HL Deb 06 December 1944 vol 134 cc131-89

2.9 p.m.

VISCOUNT TRENCHARD had the following Notice on the Paper: To ask His Majesty's Government, whether they can indicate the broad outline of the organization of the three Fighting Services to be adopted after the war; whether what is called the "short-service" system will be maintained in the Royal Air Force and extended to the other Services; what form of compulsory service, if any, is being considered, and whether the Auxiliary Air Force will be maintained and the training of officers and other ranks at the various colleges will be modified; and to move for Papers.

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I realize that it would be quite impossible to debate all the matters raised in the Motion standing in my name in a single day's discussion, but I am going to try to raise a few of the more important of them this afternoon. I think it is time that these matters of post-war organization were ventilated. A number of letters which have reached me in the last year show the interest that is taken in this subject. I quite well understand that post-war organization of the Forces cannot be settled until peace is made, until the size of the Forces necessary to ensure the peace of the world in the future is laid down by the Allies; and that can only be done when the victory is complete, and it can only be done in conjunction with our Allies. Also I feel that the Government may have another point to decide before they can determine the size of the Forces, and that is how large will be the Forces maintained in the Colonies. Surely this war has shown, in Abyssinia and at the present moment in Burma, what the Colonial troops can do. It may be that the Colonial Armies of the British Empire could be increased substantially, and would look upon it as their right and their duty to help to maintain the peace of the world, even if the Mother Country had to pay for the equipment, as it would have to. But all that must be left aside to-day; it cannot be settled without our Allies and without further discussion.

Nevertheless it is none too early to begin to discuss and clarify some of the problems of the organization of the Defence Forces of this country in their broad aspect, and it is to those aspects which I want to address myself to-day. I would like in the first place in passing to refer to a suggestion that has received some support in a few places, that is the amalgamation of all the three existing Services into one single Defence Service. It is not difficult to understand that this proposal attracts people who believe that thereby solution of the problems of interdependence of the various arms would be made easier. I hope this suggestion will be debated and freely expounded by those in favour of it, but I myself think it would be a great mistake to adopt it. I know it is the fashion nowadays to want to do away with individualism, but the British Empire was built on individualism. The British Empire led the world on it, and America was built up on it. Can anyone deny that? Can anyone deny that we are still in the forefront of the nations of the world in spite of individualism? Therefore I hope this idea of the three Services being combined into one will never come into being. It would be fatal in my opinion; but I shall not deal with that subject any more to-day; it is much too long.

I now turn to one of the subjects down in my name and that is colleges. There are three sorts of colleges: cadet colleges, Staff colleges and the Imperial Service Defence College. I have seen put forward at times proposals by protagonists of a single Service that if amalgamation is not brought about, would it not be a good thing at any rate to amalgamate the cadet colleges? Well, as your Lordships are aware, there are three or more of those cadet colleges for the initial training—Sandhurst and Woolwich for the Army, Dartmouth for the Navy, and Cranwell for the Air Force. I feel that it would be a great mistake to amalgamate those colleges. Speaking as an airman and, if I may, as a soldier, I know that the cadets at Sandhurst and at Cranwell have a great deal of knowledge to acquire in regard to their own special Service. That is, I hope, also true of the Navy at Dartmouth. The curriculum is all too full as it is, even for their own Service. Young officers must primarily learn to know the job of their own Service, its distinctive problems and peculiarities. If you overload the curriculum by trying to teach your young Naval, Army or Air Force officers—and I emphasize the word "young"—about the work of the other two Services, you only produce amateurs who know a little of everything and not enough of anything.

Then we come to the Staff colleges. There are three such colleges: Camberley for the Army, Greenwich for the Navy, and Andover for the Air Force. It is said again, "Let us amalgamate those." I equally say, "No." Every subject has to be learnt thoroughly and you want to keep those colleges separate so that the officers learn the Staff problems peculiar to each Service. The officers must have a full and thorough training in their own Staff problems and learn the best way to solve them. It would again overload the curriculum if they have to learn the Staff work peculiar to the other Services at that stage. These colleges, however, could be, and should be, adjacent to each other so that they could see a good deal of each other. I may say about both those colleges—cadet and Staff—that keeping them separate produces that esprit de corps in work and sport about which I am keen. It encourages the keenest to excel and to be the first, and I think that spirit is well worth preserving.

When we have finished with the individual Staff colleges, we come to the Imperial Defence College, which was in existence before the war. That wants drastic improvement and enlargement. That is where, when the three Services know their own subjects thoroughly, they should join together. It should not be a college where they only go to lectures, as it is at present; it should be a college where they live together and absorb each other's ideas and talk freely among themselves the whole time. It needs a longer course, and the best of the officers in their own colleges should be chosen to go to this Imperial Defence College, from which must be chosen those who one day will join the Combined Staffs. I am not referring to the Combined Staff to-day. This is a very important subject and I hope that one day a noble Lord will put clown a Motion on that subject. It is from the Imperial Defence College, which must be enlarged and improved, that we shall get the Combined General Staff. Therefore I hope that these cadet colleges, which have done so much for the Services in the past, and the Staff colleges will be enlarged and kept going in every way.

Next I come to the technical training of the rank and file. This, I think, is one of the most important parts of my remarks this afternoon. Not only has it a direct bearing on the internal efficiency of each of the Services, but it also has a bearing in its relation to the problem of recruitment. Some of your Lordships will remember that after the last war we set up in the Air Force a very large training school at Halton for the men of the Royal Air Force. It was, I believe, the largest of its kind in the world. It was a great experiment and it was bitterly criticized at the time. Nevertheless, I feel justified in saying that the experiment has richly justified itself. There is no doubt at all, in my opinion, that Halton and the Halton spirit have been a pillar of strength to the Royal Air Force all over the world. The Halton-trained men have provided the nucleus on which the great expansion of the Air Force was centred. They have set and maintained an extraordinarily high standard of efficiency. You have only to look at the promotions and the honours gained. Over 1,000 high honours have been gained, and a large number of these men are very senior Air Vice-Marshals and Air Commodores, running the highest technical offices in the Air Force. Surely the efficient maintenance of aircraft has also been one of the outstanding features of this war and that has been made possible by the Halton training of our men.

When we originally formed the Air Force in those days we were told—and I want particularly to emphasize this because of its bearing on the future—that we were spending in the Air Force all our money on bricks and mortar, and on ground staff and ground personnel. In fact, some of your Lordships will remember that it was called "the Ground Force" and I believe I was myself once described as "G.O.C. Ground Force." That was because we put all the pressure we could on getting a sound foundation for training, in spite of the expense. Has that policy not justified itself? Is it not one of the main reasons why the Luftwaffe has been defeated? Did not the Battle of Britain show it? Did not Coastal Command show it when they went into action on the first day of the war? The whole work of the Air Force has shown what training is doing. But there is no getting away from the fact that it is expensive. There is nothing to show for it in peacetime, but in war-time there is just this difference to show for it—the difference between defeat and victory. Therefore I hope for the good of the Air Force to see Halton enlarged to take at least 4,000, and at least one other Halton built.

With regard to the training of the modern Army, that is just as complicated, if I may say so in the presence of the noble Lord, Field Marshal Lord Cavan, as the training of the Royal Air Force, with the Army's innumerable types of weapon and the ever-changing problems of attack and defence. I know some people are old-fashioned and think the Army can be easily trained, but there is not a single officer in it who does not realize what a great need there is for fully equipped training establishments. I mean establishments like Halton and Abborfield. They would have come before the last war if the Army had been allowed to spend as much money on training in proportion to their size as we spent on our Air Force. The same thing applies to the Navy. Therefore I hope we shall enlarge and extend the training colleges of each Service. The nation must not expect to see much without spending a lot of money on this training. The selection of the right type of boy for these schools of technical training is important. There is no danger of our not getting a sufficient number of boys in this country to fill the schools. There is no difficulty whatever in getting a sufficient number of boys to fill Halton and the Army and Navy schools. If the education given by the Government is as good as we gave at Halton before this war, if we can keep up that scale of education, there will be no difficuty in getting boys of the right type to join. By that means we shall get our long-service men by volunteering, even though it may be necessary to adopt some form of conscription for other types of service. But do not forget that we can get by voluntary effort what I have already indicated.

This brings me to a question which I wish to put to the noble Earl who is to reply for the Government—namely, whether the question of compulsory service is under consideration for after the war. This is a subject that wants airing very much in public. What has to be decided first and foremost is whether compulsion is necessary in order to get the numbers required, and that we cannot assess until the points I have mentioned at the beginning of my speech this afternoon about our Allies are settled. I will assume for the purpose of this debate that some form of compulsory service or national service will be necessary but only, I hope, as a background to the proposals I am going to outline in a few minutes. In dealing with conscription let me say here and now that I am only referring to compulsory service for men and not for women. I have seen that certain people advocate that women, who have done so well in these days, should in peace-time be subjected to some form of conscription. I hope that will not be so. I believe that every man, or nearly every man, in the Service would be against it. Whatever form of compulsory service we adopt it is essential that it should be such as will get the best out of everybody, the best out of all the different types of people—and they are all different. If we are to get the best we must ensure that the training gives full play to everybody's individuality and character. We must ensure that everybody will be keen and that the young men will not look upon this time in the Service as a part of their life to be got through with the minimum of trouble and work. We want to see that they get something out of it.

We must be quite certain that whatever we do in working out the plan for the future we are not trying to work out an organization that looks easy and perfect on paper. I have had some experience of organizations during my life and I say that it is very easy to work out an, organization which is perfect on paper and looks so easy. We must have an organization that will not ignore the human element. We must have an organization that will encourage the greatest number of boys to join the particular Service that they want to serve in on a voluntary basis. We must have an organization that will make the men feel that the time they spend in one of the Services is going to be a help to them in their future career and not a hindrance. Some of my remarks may appear to be a little disjointed but I will try and bring them together again. Can we not have some form of additional service besides compulsory service that would induce men to volunteer? Whatever kind of compulsion is introduced it should not be allowed to kill voluntary effort. Those voluntary organizations which have been congenial are still congenial to the character of our people. There is always the risk, on the ground of logic or symmetry or so-called equality of treatment, of those voluntary organizations being cold-shouldered as soon as compulsion walks in. It is, for example, very important that nothing should he done to merge the identity or weaken the autonomy of a body like the Auxiliary Air Force. This was an organization built up entirely by voluntary part-time service. When it was started many people said that a Saturday-to-Monday Air Force, as they called it, would he useless. They were all wrong, as the record of the Auxiliary Air Force in this war so magnificently shows. I hope we may be told that the Government intend to keep the Auxiliary Air Force going and, if necessary, that they will even double it or enlarge it still more. Many people are asking this question all up and down the country. That is one example, and there are others.

To go back to the proposals of how to make voluntary service still more useful, we should examine very carefully all possible means whereby service with the Armed Forces can be linked up with the activities of other professions and see how the service can best be dovetailed into the educational curriculum. For example, we are told that a much larger intake will be needed for the teaching profession. We are also told that a defect of that profession in the past has been a lack of contact with the outside world and with men of other callings. I should like to see matters so arranged that a man whose main business of life is to be that of a teacher should serve for a period in one or other of the Defence Services for two or three years before getting a permanent position in the teaching profession. I think this should also apply to other types of Government and municipal employment, and for that matter to men who are going in for other professions or into business. We want it recognized, and we must get it recognized, that a man who has done a period of service in the Army, Navy or Air Force will not be a worse but a better Government servant or teacher; and I believe that it is quite practicable to adjust the period of service to the educational requirements, of commerce and the profession.

