§ Debate on the Motion for the Second Reading resumed (according to Order).
§ *VISCOUNT MIDLETON
My Lords, interesting as was the debate on this measure on Thursday night, I cannot help feeling that your Lordships regard the replies then made from the Government Bench as having been somewhat inconclusive. I do not know that it would be courteous to reiterate the opinion of the Westminster Gazette that there is "a permanent fog at Whitehall," but I am sure that not one of your Lordships went away on Thursday evening with a clear conception either of what the peril is for which we are organising our Forces, or of what the Government consider to be the condition of the Forces which will be left at home after the Expeditionary Force has sailed; and I think it was quite impossible for the Government to make the matter clear to this House because it was obvious that they were not clear on the matter themselves.
I will endeavour to put into the briefest form what our contention is. Our contention is that since the noble and learned 171 Viscount on tike Woolsack framed his scheme in 1907 the peril to be met has increased and that the means for meeting it in this country have diminished, and our apprehension is that the Government are not endeavouring to adapt the Forces at their disposal to the emergency to be met, but are endeavouring to adapt the emergency to the Forces which they have to meet it with. And we are driven to that contention by three different operations. First, by the very serious conflict of opinion put forward by members of the Government, and even by the same member of the Government at different moments; secondly, by the composition—as I venture to urge, the unfortunate composition—of the Sub-Committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence which the Prime Minister has called upon to investigate the particular point of invasion; and, thirdly, by the avoidance by the Government of any attempt to grapple with the obvious deficiencies which have arisen in the last few years in the Force left at home.
With regard to the first point, the prime actor in the whole of this business must be, of course, the Secretary of State for War. From past knowledge of his criticisms of the Army, from the fact that he is not without military experience of his own, I have not the least doubt that, like the statesman in "Iolantha," the upper part of the Minister for War is sound and gives vent to patriotic sentiments, but his lower part is less sound and leads him into the wrong Lobby. It is impossible to believe that in the last few weeks he has been speaking his convictions on each occasion. On March 19 the Secretary of State introduced the Army Estimates. He dwelt upon possible sources of trouble, and then, as if he were addressing a number of persons who knew nothing about military subjects, he said that it was impossible for an enemy to come in large force if they were to escape the Navy, and that a deficiency of 16 per cent. in the Territorial Army was not, therefore, a great danger. Nobody knows better than the Secretary of State that it is not merely a question of 16 per cent. It is a question of the training of the Territorial Army. Between them and the Line there was, by the arrangement of the noble and learned Viscount, the whole of the Special Reserve, which is at present in chaos and has practically collapsed; and the Line itself is short of a considerable number of men.
172 On April 11 the Secretary of State made a second speech, in the course of which he assured the House of Commons that the General Staff were prepared to meet even a Force of 70,000 men if it should land. Two or three- days afterwards he mended his hand on that question and explained that the General Staff did not believe, according to the information of the Admiralty—not of the Defence Committee—that 70,000 could land; if they did they would have to come in small bodies, and if they came in small bodies they would conic without cavalry and artillery and therefore the General Staff would deal with them. But, my Lords, that is a categorically different proposition from the one that the General Staff could deal with 70,000 men, on which we have been relying for the last six years. In his absence, which we all understand, I do not wish to say more than I need about the speech of the noble Marquess the Leader of the house on Thursday last, but I confess I thought that speech was a deplorable speech. It was a speech in which a man who knew the subject talked all round the subject, and skilfully avoided coming to the centre or grappling with any of the main arguments which have been put forward from this Bench. Yet we have on record, in face of all these declarations, the two points on which we must pin our faith.
First, there was the speech of the Prime Minister in July, 1909, in which he declared that we are not to depend on nice calculations of numbers. My Lords, what is a calculation in which 70,000 men are split up into smaller bodies and these smaller bodies are deprived arbitrarily of cavalry and artillery—what is that but a nice calculation of numbers? And then when we come to investigate these points, what is the Sub-Committee which the Government have set up? The Prime Minister is within his right in calling anybody he pleases to the Defence Committee. Look how he has loaded this Sub-Committee. It is to consist, I think, of nine Cabinet Ministers, who cannot all be experts, and who cannot all be men who have constantly attended the Defence Committee. I think the Secretary of State for War told us—it was a confession which I must say filled us with dismay—that he himself had presided over the Defence Committee on fifteen out of nineteen occasions during his first year of office. I say it fills one with 173 dismay, because the whole principle of the Defence Committee was that the Prime Minister, and not merely a Departmental officer, should be the President of the Committee and give the entirely unbiassed view of the Government. If the senior members of the Government have not been in the habit of attending the meetings of the Defence Committee, how much more difficult does it not make it for them grapple with this question?
And who are the experts? I do not wish to say a word against the experts, but at all events it is an open secret that not merely were the naval experts quite wrong as regards the only naval war of which there has been experience in modern times, but the military experts of two of the greatest Continental Powers have been recently completely mistaken in their estimate of the probable result of the war between Turkey and the Allies. I venture to say that the opinion of naval experts, who by the nature of things have never had and cannot have had any experience of modern war, is really a most dangerous and most rickety parapet at the edge of a precipice to depend on. I do not think the noble and learned Viscount will deny that even the naval experts admit that at all events at the outset of a campaign they cannot guarantee us against raids, and raids on a considerable scale; and if that is their confession I should have liked to know that more men who were accustomed to land defence were to sit on this Sub-Committee in order to balance the very large number of those who do not possess technical knowledge, but the Prime Minister has not called one independent soldier to this Sub-Committee for the purpose. Although I fully agree with what my noble friend Lord Lansdowne said as regards Mr. Balfour's certainty to cast his verdict according to whatever evidence may now be brought before him, we cannot forget that since the last investigation by the Defence Committee, for which, as we are told, Mr. Balfour was in some respects responsible, a vigorous campaign has been carried on by very eminent men of military experience, challenging the decision of that Committee; and surely if we are to have a decision now in which we are all to put confidence, it is hardly wise that not one of those men has been asked by the Prime Minister to join in the investigation.
174 I fear that the conflict of opinion among the members of the Government and the composition of the Sub-Committee which is now to settle this vital question will go far to take away from the effect, which ought to be final for a time, of that decision. Still more I confess I think we have reason to complain of the way in which the Government have met, nut our criticism, but really our presentment as far as we could to them of the case as to our national weakness after the Expeditionary Force has gone. In this I regret to say the Lord. Chancellor has led the way. The noble and learned Viscount has, I venture to say, more ground to thank his political opponents for advocating his scheme and doing their best to make it succeed than any Minister who has ever preceded him at all events in the office which he held; but when we come forward, after six years experience, and point out that the basis has changed, that the calculation has changed, and that meantime the expectation which he held out to us has also changed, he treats us as if it was his business to rebut a partisan attack rather than to relieve a national anxiety. In the speech which he will deliver in this debate to-night I would ask him not to repeat the tone of the speech he delivered on February 10 last. He then met us by a disquisition on our sea power, on which we were all agreed, and by attempting to turn the whole debate, not into a discussion of how under his scheme we could recruit the Forces at home, but into the partisan channel of an attempt on our part to force on the Government compulsory service, which we had carefully excluded from the whole of the debate. The long half hour which the noble and learned Viscount gave to rebutting compulsory service on moral, physical, and on other grounds left us completely at sea as to what was to be done, if anything, to fill up the deficiencies. And once that cue had been given from so high a quarter, the junior members of the Government hastened on every platform to try and saddle the Party to which I belong with compulsory service, to do their best to travesty our arguments, and to add the, I think, very ungenerous suggestion that we are only taking this course in order to make the Territorial Army fail.
There was, I think, almost a contract between the Government as represented by the Secretary of State for War and this 175 side of the House six years ago. We did not agree with many things which were being done, but we gave up our feeling in regard to them in order, if possible, to enable the new scheme to be set on foot. The noble and learned Viscount put the whole question to us, in the first place, on the ground of economy. Then he said that all the things rejected did not make for fighting efficiency. He reduced the Estimates by £1,000,000. There are 74,000 less persons carrying a rifle at this moment than there were when he took office, and if you were to put them on again they would cost £2,000,000 and not £1,000,000, owing to the large amount which has been spent on the Auxiliary Force. Therefore, for economy there is not much to be said. Then, in the interests of "efficiency," the noble and learned Viscount scrapped eight fine battalions of the Line, and he intended to scrap two battalions of the Guards which were ultimately reduced to one battalion, so that one Guards battalion and eight of the Line went. I am not going to-night to follow that out or to say how much that may handicap the Government in sending the Expeditionary Force abroad, but I wish to point out that all that we were promised instead of these things has not been able to be carried out.
I cannot enter into the noble and learned Viscount's view as regards the reductions in the Regular Army. The other night he made an absolutely astounding statement. He said that after the reorganisation there are more troops at home than there were before. My noble friend Lord Lansdowne then asked, "did not the noble and learned Viscount reduce the strength of the home battalions? "and the Lord Chancellor replied—Not a single home battalion was knocked off, nor was their strength reduced; not a man was knocked off.What are the figures? At the end of 1905, when the noble and learned Viscount took office, there were seventy-five battalions of the Line at home and ten battalions of the Guards—eighty-five in all, and they were at a strength each of 750 rank and file; in 1909 there were seventy-four battalions of the Line and eight of the Guards, with a strength of 720 rank and file.
§ *VISCOUNT MIDLETON
In the Colonies there were, in 1905, twenty-nine battalions, and in 1909, after the reduction, there were twenty-two. Then as regards strength. The noble and learned Viscount says he did not knock off a single man. He knocked off the establishment thirty men per battalion. At the end of 1905 there were 130,000 men at home and 63,000 in the Colonies. In 1908 there were 120,000 at home and 51,000 in the Colonies. In 1910, by adding to the Line all the Regulars serving with the Special Reserve who before were shown in the Militia he managed to get the numbers up to 127,000, as against what would have been 134,000 before. He has brought the number of men in the Colonies down from 63,000 to 49,000, and he has brought the whole of the Army, including India, down from 260,000 in 1905 to 239,000. Then he says he has not made a reduction of a man or knocked off a single battalion at home. That statement is not merely not the truth, but, with all respect, it is exactly the reverse of the truth. In the same way, in 1908 the Lord Chancellor went down to Guildford and explained what were the results of his reorganisation. He said that he had added 90,000 men to the Regular Army, in language which seemed to us both grandiloquent and premature. That meant that, there being 85,000 in the Militia, and as he meant to have 90,000 in the Special Reserve who would be able to go abroad, which the Militia were not forced to do, therefore he could claim that he had increased the Regular Army by 90,000 men.
Where are the 90,000 men? The Regular Army has lost since our time, by the noble and learned Viscount's own showing, over 20,000 men; the Reserve has lost very nearly as many. Of the 90,000 of the Special Reserve there are at this moment only 56,000 in existence, and of these 16,000 are under nineteen years of age or under one year's service. There are, therefore, only 40,000 of them who could, be sent abroad, and those 40,000 meet the reduction of 20,000 in the Regulars and in the Army Reserve, each man of whom, I suppose every soldier in this House would say, is worth at least double a Special Reservist who has been trained for only six months. That is in itself so great a reduction that we cannot but feel that every requirement, everything which from the Lord Chancellor's view was regarded 177 as a requirement, has now only become an aspiration which might or might not be reached. When we were told that something was going to be done with the Territorials which was not done with the Volunteers, we understood that, quite apart from the change in organisation, the advantages of which we all admit, there also would be two things—six months training before they were put into the field; and by the encouragement or the enforcement of cadet training there would be before a young man joined the Territorial Army such a degree of knowledge as would enable him to take his place with the minimum of drill. How far have those things been realised? We know that the first cannot be realised if our Expeditionary Force is to go to the Continent within a few days.
Then on February 10 the noble and learned Viscount disclaimed altogether having declared that the Territorial Force required six months training before it could be of use. I looked up his statements in 1907, and if I may trouble the House I will read two quotations that both bear upon this point. On March 4, 1907, the Secretary of State for War said—We have thrown the war training on to the other side of the mobilisation—that is to say, we train after mobilisation and not before.On March 4, 1908, he said—I have admitted that if the conception of immediate reliance on the Territorial Force in case of invasion was correct the criticisms of our scheme would be well founded, but I have shown what an entirely different basis underlines the Government plan.I hope the noble and learned Viscount will not get up to-night and tell us, after what he said in 1907—that "we have thrown the war training on to the other side of mobilisation" and that he was advised that six months training would be enough to put the Force into good military condition—that he now really proposes that this Force should be asked to encounter the best Continental troops without war training and without being in the best military condition. We know what Lord Wolseley said on this matter. He said that in these circumstances to pit such troops, especially with incomplete artillery, against Continental troops would be a shambles. I commend that to the consideration of the noble and learned Viscount.
178 Then, again, with regard to the question of cadet training, the noble and learned Viscount said it was a myth to suppose that he had ever been in favour of or had proposed compulsory cadet training. Well, it is a play upon words. What he did propose was, as I understand it, that the Territorial Associations in each county should have funds with which to carry on cadet training in schools. Obviously the pivot of that arrangement was cadet training in the national schools, in which all education is laid down and is compulsory. The Labour Party objected to it, and the noble and learned Viscount after a struggle declared that cadet training should not be carried on out of public money, and thereupon the whole proposal fell to the ground. We stood, and we had a right to stand, under the belief that the one thing which was going to get us recruits better trained and to raise a snore military spirit in the country was the drilling of boys at an age when the loss of time was nothing to them, thus saving them time when to serve their country meant a considerable deduction both from their holiday and their earning power. We have lost that; and I cannot help feeling that to ignore these losses of strength and to minimise what we thought were principles in the scheme of the noble and learned Viscount hardly does justice to his own candour. I think the speech which he made on February 10 was wanting in respect to, the very large amount of military knowledge which there is in your Lordships' House.
