§ LORD TFMPLEMORE had given Notice that he would call attention to the recent War Office decision to curtail the number of permanent staff instructors with Territorial Army units; ask His Majesty's Government whether full consideration was given to the effect which this decision will have on the training and interior economy of units; and move for Papers.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am sorry to trouble the noble Earl again so soon after his recent effort and to bring him back, as it were, from the plough to the sword. Last week we were debating the condition of the Army in general, and to-day I want to trouble the House for a short time with a matter which may appear small in itself but which, to my mind, is likely to have a very bad effect on the training of the Territorial Army. I refer to the recent decision of the War Office to curtail very drastically the number of permanent staff instructors allotted to infantry battalions. Your Lordships may be aware that the establishment of permanent staff instructors for concentrated Territorial battalions—in that 1037 category come the battalions in London and a good many of those in our big cities—is three: namely, a warrant officer, class 2, who acts as sergeant-major, and two sergeant-instructors. In the case of scattered battalions—that is battalions in some towns and in all counties—an increase was allowed on the reformation of the Territorial Army at the expiration of the War based on the various needs of the units in different parts of the country. In the case of my own battalion, which is typical of many—that is why I bring it in—the number was fixed at six: one warrant officer sergeant-major and five sergeant instructors.
§ At the beginning of February a War Office letter was sent round containing proposals for reducing very drastically the number of permanent staff instructors, and also laying down—I shall refer to this in detail later—that, where a company was stationed at the headquarters of a unit, the regimental sergeant-major should take on the duties of permanent staff instructor to the company. This letter was sent round to the commanding officers and, so far as I was concerned, I commented on it in terms which were forcible but, I hope, respectful and asked that the matter should be held in abeyance. At the beginning of March, almost, I imagine, before the views of commanding officers had really had time to be considered, there came a further letter from the War Office ordering that this reduction should take place. I can speak with certainty only as to what is going to happen in the Hampshire Brigade, but, since the original letter which I mentioned was evidently what might be termed a general Army Council letter, I imagine that the same thing is going on in all Divisions in the country, and I rather fancy that the noble Lord behind me, who is going to follow me, will speak to your Lordships of the consternation that has been caused in the 51st Highland Division on account of this order. The total reductions in the Hampshire Brigade are to be five, of which my own battalion is to lose two.
§ First of all I want to deal with the taking away of sergeant-instructors from scattered companies. What is the result going to be? The result must be that you will have to arrange to reduce the number of drill nights in the companies affected, because with the best will in 1038 the world the sergeant-instructor is only human and he cannot possibly supervise more than one drill at one hall on a certain night. The consequence of that will be that there will be loss of efficiency, loss of interest and a gradual extinction of small stations that are now kept together only by means of constant supervision on the part of one of the regular sergeant instructors. The second point is even more important. I refer to the order that the regimental sergeant-major is to act as permanent staff instructor to a company. I do not know if the noble Earl is fully aware of the position, but, in case he is not, I will tell him what the duties of a sergeant-major in a Territorial battalion are. In point of fact the sergeant-major is employed for half his time, or rather more, acting as orderly-room sergeant in the office, dealing with the numerous letters and returns that have to be made out. In the case of my own battalion and, I should think, in most others he is assisted by a clerk who is a civilian and generally an ex-soldier. If the sergeant-major is going to take on the duties of sergeant-instructor, the services of a second clerk will certainly be necessary, and a question will arise as to who is to pay him. I think I may say that the Territorial Associations, with their very attenuated resources, will not be willing and cannot be expected to do so. In addition to this, the arrangement will entail the sergeant-major doing such things as cleaning rifles, going round to the houses of men who may not have returned their kit, and doing work of that kind which will very much detract from the status and dignity which in his case it is so important to keep up.