I feel that there will be strong public feeling to make conscription as short as possible, say, for twelve months. This would be of value to character and physique only, and the three Services would largely consist of training establishments. The Services would lose too many of their personnel long before they were trained. We have seen during this war how long it takes to train for these Services. That has been shown to be the case all over the world. That means that a medium-length service of from two to five years would be of use to fill the gap between the permanent service and the irreducible minimum of compulsory service. The inducement to join this medium-length service should be provided by the service being recognized as part of the qualification for employment in the public Services. I will try to explain this if I may and I will divide it into officers and men, though they are practically the same. This brings me to my experience after the last war.

Let me first of all deal with the question of how to get sufficient officers in the future, not only for the Air Force but for the Army and Navy. Some of your Lordships will have heard of the short-service system in the Royal Air Force which was started just after the last war. In those days we had the future at the back of our minds and I feel that the best way to describe my ideas is to describe what passed through our brains in those days. We saw that the Services needed many more junior officers than they could provide a whole-life career for. We also knew that in the first year of war we should want a very large reserve of young officers. Surely this war has proved that. How did we meet this need of a large and increasing Air Force? We worked out a plan for a force that would require 3,000 officers of which a very large number were junior. We could only provide a good curve of promotion, in other words a career, for from 1,500 to 1,800. The remaining 1,200 to 1,500 were the problem. We decided to take them on as short-service officers for four years, after which they were to do four years' service in the Reserve. When they went into the Reserve at the end of four years they would be first-class airmen, either as pilots or on the ground staff. They would have been every bit as good as regular officers of the same age when they were called up for War Commissions.

It was intended when they joined the Service for this short service that they should at once be asked and persuaded to make up their minds what they were going to do when they left the Service. During the four years' training when the boys had chosen their careers they were to be educated in whatever walk of life they intended to join. The education given to them by the Air Force was intended to be of a high standard in engineering, flying, wireless, army motors, engines and languages and many other things. They were to have every opportunity of improving their technical knowledge in any subject they selected. Further, we approached a certain number of industrial firms who are always looking out for young men of knowledge, energy and capacity of leadership to take into their businesses. We suggested that firms should go to the Appointment Boards at universities, select two or three likely candidates for their firms and then say to them that, provided they passed their examinations and provided they did four years' short-service in the Air Force, at the end of that time they would be taken into the firms. In other words, they would be looked upon during those four years as nominees for their firms.

We gathered that a certain number of firms found that they could not employ men usefully between the ages of twenty to twenty-seven and that they would be glad if that period could be filled in by the young men acquiring knowledge in all the technical subjects of the Air Force. We asked firms whether they would not try and see whether they got a better type of young man more fitted for what they wanted if they adopted the scheme we suggested. Some firms did this and a good many men went to these firms. I believe that up to the beginning of this war, of the young men who were on the short-service system only one was unemployed. One or two of the firms wrote to me asking if they could have more of this kind of young men. I know it is often thought that young men make up their minds what career they are going to adopt directly they go to school, but a good many do not settle down to their life career before they are thirty.

Now I come to a much more important reason for this scheme. We hoped that the Army and Navy would adopt the same sort of system and we hoped that it might also be applied in the higher division of the Civil Service to those who joined the Civil Service at the ages of twenty to twenty-three. We did not want to interrupt their education but we hoped that when they had passed their final examinations they might be asked to do two or three or four years in the Fighting Services before they took up the administrative and office work in which they were going to spend the rest of their lives. I think that both they and the different Services would have gained by doing that. It would have made a break between university life and the Civil Service. The same would apply to other professions, architecture, the law and medicine, and even to the spiritual profession if I may say so in the presence of the most reverend and noble Lord, Lord Lang. Would it not be a good thing for a curate, when he has passed his examinations at some university, to do two or three or four years in one of the Services so as to rub shoulders with his fellow men before settling down to his curacy? There is nothing in the Services to-day that has not got its counterpart in civil life. Surely it would give a greater knowledge of each other's outlook and standing. I am sure it would have a wholesome effect on the life of the nation.

To sum up, the advantages we saw in the short-service system were that it would have given a better curve of promotion to the permanent Regular officers; it would have provided the very best type of reserve of young officers for war; it would have linked all the Services with the life of the nation; it would have linked all the Services with the Civil Service more than they are now; and it would have made all better citizens. That was the scheme. It was not altogether fulfilled, because the ugly menace of war raised its head again in 1932 and 1933 and people were given medium Commissions and even long Commissions. But I say that it justified itself.

I turn next to the scheme as it applies to other ranks. You can apply it in some measure to other ranks of all three Services. Take for example the lower division of the Civil Service and many of the municipal services. I believe under normal conditions these services are mainly recruited from youths who enter at sixteen and from others of higher qualifications who come in at eighteen and over. The scheme I envisage would take them at these ages on condition that at the age of nineteen or twenty they would give at least two or three years' service to one of the Fighting Services. Then if they did not disgrace themselves they would be given permanent positions in the municipal or Government service. Again I think it would have a wholesome effect on the whole nation.

That finishes that part of my remarks—I hope I am not occupying too much time—and I want now to refer briefly to the question of the selection of officers. Owing to the peculiar circumstances of this war a great Army was being formed in the United Kingdom and elsewhere and there were many changes in the selection of officers. I feel that this question of the selection of officers is the most important of the lot and I hope the selection will be done on the broadest possible basis. Quite frankly, I am not in favour of everyone, or even of the majority, coming from the ranks. It does some good, but it does some harm. We should take some from the ranks and many more from the colleges, such as Cranwell and Sandhurst, and others from the technical colleges like Halton, if they have done well there. In that way you get the broadest possible basis. You want all types of officers. I used to say, when we were trying to build up the Air Force after the last war, that we needed all types, and surely the Royal Air Force has proved, in this war, when it has been built up on a broad basis, that in taking as officers men of all types we did not make a mistake. And we could expand that system. I feel that we want every type of person, the clever, the less clever, the practical, the crank, the poet and the musician. I still think, and hope, that: we shall adopt this system in the future. I do not want to have everybody obliged to go through the ranks. On the one hand, it does not do everybody good to go through the ranks and, on the other hand, it would not be for the good of all to have none going through the ranks. This should be a matter of guidance.

I had intended to deal with Service transportation in war but there is not time to-day. I will only say that we want just as efficient transportation service as fighting service in connexion with the Navy, the Army and the Air Force alike. I hope that all the points I have mentioned—and the points which I hope other noble Lords will raise this afternoon—will be considered, really considered, by the Government, by the officers concerned, and by those whose task it is to draw up the future organizations of our three Defence Services. If necessary, I would like to see many more debates—for there are a variety of topics which I have not touched upon—initiated by someone else, on this subject, so that we can get the general feeling of all those interested, and also the views of those—and there are many in your Lordships' House—who are qualified to express opinions on these subjects. I also hope that the question of the Combined General Staff will be brought up and debated here again. I was glad to note that the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, speaking on a Motion about postwar security the other day, said that the more we discuss these difficult problems, and the more we bring them before the minds of the British people, the more probable it is that a sane and sound public opinion will be built up. And this is, moreover, I think, a subject which your Lordships' House is particularly fitted to discuss. The subject on which the noble Viscount was speaking, as I have said, was that of post-war security. I hope that the noble Earl who answers on behalf of the Government this afternoon will be able to say the same of my Motion to-day. I beg to move.

2.44 p.m.


My Lords, when the noble Viscount put down his Motion and asked me to speak to it, I told him that I wondered whether it was necessary to ask the Government for an assurance that they were giving this matter their consideration, and that they were in no sense prejudging it. Since that conversation took place, a most surprising thing has happened, of which, I think, the noble Viscount is not aware. His Motion is indeed timely, for those same reactionary influences against which I have protested again and again during this war are to be discerned in this very matter which I am now bringing to your Lordships' notice. I have here a document which has caused the greatest concern to the Principal of the university with which I am connected—that of Southampton—a university which provides a great many officers and men for our Services. I would hardly have believed in the existence of such a document as this unless I had seen it. It reached me on the same day that I read in The Times newspaper that we are now engaged in what is, undoubtedly, the greatest battle in history. That statement, I suppose, is perfectly true.

This is what appeared in the document which the Principal of the university received: Now that the Home Guard has been placed on a voluntary basis, and that the Civil Defence Services are to be reduced, it has been decided that men students who receive reservation or deferment of calling-up are no longer to be required, as a condition of reservation or deferment, to perform part-time national service in the Sea Cadet Corps, the Air Training Corps, the University Air Squadron, the Home Guard, Royal Observer Corps or Civil Defence… This astonishing document, as I have said, was sent to the Principal of the university, and was forwarded to me on the very day when events were happening which were rightly described as being part of the greatest battle in history. And this battle is not yet decided; the issue is still in doubt. Men students, it is stated, will no longer be required to do part-time national service. I sent this document to the noble Earl who is going to reply, and I hope that he will take this public opportunity of saying that this is some Departmental move of which the Government, as a whole, were not aware. As I shall presently show, the Government could not have approved of such a statement, and it is no part of the Government's policy to begin at once to say that, now that the Home Guard has been placed on a voluntary basis, national service is no longer required from our young men. I am sure that I shall get the assurance for which I ask from the noble Earl. From a word or two which I will say in a moment, it will be apparent that this matter must be settled.

The question has been raised by the noble Viscount: Are we in the future going to continue some form of universal service, and if that be so, what form should the training take in the entirely new circumstances (reference to these was not made by the noble Viscount) in which we find ourselves? These new circumstances, I say at once, are connected with the new method of attack, which was referred to by the President of the Royal Society, whose words I will presently quote. This method makes everything new—strategy, tactics, everything. The President of the Royal Society has pointed out that all these things are new, and I think that they all point to the second question, Should we have some form of universal training? being answered in the affirmative.

It surely would be wise, in this new world in which we find ourselves to have a form of universal training, this country having narrowly escaped—as we all know now that the veil of secrecy has been raised—from devastation on a scale which we had not dreamed of before. We have escaped it because our gallant soldiers, sailors and airmen have, in the words of the Prime Minister, "overrun the launching grounds" We have been told of the scale on which preparations for the devastation had been made, and, although we knew something about it, it was not possible to answer it in any other way than by that wonderful operation of war, the greatest, so far as we know in the history of mankind, whereby the launching grounds were overrun. All honour to the soldiers, sailors and airmen who achieved that miraculous feat, for indeed such it was. This huge force, only just big enough to overwhelm the Germany Army and chase it to the Rhine after a desperate battle, was all that saved us from what would have been, even in these early days of scientific development, the almost complete destruction of the southern part of the country, right up to and including London.

Surely it would be wise to envisage not the future but the present, as the President of the Royal Society points out. The first step is to say that in this hard world—for it is to be a hard world; danger and hardship are the lot of the soldier, sailor and airman, who alone can save us from destruction if we mean to continue to defend the cause of freedom there should be equality of sacrifice. I would appeal to anyone in any Party who thinks of saying "None of your militarism, none of your universal service," to reflect on what the effect of those words may be. I myself would confidently prophesy that any Party which said "We will have none of this" will be swept by an indignant people into the limbo. Equality of sacrifice we must have; and here I should like to quote from a very remarkable speech by Mr. Bevin, made a year ago, before we had paid anything like the price which we are now paying. He said: The price we have paid in human life compels me to believe that if you take care of the adolescent, training him in the elementary arts of defence, it will produce in this country a race capable of making an amazing contribution to international security. Those are fine words. He was pointing out at the time the imminent dangers which we faced, which have since that time become so much more imminent, and saying how necessary it was for international security that we should still be able to champion the cause of liberty.

