§ Order read, for resuming adjourned debate on Main Question [7th March], "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ MR. GUEST (Plymouth)
complained that the Secretary of State for War in his speech had laid down no general principles, and had not stated whether the Army was intended for home defence or for foreign aggression, while with regard to the question of cost, the only expression of opinion the right hon. Gentleman had given in the matter of economy had amounted to his desire to make some few adventitious savings. He had told them nothing about the distribution of the Army in times of peace, he had said nothing about the reorganisation of the War Office, and he had left them with the impression that the old state of muddle and confusion was still to continue. There was, in fact, nothing in his speech to indicate that in the future there would be any guarantee against a repetition of the regrettable incidents and misfortunes which marked the outbreak of the late South African war. What made that all the more noteworthy was the fact that directly the right hon. Gentleman left the province of the Regular Army he embarked on a discussion of the Auxiliary Forces in which he expressed very decided views. For instance, in regard to the Militia, ho declared that it was in a profoundly unsatisfactory condition, and he traced the cause of that largely to the force having been regarded as an adjunct to the Line. He also told them it was his policy to abolish the new Militia. Reserve. Then in regard to the Volunteers ho told them that he had definite views, and he did not think that the Volunteers —not through any fault of their own—were fulfilling the duties which the 469 country expected of them. The same remark applied to the Yeomanry. He said that the Yeomanry gave him the greatest possible satisfaction, and in that respect he acknowledged the services rendered by his predecessor. He (Mr. Guest) was inclined to give credit for the resent satisfactory condition of the Yeomanry force to the late Secretary for War, and he hoped that the present holder of that office would avoid the mistake which had been made in regard to the Militia, and would not treat the Yeomanry as an adjunct of the Cavalry. The contrast between the way in which the right hon. Gentleman treated the Regular Army and the Auxiliary Forces was very marked indeed.
The House had naturally looked forward to his statement as indicating what would be the policy of the War Office for the coming year. But the right hon. Gentleman said nothing in his speech about the Committee of Defence. It would be interesting to know whether the Secretary for War was of opinion that the creation of a permanent nucleus of the Committee of Defence was desirable or undesirable in the interests of the policy he was recommending to the country. Again, he sail nothing about the thinking department of the Army, upon which so much stress was laid by the War Commission. Further, there was not a word on the General Staff, and there was no indication whether he thought that the creation of that body would save the country from a repetition of any of the awkward incidents that had occurred at the beginning of the late war. It was peculiar, too, that the right hon. Gentleman said nothing about the Army Corps system, It would be interesting to know whether he recommended the retention of that system, and whether he considered that that system, either as a military instrument or as an administrative unit, was suited to the needs of the country. They did not know whether he agreed with the recommendation for the creation of eight districts under major-generals, as was suggested in the Report of the Reconstruction Committee. Then they had not a word in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman about the question of decentralisation. What was his policy in regard to that? They knew nothing as yet. They knew nothing, too, in regard to 470 the terms of service under which enlistments were at present made. It was a, well known fact that under the present system of enlistment for three years there was some doubt as to whether at the completion of the present year the right hon. Gentleman would be able to find the necessary drafts for our Indian and colonial services. That was a very important matter, and surely it was one they might have expected to figure in the annual speech of the right hon. Gentleman. Then there was the question of the linked battalions, which went to the very root of the whole War Office and Army organisation. Under the present system of linked battalions we had very large garrisons retained in this country—far larger than many thought necessary for the defence of the country, always supposing, of course, that the defence of the country was to be entrusted to the Regular Army. Surely on that question they might have expected some observations in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman.
To his mind the right hon. Gentleman's statement was altogether inexplicable. After all, he was responsible for the triumvirate of the Reconstitution Committee, and, as far as could be understood, he agreed with the Report of that body. He had told them that he regarded it as a coherent whole—a coherent work from the beginning to the middle and to the; end, and that it was necessary that it should be either adopted or rejected as a whole. Yet he had adopted one half of the Report and had ignored the other half altogether. He had established an Army Council—a very important stop, and one of the main recommendations of the Committee. He had gone much further than that, for he had removed what was, perhaps, the greatest impediment of all to Army reform, he had determined to be master in his own Department, and had taken the extreme step, and no doubt to him a very painful step, of dismissing the old personnel of the War Office. He had now under him a staff of men who, in a sense, were his own creatures, and who had, no doubt, been appointed with the object of carrying out great reforms. All this gigantic preparation, involving a breach with the past, had recently been introduced, and 471 yet when the supreme moment arrived, when he was expected to propose to the House and the country the reforms for which these preparations were made, he came down and made a speech in which there was nothing to indicate what reforms he intended to carry out with the machinery he had created. He had contented himself by making a sort of interim statement. He had told them that this was the last time that such Estimates as he had brought forward, might be expected to be presented to the House of Commons. It was a very great pity that the right hon. Gentleman had missed the opportunity which now offered itself for carrying the great reforms upon which he had, it was believed, insisted. The right hon. Gentleman had told them that they were at the parting of the ways, but there was nothing in his speech to indicate what was the new path he had determined to strike out in order to carry the reforms which were assumed to be desired. This procrastination was very much to be regretted. Ministers to day had notoriously short lives, and it would have been an advantage to the cause of Army reform if the right hon. Gentleman had left a record of his personal feeling as to the direction and extent in which Army reform might possibly be developed. People's wills were sometimes respected, and some such sort of testamentary inheritance from the right hon. Gentleman to his successor would have been of value to the House of Commons, because even if the right hon. Gentleman had not survived to put his scheme into execution through public opinion being directed into other channels, it still would have been something to have had on record his plans. There was no doubt public opinion was prepared to support the right hon. Gentleman in his task. The temper of the House, the temper of the country, based on the accumulation of evidence which they had in the Reports of the War Commission and of the Reorganisation Committee, were all in favour of the cause of reform, and it was very unfortunate, under the circumstances, that the right hon. Gentleman should have contented himself with a half-hearted presentment of the subject.
