§ LORD KEMSLEY rose to call attention to the pay of the Armed Forces of the Crown and to ask His Majesty's Government to appoint a Committee to prepare before demobilization new rates of pay that will provide adequately for the needs of officers and men, including family allowances; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, in the Motion which I now submit for your Lordships' consideration I do not propose any immediate increase in the rates of pay for the Fighting Services. That is not because I approve the changes announced by the Government on September 10. The small and partial advances then made in pay and allowances were in my view grossly inadequate. I hope they will soon be improved to a level approaching civilian earnings. Having elsewhere developed the case for juster treatment of the Forces, I should fall short of my duty as a member of this House if I did not, in my place here, ask the Government to give their earliest attention to this matter. If I concern myself with the long-term aspect of Service conditions it is because it appears to me to have been overlooked. So far as rates of pay, both actual and suggested, are concerned, there is at least this to be said on the credit side: that the question has been forced into the arena of open discussion, where, under pressure of public opinion, it will remain until it is satisfactorily settled.
§ What will be the position of the Services after the war? In the first place, the men will no longer be under the same dominating incentive of patriotism that 595 inspires them while their country is in danger. In that respect the Services and the civilians will be at once on absolutely the same footing. The Service man—unless a sufficient inducement is offered to him to stay on—will want to revert to civil life with the utmost speed; and who would blame him? I take it that we would all agree that when the fighting is over it will be necessary to maintain a larger Navy, Army and Air Force than we had before the war. We shall also have the responsibility, together with our Allies, of occupying and policing Europe, it may be for many years. We shall not be able to escape it. Hundreds of thousands of men will be required for that purpose. It can be said of these men that they have answered the call of country. They risk their whole future, even life itself. They do this because the nation is in danger, not because they want an Army career. Many of them go straight from school, and the question of their careers is delayed indefinitely, it may be for years. During this period they will be separated from home and family with all that this means at their age.
§ Though we demand that they shall remain in the Services, do we propose to tell them that we shall give them no fitting recompense for the sacrifices they will have to make? Or shall we tell them, as I think we ought, that they will enjoy equality of treatment, and equality of reward with those who have been fortunate enough to have been demobilized? Shall we, in short, offer them a career on attractive terms, or have conscript Services labouring under a profound and legitimate grievance? Officers are concerned no less than men. The old tradition that they should supplement pay from private means is becoming obsolete. Few will be able to do it. We should be ill-advised to forget what happened in 1918. The Armistice then came on us very suddenly. It may come just as suddenly in this war. It came so suddenly in the last war that the process of demobilization rapidly degenerated into demoralization. The transition from a war to a peace economy was so abrupt, complicated and unorganized that it was years—harsh, unhappy years—before we recovered from the confusion.
§ How can we prevent a repetition of what happened in 1918? By taking thought for the morrow, or for the day 596 after the morrow; that is, by setting up and perfecting our machinery of demobilization well in advance of its being required. That will deal with the men who can be spared from the Services. In regard to those who cannot be spared, other and different measures must, of course, be adopted. To begin with, their pay must be raised not by a trifling and niggardly increment but very appreciably, by which I mean that it should be doubled, if not trebled. It must be raised so that both officers and men will not feel that they are being denied a fair deal. It must be raised so that they can maintain a decent standard of living for themselves and for their families, and also have a margin left over for saving. Educational facilities must be provided which will fit all ranks, when they ultimately return to civil life, to compete on equal terms with civilians in the labour market. These facilities will possess the additional advantage of relieving the tedium which is bound at intervals to overtake Forces who are occupying a foreign country. Lastly, the studies on which a man is engaged should be allowed, on his return to civil life, to count as heavily in his favour as equivalent studies at a university.