Our case is that the probability of trouble from abroad may be regarded as greater now than it was in 1907; that our Force is less than it was in 1907; that foreign navies are more powerful than they were in 1907; that the whole science of aircraft is more disturbing than it was in 1907; that a larger lumber of troops will be away from this country than was believed to be likely in 1907; that the Special Reserve, on which we were to rely, is 30,000 less, and the troops in general are 100,000 less than were asked for in 1907; and that therefore there is an emergency with which the Government may well be asked to deal. That is our case, and I invite the noble and learned Viscount not to treat us as partisan critics, but to treat us as men vehemently searching for a remedy for the present state of things.
179 On behalf of those who sit on this Bench I would like to make it clear that we are not bringing this question forward from any panic caused by the great military operations abroad; that we are not in any way guided by a desire to secure a great Army for the Continent by endeavouring to increase largely the Expeditionary Force; that we are not to-night advocating compulsion for service; and that we are not even attempting to prejudge, because We have not got the material, the question whether or not a compulsory military system in this country can be run side by side with the enlistment of Regular forces such as we have to keep abroad. What we are doing is to urge that this great gap of 100,000 men must be dealt with and dealt with at once; that the too hastily Abandoned idea of physical training in schools should be reconsidered at once by the Government; that the possibility should be considered of enabling soldiers who have left the Colours to be brought into a Second Line, not on the lines merely of the National Reserve, but by a selection from those who having served and having been drilled can be used; and that that should not be attempted, as it has been, by offering a man 10s. a year to be ready at any moment to take the work of an Army Reservist and go to the ends of the earth and remain there until the war ends. In fact, we want effective measures.
I would appeal to the Lord Chancellor on this ground also. This question has not yet passed into the arena of Party, but there is the writing on the wall. It is fast passing into that arena, and it must so pass if one Party deliberately decides to blind itself to the difficulty and leaves it to the other Party continually to bring it forward. The noble and learned Viscount's colleagues have obtained a great deal of commendation during the last few weeks for their attempt to establish unity in Europe and to secure peace, and in that I venture to say the strongest thing on which they can rely is the strength of our own position and the unity of our own people. I am not going on this occasion to suggest how far recent Government measures have affected, or may affect, the unity of our own people; but surely if, as regards our strength to meet these difficulties, disunion is to be created by the Government, then we can only look forward to the question being relegated into the Party arena, which must 180 put it back for many years and greatly increase the danger of our position. For that reason I appeal to the Government not to continue to palliate, to minimise, and to obscure difficulties which they have not been able to avoid, but which in our opinion constitute a grave national danger.
*THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I always listen with interest to the speeches of the noble Viscount because he never fails to set me considering a problem, and the problem which lie has set me considering on this and on other occasions is, What is he at? What does he want? He spoke of disunion in the Government, I think, or, at any rate, of the Government being the occasion of disunion. Where is there a more remarkable specimen of disunion than in the attitude of the Opposition about military matters? Lord Lovat on Thursday made a most significant interruption to the speech of the noble Marquess who leads the Opposition. He spoke in that interruption of the two sections into which the Unionist Party are divided and complained of the presence of Mr. Balfour on the special inquiry of the Defence Committee because it was not just to the other section of the Unionist Party. Good heavens, my Lords, are we to have, in addition to food taxes, controversy over the Budget, and the situation under the Parliament Act, a new controversy over Army policy? If so, Heaven help the country when the Opposition come into power.
When the noble Viscount makes an appeal to me to meet the Opposition on some footing I do not know what, and on some points that he did not define, I would ask him, What is the policy of the Opposition? It is perfectly true that a physician is not required to prescribe until he is actually called in, but that is not the situation here. The noble Viscount and those associated with him are attacking us and carrying the war as near as they can into our camp, and we are bound to see what is their line of strategy and to bring it to light and deal with it. I shall listen with great interest later on to the speech which we are expecting this evening from the noble Earl who sits there. His views we understand. He is frankly and openly for compulsory service as a remedy for the present state of things, but what is the position of the noble Viscount?
§ *VISCOUNT MIDLETON
My position is perfectly clear. The Secretary of State Says that we have failed in achievement. The noble and learned Viscount made it clear to the House that he considers that we have not failed. We ask him to admit that there is a failure in achievement, and to tell us what measures they propose to concert in order that the Forces law be brought up to the standard laid down by the noble and learned Viscount.
*THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The noble Viscount has left me no wiser than I was before. I had hoped to hear his views on the thesis advocated by the noble Earl who will speak later, but the noble Viscount will not tell us. I had an opportunity of reading a speech made by the noble Viscount in Surrey last January. It was delivered at a meeting of the National Service League, and he intimated that it was the first time that he had been at such a meeting. There was great rejoicing—more reducing over that one than over the ninety-nine already in the fold. He came almost into the fold. He put his head and shoulders in, but they could not get him wholly in. There was doubt and misgiving. I le was almost persuaded, and yet, in the words of the old hymn, "lost." The noble Viscount is in a difficult position. What does he ask us to do? Does he want us to go back to the condition of things in 1903? If he does, does anybody else want us to do that? What is the use of pouring out torrents of figures? I could follow every one of his figures on this occasion, but I wish to get to other and more important matters.
The noble Viscount told the House not ten minutes ago something which astonished me. He told us that when the Government came into office there were seventy-five battalions of the Line at home, and he told that by way of illustrating his proposition that we have weakened the situation in Home Defence. That was important, because the noble Marquess was under the same impression the other day that we had reduced the Home Establishments. I do not wonder that the noble Marquess was misled if an ex-Secretary for War told him that when we came into office there were seventy-five battalions at home. The Annual Report of the Army for 1906 gives the figures as they were immediately before the Government came into office. On October 1, 1905, there 182 were seventy-one battalions of the Line and not seventy-five at home. So far from reducing the home battalions I increased them. I was responsible for carrying the Cardwell system to its completion, which gave us seventy-four battalions at home and seventy-four abroad. That is three battalions more than existed before the Liberal Government came into office.
*THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Here is the official book and the noble Viscount can look for himself. If he is not content he can have a certificate from the War Office that on October 1, 1905, there were seventy-one battalions, and no more, at home.
*THE LORD CHANCELLOR
If the noble Viscount will make a notion for them he can have the official figures. Meanwhile there is the official book from which I have quoted. This is not the first time the noble Viscount has fallen into error with regard to figures. The other day lie gave us figures which he said represented the condition of things when we took office, and others to show that there had been reductions in establishment since we have been in power. Fortunately I listened attentively and I recognised that he spoke from an old Return which related to January 1, 1905. The figures of January 1, 1905, certainly showed a reduction, but the bulk of it was due to the operations of the late Government. The late Mr. Arnold-Forster did a great deal to bring out a clear conception of military organisation, and I have always felt grateful to him for the public spirit and the determination in which lie insisted on trying to bring things out of the chaos in which he found them. He insisted on getting rid of certain useless units and useless pieces of organisation which had existed for no purpose. In the last year in which he was in office in 1905—between January 1 and December 11 of that year, when I took office—he effected large reductions, some of which did not fully mature until some months after, but the bulk of which took effect in that 183 year. He got rid of garrison regiments; he got rid of the submarine mines contingents; and lie arranged for getting rid of a good deal more of garrison Artillery that had been condemned; the result being that there were reductions which came in the period from January 1 and December 11, 1905, but which the noble Viscount attributed to us. It would be better if the noble Viscount would put specific Questions on the Paper, so as to get specific answers, and we should then be sure where we stand.
Now I pass to the question before us. Two interrogatories have been put to us with great distinctness: "Are you satisfied with the state of things now, and, if not, what do you propose to do?" I will endeavour to answer with distinctness and plainness, but you must remember the distinction between the two things which are altogether distinct—namely, the plans which have been carried out, the establishments which have been laid down, and the actual deficiencies in figures which may, or may not, be temporary. The noble Viscount and other speakers have said that great changes have occurred which have increased the national peril. These great changes are matters which at present are under investigation by the Committee of Imperial Defence which I regret very much has been discussed as it has been in these debates. The deliberations of that Committee ought to be as secret as those of the Cabinet itself, or it will become shortly a useless body. All I will say now is that the Committee is investigating that question and it is bound to investigate it from time to time. No scheme can be so good that it does not require overhauling from time to time. I do not therefore propose to prejudge that question, or to throw any light upon the operations of the Committee of Imperial Defence. Only one thing will I say. Lord Midleton is under a misapprehension in thinking there are important meetings of that body over which the Prime Minister does not preside. There are, however, numerous sub-committees, and it was of these that the Secretary of State for War was speaking when he said that he had presided on fifteen occasions.
I turn to the question, "Is the scheme satisfactory?" The scheme took its origin out of a very simple and very important fact—that we are an island Power respon- 184 sible for a great Empire. The consequence is that we can carry out our duties by sea and by land only by means of a professional Navy and a professional Army, in which the men have to serve for a long period. They may be engaged in operations which extend over many years, and you cannot get men to serve in these Forces on any but a professional basis. That is where we are in a different position from Continental nations. The main part of the work of the British Army can be done only on the voluntary system. Perhaps in a quarter of a century after this, when the British Empire is more developed, it may be that some of the Dominions that arc growing so strong will be able to do more than look after themselves, and may be able to give us assistance in other parts of the Empire. They may be able to give us assistance even as regards India. As to that I do not know, but this I do know that, for a very long time to come we shall have to take care of India and the other parts of the world for which we are responsible. And so long as that is so, nothing except a voluntary service will enable us to maintain an Army and Navy circumstanced as we are which will be sufficient for the task. That is a root fact in our schemes of defence. It is a disadvantage to live in an island as well as an advantage, but the advantage comes in this way, that our peril from invasion, which is, after all what we are mainly here to consider to-day, is very much more easily grappled with than the peril of Continental Powers.
Various speakers have spoken of the public uneasiness about the possibility of invasion. Contrast our grounds for uneasiness with the grounds for uneasiness in the minds of those in the great countries on the Continent. Take Germany, for instance. She has Russia, with her tremendous military reserves, on the one side, and France, also with her highly-trained Army, on the other. If I were a German, notwithstanding the admirably organised Army which Germany has, I should feel I had a great deal more to trouble my head with than is the case living here. Moltke had this reproach made to him on one occasion. "You have drawn up a defence scheme against two Powers, but there may well come a third Power on the scene." "I leave that to Providence," replied Moltke, "I can help Germany against two Powers, but against three I cannot." Take the case of France, 185 too, with the magnificently organised German Army just over the frontier. If you wish to find uneasiness about invasion go to these Continental Powers with their land frontiers. But do not let us be unduly nervous. Do not let us belong to the Blue Water school which says there is no fear of invasion, or the "Blue Funk school" which lives daily in terror of it. For us the task has been one which has been fulfilled all through by relying on sea power. As soon as we let down our Navy, as soon as we get weak there, then I think we shall be in real terror. The policy of the Government has been to spend money lavishly in increasing the Navy, but the navies of foreign Powers are increasing very rapidly and it is impossible for us to stand as far ahead, relatively, as we have been. Still, we have to-day a Navy far more powerful than we have ever had in our history, and more powerful than the Navy of any other nation which we are likely to encounter.
The second principle of our defence, which has been left very much out of sight, is that what we have to do is to take such measures as will compel the enemy to attempt to invade us with such a force that it will be an easy task for the Navy to intercept him. That is no new principle. It was laid down by the late Government; it was laid down in admirable lucidity by the noble Marques himself in a debate to which I will refer in a moment. It is a principle which means, not that 70,000 men are likely to land on these shores, or even that they could land. We should not calculate on too thin a margin, but we ought to have such a force at home as would compel an enemy to send 70,000 men if he is to have any prospect of success. That raises a very different question from that of calculating the certainties or even the chances of a battle in which 70,000 men are engaged against 300,000 or 400,000 men. The foreign General Staff officer cannot afford to throw away so great a force as 70,000 men, and therefore he does not send them unless he thinks he has a fair chance of succeeding. Consequently he takes note of numbers, of organisation, of preponderance, which may make his task a hopeless one even though at first he has initial success. That was why Lord Roberts many years ago, even with Ike disorganised and chaotic Volunteer Force of those days, said that 70,000 was the least number with which a foreign General would attempt the task. Speaking 186 at Leeds on Saturday Lord Roberts said he had, been misinterpreted in regard to that, but I do not think he has been. He went on to say that he might just as well have said 700,000 or three times 70,000 but I do not think so, because then he would have got on to the naval problem.
§ *LORD AMPTHILL
I happened to be present at the meeting to which the Lord Chancellor is referring, and perhaps I may be allowed to state what Lord Roberta said. He said that if he had known what use would be made of that minimum of 70,000—and he explained very clearly that it was as a minimum that he gave it—he would have said 700,000.
*THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I am glad of that interruption, for it has made clearer to my mind what was the meaning of Lord Roberts's remark. The question whether 700,000 can come over, or 210,000, is a naval question. What I complain of is that those who take part in these discussions will not distinguish between what is a military problem and what is a naval problem. I hope I have made it quite clear that the task, and the only task, of the military authorities here is to make sure that there is such a force at home as will make a foreign General Staff officer send 70,000 men. If he sends that number of men then there is a target for the Navy. The question is whether the military dispositions which were made would compel an invader to come with 70,000 men. It has been roundly alleged that the Territorial Force was only put together for the purpose of resisting two raids of 5,000 each. Lord Lovat said so, and others have said so in the newspapers and elsewhere. That is a complete misapprehension.
