§ THE EARL of ONSLOW had given Notice to call attention to the statement made by the Secretary of State for War to the Central Council of Territorial Associations on the 11th February, 1925, as to the policy of the War Office in regard to the Territorial Army, and to ask His Majesty's Government if the statement of the then Secretary of State still holds good, or whether they have made or propose to make any, and if so what, alteration therein; and to move for Papers.
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, I do not propose to trouble you at any great length this afternoon, and I shall confine my observations strictly to the Motion that stands in my name. I do not propose to deal with the question of the Estimates, or with such information as has appeared in the Press about them, and about the economies that are to be effected in the Territorial Army. I dare say that other noble Lords who will speak this afternoon will deal with them, and I dare say that we shall have an opportunity of discussing and commenting upon them at some future date. I think that the particular question to which I venture to call attention to-day is so important that I shall confine myself 478 entirely to asking my Question of the noble Earl opposite, in the earnest hope that he will be able to give me a detailed reply. I make no apology for bringing the matter before your Lordships' House, because I think there could be nothing more important in regard to matters concerning the Territorial Army than to be perfectly clear where we stand. It is for that reason, and that reason alone, that I have put this Motion down, and I venture to hope that the Government will give me a categorical reply.
§ I shall venture to trouble your Lordships with a brief recapitulation of the previous history of this matter. In 1920 Mr. Churchill, who was Secretary of State for War in the Coalition Government, of which, of course, Mr. Lloyd George was the head, announced that the Territorial Army in future would be the sole means of expansion for the Army. In 1925, shortly after the late Government came into office, my right hon. friend Sir Laming Worthington-Evans, who was then Secretary of State for War, met the Central Council of the Territorial Associations. The meeting was on February 11, 1925, and it was a formal meeting, because not only did the Secretary of State attend but also a large number of his colleagues on the Army Council, and the Director-General of the Territorial Army. On that occasion the Secretary of State reiterated his predecessor's declaration in the most precise terms.
I think I may be forgiven if I venture to quote the exact words which he used, as they were reported in The Times of February 12, 1925. My right hon. friend said:—
In any war—not only a war in which the whole nation were involved, but in any war of first-class importance—the Territorial Army would take the field overseas as soon as it could be made ready to do so. The Regular Army and its reserves were much smaller now than in 1914, and whenever they had to be supplemented the burden and the honour would fall on the Territorial Army. The Territorial Army would be required at least to duplicate itself in every particular, and to produce a further 14 Divisions together with Army and line of communication troops, and the reinforcements required for keeping such a force in the field.
That was a very clear and precise statement. Then he went on to say that to carry this into effect a detailed scheme
would be worked out—not as a matter of urgency, at the moment, but it would have to be worked out so that the policy could be put into operation easily if ever and whenever the need for expansion arose.
§ I would only ask the Government if they adhere to the policy laid down in 1920 and reiterated by Sir Laming Worthington-Evans in 1925. If the noble Earl can give an affirmative and satisfactory answer to that I personally shall be quite satisfied, and I feel that your Lordships will agree that it would be very gratifying news to hear that all Parties and all Governments are in agreement—for your Lordships will remember that the 1920 declaration was made it is true by a Coalition Government, but a Government which had a Liberal, Mr. Lloyd George, as Prime Minister, and the second declaration of course was made by a Conservative Government. If therefore the noble Earl is able to tell us that the present Government are in agreement with that policy, then we shall know that all Parties are in agreement as to the fundamental policy regarding the Territorial Army. That I think will be a very satisfactory state of affairs.
§ Now I come to the second point. If the noble Earl is not able to say that the present Government are in agreement with this policy, I hope very much that we shall be able to learn precisely what alteration they may contemplate and how and when they propose to carry out such alteration. It is of the utmost importance that we should be clear upon that point. I have seen in the Press that the members of the Territorial Army and the members of the county associations have expressed rather strongly a wish to know exactly how they stand—what the fundamental policy of the Government is—and they also want to know if there are any alterations in its functions or objects in contemplation. I feel myself that we have a right to ask—and I hope my noble friend will give it—for a clear and definite answer to this Question which I venture to put to the Government to-day. I confine my remarks only to that, because I wish to get a clear statement on that subject, and I hope the noble Earl will be able to give it.
