§ Debate on the Amendment moved by the Lord Newton to the Motion that the Bill be now read 2a, viz., to leave out all the words after ("That") for the purpose of inserting the following; resolution ("in the opinion of this House no system of home defence which is not based upon the democratic principle of universal service can be fully effective and reliable") resumed (according to Order).
My Lords, it is with considerable hesitation that I have made up my mind to vote in favour of the noble Lord's Bill, for I cannot conceal from myself that the argument advanced by the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack is incontestable that the Bill in its present form is unworkable. It contains provisions, such as the financial clauses, which are quite unworkable. On the other hand, it altogether omits essential provisions, such as that of the units into which the men of this force would have to be put. Therefore it would be extremely difficult in Committee to so amend the Bill as to make it even recognisable with its original shape. But the Bill contains a principle which appeals to me, and which, indeed, has been commended by the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack.
Everything is not going well with the Territorial Army. It is not merely a question of numbers but a question of efficiency, and it arises in this way. If your Territorial soldier is to be efficient, the officer who endeavours to teach him should also be efficient. In fact, it comes first, obviously; the officer must be efficient if the soldier 563 is to be efficient. There are a great many officers in the Territorial Army—I am not speaking universally, of course—who, I am sorry to say, are not, and have not tried to make themselves, efficient. I expect the noble and learned Viscount will think that this is a case of King Charles's head; but even in the Yeomanry, which has done his scheme a great deal better than any other arm of the Territorial Service—even there, although there is, I believe, no fault to be. found as regards numbers, there could be a considerable improvement in efficiency. And the cause is this. You may take a horse to the water but you cannot make him drink. You may induce your gentleman to put on a uniform, but you cannot force him to go to the classes and schools which are necessary if he is to be efficient. You may say that the commanding officer ought to be able to make him go to the school. The commanding officer can tell him that if he does not go he will be retired; and in the case of a certain number of officers they simply shrug their shoulders and send in their papers. I have had over thirty years experience, and have therefore been through the mill. I have had a great deal of experience of the efforts one has to make to induce gentlemen to come into the Service, and, having got them in. I have gone to a great deal of trouble and labour to induce them to make themselves efficient. Consequently I know what I am talking about when I say that it is extremely difficult to get a certain number of them to make themselves efficient. They are busy men; they are earning their livelihood.
And here I come to the cause of this inefficiency. These men feel it a hardship that having voluntarily undertaken military service for the sake of the State, they should be crowded, as it were, to give so much more time for the purpose of making themselves efficient. They see alongside of them their neighbours, their country friends, shirking this national duty; and they feel it a hardship that, having given up a certain amount of their time for the necessary training, for company drills, troop drills, squadron drills, and so on, there should be demanded from them additional time for the various classes which the colonels and brigadiers very properly try to induce them to attend. Some of them do attend and make themselves efficient, but there are a considerable 564 number who do not; and that is the reason, in my humble opinion, why the Territorial Force is not infinitely more efficient than it is. I do not think it is an unreasonable thing that these gentlemen should feel this to be a hardship when they see others just as well off as themselves, perhaps with even more leisure, declining to undertake this honourable national service. Therefore I feel that to call upon the upper classes to give compulsory service is a commendable principle, and I am glad to know that in that I agree with the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack.
The noble and learned Viscount used the expression Noblesse oblige. It reminded me of a story in a book which I dare say is seldom read now, but which was a very attractive novel in my youth—"Guy Livingstone." I have no doubt those of your Lordships who read it will remember the story which Guy Livingstone himself tells of a battle in which the French Army was engaged, where the breach was hardly practicable and Line regiment after Line regiment went up to the breach in their endeavour to take it and were beaten back; and all the while there stood by a Household regiment laughing the whole time as each Line regiment was beaten back. At last there arose a murmur from all the other regiments, En avant, les gants glacés; and les gants glacés, the kid-glove brigade, went up the breach and took it, leaving a third of their number on the way. I illustrate by that story the idea that the kid-glove brigade should be called upon to undertake this national service. The noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack apprehended that if such a scheme as the noble Lord propounds in this Bill came into existence it would militate against the officering of the Regular Army. I am bound to say that I do not see that there would be any difference in that direction. It certainly would not prevent those gentlemen who take a commission in the Regular Army for hereditary reasons, and I do not think it would interfere with those who take a commission for the sake of a profession, of a livelihood, or with those who go in for the sake of honour and glory. I should think that the large majority of the officers of the Regular Army have gone in for one of those three reasons, and I do not think the existence of this Force would interfere with any of those gentlemen entering the Regular Army. That is one 565 reason why I am prepared to vote for the principle of this Bill. Another is that it is a concrete definite proposal.
My noble friend behind me (Lord Newton) and his friends, and the noble and gallant Field-Marshal for whom we have such profound respect, are endeavouring to educate the country up to the idea of universal national service for home defence. But that is an abstract idea. Lord Newton's Amendment is an abstract idea. They have only made one practical definite proposal, and that was the Bill of the noble and gallant Field-Marshal in 1909. I voted for that Bill although I did not think it was workable—it was more workable, I think, than the Bill now before the House —because it imposed too heavy a tax on company officers. Territorial officers were to be company officers; they were to do from four to six months training with recruits every year, whilst the field officers would be old Regulars. Consequently the Territorial officer would never have a chance of command while he had to come out every year for from four to six months. I thought that that would have broken down in practice. But still the Bill contained the principle, with which I entirely agreed, of universal service for national defence, and therefore I voted for that Bill as I am going to vote for this Bill to-night.
The noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack and several other noble Lords who have spoken have diverged into a wider field than that covered in the principle and certainly in the details of Lord Willoughby's Bill. The noble and learned Viscount laid down the dictum that a voluntary and a compulsory system of military service were incompatible in the same country, and he buttressed that opinion with one made in Germany. I think if the noble and learned Viscount had come a little nearer to this country he would have found the system actually in existence in France. The Home Army there, of course, is raised by compulsion for the defence of the country, but the French Colonial Army is composed of volunteers. There is the celebrated force, the Legion, which serves in several parts of the Colonial Empire of France, and there are other volunteers from the Regular Army.
I do not suggest that the Legion is raised purely from France, but it is a volunteer force raised alongside of the compulsorily raised Army. I should imagine that there is a force of between 90,000 and 100,000 men raised by France for voluntary service abroad. Therefore you have there—I do not say to the same extent as would be necessary here—the two systems alongside of each other: compulsory service for home defence, and voluntary service for foreign defence or attack, as the case may be; and I do not see that it should be beyond the capacity of a Ministry, if it was willing to take the thing up, to put forward some practical proposals for a compulsory system of home defence in this country.
I can conceive of the difficulties of the Ballot, which were referred to by my noble friend on the Cross Benches (Lord Sydenham) last night. I remember the noble Marquess, Lord Lansdowne, when he was at the War Office, warning the House that the difficulties of the Ballot were immense, but I think that by a very high physical standard you might eliminate numbers, which is absolutely necessary, and you might also eliminate the weakling; and then, by a system of advantageous concessions, pecuniary concessions in all probability part of them, you would make the selection of those who had to serve less unpalatable than it would otherwise be. These are my ideas of the possibility of the two systems running alongside of each other. I cannot see that they are impossible. The idea of calling upon those who can afford the time and money to give national service appeals to me. I felt all the indignation of having to give my time, a great deal of it, in the course of my life, for national defence and seeing my neighbours and my friends alongside of me not giving one single minute; and I sympathise with the Territorial officers who feel it a grievance and a hardship that they should be called upon by the brigadiers and the commanding officers to give more time than they can afford. For the reasons I have stated I intend to vote for this Bill.
§ VISCOUNT RIDLEY
My Lords, I desire to intrude for only a few minutes, because I do not feel ready to give an entirely silent vote in favour of this Bill, with the provisions of which I am not wholly in agreement, but with the principle of which I 567 heartily concur. The noble Lord who brought it in will, perhaps, forgive me if I say that I cannot look upon it as a seriously intended piece of legislation, but rather as an extremely good method of calling public attention to the gigantic farce of the present system. I say I cannot regard it as a serious piece of legislation because I do not think that the noble Lord himself would contend that he would be satisfied if he were to pass this Bill. It could only be a beginning of conferring what I would call the benefits of universal service upon the whole of the public as well as upon the favoured few. But I do think that it could be considered as a beginning. To ask those who are well qualified to give a lead to the country to give that lead is at any rate a step in the right direction; and the noble Lord may, I think, well be satisfied with the amount of public attention and discussion which his Bill has already elicited, and the fact that throughout the course of this debate there has not been any real attempt to bolster up the present system. Those who have spoken against the Bill have been obliged to admit the most serious defects in the Territorial Force as it exists at present—defects in numbers and organisation—to deal with which up to the present no serious proposals have been brought forward.
I shall therefore vote for this Bill in the first place as a protest against the present impossible system. You now ask a very few people to do what ought to be done by everybody. Speaking as a commanding officer of Yeomanry, I say that the present situation is one which it is impossible to continue, now that you have begun to treat the Territorial Force as an integral part of the defences of the kingdom. It may have been tolerable in the old Volunteer and Yeomanry days before the Act was passed for which the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack was responsible; but now that we are asked to look upon ourselves as an integral part of the defences of this kingdom I say that we want very different treatment and very different equipment before we can really regard ourselves as efficient to take our place as part of the fighting forces of the country. At present we receive so little thanks and so little encouragement that it is extremely difficult for us to do our best. Any one who has anything to do with a regiment could multiply small grievances, but I do not 568 wish to mention them. The House will remember that when the Territorial Force was instituted a provision was inserted in the Act that if 90 per cent. of the officers and men of any regiment volunteered to be ready to go abroad in the event of war that regiment was to be labelled an Imperial Service regiment, and I believe it was hoped that a considerable portion of the Territorial Force would enlist as Imperial Service regiments. As far as I know, my own regiment is absolutely the only one which has done so. It involves a considerable sacrifice—I do not say on behalf of the officers, for I do not think that any officer joins the Force who would not be willing to make it—but it is a considerable sacrifice on the part of the men when 90 per cent. subscribe themselves as ready to go abroad if called upon; but not one single word of recognition or of thanks or of encouragement has my regiment received from anybody for it.
