My Lords, I rise to call attention to the last Report of the Inspector-General of Recruiting, and the recruiting question, and to the War Office Report on the steps taken to provide technical instruction to soldiers to fit them for civil life, and to the War Office Circular Letter relating to the subject [Cd. 3511], 1907; to ask what steps have been taken in addition to those mentioned in the Report aforesaid to carry into effect the recommendations of Sir Edward Ward's Committee as to the teaching of trades to soldiers while serving with the colours; and on what grounds the recommendations of that Committee that soldiers should be required to learn a trade, and should not be required to pay any part of the cost of being taught, except when the instruction and materials are expensive, have not been acted upon; and whether there is any objection to these recommendations 819 being acted upon experimentally, say in one command or in the recruiting for one battalion; and to move for Papers.
Since I had the honour, about eighteen months ago, of raising in your Lordships' House the question of the training of soldiers for civil life, a great deal has happened. The War Office Report and the Circular Letter to which I call attention show that the War Office have taken considerable interest in this matter. The Report contains many shrewd and sensible observations with regard to the necessity of training soldiers for civil life, and, in addition to a good many valuable suggestions, it positively bristles with promises that various plans for teaching soldiers trades shall be considered. I have not the slightest desire to hustle the War Office or unduly to force the pace. I am quite content with promises that certain matters shall be considered, if they are to be considered and not shelved. I note with satisfaction that the scandals mentioned by Lord Donough-more in connection with the system of giving characters to soldiers have already been dealt with, and that in future regimental characters will be given in a form that will, I hope, render the repetition of such scandals impossible. According to the latest alterations in the form of character, an employer will be given some opportunity of gauging the fitness of ex-soldiers to discharge the duties proposed to be entrusted to them. This is a great step in advance.
Before I deal with the Report, I propose, to say something on the recruiting question. I make no apology for including that subject in my Motion, as just now I consider it is a question of unusual importance owing to the very serious amount of unemployment in the country. Recruits of some kind will, no doubt, be easy to get during the winter. But what will they be like? There are plenty of good men seeking work who cannot get it—men who, in the past, have made excellent citizens, and who, no doubt, if they go into the Army, will make excellent soldiers; on the other hand, there are plenty of loafers who are likely to be attracted to the Army by the prospect held out to them, not altogether without warrant, by the recruiting sergeant that they will have an easy time. 820 If this latter class is allowed to crowd into the Army, the result will be disastrous. Commanding officers will have plenty of choice during the winter months, and should be correspondingly cautious as to the men they take.
The last Report on the British Army shows that the recruits are by no means up to an ideal standard. They are disgracefully ignorant; that is the only term I can use. Out of a total of 17,255 men recruited for the infantry of the Line in the year ended 1st Oct, 1907, 8,497, or very nearly half, either could not read or write at all, or could only read print and write monosyllables from dictation; they were unable to write to the young women with whom they kept company, and if their young women wrote to them they were unable to read the letters. I am not a pedant. I know perfectly well that there have been in the past many persons totally unable to read and write who have, nevertheless, been very shrewd and very energetic. But it is impossible to believe that these recruits could have so successfully evaded the attentions of the school attendance officers as not to have learnt to read and write with some facility. It is almost impossible to conceive the mental stagnation, the complete absence of energy, ambition, and industry, which must characterise a person who deliberately chooses to forget how to read and write. Yet nearly half of our infantry recruits come from that class.