§ We should make Service conditions such that our Navy, Army, and Air Force will fulfil what Napoleon said of his Army, that they shall be a career open to talents, a career that will attract the talented. Those talents should be acknowledged in tangible fashion. We should on all counts abolish the practice of under-paying our men in uniform. Our Services are worthy of the best that we can give them. They must have, before the fighting ends, the guarantee of an assured and dignified future. It would be perilous folly to defer it until the fifty-ninth minute of the eleventh hour, and vague promises would be worse than useless. A definite, clear-cut scheme must be drawn up and adopted, so that the country can point to it and say: "That is what awaits you." It is important that all ranks should know as soon as possible that it will await them. If that be done, there need be no chaotic rush to get back to civil life when the fighting ends. Instead, there will be three contented Services, with pride in themselves and in the duty which they are discharging on behalf of their country. And removed for good will be the bitter- 597 ness engendered by the knowledge that American and Dominion troops, who will certainly be called on to share in the policing of Europe, are much better treated than the British.
§ My argument rests on considerations of expediency and justice alike. I have tried to show how expedient it is, in relation to the Services, that we should get ready for the peace here and now. It is unnecessary to emphasize the justice of the course which I have ventured to advocate. When expediency and justice join hands they are, or should be, irresistible in moving us to action. I have raised this question because, as far as I know, no Committee has been appointed to deal with the points which I have made, and with many others that are relevant. The notion that suitable personnel for such a Committee cannot be found in war-time is, I am sure, baseless. There must be a number of men of affairs fully competent to constitute such a body, who are free at this moment to undertake the task. If the Government agree that the Armed Forces merit the better conditions for which I ask, there need be no difficulty in working out the details and having a scheme ready before demobilization. I may be told that I am looking too far ahead. I do not agree. It is impossible to look too far ahead in a matter so vital as this. If in peace-time it is a sound principle to be always prepared for war, so in war it is just as sound a principle to be always prepared for peace. So often in the past we have been criticized for being too late; let us make an exception in this case and be on time. I beg to move.
§ LORD CHATFIELD
My Lords, as the hour is late and we have but a small assembly, I shall be as brief as I can in supporting the Motion of my noble friend Lord Kemsley. As a member of the Fighting Services, I am very happy that he has addressed your Lordships for the first time on the subject which he has chosen to-day, and I am sure that the thoughtful and clearly-expressed speech which he has made is one to which we have listened with great interest, and one of much value. We hope that he will not again remain so long silent, but will continue to help us in our debates here as well as he helps the country in many other ways.
As one who is on the active list of the Navy, it may seem somewhat improper 598 that I should even venture to speak about emoluments and conditions of service which may in some most remote way, and theoretically, affect myself; but I wish to speak briefly on certain principles which lie behind the Motion moved by the noble Lord. We must all remember—and it is right that this should be stated—that those who serve the State have certain great advantages over those who are in ordinary employment. They have the great advantage that they have the State behind them, and that their conditions of service, and their salaries and pensions, are guaranteed by an authority which is the most powerful which there can be to give effect to promises which are made. That advantage which the officers and men in the Fighting Services enjoy is, however, accompanied by certain disadvantages, which may be proper and necessary, but which are disadvantageous as compared with the conditions of those who are not serving the State. The State lays down the conditions for the Fighting Services by Acts of Parliament, and Parliament has therefore a special responsibility to look after the Services.
The Services have no trade unions, and are not supposed to press for the alteration or improvement of their own conditions of service. When great fluctuations occur in the national life, due to such causes as an alteration in the value of money or a change in the cost of living, it may be that such influences act over a long period before any remembrance takes place in Parliament that its own servants are suffering from these changed conditions; whereas, if these changed conditions affect those who are not State servants, we may be quite sure that the powerful political organizations which have been built up, and well built up, to look after the interests of the ordinary individual, will step in and make the necessary disturbance in Parliament, and so affect the public mind that the disadvantages from which those whom they seek to protect are suffering will be corrected as soon as possible.
