§ LORD TEMPLEMORE rose to call attention to the continued shortage of officers and other ranks in the Territorial Army, and to the rumours of further reductions in the Regular and Territorial Armies; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, the last time I ventured to address your Lordships on a Service matter, when I brought forward a Motion on Territorial Army 1019 recruiting about a year ago, my experience of the Territorial Force was gathered at second hand. Since that day I have thought it my duty to join one of the local battalions in the county in which I live and I therefore shall address your Lordships to-day with first hand information. I have put down a fairly broad Notice in order that we may have as wide a discussion and get as much information as possible. I understand that my noble friend who is going to follow me will speak on the Regular Army and on Army policy in general. I shall confine my remarks to the Territorial Army.
§ In the first place, may I say how very much impressed I was on my first training this year with the excellent stamp of officer and man in the brigade in which I have the honour to serve, and the keenness of all ranks to become efficient in their duties. Secondly, I was exceedingly surprised and very pleased to find the real interest which is now taken in the Territorial Army by the Regular Army. During the time we were out on training we had first of all a demonstration platoon under a very able and efficient officer from the depôt of the Hampshire regiment, who came to teach us the organisation of an infantry platoon and the latest method of attack. We had also a machine gun officer from the Regular battalion at Portland, who came with his machine gun section to teach the machine pain officers and men this part of their training. We appreciated all that very much. I am an old enough soldier to remember the relations—or the want of them—between the Regular Army and the Volunteers and the Territorial Army in my early soldiering days, and I must say that the change is now very pleasant. We of the Territorial Army are deeply grateful to the officers and men of the Regular Army for the way in which they "play up" in this matter, and also to the War Office, which, after all, is the prime mover, for their part in introducing this very much better state of things.
§ I pass from that exceedingly pleasant outlook to the subject of the strengths as compared with the establishments, which is not quite such a pleasant subject. Last year, the noble and learned Viscount who leads the Opposition—who, I regret to see, is not in his place to-day—found 1020 fault with the speeches which were made, and especially, I think, with mine, because, he said, there was a great deal too much arithmetic in it. I know what the noble and learned Viscount meant, and to a great extent I agree with him. He meant that you should not sacrifice numbers to efficiency, and that as long as you have got a good type of man it does not particularly matter whether your units are up to establishment or not. I agree with him up to a point, but only up to a point, because I do think that when the numbers are so low that training efficiency suffers in consequence, they are a good deal more important than the noble and learned Viscount perhaps thinks. However, I should like to assure him that, at any rate to-day, I will not overdo the arithmetic.
§ Now I pass to the figures, which I have taken from the Annual General Report of the Army, dated September 30, 1925. These are the last official figures which I could get. I find that, whereas on September 30, 1924, the establishment of the Territorial Army was 180,132 of all ranks, the strength was 142,804, leaving a deficit of 37,328, on September 30, 1923, the establishment was 183,732 and the strength was 145,684, which leaves a deficit of 38,048. That means that, although there were about 3,000 more men in the Territorial Army, the deficit increased by 720. That was due, no doubt, to the increased establishment, which, I imagine, was due to the air defence brigades which are now in course of formation. I should like to know from the Under-Secretary what the figures are now and whether the deficiency will be made up in any degree, or whether the Territorial Army will continue to do what I and many others are afraid of—simply mark time, and not make up the deficiency to any appreciable extent.
§ When I turn to the different Divisions in the United Kingdom the same fact stands out as I mentioned last year, namely, that the Divisions in the North of England are very strong, and those in London and the South of England are uniformly weak. For instance, to quote some more figures—and these, with all respect to the noble and learned Viscount, who, I am glad to see, is now in his place, are the last figures I shall give, because figures are dull things—the Northern Command, consisting of three Divisions. Army troops and air defence brigades, 1021 has a deficiency of only 3,700; in the Scottish Command, consisting of two Divisions, Army troops and coast defence troops, the deficiency is only 3,630. But, when we come South to the Eastern Command, in which there are two Divisions and Army troops, the deficiency is no fewer than 9,280; the deficiency in London, with two Divisions, Army troops and air defence brigades, is 8,810; and in the Southern Command, two Divisions, Army troops and coast defence troops, it is 6,500.
§ The shortage is mainly in the infantry units, some of which are lamentably weak. I know from my own experience that the brigade in which I have the honour to serve went to camp this year lamentably weak. If your Lordships remember that a Territorial infantry battalion has only twenty officers and 636 other ranks, your Lordships will readily realise that any serious shortage in those numbers means that the unit goes to camp in a condition which militates very much against any serious military training. I should like to know from the noble Earl the Under-Secretary, when he replies, how the strength of infantry battalions now compares with the strength on September 30, 1925. I am rather afraid from the units I know that they are not increasing very much.
§ The most serious point in my opinion, rather more serious in a way than the deficiency in men, is the shortage of officers. On September 30, 1925—I am quoting as on the same date all through—the deficiency on an establishment of 7,789 was no less than 1,795; this deficiency, of course, being in subalterns. That goes to prove that men are not joining from the officers training corps in the way in which it was hoped they would do. Your Lordships will readily understand, when, as I say, the establishment of officers is only twenty, that if you go out two or three short by the time you have taken off the Commanding Officer, the second in command, the transport officer, the machine gun officer, the messing officer and all the various officers that we have now in our up-to-date Army, it leaves very few subalterns to command the platoons, which is a very great disadvantage from the point of view of military training. The 1022 noble Earl the Under-Secretary may say to me: "What is your remedy for this?"
§ LORD TEMPLEMORE
He does say so. And he may say: "You are a Territorial officer; you are bringing forward these grievances or deficiencies; what do you propose should be done?" That would be a perfectly fair question and as in a speech like this I never like to make destructive criticism only, I propose at once to offer him one or two suggestions, some of which I made last year and some of which are new, for what they are worth. I hope they may be of come assistance in the matter. All I want to do, as I am sure we all want to do, is to assist the War Office in solving its problems. May I say at once that I am not for a moment going to propose any increase of pay or allowances for the Territorial Army. To do so in the present financial state of the country would, I am sure, be useless, and in my opinion it is not necessary. I think that the rank and file are well enough paid, and as regards the officers most officers' messes are efficiently and economically conducted and with reasonable care in their wine bills and extras the captains and subalterns—who, after all, are the people most affected—can. I know, take away a good proportion of their pay to their homes at the end of their training. Therefore I shall not suggest anything of that kind. In fact, I have in my pocket a paper, which I shall be pleased to give the noble Earl privately; showing, I think, how he can save money on the Territorial Army without in the slightest degree impairing its efficiency.
You have to popularise the Territorial Army in other ways. You must in this matter as in everything else study the psychology of those concerned. You want to make your Territorial Army think a lot of itself and think that it is in fact, as it is supposed to be, the second line behind the -Regular Army. The first two propsals I have to make I made last year. The first is that we should make the Director-General of the Territorial Army a member of the Army Council, with all the additional prestige that would accrue from that honourable position. I do not know that there is any difficulty about it. I rather fancy 1023 that during the War there was a Deputy Chief of the Imperial General Staff, which position no longer exists. I think he was made a member of the Army Council and I really cannot see why the D.G.T.A. should not have the same honourable position. Secondly, I think the War Office might make a thorough canvass of employers, especially those in London and the South of England. As I said last year, I am in favour of a King's Roll being started for this purpose. After the War a King's Roll was started for employers who employed exsoldiers in their manufactories and works. That was an excellent thing and I think a similar institution might be started for those employers who encourage their men to train with the Territorial Army.
My third proposal is a new one and one which, I think, will readily occur to noble Lords as being suitable. Whenever any member of the Royal Family goes to any provincial place to open a bazaar or do anything of the kind, the local Territorial unit ought, wherever possible, to furnish the guard of honour. A little thing of that kind does a tremendous amount to stimulate local esprit de corps. I would let them have preference over the local Regular unit if there is one, which, after all, might not be and probably is not a local regiment at all.
My fourth suggestion applies principally to the supply of officers. I think the War Office might make—perhaps they have already done so—very urgent representations to the head masters of schools and colleges that their boys as they leave should join the local Territorial unit. I was delighted the other day to see that the headmaster of my old school, Harrow—whether in a speech or otherwise I do not know—in talking about social service for young men, stated that one of the great services young men leaving schools and colleges could render was to join their local Territorial battalion. Words like that from such a source do nothing but good, and I very much hope that the War Office will follow that up, because I think it will have a considerable effect in increasing the number and quality of officers. My fifth proposal is, perhaps, a minor matter, but it would encourage Territorial officers in a way. The half-yearly distribution of the Order of the 1024 British Empire and other Orders might be more lavishly made. It means a great deal to a Commanding Officer if, on finishing his service he is certain of receiving an Order or decoration of that kind. I always think that such decorations give pleasure to a great many people and, so far as I know, they are fairly inexpensive and do no harm to any one.
