§ On the Vote of £1,242,000 (including a Supplementary sum of £70,000), to complete the sum for Warlike and other Stores: Supply and Repair,
§ MR. BRODRICK
said: Mr. Lowther, the Committee will desire some explanation of the supplementary sum for small arms ammunition. The sum proposed to be asked for is £70,000 in addition to the Estimates placed before the House in March. I desire to explain the matter as briefly as possible. But it is necessary to justify the proposals put before the Committee, and show that the Vote previously given was justified by the present condition of the reserves of small arms ammunition. In so doing I propose to dismiss all questions of recrimination between this Government and the last with respect to the matter. I much regret that the late Secretary for War finds himself unable to be present. But in his absence I propose simply to deal with the facts, and lay them before the Committee, and leave the Committee to decide whether the proposal we make is beyond what it is reasonable to ask. There are three main causes of difference between ourselves and the last Government in the methods we adopt. The late Government justified the provision for which they asked at the beginning of the year, on the ground that they were not providing for all the troops at home, but those under mobilisation and for the defence of London in garrisons, 1415 who would be put in line at the commencement of any peril of invasion. We have looked at the matter from a different point of view. We find by the mobilisation tables adopted by the late Government that about 315,000 men were to be provided with ammunition, but the total force of men available in case of invasion is not 315,000, but 525,000. Therefore, as our first point of departure, we think it is necessary and incumbent upon us to consider what store of ammunition exists to equip every man who holds a carbine or rifle, and who is serving in the ranks. We have adopted for our basis in this respect the tables of equipment laid down by the military authorities, and which are accessible to every Member of the House, and they lay down the equipment of small arms ammunition as between 60 and 100 rounds, according to the class of soldier and to the positions which they are to Occupy in garrisons or outside. What we submit to the Committee is, that if this House is to be asked to pay for the clothing of the Army and provide for their maintenance, it is not in reason to stop short there and leave them without ammunition. If these men are necessary for the defence of the country and are to be maintained, then, unquestionably, I believe the Committee would be ready to equip them with ammunition according to the table deliberately laid down. That that should be done will, I believe, commend itself to every sensible man in the community. The second point we are at issue with the late Government about is, that I do not think they took into account the enormous leakage of ammunition that took place during the first six months of the financial year. In the summer, when we discussed the matter last, I remember that the late Financial Secretary to the War Office, in estimating what were the available supplies of ammunition, took not what was in the locker on the 1st April or June last, 1416 when he spoke, but what was in the locker at the beginning of April, and added to it all the supplies he had ordered and hoped to have in the locker in the course of January, February, and March. It is useless for us to say we hope to have a certain number of supplies in the course of next year. In the first six months of the financial year we actually shot off 42 or 44 millions of rounds, which we cannot hope to replace until the beginning of next year. The third point of difference with the late Government is that, in our opinion, they took too sanguine a view of the amounts to be received from trade firms during this and next year. The right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary of State for War wrote a letter on the subject, in which he alluded to the immense sources of private supply developed in this country. We however, ought not to use exaggerated terms about such a matter. The provision of small-arm ammunition loaded with cordite has been undertaken by two firms, but up to the present moment not a single round has been received from them and passed into the Service. It is perfectly true that the Government factories at Woolwich are turning out completed rounds of ammunition very satisfactorily, but it is impossible to speak of the immense sources of private supply as being realised when we have not got a single cartridge in our possession from a trade firm. ["Hear, hear!"] The Government quite admit that if the Government factories are to be worked double shifts, so as to expand the production three or four times, and the trade firms turned out a definite quantity of ammunition, that might be considered a source of strength and safety. But we are not in that position. The Government factories are the only source on which we can rely, though we hope that in the course of time private firms will be able to add to the supply. The net result of the position in which the Government find themselves, putting 1417 the matter in the lightest way, is that on September 30th next, when the shooting for the year will be over and the leakage has reached its highest point, and the production from trade firms has not begun, we shall be short by the equipment regulations for all troops of 104 rounds per man. To put it in another way, if the whole of the Army and Militia are provided with the full equipment laid down, we shall be short on that day of almost every single round which has been assigned to the Volunteers. There are about 200,000 Volunteers, who will not have a single round to fire. These facts, I think, fully justify the Vote given in the last Parliament—["hear, hear!"]