§ SIR J. GORST (Cambridge University)
I desire to call the attention of the House to a question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for the Enfield Division of Middlesex, and which was spoken to by the hon. Member for the Bordesley Division of Birmingham—a question touching the interests of those who are employed in Government establishments. After what took place on the subject of wages in Government establishments on Monday night on the Motion to go into Committee of Supply on the Naval Estimates, I should not have ventured to intervene in the Debate on the Army Estimates, if it had not been for events which have happened in succeeding Debates, and which seem to me to be of a somewhat sinister character, and which apparently point to a transformation of the views given expression to on that night. Nothing could have been more satisfactory than the apparent intentions of the Government as expressed in the Debate last Monday night. On their recommendation a Resolution was accepted by the House of Commons and entered upon the Journals of the House which it is true referred only in terms to workmen who are employed in the naval establishments of the country, but in the course of the Debate upon that Resolution the Secretary for War rose,and, speaking on behalf and in the name of the Government, recognised that the Resolution, although in terms confined to persons employed in naval establishments, really embraced in its principle workmen employed in all Departments of State, and amongst others those employed by the War Office. So far as it went that declaration of the right hon. Gentleman and that Resolution were regarded and accepted as eminently satisfactory. It was understood that the Government had recognised their obligations as employers of labour, for they had admitted that there were in the public services some persons employed for inadequate wages, and that where the wages of any particular class of skilled labour in the ordinary trade of the country were higher than the wages paid in Government establishments those latter wages would be reconsidered, and that a satisfactory alteration would take place in them. But since that eminently satisfactory conclusion of the discussion on Monday 1783 night, it has been elicited by a question across the Table by the hon. and gallant Member for the Enfield Division that the Naval Estimates contain no provision whatever for any increase in the pay of the dockyard workmen and others. I presume I may conclude that a similar answer would be given to a question addressed to the Secretary for War as regarded the workmen employed in the arsenals and ordnance factories of the country. When the Government were asked whether any provision had been made in the Supplementary Estimate for the purpose of giving practical effect to the hopes which they had held out to the workmen in the Government Establishments, the Chancellor of the Exchequer replied in the curtest manner— a manner calculated to alarm everybody who was favourable to the idea of a revision of the scales of pay— that no Supplementary Estimate would be introduced for the purpose. In these circumstances I feel that I am justified in asking the Secretary of State for War to explain what the intentions of the Government really are. Is the Resolution passed on Monday night all moonshine? and was the declaration which the Secretary of State for War then made merely a plausible statement intended to pacify those who were interested in the matter? I cannot believe it; but in justice to himself the right hon. Gentleman ought now to tell the House clearly what his attentions are. Another point upon which we should have information is that of one of the most prominent subjects dealt with in the Debate on Monday night—the subject of provision for old age. I understand that in the Department over which the right hon. Gentlemen presides there is to be no provision for old age.
§ SIR J. GORST
I certainly understood him to say so in reply to a question put to him; and I am glad to have elicited that intimation from the right hon. Gentleman, and I would like to hear what is to be the provision for the old age of those employed by the Department. According to the Resolution agreed to on Monday the Government were to set a model to employers throughout the country. Another subject in respect to which the right hon. Gentleman, 1784 if he is still in the same benevolent and philanthropic state of mind as he was in on Monday, ought to give an explanation is this: It appears that the War Office is engaged in discharging workmen from the small arms factories. I have seen myself what misery and distress are caused by such discharges, and I cannot admit that any employer of labour can be a model employer who so arranges matters in his factories as to expose his workmen to sudden and wholesale dismissal. When it is necessary to defend the low rate of pay which is given in Government establishments the stock argument is always adduced that there is a substantial set off to the low wages in the permanency and regularity of the work. That argument can no longer be relied on, having regard to the wholesale discharges of men from Enfield and Sparkbrook. In the case of Sparkbrook the Government have laid themselves open to special condemnation. I acquit the right hon. Gentleman opposite from the charge of having been animated by any political motive in his action, but so clumsy have been the arrangements of the Department that the people who have been discharged from Sparkbrook have every possible ground for believing that political motive had something to do with their dismissal. The newspapers by which the Party of the right hon. Gentleman is so ably supported, cried out for the discharge of men from Sparkbrook before any discharge took place, and it is the fact that a greater number of men have been discharged from Sparkbrook than from Enfield. I do not doubt that the men at Sparkbrook who have been discharged imagine they have lost their situations because they gave their political support to a Dissentient Liberal. As I have said, I do not impute political motives to the Secretary of State for War.
