HL Deb 22 July 1908 vol 193 cc14-32

in whose name the following Notice stood on the Paper—"To call attention to the following Resolution unanimously passed by the House of Lords on the 10th of July 1905, 'That it would be a danger to the Realm, and limit the power of the Navy as an offensive force in war, to trust to it alone for home defence; and, inasmuch as it is admitted that the Navy cannot guarantee us against so-called hostile "raids," it is the more needful that our land defences should at all times be such that no nation would ever attempt, in any form, a hostile landing on our shores'; and further, to show how the War Office has signally failed to give effect to the said Resolution,"— said: My Lords, it was my intention to have taken this Notice off the Paper, but I was asked by a friend in this House to let it remain. He wisely said I that the more this subject was discussed the better, and therefore I allowed the Notice to remain. It was in consequence of the debate last week on the Motion I of the noble Duke, the Duke of Bedford, that I thought of taking my Notice off the Paper. That debate went fully into the question of armaments, and the alterations that have been made by His Majesty's Government—so fully that it did not appear to me necessary to say anything with regard to the Motion.

I need not, therefore, refer to the figures, but I will quote a passage from the speech of the noble Lord the Under-Secretary of State for War, which I think shows, more than anything else, the state in which we are in the matter of defence on land. Lord Lucas the other night, at the end of his speech, said— He hoped your Lordships would recognise that they were going through a transitory stage, and that it was too early to judge whether the Territorial Army would be a success or not. They had only touched the fringe of the recruiting system, and they must wait to see whether the result on the whole was satisfactory or not. Do you think that is a satisfactory state to be in? The Secretary of State for War has got rid of the old military system. He has reduced the Army; he has abolished the Volunteers and I established in their place the Territorial Force, and now you have to wait until the "terriers" are full grown. That is not the way in which the safety of this nation should be looked after. I venture to protest against it as being most dangerous and absolutely to be resisted, if possible, by this House.

I do not know how you can resist it. You can only resist it by repealing that Act and restoring what you have taken away. It is true that the old military system rested on compulsion, but it has never been enforced. Every occupant of the Front Benches and every man who has been Secretary of State for War knows that it has not been enforced, not, generally, from national reasons, but from party reasons. In the course of his speech the other night the Duke of Bedford gave utterance to a statement which I venture to question. The noble Duke said he was convinced that compulsory military service was impossible. Now, in Scotland, in the Scottish Church, we have a long and a short catechism. I will not put a long catechism to the noble Duke, but a very short one. I wish to know on what authority he makes that statement. Will he kindly tell this House on what authority he says that it is impossible in this country to enforce compulsion? I believe that compulsion is the only possible way of settling this question. I ask my noble friend—Can he quote any authority in his favour, except the two front benches? I grant him every Secretary of State except Lord Herbert, whose statue records what he thought about it. He wanted it, but could not get it from his Government. That is why his head is bowed.

I have, as far as I could, tested public opinion in this country upon this vital question. I sent round circulars to all urban and county authorities asking them two questions. The first was whether they were satisfied with the state of things at present in England as regards homo defence on land. In 75 per cent, of the answers the reply was: Do you believe that the people of this country would object to a modified form of compulsory service? Two to one replied "No." I set those authorities against the ipse dixit—it is nothing else—of the noble Duke. With regard to the county which is represented by our great War Minister, who is called a modern Napoleon by the Westminster Review, in the year 1905 I invited the constituents of the Secretary of State to meet me in the Market Hall of Haddington and talk over this question of home defence and compulsory service. They came, and I read to them the Resolution which your Lordships passed, and which I think it is well that I should read now. It is as follows— That it would be a danger to the Realm, and limit the power of the Navy as an offensive force in war, to trust to it alone for home defence; and, inasmuch as it is admitted that the Navy cannot guarantee us against so-called hostile 'raids,' it is the more needful that our land defences should at all times be such that no nation would ever attempt, in any form, a hostile landing on our shores. Further, I asked whether they would agree to compulsory service in the modified form which I proposed.