He was quite aware that the Secretary of State for War was not ommipotent. 472 It might be there were difficulties in his path which were concealed from the outside observer, but they would like to know very much what was the sinister influence which prevented the adoption of reforms which were by common consent so very necessary. They knew that the Prime Minister took great interest in the question; they knew that last autumn the right hon. Gentleman indicated that he was in favour of reform. Then what were the difficulties which had arisen in the path of those reforms? Were there differences of opinion in the Cabinet which prevented the right hon. Gentleman from having his way? Was this another attempt to keep the Party together? was it another attempt to sacrifice what would be the logical outcome of previous sequences of events in order that private feelings might be assuaged and awkward incidents might not arise for discussion? It was very unfortunate if that were so, because, whatever might be the necessity, in other matters, to keep the Party together, whatever sacrifices might be required, it seemed to him that this was a moment when other considerations should prevail, and it was most deplorable that the opportunity for securing substantial reforms should be missed. Of course, during the debates of the Army Estimates they would have many opportunities of getting from the right hon. Gentleman indications of what his intentions were, and how he proposed to develop his policy. But he could only repeat again that he thought it was most unfortunate that the right hon. Gentleman had not come boldly forward with a definite scheme of reform of a far-reaching character—a scheme for which, no doubt, he would have obtained support both inside and outside the House of Commons, a support which would have greatly facilitated the passage of his proposals through Parliament. He hoped even now it was not too late to exhort the right hon. Gentleman to adopt some such course, and thus secure the practical application of the principles which he was believed to have in his mind.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
said he wished to direct the attention of the House, for a few minutes to one specific matter, and he approached it in 473 the character of a civilian. It was one affecting the personal rights and liberty of the subject. It had to deal with the post of Judge Advocate-General, which he held should be constituted on its old basis of a Ministerial and Parliamentary office whose holder would be directly responsible to Parliament. To make this a non-political office was to abolish it, and its abolition was to be deplored, not only on account of its historical associations, but because by virtue of his office, the Judge Advocate-General had always been the responsible adviser of the Government in military matters, just as the Attorney-General and the other law officers in that House were their responsible advisers in civil matters. The Judge Advocate-General, too, was essentially the King's Minister, and he had a privilege enjoyed by no other Minister of the Crown, viz., of the personal access at all times and places to the presence of the Crown in order to tender advice. It was desirable that the man who was responsible for revising the proceedings of Courts-martial should be in the House to answer interrogators. It was a great pity that because, of some wretched cheeseparing economy this ancient historical office had been abolished, and had been made a non-political post. An enormous number of Courts-martial were held every year by officers who could not lie said to be experts in military law, and it was the duty of the Judge Advocate-General to revise the sentences and to lay the results of his revision before the Crown and the Commander-in-Chief. In May last the Secretary of State for War, replying to a Question by the Hon. Member for Shrewsbury, stated that the number of Court-martial proceedings submitted to the Judge Advocate-General's Department, and of convictions wholly quashed in the three preceeding years were as follows: —1900, 17,711 Courts-martial, 47 quashed; 1901, 19,349 Courts-martial, 67 quashed; 1902,14,732 Courts-mirtial, 47 quashed. Having regard to the fact that during the time this was going on the Judge Advocate-General had been appointed by the Board of Trade the head of a Commission it was utterly impossible that he could have personally revised these proceedings. They must have been revised by officials whom this 474 House could not reach. When the matter referred to was brought before the late Secretary of State for War, he absolutely denied responsibility with reference to the proceedings of Courts-martial. He slid it was the Judge Advocate-General who had charge of them. A more unconstitutional and improper statement was never made by a Minister. The charge he made was that under the present system the liberties of private soldiers were not safe. This state of matters would remain until there was a Minister, a legal adviser in military matters for the Crown, in this House. There were things done and outside influence brought to bear that could never have been tolerated if the Judge. Advocate-General hid been in this House. The Court-martial at Wellington Barracks in July last year was brought about by great pressure being put on the Government eighteen months after the events to which the proceedings referred. The facts were known. A civilian in a hotel at Cape Town was maltreated, subjected to shocking indignity, and horrid indecency by ten officers. An action was brought against them in the Civil Court, and a number of the defendants were found liable in damages to the person who was attacked. Mr. Bartley, stockbroker, Johannesburg, who at the proceedings in Cape Town spoke in regard to the horrible acts of indecency which took place was asked by telegram on 5th May whether he would come back and give evidence as to the indecency, and a telegram was received on 6th May stating that he would not. The charge, or what was sometimes called the indictment, against the officers was drawn in such a way as to secure their acquittal on the charge of indecency. That was a cut-and-dried arrangement by some of the understrappers in the Judge Advocate-General's Office. Ii the indictment had been drafted in the ordinary way he believed the men would have been convicted. The fact that the Judge Advocate-General was not a member of the Government produced desperate hardships in the case of private soldiers whose Cass might be investigated by callous clerks. It was a shield for rich and high-placed offenders from the course of justice. He implored hon. and right 475 hon. Gentlemen to assist him in his plea for the re-establishment of this ancient and honourable Parliamentary office.
§ *COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, Ince)
said he wished to refer to the strength of the home regiments at Alder-shot intended to be first sent out on Service. At the present time from a halt to two-thirds had to be added from the Reserve, and he regarded that as a serious state of matters. The Reserve system, as had been shown in the South African war, worked thoroughly well when once put in operation, but it was a very difficult thing to put it in operation. The Reserve was called out by proclamation declaring that a national danger existed. The result was that every Government delayed a long time before making that declaration.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I think I am right in saying that the matter the hon. and gallant Member is referring to is prescribed by statute. It does not arise on the Estimates.
said he was not proposing to alter the statute, but he was going to suggest to the Secretary of State how the matter might be dealt with in another way. He would propose that there should be a number of men allowed to be on prolonged furlough and ready to be called back by the officer commanding the regiment. The only other way of meeting the difficulty was to send out the young men at lease as many of them as the doctor would pass —because anything was better than this terrible delay. He strongly urged that the commander of a regiment should be able to fill up his regiment before the Reserves were called out. As to Garrison Artillery he thought they should be largely composed of Militia. Then as to the Defence Committee he had no objection to a small department, as it was called, with a Secretary: but he objected entirely to the confidential Reports of the Intelligence Department being handed over from that Department to another. That would be absolutely fatal; those confidential reports should be kept under the land and key of the officer in charge of the Intelligence Department—as if it was thought necessary to change the 476 heads of Departments, at the change of system these officers should be compensated for the financial loss incurred.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)
said that those hon. Members who for many years past had taken an interest in Army reform and had usually acted in sympathy with the right hon. Gentleman who now represented the War Office were glad at length to find that he occupied that high office. But they found themselves in a very awkward position, inasmuch as they had not been taken into the confidence of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman told the House that we were standing at the parting of the ways, but their difficulty was that the Estimates went in one direction and the right hon. Gentleman's views and aspirations travelled along another road. The right hon. Gentleman in the outset of his speech made the very remarkable statement thai;—Until a short time ago the country did nor quite know what duties the Army was expected to perform.neither did the House at the present moment. And the right hon. Gentleman continued—At this moment we do not possess the full knowledge which we might some day possess,that was what they complained of—but what the strength of the Army ought to be and what its duties, were subjects for professional judgment and for the judgment of the House.In other words, it amounted to the old nursery rhyme, "Shut your eyes and open your mouth and see what you will; get." They were asked to discuss these Estimates because the right hon. Gentleman hoped to introduce others based on a different system. Surely that was an insult to the House. They were told that the Army and the Navy were to be considered together; but that was what they had been contending for for the last ten years, and what the right hon. Baronet the Member for Forest of Dean had been demanding for twenty years. If that was what was about to take place he could assure the right hon. Gentleman that he would have no more ardent supporters than the Army reformers on both sides of the House. He asked the right hon. Gentleman upon what horse they were to put their money? Was 477 it on the Army Corps system which they were told by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor, not long ago, held the field, in which statement the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor was backed up by the Prime Minister? Had the Government changed their minds? Had they abandoned the Army Corps system and the linked battalions? [An HON. MEMBER: Yes.] Some hon. Gentleman said "Yes," but he would like to hear from the Secretary of State for War whether or not that was the case.