The noble Lord instanced the period at the end of the last war when the Services were grossly neglected. It is not useful to say much about that time, because we may be thankful that in the last two or three years the State has had far more regard to the conditions of its servants. But we must remember that we had an occasion then—and it may recur, because 599 democratic government is very variable in its moods—when, for the whole four years of the war, the fighting man was kept on the same conditions of pay and pension as he had had for many generations, whereas the value of money and the cost of living had so changed that the pay of everybody else had been enormously increased. How did he get that put right? Not by the spontaneous passing of an Act of Parliament or by the act of Ministers: it was only done by pressure by the Commanders-in-Chief of the Services themselves. Unfortunately that was the only means. And it was not until after the Armistice, when everybody was thinking of himself and of other things, that Committees were set up, by pressure from the Services, concerned about the mentality and welfare of their men, to examine the conditions of service afresh. Seven or eight months elapsed after the Armistice, before one penny was added to the pay of the fighting men, so that during the whole of that long time the State forgot and neglected its duty. If that has happened once it may very well happen again.
Of course we must remember that it is difficult to look ahead. As the noble Lord has said, few can be accused of trying to look too far ahead, but the noble Lord does not look too far ahead because what he says is "Let us set up before demobilization a Committee to inquire into these important matters." We must remember that it is very difficult to foresee where we shall be even then. We do not know whether the war is going to last for two or three or for ten years or longer—nobody knows unless he can see into the German mind, which none of us is able to do with any accuracy. Therefore we cannot see what will be the state of the world when the moment comes when this Committee is set up. We cannot tell even what forces will be required to keep order and maintain the peace which we hope we shall have imposed upon those who have committeed the crimes, as we have heard this afternoon. We cannot tell how strong our Forces will have to be, what military forces will be keeping order in Europe, and what naval and air forces will be keeping order all over the world.
Equally, we cannot see what will be our own financial condition after the war. After all, many financial advantages of the Empire as we have known it may be 600 lost to us permanently, because every nation fighting with us will expect to have its own share of the world, and a bit better share than it had before. Although we all hope for a better world and we talk about our new life in this country, are we sure we shall have the means to satisfy the ambitions even of the humblest of those who are hoping that we have now nearly reached the eleventh hour of the future millennium? We certainly shall get a better world, because the spirit of the world will, I believe, be better. Certainly the spirit of this country will be better. Even if we lose the unity we have now, we are all determined that there are certain things that we are going to put right. But although it may be a better world, it may be a poorer world.
Therefore we cannot see far enough ahead now to know to what extent the noble Lord's hopes of gradually improving the conditions of service will be realized. But though we cannot foresee that, what we can do is to make up our minds that Parliament this time is not going to forget its duty to its fighting men when the war is over. It is exactly the same principle as some of us have urged with regard to the Merchant Navy. The sailor and the fighting man are always apt to be forgotten when war is over, and when the period of grab starts and we all think of ourselves, and the most powerful politically organized body is apt to get the most in a democratic country. Those who talk the loudest and the most eloquently will then gain for those whom they represent more than will be gained for those who by law are more or less unable to express themselves—I mean the servants of the State, and particularly the Fighting Services. Therefore I welcome very heartily this proposal. We have not the same power in this House over these things as has another place, but we have our responsibilities and we have our duty of honour to look after the State's servants and especially those who are fighting for it. We cannot do better than call the attention of the Government to the feeling that some steps should be taken at the proper moment, and endeavour to get some assurance from them that they have that matter in mind, in order to give our fighting men and their families ground for believing that this time at any rate Parliament will honour its debt to them.
§ VISCOUNT WIMBORNE
My Lords, while strongly supporting the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Kemsley, that there should be a Committee appointed to inquire into rates of pay before demobilization. I rather wish to call your Lordships' attention to the present situation. After all, demobilization seems a long way off to-day, and it is of the inadequate pay of the Army, and particularly of the junior officer, that I wish to speak this afternoon. I feel very strongly that, instead of the piecemeal concessions made from time to time in response to representations in Parliament and in the Press, the whole question should have been reviewed afresh. To those who may say that this formidable task cannot be undertaken in war-time, I would say that it is in time of war, when so many thousands are serving with the Armed Forces of the Crown, that this subject should be tackled.
