HL Deb 01 April 1930 vol 76 cc1103-25

THE EARL OF ONSLOW rose to call attention to the policy of His Majesty's Government towards the Cadet Corps; and to move for Papers. The noble Earl said: My Lords, I make no apology for bringing this matter before the House to-day, because it has attracted considerable attention in the Press and elsewhere, and is a matter of great importance indeed. It involves a very small sum of money, but the influence which it has upon a large number of boys in the country renders it of such importance as to deserve considerable notice at our hands. I would first of all call your Lordships' attention to pages 60 and 61 of the Army Estimates for the financial year, issued on February 24. On those pages you will see that a sum of £10,700 is provided for grants to the cadets. Four shillings is given for each qualified cadet, and there is a grant of one shilling for each qualified cadet for administrative purposes. Now, the fact that this is included in the Estimates is quite conclusive proof that the Government, when they issued the Estimates on February 24, were not of opinion that arguments existed for the suppression of the cadets on moral and educational grounds—which is the excuse which we have heard since—for those moral and educational grounds were not known to the Government when they issued the Estimates. And, really, those words seem to me to be almost insulting, indeed they would be quite insulting if they were not so absurd. The excuse given seems to me to be so absurd as perhaps to mitigate it, if possible, in its deadliness. Really, it is impossible to believe that the Cadet Corps and the Church Lads Brigade are in any way subversive of morality.

Of course, the whole thing is perfectly ridiculous. Evidently the Government never thought so until Mr. Shaw had certain interviews with members of another place and certain individuals who are members of the National Union of Teachers—at least, that is what we have been told. Whatever the National Union of Teachers may say, and whatever other secret advisers of the Government may say, I notice that the Incorporated Association of Headmasters of Public Secondary Schools in England and Wales hold very different opinions from the advisers of the Government—those advisers whose authority on moral and educational values has proved so potent in altering the mind of the Secretary of State for War from his original intention. I understand that that Association contains practically all the headmasters of public schools and secondary schools, both the old ones and the new ones in England and Wales, and it includes all the secondary schools which have cadet corps. This very authoritative body—I do not think any of your Lordships would deny that a body of this kind is very authoritative—profess entire and complete disagreement (and they have published it in the Press officially) with the Secretary of State for War and those who have prompted him to make this change.

I do not think I need weary your Lordships with anything more to show the complete absurdity of this argument, and all I would do is to ask whether these advisers of the Government represent officially anything like so authoritative a body as the Incorporated Association of Headmasters, or indeed, whom they do represent, if they represent anybody beyond themselves? In my four years' experience at the War Office I saw something of the Cadets, and I do not recollect that one single word was ever said against them. I do recollect that a great deal was said in their favour. The very highest praise from all quarters reached us at the War Office as to the educational and moral value of their training.

I should like to quote a statement of Miss Octavia Hill. I do not think anybody could possibly regard her as anything but a pacific person, or as one who would have wished to inculcate belligerent notions. She wrote: There is no organization which I have found influence so powerfully for good the boys in such a neighbourhood or gather them in so eagerly as that of the Cadets.… The Cadets learn the duty and dignity of obedience; they get a sense of corporate life and civic duty; they learn to honour the power of endurance and effort; they get exercise which develops their bodies and improves their health, and they come in contact with manly and devoted officers. The summer camp, too, is a great gain. Miss Octavia Hill was a woman whose whole life was devoted to social service, and who thoroughly understood what she was talking about. Her opinion, surely, should carry some weight in the counsels of those who have to do with bodies like the Cadets. I should like to quote also the opinion of my late colleague at the War Office, the then Director-General of the Territorial Army, Lt.-Col. Sir Hugh Jeudwine. He says: I have never heard anything but praise of Cadets, and of the good the training does them as citizens. I am a profound admirer of them and of those who give up their leisure to training them. These are the views of two people with great knowledge of this matter.

I now call your attention to another matter, and that is the Memorandum of Mr. Shaw which he issued with the Estimates. On page 7 of that Memorandum your Lordships will see quoted, apparently with pride and satisfaction, the doings and performances and successes of the Cadets during last year, and we are told that no less than 1,678 cadets or ex-cadets joined the Forces. That is 600 more than joined from the Officers Training Corps. But in spite of this, so powerful were the views of certain individuals when they put them before the Secretary of State, that at the very last moment Mr. Shaw was convinced of the error which he had made, and which he had given effect to in the Estimates, and which he apparently laboured under when he wrote his Memorandum; and, with complete equanimity, he executed an entire volte face and made this astonishing announcement in the House of Commons. I wonder that he did not stand in a white sheet, and repent that he had thought of giving money to such an undesirable body as the Cadets or the Church Lads Brigade.