I will tell your Lordships how the numbers of the Territorial Force and the Expeditionary Force came to be calculated. The six divisions, the 160,000 men, of the Expeditionary Force owe their origin to no calculation of what sort of Army we should require on the Continent or in any other particular place. We have carried out the Cardwell system and that system gave us seventy-four battalions for home defence, but which also could be sent abroad if it was safe and prudent to do so. We had the numbers there and we organised them, and so it was with the Territorial Force. We looked about to see, not how little we could get in the way of numbers, but how much, and we found, or thought we found—and I still think we 187 calculated rightly—that we could get over 300,000. It is a sheer fallacy to say that we organised the Territorial Force simply against raids. The prospect of invasion by 70,000 men is not a new factor. It is true that Mr. Balfour used an expression in 1905 which seemed to convey that he thought the business of looking after 70,000 or any other number of invaders was purely a naval question. But Mr. Balfour afterwards made it perfectly clear that he had not meant that. Lord Lovat cited a speech of mine which might have appeared, from the only passage he took, to give sonic countenance to the notion that I took that view; but if Lord Lovat had read more of that speech he would have found exactly the contrary to be true. It was a speech I made more than a year before the Territorial Force came into existence. I made no reference to the number of 70,000, it is true, but I did make a reference to invasion, and I expressed the hope that Mr. Balfour would make it plain that he had been misunderstood in regard to thinking that invasion was not a thing which we ought to take precautions against. Mr. Balfour three days afterwards intervened in a debate and accepted the suggestion. He said he had been misunderstood, and that he had always adhered to the 70,000 figure. Oddly enough, some days before that debate the noble Marquess himself had here laid down the 70,000 standard with precision. I only mention that to show that more than a year before the Territorial Force came into existence, in the early spring of 1907, we had that standard in existence; and although it is true that in the two years which intervened before the correction was made the General Staff had organised only on the basis of two raids, that was an error which I myself corrected, and the whole of the defence schemes in connection with the Territorial Force have been prepared with the object of forcing an enemy to come with not less than 70,000 men.
What were the materials which in the scheme we proposed to use to compel the 70,000 men to come? There was first the Territorial Force. I put it myself at a quarter of a million, but we hoped that later we should get 300,000. Next there was the Special Reserve, of which the noble Viscount spoke lightly, and which he described as in a state of chaos. We have never been able to get him to understand the purposes for which the Special Reserve was designed. On mobilisation 188 the Third Battalions, to which the seventy-four battalions of the Special Reserve belong, mobilise with surplus reservists, with men who have not attained the age of twenty, and with the Special Reserve itself up to a strength which gives large battalions of over 1,000. Then there were certain Regular troops, including Garrison Artillery and Royal Engineers, as well as Infantry and other Artillery. To-day the Territorial Force is deficient in strength. But there is a new element which compensates for this. In the National Reserve there are over 100,000 men comparatively young and highly trained. I have not the least doubt that these can be reckoned on for a great emergency. Take the Territorial Force at 300,000 and the Special Reserve at 100,000, and add to them such Regulars as are at home, some 20,000 or 30,000—besides that there are, as I have said, a certain number of Garrison Artillery and Engineers, and so on. In other words, there would be a total Force of between 400,000 and 500,000 men. That might seem to be a Force which contained a considerable number of untrained members. Over that, again, there has been great misconception.
In February, 1907, I used the expression "six months training on mobilisation," for the reason that when the Territorial Force goes into training it goes into training in its units and at its war strength, and my idea always was that on mobilisation it should remain in training until, if there was no invasion and no further peril, the men might be dismissed to their homes after six months, with the consciousness that they had been fairly satisfactorily trained and that they could come out ready at a moment's notice. I never suggested that the Territorial Force would not fight and were worth nothing beforehand. After all, they are intelligent men, and though their training is slight they would harden quickly. I can only go on the opinions given to me by a large number of Regular officers who have been responsible for their training—namely, that from the first day they would do something and would improve every week. When you are considering what is in the mind of a foreign Staff officer in fixing the numbers with which he would come to these shores, I do not think you would find him projecting to come with less than 70,000 men in the face of 400,000 troops such as the Territorial Force would produce.
189 It is said that the Territorial Force is short in its numbers by 16 per cent., and I very much regret the shortage. The noble Viscount was quite right when he said that the attitude of many prominent members of the Opposition was admirable. Men like Lord Derby, Lord Dartmouth, Lord Fortescue, and others worked with all their strength to make the plan a success, and they did make it, very nearly a success so far as numbers were concerned. The numbers were going up and up, and there was no reason why they should not go up. I was talking only the other day to a very distinguished man, who said to me this, which I believe to be profoundly true, "If you could get the same unanimity among the people on this matter as you have in the case of the Boy Scouts, you would have the Territorial Force overflowing." That is so. There has been a stream of discouraging criticism poured upon the Force by the exponents of the doctrine of compulsory service. To realise what that effect is you must consider what is the character of the Territorial Force. It is a Force recruited from classes and provided with officers who are peculiarly sensitive to anything like ridicule or criticism. It is a volunteer Force and such a Force always wants a great deal of encouragement, particularly officers. When they are told that they are a sham, that they have no training, that they are useless, and that they would go down like grass before the enemy—we are familiar with all these things—do you imagine that these things being said have no effect? They have a deadly effect upon the Territorial. Force, and responsibility for the shortage in numbers—I say it deliberately and advisedly—rests with those who, instead of co-operating and assisting in making it a success, put difficulties and discouragement in the way. There are many prominent members of the Unionist Party who have done noble work and have applied themselves with energy to this task, but there are others who have done nothing but throw doubts, difficulties, and discouragement in the way. That is the real reason, in my opinion, why the Territorial Force is short in numbers, and if you wish to get rid of that shortage you will stop that stream of discouragement. But I am afraid you cannot do that. You cannot control it, you cannot make people take one unbroken line upon military policy, and therefore we have to turn to other things. 190 I agree with Lord Roberts that it is far more a question of patriotism than of money. You can do something with money; you can help to provide good ranges—that has been done as rapidly as possible—you can improve drill halls; you can make the social side for officers and men more comfortable.
Then there is extra training, and I know a good deal about that. With a volunteer army you can only carry your training to a certain point, and while I am in favour of giving money freely for training, and the War Office are doing that at, this moment, I maintain that there is a point beyond which training cannot be absorbed. The noble Marquess spoke of another thing with which I aril very much in sympathy. He spoke of a certain amount of training that should be giver in schools, and I have often said, and now say, that no system of national education can be a complete system which does not include physical as well as mental and moral training. I know of no form of physical training better than that given to the Boy Scouts, leading up to the training of cadets, and, I should think quite naturally to the Territorial Force. But in the school system you must be careful to avoid the controversy that arises upon the subject of militarism. I should be very much against having training miller the control of the War Office. I should like to see it part of school training, and as far as possible on the lines which General Baden-Powell has organised with such success for his Boy Scouts. I agree with the noble Marquess that the training would facilitate the subsequent training of the soldier, and that therefore it is a matter to which we ought seriously to address our minds.
The long and short of it is that the question of numbers does not present to my mind insuperable difficulties, nor do I find evidence to justify that nervousness which seems to be widely spread. Another element goes to make up for a great deal of the shortage. It has been the custom to say, "It is quite true you have large reserves when you have 100,000 highly trained old soldiers, but they cannot be counted upon for every purpose." But why? Do noble Lords imagine that in a time of great national emergency these men will not come forward to serve for their country's defence, as they have served 191 before? They will come forward and make up for deficiencies in the Territorial Force. These men, fresh from the Army with long and high military training, will be the best element to rely upon in emergency. The deficiency in the numbers of the Territorial Force, in my opinion, will be more than made up by the numerous reserves we have
There are two questions which, as I said at the beginning, are quite different. We have to consider whether the scheme is sufficient, and then there is the question of numbers. Upon the points put, I think I have answered. I have said that in our opinion they are sufficient, and that we have no cause for nervousness comparable to the nervousness of those who live in Continental countries. It is quite true that you can never feel perfectly at ease in regard to military or naval matters. You never know what combinations there may be; you can only provide against probabilities, otherwise you make sure of one thing only, and that is that the nation would go into bankruptcy. You cannot keep up a great Navy and a great Army as well. The noble Marquess wisely said that in his speech on Thursday, and I think if we could get at the back of the minds of those who are criticising us we should find that they desire that we should take part in great enterprises on the Continent for which we are not fitted. It may be necessary to send the Expeditionary Force abroad—to the Continent or elsewhere. On the Committee of Imperial Defence I take the attitude of a judge, not of an advocate; it is a question I decline to prejudge. It is our business to keep it ready and in such a condition that it can be used as a powerful weapon without delay. I believe it is in good condition at the present moment and capable of rapid mobilisation. It is quite true that we may be hampered in the use of it by shortage in the Territorial Force; that is a question to consider if the occasion, which God forbid, should arise. It may be that we shall be able to send it all out of the country, but it may be that we shall think it expedient to keep one Division or two Divisions at home. I do not know. All I do say is that the only result of the agitation that is going on, even if it destroys the Territorial Force, would be not to put the nation in any peril, but to hamper it in the use of its Expeditionary Force and compel it to keep part at least of that Force at home.
192 As to compulsory service I believe it to be wholly impracticable. No one of its advocates agrees with the other; they all want something different. And, so far from costing £4,000,000, a most careful estimate has brought it up to between £8,000,000 and £9,000,000, and I notice that in his speech Lord Roberts said the recruits should be well lodged. That, of course, means barracks, and would bring the cost up to I know not what. I think I have answered the points that have been raised. What I have to say in conclusion is that there is only one way, and that is, having got the first principles of national defence which we inherited from the late Administration, we should make up our minds on both sides whether we intend to stick to them or not, and if we believe in them, as I think the noble Marquess believes in them, and if we do so intend, then we must be consistent. Let us rule out the aspirations of those who want a Continental Army and of those who want to supersede naval by military protection. The only key to comfort in the future, and the only solution of our problem, is that we should know our minds. That is why I appeal to noble Lords on the other side of the House to realise the gravity and seriousness of the situation. Look where they are drifting. If an election came and the Party opposite were returned, what would be their policy? There would be a powerful section insisting upon compulsory service, and there would be a section, equally important, insisting that there should not be compulsory service. Where would the leaders be? What would be their position? Their position would be a miserable one, and the military organisation of the country would suffer. Therefore if there is one remedy more than another which is to be sought for in the situation in which we are it is that we should, by discussion and by taking counsel together, at least come out with some clear view, if not of detail, of those first principles upon which national defence must be based.
§ THE EARL OF DENBIGH
My Lords, we have listened to an interesting speech from the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, but I am afraid we must class it as one of those streams of comfortable optimism which we have heard so frequently in the past, and which do not carry us very much further. I do not see that we are very much the wiser after 193 listening to the noble and learned Viscount. The main fact that we want to call attention to at the present moment is that there is very great dissatisfaction in the country with the present composition and training of the Territorial Force. We are constantly told that any sort of criticism of that Force is necessarily a discouragement, and the noble and learned Viscount has repeated to-day what we have seen so often in the Press of late—that the paucity of numbers in the Territorial Force is to be wholly ascribed to the criticisms which have been made by those who are in every way competent to judge. It is all very well for the noble and learned Viscount to be as optimistic as he is, but I am afraid the greater portion of the country will preter the opinions of the responsible officers who really know what modern war is and what training is required of modern troops in making them safe anti reliable in battle.
There are many reasons which can be put forward for the paucity of numbers, and I respectfully suggest that one of them is the conviction that is growing more and more upon those who are serving in the Territorial Force that they are simply sacrificing themselves for the benefit of others who ought to take their share of the duty. That feeling is growing more and more throughout the country. When the Territorial Force was formed there was plenty of patriotic enthusiasm and men came forward, but as they have, looked into the question they have considered what their own position is. I know for a fact that the Territorials are greatly dissatisfied at seeing so many other men simply standing out and enjoying themselves when they ought to come forward and take their share in the heat and burden of the day. That is one reason for the paucity of numbers. Another is that there is too much of an attempt to run the Territorial Force on the cheap. If you want to increase the numbers and to avoid any change in system for the purpose of making the Territorial Force stronger than it is, you have only two alternatives before you—either to try and increase the numbers by the voluntary system, in which case you will have to spend a much larger sum than at present, or else be prepared to fall back upon some system of compulsion sooner than leave the country defenceless.