—and demand the serious attention of the Committee. The Committee may ask what the Government propose to do. I will ask hon. Members to keep clear in their minds three different terms used with regard to the supply of the Army—first, the annual maintenance, which merely represents what is to be shot away during the year's practice; secondly, the equipment of troops, varying from 60 to 400 rounds per man, which ought to be in store and available for everyone who takes the field; while beyond that is the question of what reserve ought to be laid up at home. There are reserves in existence for the troops in the Colonies and India, while every foreign Power has a reserve; and this country ought not to be in the unique position of having no reserves at home. ["Hear, hear!"] The late Secretary for War asked for an annual maintenance of £273,000 for small arm ammunition, but the contracts came out more favourably than was expected, for £40,000 of that sum became available for making up the deficient equipment. To that amount the present Government added £70,000, making in all £110,000 to spend during this year for the purpose; and with that amount we hope by March 31st next to have the regulation equipment for every rifle and carbine which might be called out on mobilisation. ["Hear, hear!"] I may be asked how it is proposed to obtain this ammunition. We have laid it down for our special guidance that it is not sufficient to take the Vote and give the order, but that we must receive the ammunition. ["Hear, hear!"] We 1418 cannot, therefore, undertake to give the order to trade firms whose supplies might be rejected, leaving the War Office to find themselves with half their money unexpended. We have looked round to see the most economical and efficient way of getting the ammunition, and we have decided that it is desirable to order from trade firms by contract all the components which we can get for ammunition and to make them up at Woolwich. More, of course, remains to be done. I cannot pledge next year's Estimates, but the policy of the Government is that during the great leakage of the summer months there shall be no moment at which the regulation equipment is not available for all the troops in the United Kingdom. What is to be done with regard to a reserve is a matter which the Secretary of State will carefully consider with the Commander-in-Chief and his military advisers in the course of the autumn. The question is not a Party one, and before the Party Vote was taken upon it every effort was made, publicly and privately, to induce the then heads of the War Office to take a different view. I addressed a letter containing every argument which I have put forward in this House to the late Secretary of State, asking him, as it was a national question, to make a different calculation. The Government, however, are not giving these orders to justify their late Vote, but because we believe the position to be an unsound one, and because we think that the deficiency ought to be made good within a reasonable time. ["Hear, hear!"] We confidently expect that the policy which we have laid down will receive the sanction of the Committee as well the support of the country. [Cheers.]
§ MR. WOODALL
I will imitate the example of the hon. by avoiding all recriminations, and I will not follow his example when in Opposition by calling in question the opinion which he has now expressed with all the authority appertaining to his office. The position of the late Government was that the Estimates were prepared for them by the officer who was charged with the responsibility of saying what are the proper stores and the necessary reserves required for the Army. The demands of the Director of Artillery, so far from being cut down, were increased 1419 by about 70 or 74 per cent., owing to the diminished cost of production. The point upon which I think we have been mainly at difference has been that my right hon. Friend (Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman) relied upon the authority of the professional Chief, whose office was increased in importance by his predecessor (Mr. Stanhope), and it was a little anomalous to have such an officer so appointed if no regard were to be paid to his advice. There is a certain irony in the fact that the dignity and importance of that office is to be still further increased under the new Administrative Scheme which has been so recently under discussion, and its holder is to have a still higher status as a Member of the Army Board, and presumably higher pay. On the other hand, the calculations of the Cinder Secretary, on which the additional Vote now demanded is based, are of a non-professional character, unsupported by any pretension to official authority. But I go further than that; for, having a great desire at that time to find employment for a number of men at Woolwich, I pressed upon the Director of Artillery to allow the factories to be employed to a fuller extent. But Sir Robert Hay said:—No, I will not have more ammunition under my care than I can see turned over properly from time to time in the course of the year.I have never questioned the stability or durability of cordite, but I do not desire to shut my ears and eyes to the views of people well qualified to judge, and who maintain that the peculiar properties of nitro-glycerine