§ Motion made and Question proposed. "That a sum not exceeding £332,000 be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge for the salaries and miscellaneous charges of the War Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1903."
§ *(5.45.) SIR ARTHUR HAYTER (Walsall)
said he desired information on only one item in the Vote. On page 741 97 of the Army Estimates would be found an increase of £8,000, the cost of the extra staff of the Accountant General's Branch employed at Army Corps Headquarters; but it would also be seen that there was no reduction in the number of clerks at the War Office, which, on the contrary, had increased from 481 to 519. Of course the extra staff referred to was due to the appointment of what might be called financial advisers to the general officers at Salisbury, Aldershot, and Dublin. He rejoiced very much at the beginning of the system of decentralisation; but it would be well to know what particular duties those clerks would have to perform. According to the Report of the Dawkins Committee they would have to carry out a local audit. Under the existing system, money was sent down to the paymaster, who handed it to the officers to pay the companies; the accounts were returned to and were audited by the paymaster, and were then returned to the War Office, where they were re-audited. It was to get rid of that system that these clerks were appointed, and he understood that in future the accounts would not have to be sent to the War Office at all. He, however, also understood that when that system was adopted the first result would be a, large reduction in the number of War Office clerks. In their evidence before the Dawkins Committee, Lord Wolseley and General Brackenbury, two distinguished officers who had spent many years at the War Office, said that if a local audit could be carried out half the number of clerks at the War Office could be dispensed with.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. BRODRICK, Surrey, Guildford)
The reason we have not been able to make a reduction during the present year is owing to the war. We do not dispute the right hon. Gentleman's contention.
§ SIR ARTHUR HAYTER
said that the right hon. Gentleman's explanation should go further, because the greater number of the clerks were in the home districts and not abroad.
§ MR. BRODRICK
We cannot reduce the War Office staff at this moment, as it is engaged in work in connection with the war.
§ SIR ARTHUR HAYTER
said he was very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for that explanation and would not pursue the subject further, beyond expressing the hope that the right hon. Gentleman would be able to assure the Committee that when the war was over there would be a reduction in the number of clerks at the War Office. He wished to know how the right hon. Gentleman proposed to carry out the recommendation of the Committee, which, as he understood it, was that the clerks should act as financial advisers to the general officers, and their audit of all the accounts should be final, and that the accounts should not, as at present, have to be sent to the War Office. He also wished to ask whether the clerks would be permitted to inspect the stores as well as examine the accounts, as it would be very satisfactory in the interests of the taxpayers if there were a personal examination of the stores in the various districts. He expressed his opinion that general officers might be trusted with small sums of money, say up to £5,000, say for construction, and he would like to know whether that power had been given to them. He also suggested that anything they saved on part 2 of the works they might be allowed to devote to part 3, such a thing would be most encouraging and stimulate General Officers to effect a saving in this direction. He was exceedingly glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman had been able to add 2d. a day to the soldiers pay. He was quite certain that the real attraction of the Army to men enlisting was the addition to the daily pay and the shortening of the terms of service. These men should receive their shilling a day clear. "Barrack damage" should not be charged against them unless that damage was wilfully done. The library subscription should also be stopped; surely the country could afford a few books for each battalion. In addition to these subscriptions there were stoppages for clothing, tailors' and shoemakers' bills, and so on. In his opinion all those stoppages should be very much reduced. When a soldier was in debt for any article, he did not receive more than 2d. a day, and that was not right. He could not understand the object of reducing the terms of service in the cavalry and artillery forces 743 to three years; he was conceded on all hands that it took eighteen months to make a cavalry soldier, and from the evidence given before the Committee in 1890 by the Duke of Cambridge and others, after a man had been in the Reserve for two years, he was quite unfit for cavalry work, although, no doubt, he was a very good man for dismounted work. The Commission of 1890 strongly recommended that the term of service for cavalry regiments should be nine years, with three years in the Reserve. The cavalry regiments were very popular now, and no alteration was needed in the terms of service for the purpose of filling their ranks, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would reconsider this question before he made the alterations proposed. Would the right hon. Gentleman also consider the possibilities of relieving some of the regiments now at the Cape, and sending out others in their places.
§ (5.53.) SIR ELLIOTT LEES (Birkenhead)
supported the application of the hon. Member to relieve some of the troops in South Africa, and hoped that some arrangement would be made for the regular relief of these troops. It was now seventeen months since Lord Roberts, in his farewell address in South Africa, pointed out that in no campaign in history had troops been so continuously employed. Owing to the climate, they had been able to make war all through the year, and there had been no rest for the troops. If that was true when Lord Roberts left South Africa, it was infinitely more true now. There arrived a time when men became too fatigued in mind and body to rise to occasions of emergency, with the result that reputations built up in the course of the war were lost in a moment. Although everybody wished to see the end of the war, it was quite possible that it would take a longer time than was anticipated by us, and, therefore, he thought the Government ought to make up its mind to send out relief troops every six months. The right hon. Gentleman might, if he allowed them to engage under a different scheme of enlistment—an enlistment not for the war, but for six or eight months certain—obtain many good troops, veterans who had already fought 744 in South Africa, and who would under those conditions fight again. After six or eight months of this constant trekking and wasting work, a man ought to have a rest if he was to be an efficient soldier, and it would not be bad economy to enlist relays of men for periods of eight or ten months. He sympathised with the Government in the complaint which they had made as to the way in which horses were used when they were landed in South Africa, but he believed that the situation in that regard had been improved. A horse was not a machine, and better work would be got out of them in many ways if they were allowed to rest and recover themselves instead of being instantly drawn for service immediately on their arrival.
With regard to the Yeomanry and Volunteers, he desired to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he and his advisers would, during the next year, think out the duties they really intended the auxiliary force to perform. Last year they submitted with regard to the regular Army a scheme which met with all but universal approval, and they should now consider the auxiliary forces-Were they intended to be a reserve for the foreign service army, which could be called upon in time of emergency, or were they intended to protect this country, he would not say against con quest by invasion, as he believed that was; an impossibility, but against a raid, such as might possibly happen, and which, if it did take place, would cause untold suffering and misery? There was a distinct difference in the training required, according to whether the men were intended for one purpose or the other. If they were to be a sort of reserve for the foreign service army, it would, undoubtedly, be right to insist on as much; training in camp as possible, and that they should exercise as often as possible. If, on the other hand, they were intended to act as a part of a defensive army—what were the lessons taught by the Boer War? Just at present those lessons were apt to be forgotten—not, however, by the right hon. Gentleman or the Commander-in-Chief. He believed those two gentlemen were the boldest military reformers this country had seen for many a year, and they would doubtless be reinforced in their opinions when the mass of 745 younger officers returned from South Africa, although, undoubtedly, there was great concern among the older authorities, who did not like to break with the ideas of years in a moment. The Boer War had taught us that a defensive, army, possessed of great mobility, and, above all, an intimate knowledge of the country, could bold its own against a far superior force. He would like to see devised for the auxiliary forces some scheme whereby their mobility might be increased, and their knowledge of the country cultivated. He suggested that the men should be practised over the ground which they would have to defend in time of war, the officers trained to recognise the strategical features of the district, and, in order to secure mobility, more encouragement given to cycling among the Volunteers. With the network of good roads existing in this country it could not be questioned that great mobility might be given to a defensive force by making free use of the bicycle. It would not be necessary for such a force to march about with an enormous equipment of tents and baggage; they would trust to the resources of the country; and he asked whether in the summer months some attempt could not be made to train men in the way he had indicated.
A curious omission from the scheme this year, as last, was that no provision was made for any addition to the mounted riflemen. It was difficult to understand exactly what the right hon. Gentleman meant on this point. Did he rely on the Yeomanry or Volunteers, or did he propose to create a corps of mounted riflemen, or to train a large portion of the regular light cavalry on a different principle?
His last point was with regard to the Army Medical Vote. Could the right hon. Gentleman assure the Committee that there would be an opportunity to discuss that Vote this year?
§ MR. BRODRICK
I must guard myself in the absence of the First Lord of the Treasury. We have had nine days out of the last twelve for Army discussions, but I hope there will be an opportunity such as my hon. friend desires.
§ SIR ELLIOTT LEES
said it was not an agreeable subject to him, as it involved an attack on the Government. It was, however, a very important matter, and as the Vote was not discussed last year, an opportunity should be given this, and in the hope that time would be found for such a discussion, he would postpone his further remarks on the subject.
§ (6.13.) MR. LAMBERT (Devonshire, South Molton)
congratulated the hon. Baronet on his safe return from South Africa, where he was certain he did not turn his back on the Boers as he had done on the Speaker. The hon. Baronet had referred to the Secretary of State and the Commander-in-Chief as bold reformers. He (the hon. Member) however, was inclined to think the right hon. Gentleman was a somewhat hasty reformer. The scheme of last year was hastily prepared, and had not fulfilled expectations. The present scheme was even more hasty, and had not been, at any rate, fully considered.
His chief reason for rising was to protest against the constant increase of the ordinary expenditure on the Army. The Estimates were going up at an alarming rate. In 1886, the Army expenditure was £16,000,000; in 1896, £18,000,000; and in 1898, certain proposals were introduced, which the right hon. Gentleman said would have a far-reaching effect. Whether or not that was so with regard to the Army, be did not know, but it certainly was the case so far as the Estimates were concerned, for they went up to £27,000,000, while now they were about £30,000,000. He could not but think that this enormous increase had not been fully appreciated by the country, in consequence of the war. When, however, the war was over, and the country realised that the ordinary Army expenditure had nearly doubled in the last fourteen years, he believed a pause would be demanded.
Last year the right hon. Gentleman had stated that the net addition under his scheme would be 126,500 men. That statement had hardly been borne out by the facts. The Secretary of State also stated that, even allowing £60,000 for the staff's of the new Army Corps, the expenditure would be a little under 747 £2,000,000. Last year they added £2,000,000 to the Army Estimates, and this year £1,048,000 to the Army Estimates of this country and £786,000 to the Indian Estimates. The Financial Secretary to the War Office stated yesterday, and also in answer to a Question some time ago that he had not been consulted about this great charge upon India. It was no small sum to place as an extra charge upon the resources of India, and he should have thought that the military advisers of His Majesty would have consulted the Governor of India to know whether the finances of India would bear this extra strain. He thought, therefore, that he was justified in saying that this scheme had been somewhat hastily introduced to the notice of the House. The right hon. Gentleman must have learned by this time that consultation with other branches of the service in a matter like this was necessary. Last year the right hon. Gentleman proposed to transfer from the Army to the Admiralty the garrisons of the coaling stations. He was to increase the Army by five battalions by doing this. That scheme had now been dropped and he was glad of it because it would have been a fatal policy to in any way weaken our Navy upon which they depended so largely for their defence.
Taking the right hon. Gentleman's scheme, he thought it showed a rather sudden conversion to the short service system. Last year the Leader of the Opposition mentioned the precedent of the Guards, and the Secretary of State for War said it was not a case in point, because the Foot Guards had not to serve abroad, and he asked what would happen if the whole three years service men decided to go into the Reserve. Last year the right hon. Gentleman did not see the force of this.
§ MR. BRODRICK
The difference is that we are in a position to offer this year extra pay as an inducement to the men to re-engage. That is the whole point of the position.
§ MR. LAMBERT
said he was not sure that that would get the men to serve and continue their service. The Report of the Inspector General of Recruiting 748 showed that out of 7,333 men who originally enlisted for three years service only 399 had extended their service. Would that extra sixpence per day be sufficient to secure the 50,000 recruits which the right hon. Gentleman expected to get? He asked the Secretary of State for War to pause before he committed the country to this great expenditure of money. In 1870 they had a complete scheme of Army organisation, and it was a well considered scheme prepared with all the experience of the Crimean War, and nobody could doubt but what it had been a great success. He did not think that the schemes of the Secretary of State for War last year and this year had received that favourable consideration which would; commend them to the House or to those who came after them like the scheme of Mr. Cardwell did. Instead of indulging in these schemes of army reform and organisation they ought to wait until the finish of the war. He did not think even the Secretary of State for War and the Commander-in-Chief thought they were quite capable of carrying on this war and reorganising the army at home upon a permanent basis at the same time. The Government would do better to concentrate their efforts upon finishing the war instead of diverting their attention to other schemes. He did not think that the Secretary of State for War and Lord, Roberts were quite a Napoleon even if they were rolled into one, The conditions in South Africa might be totally different when the war was over. The right hon. Gentleman said that a garrison of 15,000 men would be required in South Africa after the war, but they all knew that that was totally inadequate, and no one could expect them to garrison South Africa for years to come with anything like 15,000 men. He estimated that it would take at least 50,000 men, and others had put it at 100,000 men. The providing of such a garrison would disorganise the whole of this army scheme, and he wished to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman the necessity of considering the requirements of war first and the plan which it would be necessary to adopt under the changed circumstances after the war. It seemed to him that the old army organisers had been rather cast off. Lord Wolseley had 749 not been taken into account by the War Department for he had stated that if the right hon. Gentleman expected to get his men by the proposals be made last year it was the idea of a visionary and not a practical mind, and this had been absolutely proved in practice.
