§ 1. £11,242,000 for transports and remounts.
§ *(2.55.) SIR ARTHUR HAYTER (Walsall)
said he desired to point out certain points of improvement in the remount system which he thought would facilitate the supply of horses. This year the House was asked to vote £3,729,000 for remounts, while last year the amount was £5,200,000, and the year before £5,729,000. When the figures were so vast it was the duty of the Committee 524 to try to put the Remount Department on a better footing. The first point he wished to draw attention to was the disproportion that existed between the number of men and the number of horses in our cavalry regiments. In the strongest regiments at present there were 609 men, but only 465 horses; that was to say the horses were 144 short. In the case of the small regiments there were 404 men and 279 horses, or 125 short. Colonel Birkbeck, the Director of Remounts, in his Report, referred to the necessity of a much larger supply of trained cavalry and artillery horses being kept up in time of peace. That officer said that a regiment of cavalry should always be ready to go on service with the ranks filled with trained horses and with a sufficient percentage to cover loss at sea, and that the men should go out in charge of the horses they were going to ride. He hoped the 525 authorities at home would give their attention to this matter, and would in future keep a much higher proportion of horses than they now did. The next point was there should be officers specially trained for remount duty. The Remount Department ought to be regarded as a Department in itself. It would be remembered that when the Remount Department had to obtain horses from Hungary the military attaché at Vienna was not consulted as to the supply in that country. The reason appeared to be that he was the servant of the Foreign Office, and could only report to that Office. He thought that military attaches ought to be required to report direct to the War Office with regard to the supply of horses. The supply of the horses should have as much special study as the supply of foodstuffs. That was the opinion of Colonel Birkbeck, and very sensible advice it was. It was said that in Cape Colony and Canada some suitable places might be got for breeding establishments. He thought that the noble Lord rather discouraged the idea of going to Australia for remounts, because the supply of horses for the Indian Army was obtained from that country. The hon. Member for the Westbury Division of Wiltshire suggested that the War Office should send out officers to the Irish fairs and to the West of England, where they could buy the horses direct from the farmers themselves. He agreed with that, and also earnestly hoped that the payment of the 10s. registration fee would be kept up. He believed that no more serviceable horses were found for artillery and draught purposes than the omnibus horses that went out from this country. They were in hard training, and it was these horses that had carried the guns out of action at Stromberg. He hoped, too, that in order to reduce the weight carried by cavalry horses the suggestion should be considered that to every squadron there should be a cavalry cart. There was an absolute necessity of insisting that all officers sent abroad to buy horses and mules should produce properly registered vouchers. There was the notorious case of a mule buyer in Spain getting a commission from the vendors as well as from the War Office; and the same thing had happened in Hungary. Summarising 526 the recommendations which he thought should be carried out, he repeated that (1) all officers sent out to purchase horses should receive strict instructions that they were to obtain the best possible vouchers for what they were buying, and were to be held strictly responsible for the money they spent; (2) that the number of horses in the cavalry regiments should be increased; (3) that the officers should be trained to remount duties; (4) that the sources of supply of remounts should be tabulated at the War Office, and the services of military attaches utilised; (5) that depots for breeding horses should be established; and (6) that officers should deal directly with farmers and breeders instead of going to dealers.
§ *COLONEL WELBY (Taunton)
said there were great difficulties, as had been pointed out by the hon. Baronet, in equalising the men and horses in our cavalry regiments. There was no commanding officer who would not be glad if the theory of one man and one horse were carried out, but it could not be done unless the whole cavalry system of our Army was changed. Among the dismounted men there were officers' servants, officers' mess waiters, sergeants' mess waiters, canteen waiters, store men, clerks, men to look after supplies; and then there were the recruits. Under such circumstances, if there were one horse to each man, it would be impossible to get the horses cleaned and turned out. It must be remembered also that when a man was sick or when he was on furlough his horse had to be cleaned by some one else. Some people might say that all this implied mere pipe-clay and polish, but it should not be forgotten that ours was a voluntary Army, and unless it was kept smart he did not believe we should get the men. What was wanted was that men should be induced to take a pride in themselves and in their regiments. As to the weight which ought to be carried by cavalry horses, there was no question which had been more studied in every possible way. It had been proved over and over again that the heavy saddle was necessary to sustain the accoutrements of the soldiers, and that a light hunting saddle, or something like a racing saddle, caused 527 sore backs. The hon. Baronet's idea as to the squadron carts with four horses would no doubt go some small way towards minimising the difficulty, although to a certain extent squadron carts were allowed and went with the regiments now. He thought that the Remount Department had suffered very unfairly at the hands of the House in the debate which took place on the subject some time ago. The Report of the Committee was only put in the hands of Members just before the discussion arose, and he did not think that anyone in the House, not even the Secretary for War himself, then understood its real bearings. The result was that the whole blame was instantly thrown upon the regular Remount Department, and the head of that Department, General Truman, was virtually made the scapegoat. But when hon. Members came to look more closely into the Report they found that it referred to what had been done by those who bought horses for the Yeomanry, and they were not the regular Remount Department. The Remount Department was a small one, and had been enormously overworked, and the general result of the debate had been that an enormous amount of opprobrium had attached to the regular Remount Department. He thought that the cloud of opprobrium which had hung over the Remount Department should be dispersed, or that at least they should know its proper limits; and it was only fair and just that they should press most urgently on the Secretary of State to make public the Report from the Commission which had been inquiring into the matter in America and Australia.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
cordially concurred with the hon. and gallant Gentleman in asking for the publication of the Report of this Commission, and of the evidence taken by it as well. He was sorry, however, that the hon. and gallant Gentleman should have raised the subject of the debate upon General Truman, as a Committee was at present inquiring into that officer's case at his own request, and it would have been better to have waited until that Committee had reported. But as the question had been 528 raised, he must say that his attack upon the Remount Department in the debate which had been referred to was based solely on the evidence taken at the inquiry and General Truman's own statements, which appeared to him to admit the breakdown of his Department. In regard to the question of weight upon cavalry horses, he was one of those who thought that there had been some little exaggeration of the importance of the matter, as compared with the overwhelming importance of training the men to take due care of their horses. Some of the most successful cavalry in the history of war had been heavily-weighted cavalry. The cavalry of the Grand Army which Napoleon took to Moscow was a most heavily-weighted cavalry, and the German cavalry in the Franco - German War was more heavily weighted than the French. The other question—that of the proportion of horses to men in a regiment—was of first-class importance, and he understood his right hon. friend to contend on the lines of the Report of Colonel Birkbeck, not that there should be necessarily the same number of horses as men, which was the counsel of perfection. His hon. and gallant friend the Member for Taunton had shown the difficulty of having as many horses as men, and pointed out the many duties which had to be performed by dismounted cavalry men, but he (Sir Charles Dilke) understood his right hon. friend the Member for Walsall to follow Colonel Birkbeck in the argument that a larger proportion of horses should be kept in training in-time of peace than was now the custom. That argument had been pressed on the Government for years past. Year after year the Government had been told they had not sufficient horses for their Army, and their reply had always been that they had a great reserve on which to draw. Omnibus horses had done very well, there was no doubt, as artillery horses, but not as cavalry horses, and the arguments advanced in the past as to the need of cavalry horses remained. If they were to have any cavalry at all, a larger proportion of horses must be kept up. The argument of Colonel Birkbeck was that there should be a larger supply of trained cavalry horses in time of peace, and that cavalry should, 529 be able to go on service with its complement of fully trained horses and still leave a large reserve of trained horses on which to draw. The evidence of every officer who had served in South Africa testified to the soundness of the argument, and pointed out why the cavalry failed to do what was hoped of them. Some of the highest military authorities of the present day did not believe in cavalry: there was a strong desire to substitute mounted infantry for cavalry without taking the necessary steps to keep up a large force in time of peace; to put them through a mounted infantry school without having an establishment of horses for them, but he contended that the cavalry would find a new field of activity in the future. He hoped the Government would be able to tell the Committee that they were considering this question of remounts, and that they were not overlooking that branch of it which related to the maintenance in this country of a proper supply of cavalry horses in time of peace.