I had meant to raise this question of the recruitment of the Territorial Army some months ago, and I was doubly impelled to do so when I read a somewhat alarming statement in a London morning newspaper about a month ago, threatening all kinds of reductions both in the Regular Army and the Territorial Army. The noble Earl may say to me: "Do not believe everything you see in the newspapers."
§ LORD TEMPLEMORE
I do not think I do, but I am afraid that in the case of reductions in military forces it is generally found that there is no smoke without fire. I should very much to hear from the noble Earl, if he can tell us, what reductions are indeed contemplated. The article I am quoting from said that a recruiting campaign which was going to be undertaken by the 47th (2nd London) Division had been stopped. Anyone who has had any experience of recruiting knows very well that once you stop the recruiting for a particular regiment or corps that order has a very far-reaching effect. The word goes out that a particular regiment or corps does not want any men, and when you again do want men for it and re-open the corps for recruiting it takes a very long time to get the recruiting into full swing. I am perfectly well aware that the noble Earl, in a public speech he made shortly after this article appeared, said that it was not the ordinary recruiting that had been stopped for this Division, but a special intensive campaign.
Even so, I am inclined to think it was a wrong move on the part of the War Office. Very nearly everyone of the infantry units of that particular Division is well under strength and anybody who would imagine that any campaign, intensive or otherwise, at this time is going to increase the battalions beyond their establishment, unless that establishment 1025 is a very low one indeed, must be suffering from a very severe attack of optimism. We are threatened, according to the article with a reduction of units and with amalgamation of units. I do say to the noble Earl, the Under-Secretary, that I hope nothing of the kind is anticipated. Of the two evils we would rather have reduction of the establishment. I happen to serve now in a battalion that was amalgamated, the 5th/7th battalion of the Hampshire Regiment. I can assure the noble Earl, the Under-Secretary, that we are now, four years afterwards, just beginning to recover from that amalgamation. If any amalgamations are proposed they will have a very detrimental effect on the Territorial Army in general, and I hope nothing of the kind will be attempted.
While I thank your Lordships most sincerely for listening to my personal remarks, I make no apology for bringing this subject before the House. As the noble Viscount opposite, from whose speech I have already quoted, said last year—and in this I cordially agree with him—these matters are not discussed nearly enough. It is a matter, I think, of very real regret that there is no recognised opportunity in this House as there is in another place for debating Service matters. In another place, as we know, the main opportunity arises on, going into Committee of Supply, with which subject your Lordships, for better or worse, have nothing to do. Therefore it is left to Back Benchers of this House to bring up Motions of this kind, and I think we should be failing in our duty if we did not do it.
I am quite aware that in these days those of us who take an interest in such matters are rather liable to be accused in some quarters of having a military mind and being lukewarm, or perhaps hostile, to the League of Nations. That would not be a fair criticism. None of us, at any rate those of us who had a fairly close acquaintance with the late War, could ever be indifferent to an institution which hopes to lessen the chances of war and, possibly, in the end, to do away with it altogether; but that time is not yet. Certain forces by land, sea and air are considered necessary by the nations of the world for the defence of their territories and for the garrisoning of their Colonies and Dependencies. 1026 This country has done its share and, in the opinion of some of us, more than its share, in reducing its forces since the Armistice eight years ago. It is now our duty, I consider, as a practical people to do what I know is being done in every country that I can think of both in Europe and outside it—namely, to safeguard our somewhat exiguous forces, of which His Majesty's Army, both Regular and Territorial, forms so important a part. I beg to move.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
My Lords, my noble friend who has just sat down has no reason to apologise either for the fact of bringing forward this Motion or for the manner in which he has presented it to your Lordships. He has spoken with great knowledge and has made some suggestions to which, I hope, my noble friend the Under-Secretary may be able to respond. I would ask your Lordships to believe that it is in no spirit of hostility to the War Office or the Government, but realising fully the extraordinary difficulties in which the country is placed with regard to its armaments, that I venture to carry the matter a little further and, under the second sentence of my noble friend's Notice, ask your Lordships to consider not merely what the state of affairs generally is, but also what the apprehension of reduction rests upon.
My noble friend below (the Earl of Onslow) shook his head when the question of believing what is in the newspapers was alluded to by Lord Templemore, but I have, I am afraid, another form of apprehension, which does not come from the newspapers. We all know that the finances of the year have been seriously interfered with by industrial trouble. We all equally know that to obtain more money for the Army between now and the time the Estimates are presented in February would require a surgical operation upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer which I should myself be sorry to undertake. The difficulty of the position is not only that the Army, as I shall endeavour to show your Lordships, has become immeasurably weak, but the Estimates of this year, so far as I can discover by a most careful study, have only been brought down to their present level by resorting to the expedient, which is always possible (as the noble Viscount 1027 opposite knows) but which is an extremely dangerous one, of cutting down stores and living on your capital. So far as I can see that has been done to the extent of between £1,000,000 and £1,500,000 in the present year. In other words, the available supplies for the Army of munitions and the like must, in consequence, be increased next year, or there must be a further cut in the stores which some day must be replaced and the absence of which is certainly a matter that causes all of us who have had to deal with these things in the past very grave apprehension.
My noble friend Lord Templemore made it quite clear that the state of a good many regiments of the Territorial Force is such that they could not possibly be mobilised. Every military man—and I only wish there were more present to-night—knows that if you have a battalion of 500 to 600 and, as in the case of the Territorials, perhaps one quarter of them recruits it is absolutely impossible effectively to mobilise it if there is a big shortage. To turn out 300 to 400 men and call it a battalion, or to turn two battalions together in a hurry, is a thing which really is not akin to mobilisation at all. But the worst, the most serious trouble is that whereas we used to have the Militia between the Line and the Territorials we have now nothing. You go straight to the Territorials.
Before I trouble your Lordships with the figures of reductions—which I very much doubt whether any man present has ever realised—I would like to recall to your minds for one moment the manner in which the great strength of the Army was built up. It was not built up in expectation of a great war. The strength of the Army as it was in 1914, or as it was left when my noble friend below me (the Earl of Balfour) resigned from the government in 1906, was what Lord Wolseley and Lord Roberts had insisted upon in order to provide the numbers which successive Governments had declared we must be able to send abroad. The reductions which you are now making, which have been made and which you are asked to be content with, are not reductions of an exaggerated establishment based on the Great War but of the establishments which were denounced as insufficient after the Boer War, and indeed before the Boer War, by all the military men who had to deal with them. 1028 That is most serious. Will your Lordships realise the figures? In 1914 the Regulars numbered 186,000; they are now 159,000, a decrease of 27,000. The Army Reserve was 147,000; it is now 96,000, or a decrease of 51,000. The Special Reserve was 63,000; it is now 11,500, a decrease of 51,500. The Territorials were 232,000; they are now 147,000, a decrease of 105,000. The total decrease on an establishment of 648,000 is no less than 234,500 men. The strength to-day as compared to the strength before we entered the Great War, or before we entered the Boer War, is down by 234,000 men. That is really a very serious consideration.
The noble Viscount and I do not agree on many military points, but there is one point on which, I think, we shall be equally agreed, and I am sure the adviser of every Secretary of State has felt that the one thing on which you cannot afford to economise is artillery. That was the doctrine of Lord Wolseley and Lord Roberts. I am going also to quote a remark which made the greatest impression on my mind, made by my noble friend below me who has never failed to stimulate whatever he regarded as necessary for the defence of the country. My noble friend once said that this country was a rich country with a small Army. One could not improvise artillery; it was our business to have an artillery out of all proportion to our infantry. I believe sounder doctrine was never preached from a military standpoint. What has been done about artillery since the War? Of the old establishment four batteries of horse artillery have gone and thirty units of field and garrison artillery, 7,600 men, which, of course, on mobilisation means a much larger number, because these 7,600 men have not been created reservists. We shall, therefore, in two or three years time be far worse off than we are at this moment. In addition to that, sixteen battalions of the Line have gone—seven battalions of the Line for India added to nine battalions which were reduced when the noble Viscount opposite was in charge. Of cavalry, three regiments have gone and others have been reduced almost to a skeleton.