But I am not complaining only of this financial deprivation. Not only are the unfortunate Cadets to be deprived of their humble grant—for it is at the outside only 5s. for each approved cadet—but they are to be officially regarded as an accursed thing. They will have no recognition whatever. They are to be cut adrift from the Territorial Associations in the counties. No Territorial officer apparently is to be deputed to inspect them—they will not be allowed to do that. The affiliation which they enjoyed with Territorial Battalions is to disappear. That affiliation was commented upon in high terms by the Chief of the Imperial General Staff the other day after these Estimates were published and before the announcement was made in the other House. And why is it to disappear? What have these unfortunate boys done to be treated like pariahs and outcasts? Are they even to be denied access—I imagine they are if the full policy of the Government is to be carried out—to War Department lands, on which to go to camp and train? Are they to be refused the occasional use of War Office buildings? Are they not to be allowed, as they are at present, to have the loan of equipment which they draw from the War Office but pay for if they damage in any way? Is that to cease as well? I imagine that if the full policy of the Government is carried out it will cease. Of course the Cadet Corps and the Church Lads Brigade will continue. I do not think they will be entirely destroyed by the action of Mr. Shaw. But they will be obliged to curtail some of their amenities and some of their pleasures. I think very likely some of their bands will have to be cut down, in the poorer ones at any rate, and some of the amusements in camp and possibly on some occasions the camp itself will have to be curtailed. When these disabilities overtake them I only hope they will recognise to whom they are indebted therefor.

I should like to ask how far this petty persecution is going to extend. Are the Cadets to be forced to alter their uniforms? Apparently from the statement in another place they are. And, if I understood rightly, it is possible they will be deprived of the right of wearing uniform altogether. Who is to compensate them? After all, they bought the uniforms out of their own pockets, and if you are going to deprive them of the use of them at any rate in common fairness you ought to compensate them for the loss they have sustained. They are not rich, often they are very poor people, and very likely they and their parents have provided these uniforms at, to them, considerable expense.

I come to another point. Am I correct in assuming, as I suppose I am, that the grant which now goes to the Central Council of Territorial Associations for administering Cadet Corps will disappear I suppose it will. If that is the case and this is a Territorial economy, why was the Central Council not consulted first? I Your Lordships are aware, I think, that it has been for some time past a recognised procedure to consult the Central Council regarding, and at any rate to inform them of, any economies which were to be effected in the Territorial Army Estimates. But in the case of the Cadets, especially in the case of this administrative section in which the Council are intimately concerned, no notice apparently was sent to them and the matter was never mentioned to them at all, so far as I understand, until they read it in the newspapers after the debate in another place. This is very peculiar. It is the more peculiar because this discourtesy, as I may call it, was a single one. On the other points of economy the Territorial Associations were consulted. Why was this particular matter kept secret until the very end? What necessity was there for doing so?

I do not know that the Central Council were the only ones so treated. I am not at all sure that the Army Council themselves were consulted. At any rate, the Chief of the General Staff did not seem to know anything about it when he made his speech to a number of cadets in Kent, I think it was. I am not sure that the noble Earl opposite knew very much about it, because I understand that he had a very important engagement to present the prizes at the Cadets' Boxing Tournament and at the very last moment he had a pressing engagement elsewhere and was represented by somebody else. I rather think that when he accepted that engagement, and in fact for some considerable time afterwards, he did not know anything about these dreadful moral and educational difficulties which had arisen in the mind of the Secretary of State. Perhaps the advisers of the Government had not been called into conclave when the noble Earl accepted the invitation.

We are accustomed to retrograde measures from the Socialist Party. This is not only a retrograde but a surprising and astonishing measure. It is astonishing, I think, because we hear from members of the Party to which noble Lords opposite belong much about the advantages of fresh air and exercise, of games and camps, of out-of-door recreation, excursions and so on. But when it comes to giving a little assistance to no less than 50,743 boys and men, because the officers are included, of whom no less than 19,484 went into camp and gained from their association with the Cadet Corps, and the Church Lads Brigade great moral and educational advantages, they find that they cannot do it. That, I think, is a very peculiar attitude indeed. What becomes of another very favourite saying of the Party to which noble Lords opposite belong—equal opportunities? Your Lordships are aware that a number of schools have Cadet Corps. Some of those would undoubtedly like to have an Officers Training Corps instead of a Cadet Corps; but the number of Officers Training Corps is limited and it is not every school that is able to have one. That we know, and very often they have a Cadet Corps instead. There is no difference in the schools to which I am referring. They are schools of just the same kind although one has an Officers Training Corps and the other a Cadet Corps. But supposing a boy wants to go into the Army and his school has a Cadet Corps, it is an advantage to him because he can get his A certificate and can get the training which is so necessary to fit him to be an officer in the Army. Now he will not be able to get that training, and what becomes of equal opportunities? I do not know whether noble Lords opposite will think that that is an equal opportunity, or what excuse they will make.