compounds are such as to make them, under certain conditions possibly treacherous and unreliable; and therefore, while a full supply of ammunition should be provided for all purposes, we should be careful not to increase its store beyond what the service require. Our policy was that, while it was unwise to provide more than was necessary for our needs and for reserves steps should be taken to increase the 1420 producing powers of Government factories and to develop the resources of the private trade, and, though no cordite ammunition has yet been received from the latter source, I challenge hon. Gentlemen opposite to say bat they have any doubts of its being forthcoming. The controversy has been limited to small-arms ammunition. The Deader of the House admitted that if the ordnance factories were kept going with two shifts of 48 hours each, they are capable of turning out two and a-half millions a week. As a matter of fact, we have actually turned out of the ordnance factories with one shift of 48 hours one and a-half millions; while, at he time I am speaking, the factories are turning out only three-quarters of a million, to satisfy the requirements of the time. One fact was overlooked by the Under Secretary in the course of his speech: he did not fully estimate the extraordinary reduction that has taken place in recent years in the cost of production. What had cost £6 could be lad for £4 10s., and probably now for £4. The Government now asked that an additional £70,000 should be expended during the current year. For that sum I estimate that they can have 16 or 17 million cartridges, which can easily be turned out from their own factories (in addition to the normal output) in 24 weeks, and, if the requirement is as urgent as the Government represents, in 10 weeks. As to cordite, Waltham is only working up to two-thirds of its capacity. Any increased demands for cordite can be easily met, and it was the policy of the late Government to increase the powers of production, so as to be able to obtain all that was required at short notice. The completeness of that increased capacity is now acknowledged. I heard with great satisfaction the reference made to the policy of the Government in obtaining components and having them made up themselves. A large area adjoins the works at Sparkbrook, where small-arms 1421 ammunition can be made from cordite obtainable from Waltham, and other components obtained in Birmingham itself As far as I am concerned, I am willing to look on this cordite matter as a spent controversy; and I do not think, after the Vote which they obtained in the late Parliament on the small-arms Estimate, that the Government can well do less than put forward this supplementary Estimate for additional ammunition. The points which have been raised collaterally with this dispute regarding the capability of cordite and its suitability for purposes, not only of small-arms ammunition, but for ammunition of all kinds, do not arise upon the present occasion. I do, however, think it particularly fortunate for us that we possess an explosive substance capable of being used, not merely for small-arms, but for quick-firing and large guns. In this cordite stands alone amongst the different smokeless powders. I shall be very glad to hear whether the Government really doubt the capacity of their own products to fulfil all that is required of them; and I shall be surprised to hear from the Under Secretary that he considers that no reliance is to be placed upon the contractors to whom orders have been intrusted. Their demands, however, as I have shown, can be easily met by their own factories, without resort to outsiders; and if they are satisfied that their demand for £70,000 will suffice to meet the great deficiency they pictured two months ago, and will be adequate for what they conceive to be the wants of the country, I can only say it gives an aspect to the controversy with which I am not disposed to quarrel.
SIR CHARLES DILKEForest of Dean) (Gloucestershire,
said, his hon. Friend had made, in the earlier part of the afternoon, upon another Vote, a most excellent speech, and had carried the House with him. That was not the case, however, with the speech they had just listened to. The earlier speech was per- 1422 fectly clear and lucid, but in the last speech the hon. Gentleman had been foggy, he had wandered all round the subject, and had talked of the merits and possible effects of cordite, and other matters which had nothing to do with the question before the House. That question was simply whether they had been justified in giving the Vote which turned out the late Government on the point of the efficiency of our stores, and especially of our small-arms ammunition. They had had now three Debates as to this ammunition. In the original Debate the late Secretary of State for War spoke seven or eight times, but never gave any clear or definite statement of the position. If he had not taken great interest in this question of the deficiency of stores in years past, he should have had very great difficulty in making up his mind which way to vote, or whether he should vote at all, because the Debate was by no means a clear and incisive one. They understood that the main point of the Government then was that they vouched the Military Authorities on their side. In the second Debate, at the end of the last Parliament, the late Secretary for War vouched the Adjutant-General, but did not mention the officer who had been named now.
§ MR. WOODALL
The opinion of the Director of Artillery was confirmed absolutely by the assurance of the Adjutant-General.