It may be said that there is not money for all these and that it is necessary to make these changes, but I really would 1029 ask whether we have any right in 1926 to scrap all that successive Cabinets, under the advice of successive Commanders-in-Chief, proved to the country was necessary thirty years ago. It may be said that this has been done solely on the ground of economy. Well, if economy had gone all round I should not be standing here with the same confidence that I do this afternoon. But has economy gone all round Men have been cut down and stores have been cut down. I would put to my noble friend below me the extraordinary state of affairs which is disclosed in these Estimates of the expenditure on the non-combatant services by the War Office. We are not able to consider these things, as my noble friend said, as the House of Commons can do, but with your Lordships' permission I would like to give one illustration of what seems to me to be absolutely faulty finance. You have 234,000 men less to administer. You are not ordering stores as you were. Therefore you have certainly no necessity for a larger finance branch than you had in 1914 or in 1906. You might even have expected that there would be some reduction in the financial cost of administering an Army reduced by more than one-third. What are the facts? In 1914 the financial staff of the Army numbered 369. To-day they are 758—more than double to administer less than two-thirds of the force. The cost would naturally go up with larger pay. The cost has gone up from £129,000 to £280,000. I submit that there is an excessive number of high appointments, which no doubt grew up during the War and which have not been cut down.
I am by no means charging the whole of this on my noble friend's Department. I believe there was an Accounts Committee and they established a system of cost accounting which, from the memorandum of the Secretary of State, it is clear would have brought on the country a charge ultimately of £300,000 a year in addition to all that was spent before on Army finance. It seems to me that at a time when you have got to cut down combatants it is Midsummer madness to do this. You have no right to clip the Army in order to maintain the War Office. Rather you should clip the War Office to maintain the Army. That is a point on which presently, on two or three 1030 proposals which I will venture to put before your Lordships, I will specially dwell. I know I may be asked: What do you think is the remedy I have said I do not charge this entirely upon the War office. I am speaking now of the changes. The first remedy is that the Government should regard the War Department as it was regarded in times past, as a technical Department which a man requires some period to master. At all events you should give him time, because there is only one man in the Department who can really cut down expenditure, and that is the Secretary of State. It is perfectly useless to suppose that a body of civil servants, however loyal, will fail to fill up posts which they have learnt to regard as necessary.
What successive Prime Ministers will not understand is that you cannot change the Secretary of State every few months without jeopardising the efficiency of the Army and the economy of the Department. In the last thirteen years there have been eleven changes of Secretary of State. In fact, there has been a new Secretary of State every few months. Thirteen years ago it was General Seely, then Mr. Asquith as Prime Minister, then Lord Kitchener, then Mr. Asquith again, then Mr. Lloyd George, then Lord Derby, then Lord Milner, then Mr. Churchill, then Sir Laming Worthington-Evans, then Mr. Walsh, and then Sir Laming Worthington-Evans a second time. That compares with four changes in the previous thirteen years. The same story applies to the Chiefs of Staff. They have been changed about and they have not occupied their positions on an average more than two years. You cannot have economy or efficiency if you make these constant changes and do not give a man the opportunity of, so to speak, "getting his eye in" before you proceed to remove him to another Department.
I would not ask my noble friend to answer these questions on the spur of the moment, but I urge him, if I may, to consider them and to see whether, in spite of all the difficulties of finance, we cannot help ourselves out in two or three respects. In the first place, we are 100,000 down on the Reserve. There are now probably 3,000,000 men in this country who have had military training. I would ask the War Office seriously to consider whether, by giving a bonus here and now 1031 to men who have had a year or two of training with the Forces, they might not increase the Reserve. The Guards' training enables them to keep three-year men for nine years in the Reserve. One or two years' training in the War is equal to at least three years' training in peace. I would ask my noble friend to consider whether, by offering terms which are not like the terms by which soldiers are kept with the Colours at present, you cannot gain some considerable accession to the Reserve and utilise men who have had the unique experience of the War and who would not join the present Army Reserve, but would be a complement to it, to be called upon after the outbreak of war.
In the second place, I would add one more to the proposals made by my noble friend Lord Templemore with regard to the Territorials. When Lord Roberts became Commander-in-Chief the first thing that he did was to realise that the strengths and the degree of training of the Territorial Army were very varied. At present you have something like 150,000 men in small detachments some battalions are far weaker than others and in some parts of the country they are better trained than in others. Lord Roberts proposed to offer special terms to certain brigades to bring them more in contact with Regulars and make them available for the first shot before the others were called out. I would ask my noble friend to consult the officers concerned and to see whether that scheme of Lord Roberts, which held the field so long as he was Commander-in-Chief, cannot be applied now, so that we may have a Division of Territorials which would be more or less available to follow the Expeditionary Force.
I should like to ask a small supplementary question, which is nevertheless very important. Whenever economy is called for by a reduction of men, the first thing that is done, having stated the strength of a regiment at 700 or 800 men or whatever it may be, is to say: "We can cut off a certain number by counting the men at the depôt as part of the strength of the regiment." If that is ever done in our present condition we are absolutely asking for trouble because, with a very small Army, when the main force goes the one thing you ought to keep is the training staff to train others 1032 who will follow. I would ask my noble friend to give us an assurance, as he will probably be able to do this afternoon, that depôt staffs will not in the future be put on the strength of the regiment, as has sometimes been done in the past.
Further, I would appeal to the noble Earl the Leader of the House that this question of an enormously superfluous War Office should be taken up and dealt with. I believe that no more popular thing could be done than to bring down the War Office at least to the establishment at which it stood before the War. You have no right to sacrifice the Army in order to keep an exaggerated staff for supervision. I noticed that Lord Templemore, at the end of his speech, expressed a fear that he would be accused of not sufficiently believing in the prevailing idea of the reduction of armaments. I submit that the course that has been taken is exactly the same hazardous course upon which we embarked after the great war in 1815. We who are outside the Government can only be guided by those who have all the knowledge at their fingers' ends. I remember a speech made by the noble Earl, the Lord President of the Council, three or four years ago, in which he pointed to the number of wars and military engagements that had taken place since the Peace of Versailles was signed, and, if I remember aright, he lamented on that occasion the extraordinary fact that, after this terrible blood-letting, people were apparently even more likely than before to fly at each other's throats. That is a danger that we cannot altogether shut out.
I am far from wishing to see exaggerated armaments, but I do think that what was judged to be necessary by the Governments from 1895 to 1915 should not be reduced without very careful consideration and that at all events we should take care that every sovereign that is available for the service of the Army goes towards men and munitions and not in clerks, accountants and supervisors, who run up an expenditure of £300,000 or £400,000 that the Army can ill afford to lose. I would only ask in conclusion that, if possible, my noble friend will give us an assurance that we shall not entirely rest on our oars. The present position is not satisfactory, and I am not sure that it is inevitable. It 1033 is from that standpoint, and only from a desire to see the best solution, subject to the financial necessities of the nation, that I have troubled your Lordships this afternoon.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
My Lords, I think that the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Templemore, has again rendered real service by bringing forward this subject in the House of Lords. It is very desirable that these things should be discussed more than they are discussed, in order that we may come to clear ideas and that those ideas may reach the public. Before I come to touch on the specific proposals upon which Lord Templemore has dwelt, I should like to say something about the more general matters raised by the noble Earl who has just spoken.
There was a reference to disarmament and the reduction of armaments. The reduction of armaments is the policy of the world just now, and I think it is a policy which can only be safely followed if the world itself embarks upon it. One single nation cannot reduce armaments. It is all very well to say that it sets an example to others. It may put itself in a position in which it is not safe, and that proceeding, as history proves, generally costs more in the end than it saves at the beginning. I believe that any armaments can be reduced if the nations of the world come to a general agreement that they ought to come down. It may well be done, but it is a question of organisation, and of organisation accepted all round.
That word "organization" brings me at once to the substance of the suggestion of the noble Earl opposite. I am not one of those who thinks that the strength of armies depends altogether upon the number of noses you can count. I have a very strong impression that the course of military history during this century shows that the strength of armies depends upon organisation. Of course you must have enough to organise, but organisation is vital, and that is why I am not prepared to make any general attack upon the establishment of the War Office, without knowing more than I do. Even its finance department comes into a very important position. There has been in the past a vast wastage of stores and money, and the finance department is very valuable in calling attention to the 1034 military aspect of these questions. I am not one of those with short experience of the War Office. I was at the War Office for six and a half years, but the advantage I had is as not so much in being there a long time—I mean the advantage of understanding—but the advantage that from September, 1906, onwards, I had a highly competent General Staff to advise me, and I relied upon their advice.
