§ *THE DUKE OF BEDFORD
My Lords, the list of Questions I have on the Paper is a long one, but they will not necessitate any lengthy explanation on my part. I desire to ask the noble Earl the Under-Secretary of State for War: (1.) Whether in the case of recruits, enlisting directly into the Special Reserve and of men reengaging from the Militia, Paragraph 15 of Attestation Paper, Army Reserve Special Reservists may be so amended as to read, "Are you willing to be attested to serve in the 3rd Reserve Battalion…Regiment, and to be transferred to any infantry battalion of the Line, when the reserves are called out." I believe that is exactly the form of service which His Majesty's Government require from the Special Infantry Reservists, and it is a form which the men themselves will very easily understand. I attach importance to the words "any infantry battalion of the Line," so as to limit the man's liability to service in the infantry and in the infantry only.
I next ask: (2.) Whether, in view of the statement made by the Under-Secretary of State for War on 20th February last, in reference to the 3rd Special Reserve battalion, that "during the non-training period the battalion did not exist as such," the Special Reserve battalions which do not exist as such during the non-training period are identical with the battalions referred to in Paragraph 23 of the Army Order of 23rd December, which states "that the establishment of the regular officers and non-commissioned officers in the 3rd Reserve battalions is fixed on a scale which will allow of their being used as training centres for the officers 735 and non-commissioned officers of the Territorial Force. Thus they will become in the fullest sense training battalions."
My third Question raises the responsibility of the officers commanding Special Reserve battalions in the non-training period. I desire to ask: (3.) Will the lieutenant-colonel commanding a Special Reserve battalion be held in any way responsible for any matters connected with his battalion during the non-training period, and will he conduct, and, if not, who will conduct all correspondnce relating to the Special Reserve battalions during the non-training period. This is very similar to the question that has already been raised as to the powers of Militia commanding officers in the non-training period, but I hops the noble Earl will not give me the answer that the commanding officer of a Special Reserve battalion will be in very much the same position as the Militia commanding officer in the past. That means responsibility, but absolutely no control at all, and that is not by any means a satisfactory form of administration.
Next I ask: (4.) Will the lieutenant-colonel of a Special Reserve battalion be held responsible for the efficiency of the battalion in view of the facts that he has no control over the recruit training of his men, that he will not be consulted as to the appointment or removal of the Line major, officers, adjutant, and permanent staff, and that he is only in command of the battalion for twenty-one days of the year, and the Line major for the remaining 344? Also: (5) Will the Line major, who has been commanding officer during the non-training period, attend the annual training of a reserve battalion as senior major.
It is not certain, under the Army Order of 23rd December, the exact amount of bounty which will be paid to the Special Reserve recruit to join the Line. I therefore ask: (6) What is the amount of the bounty which will be paid to the Special Reserve recruit to join the Line during or at the end of the six months preliminary training. Next I desire to know: (7) Is it the case that when a proclamation calling out the Reserve has been issued, and the Special Reservists have thereby become 736 soldiers of the Regular Army, these men will be prohibited from joining any named regiment of the Line owing to being required for general drafting purposes. That would seem to place the Special Reservist in a worse position than the "man in the street," or the man who had already joined the regiment which he prefers in the Regular Army.
My next three Questions are: (8) Will the men of the disbanded Militia battalions, who are prohibited from training as Militiamen this year by the Army Order of 23rd December, 1907, be allowed to draw the non-training bounty up to February, 1909, which by the Army Order of 5th February, 1908, allows men of the Militia battalions training this year to draw, provided that they attend the training of Militia battalions this year? (9) The number of infantry officers attached to Line depots is at present, approximately, 425. The number of Regular officers to be posted to the 3rd Special Reserve Battalions, including the 425 now attached to the depots is, approximately, 740. Is it the intention to add about 315 officers, representing the difference between the number of officers now attached to the depots and the total number of Line officers required for the 3rd Special Reserve Battalions to the establishment of Line officers before the end of this summer? (10) In reference to the statement of the Under-Secretary of State for War that seventeen will be the minimum age of enlistment for recruits into the Special Reserve, what means will be taken to ensure that boys of less than seventeen years of age are not accepted? The noble Earl stated that seventeen would be the minimum age of enlistment in the Special Reserve. Though seventeen is the minimum age for the Militia and eighteen for the Line, a very large percentage of boys are taken below that age; and I should be glad to know what special means are going to be taken to prevent that with regard to the Special Reserve.
