HL Deb 20 February 1905 vol 141 cc543-63

My Lords, I rise, in accordance with notice, to draw the attention of His Majesty"s Government to the following paragraph from the pen of Field-Marshal Earl Roberts, K.G., which appeared in an article in the January number of the Nineteenth Century and AfterI maintain that it is the bounden duty of the State to see that every able-bodied man in this country, no matter to what grade of society he may belong, undergoes some kind of military training in his youth, sufficient to enable him to shoot straight and carry out simple orders if ever his services are required far national defence. and to ask whether, in view of the above expression of opinion in favour of the military training of youths from so eminent an authority as Earl Roberts, His Majesty"s Government will take steps to appoint a War Office and Board of Education Inter-Departmental, or other Committee, to consider and report on the best means of carrying such training into eilect?

To justify universal military training for lads two questions must be answered in the affirmative. They are (1) is some form of universal military training necessary for the safety of the Empire? (2) would such training given in youth be sufficient to meet the military requirements? Now, with regard to the first question, it seems to me that no individual who has given attention to the subject of the defence of the Empire can come to any other conclusion than that it would be impossible, if we were at war with a first-class Power, to come out successfully with the form of military service which we have at present. We have an ever-increasing Empire with extensive land frontiers, and I am afraid there are many who do not appreciate the extent of those frontiers. For so long in our history were we an island kingdom that we have got accustomed to think that we still are more or less an island Empire. But is that the fact? It is anything but the fact.

If we look into the matter, we find that our Empire has extensive frontiers conterminous with the United States, France, Germany, Russia, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Belgium—if the Congo Free State be considered as practically administered by Belgium—Italy, Turkey, China, Persia, Siam, Mexico, Venezuela, and Guatemala, and with numberless semi-civilised or barbarous States and tribes with whom, do what we will, we must often come into hostile contact. The dominions of the King are to be found in Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and Australia, and the land frontiers of our Empire are probably more extensive than those of any other Power in the world.

What the actual length of our land frontiers is I have not been able accurately to discover, but I can give your Lordships an idea of them by saying that the frontier of Canada alone, including Alaska, is over 6,000 miles in length. It is about the same length as the new line of railway from St. Petersburg to Port Arthur.

It is most earnestly to be hoped that we shall never be at war with our friends the United States. We hope that such a calamity may never overtake the world. But still it is only right for a nation to consider all eventualities, and because we hope never to go to war we ought not to neglect to be prepared for war even against those with whom we think there is little chance of ever having to contend. Here we have a frontier of 6.000 miles to defend. Now, it may be said that we have the pre-eminence on the sea. So we have. May we long maintain it. It is absolutely necessary for our Empire that we should have predominance at sea; we should be starved out if we failed to maintain that predominance. Moreover, we should be unable to defend our Empire by conveying our troops across the ocean. On the other hand, we must remember that, although we may possess that predominant power at sea, still it will not in any way prevent certain nations from being able to make land wars upon us. The United States would be one.

Coming over to Europe and Asia, we find that there are other powerful nations that could attack us by land. I allude in the first place to Russia, and if Russia were combined, which is not impossible, with Germany and France, we should have to fight Russia, Germany, and France by land. At this moment there are two lines of railway that come direct from St. Petersburg to the Afghan and close to the British frontiers—the one line approaching from the Caspian, the other from the Trans-Siberian line, emerging, the former at Kushk, and the latter very shortly at Farmys. Both these lines are united, and, therefore, the power of Russia could be brought from east and west to converge in two lines on our Afghan frontier. Let us consider what this portends. It means that the Anglo-Indian Army, a voluntarily recruited Army, would have to contend with the conscripted millions who could be brought into the field by Russia, or, if allied with Germany and France, by all three Powers, which have at their disposal the entire manhood of their respective nations—in figures 11,000,000 of men.

