§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ 1. £2,645,000, Provisions, Forage, and other Supplies.
§ (3.52.) SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT (Sussex, North-West)
I understand that we are now to have, so far as it is possible, a thorough discussion of the Report of Lord Wantage's Committee, and I am exceedingly glad that even at this late period of the Session we should have the opportunity of making some remarks upon this Report which was eagerly looked for and anxiously awaited, and which until now we have not had an opportunity of discussing. No one can deny the grave importance of the considerations brought before that Committee; no one will deny that the efficiency of our Army at home is a subject which, above all others, deserves our most serious attention. I am quite certain that no one will more readily acknowledge the urgent importance of the subject than my right hon. Friend (Mr. E. Stanhope), whom I am delighted again to see in his place, though I am sorry to see he is not in that robust state of health we all wish him to enjoy. The efficiency of our whole Army, including the Reserve, is a question we are not allowed to consider, or which we hardly ever do consider, in connection with foreign questions, which, however, we ought not to leave out of view in our consideration. The ever recurring Eastern question, our position in Egypt, and other matters, cannot be separated from the condition of our Army, because, if unfortunately we should be called upon to send an Army into the field, we ought to know for a certainty that that Army is in a 701 fit condition, so that the nation may take the place we all desire it should occupy. The Committee laboured earnestly and industriously, and I will say honestly, to place before us all the facts that could be obtained. They have been cavilled at by some, and their recommendations have been found fault with, objection being taken to the expense the adoption of those recommendations would involve, but no one can deny that the Committee did, to the best of their ability, endeavour to discharge the important duty entrusted to them. We know perfectly well that the moment we come to talk of these things there are many men who, whatever may be the condition of the Army, take exception to any Army expenditure. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton) and others would have "peace at any price"—I do not think I wrong the hon. Gentleman in saying that. But surely it is our duty to examine most carefully the Report of this Committee; and though we may not agree with all the recommendations in that Report, surely the cost is not the first thing to consider, but whether the adoption of any of the recommendations will bring the Army up to that state of efficiency the country requires, so that it may be fit to do its duty in whatever position of difficulty it may be placed. Never—I say it advisedly, and I think my right hon. Friends on the Front Opposition Bench will agree with me, for they in their time have felt it their duty to ask for large sums of money for military expenditure—never has there been a refusal of, or a murmur at, that expenditure when it has been shown by a responsible Government to be necessary. I have very carefully studied this most voluminous Report, and I have been marvellously struck by the fact that, contrary to the usual practice, Sir Arthur Haliburton has presented a counter Report. Many points in this Report deserve most serious consideration; but I should have thought that a Report of this kind, after the time occupied by the Committee, should have been presented side by side with the main Report, and that the Committee should have considered the two Reports at the same time. I am not going to say a word against the War Office; but I do 702 not conceal my belief that the War Office did have a hand in the production of this second Report some three weeks after the first Report was more or less agreed to. I admit at once and without reservation that up to a certain point we must have short service, with an efficient Reserve; it is absolutely necessary we should have it, but here I may say that I think the system upon which we have gone has not been that which would induce men to enter the Army in the way we desire. The men have had no choice; they have had to go in and take the number of years allotted to them—three in the Guards and seven in the Line; but they have not had the opportunity of continuing in the Service, becoming fully efficient soldiers, and selecting the Army in preference to other occupations. I believe if they had had that choice very many men would prefer a soldier's life if they thought they would not, after a certain number of years, be thrown as vagabonds and outcasts upon the world. I may mention that in the year 1872—I think it was when the short service was introduced—I recollect stating at the time, and I have stated it over and over again since, that we ought to have a year's recruits on hand. What I have always said is—You have got short service; and you have got to recruit an enormous number of men with the short service, and at the usual age these men are enlisted they are not fit certainly for a year to do that duty which they may be called upon to perform even in this country; and therefore I have always advocated that we should have a certain number of these men, who should not be called upon to do that duty for which, on so many occasions, it has been proved they have been absolutely unfit. I should like here to say, without going into this question, that many of the difficulties with regard to breaches of discipline have arisen from the youth of the non-commissioned officers, and the consequent want of authority they have over the men. With regard to the age of the recruit, I admit to the full that we must take the recruits when we can get them; but taking them when we can get them is like the case of a young horse, which can only 703 be purchased at a reasonable price when it is under a certain age. We are told that the men coming in now are always eighteen years of age; but many of them—and I am bound to say a large number of them—are not more than sixteen years of age; and they go to India at eighteen instead of at twenty. That is a question which deserves, and must eventually receive, consideration—I will admit, and I say here at once, that there is no finer Army than our Army in India and abroad; but at the same time our Home Army is rendered inefficient to a very great extent by the number of older soldiers that are taken from it and sent as drafts to those various regiments abroad. Now, there has been a very good suggestion made, and one which I should like to have seen carried out, and that is that we should have an absolute and proper return of the age, the weight, and the height of every man in every battalion at home. There is no difficulty, or ought to be no difficulty, in making it out, and then we should be in a much better position to judge what really is the case than we are at the present moment. I have read very attentively the last letters that have appeared in the Times, and I have also read that letter in the Times about Lord Roberts's views and opinions on this question. Many of the remarks made in these letters were exceedingly good. There is one remark especially to which I should like particularly to call the attention of my right hon. Friend, namely, that—In the way in which our recruiting is carried on serious alterations are required.The Report says—but I do not know that these remarks are correct, though they are stated and laid down as a fact—that neither the officers nor the sergeants do their duty in the way they are supposed to do it, when they are appointed to these different positions. That was the broad statement made, and it is one which requires to be answered by my right hon. Friend. Now take the case of the recruit. Is it necessary to increase his pay? That is one of the first questions we have to settle, and I believe it is one 704 which will commend itself to the careful consideration of my right hon. Friend, and those who act with him. There may be some reason why men should not have an increase of pay till they are efficient and effective soldiers. Into that I am not going; that has been proposed by some, and certainly it deserves consideration; but there is one thing, above all, which I think we have a right to lay down absolutely, and that is that the sum should be paid to the soldier which it is stated he should have, and which he believes he is to have, without any deductions. What he complains of, and complains of bitterly, is, that after he has enlisted, he finds things all different from what he expected; and that he had not been told that stoppages would be placed upon him, which he so much resents when he finds such is the case. Then we come to the extra mess allowance of threepence a day. I believe it would be a great advantage. I think soldiers, like everybody else, ought to have three good meals a day—breakfast, dinner, and tea. If we take that into account, the question of good conduct pay cannot be left out of consideration. I believe there is nothing which encourages a man more than good conduct pay; but I think the thing might be done in a very different way. Into that question I shall certainly not go. Are not the periods of service, as I mentioned at the commencement, of the very greatest importance? I have a paper for the year 1884, in which Lord Roberts, who looked very strongly upon that point, recommends that men should serve for three years, and nine years in the Reserve; but the moment a man gets once established as a soldier, he should have the option of serving on with the colours. But he would go a great deal further than that. If you get a good soldier for twelve years, and that man is able and fit to do his work, he would recommend that that man ought to be allowed to go on for a pension. He should be allowed to go into Section "D" of the Reserve, and he ought to be allowed to remain in that section so long as he is fit for service. Lord Roberts and the Committee have got a very strong opinion about the question of deferred pay. They all agree that it 705 is not a good thing to make a man anxious to get the £20 or £21; and whether he is a good soldier or a bad soldier he wants to get the money, and he takes the money and leaves the Service. Surely there must be something wrong in that. Every man who has the money is got hold of by some friends or other with whom the money is spent; and he then tramps the country. These are the men who bring discredit on the Army. I am talking of the Infantry, and I will not go into the question of the Cavalry and Artillery; but I say this much: that they are in a different position from the Infantry. The Cavalry most certainly should serve for nine or ten years, and for two or three years in the Reserve. If you can get them to go on in the way Lord Roberts proposes so much the better; and if it is good for the Cavalry it is equally good for the Artillery. No man can say that a Cavalry soldier or an Artillery soldier can be made in a moment; and there is no man that knows anything about it that will say that Artillery or Cavalry men who have been in the Reserve for one or two or three years will come back in the same useful state as they were when they left the regiment as soldiers. I will only say that these are matters which deserve the serious attention of my right hon. Friend. I know my right hon. Friend has stated in the House, before he unfortunately was obliged to go away, that sea-kits will now be free; and I also hope that there may be no stoppages made for the light clothing in India. That is a recommendation which commends itself most strongly to every right-thinking person. A man goes to India; and immediately he is called upon for a stoppage for the summer clothing which he has to wear, and without which he could not do his duty at all. A man should have all his clothing and rations absolutely free. Stoppages for damages in the Army are just like stoppages for damages at school. When I was at school there was a stoppage made for breaking windows. I was a very good football kick when I was at school, and I remember that I could break six or eight panes of glass in one kick; which very often made up for the stoppage made upon me. So it is with 706 soldiers. They do not like to be charged for damages; and I venture to say that nothing would commend itself more to soldiers than that compulsory stoppages for barrack damages should be done away with. I will not go into the question of deferred pay at all, because I am quite sure my right hon. Friend will deal with it fully. As to its present administration, it is fatal, in my humble judgment, to the Army. No one would say that a man should be sent out of the Army without something in his pocket; but "the lump sum" is most certainly a very grave and great mistake. Let me say one word about what is the first question touched upon in the Report by the Committee; that is, "Should recruiting be stopped, so that in no case should the Army be over the number voted by Parliament, or should it not?" Anyone who knows the condition of the regiments knows that at certain times it would be much better to have a few more than the regulation numbers in the regiments for the time being. When drafts go out, the regiments shrink; and if we had recruits to take their place, it would be a much better state of things. What happened in 1882? In 1882 when the Reserves were called out recruiting ceased in all the regiments which were filled up by Reservists. The men of the Reserve were put in the place of the recruits. What was the consequence? In that year there were only 15,279 recruits, and next year there were 22,463 recruits passed in, showing exactly what the mistake was, which was occasioned by the regiments being filled up with Reserve and by not allowing recruits to be enlisted and to take the place of the Reservists when the latter returned into the Reserve. To go on to the next point. When we began we had an even number of battalions at home and abroad; but now I believe at this moment—instead of having, as then, seventy abroad and seventy - one at home—we have seventy-six abroad and only sixty-five at home. I venture to ask any man—and I see two right hon. Gentlemen who were Secretaries of State for War present and they well know—if you decrease the number of battalions at home, how is it possible not only 707 to keep up the efficiency of the battalions for which you have to find the men, but to keep up anything like discipline or order? I venture to point out the absolute necessity there is that the battalions at home and abroad should be balanced in some way. I am not going into the question of the Guards. That is a question which I had rather should be left to persons of higher authority, and it is a subject upon which I feel it would be unwise and imprudent for me to offer any remarks. In 1891 there were 36,003 men enlisted. Of these there were 12,975 special enlistments. In the year 1870 the height of the men was five feet eight inches. It was gradually reduced; and went down from five feet six inches to five feet five inches and a half; and in 1873 it went down to five feet four and a half inches. Now it is less. The chest measurement in the same way has been decreased. Last year there were 3,267 men taken under five feet four inches in height and 4,974 under thirty-three inches chest measurement. The deficiency of the Army on the 1st January, 1892, was 4,949. There may be reasons for that, but such is the fact. Lord Roberts, in his clear statement of 1884, points out the advantages to be gained by taking the soldier into our confidence, and also that the territorial system prohibits all freedom of will, combined with uncertainty as to the future. A man enlists in a territorial regiment in his own country. He knows the men and the officers, and he likes his regiment. A draft is wanted, and this man, who is twenty years of age, or is supposed to be twenty years of age, is to go to India. He says—I dislike that above everything. I never enlisted with the intention of going to serve abroad. I have been told afterwards that I should go. It was not my wish, and I would sooner get out of the Service than be forced to do a thing which is against my will.In old days the men knew what was 'going to happen, and they picked the regiment they wished to join. I say, therefore, that serious consideration should be given to that question. The great question is this—Is what is stated in page five, paragraph twenty-one of the Report justified, or is it not? I do not want to weary the Committee, 708 but it is very important. The statement is—With regard to the efficiency of battalions at home, His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief stated: 'Every battalion at home is inefficient.' The Adjutant General stated: 'At the present moment I may say that we have not a single Infantry battalion effective at home.' The General Officer commanding at Aldershot said: 'The home battalion is now only a nursery.' And the General commanding the Forces in Ireland said, that after the drafts for India were provided, the home battalions would be 'like a lemon when all the juice is squeezed out of it; they will be of little fighting use—they will only be weak depots; the only exception to that state of things is the Guards. The Line battalion in England, which has a linked battalion abroad, is unfit in every way to go into the field.'That is a very strong opinion. It was stated here the other night by the noble Lord the Member for the Petersfield Division of Hampshire (Lord Wolmer) that that was what was absolutely stated, and that the Committee were very much struck by it indeed. My right hon. Friend rather controverted that; but there is the statement, and I have been leading up to it just new to show that I think that statement could be proved by the Report and by what has been said throughout the country to be more or less accurate. I do not say there may not be certain circumstances which ought to be taken into account. There may be some regiments in a much better condition than others; but, on the whole, I say that that paragraph is true. I have very nearly done. My right hon. Friend, without showing his two Army Corps, should show one Army Corps perfect and complete, with all its appliances—with its transport stores and everything else belonging to it; with its general officer and its other officers who should be in command and know the men with whom they have to deal. And I would say let that general officer report, so that the country may know the exact state of efficiency of every battalion, of every troop, and of every battery in that force. If that were done it would be a test of whether we had an Army in the condition in which we should like to see it. We know perfectly well that no Army could be perfect, and that no general or other officer could know their duty unless they have an opportunity of learning it. We hear of economy. We do not think when we order the men out of the ex 709 pense pense they are put to, but every shilling it costs the country is paraded before the nation so as to make an excuse that this necessary duty should not be performed. Could anything be more important than that the Cavalry should be manœuvredevery year? Could anything be more important than that the batteries of Artillery should be out and be seen doing their work? My right hon. Friend we know has thought it necessary to disband a number of troops of Horse Artillery. A greater mistake, in my judgment, was never made. In India we have a greater force of Horse Artillery than we have at home, and we have not men at home to send out as reliefs to those in India. It is precisely the same in regard to the Field Artillery. It has been reported that the Field Artillery is going to be increased by five batteries. I do not know whether that is true; but all I can say is that, looking at the armies abroad, we are bound to have our Artillery in a state of efficiency, and of sufficient strength, to enable them, if, unfortunately, necessary to meet the Artillery of foreign countries. If my right hon. Friend consented to allow the First Army Corps to be placed in the field, the country would know what position we are in, and we should all be much better pleased if it turned out that the Army Corps which he had for inspection and for review was in perfect and efficient order. I must thank the Committee for having listened to me. It is a dull, dry subject, but it is of the greatest importance to the country. It is an unfortunate time, but we must take our opportunities when we can get them. As Members of this House, and especially as men who have served in the Army, it is absolutely necessary that these things should be plainly stated. This Committee is the creation of my right hon. Friend. It is a War Office Committee, a Departmental Committee, and we have seen what has happened to so many of the Reports of War Office Departmental Committees. We hope and believe my right hon. Friend does not mean to allow this question to be shelved. It will be remembered I was the unfortunate or the fortunate spokesman on the occasion when the Motion was 710 brought forward in this House with regard to the strength and efficiency of the Navy, as well as the Army. The Government then appointed a Committee of the Cabinet to look into the question, and the result is that we have seventy more righting ships than we had before. The responsibility must rest upon the Cabinet; and my right hon. Friend must not think we want to find fault with him, but he is the representative of the Government with regard to the War Office, and I shall not be doing my duty if I do not plainly and clearly express, so far as I am able, what I believe to be the general wish and the general opinion. What happened in the case of the Royal Commission over which Lord Hartington presided? Has that Committee not been shunted because its suggestions, though most valuable, did not suit my right hon. Friend and some of his advisers? We know that matters are shelved; time shelves things; but what we want is that it shall not be said that this House of Commons, even in its last days, did not feel the absolute necessity of pointing out to the Government that the only way of dealing with this great question was that even now, at the eleventh hour, they should have a Committee of the Cabinet to discuss the questions contained in this Report, and to decide what portions of it should be adopted, so that if, unfortunately—though I hope we may see them still upon these Benches—
§ An hon. MEMBER: No.
§ SIR WALTER BARTTELOT
You wish one thing, I wish the other; but whatever happens hon. Members will agree that it should be on record that this Government did consider this question; that they did not shelve it, but were determined, if they came into Office again, to carry out such of the recommendations of the Committee as they thought were deserving of their support. I have had some little intimation that the Government would take this proposal into their serious consideration. It is essential and vital to the interests of the Army that the Government should consider this Report, so that it may be seen, by whoever may sit upon these Benches, that although it was late, although it was the end of 711 he Session, and although, unfortunately, the Secretary of State for War had been obliged to be absent through illness, yet the Government were determined to do their duty, and to place it on record that they did not intend to neglect the interests of our Army.
