§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £331,500, 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, 1904."
§ *MR. PIRIE (Aberdeen, N.)
moved to reduce the Vote by £100, his object being to call attention to the failure to carry out proposed schemes of reform in the Army. He regretted that under the political circumstances of the hour Army matters were receiving but secondary consideration, with the result that the Minister for War had been enabled to carry on his supposed reforms free from that criticism which should have been bestowed upon them. He had always felt that those schemes were not adapted for the country—were not wanted; and that the right hon. Gentleman had placed before the country an unworkable and extravagant scheme. The condition of the War Office at the present moment constituted a great national danger. It was a matter of regret and surprise to him not to see the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol in his place that night. They could not forget the unprecedented attacks which the right hon. Gentleman, as an ex-Cabinet Minister, last winter made with regard to the administration of the War Office, as did also the late Minister of Agriculture. It was then said that what was wanted was a drastic reform of the War Office, and the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that "this would never be obtained until they removed all those outside influences which now interfered with the management of the Army and with the selection for appointments and promotions—interference which would not be tolerated in any well organised Department of the Civil Service"; whilst the 874 language of the late Mr. Hanbury was even stronger and more direct. When such charges were made he held very strongly that the confidence of the public in the Army must be sadly impaired and what was even a greater, if not the greatest, asset any Army could possess, the confidence of the Army officers themselves in an impartial system of justice must also be very much at stake. These charges of undue favouritism, remained practically unanswered to this day. The only reply he had heard put forward by the Secretary of State for War, was that officers were "the architects of their own careers," while Lord Roberts had merely recommended the Sandhurst cadets not to believe all "the nonsense they read in the newspapers." That surely was not very respectful language for the Commander-in-Chief to use towards the utterances of an ex-Cabinet Minister and of the late Minister of Agriculture, both of whom must have been behind the scenes and must have spoken with full knowledge and a sense of their responsibility, and in his opinion the neglect to meet such a charge was discreditable in the highest degree, both to the Secretary of State and Commander in-Chief.
Now, in the remarks he had to make he wished to say, as he had said before, that he made no attack on any individual officer, but only on those responsible for administration, viz., the Secretary of State and Commander-in-Chief. He intended to ask questions about certain appointments that had been made, in the hope of getting some explanation from those who were responsible for the appointments and promotion of officers. For instance, he wished to know whether there were not men in the Army more qualified by experience, service, and attainments, than General Sir Ian Hamilton to hold the important post of Quartermaster General. He maintained that the advancement in the career of this officer had been due to personal service to the Commander-in-Chief. For the ten years ending 1882 he was a regimental subaltern, and since then he had seen no regimental service. He was A.D.C. to Lord Roberts from 1882–1890, who then appointed him to the post of Inspector-General of Musketry in India, a post which he held until 1893. He confessed that in view of the training and of the post of A.D.C. held by that 875 officer, giving him no practical touch with men or regimental training, that was a most inexplicable appointment, seeing that there must have been hundreds of officers in India who had had regimental experience as commanding officers, and he would like to know whether that appointment was not opposed at home by the then Commander-in-Chief for some time before it was confirmed. His subsequent service was as Military Secretary and Deputy Quartermaster General, both posts at Head Quarters, Simla. There was one point also as to this officer's later service in South Africa which required explaining. In the Official Army List he is shown as commanding the Mounted Infantry Division, South Africa, April 1900 to May 1901, but this officer came home with Lord Roberts in November, 1900. Such a manner of establishing a "record" was most reprehensible, and if sanctioned by regulations, the sooner these were changed the better. He practically only commanded the Mounted Infantry Division for a few months, although given the rank of Lieutenant-General over the heads of a number of senior officers on the spot, being finally promoted to that rank over the heads of sixty or seventy major-generals. The question was whether such a career was the best to fit an officer for the onerous and responsible position he now held.
He would pass on, more for comparison than criticism, to the case of General Sir William Nicholson, a distinguished officer with valuable Indian experience, who on appointment as Director-General of Military Intelligence, had been promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general, although he had when a colonel been promoted by Lord Roberts in 1899 out of his turn to supernumerary major-general. His predecessor, Sir John Ardagh, an officer of world-wide experience, who was retired for age, had been denied that rank of lieutenant-general after five years tenure of that position. General Nicholson was six years junior to General Ardagh in the service, and it was a grave blot on any system that it should allow the country to be deprived of the valuable services of Sir John Ardagh at the present juncture. His services might have been utilised by 876 the Imperial Committee of Defence, but instead of that he was sent to South Africa as a member of the Commission to inquire into the working of Courts-martial. The action of the War Office in this case contrasted very strongly with that of the Colonial Office in the case of Sir Robert Herbert, the late Permanent Under-Secretary. Surely the War Office need not have thus dispensed with Sir John Ardagh's services at the very moment the Intelligence and Mobilisation Department were supposed to be receiving special attention. The phrase of "sending Hercules to the Himalayas" was truly applicable to more recent army appointments than the one of Lord Kitchener, to whom primarily it had reference; in any case the system must be wrong that retired a valuable officer for not attaining, on relinquishing an office, the rank that was specially bestowed on his successor on appointment to the same office. He quite admitted that selection was a necessity and had many good points, but it must be strictly safeguarded. He was prepared to allow a great deal of discretion to the Commander-in-Chief, but many cases at present were inexplicable and irritating to the whole body of the. Army. It was an extraordinary thing how every one of the Commander-in-Chief's A.D.C.'s were selected for good appointments. Sir-George Pretyman, who had been unemployed for five years, and whose claims for employment must have come before and been rejected by the Selection Board for all that period, was appointed in 1899 by the present Commander-in-Chief, when he was on the point of retirement, commandant to Lord Roberts at headquarters, a post often held by captains or majors, and although he had never practically commanded in the field except a minor post on lines of communication, he had now been selected for a first-class district in India. Was that selection made by the Selection Board?
Another case which required some explanation was that of General Sir C. Tucker. This general was appointed to the command of a division in South Africa in 1899 with the temporary rank of lieutenant-general. 877 He was an officer who had served all over the globe. In December, 1900, he attained sixty-two years of age, and in the ordinary course would have retired; but he was retained, presumably, and rightly in his opinion because he was a most efficient officer. That winter Sir T. Kelly - Kenny, Sir A. Hunter, and Sir N. Lyttelton all went home, and later so did General Bindon Blood, this latter after serving barely six months in South Africa, yet in the Honours Gazette all were promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general over the head of General Tucker whilst that officer was actually in the field holding a lieutenant-general's command. He considered that the promotion of these officers may have been right and proper, but it was difficult to understand on what principle General Tucker should have been superseded at the time they were promoted, as General Tucker was actually at the time in the field performing the duties of lieutenant-general in South Africa. In 1902 General Tucker was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general, but he had lost two-and-a-half years of seniority by his supersession, or about fifteen steps. Then there was the case of Major Mackenzie, of the Seaforth Highlanders, another A.D.G. of Lord Roberts, who was appointed Governor of Johannesburg, being given local rank of colonel. At that time there were in Johannesburg, one lieutenant-general and four major-generals who by the appointment were placed under him; and one of these, Lieutenant-General Sir Herbert Chermside, was a man admirably adapted by experience in many countries to be the governor of a cosmopolitan polyglot town like Johannesburg. Lord Settrington was another A.D.C. as to whose advancement he would like to have a little information. Lord Settrington went out to South Africa as a Militia officer and A.D.C. to Lord Roberts, and no doubt rendered good service. He was afterwards posted, however, to the newly raised Irish Guards as second lieutenant, and rose to be captain in six months. It was very hard to find justification for such tremendous progress. Nay, more, it was impossible; every subaltern, not only in the Guards but in the British Army, was wronged by such an incident, and the formation of a new regiment should have been taken advantage of to 878 promote deserving officers. He was standing up for the unknown "Smith" in the Army, who had been sadly neglected of late years. He might give many more cases, but he hoped he would have some answer to the cases he had spoken of.
The distribution of rewards and honours caused intense heart-burning in the men whose whole career depended upon their advancement in the service. He strongly objected to the distinction of "qualified for employment on the stall" being distributed in an arbitrary and erroneous way, as a reward, and being given for anything else than certain specified duties in the field. Such distinctions cast a baneful influence over the Army right down to all the ranks. A great deal of this was due to the want of practical, proper, and efficient working of the machinery by which the Army was organised. The War Office was choked with arrears of work which blocked its effective action. New methods had been started with new men, but there was no head control; decentralisation was not secured, and he did not believe that there was one of the six much vaunted Army Corps which could go on active service without breaking up other units. To show that decentralisation was not secured, in spite of all they had heard, he might point out that even in a small matter such as an application to travel for a few days abroad by an officer from, say, Shorn-cliffe or Chichester, the application would be sent first to the officer commanding at Shorncliffe, from Shorncliffe to Dover, then to the officer commanding the Army Corps at Salisbury Plain, and from there to the War Office, and it would come back by the same circuitous route, entailing a great waste of time. With the pros sure of work at the War Office it was impossible that the War. Office could rise to the necessity of meeting the case of modern improvements in the Army, such as the much-needed creation of a special N.C.O. training school. The result of this maladministration was also seen in the lamentable (there was no other word for it) succession of incidents which have been occupying public attention for the last year; incidents which were calculated to bring the Army into discredit in the eyes of not only the people of this country, but of the world; incidents such as the delay in the payment of the Yeomanry, the delay in the issue of medals, in the scandals connected with the Yeomanry remount 879 operations in Hungary, in the failure in the case of Major Studdert in Ireland, and in the disgraceful attempt to make General Truman a scape-goat, and force him to resign, when the blame for the loss of horse life in South Africa was on the Chief of Staff in South Africa and on the Yeomanry Committee, the failure and delay also to remodel the army veterinary department, which was even now 20 per cent. short of its establishment, required condemnation. These matters were due to the indecision and the contradictory action of the War Office, and to this same contradictory action and want of administrative power he directly attributed the Buller, Colville, and Kinloch cases.
He would only touch for a moment on the Cape "ragging" case, which had done me re to discredit the Army in South Africa than anything else. He had always advocated the necessity of Courts-martial in individual cases, and if they had had Courts-martial carried on under a proper system during the last ten years such an incident as the Cape "ragging" case could not have occurred. Punishments have been decreasing, rewards increasing, with the result from this dangerous principle that discipline has been deteriorating, not improving. The War Office had been guilty of incessant changes; but changes in organisation did not necessarily carry with them an increase of efficiency. It had forfeited the sympathy of the Militia and had turned Volunteers into active enemies. It had also allowed to be carried out under the present regime objectless and expensive changes in uniform under the guise of economy. He felt some explanation was required on the recommendation of the Committee on Officers' Expenses that they should allow cavalry subalterns to consume more liquor at moss than infantry subalterns. He mentioned the case of the contaminated blankets, and the destruction of the condemned rations at Pretoria. Perhaps it was only right that he should read a letter which he had received from South Africa upon this matter, dated Pretoria, 18th June.To-day's cablegrams bring in Mr. Brodrick's reply to certain Questions asked by you in the House of Commons on June 17th regarding the destruction of rations at Pretoria 880 in April last. I entirely agree with the position you have taken up in this connection. Such a wanton and scandalous destruction of good and sound rations, to the value of about £100,000, was sad to see, and should be the subject of most rigid inquiry. Your contention that good meat properly preserved in tins, never deteriorates is substantially correct. Only in cases where boxes containing rations have been roughly used, the tins becoming punctured, have I ever found them unfit for issue. This does not apply to the rations destroyed in Pretoria, the major portion of which was in excellent condition, and at least 75 per cent. bearing stamped impression on tins 2.5.02, and therefore could have only been in South Africa a very few months. Mr. Brodrick's reply to you that the contractors are not to blame is as generons as his statement that therations were kept longer than intended. I may mention that I was in charge of a section of wagons engaged in carting the same to the site, a few miles from Pretoria, where they were destroyed; and altogether there were engaged in the transit of these rations an average of about ninety wagons daily, covering a period of from three to four weeks. I personally superintended the loading and off-loading of the wagons under my charge, and am therefore in a position to speak as to the true facts of the case, and I have no hesitation in saying that it would have been a most difficult task to have discovered 2½ per cent. unfit for human food. I may further mention that the drivers and leaders of our transport conveying these rations, and numbering about 200 natives, lived almost exclusively on the rations in question, and certainly consumed not less than from 1,200 to 1,500 tins with no ill effects. After the destruction was completed, or supposed to have been, hundreds of rations were removed by hungry natives living in that vicinity. The modus operandi in inspecting and condemning these rations, as told to me by a gentleman who was an eve-witness, can only he regarded as farcical. The information herein conveyed can be borne out by several persons now residing in Pretoria.This latter was on a par with other exposures of War Office system, or rather want of it, but the country had lost £80,000 over the transaction. In any case the War Office could not escape blame.