What number could we bring to oppose these masses? Lord Kitchener has recently been organising the Anglo-Indian Army with a view to its being able to take the field at a moment"s notice, and he states that at the first alarm of war he hopes to have at his command some 135,000 British and Indian troops. Well, what are those compared to the enormous masses which could be brought against us from Russia alone? It may be said that we could increase that number under the present system. So we could; but we had an object-lesson in regard to that in South Africa. We know that, with the utmost exertions, and by paying 5s. a day, 230,000 Was the highest number of men which the Empire was able to place at one time in the field during that campaign. At this moment we are informed—I take it from Russian sources, and it may be exaggerated—that Russia has some 400,000 men in Manchuria alone, and is reinforcing them at the rate of 25,000 per month. If she is able, with one line of railway, to place such a huge army in the field at a distance of over 6,000 miles, how much easier would it be for her to place her overwhelming forces on the Indian frontier at half that distance and along two lines of railway?

Having shown that the possession of an all-powerful Navy, although imperative on Great Britain if she intends to maintain her Empire, would not prevent certain great Powers from assailing her in Vulnerable parts in Asia or America, with all the advantages to be obtained from the enormous numbers raised by conscription, it surely follows that some form of universal military training is necessary for the safety of the Empire. If this be acknowledged, it may be said, "Very well, let us then meet conscription by conscription." Although personally not in favour of what is known on the Continent as conscription, I answer, "By all means, if the country be prepared to accept the burden of universal military service." But is there the least chance of the country doing anything of the sort in time of peace? and when war has once commenced it would then be too late to take effective action. Only after a crushing defeat, and when the shores of Britain were actually either invaded or most seriously threatened, is it likely that the British nation would ever consent to submit to compulsory adult military service. It may be said there is another alternative—that advocated with such force and admirable persistency by the noble Earl who usually sits on the Cross Benches, Lord Wemyss, namely, the enforcement of the ballot. There appears to me even less chance of this ancient enactment being put into force, inasmuch as it is less in touch with modern democratic feeling, which might tolerate universal service but would fight shy of the selective principle.

Very well, my Lords, if there is no chance of obtaining conscription, which I do not want, nor of obtaining the adoption of the Militia ballot, what is to be done? Something must be done, or it is absolutely certain that if we are at war with any great Power we shall find ourselves in a very awkward position. I do not think at this moment we can say that the present Secretary of State for War has been very successful in solving the problem. The objections to adult compulsory military service may, I take it, be summed up as follows:—(1) the infringement of the liberty of the adult citizen;(2) the interference with his industrial pursuits; (3) the disorganisation caused to trade, commerce, and agriculture by the withdrawal of men from their prosecution; (4) the moral objection to the housing of large numbers of men in barracks. None of these objections would be applicable to the training of lads during the educative period of their lives. The liberty of boys is always restrained with universal consent. They are not asked whether they will learn to read or write, but are compelled by law to submit to tuition. Now, I ask, what would be the hardship of requiring the lads to perfect themselves in another branch of knowledge, that of being able to use the rifle? To my mind it would be exceedingly popular. The lads would like it; they would not attempt to run away from it; they would look upon it as a sport. Such training could be given so as not in the least to interfere with their preparation for the business of life. On the contrary the discipline and healthy exercise would improve their health, strengthen their moral and physical fibre, and add to their professional, industrial, or labour value when they attained to manhood and entered on the serious business of their lives.

Now, let us consider the second question which I commenced my remarks by saying required an affirmative answer in order to justify the adoption of universal military training of Jads. Would such training given in youth be sufficient to meet the military requirements? The extract quoted in my Question gives the latest opinion of Lord Roberts on this point, and I may add that a few years ago he stated that— Lads who have been efficiently trained would probably become quite as efficient soldiers as would Reserve men after they had been away from the colours for three or four years. The truth of this statement was amply proved by the Natal Cadets in the South African War, to whom Lord Roberts was referring when at Pietermaritzburg he said— I hope the old country will follow the example of one of her children and insist upon all boys joining cadet corps. Lord Roberts is not alone amongst distinguished soldiers in thus highly rating the value of youthful training, and I shall take the liberty of quoting other opinions to your Lordships in a moment. The South African War showed plainly that under modern conditions our Army is inadequate to compete with first-class nations, and that, therefore, some plan must be devised by which we shall be able, in time of need, largely to increase our Army.