I should like to say a few words on the question of the Territorial Artillery, because 194 I happen to be the only member of your Lordships' House who has had any considerable experience of Territorial Field and Horse Artillery. I have for the past twenty years had under my command two batteries which I have seen changed from two absolutely useless units to two Very serviceable units at the present clay, and I think I know what Territorial men can do and what they cannot do. I remember that at the time the noble and learned Viscount was forming the Territorial Force I ventured to point out in your Lordships' House the great difficulty there would be in handling the enormous force of Territorial Horse Artillery that was then being created, and I am afraid most of the dismal prophecies which were uttered, not only by me but by practical officers of Artillery all over the country have been gradually proving themselves to be true. There is no doubt whatever about it, that although you may have a certain number of batteries that are good, there are a considerable number of others that are hopelessly bad. There is the very great difficulty in regard to officers. There is a great shortness of range accommodation, and consequently it is impossible to carry out practice in the way it ought to be carried out. Speaking for my own corps and from my own experience, I can say that we have only been able to have satisfactory gun practice in one year out of the four that have elapsed since the formation of the Territorial Force. On every other occasion, owing to the congestion of batteries on the ranges, the practice has been hurried into one day, and perhaps it has been only possible to get off half the number of rounds that were allotted. Altogether the whole conduct of the practice has been most unsatisfactory, and it has been impossible to give the men the instruction which was demanded. I am perfectly certain of this, that you have far too much Territorial Artillery in the country at the present moment, in spite of the determination of the authorities when they formed the Force to build up the Territorial Force with its quota of Artillery on much the same proportion as existed for the Regular Army. I am certain that it would be greatly to the advantages of the Territorial Force if you reduced the number of batteries, and especially if you began by reducing the strength of the Field Artillery brigades from three batteries to two. I put that forward as a practical suggestion to His Majesty's Government, 195 and one which I have heard discussed and approved of by many officers who are responsible for the training of the Territorial Artillery.
There is another matter. The question of adjutants has become a serious one. The whole conditions under which adjutants of the Territorial Artillery are serving at the present moment are so unsatisfactory that very few officers have got their names down and have applied for these adjutancies, and it is becoming more and more difficult to get adjutants for the Territorial batteries. It is perfectly impossible to get proper results from any Territorial Force unless you are properly backed up by competent Regular officers as adjutants. Therefore I seriously hope that that matter will be taken note of and remedied before long. I can give another instance of the inadequacy of the Territorial Artillery at the present moment, and that is with regard to the question of artificers. Mounted corps without proper artificers are absolutely useless in the field. They cannot move if the horses are not properly shod. You must have your saddlers to execute repairs, and the artificers of a corps like mounted Artillery are an absolute necessity. I would like your Lordships to take note of this fact, that in one of the Territorial divisions of London at the present moment there are 7 farriers deficient out of a total strength of 15; 54 shoe smiths deficient out of a total strength of 61; 24 saddlers deficient out of a total strength of 25; and 21 wheelers deficient out of a total strength of 37. That is the state of affairs in one division, and I believe the other division is not very much better. In fact, the corps which I have the honour to command is the only one which is full up with regard to its artificers. That is an unsatisfactory matter, and it is one of the results of trying to run the Territorial Force on the cheap. You cannot get blacksmiths and others to come out with the Territorial Force and follow their trade in camp at a totally inadequate remuneration. It is no holiday and no change for a man who is doing blacksmiths' work all the year round to go out into camp and shoe horses. It is no change and no attraction to a man who follows the saddlers' trade in private life to go out into camp and carry on the same trade there. If you want them to do that you must pay them properly. You will not pay them, and therefore you cannot get 196 the men. The result is that efficiency is absolutely spoilt.
Then the arrangements for getting non-commissioned officers are also very unsatisfactory. At the present moment we are only able to get junior non-commissioned officers, and they are supposed to be changed every two years. It has worked out very badly, I believe simply and solely-because the War Office will not go to the extra expense of the sergeant-majors we used to get before. You choose the present moment, while you are insisting on maintaining this large force of Territorial Artillery the ranks of which you cannot fill and which you cannot train properly, to reduce several highly-trained batteries of the Regular Artillery; and the country, by a curious jugglery of figures, is once more treated to the statement that the reduction of Artillery is really making for further efficiency. There is no getting away from the fact that the situation as regards the defence of the country is steadily getting worse, and everybody knows it. The question is whether it is not more honest for those who know it to get up and say so and run the risk of offending some members of the Territorial Force, than go on humbugging the country and letting them believe that they have something which they have not got.
A vast amount of nonsense is talked about this question of discouraging the Territorials. As far as my experience goes, none are more outspoken on the subject than the Territorials themselves. I happen to be a member of the City of London Territorial Association, where we have as good and enthusiastic a body of Territorial officers as you may wish to see. I would like the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack to attend a meeting and hear what is said by Territorial officers with regard to the present conduct of affairs by His Majesty's Government. Although at the time when the Territorial Force was formed there were many criticisms with regard to the proposal, and perhaps there were some dismal prophecies with regard to the possibility of getting efficiency under the conditions which were laid down, I think the noble and learned Viscount—in fact, he has clone so—will agree that everybody concerned set to work loyally to do their best. We have all of us done our best, and we shall continue to do so. But what, I say is that it is no use disguising facts and making believe that things are not what, they are.
197 The unsatisfactory part of the present situation is that the moment anybody suggests anything in the way of the necessity for adopting some forma of compulsion the matter is immediately taken up and made into a Party cry by the noble and learned Viscount's friends in the Government and in his Party. The moment we speak of anything connected with compulsion, there is immediately a cry about the desire to rush the country into Conscription. As an example, here is a speech that was made by that great military authority Mr. Percy Illingworth, the Chief Whip of the Liberal Party, who went down to Lancashire not so very long ago and stated on his authority that the Territorial Force when given fair play—I do not know what he meant by that, but I suppose that he meant that it was being half starved at the present moment—was "excellently fitted to cope with the task which was allotted to it." Well, of course, if Mr. Percy Illingworth makes a statement like that we are bound to believe it, no matter what responsible Generals and soldiers may say to the contrary. Mr. Illingworth proceeded to say—The attempt to stampede the country into Conscription crime against mankind, and would be resisted by every force at the disposal of the Liberal Party: ant as lorry as the Tory Party sought to lure their countrymen to follow them into the deserts of Protection and Conscription, so long would they remain political outcasts in tin in native land.These observations were received with "loud and prolonged cheers." What does that mean? It means that the Chief Whip of the Liberal Party goes down to the country and announces the intention of his Party to make Party capital out, of this question to the utmost extent.
And whilst Lord Roberts—and all honour to him for the work he is doing—whilst that noble and gallant Field-Marshal is rousing the country and trying to do something to bring out the best instincts of his fellow-countrymen, Mr. Percy Illingworth is committing the Liberal Party to oppose any and every sort of compulsion; and he calls to his aid, to the support of the Liberal Party, all the slackers and the funkers and the loafers and the wasters of the country—all the men who, if asked to come and join the Territorial Force, flatly refuse to do so as long as they can get 198 somebody else to do it for them. You ask a man to join the Territorial Force; you ask him to give up two nights a week of his time; you ask him to give up many Saturday afternoons; you ask him to give up his summer holiday, probably the only holiday he gets in the year, for the purpose of going out into camp; and you also give him the inestimable privilege of paying his own fares to headquarters for the purposes of drill. You ask the loafers and the slackers of the country to join a Force of that description. Not they. They stay at home and enjoy themselves, and very likely profit considerably in their own pockets while the members of the Territorial Force are away. There is, unfortunately, a very large class in the country who cheer speeches such as those made by Mr. Percy Illingworth—men who go to the music halls and sing "Rule Britannia" and patriotic songs, and then go home and cheer the Party who does not want to put any compulsion upon them to come out and serve their country. I must say I think this action on the part of the chiefs of the Liberal Party is one of the most disappointing features of the whole movement at the present time. It is, moreover, rather contemptible. I think the action of the Liberal Central Office the other day in the Kendal Election was playing it about as low as they very well could. They put up posters denoting the evils of Conscription—posters showing the tearing away of sons from their homes, and all the rest of it.
I cannot help thinking that some members of the Party opposite are getting a little bit ashamed. At all events I noticed at the close of the speech which Lord Herschell delivered to your Lordships on Thursday last one sentence as to which I should like to ask the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack a question. Lord Herschell wound up his speech with these words—When the deliberations were concluded he could assure the House that His Majesty's Government would not shrink from taking any steps that might be necessary to secure national safety.I should like to ask the noble and learned Viscount whether that includes the possible adoption of some system of compulsion supposing all attempts to get a satisfactory Territorial Force on the voluntary system should fail.
*THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I have no doubt that if the country were in real peril there would be an adequate response to any appeal that would be made by the Government.
§ THE EARL OF DENBIGH
When that moment comes, my Lords, it will probably be too late. You cannot improvise an Army on the spur of the moment when you are in imminent peril. It is, however, satisfactory to have that admission from the noble and learned Viscount. But if at the back of their minds the Government include in this admission by Lord Herschell the possibility that should all voluntary means fail it may be necessary to fall back on compulsion, would it not be advisable to drop this campaign of opposition at the present moment? Would it not be advisable to instruct the Chief Whip of the Liberal Party to cease going about the country saying that, come what may, the Liberal Party is going to oppose all form of compulsion. I think that if the leaders of the Party opposite would have the honesty to come out into the open and tell the country that they do not regard the present position of affairs as entirely satisfactory, that they would do what they could to have a satisfactory Territorial Force upon a voluntary basis, but that, if that failed, it might be necessary to fall back on some form of compulsion, then at all events we should know where we are, and I think that such a proceeding would be more in consonance with the dignity and with the patriotism of the Liberal Party.
§ *EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
My Lords, I listened, as we always do, with respect to the speech of the Lord Chancellor. It was a very interesting, a very copious, a very full speech. I hope he will not think me rude if I say that a good deal of the speech seemed to me to be quite irrelevant to the issues which we on this side of the House have endeavoured to place before your Lordships. Some portions of it also, to which I shall refer later on, were marked by a lack of generosity towards the views and attitude of his political opponents which we very rarely, I am glad to say, meet with from the Lord Chancellor. But the most conspicuous feature of the speech, in my judgment, was that it said nothing—not one sentence or one phrase—to relieve the anxiety which is genuinely felt, not only 200 by noble Lords in your Lordships' House, but by public opinion at large in the country. My Lords, do you imagine that in both Houses of Parliament we should have these constant debates upon military matters simply to please ourselves or to embarrass the Government, or to extract any Party advantage? No such idea has been at any time in the minds of any one of us, and I think the noble and learned Viscount will himself admit that our speeches, our questions, our challenge, have been almost invariably characterised by extreme sobriety and moderation. But, my Lords, they reflect an anxiety from which you cannot get away.
The anxiety which is felt rests in the main upon two considerations—firstly upon the knowledge, open to every elector in this country who reads his newspapers, that a steady and an immense increase of naval and military forces is going on upon the Continent in the case of nations who may very likely be rivals to ourselves, and, secondly, that alongside of that great increase there is a corresponding diminution and dwindling in the margin of safety on which we can rely. That is the first factor upon which this anxiety rests. Then I confess that I do think the anxiety has been very largely enhanced by the attitude and by the statements of Ministers themselves. There was the debate of February 10, to which allusion has frequently been made. My noble friend Lord Midleton was well within the mark when he said to your Lordships that on that occasion no attempt whatever was made to reply to the exceedingly moderate and powerful statement of the case that he placed before your Lordships. Much the same thing has happened on the various occasions when this matter has been debated in the House of Commons. Ministers contradict each other. They even at short intervals of time contradict themselves. The result is, as I think a noble Lord remarked, that the public mind is obscured with a fog as great as that which seems to shroud the minds of Ministers themselves. The noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack put the question very plainly to us, What are you at? and he asked us to define the position that we take up. I may add that in his speech he began by saying that he would answer our challenge, and then waltzed away from it with an elegance of which he alone is capable. I will 201 endeavour to escape a similar charge. I will endeavour to tell the noble and learned Viscount quite plainly what we, rightly or wrongly, are at this evening.
As I understand, the major premiss of our argument is this. The noble and learned Viscount talked to us about the origin of the Expeditionary Force of 160,000 men. I will not enter into that, or into the question of numbers. The point of interest to us arises in the ease in which that Expeditionary Force might have to leave the country. It seems beside the point to argue, as the noble Marquess the Leader of the House did on Thursday night, that the Expeditionary Force ought to be regarded as a part of the Regular Army which can only be sent abroad in exceptional circumstances. It is beside the point, too, to say that the number is an arbitrary number. It is your own number. You cannot go away from it. It seems to me equally irrelevant to argue, as the noble and learned Viscount did on a previous occasion, that each case of the despatch of the Expeditionary Force must be decided as the circumstances necessitate. Of course, that is true; it is a platitude. All these considerations seem to me to bean attempt to elude and obscure and evade the main point. The main point is that the Expeditionary Force may have to go.
Again I am not going to be tempted to discuss the question on what grounds or for what object the Expeditionary Force might have to go. The summons might come in response to a call from our Continental allies, or it might be for the defence of the Empire. One need not be an advocate of a policy of Continental adventure to realise that a situation may well occur—indeed, it is believed to have occurred at no very distant date—in which our obligations of good faith to our Continental friends might call upon us to place this Force on the Continent of Europe. Again, it might very well be that our own Treaty obligations would require us to land that Force in Europe for the protection of the Belgian frontier. Then there is the Imperial call. When the noble and learned Viscount talks about our insular position and the necessity of naval defence and so on, it seems to me that he and those who work with him forget the fact that, although the core of the Empire is an island, the Empire itself is very far from having an insular 202 position. I believe that the land frontiers of the Empire amount to something like 20,000 miles, by far the longest land frontiers in the world. How obvious it is, then, that at any moment the Expeditionary Force might be called to India, Egypt, South Africa or elsewhere, to defend the land frontiers under our charge.