THE SECRETARY TO THE ADMIRALTY (Sir U. KAY-SHUTTLEWOKTH,) Lancashire, Clitheroe
You have imputed it.
§ SIR J. GORST
I do not impute it. I must again repeat what I have said twice already, that I do not impute to the Secretary of State for War, nor to the Secretary to the Admiralty, nor to the President of the Board of Trade, the intention of acting from Party motives. What I do affirm is that the arrangements 1785 have been so clumsy that these poor people at Sparkbrook, if they thought that they were discharged on Party grounds, were perfectly justified informing that opinion. When the journals that support the right hon. Gentleman opposite called for the abolition of the establishment at Sparkbrook, and when the person who represents the Government in Birmingham as the labour correspondent of the Board of Trade is an active political partisan, the workman at Sparkbrook cannot be very greatly blamed if they think that political considerations account to some extent for their discharge. I merely rose to ask the right hon. Gentlemen to give some assurance that this Government mean business and do not mean to stop at promises, and I hope, too, they will be able to show that the discharges of these workmen were due to causes other than those of Party motive.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
I am not, Sir, disposed to grudge the time that has been spent, and willingly spent, in the service of the country, in listening to the later speeches; but they have had unfortunately the effect of interrupting the Debate on the question raised by the right hon. Member for Bordesley. That right hon. Member said truly that the workpeople at Sparkbrook, and at some other gun factories in Birmingham, were his constituents, and perhaps they helped to make up the majority of 4,000 by which my right hon. Friend was returned. In my own constituency there is not a single gunmaker, but I am just as much interested as my right hon. Friend in the prosperity of Birmingham. I do not know to what extent reduction has been made in the contracts given to private manufacturers, but if the demand for small arms is falling off the orders to private manufacturers must in turn be reduced. It may be that at present they are working under contracts, and that until those contracts are exhausted no reductions can be made. I shall not, therefore, attempt to set up any comparison between a private factory and a Government factory; but there is one point on which I would address a word of warning to the Secretary for War. The way in which private factories have been dealt with has been most extravagant and absurd. The cost of small arms from private factories is greater 1786 than their cost at Government factories. It is difficult to tell what is the cost at Government factories; but the policy pursued by successive Governments in dealing with private factories accounts for the greater cost of the rifles they produce. Nothing could be more fatal than to allow the country to depend solely on Government factories. They have been cut down to starvation point, and then, when their services are called for, they are obliged to make the first order pay for all the new machinery that is required, because we cannot trust the Government for anything like a moderate average of work. It has been settled by the vote of the House that private factories should be maintained. But if they are to be kept in existence, the Government ought so to arrange its work as to keep up a steady moderate stream of orders, sufficient to enable them to hold together. But this the Government has not done. The factory at Sparkbrook once belonged to a prosperous private company which was treated badly by the Government. The company could not afford to provide even caretakers for the machinery, and it got out of order. Finally, the factory had to be either broken up or sold to the Government for an old song. Other private manufacturers have learnt a lesson, and they take care that when they have a contract it shall pay them fully for the expenses they have to incur in carrying it out. There is one matter upon which I will venture to make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman. Although I will not accuse the Secretary for War of penalising Birmingham for its political sins, I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman is inclined to penalise Sparkbrook, because in 1888 he declared his desire to retain it only as a repairing factory, and he appears to be starving it with the view of carrying out that intention.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Yes, that was the ground of the understanding with the House. I have always been against this policy, and when I find a statement made by the right hon. Gentleman, I must come to the conclusion that he is opposed to a manufacturing department at Sparkbrook. When the vote has been reduced by 40 per cent. the output will be reduced by 60 per cent. The factory 1787 is now turning out 500 rifles a week; the vote will reduce the output to 200 a week, and 200 will cost a vast deal more per rifle than 500. It will then be easy to show that Sparkbrook is the most expensive rifle establishment in the world, and that, therefore, it ought to be discontinued. If this be not the intention of the right hon. Gentleman, will he say what his intention is in cutting down Sparkbrook 40 per cent., when he has only cut down Enfield Factory by 25 per cent? The right hon. Gentleman says he was only cutting down Birmingham the same as Enfield, because he coupled with Sparkbrook the Bagot Street repairing shop, which employed another set of workmen, and for which the vote was increased. But Bagot Street has not spent the money voted for it, and it has returned more