If training in youth were made universal, not only would the adult male be capable of taking his place in the ranks, but, what is of still greater importance almost, the spirit of patriotism and the sense of duty would be quickened in the nation, and in time of difficulty young men would rush to the ranks and compulsion would be unnecessary. Moreover, by the training of young men no military caste or profession would be created which would desire war. There are a number of people who are terribly afraid of militarism. Since it became known that I intended to speak to-night on this subject, I have received remonstrances with regard to my wicked desire to create wars and increase militarism. Now, if I felt in the smallest degree that I was doing that I should have absolutely nothing further to say; but I feel perfectly certain that the very reverse would be the case. I notice in foreign newspapers that there is a very strong feeling abroad that we are much more likely to go to war than any other nation, from the very fact that so large a proportion of our population know that under no circumstances could they suffer in their bodies by war. Whether that is true or not it is difficult to say, but I certainly think there is a good deal in it, and that if every lad were trained to arms and taught that it was his duty, if necessary, to come forward and volunteer for the service of the country he would think twice before he went to a music-hall and waved a British flag with a view to creating a war simply and solely for the sake of glory. He would have to take part in that war, and he would think twice before he rushed into it. That is my firm opinion. In other words, there would be much less chance of militarism if our youths were trained I to arms and knew in some degree what war meant, with all its horrors. There would, indeed, be much less music-hall vicarious pseudo-patriotism which calls for war, and which, when blows are struck, is willing to shelter itself behind a professional army. The sense of duty and moral responsibility would be quickened.

What do we see taking place in Japan? The spirit of Japan has been an object-lesson to the world, and I hope we are learning from it. It may not be known to all your Lordships that it is not altogether to the military efficiency of the Japanese army, in the sense of great preparations, that their success has been due. The success has been attained in the schools of Japan. Ever since the revolution in 1867, day by day Bushido, or the spirit of chivalry, has been taught in the schools—patriotism, obedience to authority, self-sacrifice. The children are taught that the individual is nothing and that the State is everything. In every school in Japan there is a picture of the Emperor, veiled. It is not shown except on three or four days in the year, when it is unveiled with great ceremony. All these things tend to create a patriotic spirit, and we see what has been the effect of it in this war. It is not only in war that this spirit can be seen. In a few years time I venture to prophesy that we shall see the same spirit thrown into the avocations of peace.

The spirit which makes a man do the best for his country under all circumstances will come to the front in Japan. A man will not consider whether he is receiving perhaps a few pence or a few pounds more than he ought; he will do the best work he can for his country"s sake and for the honour of his country; and by that means I believe the training the youth are receiving in Japan is not only one for war but one calculated for peace. I wish to see some kind of imitation of Bushido in our schools. I want to see the children trained, not in militarism, but to understand the horrors of war and to be able to take their part in avoiding, if possible, those horrors coming upon the shores of our Empire. It is a curious fact, but it was told to me yesterday by a distinguished ex-Cabinet Minister of Japan, that the idea of training the youth of that country to arms in the schools came from this country—this country that has not adopted it, this country that is so afraid of putting arms into the hands of its lads.