No one can say that the ordinary private soldier is over-paid. The warrant officer, the senior sergeant, the man in receipt of tradesman's pay, is not too badly off; but I have in mind the recruit of a certain age who joins, or is forced to join, who probably leaves a good civilian job, is almost certainly married, and who in the first year of his service, after he has paid his allotment, only gets 2s. 6d. a day. As many of them make an extra allotment of another 6d., they eventually draw over the pay-table 2s. a day. When one considers the cost in these days of the simplest relaxations—a glass of beer, a packet of cigarettes, a visit to the cinema—one realizes that 2s., or at most 2s. 6d., a day is very little. What one must not forget is this, that the vast majority of men serving, at any rate in the Army, are serving in this country. They are living alongside the civilians. They have friends who have got jobs in civilian life, and they see when they go home on leave—and this is what affects them most—that the dependants of these people in civilian life are better off and have a higher standard of living than their own families. One point which to my mind proves that the private soldier is not well enough off is the difficulty experienced in getting soldiers to take advantage of the Army Savings Scheme. The will to save is there, but very often the money is not.
When we come to the position of the junior officer the faults of the present 602 system are most glaring. An officer gets very little out of the Government except his accommodation, his equipment, and his rations. He does not get even as much rations as the private soldier, because for some curious reason he is not allowed the 2½d. a day which is given to each private soldier in order to buy things from the N.A.A.F.I. He has to pay for everything he buys. The reason for this is the old-fashioned idea that every officer is a man of private means. Very few officers to-day have private means. A great many of them, especially those who were Territorials before the war and have joined up since, have private liabilities which they find it difficult to discharge, having in so many cases exchanged good civilian employment for the very meagre pay they enjoy to-day. There has been quite recently a concession. The period before promotion from second lieutenant to lieutenant has been reduced to six months, always provided the commanding officer approves the promotion. But what does this concession mean? An officer gets after six months 13s. a day—£237 a year—and a single man pays £36 income tax on that. Therefore he actually gets about 11s a day. I do not think it is sufficiently realized what qualifications are necessary for an efficient junior officer in these days, especially in mechanized units. In a tank regiment, for instance, a junior officer, a troop leader, has to be an expert on wireless, an expert on gunnery, and a very competent mechanical engineer. And what does he get for that? Thirteen shillings a day. I do not think you can call that a living wage, and it ought to be increased.
Then on promotion to captain he goes up by another 3s. 6d. to 16s. 6d. a day. Promotion to captain, certainly in the infantry, carries with it very often the responsibility of the command of a company. It is really only when he attains the rank of major that the remuneration becomes slightly less modest; but then the incidence of taxation begins to tell. I need hardly remind your Lordships of the importance of a good adjutant to any unit, or call attention to the fact that obviously since the war his work and responsibility have increased enormously. Before the war, and up to July, 1940, the extra pay granted to an adjutant was 5s. a day. On July 1 on that year it was reduced to 3s. One would have thought 603 that if 5s. a day was a reasonable extra payment to an adjutant before the war, his remuneration during the war, instead of being decreased, should be increased. It is a small point—though not a small point to hundreds of very hard-worked officers all over the country—but I bring it up because it illustrates the attitude of mind of those responsible for these matters.
Whatever may be decided with regard to pay, there is one point which I wish to bring to your Lordships' attention, because it reacts not only financially but also generally on the keenness and efficiency of the Army, and that is the system of temporary rank. As I think is well known, promotion above the rank of lieutenant since the war is acting for twenty-one days and becomes temporary after three months. Nothing more happens until an officer is promoted further. If, shall we say, a major is posted to another unit, and that unit has no vacancy for a major, he reverts to the rank and pay of captain. Worse still, if he is in hospital for more than twenty-one days, he reverts automatically, and I believe that even if he is wounded in battle he retains his acting rank for only ninety-one days. Yet the difference in pay between captain and major is 12s. a day. In some cases it can affect his dependants. If an officer has elected to remain on the old rate of family allowances—and in some cases it paid him if he retained his temporary rank—his dependants might suffer if his pay is reduced.