than the sum now to be added, so that the addition is a mere paper excuse for cutting down Sparkbrook by a purely illusory excess vote for Bagot Street. Even including Bagot Street, the vote for Birmingham is reduced by 31 per cent., which is 6 per cent more than Enfield has been reduced. This is unfair treatment, but it is probably due rather to want of information than to any desire to do injustice as between one factory and another. Still it is believed the right hon. Gentleman wishes to turn Sparkbrook into a repairing factory, and it is desired that this should not be done without the approval of the House. A policy of the kind would involve the sacrifice of valuable machinery which in time of emergency would produce 1,000 rifles a week. It would also deprive the country of the advantage of having a small arms factory in the centre of England. The situation of the Enfield Factory is an extremely bad one. In case of invasion Enfield would be much more liable to be taken by the enemy than a factory in the centre of England. Besides that there is no coalfield near Enfield, and there is one near Sparkbrook. If Sparkbrook were permitted to work on equal terms with Enfield I am sure it could produce rifles at a lower price. Even with the fact that the War Department has favoured Enfield at every turn, Birmingham is enabled, by the Estimates of the Government, to turn out rifles at 2s. 6d. a piece less than the cost at Enfield. I said I should make an appeal to my right hon. Friend. I do 1788 not think it is too late. Certainly this matter will not rest here. We cannot allow this policy of destroying what we believe to be a very valuable addition to the military resources of the country to proceed without the opinion of the House of Commons being expressed on the subject. I am not able to take a vote on it to-night, but I appeal to my right hon. Friend—not asking him for a specific answer now—to take the matter into consideration, and to say, if he finds the facts laid before him bear investigation, that he will raise the amount to be voted for wages at Sparkbrook Factory, and that he will withdraw the orders for the turning away of a very considerable number of workpeople, if necessary, providing for the additional expenditure by means of a further Supplementary Estimate. There is only one other point I would like to bring before my right hon. Friend. If he has the slightest doubt as to the matters to which I have ventured to call his attention, then I would ask him to give us what I have asked for over and over again—a small Committee to inquire into the comparative advantages of the Enfield and Sparkbrook factories. We have been told that Enfield can make more cheaply than Birmingham. We dispute the figures altogether, and we say that if there is any idea of the kind in the minds of the officials of the War Department, it is in the public interest that it should be inquired into. I therefore ask my right hon. Friend to give us such an inquiry.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN,) Stirling, &c.
The fact has again occurred to-day which has occurred on former occasions. The moment we come for a Vote for munitions of war involving in any respect the interests of Birmingham, my, right hon. Friend who has just sat down and those near him at once enter the field. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bordesley immediately lays his coat upon the floor, and invites me to tread upon the tail of it. I have no intention now, nor have I ever had any intention, of taking that course; but an appeal has been made so directly to me to state what the figures in the Estimates mean on this subject that I do not hesitate at once to say what the policy as represented by these figures is First of all, let me say something as to the reduction which we have found neces- 1789 sary in the amount of wages to be spent. The right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Member for the University, launched a very strong denunciation, and a perfectly proper denunciation, against wholesale discharges, or against any policy which meant the taking on of a large number of workmen and then discharging them afterwards, and he asked me to carry out, as far as I could, continuity of employment, which I referred to the other night as one of the advantages of the Public Service. By continuity of employment was meant employment in all seasons and weather while work lasts, because I was careful to guard myself against implying more than this, knowing that emergencies would sometimes arise in this as in all other businesses. What is the position we are in with regard to the manufacture of small arms, as to which we are told we are pursuing an unfortunate course in reducing the amount of wages? Why, there has been, as the House knows, a most abnormal activity in the production of small arms within the last two or three years. My right hon. Friend, my Predecessor, with great energy, and after the most careful inquiry into the question as to the best form of rifle, determined to furnish Her Majesty's Forces as rapidly as possible with the magazine rifle, superseding that which they now have in their hands. Having determined this, he very properly resolved that no time should be lost in making the substitution, and therefore there has been, as I say, a most unusual pressure and activity not only in these Government employments, but in trade orders. Now we find that so rapid has been the production of rifles that we have come, I will not say within measurable distance, but at any rate within sight of the period when the demand will be fulfilled. That is the weak point or difficulty with regard to such a factory as the Spark-brook, which deals with small arms. The country