My opinion on this subject is of absolutely no weight whatever, but I should like to call witnesses whose opinions are worth considering. In the first place I should like to call as a witness Dr. Macnamara, a Liberal Member of Parliament. Dr. Macnamara says that— He would make gymnastic training a I compulsory feature of every evening continuation school. He would go still further. He thought that every young man between sixteen and twenty ought by law to be compelled to give two hours a night for two nights a week, for two years, to compulsory physical evening training, which would include first-class gymnastic training, such formations as might be necessary for the moving together of large bodies of men, and practice in the use of the rifle. That was not conscription. Conscription, of course, was a very ugly word I which we must never mention. But what he suggested was, in his opinion, one way of obviating conscription. Every young fellow who was physically fit should be compelled to undergo that course. I have read the views of Lord Roberts. I will now quote a former Liberal Prime Minister, who telegraphed to me that he was unable to be in his place to-day—I refer to Lord Rosebery. Lord Rosebery, in a letter to Mr. G. S. Hazlehurst, late Mayor of Birkenhead, dated October 31st, 1903, said that— ''I quite agree with the view expressed by Lord Kitchener that it is very desirable that some elementary military training should be added to the curriculum of instruction in public schools. That distinguished General Sir Ian Hamilton, whose deeds in South Africa still ring in our ears, stated in his evidence before the Scottish Commission on Physical Training that— He would feel very confident of obtaining creditable results if he were placed in command of a mounted infantry brigade composed of boys who had previously been well grounded in handling arms, in skirmishing, and the attack. About an hour ago I received a letter from Lord Methuen expressing his firm belief that there is a great future before this movement, and appealing for the support of the governing body of schools and the powerful influence of county councils through their education committees in bringing it about. In an article in this month"s Nineteenth Century and After Lord Methuen urges the military training of boys, and recalls the old English law that every lad should be an expert with the bow and arrow. I will now quote a witness from Canada. General Lord Dundonald, referring to the cadet system in Canada, says— Youth is the time for improvement—the season for preparation. A well-trained and disciplined cadet, with all the self-sacrifice that this involves, will not only be of great value to his country when it needs him, but he will be a better citizen and a better man. Admiral Lord Charles Beresford has said that— Lads should be taught to load and fire rifles at 100 yards and have to undergo company drill and discipline. Such lessons, once learned, are never forgotten. Major-General Sir Edmund Barrow says that— When every healthy boy in the United Kingdom has been compelled by law to learn the rudiments of discipline and the use of arms; when he is fitted by early training to take his place in the defence of his country or its interests; when he is taught that the profession of arms is an honourable one, and that his first duty is to his country, then we may be sure that the Army will be popular and will attract to its ranks the flower of the nation"s youth. That, to my mind, is the bedrock of military organisation. I would desire, through the noble Earl Lord Donoughmore, to draw the special attention of the Secretary of State for War, who professes to be so anxious to popularise the Army, to these remarks. My witnesses are not all military men. I have already quoted the remarks of Lord Rosebery and of Dr. Macnamara, M.P. I will now call upon headmasters as represented by the Rev. C. G. Gull, who, on November 25th, 1902, said— The aim which both the Headmasters' Conference and the Headmasters" Association, the two bodies which together represent the whole of the public secondary schools, have set before the War Office and before themselve, is that every boy, if in sufficient bodily health, in their schools should be trained to the use of arms. Next I will call as a witness one of our most distinguished Empire-makers, Sir George Taubman-Goldie, who in his note attached to the Report of the Royal Commission on the South African War" advocates national juvenile military education— As vital to the security of the British Empire, and he states that he— Is firmly of opinion that it would result in great diminution of expenditure by permitting a large reduction of the number of men serving with the colours. Our Colonies are far ahead of us in this respect. All our Colonies, more or less, have got trained cadets, and in Canada they have lately reorganised their cadet system and placed it on a satisfactory footing. In Australia the cadets are under the Commonwealth Defence Act. In his report on the military forces of the Commonwealth, General Hutton says— It is impossible to overestimate the value of military discipline on the rising generation. In Natal a staff officer for cadets has been appointed, and in his report the Commandant of the Natal Volunteers refers to the appointment as an "important one," and adds— When it is remembered that the future defence of the colony is in the hands of our youth the importance of early training in the use of arms is one that no State, looking to the future, can afford to neglect. In New Zealand, owing largely to the influence of Mr. Seddon who is a great enthusiast for the training of lads to arms, the number of cadets has increased from 4,126 in July, 1902, to 12,000 in 1904. When we consider what the population of that little island is, I think it will be seen that New Zealand has produced a very large number of trained lads. With regard to these cadets, the Prime Minister of New Zealand writes— It would be difficult to lay sufficient stress on the importance to be attached to the cadet movement in this colony. Now, what is the position at home? The War Office recognises such training. It is not compulsory as in many of our Colonies, but as long as boys wear uniform—and this is a sine qua non—the War Office will supply free arms and ammunition to the boys—i.e., 50 per cent. serviceable arms, 50 per cent. defective, or D. P. arms, and eighty rounds miniature or sixty rounds ball per boy. The restriction of the Government grant to the corps which can provide themselves with uniforms practically gives the grant to the sons of rich men and withholds it from the sons of poor men. This is an invidious anomaly which should be rectified.