The first limb of our argument therefore is that the Expeditionary Force may have to go at the commencement of hostilities. That was wrung from the Secretary for War in the other House, and has not been denied by anything said by the Lord Chancellor. Suppose that it has gone. We have then to consider the possibility of an attack by an enemy. I will not weary the House by discussing whether that attack should be called an invasion or a raid. I will not follow the Secretary of State for War in the latest gloss he put a few clays ago on this hypothesis, the suggestion, namely, that the raid is to take the form of a force coming without cavalry and artillery at wide intervals of space and time and divided up into driblets scattered over the country which we should encounter and devour piecemeal. I do not think that any enemy will be so accommodating as to oblige us in that manner. I prefer to regard the possibility of invasion from the old and familiar standpoint placed before us by the Prime Minister when he said—The business of the War Office is to see that we have under all circumstances a property organised and properly equipped force capable of dealing effectively with a possible invasion of 70,000.There is no talk whatever in that phrase of sporadic raids, she totals of which added together might amount to 70,000. The Prime Minister is a master of lucid phraseology—no greater has ever been known in this country—and no man who heard the Prime Minister could doubt that what he was speaking of was a concentrated invading force of 70,000 men. You may, if you hold the views of the noble and learned Viscount, say that the Fleet would render this unlikely, but at any rate it is possible, and apparently Lord Roberts thinks that the numbers who might come would not be 70,000, but twice, or even three times, that number.
Now we come to the third limb of the argument. Given the absence of the Expeditionary Force and the appearance 203 of 70,000 men on our shores, what have we to meet them with? That is the whole gist of the case. If I am wrong I hope any soldier will put me right. My impression is that we should then find in this country a few thousand Regulars, portions of the Army Reserve and the Special Reserve, and the Territorial Force. But remember that you would have to deduct the men who are absent., the boys under nineteen years of age, the recruits just joined, the noncombatants, and those—and we know their numbers—who have not passed the musketry test. On the highest calculation the number that would then be left is 175,000 and on the lowest 140,000. With this force you would have to make good the wastage of the Expeditionary Force which will begin on the very day that it lands in a foreign country, to man your garrisons at home, to defend the country and to repel the invading army. This means that in the last resort the defence of the country would devolve on the relatively efficient portion of the Territorial Army. The question we put is, Can they do it with their present position, numbers, and training? I am not a soldier, but according to the calculation of many responsible military men we shall require for the purposes I have described in this country not less than 500,000 men to garrison the forts, hold Ireland, act as a mobile force moving to different parts of the country, and, lastly, to meet an invader. Can the 150,000 to which our force is reduced do the work of 500,000? We often hear of the difficulty of putting a quart measure into a pint pot, but here you are expecting a pint measure to fill the place and do the work of a gallon.
What is the reply of the Government to this question? I think I must distinguish between the two occasions upon which they have replied to it. The first was in the debate of February 10; the second is in the debate which is now proceeding. On the previous occasion Lord Haldane told us, and he as good as repeated it this evening, that it really did not very much matter if the Territorial Army had fallen to 250,000 men, because if there was a great exodus this year there would be fewer to go next year—a calculation no doubt true but not profoundly consoling. He even contemplated that the Force might fall to 230,000, and said that if it did he would not be alarmed so long as the general public continued its interest in the Territorial Force and so long as the 204 old exertions are maintained. I venture to say that so far as the public interest is concerned, of which there are no superabundant symptoms, and so far as the old exertions to which the noble and learned Viscount refers, and which have up to now resulted in failure, are concerned, they are a very poor substitute for the men, which is what we really require. On the previous occasion the noble and learned Viscount also consoled us by the consideration that although the Territorial Army is wanting in men and in officers they are well supplied with uniforms, equipment, horses, and wagons. I very much doubt whether that is a full or correct statement of the case, but again I say it affords a very inadequate consolation for the absence of men. Now I come to the present debate. On the present occasion I think the Government have advanced somewhat from their previous position. The Secretary of State has admitted in the House of Commons that the Government have failed in achievement, with special reference to the Territorial Force. Lord Crewe said the other night that the shortage of 50,000 men was a grave matter, although in his opinion it did not endanger the safety of the country or call for heroic measures. Then he made use of this phrase. He said that this was not the moment nor was he the person who ought to venture to discuss the methods by which this position of grave anxiety might be met. With all submission I disagree with the noble Marquess. This House is the place, the present debate is the time, and the Leader of the House is emphatically the man who ought to have taken us into the confidence of the Government upon this matter. All that Lord Crewe told us the other evening was that the Government might possibly consider increased expenditure on the Territorial Army and some means of adding to the attractiveness of the Force. I do not think we can expect much from expenditure, because half-an-hour later Lord Herschell, who represents the War Office in this House, said quite clearly that the Government considered that any largely increased expenditure for home defence purposes would be a disastrous policy. Why it should be a policy of disaster to spend money to deal with a situation which your Leader has confessed to be one of grave anxiety I am at a loss to understand.
Then we come to the noble and learned Viscount this evening. Firstly, he spoke 205 with that air of invincible optimism which always characterises his allusions to his unhappy offspring, when he said that although the shortage was there it did not cause him much alarm. Then he said he would answer the question, "Are you, the Government, satisfied with your plans, and with the present position?" When the noble and learned Viscount said he would answer that question, I braced myself for the ordeal of at last learning what was in the minds of His Majesty's Government. What did his answer amount to? The noble and learned Viscount then went on to say, "I must not prejudge the case; nor am I in a position to throw any light upon it. The matter at issue is under the investigation of the Sub-Committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence"; and then he proceeded to point out how eminent these gentlemen were and how monstrous a thing it was that their names or identity or opinions should be dragged into discussion in your Lordships' House. From that he sheered off into his familiar statement of the case about our insular and naval position, and so on. I venture respectfully to submit to your Lordships that I am stating no more than the truth when I say that after listening for three-quarters of an hour to a brilliant flow from the greatest master of copious irrelevance who has ever spoken in this House there is not one of your Lordships who is any wiser as to what are the real plans and intentions of the Government for meeting the present situation.
In the whole of this long discussion there has been but one concrete suggestion from the Government side, and we owe that to Lord Herschell in the earlier debate to which I referred, on February 10, and its fate since has been of a character that really throws much light on the resolution and sincerity of His Majesty's advisers—I mean the suggestion that something might be done by instituting compulsory physical training in our primary or continuation schools. When Lord Herschell made that suggestion we on this side of the House thought that at last we had got something tangible, and that in all probability this meant an idea which at any rate was assuming shape, even if it had not matured, in the minds of the Government. My noble friend Lord Lansdowne at once took it up, and he asked Lord Herschell what he meant, and we got the disquieting reply that "No plan was under consideration." 206 My noble friend again raised the matter last Thursday and again promised his personal support and the support of those with whom he acts, and said "What are the Government going to do?" The Lord Chancellor has once again expressed Platonic sympathy with this excellent form of training, but he attaches the extraordinary proviso that it should be conducted by educational officers, apparently appointed by the Education Department of the Government. Is not that a sham distinction? If you are going to put your boys in schools and train them to perfectly healthy physique and give them compulsory physical training, surely you ought to get the most efficient instructors. I am sure the parents and the boys would prefer to have the training by military instructors rather than by their ordinary schoolmasters. If the Government are going to introduce compulsory training in schools I ask them not to be alarmed by the outcry they evidently expect from their Radical followers that they are introducing a tinge of militarism or jingoism in schools. That is all we have got from the expressions of sympathy with the suggestion from the noble and learned Viscount and his colleagues.
Now, my Lords, I come, and I come with reluctance, to another part of the speech of the noble and learned Viscount. Following Lord Crewe the other night, but in much stronger language and I think with much less justification, the Lord Chancellor directed against noble Lords sitting on this side of the House, and the National Service League, of which I am a vice-president, the charge of having brought a stream of destructive criticism against the Territorial Army which was the real source of the depletion of its numbers. My reply is this. If the Territorial Army has attained a certain measure of success it is due to the political opponents of the Lord Chancellor. What assistance has he had from his own friends in the matter? While the county magnates, who have been so freely denounced, have spent, as he himself acknowledged, their time and labour in advancing his plan, trade unionists throughout the country have been passing resolutions against the Territorial Army, and the Labour Members have been denouncing it. The Radical Party in the House of Commons would not even allow the noble and learned Viscount when Secretary of State in the other House to introduce cadet training.
*THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The noble Earl is really under a misapprehension. The House of Commons passed the Territorial Bill, with the one quite trifling exception which has been alluded to, in the most free and satisfactory fashion, and it left upon the minds of a great many people the impression that it was only from a Radical Government that von could get any measure of the kind through.
§ *EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
My charge is not against the House of Commons, but against the Trade Unions and the Labour Party, and if the noble and learned Viscount challenges me on that point I can give him references without number to establish my case. The noble and learned Viscount now turns round and accuses the members of the National Service League of having depleted and disparaged his Territorial Army. I deny that in toto. I have been about on the platform of the National Service League with Lord Roberts and others and have never heard any ungenerosity or unfairness of criticism. Perhaps the best proof of the attitude of the National Service League towards the Territorial Army is that on no occasion have I been present at a meeting when the resolutions were not spoken to by officers of the Territorial Army itself, appearing on our platform and supporting our cause. I venture to say this is a most unfair and ungenerous charge. What does the noble and learned Viscount want us to do? If we say, "All is well with the Territorial Army," when we know it is not well, we shall be joining the Government in a conspiracy of silence and deception. If, on the other hand, we say in plain language what every soldier and every member of the Government knows to be the truth, then we are accused of crabbing the Territorial Army, and rendering its position untenable in the country. Because his scheme has broken down, the noble and learned Viscount tries to throw the blame upon every one else and says, "It is you who have brought it to the ground." I must ask the pardon of the House if I show what I think a pardonable and legitimate I[...] itation at a charge for which there is so little foundation.
What do the facts show? There is this shortage in numbers which nobody can explain away. There is the fear which was expressed by the noble Viscount (Lord Midleton) who sits on my right, and for which I think there is genuine foundation, that His Majesty's Govern- 208 ment, as they cannot get the men to satisfy their standards, are going to revise their standards in order to accommodate them to the number of men. That, I am afraid, is a very serious thing. We were told by the noble and learned Viscount that he wanted 315,000. Now that he has only got 250,000 he argues that that number is enough. That number will inevitably fall, and in a few months when we have only got 220,000 he will be telling us again that that is enough. It is exactly the same with this invading force of 70,000 men. This force of 70,000 is now explained as moaning bodies of troops the aggregate of which is 70,000. The numbers are again shifted about to suit the exigencies of the case. I confess if you ask me my opinion about the situation, I will say boldly that I believe the voluntary system in connection with the Territorial Army has shot its last bolt. I believe it has shown that it is a complete failure. It has had every advantage which labour and good fortune could give it; it has had the unceasing advocacy of the noble and learned Viscount himself, who devoted to the propaganda an amount of energy which has been the admiration of his opponents as well as his friends; it has had assistance from our side; it has had the advantage of every variety of touting and advertisement, of publicity, and of bribes, many of them almost indecent in their character. All these advantages it has had, and it is going to collapse. It is collapsing because it cannot give us the men, and it cannot give them the training. It cannot give the men, not from any reluctance on their part, but because the employers of labour cannot spare them; and it cannot give the training, because the conditions of the Territorial service do not admit of it. That is the position to which we have come. The noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack says, "What would you do?" That is the challenge he addressed to us in his speech. My answer, I think, is quite clear. No one wants to disturb the framework of the organisation set up by the noble and learned Viscount. On the contrary, we want to save it, to fill it in, and turn it to good advantage. The men are in this country. The question is how are we to get them. Your methods of getting the men hitherto have failed. Have we got methods to recommend in their place? I have no doubt that you will have to resort. in the long run to some form of 209 compulsion. I am not wedded to the plan of the National Service League. I daresay it may be open to improvement in many ways, and open to sonic of the criticisms which the noble and learned Viscount directed against it. But at any rate the National Service League has a plan. If you think the plan a bad one, why not be willing to discuss the matter with us? Why regard the matter, as the noble and learned Viscount apparently did in his speech to night, as taboo to the Liberal Party—as an unclean thing which in no circumstances you will touch?
§ *EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
I find a difficulty in distinguishing between the noble and learned Viscount as a soldier and the noble and learned Viscount as a politician, but at any rate that is their attitude—that they will have nothing to do with this unclean thing. That is the general attitude of the noble and learned Viscount's Party. I want to make an appeal to the noble Viscount. In the close of his speech he used these words, "Let us take counsel together." That is what I am desirous we should do. If ever there was a question which deserved to he lifted out of the mire of Party politics it is the question of the existence and the safety of the nation. I should like to see a Conference on this matter to which the findings of the Committee of Imperial Defence might be referred and in which the responsible leaders of both Parties should take part. I do not say that the omens are very good in favour of roundtable Conferences, but a failure in one case need not necessarily mean a failure in another. I believe the time will shortly come when optimistic speeches will not satisfy the country. When those who are frightened of compulsory service begin to think that there is nothing else in the field they will have to turn to it, and at such a time you will have to meet your opponents and discuss the matter without favour and without prejudice.
Do you think that such a discussion would be unpopular in the country? I believe that such a Conference would be received with enthusiasm in all quarters. The country is waking up to the realities of the position. The country is a devourer of newspapers. The people see that the Continent of Europe is becoming a great 210 armed camp. They go to church on Sunday and hear war denounced from the pulpit. On Monday they take up their papers, and they see it being waged in Europe with a greater fury than it used to be in old days. They see the nation with which it is considered in some quarters we are most likely to be confronted, in possession of a military superiority which is unshakeable, contesting with us the command of the sea, and anticipating us in the command of the air. The people look to the two Parties at home, and what do they see? They see the Party opposite destitute of any plan, hoping that things will go well, trying to meet the shortage in the Territorial Army by promising ranges and drill halls and a few petty things of that description, and seeking to force on our Party the unpopular label of Conscription. On the other hand, they see our Party, not having made up its mind on the matter, holding different views hut steadily moving in the direction of a belief that some form of compulsion is required. That is the situation, and I venture to say it is a situation very well worthy of examination.