§ (4.40.) VISCOUNT EBRINGTON (Devon, Tavistock)
I have not had the advantage of serving in the Army, but I should like to offer a few observations upon the subject under discussion. It seems to me that in criticising the Report of this Committee and the system with which it deals, it is well to bear in mind the three great ends for which our Army system is maintained, and to see how far that system suffices to meet those three ends. Our Army has, in the first instance, to provide a large and efficient force in India. It is required also to provide expeditionary forces on the occasion of our little wars, and it is also necessary, if it is to be satisfactory, that it should maintain an adequate nucleus on which the Reserve may be drafted, if it becomes necessary to call the latter out in case of any national emergency. I do not think it necessary to say much on the first point, because an excellent Army is unquestionably maintained in India at the present time; but the strain of doing so has caused the home Army to be only partly efficient for the purposes of little wars, and quite inefficient for the purposes of national emergency for which the Reserve may be called out. The provision of expeditionary forces might probably be arranged for by employing men from the Mediterranean garrisons, or by giving a retaining fee to a certain number of Reserve men during the first year after they leave the Army. But the evidence shows, I think conclusively, that the present system as now administered cannot possibly provide an adequate nucleus in the home Infantry battalions on which to draft the Reserve if it should be necessary to call them out. Of course, many of our present difficulties are traceable to matters like the calling out of the Reserve in 1882 and the cessation of recruiting in that year, and to sudden increase of establishment in various regiments—matters which might very 712 easily have been foreseen, and might very easily have been provided for with a little forethought. But the Report of Sir Arthur Haliburton shows that the normal battalion of British Infantry, even though mobilised under favourable circumstances, does not contain such a nucleus of trained soldiers as is admitted on all hands to be necessary if it is to be efficient for war purposes; and I venture to think that the comparisons instituted between British battalions and foreign battalions, when mobilised, are very illusory, because they do not take into account the ages of the men. Abroad they never call recruits out until they are nineteen or twenty years of age, and therefore they are men requiring only military training, and do not require time for physical development. With us, where the recruits are seventeen and eighteen and occasionally younger, the men require time for physical development just as much as they do for military training. It is admitted, I think, on all hands that men of less than twenty years of age are not fitted for active service; if they are not fit to send to India, they are not fitted for the hardships of the campaign, although no doubt if it were absolutely necessary to send them they would do their best. It follows, therefore, that practically none of the men in the home Army who have less than two years' service are fitted for active employment in the field; and that being so, a reference to Sir Arthur Haliburton's table giving the constitution of a normal British battalion, if mobilised even under favourable circumstances, shows that if we take off the eighty non-commissioned officers, there only remain two hundred and sixty privates on whom to draft the Reserve. That means the introduction of seven hundred Reserve men in order to bring the regiment up to its proper strength. The Adjutant General has given it in his evidence that for that purpose our Reserve is twelve thousand too small. And even if the Reserve were sufficient I think bringing into a regiment seven hundred Reservists when you have only got between two hundred and three hundred trained soldiers on whom to graft them would put very great difficulties in the way of those who had 713 to enforce discipline; and it would be obviously impossible to expect very much for some time after mobilisation in the way of drill or musketry from a regiment, in which seven out of nine men had been entirely innocent, for from one to five years, of any military training of any sort or kind whatever. The exact proportion of trained men to the Reserve is a matter for experts, and it is one on which I venture no opinion of my own. But as the Germans, who ought to know something about it, seem to agree that even with their rigid discipline and regular training of the Reserve, half and half is as much as may be admitted, I think that proportion is one below which it is very unwise for us to go. It is of great importance that the authorities should arrive at a conclusion on this point. The equalising of battalions at home and abroad might do a great deal, and no doubt is an indispensable step, towards remedying the present unsatisfactory state of things. But no permanent improvement can possibly be effected except by an improvement in the quality and the age of our recruits. And the first thing to be done if you wish to improve the quality and age of your recruits is to improve your recruiting agencies. There is abundant evidence given before Lord Wantage's Committee that the recruiting officers and agents in many cases have a very imperfect conception of their duties, and carry them out in a very slovenly manner. But the greatest improvement which it seems to me can be effected is to utilise the men who leave your Army by securing that they shall leave contented and give the Service a good name among those with whom they are afterwards brought into contact; and in this connection I think that enough weight has not been given either by the Committee or in the discussions that have taken place in the Press to Appendix No. 30, in which are collected the opinions on various points of great importance in regard to recruiting of nine-tenths of the whole of the men in the Army Reserve. It appears from that Appendix that though only about two per cent. dislike the Army, a quarter of them as nearly as possible leave the Army with a sense of grievance. That 714 surely is a most undesirable feeling to take back into civil life with them, for if they go away with a sense of grievance they are not likely to recommend the Service to any of those with whom they are brought into contact. That feeling is to be attributed, as far as one can judge from the evidence, to two things. In the first place the men dislike what they call being "messed about" by the non-commissioned officers. They further resent very acutely the various hardships that are put upon them in the matter of stoppages and otherwise. It seems to me that the recommendations as to the improvement of the position of non-commissioned officers—especially the giving of pay at once to lance corporals and lance sergeants, which will only cost a comparatively small sum—are well worthy of the consideration of the Government as tending to improve the class of men who will be willing to accept non-commissioned rank. It does appear to an outsider that enough weight has not been given to the recommendation of Lord Roberts of "Free Trade" in the Army, so that those who dislike the service may have the opportunity of leaving it, and that those who have a turn for soldiering should have a better chance than they now have of remaining in it and making it a lifelong profession; and by a judicious elasticity in the terms of service, it seems to me that a very great deal could be done in that direction without impairing the number or the efficiency of the Reserve. What we want to do is, as far as possible, to keep only contented men in the Army, and to ensure that those who leave it shall give it a good character after they have gone. In the matter of pay, and especially of deferred pay, I think the evidence given by the Reservists themselves can hardly have too much weight attached to it; and seeing how very large a percentage of them are in favour of deferred pay on the present principle, and how large a percentage — I think eighty-three per cent.—of them make good use of it, I for one hope the Government will think once and twice before they agree to the recommendation of the Committee to do away with deferred pay altogether. I think that in the matter of pay the most desirable 715 alteration that could be made would be to give the trained soldier better pay than the untrained soldier. A serviceable article is worth more than one which is not yet serviceable, and is also worth more than an article which is deteriorating. We are told there might be difficulty and friction about that, in consequence of men who were doing the same duty receiving different rates of pay. But I believe it is quite common in the Navy, and the Committee virtually recommend the same thing by advising that good conduct pay should be given after one year's service instead of as at present. The principle, I think, is the main thing, and I hope it may be acted upon. I would carry it further, and I should think it worth considering whether the Reserve men, during their first two years of service, should not be given a higher pay than they at present receive, on condition of their putting in a certain amount of training each year. I think if the Reserve men were given, say, five shillings a week for their first two years of service, the pay for the last two years, when they have no doubt deteriorated as soldiers, being proportionately reduced, we should get better value for the money, and be able to make it a condition that they should come up for training for a limited time each year. To carry out our present system on our present lines, when if battalions are mobilised seven privates out of nine would be Reservists without any training, seems to me to be courting disaster. There is evidence, no doubt, to support any and all the recommendations the Committee have made; but I do not think there is sufficient proof that less expensive and less extensive reforms would not bring our Army up to the mark, or, at any rate, nearly up to the mark in the one point—namely, the retention in our home battalions of a sufficiency of seasoned men, in which it is at present most defective. It seems to me that what ought to be aimed at is greater elasticity in the terms of service and an improvement of the terms of the contract as between the State and the soldier. I think the matter of stoppages and things of that sort are very well worth consideration by the Government, and I hope they 716 will make some concession in that direction. But I think the most important thing of all is to deal with the men in a more liberal spirit than has been hitherto done. The contract between the soldier and the country, as far as we can learn, is always interpreted in favour of the Treasury and as against the soldier. A little more liberality on these points, I think, would go far to improve the condition of the men, and satisfy the public that if a man could not find a comfortable profession in the Army it was his fault and not the fault of the conditions of the Service he has joined.
§ (4.57.) MR. PICTON (Leicester)
The good-humoured allusion of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman (Sir Walter Barttelot) to myself leads me to make an observation or two, because I do not quite like that I should be misunderstood or that those who hold similar views should be misunderstood. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman described me as a "peace-at-any-price" man, but I am not usually considered so, at any rate, in all Departments. It is quite a mistake to suppose that those who hold views like mine are in favour of peace at any price. We know that as the world exists at present the country must be guarded by a Navy, and by a well-trained and well-organised Army as well. What we think, however, is that too much money is spent upon these things. We say that if less money were spent on the Army we should have a more efficient Army than we have at the present time. Extravagance always leads to abuse and corruption. When people have more money to spend than they ought to have they uniformly waste it; and that is the case with the Services, the Army and the Navy, at the present time. I fully sympathise with the remarks of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman as to the necessity for paying every attention to the welfare and comfort of the rank and file of the Army, and I am sure he has never known me to object, say, to expenditure for barrack accommodation. I sympathise entirely with his views as to the food the men ought to have and as to the evils of the present system of stoppages, and I do not know that he has said anything on 717 those points with which I do not heartily sympathise. But this, I think, is too often forgotten, that we are unable to do all we might for the rank and file of the Army, because we waste an unconscionable amount of money on the great officers who are of no practical service whatever. There is one matter upon which I should like a little enlightenment from the Secretary for War. We have had distinct testimony that there are more general officers than we can possibly employ, and that a considerable reduction would increase the efficiency of the Army.
§ MR. PICTON
But I believe the general staff has been increased rather than diminished, or at least we are called upon to pay for a larger staff than last year, including lieutenant generals, major generals, and other officers.
§ MR. STANHOPE
I referred only to the general officers' list, and to the reduction which has been made. If the hon. Member wishes to deal with the staff generally, I shall be glad to answer him.
§ MR. PICTON
It seems to me that the general staff is larger than is at all justifiable. I am glad to hear there has been some reduction, but there is a considerable amount of evidence to show that great individuals exercise too much influence at the War Office. I should like to see the existing system of patronage and wanton extravagance abated.
§ *(5.33.) LIEUT. GENERAL SIR CRAUFURD FRASER (Lambeth, N.)
I ask leave to draw attention to certain matters in the Report of Lord Wantage's Committee. Royal Commissions and Parliamentary Committees on the state of the Army have for years made their Reports, which have been duly printed, presented to Parliament and pigeon-holed. The maladministrations brought to light continue and will continue until a Minister—a Leader of this House—one who has proved his power to face a great danger and to pacify a kingdom—takes up the ques 718 tion of the Army, with determination to inquire into it and to lead the way to the necessary reforms, supported by a large majority that never fails him when required. This last Committee was appointed to inquire into the terms and conditions of service in the Army. The evidence adduced is of the most momentous character, and when known by the nation must arrest its attention. In 1872, the then Minister of War introduced a scheme "with doubtful sense deluding," which the evidence proves has entirely broken down, to the destruction of the Army, the disadvantage of the taxpayer, to danger to commerce and to the very safety of the Empire. In the past twenty years upwards of three hundred millions of pounds have been spent on the Home Army, with what result? We learn from the evidence that His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, Commander-in-Chief, is of opinion that—Every battalion at home is inefficient for home or war duties.Sir Redvers Buller, Adjutant General, says—No regiment of the First Army Corps could be sent on service. … We have not a single battalion effective at home.Sir Evelyn Wood, commanding the Aldershot District, says—The home battalions are only a nursery.Lord Wolseley, commanding the Forces in Ireland, gives evidence—That, after the drafts for India are provided, the home battalions would be like a lemon when all the juice is squeezed out of it. They would be of little fighting use; they will be only weak depôts.The evidence gives the following causes for this lamentable state of the Army:—Firstly, the arrangements by which the battalions abroad are fed by the battalions at home, by which the latter are exhausted and rendered inefficient, and the men lose their esprit de corps;. secondly, the demand for recruits being greater than the supply, which fails in consequence of the unpopularity of the Service, and the immense drain from the ranks; thirdly, the term of service with the colours being too short, which is a great reason for the present prostrate state of the Army, which is no longer looked upon as a profession. With regard to the first cause, all the 719 evidence tends to prove that the system introduced in 1872 by Mr. Cardwell of feeding the battalions abroad from the battalions at home, as I urged in this House in 1886, cannot be maintained, as with the short-service system the demand is too great on the home battalions; and as duty calls for a larger number of battalions abroad than are retained at home, therefore there must be certain regiments with both battalions abroad to be supplied from home, whilst large numbers of men are being relegated to the Reserve from the Army in general. A small war broke the links between the battalions and completely upset the whole scheme. The War Department fully admits the collapse. Sufficient drafts cannot be produced owing to the lack of men qualified to proceed to India by being twenty years of age and having four years to serve. The original estimation of the annual drafts at one hundred and fifty has been greatly exceeded, and some battalions have given three hundred men for drafts in one season. The best men of the home battalions, we are told, are taken to supply the deficiencies in the foreign battalions, and yet Lord Robert'sown experience is that the average drafts now sent out to India are, as a rule, physically inferior to what they used to be some years ago.The Adjutant General gives evidence that the present system of drafts, by taking away the most fit men, renders some of the battalions that ought themselves to be going abroad unfit to go. Thus it appears that the home Army is a large and most expensive depôt for supplying India and the Colonies with half-trained lads, and the Reserve with men who, the moment they are in a good way to know their work, to be valuable soldiers, and to realise habits of discipline and restraint, are drafted to it, leaving the battalion without old soldiers. With regard to the second cause—the dearth of recruits—beyond question the general feeling throughout the United Kingdom at present is against voting men going into the Army; the reasons are clearly brought forward in evidence. Men leaving the Army for the Reserve, or for civil life, carry their grievances with them, to be quickly known through the country. The 720 following grievances militate against enlistment. The evidence of private soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers of all ranks, proves the accuracy of that which has been so frequently urged on Army Estimates in this House—namely, that the conditions under which recruits are enlisted are not absolutely true. The recruit, having been induced by the posters issued under Government authority to believe that he will be supplied with a free and sufficient ration, finds that he is only allowed three-quarters of a pound of meat, including bone and gristle, and one pound of bread daily, and all extra food beyond this he must pay for out of his pocket. The small ration is certainly not enough for growing lads who have to be matured. The ration being so small, men are induced, in many cases, to stay their appetites by drinking. The overwhelming evidence before the Committee of all ranks fully supports the appeal that many of us have made for years, that the soldier should have a free ration, either by Government providing the groceries, or granting messing money of threepence a day. Sir Arthur Haliburton, in his dissent on many points from the Report of the Committee, admits that—It is desirable so to adjust the soldier's pay and allowances as to get rid of the stoppages from his pay for his extra messing.And he says that—If at any time hereafter the soldier's pay and allowances are reconsidered, that opportunity should be taken to amend an arrangement which is open to misconception.His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief gives evidence—that men are short of meat, especially recruits; the meat ration should be three-quarters of a pound of meat without bone. He thinks the smallness of the ration a grievance.Surely the time has come this day when this injustice should be remedied—in fairness to the soldier and for the credit of the country. With regard to clothing, Sir Redvers Buller, Adjutant General, considers that the Infantry of the Line are not sufficiently clothed in point of health and warmth; he would dress the soldier better than at present. Sir Evelyn Wood considers that want of sufficient clothing gives the men rheumatism. There have been no sources of 721 discouragement more burning than the arrangement by which a soldier has to accept the cast-off clothing—"part worn," it is termed—of others, and having to give old clothes back to be sold by the Government; in fact, having their uniform lent to them instead of given, as formerly. Also the fact that the soldier sent abroad has had to pay out of his own pocket for his sea kit, and for his khaki suits of clothing when he arrives in India. Keeping up the supply of the "pull through" of the rifle at heavy expense, and the payment for barrack damages, due often to wear and tear, are also much felt. What desertion there is generally happens, it appears, in the first year of the recruit serving. With regard to the recruits, according to the latest official returns there are 31,818 soldiers under twenty years of age, and it appears that many of the recruits enlist under eighteen, and mothers claim their sons as being under sixteen. General Viscount Wolseley computes—that seventy per cent. of men serving in each home battalion is unfit to take the field.In 1890 about 10,000 recruits were specially enlisted, and last year still more "specials" were enlisted, and Sir Evelyn Wood says that an adequate supply even of special enlistments cannot be obtained. Lord Wolseley gives evidence that in Ireland alone within the last two years the "'special enlistments' have gone from eight to twenty-five per cent."; and there is evidence that some of the special enlistments are not a bit better at the end of twelve months than when they joined. The special recruits cannot be fine specimens of manhood, when we remember that the regulation standard for the ordinary recruit is only—height, five feet four inches; weight, eight stone three pounds—less than Derby weight—chest measurement, thirty-three inches. All who attended the manœuvres in Hampshire last September will bear witness to the high spirit shown in every rank, and to the excellent practical training. At the same time it was manifest that the ranks were quite unfit for service, as evidenced by their worn, eager looks. As a well-known war correspondent remarked— 722They look as if they had gone through a six months' campaign.We are told that these men would not be sent to a campaign; they will be replaced, the battalion stiffened by the Reserve. With regard to the third cause, namely, the terms of service, which so much affect the life of a soldier. His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief gives evidence that—The continual change in the conditions of service in the ranks are most detrimental to the interests of the Service.The compulsory retirement of men who wish to remain with the colours, and the refusal to allow men to rejoin from the Reserve, has done infinite harm. With regard to deferred pay, Sir Evelyn Wood. Sir Redvers Buller, Lord Roberts, and other soldiers of great experience of all ranks, have expressed their conviction that it should be abolished. It is no inducement to a man to enlist in the Army; it is a great inducement for him to leave it. Evidence says that about three-fourths of the men squander it. It teaches no thrift; it is a bonus for men to leave the Service, and to prevent men from I re-enlisting. In the words of His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief—By giving deferred pay only to men who leave the colours, the Army is sacrificed to the Reserve, which is not a good plan.This system leads men to be enlisted fraudulently. It appears in evidence that men going to the Reserve with their deferred pay frequently behave in such a manner as to disgust the people about them, and thus to defer recruiting. With regard to the old soldiers, His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief says in evidence—The battalions at home have hardly any old soldiers in them, except non-commissioned officers. … Some battalions are all recruits. … There ought to be a larger proportion of old soldiers, which a ten years' system would give.Sir Redvers Buller, the Adjutant General, has a decided objection to the old soldiers. He gives this opinion—I think the old soldiers are really a fraud: they are not good fighting material.In this he is opposed to the opinion of the Duke of Wellington—namely, that—The old soldier was the heart and soul and courage and strength of the regiment.723 In a letter to Brigadier General Craufurd, Sir John Moore wrote—Men of this description, namely, after fourteen years' service, are most valuable, and every encouragement should be given them to continue in the Service, and no temptation to withdraw from it.Again, he says—After twenty-one years' service many men will be found able and willing to serve, and as soldiers of this description are invaluable, they should be encouraged to serve with their regiments.When speaking in the House of Lords, of Sobraon, the Duke of Wellington said—I ask you, my Lords, if such a feat could have been performed by young soldiers? It would have been impossible.Napoleon gave his decision that—Every means should be taken to attract the soldier to his colours. This is best accomplished by showing consideration and respect for the old soldier. His pay likewise should increase with his length of service. It is the height of injustice to give a veteran no greater advantages than a recruit.Field Marshal Lord Raglan asked forno more young soldiers, who died like flies,to be sent to him in the Crimea. Further, Mr. Cardwell, referring to this subject, says—Anxious as I am for shorter service—believing, as I do, that shorter service is at the root of all Army reform—nevertheless, I am as conscious as anybody can be of the immense importance of retaining in the Army that most valuable member of it—the old soldier.The evidence of the greatest soldiers supports these opinions. With regard to the Reserve, His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief gives his opinion before the Committee that—At present the Reserve have no duties, and are paid for doing nothing";that—the Regular Army is sacrificed to the Reserve";and that—only men not wanted should go to the Reserve.His Royal Highness considers—that a Reserve man who has been three years with the colours might take his place with the Army after six months' training"—a little late for the campaign of the day! Sir Evelyn Wood considers that men go to the Reserve too quickly, and that they should be trained. Lord 724 Wolseley is not satisfied with the state of the Reserve—There is further evidence from commanding officers that a recruit's service would not be worth much, without a considerable amount of training, after he has been away from the regiment a year or more.And yet it is said that one-half the Reserve men would lose their civil employment if the Reserve were called out for training. Evidence proves that a large proportion of Reserve men have deteriorated from want of employment and want of food. The Reserve is the First Line on leave. Reserve men draw their pay, are never seen officially, are never drilled or instructed, and are never medically examined. Many of these men, dismissed to the Reserve against their will, were they permitted to re-enlist, would do so, to the great advantage of the Service; but they are called on to repay their deferred pay, of from £15 to £21, which they have fairly earned—a grim joke to them! In all foreign Armies the Reserves are repeatedly called out, and kept up to the mark in drills and at manœuvres for two months at a time. This is considered absolutely essential. In the face of evidence it is difficult to understand how Sir A. Haliburton can claim that the Military Authorities are actually in touch with upwards of sixty-eight thousand Reservists. It appears that there is no scheme with regard to the Reserve, for the Adjutant General cannot say what an adequate Reserve would be, as the Military Authorities have never been informed what the duties of the Army are, and what the country expects the Army to do. We may be sure, in consequence of their want of training, practice and condition, they would be looked on by the lads as Rip Van Winkles. If these veterans were called from their new pursuits they would indeed have to begin soldiering again. It has been clearly explained, in recent most able letters, that the—artilleryman would find a new gun, a new powder, a new projectile. The Infantryman would find a new rifle, a new bayonet, a totally new system of 'Advance and Attack,' and would even be unfamiliar with the new company drill.These are the veterans who, out of condition, short of breath, and sore of foot, are, at a moment's notice, to give 725 stability to the ranks, to enter into a rough campaign, with its hardships and long marches, may be to face the fire of modern artillery, and of the magazine rifle in the practised hands of highly disciplined and well drilled troops in fine physical condition, trained to march thirty miles a day. And under such conditions these veterans are to carry all before them with enthusiasm as of old, and to forge on to victory. Lord Roberts, who holds the most independent and responsible post in Her Majesty's Army, in his extremely able review remarks—I cannot view, without grave apprehension, the present condition of the home Army as disclosed in the evidence.The evidence before Lord Wantage's Committee proves beyond all doubt or question that longer service than at present must obtain in our Army. His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief recommends that men should be enlisted for ten years' service with the colours and five years with the Reserve. His Royal Highness says—A man who is twelve years a soldier is always a soldier; but I do not call the seven years' men, much less the three years' men, soldiers. Keep a man on longer service, and give him a pension at the end of it.The late Emperor of Germany gave this opinion to a Member in another place, himself a distinguished soldier, when in England for the Jubilee, that—Short service and voluntary enlistment could never run together.Lord Roberts says—As regards the period of colour and Reserve service, I can only reiterate my opinion, my conviction, that a short service system is quite inapplicable to an Army which is raised by voluntary enlistment, and more than half of which is quartered abroad even in peace time.His Lordship and many experienced officers agree for longer service but for a more elastic service, giving men the option, of leaving the colours after the first three years. As an old soldier, let me say that I consider non-commissioned officers should be allowed to extend their term of service at any time. A system of good conduct pay and pension for good and long service should exist. Bad characters should be discharged. Three- 726 pence a day or a free grocery ration should be introduced at once, and other grievances should be remedied. Above all, the country's money must be spent with judgment. In the words of Lord Cardwell—If you have your battalions in good order, your cadres full, and your officers and men in a state of efficiency, if you have in every battalion five hundred and sixty veterans, you would have no difficulty if an emergency arose, and when the warlike spirit of this country had been evoked, in raising the ninety-two thousand to one hundred thousand.Sir, I feel confident that no section of this House can be so dead to its sense of duty and its dignity as to ignore this momentous question of the state of the Army. It will obtrude and force its way. It must be bravely faced by Parliament.The work that should to-day be wroughtDefer not till to-morrow;The help that should within be soughtScorn from without to borrow—Old maxims these, yet stout and true,They speak in trumpet tone;To do at once what is to do,And trust ourselves alone.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
I suppose the most pressing question we have to consider at the present time in connection with our Army is how to attract the better class of men, better physically and morally, to join the ranks, without placing too great and crushing a burden on the Exchequer of the country. In looking through the Report of Lord Wantage's Committee, and the evidence given before the Committee, we see on every page expressions of solicitude in regard to this question on the part of our distinguished officers. It is very unfortunate that we have not yet got rid of the idea that the position of the soldier is low, miserable, and degraded, and that the Army recruits the riff-raff of the population. I trust that this notorious notion may be eventually wholly extinguished. No doubt something would be accomplished in that connection could we in any way improve what we call the social position of the soldier. We have heard to-day that when soldiers retire into private life their opportunities of employment are not what they should be. I admit, in this respect, that the present Government has done more than previous Governments, although 727 it has not yet given full effect to the recommendations of former Committees, that enlarged opportunities of employment in civil life should be given to men in the Reserve. For instance, in the Post Office there are a large number of positions which might, perhaps not exclusively, but to some large extent, be given to Reserve men who have given a large portion of their life to the country's service. Looking through the evidence placed before the Committee, I have endeavoured to come to some conclusion as to what deterrent causes operate against recruiting. Nobody will, I think, deny that the present character of recruits is poor. A great many are taken on speculation, in the hope that they may improve if they manage to survive the hardships of the earlier period of their service. As to the causes which deter the better class of men entering the Service, I think the testimony given before the Committee is almost unanimous. When a man enters the Army he finds himself greatly deceived, although not, perhaps, purposely deceived. He discovers that he is not going to get his full shilling per day. That question has been often raised before; I have myself referred to it on several occasions, and I do not think there was hardly a single witness, high or low, who did not emphatically tell the Committee that the soldier ought to get his shilling per day clear without stoppage of a certain portion of his rations. A great many of the men who gave evidence before the Committee—privates and non-commissioned officers—further said they did not see why misleading posters should be placed in prominent places, and incorrect statements made by non-commissioned officers. On former occasions I was told by the hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the War Office, that no man need be deceived, because he could procure, on application at the Post Office, a pamphlet which described all the benefits of the Service. You might, however, just as well ask many of the men to go to the library of the British Museum, take out a recondite work, and study it. It is certain that a large proportion never hear of the pamphlet, but simply accept the statements of the flaming posters on the 728 wall and the explanation of the recruiting sergeant who, being paid in ratio to the men he attracts to the colours, naturally represents the Service in the most couleur de rose light. The recruit is led to believe that he will receive his full shilling per day, and when he finds that this is not the case he is dissatisfied. I quite admit that the right hon. Gentleman has improved the rations of the soldier, and I think all classes of the Army are grateful to him for the reform in this branch. Nothing, however, has been done to bridge over the terrible gap which exists in the soldier's diet between his morning meal and his evening meal. There is another question to which I wish to attract the attention of the House, and it is a subject referred to by several of the witnesses who gave evidence before Lord Wantage's Committee, and one specially referred to by His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught, who made a most emphatic statement on the subject. I refer to the meat diet. Although that diet may generally be enough for grown men, it is not enough for growing recruits. The Duke of Connaught, after referring to the work of the recruit, his drill, and the gymnastics he had to engage in, and the strain to which his system was put in connection with the development of bone and muscle, said very emphatically that the rations of the recruit were not sufficient for his needs. And the best proof of this lies in the fact that the recruit, during the first few months of his service, generally spends half his pay on a simple diet to keep body and soul together. This excellent evidence given by the Duke of Connaught was further supplemented by a large variety of other testimony, and one non-commissioned officer drew especial attention to the necessity of increasing the diet of the young recruit who had to enter upon duties which involved a great strain. The recommendation I make is that he should be given an extra quarter of a pound of beef. I do not want to take up the time of the Committee any further, because I do not feel myself qualified to enter upon the greater and wider questions involved in this Report. I have only ventured to draw attention to those lesser points which have 729 always attracted my own attention. We must hope that, although this discussion has come at an unfortunate time, the remarks which have been made in this House by experienced officers will not be without effect.