My Lords, I would like to say at once how warmly I welcome 480 the action taken by my noble friend in putting down the Motion that appears to-day on the Order Paper. It is perfectly true, as he has said, that it is of considerable importance that some pronouncement should be made at the present time with regard to the attitude of the Government towards the Territorial Army. We are all very anxious to know where we stand, and in saying "we" I refer not merely to those who are serving in the Territorial Army at the present time, but also to those who are working on the county Territorial associations. As my noble friend has said, there is considerable and serious concern among county associations wits regard to this matter, and one of the reasons for that concern is the position of recruiting at the present time.
We are all aware of the very prominent part that the present Government have taken in what may be called the "peace propaganda," and also the great movement that is being carried on in that direction up and down the country, and it is very natural that under those conditions such propaganda should have considerable psychological effect upon the minds of those serving in and of those endeavouring to administer the Territorial Army. Therefore, I hope that the noble Earl opposite, who is to reply for the Government, will out of fairness to those who are serving, as well as, perhaps, out of consideration for those who are doing their best to administer and promote the recruiting of this force, be able to make a perfectly clear and definite pronouncement with regard to the attitude of the Government, so that at any rate with regard to this all-important question of recruiting we shall know where we are, and whether it is worth while pursuing or elaborating the many efforts suggested to improve the present position in this regard. We have disquieting reports from all parts of the country with regard to the question of recruiting. From places as far distant from each other as Glasgow and the City of London, as well as from the ordinary county associations in other parts of the country, the same story appears to be true.
For instance, with regard to the City of London, I observe that in the year 1926 the percentage of strength to establishment was some 74.10. I am referring 481 to the figures for "other ranks." In 1929 it was 63.60. In the case of Glasgow the figures for 1926 were 91.74, whereas in 1929 they were 80.02. Similar figures—comparable figures—are to be seen in most of the returns in regard to the ordinary county associations, if I may so term them, up and down the country. Of course it is true that there are cases where the figures are more favourable than those I have indicated, but I hold in my hands a return, with which I do not intend to bore the House, which bears out this contention with regard to a number of county Territorial associations, and which points to the facts with regard to the subject of recruiting.
This diminution takes place not merely in the case of fresh recruits coming into the Army, but also in that of a most important and desirable class of men, the men who re-engage on the expiration of their four years term of enlistment. These figures give all the more ground for apprehension when you remember that the peace establishments of most of the units have been diminished since the War. It is true to say that a great effort has been made in many parts to get the best quality of recruit rather than a great number of recruits, but at the same time those efforts have been persisting now for a considerable number of years, and I think the figures that I have given—with, I am afraid, not enough emphasis or fullness in the effort not to speak at too great length—are sufficient to show that it is important at this juncture that the Government should as soon as possible make such a clear pronouncement with regard to policy as that which has been asked for by my noble friend.
I was very sorry to notice in the report of the proceedings in another place yesterday that the Secretary of State said that he would not make any pronouncement on policy with regard to the Territorial Army until he made his speech on the Estimates. I sincerely hope that we shall not have an answer similar to that this afternoon. I would make a great appeal to His Majesty's Government not to delay for two or three months a full pronouncement on their view of the position and the importance of the Territorial Army. After all, those of us who have experience in 482 the Territorial Army—and there are many noble Lords in this House who have more than I have—know how anxious commanding officers are to secure their recruits as early as possible before the training and camp period, so that that which is the most valuable period of the year from the point of view of the training of the Territorials may be made the best use of. If the pronouncement which we hope for is of an encouraging nature, a delay now of two, or possibly three, months would considerably diminish the force and utility of that pronouncement.