The work of that General Staff was to devote itself to organisation, and the discoveries which it made were both copious and convincing. The noble Earl, Lord Midleton, has spoken of mobilisation, and I agree that the power to mobilise is the test of the efficiency of your Army. In 1906 we could not mobilise a single Division. We had not a Division. It was a new unit which the labours of the military experts brought to light and introduced into the Army. If you had wanted to make a Division you would have had to get together a lot of scattered units which had not been trained together. There was only one single battalion in the country which could be sent to war.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
Then I must challenge that remark of the noble Viscount from every point of view. I must honestly say that he has given an absolute caricature of what he found in 1906, and what is more, for five years before no troops had ever been brought to any station the units of which were not going to be brought out with the troops in that station and commanded by the officer of the station.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
I must jog the memory of the noble Earl. Was there a single Division in the organisation of the Army? Yet every civilised Army in Europe was organised in Divisions.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
There was the Aldershot. Division, and also a Division on Salisbury Plain, and they were capable of being assembled for manœuvres in two days.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
Then I must ask what position these Divisions had. 1035 Had they been trained together as Divisions? No. A lot of varying units had come there. However much you may call them Divisions they had never been organised as Divisions, and had never manoœvred as Divisions. There were no Divisions in those days, and if and when you went to war you had to put them together. You would have had to put them together, and mobilisation would have had to be a matter of months. That was ascertained by the investigation not only of the General Staff but of the Committee of Imperial Defence, who investigated and reported upon the matter. Organisation is essential, and in the first place for determining how to make a fighting unit a Division is not merely a name. It is an organised body of troops, complete in every respect—complete in transport, complete in reserves and complete in medical service and in mobilisation. In other words, it is complete as a Division, and it is as a Division that it went to war. Other nations had Corps, which are larger than Divisions, and during the War Corps came to be organised by putting Divisions together. A Division was the very smallest unit with which you could fight effectively, and that was proved over and over again in the War.
That is the first point. Then the noble Earl mentioned the Militia. I smiled when he mentioned the Militia. The Militia were not a line that stood between the Regular Army and the Territorials, because they were not a line at all. They had neither transport nor medical service, they were not complete in their units, they had no fighting organisation, and they ultimately became a reserve from which the Regular troops could be recruited. All that shows, and it is proved abundantly by the testimony of men like Field-Marshal Lord Haig and Field-Marshal Lord French, that without that organisation no headway could have been made in the War. Before that your Lordships will remember the extreme difficulty which we had in getting 50,000 men to go off at once to South Africa in the time of the Boer War, and the result was a Royal Commission which inquired into these things and brought them to light. There was a consequent call for organisation, and this actually took place on the footing of that which was the outcome of a close study of the 1036 conclusions of distinguished students of war on the Continent. At the very basis of efficiency of an Army rests the work of its General Staff. We never had a General Staff before September, 1906, and until we got a General Staff we were not in a position to apply our minds to these problems.
You might have as many scattered troops as you liked, and they would certainly appear on Estimates, but that was the only certain place where they would appear. You could not put them into the field without proper training and an organisation which would give effect to that training; and the result was that it was not until the organisation of the War Office and the organisation of the Committee of imperial Defence had been undertaken that the British Army became a reality in the sense in which Continental Armies were a reality. I tremble to think what would have been the fate of the Channel ports if the Army had not been put into a position, by the distinguished soldiers who were at that time at the War Office, to mobilise with the same rapidity as the German Army, and to proceed at once to throw itself to the defence of the Channel ports.
The noble Earl took various other points, and they were points which will have to be considered. They were points which deserve attention if only for the distinguished position which he has occupied in the history of the modern defences of the country. He complains of expenditure. He thinks the expenditure has taken place at the War Office and on staffs instead of, as it ought, on manufacturing more men who could fill the places in the field. But whether the expenditure at the War Office has been too great, or whether it has been just as much as is sufficient, depends upon the amount of organisation.
§ THE EARL OR MIDLETON
May I correct the noble and learned Viscount? I did not speak of the staffs in the sense in which he is speaking of them—of men engaged in organising. I spoke of the financial criticism, and the only figures I gave to your Lordships were of the large number of financial accountants and others who have been placed in the War Office. I was not speaking of military staffs at all.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
But you cannot organise an Army unless you bring financial scrutiny to bear upon the items. The waste that used to go on before men like Sir Charles Harris turned their attention to the details was very bad. Sir Charles Harris proceeded to point out things that were unnecessary, and which might have been dispensed with, and which were dispensed with under the advice of the General Staff. You want your financial organisation to see that waste is not going on at Woolwich, to see that waste is not going on in the Commands; and I have always myself regretted that the system of costing accountants was interfered with before it had borne full fruit. A very good illustration of the difference in point of view between the noble Earl and myself arises over the artillery, to which he referred. You have, he said, cut down the artillery: the artillery is less than it used to be. Well, but whether the artillery can fulfil its function depends, again, on how the artillery is organised in the beginning of 1906 you could only mobilise 42 batteries of artillery.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
The noble and learned Viscount knows the answer to that. We have had this out before. The noble and learned Viscount knows that nearly half the batteries had just been raised They were raised by Lord Roberts, and there were no reservists to them. Until the men passed to the reserve, of course, you could not mobilise all the batteries at full strength. That was not a question of organisation at all; it meant merely that if in 1902 you raised 40 or 50 batteries they were not fit to mobilise by the time that the noble and learned Viscount was speaking of.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
The batteries in those days were so far from being capable of being mobilised that in a most minute scrutiny it was found that only 42 could be put into the field. Then it was necessary, when the divisional organisation was adopted, and when you had to provide artillery for the Divisions, that there should be at least 71 batteries capable of mobilisation. That was done, and the number was afterwards raised to 81. There, again, in the artillery the want of organisation and the wastage that took place were very bad. The 1038 batteries, no doubt—there were 99 of them—could parade on ceremonial occasions in this country, but go abroad they could not; the men were neither trained nor equipped for the purpose. Those 18 batteries which formed the difference between 81 and 99 were turned into training batteries, which trained reservists for the rest, with the outcome that the 81 batteries were available to take service in France when the Expeditionary Force went abroad.
It was essential that that reorganisation should take place. For want of knowledge, for want of a General Staff, for want of the investigation that ought to have been brought to bear long before—and would have been if only our school of military thought had not been a somewhat narrow one—that was not done; and the result was that organisation became the great question of the day if we have an excess of officers who are devoting their time to-day to organisation it is because there was that terrible gap to be filled up, and because they have been at work ever since, excepting only during the interruption of actual service from 1914 to 1918. The materiality of all that is to point to its not being waste to concentrate upon Headquarters. You may be able to administer Headquarters more economically than you do now-I do not know, I am not in a position to tell. You can only tell if you are there on the spot, and seeing people from day to day. But of this I am sure, that organisation, not only of the staffs but in finance, is essential if you are to get a really good organisation of the Army as a whole. That requires that you should pick your men carefully, and that you should have the best men you can find.
So much on the general proposition. It applies in a great measure to the Territorial Army also, and the noble Lord who moved this Motion did not question the necessity of organisation; he only wanted to give a better organisation to the Territorial Force. And I think there are many points in which the organisation is probably capable of being improved. I am not sure that much good is to be done to the Territorial Army by what I may call the "decorations" policy. To put the Director-General on the Army Council is to do nothing that seems to me, from the experience I have had, to be very 1039 important. The Director-General is a very important person, but his business is to be going about the country, seeing people and organising things, working as the late General Cowans did, and stirring up enthusiasm. The important thing is that you should have a Director-General who does not spend his time with the Army Council, although he ought to have the fullest access to the Army Council, but spends his time with the Territorial leaders in different parts of the country.
Then it was suggested that the employers might do more, and might be encouraged. I agree. The more we enlist the employers the better it is, especially in view of the attention which the noble Lord drew to the fact that the main deficiency in the Territorials is the deficiency in officers. Well, officers are of the last importance in the Territorial Force, and they should be encouraged in every way, and I do not doubt that, through the medium of the headmasters, and possibly through the medium of the employers themselves, you may stimulate the disposition of people to become officers. So far I am in agreement with the noble Lord. The only thing is that I see some difficulties in the details of how it can be worked out. I think it can probably he got over. Then the noble Lord spoke of Royal visits and the Territorial Force being invited to be present. It is true, as he said, that people do attach a good deal of importance to these things. It is not exactly military importance, but it is a sort of stimulus, and that applies to the decorations, too, that he proposes should be given. Most people set more importance on those things than he or I do, but at any rate they are there, and they are of value.