The case would not be so bad if, when they enlisted in the Army, they set to work to make up for lost time. But what do we find? Either they or the Army schoolmaster, or both, would seem to be utterly hopeless. I believe it is the fact—the noble Lord the Under Secretary will correct me if I am wrong—that every man, until he gets a third class certificate of education, is obliged to attend the Army school. I do not know whether this provision is in practice enforced; but, if it is, it seems to have been enforced with absolutely no result. Whatever the amount of schooling they really get may be, the result is not encouraging. Out of 131,886 soldiers at present serving in the Infantry of the Line, 68,726, a little over half — 52 per cent. exactly—are uncertificated. 821 Now, the third class certificate, unless I am very much mistaken, corresponds with Standard III. in the elementary schools—a standard commonly reached by a child of nine. Those who enter the Army in the print reading stage in nearly every case remain in that stage during the whole of their military career; 49 per cent. of the recruits enter with an education below Standard III., and 48 per cent. of the soldiers remain below Standard III. the whole time they serve with the Colours. What is the Army schoolmaster about? What is the use of keeping Army schoolmasters if they cannot do any more than that? It seems to me a monstrous state of things.
I see, with satisfaction, that the War Office are doing something to remedy this state of things. An Order has lately gone forth to the effect that proficiency pay is to supersede service pay, and that proficiency pay will not be given until the soldier has obtained a third class certificate of education. It is to be hoped that, spurred on by this, the recruit who can only read print, and very little of that, will make the necessary effort to obtain the exalted amount of knowledge requisite to rise into Standard III. This will be sometimes gained. But I venture to think the authorities might go a step further, and keep back some part of the proficiency pay until the soldier has gained a certificate of the second class, which is equal to Standard V. in the elementary schools, with the curious exception, I believe, that the soldier is never taught any geography. That is the standard which is commonly reached by children of eleven. It does not seem an extravagant task to impose upon the Army schoolmaster that he should impart to his pupils during the seven years he has them under him the amount of knowledge commonly possessed by a child of eleven. So much for the ignorance of the recruit, and the astonishing want of success attending the efforts of the Army schoolmaster.
The only other point with regard to recruiting that I wish to mention is that the authorities should deal with perfect fairness with the recruit. For instance, in recruiting for the Territorial force we should not hold out the alluring prospect 822 of the defence of our hearths and homes as the vocation of the force. The hearth and home defence theory used to be much to the fore in civilian circles, but on 16th March last the noble Lord the Under-Secretary of State for War gave it a final quietus. Interrogated on that occasion—I am quoting from Hansard—Lord Lucas said—Mr. Haldane and his advisers do not anticipate that the Territorial Army is going to be able to turn out at once, without further training, to resist the best trained troops that could be put against them.Therefore, the alluring picture of the Territorials lining the hedges and ditches and repelling raids has been blown into thin air. They are not only not expected to do it, but they could not do it. Yet we find Mr. Arnold-Forster, an ex-Secretary of State for War, Mr. Winston Churchill, and I daresay many other eminent persons, declaring that you must talk about home defence or you will get no recruits for the Territorials.
This is just the kind of humbug that exasperates the soldier, and makes him distrust every official military pronouncement like the hoary old fiction that the pay of the soldier was a shilling a day, when it was well known that necessary stoppages reduced it considerably below that amount. The late Colonel Forrest, when commandant of the Duke of York's School, where only sons of soldiers are admitted, told, me it was no use for him to give advice to any boy with regard to enlistment, because there was not a boy who had been six weeks in the school who was not firmly persuaded that the officials, from Colonel Forrest downwards, got 5s. a head for inducing boys to enlist, in that branch of the service which was most in need of recruits, and that they never considered what was for the good of the boys themselves. Again, the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Wolseley, when Adjutant-General, depicted in glowing colours, in a pamphlet which, I believe, is still in circulation, what an excellent preparation an Army training is for civil life, while every Reservist has good reason to know the contrary. The recruiting sergeant is said by the rank and file to be all ribbons and lies, and I am afraid his betters are not much more conscientious in the matter of recruiting. I am happy, however, to think that 823 things are improving, and that the Infantry soldier is not so heavily handicapped as he used to be in seeking civil employment. The heart-breaking barrack square drill has been to some extent superseded by more rational exercises.