I sincerely hope, therefore, that the noble Earl who is to respond for the Government will help those who are endeavouring to administer this Force; and it has to be remembered that the responsibility for recruiting, so far as the War Office is concerned, is placed on the county associations. I hope also that the Government will be explicit in the expression of their views, so that those who are actually serving in the ranks or as officers in the Territorial Army will know exactly where they stand, and what really is the function which they are supposed to fulfil in joining that Force. That function has been laid down in emphatic and clear terms hitherto, and it is important that to-day, or at any rate at the earliest possible moment, in the best interests of the Territorial Army—with which is involved the full organisation for the defence of this country and of the Empire—an adequate pronouncement should be made.
§ LORD LAMINGTON
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Onslow asked this Question in very precise terms, and my noble friend Lord O'Hagan has gone rather further, and asked questions about recruiting at the present time. I understand that Lord Onslow's Question referred more directly to the general policy of the Government towards the Territorial Army. I should like to supplement that with another question, and that is: Have the War Office elaborated any scheme which is to be brought into effect on general mobilisation? Assuming that the answer of the noble Earl opposite is going to be satisfactory, that would only set the machinery in motion in case of an outbreak of war. What we want to know is what 483 would be their responsibility under a general mobilisation scheme. This is really most important. In 1928 Sir George Milne addressed the Council of Territorial Associations, and he then said it was under consideration, though he was not in a position to go into detail, that the whole question of recruiting should be joined up in a sort of general national mobilisation, and that a Committee was considering the principles on which this could be done.
That was two years ago, and I wish to know whether that Committee have considered this question, and, if so, what their decisions are. Sir Laming Worthington-Evans mentioned in 1925 how the Army at that date had suffered severe reduction, and of course, since then it has suffered further reductions, and the Territorial Army, too, has suffered reductions, not so much in numbers as in the amount of grants, which have been severely cut down. Therefore it is desirable that, in case of an emergency, there should be some cut-and-dried scheme on which the associations could work if they were called upon to put into effect a mobilisation scheme. I hope, therefore, the noble Earl will be able to say whether a scheme has yet been fashioned, and, if so, whether it will he made public.
§ LORD COTTESLOE
My Lords, it is, I think, an extremely important question, from the point of view of the county associations and of the Territorial Army, that has been raised this afternoon. Recruiting is an eternal problem with a voluntary force, which may be said barely to receive its expenses, and is not really a paid force in any complete sense of the word. And recruiting has always followed phases of public opinion. I recollect very well the great expansion of numbers of the Volunteer Force at the time of the South African War. I recollect also, when Mr. Haldane, as he was then, did for the Territorial Army what Lord Wolseley had earlier done for the Regular Army—organised it and welded the material of it into a weapon fit to take part in war—with what earnestness and thoroughness the Force followed the change and accepted its new duties. The recruiting difficulty is no easier now than it was then. There have been fundamental changes. Not only is there the reaction that has followed the 484 War, but the engagement of the post-War territorial is a more drastic one than that of his predecessor. There is no longer an undertaking to take part in the defence of the country specifically. The undertaking is to serve abroad when Parliament shall require it. In addition to that, a very great responsibility has been put upon the Territorial Army because it now stands directly behind the Regular Army as the next source of strength and reinforcement as well as providing the machinery for expansion.
When men are asked, for no gain to themselves, to join an organisation such as that and to undertake responsibilities such as those, it is absolutely essential that they should know, as the noble Earl who asked the Question has said, where they stand. There is the most wonderful sense of duty and patriotism in this country. I do not know where else you could get people to serve, if called on, in any part of the world on a voluntary engagement when in fact you are merely paying them their expenses, and when, if such service were demanded of them, they would have to leave home and business and family in order to do their duty by their country. Necessarily, in a time of economic difficulty economies are made; but it must be remembered that all changes and all reductions are matters of difficulty in a going concern, and that they come home in detail to those upon whom the duty of recruiting falls. I would urge His Majesty's Government to give us the most clear assurance as to where the great Territorial Force stands now and as to what is expected of the Territorial Associations. I hope the Government will do that because I believe it will enable the Territorial Army to be more equal than possibly it is at this moment to whatever duties may ultimately be required of it.