Is some form of compulsion necessary? If so, what, and where ought it to begin and how far ought it to go? The noble and learned Viscount apparently is contemplating it in the schools. How far ought it to go beyond the schools? What strain will it place on the labour and the industry of this country? Will it, as it is sometimes alleged, take away recruits from the Regular Army? That would be a serious thing. Will it, as we are also sometimes told, keep away men from the Navy? That would be an even more serious thing. Or, on the other hand—and I am one of those who hold this view myself—would it free the Regular Army for the work it has to accomplish? Would it release the Navy from the police duty that detains it in the home waters around our shores? These are questions that ought to be thrashed out on the responsibility of the Government in council with those who hold opposite views to themselves. The country is bewildered. It looks to the two Parties and it finds them torn in one direction and another. Here, my Lords, is a question of national existence. It is impossible to imagine a question which ought less to be solved by transient expedients. Why should we not recognise that this is a matter upon which our very lives depend, and why should we not join hands in a serious attempt to solve it?
§ *EARL FORTESCUE
My Lords, I had the honour of being in the chair at a meeting of the Council of the Territorial Associations last week at which a somewhat important resolution was passed, and I therefore ask leave to trespass on your indulgence for a few minutes. I should like first to say a word on a doctrine which has gained a certain amount of vogue out of doors though we have not heard much about it, and are not likely to, in this House—that is the doctrine that it is aggression to employ the Forces of this country anywhere except on British territory or in British waters, and that as long as we adhere to a defensive policy and do not embark on one of adventure or aggression our Forces are never likely to be required away from British waters or British territory. I think that is absolutely false both from the historical and from the military point of view. In 1587 Cadiz was as far from England as Capetown is to-day. A century ago Brussels was pretty well as far from England as Bordeaux is now for all practical purposes. But Drake's attack on the Spanish Navy at Cadiz in 1587 was just as much a defensive action as that fought in the Channel against the Armada a year after, and certainly nothing could have been a more entirely defensive campaign than the campaign of Waterloo in 1815. These considerations have a very distinct bearing on the Territorial Force this evening.
In connection with this I must express my regret at something that fell from the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack He was good enough to name three of us, myself among others, as having done a great deal to make the Territorial scheme a success; and then he went on to lay the whole of the blame of the shortage of numbers, and so forth, upon the National Service League. I hold no brief for the National Service League. In fact, I have very little doubt myself that the way in which sonic of the members of that League have depreciated the Territorial Force has had a bad effect upon that Force, for it has given young men, especially young men who would be likely to become officers, an excuse for shirking; and the shortage of officers in the Force is more serious really than the shortage of men, because if you call get the officers you may be pretty sure of getting the men to follow them and join too. I am not a 212 member of the National Service League and am not convinced by any means as yet that their programme would give us the Force that is required, or that the money their schemes would cost might not be used for the defence of the country in a more efficient manner. But to lay the whole of the blame of the failure of the Territorial Force upon the National Service League is, I venture to say, absolutely unjust.
One of the great reasons for the shortage of numbers in the Territorial Force is that something like 40 per cent. of the men who join do not complete their engagement. The National Service League has nothing to do with that, and it has nothing to do with the emigration which has caused men in the Force to apply for voluntary discharge at the rate of 10,000 a year during recent years. If those men had completed their engagement and had remained in the Force, as it might have been supposed they would, the Force would at a moderate estimate have been 15,000 stronger than it is to-day, and very probably no one would then have been very unhappy about the failure in numbers.
The resolution passed by the Council of the Territorial Associations at the meeting which I mentioned was in the following terms—In view of the continued deficiency in the establishment of the Territorial Force in the country, notwithstanding the extraordinary efforts that have been made during the past five years to obtain recruits, this Council is of opinion that some system should be adopted which would provide a Territorial Force adequate for the defence of the country. This Council is further of opinion that only by a considerable improvement in the terms and conditions of service is there any likelihood of success in respect of numbers being achieved on a voluntary basis, and urges the necessity of steps being taken to this end, in which case it will be prepared to submit a scheme.There has been an endeavour made in some quarters to represent that resolution as being designed to promote compulsory service. I venture to say there is no foundation whatever for that. If the Council of the Territorial Associations should arrive at the conclusion that such a drastic change in our methods is required, I am quite certain that they will say so straight out and not try to gain any object of that sort by a side wind. The resolution means exactly what it says, and very much what the Secretary of State for War said the other night when he spoke of there having been a 213 failure of achievement. It is supported by County Associations who are responsible for something like half the Force; and the first part of the resolution was, as a matter of fact, drafted by one of the few Presidents of Territorial Associations who are supporters of His Majesty's Government. The resolution was sent round for consideration, before it was discussed by the Council, to every Territorial Association in the country. The Scottish Committee of Associations, at which nineteen of the Scottish Associations were represented, thought the resolution too ambiguous to be worthy of their support, but as showing that they were not altogether satisfied with the present state of things they passed a strong resolution advocating that every man who made himself efficient and did fifteen days in camp should receive a free insurance card for the ensuing twelve months in respect both of himself and his employer. Of all the Associations who discussed this resolution only three expressed dissent from it, and two of those three have got a comparatively small establishment to maintain in proportion to their population. It has the approval of Associations which including the Scottish ones represent something like two-thirds of the men in the Territorial Force.
In the discussion on the resolution great stress was laid on the extraordinary efforts which had been made for recruiting in the last five years, and the opinion was expressed from various parts of the country that we had been living, so to speak, at high pressure in that regard, and that it was impossible to continue the extraordinary efforts which had been made year after year in order to get recruits. Great stress also was laid on the necessity, in any changes that might be made if it was desired to bring the Forte up to establishment, of having some consideration for employers. My colleague who represented the Scottish Committee told us particularly that the Scottish resolution in favour of insurance was approved by them very largely on account of its being some little advantage to employers of labour who allow their men to join the Force. It would not amount to very much, perhaps, but in the case of the small employer it would be something appreciable to be relieved from the insurance payment in the ensuing year, and in the case of a large employer, whose men joined the Force by hundreds perhaps, the money would amount to something 214 very appreciable and the saving of trouble would be something appreciable also.
I would like to make another suggestion in that regard to the noble and learned Viscount, and that is that these employers should be relieved from jury service as well as the officers and men in their employ who serve in the Territorial Force. It is a very cheap concession in regard to the men, because very few of them are of an age or of the class to be much troubled by jury service, but if the concession were extended to employers I believe it would be looked upon as a favour and would be appreciated and might be of some use.
Another matter was brought before the Council of the Territorial Associations which again, I think, is well worthy of the attention of the War Office—I refer to the manner in which the Force is distributed over the country. The noble and learned Viscount told us just now something of the reason for which the figure of 300,000 odd was fixed upon, but he did not say anything about the reasons for the present apportionment among the various counties. I believe the main factor that was considered was the number of Volunteers who were raised by each county. Some regard was also had to any special requirements there might be in regard to defence in counties such as Hampshire and Devonshire, and then if counties raised any great objection to the disbandment of any particular unit some exception was made in their case in deference to their sentiments also. But the thing was done really in a haphazard way, and the results are in some cases almost grotesque. For example, the population of Sutherland is almost identical in number with the population of Rutland, but the population of Sutherland is spread over the county at very little more than one to the square mile, while in Rutland it is congested at the rate of one to five acres; yet Sutherland is asked to raise three times as many uteri as Rutland. Scotland is asked to find 50 per cent. more men than Wales is in proportion to its population.
In the forty-two larger counties of the United Kingdom, that is, counties with a population of a quarter of a million and upwards—and I may remind your Lordships that the population of Montenegro is about a quarter of a million—the proportion of establishment to population varies from 1.58 per cent. in Aberdeen- 215 shire, taking Aberdeen county and city as well, to as little as .45 per cent. in Nottingham. In twenty-four of those forty-two counties it is below the average, which works out at .76 per cent. for the population of the whole, and in only seven of the forty-two counties is it within .5 per cent. of the .76 per cent. up or down. Fourteen of the larger counties have 90 per cent. of their establishment, and thirteen out of the fourteen are not asked to find as much as their fair proportion of .76 per cent., and in most cases the proportion is considerably below it.
If you compare larger areas than counties, such as divisional areas, the differences are quite as striking. I took out the figures for the North Midland Division, which is notorious for the high establishment it is able to maintain, and for the Wessex Division, in which my own county is situated. The population of the North Midland Division is 3,664,000, and the population of the Wessex Division, which embraces the Western Counties, is 2,934,000. You might fairly take off something over 200,000 from the latter figure on account of the garrisons at Salisbury Plain and at Portsmouth and Plymouth, and the Fleets there, and of the Dockyard population who are not available for recruiting. So that for practical purposes the. North Midland Division has nearly a million more population available for Territorial purposes than the Wessex Division; and yet the Wessex Division is asked to find 27,000 men as against 19,500 for the North Midland Division. It actually finds 21,180 as against 18,155, thereby imposing a very much greater strain upon the Associations and upon the people of those respective counties. Over and above that, the Wessex Division finds 6,263 men for the Navy and Army and Special Reserve, as against 3,623 which are found iii the other Division. I think, therefore, that there is a very strong case for the revision of the quotas which the counties are asked to find, and I have little doubt that some counties which are at present, if I may use the expression, under assessed, could find more men than they do, and would gladly do so, and that in that way the strength of the Force might be raised appreciably.
I believe the noble and learned Viscount took his idea of County Associations from 216 the Associations which were formed in England at the time of the Civil War for the organisation and raising of the Forces employed by Parliament. I should like to remind him, if that is the case, of the letter addressed by Oliver Cromwell on behalf of the Eastern Association to the Committee which was then governing England. In that letter he used the expression, "Lay not too much upon a poor man." I think you might take that to heart, and lay not too much upon counties with small populations. Apart from redistribution, I would suggest for the consideration of the Government whether they might not improve the Territorial Force and make it easier to raise if they reduced the number somewhat and strove to get a higher standard of efficiency given them. There is, I believe, great difference in the efficiency of different units. I fancy the severest critic of the Territorial Force would allow that there are sonic units which as they stand have considerable military efficiency; while in regard to others the most ardent admirer of the Force would have to admit; that they would require a great part of the six months training which they are so unlikely to get before they would be of very much military value.
I do not think this is surprising if you look at the information which is given in the Annual Return as to the very uneven results which are obtained in different units in the way of training and discipline. In the whole of the Yeomanry Force there were only 417 men doing under fifteen days training. In fifty regiments of Yeomanry there were only 212 men who did not do their fifteen days training, whereas in a single Infantry battalion 441 did less than fifteen days and 149 were absent altogether from camp. Take another arm. One Royal Horse Artillery battery only trained 118 at all out of its establishment of 214, while another trained no fewer than 183 for the whole fifteen days. In one Field Artillery Brigade there were only fourteen men absent with leave and none without. In another fifty-six were absent with leave and seventy-four without leave at all. In one Brigade half the men did less than fifteen days training, and in another only eleven men did less than fifteen days training. In two battalions of Infantry there were only forty-seven men absent with leave and none without; in the case of two others, 182 were absent with leave and 253 without 217 leave. One battalion trained 684 men for fifteen days and eighty-two for a shorter period; in another, the figures were 361 only for fifteen days, and 409 for a shorter period. I am certain chat if anything could be done to reduce such inequalities in the periods or training the superior officers who have the handling of the men in Brigades and Divisions would be able to make very much better use of the time allotted to them for the purpose.
I do not know yet, and I do not suppose any one else does, what the intentions of the Government may be with regard to the physical training of children in school. It would be a most valuable thing, I think. The other day, as has already been pointed out, Lord Herschell said it would be a good thing. Lord Crewe's attitude suggested the tined bather who thought the water would be too cold; and then the Secretary of State a few nights ago, speaking in his individual capacity, thought that an organisation of the sort would be altogether admirable. I only hope that he and the noble and learned Viscount will be able to convince their colleagues that training of that sort in the elementary schools would indeed be altogether admirable, for it would strengthen the Territorial Force very much if recruits could be sent to it half-baked, so to speak, instead of raw as they are at present.
§ *EARL STANHOPE
My Lords, this debate appears to be taking the usual course. We have had speeches front various noble Lords asking perfectly definite questions and making certain definite, statements, but we have neither had those questions answered nor have we had those statements refuted. We have had the usual speech from the Leader of the House, Lord Crewe, containing the usual attack on members of the National Service League. We have had the usual speech, again, from the Lord Chancellor, again containing an attack on members of that League. I hope your Lordships will agree that we of the National Service League are by no means sorry that Lord Curzon spoke so strongly on that subject. It would have introduced some novelty into this debate if we had been told how many members of the present Cabinet have produced a single recruit for the Territorial Force. A large number of us who have talked on National Service League platforms have produced a very 218 great number of recruits for that Force, and I believe, with the two exceptions of the present Secretary of State for War and his predecessor, there is not a single member of the Cabinet who has made one speech in support of that Force. At any rate we know this, that the National Service League is now getting the official recognition of the Army Council. Your Lordships may have noticed that the Army Council has refused to give leave to an officers' training corps to take part in an Empire Day celebration because it was a celebration of a non-official character. We have had Cadets and Territorials appearing as guards of honour at meetings addressed by members of the National Service League, and therefore we must presume that those were official occasions. I know in one case, at any rate, that leave was given by the War Office.