Finally, I desire to ask: (11) If married men will be prohibited from enlisting directly into the Special Reserve engineers, artillery, and infantry, and if after direct enlistment a man proves 737 to be a married man, will he be discharged from the Special Reserve? The point of that is this, that the Special Reservist is trained for six months, and if you take a married man away from his wife and children for six months training in barracks, he cannot support his family during the period. Moreover, a married man would not, I presume, be encouraged to enlist in the Regular Army.
§ THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (The Earl of PORTSMOUTH)
My Lords, I think it will be for the convenience of my noble friend, if I answer his Questions seriatim. In reply to the first Question, I am afraid that the Army Council cannot agree to the amendment of the attestation paper suggested by my noble friend. The recruit is not attested for a particular battalion, but for a corps, and this is clearly explained in Paragraph 6 of the Notice Paper. In ordinary circumstances it is most improbable that a Special Reservist would be drafted outside his Territorial Regular battalions. To introduce an amendment worded in the manner suggested by my noble friend would indicate that his transfer to any infantry battalion of the Line would be a thing of ordinary occurrence. This is not the intention of the Army Council, and, as I have already indicated, it would only be in very exceptional circumstances that the drafting of Special Reservists outside the Territorial Regular battalions would be resorted to.
In reply to my noble friend's second Question, my answer is that they are identical. When I stated on 20th February that during the non-training period a battalion does not exist as such I made that statement with special reference to a specific Question which had been put to me by Lord Hardinge regarding the command of the battalion during this period. The Special Reserve battalions during the non-training period will exist just as the battalions of the existing Militia may be said to exist during the non-training period.
The noble Duke rather anticipated my reply to his third and fourth Questions. The position of the lieutenant-colonel commanding a Special Reserve battalion will be practically that of an 738 officer commanding a Militia battalion. He will be allowed to visit recruits at the depot during the non-training period. Regulations on this matter are in process of preparation, and if it is possible for us to devise any means by which we can increase the sense of responsibility, we shall be only too glad to consider the matter; and we should welcome any suggestions privately communicated on the subject.
In regard to the fifth Question I may remind my noble friend of the Committee which has been appointed, under the chairmanship of Sir William Nicholson, to consider the difficult question of the relative rank of Line and Militia officers in the same battalion. On the decision eventually arrived at will depend whether the Line major will, as under existing Regulations, rank as the senior major, or whether he will take rank in accordance with the date of his appointment as major—that is to say, senior or junior to the majors of the Special Reserve according as their appointments date after or before his. In reply to my noble friend's sixth Question, a Special Reserve recruit who has completed three months drill and then goes to the Line is permitted to draw the will bounty of 30s. which he would have received on completing his six months recruits' drill. This is clearly laid down in Paragraph 8 of Appendix 10, Army Order, of 23rd December last.
I now come to the noble Duke's seventh Question. I presume that what my noble friend wishes to ask is whether the proclamation calling out the Reserve practically makes the Special Reservists part of the Regular Army, and, therefore, whether it will be open to these men to join a Line regiment just as they would in peace time. If this is what my noble friend means, I have to inform him that the Special Reservists will not be allowed to join—that is to say, formally to enlist into—any of the Line regiments. When the Reserve is called out the Special Reservists automatically become part of the Reserve of the Regular Army. If my noble friend means to ask whether these Special Reservists are to have any choice as regards the regiment to which they will be sent, my answer is that, while reserving the right to draft them to any 739 regiment, we shall in all cases endeavour to send them to their Regular Territorial battalions.
In reply to my noble friend's eighth Question, I may remind him of the answer I gave him on this matter on 20th February. The special Army Order of 5th February specifically lays down that those Militiamen who belong to disbanded battalions, even if they do not elect to join any of the Special Reserve battalions, will in all cases receive the non-training bounty up to February, 1909. The training bounty is the only bounty which they will not receive, and they will not receive that because they will not be called up for training.