§ The right hon. Gentleman proposed to increase pay in order to encourage recruiting. He judged every one of these proposals from one standpoint, and that was, how were they going to affect the war in South Africa? He did not think the right hon. Gentleman had frightened many of the Boers with his Army Corps. He had been questioned about their numbers and he replied that no good purpose could be served by giving those numbers whilst 200,000 men were in South Africa. Would it not be far better instead of troubling with these skeleton Army Corps to go on training mounted men for reinforcements in South Africa, It was more important to engage his attention in training men in this way than embarking upon these visionary schemes. A correspondent of The Times the other day stated that they had not got men enough in South Africa, and this statement was borne out by the very sad news of Lord Methuen's defeat. He did not wonder that this General was left in the lurch considering some of the material the right hon. Gentleman had sent out. The right hon. Gentleman would be far better employed training mounted men for Lord Kitchener, to enable him to reinforce those men who had grown stale in South Africa, Yesterday the right hon. Gentleman said he was sending out 6,000 Yeomanry who had only been trained for eight or ten weeks. What sort of troops could they be, to face some of the best shots and best riders in the world. Such training was no use at all. Lord Roberts had recently stated that the care of horses was of great importance, but what could those men know about the care of horses?
§ MR. LAMBERT
said the right hon. Gentleman had stated that some of the Yeomanry were going to start next 750 month, and they had only been trained for eight or ten weeks. It was impossible to train men to ride and shoot and take care of their horses properly in so short a time. The wastage of their army did not appear to be realised in this country, for last month, in February, 3,104 men were invalided, and there were out of that total no less than 737 deaths. He was sure they all deplored such a large number of deaths. A very large number of these were enteric cases, and these would not be fit to serve again for another six months. He was quoting these figures to make good his plea that it would be better to devote more attention to training men to send out to South Africa, rather than to reorganising all these matters at home. With regard to dress, Army officers objected to being compelled continually to change their uniform, and he hoped no changes in uniforms would be made until the right hon. Gentleman had decided that they should last for a long time. Since he had been in the Militia, they had had three or four changes of uniform which meant money, and there were many officers who could not afford this change. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman not to make any of these changes until he had definitely decided that they should be permanent. If he could not speak of permanency in connection with uniforms, it was very desirable, at any rate, that they should last a long time. Reference was made a few days ago to the changes with regard to cavalry officers, but the changes would be of little use in reducing the expense. The initial cost of a cavalry officer's dress was £91 4s., which was £12 less than what it was before. The War Office was continually changing the uniform, and officers would be much better pleased, and it would tend to greater economy, if something permanent were adopted.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL (Oldham)
said his impression was that the uniform of a cavalry officer cost something like £300.
§ MR. LAMBERT
said the hon Member spoke with very much more information than he had. He was quoting from a 751 letter which appeared in The Times a few days ago and signed by cavalry officers. When he saw cavalry officers at the Speaker's Levée he noticed that they were very resplendent indeed. As to the Militia, in which he took an interest, he said it had been injured by the changes brought about last year. It was all very well to bring in a scheme for the establishment of new regiments, but in establishing these they were apparently injuring the older force. The Inspector General of Recruiting said that the terms of service for the Royal Garrison regiments would deter men from joining the Militia. Of course an old soldier enlisted now in a garrison regiment, and not in the Militia, and therefore the Militia had lost a number of valuable recruits. The right hon. Gentleman said last year that it was proposed to start a Reserve of Militia, but there had been no progress made in creating that force, which, it was estimated, would amount to something like 50,000 men. He suggested that the right hon. Gentleman should rather do something to improve the men he had already got in the Militia. What was wanted was a larger number of non-commissioned officers all over the country. At the present time it was impossible with the limited number of officers they had to carry out the training of the Militia in the twenty-seven days allowed. He would support the right hon. Gentleman in everything he did to improve the education and efficiency of the officers themselves. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not go in for fancy corps which would continue to do injury to the old constitutional force.
§ (6.35.) MR. MORRISON (Wiltshire, Wilton)
said he rose with the natural diffidence of one who had never addressed the House before. He would not have done so were it not for the fact that he was a soldier, and that he naturally felt strongly on questions affecting the Army. The hon. Member for the South Molton Division advised the Secretary of State for War to wait until the war was over before carrying out any reform scheme. It seemed to him that the very best thing the right hon. Gentleman could possibly do was to have the scheme ready and prepared for the moment the Cavalry regiments were brought home, so that, one 752 by one, they might drop into their places without any disorganisation. The next point which seemed to distress the hon. Member for South Molton very much was that old soldiers who had loft the colours were now joining the Garrison regiments. That was exactly what the Secretary of State said he wished. The right hon. Gentleman did not wish them to go into the Militia. In the right hon. Gentleman's statement about Army reform a few weeks ago there were one or two points which struck him as being steps very much in the right direction. In the first place, the right hon. Gentleman realises the necessity of giving right clothes to recruits. By giving them an additional allowance it was hoped we would get a better class of men. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman might do so, but if he failed perhaps he might go one better and give the soldier every year a free issue of such things as socks, shirts, and other small things which at present he had to find out of his own pocket. He believed these little details meant a great deal to the soldier, and so affected the recruiting. He should like to bear testimony to the fact that the shooting of the British soldier today was very much better than the public seemed to think it was. He urged the necessity, however, of seeing that the soldiers should shoot, perhaps not more rounds in a year, but more constantly throughout the year. He urged the importance of having some proper mounted infantry organisation. They should have, he thought, one mounted infantry battalion per army corps, as a headquarters and training base for the Imperial Yeomanry. The right hon. Gentleman, in his opinion, was very right in going for decentralisation, but he trusted it would be real, and that not only would the War Office give up to the commanders of the six army corps, but that these commanders would really decentralise in their own commands. As a very young soldier he spoke rather more feelingly on that point. The difficulty to-day was that the young officers, to a great extent, did not get that responsibility which the King's Regulations laid down that they should have, and so after six or seven years in the Army their initial training was knocked out of them. He believed that it would be of immense advantage if all officers had to enter the Army through the same 753 channel, because then they would find people competing together at the same age, and they would then do away with the necessity of promotion by selection in the junior ranks. There was another point to which he wished to refer, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would understand that he was not raising it in any unfriendly spirit towards his scheme. He referred to the arrangements proposed by the Army Order of 4th March in regard to brigades. It seemed to him that there would be a certain amount of difficulty, and that the organisation would be split up so as probably to lead to a great deal of confusion. As one having had short experience in South Africa, he testified to the general feeling of the utmost confidence that the War Office was doing everything possible to provide the Army with necessary supplies.
§ * (6.44.) CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)
said he criticised the right hon. Gentleman's scheme adversely when it was introduced last year, holding it to be impossible of realisation owing to the difficulty of finding recruits unless he arranged more elastic terms of enlistment, and offered recruits better conditions. The right hon. Gentleman had practically met the objections on all these points, and he desired most sincerely to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on having done so, and on having done more to improve the condition of the Army than any of his predecessors. He had adopted, in its broad lines, if not in its entirety, the scheme put forward for many years by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, and which had received hearty and loyal support from a large number of Members.
As to the question of recruiting, although the initial cost was put at two millions, of which three-quarters of a million would be borne by India, he was disposed to think with the hon. and gallant Member for the Fareham Division that in the long run the scheme would pay for itself. In four years the wastage in something like 40,000 recruits rose from 3,435 to 8,822. The greater part of that wastage would be avoided by means of the improved conditions, and that would help to defray 754 a large portion of the sum which the right hon. Gentleman called upon the country to grant. Like other Members who had spoken, he was most anxious for information as to stoppages; he was not yet quite clear as to what exactly was intended in that direction. Take, for instance the question of cleaning materials. Out of the shilling and a few pence paid to the Artilleryman and Cavalryman, of which he rarely received clear more than ninepence or tenpence, he had to pay for materials for cleaning Government property—naturally a thing that created considerable irritation. Then, it was understood that there were to be more training camps and more manœuvres. Nothing destroyed a man's clothing so much as a couple of weeks in camp. He would suggest that arrangements should be made for the storage of old uniforms, so that these could be utilised in camps or at manœuvres, for which they would be quite good enough. With regard to the industrial aspect of the question of recruiting, certain employers of labour were very nervous; they reasoned that not only would they have to provide for the 50,000 recruits for the Army, but that they would, directly or indirectly, be helping to provide for 150,000 men for the Reserve, while there would be the Militia and Yeomanry and Volunteers. He would like to point out to those employers of labour that, after all, they were in a very strong and good position as compared with all continental countries. We gave only 3 per 1,000 of our entire population to the Army, whereas other countries, e.g., France, gave as many as 112 per 1,000; yet some of these nations were able to compete with us successfully in the, labour market. The statement of the right hon. Gentleman as to dealing with bad characters was most satisfactory. Bad characters were not to be allowed to re-engage to become long service men; it would be as well if they were to be prevented also from joining the Reserve. As to free discharges, the hon. Member suggested that commanding officers should have power to give them under certain conditions. That system was in vogue in many continental countries, and its introduction here would popularise recruiting. The fact was that 755 soldiering was most unpopular amongst the respectable working classes, and more especially amongst the women of those classes. Suppose the father of a young man in the Service died, and the son desired to take his place in civil life for the purpose of becoming the breadwinner of the family in his father's place; if he was able to show that he could obtain a situation and could support his mother and brothers and sisters, then, provided the man had a good character, there should be some means of his obtaining immediate release from military service. An arrangement of this kind would do very much to popularise recruiting in the eyes of a class that it was very desirable to secure as a recruiting field.
He did not propose now to enter upon the question of the Volunteers, the Yeomanry, or the Militia; but he would point out that even prior to the South African war, the position with regard to the supply of officers was as follows:—We were 1,400 officers short on 210,000 Volunteers; sixty officers short on 10,000 Yeomanry; and 250 officers short in the Militia; while we only had two subalterns per company. One method of remedying this shortness of officers would be to give greater facilities to young men for entering the Service. One of the great difficulties was education. He suggested that we should adopt the system followed in many countries, notably in Russia, of giving officers the privilege of sending their sons at a nominal charge to cadet schools at the earliest ages. To support the presumption that soldiers' sons make good soldiers, he would cite only three instances—a Wolseley, a Roberts, a Kitchener. Officers' sons should be allowed, at the age of eight, to enter junior cadet schools, afterwards passing into the senior cadet schools, thus being provided with an admirable education, and in every way fitted for their future profession. As to the question of horses, a great deal was heard about the expense of horses to cavalry officers. In the Field Artillery, and in the Army Service Corps, an officer was given his horse free; then why charge £10 per head to mounted officers in other branches of the Service. We should follow the practice in Germany, where the officer was given his horse free, and after the horse had done five years' service as an officer's charger, it became 756 the private property of the officer. This was a small matter, but it was one of importance to men of limited means—country squires and others—who wished to put their sons into Cavalry Regiments. Again, officers were called upon to pay a large sum for the support of the regimental band. In a rich country like this, if military bands were necessary, the expense should be borne by the State. Then there was the question of barrack damages. It was the fact that, in respect of this item, officers and men were continually swindled—there was no other term for it—between the Barrack Department and the Royal Engineering Department. Cases had been known of three or four regiments in succession being charged for broken panes of glass in barrack windows. A rule should be passed making wanton breakages a matter of discipline, all others to be borne by the State. Another point was as to officers' subscriptions. It was proposed to reduce expenditure on uniforms, but that was a mere flea-bite compared to other expenses. On one occasion he was called upon to subscribe forty guineas for a ball—to which he was not able even to invite his friends, as he happened to be on detachment duty. He recommended that the system should be adopted which obtained in India, namely, that officers should subscribe to all entertainments according to their rank, from the senior officer downwards.
§ * CAPTAIN NORTON
said there were a great number of things in the King's Regulations which were not acted up to. The only special flaw he had noticed in the right hon. Gentleman's statement was that while he dealt with almost every Department, he took no notice whatever of the Veterinary Department. Prior to the war that Department was in a terrible state, being short about a fifth or a sixth of its proper number. What had taken place in connection with the Remount Department was largely due to the absence of a sufficient number of veterinary officers at the base of operations in South Africa, where the horses were neglected. He hoped the 757 right hon. Gentleman would give consideration to the reorganisation of that Department. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the War Office being abused, and said that that was very detrimental to the troops at the front. He knew the difficult position of the right hon. Gentleman, and he, for one, had refrained from making any reference to the Dawkin's Committee, because in his humble opinion it would be impossible at the present moment to carry out the recommendations of that Committee, seeing the immense work which the right hon. Gentleman had on his shoulders in connection with what after all was their first consideration, namely, the successful conclusion of the war. He was bound to say, however, that in his opinion criticism of the War Office, far from tending to be injurious as regarded the conclusion of the war, was appreciated thoroughly by the troops, and the fact of drawing attention to shortcomings in connection with the Army was, he thought, helping to bring about the conclusion of the war.