§ SIR C. DILKE
said, he was not for one moment doubting the good faith of his hon. Friend, or contesting the exact literal truth of what he had said; he was pointing out the fact that that officer was not vouched on that occasion. What was the military opinion quoted by the late Secretary for War? The right hon. Gentleman said:—"The Adjutant-General, I believe, takes this view of the case,"—that was with regard to responsibility,—"he says that he did not profess, nor do I profess, that the store of small arms ammunition is what may be called full and adequate." 1423 [Cheers.] The hon. Member for Hanley had now named the Director of Artillery, and stated that that gentleman even went so far as to say, "I will not have more of this ammunition." But was that consistent with the opinion of the Adjutant-General? ["Hear, hear!"] The Under-Secretary for War had told them that we had no reserve of small-arms ammunition in this country, and had rightly said that every other country had a reserve. In India there was a full and ample supply of equipment, and also of reserve; but we in this country had neither. Why was that? He was afraid it was because India paid for it, and because in this country Governments on both sides, having to come before the House of Commons, saved upon the things that were not seen, such as stores and ammunition, and spent the money on the things that made a show. And yet India, from its geographical situation, could not be attacked without due warning, whereas this country might at any moment be plunged in a very serious war without any warning whatever, so that there would be no time to prepare these reserves. He could not treat this as a Party matter, he had voted against his own Party upon it, and he blamed both Conservatives and Liberals alike. The Under Secretary for War had made an admission which was just as damaging as any admission made by Members of their own Party—namely, that the contention of the present Government was not that there ever had been an ample reserve. ["Hear, hear!"] This was a national deficiency, and it was a very good thing that circumstances should have called such marked attention to the subject as to prevent these deficiencies in the future. The hon. Member for Hanley had relied very much upon the power of manufacture. They could not, however, argue from what had occurred in the past as to what would occur in the future. The case of Servia was the only case which could be cited, and in that case, although Servia had a 1424 wonderful manufacturing establishment in proportion to her size, and had greater facilities for turning out cartridges than this country had proportionately, her establishments broke down, and a humiliating peace had to be concluded within a very few days of the outbreak of war. He expressed the belief that a wholesome lesson had been given to those who had neglected the stores and supplies of this country, and hoped that the War Office would make it impossible that our reputation should sustain any damage from this cause in future.
§ MR. T. G. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)
contended that cordite was not a satisfactory powder. The erosion that took place in the barrels of the rifles in which cordite cartridges were used was considerable. The erosion would continue as long as they continued the present system. Not one of the continental nations would look at this smokeless powder, and the late Government were quite right and justified in not providing a large supply of an article which was not satisfactory. He for one would be no party to spending £70,000 in addition to the original Vote to provide a large stock of cordite. There was only one firm, and the machinery had to be laid down. They could not throw machinery together and gather plant in a few minutes. Then, after they laid it down, they had to get it in working order. The late Government, in his opinion, had take every precaution and had arranged for cartridges, and the line they pursued was a very prudent one. He expected the £70,000 would be a mere trifle compared to what would be spent on plant and machinery. Probably before they had done with the job it would cost half a million. He urged that they should be told the extent of the contract. He had been a manufacturer for many years, and he knew the cost of some of the articles which would be required. It was noticeable that they did not prepare any of this cordite for machine guns, except for large guns. He regretted 1425 they had only two machines in Chitral. If they had taken more the results would have been better.
§ DR. TANNER
also urged that it was a danger to have too large a stock of this peculiar combustible, which was made of nitric acid, gun cotton and vaseline. Such a mixture must produce great corrosion. This was the very last speech that he was going to trouble himself with—[Cheers and laughter]—but he wished in conclusion to impress on the Committee the danger of this corrosive. He desired to know whether it was the fact that by storage cordite became less efficient, and that in different temperatures it had different effects? The hon. Member concluded by stating that this was the last speech he would make during the present Session.
§ MR. WOODALL
said, he desired to complete the quotation made by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean from the speech of the late Secretary of State for War. My right hon. Friend said:—''Sir Redvers Buller did not profess, nor do I profess, that the store of small-arm ammunition is what may be called full and ample. Well, neither is the store of anything else full and ample in the abstract. We should be very glad, from a military point of view, to have more of almost everything, and that is the sense in which I say that the store of ammunition is not full or overflowing. But the Adjutant General says, and I also believe, that it is amply sufficient to equip the whole of the defensive forces which we can mobilise in this country, and we have abundant ammunition—loads is the expression used to me by the Adjutant General—for any force that we could possibly send abroad, while all foreign stations are full up.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Vote of £192,000, to complete the charge for Medical Establishment, Pay, &c.,—agreed to.