Then a suggestion was made by both noble Lords that the numbers of the Territorial Force are very low just now. I do not look upon that as conclusive. The Territorial Force is a short-service Army. The members do not pass into a reserve in the ordinary sense; that is to say, they cannot be called upon to come up again. But they are trained, and the experience of 1914 showed that whenever there was a fear of war in the country they flocked to the Colours, and I do not doubt that you would get them again. I do not think it is so serious a matter as it looks that there has been this large reduction in the numbers of the Terri- 1040 torial Force. At the same time, having regard to the smallness of the actual strength of the Territorial Army, it is very desirable that the strength should be maintained, and I agree with the noble Lord that there are cases in which it is not sufficient at the present time.
In the North we have a state of things comparable to the condition of the two great Divisions of Territorials in the Midlands before the War. They were almost up to strength, they were well trained and they were extremely efficient. But in the Eastern Counties the position is not as good, and the exertions of the War Office will have to be directed to stirring up such enthusiasm as can be stirred up in time of peace for preparation against a possible war out of the blue. All that is a matter for the War Office. It is a matter for the Director-General of the Territorial Force and for the interest of the Army Council. No doubt even now there are some among the leaders of the Regulars who feel that a good deal of money is wasted on the Territorials which might profitably be spent in increasing the strength of the Regular Army. The noble Earl shakes his head about that, but I am not so sure. They do not avow it, certainly; they would as soon think of avowing heretical doctrines in theology; but at the same time there is in their minds an undertone and sometimes there are whispers upon that subject. I do not encourage those whispers because I am convinced that the Territorial second line is an integral part of the Army of this country, and I think it is our business to keep it so organised and to keep its possible reserve so in view that it would probably fill up in case of a national emergency. I do not think it is at all beyond the strength of the War Office to secure that. It is only a question of outlook and of energy in keeping up the materials to which that outlook may be directed.
My Lords, I wish to intervene for a few moments in this debate from the point of view of one who adopts a rather different attitude from those who have already addressed your Lordships. I have been a member of the Territorial Army ever since it was started and have been associated for many years with one of the county asso- 1041 ciations which have been responsible to a certain degree for that Army. On that account I am glad that this question has been raised to-day by my noble friend Lord Templemore. I agree with him and with the noble and learned Viscount opposite that the more this question is discussed and the more that publicity is given to the needs of the Territorial Army the better it will be not only for that Force but for the country as a whole.
In the few remarks that I shall address to your Lordships generally and to the Under-Secretary of State in particular I would repeat what I have already said in this House—that any observations I make are offered with a view to helping the War Office and to strengthening their hands in every way in encouraging recruiting for the Territorial Army. I very much welcome the suggestions of my noble friend Lord Templemore. They are practical suggestions, and, as I think your Lordships will agree, worthy of very serious consideration by His Majesty's Government. The suggestion in regard to the Director-General of the Territorial Army having a seat on the Army Council might do something. I think, to mitigate a feeling which, unfortunately, still flourishes to a certain extent among Regular officers, that money spent on the Territorial Army would be better spent on the Regular Forces.
The suggestion of my noble friend as to guards of honour and decorations might be very usefully taken up not only by the War Office but by the county associations, because in very many cases those associations can do much to make suggestions on those lines. One suggestion which has come to my notice and is, I think, worthy of mention, is as to whether it would be possible to make still further use of the Lieutenancies in the counties in connection with recruiting for the Territorial Army. The original function of the King's Lieutenant in the county and of his Deputy Lieutenants was directly concerned with raising forces. Deputy Lieutenants, after all, under the present conditions—the conditions were altered, I think during the tenure of office of the noble and learned Viscount opposite—have to hold or must have held Commissions in the Territorial or Regular Forces.
At any rate they must have rendered service and have helped the military forces; I think that covers the point. I suggest that something might be done to give Deputy Lieutenants, who in many counties occupy positions of influence and responsibility, definite obligations in the future as to helping the local Territorial Associations. Whether it would be best to make them extra members of those Associations or not I would not like to say, but I think something might be done in that direction and that it would be a help in many counties. There is another subject which I do not wish to emphasise or to enlarge upon but which is common ground to all those who have been concerned in recruiting in the past and are concerned in recruiting at present. It is that in these days the men in the country are essentially clubable. They have their men's clubs of various sorts and it has been the policy of the War Office, I am glad to think, to encourage the social side of the activities at local headquarters of units so that there should be at those headquarters the best club possible in the district. In that way they meet what is really a great need.
I am afraid I cannot altogether let this occasion pass without alluding, but only in passing, to what I think is rather a mistaken line of action on the part of the War Office with regard not particularly to this matter but to the provision of headquarters, especially in dealing with the new units which we are called upon to raise. We are all, I suppose, economists nowadays. We all wish to see the greatest value got for any public expenditure that is made. But, as the old saying has it, you can be penny wise and pound foolish and, with regard to the provision of suitable headquarters for some of these new units, I am afraid in the course of the last twelve or eighteen months the War Office have rather been penny wise and pound foolish by their delay in providing, headquarters that are necessary. But I do not wish to embark upon that tonight because I know, so far as the county in which I serve on the county association is concerned, Essex, that the matter 1043 is receiving at this moment the attention of the War Office. But I would not like this occasion to pass without pressing that point of view upon my noble friend the Under-Secretary this afternoon, because I do not think any allusion has been made to that very important point in discussing this question of recruiting for the Territorial Force.
With regard to another point raised by Lord Templemore, I should like to support him. It is with regard to the remarks, which I cannot help thinking are false, of possible reductions in numbers in the Territorials and the Regular Army. The other day I had occasion to be present when the Secretary of State for War told us that whereas it might be true that in the case of the Navy we had got down to the lowest figure compatible with safety, the same applies at this time to the figures that have been decided upon by the War Office. I do not think that was very much reported in the Press. I can only hope that my noble friend on the Front Bench will be able to confirm that and so set some of our minds at case on the point. With regard to the possible reduction I also would like, as a member of a Territorial Association and one who has been concerned with the organisation of that body for a good many years, very emphatically to support what Lord Templemore was saying with regard to the detriment it would be to amalgamate units if you are endeavouring to reduce the numbers. After these few observations from the point of view of one who has worked for many years on a county association, I can only conclude by saying that I hope my noble friend will be able to take the varied suggestions that have been made so far as the Territorial Army is concerned into very serious consideration, for I know very well he himself has a very great interest in, and has done a great deal since he has been at the War Office to promote, the best interests of the Forces.
§ LORD TREOWEN
My Lords, I do not wish at this hour to prolong your Lordships' debate unnecessarily: I will, therefore, only make a very few remarks. I cannot help congratulating the noble Lord who initiated this debate on having succeeded in arousing unusual interest. To me personally the debate has been of excessive interest, for I was 1044 carried back to another place when I saw the two protagonists of the War Office facing one another as in olden days and discussing almost identically the same thing. I think that part of the debate perhaps was rather too reminiscent, or shall I say quasi-historical and not altogether what I personally wish to see come out of the question raised by Lord Templemore. It really did almost carry one back to the other place in the days before the War in too realistic a manner.
Here is a debate carried on in an atmosphere of unreality—the same unreality as existed in those pre-War days. The Army debates in another place were wanting in reality because they always were conducted entirely apart from the main question which must always control all military and naval preparations, and that is the question of the general policy of the Government in Europe and other parts of the world. I have often thought, and I am quite sure many who heard those debates thought too, how different they would have been if we could have had an idea of the liabilities to which our country was already committed. We have now to face an entirely different atmosphere in the world. The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Haldane, used the words "the reduction of armaments" We hear constantly of the limitation of armaments, and we have brought home to us every day the economy which would accompany a limitation of armaments. But economy cannot wait until the nations have decided how they are going to limit their armaments. If we can be assured of a more peaceful atmosphere in Europe which may lead to the limitation of armaments, a policy of economy can be embarked upon, and that policy, I hope, is the one which the Government has adopted.