§ (3.40.) COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, Ince)
said he wished to draw attention to Ireland as a recruiting ground for horses. It was the best country in the world for the breeding of horses. He urged that cavalry horses should be bought at three years old direct from the farmer in Ireland; that they should be turned out for two years on the limestone pastures of Ireland, and then be brought into service. That would ensure the Government having horses at a fit age. By that policy, also, a large amount of money would be spent in Ireland, which both directly and indirectly would do a vast amount of good. With regard to the weight to be placed on cavalry horses, he entirely agreed with what had been said by his hon. friends the Members for Taunton and the Forest of Dean. They must not run any risk of sore backs in reducing weight.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
agreed with the hon. and gallant Member who had just spoken as to the advisability of purchasing horses at the age of three years. His hon. and gallant friend was quite right in saying that Ireland was the best horse-breeding 530 country in the world, though the Remount Department had done all it could to destroy the system of horse-breeding. The Government paid £40 a horse, but the Irish farmer only got £26 or.£28. A cavalry officer, no doubt, knew something about horses, but was afraid that he might sometimes make a mistake in the horse he bought, and was more afraid of the remarks of other cavalry officers if he did so. He, therefore, appointed a man to buy horses for him; the dealer was the great protection of the cavalry colonel. He did not think that at present Irish horses were heavy enough for artillery, but for mounted infantry and cavalry they were superb. He condemned the system of buying horses through dealers, and said that if the money went straight into the farmers' pockets they would undoubtedly try to produce a good class of animals.
§ MR. SPEAR (Devonshire, Tavistock)
agreed as to the desirability of establishing means of securing horses suitable for Army work direct from the farmers, but there were considerable difficulties in the matter. Occasionally advertisements were inserted that the Government agent would be at a certain place on a given day to buy horses. Every farmer believed he had horses suitable for the purpose, but on inspection probably 90 per cent, were rejected as unsuitable, with the result that much friction, disappointment, and irritation were caused. He suggested that the Secretary of State for War should select a thoroughly reliable veterinary surgeon in each poor law district, who, from the nature of his position, would know where there were horses suitable, and on a given day could apprise the owners, so that the horses might be brought to a certain place for the Government agent to see. It would mean a small fee to the veterinary surgeon, but he was more likely than an Army officer to be a good judge of horses. He would know a horse in the rough, and that was what the War Office wanted. The formation of foreign depots had been suggested, but why not have such depots at home? Why not have some of the unoccupied land in Essex utilised for horse-breeding? If breeding establishments were 531 set up, horses eminently suited for army purposes might be produced. It was also desirable that arrangements should be made by which horses could be purchased at a lower age, as many men bred good colts, but were unable to afford to keep them until they were old enough for Army purposes. He further thought it was high time that something should be done to secure the production of sounder horses. If every horse used for fee or hire was required to have a certificate of soundness, a class of horse would be built up well fitted for the Army, but which now had to be purchased abroad.
§ MR. FULLER (Wiltshire, Westbury)
contended that until horses were bought more directly from the owner or breeder the state of things of which complaint was made would continue. When the question was discussed last year the Financial Secretary to the War Office met a similar suggestion in a sympathetic and conciliatory spirit, and promised to make inquiries. It would be interesting for the Committee to know what steps the War Office had taken, and what had been the result of the inquiries. There was an admirable organisation already in existence of which use might be made in this matter. There was hardly a horse-breeding district in England in which there was not a Yeomanry regime it, officered almost entirely by gentlemen who lived in and had knowledge of the county, and were good judges of horseflesh, and use might be made of the adjutants of those regiments, at any rate for the purpose of keeping a register for their respective counties of horses fitted for military purposes. In that way the country would always have at its disposal a list of the remounts upon which it could lay its hands. If such a scheme was not possible, the Chambers of Agriculture in the different counties might be made use of. In any case, nothing but good could accrue from a system under which the purchases were made more directly from the owners or breeders.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, Chelmsford)
I suggested that the War Office might 532 do worse than study the Austro-Hungarian system for mounting cavalry. The Emperor Francis Joseph started the system by forming a number of stud farms at which the farmers were allowed to get their mares covered at a nominal price on one condition, viz., that the produce should be the property of the Government at £26 for gun horses and £28 for cavalry horses. No horses were taken until they were four years old, and none were kept after reaching the age of ten years. That was very different from the practice in this country, where he had often seen cavalry regiments going out with 200 horses, leaving the rest in the riding school because they were too young. In Austria-Hungary the system produced the horses for the cavalry, and even the Honved, a militia, which were perhaps the best horsed in the world. He was bound to say that from his experience Ireland was a better horse-breeding country than Essex, but the reason why a better class of horses did not come from Ireland was that the Irish breeder and farmer could not afford to give a sufficient price for sires. He urged that breeding depots should be established in Ireland.
SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)
said the lesson of the war had been that mounted infantry were essential. The statements which had been made as to the paucity of horses, even for the cavalry regiments, were bound to cause a certain amount of anxiety as to the efficiency of our cavalry force. When they took that fact into consideration, together with the enormous amount of public money they had spent during the last few years on this particular subject, he thought this was a question which deserved the very careful consideration, not only of every military Member of the House, but of every business man connected with the Government of the country. It did not require any argument to support the suggestion of increasing the number of cavalry horses available for each cavalry regiment. It might necessitate a certain amount of increased expenditure, but it was obvious that a cavalry regiment should have a larger proportion of horses —if it was to be used effectively—than 533 the number available at the present moment. It had also been suggested —and he thought the suggestion was not only practical but of great value—that we should have specially trained officers for the purchase of horses. Those hon. Members who had been connected with the Remount Department had had evidence that the men employed for that purpose had not always been trustworthy, or had known how to purchase horses for the Army of the best kind, or at the lowest price. Why it should be necessary to have middlemen in the transactions passed his comprehension. The suggestion that horses should be purchased direct from the farmer commended itself to him as a business suggestion. There ought to be no difficulty in this country, with the organisation we possessed, not only in connection with the Board of Agriculture, but also the Local Government Board and other Departments, in having a register of horses in every county in the country. Such a register might be under the control of the Yeomanry officers, or kept under the auspices of the Agricultural Department, or of the County Councils. Persons living in the country ought to be encouraged to breed horses, and where a register was kept the War Office would be in a position to know, through the local authority, where a supply could always be found. A scheme like that might be carried out without any great expenditure of public money, and in that way the authorities might make our supply of horses in the future much more secure than it has been under the happy-go-lucky system which had hitherto prevailed.