*(7.5.) COLONEL LONG (Worcestershire, Evesham)
, said that when the Secretary of State for War made his statement he informed the House that he intended to substitute inspection for written Reports, as far as possible, and directly after stated that he was appointing an Inspector General of Artillery and an Inspector General of Yeomanry. This looked like the commencement of a far reaching reform, but he saw that the Inspectors General of Cavalry and Artillery still remained in the Adjutant 'General's Department. Now, by the Order in Council last year the Adjutant General's Department was said to be under the control of the Commander-in-Chief, instead of being, as formerly, and as the other great Departments were still, under his supervision. But whatever that change of terms might mean, it appeared that the Inspectors General were under the Adjutant General, and could only communicate with the Commander-in-Chief through him. It seemed to him that if the Commander-in-Chief was to be personally responsible, as laid down in the Order in Council, for recommending proper officers for promotion to the 758 staff and other military appointments, such as generals' commands, he ought to have directly under him, and responsible to him alone, inspectors of rank and experience. He had often thought, when blame was to be laid upon some one, one reason why they were unable to make any individual responsible was that no individual was given sufficient power to be made responsible; in other words, when something went wrong they could not hang anybody, because they did not give rope enough. Hut if power was given there must be a check, and this should be genuine inspection; No one would contend that the periodical inspection of troops by the Commander-in-Chief mentioned in the Order in Council, 1901, which in many eases consisted of looking at troops one hour once a year, was a sufficient opportunity to enable him to form an opinion of the relative value of officers. He could not help thinking that if the Commander-in-Chief had the assistance of a Department of independent Inspectors General, he would then be able to form a more careful judgment, and would be able to bring home to individual officers responsibility if they were inefficient in some particular point.
§ MR. BRODRICK
Does my hon. and gallant friend realise that the Inspector General of Artillery and the Inspector General of Cavalry are directly under the Commander-in-Chief, although they take orders from the Adjutant General?
* COLONEL LONG
said certainly that was one way of putting it, but he submitted that if an Inspector were responsible to the head of one of the great Departments, the Commander-in-Chief might hear nothing of that Department except through its chief. If an Inspector General found some fault for which the Adjutant General's Department was responsible, it would be extremely difficult for him to ask that a Report should be sent to the Commander-in-Chief, stating that the Adjutant General had been slack. He should prefer that the Inspector Generals should be a separate Department directly under the Commander-in-Chief, and it appeared to him that the formation of the various Army Corps would then assist to the fixing of direct responsibility. If an Inspector General reported anything 759 wrong, the Commander-in-Chief could refer it directly to the officer commanding the particular Army Corps concerned, who was responsible for everything in his command, and if he could not give a satisfactory reply, showing that he was aware of the inefficiency, and was taking steps to correct it, he would be reprimanded. He had spoken of Army Corps as if they were in existence, because the right hon. Gentleman had said that they held the field. No doubt they did, but his right hon. friend would admit that, as far as the public were concerned, the field was a foggy one. He did not, however, complain of the use of the name, as he did not suppose that anyone believed that an English Army Corps would resemble a French or a German Army Corps. The words "Army Corps" expressed a form of military organisation which, whether it was German, French, or English, would be in accordance with the conditions of service in the respective countries. The English corps would be chiefly administrative, but if they allowed the Generals commanding Army Corps to visit their troops as often as they thought fit, they could be held responsible, and in the case of the 1st and 2nd Army Corps, though they would never be able to send an expeditionary force of which the cavalry, infantry, general, and staff had worked together for many years, still, they would be able in future to get nearer to that desirable end than they ever had been in the past. Therefore, he was not prepared to condemn the Army Corps scheme, but if the Army Corps were ever to become substantial his right hon. friend would have to raise 50,000 men per annum. His right hon. friend had made a bold bid for them, and he hoped he would succeed, although, of course, the future alone could decide that.
§ His right hon. friend undoubtedly had increased the area of recruiting. Hitherto a recruit had been offered the equivalent of 20s. or 21s. a week, equal to the pay in the lower grades of unskilled labour, but in future he would get 24s. or 25s, equal to the pay in the upper grades. The recruiting sergeant will be able to compete in the market on the best terms, and they all knew that if they were only prepared to give the best price they could get the best quality and a greater quantity. He would, 760 however, have liked to have seen something done to bring into the Army men who, from their education and ability, now supplied the skilled abour market. He did not think that the War Office would ever tempt men who were already skilled labourers, because they would have to offer some 35s. a week, which was impossible; but they might be able to tap that class before it became skilled. Those men had a certain amount of ability and education, and the first question they would ask themselves would be, what would be their position as regarded comfort and decency? The other day the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean spoke of interviews he had with soldiers, and the hon. Member for Oldham threw across the floor of the House the word "cubicles," and the right hon. Gentleman replied that from what he had been told soldiers did not care about cubicles. He quite understood that they did not care about them after they had been two or three years in barracks, but, nevertheless, he thought they would weigh considerably with a certain class of recruits. If a man had his own cubicle, he would really not care if his next door neighbour had been on tramp or had spent his nights in a threepenny doss house. The next thing the better class recruit would ask himself would be, what would be the prospects of his career? In that respect the Secretary of State for War had already done a great deal, because now any man of education and steady habits who could resist temptation would be certain to rise to be a non-commissioned officer, and might look forward to the pension, but it would be necessary to have yet further prizes, and, though commissions were now given from the ranks, they would I have to be made yet more numerous and more certain.
§ He was aware that many distinguished officers would differ with him, but he thought that the grounds for objection partly belonged to bygone days, when there was very little education in the ranks, and when long service caused a man who got a commission, perhaps after ten years service, to serve the next ten years with men who joined when he did, serving in the ranks.761
§ He sincerely hoped that what his right hon. friend had done in increasing the pay of the soldier would result in his getting the recruits he required, but he hoped his right hon. friend would appreciate the great wastage which occurred in the case of the so-called "special" recruits. The number of men who during the first or second year of their service had to go to hospital, and the number invalided, was astonishing, considering that they were at the commencement of the two years medically examined, at an age when any hereditary disease or any serious weakness ought to be detected. Admissions to hospital therefore, during first two years service, ought to be few, and invaliding ought only to result from accident, and he hoped his right hon. friend would give that matter his consideration. The number of admissions to hospital and invaliding in first two years service might be due to one or all of three things—either the special recruit was answerable, or our standard of height and chest measurement was too low, or the conditions of the service during the first two years were too much for lads of 18 or 20. He was sure that one of the greatest sources of economy would be to get rid of the wastage caused by taking men into the Army of insufficient stamina, and the giving better rations to growing lads who enter the Army at eighteen years of age might assist.
§ *(7.22.) SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
said there were two or three matters of considerable importance upon which questions had been asked but with regard to which there had been no reply. He did not complain because the debate which took place recently was a hurried one, and opportunity could not be given to elicit the facts. The first question he wished to put to the right hon. Gentleman was how his scheme with regard to the linked battalion system would work out. Last year the House was told exactly what the battalions of the future would be. On that occasion he arrived at the conclusion that there would be seventy-seven battalions abroad and seventy-nine battalions at home. The right hon. 762 Gentleman had now given as his conclusion that he would have seventy-eight battalions abroad and seventy-eight battalions at home, but he did not explain how that happened. He had lost five battalions which he counted on last year as coming from the Navy.
§ MR. BRODRICK
I did not take credit for them. I mentioned the proposal to hand over some of the coaling stations to the Navy in a purely tentative manner as being the desire of the War Office. I mentioned that because I did not wish it to be said afterwards, if the scheme were carried through, that I had not warned the House, but I did not take credit for those battalions in my statement.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE
said that of course he accepted the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, but this only increased the necessity for their knowing how the figures stood, because the right hon. Gentleman had in some way modified the figures, and it would be misleading to the House if the matter was not made clear. On the occasion of his speech last year the right hon. Gentleman had spoken of another matter to which he (Sir Charles Dilke) could only refer so far as it bore upon the question, and that was how this scheme affected India. He could not expand and touch upon the financial side, but it would be in order to consider briefly how the scheme affected India. In fact, with regard to the question of the term of service, the home scheme could not be considered apart from the Indian scheme. They ought to know what had been the effect of the present prolonged term of service in India, brought about in consequence of the war. He was astonished, after the language the Secretary of State had used on the importance of this side of the matter, to find that India had not been consulted in connection with the schema In his opinion the Government of India to have been consulted. The Secretary of State for War announced this scheme on the 4th of March, and India was not informed until the 27th of February last. He thought there was a very strong case for laying Papers before the House showing the thought-out opinion 763 of the Government of India on the subject, so that the House might have an opportunity of having the opinion of those who were in a position to give an opinion as to the length of time those men had to serve who had to come back from India to the Reserve. The point he wished to direct attention to, and which he wanted to press upon the House, was the length of service and Papers should be laid on the Table of the House to show whether the term of service should be eight years and four years in the Reserve, or whether it should be ten years in India,
The only other matter to which he wished to call attention was one which had been pressed by many Members in the course of both debates which had taken place on this subject. It was the question of stoppages. It was not perfectly understood whether the addition of 2d. to the soldier's pay would or would not be accompanied by a redress of the grievance of stoppages. Every military Member who had spoken had assented to the view that the Committee ought to aim at preventing the impression of injustice or deceit being made on the mind of the recruit. The men should know beforehand what they were going to receive; if they did not there would be a continuance of that desertion in the earlier years of service, and that giving of a bad name to the Army which had done so much harm to recruiting in the past. The amount the men received at present was not 1s. or 9d. in the case of the recruit without messing allowance, because not only were there obligatory stoppages on the pay-sheet, which—although it was very difficult to strike an average for reasons which had been mentioned—amounted to about 2½d. per day, but also other sums, which, again, varied on account of company subscriptions and so on. All these stoppages produced a sense of injustice and deceit which had done much damage to the Army. It would probably have been wise on the part of the Secretary of State, in making this new departure, to have faced the question of providing better food. The principle which it had been decided to adopt in the case of the Navy would have to be extended to the Army, viz., that the men should receive from the State sufficient food on which 764 to live and do their duty. That was a minimum the Government would have to accept, and they were merely making two bites at the cherry in refusing to accept it at once.
In conclusion, he desired to say a word with regard to the manner in which the military system of the country, as tested by the war, had confirmed the views so often expressed by the Secretary to the Admiralty, when sitting below the gangway, as to the effect of esprit de corps on the fighting quality of troops. In the past sufficient regard had not perhaps been paid by civilians to the absolute necessity of preserving in everything that was done, the military traditions of the various regiments. If any lesson had been taught by the war it was that the troops which had succeeded were those which had been placed together according to their regimental traditions, under their own officers, while those which had failed had been scratch detachments, or battalions deprived of their own officers, and placed under officers who were foreign to them. Therefore, in connection with any future alteration of the linked battalion system he should attach even more importance than in the past to the necessity of preserving regimental traditions with a view to encouraging the spirit of the men.
§ (7.35.) COLONEL WELBY (Taunton)
fully agreed with the remarks of the right hon. Baronet as to the necessity of maintaining regimental tradition and esprit de corps. The war had proved in a marvellous manner that where troops had been kept together, under their own officers, and had not been formed of composite regiments, the men had fought infinitely better, and had exhibited that spirit which had won for us our Empire, and which was necessary for its maintenance in the future. The hon. Member for Birkenhead had stated that the scheme of the Secretary of State for War had met with almost universal approbation. That approbation, however, must be measured mainly by the way in which one regarded the uses to which the regular home Army would be put in the future. If the home Army were looked upon merely as a means of providing troops for the different needs 765 of the Empire, and merely as a nursery for the regiments abroad, then it might be acknowledged that the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman was by far the most practicable solution of the difficulty surrounding those needs. If, however, that army which would cost so much was to be looked upon as providing a striking force which could be easily sent abroad, not after the declaration of war, but in order to prevent war, then the scheme must inevitably fail. The mere increase of pay would not be sufficient to attract the enormous number of recruits required. The whole of the social and daily surroundings of the troops in the barracks would have to be considered. The King's Regulations appeared to be founded on the principle that every man must be assumed to be a bad character until he proved himself to be a good one. That was an absolute reversal of the ordinary law under which a man was considered to be innocent until he was proved to be guilty. He did not say it was the fault of the Regulations or of those who framed them. It simply arose from the fact that in days gone by bad characters had too often predominated in the service, and the rules and regulations which hedged in the men in their daily life, in barracks, in their going out and their coming in had been framed for the bad characters which it had been necessary to enlist. These facts had given the impression that the Army was more or less a somewhat degraded profession for the young men of the country, and, as had again and again been pointed out, the mothers especially were afraid of their sons going into the Army. Until the spirit of the regulations was changed, and the whole way of looking at the soldiers and of treating the Army as a profession altered, it would be impossible to stamp out that impression. A great deal was being done in the way of providing dining-rooms and cubicles in certain barracks, but the result of some barracks being good and others bad was that when men removed from a good barracks into a bad they noticed the more how bad the latter was. A large sum of money, therefore, would have to be spent on barracks, and it would be necessary to have a thorough, far-reaching, and universal scheme. All the regulations 766 as to men being allowed out at night, to have passes, to wear plain clothes, and so on, required to be most carefully over-hauled, and those who had the arrangement of such things should keep clearly before their minds that it was the intention of the country that men of good character should in future be attracted into the Army. The whole principle of the King's regulations would have to be inverted. Men must be treated as good characters until they had proved themselves to be bad.