Then it is said that it may make your boys wish for war and will encourage a bellicose and belligerent spirit in them. Can one consider for a moment that such an argument is tenable? Is it not really utterly absurd? Can any single case be put forward? I ask the noble Earl opposite whether he can quote a single ease where a boy, from his association with the Church Lads Brigade, has developed a bloodthirsty desire for war. You might just as well say: "I will not take my children to see 'Peter Pan' at Christmas because if I do they might grow up to be bloodthirsty pirates." I think that both arguments are equally ridiculous. I will not keep your Lordships any longer because the hour is late and I know other members of your Lordships' House desire to say something upon this matter, so I beg to move.


My Lords, I wish to say a word before the noble Earl replies for the Government. I will not deal with the whole question of the Cadet Corps but I feel bound to say a word or two on behalf of other organisations which are equally affected—the Church Lads Brigade and the Boys Brigade. There seems here to be a case of most unworthy prejudice. It is the application of a theory without any regard whatever to the relevant facts of the case. I am not authorised by the Church Lads Brigade to make any protest against the treatment meted out to them. With a wonderfully good spirit they have said that they will accept this change if the country needs the £4,000 a year, and accept it in their customary spirit of patriotism and obedience. But I think they are entitled, certainly from my long connection with them I am entitled, to have some further explanation of the words which the Secretary of State used elsewhere about these brigades. He must have had them in view because he spoke of them in connection with the Cadet Carps.

It is worth while to recall to your Lordships his actual words:— … I have come to the conclusion that representations made to me on educational and moral grounds are unanswerable. Teachers in elementary and secondary schools appear to be, in a large majority of cases, against this particular training on educational grounds. Therefore he feels justified in withdrawing all assistance from the Church Lads Brigade and the Boys Brigade. What educational argument which is unanswerable can there be? The suggestion about the secondary schools is, as Lord Onslow has pointed out, repudiated by the official representatives of the secondary schools in the country. Are objections taken by the teachers, particularly of the elementary schools? A large proportion of the boys in both these brigades join them and are active members of them after they have left the elementary school, and when there is very often no alternative for them even for that physical exercise which we all desire that they should have, except in the streets.

But I let that pass. What I want to know, and I am sure the noble Earl who replies will put us right in this matter, is what does the Secretary of State mean by saying that there are moral objections to these brigades that are unanswerable? Does he mean that it is morally objectionable that these boys should be taught to be alert in body and mind, that they should be taught how to be ready to obey and capable of leading? It cannot mean, as the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, has said, that the moral objections are unanswerable because these brigades inculcate a spirit of fierce militarism. To one who has known these brigades as I have all my life, the mere statement is preposterous and it ought not to be made. I have spoken now because I very much hope that the noble Earl who is to reply will do something this afternoon and in your Lordships' House to remove that stigma.

I might go further. In the case of these two brigades that I have mentioned, the Church Lads Brigade and the Boys Brigade, not only is there an inculcation of those admirable qualities of discipline, obedience and command, but the whole purpose of those organisations is to lead the boys on to the highest service of all, to which they have pledged themselves in baptism—to be faithful soldiers and servants of the Kingdom of God. It is really rather absurd that it should be said that there are moral objections to these brigades which a Minister of the Crown regards as unanswerable. I regret this expression of opinion and I ask this afternoon for an explanation—and possibly elsewhere the Secretary of State himself to explain what he meant by words publicly used in another place which must necessarily create—I put it mildly—misunderstanding, on the part of those who, for all these years, have done so good a work for the boys of this country. I would go further and would venture to ask, possibly in this place, possibly elsewhere, that these brigades and Cadet Corps should not be cursorily dismissed by the withdrawal of grants—in the case of the Church Lads Brigade only £4,000 a year; and that at least, if it should be done, the doing of it should be accompanied by some words expressing the gratitude which the country owes to those who have given years of voluntary service to the boys of the country.

I will recall to your Lordships what was said the other day by Field-Marshal Sir Claud Jacob on behalf of the Church Lads Brigade and their services to the country—how, when such service was much needed, 25,000 of these boys were serving; how they had a battalion of their own which had a high record both of achievement and of conduct, and how they contributed no less than 22 to the glorious number of those who were awarded the Victoria Cross. I say nothing of the 1,500,000 who have passed through the Church Lads Brigade, and what I say of the Church Lads Brigade is equally true of the Boys Brigade. They have contributed to the virile and healthy-minded citizenship of the country. I venture to ask that these arguments shall not be dismissed by the mere withdrawal of the grants, but that the suspicion that there are moral objections to their life and their conduct be removed, and that some words of gratitude be expressed for the admirable work that they have done.