is not always wanting a very large supply of small arms. When the arming of the Forces with the magazine rifle has taken place we may look forward with something like certainty to an interval during which the requirements will be limited to the filling up of the waste. It is quite impossible to avoid that spasmodic activity, and the subsequent slackness which the right hon. Gentleman said properly was so in- 1790 jurious. What does the House think? Do they think it would be better for the public, and for the constituencies which are interested, if we took a little more money for this year in order to keep up high pressure this year, and then have a total collapse? No, Sir, we thought it was much better to look ahead, to recognise that there must be a time when this demand would practically cease, and that, therefore, it is necessary that diminution in wages and employment should be as gradually introduced as possible. This is the policy we have had in view, and I submit it with the greatest confidence to the House for their approval; and I hold that I should have been very ill-advised indeed if I had kept up the work at Enfield, or Birmingham, or elsewhere, and the orders to the trade at the old level with the prospect before me of a sudden collapse at no distant period. So much as to the cruelty of taking away or diminishing the wages available for the maintenance of these workmen. But my right hon. Friend who has just sat down complained that in making this diminution we had been unfair to Birmingham. I am glad my right hon. Friend acquitted me of any design against the interests of Birmingham. That has been attributed to me by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bordesley on previous occasions, and I believe that it has been attributed to me in some newspapers of perhaps not very wide circulation which I have not seen. I disregard such an imputation; of course I am absolutely and entirely free from it, and I know that my right hon. Friend does not believe that I have any such desire or such mean political jealousy with regard to institutions such as those two establishments at Birmingham. But have we done injustice to Birmingham? Let me say something in regard to words of mine, which my right hon. Friend quoted, as to Sparkbrook being a repairing factory.; When Sparkbrook was purchased by the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham was a Member, that was done for the sole purpose of it being used as a repairing factory. The observations the right hon. Gentleman has quoted of mine were directed simply against the multiplication of Government factories, without special reference to Birmingham at all. But after Sparkbrook had been some time in use, there came an epoch. 1791 when there was a demand for a new weapon, and then this factory, which was purchased, as the House of Commons was informed, simply as a repairing factory, was used as a manufacturing factory for the new rifle. The object of the original purchase explains why I have spoken of it as a repairing factory; but I assure my right hon. Friend that I am aware how good a factory Sparkbrook is, and how well-equipped it is. I agree with a great deal of what he stated, that as we have it now, and as it is so well-equipped, it is an essential thing that it should be maintained in our possession to strengthen our resources in case of necessity. But when he says we have done something to injure Birmingham, let me quote the figures. There is also the Bagot Street factory. The right hon. Gentleman says we are giving too much in wages to Enfield, and too little to Birmingham. What are we giving? Last year we gave to Sparkbrook £60,000; to Bagot Street, £16,000; total, £76,000. This year Sparkbrook has £35,000; and Bagot Street, £22,000; total £57,000. That is, roughly speaking, a reduction of £19,000 between the two. Enfield had last year £160,000, this year £120,000; it therefore loses £40,000, which is almost exactly the same proportion as Birmingham. I say there is no evidence here that a larger number of men in proportion would be deprived of work in Birmingham than would be deprived at Enfield. I have no desire, as I have said, to deal in any way unfairly with Birmingham. I am told that some newspaper had said that I was intending to starve Birmingham. I am not responsible for paragraphs in newspapers, and it is not from that source my opinions must be gathered. Now, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University asked me some questions on the general subject of labour. He was not, I think, very kind in the imputations which he disclaimed making. The very disclaimer in itself was almost as injurious as the imputation. He absolves me of having deliberately intended to deceive the House, but he says that we should have brought forward an estimate. How could we put an estimate on the Table when we do not know yet what the sum might be? We have not the slightest idea, and I told him so the other night. We prefer to proceed upon 1792 established and well-known facts, and until we know those facts it is quite impossible to estimate what sum will be required in any one of the Government departments for this purpose. When the inquiry is completed, when we have come to a decision upon it, if we have not enough money in the Estimates, a Supplementary Estimate will naturally be required. Then the right hon. Gentleman asked me why I was opposed to a provision being made for old age. I am very willing that some provision should be made for old-age workmen on a large scale, but what I said was that my opinion is strongly against the principle of establishment of workmen. Defenders and advocates of establishment in Government employment find their great argument in this, that it