§ (4.7.) THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. BRODRICK, Surrey, Guildford)
I am very far from denying the importance of the discussion raised by the right hon. Baronet, but I am not equally sure that the remarks made by the hon. Member who has just spoken have very much advanced the Committee in the solution of the difficulties in the matter. I am afraid I shall have to show that his suggestions, though they sounded very plausible, have either been taken advantage of already, or if put into force would not have the effect 534 which he anticipates. Many points have been raised, but the main point in connection with this matter—which, I think, has been entirely ignored—is the failure of the supply of horses at the beginning of the late war. That was due to the practical impossibility of organising a Department, which, in one normal year has to do business to the extent of 2,500 horses, on such a basis as to enable it to cope with a sudden demand for 150,000 horses. All this talk about organising, knowing where horses are to be found, and so forth, is very good, but if you put it to any business house in the City, that they should so organise their business that at some unknown time in the far distant future they should be able suddenly to do a business sixty times as great as their ordinary business, they would tell you that it was impossible for them to undertake such an operation, but they would do the best they could when the occasion arose. The hon. Member spoke of registering every horse in the United Kingdom. I do not know whether he is aware that before the war broke out 17,000 horses were registered, and many more would have been, but the owners were not willing to register them. It would be all very well for us to keep officers going about making out how many horses there are which it would be desirable for the country to bid for in case of war, but the trouble would be lost, because it does not necessarily follow that the owners would sell when war broke out. Our only possibility is to register those horses whose owners say they would be willing to sell.
Now let me follow on briefly to one or two cases which have been mentioned, in which, during the war, there has been a lack of proper purchasing power. A great deal has been said about Hungary. I have always pointed out that a good many of the operations most complained of in Hungary were undertaken by the Yeomanry Committee on their own initiative, and were not under the control of the Remount Department. I have never made, and never shall make, any apology for the action taken by my predecessor when he entrusted the work of that particular force to the Yeomanry Committee. The War Office was suddenly asked to put 200,000 men in the field in South Africa, a very large 535 number of them mounted. This House and successive Governments never having contemplated sending abroad more than 70,000 men in any emergency, it is perfectly obvious that such a demand could not be met without straining our resources in every direction. I believe a better policy could not have been adopted than that of trusting a body of expert gentlemen, particularly expert in the knowledge of horseflesh, and cognisant of the particular duties entrusted to them. To some extent they failed. They did not fail in the provision of men; they got us most excellent men; they did not fail in the equipment of those men, but in some respects they failed in the matter of the provision of horses.
Then with regard to the Hungarian purchases. That business was denounced by the hon. Member for Dulwich, who was instrumental in bringing to light what had been called the scandals with regard to the purchase of horses in Hungary. I will tell the Committee what has occurred during the present year. I went to the hon. Member for Dulwich and asked him whether, as we had ceased buying Hungarian and were buying Russian horses, he would favour me by putting me in a position to buy the class of horse in Hungary which he said could be bought, but which we—as it was alleged—by the conduct of the War Office and the entire neglect of public interest, had failed to obtain. The hon. Member met me in the most friendly spirit. He undertook to send out his trainer, Mr. Waugh, who speaks the language, and to put us into communication with certain Hungarian magnates who were only anxious to retrieve the character of their country as a horse-market for the world. I was glad to accept his offer, but told him that we could not undertake to buy any number of Hungarian horses until we had proved that he was able to produce those of better class than we had been able to get through other channels. Mr. Waugh went out and conducted the negotiations. I did not limit him as to price, and he suggested a figure £6 or £8 —I think it was £6, but I am not certain— higher than the price we had been giving in Hungary, and we were to get the best horses of the cavalry class. At the wish 536 of those concerned, we sent out a special Commission to inspect the horses, so that there might be no question of the existing Commission being in any way prejudiced in the matter. I am not in possession of the whole of the facts but I may say that, according to the reports I have received, after paying a higher price, sending out a special Commission, and going to a particular class who we were assured were most anxious to serve us well, we have been disappointed at the class of horses brought before our inspectors. They have had to reject so many, that at one time the contractors said they would not produce any more, because it did not pay them to have them rejected. The inspectors telegraphed to me, and I told them to reject as many as they thought necessary. Ultimately we got the number made up, but when the contingent arrived in South Africa it was not favourably reported on. I am assured, but have not been able actually to verify the statement, that that contract, like others, was sub-sold without our knowledge, and that a considerable number of horses were bought from our old contractor, who has been denounced in this House.
In the case of these contracts the hon. member for Dulwich interested himself in every way he could in the most patriotic manner, and actually sent out a man at his own expense in order that we might obtain the right article. The only conclusion that I draw from these circumstances, strange though it is, is that the horse, which is by no means an immoral animal itself, is the cause of much immorality in others. Wherever the War Office bought horses, whether in this country or elsewhere, we met with the same difficulties. The Studdert case showed a gentleman well reputed in his own country and of an excellent character, a man who stood high in all the relations of life, who when he came to trade in horses committed a flagrant breach of honourable conduct, and indeed, I may say, without using language of too strong a character, was guilty of dishonesty. A number of persons were concerned in the transactions, as was shown by the trial, and the whole proceeding was of the most discreditable character. I have been criticised on account of the action of the Solicitor 537 General, who represented the Government in the legal proceedings, in compromising the action. I am not a lawyer, but I do not see anything to censure in the matter. The Solicitor General called his witnesses; the defendants declined to go on; judgment was given against them, and the only question was the question of damages, when they agreed to pay £2,000 and the costs, which amounted to about the same sum. But nothing was done to bar future proceedings. I cannot enter now into the question of how far future criminal proceedings are likely to take place, but that depends entirely upon the possibility of success or failure. I ordered the action to be entered against the defendants within three weeks of my taking office in November, 1900. They took us from Court to Court, and finally to the House of Lords. I can only say that no fear of exposing any one will prevent me, if I can get a legal case, from going on with the matter.
As to the purchase of horses in the future, my noble friend the Financial Secretary to the War Office is giving the subject his attention, and I hope to be able to announce next year the course to be adopted, which I hope will largely provide against the recurrence of the difficulties we have had to contend against in the past. My hon. and gallant friend the Member for Taunton truly said that the Remount Department has been too much blackened in the course of the discussion on the affairs of the Department six months ago. The inspectors whom I sent to report on the purchase of horses in America, Canada, Hungary, South Africa, and Australia have nearly all sent in their Reports. The publication of these Reports has been asked for. I do not think there will be any difficulty in making them public, and I am perfectly willing to give all the information it is in my power to give; but I should like to say at once, on behalf of some of the officers of the Remount Department, that I think they have been hardly dealt with by public opinion. Colonel de Burgh, the officer in the Department in New Orleans, despite climatic and all sorts of difficulties, has done excellent service, and deserves the highest praise for the work he has done. Good work has also been done in Canada. The operations in Russia also were a credit to all concerned. I do not think that Lord Kitchener himself would 538 join in the outcry which has been raised against the Remount Department. I must remind the House that you must look to some extent to what you find in South Africa itself, for the blame of what occurred, in the want of care shown in sending the horses up country before they were fit, or in mixing them with those that were unfit; and you must not bestow all your censure upon those who selected the horses. I speak the more freely on the subject because, from the moment I took office, I urged Lord Kitchener to commandeer all the horses he could obtain in the parts of Cape Colony which were under martial law, so that we might be put a few weeks ahead of the supplies we had at that time. I think it only just to make these remarks in the interest of the officers of the Remount Department, who have worked so hard for the last two years.