§ GENERAL SIR FREDERICK FITZWYGRAM (Hants, S.)
I suppose, Sir, that the recruiting question is the key of the present and future position of the Army. As a matter of fact we fail to get recruits, and the question is, why? Some say that it is on account of the low pay, others on account of ration stoppages, and some on account of the general treatment of the Army. These causes, whether true or not, are common to all the regiments of the Army; but I find the greatest possible difference as to recruiting in the various branches of the Army. I find, for instance, that the Royal Engineers are always full; that in the Cavalry they are full; and that in the Royal Artillery they are nearly full. Yet the Infantry is invariably behind in The matter of recruiting. When I endeavour to discover the cause of this, I find that of those who are loafing about nine-tenths come from the Infantry, while I never find a man from the Royal Engineers, and seldom one from the Cavalry, or from the Artillery. Looking at the causes, I think the failure of the Infantry lies in the exceedingly idle life which the Infantry soldier is compelled to lead during his seven years of service. Beyond an hour or two's drill and a little cleaning he has nothing to do, and therefore it is unreasonable to suppose that such a man would readily take to the hard work which is part of civil life. The consequence is that he loafs about and brings discredit on the Service. The remedy for this state of things is not more drill or more pay; it is to find some useful training and employment for our Infantry soldiers; and the suggestion I make is one I hope the Secretary of State for War will take up. It is this. The most useful men we have are the Royal Engineers, and there is no good reason why our Infantry soldiers, during the many idle hours of the day, should not be trained as the Royal Engineers are trained, so that they might be fitted for employment 730 on entering civil life. It may be replied that all cannot be trained as Royal Engineers, and I agree; but there are many trades in which they might be trained. Then there is the question, for instance, of barrack damages. Now, we are spending four millions on building barracks, and on furniture, &c. There is thus money enough to give every soldier, who is desirous, an opportunity of learning a trade which will prove profitable and useful in after life. I look on this question of the employment of Infantry soldiers during their period of service as the important element in relation to recruiting. When a man leaves the Service to loaf about, he damages that service, and damages, too, the recruiting; but were the Infantry soldier fairly well employed during his seven years of service, I believe that he would prosper on regaining civil life. I think the complaints about the recruits have been much exaggerated. We have been told in the Report that they are boys who will never make soldiers. We know, however, that this statement must be untrue, because our foreign battalions are as fine regiments as we could wish to see, and they are exclusively recruited from these boys who are referred to by Lord Wantage's Committee. We hear a good deal about their youth; but we commanding officers wish to have our men young. We do not wish to take a recruit after eighteen or nineteen years of age. We wish to get a fair sample of the lads from the country; we do not wish to take men of twenty-two and twenty-four who come to the Army as a last resort. We wish to have lads fresh from the towns and country before they have fallen into evil habits, and when they can make good and effective soldiers. My belief is that you cannot do a greater possible evil to the Army than by enlisting men of twenty-four. There is one subject connected with the age of soldiers for which Cavalry officers are somewhat responsible, and it is as to the Cavalry Depôt at Canterbury for the regiments in India. Although the depôt is working very satisfactorily, I am bound to say it is conducted on an entirely false and erroneous principle. At Canterbury we constantly enlist for 731 the regiments in India men of the age of eighteen. By the rules they cannot be sent out until they are twenty, and therefore a considerable number of these recruits are obliged to be kept a year longer than is necessary in training at the depôt, the cost being thus doubled. You have sixteen available Cavalry regiments at home, and you require every year about eight hundred recruits for India. My proposal would be to take these eight hundred men, and give to the sixteen Cavalry regiments at home fifty men extra each, on the condition that each of these regiments should find twenty trained men of not less than three years' service to send out to the Cavalry regiments in India. As I desire to confine myself to the recruiting question, I shall not enter into other points beyond one to which I must refer namely, the little encouragement given by the Committee to non-commissioned officers. Why they left them in the cold shade I do not know—nothing would tend more to encourage the recruiting than good civilian places found for non-commissioned officers after they have obtained their discharge. What, however, we mainly want is more encouragement to parents to send their sons into the Army. Commissions are of no use as regards recruiting; the men who get them have left home too long and are forgotten. My conviction is that we should increase the pay of non-commissioned officers—the corporals should receive two shillings and sixpence per day, and sergeants of four or five years' standing four shillings per day. When they went home on leave, they would be in evidence as having done better in the Army than if they had stayed in their native villages or towns. Then I believe there would be such a movement in favour of the Army that you would never want for the best class of the youths of England.
§ MR. SINCLAIR (&c.) Falkirk,
I think the question of recruiting is quite as much a civilian as a military question, and it is from that point of view that I wish to make a few observations to the Committee. In reading what has been published on this important subject, I have been much struck by the waste of life and money that is brought 732 about by the too early utilisation of young recruits who were not matured when they entered the Army. I do not see any reason why recruiting should not be commenced at an early age; but if this be the practice those who are immature when they are enlisted should not early be placed on the effective staff, and be considered efficient in training. I think it would be wise to adopt in some form or other the theory that length of service in the Army should only be counted from the time when a man becomes efficient not only as regards drill, but efficient also as regards physical powers. I was very much struck by one part of the evidence offered, I think, by the Duke of Connaught. His Royal Highness mentioned that in one of the regiments sent out to India there were a large number of immature youths who almost all died within a short period of time.
§ MR. EDWARD STANHOPE
No, no! I have already referred to the matter, and explained that His Royal Highness was entirely mistaken.
§ MR. SINCLAIR
I am glad to hear that statement, of which I was not previously aware. But, quite accepting that statement, I wish to point out that the evidence is that the sending out of immature youths, is detrimental to their health—that disease and death ensue. In the Debates in this House I have heard that there is a feeling existing that some difficulty with regard to discipline in the Army would arise as a result of a varying rate of pay to private soldiers. I do not, however, think that can be considered an insuperable obstacle. I think that a man who is thoroughly trained and fit for service ought to receive a greater acknowledgment from the country in the way of larger pay than those who are not so efficient. If, under such circumstances, officers did find difficulty in the maintenance of discipline, I think they should be removed and others put in their places. In the Navy and in civil employment we see different rates of remuneration. Yet the discipline is perfect, and surely we can expect commanding officers to maintain a similar condition of affairs. I think something should be done, too, with regard to the other grievances. It was 733 stated in the House to-day that a large number—I think twenty-five per cent.—of men left the service dissatisfied with it. If there were reform here, public feeling in regard to the Army would be improved. As a layman, it seemed to me that the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down (Sir Frederick Fitzwygram) were most reasonable and sensible. I do not desire to go further than to say that everything possible should be done in regard to good food and diminished stoppages to make the men thoroughly comfortable, in order that the Army may become popular. Recruiting should be so promoted as to give us a force upon which we can rely in any case of emergency at home or abroad.
§ COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, S.W., Ince)
I am sure that anyone who patiently reads the Reports and evidence of Lord Wantage's Committee must appreciate the difficulties to be contended against in a voluntary service Army, which is obliged to take recruits at the nominal age of eighteen, and yet is unable to use them for the main purposes of the Army—namely, to send them to India, until they are twenty. I think a great deal of the criticism we have heard upon the Army of late has not taken these enormous difficulties into consideration. To my mind, the inquiry shows two leading features. One is that in 1891, which was a prosperous year in trade, and one which consequently militated against recruiting, our present system gave us 36,000 recruits. I think that shows we ought not to rashly attempt any great change in the terms and conditions of the length of service in this country. There is another feature which is not so pleasant, and that is that roughly speaking one-third of this number are what are called "specials," unable to come up to the low standard which we now have in the Army, and this shows that for able-bodied youths the attractions offered are not sufficient. After a perusal of the evidence and the Reports, I agree with Sir E. Bulwer and those Members of the Committee who took the same view, who are opposed to increasing the pay of recruits, because, as has been well pointed out, the service up to the age 734 of twenty is practically boy service. I think, however, that after two years' service, or if sent to India before that time, the soldier is entitled to a higher rate of pay. With regard to short service, I should like to remind the House that at the early part of this century Prussia was compelled by the force of circumstances to adopt this system in order that she might be able to put a larger force into the field on an emergency than the Army which treaties permitted her to keep with the colours. These Prussian battalions were by many regarded as militia, and there was great doubt with reference to their efficiency, but when the time came to try them they were found efficient. The system is now acknowledged throughout Europe, and you might as well disbelieve in the law of gravitation as in the necessity for a short service Army. The point I especially wish to criticise is what I call the misapplication of the Reserve Force. I believe we have a body of Reservists, for their numbers,, superior to any other country; but that by the manner in which it is proposed to utilise them we shall destroy to a large extent their effectiveness. The number of Reservists which it is proposed shall be poured into the battalions, stated as seventy per cent., is far too great, and would swamp them out of their identity. Experience has shown that Reservists rapidly pick up drill, but not habits of discipline, and are difficult to control. I would urge upon the authorities not to attempt to increase the strength of the battalions to a field establishment of a thousand men unless it can be done properly; but to form any surplus Reservists into provisional battalions. With regard to paragraph 128 of this Report, I have to say that I traverse it completely, and assert the opposite. I say that the composition of the Prussian battalions is far superior to ours. The Prussian battalions consist of men of from twenty to twenty-six years of age, and their Reservists have but just left the colours, whereas our men, far older than the men serving, have some of them left a long time, and they will come back to be under non-commissioned officers who are mere boys to them. For an Army to be really 735 useful every battalion should be able to take the field on receiving its quota of Reservists, in whatever part of the world it may be. My hon. and gallant Friend below the Gangway spoke about the Infantry soldiers being taught to work at some trade. In that I entirely concur with him. I know many colonels endeavour to give every facility to the men to learn a trade, but unless it forms a part of their duty nothing will be really done in this direction. Now, Sir, I should like to point out to the Committee that the potential force for war of this country is greater than it was when the localisation and short service system was introduced. At least fifty thousand men pass out of the Army, Militia and Volunteers each year. The country has no claim upon them; but in a real emergency many would come forward. In my opinion we have only to stick to our present system and to offer further advantages in order to obtain good results. I will only say, in conclusion, that I am extremely glad this Committee has reported, and I feel sure that there are a number of minor proposals in the Report well worthy of the attention of the Secretary of State.
§ (6.15.) LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIR HENRY HAVELOCK-ALLAN (Durham, S.E.)