I would first like to point out, in reply to my noble friend's ninth Question. that the figures given by my noble friend are not quite accurate. The increase in Regular officers, exclusive of adjutants and quartermasters, which the establishments of the new Special Reserve battalions render necessary, is estimated at 261. Against this increase there must be set an estimated decrease of adjutants and quartermasters, which reduces the net increase to 220. It is not intended to add all these officers to the Special Reserve battalions this summer. The additions must be made gradually, but I understand that one captain will be added to the strength of each battalion this year. As to the tenth Question the minimum age of enlistment of seventeen years is already provided for in Regulations. This age is precisely the same as in the case of the Militia, and the ordinary means that have been hitherto taken to prevent boys of less than seventeen joining the Militia will also be taken in the case of the Special Reserve. I would refer my noble friend to Paragraph 102 (c) of the Recruiting Regulations. In reply to my noble friend's eleventh Question, I may say that there is nothing in the Regulations to prohibit a married man enlisting into the Special Reserve, whether engineers, artillery, or infantry. There is, therefore, no reason to discharge a man if after enlistment he proves to be a married man.
§ THE DUKE OF BEDFORD
But what does the noble Earl propose to do with the man's starving wife and family?
§ LORD ABINGER
I desire to say a word with regard to the answer to the noble Duke's third Question. In the case of Special Reserve battalions a Line major is to be brought in, and out of the training period this officer will, we understand, be responsible for the command. I do not think the noble Earl's answer made it quite clear as to who would be responsible during the training period—the lieutenant-colonel commanding the Special Reserve battalion or the Line officer brought in.
§ THE EARL OF PORTSMOUTH
I thought I made it clear that the officer commanding would be responsible. His position will be practically that of an officer commanding a Militia battalion.
§ THE EARL OF ALBEMARLE
rose to ask the Under-Secretary of State for War: (1) Whether the Army Council propose to extend the privilege of separation allowance to private soldiers; (2) Whether he will consider the advisability of increasing the allowance (per week) to Volunteers to 10s., which is the sum which most corps now pay; (3) Whether he will reconsider the imposition of the very heavy fines which it is now proposed to levy for non-attendance at camp; (4) Whether he will endeavour to make the attestation paper, generally more attractive than it is in its present form, having regard to the threat of imprisonment for false answers which it at present contains; (5) How he proposes to deal with members of the present Auxiliary Forces who from force of circumstances may in the future be precluded from joining amalgamated units; (6) How members of the permanent staff of a unit are to be dealt with when they cannot be absorbed on the disbandment of their unit.
The noble Earl said: My Lords, before asking the Questions which stand in my name I should like to draw attention to a matter of which I have given the noble Earl private notice. It relates to a grievance—and, I think the noble Earl will admit, an injustice—which has been overlooked in the framing of the rules 741 for the County Associations. I have in my mind the case of a retired officer, enjoying a pension, who has been selected as secretary to a Territorial Association. As your Lordships are aware, the salary in most cases is very small at the best. Before the Secretary of State for War altered the conditions I heard of one county which was only able to pay a salary of £60 to the officer who was going to serve them as secretary, no doubt to the best of his ability. Since then I believe matters have been materially improved. The case to which I wish to call attention is that of a captain who has been appointed secretary of a Territorial Association at a salary of £200 a year, and who, we learned last week for the first time, will be required to resign his pension of £100 a year before he can accept the £200 a year from the association. I submit, my Lords, that this is not only a soldier's grievance, but a real injustice.
My Questions are framed with the sole desire to carry out loyally the conditions imposed by His Majesty's Government. As regards the Volunteers, some noble Lords may know that I am interested in them and have been for many years. I have commanded them in peace and war, and know something about them. I hope, therefore, your Lordships will not think that I am unduly taking up your time. My first Question is whether the Army Council propose to extend the privilege of separation allowance to private soldiers. I anticipate that the answer to that will be, in the first place, that the training is so short that it is not worth while going into that matter; but, as noncommissioned officers will have separation allowance and draw Army pay during their training, surely the private soldier should be considered. Take the case of an artisan. He will have to leave his wife and family, and, in addition, make arrangements with his employer; and we who have had to do with Volunteers, know that the question of how long his employer will allow him to be away for the purpose of camp is a very difficult one. I do not think it is much to ask, especially as the time of training is so short, that the privilege of separation allowance should be extended to the private soldier.