Lord Harris pointed out how extremely difficult it is for officers, most of whom are extremely busy men in their civil occupations, to attend the necessary courses and classes. I happened to have one officer who was able to give the time, and who wanted to take advantage of a provision in the Territorial Force Act which allows Territorial Force officers in certain circumstances and after long courses and examinations to become adjutants. That proposition was vetoed; and this officer such was his enthusiasm, asked to be allowed to go for an eight months' course with a Regular regiment. But no; he is not allowed to do so because it would cost a few pounds to the country, and that is the way in which the Territorial Force is encouraged and helped and thanked when officers and men try to do their best for the country. I could multiply these instances. This sort of thing we took in as part of the day's work in the old days before we were part of the embodied forces of the country, but to-day the position is different. I submit that officers and men who give time and trouble to the service of the country, and see all round them men similarly situated doing nothing, who will remain at home when war breaks out and whose civil occupations will not be disturbed, deserve some encouragement from the Government and the general public, and it is as a protest against the present system rather than from a belief in the details of this Bill that I intend to vote for it.
569 The noble Lord's Bill does go a certain step in the direction of the principle which the National Service League and I desire to see embodied. It does go a short way towards imposing liability upon everybody to take a share in the defence of the country, and I cannot, because I would like to go further, take the step of voting against the Bill, and I think the House would stultify itself if it did so. The details of the Bill may or may not be workable. The noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack made criticisms which seemed to me to be pertinent and to deserve serious attention in Committee if the Bill gets into Committee. The noble Lord who spoke yesterday for His Majesty's Government, Lord Lucas, also told us that in his opinion the details were extremely unworkable, but he did not condescend to criticise any of them. The details may be difficult in places, but it is right to remember that a man who does not possess the resources of a Government Department and the advantage of a Government draftsman is in a very great difficulty in drafting the details of a Bill; and I venture to say that if the noble Lord who criticised the Bill from the Government Bench were to give some of his ability and services to improving its details with the aid of the Government he would do more service to his country than in uttering criticisms on Second Reading of details which can be altered in Committee.
The great bulk of the noble Lord's speech was devoted to saying that this was a new idea and a new principle. Why not? And who is he. a member of the present Government, to object to the formation of precedents? They have made enough precedents since they have been in office, and I do not see why they should boggle against a new precedent which might be of some service to the country. If the Bill, as I hope it will be, is read a second time, the noble Lord in charge of it will forgive me if I allow myself considerable liberty in Committee with several of its details. I could wish that the noble Lord was not going to press the Bill to a Division, for, as I said at the beginning, I cannot regard this as a Bill likely to be embodied as an Act in the serious legislation of this country. I regard it more as meant to achieve an object which the noble Lord has most successfully achieved—that of attracting public 570 attention to the gross scandal of the present situation; and, if I may say so, by pressing the Bill to a Division he is to a large extent placing himself in a false tactical position. He is placing himself between two fires. He will have ranged against him those who are opposed both to him and to Lord Newton, and also those who would desire his Bill to go a great deal further. I think the first principle of a commander is that he should not place himself in a position in which he can be attacked from both sides at once. I do not make an appeal to my noble friend because, with some knowledge of him, I think it would be of little use to do so; but as he intends to go to a Division I hope the House will vote for the principle of the Bill rather than reject it. Behind this House is a long record of distinguished service in several departments of His Majesty's Forces, and I think it should not go forth from this House that when asked to give a lead in the principle that it should be compulsory on all classes to do something for the defence of their country they opposed it.
My Lords, I do not think there can be any one in this House who is more pleased with the turn which this debate has taken than myself. Ever since I came back from South Africa I have written and spoken in favour of compulsory cadet training, and as far as I can gather from this debate that principle seems to commend itself to a great many of your Lordships. I think the Citizen Army in South Africa is an object lesson to us in this country. In the first place, we did not do in South Africa what Lord Haldane did here. We destroyed nothing. We said to the Volunteer corps that were in existence there, "Here are our terms: you can take them or not as you like." The result was, I think I am right in saying, that every Volunteer corps in South Africa came to our terms and formed the nucleus of the Citizen Army there. But in this country it was thought necessary to abolish the Militia, which to my mind was the Force which appealed more to the counties of England than any other Force that you could name. When you speak to people in my county of the Special Reserve they have not the slightest conception whether you are speaking of the Reserve, or whether you are speaking of the Special Reserve or of the National Reserve. It so happened the other day 571 on a golf links that I said to the caddy master, "Who is the gentleman who spoke to me?" "Well," he replied, "he is Colonel Jones in the Army, but he is General Jones in the National Reserve."
What was most important to us in South Africa was the cadet system. We had in Natal compulsory service from 13 to 17 years of age, and as far as discipline, shooting, and physique were concerned those of the senior class of the Cadets would hold their own with, most of the Line regiments that I had out with me in South Africa; and, what is more, when they shot as a team against my Line battalion which was at Pieter-maritzburg they were victorious. General Smuts found exactly the same opposition that we shall find here. There was the peace-at-any-price party, there were the quakers, and there was what I suppose would be analogous to the Labour Party in England. He intimated that he intended to introduce compulsory cadet training throughout South Africa, and when he found that the Labour Party and others were somewhat too difficult for him to get over he said that those who objected to let their sons serve on compulsion would have to send a letter asking for leave to be exempted. He said to me, "You may take my word for it that when they see the mass of boys in the schools going through the compulsory cadet course there will be very few who will ask for exemption," and so it has proved. You see what that Citizen Army has done. I do not think we can give them sufficient credit for the manner in which they mobilised at a moment's notice. Instead of having to call for members when the Citizen Army was first formed, we had 6,000 more than we knew what to do with.
Now let us come back to our own country. I returned with some hope of seeing compulsory cadet training in force in this country. I do not belong to the National Service League, because I feel that compulsory adult training is not now, and will not be in the near future, in the realm of practical politics. I say so because no leader of either Party would be prepared to go to the country and advocate it. But before this Bill was introduced I did consult people who command a high position both in this House and in the other House on both sides, and I am 572 pleased to say that I found that the system of compulsory cadet training would be received favourably by them. I then did what I have been taught to do in soldiering —I looked at the position not only from the defence but also from the attack. I went to see some friends of mine who happened to represent the enemy, and I must say that their arguments were very plausible. They were truthfully put forward, and I think that the word "compulsory" is the word that is so offensive to them.
But we have compulsory education. There are certain members in this House and in the other House who put spokes in the wheel of the Compulsory Education Bill. There were some parts that we did not like. The religious part we did not like. But let me ask you, Is there any one in this House now who will say to me that he does not think we acted rightly in introducing compulsory education into this country? And what does compulsory education mean? It means that the lad should do the best for himself that he possibly can; and what compulsory cadet training means is that he should do his utmost for the good of the country. I wish to give most ample acknowledgment of the work that has been done by the National Service League. If I do not belong to them, it is because when I came back I found another association which met my views entirely. It has Sir George Goldie at its head, and you may remember that at the Norfolk Commission he urged then, and he has urged ever since, the principle of compulsory training of the youth of England. But let me say this. I do not think that there would be the same spirit in the country, that there would be the same recognition of the duty to defend the country that there is now, had it not been for the noble and gallant Field-Marshal Lord Roberts and those who so loyally support him in the National Service League.
What are the advantages that are gained by compulsory cadet training? They are three. There is patriotism, there is discipline, there is physique. For some time I was the commandant of the Church Lads' Brigade. Our motto for them was to do their duty to their God and to their country, and any one who has seen companies of the Church Lads' Brigade working in different parts of England will bear me out when I say that not only has the 573 training changed the lads themselves but the lads have given a tone to all around them. And with that organisation I couple the Boys' Brigade and also the Boy Scouts, numbering, I believe, 150,000. If compulsory cadet training is introduced, I am told by some that we shall knock on the head all these organisations. We shall do nothing of the sort. Wherever, as we did in South Africa, we find anything existent, wherever these associations are, we shall build up to them and instead of weakening them we shall strengthen them. Then, as far as patriotism is concerned, it is a far easier matter to instil it into lads from the age of 12 to 18 than it is to begin with a youth of 18. Then take physique. Am I right or am I wrong in saying that an enormous advantage would be gained to the country if we could manage to drill these boys from the age of 12 up to 18? Any one who has been in the Army and seen the recruit join, any one who has been to Sandhurst and seen the boy coming from the public school, and has afterwards seen the enormous change made even in a fortnight will bear me out in saying that if only we could carry that system of drill and physical training throughout the nation it would do an enormous amount of good to England. As far as physique and patriotism are concerned, I think you will all admit that what I have said is correct. The other matter on which I wish to touch is the subject of discipline. Am I right or wrong in saying that a vast amount of the unrest that exists in England and the false independence that we find is a great deal due to want of training when the boy is young? The training and formation of character which we have at our public schools is most essential and most valuable to us, and if we can only extend it to the cadets it will prove of immense value to that class as well.
We hear a great deal of the defects of the Territorial Army, and I will say this. I wish the Committee of Imperial Defence, which seems to me very secretive, would speak out once and for all and say exactly the number of men they require to render us in a position to allow our Navy and our Expeditionary Force to do their duty abroad. We want no man above the number they name to us. If the number is 500,000, so let it be. You will get from the Cadets by compulsory training a far larger number than you will ever require to make the Territorial Army both efficient 574 and full in numbers. But what I blame the authorities for is that they will not speak out. They will not recognise the fact that the Territorial Army is not in as efficient a state as we would wish. They always bring forward excuses. They make it extremely difficult for men like myself, who have been true friends to them from the beginning, to do our duty to them as we would wish. Let them come forward frankly and state that the Territorial Army is not in the condition that it ought to be, and let them have the courage of their opinions and go forward to the country and say, "We feel that without some system of compulsory cadet training we cannot render the defence of this country secure," and I feel perfectly certain that they would have no more difficulty in persuading the people of this country than we had in South Africa. Our difficulties in South Africa have been far greater than are the difficulties in England; yet we have our schools for Cadets in the towns and in the villages. Those who are away from school we do our best to help, and we do not find the slightest difficulty in letting lads train up to the age of 17.