The Lad"s Drill Association, of which I am chairman, has approached the Government and asked that the sons of men who cannot afford uniform should be placed on the same footing as the sons of richer men as regards ammunition, and that one serviceable rifle be given for every fifteen boys. This is a very modest proposal. It is less than what strict justice would demand, but even this proposal has not yet been accepted. I trust that it may not be long before the Government will recognise that the best and most economical guarantee of national security and of peace would be the universal training of British youths to arms, following the wise and patriotic example set to the Motherland by her self-governing Colonies. If this were done, I am confident that the Empire would never need to resort to any system of compulsion in order to fill the ranks of her Army. In time of need the trained manhood of the country would rush to arms, and those who offered themselves would not be, as was so often the case in the Boer War, men who were absolutely useless in the field, but those who from their youth had been made familiar with the use of weapons, and with bodies and minds strengthened and quickened by healthy exercise and by wholesome discipline. We who advocate this training entertain the ideal so well expressed by Dr. Morrison, Principal of the Presbyterian College at Melbourne, when, in an address presented to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, Patron of the Lads" Drill Association, he said— We have striven to send forth from our schools good and true men, loyal and patriotic citizens, who will not only do their work well in every social, civil, and religious capacity, but will fight, if need be, for their King and country, as so many of our old boys recently have fought.


My Lords, I rise to say a few words in support of the proposal brought forward by the noble Earl. I feel as strongly as he does the necessity of military education being afforded in the schools, not only of the rich, but of the poor, and of instruction being given in the use of the rifle. It is not only good for the health of lads that they should be trained to bear arms and obey orders, but it is absolutely necessary that some attention should be given in this country to rifle-shooting. Noble Lords are aware that at our public schools very efficient Volunteer corps have been created and are supported by the masters of those schools. Harrow, Eton, and Winchester have their Volunteer corps, but the restriction, which has been referred to by the noble Earl, of the Government grant to the corps which can provide themselves with uniform, certainly ought to be done away with if possible. I hold very strongly that it is not only the sons of rich men who ought to be taught military training, but also those of the poor.

If I may be allowed to state a case within my own knowledge, I would inform your Lordships that in an industrial school of which I have been for thirty years chairman, in the county of Kent, we there train the boys on military lines. Two hundred boys are drilled in a military way by a drill-master, and we have also lately established a rifle-gallery where they are taught the use of the rifle. I was able some time ago, by the aid of the War Office, to purchase about 200 disused rifles. The price was certainly within our means, for we were only charged Is. 6d. each. They were useless, the barrels being condemned, but we bought them in order that the lads might be exercised in rifle drill. We now have amongst the lads many excellent shots. That is only one instance. I hope this movement will receive support from His Majesty"s Government and in the schools of the country, and that every lad will undergo sufficient military training in his youth to enable him to shoot straight and carry out simple orders if ever his services are required for national defence. I trust my noble friend the Under-Secretary of State for War will find it possible to give a favourable answer to my noble friend.


My Lords, I desire to say a few words in support of this proposal. No one who lives in the neighbourhood of the large and populous districts in Lancashire and Cheshire, as I do, can have failed to observe the great physical deterioration in the rising generation. That can be to a very large extent counteracted by giving them healthy exercise, and I believe it is admitted by everyone that no exercise is more beneficial than the ordinary military drill. It gives lads respect for discipline and order, and leads to their becoming, when they leave school, not hooligans, but respectable members of society. I have supported these cadet corps in my neighbourhood, but owing to their not being sufficiently encouraged by the Government, they are unable to get the necessary rifles or to go into camp, and it is essential, in the case of corps in large towns, that they should be able to go into camp. In Macclesfield a Patriotic Association, I believe with the approval of the Education Department, has 2,000 boys and girls under training, the boys in addition to the usual exercises being instructed in the use of the rifle. This example should be followed universally.

