HL Deb 04 February 1931 vol 79 cc804-23

THE EARL OF ONSLOW rose to call attention to the injustice inflicted on boys educated at schools where there is no officers training corps by the withdrawal of the privilege of gaining an A certificate through their school cadet corps; and to move for Papers. The noble Earl said: My Lords, you will remember that last year, although a sum of £10,700 was provided for in the Estimates for the grants to cadets, and in spite of the fact that the Secretary of State for War, in the usual Memorandum which accompanied the Estimates, quoted with pride and satisfaction—so it seemed to me—the success which had attended the efforts of the cadets during the year preceding the issue of the Estimates, a sudden volte face was executed before the Estimate was actually presented to the House of Commons and the grant was withdrawn. The cadet corps was condemned by the Secretary of State for War on educational and moral grounds, and every kind of recognition was withdrawn from it as from November 1 last. I do not want to raise again the whole of that question, because it was fully discussed in your Lordships' House last March. I will only say that the condemnation which your Lordships gave to the action of the Government on that occasion has been fully confirmed and endorsed throughout the country since, especially by those who have anything to do with, or know anything whatever about, the training and education of boys.

Of course, the noble Lord who will reply for the Government on this Question had nothing whatever to do with the action of the Secretary of State for War, because he did not then fill the responsible post which he now holds; another noble Lord stood in his place. So I would appeal to him for his sympathy towards these unfortunate boys and I hope I shall not appeal in vain. When the noble Lord entered on his career he chose, voluntarily as we all do, to be an officer. He joined one of the most distinguished corps in His Majesty's Service, and in that corps during peace and war he earned great distinction. I hope, therefore, that he will do all he can to help these unfortunate people who have been penalised by the action of the Secretary of State for War.

The main point I wish to bring to your Lordships' attention is the prejudicial action of the Secretary of State in regard to boys educated in certain schools. A certificate of proficiency, generally known as certificate A, was obtainable until last November, both by boys belonging to an officers training corps and those belonging to a cadet corps. Most secondary schools have either an officers training corps or a cadet corps. There is not, however, any particular reason why a school should have one or the other. There is not enough money to give an officers training corps to every school, and so it happens that some schools may not be able to possess one and have a cadet corps instead. But so far as certificate A was concerned equality of opportunity existed and, whether a boy joined a cadet corps or an officers training corps, he could get one.

This certificate is a valuable asset to any boy. If he is going into the Army he is able to count a certain percentage of the marks obtained in the certificate examination towards the necessary total for admission to Sandhurst or Woolwich. Obviously, a boy who is not at a school possessing an officers training corps will be under a disability in that respect. But that is not the only or, indeed, the main point perhaps in regard to which certificate A itself is valuable. It is valuable to a boy who has it in other openings in life totally unconnected with the Army. I am assured on the very best grounds possible that many business firms regard the possession of this certificate as a great recommendation and give preference to a boy having one over a boy who has not. So there is a differentiation made by the Government against those who are not at a school where such a certificate is obtainable.

It happens in many cases, though not in all, that the schools where the certificate cannot now be obtained are schools where boys are educated who do not happen to be so generously blessed with this world's goods as other boys attending other schools. What is the reason for this differentiation and penalisation of one school against another? Of course, it may simply be ineptitude. If that were the case it would not be unduly surprising, because I think we have heard of cases of ineptitude on the part of a Socialist Government before, and this would not be a singular example. But when, last year, they were thinking of doing this, what regard had they to the principle of equality of opportunity about which members of the Socialist Party prate so loudly upon election platforms? Is that merely an election cry? Is it so thin a principle that the first puff of criticism from some other source is able to blow it away? If so, it has proved a very ragged garment to cover the ugly nakedness of Socialism.