What was that modified form? I may say that I am dead against compulsory service for everybody. There is a body in this country, the National Service League, who propose that everybody should serve compulsorily for home defence. The old principle of our military law was the Crown's right to call upon its subjects compulsorily to serve for home defence, and the law which gave that power has been done away with. If you were situated on the Continent of Europe and the only division between you and another country that had universal compulsory service was a red line on the map, you would be obliged to have it; but you have the sea around you and a fleet, though I do not believe that you should trust to the Fleet alone. But, when you have that, why should every man be required to serve, when by the law which the modern Nopoleon has repealed you had what was called the ballot? I know what some of my friends of the National Service League will say. The National Service League and those noble Lords who are associated with it will say it is very unfair that men should be chosen for service by ballot; but, if that league were condemned to death, would it object to decimation? Would the Duke of Bedford, Viscount Hardinge, or Lord Newton object?




The ballot will do all that you possibly want, and it is on that ground that I feel strongly on this question. I believe that it is not only the better way, but that it is the only way in which you can make this country safe at home. That it will bear hardly on the people is not true. What the meeting in the town of Had-dington accepted was my modified proposal of the ballot, which should apply to a man only once in his life, and that when lie was twenty. The result would be in the case of a young working man of twenty that he would as a result of being drilled receive more wages. The effect of drill upon working men of that age would be to enable them to earn higher wages after they had undergone military training. A large employer of labour told me that he would be willing to pay Is. 6d. a week more in wages to such a man. I dare any noble Lord on either of the front benches to deny that the method which I advocate is the only way in which the problem can be solved.


My Lords, I listened with great interest to the speech of the noble Earl, who quoted a passage from a speech which I made a few days ago in your Lordships' House and in which I stated that it was too early results of the Territorial I would ask that that remark should be coupled with what I had previously said, which was this—that we have at the present moment 180,000 men in the Territorial Force, in place of the 260,000 that we had in the Yeomanry and in the Volunteers before. I said that according to high military opinion that force, even if it grew no larger, and were unaided by any other military force, would be far more capable of defending this country than the larger number which existed previously, simply and solely because it had been given the organisation to enable it to take the field. I will not say that the force is at present, but:-,s soon as they begin to understand their duties, they will become, more competent, and efficient for the purpose of home defence than the Volunteers and Yeomanry, unorganised as they were, would have been, and therefore to that extent we are better off than we were before. On the question of increasing the force from its present strength of 180,000 to 300,000, which we wish it to reach, I then made the remark which the noble Lord did me the honour to quote, in which I said that no judgment could be formed until the County Associations had had time really to deal with the recruiting problem, and that that was a question bound to take a considerable time.


How long?


I think it will vary. In the case of the biggest county of all, London, probably the members of the County Associations would ask for two years before they could properly organise their recruiting; but in the case of other counties they wall be much quicker. It is impossible to manufacture an entirely new Army in the course of these three months. That must be remembered; but I absolutely deny that, even at the present moment, we have lost anything in military efficiency or in power for the defence of this country. The noble Earl did not go into the question which, after all, is at the root of all these matters —the numbers required for the purpose of home defence. The question of numbers is the important question in this case, and I listened to hear what the noble Earl's views were on that question. Some noble Lords may hold that the Militia ballot is fair and that it would produce a more efficient force; but I do not see why, if in the opinion of the Government's military advisors the task which the second-line Army would be asked to carry out would be effectively carried out under the voluntary system, that system should be condemned lock, stock, and barrel.

I would like to know what are the requirements of the noble Lords who advocate compulsory service, what force they think necessary, and by what scheme they would put compulsion into operation. An eminent body, consisting for the most part of elderly gentlemen who, until they got past military age, maintained a discreet silence, are rending the skies with their clamour for compulsory service for everybody else. There are exceptions, but a majority of them have never rendered any military service to speak of to their country. They have a great many pious opinions on the subject of compulsory service; but I do not know that they have any definite plan of carrying them out. They attack us for the unfairness of our system; they say that it is not fair to put this burden, upon a man which his more fortunate, because less patriotic, brethren do not have to bear. If they consider that grossly unfair, it means that they must train every man who reaches military age, or else the unfairness is even greater under their system than under ours.

