§ * THE EARL OF WEMYSS
rose to call attention to "the altering of the terms of service in the Militia by rendering them liable to be sent abroad at the will of the Government of the day, a change hurtful alike to the Militia and the nation, as it would lesson the chances of recruiting a force, ever from 20,000 to 30,000 short of its established strength, though containing a very large number of boys under twenty years of age, while the exercise of the existing power of compulsory Militia Home Service would be rendered impossible."
The noble Earl said: My Lords, I have, in the first place, to apologise for the delay there has been on my part in bringing on this Notice, but I postponed it, by request, because it was wished that nothing should come between the House and the late discussion on the Education Bill. As regards Army reform, we are not in a position to know exactly what Mr. Haldane intends. We are not to know that until the spring. Probably we shall hear it on 1st April. But we can gather enough from his "thinking aloud" to know what the general tendancy of the measure will be. The intention of His Majesty's Government and of Mr. Haldane is that we should have what they call a "national Army." Now, that national Army is illustrated by Mr. Haldane by a cone. The base of the cone, the principal part of it, is to be pure Volunteers; the centre part of the cone is made up of Militia; 1471 the sharp point is the Regular troops, and that sharp point has been reduced by something like 20,000 men, and my unhappy country of Scotland, which would be, perhaps, the first to be invaded, is not to have any cavalary regiments at all.
But the main thing is that, according to Mr. Haldane, this Army is to be "on purely British principles." I want to know what those purely British principles are. I imagine that in Mr. Haldane's view they mean purely volunteering and nothing in the shape of compulsion. My noble friend the Under-Secretary of State for War gives no sign either of approval or disapproval. I assume, therefore, that purely British principles mean purely voluntary principles. I traverse that statement absolutely. I say that purely British principles are the reverse, that purely British principles are compulsion in the Militia for Home defence. It is true that this power of compulsion has been long in abeyance, but it exists, and every year Parliament passes a Bill to suspend the action of the Militia ballot. Therefore, I am justified in assorting that Mr. Haldane is inaccurate in saying that this scheme rests on purely British principles. On the other hand, his Army Reform scheme rests on absolutely un-British principles. There is no denial.
Now I come to my Motion. My Motion is in two parts. The first refers to the alteration of the terms of service in the Militia. Service in the Militia at present is voluntary, but militiamen may be sent anywhere throughout the world if they volunteer. By the change which is proposed the terms of service are to be altered, and militiamen are to be rendered liable to be sent abroad at the will of the Government of the day. That is a great upheaval of the traditions on which our military system rests. Why is this change made? I contend that without any change such as this you can get all you want. You have only to ask the Militia. If the Government said, "We want a certain number of regiments, we ask you to volunteer," what would be the result? Every regiment would volunteer. That is a certainty, and then you would have to select from the whole the number that you required. Therefore, why, in God's name, upset the foundation of our military system when there is no necessity 1472 for it? This appears to me to be the common sense of the thing.
Take the history of the Militia. Have they ever failed you when you wanted them? Did they fail you in the Peninsula? Did they fail you at Waterloo? Did they fail you in the Indian Mutiny? It is true that they did not go to India, but they went to the Mediterranean. And did they fail you in the Crimea? No. At the time of the Crimea they garrisoned Malta and Gibraltar. On any occasion, whether it be Spain, Waterloo, the Crimea, India, or, lastly, South Africa, have they ever failed you? No. Have they ever objected in any way or refused to respond to your invitation? They have not. Therefore I say you are, without any possible justification, breaking up the foundations of our military system, which rests upon a Militia raised compulsorily for Home defence according to the old constitutional power. The power of forcing men to serve in the Militia for Home defence only is a power that it seems to me something like madness willingly to throw away; but, if the terms of service are altered in the way proposed, you practically throw it away, because you cannot establish the principle of compulsion to send men to Egypt, to West Africa, to Timbuctoo, or anywhere else. Therefore, my Lords, a great power will be done away with if this change is made.