There is a lot to be said for a period of probation before promotion is confirmed, but there is nothing to be said for an indefinite period of probation. There are instances of officers who have returned from the Middle East and have had to revert—rather a poor recompense for service in face of the enemy. There are examples of lieutenant-colonels who have commanded regiments for two years and more, with complete satisfaction to their superior officers, but who still retain acting rank. If this system continues, and they are not promoted—not many are promoted above the rank of colonel—they may be demobilized with the pension or gratuity of major. That cannot be fair. I should have thought that after a period of, say, twelve months, if an officer is not satisfactory, other employment could be found for him. If he is satisfactory, surely 604 he ought to be able to retain the rank and the emoluments attaching to it which he has proved himself capable of earning.
I suggest that the whole system of pay and allowances needs complete overhaul. Since the war there have been sops. The basic pay of the soldier has been increased bit by bit; the period of promotion from second lieutenant to lieutenant has, as I have said, been shortened; family allowances have been adjusted; but none of these things has really given satisfaction. There has not been a fair and square face up to the whole problem. I submit that all basic rates of pay should be increased so as to bring them into line with conditions of civilian employment and the cost of living. I would like to put before the House two suggestions for what they are worth. One is that it might be possible in the case of officers to remunerate, junior officers anyhow, rather on the same basis as the tradesman's rates of pay in the ranks—that is to say, if an officer undergoes a course of instruction and obtains a certain standard, he would thereby be entitled to extra pay. I do not know if that would work, but I throw it out as a suggestion. My other suggestion is that there should be an increase of pay all round, a proportion of which might be retained as a post-war nest egg. That I think might be advantageous both to the Treasury and to the individual.
What is wanted with regard to pay is something generous and imaginative; and that, coupled with a period of limitation to the holding of temporary rank, would, I think, go a long way to making the Army, in this country at any rate, a happy and contented Force. It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to assess in terms of money the value of a soldier or of any member of the Fighting Forces who is prepared to give his life for his country, but I maintain that it is not impossible to assess what he should be paid in order that he and his dependants can achieve a reasonable and a fair standard of living. I hope that the noble Lord who replies to this debate will be able to assure the House that something along these lines may be done.
§ LORD WINSTER
My Lords, it falls to my lot to be the first to speak after the noble Viscount, Lord Wimborne, has addressed your Lordships for the first time. I myself have only very recently gone through the same ordeal, an ordeal 605 which is only tempered by your Lordships' courtesy, and I am sure that the noble Viscount would agree with me that what one specially wishes to be congratulated upon on sitting down is upon having got through the ordeal rather than upon the speech itself that one has made. But in this case I am certainly not going to pay an empty compliment when I say the speech to which we have just listened was a real contribution to the debate, and especially to our ideas upon the subject which is under discussion. The Press and other organs have recently been kind enough to say many kind things about the debates in your Lordships' House. The speech of the noble Viscount was, I am sure, upon a plane that merits those encomiums which have been paid to us. I can only say I regret that it has not fallen to someone who has been a member of your Lordships' House longer than I and is more familiar with the customs, to pay the customary tribute to the first speech of the noble Viscount.
I would like myself warmly to support the Motion which has been brought forward by the noble Lord, Lord Kemsley. If it would serve no other purpose it has certainly brought a most interesting and in some ways remarkable speech from the noble Lord, Lord Chatfield. The noble Lord, Lord Kemsley, has shown persistently a quality known as prevision, a quality not only of great value in the Press world, but a quality which is very essential in affairs of State in order to avert the troubles which may come upon us. Indeed I think we had a very unhappy experience in regard to the pay of the Navy owing to a failure to exert that quality of prevision. The noble Lord has proved himself a good friend of the Service man, and has shown himself possessed of great understanding of the problems of the Service man. He has not only done that, but I feel he has also rendered a great service to the nation in calling attention to this matter, as indeed he already has in the matter of fuel saving.