As regards the civil employment of ex-soldiers, I am sorry to find that they do not make up in moral qualities what they lack in other respects. I received a letter the other day from Lord Fortescue in which he lamented that the fidelity guarantee companies had recently been obliged to raise their terms of insurance for soldiers employed as stewards or waiters by the Canteen and Mess Co-operative Society. These soldier-stewards and waiters, it seems, are neither more nor less dishonest than civilians in similar employment. The question of employment for ex-soldiers has assumed great importance. I hold in my hand a newspaper circulating largely, I believe, among the rank and file of the Army—it is called The Regiment; and I would draw your Lordships' attention to the issue of 18th April last. The principal feature of it is a cartoon entitled "From Soldier to Socialist." The cartoon contains four squares; the picture in the first is that of a soldier on active service, that in the second of a soldier who applies to the War Office for work and cannot get it, that in the third of the soldier entering the casual ward, and that in the fourth of the soldier as a socialist orator addressing an excited audience who are waving red flags. The letterpress at the bottom of the cartoon states that—The above illustrates the four stages in one of the most astonishing of modern metamorphoses. Statistics have recently been published proving the high percentage of soldiers forced into vagrancy; and in a crowd of 500 unemployed socialistic demonstrators in London recently 300 were ex-soldiers—the instance is but typical of a growing calamity solely engendered by official callousness and public apathy as regards the treatment of ex-soldiers. We indicate the danger to the authorities. What will they do to obviate it?In another part of the same issue of The Regiment I find this statement—The sterling, unimpeachable worth of ex-soldiers in the aggregate is convincingly proved by the fact that they are not all socialist agitators.The remedy indicated in this newspaper is that there should be more preferential 824 employment for soldiers. The noble Earl beside me says, "Hear, hear." I hope he will give me his attention for a moment or two.
The advocates of an extension of preferential employment are between the devil and the deep sea. While, on the one hand, the soldier is clamouring for more preferential employment, the amount of such employment already given is making the Army unpopular with the working man, and is, moreover, detrimental to the public service. If any one disputes that fact, let him read the evidence given on behalf of the Post Office before Sir E. Ward's Committee. It is there stated by a Post Office official that 40 per cent. of the telegraph boys are unable to obtain situations as postmen on leaving the telegraph service, owing to the preference given to ex-soldiers. The result is that we get an inferior class of telegraph boy because their future is not assured. We also get an inferior class of postmen, for it is found that ex-telegraph boys make better postmen than ex-soldiers. Moreover, this further result follows, that the Army is unpopular with telegraph boys who can seldom be induced to enlist.
Soldiers may justly claim a certain amount of preferential employment. Active service or other circumstances may prevent a soldier from having an opportunity of fitting himself for civil life. Such cases it is the duty of the State to take in hand, and those persons could easily be accommodated in preferential berths without anybody being any the worse. But it is open to grave doubt whether the system of preferential employment has not been carried further than is consistent with the true welfare of the Army. It is a serious matter to render the Army unpopular with the working classes. The working man who is passed over for a job in favour of an ex-soldier, not because the ex-soldier is the better man but because he is an ex-soldier naturally nourishes a grudge against the Army; and the ex-soldier who returns to his village having neglected every opportunity to qualify himself for civil life because he relies on obtaining preferential employment operates as a warning to his neighbours against enlisting. Any system which foists men into 825 positions for any other reason except that they are fit for them is bound to give endless trouble and worry. Preferential employment for ex-soldiers has been tried for a generation. It cannot be carried further without doing more harm than good.
There remains the common sense expedient which for many years I have been endeavouring to urge upon the authorities, and against which nothing can be said—the expedient of teaching the soldier to rely for employment on his own merits. On this proposition the War Office have promised to consider further various plans that have been laid before them. This is all very well, but there is very little information in the Papers laid before the House as to how far the process of teaching soldiers a trade has been carried. We learn that on a small scale gardening has been a success, and also motor driving. I am told that it is dangerous for pedestrians to go past the Knightsbridge Barracks after dark on account of the number of amateur soldier chauffeurs who are continually practising. That is so far satisfactory.