I go further. You will put the British-born man in a more abject position with regard to compulsion than either a Frenchman or a German. In the French army, which is recruited absolutely by compulsion, you cannot send a man to Algiers, to Madagascar, or anywhere else abroad against his will and consent. The same thing obtains as regards' Germany. In Germany also, they have to obtain the consent of the men, although they are recruited by compulsion, before sending them to German possessions abroad. That does away with the argument that it is unfair that men should be asked to volunteer. As regards that point, in your division of the Militia those who do not wish to go abroad would remain in the Home Department. Therefore, all these arguments fall to the ground, and we come to this, that the only 1473 sure basis on which you can build a military system is by compulsion for Home defence. Unless England adopts this, it had better do what I heard the other day was done in the case of the Bishop of Osnaburg. That Bishop was one of those potentates who had a little army before the union of the German States, and that army bore on its helmets the words "Give us peace, O Lord!" Now, my Lords, we know the changes in uniform to which our soldiers are subject, and I would suggest that as our army organisation now is, our soldiers should get another new cap in the shape of Mr. Haldane's cone with the Osnaburg prayer upon it.
Now, in expressing the views which I have laid before your Lordships as regards compulsory Home Service I have not been stating my own opinion only. Who, then, are the authorities who looked upon the enforcement of our constitutional annually suspended law of compulsory service in the Militia as the only sure solution of our present difficulties? I wrote in the autumn four letters to the Scotsman, in one of which I pointed out that the authorities numbered ten, and were— (1) Lord Sidmouth (Militia Transfer Bill), 1807; (2) Sir James Grahame's Committee on Army Organisation, 1860; (3) Recruiting Commission, 1867; (4) Lord Dalhousie, 1867; (5) Lord Longford, 1867; (6) Sir James Scarlet, 1870; (7) Colonel Anson, 1870; (8) Sir W. Mansfield (Lord Sandhurst) 1871; (9) Lord Wolseley, 1903; (10) County and urban authorities, 1903. I will not trouble your Lordships with what those authorities said, but they all, as strongly as possible, insisted that if you are to have an Army at all, it must be built on a sure foundation, and the only sure foundation is compulsory service under the existing law.
From this list there was one omission, and I did not know of it until a few days ago. I refer to the views of Mr. Herbert, who was Minister for War in 1854. I happened to turn to his life, a most interesting book, which is written by Lord Stanmore, to see if anything was stud, about the Militia, and I found the following passage, which, coming from the Minister for War of the day, ought to have a material 1474 bearing. Mr. Herbert, in a circular letter to the Cabinet, speaking of Militia recruiting, said—I have slowly and most unwillingly arrived at the conclusion that here again our true policy is to return to the old traditional system, and to the practical execution of the law as it now stands.That was the law as it stood then, and as it stands now, i.e., the ballot.With our jealousy of a standing Army we have never permitted conscription for the Queen's Forces), but time out of mind we have ruled that all males capable of bearing arms are liable to be called upon for the defence of their country. The ballot is now the law of the land. By merely abstaining from an exceptional proceeding with a view to its suspension, the ballot comes into operation.And his biographer, at page 396, says—Disappointed though he was in his hopes of establishing the Militia on what he thought a proper footing, Mr. Herbert never abandoned the intention of ultimately effecting what he desired, and never ceased to insist on the importance of recognising the Militia as the great reserve force of the nation, second only in importance to the Regular Army, though to be used for home service and home service only.Coming from such a man as Mr. Herbert this is very valuable testimony. These are the opinions of the past. Have I none as regards the present? I wrote to Lord Wolseley, that distinguished soldier, asking him to come and give me a hand in this matter, and I received this letter in reply. Upon its receipt I wrote to Lord Wolseley, asking him if he had any objection to my making use of it in your Lordships' House, and he replied that he had no objection whatever. I will, therefore, read what Lord Wolseley says. He wrote—I feel much flattered by your note and the request it contains, but I am not equal to the attempt. England can never have an efficient Arm)', during peace, and she must, therefore, accept the rebuffs and calamities which are always in store for the nation that is content to follow the breed of cowards who usually direct her great affairs. The day will inevitably come when she will violently and suddenly lose her former fighting renown to such an unmistakeable extent that the plucky fishwives will march upon Downing Street, and, if they can catch its usual