With regard to the case of General Truman, the Court of Inquiry is still sitting, and I am sorry I have not yet received its Report. I would remind the Committee that the Court of Inquiry was appointed by the Commander-in-Chief, and I am no more entitled to interfere with its proceedings than I am to interfere with those of a Court of Law. With regard to the remarks made as to the number of horses in each cavalry regiment, that is a matter which must be left to the military authorities. I remember some years ago meeting several of the best cavalry colonels and urging upon them the necessity of obtaining a larger number of horses for their regiments: but they did not see the necessity of so doing, as experience had shown that, given a certain number of trained horses in a regiment, other horses brought in to meet an emergency, when it arose, became fit in a few days for the work they had to perform. A much larger question was raised by the hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean when he declared that mounted infantry will be the need of the future. I am not going to hastily adopt the opinion that, because of the experiences of the South African War, cavalry will not be required as before; but that cavalry ought to be taught to shoot well and to be able to act as mounted infantry, no one will deny. The suggestion that large farms should be obtained for the rearing of young horses seems, at first sight, excellent in every respect. But these 539 schemes must ultimately be tried by the question of cost; and while, with the experience of South Africa fresh in the public recollection, cost is accounted of little consequence, a time will come when pressure will be applied to the Secretary of State for War to reduce expenditure at all hazards; and if it were found that the system of buying young horses and rearing them on a farm increased the expenditure by £10 per horse, depend upon it you will have an immediate outcry raised against it, and the whole system would have to be recast. That we should get more closely into touch with the farmers there is no doubt; and that is part of my noble friend's plan. I can assure the Committee that all the questions which have been raised in connection with the purchase of horses for the Army are engaging the most careful attention of the War Office. Our great difficulty is to develop out of the sources of supply sufficient to meet the comparatively small annual demand for horses in time of peace, a service needed at the moment of emergency, arising at a time which we cannot foresee, and under circumstances which we cannot forecast.
§ (4.30.) MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
said the public in Ireland had the gravest suspicion with regard to the Studdert case. He did not understand the right hou. Gentleman to contend for a moment that the £2,000 and costs awarded recently by the Court in Dublin swept away the profit made by Studdert and his confederates. They had walked off with an enormous sum — it was estimated at £10,000. He was not sure that that was a correct figure. He was only speaking from public report. The matter had been before the House for nearly two years, and until the present occasion they had always been met with the statement that it was sub judice, and that it could not be fairly discussed here. Every resource known to the law had been exhausted in order to procrastinate the trial of the case. That should have aroused the suspicions of the War Office, and, although the right hon. Gentleman did everything to force them to come to trial, it was public talk in Ireland—he gave it for what it was worth—that the law officers in Ireland had not been very active in seconding his efforts, and that procrastination was allowed to go on onger than was necessary. He did 540 not make that charge—he mentioned it. But, at all events, what was the actual situation now? That a man who had, by the admission of the right hon. Gentleman, benefitted in that way to the extent of many thousands, who had made a laughing stock of the Government, was not to be made responsible. He had made a laughing stock of the Government because, according to the evidence, every absolutely valueless old horse was sold. Horses that the farmers got £7, £8 or £9 for were sold to the Government for £30 or £35. Men said that the age of some of them was so great that it was beyond human memory, and enormous numbers of mares in foal and every kind of rubbish all over the country was swept up. These facts must have been known to the Government and the Government lawyers for nearly two years, and it was not denied at the trial that in carrying out this extraordinary scheme his own son had made a fortune, and that the name of another man, who was alleged to be the secretary of a company or syndicate, had been used. Therefore, there was admitted in the court a case of fraud of the most extraordinary character, resulting in an enormous profit far beyond what was recovered in the way of damages. Yet now they were told by the right hon. Gentleman that if it was possible there would be a prosecution. Forgery had been sworn to in court and had not been denied, fraud was admitted, and yet they were told that if it was possible there would be a prosecution. Well, the right hon. Gentleman would pardon him for saying that the conviction existed in Ireland that the possibility of a conviction varied according to the person to be prosecuted, and he supposed that when Parliament assembled next session they would be informed that this was a matter of past history and that it was impossible to get evidence. He did not want to go into other cases in Ireland which had been heard of, in which there was the power but not the, will to prosecute. Major Studdert was a person of great influence in Ireland, and the hon. Gentleman had no doubt the Castle in Dublin was besieged at this moment by powerful influences begging that this 541 gentleman should not be prosecuted. [MR. BRODRICK shook his head.] The right hon. Gentleman shook his head. But what did he know about what was going on? One sentence was noticeable in what had been said about this matter— that Major Studdert was well known and respectably connected. Certainly he belonged to the gentry of County Clare and was a specimen—the hon. Member did not say a fair one—of the class of receivers under the Land Act in Ireland who had ruined the unfortunate people. He did undoubtedly belong to an influential family of the County Clare, as the right hon. Gentleman said, widely connected and therefore in a position to bring influence upon the authorities in Dublin. In fact, if the matter was allowed to go on without some more definite and satistactory statement it would be found that these influences, in the recess, would cause the Studdert case to disappear. Having regard to the public way in which this business went on it must have been absolutely well known to the police. Ireland was a peculiar country. It was said that a cock could hardly crow without the fact being recorded in the Castle. The place was pervaded with police spies. There was hardly a transaction at a fair which was not reported. At every fair there were numbers of police mixing with the people, talking to them, and giving them drink for political purposes. And having regard to the way in which these purchases of Studdert's were talked about everywhere it would be impossible for the Government not to have had in their possession, not now, but long ago, evidence upon which to prosecute. And yet they were told, after all this had come out, that if it was possible there would be a prosecution. He urged that a prosecution should have been undertaken long ago. It should be remembered that while it was a legitimate excuse or reason for not discussing the case in the House that it was sub judice, that was no reason for not instituting a criminal prosecution. As soon as the Government knew that there was fraud they should have instituted such a prosecution. The Irish law officers had never made an adequate statement with reference to this case. They should have explained to the 542 House what was the meaning of the expression "if a prosecution is possible." He asserted that it was believed by public opinion in Ireland that a prosecution was possible, and the Government would act unwisely and give rise to universal suspicion if steps were not taken. The other day a compromise took place. The right hon. Gentleman said there was no compromise, but that was not the opinion in Dublin; the case suddenly collapsed and there was a settlement arrived at between counsel on each side, and the Dublin Press, without distinction politically, commented most unfavourably upon the conduct of Crown counsel in the case. The Dublin correspondent of the London Times had a paragraph next morning saying so, and observing that it was not to be wondered at. So that the suspicion and discontent at the extraordinary termination of this case was not confined to Nationalists, but was shared in by the whole Press of Ireland. In the speech which the House had just heard there was no definite promise that an investigation would be held into this case. Were they to be told after all that had taken place that it was possible Mr. Studdert and the others would be allowed to walk off with their plunder? He trusted this Vote would not be allowed to pass until they received some more definite assurance than had yet been given. They had pressed again and again for a separate inquiry into the contracts connected with the war, and now they were told that the whole question of contracts was to be referred to the general inquiry. Before the general inquiry, which was an inquiry of a philosophic character, had concluded its labours, all interest in the war and everything connected with it would have ceased to exist. In view of the policy adopted by the Government with regard to these inquiries, it was all the more important that some special action should be taken with regard to this transaction in Ireland. If the Government desired so buy their horses through dealers, there were dealers in Ireland of good reputation; men known to many hon. Members of this House, who had a great name and reputation, and who would not desire to swindle the Government. He claimed that before this debate closed 543 some assurance should be given by the right hon. Gentleman that this matter should be probed to the bottom, and that the Committee should not be put off with a vague statement of the Secretary of State, from which it was quite clear that the Government intended to abandon all serious efforts to deal with this question.