The thoroughly unsatisfactory part of the Report is its pronouncement, without giving any reason, against the principle of compulsion advocated by Sir E. Ward's Committee. This pronouncement is the more remarkable as the chief obstacle to the success of the present scheme is stated to be the apathy of the men as to their future. That, not doubt, was precisely the difficulty that Sir E. Ward's Committee foresaw and desired to guard against. If, as I suspect, the cost has deterred the War Office from formulating a comprehensive and compulsory scheme of instruction for the men, or the fear of a falling off of recruits, let a compulsory scheme be tried as I suggest in one command, or in one battalion, where recruiting is brisk; there would be no danger of a shortage in the supply of recruits, nor would the expense be great. Of course, if there is compulsion the other recommendation of the Committee which has been ignored must also be acted upon, and instruction involving no considerable expense must be given free; otherwise the terms of service will be altered. Besides one 826 can hardly expect that persons who have enlisted with the object of not being obliged to learn a trade would pay to learn one. I want such persons to keep out of the Army which they bring into discredit, and the best way to keep them out is to let them know that they will be obliged to work at a trade.
What a terrible set of fellows these ignorant loafers must be in barracks! No wonder the industrious and reputable citizen is shy of entering the Army, when half his comrades in barracks are still in the first or second standard or below any standard at all. When people talk of the difficulty of keeping the Army up to its establishment, they take note of the recruits who would be driven away by the prospect of industrial training, but they do not take note of the large number of respectable and adventurous persons who would be attracted to the Army by the prospect of learning a trade and of keeping respectable and well-informed company. The winner of a prize of £100 for a military essay—Captain Dunlop—says the Army should be the poor man's university. I am afraid your Lordships will regard that as a counsel of perfection. If we have a course of training here we must, of course, make provision for India and the Colonies. In India the soldier is taught, among other things, fine needlework; and Lord Pirrie told me that he found a number of soldiers in Netley Hospital invalided from India who were comfortably engaged on needlework, while others who had not that resource looked thoroughly bored. Any industrial occupation is better than none.
For more than half the day during half the year the soldier is not required to do anything but amuse himself according to his lights. He may be as ignorant as he pleases when he enlists, and he may remain as ignorant as he pleases all the time he is with the colours. Official documents dealing with the advantages of a military life portray either such a complete ignorance of common facts, or such a wilful disregard of them, that the rank and file of the Army refuse to take such documents seriously, and teach their offspring that they must regard with the utmost suspicion any statement emanating from an official source 827 and any advice given by an official. With regard to the civil career of the soldier, which is, after all, to him the chief concern of his life, very few officers have taken the trouble to see that he is fitted for any civilian employment, but they have taken immense pains to foist him into situations which would otherwise have been filled by more competent persons, to the injury of the public service and the indignation of the labouring classes.
The British officer, I am afraid, does not take any great interest in the process of making the Army popular. His energies are concentrated on making it an efficient fighting machine. While the civilian must be content to bow to military authority on questions relating to the military efficiency of the Army, it is the work of the civilian to see that the Army is popular with the mass of the people—a most important problem on which the safety of the Empire may depend. So long as the Army is popular the people will keep it up to sufficient strength, but if the Army becomes unpopular no one can predict what will happen. This is a problem the civilian must think out for himself, and I have endeavoured, to the best of my ability, to contribute my mite towards its solution. As to my Motion for Papers, I think the noble Lord the Under-Secretary will recognise that it is quite time we knew what the War Office have been doing during the last eighteen months.
§ Moved, "That an humble address be presented to His Majesty for Papers showing the steps taken by the War Office to provide technical instruction to soldiers to fit them for civil life."—(Lord Monkswell.)