I gave Notice of this Question some time ago, but last night in answer to a Question in another place the Secretary of State gave some sort of indication of what we are to hear this afternoon from the noble Lord opposite. Apparently, somewhat late in the day the Secretary of State has recognised the disparity between platform pledges and administrative performance, and, in order to restore equality of opportunity, he resorts to the somewhat crude method of two wrongs making a right and withdraws the privilege of counting marks for certificate A from those who have passed through an officers training corps. This is a very thin pretence really because, as I say, the certificate itself has an intrinsic value. It is valuable not solely because it helps a boy to get into Sandhurst or Woolwich but because it is a recommendation to him for employment in civil life.

What the Government are proposing to do—namely, to withdraw the privilege of counting marks in the entrance examination—will undoubtedly belittle the value of the training given in the officers training corps. One rather wonders at that. Is the present action simply a dodge to get the Government out of a disagreeable hole which they have got themselves into by want of forethought, or has it a more sinister meaning? Is it a Machiavelian design upon the officers training corps? We know that there are enemies of the officers training corps and that they are the same as the enemies of the cadets. I read in the newspapers that deputations have recently been to the War Office from the Society for the Prevention of War, I think it is called, and from headmasters or those connected with officers training corps who, presumably, know their business and who urge, undoubtedly, the retention of those corps on educational and moral grounds.

From what we have seen in the newspapers and from what was said last night in another place, it would seem that there is in the air an attack on the officers training corps. One wonders whether this action in regard to the certificate is a further example of that attack. Last year the cadets were assassinated from behind an ambush. They were provided for in the Estimates and then they were suddenly slaughtered at the very last moment without any warning. When the Secretary of State was called into question we were presented with a fait accompli. I hope that that will not happen again. If there is to be any attack on the officers training corps I hope that all who are interested therein will do everything they possibly can to resist it at once, and that everybody who wishes to see those corps retained will take every opportunity to raise their voices in protest against the attack upon them.

When they do so I hope they will not forget to read the remarks which were made by Mr. Shaw in another place last year. I think they are so interesting that I might perhaps read a short quotation from them. He said that— Officers training corps are really valuable organisations for providing a future supply of officers for the Army. So long as armies exist on a voluntary basis, there will have to be some form of recruiting. That shows that, at any rate last year, whatever may happen this year, the Government recognised the value of the officers training corps. The matter is a very serious one for the officers training corps. The other day, at the United Services Institute I think it was, there was a lecture on the question of the provision of officers for the Army, and it was stated on authoritative grounds that there were no less than 200 officers short in the Army. I would ask your Lordships whether this is a moment to discourage in any way the training of officers for the Army when they are 200 below strength, if that is a correct figure. I hope when I ask this Question that I may appeal to the noble and gallant Lord and to his own distinguished career as an officer to assist these boys who wish to enter the Army or to enter any other branch of His Majesty's Service, and also to gain training and education in the officers training corps.


My Lords, I associate myself with every word the noble Earl has uttered. I think it may be of interest to your Lordships if I say a few words about the present state of the cadet movement. The history of the cadets is no doubt familiar. In 1859 the movement began, received official recognition, grew in power and in favour, and branched out into the Church Lads' Brigade, Boys' Brigade, Catholic Brigade, Jewish Lads' Brigade, and, so on, touching every class of boyhood, school, club and institution and every phase of the education of the boys of the kingdom. In those days military authority regarded the cadets with benevolence and volunteer Commissions were issued to cadet officers. In 1907 the newly-formed Territorial Associations were empowered to raise cadet units, and Commissions were then issued by Lords-Lieutenant of counties. A small grant was made per company, and in 1910 affiliation to the Territorial Force was adopted. Then the cadet corps of the greater public schools were formed into special training corps for the production of officers, and after that; the main training of Territorial cadets was the business of the public secondary schools.