I do not propose to detain the Committee many minutes, because the points I wish to touch upon have already been very well traversed, and also because at an earlier stage of the consideration of this Committee's Report—as long ago as the month of March—I dealt at a considerable length with the practical recommendations contained in it, and which I hope, will be carried out eventually. I think it is a happy circumstance that before the end of this Parliament the right hon. Gentleman who has charge of the War Office will have an opportunity of making a statement which may satisfy the minds of the country on the important question of whether the lines on which we are now proceeding are in the main correct, and will give us the force we require, or whether they require to be altered. Now, Sir, the scope of this Committee has been so wide, and the number of the subjects touched upon so large, that it is impossible to exhaustively discuss the 736 Report in the time at the disposal of the Committee. There is, however, a point with reference to Lord Roberts which I wish to mention; and let me say that I hope we shall hear that it was not in the slightest degree with the intention of depreciating the value of evidence coming from so authoritative a source that the report drawn up by him was not considered by the Committee, but that it was because they felt adverse to accepting the evidence of any individual whom they were unable to cross-examine. I hope we shall hear some such statement as that before the end of this Debate. We are undoubtedly on the eve of great changes. It is quite possible that before several weeks are over many of those who have spoken on this subject may be debarred, by circumstances over which they have no control, from speaking again in this House upon this question. Therefore I think that an authoritative statement from the Secretary of State for War—whom I, in common with the rest of the House, congratulate upon his restoration to health — would be valuable at the present juncture. In the first place it will indicate that it is from no want of will on the part of the Government, but only because the question has cropped up so late in their term of office, that they are not able to take action upon the Report of this Committee. And, Sir, it is due to themselves that some such expression of their readiness to carry out the recommendations of this Committee should be made, in order that the successors of the present Government may not have the credit of being alone willing to deal with this subject. It has been said in some quarters that an increase of pay to the soldiers would be a desirable thing, but I wish to say that I agree with the Committee in believing that an increase of pay will not bring us out of all our difficulties. My opinion is that if we took any such step as that we should find ourselves three or four years hence in exactly our present position, owing to the fact that the difficulty we have to deal with is not a military one, but a difficulty arising entirely out of the industrial conditions of the country, and any attempt to over- 737 come it by increasing the pay of the Army all round by threepence or fourpence a day would be just as futile as would be an attempt to stop the incoming tide by a mop or a broom. I think nothing would be more instructive than some Report as to the results of recruiting during the past few weeks in connection with the great industrial conflict which has been going on in the North of England. We have had ninety thousand men engaged in what some people call a strike, and others call a lock-out, because they would not consent to a reduction in their daily rate of wages, which averaged four shillings to five shillings a day. During all that time not 100 men have enlisted. Looking at the matter from another point of view, we find that the London County Council has arrived at certain conclusions which will practically ensure that the daily wage of all those classes of workmen who look to the County Council as their employer will be fixed in future at a rate averaging from four shillings to five shillings a day. That state of things will continue to increase all over the country. The wage-earning classes will take care to use their vote so that their rate of pay will not be diminished. Under those circumstances how can you expect to deal with a difficulty of this sort by increasing the soldier's pay threepence or sixpence a day? There are, however, some points in the Committee's Report which if acted upon may result in increasing the number of effective recruits to some extent, and I will revert to these presently. The reason we cannot get men for the Army is because the labour market beats us out of the field, and those who control the labour market—the voters—are likely to insist upon being paid four shillings or five shillings a day if we take them from their industrial pursuits. It is impossible to contemplate any such thing being done, and therefore it is important to devise now some means by which the working classes of the country would consent voluntarily to a certain amount of military training being given to their boys before they arrive at an age when they join the 738 productive labour market. By that means alone can this difficulty be solved. Now, I think this House made a great mistake when it granted free elementary and technical education without taking some equivalent. Within five years these two will cost the State five millions a year and because we have not devised some system palatable to the public we do not derive any return for that outlay as we might have done. Let the House just think what advantage it would be to the country if we had some such system for training boys at school as that to which I have alluded. That it is a workable system is shown by the fact, as anyone can see year after year at Aldershot, that we have 2,500 youths who go to our great Public Schools voluntarily undertaking exactly the same training and becoming as effective soldiers as our Volunteers. For instance, on one day during the last three years General Sir Evelyn Wood at Aldershot has had a battalion from the Public Schools numbering nearly two thousand rank and file between the ages of sixteen and nineteen. These youths have submitted voluntarily to training, and at the age of nineteen when fully trained they are as effective soldiers, except for physical growth, as any we have in the Army. Why should we not extend that system to the working classes? I am persuaded that in that course alone lies the solution of our difficulties. It might not only be made palatable to the working classes, but, in fact, it might be made so palatable that the working classes would demand it. If we had some system of this kind which does not take men away from their occupations, which adds to their physical force and muscular development, and also affords recreation, the result would be that in a very short time you would have a trained force of something like five hundred thousand lads of from nineteen to twenty who have not been withdrawn from productive labour for one single hour, and who would be as effective as the Volunteers. Moreover, this is a system which would work to the absolute advantage of the working classes, and they would come to demand it, because every lad would learn two trades, one for peace time and one for 739 war, without any expense. If you had this system, and at the end, say, of five years could rely on the services of five hundred thousand working men a year, what position would you be in? Instead of having to go to your wits' end, and to take men who are totally immature and try by every possible means to make them effective soldiers, you would have no fewer than from two to two and a half millions of trained men in your industrial population. On the breaking out of war, or the arising of any military emergency, you would go into the labour market with a bounty of from twenty to thirty guineas for a six months' enlistment only, and you could have the service of as many men as you liked, disbanding them again at the end of the campaign. I do not mean to say that I wish the present system abandoned; but that another system must be devised as an adjunct to it. That, however, is a matter for the future. Those who are sitting in this House five years hence will see that what I have said is borne out as to the impossibility of getting men on the present lines. This I will say: the reason why I did not agree to sit on the Committee, as I was invited, was because I was perfectly certain that whatever sum of money we expend on present lines we shall not achieve any great result. It is making bricks without straw; it is rolling a stone uphill; it is trying to make a coat out of cloth not sufficient to make a waistcoat. The future military development of this country is a subject I have been considering for nearly twenty years. The people will not tolerate compulsory service or a system of conscription of any sort. I will now come to what appear to me the practical steps which should be taken on the Report of Lord Wantage's Committee; and on this subject I hope we shall have some assurance from the Secretary for War (Mr. E. Stanhope) that those steps, which can easily be taken and will not cost much, will be initiated or put in the way of initiation before he leaves Office. One point most important to me is the equalisation of the number of battalions at home and abroad. This is part of the short service system which 740 was initiated in 1873. We have been departing wider and wider from it day by day, until we are at present landed in a state of things which gives, us seventy-six battalions abroad and only sixty-five at home. The number should be equalised. That is the main reason why there have been faults in our short service system. It was intended that it should be carried out on a basis of equality; but we departed from it in 1874, and we have never got back again. That is the reason why we have had all this wretched struggle to get drafts. We ought to increase the number of battalions at home by at least ten. If there were two battalions of Guards, so much the better; but there should be at least eight more other battalions added to the home strength. There should be more men at home than abroad, and then you would no longer have your present strain. The next point in importance is how much increased pay should be given, and under what circumstances? I entirely agree with what was said by my hon. Friend behind me who spoke just now. If you are going to increase the pay of the whole Army indiscriminately by threepence or sixpence a day, you are throwing your money into the ditch. We get every year a vast number of immature and feeble boys, who may be classed under two heads: those who will eventually make effective soldiers, and those who never will make effective soldiers. You do not want to attract any more of these people. If you offer more money all round you will only get more of the same miserable class who are unfit, properly to represent their country under arms. You ought not to increase the pay of the men when they first-enlist; let it remain as it is; practically eightpence halfpenny a day. When the man has been with the colours, say for five months, and is pronounced physically efficient and fit for foreign service all the world over, you might increase the pay to one shilling a day. If not, keep him at the diminished rate for twelve months, and then if he is not efficient send him about his business. Any expenditure of money without making that distinction will be totally wasted, 741 and the responsibility for it never ought to be accepted by any Secretary of State for War. Then, I think, we ought to do away with all stoppages. The Secretary of State has already announced his approval of a free kit, and that the white clothing for India is also to be free. That has been a real grievance with our soldiers, and in the case of the Indian soldier very frequently caused the first rankling which subsequently makes him a dissatisfied man. Then with respect to the Reserve, I think the claims of these 78,000 men should be considered. I see no reason why such of them as like should not be allowed to rejoin the Service. There is no doubt it would cost something, but I think it would be money well spent. There are a certain number of men who are fit for nothing but service in the ranks, and when they leave the Army and fail to obtain employment they merely go about the country giving the Service a bad name. If you would allow them to rejoin without making them refund their deferred pay you would remove a grievance and a danger. A few years, ago you could not have afforded to let them leave the Reserve, but that is now at its full strength, and with the Militia you have a total Reserve of over 109,000 men; and I think the time has come when you might allow these men to go back into the ranks, which is the only occupation for which they are fitted. Then it is certain that more ought to be done in the way of finding employment for Reserve men. In 1876 I initiated the appointment of a Committee, which was presided over by the right hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers), who subsequently became Secretary of State for War. We took a great mass of evidence, running I believe to about six hundred pages, on this subject, and I did hope when he became Secretary for War that something would be done. I do not wish to make any breach of confidence, but when I left the House to command a brigade I had from the right hon. Gentleman a sort of promise that he would do what in him lay to secure employment for the Reserve men. But nothing was done. The vested interests of the Civil Departments were too strong for the right hon. Gentleman, and it was not until 742 the present Postmaster General (Sir James Fergusson) took up the subject a few months ago that any substantial advance was made. It is not necessary for me to press the importance of this subject on the Secretary for War, but I think he ought to put his foot down, and, as in the case of the Post Office, make it a sine qua non with all railway companies which come to us for licences that they should find employment for a certain number of men from the Reserve. If that were done we should be able in case of emergency to call in a large number of trained men, and at the same time we should remove a very serious and real grievance. I do not wish to be considered a prophet of evil, but I do say that if we continue on our present lines we shall be no better off ten years hence than we are now. If we tinker along as at present we shall be no further advanced. I hope this subject will receive the consideration of the Secretary for War. If he succeeds in solving this difficulty he will have added to that reputation, which he thoroughly deserves, and will have introduced order, improvement, reform, and development into our military system.
§ (6.45.) COLONEL SANDYS (Lancashire, S.W., Bootle)
In considering this question of recruiting it is important that we should know what is really wanted in the British Army. We ought to know what the Army is expected to do, what numbers are required to carry out the desired objects, and how the relative proportion of the three arms of which the Army is composed will be affected. When these points have been considered by a competent authority and a definite declaration has been made, we shall be in a position to make up our minds what the needs of the Army really are. Coming to the question of recruiting, I would ask what are the reasons which prevent young men from entering the Army? One reason is the frequent changes of condition which affect the young men who have joined. These young men go back to the villages and tell their companions that the conditions in the Army are unsettled, that they have nothing to look forward to, and that after a few years' service they 743 would be turned adrift and would find a difficulty in obtaining employment. Now, the hon. and gallant Baronet who has just sat down (Sir Henry Havelock-Allan) to a certain extent went over ground that I intended to take when he referred to the training of youths in order to fit them to take a place in the ranks at a subsequent period of their career. The weak point in that argument is that, having partly trained your youth and fitted him to some extent for a military career, there is no provision for getting him into the ranks. But I recollect that the other day a question was put as to whether a boy of fifteen had been enlisted in the Guards. I forget what the answer was, but I should be quite prepared to see boys of fifteen in the Army. I would even bring down the age to fourteen, and enlist a considerable number at that age and attach them to each regiment. I was very much impressed during the review at Portsmouth with the manner in which the Naval Brigade manœuvred as battalions on shore, and I said to the commanding officer, "How do you get these men so well drilled?" His reply was, "We enlist them young and train them ourselves; and if we could get the House of Commons to allow us to enlist more of them we could do more than we do at present." Now I want to see that system applied to the Army. I should like to see companies of, say, one hundred boys attached to each Line battalion. Let them serve there as boys till they are eighteen, and then, if they are physically fit and favourably reported on by the commanding officer they would naturally take to the Service as a career. And let there be something for them to look forward to at the end of their service, in the way of either pension or employment, and then I feel sure that, to a large extent, you will fill up the gaps in your recruiting. But if these boys are to be properly trained they must be trained in the battalions to which they are to belong. They would not be attracted solely by the pay. The question is not entirely one of money; there is a sort of military feeling which attracts young men and boys into the Army, and the only thing 744 which deters them from entering in much larger numbers is the frequent statement by people whom they regard as having authority that there is not a living to be made in the Army, and that at the conclusion of their service they will be turned adrift into civil life without provision. These are points which we ought to consider, and I must say that I am not in favour of deferred pay in the way it is now given. I think we might expend it more advantageously in giving one penny or twopence more a day at the end of a soldier's service, or in giving better rations for the time he is actually serving. The deferred pay, given as it now is in a lump sum, is often wasted. I am strongly in favour of the regimental system, and should like to see it strengthened and not weakened. The British Army prospered under that system, and was the admiration of military men of every country. In connection with this matter I consider that the system of administration in the British Army should be to accept the battalion as the tactical unit. I do not like the system of linking the battalions, for you cannot tell how many battalions you may require to send abroad, and the depôts should feed the battalion that is abroad, or even both battalions, and ought to be realities and made more of than now. I hope, too, that some day the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War (Mr. E. Stanhope) may see his way to gratify the wishes of both officers and men, and give us back the old regimental numbers.
(6.55.) MAJOR GENERAL GOLDS-WORTHY (Hammersmith)
I may say that I agree generally with what has fallen from most of the speakers who have preceded me in this discussion, and I cheerfully admit all that the present Secretary of State for War has done for the Army. We all regret that he should have been compelled to go away for the benefit of his health, and I think that some of the weight of this most wearing Department of the Government should be taken from his shoulders and thrown on the shoulders of the Cabinet. I hope the Government will take up the question of Army organisation. Ever since I have been in this House I 745 have urged upon the Secretary for War and on the authorities the necessity of doing something to remedy the unsatisfactory state of the Army, which is not due to the faulty administration of the right hon. Gentleman, but to the heritage of difficulties to which the Government succeeded. I hope this matter will receive early attention, and whatever is the result of the General Election—I hope the present Government may come in with a large majority—the Government of the day should make up its mind at once what is to be done, and the experience of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. E. Stanhope) will be very valuable to whatever Government is in Office. But there are some recommendations of Lord Wantage's Committee which the Government can at once adopt, and grievances which they can remove, and I believe the moment the Secretary of State for War got that Report he set to work to see what he could do, and I hope to-night we shall hear what he is prepared to do. But this is a large question, and one which does not rest solely with the War Office, but with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, The Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us on several occasions that he will sit every night on the box which holds the money, but I think at times he may sit too tightly. It does not matter whether you have long service or short; but whatever you have you must follow it out to its logical conclusion, and give the officers the opportunity of commanding their men. It is no use sending officers into the field with strong battalions when they have only practised with weak ones, It is no use sending officers into the field with men they do not know, nor sending men into the field with officers they do not know. I do not think sufficient attention has been given to the Militia, who are the backbone of the country, and should not be neglected even for the sake of that valuable body—the Volunteers. The hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Sir Henry Havelock-Allan) spoke of drilling in the large schools, and I was told by the master of one of the large Board schools that the drill was a direct advantage to the boys in their education. In that way they are brought under 746 discipline, and the fault of the present age is want of discipline. I hope the Secretary of State will take up this matter and find instructors for the schools, who will see that the instruction is carried out. The working man of this country is a patriot, and takes as much interest in the honour of the country as any Member of this House, and he would not grudge the cost so far as he and his children are concerned. The present Secretary of State for War has done as much as any Secretary could have done in the time to carry out the reforms necessary so that we may have an efficient Army. The question is not one of the Party in power, and I should support any Party in promoting measures for the good of the Army.
§ (7.2.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
The hon. and gallant Member said that it would be extremely useful if boys were trained in drill at school, but I think that is a question for the future when standing armies are abolished, and all citizens are trained so as practically to be a voluntary standing army. The question at present is that of the position of the soldier. Every speaker has deplored the failure of recruiting, and on looking at the Returns we find that nearly all the recruits are lads of eighteen or nineteen. I hope this will go on from bad to worse until the country is compelled to do something to remedy it. The hon. Baronet said it was no use increasing the pay, but I think if you increased it appreciably there would also be an appreciable increase in the age of the recruits and their number. It was said that the pay of the soldier is worse than that of an ordinary labouring man—the labourer can strike, but the soldier cannot. In the case of the County Council employees they have votes, but the soldier has no vote, and he is at our mercy, and we take advantage of that fact. We tell a man he must enlist at eighteen, and the result is perjury with regard to the age of the recruits, and the War Office and the Secretary of State and a large number of people are consenting parties to the fraud, if fraud it can be called. The soldier is frightfully underpaid, and has no particular prospect before him. The hon. Baronet took the case 747 of the non-commissioned officers, but only one in five can be a non-commissioned officer, and the others only get about half the pay of the working population; that is most unfair. The men are under a strict Mutiny Act and cannot strike, but when they get into the Reserve they warn other men not to join, and I think they ought to do so. I will stick to that view while the soldier is treated in the shameful manner in which he is treated. The Royal Commission said that the soldier was underpaid, and recommended a great many changes, but they are a little too complicated; the question of adding five battalions to the Army is mixed up with the question of pay, and the two things have nothing whatever to do with each other. A month ago the War Office issued a Paper which threw a cloud over the whole question, and suggested from three millions to one and a half millions as the cost of increasing the pay. The cost of increasing the pay would be about £480,000 or £600,000, and that would put the soldier in such a position that the recruiting sergeant would get a far greater number of recruits. If you can get boys of seventeen or eighteen at the present pay, why should you pay them more? but I think it is unfair to make them engage to keep that rate of pay for a number of years. It would be fair to employ the boy for a year or two at the present pay, which is enough for him, but it is not enough for a man of twenty. I have looked at the Returns, and I do not think there are more than 80,000 men over twenty. To give them an increase of fourpence a day would cost £480,000. Of course, the number of men over twenty would increase in time, and the sum necessary would amount probably to £600,000; but for that sum you would have a thoroughly efficient and contented Army. That additional sum would be sufficient to prevent them being ashamed of their poverty when mixing with civilians. The deferred pay would be admirable if all soldiers were, industrious and had sufficient knowledge [...]o invest it in a profitable business on leaving the Army; but how many soldiers can be called industrious men? On the whole, therefore, 748 I do not think the deferred pay is very much use. It is desirable that the soldier should save his pay, and some of them do; but, on the whole, the evidence is against the deferred pay. In Russia, France, Spain, or any other country they will not enlist men under twenty. Men before that age cannot be sent on a campaign abroad, and it is waste of money getting them before that age. As to the suggestion that there should be one hundred cadets attached to each battalion, I think it would throw a very serious responsibility on the officers unless the lads' parents were in the regiment. If their fathers were in the regiment it would be a good thing for the boys. Otherwise they ought to be thoroughly separated from the men, and that would be extremely expensive, though they would, doubtless, then be better soldiers at the age of twenty or twenty-one. There would be a certain expense in paying off the deferred pay at once, but it would not be a loss to the country, as it has to be paid off some time, and on the eve of a General Election it is a toss-up which Party would have to pay it. The origin of deferred pay was that Mr. Hardy, who was animated by the most excellent sentiments towards the private soldier, wanted to do something for him without troubling the Chancellor of the Exchequer. By means of deferred pay he was able to increase the pay of the soldier without any immediate charge on the Exchequer, as the cost only became appreciable in the fourth year. It was a very good system from that point of view, and so I said in 1877. We are not getting the right class of soldier now, and there is a unique opportunity of doing something to enable us to get a better class of men, and it is a toss-up which Party will have to bear the expense if it should be decided upon. I think the ordinary elector would be rather glad that the private soldier was going to be treated a little better, and I hope the Government will make some satisfactory announcement on the matter.