§ * LORD HAVERSHAM
My Lords, I should like to say one or two words on the Motion which the noble Lord has for three years in succession brought forward in your Lordships' House. He raised it in November, 1906, in May 1907, and again in November, 1908; it therefore comes before us as a very healthy and hardy annual. At the same time my noble friend must be congratulated on the great steps in advance that have been taken by the War Office since he 828 last called attention to the matter. One step in advance has been the increase from £1,000 to £2,500 in the sum granted for teaching soldiers trades.
But before I say anything on the subject of teaching trades, I should like to correct the false colouring which my noble friend has put upon the state of recruiting, and upon the character and quality of the men who have been recruited. In the last Report on recruiting appears this statement—The class of recruits is undoubtedly improving. The consensus of reports from the districts is to this effect. The pay, the additional comforts, and the prospects of the soldier are having a marked effect.Therefore we need not adopt such a despairing view of the condition of recruits as that taken by my noble friend. I am also glad to see from the Army Reports that, last year, of the 31,044 men who left the Army and returned to civil life with characters either good or exemplary, no fewer than 24,179 have either been provided with employment or found situations. I would also remind your Lordships that there are at this moment employed on the railway systems of this country no fewer than 20,000 men who have served in the ranks.
My noble friend referred to what he described as the very illiterate character of the recruits. I cannot understand how he makes that out, because I find, on page 94, with regard to the educational attainment of recruits, that there were 23,235 recruits examined, out of whom more than 20,000 appeared in Class A, Class B, and Class C. All the men in those classes can read and write. When we look to the class to which the noble Lord alluded, we find that there are only 2,254 in Class D; and that in the lowest class, those who failed to pass into Class D, there is not a single one. Therefore I think there must be some mistake in the figures which the noble Lord gave.
For the learning of a trade the important years are the last two of a man's service. It is impassible for the young soldier for a few years after he joins to go to school, do his drill and musketry training, and in addition learn a trade; but if it were pointed out to him, within 829 a few years of leaving the service, how handicapped he would be against the civilian in seeking for employment unless he knew a trade, he would no doubt avail himself of the opportunity of fitting himself for civil life. In every regiment, at present, there are tailors' and shoemakers' shops and cooks' kitchens, in which the men can learn useful vocations; and I would suggest that carpentry is another trade which might be agreeably taught to the soldier at little expense. We all know that there is no more satisfactory mode of securing a better class and a larger number of recruits than by providing them with some means of obtaining employment after they have left the service.
LORD SAYE AND SELE
My Lords, I understood the noble Lord who initiated this discussion to say that the ex-soldier was less honest than the civilian.
LORD SAYE AND SELE
The noble Lord also said that the soldier returned to civil life at the end of his time a worse man.
LORD SAYE AND SELE
My experience is exactly the reverse. Anyone who has sat in a recruiting officer's chair knows that we have always recruited the Army from a low grade of society. Recruits enter very illiterate, but they do not leave the Army quite so illiterate. Coming as he does from such a low class of society, the recruit has a great deal to learn, and by the time he has been taught his drill, and to be obedient, clean, and sober, he has very little time left for learning a trade. If I had known that this point was to be discussed, I would have looked the matter up; but, if I am not mistaken, this subject was very carefully gone into some years ago, and it was found to be practically impossible to teach soldiers any trades beyond those now taught. As to the noble Lord's remarks regarding preferential employment, I entirely disagree that the posts given to the soldier now 830 are preferential. They are not. They are given to him because discipline, cleanliness, and obedience, as taught to him during the time he was in the Army, have fitted him to fill them.