inmates, will rend them. One Party is as bad as the other, and I hope and pray that when the national misfortune of a great defeat at sea overtakes us followed by the invasion of England or Ireland—very possibly the latter— that John Bull will turn and rend the jawers and talkers who prevent us from being prepared to meet invasion. It is not Mr. Haldane I find 1475 fault with. He acts more suo, or I should rather say, after the manner of alt of our War Ministers. It is the British people who are to blame, who prefer the politicians, who pretend to scoff at the possibility of invasion, and refuse, in their stuck-up folly, to regard the warnings which the great Duke left this nation as a legacy. Mr. Tobias Jones, M.P., and the Smiths and Robinsons, all busy to make money, profess to laugh at danger, and ignorant John Gull makes haste to admire their wisdom. However, he would not listen to our great lighting Duke, so poor fry like me must content ourselves with the silly, selfish prayer of 'Not in our time, oh Lord.' The mob who now rule England are taught by their leaders to regard men like you and me who would warn them of their danger as male Cassandras; at any rate, they won't believe us. The people prefer those who assure them of 'Peace, perfect peace!' The invasion of England has been at all times a favourite military problem with me. I have studied it in all its phases since the day, when, as a boy, I cut from the newspaper the warning contained in the Duke of Wellington's letter to Sir John Burgoyne on this serious subject. However, the Navy, always afraid their building programme for the year may be cut down, keep assuring John Bull that England is quite secure as long as her Navy is powerful. I should like to see our Navy half again as strong as it is, but still, to be quite secure against invasion, we require a strong defensive Army also. Our great Duke said that England was now joined to France by an' Isthmus of steam.'The other letters that I have received are more or less in the same strain, but the opinion I have just read is one of the best opinions you could have at the present time, on the necessity of our Army for home defence.
Lord Wolseley referred to the Navy. That leads me to say a word about that line of defence. Mr. Haldane has plunged head over heels into the blue water. He followed Mr. Balfour's example, and he is flouting about in it now, and boasts of it. Last week there was a discussion at the United Service Institution on the question of the efficiency of the Navy, and Mr. Bellairs, a naval man and a Member of Parliament, read a paper thereon. Admiral Harris was in the chair, and among those present were Admiral Free-mantle and a great many soldiers and civilians. Here is an account which a gentleman who was present has given me of this meeting—During a two days debate last week, not only the lecturer but also every speaker, naval, military, legal, and lay, most definitely asserted that we were courting future naval disaster, and that Tweedmouth's Navy would prove as broken a reed as Haldane's Army. Not one attempt to justify our present trust in Provi- 1476 dence or in Party was made during those two days.Besides these opinions and the opinion of Lord Wolseley, we know that Lord Roberts is strongly of opinion that you must have compulsion for home defence. Then there is the Duke of Norfolk's Commission. What was that Commission appointed for? It was appointed to look into the efficiency of the Auxiliary Services, the Militia and the Volunteers, and what did the Commissioners report? They reported that these services, as at present constituted, are not to be trusted. And yet Mr. Haldane takes the Volunteers as the base of his cone.
As against the authorities I have ventured to quote, what is there to be said? Nothing. The Party politician knows as well as possible that every word I have read to the House is true; that every opinion given by generals and other experts, that you cannot have a sound system unless it is on a sound basis, with compulsion for home defence, is true. That is known full well. As regards Mr. Haldane, I hope I have said nothing to give him offence. Certainly nothing would be further from my wish than to do so. The best proof I can give of that is that I have in my hand a letter which I wrote to Mr. Haldane on the 1st of January last, the substance of which was that all his predecessors had failed. Why? For want of courage to ask for those compulsory powers which the Government have and ought to exercise. That was the tone of the letter I wrote to him. I said they talked about the problem of the Army, but there was no problem. The problem is simply this; There is my hat; I want to cover my head. I have only to stretch out my hand and put it on. You have this Militia power. You have only to use it and your problem is absolutely solved. But there is not the courage to do it. I hope the Government will think very seriously before they touch the foundation of our military system; that they will think seriously before, they alter the terms of service in the Militia, because, if they do alter it, they will lose for ever the power of compulsion for Home defence, however much we may need it in the future.