§ Quite apart from the question of the loss of efficiency, I think that if these reductions are going to take place, the War Office will be asking these men to do too much. And I should like to warn the noble Earl and the War Office that service with the Territorial Army is not now so popular with the non-commissioned officers of the Army as it was. These men think that they are badly and shabbily treated in many respects and the noble Earl will remember that he was good enough to allow me to send him privately at the end of last year various points in which they were badly treated. The noble Earl was very civil and 1039 courteous to me in his reply, as he always is, but I cannot honestly say that he gave me much satisfaction. These non-commissioned officers in addition to their duties as sergeant-instructors are expected to act as recruiters to the Regular Army. They are expected to provide so many recruits a month, and if they fail to do this they run the risk of being badly reported on by the district recruiting officer and getting a bad mark which may militate against their future advancement. I hope that if the War Office are going to curtail their numbers in the way that I have described, the noble Earl will give special thought to this point about recruiting for the Regular Army, because I do not see how they are really going to carry it on.
§ It will be noted that in this arrangement the concentrated battalion—the battalion which has the easiest task already—does not suffer at all. It carries on with its three permanent staff instructors, as it always has. The whole curtailment of staff will fall on those units which admittedly have the most difficult task now—namely the scattered battalions. Really, one is inclined to say that the War Office do not make it easy for commanding officers and adjutants to run what I call a good show. I cannot understand the General Staff and the Territorial Directorate sanctioning a reduction scheme like this. I think it was last year that the Director-General of the Territorial Army held a series of conferences in every Command in Great Britain, where, at the headquarters of the Command, he met all Territorial commanding officers, and discussed proposals by the War Office, and matters of that kind, and asked their view, and it is a great pity that the idea was not followed up this year. It was a most useful thing, and a scheme of this kind might have been followed up. We might have been asked our opinions, instead of having it thrown at our heads without our views really being properly considered.
§ I am quite aware, and all commanding officers are quite aware, of the necessity for economy, but this is what I call a bad economy. It is very disheartening to those who are trying to run their difficult battalions, such as scattered battalions always are. I think it is laying too great a burden on the sergeant- 1040 instructors who still remain, and altogether I regard it as a bad move, which will, I fear, have, not sudden, but gradual ill effects on the training and general efficiency of the Territorial Army. The noble Earl and I have had many friendly talks about the Territorial Army. I believe he is well disposed towards the Territorial Army, and he knows that I wish him well in the administration of his Department of the War Office. He will do a good turn for the Territorial Army if he will say, as I hope he is going to say when he replies this afternoon, that this scheme will be reconsidered, and that fresh orders will be issued with due regard to local conditions and the views of commanding officers, after the subject has received rather more examination than I think it has up to now. I beg to move.
THE EARL OF BREADALBANE AND HOLLAND
My Lords, this is the first time that I have had the temerity to address your Lordships' House. I should like to crave your indulgence in advance for any mistakes in procedure that I shall make in doing so. I rise to support the remarks that have been so ably made by my noble friend who has just preceded me. I understand that it is the policy of the Government to make 1930 a Territorial year, that is to say a year in which the training of the Regular Army is as far as possible to be subordinated to giving every assistance to the Territorial Army, and it seems almost ironical, and in a large measure discouraging, to find that the first manifestation of that policy is to be a reduction in the number of men who can best help the Territorial Army.
I think it is generally agreed that there are two methods by which the Regular Army can best help its sister force. One method is by attaching for a specified time a certain number of expert officers and non-commissioned officers, for instance, during camp. That is one method, and although in theory I think it is a good one, the result you usually get is that the Regular officers come full of knowledge and enthusiasm and only too conscious of the very short time they have to impart it; and, on the other hand, the Territorial officers feel that they are amateurs in the presence of professionals. They are diffident and shy, and if you get many Regular instructors they feel 1041 that perhaps they are best out of it, and that they are being a little swamped by the Regular element. It is not intended, but it is so in practice. And for about the first week there is a considerable element of shyness and stiffness, which militates against any beneficial result being got in a time that is already too short.