* LORD LUCAS
My Lords, I do not know whether the noble Lord who raised this question intended to charge me with a breach of faith in regard to my statement that the Territorial force, which is statutorily enlisted for service at home, may not necessarily be able, during the first few days of war, to face an enemy who might land on these shores. The Territorial Force has never been considered in any other light than as a home defence Army, and the fact that it will have to undergo a certain amount of training on mobilisation does not make it any the less a home defence Army. The noble Lord quoted a letter from Lord Fortescue, with regard to the dishonesty of ex-soldiers, which he did me the kindness to let me read the other day. If my recollection is not playing me false, I remember Lord Fortescue saying, that in the case of which he spoke it had been necessary to increase the premiums of ex-soldier waiters, but that civilian waiters were uninsurable altogether.
* LORD MONKSWELL
I did not wish to state publicly the other portion of Lord Fortescue's letter, but, as the noble Lord has challenged me, I must do so. Lord Fortescue's statement was that waiters and stewards from the Navy were uninsurable.
* LORD LUCAS
I am sorry I misread the letter. As to the character of recruits enlisted and how far they are illiterate, I beg to thank Lord Haversham for what he said on that subject. He showed that in both these matters a great improvement has been effected, I now come to the general question of employment. As your Lordships know, this is a big and important question, and one which greatly affects recruiting for the Army. But when you proceed to work out the question of how you are to establish a universal system of training such as that to which the noble Lord has referred, you are at once met by 831 a number of difficulties, and also by the consideration whether or not such a system is really necessary. This matter has been studied rather closely lately, and, as far as we are able to tell—we have not the full Returns on the subject—75 per cent. of the men in the Army pass straight into one trade or another the moment they leave. In many cases they have learnt their trade in the Army, and in other cases they have business connections of one form or another. The remaining 25 per cent. present a problem, but the fact of such a high percentage at once finding trades makes it extremely doubtful whether it is either economically necessary or wise to start a difficult and expensive system of universal teaching. That is the first point.
There is another difficulty which confronts us. As my noble friend Lord Haversham said, it is in the last two years of a man's service in the Army that the learning of a trade would be of the greatest use. The great majority of soldiers in the British Army spend the last two years of their service in India, and that increases the difficulty of instruction. But there are a certain number who do not go to India, and they are the men who are learning trades now. I doubt very much whether what the soldier had learnt in the way of a trade in his earlier years in the Army before going to India would be of very great use to him on leaving the Army four or five years afterwards. After all, it is not very easy for a soldier to learn a trade thoroughly while in the Army. The noble Lord spoke of the idle life led by a soldier. I wish the noble Lord would visit Aldershot and see of what the soldier's life really consists.
* LORD LUCAS
In summer and winter; it is exactly the same thing. Training in which everything possible is being done to develop individual intelligence is being carried on in an extraordinary degree, and when I was last there I was told that practically the only time left free from military duties of one kind or another was Saturday afternoon, on which the men play football or other games. No doubt they do have other 832 leisure time, but not sufficient for the giving of thorough instruction in a trade. Nevertheless, the thing has been started, and at Aldershot, as elsewhere, they have been working out teaching methods in the way best suited to local conditions. I am glad to say that the results have been satisfactory, although there have been great difficulties in finding the necessary appliances and the necessary means of teaching the men trades. Difficulty has also been experienced in getting the men to stick to the course. A large proportion have sometimes started, but not many have gone through the course. In the circumstances it would be useless and wasteful to make the course universal; it must be voluntary, and I think it is right that the soldier should be asked to contribute to the expense, if only as a guarantee that he is in earnest and that the money is not being expended in vain.
Has the noble Lord any objection to the recommendation of Sir Edward Ward's Committee being tried, that the instruction should be compulsory and that the soldier should not be asked to pay any part except for expensive teaching?