§ (7.25.) THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE,) Lincolnshire, Horncastle
I can assure the Committee there is no one in this House more anxious than I have been 749 to discuss the questions arising on the Report of the Committee, or other questions respecting the organisation of the Army, about which a good deal has been written in the public newspapers during the past few weeks. But any approach to this subject must now be under somewhat unfavourable circumstances; everybody is thinking of something else. I confess, if I were able to make any great announcement on the subject and to declare the policy of the Government on all the points that have been raised just on the eve of a General Election, without actually making proposals to Parliament for carrying out those proposals myself, I should not be acting entirely justly, may be towards myself or to those who may succeed me in the office I hold. But I should like to allude to-night, at any rate, to a good many of the subjects that have been referred to. I have not had the opportunity yet of fully consulting my colleagues upon the larger questions raised in this discussion; on these, therefore, I do not propose to say anything to-night, but there are others on which I will say something. I have personally examined all these questions for myself since this Report was presented. I have discussed every one of them at my War Office Council with those whose duty it is to advise me on such matters, and I, therefore, very much regret that I have not had the opportunity of bringing the conclusions at which I have arrived before my colleagues for their consideration. At the same, time I am bound to say that some little delay in the matter is not altogether without its advantages, because every day seems to add to the suggestions made, so that, at any rate, whoever has to come to a final decision on all these great questions will have the great advantage of receiving every possible assistance and suggestion. I confess that I have received very little assistance, as regards the particular subject which I referred to the Committee, from the Report of that Committee, and I am sorry to say there is also a particular disadvantage in the manner in which the Report is framed. It has led, undoubtedly, to very grave misapprehensions. The first is that a sort of idea has got abroad that 750 there is a grave difference of opinion on matters of military organisation between the Civil and Military Authorities at the War Office. I assure the Committee that is not the case. It has been my duty during the past year to make, I am afraid, speeches of very great length on the subject of military organisation, but on all those occasions I am happy to be able to think I have carried with me not only the opinion of my civil colleagues, but the general opinion of those principal military authorities to whom I look in such a matter as this. The second matter of misapprehension is this. It is assumed—and a particular paragraph in the Report, which I think is most misleading, has undoubtedly lent colour to the assumption—that the military authorities condemn the present system on which our Army organisation is based. There, again, I can assure the Committee that is not the case. The chief military authorities in this country do not condemn the present system on which our Army in this country is based. The organisation is one which they are prepared to defend, although they also have most rightly endeavoured to bring to my notice various respects in which that organisation may be improved. If I may take a typical instance, I will take the case of an officer who has sometimes been supposed to be acting on different lines to myself, and who is no longer connected with the War Office. Lord Wolseley has written me a letter on this subject. Of course Lord Wolseley, more than anyone else, has done his best to improve the organisation of the Army, and has made most valuable contributions lately and previously towards that end. This is what he says with regard to our existing military organisation—Of this there can be no doubt, that, since the Peninsular War, we have never had so strong or so efficient an Army. Looking at it as a military machine, it has never before been so fit for quick conversion into a fighting Army in the field; and never before has the country been in a better position to resist invasion.I think now, when we are hearing such gloomy descriptions of the condition of the Army, that statement by one of the most distinguished officers in the Army 751 is one which the Committee, at any rate, will be glad to hear. Now, there are two very large questions raised by the recommendations of Lord Wantage's Committee, to which I wish to refer for a moment, though I am not prepared to pronounce any definite or strong opinion upon them. The first question relates to the terms of service. Nobody, I think, who has read the evidence or who has read the large correspondence to which that evidence has given rise can doubt that there is no subject in the world which gives rise to greater diversity of opinion than the question of the proper term of service for which a soldier ought to be enlisted; because none of all the great men whose names have been quoted to-day, and who gave evidence before the Committee, agree actually as to the best term of service to be adopted. I am only too glad to have the opportunity of informing myself, and also of giving information to my colleagues, as to the opinions held by all these great soldiers, in order that when the time arrives to come to a decision upon it we may feel sure that we have heard everything that has been already said upon one side and upon the other. I very much regret for my own part that the Committee presided over by Lord Wantage did not print the Paper of Lord Roberts which was sent in to them for their perusal. They did not do so, no doubt, for the best possible motives, because they thought that no Paper of which they had not the opportunity of cross-examining the writer ought to be produced amongst the evidence. For my part, I should be only too glad that Lord Roberts's opinion, like the opinion of every other officer of distinction, should be heard before we arrive at a conclusion upon the matter. That Lord Roberts's opinion is fortunately very well known appears to me to be pretty well indicated by what hon. Members have said to-day. If it should not prove to be, I shall only be too glad to present to the House and the country, if desired, such a statement as will enable them to understand what it is Lord Roberts desires. But I confess I should like to say this with regard to Lord Roberts's opinion upon the question of recrui 752 ting. Nobody will accuse me of disparaging in the smallest degree the opinion of Lord Roberts. Not long ago, when a vacancy occurred in the highest position in the War Office under the Commander-in-Chief—that of the Adjutant General—if there had not been a necessity for Lord Roberts to continue his very valuable services in India I should have been extremely glad to have seen Lord Roberts placed in the position of Adjutant General. Therefore, the Committee will see at once that nobody values more than I do the opinion of Lord Roberts upon, almost every question connected with the Army and Army organisation; but if there is one subject above all others on which Lord Roberts's opinion is least valuable it is the condition of the labour market in this country, and the principles upon which we ought to base our recruiting. Therefore, I am bound to say that, while I attach enormous importance to any opinion he may form on this subject, we must remember that his absence in India, where he has rendered great service to his country, does not enable him to enter upon the full consideration of this particular subject which is now before the Committee. There is another great question of very grave importance, and that is the emoluments of the soldier; and, therefore, I think everybody will agree that it must be treated as a whole. You cannot nibble at it; you cannot give him an increase to-day and another to-morrow. If you touch the pay of the soldier at all you ought to touch it comprehensively; and you are bound to settle the question for a considerable time to come, because you run the risk of discontenting the soldier by constant changes in the forms of payment which may not in the future afford him the satisfaction you desire to afford him. Therefore, I am very loth indeed to commit myself to any very strong opinion upon the general subject of the condition of the soldier, with regard to emoluments, without feeling sure that I am presenting to the Committee and to the country a general, full statement of the case. Now, it is perfectly clear that it is a question which is full of difficulties. Take the first question, which we have heard a good deal dis 753 cussed to-night—the question of deferred pay. One very curious result has come out of the inquiry, and it is this—that while the greater number of officers are upon the whole opposed to deferred pay, the evidence shows that almost all the private soldiers are in favour of deferred pay. Now, that is a fact which may be interpreted in one way or another; but it is a very important element in the consideration of the subject, and proves that it is one of very great difficulty for us to decide. I may tell the Committee another fact which, I think, will strike them as illustrating the great difficulty of the problem. The Adjutant General, Sir Redvers Buller, gave evidence before the Committee on the subject of deferred pay, and he expressed an opinion adverse to deferred pay. After having read the evidence and examined all that has been said on the two sides of the question, he is completely converted to an opposite conclusion; and now he is strongly in favour of the retention of deferred pay. Therefore the Committee will see that this is not a question to be decided easily or in a hurry. For my part, although I have myself a strong opinion upon the subject, and at the proper time shall be prepared to communicate it to the Committee, I think I am entitled to say to the Committee that, looking at the gravity of the question, I do not propose to state my opinion till the general question of the emoluments of the soldier as a whole is brought before this House for discussion. But I do not think I can let the question of the actual pay of the soldier pass by without a word, because, of course, the sort of recommendation made by a Committee like that of Lord Wantage's, and the endorsement given to it by some high authorities, may naturally lead people in the Army to anticipate that they are going to get the privileges which Lord Wantage's Committee has suggested that they should have. I have examined very closely for myself the question whether or not this increase of pay proposed by Lord Wantage's Committee would have the effect which they anticipate of enabling us to get older and better men for the Service. That there are 754 other points of view is undoubted. Whether we could not by some re-adjustment of pay get rid of that difficulty which is alleged in many parts of the evidence, and which we all know perfectly well exists—whether or not the soldier is at all misled by the deductions which are made from his pay, and about which some people say he has no opportunity of knowing before he joins the Service. That is a totally different question; and it may be desirable to examine the soldier's pay from that point of view, to see whether by some readjustment we may not get rid of such a grievance. But I now look at the question of increase of pay from the point of view only of whether you are likely to get better men for the purposes of the Army by increasing their pay, as Lord Wantage's Committee proposes. I have come to a very strong opinion that increase of pay would be absolutely and entirely useless for that purpose; and I may say also that in that opinion I am fortified by the entirely unanimous opinion of all my military advisers, who tell me that they entirely share that opinion, and they think that if the Government were actually to propose that increase of pay very probably the money would be altogether thrown away, and for the purpose for which it was proposed by Lord Wantage's Committee it would in their opinion be absolutely useless. There are two other questions relating to the soldier to which I will just allude in passing, though I am not able to-day to make any specific proposals with regard to them. One of them is the question of clothing. I have long had my scheme ready with regard to that subject, but many difficulties have occasioned delay in submitting the proposals. One of these difficulties, as the Committee may naturally anticipate, is the fact that we have not yet decided what is to be done as regards deferred pay. Some might say they do not see the connection between the two subjects, but the two things hang together very closely; and therefore it is desirable we should not pronounce the views we entertain with regard to improvement in the clothing of the soldier until we are able to decide also some other questions concerning him. Then there is the question also of the 755 non-commissioned officers. There is nothing more gratifying to me since I have had an opportunity of examining this question very closely than the conclusion at which I have been able to arrive with regard, at any rate, to the superior class of non-commissioned officers. I do not think there is a shadow of a doubt that, as regards the sergeants and superior non-commissioned officers, we in this country are in an infinitely better position than France or Germany or any other foreign country. There is no doubt that even with our short service system, and even with all the difficulties that are alleged as standing in the way, I do not think there can be a shadow of a doubt as regards the superior non-commissioned officers that we are very much better off in every respect than those foreign countries I have mentioned, Our difficulty begins a little lower down; our difficulty is rather with regard to the lower class of noncommissioned officers. I believe there can be no doubt that there is a difficulty felt in many regiments in this country in inducing men to take stripes, because of the conditions which at present attach to the taking of stripes in the first instance. I think there is a great deal to be said for that argument, and I confess I am inclined to look very favourably on treating non-commissioned officers in the earlier stages more favourably than they have hitherto been treated, because I believe in that way we should hold out greater inducements to private soldiers to become non-commissioned officers, and by that means we are likely to greatly steady and improve the condition of our regiments. Turning from the larger questions to which I have alluded, I want to come to two or three separate questions, as to which I think, generally speaking, we are practically unanimous—at any rate those who have recently been inquiring into the matter, and Lord Wantage's Committee are practically unanimous—and which appear to me also to be somewhat more urgent even than the questions which I have already been discussing. Now, the first is this: It has been alleged that we have not properly carried out the short service system as it was established by Lord 756 Cardwell, because we have not maintained the proper proportion between the regiments at home and the regiments abroad. That, no doubt, is perfectly true. From the very beginning, certainly from the next year or two-after the establishment of the system, there arose a disproportion between the regiments at home and the regments abroad, and it has never been remedied up to the present time. On the other hand, every Secretary of State of recent times—certainly the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) will bear me out—has endeavoured to deal with the matter not by increasing the number of cadres of the regiments, but by adding to the number in each battalion. Lord Cardwell began with a very small battalion. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) got down to the lowest established battalion—namely, 450. Since that time the numbers have gradually increased, until the battalion which at one time was maintained at 450 is now maintained at 720, thus obviously enormously increasing the power of the battalion to do its duty as regards the supply of drafts for the big battalions abroad. But I am perfectly prepared to admit that the principle of endeavouring to the utmost of our power to equalise a good deal more, at any rate, than they are equalised at the present moment the battalions at home and the battalions abroad is a perfectly sound one. Of course, it is also perfectly obvious that with the best intention in the world suppose you equalise them to-morrow, some special circumstances or some sudden emergency abroad might lead immediately to a demand for some battalion to be sent abroad that would throw your system again into difficulty. But I admit that your principle is a sound one, and towards the establishment of that principle, so far as we are able, we ought to approach the consideration of it from a favourable point of view. For my part, I am prepared to do my best; and now at this present moment I am taking steps which will have the effect of largely diminishing the disproportion between the battalions abroad and the battalions at home, and tend largely to 757 diminish the difficulty arising from the existing state of things. The second question, for which I would like to ask the attention of the Committee for a few moments, is the question of recruiting. I am bound to say that the evidence taken before Lord Wantage's Committee makes it clear to me that the system of recruiting that has been pursued for years past has been in many respects unsound. I am not going to defend that system for a moment. I think it has not been conducted on the best and most satisfactory principle. In the first place, there was no sufficient inspection of the agents appointed to carry out the work of recruiting. In the next place, there was no sufficient flexibility in the methods adopted generally for obtaining recruits; and no sufficient co-operation between the different branches of the War Office—between those engaged in putting recruits into our battalions at home, and those engaged in taking them out for the purpose of furnishing drafts for abroad. These were great evils. We have ourselves laid before Lord Wantage's Committee proposals that were framed for the purpose of improving those methods, and during the last six months, or year, large changes have taken place in our methods of recruiting: and I feel every confidence that our present Inspector General of Recruiting, who, I may say, has initiated a good many of these changes himself, and who is thoroughly imbued with the necessity for improving the methods which previously existed, will be enabled in the course of the next few months to do a great deal, even more, towards improving our recruiting. We have already dealt with the cases where officers undoubtedly have failed in doing their duty with regard to recruits. We have established new agencies in the particular places where we will have the best chance of obtaining good recruits for the Army; and we have adopted all sorts of provisional methods for the purpose of increasing the popularity of the Army and attracting recruits into our Service. Of course, I am, in spite of all that has been done, sensible of the difficulties that lie before us, and especially of the difficulties which lie before us for the next two years. I do not think I need 758 again refer to what is stated most carefully and elaborately in the Blue Book of Lord Wantage's Committee, nor to what is explained in the Report of the Committee itself, nor to what is explained also in the Report of Sir Arthur Haliburton—from all of which it will be seen that it is in consequence of the measures adopted in the years 1882, 1883, 1884, and 1885—measures of which I am not in the least complaining for a moment, but measures which undoubtedly increase the demand which we now have to make—that we have to ask for a greater number of recruits than ever were asked for in a single year. We require during the present year to obtain no less than 40,000, a far larger number than we ever obtained under ordinary circumstances. No doubt it increases our difficulties very largely. That state of things will continue over next year, and it will then begin gradually to diminish until at last I hope we will return to the normal state of things. I should like also to say that, speaking generally, our recruiting at the present moment is satisfactory. We have during that part of the year which has just expired obtained a very large number—more, in fact, than we could reasonably expect; and, furthermore, we have overtaken our deficiencies in all directions. At one time every year we had some difficulty with regard to Cavalry. I am glad to say that we have now a very large number of recruits obtained for the Cavalry, and I hope we shall have no difficulty in obtaining drafts for Cavalry regiments in India. I should like also to say, with regard to the Guards, that the state of things is also satisfactory. For some years past, as the Committee are aware, there had been a little difficulty in filling up the ranks of the Guards. Now they are more than full; and as one or two comments have been made with regard to the class of men who have been attracted into the Guards, I should like to say that the number of men in any battalion of the Guards who are under the recognised standard in any respect at the present moment is infinitely small. I can give the particular figures to the Committee if they care to have them; but I think they may take it from me gene 759 rally that in that respect the recruiting for the Guards is exceedingly satisfactory. Passing from that matter, there were two or three questions which were addressed to me, to which, with the permission of the Committee, I wish to give an answer. My right hon. and gallant Friend (Sir Walter Barttelot) who opened this Debate put to me a question which, of course, is a very natural one for him to put. He said, "Why do not you test your preparations for mobilisation by calling out an Army Corps, showing whether your operations are good, and whether you can do that which you say you are able to do?" I should like to point out to my right hon. and gallant Friend the difficulties of carrying out such a proposal. Nobody would be more glad than I to do this if it could be made practicable. Our first difficulty, of course, is the question of finance. We all know perfectly well that France called out a single Army Corps in peace time. It is the only experiment which has been tried of mobilisation in time of peace; but it cost France half a million of our money. In addition to the estimated cost our difficulties are very much greater than those arising from mere matters of finance. We have no legal power to call out the Reserve men except in a time of actual emergency. We would require to pass a special Act of Parliament for the purpose before calling them out. Moreover, apart from the legal difficulty, we should be disturbing these men and dragging them from their homes and civil occupations. Again, we have to rely for our horse supply in case of war partly upon conscription and partly upon other sources of supply, which are perfectly well-known to us, and which are available at forty-eight hours' notice. If we made use of those means of supply for the purpose of an experimental organisation of an Army Corps, of course we should have to pay large sums of money to compensate the owners of the horses, which would entail a very large expenditure of public money, and I doubt very much whether that expenditure of public money would be justified by the result that would be obtained. I am bound to say, however, that it would be very 760 satisfactory if we could obtain that practical test which my right hon. Friend has suggested, or any practical test that could be made, without encountering those very grave difficulties to which I have alluded, and I, at any rate, should be exceedingly glad to see it carried out. Then there was a point raised by my right hon. and gallant Friend behind me, the Member for South West Lancashire, who spoke of the method by which we mobilise regiments for service in time of war. He pointed in terms of unfavourable comparison as regards our Army to the number of Reserve men that would have to be taken in time of an emergency from this country, contrasted with the number that would have to be taken in France or in Germany. I do not think my hon. and gallant Friend really grasped the figures upon this subject, because there can be no doubt, as regards that matter at any rate, we are very much better off than either France or Germany. Supposing we had to mobilise one of our normal battalions for war, the state of things would be this—I am obliged, of course, to take an average. I fully admit that some battalions are very much below the average—that there are some more below it than I should like, just as on the other hand there are some battalions a good deal above the average. But taking a normal average battalion, we should only require, to complete our battalions and put them at full war strength, to add 496 Reserve men to each, whereas in Germany they would have to add 691, and in France they would have to add 694. And it is also fair to point out that, whereas the Reserve men who would be called out in France or Germany would only have had two or three years' service with the colours, all our men practically who would be called up for a battalion of that sort would have had seven years' service with the colours, and would have had much more training in their duties with the colours than soldiers called up from the Reserve in France or Germany.
§ COLONEL BLUNDELL
One objection taken is this: that our men would have been so long away from 761 their regiments that there is no fair comparison that can be made between our service and that of France or Germany. In France or Germany the medical student, the budding barrister, the tradesman—large and and small—are in the ranks. It is these who form the steadying element. With us it is totally different; and our men of over one and under two years' service cannot be compared with men of over one and under two years' service in France or Germany.
§ *MR. STANHOPE
It is very difficult, of course, to discuss the question without going into the full details of the subject. I wanted to point out to my hon. and gallant Friend the error into which he has undoubtedly fallen. With regard to the number of Reserve men that would be required, to discuss the matter in detail it would be necessary to go into a number of other subjects. But I am bound to say, however, that with the single exception of the fact that our Reserve men would have been longer away from the colours, our Reserve are better than those of France or Germany. Our men would undoubtedly have been trained for seven years with the colours, whereas in France or Germany the Reserve men would only be trained for two or three years with the colours. I have touched, I am afraid very lightly, upon a great many of the subjects which have been raised in the course of this Debate, and which we included in the recommendations of Lord Wantage's Committee, and I submit to the Committee that all that I could fairly be asked to deal with in the time, I have dealt with. I have dealt with all those subjects which are of absolute urgency, and which appear to me to be subjects that could fairly and properly be dealt with at the present time. I admit there are other questions as to which explanations ought to be required from me at no distant date, but I think the Committee will allow that I am entitled to full time to form my opinions on these matters, and to consult fully with my colleagues before I come to the House and state the policy which we desire to adopt regarding them.
§ (8.3.) COLONEL NOLAN
The Secretary of State has spoken well, as he always does, except upon one point. The right hon. Gentleman has not gone over the whole subject, stating that this is not the proper time; but months ago he declared that when this question came up for discussion he would give us his views, and this is the first opportunity we have had. Meanwhile, he declares that his military advisers tell him that he will not get any advantage out of increased pay. But who are these military advisers? Gentlemen, drawing from six hundred to fifteen hundred pounds a year. I do not suppose he will deign to take advice from men drawing smaller salaries; and these are the gentlemen who object: to the soldiers getting more! I will do them the justice to say that the Secretary of State for War has not questioned one of them. He only mentioned two officers. One of these was General Roberts; but that gallant officer's views are diametrically opposed to those of the right hon. Gentleman's. It may be said, "Oh, but he is only an Indian officer," but with sixty thousand men passing through the Indian Army every year he has plenty of opportunity of finding out what the private soldier thinks on this matter. The right hon. Gentleman also quoted Lord Wolseley, but his opinion applied more to breech-loading cannon than to pay. But I must say that, on the point whether we treat Tommy Atkins properly, the Secretary of State for War has hardly vouchsafed a reply, and that, too, on the eve of the General Election.
§ (8.6.) MR. JEFFREYS (Hants, Basingstoke)
I regret that the one definite announcement made by the Secretary of State for War is that he does not see his way to increase the pay of private soldiers; for if I gather anything at all from the Report of the Committee, it is that the soldiers are underpaid; and although the gallant Member opposite (Sir Havelock Allan) said you might increase the pay without getting better men, I think the reason why you get these boys in the Army is that the pay is too low. That is what we find in other matters. In my own district the 763 greatest number of recruits that enter the Army are lads—between boys and men. When the lads on the farms think they are getting too old for the pay of boys, and the farmers refuse to pay them more, they enlist because the pay is rather better than the pay they were getting. Anybody can tell that the Army is composed chiefly of boys if a visit is paid to Aldershot and the regiments there are looked at. I have heard a great many complaints that these boys when they enlist think they are going to get one shilling a day clear and their rations, including breakfast, dinner, and tea, and that they only get their dinner free, having to pay out of their shilling for groceries, for their breakfast, and tea. These deductions bring the pay down to eightpence or ninepence a day. I think that this is a great hardship, although, no doubt, it would be a very large matter to increase the Army Estimates by fourpence per day a head. I have the authority of Sir Evelyn Wood for stating that if the Government would provide these "groceries" the cost would not be fourpence, or even threepence, but only twopence per head; and one of the best things the Government could do would be to give a free breakfast and a free tea to the soldiers. There can be no doubt that a great many of the men are underfed. The lads do not grow into great strong men as they would with sufficient food. When the ranges were made at Bisley Sir Evelyn Wood gave the men who made the earthworks an extra free luncheon, and the consequence was that at the end of the time the men developed into great healthy strong men. The soldiers also complain of other stoppages which should not be made. With regard to the question of "boys" in the Army, Sir Evelyn Wood in his evidence stated that only thirty per cent. of the whole troops at Aldershot were equal to carrying the service marching order. Surely that is a very sad state of things. I can only conclude, from reading the Report, that the men are undersized—mere boys—and that the reason why this is the case is that the pay is too low. With regard to the deferred pay which the Secretary of State for War says he is taking into consideration, 764 it always seems to me a very strange thing that when you have enlisted these boys and turned them into good soldiers you should, after seven years, instead of trying to induce them to stay on in the Army, give them a lump sum in order to get rid of them. In any civil employment when we have good servants we try to induce them to stay with us by increasing the pay, and we should certainly not give them a lump sum to induce them to go. This is the principle recognised even with regard to War Office clerks, and I would suggest that as soldiers stay on their pay should be increased. Enlist them if you like, as boys, train them in the Army, and then gradually increase their pay. In that way you will get a good Army. It appears to me that there is rather a dislike to the Army among a great many respectable people in the country, and I know from my own experience that on one occasion when a boy joined the Army his father and mother, who were respectable people, thought it was a great disgrace and a dreadful thing, and they paid ten pounds in order to buy the boy's discharge. I think that a great deal of the unpopularity arises from the practice of soldiers in uniform being excluded from places of public entertainment, and I am glad that a Circular has been recently issued about this matter. Instead of the Army being a disgrace, I think that wearing the Queen's uniform is an honour; and if soldiers cannot enter these places of entertainment free as is the case on the Continent, they ought on payment to be admitted willingly. If the Army were made more popular we should have a better class of recruits; but the main point is to take away the stoppages in the pay.