He had just one word to say as to the present system of recruiting. A great deal had been heard of late about good recruits, and he had always been convinced that a proper system of promoting to a commission from the ranks would go far towards success in obtaining good recruits. He had found from a Return of commissions given to the ranks that in the ten years ending in 1896, the last year we had a Royal Commander-in-Chief, the percentage of commissions given to men from the ranks was 4.5, but in the last eight years, from 1896 to 1902, 881 that percentage had fallen to 2.6. If they wanted good recruits they should encourage the system of giving such commissions, and he advocated a 10 perentage as a fair one; but this fall in the number of such commissions under a Conservative Government showed what a hollow pretence real reform was likely to assume. He understood other Members were going to touch on the ludicrous exposure in this House of the Somaliland operations. The Secretary of State seemed alone blind to the comedy of his action, but it was a very serious matter to the country. There had been a grave loss of life, an expenditure of £500,000, and an annual expenditure going on at the rate of £50,000 a month. Owing to these lamentable facts coming before the pub-lie they were losing confidence in the administration of the Army—and, above all, in the Secretary of State for War. Economy and efficiency were considered incompatible, with the result that neither were obtained, and the War Office had come to regard the public purse as a milch cow that could not run dry. It was because he looked upon the whole situation as a very serious one that he now begged to move.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A (Salaries) be reduced by £100, in respect of the Salary of the Secretary of State for War."—(Mr. Pirie.)
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. BRODRICK,) Surrey, Guildford
said he did not rise for the purpose of following the hon. Member throughout the whole of the somewhat discursive oration he had made. He thought a speech which attempted in the course of half an hour to touch on almost every question of Army administration, including Somali land, appointments at the War Office, rations of the troops, decentralisation, and a number of other topics, could not be described otherwise than as giving a discursive view of what had taken place. He rose, before they went to more serious topics which might be introduced, to enter his protest against that part of the hon. Member's speech in which he made a formal indictment of the Commander-in-Chief and the appointments made by him to the War Office. He did not suppose that those observations would be taken in this House for more than they 882 were worth, which was the expression of opinion of an individual Member. But those observations went out to the country, they were reported in the Press, and if he were not at the earliest moment to make an emphatic protest and express his desire to controvert in every respect what had fallen from the hon. Member he should be wanting in the duty which he discharged to this House. To show, he would not say the prejudice in the sense that the hon. Member had deliberately abandoned a fair and impartial treatment of the matter, but to show the prejudiced aspect which the whole subject bore in the hon. Member's mind, he could not do better than to take two appointments, the only two on which he proposed to comment, in regard to which the hon. Member had attacked the position of the War Office—the appointment of two most distinguished officers, Sir Ian Hamilton and Sir William Nicholson. The hon. Member said that the record of Sir Ian Hamilton was one purely of personal interest to the Commander-in-Chief. That was not only not the truth but it was the absolute reverse of the truth. Sir Ian Hamilton undoubtedly served the Commander-in-Chief as military secretary in India. He was also selected by Sir George White, and asked to take the same post on his stall which he had held with Lord Roberts, and at the urgent request of the new Commander-in-Chief Sir Ian Hamilton did so. He himself happened to know, for he was then in India, that at the moment Sir Ian Hamilton urgently desired to return home. Sir Ian Hamilton was appointed, not by Lord Roberts but by Sir George White, to the position of Inspector-General of Musketry in India, and the qualities which he showed in that capacity were so exceptional for the position that he was appointed, not by Lord Roberts, nor by Sir George White, but by Lord Wolseley, to the chief post at the School of Musketry at Hythe. From that post he was selected, not by Lord Roberts but by Lord Wolseley and Sir Redvers Huller, who at that moment, he thought, had not gone out himself, to proceed to Natal and to form part of the Natal field force. In that capacity he commanded a brigade at Ladysmith, and he consequently commanded a division during the campaign in South Africa. He returned with Lord Roberts, and as between the date of his return and the 883 absolute date of the abandonment of his command he, like other officers, was allowed two months leave. He then became military secretary to Lord Roberts; and he was, with the universal assent of the whole country—there was never an appointment which gave greater satisfaction—sent as Chief of the Staff to Lord Kitchener, and practically he exercised the control of Chief of the Staff for eight months over an Army of a quarter of a million of men. On coming back he was employed at the War Office in the post which was previously held by Lord Wolseley, Sir Redvers Buller, and Sir Evelyn Wood; and he could only say that that was a good omen for Sir Ian Hamilton's future advancement, as it was an indication of services which were exceptional, even in a campaign in which many exceptional services were rendered. He must say that to represent the appointment of an officer of that distinction in the field, whose qualities had been proved and acknowledged by all those who served with him in South Africa, as a personal selection for personal services to the Commander-in-Chief was an unworthy representation to proceed from a Member of this House.
With regard to Sir William Nicholson, he could only say this—it was not necessary for him to speak his abilities in this House, they were known to all Members who had to do with India long before they were known to those who served in the War Office, who were not in immediate contact with him. Sir William Nicholson was a member of the Defence Committee, and as a member of that Committee he had been brought in contact with leading Cabinet Ministers and with the leading members of the sister service. He undertook to say that there was not a man sitting on that Committee who would not say that it was impossible to deal with Sir William Nicholson without feeling that he was a man of the very first ability, knowledge, and application. The hon. Member had instituted a comparison, which he thought was wholly undesirable, between Sir William Nicholson and Sir John Ardagh, who had done excellent service in the capacity and in respect of the subjects with which he was charged. They all knew that the post of Director-General of Mobilisation and of Military Intelligence 884 had been immensely developed, his responsibility had been greatly enlarged; and he was glad to say that by a recent decision of the Treasury, on their application, his staff had been greatly enlarged. When that change was made, and these fresh responsibilities were placed upon Sir William Nicholson, he was given a seat on the War Office Council, and, like every other officer holding that position, he was given the rank and pay of lieutenant-general. The denial of that rank to Sir John Ardagh was not due to any disregard for his qualifications. It was given to Sir William Nicholson because the post he held was a much more important one. The hon. Member had represented that General Tucker had been in some respects a victim of some want of regard on the part of the Commander-in-Chief.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said it was impossible to undertake, when an officer was selected for promotion for his services in the field, that he should not go over the heads of other officers, of General Tucker, as it happened, was made knight commander of the Bath in the Gazette in which two other officers were made lieutenant-generals, and he was subsequently made lieutenant-general for his services in the campaign. He was quite certain that General Tucker would be the last man to say or to suggest that his treatment had been otherwise than handsome. He would leave these subjects, and only on this ground—they had given a pledge to the House two years ago that all appointments of officers should be made with a view to their command in the field, and, as far as he knew, that pledge had been kept in every single particular. He was prepared to vindicate every appointment that came under his own personal control in the sense of putting the seal on what had been brought before him by the military authorities. He could assure the Committee that these imputations of favouritism, not one of which had ever been made good in or out of the House, gave the utmost pain, not merely to the Commander-in-Chief, 885 but to the officers associated with him, and to the officers unnamed on whose behalf they were professed to be made. He had never heard of, and he did not believe there was, in the Army any feeling but one of confidence that every endeavour was made to take the best men. Of course, after a campaign there must be disappointments: but all he could say was that officers who had been preferred after this campaign had not belonged to one school rather than another. They had been selected indiscriminately from among men who had the best Indian reputations, the best Egyptian reputations, and the best peace reputations in Great Britain. He hoped that these efforts to disparage the judgment, and, more than the judgment, the integrity, of a great soldier like the Commander-in Chief would not be repeated.
§ MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE (Bristol, E.)
said that the right hon. Gentlemen had had brought to his notice the feeling of indignation which was often caused by the selection of officers for promotion. He did not agree with his hon. friend in introducing particular names to the Committee; but it was unquestionable that a great many of the appointments made by Lord Roberts in connection with the war had caused the greatest offence to, and deepened the ill-feeling of, many deserving officers in the British Army. He deprecated the introduction of names in the strongest possible manner; but he would say that Lord Roberts' appointments had not always been free from the suspicion of favouritism.
Passing from that point, he thought the Committee were entitled to a pronouncement as to the policy of the Government with regard to the permanent garrison in South Africa. The proposal, first made in The Times, was that one Army Corps should be permanently stationed in South Africa, and called part of the home garrison. Three points were urged in favour of that policy. The first was the strategic mobility to be gained thereby; the second emanated from the Colonial Office, and suggested that the "three-year-old" soldiers should be invited to settle in South Africa as colonists; while the third, which probably 886 came from some ardent supporter of War Office reform, urged that South Africa was a better training ground than Great Britain could possibly be. Upon the last point contradictory statements had been made from the Treasury Bench, for while in April, 1902, the Secretary of State for War declared that no men were sent out not properly trained, in March of this year the Financial Secretary to the War Office stated that South Africa was considered a very suitable training ground for the young soldier. The War Office might have changed their policy, but those statements were clearly incompatible. He believed that for the purposes of mounted infantry and cavalry drill, South Africa was an admirable training ground, because of the distances and areas it afforded, but with regard to artillery the advantage was not so certain, and he seriously doubted its desirability as a training ground for the infantry The large area necessary for mounted forces was not required for infantry, and the character of the ground in South Africa was so unlike the enclosed regions of this country that the officer entrusted with the duty of training the men would be set a task entirely different from that involved in manœuvring in an enclosed country. That difference was recognised by the writer of the series of articles in The Times. It was untrue to say that infantry could not be trained in England just as well as anywhere else. He did not know whether the Financial Secretary had read the interesting critique in The Times of this morning on the manœuvre at Aldershot. He took it that the writer of the critique was the gentleman who animadverted upon the individual composition of the brigades which took part in the recent Aldershot review. The writer pointed out that over a considerable open space of ground a division was manœuvred in accordance with the most recent developments of military drill, in the style and upon the theory adopted with such conspicuous success in the German manœuvres four years ago. If it was possible so to manœuvre infantry that they were concealed from the observation of the defending force, the manœuvring of the soldier depended not so much upon the ground which he occupied as upon the intelligence of the 887 officer who directed the operations. If the quality of the directing officer was improved there would be obtained on the part of the private soldier a skill not hitherto secured in this country. The Times critic also noticed that the noncommissioned officers and men showed an intelligent interest in the maps of the surrounding country which had been provided for them. If that were so, the Army had made a substantial advance in the right direction. Another consideration in connection with the permanent garrison in South Africa was that the cost of the soldier in that country was so much greater than in England that it would materially increase the expenditure on the Army. A man in South Africa cost £25 more than in England. It appeared, therefore, that the proposal would afford no advantage from the strategic point of view, greatly increase the cost of the troops, and, without providing colonists for South Africa, cause considerable difficulty in the provision and maintenance of the reserve. When the proposal was made to send certain reservists to Canada, it was thought by the War Office that we should have a claim on their services in time of war, but the Canadian Government entirely repudiated that view. The same thing would probably happen in South Africa. Thus there were several serious arguments which could be advanced against the proposed retention of an Army Corps in South Africa as a part of the home garrison.
Another matter upon which he desired information was the future policy in Somaliland. According to the Secretary of State, seventeen officers and 340 men had been killed, the Vote for the campaign was practically exhausted, and further supplies would have to be asked for. What was the quality of the troops that had been engaged? In reply to a Question, the right hon. Gentleman had stated that no native levies would be employed in the field, and yet in every action natives had been given the most prominent share of the fighting. According to the correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, these men had not completed even a native recruit's musketry course, and a great part of the losses sustained by Colonel Plunkett's column was doubtless due to the fact that the native levies 888 could not aim straight. Moreover, since that reply, fresh levies of these men had been made. He wished to know something about the troops to be employed in subsequent operations. The whole of the operations in Somaliland had so far been directed, to driving our enemy out of another country into British territory. When this expedition began its operations the Mullah was outside British territory, but he had since entrenched himself in British lines,, and his presence there was viewed with great anxiety by the inhabitants. "Was the War Office going to establish a permanent force in this territory or were they going to have these expeditions every year? They had appointed a competent officer to take command, and they had been told that an advance was shortly to begin. If the result of that advance was to be that the enemy was to be entrenched more strongly in our territory than before the advance, then he hoped some other means would be adopted of driving the Mullah out of our territory, and of securing protection for the tribes to whom they had promised adequate protection. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give some reply to the question raised with regard to this South African garrison, and also with regard to this expedition which had proved so costly and had upset all the optimistic statements made by the right hon. Gentleman at the commencement of this session.