I desire to express my entire agreement with the noble Earl, Lord Midleton, in regard to what he said respecting one possibility of economy; that is, the economy on the civil staff in connection with War Office administration. I will not attempt to discuss the questions of establishment and stores or other matters connected with the administration of the Army for the reason that I think such a discussion is carried on in an unreal atmosphere. The conditions now are very different from those which existed 1045 before the War. We have now three Departments connected with defence. Formerly we had merely the Army and the Navy, and they were kept in separate compartments and were not considered together in relation to the great question of defence. To me that always seemed—and I said so in those days—a most fictitious way of considering the question of defence. Now we have in addition the Air Ministry and the Air Force to consider.
What I should like very much, though I doubt whether it will arise out of this debate, would be to hear, before discussing questions concerning our armed forces, some clear statement from the noble. Earl who now leads this House as to the general policy of the Government, the possible commitments or dangers he may see that will necessitate developments or the maintenance at a high standard of our armed forces, and the general policy with regard to the three arms, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, and the respective amount of—shall I say?—responsilaility which is to be given to each of them in a general scheme of defence.
I promised not to detain your Lordships too long and I fear I am doing so. What I wish to say particularly in regard to the Motion of the noble Lord is on the question of the Territorial Force. He has given you certain figures, but those figures are totals and totals are apt to be deceptive. I hold in my hand a return which I have received from my own county in regard to the Territorial Force. The highest deficit in any unit in that county is thirty-two. That is not alarming. The unit with which personally I am most intimately acquainted and of which I am honorary colonel has, according to the last return I have seen, only one officer and seventeen men short of its establishment. There is nothing alarming in that. It goes right through in the same way. The whole of the Territorial Force in that region is practically up to strength. It could be brought up to its strength in a very short time. Out of a total establishment of fifty-eight officers and 1,639 men there was only a deficiency of nine officers and eighty-five men. That is practically up to 100 per cent. strength, and that strength was represented in the training camp this year and last year.
1046 The thing that suggests itself to me is that owing to the movement of population there are certain regions—one to which I referred just now in South Wales and I believe also in the northern counties, Durham and Northumberland—in which a far greater force of Territorial units could be kept up and maintained at a good strength, whereas in other parts of the country it is practically impossible to keep up the units even to the meagre strength allowed at present. I should like to ask the Under-Secretary of State whether this fact, which cannot be ignored, this movement of the population, is being considered in the War Office with reference to this question. I do not ask that there should be any departure immediately from the present distribution of Territorial units, but that may have to come about. There is a movement of population going on, and it is no use wasting money on districts which will not produce the force that we require, while at the same time there would be wisdom in spending more money in raising further units in those districts which are capable of maintaining them. I know I am raising a very difficult question because it is one which must go to the root of the original scheme as initiated by the noble and learned Viscount who leads the Opposition, but I think it is a thing which it would be well to consider in all its aspects now, and the War Office, of course, would be in a far better position than any private individual to form an opinion on the subject. I do not ask—though the figures which I have here would justify my making such a request—that further units should be allotted to the particular district in which I am interested, because I know that at the present time economy must dominate the situation. But let the economy be wise economy and let the money be spent in the places where you will get full return for it.
§ LORD JESSEL
My Lords, before the noble Earl replies on behalf of the Government I should like to make a very few observations. Tile noble Lord who has just sat down first of all complained that the principal part of the debate was rather reminiscent and historical and then went on to say that he did not consider these debates were of much value because we did not know what was the 1047 policy of the Government. The noble Lord has proved that the speech he made was not quite correct because he himself has contributed, I venture to think, a most valuable suggestion in the course of the debate.
That leads me to another point, that it is of use and of great interest to the public that Lord Templemore should introduce this subject to the notice of your Lordships this afternoon, because I think it is about time that we should recognise that the Army and Navy have been cut down to the bone, whereas on the Civil Services—I do not know for what reason, but I suppose there are more people interested in the Civil and Social Services than there are in the Army and Navy—economies, in the opinion of most people, have not been so great as might be. It is important that so many of your Lordships should have protested this afternoon against any further reductions. I have been connected in one way or another with the Army for many years—I have even been in the most wonderful office I have ever known and I have been in many, the War Office—and I think it has been made plain by the First Lord of the Admiralty and by the Secretary of State for War that these two forces will not bear any further reduction.
There is just one other point. I am not quite satisfied that the charge about the finance department being overstaffed is correct. I am not quite convinced by the figures that those numbers are on the War Office staff. There was introduced—and there have been several debates in this House about the accounting of the Army—a new corps called the Accountants Corps and there was a report by a Committee presided over by a very distinguished officer, General Sir Herbert. Lawrence, who was, as you all know, Chief of Staff to Earl Haig at the end of the Great War. Certain recommendations were made and there was a good deal of outcry when afterwards those recommendations were turned down, or rather recast, by the Secretary of State for War. There is no doubt, as the noble Viscount opposite has said, that we do save a considerable amount of money by having close supervision over accounts and military stores, and the services of these officers have been of the greatest benefit to the General Officers Command- 1048 ing and to other officers and especially to the Army Service Corps.
I do not wish to make any further remarks but would join with others in expressing my gratitude to Lord Templemore for having initiated this debate and my satisfaction at noting that so many noble Lords have shown themselves to be of the opinion that the Army, at all events, will not bear any further reduction but that, on the contrary, many of its needs require urgent and immediate attention.
THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (THE EARL OF ONSLOW)
My Lords, I should like to join in that which was said by the noble Lord who has just addressed your Lordships and, indeed, by every noble Lord who has spoken tonight and to thank my noble friend Lord Templemore for bringing forward this Motion. It has raised a most interesting discussion and it has produced from my noble friend Lord Midleton certain suggestions and proposals which will bear very careful consideration and are of the utmost interest coming from one who bears such authority in the matter as he does. It has also produced a discussion which my noble friend Lord Treowen described, I think, as quasi-historical between two noble Lords whose services at the War Office must together total very nearly twenty years, and all that they have had to say as to what happened before the War has been, of course, of the utmost interest. The debate has also elicited from the noble Viscount opposite certain observations on the subject of disarmament which your Lordships cannot have heard without the most profound interest.
I will take first, if I may, the specific questions raised by my noble friend Lord Midleton. The noble Earl dealt with certain highly technical and complicated matters, such as the question of cost accounting, which was also mentioned by my noble friend Lord Jessel. He asked a question about depôts, and he discussed the advisability of the retention of the military advisers of the Secretary of State for a longer period than at present. I believe the period of four years was laid down by the Esher Committee, but the noble Earl referred to the fact that some of them did not hold the appointment for the whole period. In this connection I 1049 would remind him that the War brought exceptional circumstances. He then referred to the fact that the Secretary of State is changed very frequently. My right hon. friend the present Secretary of State has been in office two years in addition to having been Secretary of State before, and I think, if I may be allowed to say so, that the prevention of the prolongation of the late Secretary of State's term of office was, at any rate in my own county, largely due to my noble friend. I do not know whether he looks upon that as a misfortune.
I hope that my noble friend will forgive me if I do not discuss these questions in detail, because I have had no Notice of them and, before doing adequate justice to matters of such great importance, your Lordships will agree that it is desirable that the Government should have Notice. I do not wish in any way to avoid discussion of these questions and, indeed, if my noble friend will put down a Question I shall welcome it and do my very best to give satisfaction, and to explain any points concerning the establishment at the War Office, the General Staff, cost accounting, depôts and any other matters that he cares to raise. What is really the broad outcome of my noble friend's remarks? He says that expenditure on the Army has been very drastically reduced by the present Government. We all know that during the present Government's period of office a reduction of£2,000,000 has been effected in the Army Estimates. The noble Earl is not the least eloquent among your Lordships in pressing upon every Government the need for drastic economy in every direction. Indeed he has done so to-night in explaining his views in regard to the staff of the War Office and he has pressed upon your Lordships certain weighty considerations to the effect that expenditure should be reduced.
Perhaps the noble Earl will allow me to go a little further than he did with regard to expenditure on the Army and give your Lordships figures showing what reductions have been made between 1921 and 1926. They are in some ways considerable, though perhaps not so startling as they might appear. Taking round figures, the Estimate in 1921 was £82,094,000; in 1922, £62,300,000; in 1923, £52,000,000; in 1924, £45,000,000;in 1925, 1050 £44,500,000;and in 1926, £42,500,000. It will be seen, therefore, that during that period the Estimates have been reduced by just under £40,000,000. Nobody would suggest for one moment that this saving has been effected entirely, or even largely, by reductions in the peace establishment of the Army. The£82,000,000 contained in the Estimates for 1921 and also the figures of some subsequent years were largely due to expenditure caused by war conditions which had to be met, and have no connection at all with the peace establishment of the Army.