742 Next, I ask the noble Earl whether he will consider the advisability of increasing the allowance per week to Volunteers to 10s. In most county corps it is the custom to give an allowance of 10s. a week during training; I think the Army Council proposed that it should be 8s. I hope the War Office will consider the advisabilty of increasing that allowance by 2s. That does not apply to London regiments, who now take the whole of the capitation grant and do not generally make an allowance to privates during camp. I then desire to ask the noble Earl whether he will reconsider the imposition of the very heavy fines which it is now proposed to levy for non-attendance at camp, and whether he will endeavour to make the attestation paper generally more attractive than it is in its present form, having regard to the threat of imprisonment for false answers which it at present contains. I should expect the noble Earl to say that the form was framed for bad characters, and for people who intentionally did wrong; but I do not like to see the British Volunteer, who has served the country so well in the past, placed in the position of being threatened with the Army Council's vengeance before even he is attested. I have in my hand Form E. 502, which, being interpreted, is the attestation paper.
§ THE EARL OF ALBEMARLE
No, the new one; I believe it is only a few hours old. I see, at the end of the paper, in italics—the italics are so small that I can hardly read the passage—these words—Under the provisions of Section 99 of the Army Act, if a person knowingly makes a false answer to any question contained in the attestation paper he renders himself liable to punishmentMany men who intend to join will no doubt read that, but very few, I venture to think, will refer to Section 99 of the Army Act. If they did I think a great many of them would cry off and not wish to join the Territorial Force. Section 99 (1) of the Army Act runs as follows:—If a person knowingly makes a false answer to any question contained in the attestation paper which has been put to him by or by direction of the justice before whom he appears for the purpose of being attested, he shall be 743 liable on summary conviction to be imprisoned with or without hard labour for any period not exceeding three months.I venture to submit that it is going too far, when you invite a man as a Volunteer to serve you, to hold this threat over his head. We know that it is very difficult in some cases for a man who is not very literate, shall I say, to give absolutely correct answers to all the questions. Some men might unknowingly contra vene——
§ THE EARL OF ALBEMARLE
I would next ask the noble Earl how he proposes to deal with members of the present Auxiliary Forces who from force of circumstances may in the future be precluded from joining amalgamated units. I have a case in point in my own county, Norfolk. Along the border of Norfolk and Suffolk there are seven big towns which are centres for Volunteer Infantry recruiting, and by the recruiting area now drawn up to meet the new requirements by which we shall recruit artillery in a certain area, and infantry in another, some five companies of the 2nd battalion of the Norfolk regiment will be disbanded and will have long distances to go, and heavy travelling expenses to incur, before they can get anywhere near a unit to which they can be attached and with whom they can drill. I desire also to ask how Members of the permanent staff of a unit are to be dealt with when they cannot be absorbed on the disbandment of their unit. If there are two battalions and one is disbanded, it stands to reason that there will be a large number of permanent staff who will have no employment. I ask the noble Earl how he proposes to deal with these men in the future. I did hear that they were going to be allowed to wear their uniform, but what good that will do them, or when they will wear it, I do not know. Perhaps the noble Earl will allow me to ask a further question, of which I have not given him notice, concerning the much-valued Volunteer decoration. 744 Those officers who would be entitled to it soon after the ever-to-be-remembered 1st April may just miss getting it; and we should like to know whether they will be eligible. In this connection I do not see my late colonel, the noble and gallant Field-Marshal, in his place, but I should have liked to congratulate him on getting the Volunteer decoration by the skin of his teeth.
§ THE EARL OF ERROLL
My Lords, before the noble Earl the Under-Secretary replies, I should like to draw attention for a moment to the first Question put to him by the noble Earl with reference to separation allowance. I hope that His Majesty's Government will see their way to alter their decision as to the separation allowance being given only to non-commissioned officers. I am told that there are about 20 per cent. of married men in the Volunteers, and that the colonels look upon them as some of the best men they have got. I was also informed yesterday by an officer commanding a brigade in the Midlands that by not giving the separation allowance to the privates the Territorial Army would be liable to lose some 20,000 men. He further said that a great many of the men could afford to lose one week's wages, but not two. It is of the greatest importance that as many men as possible should be got to train for two weeks, and I suggest, as a compromise, that separation allowance should at least be given to the men who come out for a fortnight's training. In this way you would greatly mitigate the hardship and ensure having a very much larger number of better trained men.