To decimate the population for the purpose of military service would be to do a thing which is grossly unfair. Does the National Service League seriously propose to take every man who reaches the age of twenty years and train him? The number of such men would be between 400,000 and 500,000 every year. What proposals do they make for training? When we were discussing the question of six month's training, the noble and gallant Field-Marshal Earl Roberts, who is, I believe, president of that league, said that in his opinion, the period of six months was totally inadequate for a force of that kind. Does the National Service League propose to train 50,000 men every year and give more than six months training? How does it propose to train these men? Where is it going to find the country on which to do it? The whole island is hardly big enough for the purpose. What is proposed to be done in regard to barrack accommodation? What is it proposed to do with the force obtained by that means—an Army that will be numbered in millions? Do they really propose to train this large number of men simply on the abstract principle that everybody ought to be trained?

And if they say they do not want to train the whole manhood of the nation and give them the kind of training which the president of the National Service League thinks essential to make them an efficient military force, what do they propose to do? I suppose they would either adopt the method advocated by the noble Earl—the ballot; or take a very high standard so as to get the pick of the men who reached the age of twenty every year. Suppose you took one man in eight. His seven more fortunate, because more weakly, brethren would get off; and you would be putting on the most finely-developed and the cream of the population a disability which we do not propose in our wildest moments to impose on the Territorial Force; and yet we are told by members of the National Service League that our requirements are grossly unfair. If you had a compulsory short service Army in this country you would still want a certain number of men for service abroad; but there is no question about it that the flow of men into the long service Army would be considerably curtailed by it. You would reduce the number of recruits from 35,000 to perhaps half that number; what will that mean? It will mean that this short service Army will form your Expeditionary Force when the time comes, because you cannot draw largely on your foreign garrisons for the purposes of a war abroad. How are those men to be trained? Where will the officer who is to command the force in war and his staff obtain the practice necessary? Where will they ever get the chance of handling a division in the field? Possibly they may get it for a fortnight in the year. Are you prepared to train your generals and staff in this way, when, in the opinion of a great many noble Lords in this House, that is not sufficient time in which to train a private or a Field Artilleryman? If, on the other hand, you propose to have an Army on the model of the French or German Army with two years service, that is another matter. We should like to know what the proposals of the National Service League are.

We have had enough of this vague talk about a compulsory system, and we would like to know definitely what the proposals of the National Service League are and how they propose to work them out. In the meantime, and until it is proved that the system which the War Office are putting in force at the present time is inadequate in numbers and unable to fulfil the functions assigned to it, that system holds the field. That has not yet been proved. This scheme has from its inception been brought officially by the Army Council before the Committee of Imperial Defence, and it was only after that Committee had sanctioned the scheme as one which, in their opinion, satisfied all likely requirements, that it was proceeded with.


My Lords, it was not my intention to have said a word in this debate. I have so frequently expressed my opinions, and I am so well aware of the fact that my opinions are not likely to carry much weight here or elsewhere, that I should have conceived it unnecessary to speak at all, except for this reason, that I am afraid I am bound to include myself amongst that band of elderly Gentlemen alluded to by the noble Lord opposite. So far as I am concerned, my withers are comparatively unwrung. I quite admit that I might have done a good deal more, but I did serve for a good many years in one branch of the Auxiliary Forces—I am not sure that I did not serve for as many years as the noble Lord's age amounts to; but, at the same time, I fully admit that, in a military sense, I am a thoroughly inefficient person, and I attribute it to the voluntary system.