They had been led to believe that there was diminished expenditure, but he maintained that diminished expenditure was altogether illusory unless the old system was not to be maintained. Everything pointed to increased expenditure and the diminished expenditure was apparent rather than real. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of "a machine that would do our work.…capable of performing the task that may be imposed upon it." They had heard that statement over and over again from the Treasury Bench; what they were anxious to know was when they were to get it. It was the old story of "Live horse and you'll get grass." The existing position amounted to this:—The Foot Guards, the best troops in the country were reduced 2,000; the Infantry, the backbone of the Army, were reduced by 5,000; the Army Reserve was below its usual strength; the Militia Reserve was practically gone; the Militia itself was in a deplorable slate; the Volunteers were decreasing. The right hon. Gentleman was proud of the fact that, for the first time in history, the Yeomanry had now nearly arrived at its normal strength, although he did not mention that the force was still ineffective in as much as half the horses were borrowed. Then in connection with this diminished expenditure, some £750,000 were taken from the surplus remaining after the war. They were promised thirty batteries of new guns, but all these were for India; that carte blanche had been given to the manufacturers to turn out as many new guns as fast as they could; but the payment for these guns would come on the Estimates with which many hon. Members now in the House would have nothing to do. The right hon. Gentleman boasted of the new rifle; but he 478 understood that its only merit was that, it was somewhat shorter than the present weapon; and to do this was to cause an expenditure of £2,000,000. The right hon. Gentleman acknowledged that the recruiting was bad, and that any charges for the Somaliland expenditure were not on the Estimates. The whole thing was preposterous. The idea that the Army Estimates had been diminished might be true, but it was only partially true, and was only accomplished by diminishing our fighting force to a lower point than at any previous period of our history. The right hon. Gentleman told the House that the new field gun was superior to any other weapon in Europe. Of course, new guns adopted by any Government were always the best in the world! The right hon. Gentleman never touched on the very basis of the whole Army scheme—the question of recruiting. They would probably be told that the right hon. Gentleman had a trump card up his sleeve; but they wanted to know what the trump card was. They had heard of Part I. and Part II. of the Report of the three gentlemen appointed to reorganise the War Office—one of whom was a brilliant strategist, and the other two were comparatively unknown. In Part II. they were told that Part I. had already been adopted, but the Estimates had nothing to do with any one of the parts of the Report. He had no doubt that if they could see Part III. they might have a fully and completely developed scheme, but it had nothing whatever to do with the Estimates. It was a monstrous thing to ask the House to discuss those Estimates when they knew full well that the right hon. Gentleman had no complete scheme to submit to the House.
As regards recruiting, the right hon. Gentleman acknowledged that the returns were very bad and that the quality of the recruits was bad. The right hon. Gentleman said that one reason why the recruiting was so bad was that the recruiting for the Artillery and Cavalry had been closed. But all the recruits that could have been obtained for those branches had been obtained during the war, and very few men could now be obtained for them. Efforts had been made to bring the Foot Guards up to their proper standards by offering bounties to 479 men to exchange from the Artillery and Cavalry. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Army was now a splendid career for a young man. That was not the opinion of the youth of the country from which the Army was drawn. Although he himself was the first to admit that the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor made a most gallant effort to improve the position of the soldier, still he had not done sufficient to induce a consistent flow of the right class of men into the service. In order to keep up the Army Corps system, which was heartily supported by the Prime Minister, a large number of men were engaged for three years. The authorities believed, rightly or wrongly, he thought wrongly himself, that a large number of men would re-engage and that in that way they would be able to obtain men for the Indian reliefs. In answer to a Question put by him to the Secretary of State the right hon. Gentleman said that some 4,000 or 5,000 three-years' men were serving in India and that 3,600 were under orders for India. Therefore the War Office was endeavouring to keep up the garrison in India with men who were engaged for three years only. The Government had broken faith with those men by sending them to India, and unless another gross injustice was to be done to them they should be returned to this country before they had completed their three years service. The men were nominally eighteen years of age, but they all Knew that youths enlisted at fifteen, sixteen, or seventeen years, and all soldiers who had experience of India said that a regiment of young soldiers sent to that country practically dropped to pieces and that a large number of the men succumbed to the climate. It was the custom to send young soldiers to the hills for a year, and therefore a large portion of the Indian garrison was absolutely ineffective. The 4,000 or 5,000 man who were sent out would cost the country something like £500,000 sterling. It was well known that it did not pay the Indian Government to accept the services of any man for lass than five years, but men were now being seat out for three years at a cost of £100 each to India and £20 to this country. This country would have to pay £500,000 in order to provide bogus 480 reliefs for the Indian garrison. The right hon. Gentleman might say that that was the fault of the system introduced by his predecessor, but there was no sum in the present Estimates dealing with the matter and there would have to be an enormous charge next year in order to carry out the Indian reliefs. The three years men who would insist on returning to this country would cost about an additional £1,000,000 sterling. More than half that sum ought to be borne on this year's Estimates, but was being thrust forward to next year's Estimates. It might be said that India had to be garrisoned, but he should have thought that the large number of seasoned men in this country who had seen service in South Africa would suffice for that purpose if they were engaged for seven years and were given sufficient pay. At present India was being garrisoned by the Government practically breaking faith with the seven years' men who were being kept a year longer in that country. He hoped that no such injustice would be done to the throe years' men.
With reference to the Militia the Militia the right hon. Gentleman admitted that it was in a profoundly unsatisfactory state. Its present strength was only 75,000 men, and they knew from their experience of the war what a wastage there would be if they were called to arms. He failed to see how the Militia could be rendered effective unless a further charge were placed on the Estimates. The right hon. Gentleman very properly pointed out that the Militia had been ruined owing to the fact that it was looked upon simply as an adjunct or feeder of the Army. When the officer commanding had got his regiment into proper order he was robbed of his best officers and his best recruits, in order to bolster up the Line battalions. He himself did not see how they were going to attract officers and men to the Militia without further expense. In endeavouring to deal with the Estimates the Committee were simply flogging a dead horse because they were given to understand that they were only interim Estimates which would only run for a certain time, and that the real Estimates would be of quite another character. He thought it unfair to bring forward the Estimates in this way. A 481 Vote on Account should be taken and the proper Estimates presented when the Committee was in possession of the new system. In other words they wore asked to discuss the Estimates in the dark. The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by saying that they ought to know whit the Army was for and what it was expected to do. If there was one thing the Army was expected to do it was to defend the Indian Empire. They knew the difficulties existing in the East, and that they might be called upon to place troops on the north-west frontier. Every soldier knew that if they placed the garrison on the frontier it would have to be replaced by troops from this country. It was said that they could get Militia and Volunteers, but how were they to provide against the wastage. They knew what the foreign military attachés in South Africa thought of the mob which Lord Roberts led. They were told that the war was to be finished with unconditional surrender, but it was brought to an end by a conditional surrender at a cost of £250,000,000 and 20,000 lives. If a similar difficulty arose it would mean conscription in its most drastic form. The Army was now not a whit better than it was ten years ago. The country was now no better prepared than it was before the South African war. Under such conditions it was a most unfair thing to ask the House to discuss these Estimates and leave them in the dark as to the plan of the Government as foreshadowed by those portions of the Report which they had accepted.