My Lords, I take a great interest in this matter. I have the honour to be President of the Public Secondary Schools Cadet Association, and lately I became Chairman of the Joint Committee of that Association and the Incorporated Association of Headmasters. Your Lordships may imagine, therefore, that I know something of the feeling in those associations regarding this terrible blow that has fallen upon us. The Cadet organisation, I believe, nearly dropped out during the Great War. It was saved by the courage and patriotism of some schoolmasters, who banded themselves together and kept the movement alive, creating certain funds which were afterwards supplemented by Government grant. Thus was saved the life of this movement. The Public Secondary Schools Association, of which I am President, was founded, I think, in 1915. There were a few hundreds then, and there is now a membership of over 11,000, and its headmasters are all members of the Incorporated Headmasters Association.

The Cadets are of the same age as the junior members of the Officers Training Corps, and we do our best to train them on the same lines as the Officers Training Corps. Last year we had a camp at Marlborough and had nearly 2,000 present at it. The masters attend our annual camp. We had hoped, and we still hope, to have another camp this year, at which the number attending will probably be greater. The camps are all directed, managed and organised by the headmasters and the assistant masters of the schools. I think there are something like 80 schools in the association. During the last camp we had 61 schools represented on Marlborough Downs, and I can testify to the value of those camps. Personally, I know something about training, and I can testify to the value of this training morally, mentally and physically. I wish some of your Lordships would come down and see them in camp. We have had a good many visits from influential people to these camps, and nothing but admiration has been expressed for them. You could not see a keener, happier and fitter lot of boys anywhere. I am sure that our standard of efficiency is no whit less than that attained by the Officers Training Corps. We are not envious of them, but they surpass us in no way except perhaps in wealth and social prestige.

To those who have shall be given! I suppose they receive six times the amount of grant that the boys of our public secondary schools receive, and even the little that we get is to be taken away from us. It is a very small sum indeed that is spent as insurance for this body of potential officers, because these boys of ours are potential officers in emergency, and we have now 11,000 of them. I think that the small grant for these boys is the cheapest bargain ever made. Our boys receive certainly the elements of military training, but there is no compulsion upon them to join the corps, and they cannot be accused of militarism. I was called a militarist the other day. I have also been called at various times a pacifist and a defeatist, but I do not pay much attention to the names that we are called. It is, however, discouraging to these boys and to the officers who are headmasters and assistant masters and give up two or three weeks of their scanty holidays to live in camp with these boys. They live in camp in the same way as the boys, subject to the same discomforts and taking part in the same amusements, and there is a thoroughly good feeling between them and the cadets.

These cadets learn in camp, as has been said, the virtues of citizenship. They are disciplined, they are taught to work together, they are taught to think with each other, they are taught self-respect, self-control and self-reliance, and taught to be, I hope, men who will take their places in the world of men. The Public Secondary Schools Association are so convinced of the great value to the nation of this movement that even if we lose our money we shall try to carry on; but we do beg for official recognition. Without official recognition, we are in danger of extinction. If we have official recognition, we have, as the noble Earl, the mover of the Motion has said, permission to borrow such things as tents and camp equipment, which we cannot afford to buy ourselves or even to hire. If we are assured of official recognition, we may, I hope, carry on at any rate for a year. We may be able to have our camp this year to which all the officers and cadets are looking forward with great eagerness, but if we lose that recognition I am afraid our case is desperate.


My Lords, I should like to say a few words to support in the strongest possible way the words that have fallen from my noble friend Lord Onslow with regard to the Cadets. I know something about the work that they do and about the value that cadets were to the regiment I commanded for many years. I am convinced of the great value of the Cadet Corps to the country. It is extraordinarily difficult to understand the motives of His Majesty's Government in perpetrating what I call a mean and contemptible pettifogging action. If it is an economy, it is only an economy of £10,700 in a Budget which will amount to something like £850,000,000. It is unworthy of the country, unworthy of the Government, and it is calculated to make every Englishman ashamed of the Government and of his country if the country supports the Government in this.

We all know the good which these corps do in these days, when one of the things which we are trying to counteract is the tendency to develop what is known as hooliganism in the streets and everything possible in the way of disrespect of authority and of everything else. Yet, just because a few masters—who I conclude come from that tribe who seem to cultivate a sort of diseased mentality which sees red the moment they see anything approaching or pertaining to military formation—come and object to this thing, then we have this action on the part of His Majesty's Government. I sincerely hope that there will be a strong expression from the country on the subject, and I cannot help thinking that His Majesty's Government will find that they have made a very great mistake—the appearance of these boys when they come home from camps up and down the country is evidence of the good they do—and that mistake will re-echo through the country and will make itself felt at the next Election. I sincerely hope that wiser counsels may yet prevail on the part of the War Office and that we may still see a continuance of the grant to the Cadet Corps.