Some sort of drill of this kind is necessary for the physical improvement of our rising generation, and is also a great insurance for the defence of the country. That has been clearly shown by my noble friend. It is important that our rising generation should be trained in such a way that the training will be useful to them in after life. Our educational system in the past has not taken sufficiently into consideration the training of character in the case of boys, and instruction in domestic cookery in the case of girls. That is beginning to be improved, but we are still hesitating before adopting a system of compulsory drill in our schools. I know it is very difficult to suggest to the War Office anything which would add to the expense of military defence at this time, but I trust the noble Marquess the Lord President of the Council will see his way to do something in the direction desired. I can assure him that no expense of this kind would be begrudged by the country. We ought not to be behind our Colonies and other countries in this direction. Whether or not we shall come to compulsory military service in this country I do not know. I think we shall, but we are not ready for it yet. If boys were well trained at school they would have very little difficulty in complying with some sort of universal service for, say, a year or two. I trust that something of the kind advocated by the noble Earl may be brought about.


My Lords, it has been stated by many that drill in school is a stepping stone to conscription. Personally, I do not think it has anything whatever to do with conscription. I am a firm believer in drill. I had the honour to represent His Majesty in New Zealand during the time that drill in schools was initiated and the cadet corps established. The question arose, would they be popular? I can assure your Lordships that these corps are most popular both with the boys and with their parents. The great difficulty in that country was that there were no proper shooting ranges in the interior, and therefore rifle practice could not be so efficiently carried out as one would wish. The Government, desirous to encourage rifle practice in every way, gave shields as well as monetary prizes, and there were held great competitions amongst the various schools for these prizes.

I hope that compulsory drill, with rifle practice, will be instituted in the State schools of this country. I feel that the boys would be further developed bodily thereby, and that no harm under any circumstances could arise from it. In New Zealand there is, however, one mistake, in my opinion, with regard to these corps, and that is that the State school cadet corps are all under the Education Department. I confess I think they would be better looked after if they were under the Defence Department. However, the Defence Department finds it very difficult to get its Estimates passed. There is no doubt more criticism over them than over the Estimates of the Education Department, and I am pretty certain that this was the reason why the corps were placed under the Education Department.

I do not myself consider that this drill will, as the noble Lord who proposed this said, add to the patriotism of the people. He mentioned that in the schools of Japan a picture of the Emperor was in every school, and was only unveiled on certain occasions. I confess I should like to see throughout the Colonies His Majesty"s portrait in schools and public buildings. I do not believe that when I left New Zealand there was anything beyond small photographs of him in the country. I believe it is the same in the other Colonies, and when one remembers that these youths who are now being drilled in the Colonies have never seen the Motherland, one can well understand how desirable it is that they should be brought up to be as patriotic as possible. Though not wishing to inculcate too great a martial spirit in them, I do think something should be done to show them what the Empire is, and who the men are who have made it. I think that this could best be done by some series of lectures under the Education Departments throughout the Colonies of the Empire. I am afraid, however, I am travelling from the subject before your Lordships. In concluding, I can only repeat the hope that the noble Lord will do all in his power to get drill and rifle practice introduced in the schools in this country.


My Lords, I did not intend to take part in this discussion when I entered the House a few moments ago, but I rise very respectfully to put in a word of caution, and even of protest, in regard to some of the remarks made by the noble Earl who has just sat down. It seems to me that we are in danger to-night of mixing up two things. There is the military side of this question, and there is the side which is concerned with the perfecting of education, and, incidentally, of physical development. Now, my Lords, I hope that I shall not be taking too great a liberty with your Lordships if I express a very earnest hope that these two aspects of the question will be kept entirely distinct. So far as cadet corps and all agencies for that class of training go, they have, in their own proper place, my warmest and most hearty support, and so, I gather, have they the support of all the noble Lords who have spoken. But I think you will prejudice this movement if you Jet it go forth to the public that it is only and entirely a part of a defence movement, or that you are in any way whatever, even in the most indirect way, leading up to a system of conscription or of compulsory military service.