§ On the Vote of £360,000, to complete the charge for the Militia, Pay and Allowances,
§ MR. H. S. FOSTER (Suffolk, Lowestoft)
said, he desired to bring before the Under Secretary the case of a constituent of his, who felt very sorely a grievance which he suffered at the hands of the War Office. The gentleman in question was Colonel Stewart, who commanded the Donegal Artillery Militia. 1426 In the early part of last year he felt it to he his duty to address a complaint to his superior officer, Colonel Perry, with reference to the conduct of two noncommissioned officers attached to his regiment. The complaint was confined absolutely to the conduct of these two men, and with reference to it Colonel Perry made the observation in writing that Colonel Stewart showed a very decided personal animus towards the members of the permanent staff. That was one of the gravest allegations which could be made against one of Her Majesty's officers, and Colonel Stewart requested that an inquiry should be held into the grounds of that allegation. He would remind the Under Secretary that that course was in accordance with Section 42 of the Army Act, which made it obligatory on the Commander-in-Chief to examine the complaint of any officer who felt himself wronged in this way. The matter was brought before the House on 3rd July last year by the hon. Member for East Down. On that occasion the late Secretary of State for War, in the course of his reply, said he thought the observation in question was not an observation that ought to have been made. Colonel Stewart then offered to waive his right to inquiry if the Secretary of State would ask for an apology and withdrawal of the expression on the part of the superior officer. Colonel Stewart had for many years been the commanding officer of this regiment, and his ancestors had been identified with it from its formation. He took a pride in the regiment, and naturally felt that such an observation as that made by his superior officer was an imputation upon his personal honour and his fitness to fill the command. He asked the Under Secretary to give the matter his personal examination. He maintained that Colonel Stewart, having had a censure passed upon him by his superior officer by which he felt himself wronged, was entitled to such an inquiry as would clear him of the imputation suggested by that censure, and he asked that proper steps should be taken by the War Office for that purpose.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said, he very much regretted that his hon. Friend had thought it necessary to bring the case before the House. The late Secretary of State had gone most carefully into 1427 the matter, and admitted that the words complained of were unduly severe. But now his hon. Friend asked that the question should be pressed further, and that the superior officer should be called upon to make a distinct apology. He could only say that the whole circumstances of Colonel Stewart's command of his regiment and his relations to the permanent staff were brought to the notice of Field Marshal the Commander-in-Chief in Ireland, and were most carefully considered by him, and also by the late Secretary of State. In the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, after he had considered all the circumstances, the justice of the case had been fully met; and that was also the opinion of the present Secretary of State, who considered the matter as closed. It had been very carefully considered by the highest authorities, and he hoped his hon. Friend would not press him any further. He would only add, he was satisfied that any Member who saw the papers would think that the Secretary of State took a correct view.
§ MR. H. S. FOSTER
said, the answer of the hon. Gentleman prompted him to ask whether the Commander-in-Chief was superior to the Queen's Regulations, or to the Army Act, which prescribed a distinct course, and made it compulsory upon him. It gave an officer an absolute right to an inquiry in respect to the grievance he alleged, and the Commander-in-Chief had no power to say the matter was closed. He wished the Under Secretary to refer to the 42nd section of the Act, and to say whether Colonel Stewart had not the right to an inquiry.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said, he could not interpret the Act without having it in hand. In the interests of Colonel Stewart he advised his hon. Friend not to press the matter further. If his hon. Friend insisted on doing it, then he should have to tell the Committee why the Field Marshal Commander-in-Chief thought it desirable to have no further inquiry.
§ MR. H. S. FOSTER
said, he would put down a question to ask the Under Secretary whether or not, under the 42nd section, Colonel Stewart was entitled to an inquiry. It was his duty to press the matter, because the Under Secretary had suggested that, if any 1428 further statement was to be made, it would be prejudicial to Colonel Stewart. It was to clear himself that Colonel Stewart asked for inquiry.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Vote of £43,000, to complete the sum for the Yeomany Cavalry—agreed to.
§ On the Vote of £554,200, for Capitation Grants and miscellaneous charges for the Volunteer Corps, including the payment of the Permanent Staff,
SIR H. FLETCHER (Sussex, Lewes)
said, he wished to ask the Military Authorities to consider a question before next year. The capitation grant to a Volunteer corps was now paid on or about the 1st of April, and the Volunteer year ends in the preceding 31st of October. He wished to ask the Under Secretary whether any arrangement could be made so that a portion of the capitation grant might be paid to the commanding officer on an earlier date than the 1st of April. The capitation grant was brought into existence in 1862 or 1863 by Mr. Cardwell. Some authorities at the War Office maintained that the capitation grant was to be paid in advance. It might be so, but that payment in advance did not affect the corps and battalions which were raised and formed at a later period. Many commanding officers were put to great extremities by the grant not being paid till the 1st of April. The men under his command had earned the grant by efficiency up to the 31st of October. Some officers were obliged to borrow money from bankers and others in order to meet their liabilities for the current year. One suggestion he would offer would be, where an October return showed that a corps had increased, a special grant should be made for such increase, and should be paid in the December following. Another proposition he submitted was that an advance of 10 per cent. should be paid to those corps or battalions which had been increased in numbers. He knew that if indulgence was to be shown to the Volunteers by the War Office, that would involve the revision of the Estimates. Therefore he thought it better to bring the matter forward now, before 1429 the Estimates for next year were prepared.