This House last year passed a very sensible and wise Resolution. It passed 1477 it unanimously, so that my noble friend and all those noble Lords who sit on the front Ministerial bench are as responsible for that Resolution as anyone who sits on these benches. What did that Resolution say? It said that you must not trust to the Navy alone for Home defence, and that this nation should always be in such a state of Home defence on land that no foreign nation would, at any time or in any form, attempt a hostile landing on our shores. What I should like would be that this House and the country should test the Army scheme by this Resolution. I hope, if this Bill ever comes into your Lordships' House, that the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition will defend our existing military system, which, as I have said, rests upon compulsory service for Home defence. I hope he will defend it to the death, and that your Lordships will back him up to the full extent. And if he takes that line the noble Marquess will be simply defending a power with which, as he stated in this House when he was Minister for War, he would not readily part with.
§ * THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (The Earl of PORTSMOUTH)
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Wemyss has again reverted to a subject which, in his hands, always seems to borrow an air of eternal freshness and youth, but which is not a novel one in this House—the subject of the Militia ballot. I gathered from the speech of my noble friend that he is as strongly in favour of the Militia ballot now as he has ever been.
§ * THE EARL OF PORTSMOUTH
I must respectfully differ from my noble friend on that point. I do not think it is necessary this afternoon to enter at any length into the history of the Militia ballot. It is quite clear in your Lordships' recollection that the Government of Mr. Balfour introduced a Bill of that kind, and then dropped it; and in dropping that Bill they announced to your Lordships that they were going to appoint a Commission to inquire into the efficiency of the Militia and the Volunteer forces. That Commission 1478 was presided over by the Duke of Nor- folk, and I noticed that my noble friend referred to the Commission in terms of confidence and approbation. I should like to remind your Lordships what the Norfolk Commission said respecting the Militia ballot. They said—We have paid close attention to the evidence laid before us dealing with this subject, and have formed the opinion that the Militia ballot is unsuited to the modern conditions of the country and that its irregular and unequal incidence would be felt as an injustice.They went much further than that. They realised the fact, which I think was hardly sufficiently strong in the mind of my noble friend, that, supposing this country could be successfully invaded by a Continental army, the reasonable presumption would be that the troops sent here for that purpose would be the best troops that could be obtained on the Continent. The Norfolk Commission realised that, and they went on to say that the Militia could not be relied upon to defeat an invader without substantial help from the Regular Army, and they expressed the opinion that to enable the Militia to confront with any degree of success the well-trained forces of a Continental army it would be necessary that the Militia should be trained for a period of continuous service with the colours on the model of Continental conscript armies, and the period they suggested for that purpose was in no case to be less than a year. With all deference to my noble friend, I maintain that, so far as practical politics are concerned, conscription is out of the question.
§ * THE EARL OF PORTSMOUTH
As the noble Earl stated, the Militia have always served abroad in time of war. They served with distinction in the Peninsula; and I do not think it is fair to the Militia that it should be implied that the fact of making them liable to serve abroad 1479 would materially affect recruiting for the Militia. As regards the Peninsular War, to which my noble friend has made some reference, what did Lord Castlereagh say in 1813? He said—We could not have kept possession of Portugal or have sent forces to co-operate in the deliverance of the Peninsula at large, and taken up that menacing position on the frontiers of France which our Army now occupies; we should have been shut up within the bounds of our insular policy, and could not have borne our share in the general exertions which have been made for the deliverance of Europe, were it not for the Militia. We should bear in mind that it is to the Militia we owe the character we at present enjoy in military Europe, that without the Militia we could not have shown that face which we have done in the Peninsula.Then, again, what happened in the Crimea? Fifty regiments of Militia volunteered for service abroad and ten regiments were sent to Mediterranean stations. Then I come to more recent times. In the face of what happened during the South African War, can my noble friend say that if the Militia were made liable for service abroad such a liability would interfere with recruiting for the Militia? Most interesting evidence was given before Lord Elgin's Commission on the War. General Borrett, Inspector-General of Recruiting and Auxiliary forces, said, in his evidence before that Commission:—Very strict orders were given to Generals to the effect that in every district where a Militia regiment was going abroad the General should personally see it on parade and ask the men whether they quite understood the terms— that there was no compulsion, that everything was quite voluntary, and that if any man did not wish to go no questions would be asked.Why, then, does my noble friend imply that making the Militia liable for service abroad would interfere with recruiting for the Militia?