It is indeed most essential, in view not merely of the possibility but the probability of Armies of Occupation having to remain in conquered territory for a very long time, that the pay of the Armed Forces should be settled upon an equitable basis so that those who have to be retained in those Armies of Occupation shall not find themselves at a disadvantage 606 possibly compared with those of their comrades who may find themselves released and not compelled to remain part of those Armies. This is essential not only from the point of view of those Armies of Occupation, but essential to secure the eventual retention in the Armed Forces, and the future recruitment of officers and men for the Forces, of the type of men we hope to attract into the Armed Forces and retain in them after the war. We must give proper rates of pay to these men, but I was so glad to hear the noble Lord stress not only this question of proper rates of pay but also such a question as education amongst these men, which I myself regard as of primary importance.
To me the essential point in this matter is that in future we should bring men of the Armed Forces within what I would describe as the flow and the main stream of the current of our national life. These Service men in the future must no longer be regarded as men belonging to a race apart, as men who are segregated from the whole body of national life. The Service man is a part of our national life, he is not one section or one compartment of it. He is part of the whole main stream of our national life, and he is performing just as essential a part in that national life as does the miner or the farm worker or the merchant seaman, about whom, quite rightly, we hear so much at the present moment. In particular the allowances for his family and his dependants must be brought into line with the pay of men who are engaged in normal civilian occupations, so that the Service man's wife, his family and his dependants may enjoy exactly the same standard of living as we think right and proper for the family and dependants of the civilian worker. On this account I welcome the noble Lord's Motion and I hope it will secure the support of the Government.
Although, of course, I have no right to speak for my Party I feel quite sure that my Party would most gladly participate in the work of such a Committee as the noble Lord envisages. Whatever the conditions may be after the war—in regard to which the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Chatfield, uttered what I think is a most wise and valuable caution—I believe the work of such a Committee would be most valuable. Certainly there would be no difficulty in finding the proper personnel to constitute such a Committee. I am certain that it is not looking too far 607 ahead to set up such a Committee, and I would say in conclusion that the country will never get a better bargain than it will by treating the men in the Armed Forces well and properly. The country will certainly get full value for such treatment.
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (LORD CROFT)
My Lords, I think it will be agreed that for the second time to-day we have had a most interesting series of speeches. I would like to reiterate what has already been said in welcome of the maiden speech of my noble friend Lord Kemsley, and in praise of his felicity of phrasing and the way in which he made his views so very plain to your Lordships' House. I would also like to say how much I appreciated the maiden speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Wimborne. I hope he will forgive me if I do not dwell at any length upon his speech because I was quite unaware that he was going to enlarge upon the present rates of pay and allowances. On that there have been recently considerable debates in another place and it is a subject upon which I am not authorized to touch at the present time. I would like to say that rarely have I heard a speech from a serving officer which more clearly expressed the feelings which he thought existed in the Forces, and I will certainly bring his speech to the attention of those who are always living with this problem and ask them to give it most favourable consideration.
I would only say one further word on that subject. It was suggested that improved rates of pay and allowances had been made in rather a piecemeal fashion. That, however, has been rather forced upon us as a result of the increased cost of living and the fact that organized workers outside had secured greater emoluments. If civilian status in the matter of pay had been improved I think it was up to us to look into the matter again, even though it might appear in the nature of a sop. Of course there is a temptation to anyone like myself to go all-out for the highest possible rate of pay. In fact, when I listened to the speech of my noble friend Lord Winster, I asked myself "Is this a dictaphone record of past speeches by a former member for a South of England constituency, or is it hopeful evidence of the unity of 608 all Parties upon this great question of the Services as a career?" The fact is that it is our bounden duty as members of Parliament, in considering this subject, to realize that if you take the combined income of all the Services and other emoluments as a result of the changes which have been made, it does amount to an immense figure.
I hope my noble friend will forgive me for this interlude and I will now turn to his specific Motion. I read the Motion of the noble Lord as saying that the present rates of pay of the three Services of the Crown will not be suitable for those Services as reconstituted after the war, and that for this reason it is desirable that His Majesty's Government should work out before the period of demobilization new rates of pay and family allowances which will be adequate. I do not wish to question my noble friend's general thesis that it will be necessary for all three Services to examine their positions before demobilization, and make plans which will cover the size of their respective forces in the period immediately following the cessation of hostilities and thereafter. It will, I think, be a natural corollary of this consideration to examine whether the current rates of pay and allowances and the general conditions of service are calculated to be a fair reward on the one hand and an added stimulus to recruiting on the other, but it seems to me that the time for undertaking this task is not yet. We do not know whether service after the war will be compulsory or voluntary or a combination of the two. We cannot gauge what our overseas commitments may be, and, above all, it is impossible for us to foretell what shape the new world will take and to what extent armed forces will form a part of it. So far, therefore, as concerns the Motion which is on the Paper, I can only agree with my noble friend that the time will come when these problems must be examined, and that meanwhile we should carefully collate all evidence which may provide useful guidance.