The alternative method is that you should attach a permanent staff, with the accent on the word "permanent," that they should be attached to the unit, that they should in many cases wear the uniform of the unit to which they are attached, and that they should assimilate the Territorial point of view. If an instructor comes to a battalion and confines himself to carrying out his official drills, he is not doing half his job. But, if he takes part in the local life, if he gets up local shooting matches, local boxing contests, runs concerts, in fact, takes a living part in the corporate life of the community to which he is attached, then he will find that any trouble or enthusiasm that he has spent will be repaid abundantly in the loyalty and support he will obtain from the Territorials. To do that it is essential that permanent staff instructors should have the time to spare.
I should like your Lordships not to think in terms of the Home Counties, but in terms of the British Isles; and I should like to quote a few instances of a battalion recruited in the Western Highlands to show how under present conditions the permanent staff are diminished to the minimum. In one company the permanent staff instructor has to go forty-five miles from the company headquarters to an outlying station; that is to say he has to go forty-five miles out and forty-five miles back to do a drill. And he has to do this in winter conditions in the Highlands, when it may be raining and blowing and almost impossible to ride on a motor bicycle. The actual road along which he goes I know myself, and it is so dangerous that there are constantly accidents to motor cars. It runs along the side of a loch, and in November it is hardly passable. Another half company is on an island and to get there from its own company headquarters the instructor would have to go ten miles by land, then five hours by boat. And it is five hours under favourable conditions. The last time the commanding officer 1042 went to visit that company he was held up for three days before the boat could go. When he gets to the island he has stations scattered anything from five to twenty miles to visit. It is perfectly impossible for one man to do what the two men can barely do now. I could quote further instances. In another company the instructor has to go fifty miles over a road that is generally so impassable that he usually prefers to go by boat. In consequence, to take a drill of one hour he has to travel forty-eight hours, most of it being by boat.
I bring these facts to your Lordships' notice because conditions in the West Highlands are so different and in order to show that the taxpayers' money is not being wasted upon permanent staff instructors who have nothing to do and who can be diminished. As a matter of fact, they are already less than is reasonably necessary to carry on, and the reason that they have been able to achieve good results in spite of that small permanent staff is that there still remains a large number of Territorial non-commissioned officers with War-time service who, out of loyalty to the detachment, have themselves formed an unpaid corps of instructors. One may say that, from the taxpayers' point of view, perhaps it would be better not to recruit these men, but these men are the very salt of the earth. They were the very finest type of men and formed the spearhead of the Highland Division in the War. They are men whose fathers are stalkers, some of them sea-faring men, who live in the open-air and are out-door active men. They are the finest men in the Territorial Army.
In the War they formed the spearhead of the Fifty-first (Highland) Division, but in peace time they have an equally good record to show. I will give the instance of the battalion I know so well. In the last two or three years this battalion has won the Lewis Gun Cup open to all battalions of the Territorial Army, won the Vickers Gun Cup open to every battalion in the Territorial Army, won the Imperial Tobacco Company Challenge Cup open to every battalion in the Army, and this year has won the Lord Lieutenant's Challenge Shield open to every battalion in the Territorial Army. In addition two years ago a detachment of this battalion 1043 went to Bisley for rifle shooting. When there they thought they would like to enter for machine gun shooting and, in that competition, they beat every Territorial battalion there and every Regular and Territorial battalion combined except the one of the School of Musketry. They are men who are imbued with loyalty to their country and their battalion, recruited from father to son over many generations.