In 1914 the cadets had a strength of 40,000, and they flowed freely into the Army. In 1915 battalions were formed for the training of the younger boys to go more into the Army as they grew up. The strength of the forces had by 1921 risen to 120,000, but between 1922 and 1930 the movement suffered a series of setbacks and received what was intended to be its death blow on the 31st of October. Some of us representing cadets and cadet organisations had been warned of what was going to happen, and by the time the blow fell we had already taken steps to maintain alive the cadet movement. When the Government withdrew recognition control also ceased, and it stands to reason that without a controlling authority chaos must ensue and the movement must collapse. And this at a time when the physical training which the cadet force gives to the youth of the country is more Important than perhaps ever before.

I should like to call your Lordships' attention to a paragraph in The Times of January 26 last. It reads as follows:— Khilaroff, official spokesman of the Young Communist International, K.I.M., reported to the Congress of the Communist League of Youth on the K.I.M.'s activity abroad. The Congress decided to instruct the K.I.M. to force the pace among the youth of England and other countries. So we formed a British National Cadet Association to take the place of the central council, bind together all cadet bodies throughout the land and provide a central authority, the Federal Council, charged with representing and supporting the cadet interest. We have been in existence now for a little over three months, but we can already count on the adherence of practically all cadet units throughout the country, and of their counties. Nearly all the counties have established cadet associations affiliated to our Federal Council, and in close accord with us. These county committees are formed in each county. London, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee each constitute a county in themselves, apart from the main counties. Every committee, under its own president and chairman, is responsible for organisation, patronage, administration and maintenance of its units, and each unit decides on the nature and methods of the training to be pursued, subject only to the regulations of the Federal Council and to what is permissible by law. We are nothing if not law-abiding.

We have with us the Church Lads' Brigade, the Public Secondary Schools Cadet Association, the Jewish Lads, the Catholic Cadets, and the Polytechnic Schools, besides others, and we confidently hope that we have, as friends of the cadets, saved them from the assault of their powerful enemies—enemies who, I am happy to say, are not almighty. At any rate the response received from all well-wishers throughout the land has proved that, despite the withdrawal of the Government recognition, we have still in the country, we hope, many powerful and good friends who recognise the benefits which accrue to the youth of the country from the cadet movement, who realise the value of the training, and who appreciate the fact that discipline and the lasting moral effect and enduring influence of combined training in early life, are essential if the youth of the country is to maintain that fibre and morale which have always characterised our British youth.


My Lords, no one in this House can appreciate more than I do the remarks that have been made by my fellow Field Marshal. I must take you back to 1907, when, at midnight, I received a huge packet from the Earl of Meath to say: "I have got to go to Ireland at a moment's notice, and you have to take this brief to the House of Lords to-morrow morning." I had to get up at four o'clock in the morning and go to a yeomanry inspection in Hertfordshire and I only got back by the skin of my teeth in time to bring forward the proposal. It was really analogous to the one we have now before the House. Mr. Haldane, as he then was, the Secretary of State for War, had spoken most warmly on the subject, but he had then made a sudden volte face and there was a very important change for the youth of the country. What he said before was:— They wanted the youth of the nation to undergo training so that they would keep the reservoir always filled—namely, the national Army of 300,000. They wanted to work the cadet corps into a much more important position than they had been up to the present, and by so doing they would allay fear and give people a sense of security such as they had not hitherto had …. Could anyone look"— now mark these words— upon a first-rate cadet corps without feeling that everyone in it was better and stronger morally and mentally? It helped him in life and in employment. It helped him to be a better citizen, not only for military but for civilian duties. From every point of view, the cadet corps were things to be encouraged in the interests of the nation. Surely that is our feeling now.