We are the outposts of liberty. In this new world it will be a good thing if we can act with the other champions of liberty, the United States of America. The United States authorities were good enough yesterday to send me a transcript of what took place the other day in Washington on this very topic. Very little reference has been made to it over here, and it may not he generally known. Although it was sent to me by the United States authorities here, they are in no way responsible for what is said. This is simply an account of what took place. The President was asked whether he expected universal training legislation to be introduced soon, and he answered that he hoped so. In response to a question, he indicated that he favoured in broad lines the Wadsworth Bill, stressing that the idea was for each boy to give one year of his life between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three to his Government. Asked whether he contemplated military training, the President countered by asking whether cooking or carpentry would be considered military, and added that in some cases no doubt it would be. He pointed out the large percentage of young men turned down in draft—that is, in the compulsory service there—for physical reasons, and said that the num- ber was appalling. The same thing applies here.

The President recalled the tremendous advantage gained by the youths who went through the C.C.C. programme (the training programme) and suggested that a universal training programme would give the nation a large percentage of young people trained to defend the country in case of future wars. Someone pointed out that the National Guard was suggesting that the year's service be spread over several years by taking youths for a few weeks at a time, but the President said that this would not work. Finally, the same man recalled to the President how far the pendulum swung back after the last war, and asked him whether he intended to press for legislation now. Mr. Roosevelt indicated that he would ask for it this winter.

That is very interesting news. It is not for us here, of course, to prejudge for a moment what the American people will decide to do, but the fact that their President and their Government take the view that is here described, although they are removed, from the scientific point of view, by many years from the dangers which oppress us—because, as is well known, the new scientific inventions increase in range only by degrees—is very important. Although the danger 'to them is obviously so much less imminent than it is to us, their own President and Government contemplate this drastic step, and for two reasons: national security and national well-being.

Before the last war I was a champion of the voluntary principle, and I still believe that that is the best way to get the best men for each particular Service, as does the noble and gallant Viscount. In spite of that, I am now definitely of opinion that it is vital for the well-being of this country, and indeed for its survival, if it means to champion the cause of freedom, to say boldly and at once with Mr. Bevin, "Yes, we will have compulsory training." I hope that your Lordships will make it clear to-day that we are of that mind. As to the kind of training to be given, it is quite true, as the noble and gallant Viscount says, that there is so much to learn in each of the Services that it would be a mistake to abolish their training colleges. I would add that these new developments make it more than ever necessary that the three Services should work together. I do not know whether my noble friend Lord Strabogli, who I understand is to follow me in this debate, will agree with what I am now going to say; but I think perhaps he may. Looking through the history of this war, every one of our successes have been due to a new development of complete co-operation between the Army, Navy and Air Force, and every one of our disasters—and we have had one or two—has been due to the failure to co-operate. The lesson should be burnt into our minds, and if I were to indicate in a few phrases the way in which I think we should go about it, it would be that first of all every child should be told his duty, and that if he wants to maintain freedom he has got to fight for it. The day of the intelligent pacifist is obviously gone; there will not be such a creature, he cannot exist now that modern science has enabled the enemy to destroy you by degrees, and swift degrees. The only way is to go and invade him and say, "We do not like that sort of thing, and so you have got to die; people do not do such things, least of all Englishmen." So, that day being done, we come to what you are to do with the people who are going to fight for freedom. I think every boy should be taught this and every girl, too, though I agree she should not be asked to do the fighting. Then there should be this period of training as envisaged by President Roosevelt. But before that let all the voluntary organizations go on—the Boy Scouts, the Air Training Corps above all, and Sea Cadets, but let each be taught the value of the other. Whatever prizes you give in the Air Services, let them be prizes for how best to do the thing at sea; and in the same way, in the sea service let them learn how they can lest do things in the Army. Bring them together during that period of training. Little specialization; let them all learn how to be strong and fit and ready to jump into any Service for which they may be detailed or for which they may volunteer. Then, when the moment comes for them to join any one of the three Services, let them have all their colleges, as they have them now, for indeed there is much to learn.

But I end as I began by saying let us here resolve that we will do our utmost to see that all people realize that what the President of the Royal Society said is true. This is what he said last week: Even in the past year our enemies have thrown a new and vivid light on the future possibilities by new weapons which science has enabled them to put on trial for our destruction. He went on to say that our people's unflinching courage and an answering effort of science and organization, together with the progress of our Allied Armies, have given us confidence that flying bombs and the like will not affect the issue of this war. That no doubt is true, but he added: The warning as to what the future may hold is not less clear. The writing on the wall must be plain for all to read. I hope your Lordships will agree with me that what is written on the wall is that if those who love Nazidom say, "We will fight for Nazidom," and those who love Freedom say, "We will talk about Freedom," Freedom will be destroyed. But if those who love Freedom say, "Ah, you will fight for Nazidom; we, too, will fight, but for Freedom," then Freedom will prevail.

3.5 P.m.


My Lords, you will agree that this is a very important subject which the noble Viscount has introduced, and some very highly qualified speakers, I believe, have intimated their intention to intervene in the debate; therefore, like my noble friend who preceded me, I intend to be brief. But there are one or two things which I think have to be said from this side of the House, and I will say them as plainly as possible. First of all, important as the subject is, and valuable and interesting as the speech of the noble Viscount undoubtedly was, I think there is a slight danger of devoting a little too much attention to post-war plans and reconstruction. We are all guilty of it. Yesterday we had a great debate on the future of the export trade, to be continued to-morrow, and now we are speaking on the future of the Armed Services. What we are doing is dividing the bear's skin before we kill the bear, and the bear is still full of fight.

The noble Viscount who introduced this Motion is in favour of a Combined General Staff, and he is opposed to one single Defence Force and I think my noble friends agree with him there. With regard to the Combined General Staff, I think it is most essential that such a Staff should be established permanently after the war, and I would like very respectfully to support that plea of the noble Viscount. I am not quite sure we have got a real Combined General Staff even now. I believe General Eisenhower has a Staff in the Western European War which can properly be described as a Combined General Staff, but I do not think that even now we have a Combined General Staff for the whole theatre of operations. Even the Committee of Chiefs of Staff sitting at Washington is not a Combined General Staff. That is a Committee, which is quite a different thing. The nearest thing I have seen to it is the Department for Amphibious Warfare, and the very fact that we had to create such a Department shows that the whole meaning of a Combined General Staff was misunderstood and underrated in this country. I hope we shall really learn our lesson now and have a Combined General Staff, keep it permanently in being, and see that it is the best possible for its purpose, for advising the War Cabinet and the country.

May I now come to the warning issued by Lord Mottistone about the danger of new weapons? I would make this suggestion, if I may, to the Government. I do hope that the present system of employing scientists to advise the Services will be made permanent in some way after the war. What I have in mind is a General Scientific Staff of the very best available brains in the scientific world to advise the General Staff and the Cabinet on the development of new weapons, of which we have had such a vivid warning from Lord Mottistone. In the last war we hastily mobilized the professors from Cambridge and the savants from Oxford and learned people of that kind, great chemists and physicists, and brought them in by degrees to advise the Admiralty, the War Office and later the Air Ministry; and then after the war they were dispersed; only a little nucleus was left. The noble Earl, Lord Stanhope, shakes his head, but I know all about the Scientific Departments at the War Office and the Admiralty. A permanent Scientific Department at each of the separate Defence Ministries is not adequate for the purpose. You cannot draw on the whole of the scientific experience of the country in that way, because you cannot get whole-time men who at the same time are in the very forefront of research in the various sciences. You can co-opt those people from time to time to advise you, but you cannot have them permanently as civil servants appointed to the Air Ministry, the War Department or the Admiralty. You may have some sound men, but you cannot get the real top-flight men from the universities who will be willing to be permanent civil servants in the Admiralty or the War Office. But you can co-opt these people; you can draw them in. You can have a weekly, monthly or fortnightly session with them and send your problems to them.

The great thing is to keep your liaison going in peace-time. The scientific advisers we have had to mobilize in this war, as in the last war, from outside, are not always in constant session; it is not a permanent staff. It consists of people who can be drawn upon or who can be loaned, so to speak. Such is the advance of science and such the prostitution of science to the devilry of war that you cannot afford to ignore what is happening in the scientific world in any of the great fields of research and experiment as applied to weapons of war. The point I want to make is that a Scientific General Staff, with power to add to its numbers from time to time, and to co-opt, should be a prominent feature of our national defence.

Now both the noble Viscount and my noble friend on the Liberal Benches spoke a great deal about compulsory service. Lord Trenchard said, and we all agree with him I am sure, that it is a subject that needs airing, and Lord Mottistone appealed to me not to reject this idea of what he called "universal compulsory service." Well, I am not going to reject it at all, but I must say that the Party for whom I speak has had no opportunity of coming to a conclusion on this question. I do not see how any of us can. I do not think any noble Lord can declare that it is the policy of his Party or of those with whom he usually works, to say that we shall have this form or that form of conscription after the war. The conditions are uncertain. We do not know what the state of the defences of this country will be when the war is over. We do not know what commitments we shall have. We do not know how long the Armies of Occupation will be in Germany. My noble friend Lord Hutchison, who I understand is going to intervene a little later, spoke in a former debate of the Army of Occupation being permanently in Germany or for fifty or sixty years. We do not know about these things now. All the relevant factors will have to be considered before we can give a pronouncement on this question of compulsory service.

Speaking personally as a member of your Lordships' House, a Member of Parliament, I believe that the advantages of compulsory service outweigh the disadvantages. I think it is fairer and I am coming to the conclusion that it is more democratic. But I am speaking as an individual Peer in your Lordships' House; I cannot commit my Party on that because we have not had an opportunity of considering it in all its bearings. We have to be careful about this matter. It is all very well in the heat and turmoil of war to say, "Conscript everyone—boys, girls, men and women—after the war and have compulsory service for the State." But you have to be very careful about these things. The Canadian experience should show us the need of care and prudence before we go pell-mell into a great scheme of compulsory service for boys and girls, men and women, as Lord Mottistone seems to suggest.

May I, on the other hand, make a particular plea to the noble Earl to say, if he possibly can, what is the Government's policy with regard to the future of the Home Guard? I gave notice that I was going to raise this question and I hope some reply will be forthcoming. This is an urgent, a most urgent, question. Here you have this great Force which, in a short time, developed a fine tradition. It developed an esprit de corps. Many of your Lordships had the honour of serving in it, as I had myself. Every one of the non-commissioned officers and other ranks with whom I had the honour to serve believe that the Home Guard has been prematurely stood down; they think it has been disbanded far too quickly. There is a great deal of feeling about that with everyone to whom I have spoken. The non-commissioned ranks and the other ranks feel that. Is it going to be continued in some form in the future? I hope very much that it is and I will give my noble friend, if he will allow me, one special reason. You presumably will have a Territorial Army. I hope we shall not make the old mistake of encouraging the key men in industry to join the units of the Territorial Army. The example I can quote most easily is that of the miners. Thousands of the best, youngest and fittest miners were Territorials, and as there was no other Service which they could join you could not forbid them to join the Territorial Army. We have been in trouble ever since because those men were immediately mobilized and sent overseas, and you cannot get them back because they are trained men.

You want another Service, such as the Home Guard, which your key men—engineers, miners, bus drivers and so on, whom you must have at home—can join and in which they can perform their duties. Therefore I hope that there will be some continuation of the Home Guard system and that, for that particular reason, it will be not too closely linked with the Territorial Army. It is no use saying that you can have one Territorial Army, one part of which will be for home service and one part, if necessary, for overseas service. At once you will get complaints. People will say, "We are not going to join the home service Army but the overseas Army." You must have a distinct force and then you will not have that feeling of jealousy or inferiority in the home force. Use the Territorial organization as at present, but have a different name and a different military function for the home defence force, and then I believe we can avoid the difficulties we have had.