§ LORD TEMPLEMORE
My Lords, it is a source of great satisfaction to me that my noble friend, with whom I was so closely associated at the War Office during the greater part of the life of the late Government, has thought fit to raise this question to-day. It is a very important question and, speaking in the dual capacity of a member of your Lordships' House and an active member of the Territorial Army, I very much welcome this debate. I hope that we shall 485 succeed in eliciting something from His Majesty's Government, so that we may tell where we stand in this matter and whither we are going. I must inform the noble Earl the Under-Secretary of State that this matter is of great interest to Territorial officers themselves. As the commanding officer of an infantry battalion, I find that the uncertainty as to whether the Territorial Army is to be used as the only expansion of the Regular Army in time of war is a great source of anxiety to my officers, and anything that can be said to-day to put their minds at rest will be very welcome.
My noble friend read out to your Lordships the statement made by my right hon. friend, the late Secretary of State, five years ago. That was a very clear and explicit statement and was welcomed by the Territorial Army. But that was five years ago. I must say that it is a great pity—I will not put it stronger than that—that since His Majesty's present advisers took office, about eight months ago, there has not been a single statement on this subject either by the Secretary of State for War or by the noble Earl the Under-Secretary. I am not sure and I speak under correction, but I think that statements of this kind are usual when a new Government takes office. One might almost describe this as a conspiracy of silence on the part of the right hon. gentleman and the noble Earl. It may be that no news is good news; but I must confess that some of us are a little uneasy as to the intentions of His Majesty's Government towards the Army both on account of certain rumours which we hear and also on account of the very serious cuts which have been made in the grant to the Territorial Associations.
I should like to give your Lordships some figures for the association with which I am connected and of which I am a member—the Hampshire association. This year we have to make a refund in cash of £11,000. We have to do that out of savings, and it means a diminution in our income this year of nearly £500. That is for clothing and equipment. In addition to that, there is a reduction of 6s. 6d. per head on account of clothing, which means a diminution to us of another £1,050, and there will be a total diminution in our income this year and in future years of £1,550. Whatever 486 people may think, these county associations are not usually very wealthy bodies. In my own association every item however small is most carefully considered now and will have to be more carefully considered in future. Even now we are debating whether we can afford to retain the telephone in some of our distant drill halls in the area, although, as your Lordships are well aware, the telephone is absolutely necessary for any up-to-date institution. We have got as far as that, and what the result will be I know perfectly well. Certain grants which have been given for bands, sports and other matters of that kind either of a military or semi-military nature, such as you must have in the Territorial Army, will not be given. The units will either go without those things or they will have to be paid for by the officers, by the members of the association or by other charitably disposed persons. I do not think that is a very satisfactory way of carrying on the finance of your Army.
I am going rather further afield than my noble friends who have just spoken, and I must refer to a very alarming paragraph which appeared in a London daily paper, the Daily Telegraph, on January 21 last. The Daily Telegraph is particularly well known, as your Lordships are aware, I will not say for the soundness of its views because that might be controversial in a debate like this, but for the goodness of its news and for the very excellent military articles which it publishes. This article, in which I read what I am afraid is rather more than a rumour, foreshadows cuts in military expenditure of about £3,000,000 which are to be obtained not by the abolition of units—I expect the Lord Privy Seal would have something to say to that—but by the simple expedient of neglecting to renew equipment and stores, and by what is called marking time on mechanisation. I am not going into the whole question of these rumoured economies and what effect they would have on the Army in general. That would hardly be in order in the present debate, even with the latitude of the rules of your Lordships' House. That may have to be a subject of debate later on when we have seen the Estimates. But I should like to bring forward one or two points which may be affected by 487 those rumoured economies which specially affect the Territorial Army.