It seems to me in reading that quotation very much like taking for my speech a text from the grave. In addition to that, we had help from Dr. Warre of Eton and many other headmasters, and I had also the support of Lord Roberts and Lord Lansdowne, who was then our Leader, and Lord Rosebery, speaking I think for almost the last time in this House, supported me most warmly. At that time, the Government Bench was rather more crowded than it is at present. The Government had a larger phalanx of supporters. What does the Secretary of State mean by this action? Does he mean economy? With a Government that is so lavish with the money of others, I should think not. Does he ever consult the Army Council? I know perfectly well the feelings of the Chief of Staff and I know perfectly well what the Adjutant-General thinks, because he will be at my Church Lads' Brigade dinner. I may say I succeeded Lord Chelmsford as head of the Church Lads' Brigade until I had to go to South Africa. I was succeeded by Lord Grenfell and the very first thing they did was to make it into a battalion, and that battalion did honour to any brigade it went to, and gained more than its share of Victoria Crosses. I shall be Chairman next May at the dinner of the Church Lads' Brigade and I know I shall have with me at that dinner the Adjutant-General.

We have heard talk about militarism. Well, what is militarism? What harm can it do? We are not a military nation and we never shall be a military nation. We are a warlike nation. We feel that we have the responsibility for the large dependencies of the Empire and that it is our duty to support the honour of our kingdom as it has been in the past. I only want to say further, in reference to the Church Lads' Brigade, that I had on my Committee the late Bishop of Salisbury and that Church and Army worked together thoroughly well with the feeling that no greater work could be done than to support your country and your God. That is the spirit that I want to see in this country all through. It has always been so and it is to be so. It was that spirit which, when I was a boy, induced me to go into the Army, and from 1864 until now in my old age I have held that spirit and shall until I cross the bar. What I am saying now is what I have said before, that it is for your Lordships—never mind what they say in another place or what mistake is made by the Secretary of State for War —to let the country know that your spirit is the spirit of the past, and that is the reason why I have spoken to-day.


My Lords, I hope you will bear with me for a few moments if I follow the striking speech made by the Field Marshal who has just sat down and who speaks from a fund of experience and knowledge on this subject that I suppose no member of your Lordships' House can equal. The question which is under discussion seems to me to be one which raises issues a great deal wider than those contained in the words of the Question. What is the real meaning, what is the real justification of the action which has been taken in regard to the cadets?—action which undoubtedly has a bad effect upon recruiting at a time when both the regular Army and the Territorial Army are short of men and short of officers. Lord Methuen said with great truth that we are not a militarist nation. We are, I think, as he said, a martial nation, but we are martial only in the sense that we desire to defend our own country and our own Empire; aggression is very far indeed from our thoughts.

There is something mysterious about the whole of this action and I do not think the country has ever been told upon what grounds it has been taken. Are we to take it as a hypothesis that training to arms in a very rudimentary form induces a desire for war and makes people inclined to be brutal and bloodthirsty? I would venture to say that the lower class of cinema may have such an effect, but that no training afforded by a cadet corps or an officers training corps makes the slightest contribution towards that end. But if it be the hypothesis that cadet training militarises people and makes them aggressive, it would be a good thing, I think, if your Lordships had the evidence on which that opinion rests. It is true, of course, that some countries have militarist traditions. There are countries where the old hereditary habit of every man being against his neighbour and every tribe being antagonistic to the next, where the feeling that it is a man's business to fight, primarily if not solely, still prevails. But we have got a long way from that in these countries of the West of Europe. Let us take, as an object lesson, Switzerland. Switzerland is a country where military training is universal. Training of the citizens is limited only by what the Government can afford. The training begins when the boys are taught to shoot with the cross-bow even before they are allowed to handle a rifle. The training of citizens is universal and has been so for hundreds of years, and yet Switzerland has never been aggressive. If military training made people aggressive and inclined to encroach on their neighbours, surely Switzerland would have been the cockpit of Europe before now, instead of the Low Countries.