* LORD LUCAS
We do not propose to make it universal, chiefly for the reason I have given, that in the case of 75 per cent. of the men it is not considered necessary. Nor do we propose to make it free of charge, although a grant is given every year towards the cost. We now ask the soldier to contribute, and we shall continue to ask him to contribute, towards the expense of learning a trade. We shall be glad to lay a Paper on the Table, and I hope your Lordships, when you see it, will think that it is a satisfactory record. The scheme is, to a certain extent, experimental, but some 3,000 men have had an opportunity of learning eighty-eight trades, and I think it is succeeding on the whole extremely well.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
My Lords, this question has engaged the serious attention of the War Office for many years, and I desire to say a word in appreciation of what has been done by the present Government in regard to it. 833 I confess I do not share altogether the somewhat pessimistic views expressed by the noble Lord who opened the discussion. I think all attempts, under successive Ministers, to make either the training or education in the Army compulsory or universal beyond a certain standard are almost bound to fail in a voluntary Army. I do not think that sufficient stress was laid by the noble Lord who opened the discussion on the extreme difficulty, within the short time which is allotted to the British soldier to learn his duties, of adding anything to the number of duties which already fall upon him. I am sure that regimental officers in the House will bear me out that the greatest difficulty already exists during the summer in getting in all the training and shooting instruction necessary to fit soldiers for the efficient discharge of their military duties.
The noble Lord will, perhaps, say: "Why not give up a portion of the winter, when the same amount of drill and military training is not required, to the learning of trades?" I can assure your Lordships, speaking from personal experience, that it has been represented over and over again to the War Office that if you wish to increase the number and improve the class of recruits, you will do it not by adding to the amount of their teaching while in the service, but by making somewhat easier the terms on which a soldier is bound to perform his duty during the period of his service, as, for example, through longer furlough, and the infusion of a little more elasticity in other arrangements. Therefore, in the winter I think every good commanding officer will do his best to let as many men as possible off duty. I see one or two officers behind me who could tell your Lordships in how many different directions, such as signalling and the like, time is now occupied which was not occupied before. For that reason, when attempts have been made to introduce regimental instruction in various trades great difficulties have been experienced and we have not received the support from the soldiers themselves which we had hoped for. The same is true of education. Education was compulsory in the Army during a long period, and when the system ceased to be compulsory 834 and became voluntary the percentage of certificates rose, which shows that it was formerly looked upon as a drill in which it was not necessary to show excellence.
I have not risen to make a speech, but only to urge one point. I believe that the Returns which the Government have furnished as to the efforts made to give the advantage of training show a distinct advance on any previous efforts which have been made. Any soldier who desires to learn a trade is more likely now to enjoy the opportunity as compared with ten or fifteen years ago. Another subject of congratulation is that 75 per cent. of those who leave the Army find employment without unnecessary delay. That in itself is a great advance, and I do not agree that by the imposition of any hard and fast rules you are likely to add substantially to recruiting. The late Sir Redvers Buller once said to me that there were 30,000 men in England who would join the Army every year under any conditions, some because they had an ambition to a military career, and others because they were driven to it by failure to get work. He added that what we get beyond 30,000 are partly due to the pay and the attractions and partly to unemployment and other fortuitous circumstances, but that we cannot expect to get much over 40,000 men under present terms and conditions. I believe that there is a universal feeling among authorities that increase of pay, improvement in barrack accommodation, the opportunity of getting employment after a man leaves the Colours, have all tended, speaking generally, to raise the character and the class of men who join the service. I believe there has been a marked improvement in recent years in that respect, and, though I feel certain that the War Office will not relax their efforts to make the scheme as universal as possible, I am quite sure that they are wise and prudent in leaving these attempts voluntary and allowing soldiers the opportunity, if they desire, to receive this instruction, without enforcing it upon them as part of their military service.
My Lords, I desire to make one or two observations in reply to Lord Haversham, who has accused me of having misread page 94 of 835 the last annual Report of the British Army. The noble Lord said that the Report showed that in the last recruiting no one was placed in Class E. The reason why no recruit was placed in that class is that Class E. did not exist until the last few months; and, if we take the old classification, what I said was absolutely correct. Half of the men are in Class C and Class D.