Those of your Lordships who study these matters will remember that two years ago—in 1928—the General Staff of the War Office decided that Territorial battalions should, as from April 1, 1930, be organised like Regular battalions—that is to say, with headquarters wing, three rifle companies, and machine gun company. Then last year we were allowed to forestall that re-organisation and to train with our machine gun company on the condition that the new guns and equipment would not be issued until April 1 next. We did so, and I think we may say that we made an exceedingly good business of it. I was astonished and very pleased at the way in which the officers and men in my battalion seemed to tumble into the work at once, and, with their old guns and dummy guns, make an exceedingly good show on some field days that we had. What alarms me is that, two months from the date of the re-organisation of the forces, according to my latest information, which is only two days old, my battalion and the Hampshire Infantry Brigade have been given no orders whatever to draw out the extra guns and equipment which will be wanted on April 1. I hope the War Office, for motives of economy, are not going to call a halt in this reorganisation. We have taken a great deal of trouble. I have tried to make the machine gun company the star company in my battalion. I have no doubt other commanding officers have done the same, and I think, if a halt is called to this re-organisation now in the way I have mentioned, it will do great harm to the training and morale of the Territorial Army. I also hope that the schedule of mechanisation of the Territorial artillery will be proceeded with, and not be retarded in any way.
If the noble Earl can give us comforting information about these two points I shall be exceedingly obliged to him. I am quite aware that the noble Earl the Under-Secretary may say that the rumours I have quoted are only newspaper rumours. I well remember that rather more than three years ago, when I raised the question of Territorial Army recruiting, my noble friend behind me (the Earl of Onslow) said I must not 488 believe all I saw in the newspapers. I have no doubt I accepted the reproof with due humility, but we are not in office and we do not know what is going on. We only have, like the general public at present, what the newspapers say to go on. Leaving the newspapers out of consideration altogether if your Lordships consider the matter you will realise that the omens are not propitious. The Chancellor is bound to be faced with a very large deficit in April, and where is he likely to turn for the money to effect economics? If we are to judge from the speeches of Ministers when they are in Opposition, naturally to the armed Forces of the Crown. Of course when I say that I make an exception in the case of the Air Force, because I see the noble and gallant Lord the Secretary of State for Air in his place, and I believe that, no doubt exercising that diplomatic and persuasive manner with which he so often charms your Lordships' House, he can get anything he likes out of a stony-hearted Chancellor. The noble Lord shakes his head. I think that is only his innate modesty, because I hear something very different. Good luck to him! May he go on with the good work.
But that is very poor comfort to the older Services if they have to bear the brunt of these economies. It is not made more pleasant for us who take an interest in these things when we see this money, which is to be saved apparently on the Forces, not spent on proper methods of social reform, from which we on this side of the House, whatever may be said, are no more averse than anybody else, but squandered very often on bad Bills—Bills which Ministers themselves know to be bad, such as the measure which passed your Lordships' House about an hour ago. I can understand a policy—although I should oppose it—of the abolition of battalions or units, but what I cannot understand, if you keep an Army, is the policy of neglecting its arms and equipment. I can only say that if that policy is to be pursued it is a policy which none of your Lordships or anybody in his senses would think of applying, if he wanted to economise, to his own estate or his factory. I think if we did it would be absolute madness. I do not know what the noble Earl is going to say this afternoon, but, what- 489 ever he says, I hope he will not keep us too much in the dark, that he will not simply say: "Wait for the Estimates." With all due respect, that will not do.
We have heard a lot lately both here and in another place of the position of your Lordships' House as regards foreign Treaties. I am not going into this matter now; it is not the occasion for it. I have no doubt, as regards that, noble Lords on the Government Bench hold diametrically opposite opinions to those on this side, but I do say that if there are two subjects upon which this House has a right to be informed and consulted they are the subjects of national defence and the Forces of the Crown. I have very little more to say. The noble Earl who has brought forward this Question to-day, and those of us who have supported him, regard this as a vital matter. I see that the matter of the Territorial Army has not been debated in this House for three years. I think it was time there was another debate, so that we may know exactly where we stand. Those of us who have spoken this afternoon, and those who have not but why take an interest in these things, are very uneasy as to the position. We think that the economies which we know about, and the others which are only threatened and rumoured, would, if carried out, prove very detrimental to the Territorial Army and the Army in general, and feeling as we do we should be failing in our duty if we did not bring them to the notice of your Lordships' House.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
My Lords, I should not have thought it necessary to rise after the speeches we have heard from experienced Territorial officers but that I should like to make one point which has not been made in the debate, and that is to remind the noble Earl that if the War Office should decide, as I hope they will, to base in future large levies on the Territorial Army, they will be only returning to what was the practice until it was broken by Lord Kitchener after the declaration of War. We did use during the Boer War the Militia as the means of bringing the second line most quickly into the field. We then based ourselves on the Militia and I think forty or fifty battalions of Militia went to South Africa in a much 490 shorter time than battalions could have been raised in any other way, because the cadres were there and the organisation was able to be built up.