But you may say to me that there are a large number of schools in this country that do not come under the Board of Education, and that they would not be provided for. Everybody must share and share alike. Any Bill that is introduced for compulsory cadet training must apply to all the schools in England—to the public schools and others just the same as to the schools that come under the Board of Education. I do not feel inclined to support this Bill simply because I am opposed to any system that does not include every class. If we are to fight for the defence of our country we must fight shoulder to shoulder. I appeal to the leaders on both sides of this House to act above Party and to support us in the terms that I am now putting before you and go to the country and ask them to give you compulsory cadet training. And take my word for it, there will be no danger to either Party, and you will live to be thankful for the day that you did so. I thank the noble Lord for having brought forward this Bill. He has given me a lead, and if I do not follow him it is because I see somewhat awkward country in front of me, and I see a lane that I know rather well, and I think that if I follow him perhaps he and I will be at the bottom of the ditch.
§ EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
My Lords, I am sure the House has listened with profound sympathy and respect to the powerful plea, uttered with so much authority and fervour, by the noble and gallant Field-Marshal who has just addressed us, in favour of compulsory cadet training, and whatever happens to the Bill of my noble friend Lord Willoughby de Broke I hope that the common agreed residuum of this debate will be an agreement that active steps should be taken in the propagation of that idea. The noble and gallant Field-Marshal might, of course, have added, had he chosen to develop that line of argument, that the scheme which he was advocating for us here is in successful operation in the Colonies. I was talking only the other day to a man over from New Zealand, who was describing the admirable success which is attending this system of compulsory cadet training there, leading on, as it does in that country and as many of us think it would ultimately do in this country, to service in the Territorial Force. I hope that sympathy with the idea expressed by the noble and gallant Field-Marshal will not evaporate in talk. Every time that we have a debate on this matter everybody gets up and expresses general sympathy with the compulsory training of our schoolboys, and nobody is more profuse in that sympathy and nobody does less to give effective operation to it than noble Lords on the Front Bench opposite. There are, as we all know, difficulties in their way; but if His Majesty's Ministers, following the line which, as we know, was taken by the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack a few years ago, found themselves able to introduce a Bill on the matter, I believe it would meet with universal acceptance on both sides of this House. And if they are unable to accept that responsibility, then supposing my noble friend Lord Willoughby de Broke to be unsuccessful in his quest this evening, if he charged himself with the task I think he would meet with even more agreement on all sides than he is likely to receive this evening.
But I did not rise for the purpose of saying anything about compulsory cadet training, which, after all, is only ancillary to this Bill and does not really arise out of it. I rose for the very limited purpose of explaining in a few sentences, first, what is the nature of the vote that I personally feel compelled to give; and 576 secondly, to join in the appeal that was addressed from many influential quarters yesterday in this House to the members of His Majesty's Government. Now as regards the vote which I personally am going to give on this Bill, speaking for myself—and I cannot commit anybody on this Bench except myself—I am and have long been an ardent and convinced supporter of the movement led by the noble and gallant Field-Marshal Lord Roberts, and I believe myself that only in some form of compulsory national training, perhaps not necessarily that which has so far found expression in a Bill, will be found the real remedy for that national insecurity which I, at any rate, feel profoundly to exist, and which I believe is becoming increasingly recognised by all parties both in this country and in other parts of the Empire. I have no doubt that my noble friend Lord Willoughby shares to the full that belief. And yet I am unable to support him this afternoon. I fully appreciate the motives which have induced him to introduce this measure. I listened with pleasure to the frank sincerity with which he expounded it, and there were moments in his speech when my respect for him trembled on the verge of admiration. Yet I cannot accept his argument.
Lord Willoughby's argument, developed to-day by Lord Ridley, was that we ought to accept this Bill because it is the first instalment of an excellent scheme. I think Lord Ridley said that it was better, after all, to go a short way if you could not go the whole way to begin with; and Lord Willoughby argued the other day that it is for the upper classes in this country once more, as they have so often done in the past, to set the example and to show the way. There is great force in that argument, and if it was a mere question of addressing an appeal to the upper classes, no one, I believe, would more readily respond. But does not the noble Lord see that he is asking us to violate the first principle of the League to which he and I belong? What do we call ourselves? The National Service League. Do we not thereby imply that the service which we recommend is to be compulsory national service? The proposal of my noble friend really involves a contradiction in the terms of the title under which we both wage battle. The form of service which he asks your Lordships to favour would not be compulsory national service but compulsory 577 upper-class and middle-class service, no doubt leading on at a later date in his view to national service. That, I think, is a serious matter for those of us who feel strongly on the question of national service.
Let me say that I do not doubt for a moment the willingness of the upper and middle classes to make the sacrifice if they were called upon to do so. History shows that they would respond to the appeal. But history also shows that the whole basis and system of government in this country is altering, and in the days to which Lord Midleton alluded yesterday, in which the military service of this country was rendered by the upper classes, it was rendered by them in the main because they were the sole governing class in the nation and had the monopoly of government. But now all that is changed. Now that the right of government is shared by, one might almost go further and say transferred to, the democracy, it seems to me that the democracy in taking up the rights is bound to take up the responsibilities as well. That is my first reason for being unable to vote for my noble friend's Bill.
My second reason is one which I think will appeal to him and to any who have spoken, as some of us have done, on public platforms for the National Service League. What has been one of our main difficulties with working class audiences? Surely it has been the belief, the entirely mistaken belief, which is encouraged by Labour speakers and Socialist agitators, that the Army is a capitalist instrument in this country; that it is, so to speak, a weapon in the armoury of the aristocracy. I believe that to be wholly untrue. But you cannot address a big meeting in a working class constituency without seeing that that is their feeling. Does not my noble friend see that if he were to be successful in introducing this system he would encourage the belief that national service is merely a political manœuvre of the upper classes in this country still further, to use a popular phrase, to enslave the democracy and to deprive them of their political rights and liberties? That, I fear, is the result that would ensue. I believe that the acceptance of a measure of this sort would tend to accentuate the division between classes in this country, already serious enough, at the very moment when it should be 578 our common desire to soften and obliterate it. I believe that the views which I am expressing are those of the National Service League of which I am a member, and they are certainly the views of the noble and gallant Field-Marshal who sits ordinarily upon the Cross Benches; and only just now I received a letter from him saying that he is unfortunately unable to be present here this afternoon, but that were he here he would be compelled to record his vote in the Lobby against my noble friend. The noble Viscount, Lord Ridley, addressed an appeal to my noble friend not to go to a Division, but he seemed to realise by some prophetic insight that it would fall on deaf ears. Though I am able to exercise no greater measure of persuasion I would venture to give the same advice to my noble friend, and for the same reason— that a vote on his Bill for or against will not be taken on lines satisfactory to himself, and will not enable the House, for the reasons I have given, to give a real judgment on the principle he has at heart.
I said there was one other matter about which I wanted, with the permission of your Lordships, to say one word. It is this. Last night the noble Lord who spoke for the Government, Lord Lucas, who is not here at this moment, excused himself from entering upon the broad ground of the question of our national safety for the reason that it has been or is under consideration by the Committee of Imperial Defence, and that the Prime Minister would shortly make a pronouncement on the matter. That pronouncement may carry us some stage further; but I venture to submit that it will not carry us far enough, whatever it may be. Whatever form it may take it will be the pronouncement of the Government of the day. It will not reflect, and it need not reflect, the attitude, the policy, and the desires of the nation. In a debate we had here in April of last year on one of these military subjects I ventured to address an appeal to the Government to refer all these questions—the views of the Committee of Imperial Defence, whatever they may be; the question of the shortage in the Regular Army, and the breakdown of the Territorial Force; the question, if you like, of national service—to refer all these matters to a non-Party conference of members of both Houses of Parliament. I mean non-Party in the sense that it would be composed of members of all Parties approach- 579 ing the matter, as I have no doubt it would do, from a public and not from a partisan point of view. I made that suggestion with the full knowledge and authority of the two leaders of my Party, the noble Marquess who sits behind me and Mr. Bonar Law, the leader of our Party in the House of Commons. No answer was made to it. No notice was taken of it. A little later, on an occasion when I happened by accident to have to make a speech at the Albert Hall, again with their knowledge and authority, I ventured to renew the appeal. Again no answer was returned. I am not complaining of that from a personal point of view. I can well understand that my intervention may have been thought to lack the weight and authority that were required to have serious attention given to it.
But, my Lords, what has happened during this debate? The most significant speech in my judgment was that made by the noble Earl, Lord Cromer, yesterday afternoon. Speaking with his unique authority he reiterated and renewed, in far more forcible terms and with a much wider ambit of knowledge, that appeal— the appeal to make the question of national defence a national issue giving us a national policy. My noble friend Lord Midleton, speaking later for this Bench, renewed the appeal in the course of the afternoon. Well, my Lords, I do entreat the noble Viscount opposite, who is going to speak for the Government later in the day, not to ignore these repeated appeals that are addressed to him from really not irresponsible quarters. I can assure him that those who make them are anxious only—that in matters of the security of the country we should think as a nation, speak as a nation, and act as a nation. For my own part, I would be only too glad to surrender any prepossession in favour of this view or that view, if I could feel that the matter was being taken up and pushed forward by all Parties on a common platform. I would be willing even to surrender national service if I could get a national policy, but a national policy cannot be secured if you have divergent military programmes introduced by different Parties as they succeed each other on the political stage in this country. That is all I wanted to say on the second part of the subject, and I hope the noble Viscount will forgive me for having addressed a personal appeal to him and will realise the serious spirit in which I venture to put it forward.