I regret that I was totally unaware that the noble Lord was going to take this line this afternoon. I regret all the more that persons who are more competent to speak with authority than myself are not present. I suppose I ought to take the keen curiosity displayed by the noble Lord opposite as a compliment to the association to which I belong, but I cannot help remarking that, considering the airy, the confident, tie optimistic, I might almost say the doctrinaire, views laid down by the noble Lord from time to time, he shows an astonishing ignorance with regard to the views entertained by a certain section of his countrymen, among whom are certainly not the least distinguished of Englishmen. I will endeavour to explain, as shortly as I can, what the views of these people are who are represented by the National Service League. Briefly speaking, our view is this, that it ought to be the duty of every young man to be trained for the purposes of national defence.

When I hear the noble Lord ask what are you going to do with the millions of men you are going to get under this system, I really can hardly believe my own ears. How many young men does the noble Lord suppose reach the military age in this country every year? If I am not mistaken, the number amounts to a little more than 300,000. Yet the noble Lord actually comes here and asks, what are you going to do with your half-million of men every year who become liable for military service? I cannot resist another opportunity of exposing the ignorance of the noble Lord. Does he really suppose that every young man in every civilised country, when he arrives at the military age, is taken by the Government and made to perform military service? Even I, amateur as I am, know that the exemptions in every civilised country amount to something like 50 per cent. If there are 300,000 who arrive at the military age in this country every year, not more than 150,000 would, therefore, be available for military service. The noble Lord asks what we are to do with them when we get them. We should propose to do very much the same with them as the noble Lord hopes to do with regard to his Territorial Force. But we know very well that he will not succeed. We should succeed because we should have it in our power to enforce efficiency.

The essential difference between the plan recommended by the National Service League and the plan which finds so much favour with the noble Lord opposite is that our preparation for war would take place before the war had started, whereas in his case serious preparation for war is not going to take place until war has broken out—provided that the enemies of this country are kind enough to allow the serious preparation to take place at all. That is the essential difference between us, and I hope I have, at all events, made that point clear to the noble Lord. With regard to the period of training which we advocate, I admit that we cannot say exactly what that period should be, but we suggest a period of from three to six months preparatory training, followed by short courses such as is the system in Switzerland.

There is only one other point with which I think it necessary to deal, and that is the statement made by the noble Lord with regard to the Regular Army. The noble Lord appears to be under the impression that if you have a universal system for home defence, therefore your Regular Army is going to disappear altogether. Why in the name of common sense should anything of the sort take place at all? Can anybody—I do not care who he is—give me any sort of reason why you should not continue to obtain exactly the same number of recruits for the Regular Army supposing this system were adopted, as you obtain at the present time? There is no reason why you should not, and there is every reason to suppose that the career of a professional soldier would be just as attractive under a universal system for home defence as it is at the present moment. I am the last person I in the world to set myself up as a military authority. Strange though it may appear to the noble Lord, I am a person of modest disposition, but there are certain things which I think are apparent I to the meanest intelligence, and to me it has been apparent for a long time that, in spite of the assurances of the noble Lord, the voluntary system is no longer equal to our requirements; and it is for that reason that I, at all events, I am more strongly in favour of universal service for home defence than I am of any proposal which is before the electors of this country at the present moment.


My Lords, the noble Lord the Under-Secretary of State for War dwelt on the virtues of the new Territorial scheme, and urged that we ought to allow time to elapse in order to see how far it will be a success. But he did not mention in his speech the length of time for which the men have undertaken to serve in the Territorial Force. I have the honour to belong to a battalion in the south of England, which up to 31st March last numbered some 860 strong. In the new scheme the battalion was reduced to about 630, which is a fair reduction; but, as far as I know, hardly a single man has I signed on for more than one year. I do not know whether it will be a case of exeunt omnes at the end of the year, but it seems to be the same story where ever one turns. In very few cases have I the men joined for more than a year. If that is the case, what is to happen at the end of the year? A great deal of your new force will come to an end unless you can adopt some means to induce the men to stay on for a longer period. The noble Lord the Under-Secretary said it was very difficult to induce men who engage for a short period of military service to continue their service for a longer term. That appears to me to rather add to the difficulty of the Territorial Force. I am not one of those who wish to indulge in carping criticism on this most important subject. If you could produce an adequate force capable of meeting its requirements at a critical moment and which would get over the dangers that beset us, no one would be more pleased than myself; but I think it is most important that the full truth of these things should be stated, especially as we hear that a still further reduction of the Regular Force is contempated to the extent of several thousands of men. These are extremely important questions, of which the Government of the day is bound to give a clear and explicit explanation. I fear that part of the difficulty is that the Socialists, who are averse to all military defence of the Empire, have had too much influence over the Government. No doubt that is a difficulty whch might happen not only in the case of this Government but of others, but I would emphasise what seems to me to be the most serious point in this new departure, and express the hope that there may be a still fuller explanation of the very great difficulties which confront us.