§ *MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL (Oldham)
said he thought the Committee would be disposed to agree with the right hon. Gentleman in deprecating the introduction of personal matters which figured so very largely in the speech of the hon. Gentleman who opened the discussion this afternoon. The hon. Member occupied some time in discussing patronage in the Army and Navy. In this country they had committed themselves to the policy of selection, and he thought on the whole it was agreed that that was the only method by which they could arrive at the one most important thing, namely, getting the right man in the right place in the hour of need. Just as it was useless to interfere in matters of selection when there were no grounds for believing that there had been an actual corruption at work, so in regard 889 to the question of the administration of discipline it was not wise to interfere without there were definite grounds to show that the forms of law and justice had not been accurately followed. In so far as criticisms had been made upon matters like the Colonel Kinloch case, he wished to point out that they had not been directed at the legitimate exercise of the discretion of the Commander-in-Chief but only at what was conidered to be a departure from the recognised form of law and justice and an illegitimate exercise of that discretion. The most extraordinary thing in the speech of the hon. Member opposite was the example he took to illustrate the evils of selection. He should not have thought, on the face of it, that there were two officers in the British Army whose appointments had given more universal satisfaction than the appointments of General Ian Hamilton and Sir William Nicholson. He apprehended that it was the general opinion of those born in the service that there were few men more fitted to deal with the great matters of policy and administration, transcending and extending beyond the ordinary limitations of strictly professional training, or more fitted to rank as military statesmen, who could take part in the Councils of National Defence. He rose chiefly for the purpose of expressing the hope that they should not consume this day in discussing these comparatively small personal matters. He hoped they would not spend a long time in discussing the procedure at a Court-martial of which they had heard a good deal. There were an immense number of important matters which a great many hon. friends of his were very anxious to have information about. Some of those questions had been touched upon by the hon. Member who spoke last, and he appealed to the Secretary of State for War to give them as much information as he could as early as possible in the debate, because he thought that would curtail the discussion and make it more fruitful, and prevent them from straying on wrong lines. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to tell them something as to what he intended to do in regard to the troops in South Africa. Did he intend to keep the present garrison permanently there, and what would be 890 the increased cost of that alteration in the distribution of their military forces in South Africa? He should also like to know a little more about the popularity of the service in South Africa as compared with the popularity of the service in other parts of the British Empire. If South Africa was going to be a permanent station for such a large force they could not go on keeping the troops under canvas or under rudimentary temporary shelter. Of course that would react upon the question of cost. Besides that, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to tell them something in regard to the progress made with recruiting. He was rather inclined to think that some of the figures the Secretary of State for War had given had hardly tended to reassure the House that the right hon. Gentleman's anticipations at the beginning of the session had been borne out by events. They wished to know how the recruiting had been affected by the new conditions as to character and standard which had been introduced, and they also wanted to know the number of re-engagements or proportion made under the new system of pay.
§ *MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
said if there were no statistics available of course they could not have them.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said the recruits who were taken for three years under the new system began to engage in April last year, and until April next year they had no opportunity of knowing that they would re-engage for another period.
§ *MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
said he thought that was a very favourite date. He understood from that answer that there would be no difficulty in obtaining the information he had asked for. Then there was the question of the artillery guns. That was a matter which had attracted great interest both inside and outside the House. It was an extraordinary thing that, although they had only a small Army, it was not well-armed, and 891 although it was such an expensive Army, it was practically without quick-firing guns.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
asked if they would be in order in calling attention to the answers given by the Secretary of State for War to Questions put to him upon this subject.
I cannot keep in my mind all the Answers given on the Questions put, and I cannot quite see in what shape the right hon. Gentleman proposes to raise the question. I am perfectly clear, however, that no discussion in regard to the supply of these guns can be permitted on this Vote.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
submitted that the hon. Member for Oldham had not entered upon any technical discussion with regard to the need of guns, but had only referred to the refusal of the Government in regard to those guns.
§ MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE
pointed out that there was part of this Vote devoted to the pay of the Inspector-General of Artillery, and surely it would be in order on that particular item to discuss the question of guns.
The question of guns must be raised on the Vote for guns. Vote 9 is for guns, and that obviously is the place where everybody will expect the discussion to come.
§ *MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
said he should be the last person to attempt to draw the discussion out of the channel in which it should properly flow, but if the right hon. Gentleman could give them any information he would relieve the very considerable apprehension which existed in the minds of many hon. Members in regard to this topic. It would also be very interesting if the Secretary of State for War could, 892 without entering into any details, let them know what he proposed to do with regard to the Intelligence De partment. If those matters had not the same relative importance as they had at the beginning of the session, it was because they had been overshadowed by the introduction of other graver subjects, and expelled by the forebodings of change which pervaded the political arena. The matters he had mentioned vitally affected not only the efficiency of the Army but the safety of the country, and he was sure his hon. friend would endeavour to do his best, and give them as much information as he possibly could.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
said the hon. Member for Oldham had put some most necessary questions, to which it was essential that they should have answers in the course of this debate. Many hon. Members would be disposed to agree with him in regretting that his hon. friend who opened this debate should have taken as his example the appointment with regard to musketry instruction of Sir Ian Hamilton, whose interest in the subject was beyond dispute, in fact he was a man who had throughout his career given more time and thought to that problem than any other man in Europe.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
said that if his hon. and gallant friend had attacked the political speeches of Sir Ian Hamilton he might have had something to say for himself, but if his attack was on his appointment to his present post that was a mistake, if he would allow him to say so. With regard to Sir William Nicholson there was one fact which was I not mentioned by the Secretary of State, and which was material to his present appointment, and that was that he held the same position in India. He was secretary of the Mobilisation Commission in India, and anyone who knew the work done there would know that Sir William Nicholson had transcendent qualifications for the post he now occupied. He was glad that the hon. Member had moved a reduction of the salary of the Secretary of State, and he should support him if 893 he went to a division. His hon. friend the Member for Oldham had asked a number of questions in regard to recruiting, and he had raised in brief form reminiscences of those interesting discussions which they had earlier in the present year. The hon. Member had truly said that events had occurred which had distracted the immediate attention of the country from Army questions. If there was anyone pleased at the raising of financial issues it was the Secretary of State for War, for the Colonial Secretary was a lightning conductor for the right hon. Gentleman. It was probable, therefore, that hon. Members who were now discussing Army questions would not receive the general support in the country which they might have expected had these other questions not been raised.
They wanted to put some definite questions to the right hon. Gentleman. They wanted to know both the condition of recruiting and also the bearing of the present position of recruiting upon the condition of his Army Corps as shown by the figures laid before the House a few months ago. He should not like to make himself responsible for the criticism on the recent Aldershot review, and on the field state of the troops which took part in the review. But he thought the Committee would expect to have from the Secretary of State some account of the reasons which led to certain battalions having to leave so large a proportion of their men off the field and outside the review. He should also like to ask the Secretary of State not only with regard to the number of recruits but also what were the medical reports as to the ability of the recruits to stand the strain of the work in the first few months—work which though hard was very light compared with that which recruits did in Germany and France—and under which a terrible proportion of the troops were breaking down, He should like the Secretary of State to tell the Committee something in regard to the problem presented with regard to the food of the men- His own belief was that the right hon. Gentleman would have to increase the quantity and quality of the food of the recruits, and that the principle which was laid down in regard to the food of recruits for the Navy—which was more considerable than the food of 894 the Army and which was for that reason less requisite in the case of the Navy—would have to be applied to the Army. It was this—The ration should be sufficient in itself to satisfy all reasonable requirements of the men and to maintain them in a fit state of health.They had not reached that point and he thought it had a greater bearing on the recruiting problem than the question of pay. The second question asked by the hon. Member for Oldham had reference to re-engagements. He wished to know whether it was possible to give the Committee any information on that point, it was not at the end of three but at the end of two years that the men had to make their choice, and he should have thought that the Inspector-General would have been able to tell the Secretary of State as to the reengagements. Moreover, there was a pretty large number of three-years' men before the new scheme was brought into force. He thought their experience of the present rate of re-enlistment of three-years' men would have an important hearing on the question of re engagements, in regard to which the hon. Member for Oldham had asked for information. He was glad to find a less determined tone on the part of the hon. Member for Oldham in favour of the Army Corps in South Africa than he had noticed in his suggestion some months ago.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
said the Committee had undoubtedly never been in possession of the facts which were really necessary to enable them to make up their minds on the questions which were put by his hon. friend the Member for Bristol as to cost, which had assumed such prominence in the remarks of the hon. Member for Oldham. He asked the Secretary of State whether they might consider that he had not changed his position. If no change was to be put forward before February or March next-year it was unnecessary to discuss the matter now, but if there was the slightest chance of the Army being organised on new lines the Committee ought to have it thrashed out, and they 895 ought to know the arguments for and against the scheme. As long as the Government needed 30,000 troops in South Africa and intended to reduce them to 15,000 that was no change. That was the intention expressed in the House last year, and again this year, but when the Government make up its mind that a single man was to be kept in South Africa beyond the necessities of South Africa that was a change. If there was a change it ought to be very fully explained to the House and debated by the House. He did not know whether this was a matter that had been settled, or whether it was the subject of inquiry by the Government. The Prime Minister, three months ago, undoubtedly led the House to believe that the matter was under inquiry by the Government, and he promised a statement upon it. When they asked when they would have an opportunity of discussing it the right hon. Gentleman said this Vote would give such an opportunity. They were, therefore, thoroughly justified in asking if any change was to be made before March next. If so the Committee should be told. The hon. Member for Oldham asked definite questions as to the cost which would be involved by keeping an additional number of men in South Africa beyond the needs of South Africa. On the question of cost the Secretary of State seemed to have changed his figures during the last few months. When the right hon Gentleman was asked on 10th of March as to the additional cost of keeping men in South Africa he said that it was from £20 to £25 per man. But the other day when he was asked a similiar question he said that 30,000 were kept there at present but that it was the intention of the Government to reduce the permanent garrison to 15,000. The other day the Secretary of State was asked as to the additional charge for keeping troops in South Africa and he said the extra cost at the present time was £45,000 per week. That appeared to him to work out a wholly different figure and make the additional cost far greater.
§ MR. BRODRICK
Let me say to the right hon. Gentleman that I endeavoured to give some idea what the permanent cost would be for keeping troops in South Africa, but that is 896 complicated by the very large amount for I transport.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
said those figures would give a total of £2,340,000, and it was an enormous sum for 30,000 men. The Secretary of State had explained that the discrepancy could be explained by the cost of transport. He wished to point out the enormous importance of the question of transport. I The South African troops were to be short service troops—three years men. Raw recruits were to be sent out. The question of transport would therefore; assume a very serious aspect. India had complained that she had to pay a great deal for transport, but what would it be in the case of South Africa if they had three years' service men? This question of transport bore on every other question; involved. They had been told that it; would be possible to make the change with advantage to India because troops would be more easily sent from South Africa than from home. If they were three years' service men they could not be sent to India as organised units. Before being sent they would have to receive their reserves from home. He could not help thinking that the scheme had not been thought out, and he was sure the Committee would be greatly interested in hearing what the Secretary of State had to tell them about it. His hon. friend the Memberfor Bristol had admitted that up to a certain point South Africa would be an excellent training ground for troops. Undoubtedly, but there was one point which was never sufficiently remembered in this connection. It was that long before the South African war complaints were made again and again on the Medical Vote of the enormous amount of typhoid fever in South Africa, and if our young troops would be subject to typhoid attacks that would be a great drawback to the country as a training ground. Whatever proposal the Government had to make on this point, they must deal with the question of length of service, the question of reserves, and the popularity of service in South Africa. They must tell the House whether there was any proposal in connection with India reliefs to accompany any proposal in regard to South Africa. A year and four months 897 ago the Secretary of State for War was asked whether he had the consent of the Government of India to the charges then made, or whether the Government of India had been consulted about the changes in recruiting, and they elicited the fact that the Government of India had not been consulted, and that the Government of India had protested. But the papers showing the vehement nature of there protests had been kept back from the House for a year and more. These papers showed an overwhelming case against the Secretary for War and the Cabinet. When hon. Members on that side of the House used the word "regret," they were told that they were moving a vote of censure on the Government. The Government of India had, therefore, passed a vote of censure on the Secretary for War and the home Government, because the Viceroy telegraphed to the Secretary for India on 8th March, 1902—We desire respectfully to express our regret that the Government of India were not given an opportunity of stating their views before decision was arrived at, and that we received no official intimation until it was on the eve of being announced to Parliament.The Secretary for India himself took up the protest of the Government of India, and on 22nd April, 1902, he used these words in a letter from the India Office to the War Office—Lord George Hamilton … shares the regret of the Government of India that it was not found possible to adopt a procedure under which both the Council of India and the I Government of India might have been afforded time and facilities for investigating and discussing, from the Indian point of view, the effects of the new system of recruiting.In fact, the Secretary for India had made out an overwhelming case against his colleague the Secretary for War and the whole Cabinet, and it was curious that the right hon. Gentleman should have dissociated himself from the action of the Secretary for War and adopted the view of the Indian Government. He was not going to discuss the opinion of the Lord Chief Justice on the point. That would be raised on the Indian Budget; but personally he did not differ from it. What he blamed the Secretary for War for was, that the right hon Gentleman had placed the Government of India in that position.