§ LORD LAMINGTON
My Lords, I am glad that the noble Earl who has just spoken made such a strong statement as to the proper attitude which should be taken with regard to this Bill. Several speakers have regarded as absolutely unsound the principle of the Bill, and have declared that it is unpractical in its details; yet they have adopted the inconsistent attitude of saying that they hoped the Bill would be read a second time and discussed in Committee. I can only regard that inconsistent attitude as a striking tribute and testimony to the inspiring personality of the promoter of the Bill. For myself, I regard the Bill as embodying elements destructive of all true patriotic feeling, totally disregarding as it does the fact that every man has common rights and common duties in this matter. What a satire it is on our civilisation if during all these years we have not been able to give something to the community which it is worth their while to protect and defend.
On the other hand, we have Lord Newton's Amendment advocating a far-reaching system of compulsory service. For myself, I do not think that we as a nation have been specially successful in making violent changes. We have generally advanced and progressed by a process of evolution in preference to any very revolutionary change. I think that compulsory physical drill for all schools and colleges is the one practical step that can be taken at the present time. The noble Earl who has just spoken reminded the House that on all sides approbation has been expressed of an advance in this direction, and I might quote what the noble Marquess the Leader of the House said on the subject in February of last year during one of these military debates. He then said, in reply to Lord Lansdowne's appeal for compulsory physical drill—I should be very glad to see at schools of all kinds and grades and containing boys of all ages a more complete system of physical training, and I should not personally in the slightest degree object to seeing it made compulsory.That is a very strong and distinct utterance, and I think it should form the basis of an agreement between the two Parties for the adoption of this system. The noble and gallant Field-Marshal Lord Methuen, and the noble Lord on the Cross Benches, Lord Sydenham, both spoke very strongly in this regard, and I am sure that if the National Service League directed 581 their attention to this particular branch of military training they would carry the country with them.
There is one argument which has often been used, particularly by the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, with regard to the difficulty of establishing any compulsory system in this country. It is declared that it would be inconsistent and incompatible to have compulsory service and a large Army that may be required to serve abroad. I have never heard that argument elaborated or heard it stated on what it is based. One would like to know why those who have given great attention to this subject say that such a principle would be impossible of adoption in this country. The Lord Chancellor did elaborate it to some extent when he said that Germany found it difficult, with her large system of conscription, to provide a small oversea Army; but I do not think there is any true analogy between our Army being called upon to serve in India and in garrison stations and an Army called upon to serve in South-West Africa. One would like to know the official reasons for regarding it as absolutely inconsistent that there should be two systems—an oversea Army together with compulsory service for home defence.
Certainly at the present time something does require to be done to save this country from the panic-stricken condition to which it is liable merely when a great Power accelerates the building of ships and the alarm to which it is prone lest the calling away of the Navy from our shores would leave us exposed to invasion. Only last night Sir Edward Grey said in another place—Your foreign policy must depend very largely on your naval strength.And our naval strength is naturally dependent upon the possibility of our Fleets being called away to take action in whatever sea they may be required to serve. The idea of trusting to the Navy entirely to save us from risk of invasion must restrict and hamper the Navy's power of action. In our foreign affairs in different parts of the world we can believe that the Foreign Secretary's power of action has been considerably restricted by the knowledge that our military defence is not on a secure basis. I trust, therefore, that something may come of this debate. There 582 seems now to be general agreement that compulsory cadet training would be approved by the people of this country; and if only the two Parties would come together on these lines I think the bringing forward of this Bill, though I cannot agree with either its principle or details, will have done good by eliciting this common agreement.
§ THE DUKE OF BEDFORD
My Lords, I rise to support the Second Reading of this Bill. I am not a member of the National Service League, but I am in favour of the principle of this Bill—namely, for the classes who are well off to set an example in the matter of military service. I must say that I am greatly concerned at the rapid and decided shrinkage of all our military forces. I remember the noble and learned Viscount when he was Secretary of State for War telling me, in the course of a military debate, that I attached far too much importance to the counting of noses. Now I do attach great importance to the number of noses you have in your military forces. In July of last year the present Secretary of State for War, Colonel Seely, rendered a very interesting Return comparing the establishment and the strength of our military forces as they were in 1903, and as they were ten years later in 1913, and I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to that comparison. We know from this year's Army Estimates that our military forces have decreased in numbers since last July, but the decrease is not material. It appears from the Return which I have mentioned that during the last ten years the total establishment of all our forces has been reduced—I use round numbers—by 150,000 officers, noncommissioned officers, and men; and the strength—that is, the number of men actually serving—has been reduced by 106,000. We have 106,000 fewer serving soldiers now than we had ten years ago. That is the equivalent of five divisions— not skeleton divisions, but divisions at war strength. If we compare the establishment of ten years ago with the strength of last July, we find that the Government now ask us to be content with 235,000 fewer serving soldiers than were considered necessary for the defence of the United Kingdom and the Empire ten years ago.
During the last ten years the nations of Europe, under the recurring pressure of acute international tension, have con- 583 sidered it prudent to increase their naval, aerial, and military armaments. Under similar pressure our Government has considered the period opportune to make sweeping reductions in our land forces. And those reductions have not been compensated by any reduction in expenditure, because I notice that the Army Estimates for 1903–4 were less by £223,000 than those for 1913–14. Now, if you take the Regular Army, which is by far the most important branch, you find that in 1903 the establishment and the strength corresponded. There was no deficit. The establishment of the Regular Army has been reduced during the course of the last ten years by 29,000; and on that reduced establishment you have now a deficit of no fewer than 8,000 non-commissioned officers and men. I should very much like to know whether those sweeping reductions in strength and establishment are due to the fact that His Majesty's Government are convinced that the peace of Europe is assured, or are they due to the failure to obtain a proper number of officers and men? Any way, the failure of the Territorial Force and the collapse of the Special Reserve seem to leave His Majesty's Government quite unmoved. Even the rapidly dwindling numbers of our Regular Army fills them with no anxiety.
We were assured the other evening that we need not trouble ourselves about deficits because we now have a new Force. His Majesty's Government are always inventing new military forces. This time it is the National Reserve. You may remember that when the National Reserve first came into existence it was known as the Veteran Reserve, but that title was far too suggestive of the true nature of the Force. It gave the whole case away. It proclaimed that this Reserve was composed, not entirely but in very great measure, of veterans—men who were past the age for active service. For the men of the National Reserve I have the greatest respect. They have served their country well and been good soldiers in the past. But we shall not find the solution of our military problem in the mobilisation of the fathers and of the grandfathers of the boy soldiers with the Colours. We know that there are many thousands of boys in our military forces who are too young for active military service, but their fathers and grandfathers are too old. Besides, it is obvious that as the number of serving 584 soldiers diminishes so must the numbers of the National Reserve diminish, because the output of the Reserve-creating machine is always being lessened.
If we are to have an Empire we must have an Army for service overseas. We cannot occupy India by means of the Fleet. The British Fleet no longer girdles the world, but is now permanently tethered to our shores. This is where the difficulty comes in of the National Service League proposals. They make no provision for a foreign service Army. Take the case of what happened 100 years ago. We all know that the Napoleonic wars were brought to an end not by Trafalgar, but by Waterloo. The principle of the National Service League, home defence, would be of no use in a crisis of that kind, because the men obtained under it could not serve on the Continent. They are never to cross an enemy's frontier. That is a great drawback. Armies in European countries, when the need arises, march from one country to another. We have never raised men by compulsion and sent them on foreign service. It has been done by Continental countries; for instance, it was done in the case of Spain when she sent her Army to Cuba, and it was done in the case of Italy when she sent her Army to Africa; but it has never been done—indeed, it would be impossible—in this country. Therefore it seems to me that foreign service presents insuperable difficulties to the National Service League plan. The position is most serious. The Government have no remedy for checking the shrinkage of all our military forces. The Bill does propose a remedy—namely, that the duty of national defence should be placed upon those classes who are well off, thus freeing those who are in less fortunate circumstances from the burden of military service. I agree with that principle, and shall vote for the Bill.
My Lords, like a great many other members of your Lordships' House I have considerable hesitation with regard to my vote on this Bill; and my hesitation is due to the fact that, like the great majority of officers serving in the Territorial Force, I feel that it is most urgent and imperative that steps should be taken to remedy the deficiencies of that Force. Speaking from the Yeomanry point of view, I can assure you that it is most difficult to get suitable members for that Force. I ask, what incentive is there to 585 any man who reads the papers to enter the Force nowadays? He reads nothing but bad of it—it is wanting in efficiency; it is dwindling in numbers. A man joining a football team, or a cricket team, or a crew, would far and away prefer to get into a good team or a good boat. I am certain that to induce recruits to come forward you must impress them with the fact that they are going to join a good and useful Force. I am certain that the way out of the difficulty is that there should be some mild form of national service which would give us a sufficient number of trained men capable of undertaking the defence of the country and freeing the Expeditionary Force at a shorter time than is now considered probable.