§ LORD WENLOCK
My Lords, I should like to say, on this point, that my Association has sent up a strongly-worded Resolution urging upon the Secretary of State the importance of giving the separation allowance to privates. The information I obtained from officers commanding Volunteers in my county goes to show that, if privates are deprived of the separation allowance, the regiments are likely to lose a very large number of their most valuable men. I do not think any point has more impressed the Volunteers than the fact that privates are not to receive the separation allowance, whilst this privilege is to be given to 745 non-commissioned officers. The noncommissioned officers are generally the foremen in the works in which the men are employed, and earn higher wages. I hope, therefore, the question will be reconsidered. The men will be expected to come out for a fortnight's training instead of for seven days, as now, and I believe that if this concession is withheld we shall in our part of the country lose a very large number of the men we are particularly anxious to retain.
LORD SAYE AND SELE
My Lords, I did not intend to take part in this discussion, but one of the points alluded to by Lord Albemarle particularly interests me. I refer to the uncertainty of the officers' position in regard to pensions. If we could get a definition of what an officer's pension is, I am sure it would be of great use; for in my humble opinion the dearth of officers is very closely bound up with this point. If you ask any officer in the British Army to define a pension you will only get one answer—namely, that it is a reward for past services, and I think your Lordships would return the same reply. Yet when it comes to an officer taking a position as secretary to a Territorial Association, or an appointment of that kind, his pension is invariably dragged in by the War Office, and it is said that he is getting so much pension, and therefore can do with less reward for his present services. I will give a concrete instance. At the commencement of the South African War there were two classes of officers—one receiving a pension and the other a gratuity. The pension was held on the security of promises; the gratuity, of course, was in the officer's pocket. When an officer was called back from the Reserve the Regulations took away his pension and put him on full pay. Therefore the pensioned officers, of whom I had the honour to be one, had their pension taken away; whereas the gratuity officers retained their gratuity intact. That was generally spoken of throughout the Army as a gross injustice, and I only quote it as one instance of the uncertainty that prevails. An officer never knows what exactly is his position, and this, I am sure, has a great bearing on the difficulty of getting officers and keeping them. I therefore ask whether some sort of definition of a pension could not be given which should hold good for all time.
§ *THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, I rise only for the purpose of expressing my thanks to my noble friend behind me for having called attention to a matter which seems to me of considerable importance—I mean the remuneration offered to the secretaries of these County Associations. I am constrained to say that in my view the War Office is making a great mistake in pushing its frugal principles too far, when it comes to deal with the emoluments of officers selected for this extremely important work. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that the success or failure of an Association will very often depend upon the manner in which it is served by its secretary. The presidents and chairmen of the Associations are as often as not men who have many other public duties to perform, and who must depend to a great extent, if not entirely, for all matters of routine upon their secretaries. The secretary will have to start this brand new machinery, sometimes in circumstances of very great difficulty, and surely it is worth while offering to those whom you desire to attract to these positions, salaries bearing at any rate some relation to the importance of the work which they have to do. I am personally aware of a case in which a County Association was able to secure the assistance of a gallant officer as to whose qualifications there could be no doubt, because his name was included on the War Office list of officers eligible for these secretary ships. He was ready to take the post at a salary of £200 a year, not surely a very exaggerated stipend. We received from the War Office, however, an intimation that £100 a year was all that could be allowed, and that if more was to be given it must be provided from other sources. Obviously those other sources could only be either the generosity of private individuals or the deflection of a part of the allowance made to the Association from some other useful purpose to supplement the salary given to the secretary. To my mind both those alternatives would have been very regrettable. My noble friend who introduced the subject told the House that he believed matters had materially improved in this respect. I hope they have, because there is room for improvement. I do very earnestly entreat the War Office not to jeopardise the success of this most important scheme by 747 an exaggerated parsimony in respect to this one particular.