He wished to endorse what had 898 been said by the hon. Member for Oldham in regard to certain points on which we were behind every other nation in the world in spite of the enormous expenditure on the British Army. It was impossible to stand up against the Secretary for War when he said that he could not make certain changes on account of their cost. But there were a number of changes which the poorest countries in the world were able to make, but which we could not make on account of their cost. The hon. Member for Oldham had given two instances. The first was that the War Office were continuing the practice of drawing on the line battalions for the mounted infantry instead of creating a separate corps of mounted infantry, He could not conceive of any sane man depending on obtaining an effective body of mounted infantry under the present system, which was rotten. Then the supply of horses and mules for transport had never been sufficient. Again, it was said that the adoption of quick-firing guns could not be carried out on the ground of cost. He would observe the ruling of the Chairman on this question of guns, but their attack was on the Secretary for War and the Financial Secretary to the War Office. Years ago they pressed the predecessor of the present Financial Secretary on this point. They showed him that our guns were antiquated even long before the war, and the answer of the right hon. Gentleman was almost exactly word for word that of the present Financial Secretary. Since that time the two last great Powers to adopt quick-firing guns were the United States and Russia. Long years ago, Switzerland, one of the smallest and most economical of States in Europe, had adopted them, and ages ago they had been adopted in France and Germany. Yet nothing had been done by this country. He would not deal with the technical points that there had been no real conversion of our guns into quick-firing guns. There had only been an alteration of the breach arrangement from one side of the gun to the other, while the spade attachment did not make the gun into a quick-firing gun. We were now behind every other nation in the world. The difference was such that a battery of six of our guns 899 was only equivalent to one gun employed by the other nations. That was given on the authority of an eminent United States officer. He believed that we must save money on the Army expenditure, and that that must be done next year. That could only he done by the changes pointed out so well by the hon. Member opposite. It would be more necessary for the Secretary for War to make these savings on a large scale, because it was necessary to make these changes, in our guns. So long as the Secretary for War and his advisers clung to the linked-battalion system he would not be able to show the saving on expenditure which the House would insist upon. If the Secretary for War had moved within the last four months to replace the linked-battalion system, and that of small, ill drilled depôts by large depôts, there might have been some hope for him and for the country, but if he stuck to the old system it was impossible to imagine that the right hon. Gentleman could show that economy by which he could expect to get Estimates through the House.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said that the House would sympathise with him in attempting, within a reasonable compass, to make a reply. The right hon. Gentleman had appealed to him to do something to save himself, but if, in the past, he has done many things which the right hon. Gentleman had asked him to do he should not have escaped shipwreck. He had fought many questions against the right hon. Gentleman from that side of the House, and he was bound to say that year after year he returned to the charge with unerring pertinacity, and made the same discarded suggestions. But although he hoped he had not been impervious to one of his suggestions—viz., that of short service, he had not seen in the right hon. Gentleman's speech a tone of absolute certainty even as to the result of that operation. And, indeed, he thought he was more confident about it than the right hon. Gentleman. Many subjects had been discussed that afternoon, because it was said for three months they had enjoyed immunity from criticism in consequence of the discussion of the great new scheme of the Colonial Secretary. He admitted that the Secretary for the Colonies had added that to the numerous other services for which 900 the country was indebted to him; he had redeemed them from the folly and absurdity for which every nation in Europe was laughing at us. As a distinguished German statesman a few days ago said—Our nation took fifteen years to remodel our Army, and your Army has been torn to pieces over a, scheme which has been only fifteen months under trial.He thought they should be able to show-that this breathing space had been turned to some account The hon. Member for Oldham asked some questions as to how recruiting was going on during this period, and he was sure the Committee would watch with great interest how recruiting was going on, and what the position was in regard to it. They were in a very special position in regard to recruiting in the present year. In the first place, they had the Army, for the first time, quite full, and, in fact, over-flowing. Is March last, when they had to demobilise after the war, they found the cavalry 5,000 to 6,000 above strength, and the field and horse artillery 3,500 above strength—a position in which this country had never been before. That necessitated their practically closing recruiting for the cavalry and the other mounted arms. They had also raised the standard all round except for the infantry of the line, in respect of which they had taken no "specials." That was a very large general change; but, in addition to that, a considerable change had also been made in requiring and demanding characters from the men. The first effect of that change was to cause men who had the slightest doubt about their character not to present themselves, and he was not at all certain that some of those who refrained would have been very eligible recruits, because it was almost impossible to interpret a regulation of that sort in too strict a manner. But the net result had been that they had not only been raising their standard and diminishing the attractions in the shape of bounties but the Committee would readily see that the raising of the standard in itself shut out from the Army a great deal which they had a right to expect. On the other hand the men growing up would be available next year. The net result was not altogether unsatisfactory. The number of recruits taken for the infantry of the line from the 1st January to the 1st July, 1902 was 11,121. This, 901 year the number was 13,023; therefore there was a gain on the infantry of the line of about 2,000. On the cavalry of the line there was a loss of about 3,000. The total number of recruits from the 1st January to the 4th July, 1902, was 23,500, which was the best year they ever had; and the number taken this year was 20,500. Therefore, while there was a gain on the infantry of the line of 2,000, there was a loss of 3,000 on the whole.
§ MR. BRODRICK
For the half year. The recruits taken during the same period for the horse and field artillery were in 1901, 12,482, in 1902, 9,600; and, owing to the changes he had mentioned, only 7,100 this year. It was too early to draw any lessons from these figures, but he did not think there was anything in them to cause apprehension. If they were to take no "specials," and were to insist upon character, there would be a decrease of wastage. In addition to that, they knew that of every 100 men who came to a station and asked to go into the cavalry sixty or seventy walked away at once when they were told the cavalry was not open. Therefore they might assume that when they again opened the cavalry they would have a considerable addition to the number of recruits. In any case they were committed to the experiment, and certainly so far the class of recruits they had taken had given every satisfaction. General French had told him the other day that he was highly satisfied with the recruits recently received at Aldershot, the Commander-in-Chief spoke very highly the other day of the recruits at Colchester, and he had had similar reports from other stations. It was absurd to throw stones at the Secretary of State for War because recruits would not come in voluntarily at a time when trade happened to be brisk. They had no reason to entertain serious apprehension in this respect.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
said nobody blamed the right hon. Gentleman because recruits did not come in. Criticism had been directed to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman had formulated 902 a scheme which required a great many more recruits than could be supplied annually.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said he was not referring to his hon. friend, but to the fact that he constantly saw the smallest class of "specials" called after his name. This was a curious phenomenon, because on no occasion in the last seventeen years had he ever voted for having "specials," or been willing to decrease the standard. On the contrary, he had raised the standard. With regard to the Aldershot review, it had been suggested that regiments were either very short in numbers or were not on parade at all. That was perfectly true. The review had been erroneously called a review of the 1st Army Corps. It could not be that, because a large number of the troops of the 1st Army Corps had only just come home from South Africa.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said four regiments of the 5th brigade had been home under two months, or just over that. A very large number of the men were on furlough, and to bring them back for the sake of a parade would have been very hard. That brigade was 3,320 men strong, and he thought it would be admitted that it was a very tine brigade. Then two brigades of artillery, one of which belonged to that division, were practising at Okehampton, and it would have been undesirable to bring them back from the ordinary practice of the year simply for a parade. The 14th Hussars returned recently from South Africa, and were utilised for keeping the approaches to the ground and for escort duties, and 1,800 men were employed in keeping the ground. He admitted that some of the Line battalions were short in numbers; but the pressure on the Lines had been enormouse in the last few years, and it must be remembered that of the Line battalions sixteen had been formed in the last four years. One of the battalions in which there was a shortage of men was that of the Manchester regiment, If the expectations of the military authorities as to the possibility of maintaining the 3rd and 4th battalions of this regiment were disappointing, they would have to consider the position of this regiment. For the moment, as two 903 of the battalions had been on active service and the remaining two had only just been raised, they had to face a shortage in some of these battalions. He would go carefully into the position with regard to the 3rd and 4th battalions before the next Estimates. A very important point had been raised with regard to the artillery, and he hoped he might be allowed to say a word on the question of policy. The right hon. Member for Forest of Dean spoke extremely strongly about the present artillery, and there was, he knew, a general desire in the House to hear that the Government had adopted a new and better gun, a more powerful gun, and a more quick-firing gun.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said the eighteen batteries that they had could not be described otherwise than as quick-firing.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said they had 108 quick-firing guns which they could not leave out of sight altogether. He only wanted to be perfectly fair. There was no Member of that House who had given the time to this question which it was his duty to give. From the moment he went to the War Office in 1900 he exercised his influence, so far as a civilian could, and applied himself to this question. He saw Lord Roberts on the subject on the very day he arrived from South Africa and asked him to appoint a Committee and to take whatsoever steps he thought best immediately to obtain a gun that would be more suitable. With that view, before anything had been done, he took a sum in the Estimates of that year. On January 23, 1901, a few days after Lord Roberts came home, a special committee, composed of artillery officers who had commanded brigades and batteries during the Boer War, was formed under the presidency of Major-General Sir George Marshall, who commanded the artillery, to consider the whole question of bringing our horse and field artillery equipment up to date. On May 8 of that year the Committee 904 rendered their first Report, specifying the conditions as to increased range and weight and the nature of the ammunition which they would recommend. The details were referred back to the Committee, and on receiving their Report the War Office at once communicated with Messrs. Armstrong, Messrs. Vickers, Messrs. Hotchkiss, and the ordnance factories, and invited them to submit designs of guns and howitzers which would fulfil the conditions recommended by the Committee. At a later date another firm asked to be allowed to submit designs, and they were supplied with a copy of the conditions. One of the firms asked to compete declined to send in any designs, but in October of that year designs were received from Messrs. Armstrong, Messrs. Vickers, and the ordnance factories. There were numerous details which had to be discussed, and at the earliest moment after the settlement of the details each firm was asked to submit specimens. These specimens of guns were not delivered until August or September of last year. In the interval he repeatedly called the attention of the military authorities responsible, and also of the manufacturers, to the desirability of pressing forward the production of these guns. The guns were tried last year at Shoe-buryness, and later on they were all tested at Okehampton, when Lord Roberts went down to see the results. These results were highly satisfactory, but there were again details which required adjustment. The moment those details were adjusted they gave an order to Messrs. Armstrong and Messrs. Vickers for four complete batteries of quick-firing guns for both the horse artillery and the field artillery. He had pressed by every means in his power for the production of these guns, and they were promised that they should have these batteries in August. When they were received they would be tested at once, and as soon as possible a decision would be given in regard to them. He knew that two years and a half seemed an enormous time to take. It was difficult to expedite the designing and manufacture of these guns, and to press the military authorities to come to a decision which would cost the country from £2,000,000 to £4,000,000, when 905 they were not satisfied that they had got the best available weapon. If they got, as they believed they had got, substantially a good gun—a heavier gun than those at present in use, a far quicker firing gun for the field artillery, and a better gun in all respects for the horse artillery—he would take care to sweep away any minor difficulties and get to work as soon as they could.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman could say what the then Financial Secretary meant in June, 1899, when he said experiments were being conducted at that time with a view to the introduction of quick-firing guns.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman could say when he expected that these four specimen batteries would be ready, and when he expected that the re-armament of the artillery would be begun and completed.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said he was chary of giving figures. As soon as the designs were settled he would endeavour to get a contract. When he had got a contract he would know approximately when the re-armament would be completed. The hon. Member might rest assured that the brigades which required the guns earliest would have them. With regard to the right hon. Baronet's question, he was not at the War Office in June, 1899, and did not know what the then Financial Secretary had in his mind at the moment. He wished to say a word about the Intelligence Department. At the beginning of this year General Nicholson had at his disposal twenty-eight officers. They had gone most carefully into the additional work he had to do. They had applied to the Treasury, and ten additional officers had been selected for this work. He had every reason to believe that General Nicholson was perfectly satisfied that this provision would enable him to carry out his duties.
The hon. Member opposite asked him for some account of the probable position in Somaliland, and referred a little disparagingly, he thought, to what he considered the failure of the optimistic statements he had made with regard to that campaign. 906 He thought the hon. Member did him scant justice in that respect. His optimism consisted, first, in telling the House that it was impossible for the military authorities, in initiating an expedition by a small force in that vast country, to undertake that we should capture the Mullah; that all they could say was that there was a most certain way of crippling his resources on the one hand, and of driving him from his position, in which he threatened both our sphere and the Italian sphere, on the other. And, so far as the campaign proceeded, he represented that it had carried out the intentions of those who advised them to undertake it. General Manning, by his advance, first drove the Mullah from the position in which he had been dwelling in perfect security and raiding the native tribes, and then drove him right into Abyssinian territory. The Abyssinians, so far as they could judge—for in all those questions they had to depend to some extent on native information checked by their own officers—on two separate occasions gave the Mullah a very serious blow. The Mullah, he thought, lost over 1,000 men in each fight. The effect was to drive him, with greatly reduced forces and means of subsistence, right across our line of march to the position he now occupied in the north-east of Somaliland.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said he might mention, as corroboration of the view that the Mullah had had a serious blow, that since he was driven right along our line of communications he had made no effort at attack on any one of our posts, or on any one of the forces passing to and fro. General Egerton was now in touch with General Manning, and they had every reason to believe that with the reinforcements he could command, and the increased transport that had arrived, he would be able to strike a fair blow at the Mullah in an improved position. He could not, of course, go into the details of what it was intended to do, though, as he said before, it was not proposed to undertake enterprises involving a vast expedition or great expense. But the necessary reinforcements had been ordered, and, to a largo extent, 907 had arrived, and in General Egerton they had a commander in whom they had the fullest confidence to carry out, with the larger force, whatever steps might be necessary.