As to the proposal with regard to getting rid of had characters, as long as he could remember the Army there had been that power in theory; the difficulty had been to enforce it. The regulations nominally permitted him when a commanding officer, to get rid of bad characters, but in reality he had to go and ask it as a personal favour of the authorities. That was not right, nor was it good for the Army at large. It was too late to get rid of a man after he had become a confirmed drunkard, as he had then done almost as much harm as he could by his drinking habits. The commanding officer should have power to get rid of men whom they knew to have an evil influence in the regiment, and that evil power was not always shown by the number of open and flagrant exhibitions of evil conduct.
Turning to the scheme as a means of providing a striking force in order to prevent war, he pointed out that the Government had been over and over again criticised for not having strengthened the garrisons in South Africa before war broke out. But what troops could have been sent out by the Government which would not afterwards have been said to have provoked the war? The odium and responsibility of declaring war would have been laid upon our shoulders instead of upon the shoulders of those who invaded our territory. In what way would this difficulty be removed in the future? The calling out of the Reserves had in modern warfare become almost tantamount to a declaration of war. England was differently placed to Continental nations. If war was declared against them their Army was in the field and ready to advance against the enemy. This country had 767 enormous responsibilities all over the world, and they could not call out the Reserves and send them within a few days to South Africa, India, or Canada. He confessed that, looking at the state of the labour market at the present time, he did not believe it was possible to devise any scheme by which a fighting force of from 70,000 to 100,000 men could be maintained permanently in this country, ready to be sent out, even at an enormous expense. At the same time, it ought to be made clear, and the country at large should understand, that if they thought the blame rested on the system or on the Government at the beginning of this war for not strengthening the garrisons on the frontiers of Natal and Cape Colony, under this scheme, which was going to cost so very large a sum of money, there would not be one battalion, one regiment more to send out in an event like that than there was under the old system. Mention had been made of the increased pay, but he would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman to point out to what extent the warrant officers would be benefited or otherwise by the new scale of pay because there was an impression abroad that the warrant officers were going to be left out.
§ MR. BRODRICK
My hon. and gallant friend was not in the House at Question time, when I stated that the warrant officers would obtain this additional pay.
§ COLONEL WELBY
said there was only one other matter he wished to refer to and it had been mentioned by his hon. and gallant friend the Member for Evesham who had urged that the Secretary of State for War should take the Inspector Generals of Cavalry and Artillery from under the charge of the Adjutant General. He did think that the Inspector Generals should be independent of any other Department at the War Office, and they ought to really represent the Commander-in-Chief. In the German Army the Inspector Generals only reported to the Commander-in-Chief. What they had suffered from in this country was the want of a really genuine independent inspection of their regiments. Time 768 after time he had seen commanders make a most perfunctory inspection, and what they wanted was that each regiment should be inspected and judged independently. The Commander-in-Chief could not go everywhere and make a long and detailed inspection. The Inspector Generals should be made the representatives of the Commander-in-Chief when they made their inspections. Let them report direct to him, and then he believed that one of the great blots on their present system would be removed and that in future there would be infinitely more efficiency and knowledge amongst the units of the British. Army than there was at present.
§ *(7.50.) MR. DUNCAN (Yorkshire, W.R. Otley)
said that on the 22nd of January last he asked the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War a Question in regard to the Royal Engineers. The men who joined the Royal Engineers were, to a certain extent, skilled labourers, and men of that class would not join because they expected to get rather better pay. When a man in the Royal Engineers was at home and he fell sick he lost his working pay and received only his regimental pay. When those men went out as the Royal Engineers did to South Africa on active service they hoped and expected that this division of their pay would not exist, and that when they were suffering from wounds or sickness and were sent into the hospital they would receive the whole of their pay during that period, and which he had been given to understand they were not receiving at the present time. The Royal Engineers had played a most important part in this campaign. Not only the question of the camps and the blockhouses but many other matters depended for their effective service upon the Royal Engineers, who were not only fighting men but also working engineers, and when there was no fighting for them to do they always had to be at work. During this campaign in South Africa they had suffered as much from sickness and they had been more exposed to dangers than other regiments. Therefore he wished to press upon the right hon. Gentleman the desirability of giving these men their full pay during 769 periods of sickness. The Engineer Volunteers who went out some time ago enlisted under a special agreement that they should receive their full pay whether they were in the hospital or not, A great many remarks had been made about stoppages and he wished to state that these arrears of pay and stoppages were causing a great deal of dissatisfaction and disappointment among this valuable arm of service. To remedy this in regard to the Royal Engineers would not take a large amount of money, and it would be a great source of Satisfaction, to those men to receive their arrears of pay which had accrued on account of accidents during service in a very difficult and dangerous occupation.
§ *(7.57.) MR. BILL (Staffordshire, Leek)
said that two years ago some thirty battalions of the Militia volunteered for service in South Africa at a time of great national emergency, and they were all prepared to do their duty as long as it was necessary for them to stay in South Africa. But the war had been protracted, and of those thirty battalions there were only some seventeen or eighteen battalions who had returned home. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to make arrangements which should secure the automatic return of Militia regiments from South Africa after they had been out for two years. Some of the regiments were, to his personal knowledge, being kept out there at great personal cost and inconvenience to both officers and men. If something of this kind were not done, the right hon. Gentleman would find it very difficult to obtain officers in future for the Militia if it became known beforehand that they would be liable to unlimited service abroad. He was quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman was desirous of relieving those regiments as quickly as possible, but he wished to assure him that he knew of many cases in which the very greatest losses had been occasioned by the prolonged absence of men in the Militia from their businesses. In the particular regiment to which he referred, and with which he was connected, there was hardly a single officer who was not in some private business or other, and it was very hard that their 770 prospects in life should be ruined or damaged by an unlimited detention in South Africa. He ventured to urge upon the light hon. Gentleman that steps should be taken to get those Militia battalions which had not been to the war and which had not been out on active service for a considerable time to volunteer, in order to relieve the regiments which had been serving in South Africa for two years. He was quite sure that if the right hon. Gentleman would do this, it would make the Militia more popular, and would assist in retaining the officers. [8.0.]
§ (8.30.) MR. SOARES (Devonshire, Barnstaple)
said as he had no special knowledge he did not propose to criticise the scheme introduced by the right hon. Gentleman. He proposed to say a few words with regard to the new provisions as to remounts. Everyone was glad that the right hon. Gentleman intended to come more in touch with the breeders and less with the dealers than was formerly the case. The right hon. Gentleman said he was also going to invoke the assistance of the Board of Agriculture, and also act upon the advice of the various Purchase Commissions now being held in various parts, and that he intended to place buyers in the right districts. Did he understand that the buyers were to be men with a thorough knowledge of the districts in which they were to be placed and the horses to be bred there? And were they to be civilians or military men who were to be appointed? With regard to getting into touch with the Agricultural Societies, the right hon. Gentleman might remember the suggestion which he had made to him upon this question.
THE DEPUTY - CHAIRMAN
Although this is a very comprehensive Vote, I might remind the hon. Member that there is a particular Vote for Remounts, and the hon. Member is only entitled to go into the general system; he should avoid details as far as possible.
§ MR. SOARES
said under those circumstances he would only say a word with regard to the Purchase Commissions. Very valuable results might be obtained if these commissions were properly held, 771 but the House ought to know what kind of evidence was being brought before them.
THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY OF THE WAR OFFICE (Lord STANLEY,) Lancashire, Westhonghton
What Commissions is the hon. Member referring to?
§ MR. SOARES
said the Commissions which the right hon. Gentleman had referred to on the previous Tuesday.
said that the Commissions referred by the right hon. Gentleman on that occasion were Commissions abroad.
§ MR. SOARES
thought they might be held with very good results in the horse-breeding districts of this country. The questions which ought to be submitted to them were the particular classes of horses that could be bred and the way in which they could get in touch with the breeders. There was a lot of other important information which an inquiry of this sort could obtain, and the cost of such an inquiry would only be about the same as the amount paid by the Government for a Hungarian horse. He also thought the system of registration might be utilised more in the future than it had been in the past. The Government had not bought a very large number of horses off the register in the course of the present campaign, but those which they had bought had turned out remarkably well. The system of registration at first sight was a good one, and ought to be very largely developed. Under it the Government obtained first of all a horse in hard condition, and secondly, a horse that its owner was not very anxious to part with. There was a great deal of difference in buying a horse that was being hawked about for sale. He did not see why the Colonies should not establish a register.
Might I interrupt the hon. Gentleman and say I was on a Committee which attempted to deal with this matter. I was very much in favour of it, but the information we received from all the Agents General was that a register of horses in the Colonies was out of the question.
§ (8.42.) CAPTAIN JESSEL (St. Pancras, S.)
said that the hon. and gallant Member for Taunton had made a most valuable contribution to the debate. He had pointed out the great danger the country would be exposed to when the new scheme of the Secretary of State for War came into operation. One of the great weaknesses of the present system was, that upon the outbreak of war so many men had to be recalled to the Colours that a regiment could not be sent out as a unit that had been drilled together. If that was so under the seven years service, what would it be under the three years service that was proposed? It was now impossible to call up the reserves, except by royal proclamation and the assembly of Parliament within ten days, so that a single regiment could not be sent out without setting all this machinery in motion. He ventured to suggest that the Government should consider this question, and in some way take powers under the new scheme by-means of which they would have the power to call up a considerable number of men without the use of this elaborate machinery, so that they might be enabled to prepare twenty regiments at home without the idea becoming general abroad that we we were embarking upon, a great war.
Last year he expressed his entire approval of the scheme of the Secretary of State. The objection was raised that the necessary men would not be obtained, and he suggested that if that proved to be the case it would be perfectly open for the right hon. Gentleman to come to Parliament on a subsequent occasion with proposals for increased pay, but that such a demand could not be justified until it had been seen whether the scheme as it stood would be a success. Unfortunately the men had not been obtained, and therefore the present reasonable proposals for increased pay were brought forward. He had also expressed his approval of the right hon. Gentleman's remarks about the Army Corps. That term was much misunderstood at the time, for when examined into it merely meant a greater system of decentralisation, which, after all, was what the critics of the Army had been clamouring for many years past. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would persevere, undeterred by any criticism, in relieving, by means of Army 773 Corps, the congestion and centralisation at present existing at the War Office.
As to good conduct pay, it could not be denied that no better system existed of encouraging the men in the Army, and in the opinion of many great authorities it would he highly detrimental to the interests of the service if it were abolished or interfered with. Much uncertainty; was felt in service circles as to whether or not this pay was to be abolished, as the statement of the Secretary of State was not clear as to whether the badges to be given would carry pay with them. He hoped an assurance would be given that it was not intended to alter a system which had worked so well for many years.
The part of the proposal he had always regretted was that no addition had been made to the number of regular cavalry regiments. Year after year the infantry and artillery were increased, but no increase was made in the number of cavalry regiments. He was astonished recently to hear of a provisional regiment of 800 men, serving in Ireland, supposed to be a Lancer regiment, in which there was not a single lance. He did not know whether it was the intention of the War Office to abolish the lance, or whether they had been unable to obtain a supply of that useful weapon. It should be remembered that all wars in the future would not be waged exactly on the model of the present struggle in South Africa. The Germans, the French, and the Russians bad not abolished the lance, and he asked the Government to pause ere they decided to take any such step.
In regard to the Intelligence Department, there had been an improvement, as an Assistant Director for mobilisation had been appointed; but what, after all, was the strength of that Department? It consisted of seventeen officers, which, considering the extent of the British Empire and the multifarious duties cast upon the War Office, was altogether insufficient. In Germany sixty officers were employed in the Intelligence Department, in addition to which they had a great general staff. If the War Office could not see their way to increase the permanent staff of the Department, they might do a great deal more in the way of allowing young officers to transact the routine business. That 774 would be a great advantage, because by these young officers coming in for three or six months, the permanent officers of the Department would be able to sift out those who were worth retaining, while the others would return to their regiments.
In December last, in response to an invitation of the Colonel, he visited the Royal Garrison Regiment at Aldershot, and was particularly struck by the fine appearance of the men, but somewhat disgusted with the housing accommodation. In a particular regiment of about 600 men, there were no less than 173 sergeants, who were accommodated in the ordinary sergeants' mess of a line regiment, usually adapted for about forty men. He had had some experience of overcrowding in London, but he had never seen anything like that at Aider shot. The peculiar thing about the whole business was that the next-door barracks was perfectly empty; in fact, there were then about five empty barracks in Aldershot. Surely things might be so regulated, in spite of the ordinances of the Barrack Department, that those empty barracks could be used to relieve such over-crowding. Also in that regiment there were many men who had been musicians, but the War Office in its wisdom, did not allow them to have a band. They were the only regiment not allowed that privilege. It would be a good thing if it were allowed, because the men could then keep up their musical education, and not be a burden on their friends when they returned to civil life.
Then he desired to pay a tribute to the Army Vaccine Department, which provided lymph to both the Army and the Navy. The return of successful vaccinations showed that something like 95 per cent. of the lymph sent out was successful, and this was very satisfactory in view of the fact that there had been a good deal of controversy in the medical journals as to the efficacy of Army lymph.