§ *MAJOR EVANS GORDON (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)
expressed the most fervent hope that the reforms foreshadowed in the Report would be put into force and adopted by the Government as soon as possible. He confessed he did not quite understand the attitude of some of his hon. friends and the hon. Gentlemen opposite in this matter. The Secretary of State for War had expressed his warm approval of the reforms suggested by the Committee, and in so doing had practically answered a large proportion of the many Questions which had been addressed to him in this debate. What did hon. Gentlemen want? They were on the eve of getting almost everything they had asked for; they could not expect every 482 demand to be acceded to immediately. Last year he and those who thought with him criticised the six Army Corps scheme. I and though their criticisms were then derided in this House it was subsequently discovered from the Report of the Royal Commission on the War that in those criticisms they had voiced the opinions of most distinguished soldiers, and to, crown all came the Report of Lord Esher's Committee condemning the scheme, which if not already dead was rapidly expiring. They had also asked for decentralisation and a general staff, and these reforms also were being adopted. Indeed there was not a point which had been raised which had not been dealt with and adopted by the Committee of three. That being so the least hon. Members could do now was to give the Government all the support and encouragement they could to adopt those very schemes for which they had been fighting so long. He did not say that there were not points which needed discussion and further elucidation. He was not satisfied, for instance, that the creation of a separate and independent Military Bureau under the immediate control of the Prime Minister of the day was altogether necessary or vise. There seemed to him, as far as one was able to understand it, an underlying risk of divided and antagonistic military opinion between the advisers of the Secretary of State for War and the advisers of the Prime Minister. He feared also that this arrangement might give rise to a want of that continuity in scientific military preparation which should always be going on irrespective of the immediate political situation. A change of Government and of a Prime Minister with a policy in diametric opposition to that of his predecessor would necessarily affect and modify the attitude of the immediate military advisers appointed and controlled by the head of the Government. He would at first sight far rather see the Bureau of the Committee of Defence worked as a subordinate department of the general staff of the Army so that in the regrettable event of the political situation needing the intervention of the soldiers, there should be only one recognised military authority to whom the Cabinet would refer for advice as to the military requirements. He hoped they should have an early opportunity of discussing such points 483 as these. Meanwhile those earnestly desirous of real Army reform could only express a fervent hope that the Secretary of State would receive the full support of the Government and of this House, as he was sure he would receive the support of the country, in carrying through these great changes with which he had declared himself to be in such full and complete agreement. As to other reforms, such as the great problems of recruiting, the linked battalion system, the feeding of the units abroad with men from the home battalion, the reorganisation of the Volunteers, etc., etc., they all knew that there was no one in this country, let alone in this House, who had a more profound knowledge of these questions, or a more earnest desire to solve them, than his right hon. friend. He, for one, was only too glad that these matters should be in such capable hands, and he was willing to leave them therein the confident belief that the Secretary of State would bring them before the House as soon as he could. Surely they might be a little patient, and give him time to mature his plans, dealing as they must do with matters of the utmost difficulty and complexity.
Comments had been made in this debate by the Leader of the Opposition and others, as to the confusion which had arisen in regard to the Estimates, etc., owing to the recommendations contained in these Reports. Of course some confusion was bound to arise when great and drastic changes of this kind were in process of development. But of this they might be sure, that the temporary confusion existing was nothing when compared to the permanent chaos which was to be replaced. The origin and constitutional form of the Committee of three had also been criticised. It might not have been in accordance with precedent, but it had a better claim upon our regard. For it was in accordance with the dictates of wisdom and common sense. Its origin seemed simple enough to him. They had a Report from a Royal Commission disclosing grave and terrible faults which had brought this country to the brink of disaster. That Commission made no direct recommendation as to how these faults were to be remedied. The Government then immediately appointed a Committee composed of the three best men who could be found 484 to complete the work which the Commission had begun, and to formulate reforms which an exhaustive enquiry had shown to be necessary. The Leader of the Opposition laughed at the frequent use of the word "vital," and condemned the hastiness of the proceedings. He did not think anyone reading these Reports impartially, could fail to agree that the changes recommended were vital. And if the right hon. Gentleman asked what was the need for hurry, he, in return would ask what case could be made out for delay. This thing needed to be done, and if so surely it wore best done quickly. They had delayed long enough in all conscience, and he trusted that the Government would go on as they had begun, and act with that promptitude and thoroughness which, in his judgment, the situation seemed to demand. For many years past the War Office and the Army had been labouring and suffering under a bad and rotten system. What had been lacking? A sufficient head of steam in the country and in Parliament to drag this antiquated machinery to the scrap heap and the dust destructor. The Royal Commission and the Committee had at length got up that head of steam. Surely they should be guilty of a supreme act of folly if they did anything to damp the fire or reduce the pressure for which they had waited so long.
§ MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE (Bristol, E.)
said there would be many who would not be sorry to see such a result as the hon. Member had just sketched and who would think it a fitting and proper end for much of the machinery which had been at work in every department of the Government for the last ten years. Before going further into the question of these Estimates he desired to ask two specific Questions of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. If the right hon. Gentleman looked at the Memorandum issued by the Secretary of State for War for 1903–4 he would find an unexpended balance of £300,000 under the Mo watt programme and so far as could be seen no provision was made in the Estimates for the spending of the balance. He wished to know whether on the one hand the Estimates were not misleading, or whether, on the other hand, notwithstanding all promises made to the contrary, of the whole of the money 485 recommended to be spent by the Mowatt Commission £300,000 had been left unspent because of the exigencies of the Budget which was to come. The other Question was of a more technical character. If the right hon. Gentleman looked at his Report of this year he would find that the whole of the Artillery machine guns would be finished by 1904, and now there was to be a new pattern of quick-firing equipment. What he wished to know was would those guns, as soon as the new pattern equipment was started, be put upon the scrap heap. During the last two years 530 guns had been added to fortresses, field batteries, and Horse Artillery batteries for service at home and in India. Were the whole of those guns to be thrown on one side, the money spent on them wasted, and an entirely new pattern of gun provided? Further, had any notice been taken by the War Office of the statement of the War Commission that the maintenance of fifteen calibres of guns was a source of great expense at home and inconvenience in the field, and of the recommendation that only four calibres of guns should be maintained in the future. The Secretary of State had referred to the state of recruiting as being unsatisfactory. How could he have imagined it would be anything else? Did he not remember the "exact parallel" drawn by the present Secretary of State for India between the British Army and indentured Chinese labour. Such a parallel was not likely to induce men to enlist in the Army.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
reminded the hon. Member that to refer to debates in the same session on another subject was out of order.
§ MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE
said he would pass from that matter to the Report of the Reorganisation Committee. During the last ten years there had been no less than four Reports dealing with the reorganisation of that Department, and three Orders in Council re-arranging the duties of high officials in the War Office. Each of those Reports had been issued in a great hurry, and was contradictory of its predecessor. The last issue occurred simultaneously with a discussion in this House upon +he defects of organisation revealed 486 by the War Commission, and the coincidence might be thought by some to have been brought about to distract attention from those defects. The House heard yesterday that this last Report had been adopted en bloc.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. ARNOLD-FORSTER,) Belfast, W.
No such statement was made by me.
MR. CHARLES, HOBHOUSE
said that if the right hon. Gentleman would consult the reports of his speech in the newspapers he would see that that was the phrase he was reported to have used.
§ MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE
accepted the right hon. Gentleman's correction; he had simply quoted the words as reported. It was also stated in the newspapers that the further consideration of this Report had been postponed owing to the attitude taken up by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the Secretary of State for India. Consequently the House did not know whether the Report was to be adopted en bloc or to be rejected en bloc, whether the position of the War Office was to be regulated by the new scheme or by the old scheme. If the Report were adopted en bloc what would be the position of the Secretary of State for India or of the Prime Minister. In 1901 the Prime Minister expressed the opinion that the Army Corps system was admirably contrived and the hope that the scheme would be carried out, and pointed to the then Secretary of State for War as one of the greatest reformers that had been known in this House. It was somewhat extraordinary that upon the findings of a new Report all that should be reversed, the Secretary of State for India thrown over, and the new Secretary of State for War hailed as the only saviour of the Army. Who was to guarantee that the new scheme would not be as quickly reversed as its predecessor? The more one examined that scheme the more one hesitated to adopt it. Boldness and wisdom were not interchangeable 487 terms. The scheme was marked by much boldness, but its wisdom was open to question. In the new order of things each member was to control a particular Vote or Votes. In the present Estimates there was no evidence of that duty of control having been assigned to this or that particular member; on the contrary, the Votes were framed on the old lines, and there was not that subdivision of duties and labour which might have been expected had the new scheme been really in operation. In the working of the new War Office Council more would depend upon its being carried out con amore than upon any other factor. The last War Office Council was never worked as such a Council ought to be between civilians and soldiers. It might also be said that there was not that clearness of division of duties between the old Army Corps scheme and the new proposals. The country was to be divided into five instead of six districts, with seven subordinate districts, and nineteen districts subordinate to the seven; and there would necessarily be the multiplication of correspondence and the continual references from district to district, From subordinate to superior, which went on under the old process. One of the main objections urged against the Army Corps system was that the numbers provided for were in excess of the numbers required. But as there was practically no reduction of numbers under the present scheme, it was in that respect no better than its predecessor. With regard to the linked battalion system he had always differed from the views of his right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean. The right hon. Baronet last night was very jubilant over the disappearance of that system, and in support of his views quoted the names of Lord Wolseley, Sir Ian Hamilton, and the Adjutant-General. In the Report of the War Commission, however, the one piece of evidence bearing on the linked battalion system was as follows—We do not get value for money by our regimental depots. At some of them very few recruits are raised, and the staff is idle a great part of the year; the decision to put an end to such a state of things would have a good effect, we should save money and improve our organisation.…To the mind of the economist it seems a cheaper plan to have these reservoirs in the shape of large depots rather than in the 488 shape of battalions, hut these great depots will not work well. We want to send a man abroad fully trained and disciplined, and this he can never be converted into at any ordinary depot. If there be 700, 800, or 900 rank and life at the depot, it will require as many officers to get it in a healthy state and effectively train the men for the annual foreign draft as would be required for an ordinary battalion. In my opinion, shared by those who have in recent years served at the War Office, our present system of a battalion at home for every one abroad, is the simplest and best, if military efficiency be the great object in view.…Our internal military history for the past twenty-five years has in every way demonstrated the wisdom of those who in 1870 proclaimed this principle as the keystone of the arch supporting the new military organisation then introduced.Those words were taken from a memorandum written by Lord Wolseley when Commander-in-Chief in 1897.
§ MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE
said he had been unable to find the contradiction; and in any case, the views there expressed were in agreement with the opinions of every Secretary of State for War since Lord Cardwell, and of every Commander-in-Chief and general officer commanding who had held office during the last ten or twelve years.
That no statement as to the needs of the Army should have been put forward was a remarkable omission from the statement of the Secretary of State. A reformed Defence Committee had been in existence for nine or ten months, and one of the first things they should have considered in view of the Estimates was the number of men to be retained by the country. From the war commission Report and various statements made since some idea could be formed as to the number of men that ought to be kept up by the country. In his evidence before the Commission Lord Wolseley said it was perfectly possible that an invasion or raid might be made upon this country by a force of 150,000 men. He laid down as sufficient to meet this force 100,000 Regulars, 50,000 Militia, and 100,000 Volunteers. In the debate of 1901 the present Chief Secretary for Ireland laid down as the requirements for the Colonies garrison, four 489 battalions for Egypt, and fourteen for South Africa. These, together with transport and artillery, made up a total or 58,000 men. The requirements of India were 75,000 and this made up the total requirements for abroad, India, and home 233,000 men. They had to add a certain proportion for staff and so forth and allowing for that upon a 10 per cent. basis they got a force of 260,000 men. What did the Secretary of State for War propose to maintain under the present scheme? The total number laid down as necessary was 288,000, of whom 14,000 were Colonial and native troops. Therefore they could, without endangering the safety of this country, reduce the present forces at home in infantry by 16,000 men. If they took the ordinary cost of the infantry soldier at £60 that would give a saving of something like £1,000,000. That might not be considered a great sum, but it would at any rate be a beginning. At present the Militia were down to 75,000 men, and if Lord Wolseley's statement that they did not require more than 50,000 in case of invasion provided they laid down a higher standard, was correct then the Militia with safety might be reduced to 55,000 men. Upon those items alone they might effect a saving of at least £2,000,000 a year upon the Army Estimates. With regard to the Auxiliary Forces the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean said last year that if they wished to bring the Volunteers and Yeomanry up to a higher standard of efficiency they should tell them what they were expected to do. At the present time they were ignorant of their duties they would have to undertake in case of an invasion of this country. The difficulty arose not because encouragement was not given to the Auxiliary Forces by the War Office, but because the wrong sort of encouragement was given them, and they were not instructed in their duties and were not told what would be expected of them in case they were wanted for active service. He had ventured to put forward what he believed to be practical ideas in connection with these Estimates and he hoped some notice would be taken of them in the reply from the Front Treasury Bench.
§ *MR. PEEL (Manchester, S.)
said they had heard various expressions of opinion 490 from the other side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean objected to the Estimates because the Government would not pledge themselves to the adoption of the Report of the Committee. They had heard a different opinion from the hon. Member opposite, who objected generally to the Report of the Committee and he was ready to censure the Government very strongly if they took so bold a course as to put the whole of the Report into force. He thought the hon. Member for Bristol had taken mere of a Party view than the right hon. Gentleman opposite, for he went back over what he called ten disastrous years and told of the number of changes effected by Orders in Council with reference to the organisation of the Army, and in that respect he had some sympathy with him. Anyone who read a considerable portion of the War Commission Report would get up with a very confused idea of the history of the different War Office Councils, which succeeded each other with almost overwhelming confusion. Then there was another difference of opinion amongst hon. Gentlemen opposite in regard to the linked battalion system. The right hon. Baronet opposite trampled on the system, whereas the hon. Member opposite argued that it would be far more expensive to establish these depots so much favoured by Army reformers and by the Secretary of State for War. Not content with this difference of opinion they dragged in Lord Wolseley's views on the linked battalion system, each claiming him as their champion. He confessed that he had much sympathy with the position of the Secretary of State for War in this matter. He stood between two worlds, the old world of chaos, and what he hoped would be the new world of organisation. He thought the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, many of whose criticisms he agreed with, was rather severe upon the Secretary for War in the demands he made for immediate changes in the War Office.
§ *MR. PEEL said
that the right hon. Baronet answered his own Question in another part of his speech, because he asked whether the Army Corps system was to be abandoned, and then he told them that the Corps had never existed. In that case he failed to see how they could be abandoned. He was himself in some doubt as to the position of the Army Corps, and it was clear that three of them never came into existence at all. The right hon. Baronet had criticised the signing of those Estimates and the responsibility the Army Council must have for them. He thought their responsibility must be very limited in the case of the first Estimates, because it was an official act which they must perform. He supposed really they ought not to have had the signature of the present Secretary for War, but it would have looked a little odd if the Secretary of State for India had appended his name to them. The right hon. Gentleman discussed the relations of the general staff with the staff of the Defence Committee, and his lamentations were shared by his hon. friend behind him; and he said he was afraid that the duties of the general staff would be to some extent infringed upon and might be overshadowed by this Committee of Defence which was to be set up. The general staff would receive reports from the Army and the Navy, and this would be the channel through which the reports would come to the Defence Committee, and, therefore, they might alter the tone of those reports in the way they presented those matters to the Defence Committee. There might be something in that, but, on the other hand, he did not know whether the right hon. Baronet remembered that on the Committee of Defence there would be representatives of the War Office and the Admiralty, and those representatives would be able to place their views before the Committee of Defence. There must be some other coordinating body besides this general staff of the Army which only dealt with the defence of this country, offensive schemes, and the question of the Colonies. They must have some other body which 492 would co-ordinate the schemes of the Navy and the War Office and India as well.