In his speech my noble friend touched on one or two very different points. He made reference to the demobilization of the Army after the last war. That is a subject which some of my generation—I am not suggesting he has reached my generation—have very much at heart. He-expressed the hope that some of the mistakes we made then will not be repeated this time. As to that, I think your Lord 609 ships will be aware that we are already examining, and have been examining for the past two years, the hundred and one problems which are bound up with this immense question of demobilization. It is a most difficult subject. He mentioned, and I think my noble friend Lord Winster said that he welcomed that mention, educational facilities in the Army. This is a subject which does come within my purview. In addition to having done much work on the problem of demobilization I am glad to say that we are giving special attention to the educational side. In passing I may mention that this morning I spent two and a half hours presiding over a body which is giving consideration to this vital subject. So far as we can anticipate circumstances we are endeavouring to have the whole demobilization plan cut and dried, so that whenever the end of the war comes it will not take us by surprise. Our work has reached an advanced stage of development and although the final decision must be taken by the Government of the day when that great event happens and we celebrate the victory—or before that—I am confident that the factors upon which they must base their decisions will have been worked out with very great completeness, and certainly as completely as it is possible to work them out at the present time.
The noble Lord went on to say that the pay of men in the Services must be considerably increased because of the counter attractions of industrial life and industrial wages. If I understood him correctly, he urged that the Services should, generally, be made to offer a better career; something more permanent and more stable than we have known in the past. I hope that he will believe me when I say that I yield to no man in my admiration for the three Fighting Services of the country. The small Regular Forces upon which we based our expansion were, I think it has now been proved, of the highest degree of efficiency, and the regular element in all three Services has demonstrated that efficiency by the smoothness with which we have passed from the machinery of peace to that of war, and the expansion which has been carried out. It is certainly my personal desire that the Navy, Army and Air Force shall, after this war, be in a position, if I may paraphrase what has been said, to select the men they want for the Services instead of having to take anyone they could get, which was unfortunately 610 the case with the Army for a very long period before this war.
But quite apart from the question of compulsory service, upon which I am unable to give any information at this time, I think it would be improper for me to say now that the rates of pay and allowances at present current in the Services must necessarily be increased for the post-war Services. We do not know, as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Chat-field, has said, what the standard of living and what the economic position of these islands will be after the war. We do not know what will be the state of the world, whether it will be convulsed or calm. And in the face of so many unpredictable factors I think your Lordships will realize that it is quite impossible for me to go any further to-day. But I would ask my noble friend to believe me when I say that his general contention has my very warmest support, and I would like him to realize that we do appreciate the great interest which has been taken in this subject. We realize how very near to his heart are the interests of the Service men in many directions. We are grateful to him for having raised this subject and having added to the interest of the whole community in it, as I hope has been done by this debate. On behalf of my colleagues and myself I may say that we are very glad indeed to have had such-manifestations of good will and helpful spirit as have been apparent in the debate which has taken place to-day.
§ LORD KEMSLEY
My Lords, if I have any regret at all it is only that this Motion came on at so late an hour on account of such an important Motion preceding it. At the same time, I feel that the contributions which have been made to the debate will have their effect. I am only sorry that there was not a full House to hear them. I am interested to learn from the noble Lord, who represents the Government, that the Government are really doing everything or almost everything that I have asked, and I can only say that I feel sure that, as the result of remarks made to-day, we shall see evidence, in the very near future, that all these causes have not been neglected. In the circumstances I ask leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.
§ House adjourned.