I am sure it would be far from your Lordships' wish that these men should be discarded by a very false economy. Sometimes one feels a little disheartened and wonders whether, for some high strategic motive, efforts are being made to see just at what point of the load the Territorial camel's back will break. If this year is to be a year of encouragement to the Territorial Army, so far from reducing the men who can best help them, I submit that it would be a good thing to encourage the best men to go to the permanent staff of the Territorial Army. If ever war comes again it is obvious that any commander for one Regular soldier will have half-a-dozen embodied civilians. From that point of view it is all to the good that the more experience of Territorial soldiering the Regular non-commissioned officers can obtain the better it is in war. I will detain your Lordships no longer except to express the hope that the noble Earl will reconsider the very mistaken policy of reducing the men who can best help the Territorial Army. I understand that the policy of the Government is to encourage the Territorial Army and that they are friendly to it and support it. I accept that in all good faith; it has been stated in another place and I believe it. But, if it were not so, if it were the policy of the Government to discourage the Territorial Army and to diminish its military efficiency, then they could not have selected a more effective method of achieving their object than by reducing the number of permanent staff instructors, the very backbone of the civilian force, who stand there ready to give as unsparingly and unhesitatingly in the future as in the past the best that lies within them.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
My Lords, I only want to press one matter on the noble Earl which arises from the remarks of the noble Earl who has just sat down and whom we hope we shall hear again 1044 on many future occasions. I would remind him that, at the time when the Imperial Yeomanry were raised in 1900 and 1901, it was found that the staff necessary and the allowances necessary for the Highlands were different from those of the ordinary concentrated yeomanry regiments in the South. Whatever reply he intends to make to the speech of my noble friend below me, will the noble Earl keep his mind open with regard to the Scottish regiments and the regiments which have great difficulties of distance to contend with? I assure him it is absolutely impossible to deal with both on the same lines. If there are reductions in both classes of regiments they will have serious results to the Territorial Army in Scotland and to those who, as the noble Lord has said, not only form the backbone of the Territorial Force but are a most valuable source of recruitment for the Army.
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
My Lords, I would like to express the hope that the noble Earl in his reply will be able to tell us how much is saved by this measure. I should be rather surprised, if he answers that question, if we find that it is a matter of any considerable extent. I sympathise with the noble Earl very sincerely in his efforts to keep the expenditure down. I have been in the same position that he is in now for some time, and I have had to bear the shafts and arrows slung at me from various sources, either for not reducing enough or for reducing too much. I entirely agree with what was said by my noble friend who raised this matter that, however greatly we may support economy, this is one of those economies which is really a false economy.
I am only going to press one particular point on your Lordships which I would have dealt with at greater length the other day only that I knew this matter was coming up for discussion. My noble friend tells your Lordships that this reduction of staff will mean that the sergeant major will have to undertake the cleaning of rifles, the looking after kits which have gone astray and things of that kind. That means that the duties of storekeeper and looking after all the war-like stores of the battalion will have to be performed just the same, but the people who have to perform them will be fewer in number. What will be the re- 1045 sult? Either training will suffer or the stores will suffer. As I said the other day, I am rather afraid that there is a tendency in many quarters to think that you can safely make reductions in the storekeepers. I do not agree, and when the noble Earl has had an opportunity of going round and visiting a number of the headquarters I think he will find that it is desirable to get more care of the perishable stores. I remember myself going round Territorial headquarters and I found that the leather was in a very bad condition. Then take the technical corps—signals. They have very delicate instruments, which want looking after and are costly things to mend. I believe that by increasing the permanent technical storekeepers you would save money rather than waste it, and I hope that the noble Earl will take this into consideration before an actual decision on this matter is taken.
We had a very interesting speech just now from the noble Earl, Lord Breadalbane, and if I am permitted to do so, as I am succeeding him in speaking, I should like to congratulate him upon the great ability which he has shown in addressing your Lordships on a subject with which he is evidently well acquainted. I hope, as I am sure do all your Lordships, that we may have the advantage of his advice on this and kindred subjects in the future. He laid great stress upon the point of the scattered battalions, where the permanent staff have to go very long distances, and the fewer people you have the more these outlying places must suffer. It would be really false economy if you are going to reduce the outstations. That, however, is not the point on which I rose, and when the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, replies, I hope he will be able to give us some reassurance that the matter of the custody of stores will not be lost sight of.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
My Lords, if I may be permitted to do so I would like to join with Lord Onslow in expressing what I am sure is the feeling of the House—namely, the pleasure we have all felt in hearing the speech of Lord Breadalbane. He spoke with real enthusiasm on the, subject, as indeed did Lord Templemore, and it must make all of us who are in any way responsible 1046 for the Territorial Army feel what a heavy responsibility we have got in administering a concern such as this built up, as it is, mainly upon voluntary effort. I hope in the course of the few remarks which I am going to make to be able to convince noble Lords that what we are doing in this scheme for the re-organisation of the permanent staff instructors of the Territorial Army will not in any way affect the efficiency of the Army.