He passed from that to the main question on which the interest of the Committee was centred, with regard to South Africa. The force in South Africa, which stood at this period last year at about 230,000 men, had been reduced to 32,000 or 33,000 men at the present date. They had had to undertake the building of huts for a large number of these men who had been under canvas for three years, and whom, for their comfort and health, it was desirable to get into permanent buildings as soon as possible. But, as the right hon. Gentleman had pointed out, the First Lord of the Treasury indicated some time ago that they would be prepared to make a general statement of the position as it now presented itself to them, and, in doing so, they had taken care to obtain the best advice from South Africa. The Cabinet had considered what force they were prepared to keep there. There were two standpoints from which they had to investigate the question. The first was the Colonial standpoint—what was necessary in the interests of South Africa. The second was the Imperial standpoint—what was necessary in the interests of the Empire at large. It had been urged, rather unduly he thought, that in the schemes which had been put before the House for an increase of the Army, but little attention had been paid to naval and Imperial considerations. He did not think that was altogether correct. At all events, the institution of the Defence Committee, which the present First Lord of the Admiralty and he welcomed perhaps more than any other two members of the Government, and which they had some share in establishing, had certainly strengthened their hands in working their Departments together with due consideration to the force kept up in India and in other British possessions. He could only say, as far as he was concerned, that he approached the question without any predisposition one way or the other. At the same time, he would say one word in deprecation of the extreme views which had been put before the country in favour of the 908 dispersal of the British Army all over the globe in time of peace. The British Army, whatever its intentions in time of war, was not to be kept up on a voluntary system if they were going to order every man to spend five, or even four, years out of the seven outside this country. The general system of the organisation of the Army—he was not now talking of linked battalions or any other system—had been to secure that the soldier, who when he went abroad mostly served in warm, if not tropical, climates, should be retained for the benefit of his health as well as for the benefit of his entourage as near as possible for half of his service in England; and, so long as they kept it, as he hoped they might keep it, a voluntary service, so long must they endeavour to have regard to the wishes of their recruits in that respect. There was one other consideration. Colonial service generally was not, at all events in the past, altogether the best service for the purposes of discipline. They put men who were very highly trained in the middle of a population that was not very highly trained. They put men who were subject to discipline in the midst of a population which lent itself much less to discipline than the population which surrounded them in this country; and he did not think that any dispersal of our Army was therefore an advantage.
Now, with regard to the advantage, to the Army itself. It had been urged upon the Government that South Africa was a better training ground, that it gave them better health, and also—and this was a very important consideration for the Committee—that the portion of the force which they kept in South Africa was placed where it could be most easily utilised in that portion of the Empire which was most likely to be attacked. On the other hand, there were considerations which should not be lost sight of by the Committee. In the first place, any addition to the force in South Africa must keep a larger force out of England. Then there was the expense to the officers, who could not live as cheaply in South Africa as in England; and then there was the extra expense to the country involved in keeping a force 909 abroad. It would not do for hon. Members to run too far away as regarded the extra advantages of training in South Africa. If they could keep the whole force in South Africa concentrated, they could teach their generals and field officers a great deal they could not teach them in this country. But if they sent troops to South Africa they must to some extent scatter them, and scatter them at very great distances; and then in some respects the advantages of training would not be found to be so very much greater than they were in this country in the neighbourhood, for instance, of Salisbury Plain. All these considerations had been before them. The Defence Committee had also considered the matter, and had come to a resolution, from the point of view of the defence of India. Looking at all the probabilities, they desired, if they could, to avoid anything which would increase the number of men permanently retained in India, which was not only a great strain on the resources of India, but was a great strain on our resources also in keeping the men here who were to replace them. And yet it must be obvious that the defence of India, if ever it was attacked, would require reinforcements from this country or from other British possessions. Under these circumstances the Defence Committee recommended that a considerable number of men should be held in South Africa available for service in India in case of emergency.
They had considered the force in South Africa from the two standpoints he had mentioned, and the force for which they had decided to provide accommodation in South Africa would amount to 25,000 men. They proposed to maintain there four cavalry regiments, twelve batteries of field artillery, two batteries of horse artillery, fourteen battalions of the Line, and four garrison regiments. With regard to the garrison regiments a great deal had been said as to their cost. It must be remembered that a garrison regiment had no linked battalion at home and that it did not require a depôt. A man who joined was trained, and there was no difficulty whatever in the man being sent off at the earliest moment to join his battalion, He believed that for South African purposes it would 910 be impossible to have better troops than the garrison regiments. He had had the advantage of seeing the general officers under whom four battalions had served ever since they were formed, and they said that in every respect they had found them admirable soldiers. He was afraid he was one of those heretics who believed that a man who had looked after himself and was generally medically fit was just as good a man between thirty-five and forty as he was between twenty-five and thirty. It was urged against them that they had inordinate families, but from the point of view of settlement in South Africa, that was a great advantage. They would have to spend something additional in providing married soldiers' quarters in South Africa, a considerable sum, but he believed it would pay them well. He believed they would be the nucleus of a most admirable body of soldiers; the engagements of the garrison regiments were short, and there would not be the same incentive to desertion as there was in the case of men who had perhaps six years to serve. Opportunities would, they understood, be forthcoming for the employment of a good many men, even in Government positions, who might be quartered in South Africa. At all events, they thought it desirable, in respect of this force to try, in the first instance, the experiment of sending four garrison battalions. Of these troops some would be held definitely available for Indian service in case of emergency. This being so, he would be asked with regard to the extra expenditure which was caused by this force The figures which the right hon. Gentleman quoted were not conclusive at the present moment. The right hon. Gentleman included what was now very great—namely, the cost of mobile transport in South Africa, not merely transport to and from South Africa. Their estimate for the future was that the extra cost in South Africa of 25,000 men would be something like £1,500,000 per annum.
§ MR. BRODRICK
Extra over the cost in Great Britain. He was taking into consideration simply the cost man for man; what, would be the cost of the establishment in South Africa as compared with troops if they were at Aldershot. He had given round figures. Of course in estimating that they must remember that even before the war we had a considerable garrison in South Africa, amounting at first to 3,000 or 4,000, and ultimately, before 1899, to 6,000 or 7,000 men. Of course the extra cost of those men must be deducted from the £1,500,000 if they wished to estimate our present increased expenditure. But in addition to that, and in addition to the fact that the scheme of 1901 contemplated 15,000 men in South Africa, they were not unhopeful that they might obtain some assistance in this matter. If a considerable body of troops was held in South Africa, in a good climate, to avoid the extra expenditure of keeping them constantly standing idle in India, in a worse climate, he thought they might fairly ask some contribution from India [OPPOSITION cries of "Oh, oh"] towards the extra cost of maintenance in South Africa, where they were available in case of emergency, as compared with their maintenance in this country, where they were less available.
§ MR. BRODRICK
No. It had been recognised, as the right hon. Gentleman well knew, for years past that in case of emergency it would be necessary to reinforce India from this country. They were taking a timely step in a manner which they thought would cost least and would be of the greatest advantage to the Empire, by placing us in a position to meet an emergency if it arose.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said that communications were passing with the Government of India, and the hon. Member would understand that he had not given any pledge in the matter. What he had stated was that they considered themselves entitled to ask the Government of India for some contribution in regard to the men kept in South Africa especially for Indian service in case of emergency.
§ MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE
asked whether under these circumstances these troops would be on the home establishment.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said he was coming to that. There was the question of the colonies themselves, and he thought that nobody could doubt that the maintenance of so considerable a force in South Africa would be of the greatest material benefit to South Africa itself. A force so kept for Imperial service, with the large expenditure incidental to the maintenance of any force anywhere, would naturally contribute considerably to the prosperity of these colonies, and, again, that was a matter which must be considered in regard to the extra expenditure which was incurred, and it would no doubt be the subject of consideration by those concerned.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said there was no part of the United Kingdom, not excluding that part which the hon. Member so ably represented, which had not raised a difficulty over the withdrawal of a single corps quartered in its neighbourhood. Everybody knew that the presence of a body of troops in any neighbourhood was held by those most immediately concerned to be greatly to the advantage of the neighbourhood. With regard to the question of home or foreign establishments, that was a point which they had carefully reviewed. He noted that the right hon. Gentleman opposite looked to a day when the whole system of the Army might be changed; 913 he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman might be at the War Office, and not himself, when that was attempted; he fancied the right hon. Gentleman would find that it was not quite so easy a thing to adapt to all the requirements of the British Army any new system. The right hon. Gentleman opposite, who had had experience, knew that the abuse levied on successive Secretaries of State for War for the imperfections of their system might be disregarded because it was hereditary. But in this matter they did not wish to attempt to impose any hide-bound retention of old ideas or of a east-iron system; they recognised that South Africa had differences as compared with other stations abroad in which troops were quartered. Something-had been said about health statistics. It was quite true, as the right hon. Gentleman had said, that there had been a great deal of enteric in South Africa, and that in some stations it had ranged up to thirty-eight, thirty-five, thirty-four, and thirty-one per 1,000, while in India it had ranged up to twenty-three, in Egypt twenty-three, and in the Mauritius seventeen per 1,000, and so on. But of course the sanitary position in South Africa had not been that of a permanent force kept in barracks, and they had every reason to believe that the sanitary condition in the cantonments would be very different when the arrangements were completed. It was admitted that apart from the number who did contract disease, the development of the young soldier in South Africa was very marked. Therefore he thought they were entitled to regard our regiments in South Africa from a different standpoint from those which were either locked up in coaling stations in tropical climates or which were doing service in India, where they were bound to be over twenty years of age. They proposed, therefore, to treat the fourteen battalions of the Line placed in South Africa on the principle of sending to them, as soon as they were trained, recruits from the depôts, and in so doing he by no means excluded the idea of large depôts in tins country. His objection had always been to small depôts. They proposed, therefore, to treat them as neither sending drafts to other regiments nor as receiving drafts from other regiments. They would be in a climate in which, as at home, they could receive 914 their recruits very soon, or as soon as they were sufficiently trained. He was afraid that time did not admit of working out exactly the system under which the thing would be done, but that was the general view they had.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
said there was one very material point. Would those troops which would be earmarked for India be troops which could be sent to India without receiving reserves, and, if so, on what system?
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
urged his right hon. friend to say whether he proposed to reduce the strength of the battalions at home by the fourteen battalions which would be in South Africa. Otherwise they would be merely increasing the expense and burden of the Army without any corresponding reduction.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said that the ingenuity of his critics prompted them to put questions which he was just about to answer. With regard to what the right hon. Gentleman said, the South African regiments would be maintained at a higher strength than the home establishment, and those required for India would go at a lower strength. They would have a sufficient number of picked men to go with them. In sending troops to India in case of emergency they had got to consider not what troops they were wanting to employ on the North-West Frontier, but what troops they required to replace the garrisons in the plain from which the troops at the front had been withdrawn. It was not necessary, there fore, that the troops which were sent should be at the highest possible strength and immediately fit for the field.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
said his question was as to the bearing of the proposal on the reserves at home.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said the position of Line battalions would be this; there were 156 Line battalions altogether, and fourteen would be in South Africa. Out of the 142 remaining seventy-one or seventy-two would be abroad and the remainder at home; the former would have their links at home. It was unlikely that there would be any room for that considerable reduction for which his 915 hon. friend looked in order to reduce our fighting strength by ten, twelve, or fifteen battalions. The position would be that South Africa stood by itself, and the remaining battalions abroad would be supported by the links at home. With regard to cavalry he did not think he need say anything, except that their equilibrium would be maintained; there would be fourteen regiments abroad and fourteen at home. He commended this scheme to the careful consideration of the Committee. They had this advantage, among others—that the huts they were erecting in South Africa would not render unnecessary barracks already constructed at home. They would have to ask the House under the Works Loan Bill for a sum which was required to complete these huts in South Africa. These huts would, in any case, be required for the temporary garrison and pro tanto the erection of huts in South Africa was not so expensive as the erection of barracks at home. It only remained for him to say one word with regard to the popularity of the South African service. It was very difficult to give a judgment on that point at present. The conditions hitherto had been very unfavourable. It had been impossible, from the circumstances of the case, to make the soldier as comfortable in the past as he would be in the future. They were making great efforts as regarded expenditure, both in recreation and housing, to improve the conditions. Extra rations were given in South Africa and extra colonial pay was given to the officers, and it might be necessary to ask the Committee to increase these items.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said he had taken a liberal allowance under the present expenditure in case they should require to spend more. All the questions he had referred to must be considered. They could only lay down a standard which they believed it was necessary to maintain at the present time. There were many subjects for future consideration. Whether recruiting suffered materially owing to any particular decision, whether engagements were 916 reluctantly made or not, whether there should be a large number of troops at a particular station, were all subjects which must come before the War Office, but so far as they could see, in adopting the plan he had sketched, they were taking not only the wisest solution of the present situation but also making a permanent contribution towards the ability of the Empire to meet the claims made upon it. He had endeavoured to make it clear that they had to approach the whole subject without any prejudice and with no undue regard for existing arrangements; but, generally speaking, the proposals they made would work in entirely with the arrangements made for the organisation of the home Army.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said he had never listened to a more interesting statement than that made by the right hon. Gentleman; but he thought that hon. Members on both sides of the House would wish to know a good deal more about the scheme and to see how the figures looked when put on paper before they expressed any settled conviction or committed themselves to a definite opinion. The right hon. Gentleman's statement was, he thought, more interesting, if it were not more important, from a psychological point of view than it was from the point of view of its matter. He had never heard a more interesting development of opinion. It seemed completely analogous to another development which was, or had been, going on under their eyes in this country on another question. A statesman or a Minister started with an opinion. He was a strong advocate of this theory or of that, but he had a colleague who was not, and in order to ascertain which was to prevail an inquiry was instituted, and the result was that probably some hideous compromise was effected which would have all the evils of both theories. The right hon. Gentleman had himself opposed this policy of keeping troops in South Africa. In introducing the Estimates he made what was to his mind a most convincing exposition of the objections to that course. The right hon. Gentleman had even repeated some of them that day. For instance, there was the cost. The extra cost was to be £1,500,000 a year. When the country was gasping for a 917 reduction in military expenditure, the first thing that was done was to add £1,500,000 to the expenditure by this South African hocus pocus. Then there was the misleading character of the climate of the country, the misleading idea of the sort of lessons that might be drawn by our commanders and our troops as applicable to other climates, other countries and other conditions. There was a certain question of health, the question of popularity, whether the troops would contemplate with any great satisfaction the prospect of being quartered in South Africa instead of in Yorkshire or Devonshire. Then there was another question, to which the right hon. Gentleman had not referred. The moving influence which had altered the right hon. Gentleman's opinion was the North-West Frontier of India. What a useful thing the North-West Frontier of India was! These troops were to be kept in South Africa in order to furnish the rapid reinforcements that might be required when the North-West Frontier was attacked. The same reason was given for the adoption of the Army Corps system, although he could not see what the one thing had to do with the other. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman one question. How were they to be conveyed from South Africa to India when they were required?