§ THE EARL OF WEMYSS
You cannot have compulsion if you make them liable for foreign service. That is my point.
§ * THE EARL OF PORTSMOUTH
What happened in regard to South Africa? At the outbreak of the Boer War the actual strength of the Militia was 98,000, and during the war, which lasted three and a half years, altogether 98,000 1480 Militiamen served, of whom 14,000 were Militia Reservists, who were liable in any case to go abroad, and who were part of the ordinary reserve of the Regular Army. But the remaining 84,000 served voluntarily, and they were made up as follows— 40,000 volunteered and were drafted as individuals into the Regular Army, and 44,000 went out in their own regiments. As a matter of fact, my Lords, there is no evidence to show that liability for foreign service weighs very much one way or the other with the Militia recruit. I am inclined to think that the power of the Government which now exists to embody the Militia goes a very long way, and is in many cases equivalent to the power to order them abroad—for this reason, that a Militia battalion when embodied would naturally prefer to go to the front than to be ordered for nine or twelve months to be placed in some garrison town away from their homes and their work.
Then, again, I think the evidence goes to show that Militiamen join for pay, food, and clothes, and do not study minutely the terms of enlistment. As an evidence of this it is a very remarkable fact that from 10,000 to 12,000 Militiamen pass annually from the Militia into the Regular Army. As another evidence of that, we have the very interesting results of an experiment which has been recently made—the experiment of extended training for six months instead of the old training for six weeks. I have had the figures looked into, and I find them very striking and eloquent. In the thirteen battalions in English Commands, taking the two principal months of the year for recruiting, September and October, and comparing them with 1905, I find that 364 recruits have drilled on enlistment in September, 1906, as compared with 209 in September, 1905, and 534 recruits in October, 1906, as compared with 366 in October, 1905. It. shows, therefore, that there is a very strong inducement for the men to adopt the extended training, which certainly must make better soldiers of them than if they were drilled for six weeks only. I should also like to allude to the fact, which has a bearing upon the larger question, that the employment of these men for six months has in many cases a 1481 very useful and valuable effect on the local labour markets.
It is perfectly true, as my noble friend has stated, that when I learned that he was going to curtail his enjoyment of Scotland to come up to your Lordships' House and make a speech on this subject, I informed him that I was afraid that, as the position of the Militia in Army reorganisation was still under consideration, I should not be in a position at the present moment to make any definite statement to the House. But in any scheme of Army reorganisation—and I hope my noble friend will not think I am speaking with any want of courtesy to him—I am afraid the functions of the Militia as implied in the speech of my noble friend are certainly obsolete. And for this reason, that we do rely upon our Naval supremacy for defence against over-sea invasion, and we rely upon our Volunteers against raids.
§ * THE EARL OF PORTSMOUTH
I take it that by an invasion one means the pouring into a country, as we did into South Africa, unchallenged and unopposed, a steady stream of troops. The idea of a raid is something sudden, which would do a great deal of harm if the raiders attacked and destroyed any of our great arsenals, but it would not be in that case an invasion. We do rely upon our naval supremacy for defence against over-sea invasion. Otherwise our naval expenditure, which has grown from over £17,000,000 in 1894–5, when it was less than the cost of the Army, to, in 1904, nearly £37,000,000, which is borne by British taxpayers, cannot be justified.