§ MR. BECKETT (Yorkshire, N. R, Whitby)
said that he thought the Government had been more hardly treated in this Amendment than they deserved. He explained that the selection of Major Studdert had been left chiefly to the Yeomanry Committee. This gentleman was chosen because he was believed to be a first-rate judge of horses and a man of high standing. It was thought that by employing a gentleman of this character, in touch with the horse dealers, the best remounts would be secured. When Major Studdert had made some purchases it was brought to the notice of the Committee that the horses were not up to the required standing. An inspector was sent to see the horses and to take photographs of them, and a most remarkable collection of photographs they were. The animals were about as rotten a lot of screws as could possibly be found. A certain proportion of the animals, however, were good, but there could be no doubt that Major Studdert intended to swindle the Government, and when he was ordered to attend before the Committee, and was asked what position he thought he occupied, he took the line that he was appointed an agent of the Committee at a salary of two guineas a day, and in buying the horses he had done the best he could. The Yeomanry Committee was dissolved; Colonel Lucas was sent to South Africa, and he (Mr. Beckett) was left in charge. Later on further facts came out about the horses, and he entrusted a firm in Ireland to make investigations. The result was that Major Studdert had purchased these horses under false names and had put the money into his pocket. These facts were sent by him to the War Office, and the War Office, without hesitation, consented to an action being brought. The case was put before Lord Lansdowne just before the general election, but he 544 was unable to come to a decision at that particular moment. But the moment that the War Office gave the matter consideration his right hon. friend ordered action to be taken. The kind of action which should be taken was submitted to counsel's opinion, and on their advice civil and not criminal proceedings were taken. No blame, in his opinion, attached to the War Office in this matter. The War Office did not know what Studdert was doing at the time. The War Office left the Yeomanry Committee to do the work as it thought fit, and knew nothing about the matter until he reported it to them. The action of the Department was fair and straight, and he rejoiced to hear that further proceedings would probably be taken.
§ MR. BRODRICK
assured the Committee that, whatever might have been the common talk in Ireland, there was no disposition shown on the part of the Irish law officers except to pursue the case to the utmost. It was said that the terms on which the action was decided were insufficient. But the Committee must remember that, legally, when they were dealing with a question involving 200 or 300 horses, which was the point in this particular suit, they had to proportion the amount so as to reach the sum of £2,000. He was far from saying that this was the whole amount of profit made; but in order to recover legally they must prove the profit made in each case. It would be a very long business to arrive at the precise amount. The point now was whether further proceedings were possible, and whether there was a disposition on the part of the Government to take them. No one in his position could make apologies for a transaction in which he had not been concerned, and in respect of which an undoubted fraud had been perpetrated against the Government. He could assure the Committee that the Department was willing to take further action. He was disposed to go to extreme lengths in the matter; but in such a question dependence must be placed on the legal advisers of the Department as to the value of the evidence. The arm of the Government was strong, and it should not be employed against individuals unless there was a valid reason for it. 545 Before taking action there must be careful consideration, but the War Office needed no stimulus from the Committee, and he hoped it would not be said that in consequence of this debate the War Office took action which they would not otherwise have taken. There was no extreme to which the Government would not go, if it were justifiable, to punish the offenders.
§ (5.5.) MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said that he believed the right hon. Gentleman desired to take action, but he feared that, if the legal advisers of the right hon. Gentleman said that they could not be sure of a conviction, that would be considered a bar to prosecution.
§ *MR. LEVY (Leicestershire, Loughborough)
said the Committee were entitled to have a more definite statement from the right hon. Gentleman before they passed the Vote. The right hon. Gentleman said that unless he could get a good prima facie case he could not undertake a prosecution. Surely the Government had sufficient evidence already to justify a criminal prosecution. To his mind this was a very serious question indeed. There was a case recently brought to light in Ireland where the Government officials manufactured both crime and evidence; then, there was no difficulty whatever about evidence—in fact, they could there get whatever evidence they desired. They had here a case where direct fraud had been carried on and large sums of money swindled out of the taxpayers. It was perfectly clear there were at least two men who ought to be prosecuted—one was Major Studdert and the other was his son. No one could reasonably suggest there was not a prima facie case against these two men. The right hon. Gentleman said Studdert was selected because he was a good judge of horses, and for that reason he was preferred to a horse dealer. That fact intensified the position and made matters very much worse. These 546 men not only defrauded the Government by sending out wretched crocks to South Africa, but the use of such horses probably resulted in the loss of many precious lives. These men could well afford to say to themselves, "If no further action is taken against us the Government will merely take from us only a portion of the proceeds of our frauds." The Government should make an example of these men, and then they would probably have more honest men to deal with in the future. He hoped that unless the Government gave more satisfactory information the Committee would go to a division on the Vote.
§ MR WALLACE (Perth)
said that his hon. friend could hardly have heard what the Secretary of State had said. The right hon. Gentleman had given a pledge that if possible a conviction should be obtained in this case. He recognised the great difficulty of proving damage in cases of this kind; but when. Major Studdert admitted that he had swindled the Government, and when Major Studdert's son admitted that he had; committed forgery, the difficulty was removed.
§ MR. ROCHE (Galway, E.)
said that what they complained of in Ireland was that all this time Dublin Castle was in correspondence with the English Government, and that they must have known what was going on. Dublin Castle, by means of the police, knew everything that went on in Ireland, and they ought to have taken means to stop this scandal.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
expressed his confidence in the Secretary of State to prosecute this matter as far as possible. He desired to put a question with regard to transport. The carts supplied by the War Office for this purpose were very heavy, and in answer to a Question he had put some time previously he was assured that a lighter cart would be supplied. These carts were perfectly useless on account of their great weight, and a year ago it was stated that a lighter cart was being tried. He asked for an assurance-that that was so.
THE FINANCIAL SECRETAEY TO THE WAR OFFICE (Lord STANLEY, Lancashire, Westhoughton)
said that that I was now being done. Lighter carts were now being tried, and there was also a scheme of motor cars being inquired I into, and no doubt something would be done with them.
SIR WALTER FOSTER
said the only unsatisfactory thing in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was that part in which he stated that some names had to be considered before action was taken. Those words, he thought, would convey an entirely different meaning to that; which the right hon. Gentleman intended to convey.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said that in a question of conspiracy it was necessary to consider whether the evidence justified the inclusion of a particular person in the charge. The decision would be reached in a day or two.
§ *MR. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)
said he thought he would be in order in drawing attention to the question of the ships used for transport, which in some cases had been kept four months without being unloaded, with the result that £276,000 had had to be paid by the War Office in respect of demurrage. That showed the unsatisfactory manner in which these matters were conducted by the War Office. He would like to know what had been done to those responsible for that state of things. Their salaries ought to be reduced, and they should be given work of a totally different character since they had shown such utter incompetence.
said there had been no scandal such as the hon. Member had tried to make out. There were two great difficulties to contend with in landing stores in South Africa. In the first place there was the difficulty, from want of sufficient dock and quay accommodadation, in getting vessels alongside at Port Elizabeth and East London, and there was the further difficulty of storage on the quays. Ships came in rapidly from all parts of the world, and it was impossible to know exactly the day on which a particular vessel would arrive. It often happened that stores sent off as urgent 548 were less urgent when they reached South Africa, and others had become more urgent and had to be taken first. The consequence was that demurrage claims arose and could not be avoided, from the fact that the officers at the port unloaded those stores that were being particularly asked for.
§ 2. Motion made and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £16,066,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge for provisions, forage, and other supplies, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1903."
§ (5.20.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
asked what proportion of foreign as compared with Irish meat was supplied to the troops in Ireland. The £230,000,000 which had been expended on the war was not all lost as far as England was concerned, because a large portion of it was merely a transfer from one class of men to another; but in Ireland the whole of it was lost, because practically nothing was spent in that country. It was certainly unfair that, in a country which produced so much beef, foreign I meat should be introduced to so large an extent.