In this country the professional soldier has been nurtured and trained to arms and to all that war implies ever since he was a boy, and if the hypothesis that I have suggested is to be taken as a true one, what are we to expect of our Generals and our General Staff? Surely, they must be fire-eaters of the most terrible description, and we can picture to ourselves the Secretary of State, as, I suppose, a pacifist, like Daniel in the den of lions, with no protection from the fire-eaters except that which he might get from the Civil Service. I venture to think that we all know the humanity and tenderness of the officers and men of the British Army, which have always been notable both in war and in peace, and that there is no brutalising tendency at all in such training as is given for military purposes in this country, least of all the training in a rudimentary form, and even with dummy weapons, such as the cadets are allowed to have. Accordingly I think that it would enlighten not only your Lordships' House but the country if we might be told what is the justification for this idea—if it indeed is this idea, and not a mere idea of economy—which has produced the action that has been taken by the Government.

There is additional interest in knowing more about it because we do not know how far it is proposed to extend this principle. If such training, if playing with dummy weapons, is demoralising to boys and children, surely we ought to stop the importation of lead soldiers and toy guns. It is not clear that the officers training corps will not be interfered with; and yet we know that at this particular moment those corps are most valuable to that expansion of the Regular Army which it is most necessary to provide so long as we have an Army which may, in a distant but not impossible emergency, be called upon to fight. If this principle is to be extended, if there is to be an attack first upon the junior officers training corps and then upon the senior, I think it is desirable that the country should know what is in front of it. We are all, I hope capable of being convinced by good argument based upon good reasons, but it appears to me that so far no case has been made out for the action that has been taken, while the mysterious way in which it has been taken can only be a cause of anxiety to those who are interested in the officers training corps as well as in the cadet corps.


My Lords, I think that no more words are needed to convey the general feeling which, I realise, runs throughout the House at the present moment, but I should be sorry if, owing to the sparse occupation of these Benches, no further voice were raised from among those who habitually occupy them to express the feeling which I hold most strongly, and which is shared, I think, by many of those who act with me on these Benches and equally feel the desirability of expressing in the strongest possible terms our condemnation of the action of the Socialist Secretary of State for War in this matter of the cadets and —for it appears that the same policy is to be continued—the officers training corps. I have had some experience, though I hesitate to put it forward after the distinguished officers who have already spoken, both in this country and in a great Dominion in the raising, training and organisation of cadet corps, and I can only say that I have seen the most admirable results arising from the organisation of these corps, and I have realised the value that has been placed upon them in the great Dominion in which I served for ninny years.

To speak of this as militarism is absurd. Is it militarism to know how to behave like gentlemen? That is the first thing that we try to teach cadets. It seems an extraordinary idea that, because boys have been put into uniform, they must be spoken of as soldiers and have attached to them that stigma which I thought had long ago been wiped out in this country. As I listened to this debate my thoughts went to the Secretary of State for War himself. It so happened that in the latter part of the War, when we had after an unconscionably long period of hesitation adopted a system of National Service, he and I were serving the nation in the same capacity in different parts of this country. I often had to meet him in connection with the work of raising recruits under the National Service scheme. I wonder if he ever found in his district what I know was the case in mine—namely, that with all the cadet corps the difficulty had been to prevent the boys from going before they had reached the proper age. In many cases when they should have reached military age and we looked for them, they had already died at the front. Those are facts that I know, and they show that the training was a training which brought out, as my noble friend Lord Methuen has said, the finest ideals of citizenship, those of sacrifice for King and country.

I can only say that, from my experience as a soldier, it is the finest training that can be given to boys, because from the very beginning a certain amount of self-sacrifice is involved. There may be other amusements which are more attractive to boys than going through their regular duty as cadets, but they do it willingly, and there grows up amongst them a comradeship which is most valuable to them in civil life, and a feeling of mutual assistance which is of the greatest value to the country. I sincerely hope that the efforts of the noble Earl who raised the Question may have some influence on the authorities.