§ COLONEL DENNY (Kilmarnock Burghs)
said, there were one or two matters in the Vote that were worthy of attention. The Under Secretary had courteously told him, in answer to a question, that the new rifle would be issued next year to Volunteers. He heard that with satisfaction and apprehension—satisfaction that the Government were bringing about uniformity in all branches of the service; apprehension lest an emergency should arise before the Volunteers had exchanged the Lee-Metford for the Martini-Henry, for nothing could be more disastrous than that the Volunteers should have one and the regulars the other. A disadvantage attended the use of the new rifle, and it was that the ammunition was excessively expensive. At the price of 2s 3d. for 20 rounds, Volunteer corps could not use it in the practice they now went through. In his own regiment a great deal of ammunition was used in private practice, one company using as much as 12,000 rounds. The ammunition for the Martini-Henry had been raised to 1s. 6d., and the officers or the regiment itself had to subscribe for ammunition in order to encourage the men to shoot. If 1s. 6d. or even 1s. had to be paid, the shooting would be reduced; and without a keen desire to practice shooting, the force would not maintain its numbers and usefulness. There was another question, as to ranges. His own regiment had nine ranges widely scattered over the county, and three or four of these would be condemned with the introduction of the new rifle. Some men would have to go greater distances to the ranges that were left, and the question arose whether a little additional money could be provided for conveying the men to and from the ranges.
§ MR. H. DUNCOMBE (Cumberland, Egremont)
said, he should like, before the Session closed, to obtain some assurance that they might expect in the near future some rather more liberal treatment for 1430 the Volunteer Force. It was not denied that the existence of the force meant a very large saving of money to the nation, and it was not disputed that one of the things that told most against efficiency was the difficulty of obtaining officers. The average annual cost of every Volunteer was between 10s. and 15s. in excess of the grant allowed by the Government, and the deficiency had to be met somehow. It had to be met either by borrowing money for which high interest had to be paid, or by contributions coming from the pockets of the officers. In country districts there were few young men who could afford or cared to incur the liability to make good the deficiency. It should be remembered that the cost of a young officer's outfit amounted alone to between £30 and £40. There were not wanting authorities who held that there was no middle course between conscription and the maintenance of a large and thoroughly efficient Volunteer Force, with which opinion he agreed. Now he did not believe that conscription would ever be willingly accepted by the people of this country, and he for one should be very sorry to see it. In the absence of conscription it was a matter vitally concerning our national interests and safety that we should maintain the Volunteer Force in a state of efficiency. If there were any members of the Committee who were inclined to think that Volunteer matters were not worth treating seriously, he could assure them that they would be surprised if they knew the sacrifices made by Volunteers—by the working men who formed the backbone of the force—and that they would also be surprised if they knew the very high standard of efficiency which many Volunteer battalions had arrived at. The remarks which he had made applied specially to country corps, a company in one of which he had the honour to command. They did not apply with equal force to the crack London regiments, or to regiments recruited and drilled in our large towns. The average physique of the men in 1431 country regiments was undoubtedly very much higher than that of the regular army, and it was to those men that the country must look in case of invasion for the defence of our shores and the maintenance of our national safety. To keep this force in a proper state of efficiency, the money allowed by the Government was not sufficient, and therefore he trusted that the capitation grant would soon be increased.