gives them a hold upon the workmen; but they fail to see that it gives the workmen also a hold upon them. I say that it is very much better both for workman and employer that the matter should be left to free bargain between them, just as in other employments. The hon. Member for Islington brought forward the case of second division clerks. Well, I have great sympathy with the second division clerks generally, and above all with the second division clerks in the War Office, because I believe they have been very unfortunate in the office which they have chosen to go into. The War Office has had for the last 20 or 30 years a plethora of clerks. We have been engaged for years in trying to bring the numbers down. The reason why the second division clerks cannot expect to have promotions into the first division is this, that the reductions made by the retirements given by the Treasury were given on the express stipulation that certain vacancies should be absorbed, and that such as were not absorbed should be filled up by younger men from the outside. I cannot hold out any hope of promotion to the first division at present, but I hope to obtain some promotion for the first grade in the second division, and probably some staff appointments below the upper division. The hon. Member for Sussex spoke on the question of the Volunteers, and made a number of suggestions, for which I am much obliged to him, and which I promise him shall receive careful consideration. He made some suggestions which I think deserve special notice. He proposed that. we 1793 should induce officers to serve in the Volunteers by a special arrangement. I egret the dearth of officers in the Volunteers, and I should be glad to jump at any proposal made which is calculated to improve matters in that respect. But the hon. Member suggests that we should give commissions in the Line. I am afraid I must ask what are these among so many? An occasional commission such as could be given in the Line would be very small inducement considering the hundreds of Volunteer officers. I find very great difficulty in contemplating the idea of multiplying those outside accessions to commissions in the Army. When you consider the elaborate system we have of competitive examination, and the great expense to which parents are put in preparing their sons for those competitive examinations, I think it would be a great hardship upon them if the number of commissions given in that way were greatly reduced, and if commissions were given to young men simply because they had held a commission in the Volunteers. The hon. Gentleman asked me about the brigadier and his anomalous position. I assure the hon. Member that I am fully alive to that fact. One of the first inquiries I made when I came to the War Office was with the view of endeavouring to make out what this amphibious officer exactly has to do and what his powers are. I am still prosecuting that inquiry. As to what the hon. Member said regarding commanding officers not being under the Mutiny Act, and the meetings of cops and enforced attendance, all those thngs I will consider. They have a good deal in them to commend them. I am not, however, prepared to give an opinion upon them, nor am I quite sure that public opinion would bear us out if we attempted to alter the law as to the obligations of service of Volunteers. It is a delicate thing to make any alteration in that respect. Now I come to a more lively subject, upon which perhaps the House will allow me to make a statement that will satisfy very natural curiosity. The hon. Member for Tradeston brought forward the vexed question of the Cameron Highlanders, and in my double capacity as a Scotchman and Secretary of State for War I am exceedingly interested in that question. As much has been said on the subject I think it is right that the plain 1794 facts regarding it should be told. Now the first plain fact is that we have far too many Scotch regiments, that there are more regiments in Scotland—and, unfortunately, nearly all of them historic regiments, that we do not wish to meddle with if we can avoid doing so—than Scotland can support. And if that is true of Scotland at large, it is till more true of the nominally Highland regiments, because for various reasons they are exceedingly difficult to keep in full efficiency. We have nine kilted battalions. It was known in 1881, when this matter was being settled, that there would be this difficulty, and the proposal originally made, which I deeply regret was not adopted, was that in face of the difficulty of maintaining those kilted regiments a Highland brigade should be formed, comprising four or six battalions—I believe myself that four would have been sufficient—and that these should be clothed in a tartan selected by the Queen herself, so as to give no offence to anyone, and that brigade would have combined all the traditions and preserved the distinctive glories of the Highland regiments. That would have been a workable, intelligible, and efficient solution of the difficulty. But then there was an outcry created to the effect that we must not interfere with any tartan, not a kilt must be lost, not a tartan meddled with. I will not go so far as a distinguished and gallant General, who, when speaking on the subject ten years ago in this House—himself a Scotchman and a member of a great clan—said that he had never yet seen in Scotland a Scotchman wearing a kilt unless he was paid to do so by an Englishman. I do not go so far as that, and I admit at once the picturesqueness and the military effectiveness of the Highland dress; but when we are told that not a tartan is to be meddled with we naturally ask what these tartans are, and we find that it is difficult to determine. I will