May I say only two other things with regard to the important matters brought up by the noble Viscount? All your Lordships listened with great attention, I know, to his proposals for the short-service training of officers. I do not quite see how you can carry out your promotion through the ranks if you adopt that wholesale. The noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, said he is not sure that promotion from the ranks in all cases is a good thing.


What was that?


Lord Trenchard, I understood to say, did not think that promotion in all cases from the ranks was a good thing. I know I am speaking for my noble friends in my Party when I say that we think it is a good thing. We think it is a good thing for all young men to go through the lower deck in the Navy and the lower ranks in the other Services, before they come to commissioned rank. We have advocated it for years and we are glad it was brought about in the war. The officers and ratings to whom I have spoken all agree. I think it has made an immense difference, certainly in the Royal Navy, and I would be very surprised if Lord Chatfield or Lord Cork disagreed with me there.


I do.


Well, I am talking of my generation then, and my rank.


Not even your generation think it.


If you have this universal system of short service, which I understood the noble Viscount to advocate, you cannot have this other system of promotion through the ranks, or at least you can only have it in a very truncated way. I would like to put in that objection to the otherwise interesting and very well-thought-out scheme of the noble Viscount.

The other comment I would like permission to make on his remarks is in regard to what he said about Colonial troops. I was delighted to hear that. One of the difficulties in framing your post-war military programme to-day, I believe, is that it cannot be decided yet what use in the future you can make of Colonial troops. I have quoted in your Lordships' House the very outstanding example of the Fiji Island natives. They were used only in small police forces before the war but they have turned out in this war the finest jungle fighting troops in the world. They have been a revelation as jungle fighters and yet nobody would have thought of raising large units of Fiji Islanders. That is only one example. I and ethers of my noble friends have protested that Singapore and the Malaya Archipelago was, as we think, thrown away because more use was not made of the indigenous inhabitants of the Malaya Archipelago and the Chinese there to form native battalions. We hope that we have learnt our lesson and that far greater use will be made in the future of the local inhabitants for Colonial defences. All that affects the structure of your future Army. If you can rely more on the East and West African troops and on the Malayas and Fijians and so on to safeguard their own Colonies, then that affects the structure of your post-war Army. I suggest that what you will probably find more suitable is a long-term professional, highly-trained Army, very well paid and attracting the best type of men for overseas service and a short-term Army for home defence. Whether that Army should be raised by a compulsory or militia system I cannot, speaking for my Party, make any kind of promise.


I was interested in what the noble Lord said with regard to the organization of Colonial troops. Would the opinion that he gave be that of his Party also?


Yes, undoubtedly. I have spoken to a number of prominent members of my Party and they feel strongly on this point. We feel that politically also it would be an excellent thing. As the noble Lord challenged me—


It was not a challenge.


I should warn him of this. If you want to rely on local populations, you must ensure that they will be satisfied and contented bodies of people and you must be able to trust them. In other words, that is the policy of my noble friends on this side. We think it is the new Imperialism which will develop the Empire and achieve greater glories and attain greater heights than in the past. But I do not want to dwell on that now. With regard to the Royal Navy I can see no need for compulsion of any kind, within any period of time that any of your Lordships can foresee. I believe there will always be enough men forthcoming for the Royal Navy of the right type; in fact more than you can use. As for the Air Force the noble Viscount, who speaks with unchallenged knowledge and experience, says compulsion is not necessary there either. Therefore we come back to what has always been, I am afraid, the neglected Service, His Majesty's Army; at any rate that has been so in the past. We all regret it now and I only hope we shall remember in future what has happened during the last 150 years. There remains the great question of how to get the right type of men for your home defence Army. I believe you will get the right type for the overseas Army if you make the conditions right, if you provide a wide avenue for promotion and the pay is suitable. On the general question of universal compulsory service I am sorry to say that, speaking for my noble friends, we would like to hear more argument and more evidence upon it.

3.23 p.m.


My Lords, the terms of the Motion of my noble and gallant friend are so wide that I feel only an airman superbly trained as he is could possibly cover the vast spaces in any reasonable time. I therefore will confine my remarks to four points which I think he made in his speech—the amalgamation of the Services, the question of a Combined General Staff, the supply of officers, and education. With regard to the amalgamation of the Services I was delighted to hear the noble Viscount declare that it would be a great mistake to adopt the suggestion that the three Services should be amalgamated. You can never get away from the simple fact that there are three elements—land, sea and air. To fight well on each element or in each element requires specialized training and with the multiplication of modern weapons one Service is as much as one man can master. If you try and mix up these elements in the early training of an officer or man you will get the same result as a child gets from the beach when he mixes sea and sand and air—a mud pie which is the most frail and unstable of erections.

With regard to the desire, which I quite understand, for a Combined General Staff the mover of the Motion skated rather lightly over this subject though I know he holds strong views. I would only say now that before you superimpose or interpose another bureau between the Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of State you want to be quite sure of two things: first, that it is now really wanted; and secondly, that it will work. As long ago as 1922 Mr. Lloyd George, when Prime Minister, demanded from the late Lord Beatty and my noble and gallant friend Lord Trenchard and myself a joint appreciation of the delicate situation at Chanak. That was, I believe, the very beginning of combinations, though I hope my noble friend Lord Hankey will correct me if I am wrong.


Quite correct.


Quite obviously, twenty years later (1942–43) selected men from all three Services must have worked well together to produce the perfect combination that resulted in the North African and Normandy landings. Given that the principle of a joint appreciation by the Chiefs of Staff Committee is maintained and submitted as such to the Cabinet then, in my view, your Combined General Staff is actually in being and working and has worked superbly in the grimmest and most searching test that could possibly have been put upon it. The obvious talent that has been discovered by the Chiefs of Staff consisted, I presume, of graduates from the Staff colleges arid the Imperial Defence College. It therefore seems to me that any demand for a change either in the system of Combined Chiefs of Staff Committees meeting I believe daily, or in the Secretariat that serves it, must be supported by convincing arguments that something new and more high-sounding will work better before any change is made. And I think that will be a difficult thing to do. On the question whether it will work, I maintain that you must adhere to the constitutional principle that the advisers to the Cabinet on military matters must be the three Chiefs of Staff. It will not always be the fortune of this country to have at the top a man of the same calibre as the present Prime Minister with a flare for high strategy backed by profound knowledge of military history. Therefore combined appreciations of the Chiefs of Staff will in the future possibly be of even greater value and importance than ever. By all means let them have the full-time services of picked men. But is that very different from what is going on now? I do not know exactly how the branches of the directors of military operations are now filled, but I do know that the results they can show and have shown arc completely satisfying and satisfactory. Therefore, I hope that before the dissipation of what has proved so good you will be quite sure you are going to substitute something better.

There is, however, one new bureau that I would advocate and here I go even one step further than Lord Strabolgi. I would advocate a bureau or Department of Science and Research, the head of which should be a member of the Army Council. I want to continue to invent and continue to produce new weapons. There is always a tendency after a big war to live on one's fat and perhaps for one or two years that is safe. After that, however, not only does the quantity and the quality of stores and weapons decrease but—which is worse—we begin to lag behind in invention.

My third point as regards the supply of men for the professional Army depends so largely on what will be our future commitments that I should be wasting time if I discussed it at any length, but I will just say this. We will have at the end of the war a certain number of battle-trained warriors who will be a most priceless asset of the nation. I hope such men will be given every encouragement to continue in the Service as trainers and mentors of the future Army. They will have had experience of landings from the sea and of air support in battle, and a great many of them will have had experience of actual transport by air. By encouraging these men to serve on you will get the essential doctrine of combined operations inculcated from the bottom as well as from the top. Such men, I feel, are of very great value to Britain. They have deserved well of us and they should get what they deserve. The Army surely has been through a sufficiently gruelling time to enable commanding officers and brigadiers to know the best of their officers and men. I sincerely hope that in any process of selection their reports may be accepted as adequate, and that neither officer nor man who has been through the test of this war and who is recommended as a soldier will be subject to further examination either by the Civil Service Commissioners or by psychiatric professors. According to my dictionary a psychiatrist is a man who deals with diseases of the mind. Why should these mighty warriors be presupposed to be suffering from mental diseases? Such methods may be suitable in the case of very raw and untrained young men, but surely not for the pick of those who in God's mercy may survive the defeat of Germany.

Now I would say a word about education. Methods of instruction such as educational films, discussions on the lines of those initiated by the Army Bureau of Current Affairs—they occasionally commit indiscretions but they are none the worse for that—visits to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers school and so on can be made attractive and not just another fatigue. I think the greatest credit is due to the Army Education Corps for all their efforts in that direction. There is one other quite simple little thing I would like to ask for. It would be helpful to set up an Army Bureau of Information readily available to all ranks, not only in order to make regulations simple but to direct the attention of widows and orphans to the various charitable organizations that are ready and most anxious to help them and which the new Army Benevolent Board are equally anxious to assist. I cannot help thinking that generally speaking we assess the brains of the soldier too low. Many bits of evidence point to the fact that the standard of education in the modern Army is much higher than is generally believed. Look at the really astonishing results of examinations set for prisoners of war. Look again at the wonderful way in which young men of the Royal Engineers and of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers switched over from sound location, which was the only way we had of detecting the approach of an enemy aeroplane when war broke out, to radio location. Imagine the jump. It was like going from long division to the binomial theorem. I had the privilege of being invited by the Commandant of a Northern school to go to the school about the time that that change took place. There were 120 young men there who within two months had become masters of the art of detecting enemy aeroplanes by radio. That struck me very forcibly because they had to unlearn all they learnt in the first six months of war.

Finally, I would say that I have read a great deal in the daily newspapers and in the weekly Press about plans for the reinstatement of Service men in civil life. I hope the noble Earl in his reply will tell us of some inducement and encouragement to be given to officers who wish to make the Service their profession—men whose courage we take for granted but whose talents I think we arc apt to overlook. I beg to support the Motion.

3.37 P.m.


My Lords, I do not imagine that His Majesty's Government are likely to give us much information on the subject we are debating to-day, but I do imagine that they will be most grateful to my noble friend for having initiated this debate and enabled members of your Lordships' House to give their views and to cause this great subject to be thought about. My noble friend Lord Strabolgi seemed surprised that we should be talking about post-war Forces. May I remind him that many people of all Parties are talking about demobilization, and talking a great deal about demobilization? A very large number of people in this country have not realized the number of people we shall require in the Services after the war against Germany and the war against Japan have been won. If we can bring that to their minds and make them realize what Forces we shall need then they may begin to think about how those Forces are to be raised and maintained.

May I deal briefly with some points which have been made already before I develop that particular subject? I entirely agree with my noble and gallant friend Viscount Trenchard in disapproving of one united Service, in disapproving of one united cadet college and in disapproving of one united Staff college. I agree with him entirely that the Services now have become so technical that any united entry or united cadet college or united Staff college would, as he said, make a muddle. In fact I think it would be far worse than that; it would be extremely dangerous to this country. What I do think necessary—this was also mentioned by my noble and gallant friend—is an extension of the Imperial Defence College. That is much too small and, as he pointed out, it is non-resident. It certainly ought to be resident and to include a far larger number of officers from the three Services and also from the Civil Service. Then we should have a large part of those in the different Services working together with knowledge of each others' problems.