I think my noble friend Lord Jessel pointed out that of the three fighting Services the actual savings on the Estimates had been greater in the Army than in the other two. That is a fact which the noble Earl, as an economist, will perhaps regard with satisfaction. He has suggested that, in their zeal for economy, every Government that has been in power since the War has cut down the strength of the Army too far to allow it to undertake the duties that it has to carry out. It is rather difficult to answer that statement because, as your Lordships must be aware and as the debate has shown, a statement of that kind must be very largely a matter of individual opinion. Let me recapitulate the machinery with regard to this matter. It is the duty of the Army Council, of the Committee of Imperial Defence and, finally, of the Cabinet to consider the question of Imperial defence as a whole, as was very properly observed by my noble friend Lord Treowen, and to determine the strength at which it is necessary to maintain the Imperial Forces in accordance with those needs I need hardly say that these three bodies, who are the responsible bodies, are confident that they have not reduced the military Forces of the Crown below a strength compatible with the present military necessities of the Empire and the commitments which this and preceding Governments have undertaken with the full consent of Parliament. I may add that they do not intend to do anything of the kind in the future or to reduce the strength of the Forces below a figure necessary to meet those obligations. Neither my noble friend nor any of your Lordships would wish us in any way to indulge in extravagance, but equally no member of your Lordships' House or, indeed, any Englishman out- 1051 side this House, would wish us to reduce the military Forces of the Crown below the strength necessary to maintain the principles I have mentioned.
Now I would like to deal with the rumours mentioned in the Motion—rumours as to reductions in the Regular and Territorial Armies. I must say, I confess, that I have seen rumours about the Territorial Army, and I dealt with them in a public speech the other day. I have not, however, seen any such rumours with regard to the Regular Army, and I do not know to what article the noble Lord has alluded. Perhaps, after what I have to say, he will not think it necessary to discuss the matter any further. Of course, this time of the year, as the two noble Lords, former Secretaries of State for War, are aware, is the moment when the whole Army must come under general review. This is the moment when the Estimates for next year are beginning to be considered, and clearly it is impossible to give any sort of outline of the speech which my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for War will make when he introduces the Estimates next year and explains the future policy in detail. So I cannot deal, obviously, with this question, except quite generally. As to what these details are—details as to what the expenses are likely to be—neither I nor any human being can give any forecast. Absolutely nothing has been settled or determined as early as this, and I hope that will be an answer to the vague rumours which seem to have been going about, as to reductions in the Army having been decided upon.
As regards the Regular Army, my noble friend the Earl of Midleton laid down certain principles and dealt with various reductions which had been made in the preceding year. I do not think I can usefully follow him in that discussion at the present moment. The composition of the Regular Army is open to all to read in the monthly Army List, and the disposition of the various units is stated there. I do not think I can usefully add anything to what is contained in that volume. Then let us consider the question of personnel. As regards the young officers joining the Army the state of affairs is distinctly satisfactory. We are getting a very fine type of young officer from Sandhurst and Woolwich, and we are also getting officers 1052 from the Universities. I think we may congratulate ourselves upon this latter fact, because it is of great advantage to the Army that a certain number of officers should pass through the Universities and have the advantage of a University education. As regards other ranks, I am afraid the number of recruits who have joined the Army up to the present moment this year is not so great as we estimated for in the spring.
It must, however, be remembered that the present year is a very abnormal year. We have been passing through, during the last six months, probably the greatest industrial crisis we have known. Therefore it is not surprising that this disorganisation should have tended to dispose young men, who would otherwise join the Army, to other thoughts, and make them uncertain and disinclined to join the Colours. But it is not the industrial crisis alone which affords reasons for young men not joining the Army so fast as we should perhaps wish to see them join. There are other reasons and the first of those, of course, is the natural reaction after the Great War, which tends to create in the minds of young men some sort of aversion from military service, and to create such a feeling not only in their minds but in the minds of their parents. Then there comes the alternative of emigration, which is the sort of thing which would be likely to tempt adventurous young men who would otherwise join the Army.
Then, again, before the War, a period of unemployment was one in which we might expect that recruiting would go well. Now, however, people who are in an insured trade are entitled to unemployment insurance benefit when out of work. I think this is one of the causes which have disposed people against joining the Army, and so earning the complete support and assured pay which the Army offers them. Of course there are two reasons for that. One is that the young man in an insured trade is not so much pressed to find employment in order to earn money. Another is that his parents and family welcome him as a member of the family so long as he is in work and do not look upon him as a burden when he is able to draw his insurance benefit. Then there is also the uncertainty of employment which a man may feel comes to him when he has left 1053 the Colours and gone into the Reserve. Of course that must be an increasingly potent factor when the country is going through a state of unrest such as we have experienced during the last six months.
I should like to refer next to another point—namely, the question of the Reserve. I have not got the figures here, but the noble Lord raised the question last year and I do not think there has been any material change, except that as recruiting goes down so the Reserve goes down. He gave us valuable suggestions which will, of course, be most carefully considered. Now to deal with another point. Although our Army may be small, and it always has been small for a Great Power, in comparison with the Armies of other Great Powers, I can assure your Lordships that it is very efficient indeed. Of course now, after the Great War, military science is going through the same phase as it probably did in 1815, and must always go through after any great war. During the War on every side, allied or enemy, all sorts of new ideas were germinating, and many of these ideas and suggestions had not been in any way developed before peace fortunately came. Military thought must now be directed towards these ideas and towards the possibility or practicability of carrying them out. That must obviously be the case in every circumstance in which we find ourselves at present.
One of the principles evolved by the War—it was not a new principle, but it came forward very largely during the War—was the substitution of mechanical for animal transport. Of course, this is a very difficult question indeed, because it opens great unexplored fields. So long as you depended upon animal transport you knew to a certain extent your limitations, but directly you substituted mechanical transport you could not tell where you were without the most careful investigation and the most careful experiment and trying out, for the obvious reason that, while we all know what an animal can do, no one knows what may be the limitations of a machine until it is tried out, and nobody knows what new machines may not be invented at any moment. That is not only true of war, but probably more true of industry, and it is not a new idea at all, it is a very old one. But the fact remains that the 1054 less you depend upon man power—I mean muscles, and legs, and arms—the more you must look to brain power.
Therefore, the soldier who controls the powerful machines which he may be called upon to use in time of war must possess greater experience, greater training, greater intellectual capacity, and greater knowledge than would otherwise be the case. During the Middle Ages it was a comparatively easy matter to get together an Army and to use it efficiently. But it is a much more difficult thing to do nowadays, because, when you have got your Army, you have to organise them and train them in the new and powerful weapons which they are obliged to use under modern conditions. Therefore the whole Army requires a much higher equipment of knowledge than it did even 25 years ago.
Now let me turn to the question of the Territorial Army. We have statements as to the rumours which have been current in the Press. I should like to repeat in regard to the Territorial Army what I said about the Regular Army. So far absolutely no decision of any kind has been reached in regard to the Estimates of next year. We have made no decision in regard to any readjustments which may be made, or which may not be made. But whatever readjustments may be made, whether in an upward or a downward direction, they must conform to the cardinal principles of policy which I have ventured to indicate. Let me ask your Lordships now to carry your minds back to the February of last year, when my right hon. friend at the quarterly meeting of the Council of the Territorial Association made a certain declaration in regard to the Territorial Army. I need not recapitulate it—I think it is familiar to your Lordships—but I should like to say that I have the authority of my right hon. friend and of the Army Council to say that they have not receded one iota from this policy. If by any chance a war of first-class importance were to occur the Territorial Army would take the field overseas as soon as it could be made ready to do so, and it would be required, if necessary, to duplicate itself and to provide also the necessary Army troops for the purpose.
The noble Viscount opposite made a remark, with which I profoundly agree, 1055 as to the necessity of officers in the Territorial Army. To carry out the declaration of my right hon. friend one cardinal point is necessary, and that is to produce in time of peace efficient officers and non-commissioned officers who, directly mobilization takes place, could start and train the flow of recruits which would pour in to fill up the ranks of the Army. Because it would be for the Territorial Army to provide the national Army in a national war, and therefore it devolves upon us at the present time—and I think that debates of this kind are most useful in helping us in these matters—to consider what preparations are necessary in time of peace, when we have plenty of time before us, to enable the Territorial Army to undertake its duty. I cannot say that the Territorial Army is as strong in officers as we could wish. I think my noble friend said that we were 1,700 below strength.