How does this Bill help us? As far as I can see, hardly at all. The only way in which it does help us is from the point of view of compelling young men —boys in public schools and certain men who wish to take their degrees at the Universities—to enter the various corps. That is all very well, my Lords; but that does not suit us from the point of view of getting men into the Territorial Force. What we want is some system of national service, and so long as Lord Newton's Amendment holds the field I shall most certainly vote for it. But, per contra, if Lord Newton—which I should be sorry to see him do—withdraws his Amendment and Lord Willoughby's Bill is still before us, I shall most certainly vote against it. I should do so because I feel that the best course to pursue would be to await the statement of the Prime Minister after a decision has been arrived at by the Committee of Imperial Defence, and to hope that the Party in power will then join hands with the Opposition in lifting the Army out of the arena of Party politics. Any recommendations tending to an increase of strength and efficiency will, I am certain, receive the strong support of members sitting on this side of the House.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, my noble friend who has introduced this Bill has certainly no reason to complain of the reception which it has met with in your Lordships' House. He has encountered criticism, but it has been friendly criticism; and I think every one has recognised that the ideal of which my noble friend is in pursuit is a very chivalrous and attractive ideal. But I 586 am afraid I must go on to say that I feel quite unable to go into the Lobby with my noble friend if he divides the House on this Bill. I am not going to dwell at length upon the technical imperfections of the measure, although a good deal might be said about some of them. For example, I cannot myself see how it would be possible to fit the new system which my noble friend proposes to introduce into any military system with which we are at present familiar. Again, I doubt the possibility of drawing the arbitrary line which he has endeavoured to draw between schools supposed to be frequented by the sons of the wealthier classes and schools frequented by the sons of parents who are less wealthy. I have an idea that in some schools you would very likely find that there were boys belonging to both classes attending. Again, I do not like the idea of the sumptuary line in consequence of which persons with an income of £400 a year will find themselves involved in this new liability, whereas less wealthy persons will escape it. I think the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack suggested to us on the first night of this debate that it would not be at all unusual to find the same individual with a fluctuating income, which would at one moment bring him on to one side of the line and at the other let him drop back on to the other side. The person so situated would be in a kind of cat-and-mouse position; sometimes liable, sometimes not liable. Then, again, I cannot help thinking that the new penal Income Tax, which my noble friend has incorporated in his Bill is, to say the least of it, rather a formidable fence for this House to ride at.
But, my Lords, I do not desire to press these points, because if I find fault with my noble friend's Bill it is upon the broad ground of principle rather than on account of its details. To my mind the principle of my noble friend's Bill is at fault, because I hold very strongly that, whatever be the burden of liability which we desire to impose upon the people of this country in respect of their share in national defence, that burden should fall evenly upon all classes of the community and not upon the shoulders of a single class. I cannot help fearing that the effect of my noble friend's Bill would be to set up in this country a kind of military caste, and I believe that any change of the kind would be greatly resented, not only by 587 those who found themselves included within the limits of the caste, but by those who found themselves excluded from it. It seemed to me, therefore, that when the noble and learned Viscount set to work to demolish my noble friend's Bill he had a fairly easy task; but I thought his task became less easy when he proceeded with his endeavour to establish the position which he himself desires to occupy in regard to these matters. The noble and learned Viscount's speech breathed, as indeed most of his speeches do, almost unlimited satisfaction with the state of things with which we are at this moment confronted. He told us, and I have no doubt he was perfectly correct, that we had a very fine Overseas Army; and he has told us at various times that although he regrets the deficiency in the numbers of the Territorial Army, he does not regard that as in itself a very calamitous misfortune, and he has bid us to look to the new National Reserve, of which I think he told us 60,000 are liable for service abroad.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
And he regarded that as a very valuable accession of strength. Then when the noble and learned Viscount came to the Regular Army he had to admit that it was very much below its proper strength, and he met that by the observation that the units never are full, and that this particular shortage would, he hoped, soon be made good. The equanimity with which the noble and learned Viscount regarded this matter is in somewhat marked contrast with the attitude of his colleague the First Lord of the Admiralty, who two or three days ago, in explaining his Naval Estimates to the House of Commons, went out of his way to say that it was unfortunate that, in a year when five great Powers were increasing their naval expenditure by fifty millions sterling, the British Army should be actually diminishing in number. So that the First Lord of the Admiralty evidently does not regard that shortage with entire indifference. Then it seems to be not less unfortunate that the Territorial Army should be 60,000 short of its proper strength. But it is not short of men only; it is short of officers, and, as we have been told by one speaker after another, it is grievously snort of training. I remember that two 588 years ago the Secretary of State for War announced in another place that if an invading army of 70,000 men were to find their way on to our shores the 400,000 Territorials would "eat them up." It now appears that we have not got the 400,000 Territorials; and after what we have been told as to their efficiency, it seems to me extremely doubtful whether they would be able to "eat up" a completely equipped and disciplined force of invaders.
It seemed to me that in the case of the noble and learned Viscount there were two distinctly weak points. In the first place, we have been given to understand that our ability to take a part in a great international struggle depends largely on our ability to send away the Expeditionary Force not only at short notice but at the outset of hostilities. The question that people are asking themselves is, What will be the military value of the residue of troops which will remain behind in this country when the Expeditionary Force has left our shores? We have been officially assured that there will be a sufficient number of trained men still left in the country. We want to know what is meant when you talk about "a sufficient number of trained men." I am quite ready to accept what I have always understood to be the basis made use of by the noble and learned Viscount himself. I understand that in his opinion and in that of his colleagues there ought to be a sufficient number of trained men, in the first place, to account for any sporadic raids which might be launched against our shores; and, in the next place, to compel any invader to come here in such strength that he would not stand any chance of evading the Fleet which would be looking out for him; and, for the purposes of convenience, the number in which the invader is supposed to make the attempt is taken at 70,000 men. I do not take that as a figure intended to be mathematically correct but as approximating to the kind of force that the advisers of the noble and learned Viscount have in view. Now, may I venture to insist upon what seems to me to be an elementary proposition? If the force left at home, after the departure of the Expeditionary Army has taken place, is to be sufficient to deter a smaller army than the 70,000—let us take 50,000 for the sake of argument—it must be strong enough to defeat that army whenever it arrives at our shores. That seems to me 589 to be perfectly obvious. What we would therefore like to know is whether there really will be, in the case I have supposed, a military residue sufficient to account for, let us say, an invasion of 50,000 trained and properly equipped soldiers?
We have been met by the statement, first made by the noble and learned Viscount and afterwards by Lord Lucas, that the whole of this problem of invasion is being re-examined, and that we are to have a full statement of the result of the investigation. By all means let it be re-examined. It is quite clear that the problem is one which changes from time to time, and we are all of us glad to know that it is reinvestigated from time to time. But what I should like to put to the noble Viscount opposite is this. Is there anybody who supposes for a moment that the conditions of the problem since it was last examined in 1905 have altered to our advantage? I believe, on the contrary, that it is universally admitted that if the conditions have altered they have altered to our disadvantage, and that both by sea and on land we are at this moment relatively weaker than we were in 1905. Therefore I await with some interest the answer which the noble Viscount will probably think it desirable to give to my noble friend Lord Midleton's challenge, when Lord Midleton asked him whether he was able to tell us that the General Staff of the War Office were really satisfied that our position was one of reasonable security.
The other point which struck me as being a weak one in the noble and learned Viscount's case was this. Let us suppose that this country finds itself involved in a prolonged war. How are we going to fill up our depleted cadres and make good that enormous wastage which, as we all know, takes place whenever war on an extensive scale is being carried on? I remind the House again of the weighty words used by the Norfolk Commission in 1903. We were then told that the true lesson of the South African War was that no military system will be satisfactory that does not contain powers of expansion outside the limits of the Regular forces of the Crown, whatever that limit may be. I should like to ask whether His Majesty's Government think that we have, either in the Territorial Army or in the National Reserve, the means of the kind of expansion which the Norfolk Commission had in contemplation?
590 We have been discussing the steps which might be taken to meet this condition of things. My noble friend Lord Newton has on the Paper an Amendment destructive of Lord Willoughby's Bill and committing those who will vote for it to support of the principle of universal compulsory military service. I listened with attention and interest to what was said by my noble friend Lord Cromer last night upon this subject. I agree with him when he tells the House that if this question of universal compulsory service is ever to be seriously taken up it will have to be taken up on the recommendation of one of the great Parties of the State backed by an overwhelming body of public opinion; and it seems to me out of the question that your Lordships should by a side wind, on an Amendment moved from the Back Benches to the Bill of a private Member, commit yourselves to so colossal an enterprise. I say quite frankly that I do not believe that at this moment the condition of public opinion with regard to compulsory service is such as to justify either Party in attempting to press it upon Parliament. That feeling is common to the Front Benches on both sides, and not on account of what I might describe as mere Party timidity. I believe the people of this country regard the idea of compulsory service with grave misgivings, for several reasons. In the first place, I believe they are profoundly convinced that, while in some directions it would give us a great deal that we do not want, in other directions it would fail to give us what we do want. I believe they also consider that the introduction of compulsory service would gravely interfere with the prospects of recruiting in the Regular Army. And, lastly, I think many people hold that, our financial resources not being unlimited, the effect of introducing a great and expensive change of this nature would be to divert money from the Navy to the Army, with the result that we should find what we all rightly regard as our first line of defence seriously weakened.
But when I say this I am very far from suggesting to your Lordships that there is nothing to be done to meet the difficulty which many of us apprehend. The remarkable feature of this debate has, I venture to think, been the amount of support given by a number of Peers who have addressed your Lordships and who are eminently qualified to express an 591 opinion upon subjects of this kind, to the idea of compulsory cadet training. The speeches delivered by Lord Sydenham, by my noble friend behind me, and, to-night, by Lord Methuen—whose earnest appeal in favour of compulsory cadet training we shall not readily forget—all seem to me to have contributed to greatly advancing a cause which I, for one, have from time to time strenuously advocated in this House. I believe that while public opinion is not ripe for compulsory service it is ripe for compulsory training in our schools and continuation schools. I believe that if we could train every lad in the country in the rudiments of drill, in the use of the rifle, in habits of discipline, we should do not only a great service to the Army but a great service to the cause of education. We spend, I think it was said last night, £30,000,000 or £40,000,000 upon the education of the children of this country. It is compulsory education, and scarcely a year passes that we do not extend its scope. We now include in it such matters as the compulsory inspection of the eyes of the children, their teeth, their personal cleanliness, and so forth; and why we should not take a step further and make it our business to inculcate in them while they are still young the great fact that they are to be citizens of this country and that they may some day have to shoulder a rifle in its defence, I cannot for the life of me see.