§ MR. BRODRICK
I will answer that question at once. We have satisfied ourselves that between South Africa and India transports will be practically immediately available.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
More easily available than in this country? He would like to see the proof of that before he formed an opinion. But in the meantime these troops were to be maintained in South Africa at an extra cost to some one of £1,500,000. The right hon. Gentleman calmly suggested that India should pay a portion of this. He had had a pretty long experience of this question of India and Imperial expenditure. In the old days we were always able to meet India on this ground—"You have nothing to complain of. We have to keep up a large Army for the purpose of garrisoning India, but, when you are in any considerable 918 danger or emergency, you can call on the whole forces of the British Empire, and therefore the bargain is a good one for you, and you should not complain if the force we find you is rather expensive." But what had we been doing of late years? We had not been maintaining a reservoir of troops for India, but India had been made a reservoir for our purposes. The shoe had been on the other foot. We had drawn on India for any service. When hard up for a battalion we went to India, and therefore he said the old argument, which he used to think a very good one, was gone, because now there was a complete partnership in that respect.
§ MR. BRODRICK
There is one point which the right hon. Gentleman has not taken into consideration in connection with this matter. This country keeps a Reserve now of 65,000 men, which will in two or three years amount to 100,000 men, towards which India does not contribute a farthing. Yet every man of them is required to go to India in case of emergency.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said he was arguing on the present state of things as between India and this country. He was only pointing out that the argument by which the particular adjustment used to be defended by the War Office and the Treasury was no longer an argument that could be used against India. There was but one quarter of the world which came with advantage out of this proposal, and that was South Africa. The hon. Gentleman had very candidly stated that the maintenance of this large body of troops in the South African Colonies would no doubt cause a great expenditure of money there, and be of great benefit to the population. Any one could see that. Though he was very glad to see any good thing happen to the South African Colonies, he did not think that ought to be an element in the matter, and he was a little afraid it might have turned the scale in judging the expediency of the course which had been adopted, to know that it would have a beneficial effect and be popular in the South African Colonies. 919 He began by saying they could not pronounce a definite opinion on a proposal of this sort until they had the facts and figures clearly before them. It was a new idea to maintain a mongrel force in South Africa, not the same as an ordinary colonial garrison, and not the same as the ordinary force at home, but something between the two. He did not exactly understand what was meant by a British regiment being definitely assigned to Indian service, as contrasted with other regiments; but he thought it was a very serious departure from the principle followed with great advantage for many years, of keeping our troops in the main at home and of keeping no more abroad than was necessary for the peace garrisons of coaling stations and other places where a garrison was required. This was a great new departure, and it ought to be looked on with the gravest apprehension and hesitation by those who really wished to see the Army, he would not say kept on an economical footing, but reduced to a more economical footing than it was at present.
The right hon. Gentleman's speech had so completely absorbed all other subjects that he should only say a word or two about some observations which were made by his lion, friend who opened the debate and which were resented in some quarters because they introduced the names of individual officers. He did not understand his lion, friend to make any accusation against any of those individual officers, or deny that they were distinguished and excellent officers. His hon. friend merely brought forward in the House what everyone had been saying in the street outside, that there had been a tendency to promote a certain class of officers to high command at the expense of others. He had heard the same thing again and again before, and he thought that so far from being resented as a slur upon the high officer and distinguished soldier to whom naturally those criticisms went home, he thought it was only most natural that that officer should unavoidably have a habit of employing officers whom he had tried himself, and whose excellence and efficiency he was thoroughly acquainted with. He remembered the time when they heard of nothing in Army circles but the Ashanti ring. 920 It was all Lord Wolseley's friends, and if an officer was not a friend of Lord Wolseley he never could have a look in. If there was a new war in any quarter of the world it was always the old gang who went out. What was the reason of it? It was because they had been tried and found to be efficient officers. But it was a thing to be avoided. He had spoken of it as a natural, and in that sense a harmless, tendency on the part of anyone, but it was a very injurious thing for the Army when that sort of idea got into the minds of men, and therefore he hoped that even the moderate words of his hon. friend, and the fact that what had been bruited about in the country had been heard in that House might not be without some effect in causing even greater care and discretion to be used in selecting officers for those high places upon the efficiency of which so much depended.
§ *MR. BECKETT (Yorkshire, N.R., Whitby)
said he thought the discussion would show that the great interest taken in Army Organisation was not obscured by another question which had been recently raised. He had heard the statement of his right hon. friend the Secretary of State for War with very great satisfaction, though he could not say with altogether unmixed satisfaction. He was glad the right hon. Gentleman had quite abandoned his non possumus attitude and had to some extent listened to their persuasions. He was like the lady written about by the poet who—Whispering I'll ne'er consent, consented.The right hon. Gentleman was moving, slowly and reluctantly, but along the right path, and he trusted that before very long he would make further advances and end by being the greatest reformer of them all. At the same time he thought the concessions the right hon. Gentleman had made were somewhat open to the charge mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition—viz., that they were in the nature of a compromise combining the disadvantages of two conflicting policies. He thought the Secretary of State for War would have done better if, while accepting part of the views of his critics, he had made up his mind to swallow them altogether. The right hon. Gentleman had charged them in the only note of passion which arose in his 921 speech and which was rather reminiscent of earlier debates, with the folly and absurdity of attempting to remodel the Army system, and yet he had himself taken over what was supposed to be the climax and coping-stone of their foolish and absurd proposals—viz., that these divisions should be permanently located in South Africa. He had adopted the recommendation that an Army Corps should be established in South Africa; so far, so good, but then came the question: under what conditions was it to be located in South Africa? He was not going to argue the question for or against, because his right hon. friend was convinced that on the whole the advantages outweighed the disadvantages. As to the question of cost he was told that there would be an increase of £1,500,000. Certainly he should view such an increase with nothing but repugnance, and any proposal of that kind that came from the Government for increasing the Army Estimates by £1,500,000 for any purpose whatever would meet with strenuous opposition, lint, while the right hon. Gentleman had adopted this part of their scheme, he had omitted the other part of it, which was the more essential part of the two. What they proposed was that he should establish three divisions in South Africa, reckoning those three divisions as part of the home establishment, and striking off the home establishment the corresponding number of troops. Therefore if 25,000 men were to be located in South Africa, a like number ought to be struck off the home establishment in England. When he reckoned the cost it would stand in this way. If 25,000 were struck off the home establishment, reckoning the cost at £110 per man, which he believed was the approximate amount, there would be a saving of at least £2,000,000. Setting that saving against the extra cost of £1,500,000 there would be a balance in favour of this country of £500,000, and, therefore, this question of increased cost would cease to trouble the ratepayers, or those who wished to see the Army run on more economic lines. He thought personally that it would be an undoubted advantage to India to have these 25,000 men in South Africa, and he believed that was the opinion of the military authorities in India. He was also glad that the right hon. Gentleman had come 922 round to the opinion that the question of transport did not offer any insuperable obstacle, but undoubtedly the question of cost would have to be considered. He believed that his right hon. friend refused to adopt the proposal to diminish the Army by fourteen battalions at home, simply because he saw, as other people saw, it would knock the bottom out of his Army Corps scheme. The right hon. Gentleman stuck to his Army Corps system with pathetic affection but he ventured to think that such was the criticism levelled against it that it would not long survive his right hon. friend's term of office. If he would reduce the Army Corps by fourteen battalions he could then establish the natural territorial arrangements of the Army in this country in which the Regulars and Auxiliaries were massed in certain districts and were organised in divisions, a division being an appropriate unit for the distribution of the British Army.
He welcomed the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman to abandon the linked battalion system and to establish large depôts in their place. He had been asked whether the recruits were to be ear-marked for South Africa, and whether there would be special depôts for sending them out to that country. He admitted that the question of recruits was an awkward one. Some recruits might be ready to go to South Africa. He had been told by officers who understood recruiting extremely well that most recruits did not care a straw where they went, and that they would as soon go to South Africa as to Salisbury Plain. They could only judge by results. Another point was that if they reduced the home establishment by these battalions they would be able to reduce the recruits by a corresponding amount, and as they reduced the amount, so they would improve the quality and standard of the recruits. The difficulty of recruiting had arisen from the fact that they were demanding more recruits than the country was able to supply. The normal number of recruits formerly required was 35,000, but his right hon. friend asked for 50,000, and in order to get the men he had to raise the pay and reduce the term of service. If he would still further raise the rate of pay and reduce the term of 923 service, he would get 100,000, but the question was what sort of recruits would he get. The right hon Gentleman had told them that he was satisfied with the recruits that were coming in this year. He himself had been told by an officer that he was not at all satisfied with the character of the recruits that came in, but Returns showed that the height of recruits was continually diminishing and that the standard of physique was continually deteriorating. He did not know what magic there was in the scheme of his right hon. friend, by which he could add inches to the height and chest measurement of recruits. On re-enlistment at the completion of his two years term of service, a soldier, if he extended the term would get 6d. per day extra. It was very likely that they would get men who would extend the term of service at the end of the second year, but at the end of the third year they might be quite incapable of going abroad or to India. Was there a sufficient number of men who applied to be taken on for extended service, because, if not, the whole system would break down.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said he did not think his hon. friend was in the House when he touched on that point, and stated that they could not judge of that until 1904, because the recruits only joined in 1902.
§ *MR. BECKETT
said he wished to ask two questions with regard to the internal organisation of the War Office. They were told that various reforms had been carried out in pursuance of the recommendations of the Committee. One of those recommendations, he understood, did not work well, and that was the substitution of military for civilian clerks. He was given to understand that there was a considerable amount of friction in the War Office, because of the employment of military clerks in work for which they were totally unfitted; and he was told that the correspondence, instead of decreasing had vastly increased. Then he was given to understand that not much had been done in the way of decentralisation. Commanding officers were not given any greater discretionary powers than before; and they had to apply to the War Office precisely as often as in 924 the days gone by, and they were not allowed discretion in spending even the smallest amount of money. In fact, the recommendations which were the foundation of the scheme of decentralisation, had not been carried out.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith Burghs)
said it was understood that tin1 foundation of the proposals of the Government in regard to the Army was that we should have 120,000 men ready to send abroad; and the Prime Minister when he was questioned as to the reason why so many men were required indicated that it was for the defence of the Indian frontier. That afternoon they had been, told by the right hon. Gentleman that, in addition, 130,000 were necessary in depôts for home defence, and now there were to be fourteen battalions in South Africa on special service.
§ MR. BRODRICK
The men who are in South Africa would have been otherwise at home. There is no alteration in the total number of 130,000.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON
said he had not assumed that 130,000 were unnecessary. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman opposite in supporting the addition which had been made to the South African garrison, because he believed that the troops were better placed there than they would be at home. On the other hand, it added £1,500,000 to the cost of the Army. The introduction of new railways would probably reduce the cost of living, and that would reduce the £1,500,000 also. He regretted very much that a proportion of this additional cost, amounting to £700,000 had been put on India without the Government of India having been consulted, and against their protests. He hoped that a halt would be called—after serious consideration between the War Office and the Indian Government—in imposing on India some of these doubtful forms of expenditure. As to the 925 point mentioned by the hon. Member opposite regarding the unreality of the devolution given to the Army Corps, he had had the same complaints made from all and sundry quarters. He saw the other day a statement that it would be three or four years yet before the new War Office premises were ready for occupation. If it were finished a good board-room might be set apart where a War Office Committee could sit and make proper arrangements for devolution, which had not yet been given, although promised, to the Army Corps commanders. He would be the last to suggest that the appointments to the higher posts in the Army had not been well disposed; but sufficient initiative had not been entrusted to the great men to whom these appointments had been given. Unless much greater initiative were granted to these officers economy would not be attained. Reference had been made to Salisbury and Aldershot. He believed that the policy pursued at Salisbury was likely to be a complete success, but he was very doubtful regarding Aldershot. The whole available ground for the exercise of the troops was being so much built upon that there would be little land loft on which to manœuvre large bodies of men, and the result would be that millions of money would have been spent in vain. He most earnestly repeated that devolution should be made real, and that the general officers in command in these great encampments should be entrusted with adequate authority to take the initiative. He should like to hear that an addition had been made to the staff of the Intelligence Department, and that the question of quick-firing guns had been properly dealt with. He looked with alarm on all the additional sources of expenditure mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War.