We are not here to-night considering the question as between voluntary service and compulsory service. What we desire to do is to draw the attention of the House and of the country to statements made by Ministers, to point out that the whole system of the defence of this country is in an utterly chaotic condition, and to endeavour to press His Majesty's Government to see that the question is reconsidered, and reconsidered fully in all its branches. We have had certain statements made in the course of the debate which, although they are not in reply to questions, have from their negative character been of great value. Lord Crewe told us that we must guard against the assumption that there exists a complete novelty of condition. I, for one, welcome that statement most heartily, and I commend it to the notice of the Radical Press and particularly the Westminster Gazette, because until we are told to the contrary we are entitled to believe that the Treaties in which this country has joined are still in existence, that we still are parties to maintaining the integrity and the neutrality of Belgium; what I might call the traditional policy of this country, the continuance of the balance of power in Europe, is the policy of the country to-day, and until we are told publicly and officially that that policy is changed we are entitled to believe that the condition of affairs is as it was. But, my Lords, although the noble Marquess, Lord Crewe, was correct in saying that the Expeditionary Force was normally in this country because, after all, 219 this country is normally fortunately in a condition of peace, still it is true to say that when we are in the abnormal condition of war the Expeditionary Force is normally abroad. If the history of this country is studied I think it will be agreed that when the country is at war the Expeditionary Force is always abroad. It is only when we have been engaged in small wars that our Expeditionary Force has been able to stay at home. Therefore we have to realise that the whole of the Expeditionary Force may have to go abroad.
I now turn to another point that was made. Although it is true that conditions are as they were there is none the less an entirely new condition of things. I am not going into the question of numbers of the Regular Army, and least of all to compare what was done by this Government with what was done by its predecessors. I, for one, do not care one straw as to whether the numbers of the Regular Army were reduced by the Party at present in power or by the Party to which I belong. Both are equally culpable. It is a matter of past history, and I do not think the country takes any interest in it of any sort or kind. The only thing that interests the public is whether the Army is equal to the calls that may be made upon it. Our Special Reserve and our Territorial Force are not up to establishment. That is as regards numbers. But there is also the question of training which is, perhaps, of even more importance. The noble and learned Viscount hoped, quite naturally, that practically the whole of the Territorial Force would go to camp for the whole of their training, and that the whole of them would complete their musketry. That has not occurred. The Territorial Force, as we know, has unfortunately found that a very large proportion of their men are unable to go to camp even for the eight days that are supposed to be compulsory, and a very large number have not carried through any training in shooting at all.
But, my Lords, there are other conditions than that. Any noble Lord who looks at the position of affairs on the Continent will realise that that condition of affairs has necessarily completely changed. The numbers of the armies of Continental nations have enormously increased, and their ability to mobilise in an extraordinary short time and practically to plunge 220 instantaneously into war is far greater than it used to be. We have, in addition, the whole question of strategic railways and sidings which have been built up to frontiers with regard to which we, amongst other Powers, have pledged ourselves to see that the neutrality will be respected. Therefore that and the whole international situation have produced a set of circumstances entirely different from those that existed many years ago. Then Lord Crewe made the statement that the questions to be considered by the Defence Committee are strategical and in no sense political. That is the chief complaint made by soldiers and sailors at the present day. They are continually saying that it is impossible for them to find out what is the policy of the Cabinet, and that until they know what the policy of the Cabinet is it is impossible for them to prepare strategy to support that policy. It is obviously necessary that both the Navy and the Army should be told what the policy of the country is, what combinations of Powers may be arrayed against us, what allies we may-find on our side, and then only will it be possible for the Navy and the Army to prepare their plans to meet those eventualities. To hope to make an Army capable of meeting all eventualities is very-much like a combination tool which contains a saw and a gimlet and a screwdriver and heaven knows what not, capable of doing every conceivable thing, but is yet an inefficient instrument with any one of them. You must train your Army so that it may be prepared for certain eventualities, but until you know exactly what those eventualities are it is impossible to Ironic your strategy to meet them.
Now I come to the other side of this question. Lord Crewe told us that the establishment of the Territorial Force was fixed rather on a general notion of sufficiency and upon the previous numbers of the Volunteers than on any definite calculation of the particular number of men which would be required to meet a particular number of invaders, and Lord Haldane has again told us to-night that the number of the Expeditionary Force—160,000—was not fixed on any calculation as to what it might be required to do on the Continent or elsewhere. In other words, the Cabinet have not founded their policy on the naval and the military forces with which that policy must inevitably 221 be supported. The Cabinet have not taken into consideration the strategical question. The Cabinet have not consulted with the Imperial Defence Committee; and so far from having arranged their policy according to their numbers, they have neither done that nor raised their numbers according to their policy. Can anybody imagine a more dangerous situation of affairs than to go blundering along with a Force whose numbers and training are not fitted for any particular situation, with a policy which is not founded on any adequate defence to carry it through, and in which neither defence nor policy nor strategy can be considered adequately and finally.
The whole question is worked out on very much the same plan as a Sherlock Holmes story. You first of all take your crime, and then you work backwards covering your clues until you make an admirable story. Unfortunately that is not the way in which criminals work; otherwise the problem for the detectives would be a very simple one. But that is exactly what we are doing with our defensive Forces. We raise Forces according to the number we think we can get, and after that we begin to consider how many invaders those Forces could defeat, and then we cook our sum in order to prove that not more than that number could get to this country. That is a very strong assertion, but I venture to think that facts prove it. You have the Navy brow-beaten into agreeing with this policy. The method is perfectly simple. You go to the Navy and you say. "There are a certain number of people demanding that the Home Defence Army shall be increased in number. Of course, if we spend more money, on the Army the Navy Estimates will have to be cut down," and very naturally, and perhaps rightly, the Navy promptly say, "That is out of the question; we must guarantee the defence of these shores, and we shall be able to guarantee that if we can only get more money." That is the naval point of view. I think, as Lord Haldane pointed out in the last debate that we had in this House, naval men are jealous of expenditure on the Army. He said very rightly, "You cannot take the word of the soldier or the sailor as being the last word on the subject." There is another expert whose word you can take sometimes, and that is the historian, and if you take the occasions on which countries were invaded by foreign armies you will invariably find that the naval officers had 222 guaranteed the integrity of those shores and stated that those shores were perfectly clear of any possible invasion.
It would be interesting to know on what the Navy founds this opinion. They certainly have not founded it on war experience, because none of them have had any war experience. The only experience we have had of naval warfare has been in the Far East, and that of very little consequence. It would be interesting to know whether the Navy have considered the question of dirigibles, which are able to remain for an immense time in the air with large powers of scouting and power to report to their base the position of the enemy by wireless telegraphy. Then I ask, how have the General Staff of the Army been made to agree that we are free from invasion by large numbers? There, again, I think the answer is perfectly obvious. The General Staff are told, "If you criticise the Territorial Force and say it is inadequate to meet the invaders that may conic to this country, of course some of the Regular Army will have to stop at home"; and the General Staff, realising that we need every single Regular soldier that we possess in order to carry out our duties on the Continent—duties such as I have said upholding the neutrality with regard to Belgium to which this country has given its pledge—naturally choose the lesser of two evils and say, "We must trust that the Territorial Force will be able to do perhaps better than we expect but at any rate, we must insure, that the whole of the Regular Army shall be allowed to go abroad." Of course, what happened was this. They authorised the Secretary of State to make a statement in another place saying that the Territorial Force could do such and such things. Colonel Seely was cross-examined and was tied clown very completely, with the result that he made a far more definite and complete statement than he had been authorised to make by the General Staff. That is perfectly obvious, because on the very next occasion when a friendly Question was put to the Secretary of State he was allowed to explain it away and to quibble over the words "invasion" and "raid."
Well, my Lords, we still stick to the statement made by the Prime Minister, who is, after all, the responsible Minister of the Crown, that we have to prepare under all circumstances to have a properly organised and properly equipped Force capable of dealing effectively with a 223 possible invasion of 70,000 men—a perfectly clear and definite statement, as Lord Curzon has pointed out. There is no question about the invasion being spread over a period of time and being split up into various bodies and over different areas; it is an invasion of 70,000 men absolutely coming in one body. We come now to this consideration. If this question of invasion has disappeared, what are you putting before this Sub-Committee of the Defence Committee who are now considering this problem? If the question of invasion has not disappeared, then we maintain that the whole thing is a chose jugée, because we have had statements by Colonel Seely in another place in which he says that the force that is likely to conic is very much less than 70,000. Therefore, apparently, though it has not yet come before the Defence Committee, the question has been already decided by the naval authorities. That is not a fair and holiest way of making an inquiry. It is not a way that conduces to the safety of the country. Until the whole question is considered in every way you cannot arrive at a decision on the question of invasion. You must ask the General Staff whether they are satisfied that they have enough men in the Expeditionary Force. You must ask them whether they are satisfied with four divisions, or whether they must have the whole of the six divisions of the Expeditionary Force to go abroad on the outbreak of war. You must also ask the Navy whether they are prepared to guarantee the integrity of these shores even though the Fleet of the enemy is not yet defeated, and even though there may be posts that they may have to watch in another part of the world. It is impossible to put a single issue before the Committee and get any decision worth having. That is one of the things we complain of, and one of the reasons why we are debating this question at the present time.
I have one thing more to point, out to your Lordships. The great Lord Nelson, in a despatch, stated "If I had control of the defence policy of England I should send out of the country in the event of war every soldier—every trained soldier—and every ship, and leave the defence of the country to the children of the nation itself." The policy that has been outlined by the Lord Chancellor is an exact opposite to that policy of Lord Nelson. He has himself stated, both to-night and on other 224 occasions, that it is possible that the Expeditionary Force may not be able to go abroad. He has told us that at any rate two divisions may have to stop at home, and Lord Crewe has told us that possibly not a single man may be able to be sent abroad. In other words, His Majesty's Government have thrown over the policy laid down by Lord Nelson, a policy which has been the policy of this country, not only for generations, but perhaps for centuries. His Majesty's Government have thrown it over in another direction also. It is perfectly obvious that you cannot guarantee these shores from invasion unless you tie the Fleet to the shores of this country. If you are going to allow our Fleet to pursue the Fleet of any great enemy across the ocean, as happened in the last great naval war, you cannot be certain that transports will not slip across the North Sea and invade our shores. The only way in which you can guarantee this country from invasion is by having a sufficient defence force in this country. Lord Nelson laid down that the children of the country should be the defence of the nation itself. War has become a far more complicated thing now than it was in the time he wrote that despatch. Modern armaments have necessitated that men shall no longer fight in mass; that they will have to fight at widely extended intervals and practically as individuals instead of being under the direct control of their officers. That necessarily entails far more individual training of every man in the Force, far more training of officers, and far more training of the staff. Therefore when we say that the children of the nation shall be responsible for the safety of the nation we must realise that, those children have to be trained in order to carry out the defence of the country adequately.
I know that there are a certain number of your Lordships who think that these naval and military debates take place far too constantly, and that they are extraordinarily dull. It is perfectly possible that, they are dull, but I cannot believe that they take place too often. After all, the defence of this country is infinitely more important than the Home Rule Bill or the Parliament Act or Disestablishment, or the whole lot of them put together. Inadequate defence is worse than no defence at all. You not only have to give way in the end, but you also have 225 all the horrors of war and a large indemnity to pay in addition. It is because we believe it essential to the safety of the country and the continuance of the Empire that once again we press that the whole problem shall be reconsidered by those to whom the country has entrusted these problems. It is quite obvious that neither the Cabinet nor the Defence Committee have been in a position to consider the question as a whole. For that reason we press for the question to be reconsidered in a way in which it has never been considered before—that is, considered as a whole and not in small sections—and then that the country should be given such facts as it is essential for them to know. Obviously some of these facts should be kept secret, but those facts that need not be kept secret it is essential we should know; and then I believe that any Government which has the courage to place before the people of this country exactly what, defence we require will find that the country will have sufficient loyalty and patriotism to see that those defences are supplied, whatever sacrifices it may be found necessary to make.
§ *LORD AMPTHILL
My Lords, we on this side of the House have a right to resent the manner in which His Majesty's Government have trifled and fooled with this question. It has been insulting to us, and from the public point of view it is nothing short of outrageous, seeing that the safety, honour, and welfare of the country are at stake. I doubt whether a more monstrously unfair speech has ever proceeded from the Woolsack than that which was delivered by its present occupant to-night. The attitude of His Majesty's Government will only increase the profound distrust in which they are already held in the country. My noble friend who initiated this debate asked a perfectly plain question. He called attention to the deficiencies in our Forces, and asked what steps will be taken to secure that these Forces are brought up to strength. To that question we have received no straightforward or candid answer whatever. The noble Lord who usually reads the official replies of the War Office gave us the singularly fatuous answer that the Government would take such steps as may be necessary. The noble Marquess the Leader of the House gave the still more extraordinary and unsatisfactory reply that it will be for the military 226 authorities to consider what steps they will take. My Lords, it is not for the military authorities to consider what steps they will take. The responsibility is that of His Majesty's Government. It is for his Majesty's Government to consider and to take the steps. The noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack merely contented himself, so far as one was able to sift any grain from the mass of chaff, by saying that he would not prejudge the question. There are certain things that we know. We know that the officers I outfit allowance is going to be increased. That will no doubt enable the officers to dress better, but it will not make them any more efficient. Certain it is, if the present system is to be improved, that more money must be spent, but that if that money does not make up our deficiencies and give the men more training it may as well be thrown in the gutter. Our Territorial Force has cost us £12 per man as against the £7 per man we had to spend on the Volunteer Force, but I doubt very much whether it has been improved to a proportionate extent.