My Lords, I will try to deal with this question from the point of view of giving the maximum possible information to the House. May I say at the beginning that I am quite sure that I interpret the opinion of the House when I say how very glad we are to have the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Methuen, amongst us again. He is remembered throughout the Army with much affection by all those who have known him in the past. The Question on the Paper deals specifically with the cadets, and I am quite certain that the noble Earl who put this Question will not expect me to follow him in his interpretation of the action of my right hon. friend the Secretary of State in connection with the cadets. It was, if I may say so, not an accurate picture of the attitude of my right hon. friend, as, of course, the noble Earl knows. Surely the whole question at that time was the question solely of the military value of the cadets, not of their value as a national asset, and the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Allenby, who told us a number of exceedingly interesting facts about the present organisation of these cadets, knows that members of the Government have done their best to assist him in adding to the amenities of the boys in their annual camps, and other matters. We who have had anything to do with the training of youth in the country know that these cadets corps and similar organisations, such as the Boy Scouts, are of great value, and we wish them all success.

The question we are dealing with today is another question—namely, the question of certificate A. It may be convenient to your Lordships if in the first place I read the announcement made yesterday by my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for War, in reply to a Question on this subject in another place. The reply runs as follows:— At the only examination held since the withdrawal of recognition from cadet corps on 31st October last no candidate from schools having had such corps has, so far as I am aware, been excluded from these colleges because of the fact that he had not certificate A. As regards future examinations for these two colleges, all present holders of the certificate and those who are already on the way to obtaining one and do so by 31st March next, will retain for competitive purposes the privileges of the additional marks which certificate A has up to now given. But apart from present holders and those who obtain the certificate by 31st March next, the privilege of counting extra marks in respect of certificate A will be withdrawn. He then goes on to deal with the question of candidates who will not have certificate A, and he points out that full particulars will be published in the Press and communicated to the schools concerned as soon as possible. I am dealing, of course, with the cadets.


Not the officers training corps?


I am dealing with the cadets. With regard to the policy of the officers training corps, I do not propose to deal with that, to-day, except to say that the question of policy with regard to the officers training corps must be dealt with by my right hon. friend in another place in his Estimates announcement, and therefore I cannot trespass on the announcement which he will have to make in that connection. For that reason I must confine my remarks to the cadets. However, I do think that in preparation for the expression of feelings which noble Lords may have in connection with any future policy, or with the position at present, noble Lords may like to have some accurate information as to what certificate A is. I have got here a copy of certificate A, which certifies that officers of certain contingents have fulfilled the necessary conditions as to efficient service, and have qualified in the syllabus examination as laid down in various Regulations. Certificate A is given on passing a written and a practical test in certain military subjects, and can be obtained by members of the officers training corps who are sixteen years of age and have two years' efficient service in that corps.

In the past it could be obtained by members of recognised cadet corps with similar qualifications, but since the with- drawal of recognition from the cadet units members of these units can no longer obtain certificate A. The point of the Question is the injustice which is alleged to arise by reason of the fact that holders of certificate A will no longer be able to get the marks they used to obtain in the entrance examinations for Woolwich and Sandhurst. It will, I am sure, be information to many of your Lordships that holders of certificate A are credited with certain additional marks under the regulations for admission to Woolwich and Sandhurst. Your Lordships may be interested to know that the precise amount of the addition is 25 per cent. of the marks obtained in the certificate A examination. This means in practice a credit of a maximum of 100 marks, as against the total of 1,700 for Woolwich and 1,400 for Sandhurst, the general range of marks credited being from 40 to 65 or 70. It is true that the withdrawal of official recognition from the cadet units has technically withdrawn an advantage from the schools which had cadet corps, in that boys who go up for the Woolwich and Sandhurst examinations will not in future be able to obtain the credit of marks in respect of certificate A.


Not technically, but actually.