I really feel as if I were in the position of preaching to those who are already more than half converted. I recall the admissions that have been made from the Benches opposite. Have your Lordships forgotten the memorable speech made two years ago by Lord Herschell, speaking on behalf of His Majesty's Government, a speech in which he dwelt upon the value of physical training whereby the bodies as well as the minds of the country's youth would be developed? And then he went on to say—In this process of training in gymnastics, physique, and discipline, it may well be that the use of arms and simple military formations would add to the self-respect of our people and lay a foundation on which a great scheme of national defence might be based if unforeseen dangers and combinations should menace the integrity and liberty of the country.I ask for no better definition of the kind of policy which I should like to see adopted, and which I think the noble and gallant Field-Marshal had in his mind, than the official description of that policy given by 592 Lord Herschell. A gain, what better evidence can we have of the value and of the possibility of such an innovation than the case of the Boy Scouts, to which several of your Lordships have referred? I regard the Boy Scout movement as certainly one of the most important developments that has taken place in the life of this country; and I think that all those who have had any opportunity of seeing how this movement has worked, of seeing the extraordinary transformation which it has operated in these young lads who have become associated with General Baden-Powell's great movement, will realise that all the omens are encouraging to a further step in the same direction. But there is other authority behind this proposal. There is the authority of the Poor Law Commission, which advocated physical training of this kind. There is the example of the Dominion of Canada; there is the example of South Africa, dwelt upon with great force by my noble and gallant friend; and there is the authority of the noble and learned Viscount himself, who, as we all know, desired in his original Territorial Bill to make room for some system of training of this kind, and who, unless common report is to be disbelieved, departed from his original proposal in deference to objections the force of which was brought home to him.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT HALDANE)
I think I must ask the noble Marquess to let me say that that is somewhat mythical. The proposition in the original Bill was a very small one indeed. It was only this, that the County Associations might make a contribution, if they thought fit, for assisting cadet training and other things in the case of the various schools of the country. That remained in the Bill, and is there to this day. The alteration that was made was that in State-aided schools boys under sixteen years of age were not to have public money spent on them; no public money was assigned for that purpose. That was the only limitation made. I have always been, and am now, very much in favour of including in national education the physical development of which the noble Marquess speaks, and carrying it into disciplined forms; but I thought it so unimportant at the time that, with a choice of either imperilling the Bill or letting that slight alteration be made, I made it rather than run the risk of wrecking the Bill. At any rate, it is a small matter.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
I am sorry if I have misunderstood the noble and learned Viscount, but I am glad to have elicited from him so frank a statement of his adhesion to the principle which I desire to press on your Lordships. The noble and learned Viscount almost relieves me of the necessity of citing an admirable passage from his introduction to Sir Ian Hamilton's little book on "Compulsory Training." The noble and learned Viscount wrote in 1910—I am with them [that is, the National Service League] in thinking that physical training ought to be organised as an essential part of our educational system … The principles of organisation so admirably illustrated by the Cadet and Boys' Brigade systems, and by Sir Robert Baden-Powell's Boy Scouts, appear to me to be altogether good and proper for adoption by the State.Well, my Lords, if they are altogether good and proper for adoption by the State, why do not His Majesty's Government pluck up the courage of their opinions and present us with a proposal, which would receive a great deal of assent from both sides of the House, for the introduction of a plan of this kind? I hope the noble and learned Viscount will adhere to, and endeavour to enforce, the policy to which he has thus given his support. He will, unless we are mistaken, have a great opportunity. He is, we understand, about to produce a great measure of education, and we shall certainly be disappointed if his scheme fails to include some proposals of the kind which I have been endeavouring to describe.
But let me beg the noble and learned Viscount, if he is inclined to entertain this idea favourably, to beware of his colleague at the Board of Education. I do not mean to say of the particular Minister now in charge of education, but of the attitude of the Education Department. To my mind it has been a great misfortune that the two Departments, the Board of Education and the War Office, have always behaved as if they were in water-tight compartments and had no common concern in this question. This most unwise attitude of aloofness—so I can only describe it—was expressed some years ago by Mr. Birrell when he had charge of the Board of Education. He announced that whilst he was President the Board of Education should never become the auxiliary of the War Office. Now, I venture to think that that is a 594 heresy. I think the two Departments ought to be auxiliary, the one to the other, and make common cause; and I believe that if the noble and learned Viscount does succeed, as I hope he may, in getting the two Departments into line, he will very likely succeed in getting the two political Parties into line also.
We have heard something during this debate of the evils of the Party system. I do not think we are the least likely to get rid of the Party system or its inherent vices; but I do think that with a little goodwill we may be successful in lifting some questions altogether out of the rut of Party politics. Foreign affairs, as we all know, are by common consent treated in this manner. I remember venturing to suggest—and I do not regret the suggestion—that the great question of housing, in which we are all concerned, might be so treated. But I am quite sure that this question of compulsory cadet training is one which the two Parties would be ready to deal with if they were given a chance of doing so. If the noble and learned Viscount were to succeed in an attempt of that land he would have taken a long step in the right direction; he would have done something to teach the young people of this country that citizenship means not only the enjoyment of rights but the performance of duties, and that one of the most sacred of those duties is that every citizen shall fit himself, so far as his opportunities permit, to bear an efficient part in the defence of his country.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (VISCOUNT MORLEY)
My Lords, I cordially agree with the noble Marquess that the speech made by the noble and gallant Field-Marshal (Lord Methuen) is one that those of us who heard it will not soon forget. The noble and gallant Field-Marshal gave us a most interesting account of the operations in South Africa, but I would point out to him, what he cannot of course ignore, that the conditions of South Africa are entirely different from the conditions of this island. Any proposal carrying compulsion with it, whether for cadets or adults, cuts very deep into the social life of any community; and noble Lords must be well aware that the difficulties, in spite of the advance of public opinion to which the noble Marquess refers, are very considerable. And I may say this, 595 without offence, that I do not think you will make the acceptance of compulsory cadet service more palatable by introducing it, as to-night, in connection with compulsory adult service. It may be popular in itself, but it is not likely to become more popular from any sort of association, direct or indirect, with compulsory adult service.
The noble Marquess has put a number of military questions to me, and if it were convenient I believe I could give him what he would admit to be, if not complete, at any rate very valid answers, for I chance to be a member of the Imperial Defence Committee and I have been an especially studious attendant at the inquiry that has been going on for a year upon the subject of invasion. But one question has been put to me by the noble Marquess which, coining from him, caused me some astonishment. He repeated a question which was put last night by the noble Viscount who sits next to him, Lord Midleton—namely, would I tell the House whether the Chief of the General Staff and the General Staff are in favour of this or that policy?
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
The question which I asked was whether the Chief of the General Staff is satisfied with the present condition of preparedness, especially in the event of the Oversea Army being despatched abroad.
The answer is simply that those two authorities whom the noble Marquess and the noble Viscount are curious about, concur in the unanimous findings of the Defence Committee on invasion. So much for that. But what astonishes me is that the noble Marquess should think it a proper thing to ask for the opinion of the General Staff, and so forth. Surely the person, and the only person, to put questions of that kind to is the Minister. It is not the Chief of Staff who is responsible; it is the Secretary for War or his representative here. That is the whole difference. To introduce the idea that a member of either House is at liberty, or that the Front Opposition Bench is at liberty, to ask what the opinion of officers in the Army is, is just as absurd and unreasonable and contrary to tradition as if you were to insist upon asking Sir Edward Grey what was the view of the Ambassador at Constantinople, at Washington, or at Berlin.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
This is so important a point that I hope the noble Viscount will excuse my interrupting him. In a pretty prolonged experience of representing the War Office I have always found that the distinction drawn has been this. As to the number of troops to be maintained the opinion of His Majesty's Government, and, therefore, of the Secretary of State for War, was asked; but as to the military value of any troops the technical advisers' opinions have been asked for and given to the public over and over again. I asked for the military advisers' opinion as to the value of the forces which would remain in this country after the Expeditionary Force has been sent out.
§ VISCOUNT MORLEY
Of course, it is a fair thing, and not beyond custom and practice, to ask whether a given type of gun has the approval of the authority at the War Office responsible for guns. That is a different thing. But as to the distribution and the use and the numbers of the Army, it is quite against all practice and against all sound principle to go behind the Minister. The noble Viscount last night asked for a non-Party inquiry into the sufficiency of our defences, and to-night the noble Earl opposite (Lord Curzon) has appealed to me to tell him what view the Government take of the idea which he has proposed twice or thrice, I think he said, and which was proposed last night by Lord Cromer, that there should be this non-Party inquiry. The noble Earl did not specify exactly how he would constitute it, but he did so partially. It is to consist of representatives of the two Front Benches, and they are to have a joint session.
§ EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
I did not limit it to the two Front Benches. I said representatives of both Parties in both Houses of Parliament. They need not necessarily come from the Front Benches.
§ VISCOUNT MORLEY
That makes it worse rather. You are going to have an inquiry by two sets of men, amateurs, men who are not soldiers or sailors; and this junta is going to form an opinion upon all these expert questions requiring expert knowledge and expert power of decision. I cannot see that that would serve any useful purpose. Let us look where we are. The Committee of Imperial Defence was started by Mr. Balfour shortly before his Government withdrew.
§ A NOBLE LORD: In 1901, I think.597
§ VISCOUNT MORLEY
So be it. It was started by Mr. Balfour. But it has been amplified since then. For my own part, I do not conceal that I have always viewed the peril of a Committee of Imperial Defence in reference to the authority and power of the Cabinet; but that does not concern our present issue. Whatever else may be said of the Committee of Imperial Defence, two things are true. First, it is not a Committee of partisans; and, secondly, too much cannot be said for the impartiality with which they endeavour to explore the facts and draw reasonable and logical inferences from them. If Lord Roberts were here he would say, I am sure—he desired to come to meetings of the Defence Committee, and he, with some of his friends, came several times—that nothing could exceed the labour, the patience, the accuracy of analysis of figures, and all the rest of it, which characterised those proceedings. I happened to be presiding over a sub-committee—I think it was on the use of troops in Egypt—and the noble Earl (Lord Curzon) was good enough to come to our meeting and give us his views, which, as I believe he knows, had a marked effect upon the findings of the committee. Therefore we ought to have, I think, a kinder judgment of the Committee of Imperial Defence than the noble Earl seems to give.
§ EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
I did not either say or imply one word of suspicion or distrust of the Committee of Imperial Defence. But no Committee of Imperial Defence will ever give you a national policy. That is what I wanted.
§ VISCOUNT MORLEY
It is not the business of an Imperial Defence Committee or of any Committee to give you a national policy.
§ VISCOUNT MORLEY
But the noble Earl wants a new committee, a new junta, after his own fashion. Does not that imply discontent with the existing Committee of Imperial Defence?
§ VISCOUNT MORLEY
I am asked, Are you sure that there is a margin of safety now in the case of invasion or other conceivable peril?
§ VISCOUNT MORLEY
To be sure. My answer is this. The Imperial Defence Committee of 1905, Mr. Balfour's Committee, came to conclusions; Mr. Asquith's Committee in 1908 came to the same conclusions; and you will find that Mr. Asquith's Committee of 1913–14, which is just on the verge of finishing its labours, has come to the same conclusions. And what are those conclusions They were stated by Mr. Asquith a fortnight ago in replying to the National Service League. He said—I should not be dealing candidly with you if I did not say that, speaking with a very full sense of the responsibility which attaches to those who are for the time being the stewards and trustees of our national resources in the matter of defence, in my judgment, looking to the condition and the equipment of our Navy upon the one side and of our home forces upon the other, I see no adequate ground for the apprehensions which are expressed in your memorial that the dangers to this country of invasion are greater, or the capacity of this country to render a thoroughly good account of any would-be invader is less, than they have been at any previous time in our history.That is the short summary of what the Prime Minister will eventually explain to the House of Commons. I submit that the identity of the findings of three successive Committees—this last Committee sat for a year and has been most laborious, and its findings are unanimous and supported, or not dissented from, by the military authorities about whom I have been asked—is an answer to the statements about our lamentable condition.
I have been in public life long and variously. I have seen hundreds of Bills discussed, but I have never in all my experience seen a Bill so knocked to pieces as the Bill of Lord Willoughby de Broke. I cannot help saying this, in spite of one's admiration for his high spirits and eloquence in introducing the Bill. I have never seen a Bill so knocked to pieces, not by his foes but by his friends. To-night the noble Marquess dealt some extremely harsh blows to it. But, of course, the critical judgment upon the Bill is that of Lord Roberts, which he gave the House last night. This is what Lord Roberts said, and what he said from his point of view is exactly the opinion formed from our point of view—Instead of appealing to the working classes to accept a system of universal military training 599 it would accentuate the division between the different classes; it would create jealousy in the minds of the poorer classes that the wealthier classes were trying to get full possession of the military power.The two great principles on which Lord Roberts has been for some time past endeavouring to obtain a national home defence army are—first, that the duty of defending this country is incumbent upon every man no matter what his rank; and, second, a natural consequence of that, that the citizen Army should be thoroughly democratic. Lord Roberts continued—This Bill cuts at the very root of both these great principles.The word "democratic" is worth thinking about for a moment. Every noble Lord who has spoken, or nearly every one, has been jealous of being thought less democratic than anyone else. But what sort of democratic principle is this? It is admitted by the noble Marquess and by Lord Curzon that these proposals would be odious—Lord Roberts even used that word—to the great majority of the people of this country. The noble Earl spoke with pathos as to the difficulty of getting working men in great audiences in the North of England and elsewhere to listen to it. Then what becomes of democracy? You are going to have a little junta of experts and other people, and they are to impose this upon this community to whom the whole thing is thoroughly repugnant. And that is called democracy! There have been hundreds of definitions of democracy from Aristotle down to, I dare say, Lord Willoughby de Broke; but I cannot imagine a definition so ridiculous as to call this operation democratic.
§ VISCOUNT MORLEY
We were charged by Lord Ridley with having said nothing against the Bill beyond certain quasi-historic observations from my noble friend Lord Lucas. Well, I have taken the trouble—I hope every noble Lord has done the same—to master the Bill and all its contents. Lord Stanhope on the first night made a very interesting speech. He said that the Bill meant compulsion for the loafer. Now, that may be true; and I should like to have seen that made the preamble of the Bill. Though I am not myself partial to preambles, I should have been glad to see a preamble to this Bill 600 and to have seen it take this form, that this is a Bill to place compulsion upon loafers. Then I say to myself, Where do the loafers live? I am dismayed when I turn to the first schedule of this Bill and find that they live in places which are hallowed in my memory—in the public schools and Universities; and that those at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and great classes of people in the City are all classified, under Lord Stan hope's interpretation of the Bill—and not denied by Lord Willoughby—all classified as loafers.
§ VISCOUNT MORLEY
Oh, I know. I quite agree with the noble Earl. But when they are enumerated in a schedule of two or three pages—all the public schools are named, all the venerable Universities, and so on—it looks a little awkward; that is all I can say. And when people assert that compulsory service, drilling, and so forth will teach the educated classes in public schools and elsewhere manliness, discipline, love of truth, and all the other virtues, I ask, Have they none of those qualities now? Is there a nation in the world whose standard of manliness, discipline, self-control, and love of truth is higher than the standard in this country? I am amazed that in full view of Europe there should be this attempt, first of all to show that our military resources are wholly inadequate to their task; and, secondly, that as a people we need a new stimulus to learn to be manly and truthful. I think that is great nonsense.
As we have been reproached on this side with neglecting the Bill I would like to say one or two things upon it. This Bill has some by-products, if you will take the trouble to think of them. Will not the putting of this burden on the old public schools be a stimulus to parents to send their children to other schools? You may be sure of this, that there are millions of parents to whom the whole idea of military compulsion is repugnant, and they will not willingly send their boys to a school where military compulsion is an element. And then, why is the stockbroker to be scheduled? Why not the average adjuster, and hundreds of other classes? But I will not go farther through this ludicrous 601 schedule. The noble Marquess himself said that the Income Tax is rather too strong an order to be considered even for a moment.
Then there is a clause to which I will call your Lordships' attention, for if there is any responsibility going to be undertaken by the House it ought to be recognised. Clause 11 says—If any person liable to serve by virtue of this Act is convicted of wilfully evading or attempting to evade service under this Act, or for any reason is discharged with ignominy from service under this Act, the High Court, or, in Scotland, the Court of Session, may, on the application of the Army Council, order that he shall, either permanently or for any time specified in the order,—
Now that is the Bill to which your Lordships are asked to give your approval. You are asked to vote for it, and a great many noble Lords apparently are going to do so. Lord Ridley to-night used the expression that we should be stultifying ourselves by this or that—I forget what. But surely the best friends of the House of Lords would regard serious treatment of such a Bill as this, containing such proposals as these, as a real stultification of a great constitutional duty.
- (a) Be incapable of holding any office whatsoever in the service of the Crown;
- (b) Be incapable of sitting as a member of Parliament, or of being registered as an elector or voting at any election, whether parliamentary or municipal, or for any public office."
§ LORD NEWTON
My Lords, as I believe the House has been nominally discussing my Amendment, although I have heard very little about it this evening, it may be as well if I respond to the appeal that has been made to me to withdraw it. I should like to say in the first place that it appears to me that this appeal has been made to the wrong man. If an appeal to withdraw should be made at all it ought, in my opinion, to be made to my noble friend who introduced the Bill. The Amendment which stands in my name is one which embodies a principle of an extremely important character; and I quite admit that it would be little short of an absurdity to vote upon a question of this importance after the desultory discussion we have had, and in view of the fact that the occupants of the two Front Benches, with one or two exceptions, have declined to discuss this Amendment at all. On the other hand, the Bill of my noble friend is, if I may say so without disrespect, a mere airy trifle, the passing 602 of which has little importance at all. The Second Reading, if acceded to, of this Bill would have just as much effect as passing a resolution with regard to the military service performed in the planet of Mars. The most astonishing reasons have been given by noble Lords for supporting the Second Reading. Nearly every noble Lord who has taken part in the debate and announced his intention of voting for the Bill has done so because he thinks it such a weak Bill that he proposes to expose those weaknesses in Committee. My noble friend Lord Ampthill even said that he would support the Second Reading, amend it in Committee, and, finally, move its rejection on the Third Reading. That seems to me to be a cat-and-mouse attitude, and to imply an extremely callous temperament on the part of my noble friend. I do not want to complicate the issue on this particular occasion. I therefore ask leave to withdraw my Amendment, and, being more logical than my noble friend Lord Ampthill, I propose to vote against the Bill, although I do so with a certain amount of reluctance.
§ LORD WILLOUGHBY DE BROKE
My Lords, I have been told that I have the privilege of making a reply to this debate.
THE EARL OF CAMPERDOWN
At the present time the House is discussing Lord Newton's Amendment, which he has asked leave to withdraw. Of course, any remarks that are made must be strictly limited to Lord Newton's Amendment.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The Question ought to be put whether the House gives leave to the noble Lord to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD WILLOUGHBY DE BROKE
I appeal to your Lordships whether it is not the privilege of one who has introduced a Bill for Second Reading to reply. I will take the sense of the House about it. I decline to take the ruling of Lord Camperdown.
§ LORD WILLOUGHBY DE BROKE
My Lords, I assure you that I am not going to abuse the privilege which you have so kindly granted me, especially after your kindness in giving this Bill and other matters such an exhaustive discussion. I am extremely grateful to those noble Lords who do not agree with what I have ventured to put forward for the courteous way in which they have treated this measure. But I am not saying anything which is disrespectful to your Lordships when I say that in my humble opinion I have not heard a vast deal of valid argument against the principle, at any rate, of this measure. The noble Viscount who spoke for the Government to-night dismissed the Bill as ludicrous and ridiculous. Well, it is too late to follow the speech that he made. But I think your Lordships will agree with me that his remarks about my Bill, coming from that Bench, would have been a great deal more effective if he and his friends had some proposal of their own to restore the military efficiency of the country. If they would bring an alternative proposal forward and let us look at it they would stand much better with the country in criticising the proposals of others.