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
That is, all officers. As a matter of fact the shortage of officers in the artillery, yeomanry, infantry and tanks is about a third, or a little more than a third of that. So it is not quite so bad as it looks. There are many reasons which have been adduced for this shortage. One of them—and I am sorry that Lord Latymer, who wrote to The Times about it, is not in his place—is the dissatisfaction of Territorial officers because during the War people who had not served at all were given higher ranks than those who had been serving a long time in the Territorial Army. It is suggested, therefore, that there is no object in joining the Territorial Army, because if a war takes place you can then join the Army right away and obtain higher rank than you would otherwise enjoy. The answer to that is this. It is contained in the declaration which was made by my right hon. friend. As it will be the business of the Territorial Army to create the national Army, and the national Army will therefore consist of the Territorial Army, and not be independent of it, as it was in 1914, the complaint and the difficulty cannot possibly arise. I do not think, really, that I need go further than that. All I need say is that, as time progresses, all these Territorial 1056 questions are receiving the most careful consideration in the War Office by those who are competent to deal with them. The correspondence which has taken place in the Press and the debates in your Lordships' House and elsewhere are carefully considered, and the difficulties, especially those which have been raised by members of the Territorial Army, are all gone into with the greatest possible care and sympathy, and with every endeavour to reach a solution of a satisfactory character.
There is one point in regard to the Territorial Army which I think I must deal with—the question of reductions. There were certain reductions amounting to £160,000 on the Territorial Army Estimates of last year, that is to say, that the cost of the Territorial Army this year is lower than it has been in preceding years. But, although there has been less expenditure on the Territorial Army, that does not mean in the least that there has been less efficiency. Indeed, I can assure your Lordships that efficiency has never been higher than it is now in the Territorial Army, and I think my noble friend Lord Templemore will not disagree with me in that statement. Mistakes may have occurred in the reorganisation of the Territorial Army when it came to be taken in hand. For example, in 1921, when the Defence Force was created, considerable efforts were made in some units to get men who had joined the Defence Force to go on and join the Territorial Army. A great many of these people were not really suitable as Territorial soldiers, and it did not do the Territorial Army any great good. So it became necessary to undertake a weeding out, and only to retain at the present time and to recruit in the future, those who would make the very best officers and other ranks. That process of reorganisation is complete, and so the whole Army, not only the Regular Army—and I would rather emphasise the fact that it is all one Army now: the Territorial Army and the Regular Army are not two—the whole Army is in a higher state of efficiency than it has ever been in before. From the higher ranks down to, comparatively speaking, the lower ranks it is officered by officers who have served in real war for many years. The same, of course, is very largely true of non-commissioned officers.
1057 As regards training, my noble friend mentioned the fact that having served many years as a soldier he was struck by the efficiency of the Territorial units that had come under his observation. In that connection I may quote a very distinguished general officer who went last year when the Territorial Army was in camp to inspect certain units. When I asked him what his opinion was he expressed the view that the particular troops he had been would be competent to take the field within two months. That, I think, is a very satisfactory state of affairs. I wish I had more information to give your Lordships but, as I said earlier in my remarks, this is a very difficult time of year, when no matter is settled, to give definite information because nobody knows exactly what the details are lf, however, my noble friend wishes for any further information on the various points he has raised—he mentioned the question of stores, for instance—or if any of your Lordships would like to discuss them at any time, I shall be glad to give what information I can.
I have only one more word to say on the subject. That is that those of your Lordships who have Prot yet read the description of the demonstration which took place before the Dominion Ministers a fortnight ago at Camberley should, if I may venture to say so, do so at once. I had the privilege of being present on that occasion and I can truthfully say that the satisfaction expressed throughout the Press was felt by everybody who was present. It is true, of course, that the weather was abominable, but that was all to the good because it showed that the tank was not a fine-weather machine. But although the tanks may go very far and very satisfactory results may be obtained from the experiments undertaken, we must not be led to think that everything can be done by mechanical means. Whatever results may be obtained from tanks and kindred weapons of war we shall never be able to do without the soldier, and that is one cardinal point I would like to insist upon to your Lordships.
I would like now to deal with the question specifically raised by my noble friend Lord Templemore regarding the numbers of recruits. He pointed out the rather curious fact that the Northern Divisions are the strongest and we go 1058 from the 50th Division, which is practically up to establishment or very little below it, down to the 47th Division, which is very much below establishment. The noble and learned Viscount opposite referred to the East Anglian Division, which is not so very bad; it is a little more than half way down the list. It, has an establishment of 401 officers and 10,050 other ranks and its strength is 352 officers and 9,321 other ranks, so it is not so bad.
As my noble friend asked me about the actual strength and the difference between that strength last year and this in comparison with the establishment, I may, perhaps, give your Lordships some comparative figures. In 1913 there was a strength of 245,779 out of an establishment of 312,400. then, a year after the War, the Territorial Army was reorganised, and in 1922 the strength was 134,769; in 1923 it was 140,626; in 1924 it was 142,804; last year, 1925, it was 145,684; and this year it is 146,904—so that in spite of the industrial disturbances through which we have passed during the last year there is a total increase in the Territorial Army of 1,220, made up of 199 officers and 1,021 other ranks, which on the whole is satisfactory. There is one other point I should like to make regarding the comparison of establishment and strength. It is rather curious that the present establishment percentage is 89.65 while in 1914 it, was 78.67; so that it has risen by some 2 per cent, which I think is a matter for satin faction.
My noble friends Lord O'Hagan and Lord Templemore have drawn attention to the fact that the Director-General of the Territorial Army is not a member of the Army Council, and they are disposed to think that it would be an advantage if he were a member of that Council. The noble and learned Viscount opposite, who, I think I am right in saying, created the position of Director-General of the Territorial Army, does not agree with that opinion. It is a question that has been discussed very often and I need not discuss it again at length; but I should like to say that the Army Council consults the Director-General on every possible point which deals with the Territorials before any decision whatever is arrived at. No matter affecting the Territorial Army is dealt with without 1059 receiving the carefully considered opinion of the Director-General.
As to guards of honour, it has been suggested that the Territorial Forces should provide guards of honour on occasions when members of the Royal Family pay visits to the provinces. Associations can arrange that guards of honour should attend now, the only stipulation being that there must be no charge upon public funds. I am glad to see a number of Lords Lieutenant present in your Lordships' House to-day. They, perhaps, would consider this point and see whether it is not possible to give effect to the views of my noble friend regarding the attendance on such occasions of guards of honour from the Territorials. Another suggestion which Lords Lieutenant might possibly consider was as to asking Deputy Lieutenants to assist the Territorial Army by any and every means in their power. It was made by my noble friend and I think it is really a matter for the individual associations. The question of the King's Roll has been considered, of course. It was considered last year after my noble friend had made his suggestion regarding it. It is rather a difficult point, because the multiplication of King's Rolls might defeat the purpose for which they were instituted. I do not think I can possibly give any pledge on this subject though, of course, the matter will not be lost sight of. Then as to consulting headmasters of schools and colleges, I think it has been done to a certain extent. I believe that headmasters are apprised of the necessity for bringing this matter before young men who are leaving school and so forth. The question of clubs is also a matter for the associations to deal with and may be left to those bodies.
Turning to the very difficult point which was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Treowen, regarding the re-distribution of units, I am sure he would not wish me to give him any definite answer regarding it. As I have said, all these matters are constantly brought under review and if advantage is to be obtained from them the details must be gone into. Therefore, I am sure the noble Lord will forgive me if I do not go any further to-day than mentioning that the point will not be lost sight of. One knows, of course, that the system is to spread units over the whole country, and any alteration in that might leave lacunœ which would be very un- 1060 desirable and would result in there being no place in the particular districts at which budding young men could join the Territorial Army. The subject must be looked into most carefully before it is possible to give any reply upon it.
§ LORD TEMPLEMORE
My Lords, in withdrawing my demand for Papers, I beg to thank the noble Earl, the Under-Secretary, very much for the very full and courteous reply he has made to my Question. I am sure that the Territorial Army is quite safe in his hands. I also thank him for the reception he gave to the various suggestions which I made. He certainly, for the moment, has set my mind at rest about the cuts which we were told were threatened in the Territorial Army and about that very alarming extract from the newspaper. I can only say that one wonders, as some one once said, how these things get into the newspapers. I will not keep your Lordships any longer at this rather late hour but, again thanking the noble Earl, I beg to withdraw my Motion for Papers.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.