Another point was as to whether the Financial Secretary could not see his way to do away with the sort of plank bed used in the guard rooms. A man who had been on sentry duty for two hours would have four hours off but all he had to lie on was a wretchedly 775 hard bed, without either pillow or mattress. The inert might just as well be comfortable as horribly uncomfortable, and he could not see why cots should not be provided, as had lately been done on the China stations.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
ruled that it would not be in order for the hon. Member to go into details as to cots.
§ CAPTAIN JESSEL
thought it rather bore on the question of making the men more comfortable, and thereby inducing a better class of men to enlist. He would, however, leave that and go to the question of cubicles. Some time ago the present Chief Secretary for Ireland promised that experiments should be made with cubicles, and he would like to know how the question stood at present. Just before the war broke out an important Committee sat at Aldershot, and made certain recommendations. He did not know whether those recommendations had been pigeon-holed, but many Members believed that if proper accommodation was provided for the men, a better class of recruits would be attracted. There was a certain old-fashioned prejudice against these ideas, but he hoped they would be persevered with, as he was certain the result would repay the trouble.
§ (9.2.) DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
asked whether it would not be good policy to give recruits the extra pay now to be given to the soldiers. The recruit was required to go through a very great physical and intellectual strain, and it was essential that he should have the means of increasing his dietary. In the Navy boys had a dietary nearly twice as good as that of the grownup sailors. When recruits were sent to Caterham or elsewhere for their initial training they were put to a hard mental and physical strain at a very critical period of their lives. If they were underfed at that time they would inevitably become victims of heart-disease, consumption, or some other disease well known to medical men. Then, again, the digestion suffered from the sudden change from one class of diet to another. If a man had been half-starved and was then put on ample diet, his digestion suffered; the same 776 with, say, a Scotsman, who, having been used to a porridge diet, was suddenly placed on a meat diet. Professor Haldane of Oxford had had down that the diet of the soldier was not so good really as that of the convict. That surely was not as it ought to be. He was not prepared to go into a detailed calculation, but an equally eminent authority had laid down the opposite view, and considered the soldier's rations were sufficient. He was quite prepared to acknowledge that they could not lay these things down in chemical formula.
Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present. House counted, and, forty being found present—
§ DR. FARQUHARSON
, resuming, said they could not arrange the dietary of the men by chemical formula. They must have a certain amount of variety before it could be considered a dietary for a soldier or for anyone else. He wished to point out the admirable way in which the recruit was fed at Caterham. There the soldier got an extra halfpenny per day towards his mess, and he could get an excellent supper from one penny to twopence a day, and this filled up what he had always described as a formidable gap between dinner at 12.30 and the breakfast which he got at 7 or 8 o'clock the next morning. He did not want to have the doctors tied down upon questions of actual weight or chest measurements, for any doctor ought to be able to tell whether a young fellow was likely to develop strength or not. He had heard of officers going to Sandow to put on some extraneous muscle in order to pass the doctor. His hon. friend knew that the only possible way of truly ascertaining the state of the lungs was by using a spirometer, which enabled the doctor to test the breathing capacity of the lungs. The measurement of the chest was a very delicate and complicated thing, and as a rule civilian doctors did not understand it, and this should be carried out by military men of long experience. He desired to congratulate the Secretary of State for War, who had not had too many congratulations lately, upon what he was proposing to do for the Army Medical Department. He was sure that the plan he was proposing was 777 a very great improvement upon the original one, for he was now suggesting increased pay for medical men and competition in the open market. He was also going to give the Army doctors increased facilities for study, which was absolutely necessary in order to keep the doctor up to the mark and to have the soldiers and officers properly treated medically, both in time of peace and war. They could never get good doctors in the Army unless there was some kind of return to those pleasant days they used to enjoy under the regimental system. He understood that there was now to be a partial return to that system, and that the right hon. Gentleman was proposing to attach these officers to the battalions, and find them a home until the end of their service. That was a necessary thing to a real improvement in the Army Medical Department, and it was an advance upon the old system, which would ensure them a good supply of candicates. No one was more desirous than he was of a return to the good old days when there was competition amongst Army doctors, and when doctors were very pleased to look back to their regimental life. In conclusion, he again desired to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman upon having brought forward recommendations which would ensure what they all wanted, namely, a supply of good candidates for the Army Medical Department.
§ *(9.16.) MAJOR EVANS-GORDON (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)
said that upon the occasion of the last debate upon this subject in the House he ventured to make some remarks about the War Office itself. He hoped the Secretary of State for War or the noble Lord would now find it convenient to answer one or two of the questions which he put upon that occasion. He pointed out that in his speech upon the introduction of the Army Estimates the Secretary of State for War had passed over somewhat lightly the recommendations of the Dawkins Committee. Those recommendations were nintey in number, and many of them had been passed over in silence. There was one point upon which he wished to offer an explanation, because he did not think the right hon. Gentleman clearly understood it, and it was in reference to the Permanent Executive Committee at the War Office—he found 778 that that was the name of the new body at the War Office—concerning the duties of which they would be very glad to have some explanation. The Dawkins Committee laid it down that it was not conducive to the progress of businessd to have two Boards of that kin. The permanent officials were taken away twice a week to attend this Board, and it was not clear what the duty of the Permanent Executive Committee was.
The other point he made was with regard to the non-existence in the War Office of a department corresponding to the general staff in foreign armies. It seemed to him to be a most extraordinary thing that in the British Army they should have no staff' of that kind. The right hon. Gentleman told them that the Director General of the Intelligence Department was performing those duties; but why play with this question? Why not take the bull by the horns, and have a real General Staff of the Army? Those officers should be employed studying the great problems of war. He trusted that the Secretary of State would act boldly in this matter, and that a real department for the consideration of these great problems would be formed. Lord Charles Beresford had referred to the same subject with regard to the Navy, and if it was needed in the Navy surely it was much more needed in the Army. The hon. Member for Biggleswade, the other night, excused the War Office for want of preparedness, because the problems were so varied that it was almost impossible to know beforehand what the requirements of the Army would be. Surely they should have a department of the War Office exclusively employed in dealing with that great subject. He wished now to say a word or two with regard to the Remount Department. In a debate in the House of Lords the other day—
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
Order, order! The hon. and gallant Member cannot refer to speeches made in the other House.
§ * MAJOR EVANS-GORDON
said he wished to refer to a speech made in another place, in which Lord Lansdowne said that he considered the arrangements made by the Quartermaster General for sending horses to South Africa good; that the trouble was at the other end; that even the very best horses could not 779 live if put straight into trains after a journey of 6,000 miles at sea, if after forty-eight hours in the train they are handed straight over to the columns; that it was evident now that our only chance of avoiding the immense wastage in horseflesh which had taken place would have been to have had 40,000 or 50,000 horses in reserve in the Cape Colony at the commencement of the war. But his Lordship pointed out that no Government could have formed such a reserve under the diplomatic conditions then obtaining. All that Lord Lansdowne said was absolutely true, and it was further quite true that in the earlier stages of the war, especially in February and March, 1900, it was impossible to retard operations by waiting for the formation of such a reserve of horses. But, and this was the whole point, the war has now been going on for two and a half years, and they had yet to learn what effort had been made during all this time to build up the reserve which Lord Lansdowne pronounced to be necessary. Would the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, tell the House whether any, and if so, what reserve, now existed after all the mounted troops now in the field had been efficiently mounted? His information was, taking the whole of South Africa together, that not less than one third of the mounted troops were from one cause or another on foot. Since February 1900, more than two years ago, the tactics of the enemy had almost invariably consisted in delaying rearguard actions, and in rapidly retreating when attacked. It was obvious that the only counter-stroke to these tactics was the turning of the flanks, and rapid pursuit. This necessitated superior mobility, and it had been long evident to the most uneducated observer, that well-conditioned horses were the very first requisite. He did not believe that the blame attached to our troops and column commanders. No doubt there were exceptions, but for the most part, officers and men did their best to care for their horses.
The fault lay in want of organisation in the Remount Department, in a want of foresight and want of courage in establishing adequate reserves of horses, and in a constant desire on the part of the Government—of which hon. Members 780 who read the White Paper recently issued on the Remount question would find abundant evidence—to reduce the expense entailed in sending such immense monthly instalments of horses and animals to South Africa. The predominant note in the telegrams passing between the Secretary of State and the Commander-in-Chief in South Africa was "Can't you reduce your monthly demands for horses?" Such criticisms were easy to make, but with the permission of the House he would now suggest a remedy. It had already been suggested by his hon. and gallant friend the Member for the Ross Division of Herefordshire, in a maiden speech, to which they all listened with interest. Over and above the 10,000 horses per month needed to make good the normal wastage, the Government should purchase and send out as quickly as possible 50,000 horses. At the same time the number of remount depôts in South Africa should be largely increased, and they should be adequately furnished with non-commissioned officers, men, and shoeing smiths. Half the value of the blockhouse system was that they had made it possible to multiply our advance depôts and jumping-off places. With this reserve of horseflesh in hand, the Assistant Inspector of Remounts in South Africa would be able for the first time so to distribute his animals that column commanders would send in to the nearest depôt horses which required rest, and get fresh ones in their places. The former after a rest of three weeks with good food and grooming would be again fit for work, and he was certain that if this were done the monthly death rate of horses would be diminished by 100 per cent. or more. The present system meant that the horses were broken down and incurable before they were sent in for rest. The result was that the death rate in the depôts had been about 7,000 horses per month for the past ten months, while in the columns themselves the losses had amounted to 4,000 a mouth for the same period. Had it been in the power of column commanders to exchange tired horses for fresh ones before the former were past hope of recovery, this terrible waste would have been prevented.
The experiment had in one instance been tried by Colonel Gorringe, of the 781 Royal Engineers, who, when in command of a column, established a depôt of some 1,300 horses, with the result that he was able to keep all his horses in good condition and all his men properly mounted. There had been much talk of the extravagance of paying more than the market value for horses in Hungary; and elsewhere, and much talk also of the carelessness of officers and men when on the march; but, in his opinion, the real extravagance, far exceeding that proceeding from any other cause, had been the lack of foresight and organisation and failing to provide, at as early a date as possible, an adequate reserve. Our policy in this respect had been "Penny wise and pound foolish." The Government told them that all demands from South Africa were at once complied with, but it should be remembered that it was the minimum demand for horses which had been met, and he felt certain that if Lord Kitchener were asked whether the immediate creation of a reserve of 50,000 which he suggested was advisable, he would welcome the suggestion and cordially approve of it. "Better late than never," and not a day should be lost even now in hastening in every possible way the collection in South Africa of this reserve over and above the number of horses required to mount every mounted man in the Force. Let the initial cost be what it might, the Government would find that tens of thousands of pounds would be saved by the transaction.
There was one more point to which he should like to refer, namely, the necessity for buying all the horses available in Cape Colony. It seemed an absurd thing that they should be purchasing and sending horses from Russia, Canada, and America, and all quarters of the globe, when there were plenty of good, seasoned remounts available and at hand in Cape Colony which their officers were not allowed to touch. Every difficulty was placed in the way of the officers to prevent our troops getting good local remounts from the so-called protected farms, while the Boers had no difficulty in obtaining them. Lord Roberts was no doubt wise in trying this sympathetic and lenient policy in the first instance, but surely the lesson, no horses, no Boers, should have been learnt by this time. 782 No private person should be allowed to keep horses of any sort, and all the horses in the country should be Government property. This might cost some money but it would be a real economy in the end. He would not even exempt Cape Town itself, and would put it out of the power of the farmers to say, "Why must we give up our horses which are our bread and meat, while people in Cape Town keep as many horses as they like for their pleasure?" He was confident that if hon. Members on both sides of the House combined to press these views on the Government they would be doing something much more practical than wasting the time of Parliament and the country in party bickerings as to the vices of one side and the virtues of the other.
§ *(9.30.) MR. PEEL (Manchester, S.)
said the regimental sergeant-majors in the new Yeomanry were not placed in so favourable a position as the sergeant-majors in the Volunteers, and he thought that distinction ought not to be. The regimental sergeant-majors of Volunteers were after twenty-one years service granted a pension in the first class of 2s. 9d., whereas the Yeomanry squadron sergeant-majors, if appointed to the corresponding position, only got a pension in the second class of 2s. 6d. The case of the Yeomanry sergeant-major was rendered even harder by the fact that he did not get extra duty pay. He seemed to have been forgotten in the new Regulations. Referring to the Yeomanry Reserve, he observed that under the new plan which the Secretary of State for War explained the other day, a bounty of £5 would be given to any Yeoman who placed himself on the list for service abroad. Then it was decided to form a small Volunteer Yeomanry Reserve who, he understood, were to fill up the gap in the Yeomanry caused by those efficient Yeomen who might be called upon to give service abroad. He wished to know some details as to the formation of the Reserve, and also, as the circumstances were much the same as in the Militia, whether the same or any bounty would be given to the Yeomanry who joined the new Volunteer Reserve.