My Lords, the position of His Majesty's Government is quite definite on this matter.




It is perfectly true that there was no mention of it in the Estimates, but I do not think that the noble Earl will contend that we are not entitled to initiate any form of policy once the Estimates for the year are concluded. Of course, no sooner have we concluded preparation of the Estimates than we go on to the preparation of other items of policy. This was the first matter to be considered. I say that our position is quite definite. We believe that military training for a number of boys, the vast majority, or at any rate a very large majority of whom are under sixteen—they can join when they are 12—is definitely undesirable.




We are living today in times when we talk a great deal about the League of Nations. Is it really contended that it is necessary for the security of the nation to get hold of boys at twelve years of age and train them?




Well, we say it is wrong.


Will the noble Earl allow me to say that as far as the Church Lads Brigade is concerned it has nothing to do directly with the defence of the nation? It has to do with the building up of the boy's characters.


I will come to the point of the most rev. Primate in a moment. It is really very difficult to tackle this question at all.


You do not like it. You are up against it.


It is very difficult, for this reason. On the one hand we are told that there is nothing military about these Corps, and then we are told by the noble Viscount, Lord Allenby, that they constitute one of the greatest reserves of officers in this country. Which is it to be?




Well, I will endeavour, if you will allow me, to answer you on both points. If it is to be military training, then I say we consider it undesirable to get hold of boys at that impressionable age and train them in the use of arms. For that reason—


May I ask why it was desirable on February 24 and not now?


We had not time in the first eight or nine months of office to decide on every item of policy. We have to take things in their turn. Therefore on this ground it was decided to stop the grant to the Cadet Corps and the official Government recognition of Cadet Corps at once. At the same time that that announcement was made my right hon. friend in the House of Commons pledged himself to meet all the liabilities that had been incurred by the Cadet Corps. It was discovered on going further into the matter that they really had all incurred very great liabilities, if not their total liabilities, for the coming camping season. Under this pledge they would receive most of the money which was due to them, but it was decided by my right hon. friend, in order that there should be no complaint whatsoever that he had dealt with them hastily or unfairly, to continue the grant until October 31. From that date the grant will be withdrawn, recognition will be withdrawn, arms will have to be given up, and no new uniform will be served out or allowed. They will be permitted to wear out existing uniforms, but without military badges or any other military marks. This is exactly the same step—as I may remind your Lordships who feel that the Empire is now being imperilled—as was taken in 1922 by the noble Earl, Lord Derby. The noble Earl, Lord Onslow, has asked us why we did not con- sult the Central Council of the Territorial Associations. Lord Derby did not do so in 1922.


The new arrangements were not made in those days.


The Central Council of Territorial Associations was in existence, and Lord Derby could perfectly well have communicated with them. So much for the question of procedure and the way in which this decision will be carried out. It has been contended by the most rev. Primate and I think by all noble Lords who have spoken—indeed I thought I heard sounds of laughter when I talked about military training—that there is no real military training given spite of what the noble Viscount, Lord Allenby, said, and that the main objection of noble Lords to the withdrawal of this grant is on social and educational grounds. I admit of course that these cadet units do carry out a great deal of useful and desirable work. No one would attempt to deny that. But if your Lordships really contend that the work of these Cadet Corps is social work and not military work, why should your Lordships suggest that they can only be carried on by means of a grant from the War Office? These Cadet Corps are not going to be abolished, or to be, as the noble Earl, Lord Onslow said, accursed. The Boy Scouts, with a very much larger membership than the Cadet forces, do not receive any recognition or grant from the War Office. Are they "accursed"? Of course they are not. What about all the boys' clubs in the East End? Must they receive support from the War Office? Are they "accursed" The withdrawal of this grant and of the recognition that goes with it will not render these bodies, as the noble Lord in very exaggerated language said, "accursed." We have been told by the representatives of the largest portions of these forces that they are going to carry on. They will not even be abolished.

What, therefore, is the position? As I see it, it is perfectly clear, and the case of the War Office is perfectly clear. We have to make up our minds, and your Lordships have to make up your minds, whether this is military training or not. If the answer is that it is military training, we say that it is undesirable at that age. If you say that it is not military training, then we contend that this is not proper military expenditure, and that we should bring the work that these Cadet units have performed into line with a great deal of other work that I have mentioned, such as that of the Boy Scouts and boys' clubs in the East End. The problem must be tackled as a whole.


May I ask the noble Lord one question? He said just now that it was the War Office that decided that this training at that age was undesirable. What does he actually mean by the War Office? Is it the War Office or His Majesty's Government?