Reference has been made to scientific staff. I know that question fairly well because I have had many discussions with experts. Although their names are not very widely known those who have served the Royal Navy and the Air Force are well known in the scientific world and in many cases they are really distinguished and extremely able men. I have heard it suggested that we should bring in some of the great experts from outside, and undoubtedly there is a good deal to be said for that; but we have to remember that during war-time we can get full-time service from these men. If you bring in men from outside to give occasional advice in peace-time they may not have the slightest idea of conditions in the Service and until that knowledge has been acquired their particular ideas are very often a waste of time. Therefore you have to depend for scientific experts on attaching men to each Service, always remembering that these men frequently join together in pooling ideas and knowledge. But undoubtedly they must keep their minds open in order to get new ideas from outside. But to think that you are going to get any very great advantage by consulting these scientists, men very well known to the outside world, but who know nothing whatever about conditions in a ship or in an aeroplane, is, I am afraid, to pin your faith to something which will, perhaps, not give very good results.

I turn now to the main question: What Services shall we require after the war against Germany and Japan has been won? I suggest this. Firstly, we shall require Services at least as large as those we had before this war for garrison duty and for patrol duty throughout our far-flung Empire. Secondly, we shall require an Army and an Air Force not only for the occupation of Germany, but also—and this a great many people forget—for the occupation of Japan. I think it is likely that very considerable forces of both arms will be required for that purpose. I believe we shall certainly find that the United States will ask the Royal Navy to take its share in patrolling the islands of the Pacific, which were under mandate to Japan, to ensure that there is not an infiltration by the Japanese into those islands once more, and that they are not again made secret bases for attack on other nations in the Pacific. The size of these Forces is, of course, a matter that cannot be determined now, because it will depend on the strength of the Forces which our Allies and our Dominions are going to provide, and on general conditions at the end of the war.

Thirdly, I suggest, we shall require a Navy, an Army and an Air Force ready for immediate action in order to provide the force that is essential to back up such an international body as is set up at the end of this war. I think all of us agree that the League of Nations failed largely because it had no force behind it. Therefore, I think, all of us can now agree that that international body, if it comes into being, will undoubtedly require a very considerable force of all arms to see that its policy is carried into effect. Once again, we cannot say what will have to be the size of the contingent to be provided from this country. It will depend, again, on what our Allies provide and what the Dominions provide as an effective contribution—and I underline the word "effective." Before this war, all sorts of generalities were delivered at Geneva. Nations implied that they were going to take action on various grounds, wren the occasion arose, but action was not taken, as we know to our cost, over the question, for instance, of Abyssinia. We then found that we were taking action alone without any support from other countries. Therefore, we have to be quite certain that such a force as is promised by other countries shall be available and ready for use and of sufficient efficiency.

And let us remember this too. On the last two occasions when war broke out, this country was not the first to be attacked—it was France or Russia. There will be no doubt, however, as to which country is going to be the first to be attacked next time. It will be this country, because on each occasion, so far, we have been the pillar of strength which has enabled other countries to hold on and eventually to defeat the Axis Powers. Therefore, I stress that it is absolutely essential that forces from this country shall be available for immediate action, and that there shall be no question—as my noble friend Lord Strabolgi rather suggested—of having some Home Guard system, under which men could be called up, put into formations and used when need arose. A force must be ready and, I was going to say, almost at an hour's notice.

How are all these forces, these three sets of forces, so very much larger than we had before the war, to be raised and maintained? May I remind Lord Strabolgi of something which may enable him to make up his mind? He raised a debate in this House almost exactly eight years ago—it was in November, 1936– and I, speaking for the Government, told your Lordshps that 86,000 recruits were wanted for the Territorial Army, and that 24,000, as against the 86,000 required, were raised in the year 1935–1936. I also stated that although 35,300 recruits way required for the Regular Army, the War Office did not expect to be able to raise, in the year 1936, more than 21,500 as against the 35,300 required. The Army in India was actually far below its establishment, and it was only maintained, even at the figure at which it stood, by what I always thought was a breach of contract with the men then serving. They had joined for a period of seven years' service, the State having the right to hold them for an eighth year in circumstances of emergency, and they were kept on service for that eighth year in order to keep the Army in India up to something near adequate strength. If we could not raise even these small forces by voluntary means before the war, what hope have we of getting these very much larger forces which we shall require after this war by the same means?

I submit that there is no question about it; we shall have to have compulsory service. I do not think my noble friend Lord Strabolgi need be frightened about it. I have proposed the adoption of this system for thirty years and more. I was one of those who backed the late Lord Roberts for many, many years, and I spoke in the House of Lords and throughout the country to all sorts of audiences on this question of compulsory service. When they understood what it meant, I do not think that people were at all frightened about it.

It is no use talking generalities. We want to get down to specific facts. Therefore I am venturing, with great daring no doubt, to make some quite concrete suggestions. I do so in order that noble Lords who know far more about these things than I do may pull me to bits and produce something better. But at any rate let them produce something definite. I propose, first of all, that there should be a period of one year's compulsory service in the Forces of the Crown, and that those who wish to join the Navy or the Air Force should be allowed to join those arms voluntarily, provided, of course, the requirements of those Forces are such that they can take in all who are anxious to join. I suggest that service should begin at eighteen years of age. I am doubtful whether it may be worth while to let that force be open for people to join at any time between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three. It may be better, perhaps, that they should finish their education at a university or finish their apprenticeship training before joining a Service. But I submit that everyone should do one year's compulsory training in one or other arm of the Fighting Services.

I am aware that the Royal Navy has always been rather opposed to short service, but I am not certain that one cannot learn something from our enemy in this respect. Of course it is quite impossible to make a trained seaman in a year, or even two or three years. What the Germans have done, however, is to take a man and train him to be an expert in one particular weapon, so that he can fire a 4.2-inch or a 6-inch or a 15-inch gun or whatever it may be, and he is an expert on that and nothing else. That has been fairly effective, but the Germans made the mistake of not sending these men to sea, and it is only at sea that they can learn to use their weapons as sailors. I do not know whether my noble friend Lord Chatfield will agree with me, but I submit that the magnificent achievements of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in this war have shown that short-service seamen can do magnificent work for the Navy and for the country, and therefore use can be made of men of that type.


My Lords, I entirely agree with the noble Earl. The Admiralty have not disapproved in principle of short service in the Navy for many years, as the noble Earl knows; we have had it; but what the Admiralty have stood for has been a combination of long service and short service. Both are needed, and we have had both for many years.


My Lords, I am delighted to hear my noble friend say that, because that is exactly what I am going on to say. I suggest that there should be no refresher course for those men who have had their year's training. I think that that upsets their lives afterwards, and it is an intolerable nuisance in the factory, where often machines are looked after by a team of men, and if one of them is taken away the whole team is upset. I do not believe that the refresher course is of any great value from a military point of view. I suggest that it should be left until the man is called up for service, if he has to be called up, and then his knowledge can be brought right up to date. That first year will be purely a year of training.

For the Armies of Occupation in Germany and Japan, and for the contingents of the International Force, I suggest that there should be a short-service Army and Air Force, and perhaps also a short-service Navy, with three or five years' service. These men will have had their one year's training. One of the mistakes which we made after the last war was that compulsory recruitment was stopped as soon as the Armistice was signed, and recruits had to be sent to Germany as the Army of Occupation. I do not think that that is good enough. All sorts of things happened under the noses of that Army which ought not to have happened. This time I suggest that we shall require really well-trained officers and men to occupy Germany and Japan, and above all for this country's contingents to the International Force, whatever it may be. The men who take part in that should be absolutely trained and ready to the last shoelace, in order that they may be ready to deal in the air, at sea or on land with any possible aggressor. There will be no time for delay in the future. The pay must obviously be attractive, and I suggest that as far as possible the scheme outlined by my noble and gallant friend Lord Trenchard should be carried into effect, whereby the men get a scientific training which will be of use to them when they return to civil life and enable them to get a better job as a result of it than they would secure otherwise. If that is the case, I think we shall secure sufficient recruits for our short-service Navy, Army and Air Force.

For the garrisons I suggest a third type of Force, a long-service Force. It has constantly happened that the Army has been short of men, but I do not think it has ever happened that the Navy has been short of men. What has been the reason for that? It has been largely due, of course, to the attraction of life at sea and to the chance of seeing the world, but I believe it has also been very largely due to the fact that the Navy is a long-service profession and that at the end of it—and it is not an end which comes when a man is very old—there is a pension. I believe that that is the reason why the Navy and the Police get their recruits—because there is a pension at the end of service, with the possibility of further work in some other walk of life, when both a pension and a wage can be drawn.


Before we had the long-service system in the Navy we were very short of men. We had to use the Press Gang in the Napoleonic Wars. That was because of the short-service system.


I was not going back to the historical period, but rather to a period which all of us can remember. It is rather curious, but on more than one occasion, when the pay of officers and men in the Services has been raised or lowered, it has been found that when the pay has been raised there has been some increase in the number of recruits for a period, and then the numbers have sunk once again to normal, and when the pay has been lowered there has been some reduction in the number of recruits, but then the number has gone up again to the normal level. It is not so much, therefore, a question of pay; I believe it is a question of a pension at the end of a man's service, and that is why I emphasize that point. It is obvious that the number of officers and non-commissioned officers who will be required for the training of the men called up for one year's compulsory service and for the training of the short-service Forces will be very considerable, and obviously, if the State is to get them, the conditions of their service must be made sufficiently attractive to persuade them to join. They are, of course, the backbone of any Force, and therefore I think that any money grudged in that direction is money which it would be far better to spend.

I have ventured to put forward these concrete proposals in the hope that they may help to clarify the situation and to get all of us to think still further about these problems and how they are to be solved. I should like to make one further suggestion. We all agree that we are equal partners, and not more than equal as partners, with the other Dominions of the British Crown, but in peace-time we have borne almost the whole of the cost and found by far the largest proportion of the personnel of the Fighting Services, and I might also add of the personnel of the Diplomatic and Consular and Colonial Services. I suggest that the time has now come when those who share equally with us in the direction of foreign affairs should also undertake their share in enabling that policy to be carried into effect. The burden is necessarily a heavy one, and this little country can surely now look to her partners in the Commonwealth to share with her in peace-time the responsibilities and burdens which they have so magnificently shouldered during this war.

4.0 p.m.


My Lords, in view of the very short time at my disposal I shall have to condense some of the remarks which I intended to make. First of all I should like to thank my noble friend Lord Trenchard for raising this matter, which is very important. It is most important that we should ask the best brains in the Services to consider this question of reorganization. Secondly, I think it would be of great advantage to the Government if they studied very carefully the proposals that my noble friend Lord Trenchard put forward for the Air Force. Do not forget that Lord Trenchard made the Air Force. I remember well in the late Lord Haig's room in France, when he was told he had to go to London to take over the headship of the Air Force, he said, "Well, I know something about leading in the field but when I go home to deal with politicians, God held me." However, the noble Viscount made good, and he created a very fine machine, and anything that he puts forward must attract the very closest consideration.

I would remind the Government that after the last war in 1919 there was a Committee appointed which considered the reorganization of the Army. I do not propose to talk on reorganization either of the Navy or of the Air Force, of which I know little; I will confine my remarks to the Army. The Committee I refer to was called the Hamilton Gordon Committee, and there were many good things done by that Committee, but at that date their Report was thought to be far too drastic and radical. The result was that it was suppressed by the Chief of Staff of that day. All copies were called in and as far as possible effaced. I have no doubt there could be found in the War Office to-day at least one copy; if not, perhaps I might lend them my own copy. Anyway, there is a lot of very good stuff in that Report, and it might lead them to further ideas of what is required after this war.

