat that ex-cavalry colonels might be the most efficient in this direction. I do not think the cavalry colonel who has had charge of a smart regiment will have much difficulty in picking up Yeomanry drill. If this practice were adopted of having a staff officer at the headquarters of each district, we should get greater continuity in the system of inspection, and the standard to which the Yeomanry hope to get would be much better understood.

It has been suggested that if Yeomanry regiments were not always inspected on the last two days, a large number of inspectors would not be necessary, but I should object to having them inspected on any days other than the last two, because regiments, as it were, "play up" for the inspection, and directly it is over a natural re-action sets in. I do not think that the days that succeed the inspection, if it were held earlier, would be so profitable as those which precede it. With regard to signalling, I think some simpler and more abbreviated form might be adopted. It is impossible to expect men who are not professional soldiers to give up three months, which is the length of the course the ordinary soldier has to go through, to learn signalling. I am perfectly certain that ii some short and simple plan of signalling was adopted, by which the commander of a regiment or column could tell what enemy was in sight and whether or not the ground was occupied on both flanks, that would be all that the Yeomanry would really want. This could be done by a very simple and abbreviated method of signalling which any man could learn in a few hours.

Now, as to the weapon. I believe there has been for the last two or three years a discussion at the War Office as to whether the men are to have swords or bayonets or a sort of hybrid weapon between the two. The result of this discussion is that at the present moment they have neither. I think this is a genuine cause of complaint on the part of the Yeomanry. The question of the places to which Yeomanry go for training is an important one. There are many places in the country which are absolutely unfitted for the Yeomanry—places in towns and populous districts, where it is impossible to teach them any scouting or reconnaissance—and I think it advisable that the Yeomanry should be taken away once in three years to some open country where they would have better opportunities of learning these services. I do not suppose they could be taken away oftener, as it would have a bad effect on recruiting. As to an advanced class for senior officers, that is a matter which I regard as of very great importance. One senior officer told me that he went to Aldershot last year with a view of making himself efficient, but was merely put through the same sort of training as the subalterns in his own regiment. I venture to think the discussion of these matters in your Lordships, House is extremely useful in calling attention to these details and eliciting the opinions of commanding officers and others. His Majesty's Government are at the present moment engaged in putting the whole forces of the country on a sound and satisfactory basis, and I think it is only fair to assume that the Yeomanry will not be left out.


My Lords, I wish to say a word or two both with regard to the question of musketry instruction and inspection. As to the former, I feel sure the noble and gallant Lord will agree with me that the difficulty one often finds in persuading officers to join a Yeomanry regiment is not any lack of keenness on their part or lack of money—at any rate nowadays when the expenses of Yeomanry officers have been very much cut down—but it is that they are afraid they will not be able to give the necessary time to make themselves thoroughly efficient members of, and a credit to, their regiments. With regard to inspectors, I cannot claim to have been so unfortunate as one noble Lord who spoke just now, for I was inspected by four different Generals after only ten days training.


My Lords, I heartily support the desirability of having shorter courses for officers and increased facilities for their getting at them. The difficulty Yeomanry colonels experience is in getting junior officers to join, and I think it is unreasonable to expect them to go down to Hythe for a month in addition to their training. I think they should be able to get a certificate at centres of musketry instruction in different parts of the United Kingdom. It is, as I say, impossible to expect one's junior officers to give up so much time as is required at present. A meeting of Yeomanry commanding officers last year unanimously agreed that some greater facilities ought to be given to field officers for training, and suggested that there should be a special course for these officers and that the course should not exceed a fortnight. As the noble and gallant Lord who initiated this discussion said, it is absurd to expect senior officers to go to school and receive similar instruction to that which is given to subalterns. I am quite sure, from the way the Yeomanry have been treated by the War Office during the last few years, that it is their intention to do what they can in its interests, and I hope they will meet the wishes of commanding officers on these points.


My Lords, I do not think I have any right to complain of the tone of the debate this evening. On the other hand, I think I am fully entitled to congratulate myself on the references to the War Office and the amount of praise that has been showered upon us. I can assure noble Lords that we are most anxious to make the Yeomanry an efficient and useful force, if possible more efficient and useful than it is now. I welcome this discussion, for it is only by personal discussion with members of Yeomanry regiments that we are able to find oat these deficiencies, which, of course, cannot be so patent to our eyes as they are to the eyes of noble Lords who are themselves members of the Imperial Yeomanry. I welcome any debate raised on this subject by the noble and gallant Lord opposite, because I know full well that when he does start a debate that debate is certain to be rich in schemes of all sorts. I welcome these schemes; but I am sure the noble and gallant Lord would not expect that I should accept all of them offhand. If the schemes are subsequently adopted and are a success, naturally the noble and gallant Lord gets all the credit for them; but if they are not found to be a success, the noble and gallant Lord's existence is forgotten for the moment, and we get all the blame.

The first point that has been raised is the necessity for a steel weapon for the Imperial Yeomanry. We are in rather a difficult position as regards this. I confess I have been quite unable to discover in the Papers I have here the reason why some three years ago the bayonet was withdrawn from the Imperial Yeomanry. Still, the fact remains that that decision was come to, and we are now asked to reconsider the decision. I would remind your Lordships that there is considerable difference on this point even among officers of the Imperial Yeomanry. A few still cling to the idea that they would like to have a sword. Many colonels argue in favour of the bayonet; one distinguished officer has suggested a battle-axe; and others think they should have nothing at all. The greater weight of opinion, however, I believe leans towards the bayonet, and I will certainly see that the matter is most carefully gone into. I may, however, be allowed to sound a note of warning. A distinguished Yeomanry Officer, one of the first to go to South Africa, spoke to me this morning on this subject. He prefers that the present state of things should continue, and that the Yeomanry should be armed with the rifle and nothing else. He expressed the opinion that a bayonet is an uncomfortable thing for a mounted man to wear, and he said that his experience in South Africa was that generally the I Imperial Yeoman threw his bayonet; away at the first opportunity. It was, he says, sometimes found useful as a I picketing peg, or for cutting wire, but I to use it on his rifle was the last thing the Yeoman thought of. I am sure your Lordships will sympathise with us when we say there is a great deal to be said on both sides. I can only promise that I will ask those of my colleagues whose business it is to deal with this question of weapons to give it their early consideration.