§ (9.35.) MR. KEARLEY (Devonport)
said he wished to point out to the Secretary of State for War an admitted grievance in connection with the Contracts Department, and to ask some assurance that reform had taken place. The right hon. Gentleman stated the other day that, the Report of the Commtttee with regard to the Department did not speak badly of it. There were differences and misunderstandings in the Department, especially between the Supply Department and the Contract Department pure and simple. He thought he could predicate what that meant. It was a want of harmony between the military and the civil elements. Those differences which previously existed had become accentuated since the commencement of the war. They all knew what want of harmony meant in a business enterprise, and the Contract Department of the War Office was a stupendous business enterprise. The Contracts Department had for years past been overworked, and since the war broke out it had been more congested with work than ever. The Committee made thoroughly sensible recommendations which could not be gainsaid. There were on the Committee capable business men including the hon. Member for the Rossendale Division. The first proposition which the hon. Member laid down was that there should be a practical business man at the head of the Contracts Department. The Department was responsible for buying an enormous variety of merchandise from all classes of importers and exporters, and forage dealers. He was making no attack. He was merely bringing the subject foward for the purpose of having it ventilated, because there was room for enormous reform. The recent meat contracts were adjudicated on by many gentlemen of high standing at the War Office, but not one of them knew anything about meat. They had to deal with a queer lot of people who thoroughly knew their business, and it was a case of the blind leading the blind. Until they had at the head of the Department a man habituated to business they would never succeed.
§ MR. KEARLEY
said the man who bought goods for the War Office should be a business man in touch with all the markets of the world, and able to seek out new sources of supply. He had also to prevent competition between his own Department and the Admiralty, taking care that when one Department was buying, the other was not spoiling the market. Was it not absurd? The head of this Department was not, in the first place, a business man, and in the second place he had to carry out that which no business man would ever attempt. The reason the Government were unable to run this Department except at a loss was that there was no regard to business people. The man who was responsible for buying all these things had no control over the articles which he had bought. He never even saw them; he had no opportunity whatever of testing whether the bulk was up to the sample from which he had purchased. The whole of the buying Department wanted recasting, and the first thing to be done was to surround the Department with a commercial atmosphere and put officialism on one side. The best men that could be found in the open market should be brought in and be well paid. He would pay them £5,000 or £10,000 a year and no pension, instead of the munificent sum of £1,200 which was the salary of the director of contracts—the man who had to do all this work. A man was ruined by becoming a permanent official and having a pension at the end of his service. Good salaries should be paid and the most experienced men in this line of business should be employed. Soldiers could not be expected to he good business men, and the only thing to be done in this matter was to separate the commercial from the official part of the Department.
§ *(9.50.) MR. LLEWELLYN (Somersetshire, N.)
said he desired to refer to the administration of the Militia. The practice of musketry was nothing more than a 785 farce. The whole period of twenty-eight days for which the Militia were called up for annual training was not sufficient for musketry practice if nothing else was done.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
pointed out that there was a particular Vote for the Militia, and that the hon. Member must not go too much into detail.
§ * MR. LLEWELLYN
expressed his disappointment at the ruling of the Chair, to which he submitted. The events which had taken place in the last two years had proved not only that the musketry of the Militia had been neglected, but that this neglect had had the most serious results. Was it not a fact that of the Militia regiments which were ordered to South Africa, one-third of the men never went through their course of musketry, and that many of them had never fired a rifle at all. A question was some time ago asked in Parliament as to whether it was not a fact that many of the Militia battalions sent out to South Africa had never even fired at a target, and the reply given was that when they arrived in South Africa they would have an opportunity of learning how to shoot, and that on the way out they would be exercised in musketry from over the stern of the ship. Could anything be more absurd. A great deal had been said as to the difficulty of getting ranges; he did not intend to pursue the subject, and would only say that what had taken place abroad had taught us that it was not necessary the men should be provided, when learning to shoot, with long ranges. Men should be taken out to shoot from unknown distances at marks other than fixed targets. With regard to the permanent staff, it was neither sufficient in numbers nor composed of the best men to instruct these men in their twenty days training. There were not sufficient men on the permanent staff in time of peace, but in time of war it was wholly inadequate. It might be said the Militia was not dependent on the permanent staff, but it was absolutely dependent on it for instruction. A good staff and daily instruction would make a good soldier out of a raw recruit—but it was not every young soldier who could be made into a good non-commissioned officer. This want 786 could be easily supplied. There were many Army reserve men who had passed through the line battalions who would take up this service, and they were the very men the Militia battalions would like to get during their yearly trainings to instruct their men. Every Militia officer recognised the difficulties noncommissioned officers found in enforcing discipline in the ranks, because during the period when they were not training the men were associated together—and these duties if properly carried out would interfere with their comfort when the training ceased. If non-commissioned officers serving with the Reserves could be obtained for this duty for one month in the year they would supply a want that had been greatly felt. He believed such men were to be found. At present the best non-commissioned officers from the line went to the Volunteers. The pick of the Militia which went into the line as recruits got more drills, and, therefore, were more perfect, but the militiamen who only came out for a month's training a year required infinitely better instruction than a recruit of the line. The result of not having the best non-commissioned officers was shown to be most disastrous in South Africa. The many offences for which young soldiers had been punished by Courts-martial in South Africa had been, in his opinion, chiefly due to their not having been better looked after by their non-commissioned officers, and those offences would not have been committed if a proper number of noncommissioned officers had been appointed to look after them. He did not believe that this state of affairs was known at the War Office. It was not possible for the inspecting officers appointed to inquire into these matters, though they were otherwise efficient, but in the short time they held their appointments they could understand the Militia battalions. The consequence was the Militia returns were not of a reliable nature. During the training everyone ought to go through a practical musketry course, so that they could see those who would make useful shots and those who would not. In times of peace many commanding officers of the Militia regiments who had had no service in the Army had done credit to the regiments, but all officers ought to be kept up to their duty in times of peace. The responsibility of taking a Militia 787 regiment into action was very great indeed. At these times the officers' responsibility was in every respect equal to that of those in the line, he could not take refuge in the fact that he was a militiaman and did not know what to do. It ought not to be sufficient for a man merely to have been in the line years ago to qualify as Commander of a Militia regiment. He had tried many times to interest the House and the Government in this subject, but no notice had been taken of his remarks. It was perhaps tiresome to Members to hear anything about the Militia. His experience was that little attention was paid to representations on behalf of that branch of the service. He hoped, however, there would be a change in that respect in the future. The Militia was the main recruiting ground for the line, and on that account alone, if for no other, nothing should be left undone to keep up its efficiency.
*10.12. SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)
said he was in thorough agreement with the policy of making the Army as attractive as possible to those who came to serve under the flag. He believed that there was an enormous amount of material to be obtained for the Army if they only gave suitable inducements to the men to come forward. The younger men who joined ought to have special care and attention given to them, and while they ought not to be paid at the same rate as those who were trained soldiers facilities ought to be given to them to better their condition and make their lives more tolerable than at present. At nineteen years of age these men wanted a greater amount of care and food than they received at present because this was the period when they were developing, and their rations ought to be more generous. Then with regard to clothing. A soldier who had to go through life with only two shirts, that is one a week for night and day wear, was not living under satisfactory conditions as to cleanliness or health or personal self-respect, and better men could be obtained if the treatment given to them was more generous. The Army Medical Corps had succeeded in obtaining an extra shirt-and that concession ought to be extended to the men in other regiments.
788 He desired to call attention to the very serious wastage from disease which was still going on in the Army in South Africa. He made out from the Returns published in the Papers that in January and February, 1901, about 750 men were lost from enteric fever, and that for the corresponding months of this year the number was over 800. That was a terrible mortality. It meant not only 800 deaths, but the illness probably of over 5,000 other men. That was a terrible drain on the fighting strength of the force which ought not to be allowed to go on. He contended that they were not taking these matters seriously enough. Surely this continued drain on our forces was not creditable to the administration. The right hon. Gentleman had said that he was advised by civilian doctors in the best practice in London; but in these matters they needed the guidance of special experts in sanitary matters—leading medical officers of health, or inspectors under the Local Government Board. It was true that the right hon. Gentleman had sent out a Commission to South Africa to enquire into dysentery and enteric, and he could not have made a better selection of Commissioners; but, as far as he could gather, they had now disappeared and had left no special organisation behind them to carry out the recommendations they had made. The other day the right hon. Gentleman said that the notification of disease in South Africa had been stopped, and that it was not considered necessary by the people out there, because the disease was endemic. But that was the very reason why it was necessary. There were no fewer than sixty places where the mortality from enteric fever was excessive. In these circumstances special pains should be taken to protect the unfortunate men who were fighting their country's battles in South Africa from the ravages of a disease which was essentially preventable. Over and over again it had been laid down in reports from authorities that steps ought to be taken to save the people from that malady by the simple precaution of boiling the water. Had any steps been taken to provide the columns with means of doing this? In the Swiss and Russian Armies kitchen carts accompanied even mobile columns 789 so that they could cook and boil water I as they marched along, and when they arrived at their destination they had the water and coffee prepared for the soldiers. Our men, however, tortured with thirst, after a long and dusty march, rushed to the nearest pool and slaked their thirst, and very often contracted enteric fever as a consequence, and lost their lives. He had recently seen at the United Service institution an apparatus for boiling the water, which would be a wonderful help in preventing the spread of this particular malady.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
said he was loth to interrupt the hon. Member, but he failed to see how the remarks he was making were connected with the present Vote. The matter to which he was referring was one for the medical officers to deal with.
* SIR WALTER FOSTER
explained that he only desired to point out the terrible wastage in our forces that was going on, which he believed was largely preven-tible. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would take all expert advice and be guided by it, in order to put a stop to the loss of brave men's lives.
§ (10.34.) MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
said that in time of war, soldiers, however sensible, cared a great deal more on some occasions about slaking their thirst than about the danger of enteric fever, and he could not see how the complicated arrangement suggested by the hon. Member for the Ilkeston Division would stand the severe and unsympathetic test of war. The hon. Member for Devonport had said many things which would be admitted on both sides of the House. In a general way, all were in favour of adopting business principles in the Army, and running it more as a commercial organisation.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
said that if there was one Department more than another that should be run on those lines it was the Contract Department. But if the 790 head of that Department was to have a larger salary than £1,200 a year he would come into violent contact with the hon. Member for Battersea, who had already declared that £500 a year was as much as any man was worth.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
said he would not draw any invidious comparisons between the War Office and any other Department. The hon. Member for Devonport was a great advocate of business men. If there was one thing upon which egregious rubbish had been talked—he was not referring to the hon. Member—it was this subject of business men. We were to have a Government of business men. There might be good and bad Governments, and nothing would induce him to say in which category the present Government should come; but there was no Government more undesirable than a Government of business men, if by that were meant men who had become directors of great companies in the City. He could not conceive how the hon. Member could have put forward such a proposition as he had done.
§ MR. KEARLEY
said he had merely stated that it was best to have trained business men at the head of a buying Department, such as the Contracts Department, which one would not get for £1,200 a year.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
said the hon. Member had not carried the doctrine as far as one of the leaders of the Liberal Party in the House of Lords had done. The hon. Member had stated that he would like business men who were experts in the various business affairs with which they had to deal. He could imagine nothing more dreadful. On such a principle they would put Captain Hartigan at the head of the Remount Department, or a great corn merchant to 791 purchase grain for the Army. If he had to choose between business men and the present contract authorities he would much prefer to see at the head of the Contract Department the present Financial Secretary, who was a man of the world, and who had been trained in the hard school of the House of Commons. It was a principle of our Constitution not to employ experts, whether business men or military men, in the highest affairs of State. At the end of the war they were to have a long inquiry, but he ventured to think that one of the results of that Inquiry would not be the establishment of business men—by which he meant directors of great companies—at the head of the various purchasing departments of the War Office.
The hon. Member for South Molton had said that the expenditure of the Army was steadily growing, and that it would have been better if the War Office had devoted themselves to finishing the war before they worried themselves about reforming their own organisation. With both of these premises he had frequently expressed his entire agreement. When, however, on another occasion he mentioned the word "economy," the hon. Member for Fareham immediately concluded that he had abandoned everything he had previously said on the subject of the Army. The expense of the Army was a great and lamentable fact, and that it was growing was a most formidable, dangerous, and alarming fact. He ventured to think the fact that we spent as much on our Army as we do on our Navy was a state of affairs so anomalous that, even in the many curious anomalies which prevailed in our Constitution and the management of our public affairs, it was almost impossible to find a parallel for it. But what chance was there for an ordinary private Member doing anything to arrest the growth of expenditure? From every part of the House the cry had gone up that we should have the largest Army possible, that it should be supplied in the best manner possible, and that all ranks should be paid in the highest way possible. He recognised how utterly futile and impossible it was for individuals to stand against this tide of public opinion. They might make their protest, but more than that it was not possible for them to do. 792 Therefore, if he did not go in detail into either of those points of the speech of the hon. Member, but merely expressed his entire concurrence in them, he hoped it would not be charged against him that he had abandoned the positions he had previously taken up.
