HL Deb 22 June 1906 vol 159 cc485-7

Order of the day for the Third Reading read.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 3a."—(The Earl of Portsmouth.)


My Lords, before this Bill is read a third time, I wish to say a few words upon it. The proposal herein contained will go down to another place fortified by the opinion of perhaps the strongest, man who could be summoned in support of it. I refer to the late Sir Robert Herbert, who was for so long Under-Secretary for the Colonies. Seven years ago I made the proposal to Sir Robert Herbert which is contained in this Bill, and suggested that he should use the machinery of the Empire League to obtain an opinion in favour of the establishment of a Reserve in the Colonies. Sir Robert Herbert took up the question with his usual eagerness, and promised me that the Committee of the Empire League should inquire into the details. I will read his letter— Your suggestion as to the enrollment of men in the Colonies in the Imperial Reserve is, I think, sound and practical, and I will bring it before the Council of the Empire League. After the present South African war is over it might be possible to settle a number of time expired soldiers on the land, giving them grants on condition of their being ready for service anywhere. I am glad that this proposal, so far as His Majesty's Government are concerned, is about to be carried out.

But this Bill does various other things which are equally useful. In the first place, it enables the Government to pay men of the Reserve in the Colonies. During my time at the War Office we were not allowed even to pay pensions outside the United Kingdom. That difficulty is now removed. The second great advantage is that we shall be en- abled to enlist men direct into the-Reserve. I understand that there are no less than 3,000 men in India who are now in the Reserve, but who are not under any control whatever. These men will be under the same control in the future as Reserve men at home, and will be a strong addition to the Reserve Forces of this country.

Lastly, there is a provision to give greater elasticity to the various branches of the Reserve. At present it is impossible for a man in the Cavalry Reserve to serve in the Remount Department or to join the Mounted Infantry, for this reason, that both of those services are regarded as dismounted services. It is of the greatest possible importance that these men should be so employed. Many of them are incapable any longer of serving in the Cavalry and would be of the greatest possible service in the Remount Department and in other ways. It may be said that it is a difficult thing to make a cavalryman into an infantryman and vice versa, but we may be sure that the authorities will not use this power unless it is of service to them. This Bill will also give us a much larger Reserve in the Colonies than we have had before. It will enable us to use our Colonial Army in a much more effective way, and it will create a greater connection between the Colonies and the mother country. Above all, the Bill will enable the Colonies in time of stress to come forward with a much larger Reserve to aid our forces in matters which may be of equal importance to them as to ourselves. I hope the Bill will go down to the other House fortified by the sanction of the Government and that they will use all their efforts to secure its passage into law this session.


My Lords, I should like to express a few words of thanks to my noble friend for what he has said on behalf of this Bill. I think I ought also to say, in fairness, that the reason the Bill has made such satisfactory progress in your Lordships' House is not only the merit of the Bill itself, but also the fact that it is in almost all respects the same Bill as was introduced by the late Government and which your Lordships passed through all its stages. It was one of the Bills which, owing to pressure of business at the end of last session, was massacred in the House of Commons. I hope your Lordships will give the Bill a Third Reading. It will then go down to the House of Commons with the necessary Amendments that have been introduced, and I trust there is every prospect of the Bill being passed into law this Session.

On Question, Bill read 3a, and passed. with the Amendments, and sent to the Commons.