They can only read from print. They cannot, as I said, read or write a letter. When the noble Viscount opposite talks about the great difficulties in the way of making this system compulsory, he must be perfectly aware that Sir Edward Ward and his Committee, who were quite as conversant with what goes on at Aldershot as the noble Viscount, said that, notwithstanding the difficulties of granting furlough in the winter, it was their opinion that the soldier should be required to learn a trade, but not to pay for it unless he wanted teaching of an exceptional and expensive character. Sir Edward Ward's Committee may be wrong, but I have that Report at my back in urging, as I do, that at least the experiment should be tried in one battalion of giving effect to the recommendations of the Ward Committee, and by the result I shall be quite content to stand or fall. The noble Lord the Under-Secretary said I accused him of breach of faith with regard to the Territorials. I have never said the Territorials might not be useful to some extent as an army of defence. But they are told that they will be called upon to line the ditches and hedges and repel a raid, whereas they will be required to do nothing of the kind, and anybody who has been led to join on that ground is not being dealt with fairly.
* LORD LUCAS
How does the noble Lord propose that they shall be used if they are not to be called out in the event of a raid?
* LORD LUCAS
The Territorial Force is a home defence force for the purpose of meeting raids or any other form of hostile landing on our shores, and the fact that that force might not be able to take the field against trained troops immediately on the outbreak of war does not prevent it being a home defence force.
I did not say it was not a home defence force, though I feel that when the country gets into difficulties it will be difficult for the Volunteer not to join the Regular Army. My point is that, over and over again, the Territorial Army have been told that it will be their duty to repel a raid, but when the noble Lord was questioned on that point in your Lordships' House his reply was that neither Mr. Haldane nor his advisers supposed, for a moment, that the Territorial Force could take part in repelling a sudden raid. In my opinion the Territorial Army will not be entirely an army for home defence. When the Territorial is wanted abroad, as in South Africa, I have no doubt he will go abroad.
* LORD LUCAS
The noble Lord is quite entitled to his own opinions, but I wish he would not attach my name to them.
I daresay the noble Lord disagrees with me, and thinks that the Territorial Force will be entirely required for home defence. My belief is that persons are induced to enlist in the Territorial Force by being told that they will have to line the hedges and ditches to repel a sudden raid; yet, when questioned on that point, the noble Lord the Under-Secretary stated that they would not be called upon to repel a sudden raid because they could not do so.
§ THE EARL OF ERROLL
My Lords, I should like to say one word about the 837 cavalry. I do not know what time the infantry may have on their hands, but there are certainly serious difficulties lying in the way of any attempt to teach a trade to the cavalry soldier. This man has to learn the hard trade of being a good cavalry soldier, though it is possible for many cavalrymen to learn a trade useful in civil life in the saddler's and tailors' shops. The noble Lord said the soldier has a great deal of time on his hands, especially in the winter; but I would point out that in the cavalry the man probably has to groom a couple of horses and has to do it three times a day. I venture to say that in the cavalry a man has more to do than many of your Lordships' coachmen and grooms, in addition to his soldiering and drill, and I should like to know how many coachmen and grooms, when they have done their day's work, would be inclined to learn or even capable of learning another trade. My noble friend Lord Clanwilliam, who has been an adjutant not long ago, tells me that even during the winter months it was as much as he was able to do to teach the men what they had to learn from a soldier's point of view, and that they had absolutely no time to learn any trade.
I can only speak again by the indulgence of the House; but I should like to mention that the General Officer who introduced this question in the House of Commons year after year with great persistency but with very little success was himself a cavalry officer. I have no doubt that both in the infantry and the cavalry the men have now much less leisure than formerly, and there is consequently less reason, perhaps, why they should be required to learn a trade. I hope, however, that the War Office will persist in their endeavour to induce soldiers who have the time to learn a trade, the better to fit themselves for employment on their return to civil life.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and ordered accordingly.
§ House adjourned at twenty minutes past Six o'clock, till To-morrow, half-past Ten o'clock.