I mean my right hon. friend the Secretary of State, who is responsible for policy at the War Office. This work can go on, and actually at the present moment, since your Lordships feel that it is not only on social and educational grounds that you object to the grant being cut off, under Section 17 of the Education Act, 1918, local educational authorities can provide assistance for non-military organisations for boys to go to camp. Surely that meets a very large part of the case that the most rev. Primate has made. I think he particularly mentioned these annual camps for boys, and I sympathise with him. It is undoubtedly desirable that as many of these boys as possible should get away into the country at least once a year to camp. I have pointed out to your Lordships that, under existing provisions of the Education Act, boys who are in schools can perfectly well be sent away into camp with public assistance from the Board of Education, but they will not be provided with His Majesty's uniform or with arms or rifles. If noble Lords feel that more assistance is needed for this social work of sending boys away to camp, then I have no doubt that His Majesty's Government would consider any suggestion.

I must say that t gives great pleasure and surprise to some of us—no, I will not say "surprise"—to notice this enthusiasm on the other side for social and educational work. We also are keen on these ventures, and I hope that very shortly, if Parliamentary time permits, we shall have an opportunity of giving your Lordships a chance of proving your enthusiasm for the children of this country by putting before you a Bill for raising the school-leaving age to fifteen.


What has that to do with it?


It has a great deal to do with your Lordships' enthusiasm for social and educational work for these boys. Meanwhile, the decision about the Cadets must stand. We recognse the social value of the work that they have performed, and I most gladly pay a tribute to those public-spirited men—with different ideas from ours, but public-spirited none the less—who have given so much of their time to this work. I most earnestly hope that the social and educational part of the work will continue. But in future these bodies must stand on their own feet, as social bodies, just like the other bodies, such as Boy Scouts and boys' clubs, which carry on similar work.


My Lords, my desire in saying a few words on this subject is to preserve that coolness and dignity that is appropriate to this House. I think that the noble Earl is still young enough to be thoroughly ashamed of the speech that he has addressed to us.


Not a bit.


I know that sometimes Under-Secretaries have to deliver defences of a chief when they are not perhaps entirely in sympathy with their chief's policy, and I venture to hope, for the sake of the moral regeneration of the noble Earl himself, that he is not entirely in sympathy with that which the Secretary of State for War has said. I observe further that we have not heard a single word of defence from the noble Earl of the charges made by the Secretary for War against these associations. Very definite and very serious charges have been made by the Minister for War—charges that he says were so strong that he was obliged to agree with them—about the educational and moral injury that was done to these boys by these associations. That was the charge levelled publicly in Parliament by the Secretary of State for War against a large number of boys and other persons who are doing their best to carry on these associations. I do not ask for an explanation from the noble Earl, because I think he has not been instructed to give one, but I do think that, when the Secretary of State for War, in the great position that he holds in the Government and in the country, brings a definite charge of that kind against these bodies and associations, he ought at least to try to have the manliness to stand up and explain what he means and, if necessary, to bring his witnesses into the open.

Apparently he has not consulted anybody. If these charges are so grave, why does he not consult the Central Council of Territorial Associations? Why does he not even consult the Army Council? Has he consulted anybody? I gravely doubt it. He tells us that certain representations have been made by certain teachers, I think from the elementary schools or from the National Union of Teachers. Are we not entitled to know what those charges are? Are we not entitled, before you destroy these valuable and useful associations, to know what crime they have committed? Cannot these people come forward and substantiate the charges? Surely everybody knows that when a charge is made the defendant should at least have some chance of replying, but in this case the charge is locked up secretly in the bosom of the Secretary of State for War, and not a single member of the Government Bench opposite dares to get up and say what the charges are.

Who has been consulted? The Secretary of State apparently consults those gentlemen who have no knowledge of the subject at all. He cannot have consulted the Incorporated Society of Headmasters, because they are unanimously in favour of this training. I suppose he wanted to consult somebody who would agree with the preconceived notions which he had. I say that this is a foul slander passed by the Secretary of State upon these bodies, and I challenge him, either in another place or elsewhere, to substantiate the charges or withdraw them. I can add my humble testimony to the work done by these bodies, because I was for three years at the War Office after the War, responsible for these associations and these grants. With my noble friend behind me, we cover seven of the ten or eleven years which have elapsed since the War, and I think our testimony can be put against that of Mr. Shaw, who has only been at the War Office for three-parts of a year.