A good deal of criticism had been brought to bear upon the statement of the Prime Minister that Part I. of the Report had not been accepted. He did not know in what sense that statement was made. They had a statement last year from the Prime Minister that certain Chilian ships were not going to be bought by the Admiralty, but they were subsequently bought. He interpreted that statement made by the right hon. Gentleman in the same sense as his previous statement. It seemed to him that substantially the principles laid down in the Report were already accepted. They had secured the substitution of the Army Council, the abolition of the Commander-in-Chief, and the appointment of an Inspector-General. These three facts really represented the leading principles in the Report of the Committee. He supposed that the Secretary for War went as far as he possibly could in saying that he had every belief that the recommendadions of the Committee would be adopted en bloc. He quite agreed with the hon. Member opposite that there were many details, especially with regard to finance, in the new suggestions which must require very careful criticism, and therefore, however much the right hon. Gentleman might agree with the general principles, he could not say with confidence that they would be adopted until there had been a very careful consideration of the relations of the financial part of the scheme to the changes which were to be made. So far as he knew they had no estimate of whether the new scheme would be cheaper than the previous scheme. The Secretary for War had stated that we had never yet established the crucial aim or object for which the Army existed. That was a matter which even still could hardly be absolutely established. We knew pretty well what establishments we required for our Colonies and for India. He did not say that opinion was settled, but opinion was crystallising round the size of the expeditionary force that must be always ready. What we did not know as yet was what the strength of the force for actual home defence should be. Nor 493 did he see how a clear idea of that force could be formed until we knew what was to be the re-organisation of the Auxiliary forces. A Commission was now sitting on a portion of that question, mainly, he thought, on the question of the supply of officers, and they could not decide the force that would be required for home defence until they had settled clearly what was the amount of work and training to be required from the Auxiliary forces.
In regard to the reduction in the Estimates, they must look not merely at the amount, but also at the tendency. It was certainly a matter of congratulation that for the first time for many years in the history of the Army and Navy a certain amount of reduction had been secured in the Estimates.
§ *MR. PEEL
said there was an apparent reduction. The reduction in the Army Estimates was not altogether very satisfactory if they looked at it in another way. This was a reduction on balance, and the reductions that had been effected were reductions in non-recurring expenditure, whereas the increases amounting to £1,370,000 were on annual recurrent expenditure. They had only to look at the statement of the Secretary for War to see that these were increases in the expenditure which would not only be permanent, but would themselves increase. There was first of all the increase in the amount paid to the Reserves, and the increased pay to the Army which would be a further charge this year. Then there was also the increased charge for the garrison in South Africa. He should like to know whether the Secretary of State considered that the number of men we had at present in the garrison in South Africa should be the limit of what we must have there, or whether it was a garrison which in subsequent years might be reduced. The Secretary of Stale also foreshadowed, in connection with the Estimates of next year and the year after in respect of guns and re-armament, that there must be a considerable increase in expenditure, so that though the tendency indicated by 494 the saving of £280,000 was good he did not think they could congratulate themselves very much upon it. In regard to recruiting he was disappointed to hear that the Secretary of State was not satisfied with the quality of the recruits. Those who had followed this subject knew that several changes were brought into the method of recruiting last year. The change in connection with obtaining characters for recruits had been, he was glad to say, thoroughly approved by the Inspector-General of Recruiting, who stated in his report that though there was at first some falling off in the number of recruits that falling off soon picked itself up again, and that, on the whole, he believed a better class of recruits would be produced by obtaining a certificate of character which would satisfy those who were joining the Army that they would not at least meet bad characters when in barracks. It was too soon yet to say what would be the effect on recruiting of the increased pay, but looking to the number of recruits for six or eight years they could probably not expect to get more than 40,000 in the year. Under the scheme put forward by the late Secretary of State for War it was assumed that in order to supply the drafts for India and to bring up the Reserve something between 175,000 and 200,000 men would be required, and that it would be necessary to obtain at least 50,000 recruits a year. It did not appear that men when going into the Army were very much interested in the pay they would receive two years hence, but perhaps the knowledge of the increased pay had not filtered down to the classes who naturally might be. expected to be interested in it. If 40,000 recruits were as high a number as they could expect, that entirely upset the calculation of the late Secretary of State for War both as to Indian drafts and the supply of the Reserve, and made the question of the drafts for India a very serious one. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on having begun at the right end of the business with thy re-organisation of the War Office, and with the redivision and repartition of the duties of that office which had been far too long a sort of "Aunt Sally" to be attacked on every platform.
§ *MR. McCRAE (Edinburgh, E.)
said this House was placed in a position with reference to these Estimates unparalleled in the history of Parliament. Never unless under stress of European complication or prospective War, had any Minister come down to this House and asked for a blank cheque for £29,000,000, for that was really the position in which they found themselves to-day. The Secretary of State for War presented these Estimates, and on his own admission they had not even the semblance of accuracy with regard to the scheme which was looming in the distance. These Estimates were based on a scheme of Army reform which had been repudiated and condemned by the Cabinet, by the Secretary of State for War, and by the Committee of investigation. He hoped that before going into Committee they would have a statement from the Prime Minister, otherwise the whole proceedings in Committee would be very much in the nature of a farce. The, proper course would be to have a Vote on account, so that the Government could have time to have settled convictions on the question of Army reform. On the question of the Volunteers, after what had been said by the Secretary for War to the Westminster Volunteers the other day, he was convinced, after twenty-five years expedience, that the War Office did not understand the Volunteer force. Nor did the right hon. Gentleman, with all his desire to do the best he could for that force, understand the position of matters. He always had the opinion that the late Commander-in-Chief took the wrong view of what was to be expected of the Volunteers, and the result of the regulations brought into play had been seen in the diminished force. They were to make it their aim to get as many men as they could to go through a course of training, but they could not expect to get the same service for £6 a year in a Volunteer as they paid £60 for in a Regular. This country ought to have a small Army able to do anything, and go anywhere, and as many Volunteers as possible for home defence with a groundwork of training which could be perfected when necessity arose. He hoped the Secretary for War would turn his attention to the matter. Much more serious dangers were likely to arise from the new 496 procedure introduced by the Secretary for War, whereby Estimates were submitted to the House which, on the face of them, were not true Estimates. The Secretary for War did not attempt to justify the amount of nearly £29,000,000 he asked for in these Estimates. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol, when introducing his Budget in 1896, said that the great question the House and country ought to consider was whether o r expenditure was not increasing faster than the capacity of the country to bear if. That was called the £100,000,000 Budget, but the expenditure on the Army was then only £18,000,000. The same right hon. Gentleman, speaking in his own constituency in the same year, said he wondered whether the Commander-in-Chief himself would tell the country that we got an adequate return for the £18,000,000 spent on the Army. That same question he would put to-day—Did we get an adequate return for the £29,000,000 which the right hot. Gentleman proposed to spend next year on the Army? That was an. increase of £11,000,000 in nine years—during the reign of the present Government. How long was the House to allow this increase of expenditure to go on without protest? The war expenditure in South Africa had blunted their susceptibilities as to the true proportion of expenditure. The public mind had been vitiated, and it had not been able to realise the effect of the present enormous Estimates. He suggested that provisional Estimates for the different service departments should be considered by the He use and that then it should have an opportunity of considering the whole expenditure in gross. The national danger before the country was that in considering Estimates in detail, the House had no opportunity until the Budget of realising what the gross expenditure amounted to. He was sure the House would support the right hon. Gentleman with his scheme of Army reform if it was a good one, but they must know what it was, and that information they were entitled to have before going into Committee.