§ (8.14.) LORD HENRY BRUCE (Wilts, Chippenham)
I do not think that the Secretary of State for War's speech will be at all satisfactory to the country. It is not a question whether our soldiers should get deferred pay or whether our non-commissioned officers are better than the French or German ones. It is a question whether the whole of the scheme organised in 1872 has or has not been to a great extent an egregious failure. I shall be very glad if 765 this Committee has the opinion of the ex-Secretary of State for War opposite (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) on that point. It is not a case of running atilt against Lord Wantage's Committee or their Report, for I think this country owes a great debt of gratitude to them for their work. We well know that Army reform must cost money, owing to the state of the labour market, but what this country wants to know is whether we get our money's worth. I am afraid when we look into the present system there is only one reply we can give to that question, and that is an unsatisfactory one. What we want to know is, first, have we got an efficient home Army; secondly, have we got one Army Corps ready to take the field; and, thirdly, have we got an efficient Reserve? To these straightforward questions only one answer can be given, and that is an emphatic "No." Our short service system is based on Continental ideas, with conscription as its basis; and as this country will not have conscription, short service with us is bound to be a failure. To begin with, the French Army never takes a man under twenty-one; we very often take boys of sixteen and seventeen. That is an unsatisfactory way of recruiting. Furthermore, our recruiting officer is not allowed to go to any depôt where recruits are, without the distinct consent of the Commander-in-Chief at the Horse Guards. Is that satisfactory? The Secretary of State for War, speaking at Hammersmith on the short service system, said—It is the fact that in this respect our military system corresponds with those of France and Germany, and you have got a large reserve of highly-trained men.But what did Sir A. Haliburton say in his Report? He said this—No doubt it is desirable that Reservists should receive some training if it can be done without injury to their prospects in the labour market.Now I ask, do these considerations weigh with France, Austria, Russia, or Germany? We well know that they do not. To counteract the labour market you must, therefore, popularise the Service. You must abolish those costly dishonest placards which deface our public buildings. You must not say, by these advertisements at rail 766 way stations and other places, that a man shall receive one shilling a day when he does not get it; you should not promise him free rations when you do not give it to him, and you must not promise him a free kit when you do not positively give him one; for though there has been considerable alteration in this respect, many hon. Members know that when some of our soldiers have gone out to India, they have had to pay for their kit. I say you must get rid of these compulsory stoppages. As I have always pointed out, the rule in the Army is that the more work you do the less pay you get. For instance, take the evidence of Colour-Sergeant Coyne, 1st Warwickshire, before Lord Wantage's Committee—With regard to Aldershot, I do not think the men get a sufficient supply of boots. The men have to get their boots repaired at least once every three months. I have known a case where a man had to get both pairs of boots repaired in one month.It is totally different in the labour market, where the more work you have to do the more pay you get; and you will never get good servants unless you act on the principle of the labour market. As regards barrack damages and these absurd charges, Sergeant Crofts, in his evidence before Lord Wantage's Committee, states—We really do not know what we are paying barracks damages for.I can well believe that statement, for I recollect a story told me by a friend of mine, an officer of the 22nd Regiment, who was once quartered at Linen Hall Barracks, Dublin. On his taking up his quarters there he was given a room which he noticed had the only wet floor in the officers' quarters, and he could not understand the reason of it; but next morning he found, when the floor had become dry, there was a huge stain, due no doubt to someone else having upset an oil lamp. A few days after this my friend spoke to another officer at Dublin, and said he thought it was a hard case that he should have to pay barrack damages for this, whereupon the other officer replied, "My good fellow, the very same trick was played upon me seventeen years ago in the same room when I was last quartered there." Perhaps the Com 767 mittee will allow me to give them one more illustration. An officer in the Scots Greys, quartered at New Bridge Barracks, and who was a smart officer, was anxious to put a stop to these barrack damages and solicited his Colonel when the regiment was leaving to be allowed to remain behind and give over their quarters to the barrack master. On going through the men's rooms, the barrack master at once detected a small crack in a pane of glass in the corner of the window, for which he immediately charged the full value of the window; my gallant Friend, who happened to have a small cane in his hand, at once put his stick through the window. My Friend did it again to the next window that the barrack master condemned, and I need hardly say that after this no more windows that were cracked were noticed. This question of barrack damages and stoppages is a very important one. Of course, hospital stoppages are most unfair when a man is in the hospital through no fault of his own, and is not malingering. If he is put into the hospital through any fault of his own let him pay, of course, the proper charges, but otherwise the fewer stoppages the better. If you wish to make the Service more popular, abolish useless night duties, abolish those long sentries around our palaces and public buildings, which are totally unnecessary, and for which you can substitute night patrols under the officer on guard. You could thus relieve a large number of soldiers going on guard at night. Then, again, if you wish to popularise the Service, give up destroying our glorious traditions and our old regimental numbers. Look at the Oxfordshire Regiment, the late 43rd! Who ever heard of the Oxfordshire Regiment; but we have all heard of the old 43rd and 52nd. The Duke of Cambridge made this statement before the Committee, and yet the Secretary of State for War does not take the slightest notice of it. Then, again, look at the Lancashire Fusiliers. Who knows anything of the Lancashire Fusiliers? No one; but we have all heard of the 20th Regiment, the Old Minden Boys, the regiment who won the Battle of Minden! Give up tearing away these badges of distinction, 768 which are worn, perhaps, in memory of the dead. Take the 9th Regiment. The mourning chevrons of the 9th Regiment were worn by their drummers in memory of Sir John Moore, who died on the battle field of Corunna in the moment of victory, and yet they were torn away in order to effect a small saving. It is the old story over again. For the sake of a penn'orth of tar you are ready to spoil the whole ship. That comes from the War Office. The War Office is the bête noir of the British Army. The Secretary of State for War said at Hammersmith—My endeavour has always been to improve its condition without destroying the old and glorious traditions to which it is attached.I firmly believe the right hon. Gentleman does wish to improve the condition of the Army, but if he does not wish to destroy the old and glorious traditions of the British Service, why, in the name of common sense, before he was six weeks Secretary of State for War, did he get rid of five batteries of Royal Horse Artillery? The only reason given was because they wanted the horses for the military train. Sir Arthur Haliburton says he sympathises with the long-suffering taxpayer, and so do I. We pay the War Office £257,000 a year to destroy the traditions of the Army and to get rid of five batteries of Horse Artillery in the way they did. How did they get rid of the uniforms of these Horse Artillerists? They positively, when one battery went to bed, stole their uniforms from them. I have heard of one Political Party stealing the clothes of another Political Party while they were bathing, but I never heard before of a War Office Department stealing the uniforms of their men when asleep in their barrack rooms. It reminds me of Mr. O'Brien's breeches at Tullamore! I want to know whether we are to go on damping that cold-blooded courage which is predominant in the British race and in the British Army? We should recollect the words the great Napoleon exclaimed as the sun was setting on the battle field of Waterloo: "Those English, they never know when they are beaten." I say the War Office should turn over a new leaf, and try to make itself more in 769 unison with the feelings not only of the country, but of the Army itself, and you would then have no difficulty whatever in getting a sufficient number of recruits to serve under the Union Jack.
§ (8.28.) SIR HENRY TYLER (Great Yarmouth)
I think we are much indebted to the Secretary of State for War for the many improvements he has carried out since he has held that position, and I do not join with the noble Lord who has spoken last in his wholesale denunciations of the Department. But I do think that the position of the British soldier should be improved. We all know that the recruiting sergeant has to compete continually with the labour market; and as wages of late have improved in every branch of industry, I think the British soldier should share in that advance. I quite agree with the gallant officer who gave it as his opinion that we should take young men into the ranks. After enlisting these young men, we should not only train them carefully, but also feed them properly, because we can never convert them into able soldiers unless they are sufficiently fed as well as thoroughly drilled. I therefore ask the Secretary of State for War to re-consider the whole question, with a view to making our soldiers as efficient as they possibly can be made, for we have in this country the very best material, if only it is properly handled.
Notice taken, that forty Members were not present; Committee counted, and forty Members being found present,
MR. MCDONALD GAMERON (&c.) Wick,
I join with hon. Members in welcoming the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. E. Stanhope) on his recovery from his recent illness. Having taken considerable interest in Army matters, I much regret the condition of the Army, both at home and abroad; but wherever I have been I have heard unanimous expressions of approval of the right hon. Gentleman's methods of reforming the Army. He has not, however, been able to do as much in that direction as is desired. I wish to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the promise made several years 770 ago with regard to those who took up commissions in the Militia with the intention of subsequent admission into the Regular Army. Last year five commissions were offered in March and five in September; but this year I believe the War Office issued an Order that only two commissions would be given in March this year and two in September, and that then the commissions will finish. This is exceedingly hard on those parents who have engaged their sons in a course of preparation, and fulfilled the other conditions of the Service; and therefore I should like the right hon. Gentleman to promise that he will extend these commissions until March next, so that those who accepted the terms offered may be enabled to complete the required fifteen months' service. With regard to the Army itself, I agree with the hon. Member for South East Durham (Sir Henry Havelock-Allan) that so long as you go tinkering away on the old lines no great good will result. We spend millions per year for the purpose of making the Army efficient, and yet the highest authorities tell us that this money will do nothing towards efficiency. I hear this wherever I go. While it is true that the regiments which go to India are composed of excellent and splendid men, when I see these boys of seventeen and eighteen years of age at home, I am forced to the conclusion that they are not fit for service abroad. And I certainly think that a country like ours, with territory all over the world, should be prepared to defend its possessions, but that cannot be done without a thoroughly efficient Army. I was lately at Singapore, and saw what had been done in reference to the protection of our coaling stations there and at Aden, and so far nothing could be more, satisfactory than the work carried out. We are, however, simply on the fringe of the question. This is a great trading nation, and we must protect its interests or face retrogression to the position of a fifth or sixth rate Power. How can we meet this question? You have made education in this country compulsory, and you have made it free. And are the people to receive all these benefits from the Exchequer and to give nothing in 771 return? This may be considered a Tory speech, but it must be remembered that this country is no longer in the position of forty years ago. Then we were without a rival; but we have now to compete with other nations in every part of the world. Conditions in this respect have altogether changed in recent years, and therefore it is surely wise that we should be prepared at any moment to protect the rights of this great Empire which has been handed down to us by our forefathers. What are you going to have in return for free education? Surely you must have something in return from a man who has been educated at the expense of his country. The Empire has a right to his services. I would like to say, as the hon. Baronet said, that with this free education you ought to have associated the means of educating the youth of this country to arms, so that in the event of outbreak or conflict in Europe you could call upon men perfectly fitted to take the field. I think if this question were brought before the country, and the country were made aware of our enormous responsibility, the patriotism and desire to maintain first position would cause the people to accept any obligation of this sort which might be placed upon them. At the present moment there are millions of men under arms in Europe, and it must be obvious to any man of experience that under our present Army system, and our present limited resources, we could not cope with a great European war. The result would be panic; Parliament would again be appealed to for money, and it would be granted; the old blundering would be committed, and the money would be wasted. Some believe that if we had a strong Navy and continued to build ships the nation would be safe. That, however, is a serious error. While Continental nations maintain large Armies, we also should have a strong and efficient Army ready to move at any moment. But I understand from experts that we cannot turn out three big Army Corps; and under the present dishonest and unfair system of recruiting we never shall get such an Army. The present system is not in accordance with the spirit of the nation, and it must be remedied. You may do all you 772 can, chipping here and there, but there will never be perfect improvement until you completely change your system. No matter what Government is in Office you will have to face this question, and you will have to face it simply on the lines suggested; and the sooner it is so faced the better will it be for the interests of the Empire.
§ MR. EDWARD STANHOPE
May I just answer the specific question which the hon. Member put to me with regard to more commissions? That is a point already under consideration, and although as the hon. Member knows I have made some concessions, I will see whether further concessions cannot be made during next year. I would rather not pronounce any opinion now. I, however, think there is a good deal to be said for the case put forward, and I will carefully consider it and see whether something further cannot be done.
§ MR. HOWELL (Bethnal Green, N.E.)
We have had an excellent Tory speech from this side of the House, but I should be sorry to think that the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken (Mr. McDonald Cameron) from below the Gangway represents to any extent the feeling of this side with regard to the duty that devolves upon the citizens of this country to serve in the Army simply because we have free education. The people have paid out of their own pockets for the free education they are enjoying; and I do not see that that involves the duty of being called upon to serve either in the Army or the Navy, or any duty beyond that of paying proportionately as taxpayers. It seems to me that our position has proved to be superior to that of Continental nations by the position in which British trade stands to-day as compared with those countries where the males are compelled to serve for a time. We are holding our own in the markets of the world, because of our freedom from compulsory service; and as regards Germany, with all its advantages and all its native power and force, we are able to hold our own. And particularly with regard to the Germans, I believe this is because they have compulsory service and we have it not. What does compulsory service mean? It means taking the youth of the country just at 773 that period before manhood when they can best learn the handicrafts of the country. This is essentially a trading community; and to take away from the handicrafts of this country our youths and young men at that period when in other countries compulsory service is observed would be to render possible our reduction to a third, fourth, fifth or sixth rate Power among the nations of the world. Depend upon it, our best path to pursue is to give such advantages as we are able to the young men who are willing to serve in the Army or Navy, and not to treat them scurvily if they so serve. I do not wish to pursue this question further, but I could not allow the speech of the hon. Member to pass without an observation, because I think the fact that we have free education or free anything else does not carry with it any obligation that the youths of this country shall be called upon to serve in the Army or Navy.
MR. MCDONALD CAMERON
I am sorry the hon. Member misunderstood me. I did not mean to advocate compulsory service in the same sense as the hon. Member regards it, because I am sure the country would not stand it. My meaning is that we should train the boys and youths of our Board schools so that we may have men ready for active service when any emergency arises, instead of having to fall back upon men who have never had a rifle in their hands.
§ MR. MORTON
I had no desire to intervene in connection with this Vote previously to the Jingo speech of the hon. Member for the Wick Burghs (Mr. McDonald Cameron). I feel certain that the hon. Member does not in any way represent the feelings of the Radical Party or of the people of this country generally with regard to war. If I understood him correctly, he believes in our being prepared, not only to defend ourselves, but for the purposes of aggressive warfare all over the world. I do not think that is the desire of the people of this country at all, and I am satisfied that the result of free education, as it is called—that is a misnomer, because the people pay for it themselves, and, therefore, there is nothing free about it—will be to teach the 774 rising generation the opposite of what the hon. Member has advocated. The proper course for the Government of this country to adopt is, instead of assuming an aggressive attitude all over the world, and seizing additional territory, to go in for arbitration as the American Government have done, and then we should not need to increase our Army. Probably we should be able to diminish it. I do not believe in training up boys in Board schools to fight. We had much better teach them a trade, so that they may become good citizens, and not murderers of their fellow-men. Now, Sir, I am satisfied that in the future we shall have to pay the private soldier what will be equal to £1 a week, instead of 14s., as at the present time. While we have to keep an Army we ought to make the soldiers' lives reasonably comfortable, and do all we can to enable them to become good members of society when they leave the Army. I see the Vote now before the Committee has increased by £40,000, and I should like the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. E. Stanhope) or the Financial Secretary to the War Office (Mr. Brodrick) to explain the reason for that.
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE WAR OFFICE (Mr. BRODRICK,) Surrey, Guildford
Considering the very large number of men and horses that have to be provided for, the smallest variation in the price of rations or of forage makes a great deal of difference. As the hon. Member is probably aware, the harvest last year was not so good as that of two or three previous years, and that accounts, to a large extent, for the increase. The figures in the Estimates have been very carefully considered, and have been fixed at the lowest possible point.
§ SIR WALTER BARTTELOT (Sussex, North-West)
I have always given my right hon. Friend (Mr. Stanhope) credit for what he has done for the Army, but I am bound to say that I am exceedingly disappointed with his statement. He commenced by saying, "I have received very little assistance from the Report of the Committee." I was sorry to hear that remark, because I think it is a very poor return to make to a body of men who have endeavoured by every means in their power to place 775 a clear and exhaustive Report before the Government. Some misapprehension seems to have arisen with reference to the statement of His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief in paragraph 21 of the Report. It is assumed that the chief military authorities do not condemn the system on which the Army is founded. No one has said they do, but what they did say was that the materials placed in the regiments were not fit to do the duty for which they were intended. My right hon. Friend has said that the information sent by Lord Roberts with regard to recruits was so casual and imperfect that he could not put any trust in it. Now I will venture to say that a man who, like Lord Roberts, has 60,000 to 70,000 of our troops under his command, and who has every opportunity of getting to the bottom of all these matters, is the last man who should be accused of not knowing the disposition of recruits, and of those who have joined the service. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that all soldiers were in favour of deferred pay.
§ MR. EDWARD STANHOPE
There are several points already on which I have been misrepresented, but I cannot sit still and hear this added to the rest. I did not say anything of the kind. All I said was that officers generally were in favour of the abolition of deferred pay, whilst the private soldiers generally went against its abolition.
§ SIR WALTER BARTTELOT
Well, then, all I will say on this point is that if a Return of the deferred pay which is placed in the savings bank and of that which is spent as soon as it is received could be obtained, I think it would astonish my right hon. Friend to find the number of cases in which the money is immediately spent, and its recipients left to become waifs and strays in the country. The Secretary of State for War has said that although the Committee has made certain recommendations with regard to increased pay he is not prepared to consider them until he has ascertained what the total sum would be. In connection with this question of pay, there is one matter to which I wish to refer. On the bills which are posted 776 about the country to attract recruits it is stated that they are to receive a certain amount of money. They join the Army believing they are to receive a shilling a day, but they find that every sort of deduction is made, and that, in short, they have been taken in. That is a state of things which ought to be altered without delay. I was very pleased to hear my right hon. Friend say that it is quite true the battalions at home should be composed of the same numbers as those abroad, and that he would do his best to make them so, although circumstances sometimes occurred which made it impossible to do so. A right hon. Gentleman also stated that the number of battalions at home should be increased by ten instead of six, so as to allow a margin for small wars and other casualties. We are a great nation; we have an enormous Colonial Empire, and we are bound to see that we are prepared for emergencies at all times in any part of the globe. I was also very glad to hear my right hon. Friend say that he was determined to improve the position of the junior noncommissioned officers. Nothing is more necessary or required. Now, there is a great and growing demand that soldiers shall have their old clothing. It is sold to certain people, and everyone knows what it fetches, and I think the soldier should either have the clothes himself or its equivalent money value. My right hon. Friend has not referred to the question of Indian summer clothing. I would point out to him that this question is one of great importance to the men, because as soon as they are sent out to India they are at once subjected to stoppages of pay for it. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider these points.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
I cannot refrain from rising at once, because there is hardly a single statement I have made which has not been misrepresented by the right hon. and gallant Member (Sir Walter Barttelot). In the first place, I should like to say that although it is perfectly true that I said I have not derived any particular assistance from the Report of the Committee, still it will be recollected that I spoke at great length upon the Report in March last. I then expressed my obligation 777 to the Committee for what they had done and the great pains they had taken in the inquiry. And then my light hon. and gallant Friend has quite misrepresented what I said about Lord Roberts. I never suggested that he was not perfectly able to judge of the recruits that were sent out to serve in the regiments in India. Of course he is. He is very much better able to form an opinion about them on their arrival than are any of us at home. All that I said was that in India Lord Roberts was not in a position to form an opinion about the condition of the labour market in England, and therefore these are matters on which those in England are better able to form a judgment than Lord Roberts could in India. Then my right hon. and gallant Friend also referred to the question of deferred pay, and he challenged my statement, which as far as I can judge from the evidence is a perfectly fair one, that the majority of the officers of the Army are in favour of abolishing deferred pay, whilst the majority of the private soldiers are in favour of retaining it. It is stated in the evidence that the question was put to 31,300 Reserve men, and more than 26,000 expressed themselves very strongly in favour of deferred pay. My statement was, therefore, absolutely justified. I did not express any opinion on the matter, but I stated as a curious fact that whilst the officers went strongly in one direction the private soldiers went in the opposite. There is only one other point, and that has reference to the sea-kit. I explained in March last that we had taken steps to abolish the objectionable deductions with regard to sea-kit, and that, as this had been done in full consultation with the Government of India, a good deal of time was occupied.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
I wish to protest, Sir, against the Jingo speeches we have heard to-night from several hon. Members, and I think this Debate has gone on quite long enough. The outcome of all the talk of hon. Members has been that they have found fault with the Secretary of State for War, who, to my mind, is more to be pitied than condemned. He has tried to do his feeble best in the cir 778 cumstances. If his ability is not sufficient for the position he holds he cannot help it. If all the millions voted for the Army have been wasted it is the fault of the system. I regard it as a deplorable fact that although hon. and gallant Members get up in their places and complain of what is done or is not done, yet they have not the manliness to bring coercion to bear upon a Coercion Government. The history of the present Government will be written in letters of strong condemnation, and the administration of the Army and Navy seems to be quite as bad as the administration of any other part of the Government.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 2. £290,100, Medical Establishment, Pay. &c.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON
I should like to thank the right hon. Gentleman for the concessions he has made to this Department in the matter of titles. He went into the matter with an open mind and with great assiduity, and treated us with great courtesy. He has made considerable concessions, but I am sorry as he took the matter up he did not go the whole hog. He did not give the full military title which the Army Medical Department wanted, and which similar Departments have in other countries. Undoubtedly this is a step in the right direction, and I think eventually the Medical Department will get what it wants. What is wanted is that the doctors should have military titles, which they can use in private life or not as they please. But although the present system is not ideal it will become better. Of course, these compound titles are rather cumbrous; and I understand it is the practice that military officers are dropping the medical part of the title and addressing them by the military title, such titles as we hope they will eventually get. I should like to ask the Secretary for War why he cannot give these compound titles to officers of the Army Medical Department who have retired, but are on the Service list and may be called upon. Some people go so far as to ask that these titles should be conferred on medical officers who have retired altogether, 779 but I do not know whether that would be desirable. Still, a certain section desire it. Then I should like the right hon. Gentleman to consider the grievance that the period of foreign service has been lengthened from five to six years. It is a very heavy tax on an Army medical officer to have to carry on his difficult and onerous duties in a tropical climate. It is found in practice to be very detrimental to health, and many break down in consequence. Why cannot the concession which has been made to the officers of the Naval Medical Department be made to the Army Medical Department? Let them have certain periods of leave for study purposes. If a medical officer comes home after a long term abroad he should have five or six months given to him to study. He might attend some of the medical schools, and, and as medical knowledge grows very fast, he would find that he had much to learn in order to keep himself abreast of the times. I think a period of leave for study would be a great advantage to the Department.