My Lords, after the somewhat challenging speech of the noble Lord the Under-Secretary, I do not think anybody can be surprised at the two speeches which we have just heard; but, although I always feel that we are the richer for the exhortations of my noble friend who introduced this question, I am not sure that a weekly renewal of the contentions on either side in the present state of our forces will lead us to any very profitable result. The noble Lord the Under-Secretary has a tendency, if I may venture to say so, to overstate his case in defending himself against finality in the present position; and I do not think he can be surprised that the overstatement of his case which he made this afternoon produced the sort of protests which came from Lord Newton and Lord Zouche. I do not propose to pursue the question.

I simply ask the noble Lord to consider this point. The present state of affairs causes anxiety to all those who desire to see our forces kept at full strength. We know that not merely are the numbers of our Regular Army less, but the same is the case in the Special Reserve and the Territorial Army; moreover the recruits coming in have been less and less during the past year in all these forces. We admit that it would be unfair to judge the scheme of the Secretary of State by its present results, seeing that it is manifestly incomplete. The noble Lord, having that fact before him, has told the House that, although we have only about two-thirds of the men we had formerly, yet the new force is more capable than the old force, and can be used more effectively because it is so much better organised. The noble Lord behind me spoke of his county. Let me speak of mine.

We have done our best for the Territorial Army in the county of Surrey. We had 3,200 Volunteers this day last year, we have about half that number at this moment. There are no more Artillery ready now than before; there are no more officers, and there is no more organisation or equipment ready; yet the noble Lord says that we now possess a more effective military weapon than we had twelve months ago. I only raise that point to protest against an over-statement of the case which causes increased anxiety to those who really desire to see our forces effective, because it seems to show that the emergency created by recent changes is not fully appreciated. None of these statements by the noble Lord would induce us to believe that a part is greater than the whole, and that you can get more out of a pint bottle than you can get out of a quart. That is my strong feeling.

May I say one word in reply to what fell from the noble Earl with regard to compulsory service? My noble friend has always assumed that the unwisdom of successive Secretaries of State has led them to reject a scheme for compulsory service, because they feared the effect on their own Party, and he stated that again to-night. I feel this subject very deeply. I do not believe that the question of compulsory service was ever more carefully considered in this country than during the South African War, and if the Government of that day or any Secretary of State who has desired further to strengthen our forces, has declined to submit that subject to the consideration of Parliament it has been, not because of their fear of the effect on their electoral strength, but because of their fear of its effect on the national strength. I do not know anything in military matters which could do more harm than to take such a step and have to recede from it; and, unless any Government is thoroughly convinced that the people of this country are prepared to support them and that they are alive to the necessity of compulsory military training, to set it up in order to see it foregone after the next general election would be, in my opinion, a very great national danger. You would leave the country weaker than it was before; and I have only to remind your Lordships of the fact that all the additions made to the Regular Army under the stress of the war have been swept away, and even the additions made by Lord Lansdowne before the war have been in jeopardy during the last few weeks.

