HL Deb 27 May 1908 vol 189 cc1059-61

My Lords, I rise to ask the Undersecretary of State for War how many units in each arm of the Territorial Force have been recognised as having enlisted 30 per cent. of their establishment; how many men have enlisted in the Yeomanry; and in the case of the Infantry how many have enlisted for four years, and how many for only one year. I think it will be of interest to have this information. In the case of the Yeomanry, which I am very glad are to retain their time honoured designation, I imagine they would have very little difficulty in keeping up their numbers, for they are much less affected than the old Volunteers by the new change. As to my last Question, if there are a great number of old Volunteers who have enlisted for only one year, as I think there probably are, it will show that they are not altogether satisfied with the terms offered to them, and have only re-enlisted tentatively. This will, no doubt, have an effect upon recruiting from outside. Hitherto the chief recruiting agents have certainly been the men themselves, but a man who is sufficiently doubtful to be only willing to join tentatively for one year will not feel justified in asking another man to join for four years. I believe the chief objections to re-engaging are the liabilities to penal fines, the amount of which is uncertain, and compulsory camp with an insufficient allowance, especially in the case of married men who are not noncommissioned officers. I have always felt that these objections might be removed, or, at any rate, modified, without any detriment to the service or additional cost to the country. In this respect there is a great difference between a farmer who enlists as a trooper in the Yeomanry and an artisan who enlists as a private in the Infantry. I believe I am correct in saying the man who joins the Yeomanry and has a horse of his own win receive during his period of training, and including the cost of his own food and that of his horse, 11s. 8d. per day, whereas the working man who joins the Infantry cannot reckon upon getting more than 1s. 6d. or 1s. 9d. per day, although he may be giving up a week's wages of 3s., 4s., or 5s. per day. That may be all very well for a youngster, but it is very hard on a man who has to pay house rent and keep his wife as well during the training. The noble Lord the Under-Secretary admitted last night, with reference to the 1s. fee for medical examination, that the plan would not work unless a large number of medical men could be reckoned upon to give their services in the matter gratuitously. I do not know whether any similar voluntary assistance is anticipated in regard to an increase of the camp allowance. No doubt there may be many patriotic people who would be very glad to contribute in order to improve the position of these men in camp, and I think that under the old Volunteer system that might have been possible; but I believe it would be very dangerous to tempt men to enlist under the present system by any hope of additional assistance procured in this way, for a voluntary fund could not be regarded as permanent.


My Lords, up to 5th May we had recognised forty-eight Yeomanry units out of fifty-six; 287 Artillery units out of 369; sixty-nine Engineering units out of 117; 172 Infantry units out of 204; twenty-seven Army Service Corps units out of seventy; and forty-five Medical units out of eighty-one. Up to 1st May the number of men enlisted in the Yeomanry was 12,044, and in the Infantry 72,179; of those men 8,520 had joined for the full term of four years. As to this last figure, we do not hold a gloomy view, because no pressure was put upon the men to join for the whole term of four years; they were given the offer that they might go into the Territerial Force for a year and see how they liked it. We have every confidence that the men will join again, and, from what we have heard, the men who have joined and already done their camp service are likely to continue with the force. We have given up to 30th June for recruiting. The men are coming in very steadily, and the pick of them have already sent in their names. It is only in exceptional cases where there is any hanging back. The Yeomanry are coming in exceptionally well. Everything points to our having a large increase of present numbers by the end of next month. As to going into camp, it will rest with the general officer commanding to decide what is or is not a sufficient reason for absence, but there is no ground for supposing that men will be fined for absenting themselves if they can produce a valid reason.


Can the noble Lord give any idea as to when the special Order will be issued with reference to the formation of the new Irish Yeomanry? Our period of training is coming on shortly, and we are anxious to have all the rules and regulations.


The Order will be ready for publication very soon, but I am afraid I cannot tell the noble Earl exactly when.