I do not think it is generally known—I am not sure that it has ever been made public—that at the beginning of the Great War, three or four days after War broke out, when Lord Kitchener decided to raise the Army so well known as "Kitchener's Army," he called together a committee consisting of two or three prominent officers and three civilians. He committed to them the task of raising the whole of the troops who were to compose his army, with the exception of a small number which he wished to get at once. That committee based its plans for that large force entirely on the Territorial Army and made the Lords-Lieutenant of the counties responsible. Then Lord Kitchener who had very little interest in, and I think very little sense of, local peculiarities and feelings, as was shown specially in his dealings with regard to Ireland at the same time, suddenly changed his mind, declined to base the force on the Territorial Army and raised a force entirely independent of it. I served on that committee and I can only say that the confusion which resulted in the first fortnight or three weeks from that decision was unparalleled. I know as a matter of fact that 2,000 men had to lie out in heavy rain for two days because no provision was made for housing them.
I only mention that because it is really important to remember that when you have a regular organisation like that of the Territorial Army, with commanding officers and some staff and the Lords-Lieutenant, you can do in a short time, and with much greater efficiency in my opinion, what could only otherwise he done in a very extended period. Of course everybody knows that public opinion and national excitement and loyalty were so great at the time that we were bound to put the scheme through in whatever way it was carried out. I only say in confirmation of what has fallen from my noble friend the Earl of Onslow that I am convinced that you cannot so efficiently or so quickly recruit the front line in any other way as you can by making the best of the Territorial Army. I entirely agree with the 491 commanding officers who have spoken in thinking that if you give the go-by to the Territorial Army in this respect you will greatly discredit a force on which ultimately you must depend.
§ THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (EARL DE LA WARR)
My Lords, the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, has raised a question that I think we are all agreed must be of immense importance to everyone connected with the Territorial Army. Those officers and men who join the Territorial Army do so without any hope of gaining anything for themselves except the opportunity of serving their country. Their service is freely given, their work, as the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, I think, particularly remarked, is arduous and continuous, and the bulk of it is performed, with the exception perhaps for a few during camp, in their spare time. In return it may be said that they receive a certain social and club life, but that is usually obtainable elsewhere, and I do not think any of us would pretend that it in any way compensates them for the time and energy they put into their work. It is, therefore, very understandable that the Territorial Army should be asking themselves at the present moment whether they are really required to-day at a time when the minds of the public and of statesmen seems to be so exclusively concerned with establishing international security and disarmament. There is also, of course, the further question which was specifically referred to by the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, as to whether the Territorial Army still forms the main basis for the expansion of our military forces in the event of war.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
The sole basis; that, I think, is the Earl of Onslow's particular position. But some noble Lords have gone rather further than that point, especially Lord Templemore, who has asked me to discuss with him questions on certain details of our Estimates that he thinks he knows. I would only inform him that the Estimates of the War Office are still under discussion. They are not completed and they are not published. Any information that he has been able to 492 gather from the Press is therefore like, I think, some information that he passed on to me the other day in the form of a Question—certainly incomplete, and very probably containing a great number of inaccuracies. In due course our Estimates will be completed and will be laid before Parliament by my right hon. friend the Secretary of State. Until then, of course, my noble friend will understand that we cannot anticipate discussion. But he did raise one or two points on which I can give him specific answers.
His first question was whether we are retarding the development of machine-gun companies and whether we are holding up the supply of machine guns to those companies. The answer is that we are not doing so. He also asked me how far we are gutting on with the mechanisation of the Territorial artillery. That is proceeding slowly. About half the Territorial artillery is mechanised at the present moment or training on a mechanised basis, and we are very favourable to that development; but for the moment we are not willing to compel those units that do not wish to train on a mechanized basis to do so. There is one further point with regard to Lord Templemore's question on Estimates, and to a certain extent this applies also to the Earl of Onslow's question, although not quite so much. It is, of course, the practice of the Secretary of State every year, in presenting his Estimates to the House of Commons, to lay before them his views on general Army matters. My right hon. friend has already refused to anticipate that statement in another place. Indeed, it would really be quite impossible for him to do so, because as the Estimates on which he is to base his policy are not yet complete, so his policy is not yet complete.