I agree, but I think it is possible, if I may say so, to exaggerate the importance of this injustice. We find that out of some 18,000 members of school cadet units, which prior to October last were in receipt of grants, approximately 170 in 1929 and 220 in 1930 gained certificate A. That, to begin with, is a very small proportion, but when we go further and enquire how many of these boys are interested in the Army entrance examination the results are even more surprising. The number of candidates for Woolwich and Sandhurst in 1929 was 566 altogether, and in 1930, 534. So far as we have been able to ascertain, and we have had a very, very careful examination of the records, only three of these candidates in 1929, and only one in 1930, were boys from cadet schools holding certificate A. In other words, this injustice is limited to the equivalent of one boy this year and three boys last year; and, in point of fact, I think I am right in saying that of course these particular boys were not affected in any way by this alleged injustice. It is not as large a matter in any case as has been suggested by the speakers to-day. In 1929, I may say, five other candidates not holding certificate A came from the cadet schools, while in 1930 there were no other candidates from the cadet schools.

I do not think, therefore, we can say that this problem of inequality is one which has been seriously accentuated by the withdrawal of recognition from the cadet schools. But, in so far as there is an inequality, that inequality is removed by the announcement made by my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for War yesterday, when he pointed out that in future, with safeguards for those individuals concerned, marks for certificate A would not be given at these examinations. That, I may say in passing, removes an even greater inequality, to which no reference has been made. The noble Earl who put this Question said that most secondary schools have either an officers training corps or a cadet corps. I am informed that there are over 1,100 secondary schools, of whom only 174 have officers training corps and only 177 have cadet corps. The injustice surely was to the other 700 or 800 schools, who never were able to obtain these marks at the entrance examinations, which were confined in the past to the boys from the 300 or 400 officers training corps schools, which did in fact provide a serious proportion of those who went up to the examinations, and cadet corps schools supplying the one boy last year and the three boys the year before who went up from the cadet corps schools. These were the boys who had the advantage, while the 700 or 800 other schools were deprived of that advantage, because by no means could they obtain any marks towards the aggregate marks necessary for passing the entrance examination.

The only other point I want to make is the question of the value of certificate A in civil life. We are told that firms give special facilities to those who hold this certificate. It is exceedingly difficult to consider that as a serious proposition, when we realise that of 18,000 of these cadets only 170 last year and 220 this year obtained the certificate. That is an exceedingly small proportion, and therefore I would submit that in point of fact it is not a serious matter. And, in any case, certificate A is a military certificate. It is not a certificate of efficiency in civil life, it is a military certificate, and, as such, we do not feel that the War Office is seriously concerned with its effect in civil life.

I have tried to put the position clearly as regards the Question on the Paper, which says that there is an injustice inflicted upon boys educated at schools where there is no officers training corps by the withdrawal of the privilege of gaining an A certificate through school cadet corps. I have tried to point out that the injustice has been very greatly exaggerated, limited as it has been to such a very few boys. Such as it is, however, it will in any case disappear as between one school and another since no marks will in future be allocated for certificate A; and the injustice which was done to 700 or 800 schools up to the present time will be removed when no further marks are granted for certificate A. I have no Papers I can lay. I could lay a copy of certificate A, but I have no other Papers to lay, because the information I have given is the fullest at my disposal, and I hope, therefore, that the noble Earl will withdraw his Motion and accept the explanation.


My Lords, I must say I am glad that I raised this subject this afternoon, for two reasons. The first is the effect which it has had in drawing speeches, especially from the two noble and gallant Lords who sit upon the Cross Benches—Lord Allenby, who described to us the efforts which his organisation had made towards remedying the injustices done by the Government to the cadet corps, and Lord Methuen, that veteran of His Majesty's service and the service of your Lordships' House, who, in the interesting speech and the reminiscences he gave us of the foundation of these corps, called that distinguished member of the Government Bench, the late Lord Haldane, to witness in his favour. Then we heard an interesting speech from the noble Lord, Lord Cottesloe, from the point of view of the Territorial Army, and one from the noble Lord, Lord Treowen, from the Liberal Benches. I think we must congratulate ourselves on this side of the House, and those noble Lords above the gangway also I hope, on the whole-hearted condemnation which the action of the Government has succeeded in obtaining from all of your Lordships.