§ MR. DILLON
referred to the South African meat contracts and the connection of Sir F. Forestier - Walker with the Cold Storage Company. That officer was for some time General of Communications, and when last spring it was publicly announced that he had become a director of the company a Question was asked in the House, to which the reply was that Sir F. Forestier-Walker was on half-pay, and therefore the War Office had no control over him; and when the subject was mentioned in debate the noble Lord said Sir F. Forestier-Walker had nothing to do with the making of the meat contract, and that it was made by Lord Kitchener. But shortly afterwards, in the Committee on Public Accounts, when the Question was asked, the War Office representative said Sir F. Forestier-Walker was responsible for the contract. If that was so, and seeing that within a few months that officer 549 appeared as director of the company, it had the appearance of a scandal not to he tolerated. Further, the hon. Member took the opportunity of once more protesting against the refusal of the Government to institute a separate inquiry into these war contracts. To mix up the inquiry with the great matter of military operations would render it ineffective, coming as it would so long after the events. Unless the inquiry was hot-foot on the scandal it would not meet the evil; it would simply cloak the matter up. Such inquiry should follow immediately upon the scandal being known, or the lesson would be lost, it was not denied that the Cold Storage Company received 11d per lb. for meat which at the time could have been bought on the quays at 3¼d. per lb. He had it from Mr. Bergl that he could have supplied the meat at 5½d. and have made a fair profit. In the interest of the Treasury, of the great spending Departments, arid of the public, inquiry should be instant and searching. The laxity and indifference in the Departments were almost incredible, and the House of Commons inquiry should be used to control contractors, for the Treasury was but a broken reed for the purpose. His faith in the power of the Treasury to safeguard public economy on a large scale had been rudely shaken by the phenomenon recently witnessed. Estimates were submitted, based on the expected continuance of the war for a further six months. The war suddenly ended, and the whole estimates were recast. No doubt it was expensive to bring a war to an end, but would any man believe that if estimates were recast on a peace footing they would come out at the same amount even to sixpence? The thing was preposterous, and simply showed that the estimates were not prepared in the manner the Committee were led to believe they were.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
called attention to the treatment of horses at Stollenbosch. According to a letter he had received, a gentleman, high in favour with the Government, Major F. J. Ryder, of the 3rd Dragoon Guards, the Inspector of Remounts in Cape Colony, collected 1,500 horses after the war was technically over. These horses were commandeered 550 from all the neighbouring farms at the lowest possible price. They were then placed in kraals and fed with chaff, with the result that between August and November 600 of them either died from glanders or other diseases, or had to be shot. One of the most abominable features of the war had been the vile cruelty to dumb animals. Although some millions of money was voted for fodder, these horses were fed on chaff. There was, however, no saving to the public purse from the starvation of these animals, because money was simply ladled into the hands of the Hausers and the Studderts.
could not add much to the reply given to the hon. Member at Question time, hut he could say that, as a general rule, glanders was not a disease that a horse caught through eating chaff. If 600 horses were shot for glanders it was the cheapest way the officer responsible could have disposed of them, for anything more infectious and anything more difficult to detect could not trouble any one in charge of horses. He assured the hon. Member for East Mayo that Sir Frederick Forestier-Walker had nothing to do with the making of the contract with the Cold Meat Storage Company. He joined its board after he had ceased to be on full pay. When he went on half pay the War Office would not he justified in interfering with any directorship he might think fit to take.
§ MR. DILLON
asked whether the noble Lord declared on his own knowledge that Sir. F. Forestier-Walker had nothing to do with making the contract.
said he could not on his own knowledge, but he was certain that Sir Frederick Forestier-Walker would do nothing that would justify any suspicion being thrown on his good faith. The meat contracts would he gone into by the Commission. [" When?"] He hoped as soon as possible. No people were more anxious than the War Office people that those contracts should be investigated, and then they would find |out how false were the suspicions always showered on the civilians of the War Office when this subject was mentioned.
§ *SIR ARTHUR HAYTER
endorsed what had been said of Sir Frederick Forestier-Walker by the noble Lord, and 551 said the Public Accounts Committee, after examining into this subject, were left with the impression that Colonel Richardson was the effective officer who made the contract. The Public Accounts Committee were quite of opinion that a mistake had been made in allowing 11d. a lb. to be charged when part of the meat was frozen, but there was a repayment made by the Cold Storage Company, and it was shown that the great expense then was due to the difficulty of distributing when it had to follow the troops on the march, the whole expense of transport having to be paid by the Cold Storage Company.
§ (5.42.) MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
pointed out that the contract, which started about March, was to extend over a year, a certain quantity of meat being delivered each week. He desired to know whether the contract contained any Clause by which it could be terminated in the event of the conclusion of the war, and what steps the Government had taken in the matter. He asked whether there was any clause in the meat contract which would have enabled the Government to terminate the contract before the end of the war.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
said the point raised by the hon. Member had already been answered. It was, of course, obvious that no direct censure could be made on the Government with reference to the matter which had just been discussed across the floor of the House, but in justice to his hon. friend who opened the matter he did not think they should all sit quiet and accept the answer which had been given upon it. Certainly there were many Members in this House who felt that the gentleman referred to ought not to have accepted the position he did immediately on his return. With regard to what the hon. Member for East Mayo said as to contracts in general, no doubt the Treasury was not very useful in time of war. The Treasury was silent in time of war. That made it all the more necessary that there should be an adequate investigation into the circumstances of these contracts. He hoped the investigation by the Royal Commission would be carried out on the plan 552 which the words of the First Lord a few nights ago suggested, namely, that the Commission would divide itself into Sub-Commissions, and that one small Sub-Commission would specially investigate the question of contracts.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said he did not believe the question of contracts could be properly inquired into except by a Committee of the House of Commons. The great superiority of a Committee of this House, consisting of say twenty members, as compared with a Royal Commission, was that they were so accessible to every shade of public opinion. There was, no doubt, a desire on the part of the War Office to cloak over what had happened in connection with the war. There never was a war in which there were not irregularities in the matter of contracts. They know what happened in the Peninsular war and the Crimean war. It was probable that in the South African war there had been gross mismanagement, and in some cases peculation and swindling,.
§ MR. CAWLEY (Lancashire, Prestwich)
thought that a Committee of the House of Commons would be the best body to inquire into the question of contracts. There was an uneasy feeling in the country that there had been a great deal of corruption going on in the matter of contracts. It was not altogether a question of punishing the people who had been guilty of dishonesty and corruption but it was a question of preventing similar occurrence in future. If these contracts were not closely looked into people would say, when the next war took place, that there was a lot of money to be made in this way, and that they would take the risk. He did not think the country would be satisfied until a Committee of this House had investigated the whole matter.
I never said chaff was a proper thing to feed horses on. We do not know that these horses were fed only on chaff. We only know that they had glanders.