§ SIR CARNE RASCH (Essex, Chelmsford)
said that the War Office had shown considerable adaptability in this matter. 497 They were like the editor who was prepared to reverse the policy of his paper in twenty-four hours. No doubt a certain amount of soreness had accrued from the stipulations in the first part of the Report of the Royal Commission. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War might, of course, say that you cannot make omelettes without breaking eggs and that a reformer was never in favour; but ho could not understand how in the reform of the War Office the soldiers had been taken and the permanent officials left. He was glad that something had been done with the Finance Department, for they all knew that that Department, with the Treasury, was the original cause which had thwarted every attempt at reorganisation for the last twenty years. That was proved by the statement made by Sir Henry Brackenbury as to what happened in 1889. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on the reduction of expenditure he had effected, although, as the right hon. Baronet opposite had said, that was more apparent than real. He was glad that the Secretary for War had taken into his serious consideration the question of the Militia. Surely it was time that something should be done for that force, which was below its nominal strength and had neither transport nor guns. It was not going too far to say that the Militia, as a force, was a patent and recognised fraud. He called attention to the enormous amount of money spent unnecessarily by the Quartermaster-General's department. Troops were moved from one end of the Empire to another quite unnecessarily. The 7th Dragoon Guards were quartered in 1902 in South Africa, and moved that year to India; and this year they had been sent back to South Africa. The expenses of this unnecessary movement of a whole regiment of cavalry 3,000 miles must have been very considerable. He thought the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Forest of Dean was a little hard on the Government in regard to the re-arming of the Artillery. The Germans re-armed their artillery, and the Italians half their artillery, four years ago, and both the guns were absolutely unsuccessful. The only nation in the world that had a good quick-firing gun was the French, and they 498 took good care not to let foreigners know the mechanism of that gun. If our Government had organised quick firing guns four years ago, the probability was that we would have had to re-arm our artillery now at great additional expense.
The War Office were going to reorganise the regimental officers and the subalterns. General Sir Ian Hamilton and the other generals at the War Office appeared to forget that they had been once subalterns themselves; they imagined that they had always been generals. The extraordinary expense to which these officers were put for the remarkable and wonderful change of kit and uniform absolutely went for nothing. It appeared to the bright official of the War Office that the guard of the sword should be brass instead of steel. That was rather expensive, but subsequently it was ordered that the guards should be again changed to the former metal. He thought it would astonish the hon. Gentleman if he read a list of the changes which had been made in the officers' uniforms in the last few years. Swords were twice changed. In 1880 badges collar to shoulders were altered to gold shoulder cords; roll collars were abolished, and the stand up collar was introduced. In 1881 the facings were changed and stiff caps were introduced in substitution for the cheese cutter. In 1886, field service caps were introduced and two years later miniature medals were abolished. In 1893 red serge was abolished, and the sword was worn outside, whilst in 1895 an order substituted blue serge for red, with the sword worn inside. In 1898 Sam Brown was introduced and blue patrol was cast out; brown leggings were substituted for black and the roll collar was reintroduced in place of gold shoulder cords. In 1901 the collar was again altered, blue frock coats were introduced, buttons were 2½ wider and sashes were allowed round the waist; drab great coats gave place to grey coats, naval caps gave way to field service caps, belts were altered, and drab serge and medals were re-introduced. Then in 1903 the drab serge coats and badges were again altered. Surely the gentleman who suggested all these alterations might now rest on his laurels. Even if the War 499 Office kept on this individual they surely need not carry out all the recommendations which he suggested. He (Sir C. Rasch) had great sympathy with what Thackeray said in the Book of Snobs, that one ought to be paid to understand the reason of this useless expense and tomfoolery on uniforms. A subaltern was only paid 6s. 6d. a day, and therefore he had very little money with which to alter the details of his dress every other year.
It seemed to him quite useless to build a model hall in Parliament Street in order to reorganise the War Office when the Army could not get the money it required. The plan produced by the Secretary of State last year was not a success; the men were not forthcoming, and how the present Secretary of State was to get them Heaven only knew; he did not. 103,000 men were wanted every seven years and it was rather difficult to know what should be done. He himself did not believe that the difficulty was insoluble. There was, however, no comparison between this country and foreign countries because every other country except America had a conscript army and America had not to keep 80,000 men in the tropics. Lord Wolseley had suggested a good way out of the difficulty, and that was to pay recruits the average wages of the working classes. That was all very well but it was very expensive. The only effective way would be to reduce the men with the colours and increase the men on the Reserve. A man with the colours cost £60 a year; a man in the Reserve £9. If, as the right hon. Gentleman said, the active Army was to be kept out of the country, and if the defence of the United Kingdom was to be entrusted to the Reserve forces, why not increase the latter and decrease the former. In that way it would be possible to pay the men more, and to get the right stamp of man. If they went on as at present the Army would be in a similar position to that in which the Prince of Montenegro found his Army. He had to disband it because there were more junior officers than privates.
§ MR. NANNETTI (Dublin, College Green)
said he wished to direct attention to grievances from which they in Ireland 500 suffered, and for which they had failed to get any satisfactory or sympathetic reply. He did not hold the present Secretary for War responsible for those grievances, which he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would now remove. There were in Ireland a large number of ordnance workshops which, however, he was sorry to say were employed in repairing articles sent across from this country. He was happy to state that in the evidence given before the Committee the commander of the forces in Ireland took a different line, and he would ask the right hon. Gentleman to give effect to the recommendations contained in that evidence. His Royal Highness the Duke of Con-naught was of opinion that the work could be done in the ordnance workshops of Ireland cheaper and better than elsewhere, and that such a thing would not only benefit the people of Ireland but also the Army. At the present time Ireland was asked to organise an International Exhibition under the patronage of the King, but what was the use of attempting to resuscitate the industries of Ireland when benefits of this kind were denied her. Let the right hon. Gentleman open the ordnance workshops that existed in Ireland at the present time as workshops and not keep them as storehouses for things required for the Army which were sent from England. Ireland had to contribute a considerable sum towards the upkeep of an Army which she did not require, and it was only fair and just that some return should be made by opening the ordnance factories for the manufacture of stores and thus carry out the suggestions of His Royal Highness, in whose opinion, as given before the Committee, the needs of an Army district should be supplied as far as possible by the district itself. If the right hon. Gentleman carried out that suggestion he would earn the sympathy of the Irish artisans and those who represented them in this House. He would not now further occupy the time of the House but would reserve his right to deal with these matters when the Estimates were before the Committee. He hoped it would not be necessary to exercise that right, but that the right hon. Gentleman would see that justice was done. Only recently in the right hon. Gentleman's own constituency he visited a boot factory and was told in 501 answer to an inquiry he made that the present conditions of the War Office made it impossible for Irishmen to compete for Army contracts for the reason that all goods manufactured in Ireland had to go to Woolwich for examination, which not only entailed considerable expense but in many cases contributed to the deterioration of the article manufactured. He suggested that to meet this case examination depots should be opened in Ireland where the goods supplied by Irish competitors could be examined by officers appointed for that purpose. Such a reform would be of great benefit and would give employment to a great number of people in that country.