The first thing you must face when you are talking of reorganization of the Army is the question, What do you want an army for and where do you want it? It is obvious that for all our time you will want a Regular Army in the Far East and India. You will also want a Regular Army on the Nile to deal with Egypt, Palestine and the North African coast; besides which the Suez Canal is, after all, the main line to our Far Eastern possessions, and it is inconceivable that we should not look after that. You have to provide troops for that area therefore. Then you have to find an Army of Occupation in Germany. That may go on for many, many years—I do not know. But in any case it is a very considerable obligation to find all the regular soldiers on a voluntary basis for those Armies. I venture to say that you will have to have at home the various corresponding units in the Regular Army, I hope drawn on a county basis, so that these men after training will be available to replace the officers and men in the various cadres abroad, and I hope we shall not move the cadres about in the way we did after the last war. The cadres can be left in the various places where they are used in garrison work, and officers and men moved backwards and forwards after a short period of service abroad. The battalions and units at home will of course have the double duty of providing the various reinforcements for the units abroad and of being in a position to allow the authorities to pick off a small expeditionary force to be sent, as has often to be done at very short notice, to various places where we have what used to be known as "small wars." That, I think, is one of the functions which you will have to consider very carefully in the reorganization of the Regular Army.

There is another point in regard to this. The enlistment for the regular soldier after the war has to be very carefully done, and it is not only a question of money. If you start recruiting men for seven years and twelve years, you get into this position that all your seven-year men go together and the result is that the outflow of men from the various units all happens at the same moment. There- fore for a period of years after the war you will have to recruit your men for three years, five years and seven years, and allow the best of them to extend their period for a long-service force with a pension at the end of it. But you will have to have shorter service periods in order that the outflow of so many men after three years, five years and seven years does not disorganize a unit. That is very important, and will have to be very carefully looked into.

Next there is the question of the conscript. I think we are bound to carry on in the Army a period of conscription. How long it will last I do not know because I do not know how the world is going to shape itself. But I do know this, that not only from the point of view of the defence of this country and of the formation of reserves in this country, but from the point of view of the boys themselves, conscription would be of the very greatest advantage. I would be inclined to conscript boys for one year and three months at the age of eighteen as far as possible, so as to take them at the end of their school years. I have specified a year and three months for this reason, that they would have three months to settle down and be taught their arms, and then they would get a complete year of training. At the end of that year of training they ought undoubtedly to go off for five years, either to the universities or various professions that they are going into, or into Sandhurst and Woolwich to become officers in the Regular Army. Because I venture to say that the main source of supply for our young officers in both Sandhurst and Woolwich after the war will be those very conscripts who are selected and pass the necessary examinations. That is a way in which you can give a young fellow a chance of going into the Regular Service. We have often heard in the past the pros and cons for what is called promotion from the ranks, and we have many fine examples of ranker officers who have done extremely well. I need only mention the name of Field-Marshal Sir William Robertson, for example. But I think it would be a great advantage if we could take these young fellows into training for officers at the youngest possible age, so that they do their training all together and not all at different age standards when they come into the various ranks in the Regular Army.

The next point I would like to make in regard to the conscripts is this. There ought to be training units all over the country for those conscripts, and those conscripts ought to be training in their own units so that they are all the same age and more or less of the same physical standard, and then you do not mix them up with the older soldiers. We found that to be such a great advantage at the end of the last war when we started to train what were called the young soldiers' battalions. After a period of five years those who have gone into the Army as Regulars, either as officers or non-commissioned officers or men, should go back for a period of six weeks training in the same cadres during the period in which one draft goes away and the next draft comes in. They could then do, some very useful training by themselves in those same cadres for a period of a month or six weeks, and those young men ought to be given leave with pay in order to go and do this training. The result would be that you would have a trained young reserve, and not a trained old reserve. How many times have we found, not only in this war but in the last war, that we have got trained men but they are too old. By that means you would get a trained young reserve ready to go on and accept any new training which the new type of Army might render necessary.

The next point I wish to make in Army organization is the point Lord Trenchard made about the 'great advantage that Halton was in the technical training of the men for the Air Force. You cannot imagine anything better than starting those large colleges for the Army. You have done it on a small scale during this war, but I think it ought to be part of the regular establishment of the Army. You are bound to have technical people for your tanks, your guns, and all the various mechanized forms of warfare which are bound to develop in the future. Therefore I think, even if it is going to be expensive, it is well worth while, and in addition you will be giving these fellows a founding in an industry which, at the end of their service, they can take up with the technical knowledge they have gained in those schools.

Now I want to touch for a moment on what I think is very important, and that is the question of the pay which you are going to give to these Regular soldiers, whether officers, non-commissioned officers or men. I think the pay has got to be brought closer to the basis of civil employment, making allowance, of course, for all the perquisites they get in the Service. But what is more important still, I would like to see a larger part of the pay money put aside by Estimates to go to pensions. I have seen so many of these poor officers. The time when they want the money is in the pension stage. Some of them are bowler-hatted, and turned out when they are Majors. They have wives and children who are just coming on to the time for education. They are not well off and they are left with small pensions. The result is they are not able to carry on. If we could improve the pensions side of the Regular Army I think it would do a very great deal to encourage not only the noncommissioned officers and men to join but also the officers.

There is another last point I wish to make about that. In the Army in recent years we have had a large clearing out of what they call "inefficient officers." The axe has gone round freely. Well, a lot of those officers are very good officers in a way but incompatibility of temperament very often arises between those in command and the others. It seems to me that if an officer joins for a life service in an organization like the Regular Army, use ought to be made of his services, even though he is passed over, until he gets to the retiring age. You do not take a civil servant and throw him out in that way. The civil servant goes on and on and on in his service. He may be passed over but he goes on serving in the grade which he has reached until the end of his years of employment, and I think there is a good deal to be said about the treatment of officers in the British Army to-day. Something ought to be done to use those officers, perhaps not in the way they have been used, but in some other form—probably in the training cadres for the conscripts. Anyhow, there' is a sense of hardship there and I have heard it expressed more than once.

I am sorry to say there is one point I want to take up with Field-Marshal Lord Cavan. I have the greatest respect for his knowledge of the Staff, his knowledge of the Army and everything else, but I do think, and still maintain, that with this enormous application of force you have got to have in a country a Grand General Staff directing it. What does it mean? It means a small specialized Staff drawn from the three Services and working under the Prime Minister. You may not have a Prime Minister with the knowledge the present Prime Minister has got; after all, he has a knowledge of war which is outstanding. You want some body to advise collectively as a Grand General Staff on general principles, strategy, and things of that nature, probably working very closely with the Foreign Office. It is all very well to say that the Chiefs of Staff can come together and take up that position. I do not think so. I may be wrong but I have always felt that you have got to have a Grand General Staff. After all, if you take the German Army, who have made a tremendous success of war—I do not care what you say, but they are a very fine organization—they have proceeded on those lines.


We have beaten them.


Yes. You have got to keep your independent General Staffs—Army, Navy and Air Force. I entirely agree with that. In relation to that, I do think that those General Staffs—Navy, Army and Air Force—ought to be much closer knit with the Supply Services. What happened at the beginning of this war? You disrupted all the various services on the Staff side in the War Office who were drawing up the various types of arms that were wanted. What happened was that the Supply Services largely produced a weapon, but it was the weapon that they thought the Army ought to have, and in some cases it was two years before what the Army wanted and which ought to have been planned for beforehand was ultimately put into production. There is no doubt at all that part of the General Staff's work ought to be looking not only to the arms they have got but to the arms they might have and the arms other countries are producing and using. Intelligence on that side is of the greatest possible advantage to our Army.

The last point I wish to make is on the question of the Staff college. I think, of course, that separate Staff colleges are absolutely necessary, for each arm now is so technical that you are bound to have the necessary Staff training for it. I do think, however, that some combined Staff college, like the Imperial Staff College, might be enlarged and used, and I would like to see sent there members of the Civil Service, so that when war came they would know something about what they were talking about. I am sorry I have kept your Lordships so long but I have tried to condense my remarks as best I could and I am deeply grateful to Lord Trenchard for raising this important matter.

4.19 p.m.


My Lords, so much has been said on this subject that at this late hour you will be spared many of the remarks I had intended to make. I have been reminded this afternoon that I belong to a past generation. I know I do. I was dead and buried five years ago, so far as the Navy was concerned, and I speak as an ordinary member of this House. I think the noble Viscount who introduced this Motion performed a very great service in doing so. He mentioned the Combined General Staff, of which I am a warm supporter. I, too, hope the subject will be raised in your Lordships' House and be given a full afternoon, because it deserves it.

On a previous occasion in this House I suggested that the three Services should no longer be looked upon as three separate Services, but as three branches of the same Service—the Military Service of the Crown in contradistinction to the Civil Service. The word "military" has to some extent been monopolized by the Army and I am not able to make out why. We ought to use that adjective in the comprehensive sense and let it cover the activities of all the Armed Forces. Each branch should maintain its individuality and traditions, but certain services might certainly be in common, I think, and all should look to one authority, the Minister of Defence presiding over a Combined General Staff. It is at the top that we want the very closest union, but lower down a certain amount of separation would enable the fullest use to be made of the competitive spirit, which I think is the essence of progress, and it would also inculcate esprit de corps which is very largely encouraged by competition. I would like to compare it to a sugar cone—apart at the bottom and coming together at the top.

That brings me to the question of the Service Staff colleges. My own view is that each branch should have its own Staff college to train its own officers in the work peculiar to the branch, but there should also be a senior course to which the pick of the three junior courses should go on where they would come into contact with their brother officers of other branches and study together the broader aspects of the military art, leaving the Defence Colleges, as suggested by Lord Stanhope, to draw their graduates from the officers to form the General Staff. I would like to see a further course—namely, a senior officers' course to be attended by officers of and above the rank of Major-General where those considered to be of the right calibre and likely to go to the top of the tree would study together.

As regards short service the noble Lord, Lord Chatfield, explained the naval position. I have never really thought that we made full use of the short service. I have always considered that the Navy has lost its chances by not making far more use of this means to build up its reserve. We carried along a lot of people to a pensionable age who had no claim to be maintained by the nation for the rest of their lives. What characterized them was their ability to keep out of trouble. We have had a lot of old salts who were inclined to damp down the enthusiasm of the young men. They knew exactly how far they could go without being hauled up and they hung on until they could get a pension. The time has surely come when the pay of the Service will be largely increased. If a lot of deadheads were got rid of you would save enough to recompense the live wires. I cannot see the necessary object of making every boy go through the ranks. It seems to me that in many cases that is a waste of time. I do not say that because of any dislike of the ranks. Nothing of the kind. I flatter myself that I got the first bluejacket boy to go up to the select entry examination from the public schools. I think if they are to serve as regular officers they will in time absorb anything they want to know about how the men live and what they do and so on. They do not need to know too many details at the outset of their careers as officers. If you want to fall back upon that information which you can get by first serving in the ranks you would get it from the large number of officers who would come from the con- scripts starting in the ranks. From them you would get any particular detail that you did not happen to know yourself.

I entirely disagree with my noble friend Lord Trenchard about compulsory service. I believe we must have compulsory service to keep up the Forces that we shall require after the war. I look at it from another point of view. I believe that some such system would be of inestimable advantage both from a mental and physical point of view. No one who has watched the development of recruits, boys and young men, can doubt that the young manhood of this country would benefit greatly by a period of healthy outdoor training on good regular food while enjoying the amenities of social life with others of quite different outlook and interest. We have seen how tremendously these recruits have improved in a year of hard training with good food, regular hours and plenty of sport, and we know that every young man in this country would benefit if he had to go through such a period of training. I happen to be President of a Society which aims at giving the children of good character and poor parents a fair chance in life. I know that some of these boys become tailors' assistants in the back streets of London. If you can bring them out into the daylight and give them a year's training in the open air I am sure it would improve our population tremendously. There are too many boys who are lost to us because they follow their fathers into the same occupations. Many boys never have the time to look round for themselves and make a decision as to what they will do. No man can make a success of life if he is in an occupation in which he is unhappy and for which he is unfitted.