I am quite sure that there is no substance in or basis for the charge that has been made. Never during the time that I was at the War Office did anybody, whether schoolmaster or conscientious objector or passive resister, come and make any such charge. The noble Earl tried to make some point as to whether these Corps were purely educational, or whether they had some military advantage. Let me say what happened at the end of the War, because at that time three of the Departments of the Government took great interest in these bodies. They were, in their particular order, the Education Office, the Home Office and the Ministry for War. The Education Office took great interest in them because of their educational value; the Home Office were interested because of the discipline; and the War Office, although I do not say that the military attainments of these Corps were very high, yet urged them to go on with their work because, in view of the difficulties of employment after the War, of the great value which in after life their discipline and training would prove to be to them. That was the high position in which these bodies were held while the great struggle was going on.

I hope and trust that there is some military value in these associations. I was listening the other day to a debate in the House of Commons, and the complaint of the Secretary for War was that he was very short of men to enlist in the Army. It is true that he said: "I suppose while you have an Army you must have men in it," but he was complaining of the difficulty of finding men for enlistment. Now we are told by hard statistics what numbers of these lads at a later stage do join the Army. I do not know whether it is militarism to join the Army, and whether he deliberately wants to cut off the supply of soldiers for the Army. Anyhow, if he is so anxious to get recruits it seems, from a military point of view, rather stupid to cut off one of the sources which has supplied in the last few years a number of recruits. I wish to bear personal testimony to the value which these lads get from their training in obtaining after employment. We have seen the numbers of unemployed rising higher and higher since the Socialist Government came into office. We were told that they were going to reduce unemployment. Unfortunately that has not happened and we see the numbers going to something like 1,600,000. I understand that the Government put it down to world causes, and not to themselves, but, whatever the cause, surely you ought to do everything you can to assist people to get employment, and if this training leads to discipline and self-control, which increase the chance of employment later, surely it is very petty to put your fist upon these associations, smash them all up, and take away this additional opportunity for lads to obtain employment in after life.

I do not know what the Government are going to do. Apparently they say that this rather hastily taken resolution is going to be adhered to. I am not pleading so much for the money—although the idea of the Socialist Government trying to save £10,000 a year is so humorous, when we see them squandering hundreds of thousands elsewhere—but what these bodies want are the status and the feeling that they are recognised by the Government, through the War Office, that their sacrifices are recognised, and that the great advantage which is given to the lads of the country is also recognised. The blow which the Government has dealt them is a cruel blow, it is a mean blow, and it is unnecessary. It is really hitting these small institutions below the belt. I do not know why it is done, or what crime these people have committed, but I do know this, that it will be a source of great satisfaction to all that horde of passive resisters, conscientious objectors and other degenerates who give it support.


My Lords, perhaps I may be permitted to make a few remarks on this subject from what may be called a county point of view. For several years now since the War there has been an expedition abroad of cadets drawn from various districts of England and Scotland, to the number of about a thousand. The expeditions have been organised by the Warwickshire Territorial Association, and have been recognised by the War Office. But the expense to the taxpayer has been, if any at all, infinitesimal, as there has been a contribution for expenses from each of those taking part in the expeditions. The expeditions have been to Brussels, Malo les Bains, Cambrai and other places, and have lasted about ten days. In the various towns that have formed the headquarters of the cadets the greatest interest has been shown in them by the inhabitants and by the municipalities, and the most cordial relations have been established between them and the cadets, which is certainly all for good, and the conduct of the cadets has been invariably exemplary. I may mention that at Brussels the cadets had the honour of being inspected by His Majesty the King of the Belgians.

I cannot stress too much the excellent effect and power for good that these expeditions have on the cadets, both on the older and the younger, and it will certainly be infinitely regrettable should the Government cease to recognise the cadet units affiliated to the Territorial Army. As the Secretary of the Warwickshire Territorial Association remarks: The Cadet Force plays an important part in the training of youth by inculcating discipline, self-reliance, leadership, and mental and bodily alertness. And he adds: I feel certain that there will be a widespread feeling of resentment, both among the boys and the parents, at the slight placed upon them by the severance of the connection with the Territorial Army.


My Lords, at this hour I do not wish to detain you long, but as treasurer of one of the largest of the voluntary organisations affected by the threatened withdrawal of the Cadet grant, I feel I cannot let the opportunity pass of supporting the noble Earl, Lord Onslow. The Secretary of State for War has stated in another place that the Cadet Force is of no military value. I find it impossible to reconcile that view with the facts. How can one say that the training of character, the inculcation of ideals of patriotism and the development of physical fitness, have "no potential military value"? This organisation would appear to me to possess not only military value, but a great social value. The Cadet force—I speak particularly of that portion of it which is not directly concerned with schools—supplies a want in the community, if the well-being of poorer sections of society is not to be made to suffer. As an alternative to idleness and pleasure-seeking in the streets or undesirable places, units of the Cadet force offer a valuable training ground for the youth of the country.