state one fact which will show the House what I mean. The Cameron Highlanders themselves, the very regiment we hear so much of, wear a spurious Macdonald tartan, and not a Cameron tartan at all. My experience is that the enthusiasm on this subject—what I should call spurious enthusiasm—in favour of the tartans and kilts, although very vivid and active in the large towns and in Piccadilly and 1795 the Strand, does not exist to the same extent among the glens and islands of the Highlands themselves. It is small among the crofters and farmers of the Highlands, but large among the shooting tenants and gillies and that class of people. What was the consequence of this outcry in 1881—an outcry created and carried on, let me say, by the very people who have been at the head of the present outcry? The scheme which I have indicated was upset and the regiments were linked. Some that had not been in kilts at all were put into kilts, and in the end the unfortunate Cameron High landers regiment was stranded by itself without any affiliated battalion at all, with a special district assigned to it. It is rather an odd thing that the very same people to whose outcry it is due that the Cameron Highlanders are in this precarious position, are now calling out that on no account must the regiment be meddled with or destroyed. I have said that Scotland cannot maintain so many regiments as it has; and what are the facts about recruiting? I happened the other day to see a statement of the number of recruits obtained for a very distinguished regiment that has for its district the whole of Ross-shire, Sutherland, and Caithness, and the north of Scotland, namely, the Seaforth High landers. In the last four years the numbers of recruits that regiment obtained in the district were 72, 73, 90, and 56.Those were all the recruits obtained for tho two battalions of this regiment. One hon. Member has asked, why not open Glasgow to the Cameron Highlanders? Open Glasgow, it is said,? and we shall see what we shall see. Well, what are the facts regarding recruiting in Glasgow? Glasgow is supposed to be an inexhaustible cistern out of which any amount of recruits, especially Highland recruits, can be drawn. Glasgow is presently recruiting for the following corps: 1st Life Guards, the Royal Horse Guards, the Royal Artillery, the Engineers, the 5th Dragoon Guards— (and here let me say, I should be sorry indeed that these great branches of the Service had no Scotchmen among them, and native Scotchmen)—the 18th Hussars, the Scots Guards, the Royal Scots Fusiliers (a most distinguished regiment), the King's Own Scottish Borderers, the Scottish Rifles (Camero- 1796 nians) and some other regiments—all these are recruited in Glasgow.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
That is so, the Scottish Rifles recruit only from their own Militia. The other Highland Regiments at this moment do not require recruits, but when they do Glasgow is the first place open to them. Whenever the Cameron Highlanders want any number of men Glasgow is at once open to them, and, notwithstanding what the hon. Member (Mr. Hozier) has said, any man on joining the Army, who expresses a desire to go into a certain regiment is always allowed to go into that regiment if there is room in the regiment for him. Let us see what the result of recruiting was as to Scotland generally. The number of recruits required for the Scotch regiments is 2,689 per year. In 1891 the total number of Infantry recruits obtained was 2,159, and last year— a year of exceptional recruiting— 2,682, just seven short of the whole number required. Last year was, as I have said, an exceptional year for recruiting, and Glasgow is considered to be an inexhaustible reservoir for recruiting. Of the total number of recruits only 751 came from Glasgow for all the corps I have named. I think that is a sufficient answer to the proposal that Glasgow should be opened with a view to saving the Cameron Highlanders. As to the Cameron Highlanders themselves, between 1st August, 1891, and 26th November, 1892, no less than 936 recruits had to be raised. It was going abroad, and therefore a large depot had to be raised on purpose. Nine hundred and thirty-six recruits were required. Every effort was made to obtain them in its district, but there only 20 recruits were obtained out of the 936. From Glasgow 57 were obtained; head-quarters recruits (one regiment happened then to be in Edinburgh) 137; other parts of Scotland 152; total Scotch recruits, 366 out of 936. The remaining 570 were obtained in England, a large portion of them coming from the East of London. These are facts which I commend to those who say that Glasgow should be opened, so that a second battalion could be raised for the Cameron Highlanders. There is not the material to keep your first battalion in proper 1797 efficiency. I have not a word to say in derogation of the Cameron Highlanders. On the contrary, as to its present condition, I believe it to be an excellent battalion, in excellent order, and I cannot pay too high a tribute to the way in which the colonel and officers have behaved in this very trying period. I know, as a matter of fact, they have done their best to put down the outcry which has been made, and to check those who, from very foolish ideas of what were their interests, were endeavouring to create an agitation on the subject. They are a most excellent battalion. I believe also they themselves have no hope of being able to raise a second battalion, and very little hope of being able to maintain themselves. What position are they in? This is a single battalion; and the result is that when it is at home it is no use to us in furnishing drafts for India, and again, when it is abroad we have