I should like to say a few words from the point of view of the Reserve. The Royal Naval Reserve is composed of professional seamen who have all done a period of training in the Navy. That is ideal but obviously the number of these men must be limited. You cannot strip the Mercantile Navy of many of its best officers and men as well as its ships, as we have had to do in this war, when you are asking it to render the nation services of paramount importance. The Fleet Reserve comprises men who have been in the Navy and left it for one reason or another or of so called short-service men who have passed through it. These regular Reserves are absorbed in filling up ships in commission to their war complement, commissioning ships in reserve and manning requisitioned vessels. For the real reserves we require to keep up strength, and to man the innumerable small vessels that are essential we have to fall back on the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, which now provides over half the officers and men at sea. By far the greater proportion of these men have been trained since the war began. How much better would it have been had they been already half trained when war broke out. That is the organization upon which we might well build up our reserve of the future and into which men who have done their preliminary service would pass.

I was in charge at Portsmouth at the time of Munich. We had to fill up our war complement and get our ships out of reserve, and to do this we had to fall back on the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. It was only a very small force then, now it is a great force and nearly the whole of it has been trained since the beginning of the war. We can get what we want if we have compulsory training. The Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve is the organization on which we might well build our reserve in the future and into which men who had done their preliminary service would pass. The British Isles should be divided into naval districts each of which would have one of the large commercial ports as its centre. Each district would have its own quota of ships, cruisers, carriers, destroyers, convoy escort ships and minesweepers, in which the reserve men would have to do their training, go short training cruises and, in the final event, fight. The ships would have nucleus crews of naval ratings for the necessary upkeep and to provide instructors with selected officers to supervise. Not many would be necessary.

What I would aim at would be to give the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Division a training in what they would realize would be their duty in war should the Navy ever be called upon again. I would advocate that the men should have plenty of sea training during the week end. Give them plenty of ammunition to expend and in harbour encourage the use of the ship for displays, social functions, etc., and have at least one foreign trip a year. Bring the ships from different divisions together for competitions, both service and sporting. You would get rivalry between Bristol and Glasgow and Liverpool; a final at Wembley would be nothing to it. In that way we could get a tremendous Reserve. We could inculcate the sea spirit in our coastal population in no better way than by forming a Naval Territorial Reserve.

4.29 p.m.


My Lords, I shall keep your Lordships for a very short time only in making some remarks on the Motion which we are indebted to Lord Trenchard for moving. Your Lordships will not expect from me any technical disquisition on the subject of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, but I nevertheless have some remarks to make which I think the Government ought to consider in framing their regulations for the future. The main point I wish to insist upon is this. The position of Germany after this war has come to an end will be very different from that which existed in the year 1918. There are four lines of evidence which are available when you are considering that subject. The first is that the losses in men either killed or incapacitated will be when this war comes to an end no less than three times as great as they were in the year 1918. German losses have been perfectly enormous in Russia and they are still continuing all over Europe. The second point is that the Germans are going to be in great difficulty owing to the system they have adopted of forcing men to go from all the occupied countries into labour in Germany. The reaction of the occupied countries at the end of the war is going to be this. Some of them—undoubtedly Russia and Poland—for the purposes of reinstating the havoc caused by the Germans will require six or seven million Germans to be taken in the early days of peace to work in foreign countries.

The third point is connected with the way in which the Germans have conducted robbery and loot. The American estimate of that exceeds fifty thousand million dollars in money—that is to say, well over ten thousand million pounds. That loot will have to be in large measure restored, because those countries which have suffered from such spoliation are going to insist on a return of what they can find and on getting the equivalent of that which has been lost or destroyed. The fourth point is that for the first time in the modern history of Germany she has suffered in this war, and is now suffering, the destruction of cities and works and factories of all kinds. Her industrial plant will have been almost destroyed by the time of the Armistice. After the year 1918, as we all know, Germany was unable to begin to arrange for this present war until 1932, one year before Hitler came into power. It could not be begun before owing to the condition in which Germany found herself. How long do your Lordships think it is going to be before Germany will be able to start again after this war?

You may say that the Germans did start in fourteen years, but you must remember two facts which I think are of great importance. The first is that Germany would never have been able to begin preparing for the present hostilities if it had not been for the stupendous loans made by American and, I regret to say, British financiers to help to put her on her feet. A total sum of fifteen hundred million pounds was lent to her. There was no reason why we should lend that amount of money to Germany. It has, of course, never been repaid, and one result was that she was able to start great industrial efforts very much sooner than would have been possible otherwise. The other fact you must remember is that she could have been stopped if we and other countries had realized the sort of people who were massing themselves against us. In 1934 and in 1935 there would have been no difficulty about France, with some assistance from this country, marching into Germany and putting an end to her efforts to start the present war. Those two facts, I think, are circumstances which will not occur again. If you agree that we are not going to make gigantic loans to the Nazis to enable them to begin again, and if you agree that we shall start another time before they have become the biggest military Power in the world, it must be plain that many years must elapse before that enemy of ours will be able to attack us.

That does not mean that we do not need an Army, a Navy and an Air Force, but it does mean that you have to plan for the future on the footing that Germany is not going to be a dangerous enemy for twenty or twenty-five years. If you plan on lines which will enable all the people who will not look ahead to complain of the vast sums spent on having Forces you will have thousands of people in this country asking why you want to spend hundreds of millions a year when you know the Germans are without any power of attacking you. I think a plan for the future should be a plan that does not look upon Germany as a possible enemy of a dangerous character at least for twenty years. There may be other foes, other dangers which I will not touch upon now, but Germany in my lifetime is not going to be any danger at all.

Now may I say two other things? In the first place, there must be Occupation Armies. Both my noble friends Earl Stanhope and Lord Hutchison have dealt with the manner in which those Armies are to be formed and what their duties must necessarily involve. It is clear that there will be Armies necessary for other purposes, and I think there are enormous advantages from the point of view of this country as a whole in training the young men of the country in the way suggested by noble Lords who have already spoken. But I wish to add that the real danger that this country has to face is one that will come, if it comes at all, from secret weapons. I have discussed this question with men of the utmost importance in science, and they all agree that there is a possibility in the future of vast improvements and vast discoveries which will do more to revolutionize war even than the "doodle bug" and jet-propulsion machine. These are the things in which, as we know, Hitler has put his trust. Fortunately, he was too late, and his inventions will be useless, but for the future we have to guard against them, and the only real certain answer to the secret weapon is to do better ourselves. All the scientific men I know will tell you that we have no reason to dread German inventions because the scientific men of this country and of the United States, and of other countries if they come in with us in the research which has already been spoken of, are more than a match for the Germans. The true answer and, as I think, the complete answer to any danger of that sort, is that we should have some kind of research body such as has already been mentioned by my noble friend Lord Mottistone.


I should like to ask my noble and learned friend who has such a pellucid brain this. Surely an answer such as he suggests, by the scientists, here or in America, is only a reprisal. The real answer, surely, is to have a Force sufficiently strong to walk into the place where the horrible scientific thing is being made and to say to the man who is preparing to launch it, "Stop." The other thing is a reprisal, and, as we have seen in this war, reprisals can go on for years. They may stop a man from pursuing a certain course of conduct or they may not; the other thing is a certainty. The noble and learned Viscount's pellucid brain will, I am sure, appreciate the truth of that—one thing is a certainty and the other is merely a reprisal.


My Lords, I quite appreciate what the noble Lord says. My own feeling, and, as I know, the feeling of people much better able to judge than I, is that although this is in the nature of a reprisal, nevertheless it is a thing which will stop the Germans if they are sufficiently aware that we have the weapons, in just the same way that we have stopped them using gas. In other words, these reprisals need never be used once we have the materials for meeting any horror which the Germans might choose to bring upon us.

The other matter I wish to mention—and which Lord Mottistone would, perhaps, consider at his leisure—is this. Supposing apparatus for waging war by really horrible methods was devised in Germany and we had not got an answer. The result might be an attack, a "Blitz" attack which would so seriously injure us before we could get going that no ordinary means of warfare would enable us to get into a position of equality with them again. However, I really did not want to discuss that because I am very largely at one with my noble friend in thinking that we have to consider this question of the secret weapon. I am not afraid of it myself, nor, to my knowledge, are men of great scientific attainments, so long as we are ready to meet any horror with which the Germans may threaten us with something which will be far worse. I do not wish to detain your Lordships any longer; I will conclude by saying this: that the secret weapon, on both sides, is going to lead, eventually, to the end of war. We have only got, each of us, to have weapons of sufficiently horrible potentialities, and no country—no democratic country at any rate—will dare to start hostilities because they will know that their whole land may be laid waste in the course of a few weeks. That is the sort of consideration which has led to the end of duelling in many instances. Both sides, I suggest, will come to the conclusion that the game is not worth the candle.

4.44 p.m.


My Lords, I shall be very brief. I will confine my remarks to one point only of the three points which I had wished to touch upon. I want to say a word about the future of the Women's Services; to enter a plea for the continuance of those Services on a voluntary basis after the war. There are, I believe, hundreds of thousands of women in these Services who want nothing better than to continue the careers which they have started, in which they are immersed, and in which, I feel certain, they will continue to make good. These Women's Services have grand records behind them. Their work has been, and continues to be, of a very high order. I have personal experience of only one of these Services—the Women's Royal Naval Service—and, having worked alongside women in that Service, I can assure your Lordships of their worth. I have talked to large numbers of them, in the last few years, and I know that there is not a shadow of doubt as to how anxious many of them are to continue their war-time work into the peace. I have little doubt, indeed no doubt at all, that the same applies to the A.T.S and the W.A.A.F.

I do not know how a system of voluntary service for these women can be fitted into the general scheme of organization of our Armed Forces. That, clearly, is a matter which will require very careful consideration by the authorities concerned. But it is unthinkable that, after the war has ended, these women who have given such outstanding and unstinting service to the country should be dismissed with a mere "Thank you," and thrown on to what is likely to be a somewhat distraught world to fend for themselves. To those who say that the peace-time occupation of women is to marry and bring up families, I would make the obvious reply that the statistical returns relating to the male and female population of this country make it clear that there are not enough men to go round. So long as monogamy prevails in the social structure of this country, hundreds of thousands of cur women will be unable to find husbands and will seek careers. I plead therefore that these women shall be given their chance, and I ask the Government very carefully to consider—if they have not already considered—the desirability of continuing the Women's Services on a voluntary basis after the war.

4.48 p.m.


My Lords, the House and the country, not for the first time, are indebted to the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, for a most interesting and important debate. The object of the noble Viscount has been, as he frankly told us, to get your Lordships and the public to think about this great problem, and to think about it on what he believes to be the right lines. On behalf of His Majesty's Government, I should like to thank him for the opportunity he has given us, this afternoon of doing so. It is of the utmost importance that public opinion should be focused on this question. The noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, rather complained that we were spending too much time on post-war problems. I have never heard him say that before in regard to some of the other debates which your Lordships have held. But I do think that of all post-war problems this is the most important, because unless we can safeguard our liberty we shall not be able to have any of the social reforms that we desire. I would remind the noble Lord of Edmund Burke's saying that "the price of liberty is eternal vigilance." Vigilance certainly includes the preparation and maintenance of adequate Armed Forces. Therefore I think it is important not only that your Lordships should consider these problems, but that the country as a whole should consider them. I hope that what has been said here by noble Lords who have given a lifetime to thinking about the subject will command wide attention in the country.