§ SIR FREDERIC RASCH (Essex, Chelmsford)
said he wanted to say half a dozen words with reference to the recent parade at Aldershot. He could not help thinking that with an expenditure of £31,000,000 the War Office authorities could have provided a better parade than was shown on that occasion and subjected to foreign 926 criticism. After all, 16,000 men did not make an Army Corps; nor were the men paraded, especially the Infantry battalions, fair specimens of the average British soldier of the Line. He could not understand why recruits enlisted within the last six months had been put on the ground. No doubt the War Office had got a better class of recruits since the issue of the last new regulations. One could see that from personal observation, and he had it also on the highest authority that that was the case. But the right hon. Gentleman must know that some of his smaller recruits were called "Brodricks." He remembered that in the old days of the autumn manœuvres, instituted by an eminent predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman, an objectionable sausage was issued to the troops which was called the "Cardwell Sausage." He thought that if the War Office desired to have an adequate display on some future occasion, free from the criticism of foreign military experts, they could not do better than parade a couple of battalions of Guardsmen—he supposed they could get 800 men out of the four Regiments of Guards stationed in and about London—on the Horse Guards parade ground, and tell the foreigners that the paucity in the number of troops was to be accounted for by the insufficiency of the area of ground at their disposal. He did not understand the references of the Leader of the Opposition regarding expenditure. They could not make omelettes without breaking eggs. Neither could he understand Gentlemen below the gangway opposite. They appeared to desire that the troops now in South Africa should be brought home, and that their place should be taken by an Army Corps from this country which would not be replaced here. He thought hon. Members opposite had not grasped the situation. There were difficulties in the way of keeping an Army Corps in South Africa. What was a, British Army Corps? It was composed mainly of what he might call babes and sucklings, who could not be sent out of the country. Suppose an emergency arose elsewhere, 15,000 men might be sent to meet it, leaving behind 15,000 babes and sucklings to keep order in the 927 Transvaal and Cape Colony in the event of a rising.
With reference to the Reserves, if they sent the Reserves out with the First Army Corps, they would not get any Reserves in the future. If the Reserves were sent out, how would they be able to get the Reserves to join the service battalions. He humbly submitted that that was not the proper course to pursue in connection with South Africa. If the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean were held to be unsafe for the transhipment of troops, surely they were equally unsafe for the transhipment of Reserves. If they had an Army Corps in South Africa it would be a local corps with different pay and allowances. The War Office ought to consider very seriously what Mr. Private Atkins thought of the matter. If he were sent to South Africa he would be expatriated, and deprived of all the amenities, male and female, he enjoyed at home. If they were to have a voluntary Army they should sugar the pill. With reference to the quick-firing guns referred to by the hon. Member for Oldham, the hon. Gentleman knew a great deal, but he did not think the hon. Gentleman knew everything. The history of the matter appeared to be this. In 1898, the German Government determined to reorganise their field and horse artillery, and they did so with Krupp guns. In 1899, the French Government, who had used quick-firing guns since 1886, also reorganised their batteries with new guns with what were technically called deformation carriages. Directly that was done, the German Government saw they were premature and again they reorganised their horse and field artillery. He did not think that the British War Office had been particularly slow in the matter. He thought the War Office was right in taking time. He did not see how it could have done otherwise unless it let the country in for very considerable expense. It was almost impossible to obtain details of the French guns. During the Chinese Expedition, the French were so jealous of their guns that they placed sentries about them, and the same applied to the manœuvres of the French Army. In this matter the right hon. Gentleman 928 and his Department had shown a great deal of masterly inactivity; and a considerable saving had been effected by the delay.
§ MR. HARWOOD (Bolton)
said he rose to call attention to the way in which the War Office dealt with canteens. His excuse for raising that matter was that it was of much more importance than would be thought by those who did not understand the matter. The canteen system had a great deal to do with the physical enjoyment and the moral welfare of the soldiers. The Government, he thought, quite recognised that. He recognised that it was a difficult matter to deal with, and that the problem had not yet been satisfactorily solved. The Government acknowledged that they had been drifting in the wrong direction in this matter, and all who had studied it knew that the canteen system was going from bad to worse. They were gradually getting into the grip of the monopolists and the soldiers' welfare suffered. The Government had appointed a Committee, but he was not going to complain that the Government had not adopted its recommendations. What he did complain of was that the Government had abandoned the whole problem. They had taken their hands off the oars and they had let the boat drift on to the cataract. It would have been far better if they had not touched the matter at all, because the abuses might become far greater now. It was a thousand pities that the Government had promised to do something, and then with cowardice had abandoned the whole matter. He wanted the Committee to realise what a very important matter this was. When one heard of a canteen he was apt to think of it as a low drinking place. But it was very much more than that. It was not a place which a soldier might frequent if he chose, but a place he must frequent. It was an institution which went to the very heart of his physical welfare and his daily life. It was not merely a drinking place, but a grocery stores. It was the shop for the soldiers' wives, and in many places it was the only shop they could frequent. The soldiers' wives and families depended on these stores. It was also the refreshment house for the soldier. Reference had been made to the food supplied to the 929 soldiers. He thought the Committee did not quite realise that the soldier was bound to go to the canteen or to somewhere else for some of his food, because the food that was allowed him was not sufficient. The food which the Government gave the soldier was barely sufficient to enable him to continue to keep up his condition; but it was not sufficient to enable him to build up his condition from the age of eighteen. They not only wanted to keep the soldier going, but they wanted to build him up. The canteens were to the soldiers what the "tuck shops" were to the public schools. He did not want to create disaffection against the Army in the country; but the Committee would be surprised to learn that the food supplied to soldiers was lower in England and Scotland than that given to convicts and paupers. Last of all they realised that the soldier's life required to be something more than it had been in the past. They realised that they wanted a better class of men, and they could not expect to get them unless they could afford them some social amenities in the shape of clubs and places to which they could go to write letters, etc. Therefore, the canteen should be the germ of something much better than a regimental institution.
How were these canteens managed? They were managed in two ways. There was the regimental system of management and there was the tenant system. The tenant system meant letting out the canteen to some large contractor by whom a lump sum was paid at the rate of so much per head, which amounted to £20 per 100 men per month. The profits thus derived amounted to £1,400 a year, which was more than £2 per head. By letting out these canteens to contractors the War Office gained easiness of management, business management, and a lump sum of money free from anxiety and difficulty. This temptation was too much for Army officers; it would be too much for him (Mr. Harwood) and the result bad. But more and more the canteens were being put-under the tenant system, and, if the thing went on as now, it would not be very long before practically the whole of the canteens came under the tenant system. 930 He wanted the Committee to face the fact that there were two enormous evils appertaining to the canteen tenant system. One was that it was practically a monopoly. This business, like all other businesses, had more and more a tendency to get into the hands of the few, and it was given in evidence before the Committee that two-thirds of the canteens under the tenant system were now in the hands of one firm, which was not to the advantage of the soldiers. He had seen a letter in the papers that day from that firm, which would probably before long have the control of all the canteens, in which they said—They had no other cutlet for goods a little bit out of condition beyond the tenant canteens.That was a large firm which told the Committee they had a large general business. But the soldier was to be put into the position that he was to be at the mercy of a large monopolist firm which said that "the tenant canteen was the only outlet for goods which were a little out of condition." They knew what a little out of condition meant. He (Mr. Harwood) stood there on behalf of the soldier, and he said that to place a soldier in that position—first, to compel him to go to the canteen, and then to adopt a system of a firm of monopoly capitalists without competition was grossly unfair to the soldier.
There was another thing which was more important. It was acknowledged by all the contractors who had had to do with this business that they depended for their profit on the sale of drink. They were driven to give these rebates, amounting to as much as £20 per 100 men per month, and they made it almost entirely out of the sale of the drink. They had every motive to press the sale of drink, because out of that alone could they make the reflate which they had to pay. It was grossly unfair to the Army that the soldiers should be brought into contact with such a system as that. Witness after witness before the Committee stated that young recruits were great eaters; that they learned to drink afterwards. When they took young men at an age when their characters and habits were unformed, the authorities took a moral obligation upon themselves. 931 They were bound to take all the precautions they could to prevent these young men being subjected to temptations which they themselves would not allow their own children to undergo. What had the Government done in this matter? He admitted they had many good intentions which, however, he feared only went to pave that road they were all told to avoid. He feared the Secretary of State was not the Hercules to clean this Augean stable, because in the Army Order issued in June this year, although be said the administration or the canteens should be delegated to officers commanding the Army Corps, he further stated that they might be conducted either on the regimental or tenant principle. What an absurdity it was to give a choice of these two systems when everyone knew what the result would be. Except an officer had a passion to become an amateur grocer he would not undertake a job of this kind. They would hand it over to a tenant who would guarantee a lump sum. They would hand it over to the tenant monopolist. They would retain no command at all except over the rebate. The soldiers might very well ask what became of that sum of money, which amounted to over £250,000 a year. Some of the older officers had pointed out what might be done with it. Lord Roberts in India, and Lord Kitchener in Egypt, had both set an example. Both those officers gave evidence before the Committee that the buildings of the canteens were a disgrace and that no one could expect civilised soldiers to go to such places, and that they ought to be put into good order. Here they had a great fund for that purpose, and both those officers recommended that it should be used for the purpose of rebuilding the canteens. But the War Office said—"Oh no, you must not do that."
He appealed to the Government to have some courage in this matter if they bad none in any other. He appealed to them to regard the possibilities. The tenant system was the system in the Army up to 1856, when those who knew what occurred pointed out that the soldiers were not treated fairly, and this House gave up £26,000 a year canteen pay on the condition that 932 the tenant system should not be longer tolerated on account of its evils. The Government now pocketed the £26,000 a year and allowed the tenant system to continue. The right hon. Gentleman must not disguise from himself this fact—that what he was going to do by this Army Order was to put all the canteens into the hands of one firm, the name of which was well known to the right hon. Gentleman. No doubt there would be nominal contractors, but it would be a syndicate and under that syndicate the private soldier would be robbed and demoralised. That was the natural conclusion arrived at from the facts. He was not a tee-totaller and would give every facility to the men to get what they wanted so long as it was not abused. But the Committee had a great obligation to see that these men were surrounded with as good conditions as possible for the benefit of their moral and physical welfare. When spoken to by parents who desired their sons to enter the Army he, and be had no doubt other hon. Members had done the same, had been obliged to advise them not to subject their sons to these temptations. He wanted to see the Army like the army of Rome in its best days, an honorable career to which fathers and mothers were proud to send their sons. But that could not be so until the canteen system was put on a proper basis; until the Army was purified from the temptation of drink and the temptation of immorality.
§ *MR. LLEWELLYN (Somersetshire, N.)
did not know the source from which the hon. Member for Bolton derived his information, but, going by his own experience, he thought the picture drawn by the hon. Member was very wide of the fact. The system referred to, if not carefully watched, was undoubtedly open to abuse. But it was most carefully watched, and he believed that in every regiment where a choice could be made between a regimental canteen and one provided by a contractor, the commanding officer would be only too glad to have his own canteen. The life of a soldier was very different now compared with a few years back. There were many places other than the canteen in which the soldiers could get their enjoyment—institutes, reading-rooms, 933 and so forth, to all of which the men had access, and of which they readily availed themselves. Another matter to which he desired to refer was the obligation recently imposed upon recruits to produce a written character. Nobody wanted bad characters in the Army; they upset the regiments and everybody who had to do with them; but at the sametime, if this rule were rigidly adhered to the country would lose the services of many good young fellows who would make excellent soldiers. He understood that the rule was not working altogether satisfactorily. Many well-behaved young fellows lost their character for the moment by a slight slip or a small offence, but under this regulation they had all to be rejected if they endeavoured to enlist. By all means let really bad characters be kept out of the Army, but let the matter be done in a practical and not a sentiment way.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
desired to call attention to a matter affecting the morale of the whole Army. He did not intend to refer to the system of "ragging" generally, but to one particular case which was more serious than the ordinary instances with which the Committee were familiar, inasmuch as the victim was not a brother officer, but a civilian. The Cape "ragging" case, to which he referred, had been condemned by every independent journal in the Empire. Even such papers as The Timer; and the Daily Telegraph had to take refuge in silence; the case was too strong for them to attempt any defence. He would bring the matter to issue by basing his observations on a reply given by the Secretary of State for War immediately after the verdict in the case, viz.:—No further action will be taken by the War Office in respect to these officers; they have been tried and acquitted on the charges advanced by Mr. Stanford subsequently to the verdict of the civil Court, and it would not be in accordance with justice or precedent to go back on other charges for which compensation has been paid in a civil Court, and since which the officers have been re-employed in the field.He desired to traverse all the statements contained in that reply. What were the admissions made by these officers?—That Mr. Stanford was a man 934 with whom they had been on terms of social intimacy; that this "ragging" incident was not a freak undertaken on the spur of the moment, but a deliberate action; that Mr. Stanford was stripped to his shirt; that he was placed on a table in a public room and photographed in a degrading position to make him look ridiculous; that he was taken out in public view and ducked in a fountain; that they cut off part of his hair and moustache; that he was rapped with a cane until he signed a document exonerating the officers; that two of the officers gave to their commanding officer false accounts of the transaction; and that they instructed their solicitor to inform Mr. Stanford's solicitor that the whole affair was a farce which nobody enjoyed more than Stanford himself, and that providentially they had this document which exonerated them. Yet, after that, they submitted to a verdict of £1,500 against them and £2,000 costs rather than have the matter brought into Court. Those facts were all taken practically from their very words in the witness box.