§ MAJOR DALBIAC (Camberwell, N.),
as representing a London Volunteer regiment, joined in reprehending the practice of paying the capitation grant in arrear, and suggested that some distinction ought to be made between Volunteers who were zealous, hard-working, and efficient, and those who contented themselves with attending only nine drills a year. It would be a wise policy to classify separately the men who really strove to learn the art of war. He hoped they might be given a larger grant conditionally upon their attending a certain number of field exercises. He was also of opinion that they should be allowed to wear some distinctive badge, and that they should be classed as extra-efficient.
said, that the question raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes had already received some careful attention from the Under Secretary and himself. The difficulty was to find floating capital for the operations of the Volunteer Force. The suggestions of the hon. and gallant Member, if acceded to, would necessitate the expenditure of a considerable sum of money, and it would be necessary to examine the matter very closely before arriving at a decision. The hon. Member made two proposals, one being that the Grant should be given in relation to increased effectives, and the other that 10 per cent. of the Grant should be advanced at an early period of the year. Those were reasonable suggestions well worth considering. As to the ranges, there was no doubt that the number of them which would become inefficient 1432 through the adoption of the new arm was seriously large. This was a matter which must be dealt with as a whole, and not with reference to the present requirements of any particular locality. The authorities at the War Office were addressing themselves to the question, and it was impossible now to give any indication of the policy that would be ultimately recommended. The importance of the subject was fully recognised.
§ Vote of £427,000, to complete the sum for Transport and Remounts— agreed to.
§ Vote of £1,681,000, to complete the sum for Provisions, Forage, and other Supplies—agreed to.
§ Vote of £561,600, to complete the sum for Clothing Establishments and Services—agreed to.
§ On the Vote of £666,100, to complete the sum for Works, Buildings, and Repairs, and Cost, including pay, of the Royal Engineer Superintending Staff,
§ SIR C. DILKE
called attention to the complaint of the organised trades in connection with Woolwich Arsenal that the minimum wage of 19s. 6d. was insufficient. He understood that free medical attendance was given, but that was not a considerable advantage. On the other hand, 24s. a week was the recognised London rate of pay, without the privilege to which he had alluded. He only asked the Government to have an open mind upon the question.
§ MR. PIERPOINT (Warrington)
drew attention to the insanitary condition of Aldershot, in which during the last six months there were 137 cases of diphtheria and 525 cases of sore throat admitted to the hospital. In his opinion, diphtheria was entirely due to defective drainage. The responsibility for the inspection of the drainage ought to be placed upon the Local Authorities.
§ MR. H. BYRON REED (Bradford, E.)
said, that he desired to draw attention to the condition of the Bradford Barracks, with respect to which grave complaints had been made in the House for many years past. His constituents complained that not only were those barracks in an insanitary condition, but that they were in a deplorable state generally. Bradford was a town of considerable importance, and yet their barracks were allowed to remain in a very bad condition. Promises had been made over and over again that the Bradford Barracks should be placed in a proper condition, and yet nothing had been done in that direction. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would use his influence in order to secure better treatment for his constituents in regard to this matter. Last year the then Under Secretary for War had assured him that he hoped that provision should be made for the repair of the Bradford Barracks in this year's Estimates, and his complaint was that that promise had not been fulfilled. He urged upon the present Government the necessity for taking some steps for the repair of these barracks. He contended that the War Office were bound in honour to carry out the undertaking that had been given by the hon. Gentleman the late Under Secretary for War. He had been informed that it would only cost some £500 to place the barracks at Bradford in good and sanitary condition. He was glad to say that his previous communications with the right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary for War had already borne good fruit. In his opinion the Army Authorities were bound to do their best in order to make the Army popular in these times, when there was such a great difficulty in obtaining recruits. There could be no doubt that some military authorities, doubtless for some good reason of their own, were desirous of keeping Her Majesty's troops away from the great populous centres.
§ MR. BRODRICK
promised the hon. Member who had last spoken that he would look carefully into the matter and see whether the repairs at the Bradford Barracks could be carried out. As to the other question, it was impossible for him to say that the Government would accede to the request made by the hon. 1434 Gentleman. The War Office, however, recognised to the full the desirability of properly distributing the forces in great centres of population, and the point raised should receive careful consideration. The same remark applied to the question which had been raised by the hon. Member for Warrington as to the drains at Aldershot.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Vote of £74,500, to complete the sum for Establishments for Military Education—agreed to.
§ Vote of £32,500, to complete the sum for Miscellaneous Effective Services—agreed to.
§ Vote of £1,015,200, to complete the sum for Retired Pay, Half-Pay, and other Non-Effective Charges for Officers, &c.—agreed to.
§ Vote of £905,000, to complete the sum for Pensions and other Non-Effective Charges for Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers, Men, and others—agreed to.
§ Vote of £119,400, to complete the sum for Superannuation and other Allowances and Gratuities—agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next.