As Lord Templemore is quite aware, we have periodically a revision of the establishment of permanent staff instructors with Territorial Army units. The last revision took place in December, 1929, and on that occasion, of course, we had to take into account the re-organisation of infantry battalions which had come about as a result of the introduction of a machine-gun company. On the basis of well-established practice and with full regard to the needs of training and administration, a scale of instructors was arrived at with the agreement of all the military authorities concerned. This scale was drawn up to codify the conditions under which the permanent staff have been allotted, and it represents no departure from old established principle, nor was it done solely from the point of view of economy. I want to make this point clear to the noble Lord, that the subject was discussed originally purely from the point of view of principle and it was not until later, when we came to work out how the scheme would actually apply in practice, that anybody had the slightest idea that it was going to bring amount this number of reductions. In applying this scale it was found that in fifty-three battalions reductions amounting to sixty-seven permanent staff instructors would have to be made, and that in eight battalions there would have to be an increase of one instructor each. In every case local conditions were considered and in every case Divisions and Commands were fully consulted.
The noble Lord, Lord Templemore, mentioned I think the fact that he wished it could have been discussed at conferences such as had been held the year before. I would stress the point that in every case Divisions and Commands were fully consulted. In some cases motor cycles will be provided in order to enable instructors to cover a wider area, 1047 and in other cases where whole time instructors are not considered to be justifiable, part-time instructors are being provided.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
They have been refused in some cases, but they will be provided where we are convinced that there is a strong case for them. The review is not complete, and it will have to be extended to all branches of the Territorial Army other than the infantry. But we have realised that this reorganisation will result in rather more reductions than we anticipated, and in order to avoid hardship which might come about from carrying out the reductions too quickly, we have undertaken not to introduce them until October 1, after the summer. This delay will give units time to settle down to the new basis of organisation and to adjust the new scale of instructors before next winter. The noble Lord, Lord Templemore, has suggested that the reorganisation will entail a reduction of drill nights and the eventual closing down of certain out-stations. That is not our opinion. We think that the noble Lord is being very pessimistic. I feel sure that units will do everything in their power to co-operate with us to make this scheme workable and will endeavour to employ their instructors to the best advantage. If—and this, perhaps, strictly applies to the remarks of the noble Lord—any really exceptional and special difficulties are found to be operating in some particularly scattered districts, the Army council will, of course, endeavour to make suitable adjustments. But I want it to be clear that this is not in any way an invitation to all units to put in for reconsideration, because we intend to adhere, and adhere very strongly, to this new scale. At the same time, our desire is to be reasonable and to consider any special local circumstances that may arise.
The noble Lord has referred to certain extra duties that the permanent staff instructors will have to perform.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
I think he rather gives his case away. He mentioned particularly the cleaning of rifles, I 1048 think. That example really supplies us with one of the reasons why difficulties arise in connection with the permanent staff. It is clearly laid down in paragraph 245 of the Territorial Army Regulations that the duties of the permanent staff are those of instructing the officers, warrant officers and non-commissioned officers of the unit and supervising the instruction given by the officers, warrant officers and non-commissioned officers to the men. The Regulation goes on to say that in certain cases it may be necessary for instructors to undertake also the elementary training of recruits before they join their squadron, battery or company, but so far as possible this should be carried out by the unit. We know, in fact, that permanent staff instructors are being used at the moment for the training of recruits to an extent that goes very far beyond the intention of this Regulation. I would suggest to the noble Lord that before complaining of the shortage of instructors under the new scale all units, his own included, should be sure that this does not arise from employing them on duties which ought to be carried out by Territorial Army warrant officers or non-commissioned officers. That consideration applies also to the point of cleaning rifles which I have mentioned. I think the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, also mentioned harness and other things.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
In paragraph 246 of the Regulations it is clearly stated that instructors will not be required to clean arms, and so on, but that as it is essential that men should have a thorough knowledge of such duties in case they are called upon to undertake them in the field, they should carry out the duties of cleaning their own arms and harness. If they cannot do that, other arrangements must be made by the county association, but preferably—
THE EARL OF ONSLOW
I did not mean exactly the actual cleaning but the keeping of stocks. When you have valuable stores which have to be kept they are apt to deteriorate unless they are very carefully looked after.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
I think in general the noble Earl admits that it is primarily desirable that the men should be able to look after their own and should do so. 1049 If the men are not there sufficiently often, and they go only two or three times a week, to look after them, and they have to be looked after every day, I think it is obviously better and cheaper that special arrangements should be made by the county association for the cleaning of that equipment rather than that skilled men such as these permanent staff instructors should be used for the purpose. That is certainly the opinion of the military authorities at the War Office. Therefore, for these reasons I cannot really offer any hope to the noble Lord, Lord Templemore, that we can go back on these decisions. They were only come to after very long consideration by all the authorities concerned, not only at the War Office but in the districts, and they were decided on after full consideration of all training requirements and with full regard to the interests of the Territorial Army. The noble Lord has mentioned his unit as having come off particularly unfortunately.