§ *THE EARL OF PORTSMOUTH
My Lords, a Liberal Government always finds itself in an unusually unhappy position in regard to the War Office administration. The Secretary of State is accused in the other House of spending too much money, and I am continually asked in your Lordship's House to spend a little more. I can assure the noble Marquess who has just spoken that I agree with him that the question of the remuneration of secretaries is an important and anxious one, and I entirely concur in the statement that the success of these Associations must, to a considerable extent, depend upon the ability and capacity of the secretary. I do not know whether the last word has been said on the subject, but I will bear in mind what the noble Marquess has said. Then the noble Lord behind me asked whether I would define what a pension is. I am almost nightly asked a series of conundrums by noble Lords opposite, and I do my best to reply, but the noble Lord must excuse me if I decline to attempt a definition on so difficult and debatable a point. As to the Question put to me by Lord Albemarle, I can assure the noble Earl that I will use all my influence to prevent an injustice being done to any gallant officer, and perhaps he will communicate to me privately the full facts of the case to which he referred. With regard to the Questions on the Paper, I listened with some concern to what was said by Lord Errol and Lord Wenlock, and I will see that the views they have put forward are brought before the proper quarter.
In reply to the first Question that Lord Albemarle placed on the Paper, I have to say I am afraid there is no possibility of extending the privilege of separation allowance to private soldiers of the Territorial Force. The reasons for this decision of the Army Council I have already given in detail in reply to my noble friend Lord Ampthill, on the 13th of last month. In reply to my noble friend's second Question, there will be no allowance, as such, given to the men of the Territorial Force. The men will get the pay of their rank on the same lines as the Regulars. I may add that I am informed that my noble friend is 748 scarcely accurate in saying that most corps now pay 10s. weekly allowance to their men.
Then I come to the third Question, and on that matter I do not think my noble friend need feel any great apprehension. It is not the intention of the Army Council that the maximum fine laid down under the Act for non-attendance at camp should be imposed when there is reasonable excuse for such non-attendance. The widest possible discretion is left to the General Officer Commanding - in - Chief to deal with individual cases on their merits as they arise, and to decide whether any action should be taken under Clause 21 of the Act. In reply to my noble friend's fourth Question, a new form of the attestation paper has recently been issued, from which several details which had been criticised as objectionable have been altogether omitted. The intimation that the giving of false answers renders the man liable to punishment is still retained. We consider it only fair that the man should be informed of his liability in this respect under Section 99 of the Army Act, and in the revised form of the attestation paper this fact is represented to the man in as moderate terms as possible.
I may inform my noble friend in reply to his fifth Question, that an Army Order will be issued, I hope during this week, dealing with the whole question of the amalgamation of units. This Army Order will give detailed instructions as to how the members of the present Auxiliary Forces, to whom he refers, are to be dealt with. In reply to my noble friend's sixth Question, I have to inform him that this question of the permanent staff' of units is being considered, and detailed instructions regarding the various cases that arise will be issued. There was one other point to which the noble Earl referred, namely, the Volunteer decoration. I had a Question put to me a little while ago on this point, and I then said, and now repeat, that the matter is in a forward condition; but, of course, it would not be proper for me to make any statement regarding it before we have received the Royal approval.
I understood the noble Earl to say that it was not the intention of the Army Council to impose 749 very heavy fines in the case of men failing to attend camp.
That is not the point. On making inquiries at the War Office, I understood that in all cases in which a man failed to earn all that he could earn, it would be necessary for the County Association to prosecute him in the Courts, when it would be for the justices to decide what fine should be imposed. Under the old system there was a code of rules which the man accepted as conditions of service, and attached to them was a schedule of fines, and if a man failed to earn any part of the contingent grant the commanding officer was able to recover such an amount as he failed to earn. Now the noble Earl says the War Office is going to impose the fine. My impression is that he is wrong there. Under the Act and the attestation form combined the liability of the Yeoman or the Volunteer, as the case may be, is laid down, and, if he fails fully to perform his liability, it is for the Association to decide whether they will endeavour to recover what he ought to have earned by going to the Courts. It will not lie with the commanding officer, the County Association, or the Army Council, to decide what fine he should pay; that will be for the Court to decide.
§ THE EARL OF PORTSMOUTH
I do not think there is anything incorrect in what my noble friend says, but it does not, I think, militate against the answer I have given.
§ LORD NEWTON
I should like to ask, to satisfy my curiosity, whether there is any guarantee that anybody will be fined at all.
§ [No Answer was returned.]