The next point I turn to was that raised by the Marquess of Winchester as to the period of re-attestment. I discussed that question only this morning with some of my colleagues on the Army Council, and they promised to go into it at once. As to the question of inspection, the exact state of the case has, I think, been fully stated by my noble friend the Earl of Erroll, and I am glad to say that we hope in the early future to make arrangements for carrying out more effectually the inspection of the Imperial Yeomanry, taking especial note of the fact that there should be continuity of inspection year after year by the same officer, where possible. The next point raised was in regard to the training of the men in musketry. This is one of the most unsatisfactory things in connection with the training of the Yeomanry. In conversation this morning with the Inspector-General of Auxiliary Forces, he informed me that he has in his mind a scheme which he hopes to work out with assistance from officers of the Imperial Yeomanry, and which, I hope, will prove a remedy for the present not at all satisfactory state of things.

As regards the training in musketry of officers and non-commissioned officers, the noble and gallant Lord has suggested that we should have local courses held in various parts of the country. Local courses for officers in some things are easy to arrange, and we are glad to arrange them. When noble Lords come forward, in the patriotic way my noble and gallant friend did last year by placing his house at our disposal to hold a course for the Imperial Yeomanry in Scotland, we are glad to avail ourselves of these opportunities. But a local course in musketry is a different thing. We have all the facilities to our hand at Hythe, and we think that the result of a course there is bound to be infinitely more advantageous for the individual officer than if carried out where there are not the same facilities. The course for officers of the Auxiliary Forces at Hythe has lately been very much simplified. We have knocked out a great many things that we teach officers of the Regular Army, on the ground that they are superfluous for officers of the Auxiliary Forces.


You have added to the length of your course.


Yes, but we have taken out instruction in foreign rifles and one or two other things, and we concentrate a great deal of attention now on fire control. We are issuing Maxims to the Imperial Yeomanry. Thirty-eight have so far been issued, and we intend to issue two per regiment. I think, therefore, the time spent in the musketry course over the Maxim gun is not wasted. The noble and gallant Lord raised another point which I confess was new to me—the question of the senior officers' course at the school of musketry; but I shall be glad to see that it is inquired into. I hope, though I can give no pledge in the matter, that we shall be able to make an arrangement such as the noble and gallant Lord asks for, if senior officers come forward in sufficient numbers. I am afraid I cannot go into the question of organisation in any great detail. The Committee of Imperial Defence is now considering the whole question of the employment of the Auxiliary Forces in time of war, and, pending any decision on their part, I am afraid I cannot enter at length into the questions on that head raised by my noble and gallant friend. With regard, however, to training itself, a new manual is in proof. It has been prepared very carefully by a committee of distinguished officers, including Lord Chesham, and I hope it will satisfy all the demands that will be made upon it. The question, of staff officers is also one on which I cannot say very much, partly for the reason that the work of this force and; the organisation of the staff is under; consideration, and partly because we are to have a debate in the near future upon this question of the staff and I should be; unwilling to anticipate the opportunity we shall then have of dealing with this subject at greater length.

As regards signalling, we are every bit as anxious as noble Lords are that the Yeomen should become efficient signallers, but I think your Lordships will see that it is quite impossible for us to lower the present standard. I am quite certain, that the suggestion of my noble and a gallant friend behind me could be adopted,; and a simpler system of signalling drawn up which would be very useful for the Imperial Yeomanry to use among them I selves. But in war time it would be necessary for the Yeomanry signallers to take their part as signallers of the whole Army, and to have a large number of signallers who had been trained only in an elementary course and were unable to communicate with signallers drawn from the rest of the Army would obviously not be of much use. I hope the noble and gallant Lords do not think the attainment of the standard we desire is absolutely impossible. It is the same standard that we ask for from the Regular Army and from the Volunteers. I may be told that the Volunteers have more time at I their disposal for these things, but the fact remains that many corps of Volunteers are able to attain to a standard in signalling which is quite as high as, and in some cases higher, than that attained by some regiments of the Regular Army. I hope the day will not be far distant when the Yeomanry will be able to reach the same standard.

With the noble and gallant Lord's remarks on the subject of transport I think it is unnecessary for me to deal, as this subject has already been dealt with by Lord Harris. We give all the assistance we can to regiments of Imperial Yeomanry in time of peace, and each unit is supposed to have a scheme in existence providing a full complement of vehicles and horses for its requirements in time of war. The officers of the Imperial Yeomanry are permitted to attend a course in Army Service Corps work. They receive allowances while there and travelling expanses, and I hope; that the amount of help they get from the War Office may enable them to quality themselves, at any rate to be useful and of assistance to us in formulating any transport arrangements that may be necessary in home dafence, I can assure your Lordships that the noble and gallant Lord opposite is a little bashful as regards the force he belongs to. It is a good deal more efficient than would be gathered from his speech. We are satisfied with the progress that has been made since the great Yeomanry movement took root, and we earnestly hope that the efficiency which the force has reached may be continued and even exceeded, for we are confident the Yeomanry are a useful portion of the defence forces of the country.