Many people believe that the total forces of the country have been reduced below the level of safety, and I would ask the noble Lord the Under-Secretary whether he will be good enough to grant a Return, dated 1st October, which would be before your Lordships in the autumn session, showing at that date the state of the Army, the Special Reserve, and the Territorial Force. As regards the Army, we should then see whether, in the nine months which had elapsed, we had made up any of the shortage which was apparent in the Return laid before the House in February; as regards the Special Reserve, the Militia would all have been out for training and we should be able to see what portion of the Militia had transferred and taken service in the Special Reserve, and also what recruits had come in; and, as regards the Territorial Army, although the noble Lord said we could not for two years see the whole effect of what had been done, still we should see where we stood as the result of this year's operations, and should know to what extent we have to depend on the recruiting of next year to fill up the gaps. My feeling is that so long as you have a shortage of numbers and until you have had that increased training and organisation which have been promised by the Government, you must not believe that by a mere change of name you have obtained, under the new system, something which is different from the old.


My Lords, I had not intended to speak upon this subject, but I rise to appeal to noble Lords opposite to give the Territorial Army a close time. I am perfectly certain that there is more harm done by these numerous discussions regarding the Territorial Army than is imagined. If some of your Lordships would go back to your counties and look after recruiting, you would do a great deal more good than by putting questions in this House. I hold no brief for the Territorial Army, but I am confident that it has come to stay. Mr. Haldane has at this moment more of the confidence of the Army and the Territorial Force than any Secretary of State has had since I joined in 1879. There has been a great deal said about the numbers in the Volunteers. Anybody who has been in camp with the old Volunteers knows that the old Volunteer Force was full of rubbish and wasters, and a great deal of this has been scrapped by Mr. Haldane in his Territorial scheme. I would, therefore, appeal to noble Lords on the Opposition side to give the Territorial Army a close time, and to forget about it for six months and let Mr.Haldane work out the scheme in his own way.


My Lords. I did not intend to take part in this discussion, nor do I wish to prolong it; but there is one point to which I wish to refer. The noble Lord the Undersecretary quoted the noble and gallant Field-Marshal Earl Roberts as having said that the men could not be trained in six months. If the noble Lord will refer to the Field-Marshal's speech, he will find that his reference was to the Territorial Artillery and not to the Territorial Force.


My Lords, like most other noble Lords who have spoken, I did not intend to take any part in this debate; but as it has reached somewhat larger dimensions than might have been expected, perhaps I may be allowed to say one or two words. I confess that I find myself in, very considerable agreement with the noble Lord behind me who deprecated this discussion. My noble friend Lord Wemyss said he himself would have taken this notice off the Paper but for some unknown noble friend of his who urged him to go on. I do not know who that was, but I cannot find myself in agreement with the noble Lord. I do not think that these discussions are of very great value, because what you are doing is this—you are rooting up the plant which was planted last year, with a very considerable degree of agreement, it must be remembered, from different sides of your Lordships' House, in order to see how it is getting on.

Consider for a moment the character of some of the complaints that have been made. Lord Zouche drew attention to the fact that a large number of men had only engaged for one year—I believe the figure is between 40 and 50 per cent.— and he went on to assume from that that all these men would not re-engage. That seems to me a most gratuitous assumption. It seems to me exceedingly likely that these men engaged for one year in order to see what the new force was like; and to assume that they will all so much dislike it that they will desire to return at once to civil life seems to me, as I say, a most gratuitous assumption.


I did not mean to express to the House the complete assumption on my part that they would not remain on after the year; but I wished to draw attention to the fact, which had not been previously alluded to, that they had only signed on for a year. I hope they will sign on again.


I am glad to have the noble Lord's explanation. Then the noble Lord said we were entirely in the hands of the Socialists, which was a bad thing for increasing the Army. The noble Lord surely forgets that a very large number of Socialists are in favour of universal service; they are in favour of what is known as a Citizen Army, with no professional soldiers at all. I do not know whether that would meet the views of noble Lords opposite, but it is a view largely held by Socialists.

It does seem to me to be a little unfair to forget the very frequent complaints which we used to have of the Auxiliary Forces before the Territorial Army was formed. We might almost imagine, from some of the criticisms that are levelled against it to-day, that we never had in former times debates in this House about the Auxiliary Forces. I very well remember a debate—I think it was when the late Government was in power—when the Duke of Bedford used about the Volunteers, or about a great many of them, a word used by my noble friend Lord Saye and Sele a moment ago, when he described them as "rubbish"; and I think it is only fair, when one is criticising this new force, to remember that the former forces were the subject of some pretty sharp criticism.