There was another thing that would appeal to even man who possessed a spark of manly feeling. Stanford said it was a cowardly thing for ten men to set on one, and he offered to fight any three of them, and he protested against the outrage. Much obloquy had been cast upon the gentle-men who formed the Court-martial, but he did not think it was sound because they found that the graver charges were not proved. He had looked into the matter most carefully, because he entertained some doubt as to whether this was a proper question to bring forward, and he might say that he had consulted several authorities on constitutional evidence, and they had told him that since the time of Mr. Cardwell the War Minister was directly responsible to the House for all acts of discipline. Therefore, Lord Roberts must consider whether these men, who had no respect for themselves or their profession, who had acted with calculated rowdyism and deliberate brutality to a poor, defenceless man, who lied to their superior officer, should; retain the commission of the King and 935 still be regarded as officers of the Army. Lord Roberts must consider whether the admissions made by these gentlemen were compatible with the character of British officers, and whether there ought to be such a wide contrast between military and civilian standard of behaviour. The honour of the Army was the honour of the nation at large, and discredit upon the Army was a reflection upon the character of the nation to which that Army belonged. Mr. Gill, the counsel for these men, argued to get them the benefit of the doubt upon the charge of indecency. He said that Stanford might have been subjected to a mock Court martial, roughly handled, assaulted, put into the fountain, but all those matters would not justify the Court-martial in bringing home the charge of indecency to the prisoners. That might be so, but those facts would justify Lord Roberts in saying that if the British Army was to consist of men of honour those men should not stay in it. He did not think the right hon. Gentleman dealt with him quite fairly or courteously in regard to the Question he put that afternoon. On the eve of this Court-martial when these gentlemen were under arrest they gave their word of honour not to appear in public places, but nevertheless two of them appeared at Ascot on the eve of the Court-martial. The right hon. Gentleman said the Commander-in-Chief had taken disciplinary action in the matter, but he declined to give the names of the officers concerned. One of those officers was Captain Williams, who presided over the mock Court martial in Cape Town. What disciplinary action had been placed upon him who, he believed, was one of those who went to Ascot contrary to the King's regulations. Only in yesterday's Gazette he noticed that Captain Williams was promoted to be a major.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
asked why the right hon. Gentleman had not told him so at once. He wished to know if he was mistaken in regard to the Captain Williams whose name appeared 936 in the Gazette as having been promoted. He took it that that was true. Therefore this officer did not care much about disciplinary action. Captain Williams was rather worse than the others. He had not the excuse of youth, for he was thirty-five years of age. He instituted the Court-martial, presided over it, and took the photograph. [A laugh.] He did not think such brutality was a matter for laughter. [Renewed MINISTERIAL laughter.] This question ought not to be a laughing matter, and he was quite serious. He should like to know how any hon. Member would like ten men to set upon him. The Major Williams who had just been promoted to be a field officer was the gentleman who drew up the paper that Stanford signed, and which it was said he signed voluntarily. It was tins officer who said that in order to overcome Stanford's objection to signing the document that half his moustache was cut off. Counsel put to this officer the following questions—You have said that drink was not forced down Stanford's throat in order to revive him. As a matter of fact was smoke blown up his nose?—Possibly smoke was blown in his face.For the purpose of insulting him?—Yes.Was he before this paper was signed beaten with a stick?—Not beaten. I saw him rapped with a cane.You said in your statement to the commanding officer, 'he was not beaten or any violence used. He signed this paper voluntarily, and he was told that he might go when he had done so?'—He was not beaten with a stick. He was rapped with a cane, but in no sense hurt.Is that what you call signing a paper voluntarily?—Perhaps I ought not to have used the expression. His hands were not guided. My object was to show the Secretary of State that Stanford was not speaking the truth.Then came Captain Hayes, of the 3rd Dragoon Guards, who was cross-examined, and said—He knew Mr. Barclay, of Johannesburg. That gentleman was present at the mock Court-martial as a spectator. Before Stanford signed the paper which had been put in, he was not subjected to various acts of violence, but half his moustache was cut off, as well as patches of hair from his head. The witness did not see him rapped with a cane.In reply to the letter from Stanford's solicitors claiming damages this witness's solicitor wrote that the whole affair was a bit of fun in which none joined more heartily than Mr. Stanford, who as a further proof of his concurrence joined in 937 the signing of the verdict of the sham Court-martial. This document was afterwards found on the floor and brought forward as Stanford's confession. In the light of the evidence which came out at the Court-martial the ordinary "hooligans" became respectable people.
He did not know any of these men, and he had no personal feeling whatever with reference to them. He thought Lieutenant Prior by his conduct had placed himself out of Court. The hon. Member trusted that after such acts as that officer was proved to have done, no Court-martial of honourable men in this country would ever give back his sword to any officer when they could not give him back his honour.
Ho sometimes thought there was a public opinion in the House of Commons somewhat different from the public opinion outside, and he desired to remind hon. Members of the comments which had been made on the subject of these disclosures in the Press. In one journal the suggestion was made that the charge was so drawn that the accused officers might be acquitted. He would quote certain journals which were not particularly favourable to his colleagues, and which had treated him with no great courtesy. Here was what the World said—The Court-martial at Wellington Baracks throws disagreeable light upon the character of the men who may possibly at no distant time hold high posts in the Army. The powers of favouritism and of social influence which have placed them where they are, will probably help them to rise over the heads of men who have no other qualifications than those of brains, of industry, of love of their profession. The seven men who have been acquitted, though by a nice and significant distinction not 'honourably' acquitted according to the usual phraseology, of conduct unbecoming officers and gentlemen, will go back to their respective regiments. How will they be received there by their comrades? As heroes emerging from unmerited obloquy, or as culprits who have got off more easily than could have been expected? What will be their influence over the noncommissioned officers and men? Lord Kitchener has been obliged to promulgate an order denouncing the conduct of soldiers in India who maltreat natives, which be requires to be read periodically before the men by their officers. Tie deterioration of the manners of the rank and file probably but reflects that of too many officers.That was the testimony of a Conservative Journal. He would read two letters 938 which had appeared in the Daily Mail. In a letter signed "Civilis" the writer said—When Lieutenant-Colonel Kinloch was cashiered for permitting 'ragging' Mr. Brodrick established for the War Office: he principle of condemning a man out of his own mouth without trial. Why should that principle not be put in force all round? Is tae verdict of the 'mock Court-martial' which acquitted them to be regarded as of more value than their own confessions on oath? We are periodically shocked at the ruffianly conduct of German officers towards civilians. If Mr. Brodrick brands these 'raggers' as gentlemen and retains them as officers, what protection can civilians expect against cads in uniform? What would have been their fate think you at any Police Court in London?In the other letter this was what an "Australian officer "said—Not the least scandalous fact in connection with the 'ragging' Court-martial is that the indictment was so drawn by the War Office as to render an acquittal certain. It would be interesting to know who was responsible for the preparation of the papers, and how it came about that, as I am informed was the case, insufficient time was given to the Treasury to go into the case. As a Colonial, I deeply deplore the effect which this disastrous verdict is likely to have in the colonies. The Australian papers have for months been full of jibes against the British Army and the manner in which justice is administered in it. This affair will add fuel to the flames of resentment and deepen the bitterness against the British officer. Lt is cruel injustice to the thousands of upright and hard-working officers in our Army to find the conduct of such men as the seven prisoners in the 'ragging' scandal placidly approved by a Court of officers.On 1st July the Daily Mail contained the following paragraph—Four Hampshire yokels were charged at Winchester Assizes yesterday with an offence which the defending counsel observed would hi other circles he described 'ragging,' an explanation which was received with laughter from the public and from the Junior Bar, which included Mr. Brodrick, a relative of the War Minister. The 'ragging' aspect of the case was heightened by the presence of a number of other yokels at the time of the attack. It appears that a married man went courting a girl in another village and the villagers, apparently inspired by military examples, decided to execute the punishment they thought fit upon the social offender. They waited until he had bidden the young-woman 'good-night,' and then caught him outside the village, knocked him down, dragged him along the road for a hundred yards, threw him into a ditch (where one of them jumped upon him) and then pulled him out and threw him like a bundle over a hedge. The four prisoners pleaded guilty to assault, and Mr. Justice Laurence, observing that the worst feature was that several of them set upon 939 one man at the same time, sent the two elder, aged twenty-six, to prison for six weeks, and the two younger, aged nineteen, for a month.The Army and Navy Gazette said—To the practised mind the verdict falls short of full acquittal. The Court is satisfied that the prisoners were not guilty of the charges preferred, and so certified their opinion that they guardedly and significantly abstained from using the well-known expression 'and do honourably acquit them of the same.' This is very much what obtains in the Scottish Courts when a verdict of 'not proven' is given, and with the same somewhat lame conclusion the seven incriminated officers must rest satisfied.The Broad Arrow spoke still more strongly on the subject.
He asked the Secretary of State for War a Question a few days ago with reference to the imprisonment of a Boer officer at Trichinopoly. The right hon. Gentleman was not there, but his substitute gave an answer in that breezy manner which always suggested "On Stanley, on!" that this man had been imprisoned for fifteen months with hard labour for complicity in disturbance among the prisoners of war in camp. As the Committee knew this matter was brought, or rather came, before the civil Courts. Mr. Stanford issued writs against these gentlemen who, did all in their power to avoid service of the writs. An effort was made not to allow evidence to be taken on commission, and a motion was made by Mr. Schreiner, a former Premier of the Colony, that a commission to ascertain evidence should be issued. One witness swore that the defendants had boasted to him that the trial would never come off, because martial law was supreme, and that Lord Kitchener would never let it come into the Supreme Court, and that they would snap their fingers at the Supreme Court. Colonel Cooper's evidence was that he himself was staying at the Nelson Hotel, which was his usual residence; that he was military governor of the Cape Town district, and that he had everyone in his power. He said that the night after the dance he had been informed that Stanford had been ducked in the fountain. He made inquiries and found that no complaint had been made to the police about the matter. Then on cross-examination Colonel Cooper said that he did not report the matter officially. He 940 left Cape Town on the 11th April, and no papers had been forwarded to him with reference to the case. He had seen a notice of the proceedings in the public press. On 9th November he reported the farts to the authorities. In that report Colonel Cooper said that he thought Stanford had probably brought on himself whatever treatment he had received. The commanding officer desired to hush up the conduct of these young men to Stanford. How was that to promote good feeling between the colonists and the mother country? These occurrences took place between 11 o'clock on Christmas eve and 6 o'clock on Christmas morning.
Now while this orgie was going on in Cape Town, and these atrocities were being committed by these officers, nearly all of whom had been mentioned in despatches, what was going on in the Transvaal? At two o'clock on Christmas morning a Yeomanry camp of four companies on a high kopje at Treifontein was successfully rushed by De Wet with an overwhelming force. Six officers (including Major Williams in temporary command) and fifty men were killed and about the same number wounded, and about 200 British prisoners were taken, but some returned. What a contrast between the shame of the orgie at Cape Town and the heroism of the kopje! It could not have existed in any administration except that of the right hon. Gentleman—an administration which had been one tornado of scandals and blunders. The editor of the Broad Arrow began a leading article by sayingIt is idle to suppose that a scandal which was common talk at the Cape was a hidden mystery to the authorities at Pall Mall.The head of the War Office did not wish to know anything about it. Having obtained information from a gentleman whose name if mentioned would, from his antecedents, command the highest respect, he on the 6th of August, 1902, asked the right hon. Gentleman if he would make further inquiry and offered to give him fuller details. What was the right hon. Gentleman laughing at? The right hon. Gentleman ought to be very much ashamed of himself. This was not a matter for laughter. On the 6th of August the right hon. Gentleman gave an answer which showed his horrid 941 callousness in reference to the duties of his office. He said—I will make no inquiry about it. Lord Kitchener was there and I have full confidence in Lord Kitchener.Then he remarked that Lord Kitchener was in this country, and would the right hon. gentleman not inquire from him, whereupon the right hon. Gentleman in his forcibly feeble manner said "No, Sir;" and the hon. Gentlemen behind him cheered He very rarely looked up to the Peers Gallery, but on the very next day he happened to glance up at that Gallery and saw Lord Kitchener sitting there, whereupon he gave Lord Kitchener the full details of this occurrence and having done so he walked across the floor of the House, and handed the Papers to the right hon. Gentleman. He believed Lord Kitchener had never heard of that transaction except what his Lordship had heard from him, during his almost providential appearance in the Gallery, that night. He had left outside altogether the charges of indecency, and he had proved that on the admission of the officers themselves they were not fit persons to remain in the Army. Now he came to the charge of indecency. [Interruptions.] This matter would not be hushed up, Mr. Avory was the counsel for the Treasury at the Court-martial, and in his summing up speech made the astonishing, the amazing, statement which would take every lawyer's breath away. [Ironical laughter.] Yes, anyone who knew the facts. Mr. Avory said—The Treasury was not responsible for the form of the charge which was settled before it came into his hands. And, speaking for himself, he was not prepared for one moment to admit that conduct such as had been described in the case might not constitute disgraceful conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman within the meaning of the 16th Section of the Army Act. Conduct such as had been described was most certainly calculated to bring contempt upon the red coat, and everything that was calculated to do that was certainly conduct which was calculated to bring disgrace on the Service. But as the charge was drawn up and placed before the Court, he admitted that the Court must find under it some kind of indecency amounting to scandalous conduct—
§ And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again this evening.