§ LORD TEMPLEMORE
May I interrupt the noble Earl? I did mention my unit particularly, but I did say it was typical of others throughout the country.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
That makes, I think, what I was going to say more valuable. I was only going to put this as an addendum to show how we have considered local circumstances. Actually if we adhered strictly to the scheme as laid down, the noble Lord's unit would only have had three instructors and not four.
§ EARL DE LA WARR
In accordance with the schedule I think Bitterne is within five miles of Southampton, and therefore there should really be only one instructor, so that the noble Lord's point shows that we have considered the particular local circumstances, and given him very favourable consideration. It also shows we are prepared to consider all local circumstances generally, and to make the scheme as workable as possible. There is only one further word I should like to add if your Lordships will allow me. It is a point which does not really concern this Motion, but it has to do with the Territorial Army, and I would be very obliged if the Press would give 1050 this as much publicity as possible. Certain statements have appeared to the effect that we are considering at the War Office a reduction of the camping period from fifteen days to eight days. I should like to state very definitely that there is no truth whatsoever in that suggestion, and I hope it will be made quite clear.
§ EARL PEEL
My Lords, I was very gratified to hear the last statement made by the noble Earl, because I must frankly say it was to me the most interesting and the most comforting sentence he has used during the whole of his speech. I gather from his speech that he is not very well satisfied with this new arrangement. It was a long apology. He hoped that it would not work out quite as badly as my noble friend behind me suggested. I was not particularly impressed either by the profound sagacity of the scheme, because he admitted its results were bound to work out in far more reductions than had been expected by the authorities who devised it.
I am afraid I am not too much impressed by his confident statement that Divisions and Commands were consulted, and that they were thoroughly in sympathy with this reduction. I have spent three years at the War Office, and I have the greatest admiration for the professional soldier, but when reductions have to be made I very rarely found that the professional soldier thought these reductions ought to be made in the Regular Army; he thought rather that the Territorial Force was a far more suitable object on which to try ideas and schemes of economy. Is the noble Earl distressed at my statement? I am sorry if I have disturbed the equanimity of the noble Earl. Therefore, one would like to have known further, what was the exact question that was put to these Divisions and Commands. Were they told that some economy had to be devised, some reduction of money had to be secured? If they were, it was very natural, I think, that they should look upon the younger brother, upon the second line, and think that the economy must be derived from that Force rather than from the Regular Army.
Although I listened with great interest and care to the statement of the noble Earl, I did not discover that he had 1051 made any answer to the challenge of my noble friend Lord Onslow, who asked him what money economy was to be obtained by these remarkable reductions. It is very difficult for the House to judge of reductions unless one knows what money is going to be saved. If it is £1,000 or £10,000, the economy may be so small that you may well say the injury that is done to the Force in other ways is such that the economy is hardly worth making. I am in favour of economies, but I think it is fair to know—and we are not told by the noble Earl—what is the economy in money that is to be made out of this scheme? Sometimes these well-intended schemes of economy result in further expenditure, and, indeed, the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, has suggested that further clerks may have to be paid in order to do work which has been done by these non-commissioned officers.