One or two points have been brought forward in connection with this Bill which I should like to address myself to for one moment. The precocious clergyman to whom the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack alluded, in a speech for which I thank him very much indeed, and on whom it would appear hard that he should have to continue to train every year between the ages of, say, eighteen and thirty, is guarded by subsection (2) of Clause 5 of this Bill, by which it is provided that anybody who comes under the scope of the Bill can perform the whole of his training at one period between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one. By that method he would release himself, having served for twelve months, from the annual training for the next ten years with the exception of the musketry course. The noble and learned Viscount also suggested that we were imposing a new kind of tax. Well, in Clause 13 of this Bill there is a provision that the duties in lieu of service should 604 be collected on the same basis as the Income Tax is collected at the present moment, but that in the estimation of a man's liability to serve his income shall be arrived at by the same kind of method as was suggested by this Government in deciding whether or not a person is entitled to the enjoyment of an old-age pension. Lord Lucas, in saying that any rich man can contract out of this Bill, cannot have given very much study to the measure, because in Clause 10 there is an express provision that—Every person to whom this Act applies who, without leave lawfully granted or such sickness or other reasonable excuse as may be allowed or granted in the prescribed manner, fails to attend when required for training or service in pursuance of this Act, or to attend on such occasions as he is required to attend for the purpose of fulfilling the conditions relating to training prescribed for his branch of the service, or evades or attempts to evade training or service under this Act or the payment of duties in lieu of service, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment with or without hard labour for a term not exceeding six months, or to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds, or to both, and on summary conviction to imprisonment with or without hard labour for a term not exceeding three months, or to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds, or to both.It may be unconstitutional for a member of this House to propose fresh taxation, but it was necessary to do so, and I put this proposal in the Bill deliberately in order to illustrate the meaning and the intention of the Bill, and if the Bill goes further I shall be only too pleased to cut out any financial provisions which we cannot insert in this House, and in the event of its going down to another place they can be inserted there.
I will not take up your Lordships' time by going through the speech that my noble friend Lord Newton made following upon the introduction of the Bill. I am extremely glad that he has been so good as to withdraw his Amendment, which complicated the issue very much indeed. We shall now be able to have a straight vote on the Bill. Call it by whatever name you like, this Bill will impose an obligation of a certain kind on certain sorts of people. But the principle of the measure is that it is much more a voluntary assumption by the comfortable classes of an obligation to their country than a compulsion of those classes. Of course, we shall use compulsion where there are any to whom this Bill applies who are recalcitrant and do not want to satisfy their obligations to the 605 country. I believe, however, that there will be very few of them; and those are the only ones to whom the term compulsion can properly be applied.
One point has been left out in the consideration of this Bill in this House. It has been omitted to be observed that the whole essence of the measure is that while it is compulsory for what are called the upper and comfortable classes, it is voluntary for the poor. What we say to those who have a greater share of this world's goods is that they should shoulder the burden, if it be a burden, of military service, and that they should call upon their poorer neighbours to perform the same duty voluntarily. Now, military service is either an obligation or else it is a privilege. If it is an obligation, I cannot see what argument there can be against those who have the greater share of this world's goods being the first to set an example in undertaking that obligation, and inviting their poorer neighbours to do the same thing. If it is a privilege, I cannot see what objection any one can have to assuming it himself and inviting the rest of the world to share in that privilege. My noble friend Lord Ampthill, with Lord Nelson, believes that England expects that every man should do his duty. That is quite right. But we have gone on expecting that for so many years without their having done so, that I for one think it is high time we made a start with those who, it is obvious, should be the first to perform these duties.
We have not heard from the Front Government Bench any proposal at all with regard to fortifying the military position of this country; but we have heard some extremely interesting proposals, from the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition, from Lord Sydenham, and from the noble and gallant Field-Marshal, with regard to cadet training in schools. Might I point out to your Lordships that this Bill laready schedules no fewer than 118 schools in which membership of the Cadet Corps will be made compulsory by the terms of the Bill. Nobody can go beyond me in my desire to see every boy in every school trained in a military manner, and, what is more than that, trained in the tradition of duty to his country. But if noble Lords on this side think that they are going to get the co-operation of noble Lords opposite for that purpose, I believe—I hope I am mistaken—they have made a very great mistake. I do not see Mr. Philip Snowden 606 and Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, and supporters in the House of Commons of noble Lords opposite agreeing to the kind of cadet training which I, for one, should like to see, which would be the forerunner of universal military training in this country. I believe that directly there was the slightest danger of what these gentlemen call "militarism" appearing in a consideration of that kind, they would submit to their representatives on a conference between the two Parties, such as is proposed by Lord Curzon, that they had better stop at that; and the same kind of pressure which was responsible for shutting down the proposal of the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack with regard to cadet training on a previous occasion would be brought to bear again.
The main objection to my Bill seems to be—it was put with remarkable force by Lord Curzon—that this proposal would create a class distinction. I understand and sympathise with that argument; but there always have been, and there always will be, class distinctions of a kind in almost any country you can think of. And I contend that this proposal would raise a new class distinction that I. should like to see take effect here in England. I should like us to think of people, not according to who they are but according to what they are. People should be measured by the amount that they propose to give to their country instead of by the amount that they propose to get out of their country, which is rather the standard by which people are measured to-day. This Bill affords an opportunity to the country of at any rate making a beginning in marking people off into classes of character rather than into classes of rank or into classes of wealth.
I am grateful to the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack for his extremely kind reception of the principle of this Bill. He said it is a fine principle. He thought it was a fine thing that those who were prosperous and fortunate should show the way in the path of duty to those who were not so talented or so gifted. That is evidently not the view of Lord Lucas, who I am sorry to see is not in the House this evening. I was glad that Lord Lucas said what he did. It was a delightfully naive, unconscious exposition of plutocratic Whiggery, which is working so much havoc in the social life of this country at the present moment. Lord Ridley dealt with the frame of mind of the modern Radical who ransacks the spirit of the ages and 607 says, "This proposal is not in accord with ancient traditions, and therefore I, as a Radical, can have nothing whatever to do with it." Lord Lucas laid bare that terrestrial, grovelling, mischievous theory that the collection of money, the acquisition of wealth, is only a means of buying comfort for yourself and gaining privileges which the poor people cannot aspire to. Well, if that were the spirit of the age—which, permit me to remark, my Lords, it is not— then I think the sooner we in this House made ourselves responsible for altering that frame of mind the better.
But I do not think Lord Lucas's history is very correct. He began by saying that the greatest authority of all had preached this doctrine of property and duty in vain. Well, if that is so, I am content to be on the same side as that authority. But he went on to say that all through the ages it had been found impossible that the theory of duty could really be connected with property. I say that his history is quite wrong. I do not profess to have read history so closely as many noble Lords have, but I was always brought up in the belief that William the Conqueror came over here and deliberately organised this
§ Resolved in the negative.608
§ country on the theory that the enjoyment of property, land, and privilege carried with it the performance of military duty, and that the people who did not exercise their gifts of property, did not utilise their land for the public good, did not perform the military service to the Crown which the enjoyment of that property gave them the obligation to perform, had their land and their privileges very properly taken away from them. But we have a much more modern illustration of that to-day. There was a caste amongst the Japanese called the Samurai who set an example to their country that has been the talk and the wonder of modern civilisation. I will now ask your Lordships to take the Division. We have all of us explained our votes, but I cannot in the least tell whether those explanations will be accepted outside. I am very glad that we are going to have a straight Division on this Bill without the complication of Lord Newton's Amendment. The effect of the Division must be for the British public to judge.
§ On Question, That the Bill be now read 2a?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 34; Not-contents, 53.607
|Bedford, D.||Esher, V.||Harris, L.|
|Falkland, V.||Hylton, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Halifax, V.||Lawrence, L.|
|Lovelace, E.||Ridley, V.||Monk Bretton, L.|
|Morton, E.||Ribblesdale, L.|
|Northbrook, E.||Bangor, L. Bp.||Sandys, L.|
|Rosse, E.||Abinger, L.||Sempill, L.|
|Selborne, E.||Ampthill, L.||Somerton, L. (E. Normanton.)|
|Stanhope, E. [Teller.]||Atkinson, L.||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Stradbroke, E.||Barrymore, L.|
|Wicklow, E.||Camoys, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|De Saumarez, L.||Willoughby de Broke, L. [Teller.]|
|De Vesci, V.||Ellenborough, L.|
|Haldane, V. (L. Chancellor.)||Harrowby, E.||Gorell, L.|
|Morley of Blackburn, V. (L. President.)||Loreburn, E.||Grimthorpe, L.|
|Plymouth, E.||Haversham, L.|
|Portsmouth, E.||Hindlip, L.|
|Devonshire, D.||Russell, E.||Hollenden, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Hothfield, L.|
|Bath, M.||Allendale, V.||Lyveden, L.|
|Breadalbane, M.||Knollys, V.||Manners, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||St. Aldwyn, V.||Newton, L.|
|Lincolnshire, M.||Parmoor, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||Avebury, L.||Pirrie, L.|
|Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)||Plunket, L.|
|Chesterfield, E. (L. Steward.)||Carew, L.||Rowallan, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Charnwood, L.||Sanderson, L.|
|Cairns, E.||Colebrooke, L. [Teller.]||Saye and Sele, L.|
|Craven, E. [Teller.]||Courtney of Penwith, L.||Shaw, L.|
|Cromer, E.||Digby, L.||Southwark, L.|
|Curzon of Kedleston, E.||Emmott, L.||Weardale, L.|
|Derby, E.||Faber, L.|