§ * THE EARL OF PORTSMOUTH
In 1904 the cost of the German Navy was £7,500,000. The total cost of the German Army and Navy amounted in that year to £36,287,000. The total cost of our Army and Navy was £65,720,000. These figures show very eloquently that there is a strong case why the taxpayers should insist upon some reasonable economy in regard to the whole of this question of military defence. If we cannot rely upon the Navy, then the expenditure which is incurred is an unjustifiable burden. It must be remembered, as I have said, that this expenditure incurred in the defence of the Empire falls, not upon all parts of the Empire, but upon the taxpayers of this country.
In any scheme of Army organisation the Militia must, speaking generally, either become practically part of the volunteer forces or develop into a support to the Regular Army, and to the striking force of 150,000 men; and if the Militia is to become a support to the Regular Army, those who are interested in, and have the confidence of the Militia, must be prepared to make some concessions as to their going out in their units. War developes a number of possibilities which the most acute forecast of military and naval experience, insight, and knowledge cannot possibly cover. And, therefore, if we are to be able to make use of the Militia as a support to the Regular Army we must not be tied down by any rule that we can never use it, unless we send it out in battalions. My noble friend, in the course of his speech, used the phrase "the constitutional force." I have never known exactly what the meaning of that phrase was. When the Militia was supported by the rates the localities had a special claim on it for local defence, but ever since 1874 the charge of the Militia has fallen upon Imperial taxation, and, that being the case, it is surely only reasonable that the Militia must be used in accordance with the requirements, not of local, but of Imperial, defence.
§ * THE EARL OF PORTSMOUTH
I differ entirely from my noble friend, and believe that the making of the Militia liable for foreign service would in no way act as a deterrent to recruiting. It is said that as the Militia served abroad voluntarily, why do we want compulsion? If Militiamen are made liable for service abroad it is only in order that the War Office should be able, in drawing up any plan, to know what force it can absolutely rely upon. My belief is that the Militia as a body desire to become part of a practical scheme of Imperial defence, and if, as I believe, that is the case, I trust they will assist us in arriving at some reasonable arrangement and compromise on the drafting question which may be acceptable to the reasonable claims of the Militia as a county force with a strong local sentiment, and to the imperial, and, I hope I may say without offence, the imperious necessities of the War Office in times of national emergency.
My Lords, I will not occupy the time of the House for more than a minute or two, but I do not think we ought to let some of the statements of the noble Earl go unchallenged.
The noble Earl has given us a strategic forecast of the possibilities of invasion. There is nothing relating to that in the notice on the Paper, but still the noble Earl has volunteered a statement on that subject. He has clearly indicated that our policy of defence is in a complete state of chaos, for he intimated that the position of the Militia in the scheme of defence had not yet been assigned. This, perhaps, was no news to many of us. But the noble Earl went on to say that all we need fear are raids, and that raids must necessarily be confined to 10,000 men and would only be made on strong places.
§ * THE EARL OF PORTSMOUTH
I said that a raid would be of no value to the enemy, as it could do very little dam-age to us unless it were to destroy a great arsenal.
Why are three or four raids of 10,000 men each on, say, the broad coast of Norfolk or the south coast 1484 of Scotland impossible? If 10,000 men in one body may raid us, why should not four bodies of 10,000 men each land at distances of ten miles apart. It must be remembered that there are 182,000 tons of shipping in German ports at any day in the year, and that the Hamburg liners can carry 7,000 men apiece. I really must protest against the theory that all we need fear is one raid, and that it would necessarily be made on one of our fortified places.
§ THE DUKE OF BEDFORD
My Lords, I cannot agree with the Motion of the noble Earl. It seems to me that the defence of our vast continental Empire demands that some portion of the Auxiliary Forces should be enlisted for the purpose for which they must be used —namely, Imperial defence. If that is the case, then the Auxiliary Forces must in future be divided into two parts. One division would consist of troops who enlist for foreign service, and upon whom a considerable expenditure would be justified. The other division would be composed of bodies of men who enrol themselves for home service only, and upon whom a large expenditure could not be recommended.