§ (10.7.) DR. TANNER
I cannot see why there should be any difficulty in extending to the Army what has already been given to the Navy. The same concession has been made in Germany, Belgium, and France. In earlier life I had the opportunity of studying side by side with surgeons in the German Army, who were allowed to go into the medical schools. I think when we know that this system prevails in other countries our Government should be all the more ready to give attention to it. There can be no question as to the advantage to be derived, when, as we know, medical science advances not by steps but by bounds; and when a man has been on a foreign station several years he ought to have an opportunity of rubbing up his medical knowledge when he comes home. This is a matter of manifest importance, and I trust the right hon. Gentleman will give to it the attention it deserves. With respect to the question of titles, I must say I never paid very much attention to that. It strikes me that if a man is proud of his profession as he ought to be he will be satisfied with his professional title; and as for precedence, the best precedence that a man 780 can have is that of eminence in his profession. I should like to call attention to the fact that the Army hospitals at Aldershot are in nothing short of a disreputable condition. You have spent any amount of money on the mess-rooms and the decoration of the mess-rooms, but there is no such thing as an hospital for infectious cases at Aldershot. There are huts, but they are not isolated, and are practically within the lines. What would happen in the event of the outbreak of an epidemic? Both in the British Medical Journal and in your own Reports the state of affairs has been stigmatised as it deserves over and over again. I hope something will be done to remedy what is nothing short of a disgrace. Not very long since a disused schoolroom on the public road was used as an infectious hospital, and it is quite time something was done to put a stop to things of that kind.
§ (10.13.) MR. BRODRICK
With regard to the last observations of the hon. Member for Cork, I think he is aware that very considerable building operations are going on at Aldershot at this moment. We are quite aware that the hospital huts are not in a condition that is desirable, and I think he knows that the building at Aldershot is going on as quickly as the contractors can push it. We have had two severe winters and a strike to contend with; nevertheless, if the hon. Member can find time to go to Aldershot he will be very much surprised at the change that has been made in two years. We shall welcome the time when the use of these wooden huts can be discontinued, and when the new brick building which is being built is ready. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there is no intention of postponing this matter. On the contrary, the work is being pushed on as rapidly as possible.
§ DR. TANNER
The hon. Gentleman speaks as if this were an old matter which existed two years ago. I can bring proof that what I have said refers to the last two months, and I am not dealing with any old matter.
§ MR. BRODRICK
The transfer has not yet been made, but that cannot be done till the new building is completed. We shall make the transfer as quickly 781 as possible, and I must say that no general officer commanding has ever pushed on his work with more rapidity, zeal, and energy than Sir Evelyn Wood has displayed. His devotion could not have been surpassed by any man, and he has assisted the War Office in every possible way over this work. Something has been said by the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire (Dr. Farquharson) and the hon. Member for Cork (Dr. Tanner) with respect to attendance at medical schools after long terms of foreign service. This is a subject of some importance, with respect to which there should be some inquiry, and my right hon. Friend (Mr. E. Stanhope) is quite prepared to give the matter every consideration. With respect to the term of foreign service, that is undoubtedly long in some cases, as is the case in other departments, but that is inevitable, and we could not decrease the time without largely increasing the number of medical officers. I think the hon. Gentleman will scarcely expect me to raise the question of compound titles now. The object of these titles, which have given so much satisfaction, was to give each officer proper authority and status in the regiment. That hardly touches officers on the retired list, and I do not know that there is any precedent for giving to officers subsequent to their retirement the same advantages which are given to officers on the active list.
§ (10.20.) LIEUTENANT GENERAL SIR FREDERICK FITZWYGRAM
I should like to support what has already been pressed upon the Secretary of State (Mr. E. Stanhope) with respect to opportunities for study being given to medical officers who have been on foreign service. No one who knows anything of medical science can be ignorant of the fact that a man who has been away from the country for six years gets behindhand, and I think it is very reasonable that men who return on leave after such an absence should be allowed to attend the schools for six months on full pay.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 3. £535,000, Militia, Pay and Allowances.
§ 4. £74,400, Yeomanry Cavalry, Pay and Allowances.782
§ 5. £781,500, Volunteer Corps, Pay and Allowances.
§ (10.23.) MR. EDWARD STANHOPE
I wish to avail myself of this opportunity to make one statement with regard to the Volunteer Force, which I think will be of interest. I have before now intimated that it was my anxious desire to take every step in my power to encourage Volunteer officers to enter the Service and remain in it. One step that I have endeavoured to take—and I hope it will be carried out before any very long time has elapsed—is to secure their exemption from jury service. There is one other matter which specially applies to Volunteer officers, but I want it to be distinctly understood that it does not apply to non-commissioned officers or privates. Their case is not at all the same as the case of the Volunteer officers. The officers have to give a great deal of their time and of their money to the work, and they are therefore specially deserving, of encouragement and recognition. Accordingly I have proposed to Her Majesty, and Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to approve, that a special decoration should be granted to Volunteer officers. Her Majesty, in the preamble of the Warrant which will shortly be issued, states that her desire is to reward the long and meritorious services of Volunteer officers of proved capacity in Her Majesty's Volunteer Forces. The means by which we propose to attain that end is to institute a decoration which shall not be a medal in order to distinguish it entirely from those decorations given to soldiers of the Regular Army for service in the field. But it will be a special decoration, which every person will be entitled to receive who at the time of receiving it is actually holding a commission in the Volunteer Force and has served for twenty consecutive years as a commissioned officer, and who is duly certified by the district military authority as an efficient and thoroughly capable officer. We believe that decoration will be an encouragement to Volunteer officers; and I hope it will, to a great extent, remove the feeling of want of recognition. There is one other point. It will naturally be suggested: Why have you 783 given this decoration only to Volunteer officers and not to officers of the Militia? I have always been led to believe that the officers of the Militia desire specially to be connected with the officers of the Regular Army, and they would look with jealousy upon any decoration which would specially separate them in any particular from the officers of the Army. Had it been otherwise I should certainly have been not at all indisposed to recommend that they should have the same decoration, and I am glad to be able to announce that Her Majesty is prepared to give this proposal her gracious sanction.
§ (10.27.) COLONEL HUGHES (Woolwich)
I gather that Volunteer officers of twenty-five or twenty-eight years' standing who may have retired a year or eighteen months ago will not have this decoration. I think this will give rise to some jealousy on the part of the older officers who may not now be serving that a distinction of this very gratifying character should be given only to those who may now be serving, whilst other officers may have served much longer than twenty years. I feel that there is something wanting in the way of recognition of past services.
§ (10.28.) MR. PICTON (Leicester)
The right hon. Gentleman commenced with a statement about exemption from jury service, and then mentioned this decoration. Do I understand that this decoration will carry the exemption?
§ MR. STANHOPE
The two proposals are totally distinct. The exemption from jury service is, as I have said, a matter which will have to be dealt with by legislation, and the Lord Chancellor has intimated his readiness to initiate that legislation. But the two proposals are totally distinct, and the decoration will not carry exemption.
§ (10.29.) MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
It is gratifying to know that the very important subject of efficiency of our Volunteer officers has been receiving attention from the War Office, and I have no doubt that the exemption from jury service will be felt by many to be a substantial recognition of the services rendered by Volunteer officers. With respect to the twenty years' 784 service, I do not think any very large number of officers will be able to claim the decoration, and I am not quite sure in the interests of the Force that it is desirable that the number should be large. What we want in the Volunteer Force is not long and continuous service, but a succession of young men able to work, ready to fill the places of the older officers. I hope, however, that this step may tend to produce efficiency in the Volunteer Service. There appears to be a certain want of interest in the management of the corps by the young men of the towns, and I sometimes think that that is not altogether due to defective interest on their part so much as discouragement on the part of their parents and guardians. I know instances where they have been keep back by their parents and guardians on the score of the expense. I do not know whether it would be possible to do something with regard to it in the way of a sort of sumptuary law to check the "swagger" of some of the Volunteer officers. There is no necessity for wearing silver lace; I know it is not required by the regulations, but indirect pressure is put upon the officers to bear greater expenses than are necessary under the regulations.
§ (10.32.) COLONEL NOLAN
In this decoration a new principle is introduced by the Secretary of State for War. Where is there an Order confined to officers? I have known of an Order restricted to the men, and they did not value it much because the officers were excluded from it. The officers often have more money than the men in the ranks, and that accounts for them being officers; but I do not think a decoration should be introduced for them only. It is unmilitary, and draws a distinction between officers and men. There might be grades in the Order, and the officers might receive a higher grade than the men, but both should be included in the Order. I do not see on what principle the Government have gone in the matter unless it is that the officers have spent a certain sum of money on the corps. The men are, perhaps, not able to contribute to the same extent, and, therefore, it looks very much like buying a decoration. I would strongly 785 recommend the Secretary of State for War to re-consider the matter.
§ *MR. STANHOPE
The object of the distinction is this: Many Volunteer privates are practically paid for attendance in camp, and their attendances at drill are often very infrequent. The officers, on the other hand, have to give up an enormous amount of time and pleasure for the performance of their duties, and if there is any service which deserves special recognition it is that of Volunteer officers.
§ MR. MORTON
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman why, if the officers are to be exempted from jury service, the men should not have the same encouragement to give up their time to the corps. As regards the medal, I confess I cannot understand it. It appears that officers are to receive it after twenty years' continuous service, but I am afraid that there are not many officers who are able to give twenty years' continuous service. There is great dissatisfaction in the country at the position of the Volunteers. They are continually snubbed by the Horse Guards; the officers and men have to bear large expense, and sometimes outsiders have to contribute, so that the corps may be kept up. In my opinion that expense ought to be borne by the country. I see there are two hundred thousand efficient Volunteers, which shows that considerable interest is taken in the Service by the country, and I think when we have these men and officers for the good of the country they ought not to be called upon to pay anything out of pocket. The House of Commons is not doing its duty in allowing anything of the kind. I notice under this Vote there is a reduction of about £4,000 in the grant for great-coats, and I see there is also a reduction in the item of travelling expenses. I should like to know why this is. We owe a great deal to the Volunteers, and the Government and the House of Commons ought to be ashamed of themselves if they any longer allow the officers and men to pay money out of pocket to keep up the Service which is fo the good of the country.
§ MR. NOBLE (Hastings)
If my right hon. Friend is unable to say that the Order shall be extended to the privates, I would ask if he is not able to extend it to the non-commissioned officers. The Secretary for War said that the officers gave up a large amount of time. No doubt they do; but the time of the non-commissioned officers is of a great deal more value to them than the time of the commissioned officers is to them; and the efficiency of a corps is often as much dependent on the exertions of the non-com missioned officers as on those of the commissioned officers. If the Order could be extended to the non-commissioned officers it would be greatly appreciated, as showing that the services they render to the country are recognised.
§ MR. STANHOPE
I am afraid I cannot accept the suggestion of my hon. Friend. I have based this decoration entirely on the precedent of the Distinguished Service Order in the Regular Army, which is given only to officers, and not to non-commissioned officers and privates.
§ MR. PICTON
There are differences between the Volunteers and the Regular Army. The former are a Citizen Army, and though, of course, there must be a distinction between officers and men when on parade, in other respects they should be treated alike. The right hon. Gentleman made a somewhat unfortunate remark when he said the officers gave a great deal of time and money. We own that they give up the time, but I do not think when the service of the State is concerned we ought to say anything about the money. I do not think money spent by rich men is any reason for giving them a special distinction as compared with a poorer man. The right hon. Gentleman says that some Volunteer privates are paid; they are not paid by the State, but by private subscription, and I believe that some corps subscribe to pay well-qualified officers. I deprecate the introduction of any kind of distinction between officers and men as regards recognition by the State. With regard to the suggestion that all Volunteers 787 should be exempt from jury service, I think there is a great danger in a wide exemption. There are already many exemptions, and if 200,000 more are to be added at once to the list the work of serving on juries will press increasingly on working men. I have little sympathy with the suggestion. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will re-consider the question of the decoration, and that officers and privates will be placed on an equality in the matter.
§ DR. TANNER
The right hon. Gentleman proposes to create a sordid distinction between officers and men in the Volunteers, and I think he ought not to set up class distinctions. There will be considerable disappointment when it is found that the officers are to receive a decoration while the men are not, on the ground that the men are paid while the officers are not paid. The officers devote considerable time to the Service, but they do it because they enjoy doing it. The right hon. Gentleman will be making a signal mistake if he gives the officers a distinction, while the privates who leave their trade or business to do the drills and so on are left out.
§ MR. BRODRICK
A year ago the Government offered a grant of two shillings per man towards the purchase of great-coats for the Volunteers by the corps themselves, or gave them the option of having the coats supplied by the Government. The vast majority of the corps decided to accept the latter method, and something like 150,000 great-coats have been given, at a cost of about £100,000. So many out of the total having been already supplied, the Vote was, of course, reduced. The Vote for travelling expenses is reduced, but the amount of the reduction will be found to be added to the expenses in connection with camps.
§ MR. PATRICK O'BRIEN (Monaghan, N.)
I think the Secretary of State for War was unjust to the Volunteers when he gave as his reason for the men not being able to earn the decoration that they were paid.
§ MR. O'BRIEN
The point I want to make is this: The rank and file of the Volunteers have sacrificed much more of their earnings than they ever get back for attending drill on certain occasions. Many of them who are engaged in factories and workshops during the day give up many of their evenings to attend drill, while in general the officers are young gentlemen who have nothing else to do, and whose parents get them into the Volunteers to keep them out of mischief. I think it is a bad principle to introduce a distinction between officers and men in the matter of the decoration. I hope, even yet, the right hon. Gentleman may see his way to extend the Order to the men as a reward for merit in the ranks of the Volunteer Service.
§ SIR HENRY HAVELOCK-ALLAN
Hon. Members below the Gangway are, perhaps, not aware that there is great difficulty in keeping up the supply of Volunteer officers, considerable expense being attached to the post; and if the Secretary for War proposes to reward the officers and men by giving them a decoration, he does not intend to make any distinction between them. I understand that the men already receive a badge for long service.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
If the Secretary for War will get up again and explain what he intends to do, we shall not have other speeches like that we have just heard.
§ COLONEL HUGHES (Woolwich)
The privates have a badge for five years' service; they have a decoration, and the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman fills up a gap.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
Now, I understand. The private gets a badge on his arm, a stripe like a good conduct stripe.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
That is a badge, and not a decoration. A cross or decoration is very much prized, and the men would be very proud to wear it if the officers also had it. The Secretary for War is making a most ludicrous distinction.
§ DR. TANNER
I think we might have some further explanation from the right hon. Gentleman. Is the right hon. Gentleman going to face the General Election, after having conferred this distinctive badge upon the members of a particular class, simply because the officers spend money which they have to spend, and because the men do not spend it as they do not have it to spend? I say this is one of the most invidious distinctions. I do not stigmatise it too strongly when I characterise it as a sordid distinction, which will very soon get such a reception at the hands of the people of the country as the right hon. Gentleman very little thinks of. He has not considered this matter; and I really think at the present time that he would act very wisely if he got up in his place saying, that as he has been beaten in argument on this particular point, he would withdraw his scheme of stripes and decorations, and hold it over until another Government came into power better qualified to deal with the matter. In that way he would relieve himself from responsibility, and relieve those officers from a certain amount of odium.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 6. £639,700, Transport and Remounts.
§ (11.1.) MR. JEFFREYS (Hants, Basingstoke)
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman from what source the horses are drawn, for which a sum of £14,000 is asked in the Vote?
§ (11.2.) MR. EDWARD STANHOPE
The horses come from various sources. They are carefully selected. A large number of them are riding horses for Cavalry purposes. The animals are all thoroughly efficient for the purposes for which they are intended.
§ (11.3.) DR. TANNER
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman for some information relative to the ships in use as the means of transport for Her Majesty's troops. I see there is a ship in use called the "Assistance." I recollect that in 1886 a Debate took place in this House in reference to this vessel, which was then strongly condemned as being absolutely unsea 790 worthy. I had an opportunity of going over her on many occasions; and I had the opportunity of seeing her for the last thirty years constantly coming into Queenstown Harbour, and she was always in a state of disrepair. I would really ask the right hon. Gentlman whether some steps will not be taken to try and get good, respectable, seaworthy, decent ships for the conveyance of troops instead of a superannuated class of vessel like the "Assistance."
§ (11.5.) COLONEL NOLAN
I really think there might very properly be a reduction of about £100,000 effected on the item for transport. The fact is, that is one of the policies of the War Office. I do not say this Government is responsible for it, because it has been going on always. There has been a positive mania for moving troops about from place to place, which has caused great discomfort, and put the married men to considerable expense and worry. In my opinion, this is a Vote which might be cut down by, say, £100,000 without hurting anyone, except, perhaps, the Railway Companies.
§ (11.6.) MR. BRODRICK
The hon. and gallant Gentleman may be assured that there is no disposition whatever on the part of the War Office to move troops about from place to place unnecessarily. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that very considerable reductions were made in this Vote by my right hon. Friend when he took office. The amount asked for the transport of troops is almost entirely made up, or very largely made up, of railway expenses for deserters, men in distress, escorts, and so forth.
§ (11.7.) COLONEL NOLAN
This question of deserters does not much mend the matter. The more hon. Members look into the question the more clearly they will find that this item for transport of troops might be cut down.
§ (11.8.) MR. STANHOPE
I have satisfied myself by a close examination that the number of regiments moved cannot absolutely be reduced. I am sorry to say there has 791 been an increase in the Vote in consequence of the great difficulty in finding rifle ranges.
(11.9.) SIR FREDERICK FITZ-WYGRAM
In regard to this last point my experience is that troops are often kept a very long time at every station. In the neighbourhood where I live the regiments twenty years ago used to be moved once and sometimes twice every year, which was a great source of trouble and expense to the married men. Of late years the movements have been less frequent, and the change is very much appreciated.
§ (11.10.) DR. TANNER
I think as a matter of fact the way in which some of the items of this Vote are put down is rather misleading. I want to have some better explanation as to the payment and discipline of the medical staff in connection with this transport. But the most serious matter which I should like to raise in connection with this Vote is the question of how these re-mounts are obtained. In days gone by we find that the major portion of the light Cavalry regiments obtained a large number of horses from Ireland; but I regret to say that in the present day the present Government have followed the lead of the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government who declared Irishmen to be worse than Hottentots, and have no dealings with the country. At all events, on the question of re-mounts, the farmers of Ireland have been more or less boycotted. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War whether it is not a fact that there has been a very considerable falling off in the purchase of horses from Ireland for re-mounts during the past year? I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture, who understands all these matters perfectly well. I must say it is rather an extraordinary thing that while the purchase of horses in Ireland by the Government has so much fallen off, we find Frenchmen and Germans coming to Ireland and buying horses for re-mounts for their respective Services. Can it be wondered at under such circumstances that the Irish trade is not thriving?