However, the Question which the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, has raised deals really in the main with a very general issue and I do not think it concerns very much the points which are under consideration by the Secretary of State. He has referred to the speech made in 1925 by the then Secretary of State. It dealt with the use of the Territorial Army in case of war and the part it would have to play in mobilisation. This is to a certain extent an answer to the question of the noble Lord, Lord Lamington, though I am 493 afraid not completely. He then stated that it would form the sole basis of the expansion of our Forces in the event of a war of national importance, a war in which more than the existing five regular Divisions which are kept in this country are required, and that, if even more than the fourteen Territorial Divisions were required, then, if I might again quote his words, to which the noble Earl has already referred, the Territorial Army would—be required at least to duplicate itself in every particular, and to produce a further fourteen Divisions, together with Army and line of communication troops and the reinforcements required for keeping such a force in the field.That policy remains unchanged.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
How far that statement is really going to affect recruiting I should not like to say. It has been implied in the debate to-day that the undoubted falling off in recruiting that has taken place in the last year is due to the supposed policy of His Majesty's present Government, and certainly that might superficially seem likely to be true. But I think that, if you undertake a close examination of the figures for the last three years, you will not find very ample justification for that statement. The figures for this year are down by about 900. In 1927 the figures for recruiting were 22,900, and in 1928, 29,000. There had been a fall in 1927 because of the abolition of the bounty. Now they have dropped from 29,000 to just over 28,000, a drop of about 900. I have been glancing through the monthly figures while noble Lords were speaking, and I noted down some of them. This Government came into office in April.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
I think that strengthens my ease. In February, 1928, the figures were 2,900, and in February, 1929, 2,300—a reduction of 600 before we came into office. We are dealing with a total reduction of 900 in the year, and that was in one month. In March there was a reduction of over 500, and in April a reduction of 300. There have been other, months since in which there has been an actual increase. There are two months since we have been in office in which there has been an increase. I am 494 not trying to make a Party point of that, but I am trying to show that I do not think that a close examination of the figures will really bear out that explanation of the reduction in the number of recruits. Lord O'Hagan gave figures dealing with strength as compared with establishment in certain areas. I have not the figures for these actual areas, but I can tell him that there is a smaller shortage of establishments to-day than there was in April and May, and it is about the same as in June. It is true that this is to a certain extent explained by the mechanisation of certain brigades and so on, which has reduced establishments.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
Due to mechanisation and so on. But I think it is fair to compare the two figures. There is only one further point that I should like to touch upon. It has not been raised in this debate, but it is very relevant, and it is one that we are considering with the closest interest at present in the War Office. I refer to the growing co-operation between the Regular Army and the Territorial Army. Not only have we the appointment of regular adjutants and permanent staffs and so on, but the affiliation between Territorial and Regular units is rapidly becoming a very great reality. A great deal of assistance of a voluntary character is given in the way of annual camps, weekend training and even in the day-to-day work of the units. There are also special courses arranged for Territorial officers in addition to those which they can pursue side by side with Regular officers. It is only a few weeks ago that a staff conference was held at Camberley, and this year for the first time a special day was allocated to the discussion of Territorial affairs and Territorial Army officers were invited to attend. It was generally agreed, I think, that the discussions held on that day were amongst the most successful features of the conference. This tendency to come closer together is rapidly increasing, and I hope that by the time my right hon. friend is prepared to make his statement in another place on the Estimates, he will be in a position to show how arrangements have been made to carry this tendency a very great 495 deal further than it has ever been carried up till now. So much for the present.