Again I ask His Majesty's Government, "What are you going to do?" We have very grave suspicions as to your intentions, and a great many people think that what you are going to do is to, as usual, minimise the danger and reduce the standard of invasion in order that you may proportionately reduce our defensive forces. The recent and very remarkable utterances of the Secretary of State for War give good ground for entertaining that suspicion, no less than does the history of the Defence Committee. It has been pointed out that the composition of the Defence Committee is not such as to inspire confidence. After all, what is it but a Committee of the Cabinet, with a few experts thrown in? and they not independent experts or even the right experts. It is a very remarkable thing that the one official of the War Office who is in the best position to give the kind of information which is required, the Director of Military Operations, is not a member of that Committee. The noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack regretted that the Defence Committee was dragged into the debate, and no doubt he would like to keep up the illusion that the Defence Committee is a kind of Delphic oracle. Let me assure him that that superstition, so far as it existed, has absolutely and entirely dis- 227 appeared. It is now pretty well known that the invasion was made to fit the Territorials, instead of making the Territorials to fit the invasion, and it is very generally believed that that is what you are going to do again. The Prime Minister and Mr. Balfour will both have to eat their deliberate words, which have been quoted several times during this debate, and that in spite of the fact that the situation is, without question, more serious than it was then.
The noble Marquess the Leader of the House took refuge in the usual expedient of the Government by attacking the National Service League and the question of universal service—a question which had not then been raised in this debate. With all the qualifications and reservations of one who is willing to wound but yet afraid to strike, he was not ashamed to repeat the spiteful accusations against the National Service League; and the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack repeated them with greater deliberation but possibly with less sincerity. The noble Marquess the Leader of the House was grossly misinformed, and it is very probable that he has never come into personal contact either with the Territorial officer or with a possible Territorial recruit. He said it was an undisputed fact that the National Service League discouraged recruiting. I dispute it. I declare with the utmost confidence that the National Service League has not deterred one single man who is worth having from joining the Territorial Force. On the contrary, it can be proved up to the hilt, and a thousand times over, that there has been no more effective agency for recruiting than the National Service League. At the meetings of the National Service League we actually rake in recruits by the dozen. That can be shown over and over again. My noble friend Lord Fortescue, no doubt, felt bound to make some acknowledgment of the compliments which were poured upon him by faintly echoing the accusation, but he gave himself away by saying that officers particularly made the propaganda of the National Service League an excuse for not joining the Territorial Army. All I can say, and it is what any soldier will tell you, is that the man who will make that kind of excuse for not taking his share in the national defence is a waster not worth having, and it is very much better that we should dispense with men of that kind. But how can it 228 be otherwise than that we should assist the recruiting of the Territorial Force since the whole object of our movement is to get more men for the Territorial Force and to give them better opportunities of training?
I will tell you who, in my opinion, have discouraged recruiting. It. is His Majesty's Government themselves. They have done it first of all by neglect of things they might have done; and, secondly, by the attitude they have actually taken up. They have done nothing positive to encourage recruiting. On the contrary, they have minimised the danger of invasion and so created the impression that the Territorial Force is not half so important as we who advocate universal service try to convince the country it is. When the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack first started his scheme and was making those splendidly energetic efforts which have already been acknowledged this evening, and which I myself have had the pleasure of acknowledging on numerous public platforms, not one bit of assistance did he get from any one of his colleagues. Not a member of the Cabinet in a public speech ever went out of his way to praise what Lord Haldane was doing or to impress on the country the immense importance of the home defence force. Ministers were afraid to do so for fear they might be accused of that militarism which is such a bogey to their supporters, and for fear that they might be accused of ultra patriotic sentiments. There is another agency which militates against recruiting for the Territorial Force—I refer to the Socialist allies of the Government. Go to parts of the country where Socialism is rampant. Go to places like Yorkshire and ask the Territorial officer why it is he cannot get more recruits. He will not tell you that it is because of the National Service League; he will tell you that it is because of the Socialists, and he will tell you how they do it. Those are the real reasons why the numbers are as low as they are now, and not the reasons which the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack gave.
His Majesty's Government have shown that the question of national defence is one which they care least about, and that they are prepared to trust to luck that no grave emergency may arise while they continue in office. If their attitude had been different they would be, perhaps, 229 justified in trying to find other causes for the alarming shortage of men. I am not going to detain your Lordships further at this hour of the evening, but in case any one on the Government side is going to speak again I ask, "What steps are you going to take to remedy these admitted deficiencies?" There are many things which you might tell us which would not be any violation of necessary secrets in the interests of national safety. For instance, what are you going to do about the Special Reserve, in which there is a more alarming shortage of officers than in any other branch of the Force? I believe an inquiry has actually been going on during the early part of this year, and I should like to ask, When are we going to have the results of that inquiry? That is a practical matter on which the Government might well have given us information. But the only suggestion we have had from that side during the course of this debate is that the social side of volunteering is to be promoted—presumably by some more of those dancing clubs of which we heard at one time. There is some vague shadowy prospect of drilling boys and girls in the schools in order, forsooth, to make up deficiencies in the Forces on which we depend for our national existence, and for the safety, honour, and welfare of this country.
My Lords, I had not originally intended to speak on the Second Reading of this Bill, but the question of invasion has been so much discussed during this debate that I think I ought to say a few words as it is a matter that I have studied in its varying aspects. Mr. Balfour's speech of May 11, 1905, has been more than once referred to in this discussion. I have always looked upon that speech as being in a great measure an answer to one of mine on naval surprise delivered in this House on March 3, 1905, and afterwards repeated by me at the United Service Institution. That speech of Mr. Balfour's has been most unfortunate in its results. It has encouraged the people of this country to remain in a somnolent condition instead of waking up to face the realities of the situation.
The Lord Chancellor told us that we have never in our history had a more powerful Navy than we have to-day. That may be so in one way, but compared with other countries we are not so strong. In 1905 our position was far more secure than it is 230 now. Our Fleet was so large in comparison with that of other Powers that surprise alone could have harmed us seriously. Lord Lovat has told us of the immense superiority we then had in battleships, torpedo destroyers, and submarines. We also had at that time a great superiority in cruisers. Scientific inventions have unfortunately transformed our strategical position. The invention of air-craft and wireless telegraphy has completely revolutionised scouting both by land and sea. Some years ago we built the "Pathfinder" and four other scouts of nearly 3,000 tons. We have had to change the name of their class, and to call them light cruisers; they are no longer scouts. Wireless telegraphy has also completely altered many strategical problems. But as we have taken it up thoroughly I do not think that on the whole its discovery has done us any serious harm.
It is far otherwise as regards air-craft. We have, it is true, a certain number of aeroplanes, but Germany is believed to have six times as many. We have, I believe, only two dirigibles. Germany has at least twenty. Aeroplanes suffer from the disadvantage that proficiency in managing them cannot be attained without considerable risk of life, not only in time of war, but in time of peace. Similar risks used to be run in my younger days when practising sail drill on hoard ship. I have myself witnessed several fatal accidents while seamen were being exercised aloft. Yet those exercises were continued on the ground that the country whose seamen were not exercised in this manner in time of peace would be beaten in time of war. This unfortunately holds good, I think, as regards aeroplanes. But as regards the German Zeppelins, if my information is correct, though several of them have been wrecked no lives have been lost in consequence. Now, suitable stables are the first thing that have to be erected if we are to have air-craft lighter than air. These stables should be built with funnel shaped mouths and be placed on turntables so that the dirigible can always enter on the lee side. Ask any officer who has had to handle a large modern ship as to the difficulties of getting into dock with a wind or current across the mouth of the dock. If an enemy's scouting is better than our own we shall be put to great disadvantage when endeavouring to discover the course and position of an enemy's troopships. The risks of defeat both by land and sea 231 would also be increased. I am, however, glad to hear from Lord Herschell that the Army and Navy are working out these problems connected with air-craft jointly, and not separately.
One of the points that has much stress laid upon it by those who exaggerate the difficulties of invasion has been the large number of ships that would be required to carry 70,000 men and stores. In 1905 we had to deal with ships of a comparatively small tonnage. Now, however, we are face to face with at least two 50,000 ton ships, the "Imperator" and the "Vaterland," and a likelihood of more of them to come. It is clear that in the future much fewer ships will be required to carry an army. As I have not yet seen the plans of these 50,000 tonners I cannot pretend to estimate the number of soldiers they could carry on a short voyage, but I would point out that our Board of Trade Regulations for passenger vessels plying from England to ports between Hamburg and Brest, including those two ports, only require one ton per passenger, and room for him to lie down. For Atlantic voyages a larger proportion of tonnage is required. If these rules, or anything like them, hold good with these larger vessels, it follows that this hypothetical army of 70,000 men could come over in two ships, provided they did not bring horses but trusted to drag-ropes to drag their guns until they had captured horses, and did their scouting by means of air-craft and bicycles. Two or three ships would have a much better chance of evading our cruisers than the unwieldy fleet that men who will not believe in the possibility of invasion always assume that an enemy will make use of. For instance "Master Mariner" calculated that 70,000 men would require a column of transports 20 miles long consisting of 150 vessels. Besides, if these 50,000 tonners are provided with sufficient boats to carry all their passengers and crew in case of an Atlantic collision they will be able to land from four to five thousand men at a single trip in their own boats. Both the "Imperator" and the "Vaterland" are very fast vessels, but as neither of them has yet crossed the Atlantic it would, I think, be premature on my part to name the exact figure of their available speed.
As long as there is danger of invasion the mass of our Fleet must remain tied to our shores, and this would leave us with an insufficient number of vessels to protect 232 our food supplies. If a sufficient Army removes that danger then our Fleet is free to protect our commerce and sail all over the seas just as we did in the days of yore. I was in France in 1866 and again in the summer of 1871 when she lay crushed with German armies on the Seine and in the forts around Paris. The contrast was very great. The humiliation that the French had undergone appeared to have changed their very nature. Every one wore mourning. During the fortnight that I was in Paris I saw only two coloured dresses. The wearers were not French. I recollect how Gambetta's Levies, "Men with Muskets" as they were termed, were scattered whenever they stood up against the Germans. When Bazaine was tried by Court Martial for his surrender at Metz he made a point that his disciplined Army had killed and wounded in one day more Germans than all Gambetta's Levies had done in six months. Take the Peninsular War, where the Spaniards were scattered whenever they faced a better trained Army, though they often fought heroically. Look at the misery that the inhabitants of that country suffered during the six years that they fought for their independence. I wish that the people of this country would read the histories of those wars, and then they would understand what sorrows may be in store for a nation that refuses to train its manhood for war.
§ *EARL BRASSEY
My Lords, I venture to submit in a few words that the enrolment of the Militia, the old constitutional Force, is the best immediate solution of the difficulty which confronts us. The cream and the flower of the population have given us our Territorial Force. Their numbers are too few. To increase the numbers it would seem that we must look to the class from which we recruit for the Army and which formerly gave us the Militia. If you have compulsion, you must put your men into barracks, and give them rations and clothe and instruct them; and when you have once incurred those necessary expenses the pay of the Militia would be a mere fractional addition. Then why not the Militia?
My Lords, in the few remarks which I propose to make I should like to deal with the charges which have been made about the National Service League. That League, in my humble opinion, is doing a very great service to the Territorial Force. It has two ends in 233 view, one of which is to increase the efficiency of the Territorial Force and the other to increase its numbers, and the statements which have been made to the effect that the propaganda of the National Service League has detrimentally affected the recruiting of the Territorial Force I believe to be absolutely without foundation. The National Service League has done good in one respect, at any rate. If it has clone nothing else, it has kept away from us officers who would not have been worthy of the name of officers, and it has kept out of our ranks men who would have been absolutely useless in the Territorial Force. I hold no brief for the National Service League whatsoever, but I venture to say that the longer that League proceeds on the lines on which it is proceeding at present I think it will be really performing a national service.
There is one other thing I should like to say. It was brought forcibly to my mind this morning on reading my newspapers. I was here during the debate on Thursday last, and there was standing at the Bar of your Lordships' House a Member of the other. House. He was the Member who seconded the Motion for the Second Reading of the National Service (Territorial Force) Bill. That Member, I am sorry to say, is since dead—I refer to Sir Charles Rose. He said in the other House, when seconding that Bill, amid Unionist cheers, that though he was the only Liberal Member whose name appeared on the back of the Bill he would be sorry to believe that there were not many other Liberals who were heartily in sympathy with its object, and he added that the principle that every young able-bodied man should hold himself liable to take his place as a member of the Territorial Force for the defence of his country and to bear his share of the nation's burden had his unqualified sympathy and support. He said that he felt very strongly that drill, training, and discipline were good for the character of every individual, and that it was the duty of every citizen to submit to whatever sacrifice he might be called upon to make in order to help in placing the defences of his country in such a position as to render it absolutely secure against any aggression. He added that he was not imbued with an ultra spirit of militarism, nor did he look lightly on the horrors of war. No one, be said, had a greater abhorrence of war than 234 he had, but so long as human nature remained what it was he felt that the surest way of preventing hostility was to see that this country was prepared to face all risks. The bogey of the Party opposite seems to me to be this idea of national service; and although this Territorial Force is the offspring of the Lord Chancellor it seems that if its numbers are considerably further reduced there is only one way of arriving at a satisfactory solution of the difficulty, If do not say on the lines of the Bill which was introduced in another place, but by a Bill on something of the same lines.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House To-morrow.