§ (11.15.) MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
May I be permitted, Sir, to make an appeal to the Committee to carry on to-night the policy which was understood to be agreed to by the House last night? Gentlemen who are largely interested in the Civil Service Estimates last night abstained from discussing them on the understanding that Parliament had reached a crisis in its history when it was desirable to pass the Estimates without discussion. There were many points which they might have raised—I myself would under other circumstances have done so—which would have been of equal importance to those raised this evening, and their importance I am quite ready to admit; but every Member in the Committee thought it was desirable to get these Estimates through quickly as it was impossible to criticise them efficiently at this period of the Session, and as the First Lord of the Treasury had undertaken to make an announcement as to Public Business on Monday night. If we are to discuss the Military Estimates as they would be discussed in an ordinary year it would be hardly fair to those gentlemen who abstained from their criticisms on the Civil Service Votes, and it will be really impossible to get through in the time in which the House wishes to get through. I would therefore most respectfully ask the House whether it would not be desirable to follow the example of last night and bring Supply to a close as quickly as possible, especially as we cannot make an effective criticism, and it is not desirable that the Estimates should stand over? This is a matter of practical common sense, and I would appeal to the Committee to deal with it accordingly.
§ (11.18.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
On the general principle, I entirely agree with the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton. It is evidently impossible to discuss the Estimates this year with the fulness of detail which ordinarily is necessary, and, that being so, it is scarcely a matter of utility to attempt to discuss them. But I must add that I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for 793 Wolverhampton is a little premature in the remarks he has made to-night, and I would remind him of the extraordinary and unprecedented progress of Public Business last night. While you, Sir, were in the Chair I do not know how many millions were passed, but I do know that we got through the whole of the Navy Estimates and four Glasses of the Civil Service Estimates, excluding the Irish Votes. Besides that, there was something which on another occasion would have been considered worthy of notice as being exceptional in itself, and that was the passing of twenty-two Bills after midnight. I have listened for some time to the course of the Debate, and I do not think the speeches made were trivial. I would advise the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton to possess his soul in patience, and he will find that no arrangement has been violated, and that the progress of Supply will be as last night.
§ MR. MORTON
If my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton has any cause for complaint it is against gentlemen on the other side of the House. Four or five hours were taken up on one Vote almost entirely by Tory Members. I think we below the Gangway have shown both last night and to-night that we are anxious to get the business through as fast as possible.
§ MR. EDWARD STANHOPE
In reply to the hon. Member, I am unaware that there has been any alteration of policy at all, and I would not sanction any alteration of policy.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 7. £820,600, Clothing Establishment and Services.
§ 8. £1,847,000, Warlike and other Stores: Supply and Repair.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
I wish to ask the Secretary of State whether any arms or ammunition have been sold, lent, or given to the British East Africa Company.
§ MR. STANHOPE
I am afraid I cannot answer that question. I know that a few stores went out to a Consul General, but I do not think any went to the British East Africa Company. However, I would rather not speak without further notice.
§ DR. TANNER
With regard to the question of Cordite powder, I would like to ask whether the Department have taken any measures to investigate other varieties of smokeless powder?
§ MR. STANHOPE
Every form of smokeless powder was tested, and Cordite came out the best, and I am bound to say that since its adoption it has given very satisfactory results. The final tests by heat in India are not perfectly completed; but so far as they have gone they are very satisfactory.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 9. £802,100, Works, Buildings, and Repairs: Cost, including Superintending Staff.
§ (11.26.) MR. MORTON
I should just like to ask the right hon. Gentleman why there is such a large increase in this Vote? The increase is about ten per cent. of the total Vote.
§ MR. H. R. FARQUHARSON (Dorset, W.)
I am sorry to interrupt, but I should like to know if the Vote includes any expenditure on the New Forest?
§ DR. TANNER
I should like to ask whether this Vote of one thousand pounds for the drainage of the Royal Infirmary at Dublin, in page 63, will be sufficient to carry out the proposed improvement in this place, or whether it is only a Vote on Account?
§ MR. STANHOPE
The £1,000 is a complete estimate for the works. So far as I know, and so far as we are informed, that amount will complete the works.
§ MR. STANHOPE
It will be sufficient so far as I know. To the best of our belief it will complete the works.
§ DR. TANNER
There is also another point on which I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question. I refer to the drainage of Ballincollig. This is a matter which has been up again and again, and I find that there is £900 to be voted for it in this Vote. I want to know if the right hon. Gentleman can say how soon this work will be finished, and whether steps will be taken to make this a complete work? There are very great difficulties in the way. There is a small slope near these barracks, and in consequence there has been a certain amount of settlement in or about the barracks of stable matter, from which offensive smells arise. I should like to know how the work is proceeding, and whether it is likely to be finished soon?
§ MR. STANHOPE
I am afraid I cannot answer that question right off. I have not heard of the progress of the work since the end of last year, but I will make inquiry and report exactly how the work is going on.
§ DR. TANNER
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman; and if he will communicate with me on the matter, I will take that as an answer.
§ *MR. STANHOPE
Certainly. With regard to the question of the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Morton) as to the serious increase in this Vote, I would point out that we have had to carry out a number of alterations in barracks, and that this accounts for some portion of the increase, and that the acquisition of Barry Links in Scotland accounts for another £61,000 of the increase.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 10. £113,500, Establishments for Military Education.
§ (11.30.) COLONEL NOLAN
I think the sum required for this purpose is altogether too large. It also appears to me that the cadets have to pay too much for their education.
§ MR. BRODRICK
They have not to pay more than the actual cost. I would remind the hon. and gallant Gentleman that this question was very carefully gone into about a fortnight ago.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
The hon. Gentleman has not stated how much these young gentlemen are required to pay. It is £150?
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 11. £122,300, Miscellaneous Effective Services.
§ DR. TANNER
I tried once before to get some information about this particular item, but failed. It shows an increase, and, without wasting any more words, I will ask the cause of it.
§ MR. STANHOPE
It has been found necessary to give the assistant secretary of the Sanitary Committee, who has been working very hard throughout the United Kingdom, an increase of salary.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 12. £257,800, War Office, Salaries and Miscellaneous Charges.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
I should here like to recur to the subject which I raised some time ago, with reference to the manner in which the military authorities acted towards an Irish soldier who wore the shamrock on St. Patrick's Day. The man was ordered to remove the emblem from his cap, and was afterwards punished for not doing so. No more effective way of hurting the feelings of Irishmen could have been chosen, and I do not think the Military and War Office authorities have taken a proper and sufficient notice of the conduct of the officers in the case. It is likely to leave a bad impression on the minds of Irish soldiers and Irishmen generally, and I consider that something should be said with regard to it. How can you expect Irish soldiers to take an interest in the English flag when they are not allowed to wear the shamrock on St. Patrick's Day? There has been 797 a great lack of tact on the part of the authorities, to say the least of it, in this matter, and I hope that a statement which will be satisfactory to Irishmen in the Army will be made before we separate.
§ MR. MORTON
I wish to put a question with reference to the salary of the Commander-in-Chief. I notice that the maximum salary is £4,500, but it hat £6,000 is put down for him in the Estimates. I do not think the present Commander-in-Chief is likely to get any wounds, or to be rewarded for distinguished services; and, therefore, I do not see why he should receive nearly £2,000 above the maximum allowance. I should like to have some information on this subject, as well as to hear the reasons why the Director of Military Intelligence and the Accountant General should receive more than the maximum salaries allowed for these officers.
§ *MR. STANHOPE
With regard to the question addressed to me as to the salary of the Commander-in-Chief, I should like to say that the salary was fixed at £4,500, but that before the present Commander-in-Chief, who has held the position for a long period of years, accepted it, he was in receipt of a larger amount. It was, therefore, thought right not to reduce the sum, but any successor to the office will receive only the £4,500. The Director of Military Intelligence and the Accountant General are paid the sums they are receiving on account of their special qualifications for their positions. In reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan) as to the wearing of the shamrock by Irish soldiers, I have nothing to add to what I have already stated on the subject, and that is, that if an Irish soldier desires to wear the emblem on St. Patrick's Day, and he intimates such a desire to his commanding officer, I think the latter will be willing to grant his wish; but the sanction of the commanding officer must first be obtained.
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
There are two reasons why I need not go back to the recent case of the Irish soldier who was punished for wearing the 798 shamrock on St. Patrick's Day. The first is, because the War Office authorities have practically admitted that the cemmanding officer of the regiment acted rashly and without discretion; and, secondly, because, long before St. Patrick's Day comes round again, another Administration will be in power which will be actuated by different feelings towards Ireland. But I will say this—that whatever Administration may be in power, the Irish Members in this House will insist upon the national feelings of Irish soldiers being respected. They will not tolerate any system of insult or punishment by English commanding officers and martinets to Irish soldiers for wearing the national emblem on St. Patrick's Day.
§ COLONEL HUGHES (Woolwich)
I wish to ask whether any intimation has been made to the men employed at the Woolwich and Enfield Arsenals with reference to the giving of gratuities after twelve years' service and discharge? I believe, in accordance with the Act of Parliament, the Secretary of State for War has made a reduction to seven years. I should like to know whether the War Office has sent a notification to Woolwich, and from what date the reduction is to operate? If no other date occurs to the right hon. Gentleman he might adopt the date of my original complaint in 1890 as to the variance between the Rule and the Statute.
§ MR. STANHOPE
Anybody who attended the Committee on Army Estimates must remember the Committee's general expression with regard to the work done by that official. The Committee intimated to me a desire that the services he had rendered should be recognised, and, in response to my representation, I am glad to say that the recognition was made.
§ MR. MORTON
The Royal Commission recommended that the office should be done away with. I trust it will be dispensed with, and the money 799 given to the officers in the Army who do the work.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 13. £1,527,700, Retired Pay, Half Pay, and other Non-Effective Charges for Officers, &c.
14. Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £1,385,400, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals and the In-Pensioners thereof, of Out-Pensions, of the Maintenance of Lunatics for whom Pensions are not drawn, and of Gratuities awarded in Commutation and in lieu of Pensions, of Rewards for Meritorious Services, of Victoria Cross Pensions, and of Pensions to the Widows and Children of Warrant Officers, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1893.
§ DR. TANNER
I have received several communications with regard to pensions, and, after referring to one or two of the cases, I will hand the Papers to the right hon. Gentleman for his investigation. The first case is that of Sergeant Major Kelly, who was discharged from the Army after twenty-one years' service and wanted to reengage. His character was good, and a certificate had been granted to him. I think there are strongly-deserving elements in his case. The next is the case of a poor man who lives near Cork—Toomey, late Corporal B Battery, 18th Royal Artillery—who, from all accounts, is most respectable, and has behaved in an exemplary manner. He enlisted in the East India Service on the 9th April, 1847, was discharged 31st July, 1886, and volunteered for the Royal Artillery. Another claim sent to me is from a poor man who is at present an inmate of the Union Hospital at Cork—Peter Phillips, 98th Regiment. He wanted to claim admission into the Hospital at Chelsea, but the Commissioners had altered the regulations, and Phillips was in consequence shut out. These are three particular cases I mention in order that the names may be reported. I hope these, with the others, will be investigated in a fair and judicial spirit, in order that these poor old soldiers may receive that reward which I believe is due to them.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
I rather object to the system of the Chelsea Commissioners, regarding whom I am constantly getting letters. In two or three cases, notably in that of Sergeant Webster, the Secretary of State for War seemed to agree that there was a good deal in the cases; but the Chelsea Commissioners occupy so much time that the cases are forgotten. There seems to be nobody in London to whom you can speak on the subject. It is true that the Office is conveniently situated, but when you go to discuss a case there is practically nobody responsible there. I do not see under what rule the man, can be denied his pension; but, owing; to this system of the Chelsea Commissioners, there is no means of obtaining redress. Another point is that these pension arrangements lack elasticity. The Secretary of State for War does not seem to have sufficient power to vary pensions in extremely hard cases. I brought this subject forward when the present Duke of Devonshire, as Lord Hartington, was Secretary for War, and I believe the Solicitor to the Treasury then told me that he was instructed to bring in a Bill which would allow the Secretary of State for War this discretionary power. There ought to be a sum of money voted to him for this purpose, as the cases are daily occurring.
§ MR. BRODRICK
The hon. and gallant Member has argued for elasticity, which is a word entirely unknown to the Treasury; rigidity is the particular line in which the Treasury shines, and, so far from looking on my post at the War Office as a sort of outlying picket, the Treasury, I am sorry to say, look upon me as its greatest marauder. Thus, if the hon. and gallant Member would appeal to the Treasury for greater elasticity in this matter, I am afraid I should be the very worst person for him to select as a cheval de bataille. With regard to the special Crimean pensions, the Chancellor of the Exchequer granted in the first instance a certain sum which enabled the War Office to grant a limited number 801 of pensions. I think the delay mentioned by the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Nolan) is due to the fact that the number of men who applied for these pensions is enormously in excess of the capabilities of the fund. The War Office, under these circumstances, have applied for further assistance, and I am pleased to say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has found it possible to give us the money necessary to award an additional number of pensions. This, I hope, will enable us to deal with the worst cases, which will be done at once.
§ MR. PICTON
I should like to ask the Secretary of State for War if there is any power to make special awards of pensions in cases of unusually heroic service? I have been pained every now and again to read of men who took part in the Balaclava Charge being reduced to great poverty, in consequence of their not being in receipt of a pension. I am not very fond of war, but I feel that men who, perhaps under mistaken orders, have exposed their lives to imminent peril in the cause of their country should not be left to the privations of poverty and destitution, simply because they have not complied with certain strict rules which regulate the granting of pensions. I cannot go as far as my hon. and gallant Friend, who proposes that twenty thousand pounds should be put into the hands of the Secretary of State for War to do what he likes with in this direction. That would not be in accordance with constitutional procedure. All I ask is that men such as those who took part in the Balaclava Charge should not be left destitute in their old age, and if there is no power given to the right hon. Gentleman to deal with such cases I think there should be.
§ MR. EDWARD STANHOPE
I am afraid I have trespassed on the attention of the House a good many times to explain this matter. It is utterly impossible to make a distinction in favour of men who served in the Balaclava Charge. It seems to me that men who have served in the trenches in the Crimea, for instance, and others who have suffered 802 similar hardships deserve just as much consideration. Parliament has placed it in the power of the War Office to give a certain number of pensions every year to very deserving cases, but the sum is limited and we cannot go beyond it.
§ MR. MORTON
I should like the light hon. Gentleman to remember that the cause of complaint outside is not so much that these men are neglected, but that all the officers were pensioned and the private soldiers were not. I think it is only right that in such cases the private soldiers should have the same consideration shown them as the officers have.
§ MR. BRODRICK
That is not the case at all. The hon. Member must remember that a large number of officers do not serve for pensions, and those who do have to serve a much longer period than private, soldiers.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ 15. £154,100, Superannuation and other Allowances and Gratuities.
§ 16. £100, Ordnance Factories.
§ MR. MORTON
I understand that the total of this Vote is two and a quarter millions, and although I do not wish to go into the question of Enfield to-night, I should like to obtain from the Secretary of State for War some further information. It is admitted by the Government that they are paying £5 10s. for rifles to be made in Birmingham, when they can manufacture a better article at their own works for £3 13s. ("No, no!") Well, that is the right hon. Gentleman's own statement. Therefore, to bolster up these private firms at Birmingham we are making a large loss. I do not intend to take up the time of the Committee by opening up the whole matter, as I have been asked to do by representatives of the Enfield men. There are, however, two or three questions to which I should like an answer. In the first place, How many men have been discharged from these Enfield works up to the present time? Second, Is it now intended to put a stop to these 803 discharges? And third, Is it proposed to continue paying this extra price for the manufacture of rifles by private firms? It seems strange rifles should be made at Birmingham when the country has to pay more than they would have to do if they were manufactured at the Government factories. It has been said that Birmingham has a more powerful representative than the Enfield Division. That may make a difference or it may not.
§ MR. STANHOPE
I believe I have answered all these questions previously. Undoubtedly we do intend to maintain the principle of having rifles manufactured by private firms. The object is that in times of emergency we shall be able to obtain a larger supply than would be possible if we were restricted to our own factories.
§ CAPTAIN BOWLES (Middlesex, Enfield)
I understand that the electric light at Enfield has been discontinued. Would the right hon. Gentleman state what charges are included in the cost of lighting that factory? I should like to know especially whether the cost of this electric lighting plant was included in the rate of manufacture?
§ MR. BRODRICK
I am not sure that the hon. Member is correct in saying that the electric light has been discontinued at Enfield. Certainly no avoidable charge has been incurred there, but lighting is one of the charges which must be made.
§ CAPTAIN BOWLES
I believe the plant has been laid down so badly that it has had to be discontinued.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
With regard to the manufacture of rifles, I should like to say that I approve of the policy of giving some orders to private firms, but to give them a very large number of rifles to manufacture is not, I think, the best thing to do. I understand the Financial Secretary to tacitly admit that £3 13s. is the price of turning out a rifle at Enfield as against £5 10s. at Birmingham. I should like to know if these figures are correct? 804 How many are made at Enfield and how many at other places? I have a very strong recollection of the way in which the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) urged the claims of his constituents to a share of the manufacture of these rifles, and I cannot get rid of the idea that the transfer of the manufacture of these rifles from Enfield to Birmingham had a political origin.
§ (12.16.) MR. BRODRICK
I should like to make the question clear. I think the hon. Gentleman will understand that, in the first place, it was impossible to get the private trade to undertake the manufacture without giving a definite order; and when he remembers that the progress of the trade in turning out rifles, has been less rapid than the ordnance factories, he will see it is not fair to compare the price at which the trade turns out rifles and the price they are turned out at at Enfield. The present price is about £3 12s. at Enfield and about £5 9s. from the trade. But the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Nolan) is mistaken in putting these prices against each other. The price at Enfield, when the manufacture was first commenced, was well over £5. That has been brought down, and it was only the other day they were brought down to the present price. It is expected that the price for the future will be £3 12s. at Enfield and about £4 14s. by the trade. The numbers which are being turned out at the present moment are about 1,200 in the ordnance factories per week and 1,000 by the trade. We have divided the necessary reductions in hands in an equal proportion between the two departments, and the only difference is that we have a great many more complaints from Enfield than we have from Birmingham. The numbers employed at Enfield are considerably larger now than they were when we took office, and we have given a pledge that in the present year they shall not be reduced below 2,000, which undertaking has been rigidly adhered to.
§ (12.19.) CAPTAIN BOWLES
I think I am entitled to complain of the way in which the Financial Secretary 805 has made the comparison in price. It is unfair to compare the price of the first few rifles made at Enfield with the price of the first 100,000 made by the trade. Let him compare the price of the first 100,000 in each case, and then state the figures.
§ (12.20.) MR. MORTON
I do not think the Financial Secretary (Mr. Brodrick) has put the case fairly with regard to the men. It is admitted that five hundred men have been discharged. These men were induced to go and live there on the honourable understanding that, so long as work was required for the nation, they should be employed. All of a sudden they were turned off, and told that they might go about their business. If you were getting these rifles from private firms for less money than you can manufacture yourself, I could understand you reducing work at Enfield and giving it to the trade; but when we learn that these rifles cost thirty or forty per cent. more from the trade, we cannot think you have treated the men fairly. I trust that in the future the Government will treat the men better than they have in the past.
§ (12.23.) DR. TANNER
I am glad to see that the hon. Member for Enfield (Captain Bowles) is taking an interest in this matter. It was first brought up by another hon. Member, and when the matter had been made public, the hon. Member for Enfield declared that he would eat his boots if these men were not re-instated; the men have not been re-instated, and the hon. Member has not eaten his boots. Instead of that he has come down here at a quarter past twelve and said a couple of words upon these Votes in order that he maybe reported as doing something for his constituents. It is another instance of Tory bunkum, and I hope it will not go down with the working classes.
§ Vote agreed to.