I had the honour of doing something, when I was Vice-President of the Council, to give greater encouragement to drill as a part of the regular school curriculum in what we call in Scotland our public schools. I agree with the noble Earl on the Back Benches who praises drill as a means of giving healthy exercise to our rising generation. I believe that in that aspect it is one of the most valuable things you can do. It teaches a boy to obey the word of command; it makes him more capable of organisation in labour; and it gives him a healthy exercise for some of the hours when he may be in the school or its immediate vicinity without unduly wearying his brains, and to that extent I believe you will have absolutely the unanimous support of the whole population for this movement. But it is watched in some quarters, and, in my opinion, rightly watchad, with a jealous eye, for fear it unduly encourages what I may call the military spirit.

The noble Earl who introduced, this question spoke most temperately and reasonably about it, but the text of his speech was a quotation from an article by the noble and gallant Field-Marshal Lord Roberts, whose words are upon the Paper. These words, and most of the speech of the noble Earl on the Cross Benches, seemed to me reasonably and properly directed towards the encouragement of cadet corps rather than drill in ordinary schools. If I rightly understood the noble Earl who spoke last, he would like to see the cadet-corps principle extended down into all the schools. Now, my Lords, I think that would be a fatal mistake. I am prepared to advocate ordinary physical drill as a compulsory subject in part of the general curriculum of education: I am not prepared to advocate to the same extent anything which seems to train the military side of human nature. It is because I am in favour of the movement in its general principle, because I am anxious that it should not be prejudiced by undue association with the idea of conscription, that I rise to enter my protest. I would prefer to see it under the control of the education authorities rather than under the control of the military authorities, although I need hardly say that the education authorities would not be as wise as I believe they are, both in England and Scotland, if they did not take counsel with the military authorities as to the best means of carrying out the drill. At the same time I do, think, differing from the noble Earl who spoke last, that this matter is safer in the hands of the education authorities to be developed on its educational side, rather than upon the other side to which reference has been made to-night.


My Lords, I can assure the noble Earl on the Cross Benches that I have no quarrel with him whatever for having introduced this subject, to which I know I he has given such great attention, and in connection with which he is, and always has been, such an enthusiast. The noble Earl supported his case with arguments that were both theoretical and practical. My objections to what he advocates are mainly practical, and practical largely, I think, for a financial reason. I entirely agree with all that has been said as to the necessity of engendering discipline among our young people, and of encouraging a spirit of patriotism; but I am not convinced that compulsory military training in our schools is the only way by which these desirable ends can be attained. I have a very small experience as a manager of a board school. My tenure of that post was short, but it was sufficient to convince me of the excellence of the discipline which is maintained in our board schools—discipline which I am perfectly certain cannot have other than a most beneficial effect. As regards encouraging a spirit of patriotism, I am not prepared to admit that we, as a nation, are unpatriotic.


I did not say that. What I said was that I did not think sufficient stress was laid on the teaching of patriotism.


Well, my Lords, I am not prepared to admit that there is any very great necessity for teaching it more than we do teach it. I entirely accept the noble Earl"s correction; but it is sometimes argued in certain quarters that we are not as patriotic a nation as we used to be. I am not prepared to admit that argument, which is generally put forward without proof. Again, I cannot admit that we should be justified for this reason in coming forward and advocating compulsory drill in our schools. We already do something on a voluntary basis. This fact was referred to by the noble Earl in his speech. A drill book has been issued, through the Board of Education, for the use of schools, if they choose to adopt it. We are prepared to inspect the drill classes of any schools which ask us to so inspect them. Indeed we offer our services to them. We supply them with Morris tube carbines at a cheap rate, though not always at quite so cheap a rate as that mentioned by my noble friend behind me. We give them Morris tube ammunition, also at a cheap rate. This experiment has been going on for some three years, and, honestly, I cannot say that the results have been very satisfactory.

The noble Earl stated that the headmasters of our schools were keen upon this subject. Our experience, my Lords, will not enable me to agree with him. Some of them are keen, but the majority are indifferent to our offers. We were supplied by the Headmasters" Association with a list of 675 schools. We offered these small services to them. The figures for 1904 are not yet available, but in 1902 only eighty-four—that is, one-eighth of the total number—accepted our offers, and in 1903 only 167, a quarter, accepted them. We naturally made inquiries. We asked our officers in the different parts of the country, who had been entrusted with offering their services to the schools, what in their opinion was the reason the offers had not been more frequently accepted, and the general consensus of their replies amounts to this, that they think headmasters are suspicious of us; they think that the War Office is merely using this as the thin end of the wedge, to introduce compulsory military drill in the schools, the one thing that the noble Earl wants to see introduced there. We have actually had protests from schools, telling us that our offers were not wanted. In view of this evidence, that our offers of aid on a voluntary basis are not very keenly received, the noble Earl will, I am sure, admit that we are right in not believing very strongly that a compulsory attempt would be successful.