I turn to the reply of the noble Lord who answered for the Government. The noble Lord did not deny in any way the injustice which his Government had inflicted upon certain people, but he sought to excuse himself in the way that the lady described the baby as only a little one. He did not deny the injustice, but said it was only a small one. It seems to me that it is very undesirable to inflict injustice at all, even a small injustice, and it is not a sign of good government or good administration that injustices should be inflicted. Now we come to the question of the reply read in the House of Commons. The noble Lord said that nobody had been excluded from Sandhurst or Woolwich because of not passing the examination for certificate A. Well, but they cannot be excluded. They are only allowed to add marks. The noble Lord opposite said that an average of 40 to 65 marks was, in his opinion, a negligible amount. All I can say is that many of their Lordships have sat for and have passed examinations, and if they could have gone in with 40 to 65 marks in hand they would have been exceedingly pleased. That, perhaps, would not be necessary for noble Lords opposite.

Turning to the next point, the noble Lord says that an injustice is inflicted upon schools which have neither an officers training corps nor a cadet corps. They can always have a cadet corps. They could have one now if they wanted it. There may be a difficulty in obtaining an officers training corps, but there is no bar to a school obtaining a cadet corps. Injustice is inflicted on the cadet corps as a whole. There is no injustice inflicted upon schools which can have one and do not choose to organise one. Then the noble Lord says that the injustice, which he admits, is to be withdrawn by withdrawing the privilege in future from boys who have obtained certificate A in officers training corps. As I said before, when I foreshadowed what would be said to-night from the answer made in another place, two wrongs do not make a right. Because you are going to withdraw this privilege from boys who are educated in a school with an officers training corps you do not do away with the injustice you have done to the boys who are educated in a school which has a cadet corps.

The noble Lord also said that he would not follow me into the interpretations which I appeared to place upon the Government's possible future action as regards officers training corps. Of course, I did not expect him to do that, but I was very much encouraged when he said that my possible interpretation was an inaccurate one. Therefore we may hope and trust that no further attack is contemplated upon the officers training corps. He qualified the statement a little later by saying that he really could not say anything very definite until announcements were made upon the Estimates. I hope that as my interpretation is incorrect it will remain incorrect.

I do not think I have anything further to say except about the general value of the certificate. My information is to the effect that the general value of the certificate is regarded as high in civil life. The noble Lord says that it is not the business of the War Office to provide certificates for boys in civil life. That may be the case; but, by withdrawing the certificate and doing away with that advantage, the noble Lord has put a great deal of disability upon people who have never done anything at all to deserve it, and I think that his Government have acted in a most ill-judged, hasty and unjust manner. The noble Lord said that there were no Papers to lay. He also said that he was going to publish something in the newspapers. I do not know why he cannot lay that.


I do not think I said that I was going to publish anything in the newspapers.


That is what we understood—that he was going to publish the whole of the particulars in regard to the new regulations for certificate A in the newspapers. I should have thought that was a Paper to lay.


I beg the noble Earl's pardon. What I did was to quote from the reply made in another place by my right hon. friend, who said that full particulars, that is to say the details, regarding the alteration of the examination for the schools concerned will be published in the Press and communicated to the schools concerned as soon as pos- sible. That is a purely technical publication in connection with the regulations for the examination.


I suggest that that should be laid.


I have no objection to that.


My Lords, is it really necessary that regulations about examinations should be printed and published at the expense of your Lordships' House and thus reach the parties concerned? Is it not much more desirable, much more expeditious and pro tanto less wasteful of public money that the publication should be made in another manner?


My Lords, it is, of course, a pure waste of public money. It is only a regulation for the examination, and I do not think there is very much to be gained by having Papers containing the mere technical details of an examination laid in your Lordships' House.


Having regard to what my noble friend Lord Crawford said and because of what he said about expense—one does not, of course, wish to put any unnecessary expense upon the taxpayer, especially at the present time—but simply and solely on that ground I beg leave to withdraw the Motion for Papers.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.