The noble Lord opposite, Lord Newton, was somewhat severe upon my noble friend behind me (Lord Lucas). The noble Lord opposite reminds me of a very early friend of my youth—I forget whether it was Balbus or the less sympathetic figure of Caius—who was perpetually asserting that it was all over with the Army. I am certain that the noble Lord is descended from one of those ancient Romans. I was very glad that my noble friend behind me went into this question of compulsory military service, or, as it is sometimes called, compulsory military training, because I agree with him that we have not had from anybody, even from the most distinguished advocates of that project, anything like a coherent scheme in connection with it. I do not, of course, allude to my noble friend Lord Wemyss, because we know that what he desires is the Militia ballot, which is a totally different thing. What I have always wanted to discover, but never have been able to discover, is, supposing an invading force reaches these shores, and we have a scheme of compulsory military training, who will be the people who will actually be put into the field to meet it? Is it to be the conscripts of the year, or are you going, in addition, to have a Territorial Army? From what the noble Lord said just now, I gather that it is to be the conscripts of the year who are to form the home Army. Then you are going to have in addition a Territorial Army, with a far longer service.


There would be a Reserve as in the case of any other Army, and in the event of invasion the Reserves of the Territorial Army would be called out.


Yes; but has any scheme of organisation for a force of that kind ever been thought out or put into anything like a concrete form? I am totally unable to understand how, considering what the daily life of the citizens of this island is, anything of the kind is to be done. Conscription I understand, and in that case, of course, it is your conscripts who form your First Line, filled up from Reserves; but how your six months trained young men are to form your First Line, stiffened only by others from the Reserves who have been doing a week or two's training from time to time, is a matter which passes my comprehension.

The noble Lord also said that he could not see why the institution of compulsory service for home defence should have any effect upon the Regular Army who have to serve abroad. One can only go to a great extent on the experience of foreign nations. There is no country in Europe, so far as I know, where it has not been found that it is an exceedingly difficult thing to get men who have been conscripts at home to volunteer for foreign service; and the noble Lord must know that there is a very large body of military opinion in this country which has the greatest dread of the effect upon the great force which we have to maintain in India and abroad on foreign service generally of anything like a system of compulsory home service. The only other point that I think I have to mention is that of the Return for which the noble Viscount asked. I understand from my noble friend behind me that there will be no objection, and that he will see that the Return is given.


My Lords, I only rise to answer one question put by the noble Earl the Leader of the House. He asked whether, with a system of compulsory service, it was intended in case of an invasion to defend the country with the conscripts of the year. The proposal is to adopt the Swiss principle, and at all events the First Line would consist of those of the last four years.


My Lords, our record in Berkshire is a very different one from that mentioned by the noble Viscount opposite. In that county the whole of the officers in the Yeomanry and Infantry Volunteers have joined the new Territorial Force. Of the Berkshire Yeomanry, 365 have joined out of 450 on the establishment, and of the Infantry Volunteers 715 out of 998 on the establishment. We have to find a new force of Horse Artillery. We have succeeded in obtaining the services of an officer who has served both in Horse and Field Artillery, and we have three subaltern officers under him. Of the men, we have already recruited 30 per cent., and soon hope to have 50 per cent, of the battery recruited. Mr. Sutton, the great seed merchant, and Mr. Palmer, the well-known biscuit manufacturer, are on our Association and are lending every assistance, with other large employers, in recruiting. Mr. Haldane stated in the House of Commons the other day that for the first time since the introduction of the Card-well reforms an equal number—seventy-four—of Infantry battalions will be at home and abroad, and an equal number of Cavalry regiments. The Army Reserve is now at its highest figure, and 25,000 men have joined the Special Reserve. What the cause of alarm can be, therefore, I cannot conceive.