There are sonic questions which in a democracy are much better considered on Party lines, and it is a great mistake to prolong Coalition Governments, which are called into being by some national emergency, into normal times. I think that if that practice, of which Lord Baldwin was very fond, is continued, it will be an evil day for both Houses of Parliament and for democracy as a whole. There are matters, however, which it is very desirable if possible to keep out of Party politics, and this is one of them. But it is essential that there should be a well-informed consensus of opinion on the subject which will enable whatever Government are in power to carry out a consistent and adequate policy. Towards the formation of such a well-informed public opinion your Lordships can render a very big contribution by debates such as that which we have had to-day.

Noble Lords have already hinted that they do not expect me, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, to be able to lay down the principles of a policy on this subject. The noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Trenchard, himself admitted this when he pointed out that the post-war organization of the three Services cannot be settled until the broad terms of peace have been settled. He also recognized that the size and type of the Forces necessary to ensure the peace are matters which we shall have to discuss with our Allies. It is all part of the problem of world security. But while, therefore, I am not in a position to announce the recommendations of His Majesty's Government on this subject, I can assure your Lordships that a great deal of preparatory work has already been done upon it, and will continue to be done until such time as it is possible and necessary to formulate a policy. There is a great deal of spade-work which has to be done on this subject in working out the commitments which any hypothesis would involve, in ascertaining how much cloth we have from which to cut our coat, and so on, and these are necessarily elaborate and far-reaching calculations.

It may perhaps be of use if I mention some of the issues which are involved. The governing factor of the whole of this problem will be the world security organization which will be set up by the Allies and the contribution which Great Britain and the British Empire—I agree with what the noble Earl, Lord Stanhope, said in that respect—undertake to make to it. Then come such questions as what Forces are necessary for the defence of the Empire, and also the size of the Force which will be required to occupy and police enemy territory. On those considerations depends the global figure of our post-war Forces. When we know what man-power we shall be required to provide for these purposes, and when we are satisfied that we can provide it, we shall have to decide how those Forces are to be organized and maintained.

I was a little surprised that my noble friend Lord Cork and Orrery was the only one of your Lordships to put in a plea for the continuance of the Minister of Defence. Lord Strabolgi and other noble Lords pleaded for a permanent Combined General Staff. I should like to make it quite plain that we already have that. We already have that in the Combined Inter-Service Staff working under the Chiefs of Staff Committee, and we have had it for years. Perhaps some people may think that the Chiefs of Staff Committee consists of four or five distinguished sailors, soldiers and airmen sitting around a table, like the ordinary committees which we are all of us called upon from time to time to attend. That is not the case. The Chiefs of Staff Committee is in fact merely the apex of a great organization in which all three Services are intertwined, and exactly what noble Lords have asked for is being done. Lord Strabolgi said that if we had such an organization the Combined Operations Headquarters would not have been necessary, but that organization was erected for a particular operation, the invasion of the Continent from the sea, which was of such magnitude and required the construction of such special and novel apparatus that it was judged that a separate ad hoc organization was the best way of dealing with that problem, although we had this Combined General Staff in being. It was just the magnitude of that particular operation which led to that.


When the noble Earl speaks about a Combined Staff as in being, surely there is a difference between three separate Staffs meeting together and a permanent body of officers drawn originally from the three Services? Except for the Prime Minister's Secretariat, I suggest that that does not exist.


That is exactly what does exist—a permanent body drawn from the three Services, the members of which all sit and work and live together.

What the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, and other noble Lords said about the need for scientific assistance in our military organization will be carefully noted. I should like to give the assurance that the Government are fully alive to the necessity for the best scientific advice and research, and the question of its future organization is now under very active consideration. I agree with noble Lords that it is impossible to exaggerate the importance of this matter.

The noble Lord also asked about the future of the Home Guard. That is of course a matter of great importance, but it is part of the whole question of our future military organization and therefore I could not make a statement on that subject this afternoon. I would, however, like to remind your Lordships that the Home Guard has not been disbanded, it has merely been stood down and is liable to be called on at any time if the emergency arises.

The noble Lord made an appeal for the development of the Colonial Forces. That also is, of course, under active consideration. But he imputed blame to those who were in office before the war for not having developed the Colonial Forces more at that time, and I think that is a good instance of how very much interconnected these problems are. One bottleneck that made that difficult at the time was the shortage of white officers. He will remember that even the regiments from the United Kingdom were so much below establishment, as the noble Earl, Lord Stanhope, has reminded us, that it was impossible to maintain the Indian Army at a proper strength, and that made it even more difficult to establish Colonial regiments, which would have required a complement of officers from these islands. That shows how much the question was intertwined with those other questions of conscription or voluntary service and with the point made so well by the noble Field-Marshal Lord Cavan about what sort of career the Services could offer a man. All these questions are very much interconnected. The noble Earl, Lord Stanhope, put forward a very interesting plan which I can assure him will receive very careful consideration from those who are at present at work on these problems.

On the question of one unified Service, after the anathema delivered by the noble Viscount, not one of your Lordships was found to defend the idea, but several condemned it. Lord Trenchard and Lord Stanhope also condemned unified colleges until we come to the Imperial Defence College. Those speeches, backed by so much authority and experience, will receive the most careful attention of His Majesty's Government and the arguments which they have advanced are indeed very real and weighty ones. No one will minimize their cogency. At the same time—and I am sure the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, will agree with me—if this war has proved anything, it has proved the interdependence of the three Services upon each other, and during this war we have acquired a great deal of experience in that problem. The problem therefore in our future organization will be to maintain and if possible to improve the intimate inter-Service co-operation which has been established, without either injuring the esprit de corps of our fighting men or interfering with the necessary basic training in their own particular arm. I entirely agree with what the noble Viscount said about that; thorough basic training is the necessary foundation of military efficiency in all Services.

Then we come to the problem of conscription or voluntary service. I need hardly say that I had not heard until to-day about the circular to which my noble friend Lord Mottistone drew attention, and I am very much obliged to him for having drawn our attention to this matter, and for having handed me a copy. I will draw the attention of my right honourable friend the Minister of Labour and National Service to what the noble Lord has said, and I am quite sure that he does not wish to prejudge any of these questions by Departmental action. The noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, and other noble Lords have assumed that there will be some form of compulsory service after the war, but they will not expect me to make any pronouncement on that subject this afternoon. I agree, however, with the noble Viscount in thinking that compulsory service does not involve a rigid bed of Procrustes that takes no account of individual aptitudes or inclinations. I quite agree that it would be most desirable, and I do not see that it should be in the least impossible, to harness the enthusiasm of youth in the directions where individuals prefer to serve. Whatever is decided about compulsory service and whatever form, if any, it takes, I am quite certain that full use will still have to be made of the voluntary system which has always been the backbone of the Armed Forces. And as the noble Earl, Lord Cavan, said, if you want to get an adequate supply of the right type of men on a voluntary basis for longer service you must offer them terms that they can be expected to accept. Then the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, asked about the post-war position of women in the Army. I should like to remind him that the Prime Minister has already stated in another place that some of the women now serving in the Forces will be required to take their part in the Armies of Occupation. But as regards our post-war system, that again is one of those great matters that are under consideration. I cannot say more than that at the present moment.

My noble friend Lord Trenchard made an exceedingly interesting and I think attractive proposal that service with the Armed Forces should be dovetailed into other professions. I hope that what he has said in that respect to-day will receive very wide publicity and that it will be considered not only by His Majesty's Government, as it will be, but also by those who throughout the country are in a position of some influence or control in the various professions. The noble Viscount's proposal I think provides a solution of a number of difficult problems, but it is so far-reaching that it will also necessarily give rise to other questions that will have to be considered, but I should like to thank him for what is a very constructive suggestion. I can only say on that issue that it seems probable that the organization of the Armed Forces after the war will call for some variety in the terms of service of officers and men. There might well be a place for both short and medium-length service, as the noble Viscount has advocated. On the subject of the recruitment of officers, I think I can say it is the intention of all three Services to ensure that in their systems for the selection of officers, a good cross-section will be obtained. The Navy already have five different methods of recruiting officers.

In conclusion I should like to express the hope that noble Lords will raise this question again when the time is opportune and will use their influence to encourage discussion of these problems in wider circles than this House. In his concluding remarks the noble Viscount quoted some words from my noble friend the Leader of the House. I think those words, if I may say so, are particularly appropriate to this debate. This is the forum and sounding board where those who can speak with authority on these questions can speak and be heard throughout the country. I hope the country will listen to what has fallen from noble Lords in this debate, and I repeat that of all the post-war problems that face us, and we are facing a great many, the security of this Empire is the most important.

5.12 p.m.


My Lords, before the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, replies may I interpolate a few remarks? I will only occupy your Lordships' time for about two minutes in referring to the problem whether the three Services ought to be united in one or not, on which there has been a difference of opinion expressed this afternoon and about which a great many people in this country are thinking very deeply. I believe myself that it is quite wrong to keep the three Services as three distinct Services. They ought to be united. It is purely a matter of title. No change actually will take place in the present combination such as it is, but the three Services ought to be called by some name like the Armed Force (not Forces) of the Crown or the United Forces of the Crown.

In the Navy we have an officer who serves in a destroyer, an officer who serves in a submarine and an officer who serves flying in the Fleet Air Arm. None of these three officers sees the others. Normally they live very different lives. They have their own special branch of the Service, their own special knowledge, their own technical training, and they have to combine together in most difficult circumstances at sea, in all weathers, by day and by night. They have to understand each other's ideas, their traditions and their general ordinary tactical and strategical practice and theories so as to avoid disasters. But they all belong to one Service, the Navy. If you can have in the Navy three separate and distinct parts (under the water, over the water and on the water) and have officers and men who belong to one Service, then you can surely have the same spirit and principle in the three great Services of the Crown. It is purely a matter of overcoming some natural sentiment and prejudice against trying to take away the particular independence, as it is called, of one Service. There is no such thing to-day as an independent Service. The Services are absolutely interdependent upon each other and they ought to he combined to the extent that I have suggested and as exists in the Navy in respect of the three special branches of that Service.

5.15 p.m.


My Lords, I will not detain your Lordships for more than a few minutes. I was surprised to hear the noble Lord, Lord Chatfield, who has just spoken, say he wanted to do away with the name of the Navy—


I do not want to do away with the Navy. On the contrary—


I should like to warn the noble Lord that the subject upon which he is talking is one upon which there are many opinions. Your Lordships have already heard one. so far as I am concerned, I hope the name of the Army will remain for ever. There is one other point I want to mention. I am not quite certain whether the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, who addressed us this afternoon, speaks for himself or for his colleagues on the same Bench. It is not easy to gather from his remarks when he does speak for them and when he speaks for himself. Very often he says he is speaking for his noble friends on those Benches and then he intersperses certain remarks and we are not certain whether in those remarks he is speaking for himself only or on behalf of the Labour Party. I will read Hansard tomorrow and gather for whom he was speaking.


My colleagues agree with all I say.


I am very glad to hear that. There is one other subject which has been touched upon and that is whether officers should pass through the ranks. We have heard that the Navy has certain methods of getting their officers. It is a better way than making them like sausages by putting them all through one machine. I want to make it clear that I am not in favour of all officers going through the ranks. Equally I am not in favour of none of them going through the ranks. I want all types of service. I was more than pleased to hear what the noble Earl said about the medium service. To my mind an intermediate service is the keystone to the position. I know that this matter has been studied in the light of the organization that will be needed after the war. I hope this question of an intermediate service is not only being studied but is being taken up by the Government and that some of the suggestions that have been made in the debate to-day will be considered by those who are dealing with the matter. This suggestion of an intermediate service has not been made to-day for the first time. It was made twenty-three years ago. I believe it is the best idea that we can have for getting the nation and the Services linked with each other. I thank the noble Earl for what he has said this afternoon. I hope this matter will be debated in public and by the newspapers much more than it has hitherto been. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

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