With regard to the future, I can only say that only a very unwise man attempts to prophesy. The increase of international security and disarmament is in all our minds in all parts of the House, while from year to year military methods are gradually changing. They are being influenced not only by scientific and technical discoveries, but by economic developments as well. The industrial capacity of a nation is to-day as important as its man-power. The kind of force that will be required in time to come may, for all we know, be vastly different from that which is considered suitable to-day. I do, at the same time, most willingly assure your Lordships and all those who are interested in the Territorial Army that the Government fully realises the importance of the part that the Territorial Army will have to play and does play in our present military organisation. It is worthy of the responsibilities that it would have to bear in the unhappy event of war. At the same time we note with pleasure the growing co-operation between the Regulars and the Territorials and the fact that they regard each other increasingly, not as rivals but as comrades. And lastly I can assure them that they will always receive from us a sympathetic hearing in their difficulties and a really genuine appreciation of the loyal service that they offer freely to the country.
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
My Lords, I am very glad indeed, as I am sure all of your Lordships are, to hear what has fallen from the noble Earl opposite. When he began his speech, coupled with the answer in the House of Commons yesterday, I was a little bit afraid lest we might find that he was somewhat chary of information; but whether it was that he was encouraged by the expectant attitude of noble Lords behind me, or whether it was that when he got on his feet he warmed to his work, I am sure your Lordships will agree that he has given us a great deal of information of a satisfactory kind. He has paid a very warm tribute, with which we gladly associate ourselves, to the Territorial Army. That service of pure patriotism referred to by Lord Cottesloe was thoroughly acknowledged by him. So far 496 as I am concerned I was very careful to confine my remarks rigidly to one particular point. The noble Earl has answered that point categorically. He has said that all three Parties are now agreed upon a fundamental policy with regard to the Territorial Army, and he has quoted, as I quoted, the statement made by Sir Laming Worthington-Evans in February, 1925.
I hope very much indeed that this statement which he has made, and the answer which he has given, will assist recruiting in the manner it is hoped it may be assisted by Lord O'Hagan and Lord Cottesloe. The noble Earl gave certain figures for recruiting. Their relative satisfactoriness or unsatisfactoriness may be his fault or my fault, but we will not quarrel about that, and I hope that whatever he has said to-day may help those noble Lords who are engaged in endeavouring to get recruits for the Territorial Army. I think it will. I think what the noble Earl has said will be of assistance to them. He said he was not going to tell us very much, and that we should have to wait for some time, until the Estimates came out in the House of Commons, and that the Secretary of State was going to tell us a great deal then; but he went on to answer certain questions put by Lord Templemore. I should not have complained if he had not done so, because they were not nut by me. They were with regard to bringing into force the scheme for the adoption of the same principle in the Territorial Army as we brought into force in the Regular Army, and also for the encouragement of the mechanisation of the Territorial Army artillery. I understand that the Government have no desire to make any change in that and I am glad to have his assurance upon the point.
He also to a certain extent referred to the supplementary question put by Lord Lamington. I specifically said that I did not want to raise that particular point, because we should probably have an opportunity of doing so later, but I am very grateful to the noble Earl for telling us what he did with regard to that matter. Then we come to the last matter which the noble Earl himself raised, and that is the co-operation between the Regular Army and the Territorial Army. When I had the honour of 497 occupying the position which the noble Earl adorns at the present time, and had the privilege of daily consultation with my colleagues of the Army Council, that was a matter in which we took the deepest interest, and I am very grateful to the noble Earl for telling us that that policy is being carried on, and indeed carried still further. It is of vital importance to the Army as a whole. There is also the point which he mentioned, and which I am glad he mentioned, about the opportunities offered to officers of the Staff College for seeing the actual working of the Territorial Army. I understand that that is being carried further forward, and that Territorial officers are invited to the Staff College and there have opportunities of listening to lectures.
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
That is even better still, and I must congratulate the noble Earl upon having so well looked after the Territorial Army, and upon having brought that about so shortly after coming into office. I do not want to trouble your Lordships with anything further. I think we may be very glad of the result of this debate. The main point I ventured to put to the Government has been secured—namely, that all three Parties are agreed upon one fundamental policy with regard to the Territorial Army. I do not suppose that the noble Earl wants to lay any Papers.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.