§ *MR. WEIR
said he had reason to believe that the horses were fed on chaff, although £4,000,000 was provided for the purpose of purchasing proper and suitable food. He hoped the inquiry which was to take place would be pushed through and not allowed to drag on during the next two or three years. Mr. Bergl, towards the close of the war, contracted to supply meat at 5½d. per lb. The contract with the Cold Storage Company was to supply meat at lid. per Ib. They agreed to a reduction of 2d. per lb., but if they had allowed 4d. or 5d. it would have been nearer the mark. The fact that General Forestier-Walker became a director of the Cold Storage Company was not satisfactory, look at it whatever way they liked. The hon. Member called attention to a charge of £1,859 for coal which was sent to Capetown, where, being condemned as useless, it was sold for £370. That was attributable to a mistake on the part of an officer who ordered the wrong description of coal. Was no notice to be taken of that matter by the Treasury or the War Office? Was the officer promoted or pensioned off? Unless he got a satisfactory reply in regard to this sum of about £1,500, he would divide the Committee. He moved the reduction of the Vote by £100.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £16,065,900, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Weir.)
said that with regard to the question asked by the hon. Member for South Donegal it was not possible to give any further answer to that which had already been given. 554 With regard to the loss on a consignation of coal the hon. Member did not give the reason for it.
said he could not allow that for a moment. The officer made an error in telegraphing home from South Africa by omitting to state the kind of household coal that was required. In view of the enormous pressure of work at the time he could not look upon that as a serious dereliction of duty. There was no provision in the meat contract for stopping it at the end of the war.
§ *SIR ARTHUR HAYTER
appealed to the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty not to divide the Committee upon this matter, which had practically nothing to do with this Vote.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
thought a new fact had been elicited which the Committee ought to take into consideration. They had heard that this contract was made in March last, when peace was supposed to be at hand—a year after they had been told that the war was over—and yet there was no clause to enable the contract to be terminated even when the war terminated. This was a great reflection on the management of those at the head of affairs at the War Office. It was a most extraordinary mistake to make, and he hoped there were not many contracts which were made under the same conditions.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said the hon. Member on business matters generally spoke in a business spirit. Under the circumstances in which this contract was made, did he suppose any body of men would come forward and invest a large amount of capital in cold storage buildings if there was the possibility of the contract being terminated in a month or two if the war came to an end? Surely the 555 most satisfactory thing was to give them a definite contract for a year. After all, when we reduced our Army from 200,000 to 100,000 we naturally reduced our demands, and the loss was the contractors and not ours.
§ (6.3.) Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 74; Noes, 149. (Division List No. 352.)557
|Abraham, William(Cork, N. E.)||Harrington, Timothy||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid|
|Ambrose, Robert||Hayden. John Patrick||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Horniman, Frederick John||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Bell, Richard||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolliug||Jacoby, James Alfred||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Breadhurst, Henry||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.|
|Burns, John||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Caldwell, James||Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W.)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Leamy, Edmund||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Carew, James Laurence||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Roberts, John Bryu (Eifion)|
|Cawley, Frederick||Levy, Maurice||Roche, John|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Lloyd-George, David||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Craig, Robert Hunter||Lough, Thomas||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Crean, Eugene||Lundon, W.||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Culliman, J.||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Sullivan, Donal|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Tennant, Harold John|
|Delany, William||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||M'Laren, Sir Charles Benjamin||Tully, Jasper|
|Dillon, John||Mooney, John J.||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Moulton, John Fletcher||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Murnaghan, (George||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Murphy, John||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Nolan, Col. John P.(Galway, N.)|
|Gilhoolv, James||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||TELLERES FOR THE AYES—|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Mr. Weir and Mr. Flavin.|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Lawrence, Sir Joseph (Monm'th|
|Allhusen, Augustus H'nry Ed'n||Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Cranborne, Viscount||Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Davenport, William Bromley-||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline Fitz Roy||Davies, Sir Horatio D. (Chath'm||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Dickson, Charles Scott||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W. (Leeds||Duke, Henry Edward||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S.|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir Michael Hicks||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lowther, Rt. Hon. James (Kent)|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Fisher, William Hayes||Macartney, Rt. Hn. WG. Ellison|
|Bigwood, James||Flower, Ernest||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Maconochie, A. W.|
|Bond, Edward||Gardner, Ernest||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||Manners, Lord Cecil|
|Brigg, John||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Maxwell, WJH (Dumfriessh're|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)|
|Brown, George M. (Edinburgh||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Morgan, David J. (Walth'mst'w|
|Bull, William James||Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G (Midd'x||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford|
|Butcher, John George||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry|
|Campbell, Rt Hn J. A. (Glasgow||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Nicol, David Ninian|
|Cavendish, V. C. W, (Derbyshire||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r||Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley||Parker, Sir Gilbert|
|Chapman, Edward||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Charrington, Spencer||Hoult, Joseph||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Keswick, William||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Kimber, Henry||Purvis, Robert|
|Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Reid, James (Greenock)||Stroyan, John||Whiteley, H (Ashton-und-Lyne|
|Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Thornton, Percy M.||Wills, Sir Frederick|
|Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Robson, William Snowdon||Tritton, Charles Ernest||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Royds, Clement Molyneux||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward||Wilson. J.W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight||Ure, Alexander||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)|
|Sharpe, William Edward T.||Valentia, Viscount||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R (Bath|
|Simeon, Sir Barrington||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Wallace, Robert||Wylie, Alexander|
|Smith,. James Parker (Lanarks.)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||Warde, Colonel C. E.||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Spear, John Ward||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)||Warr, Augustus Frederick||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Stanley, Hn. Arthur (Ormskirk||Webb, Col. William George||Sir William Walrond and|
|Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)||Welby, Lt.-Col. ACE (Taunton||Mr. Anstruther.|
Resolution agreed to.
§ 3. £3,970,000, for Clothing Establishments and Services.
§ *MR. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)
called attention to the contracts for boots, which largely affected the interests of the constituency which he represented. Those boot contracts were not only largely given to Northamptonshire firms, but also to Bristol, Leicester, London, and other places in the United Kingdom. He was not only speaking for himself, but for the country at large. And further, the amount contracted for was this year only £695,000 in value, as compared with an estimate of £1,076,000 for the previous year. This made the case he wished to make very much stronger. The noble Lord would remember that Questions were addressed to him earlier in the year with regard to certain contracts which had been entrusted to the Cawnpore factory for the supply of boots, and that 300,000 pairs had been ordered from that factory, to be distributed over three years. That contract consequently would go on for the next two and three-quarter years, and what he contended was that, owing to the lessened demand because of the cessation of hostilities in South Africa, that contract would press more hardly now upon the home district than before. He wished to know whether any further contracts were being entered into by the War Office with this factory at Cawnpore or with any other extraneous source, because he thought it would be extremely hard on the home industry if further contracts of that kind were given out without specially grave and imperative reasons 558 for their being so given. Of course, it the beginning of the war, when it was found that a vastly larger number of troops would be required in South Africa than was at first expected, it was excusable that the War Office should have gone to India if they could not get the supply they required in time from the home sources. There may have been some ground for that at that time, but he took exception to such a contract being entered into in the third year of the war, when the amount of the boots required must be a diminishing and not an increasing quantity. These Indian boots were made of a much lighter and less durable leather. That was his information. It might or might not be true but he submitted that there must lie something in it. The workmanship was exceedingly imperfect, and he was assured by the manufacturers that, supplied at the rate at which those boots were presumably being supplied, the profit was very much greater than any English manufacturer could obtain. He was also assured by the manufacturers that undue preference was given to the Indian manufacturer, and that British manufacturers had not been allowed to tender for boots of the same pattern at anything near the price which was being paid to the Cawnpore factory. The boots were a combination of hand-sewn and machine work. He understood that, if allowed, English manufacturers could tender at almost the same price as was being paid, and he gathered, from a former reply, that some trial of English boots so made was to be granted, and he wished, in that case, to know the results. He urged that there should be greater elasticity allowed to manufacturers in tendering, so that they might compete with these extraneous sources of supply, and, if possible, bring 559 the whole trade back. Another point against these Cawnpore factory boots had been, as he was informed, that the inspection was absolutely ineffective, and that large quantities of boots which had been rejected by the inspector were, directly the agent's back was turned, re-introduced into stock and sent into the depot. It was also alleged that military officials in town were directly interested in the factory. There might or might not be something in these allegations, but if there was, some drastic investigation ought to be made into the facts.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)
said the hon. Member opposite had opened out what was, no doubt, a very important subject. He had complained that the supplies required by the War Office had been obtained outside this country, but he did not draw the distinction in this matter which he might have done. Nevertheless, the hon. Gentleman had made some advance towards Protection, because he, and those who believed with him generally, laid down the doctrine that the public purse ought to have that privilege of buying in the cheapest market which the individual was supposed to possess. He only noticed that distinction because the hon. Gentleman, who represented the boot-making interest, and who had now discovered that his constituents were being ruined, not by the casual purchase of boots by the War Office, but by foreign competition which had made such great havoc in the boot trade, had only half stated his case. The hon. Member's constituents were loudly complaining of the importation into this country of boots from the other side of the Atlantic and elsewhere, and he tried to get out of the difficulty by raising this side issue. What the hon. Member should set himself to do was to obtain the imposition of reasonable duties on articles which interfered with British industries.