In the question of economy one had to begin at the bottom as well as at the top. No doubt some of the expense of the Army was due to the expensive living prevalent in some regiments. The right hon. Gentleman had had in his possession for some days a very valuable Report from the Committee on Military Education.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
said that at any rate it had left the hands of the Committee, and he hoped a distinct opportunity would be given for its discussion, as it was a matter in regard to which many Members, notably the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, entertained very decided opinions. He hoped they would also have an opportunity of discussing the social question which was so much interwoven with the problem of officering the Army. On the subject of officers' expenses, he contendep that the War Office had no right whatever to control the individual expenditure of any man in the Army. It was a preposterous proposition that a Government Department should prevent their own servants spending their own money in their own way in their own time, within the law, of course. To refuse them that right would be to exclude men of means from the Army. ["Why?"] Because if they were not allowed to spend their own money in their own way they would go to a profession in which they were allowed that ordinary liberty. It was not necessary to exclude rich men from the Army, nor was it desirable that the Army should be officered entirely by rich men. It was very desirable that there should be some officers with private means, and at any rate he should protest vehemently against the policy of hunting such men from the Army. Some of the officers who had done the best service in South Africa were among the most wealthy, and many of them had given 793 their lives for their country. But if it was not justifiable for the War Office to interfere with individual expenditure in the Army, they were perfectly justified in interfering with collective expenditure. He would make the right hon. Gentleman a present of two small economies, which would be unpopular, but not seriously so, which would do a great deal with regard to collective expenditure. There should be a regulation, strictly enforced, that no bottle of wine in any mess of the British Army should be uncorked unless some individual officer signed his name for it.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
said that in that case he would make the right hon. Gentleman a present of these two economies privately. All he would venture to say, speaking in general terms, was that there was one great method of striking at the collective expenditure, and that was by insisting on the pro rata system by which every officer should be made to contribute to any regimental entertainment not so much a head but according to his rank. He believed that on the whole that very valuable Regulation was allowed to go as a dead letter. If the right hon. Gentleman would vigorously enforce that rule he was sure he would have a very great weapon to reduce the expenditure of the officers, and then he would not be compelled to interfere with such healthy manly sports as polo and hunting which, when enjoyed by the people who could afford them, were beneficial, and did not carry the same evil consequences in their train as some other sports. The question of uniform was one which had been alluded to by the hon. Member for South Molton. He rejoiced that the right hon. Gentleman had seen his way to reduce the expenditure on officers' uniform. At the same time he hoped he would not allow that economy to be carried out at the expense of individual officers. Anything that might be said about the expense of uniforms in regular regiments applied with much greater force to uniforms in Yeomanry regiments. He recently joined a Yeomanry regiment, and was horrified to find that he was 794 invited to pay £60 or £70 for gaudy trash. It should not be incumbent on officers in Yeomanry regiments to dress themselves in these magnificent uniforms. He thought the Secretary of State had done a great deal by his Army Corps reform. It had been said that a military officer had no interest in economy, because no single regiment got a single advantage out of economy, for if anything was lost or broken the officer wrote out the loss and it was borne by the public. If some practical system could be introduced whereby supposing a colonel saved something in one direction he would be allowed a little more, say for cartridges; and if he saved something in saddlery he would be allowed a little more for forage; and if the idea of internal economy was brought home to every officer in the service in this way, then, he believed, they would have more economy in the Army, and a much more efficient administration.
His hon. and gallant friend the Member for Yarmouth had put down an, Amendment to reduce the Vote for the Intelligence Department. He was an economist, but he did not gather from his hon. and gallant friend that he really wished to reduce this Vote, but that he had only put down his Amendment in order to call attention to the inefficiency to that Department. He did not think there was any department of the Army which ought to be more fully staffed than the Intelligence Department. He was horrified to find that our Intelligence Department had only sixteen or twenty officers, and the German Intelligence Department had nearly 200 officers. If there was one Department on which money could be spent with advantage it was the Intelligence Department. He ventured to suggest to the Secretary of State for War that when he was framing his Estimates for another year he would do well to reduce in some way the personnel of the Army—he should like to see it largely reduced—and to endeavour to keep the Intelligence Department at full strength, so that it could guide us in the military enterprises upon which we embarked We wanted an Army based on economy; it should be an Army of efficiency, and it should be an Army of elasticity, so that comparatively small regular units in time of peace might be 795 expanded into a great and powerful Army in time of war. For that expansion nothing was more needed than an efficient and well-staffed Intelligence Department. He hoped, however, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer found himself able to give more money for the Intelligence Department, he would insist upon an equal reduction of the Army Vote for men and stores.
§ (10.56.) MR. BRODRICK
This debate has been going on for many hours, but I do not think I can do better than reply to my hon. friend who has just sat down. I always admire the theoretical views which he addresses to the House on economy in military matters. He always begins and ends his speech with these professions, but in the middle of his speech he forgets himself and becomes practical, and all these professions go to the winds. He urged upon the Committee some things which are all on the right lines; but, when he suggested at this moment, when we have 200,000 men in South Africa, that next year we should largely reduce the personnel of the Army, I hope the Committee, like myself, took it for what it was worth.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
said he excluded any question of war needs, which had always been recognised as being outside the general wants of the Army.
§ MR. BRODRICK
I think when my hon. friend was serving in a cavalry regiment at Aldershot, he would not have thanked the Secretary for War for reducing the personnel of that regiment to 300 men, mostly recruits. But my hon. friend spoke, on what I thought very practical lines, on the economy which might be practised in regard to officers in cavalry regiments; and I do think that in that respect he, like many hon. Members who preceded him, touched upon a very important point. If the expense of some regiments, and especially cavalry regiments, continues as high in the future as it has been in the past, it would not be a question of whether the Secretary of State has a preference for rich men over poor men—the difficulty will be that you will not be able to get the best men to go into 796 your cavalry regiments if you limit yourself to a particular class of individual, I quite recognise the object in view, and though you cannot put sumptuary laws into operation, there are certain points upon which the War Office can assist that object. I entirely agree with my hon. friend on this point, for I think it is the business of colonels to put down these magnificent uniforms. I speak with more strength upon this point because I have had brought to my notice one or two instances in new Yeomanry regiments of extravagance in uniforms, including khaki uniform, a dress for camp, another for mess, and another for appearance before the King. To ask any man who may be able to give three or four years to a regiment to provide for sixteen days service in the year—he may be a very excellent officer—four suits of clothing of a highly ornamental character is a preposterous demand. I do not know what may be done by the exercise of tactful authority, but whatever can be done will be done by the Commander-in-Chief to prevent the expenditure being prohibitory to men who otherwise would be excellent officers. Whatever powers of persuasion can be used will be brought to bear, and the Committee can depend upon it that what my hon. friend called the collective expenditure of those regiments will be kept well within the means of those men who are good riders but who cannot afford to spend much money. I hope that the researches which my noble friend the Financial Secretary to the War Office is making into this subject will enable us to draw up some practical scheme to deal with this question.
Leaving the question of expensive uniforms, I will touch on one or two points brought forward by the hon. Member for the Ilkeston Division in reference to the health of the Army in South Africa. He spoke very seriously on the subject, and was quite justified in doing so. He said there had been terrible wastage from enteric fever; but I think he laboured unduly under the belief that this enteric fever might, as it could be here, have been checked in South Africa by proper regulations and scientific appliances. But the difficulty in regard to any particular battalion of soldiers is to enforce regulations. You may be able 797 to enforce these laws in a civil community, but it is impossible to do so completely with an Army distributed over so large an area as South Africa. Soldiers, tired and thirsty, will drink water when they come across it. Hungry and thirsty, a column arrives, and while food is being prepared, the men are away to the river and drinking although it is prohibited. The thing was done, and in the circumstances, with columns moving about from place to place continually, the best precautions are upset. Although there were more complaints earlier in the campaign, to a very large extent that state of things has now been remedied. At the same time, I fully appreciate the force of the hon. Member's speech, and I can assure him our best efforts and attention will be given to the subject.
I must deal with the many questions raised in the course of this evening's debate in a somewhat perfunctory manner, for they are very numerous. May I say a few words on what has been said with regard to the Militia? My hon. and gallant friend near me, who has been in the Militia, made an appeal on behalf of that force, which I know is of very great importance. He specially called attention to the musketry. Of course, everybody realises that musketry, both for the Army and the Militia, will be a much more important element of training in the future than it has been in the past; but the state of things in the past has been due a great deal to the insufficiency of the permanent staff, and what we have done by increase of pay will, I hope, assist the force in getting a more efficient permanent staff. I hope and believe that the training which is to cost us a great deal and has made it all the more necessary that we should add to the Army Reserve, will, on the one hand, secure for the Militia that their own men should not be taken away as a reserve for the Army, and, on the other hand, by gathering together a reserve of older men for the Militia will immensely strengthen, in a most important degree, the force to which we owe so much for service in the past year.
§ MR. BRODRICK
I quite understand that part of my hon. and gallant friend's observations. We are obliged to 798 consider economy to some extent, and as the permanent staff of a regiment must be kept for the whole year, of course that involves a very heavy charge. However, we will consider that matter. Let me say something with regard to woat fell from the hon. Member for the Leek Division of Staffordshire. He asked us to arrange for the return of as many Militia regiments as possible from South Africa after they had been out for two years. We owe, the whole country owes, a deep debt of gratitude to the Militia regiments, upon whom we have no call to insist upon their service outside the United Kingdom, that they should have placed themselves at the disposal of the country for this long period for service in South Africa. They have gained in several actions very considerable en-coniums from the General Officer Commanding. We realise that we ought to endeavour to meet the difficulty and not make the call too heavy on those who have already accepted service. I believe that in the first few days of next month the last regiments will leave England for South Africa to relieve the last regiments which went out two years ago. Therefore I think I am correct when I say that we shall have by the end of April no regiments of Militia in South Africa who went there two years ago. We shall therefore relieve something like thirty regiments. In that respect I can tell the hon. Member for Birkenhead that we have made great efforts to relieve the Militia regiments, and also to relieve the Yeomanry and Volunteers. We have also made considerable efforts to relieve the Regulars by the exchange of drafts from India. But the demand made by my hon. friend that we should continually send fresh men to relieve the Army, and actually to transfer a portion of the Army at home to South Africa, is one to which I cannot give very much encouragement at present. As fresh men go out, and they are going every week, fresh blockhouses are being built. These must be occupied, and until Lord Kitchener's requirements become less we must set our teeth to the task and go through with it and ask our soldiers who have borne a heavy burden already to bear it a little longer.
The next point brought before me was the question of mounted troops, and I may 799 venture to congratulate my hon. friend the Member for the Wilton Division on his most successful maiden speech, to which the House listened with great attention. I think it is impossible until the war is over to say precisely what will be the future constitution of all the mounted troops. We have largely raised in recent years the establishment of the cavalry regiments. We have very greatly increased the mounted infantry and the training of mounted infantry in line battalions. Whether in the future the mounted infantry is to be attached to line battalions, or whether, as suggested tonight, battalions of mounted infantry should be formed, are questions which we must leave for settlement mainly in the future.
Then we had our old friend the linked battalions brought up in the course of the evening. I am glad to find that my right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean fully realises the great progress we have made in the direction of some of his views. We have not merely adopted the service which he so much desires, but we are offering an inducement for men to stay at the end of the three years. So far, although he may claim credit for the theory, I think we may claim credit for the practical application of it. The right hon. Gentleman asked as to the number of linked battalions. The question was to some extent answered during his speech. The number we have provided in the Estimates of this year will leave us seventy eight at home. India, as at present, takes fifty-two; we give twelve altogether to South Africa permanently, and four in Egypt; and in the other Colonies sufficient to make up twenty-six in all, which, with the fifty-two in India, makes up seventy-eight.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE
The right hon. Gentleman said fifteen battalions in South Africa the other day.
§ MR. BRODRICK
I said 15,000 men. We look to having a permanent garrison of 15,000 men in South Africa when all the requirements of the war have passed away altogether. That is the normal garrison. That would make seventy-eight battalions abroad besides the eight garrison battalions. I think 800 these garrison battalions have been treated by some hon. Members with scant courtesy and with scant appreciation. I believe nothing has been done in the last few years which, while at the same time utilising a military strength that would otherwise be entirely lost to the country, has produced such excellent regiments—regiments which are not only very fine on parade, but, we are told, are very useful for all purposes for which they are required, and which save us from the necessity of raising 8,000 additional recruits, and in that way afford us an immense relief. The right hon. Gentlemen complained that India has not been sufficiently consulted. I hope that in two or three years time we may be able to judge whether it would be right to keep soldiers nine or ten years in India; but I think, generally speaking, seeing what the life of the private soldier is, that six or seven years in a tropical climate is probably sufficient for most men.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE
Will the opinion of the Government of India be laid before the House of Commons?