The question is, in which division ought the Militia to be placed? If, as the noble Earl desires, the Militia is retained for home service, then it must be combined with the Volunteers in the home service division of the Auxiliary Forces. Statements have recently appeared in the public Press advocating the amalgamation of the Militia and the Volunteers. It seems to me impossible successfully to combine an unpaid civilian force not serving under the Army Act, like the Volunteers, with a paid military force, serving under the Army Act, like the Militia. If the combination were effected it means that the Militia must approximate as closely as possible to the existing conditions of the Volunteer service; that is, be levelled down and become a purely civilian force.
My objection to this plan is that if once the Militia is changed into a purely civilian force, that form of military service which has so long been known as the Militia will be gone, and for ever. A most valuable asset of military service, 1485 capable of being employed for Imperial defence, and one which is essential for the maintenance of the Regular Army, would be sacrificed. But His Majesty's Government have announced a Bill for enlisting the Militia for foreign service, a measure which would place the Militia in the foreign service division of the Auxiliary Forces. The Militia would remain closely linked to the Regular Army. A definite function would be assigned to the Militia, and the whole status of the Militia force would at once be raised; and, above all, that expenditure which is necessary to make the force efficient would be justified, because the Militia would render an adequate return in the form of Imperial service. I sincerely hope that His Majesty's Government will proceed with the Bill for enlisting the Militia for foreign service at an early date.
THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE
My Lords, I know that a very important Bill awaits the consideration of your Lordships, and I will promise not to detain you for more than three or four minutes. I am sure your Lordships would desire this discussion to close. As regards the notice standing on the Paper in the name of the noble Earl, I cannot help remarking that it is not a Motion, although it has been several times referred to as such. It is merely a notice to call attention to this matter. As regards the first two points raised by the noble Earl, my views are embodied in what has been said by the noble Duke behind me. I sincerely hope His Majesty's Government intend to go on with the policy they have announced of making the Militia an Imperial force liable to take its share in the defence of the Empire.
THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE
The noble Earl has taken the words out of my mouth. I was astounded to hear his question as to what a raid was. I may have been taught history the wrong way, but my elementary history books taught me that the foundation of all great families who live in a certain part of Scotland was laid by continual raids on the cattle and property of their 1486 neighbours, and I should have thought the noble Earl, coming from that part of Scotland, could have informed us from his hereditary knowledge better than anyone else what a raid is. I wish to protest most strongly against the assumption that because you make the Militia liable for service abroad you are thereby tying your hands and rendering it absolutely impossible in the future to put the ballot in force. If ever the Government of this country came to the conclusion, as I sincerely hope they never will, to put the present Ballot Act into force, they could perfectly easily do it by raising a Militia for service at home by ballot, without in any way interfering with the Militia made liable for service abroad. I hope that we shall never live to see the necessity of raising a Militia by ballot. Ballot is by far the most objectionable form of compulsory service. It has been described by the present Prime Minister as a combination of the press gang and the roulette table, and though, perhaps, that was rather a picturesque description, it has nevertheless some truth at the bottom of it. The feeling held by the Prime Minister does not exaggerate the objection I have to the Militia ballot, and I sincerely hope we may never see the necessity for its use in this country.
§ THE EARL OF WEMYSS
I desire to thank my noble friend Lord Portsmouth for having supported my argument. He said that the Militia were ready to go anywhere. That is what I say. Then why niter its constitution? My noble friend Lord Donoughmore wants to alter it because he thinks it is not suited to the time; but, if you get all you want under the present arrangement, why change it?. In the words of Lord Melbourne, "D — it, why can't you leave it alone?" Then, as regards the Norfolk Commission, they advocate universal service, which I should resist to the death. It is not wanted. You have a perfect system in the ballot for the Militia. As to the point about raids, the Resolution which your Lordships passed last year declared that it is unwise to trust the Navy alone for home defence, and that this nation should always be on land in such a state of permanent defence that no Power would ever 1487 attempt in any form a hostile landing on our shores. Having given our assent to that Resolution, that is the standpoint from which we should regard any revolutionary measures.