to raise a special costly depot to maintain it in existence. It is the most expensive thing we could have, and the only justification we could have for contemplating maintaining it as it is would be the fact that there was a strong local attachment and strong national feeling in favour of it. I do not see evidence of any feeling to that extent. I share that feeling myself, and I would do anything I could to maintain and even improve the position of this illustrious regiment with its great traditions. But I must say that in its present position —which is due to the outcry ten years ago of which I have spoken — it is impossible to justify its existence, and therefore it was I did think, if it was absorbed in the Scots Guards, this would be a dignified conclusion to a great career, and I am ready to maintain that opinion. I am sorry to say I come now to a very lame conclusion, because what I am going to do with regard to this regiment is precisely the very worst thing, and the very thing of all others I should like to avoid, that is to leave it alone for the present, in its precarious and forlorn position; with the positive certainty of meeting, sooner or later, that destiny of absorption which cannot be indefinitely postponed. My right hon. Friend opposite (Sir James Fergusson), the Member for Manchester, has urged upon me the employment of soldiers in Civil Departments, and he could not find anyone more likely to give a cordial response to that itation. I entirely agree with him 1798 that we must not be too sanguine or have too large ideas. We cannot imitate foreign countries in promising employment for every retired soldier, because we have not got State employment to offer. Where they have all the railways, and a great many other enterprises, in the hands of the State, they can find an infinite number of posts in which soldiers can serve. But we can only do two things. First of all, we have to see that they are employed in our Public Departments, so far as there is room for their employment; and, in the second place, we have to endeavour to induce and persuade private employers all through the country to give them employment. With regard to Public Departments, I was astonished, and a little indignant,' to hear the noble Lord the Member for West Edinburgh (Viscount Wolmer) the other night, talking of the employment of soldiers, say that we could not expect very great things as long as valets and butlers were appointed to messengerships in Public Offices. The noble Lord, I think, ought not to have said that if he did not know that it was the case. All I can say is that, so far as the Admiralty and the War Office are concerned, I will let him have the Returns for the last 10 years of the men who have been appointed to these positions, and he will not find a valet or butler among them. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Fareham made a number of useful suggestions, as he always does, and there is no one from whom I would take suggestions more readily. I can assure him that everything he has said shall be remembered. And now, lastly, I come to one comparatively small point. The hon. Member for Basingstoke brought forward a case of a warder, which, I think, I may dispose of in one sentence. The man has had a most unfortunate career. He was not long enough in a military capacity to earn a pension, and the civil office which he thereupon held did not carry a pension with it. It is quite true his commanding officer, or superior officer, appears to have said something to him about retiring on a pension—that is, any pension he was entitled to. Apparently, the officer did not know the man was entitled to no pension. As the hon. Member knows, we are bound in these matters by strict regulations, and it is quite impossible for us, however benevo- 1799 lently inclined we may be, to give a pension where, under the Rules, a pension does not exist. However, I will say that if any loophole can be discovered whereby this man can be benefited, I shall be only too glad to make use of it. I think I have answered most of the points raised, and I trust now, Sir, there will be no objection to your leaving the Chair.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I need not say that I am not going to make a speech on the subject, nor can I complain of the excellent and full statement made by the right hon. Gentleman, but I would, in the very exceptional circumstances under which the House has met, make an appeal to the Prime Minister to give some statement with regard to the course of business this evening which might relieve our minds. As he is aware, there are very grave objections, into which I will not go at the present time, both to the right hon. Gentleman making his statement at this time of night, and to asking us to discuss that statement after it is made; and I am convinced that it would very greatly conduce to the smooth working of Public Business if the right hon. Gentleman would now assure the House that he would be content with the Speaker leaving the Chair, deferring to a more convenient opportunity the discussion upon the statement which is to follow.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I will not enter into any dispute with the right hon. Gentleman as to the statement he has made. At the same time, I do not wish to make any extravagant demand upon the patience of the House, which has been taxed to an extreme degree during the present week. I do not agree that we should be content with the Speaker leaving the Chair; but if, after my right hon. Friend has made his statement, hon. Gentlemen are not disposed to allow discussion to go forward, we should not then, I think, offer resistance.
§ Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)