§ Mr. BRODRICK
The Government of India? Well, Sir, I am afraid it would be of no use my asking the Government of India their opinion of the capacity of the private soldier to bear the strain of a tropical climate until we have statistics on the subject. Any Member of this House is as good a judge of statistics as the Government of India. At present we cannot give them because we have not the men there. In all these matters we have been necessarily somewhat drawn away by minor details from the great question which really dominates the whole of the discussion of the Estimates for the present year; that is the change made in the terms of service and of pay. I believe that change will be beneficial, and that it will have a very marked influence on the whole future of our recruiting and army system. I have been asked why the artillery and cavalry should share with the line. I will ask this question in return. Supposing the artillery and cavalry had not shared with the line in pay or terms of service, what would have been the protests poured out on me, on 801 their behalf, for putting them at such a disadvantage as regards pay? It is quite true, as the right hon Gentleman said, that the artillery and cavalry have had better recruiting than the infantry; but, on the other hand, I must say when the right hon. Gentleman says we do not want so large a reserve of artillery and cavalry, that the reserve for the artillery has never been sufficient up to the present day. At the beginning of the war we had not a sufficient reserve of artillery, and though we had a sufficient reserve of cavalry, it was not sufficient to make up what was required for the lines of communication in the other service. I fully agree that a very large number of artillery and cavalry will take on the eight years service, but, if a certain number do not, they will only by the length of their service in the reserve make up the amount of men we require in case of mobilization. I do hope that after the experience of the South African War we shall not want a Committee to tell us in regard to the usefulness to the artillery and cavalry of the reserve men. I have never heard from any authority, from any commanding officer, any complaints of the reservists who came out at the end of their time. At all events up to the present, so far as the War Office is concerned, we have no reason to believe, and I never did believe, looking at it as we should look at the other affairs of life, that a man who really has learnt his business for three years and has so become an efficient soldier will forget it again in four or five years.
Then, Sir, I have been asked to give an account of the decentralisation which is going on under the Army Corps system. I spoke at some length on this subject before, and I will not trouble the Committee with much about it this evening. We are at this moment, from the beginning of April, about to start a most important part of it in giving further financial powers to commanding officers. The hon. Member for South Molton asks why is all this organization set up before the troops come home. I think that question carries its own answer. If we are always to wait until something has happened before we provide the system and organisation to which the troops can 802 return, we shall be going on the good old War Office principle of putting off and putting off which has been so much condemned.
§ MR. BRODRICK
There are one or two Members in this House who say, "Wait till the war is over before you reform the Army." But for every one who says so, there are fifty who will say, "We gave the Government a mandate to reform the War Office, and we insist on seeing that what can be done shall be done." One of the most important items of the reform is to build up in the hands of the general officers, and to cause to permeate down to the lower ranks of officers, a sense of responsibility and individual initiative, and a power to carry out things without continual reference to higher authorities. That system we are setting up at the best time—the time when a great deal of administrative work is going on—but in such a way that it will prepare the organisation for these Army Corps when the troops are released from South Africa. In doing that I believe we shall be carrying out the wish of the House of Commons, and also rendering a service to the country.
§ MR. BRODRICK
The stoppages from the soldier's pay amount to about 2d. a day. The 2d. a day to be given to the soldier will entirely relieve him of all personal stoppages for which he is responsible. As regards the barracks damages, that question with others has been under the consideration of Lord Esher's Committee. We are anxious that fair wear and tear; should be chargeable, and I think the Committee may rest a ssured, although I cannot tell how the charges will be made in future, that the shilling which we promised to the soldier will, except in special cases, find its way into his pocket at the end of the week.
§ (11.25.) MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
said that 803 the permanent stoppages were some thing more than had been stated by the Secretary of State for War. They were nearer 2½d. than 2d., and besides those stoppages, there were other things for which the men had to pay, which came to a great deal more The rations were not sufficient, and the soldier had to provide himself with an extra breakfast or supper, and, therefore, a considerable part of the shilling would not find its way into the men's pockets at all. The right hon. Gentleman did not answer the question as to clothing, such as flannel shirts, socks, and underclothing.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
These details are out of order. We are now on the general subject of the Army and the War Office, and the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly right in not answering questions of detail.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER
said he understood that the Committee was discussing the increase of the Army and the comfort of recruits.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER
said he thought the comfort of recruits was part of the general scheme, but he would pass from that. There were two or three questions of general policy which he desired I to ask. The right hon. Gentleman had not answered the question with reference to the supply of horses. They were told repeatedly that Lord Kitchener had been supplied with all the horses; he had asked for, but that was a minimum demand. They were sending; out in a few days 6,000 Yeomanry without horses, and nothing had been said about the reserve of horses which Lord Kitchener ought to have. He believed that the want of horses had prolonged the war more than anything else. He did not complain in the least of minimising defeats when they occurred, but every defeat ought to be notified 804 at once, and he was afraid that in that respect the War Office had not been telling the country all it had a right to know. With reference to the question of cubicles, he hoped the War Office, would not go to the great expense of providing them, because much more important things were required. The food, the underclothing, and the general comfort of the recruit and the soldier were more important. As to the change of uniform it had been stated that no officer would be forced to change his uniform. Let the Committee imagine, at, for instance, the Coronation, a regiment with some of the officers dressed in the new uniform and some in the old. He would like to see the commanding officer's face when he looked at such a regiment. Of course, the change would practically have to be carried out by all the officers at the same time.
The hon. Member for Oldham began his speech with the statement that every hon. Member who had spoken in the debate had asked for an increase in some Department or another, and he was very strong in his condemnation of such extravagance. But, curiously enough, he himself was no exception to the rule, because he asked for a small increase, and did not point out a single place where economy could be effected. Moreover, he said that, in order that the Army should be efficient to strike abroad, it should be elastic so that it might be increased to any extent that might be required. If that were done, a great deal more money would be required than at present. One suggestion had been put forward over and over again, and that was that there were too many generals for the number of troops. When any change was made in Army organisation, the War Office rushed into more generals and more staffs. That was a policy which was detrimental to the Army in every way, and one of the greatest complaints of the new proposal was that it practically established a new set of staff officers, although they had only a phantom army to command. 805 We had a sufficient number of officers already, and yet the War Office rushed into the expense of £100,000 last year, and £40,000 during the present year to increase the staffs, although the Army had two or three times the proportion of staff officers of any army in the world. We would some day have to reduce the expenditure of the Army. The country would not stand the continuous increase, and when that day came, he was afraid, as in the past, that the efficient part of the Army would he taken away, and the expensive part left.
Another instance of the extravagance of the War Office was that they were spending an enormous sum of money in increasing the number of men. That was quite right; but why was the War Office at the same time decreasing the cheapest force in the country—the Militia? The War Office paid the Militia less than the Army, and used it in the roughest manner possible. Even the Secretary of State for War would admit that the Militia in South Africa had the worst time of it. In that respect the scheme increased the expensive part of the Army, and decreased the economical part. With reference to the Cavalry Reserve, the right hon. Gentleman stated that the Cavalry Reserve in South Africa had done very well, and he adduced from that, that the Cavalry Reserve would be very useful in future, but it would not be the same kind of reserve. The Reserve in South Africa consisted of men who had served seven years with the colours, and four or five years in the Reserve, and most of them were a short time away from the ranks. But the future Cavalry Reserve would consist of men who had only spent three years with the colours, and the remainder of their 806 twelve years service with the reserve. Many of them might be six, seven, or eight years without having been on a horse, and unless they were trained every year they would not be in the least like the present Cavalry Reserve. Every hon. Member who had spoken had appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to start some sort of permanent mounted infantry. It would not be possible to get a large force of mounted infantry together in time of war, unless a considerable number of men had been trained to ride in time of peace. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would reconsider his decision as to that.
§ MR. BRODRICK
There is one question which I forgot to answer. I am not going to follow the hon. Gentleman into the various matters he mentioned just now. He said, for instance, that we had taken £100,000 extra last year and £10,000 this year, whereas, as a matter of fact, we only took £60,000 altogether for the purpose he mentioned. The hon. Gentleman touches on a variety of subjects without, I think, sufficient information. He says we are doing all we can to reduce the number of the Militia. Last year I did more than any man has done to stop the practice of taking thousands of the best men of the Militia into the line. I only rise for the purpose of explaining one point to my hon. friend with reference to the good conduct pay. I think it would he best that hon. Members should wait and see the Army Order when it comes out. Roughly speaking, what we desire to do is this. We do not think it necessary, at the same time when we are allowing men sixpence a day extra on re-engaging, to give them a further sum for good 807 conduct pay. I do not think that it would be reasonable that we should after five years service they will have a further penny a day as good conduct pay, but perhaps hon. Gentlemen would not mind waiting until they see the Army Order.
§ *(11.45.) SIR JOHN COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)
said he wished to discharge a promise he had given to his right hon. and gallant friend the Member for North East Manchester, to press on the Secretary of State for War the necessity of allowing a soldier entering the Civil Service to count his military service towards a civil pension. He associated himself with that request, and hoped it would receive the attention of his right hon. friend.
§ MR. BRODRICK
I have no power to do that. My hon. and gallant friend had better address himself to those who have.
§ * SIR JOHN COLOMB
said that surely the Government had power. He wished to enter a very strong protest against the manner in which they were compelled to discuss the Army from a totally abstract point of view. He agreed with his hon. friend the Member for Stepney with regard to the necessity of having some sort of a general staff, but he entirely disagreed with him that there was any parallel between Germany and England. The duty of the general staff in Germany was to prepare for the defence of land territory; but the duty of the staff at the War Office was simply to perfect the military machinery. The Committee was discussing the Army without any reference whatever to the Navy. The procedure of the House was 808 to blame for that, and as long as the work to be done by the Army and the Navy was discussed in two separate Parlimentary compartments, so long would there be waste. There had been great criticism in connection with the remounts for the Army, but there had been no criticism of the Intelligence Department. What was the Intelligence Department for, if not to consider all the probabilities and possibilities of war, and know where to get what would be required immediately war broke out? He wished to know why the Intelligence Department had escaped criticism, and why the head of that Department was getting an increase of £600 a year. It was notorious that the Intelligence Department did not provide anything approaching decent maps of South Africa. They did not even inform the War Office that in a country with one or two single lines of railway, and enormous distances to be covered, the demand for horses would be enormous. He thought the Committee would admit that that was a question which demanded consideration. Again, when the remount officers were suddenly sent to the four corners of the world to buy horses they went without the information which ought to have been provided by the Intelligence Department. He was very much inclined to move a reduction of the Vote. Many distinguished officers who had been sent to purchase horses all over the world had been wrongfully placed under a cloud, because one or two men had gone wrong and some mistakes were made. Those officers manfully did their duty, and his right hon. friend had not quite judged their feelings, or he would have spoken more strongly in their defence, and been more condemnatory of the 809 reckless statements made against them. What was wanted for the Empire was a permanent council to settlet he principles of its defence, and give continuity to them. No policy of defence could be effective which was not partly naval and partly military. We had an instance of that in what happened at Wei-Hai-Wei. The War Office said that Wei-Hai-Wei was to be a naval base, and now the Navy said it was not. That would not have happened if they had a permanent council to lay down what should be done by the Admiralty and the War Office, and until we had such a council, with a responsible Minister in this House at its head, there would be waste and confusion, and the defence of the Empire would not be efficient.
§ (11.52.) COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)
said he had been struck by the fact that the Leader of the Opposition had been conspicuously absent during the debate, although he had specially asked for a day to discuss the Army proposals of the Government. They were rather apt in those debates, while finding as much fault as possible with the head of the War Office, to forget many things for which soldiers had to be thankful. He wondered whether sufficient credit had been given to the head of the War Office for all he had done. He should like to thank him personally for what he had done in the way of furnishing barrack rooms, and employing old soldiers in various Departments, but but he should like him to remember that all those points had been urged again and again by the military Members of the House. He, therefore, hoped that his right hon. friend would attach increased importance to the criticisms which old soldiers might make 810 from time to time. There was one point which he thought was very important as regarded the future, and that had reference to the various voluntary associations which had assisted the right hon. Gentleman and the War Office in looking after the wants of soldiers and their families. It was painful to everyone who, like himself, had taken a personal interest in those societies, to see that there was a great deal of overlaping. He thought it would be an excellent outcome of the experience of the last few years if we could manage to co-ordinate and concentrate the various societies, so that there should be one society, and only one, in each county, under the management of the lord lieutenant, and having associated with him the same ladies and gentlemen as at present, who could deal with all questions concerning soldiers and their families, secure employment for men who had left the ranks, and also, to a certain extent, care for veterans who were past work. He could assure his right hon. friend that very valuable work could be done in that direction. He also believed it would assist recruiting enormously. Subscriptions were freely given to those societies by the poor as well as by the rich, and that was evidence of the intense interest with which the country looked after a soldier's family when he was away and helped himself when he returned. That work could, however, be accomplished more effectively and economically if the machinery were concentrated, and he trusted that some scheme of county organisation would be devised.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid.)
said he thought it was invidious on the part of the hon. Member who had just 811 spoken to refer to the absence of the Leader of the Opposition. The hon. Member's remarks were utterly uncalled for, and in his opinion did not add to the dignity of the House. His right hon. friend had said all he had to say on the question of the Army, and, as many hon. Members were anxious to speak, especially from the opposite Benches his right hon. friend, in their interest, asked for another day to discuss the Army, and Supply was granted, after a very limited discussion, on the understanding that another day would be given. The hon. Gentleman had attacked his right hon. friend on a previous occasion also—
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
The right hon. Member will not be in order in pursuing that point. We are discussing the War Office Vote.
§ MR. CALDWELL
asked, on a point of order, whether an attack having been made on the Leader of the Opposition, one of the right hon. Gentleman's hon. friends was not entitled to explain his absence.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
I did give the hon. Gentleman a few minutes, and then thought it my duty to point out to him that we were discussing the War Office Vote.
§ (12.0.) Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.