Although the noble Earl has, in the conventional phrase, held out to us the statement that this scheme cannot be reconsidered, I do hope that the Government will take into account the objections that have been impressed upon them both in this House and in the other House. I am not so closely connected with the Territorial Force as I used to be, although I am at present a member of a Territorial Association. But I was very largely responsible at the War Office for the reconstruction of the Territorial Force after the War. We at that time went most carefully and particularly into the question of the necessary staff that ought to be used, and I am bound to say my own impression is not that the staff is too large but rather that it is far too small, and that it would be better if the Territorial Force were to be further strengthened by an addition of selected non-commissioned officers from the Army rather than by their reduction.
Noble Lords must not forget—I am sure it is in their minds—the tremendous change that has taken place in the whole position of the Territorial Force since the War. Many of us remember what it was before the War and the responsibilities we then had. The responsibilities, of course, have been enormously increased, and now the Territorial Force has been recognised by successive Ministers of War as the second line of the Army. If you have that Force recognised as the second line of the Army, I 1052 am bound to say it would require a great deal to persuade me that it was worth while in any way threatening its efficiency for the sake of what is apparently a very small money saving by the reduction of these non-commissioned officers.
We all remember what happened at the beginning of the War. The Territorial Force and its associations were to some extent thrown over, and a new force was raised which in many cases competed with the Territorial Force. That has gone by, and it has been laid down again by a succession of War Ministers that if war did unfortunately arise the Territorial Force, through the Territorial Associations, is to be the basis on which the whole of the new Armies would have to be raised. In that case surely it is necessary that the nucleus which you have now—and it is a comparatively small nucleus as we all know—should not be impaired in its efficiency. I trust that the noble Earl and his friends will consider again whether this very small financial reduction is worth the considerable risks they may be running, and whether perhaps in some other direction they might not secure the economy which they desire, rather than obtain it at the expense of the Territorial Force.
§ LORD TEMPLEMORE
My Lords, after the remarks of my noble friend there is really very little left for me to say in winding up this debate. I can honestly state that I am not in the slightest degree satisfied with the answer which has been given to me by the noble Earl. It is all very well to say that this was considered by the War Office who had the local circumstances in, front of them. They cannot know the local circumstances in the same way as the commanding officer and the battalion staff know them. It is quite impossible. The noble Earl says that Bitterne is five miles from Southampton. That may be. I do not know how far it is. But that is not the point. I invite the noble Earl to come to see me in Hampshire. I will put him up for the night, and I will take him round and he can see things for himself. That is a fair offer and I hope he will accept it during the Easter holidays. I shall be very glad to see him. The noble Earl, I gathered, found fault with the way in which non-commissioned officers were employed. He said they were employed on duties that they should not do.
§ LORD TEMPLEMORE
It sounded very like it. I would like to tell the noble Earl that I know exactly what my non-commissioned officers are doing. My Adjutant reports to me at intervals whether I am in Hampshire or here, and I know that not any of them are employed on duties that they ought not to be doing. As regards the Territorial personnel cleaning rifles, which the noble Earl said they ought to do, of course they ought to do it, but in this imperfect world people cannot always do what they ought to do. They are not always available. But things have to be kept in order and it means sometimes that the permanent staff have to do them. The noble Earl said he hoped units would do all in their power to help. Of course we shall, and the noble Earl knows the British officer and man well enough to know that, of course, they will do it. I do again urge the noble Earl to reconsider this matter—to reconsider it with more regard to the views of commanding officers on local conditions than has yet been done. I object to this very strongly, and I think it is a bad move as regards the training of the Territorial Army. It is putting too much work on the permanent staff of instructors who remain. In fact, I think it is bad in every way. I should very much like to take a Division on this in order to show my dissatisfaction with the answer of the War Office, but I do not wish to put your Lordships to the inconvenience of a Division which, after all, would have no practical value. I therefore respectfully beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.