We are not only deeply concerned, but also deeply perplexed at the reasons given for the withdrawal of the Cadet grant. We do not claim the right to official recognition, indispensable as that might be as a military organisation; but as a body successfully tackling a problem of real national importance—of turning out sturdy, self-reliant and respected citizens—it would appear that even if the War Office cannot recognise the military value of which I have spoken, this comparatively small sum would be saved to the country over and over again if given through the Ministry of Health or the Board of Education. When compared with the large sums spent on other Social Services this sum seems to be almost negligible, and yet the return is enormous.

One of the greatest assets of the Cadet movement, particularly in the case of the Boys Brigades, is the immense personal service and influence of the officers and those who work in the movement. The money required to keep the movement going is necessary, and if the officers who devote their time and energy freely to this great work have to collect still more money than they do at present, it goes without saying that they will not have so much time to devote to the more important branches of their work, and some small units may even find it impossible to continue. The Boys Brigades furnish, besides physical drill and training, opportunities for boys of the poorer classes to enjoy all forms of recreation—swimming, boxing, cricket, football, shooting, etc., which would otherwise be denied to them. There are also indoor activities — gymnasium, library, etc. They have interesting lectures provided, and other educational facilities, and they are helped to find employment. In short, the brigades help, by their training, both mental and physical, to turn out good citizens and to build up an A 1 nation.

But by far the most important work that is done is the provision of the yearly camp. Cadet Lieutenant-Colonel Ashdown in The Times a few days ago pointed out that even if the money grant is withdrawn His Majesty's Government ought still to loan equipment for camping and make provision for camping sites. Boys who go to camp are given ten days of disciplined yet enjoyable holiday by the sea, during which time the officers have greater opportunities than during the rest of the year of getting to know their boys well, and helping to mould their characters. If any of your Lordships could see these boys who come from some of the poorest parts of London coming to camp pasty-faced and seedy-looking little specimens, and returning ten days later brown, jolly and healthy, you would not fail to see immediately what a wonderful thing it is for them. They are boys who would otherwise very probably be unable to have a holiday at all. Those of them who can do so contribute to the cost according to their means, but some are unable to pay anything. No boy, I might say, in the organisation with which I am familiar, has ever been refused to be taken to camp because he is too poor to pay anything.

The camp equipment costs the country nothing. The units concerned have to provide transport facilities from the military depot to the camping ground and back, and have to insure against loss, so that all risk is obviated, and there can be no cost whatsoever to the national finances. I cannot conceive what possible advantage there can be to this country to withhold this privilege from the Cadet force. It costs the country nothing, yet if the Cadet force had to find its own camping equipment and grounds, the expense, which is considerably above the money grant given, would become prohibitive. I earnestly urge His Majesty's Government to reconsider the question, and to continue the support, both in money and loan of equipment to the Cadet force, in order to enable this force to carry on the important work which it is doing.


It is only by your Lordships' permission that I can add one word. There was one point raised by the most rev. Primate which, I gather, I did not quite clearly answer, and that was his point as to what we meant by moral and educational reasons, which he felt cast an aspersion on the work that these schoolmasters and other public-spirited men have been performing. Let me make it quite clear that when moral and educational reasons were referred to it was simply the feeling of objection to instilling military ideas into them.


My Lords, I think you will agree with me that we have not had a very satisfactory explanation from His Majesty's Government of the reasons for which they have thought fit to take this step, and, as for the explanation of moral and educational values just given to us, it does not take us very much further than we were before. I asked the noble Earl several questions but he has not given me many answers. From what he has said I gather that the Cadets are to be persecuted. That is the substance of the explanation we have had from the Government. But we do not know who the instigators of the persecution are. My noble friend Lord Peel did his best to elicit from noble Lords opposite who these secret advisers of the Secretary of State are. They are described as certain Members of Parliament and certain members of the National Union of Teachers. It has been carefully left out that they in any way officially represented the National Union of Teachers, or, indeed, anybody but themselves, and so I must take it that these nameless advisers whose identity is so very carefully concealed are persons whose authority is entirely self-constituted.

I am sorry the noble Earl has gone away, but I know that a public engagement calls him. He asked: "Do you say that these Cadets and the Church Lads Brigade are necessary from a military point of view?" I say from both points of view, because the same virtues are necessary in a soldier as in a civilian, and the training they get fits them equally well for civil and military life. I have been too long acquainted with public affairs to be easily moved either to enthusiasm or the reverse by the tergiversations and antics of politicians, but I must confess that the vindictive treatment of these poor boys inspires me with some indignation and I really do not know which is the more contemptible—the ineptitude of the measures which the Government have thought fit to take against them, or the lameness of their excuses. I think the present Secretary of State will go down to history as the Minister who promoted disarmament by persecuting the Church Lads Brigade and the Boys Brigade.

On Question, Motion for Papers agreed to.