Are you speaking of secondary schools?


Yes, I am speaking entirely of secondary schools. Therefore, my Lords, with this experience behind us I say we are not encouraged to attempt any starting of compulsory drill in these schools. We object to compulsion for reasons that have been very often discussed in your Lordships" House, and there is no evidence that that strong public opinion is present which would justify us in doing what we could only do by submitting legislation to Parliament. This could not be done by a scheme drawn up by a Committee such as that suggested by the noble Earl. We also object, as I have already hinted, to what we believe would be the cost of this scheme. The noble Earl"s demands, I admit at once, are very modest, but Lord Roberts would obviously, from the extract which is quoted, go a great deal further. Indeed, very much more extensive demands have been put forward in times past by the noble Earl himself and by those who think with him. It would naturally be argued that if you made military drill compulsory in schools you would have to pay for it. The same argument was used at the time compulsory education was introduced. We were told that if we forced children to be educated we must give them that education for nothing. We would, therefore, have to provide instructors; we would have to provide accommodation in the schools for instructing the masters; and we would have to provide rifle ranges, rifles, and ammunition.

From the report of a deputation which waited on Mr. Brodrick when my right hon. friend was Secretary of State for War in 1901, I find that the noble Earl himself asked for a grant of 10s. As there are some 60,000 to 70,000 scholars in the secondary schools of this country your Lordships will understand that we should be starting upon a line that might lead us to very considerable expense in the future if we now acceded to the noble Earl"s wishes. I notice that one member of the deputation advocated the measure as a means of assistance to clergymen in their parish work. Though I do not wish to say anything disrespectful of parish work, I hardly think this is an ideal to secure which the War Office need necessarily take steps in advance. It is quite true the Colonies do a great deal more than we do in this direction but the Colonies have no big Army to maintain. They are to be congratulated upon the fact that they are able to find money for this purpose, but I am afraid we cannot see our way in this country to do so at any early date. In view of this financial difficulty—a difficulty which I notice was pointed out to the noble Earl by Lord Roberts himself at this deputation in 1901—I am afraid I cannot see that any practical good would be obtained by the appointment of a Committee such as the noble Earl suggests.

It is quite true, as my noble friend Earl Egerton and the noble Lord behind me, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, said, that there is another side to this question, and one which is almost, if not quite, as important as the question of drill, and that is the physical improvement of our people, and no one has shown himself more enthusiastic in that direction than the noble Earl himself. I have always taken, I hope not without success, some interest in the proper development of the human frame, and my experience has led me to believe in the same system of development as that in connection with which the noble Earl is such an enthusiast—the Swedish system, and London owes a great debt of gratitude to the noble Earl for presenting not very long ago a complete system of Swedish apparatus to one of our schools in the South of London. A Committee was assembled by my noble friend the Lord President of the Council, last year, I think.


Together with the Scottish Office.


Together with the Scottish Office. The noble Marquess assembled a Committee, and this Committee drew up a new syllabus in connection with physical education which, I believe, has given universal satisfaction. I cannot help fearing that whilst the time at the disposal of physical exercises is not very great in our schools, if we were to impose compulsory drill upon them there might be a danger of that drill being carried out to the sacrifice of some of the time now devoted to physical development, and I myself believe that that would be every bit as disadvantageous to the Army as it would be to the nation at large. I always regret giving an unfavourable answer to one whom I know is enthusiastic in the cause which he advocates, but I hope I have said enough to show that we are not unreasonable in taking up the position that we do, and stating that it is impossible for us to meet the noble Earl"s wishes at the present moment.

House adjourned at ten minutes before Six o"clock, till tomorrow, half-past Ten o"clock.