(6.30.) LORD STANLEY
congratulated the right hon. Member on being able to tack his favourite subject on to a debate on Army Estimates. With regard to the question of the hon. Member opposite, he might say that a particular kind of boot lasted better and had been found more comfortable than another for the men in South Africa; and it was adopted as the 560 standard pattern. The home manufacturers could not come up to the requirements of the Army; and the War Office had to go to India or to fall back on a pattern which had proved less satisfactory. After consultation with the officials connected with the supply of boots for the Army, he came to the conclusion that the best thing would be to give a contract to India for a certain quantity of boots for three years, by which time the home manufacturers-might be expected to meet the full requirements of the Army; and meanwhile the War Office took all the boots that the home manufacturers were able to tender for. Then it was found that a modification in the process of manufacture was possible, and that it enabled the home trade to supply much larger quantities. Immediately as much of the contract with India as had not been allotted was stopped; but it was still necessary to depend on India for a portion of the supply. The first care of the War Office would be to get the boots for the Army from the home manufacturers; and resort to India had only been had because the home manufacturers could not ensure the full supply which was necessary.
§ MR. BRIGG (Yorkshire, W. R., Keighley)
said he did not know much about Army matters, but he did know something about cloth. Supplies to the Army were of two kinds. The Government were supplied with materials and did their own making up, and they were supplied with ready-made materials. He expressed the opinion that the ready-made articles were not properly inspected, and he had come to the conclusion that it was absolutely necessary that another inspector should be appointed by the noble Lord. Considering the advantages to be derived from adopting the course he had suggested, he was quite sure the right hon. Gentleman would be wise in making further advances in that direction, which would not entail so much labour upon his own establishment.
§ *COLONEL WELBY
asked what were the probabilities or the possibilities of the whole of the uniforms of the Army being put upon a practical and businesslike basis. He wished to know whether the whole matter was to be gone into, and 561 whether the changes which were decided on were to be made at once, or were they going to be carried out by that long time-honoured system of petty changes, such as the altering of a button one year, and a sword-knot the next. These vexatious changes never led to any good result in the long run. He wished to know whether the now forage cap of the Foot Guards was intended to be useful or ornamental. It seemed to miss being either. Why was it not possible to have a smart uniform for full dress and a practical working dress for service? He was present at the Coronation at Moscow, and he saw the Life Guards there dressed in far smarter uniforms than they would see their own Life Guards at the approaching Coronation. He found that they were wearing a special State dress, besides which they had provided for them a working dress and a less smart full dress, and in addition to these there was a thorough and complete uniform ready for war in stock. So that in war this magnificent Russian regiment would appear in a working dress in which they would hardly be distinguishable from a regiment of the line. Why should not something of the kind be provided for the British Army? They did want a smart uniform for their soldiers, because ours was a voluntary army, and they did not want their soldiers to be laughed at. Why should there not be a State dress provided for the regiment, and at the same time allow them to have a good working dress? Much blame had been bestowed on the training of the troops in South Africa, and especially on their slowness to take cover. He believed that that defect was due to the clothes in which they had been trained. Men would not crawl about on the ground at Aldershot and spoil fine clothes. It was a mistake to combine the smart and the practical, as we had attempted to do. If cavalry were to do dismounted work effectively, they must be given a thoroughly practical working dress, such as men wore when they went deer-stalking. Nobody thought of wearing tall hats and frock coats for such a business. Now was the time to take this question in hand. He hoped in the future that the right hon. Gentleman would not allow those little tiny changes which had been made in the past in the uniforms to take the place of a thorough reform, which would put the uniform in the British Army on a good sound basis, and make it permanent.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER
said he agreed with what had been said by the hon. and gallant Member who had just sat down in reference to a good serviceable dress being required for the Army. He, however, desired to speak about the underclothing provided for the troops, and more especially flannel shirts and socks. These articles were ridiculously short in the supply during the war in South Africa. He was told that during the war the soldiers were given a full supply of socks and flannel shirts, and he gathered that the right hon. Gentleman was going to continue this system of giving a full supply. He hoped that promise would be carried out. This was one of the things which had had a considerable effect upon the recruiting. The soldier had been told on joining the Army that his clothes would be provided, but he found out afterwards that he did not get the clothes that were necessary. This had given a bad impression and had had a bad effect on recruiting. He hoped this matter would be taken in hand and a proper supply of these articles given to the regular troops in the future both at home as well as abroad. There was also the question of making the clothing in the factory. He was glad to see that the Factory Vote had increased, and that the amount of clothing bought outside had decreased. In the past ready made-clothing had been a great source of sweating, and the dreadfully low wages paid by some of the contractors for clothing had in the past been brought prominently before the House. There was no doubt that in the case of the clothing made in their own factory more decent wages were paid and the opportunities for sweating were considerably less. He desired to congratulate the War Office upon having made this change.
said all cloth was inspected when it came in, and all cloth when it had been made up into clothes was again inspected before being issued. He thought that statement met the point raised by the hon. Member for the Keighley Division. In reply to the hon. and gallant Member for Taunton he stated that it had already been decided that there should be throughout the Army two kinds of dress. There would 563 be the smart dress of parade, and there would be in addition a service dress, in which a man would do most of his work, and in which, if necessity arose, he could go away on active service. He would have a duplicate of this dress in stock, and he would have a new suit of the service dress plus that which he had actually been wearing. With regard to the question of the caps, he did not agree that they were so very ugly, and he thought it probable that they were very comfortable. In reply to the hon. Member for Lichfield he said that the abolition of the 2d. stoppage was to a large extent intended to cover the shortage of shirts and socks. The Government were giving to recruits an increase both of shirts and socks, but in regard to the rest of the Army they relied upon the abolition of the 2d. stoppage to make good any deficit.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER
did not think anybody thought this extra 2d. when it was granted was meant to cover such things as clothing. The meaning of it was understood to be that a man, when he first joined the Army, got a certain amount of clothes, and afterwards he had to supply some of these articles himself. The providing of flannel shirts and socks was a heavy charge upon a soldier, which would not be covered by this extra 2d. He did not mean to move a reduction in this Vote, but he thought something would have to be done in this direction, and the War Office should at once face the difficulty. He was sure the Committee would not allow this kind of thing to go on year after year, and another year he should press the matter further.