§ *COLONEL LEGGE (St. George's Hanover Square)
said he felt some difficulty in discussing the Estimates because not only had the House the Estimates themselves and the Memorandum of the Secretary of State in explanation of them, but they also had a Report of the re-constitution of the War Office Committee which had been approved and adopted by the Government, a second Report which had been approved but not adopted by the Government, and they were promised a third which had neither been approved nor adopted. He noticed the Memorandum showed a reduction in the number of men, but unfortunately, that was not a reduction made with a view to economy, but a reduction which was due to the simple fact that the Army were unable to obtain a sufficient number of recruits. That was a most unsatisfactory condition of things in face of the hopes that were entertained of a considerable influx of recruits as a result of the improved conditions of service and pay, which were introduced last year by the late Secretary of State for War. One of the reasons why we did not get the number of recruits required undoubtedly was the bad barrack accommodation in many parts of the country, and another was that the recruit, who was a growing lad requiring all the nourishment he could get, did not get so much food as the trained soldier. Some of our barracks were in such a condition that no self-respecting working man would go into them, and until the barracks were improved recruits would not be forthcoming. The messing allowance would 502 also have to be improved, and it was much to be regretted when the additions to the pay were made that in the case of the recruit the money was not withheld and food given to him instead. The growth of the Army Reserve would be very satisfactory if it were a real Reserve, but he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State who, in a speech at Liverpool recently, pointed out that the Reserve was not a real Reserve at all. A Reserve should be supplemental to and not take the place of the first line of defence. What happened in 1899, when it became necessary to mobilise the Army and call upon the Reserve? After taking out those men who were not fit for service abroad it was found that the strength of the Army and Reserves together was 14,000 men less than that of the Army on a peace footing.
With regard to the adoption of the first part of the Report of the Reconstitution Committee, he might say he had known the War Office for forty years, and, whatever the changes made, so far as he could see it remained the same thing. The Army Board had disappeared, and in its place was the Army Council. The Commander-in-Chief was replaced by the Inspector-General. The Six Army Corps were about to disappear and in their place was to be one Army Corps and five Commanders-in-Chief, and he really could not see there was much difference in the main in these alterations that had been made in the different branches of the War Office. According to page 10 of the Estimates, the total estimated expenditure for the Army, including amounts provided for in the Civil Service and Revenue Department Estimates, amounted to £29,324,180. He did not know whether it was possible to reduce any of those Estimates by any large sum, but there was one item to which he specially desired to call attention, viz., Stationery and Printing, £140,000. It would probably be news to I some Members to learn that there were 145 volumes of Army Regulations alone, 350 different forms of Army books, and over 2,500 different forms. If the Secretary of State could effect considerable reductions in this direction he would do great service. The establishment of the Yeomanry was put down at 503 28,114 as against 35,196 for last year, but there was nothing in the Memorandum to show whether that reduction was caused by the action of the War Office or by inability to obtain the number of men required. He hoped the right hon. Gentle man would afford whatever information he could on these points.
§ DE. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
referring to the abolition of the ancient post of Judge Advocate-General, under which the British soldier obtained protection in the highest Court of appeal through which he could ventilate his grievances, said he had never been able to find any reason for that abolition except that of effecting a cheeseparing economy. The present was not a time for suggesting any large expenditure, but there was such a thing as buying cheapness too dearly. All would admit that military punishments were often altogether disproportionate to the nature of the offences committed by soldiers as compared with the punishments inflicted upon civilians. He did not, however, base his argument on any special grievance in connection with the working of the department. What he contended was that the House should be very careful to retain its authority over the administration of military law. He had not a word to say against the right hon. Judge now at the head of the department. Sir Francis Jeune was a Judge of the highest capacity, but, from the absorbing nature of his usual occupation, it was evident that he could have little leisure to bestow upon this undoubtedly complicated business. The post of Judge Advocate-General was not a sinecure. Courts-martial were, after all, only bodies of amateurs, whose proceedings from time to time required most careful and detailed examination by a well-paid, highly-placed Minister of the Crown, to whom appeals could be made in all cases of dispute, before whom matters of argument could be raised in Parliament, and through whom this House would retain and exercise its constitutional authority over the administration of military law. It would doubtless be a great comfort to right hon. Gentlemen opposite to hear a word of praise in connection with their operations. The Army Medical Department was in excellent condition, the credit for which was due chiefly 504 to the late Secretary of State for War and the present occupant of the office. At the examination prior to the introduction of the new regulations not a single candidate put in an appearance, whereas at the last examination there were nearly three times as many candidates as appointments—men of the highest class, of good education, and to whom the health of the soldiers could be entrusted with perfect confidence. At the examination for promotion the examiner declared that he had hardly ever known papers of such ability to be written by candidates. But with that praise there was a word of warning to be uttered. The present excellent arrangements should not be tinkered with. There had been excellent arrangements before, but by alterations, tinkerings, and worrying restrictions, the basis on which the popularity of the service was built up had been destroyed. It was to be greatly regretted that the Director-General had been removed from his place on the Army Board. To be called in merely for consultation or to give evidence was a very different thing from being a member of the Board. As he had said, the present arrangements were excellent and the flow of candidates in every way satisfactory, but any attempt to alter or interfere with the settled arrangements would shatter the whole fabric of success and bring about that reaction of insincerity and discomfort which had so often upset the good working of Army reform.
With regard to recruiting, to get the necessary men the War Office must do one of two things. They must either pay more or revert to that system which was foreign to the sympathies of the British people, namely, conscription. Sir T. Kelly-Kenny in his evidence on the South African War gave his opinion in favour of conscription. One or two medical officers of high position gave it as probable that if the present condition of things went on, they would have to have recourse to that system of conscription which he was sure they would all deplore. Still more serious was the physical deterioration of the recruits. At Manchester the rejections amounted to 40 per cent., and the recruits enlisted were not of a very high character. Those who knew the Army and remembered the kind of men they got in former years, would agree that physically the standard 505 of the recruits was lower than it ought to he. He hoped the Government would push on with their Committee on Physical Deterioration, and he trusted that eventually they would have a Royal Commission, which would enable them to find out whether they were deteriorating as a nation or only going down in physical efficiency on account of some temporary causes. The Army at the present time was evidently unpopular among the recruits, for there was a large number of deserters. Very early in the service, recruits showed their dislike for the conditions and discomfort to which they were subjected, and very shortly after joining the colours many of them concluded that they were better off out of the service. The question of the barracks was a very important one, and so was the place in which they took recruits to be examined. If hon. Members could only see the dirty and uncomfortable conditions under which the examination of recruits was carried out at Wellington Barracks they might well exclaim, "Abandon hope all ye who enter here." Another matter of importance was the withholding from the recruits the messing allowance giving to the ordinary soldier. If there was one class of persons more than another who required to be fed up it was the recruit with no stamina, who was plunged into trying surroundings which were a great strain upon his brain and body, and under the stress of which he was bound to run down and deteriorate unless he was well fed. He hoped his hon. friend would continue to bring this question before the House until he got the very reasonable concession that the recruit should be as well or even better fed than the regular soldier. They wanted to make the service a little more attractive, and something would have to be done to make it more popular if they wished to draw the unskilled labourer into the Army. They should improve the conditions of the recruits and carry out the very sensible advice of his hon. friend by giving the recruit that amount of good nourishment which would enable him to efficiently carry on his work.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL (Oldham)
said that he heard with profound regret the speech of the Leader of the Opposition last night. Ho could not help thinking 506 that some of the references of the right hon. Gentleman to the work of the War Office Reconstitution Committee were couched in language which was unduly hard, and might almost be considered ungracious. This Committee was, after all, composed of very distinguished men, and they had been carrying out a task surrounded with very great difficulties, and they had done that task with courage not only of thought but of action. Therefore he thought the Leader of the Opposition, who he was glad to see in his place, was rather severe in his comments upon the manner in which the Committee had discharged their duties. After all, there were other things in the world besides the manner in which things were done, and although the procedure of the Committee might have been unusual and unprecedented and their tone a little peremptory, that ought not to diminish the value of their Report and of the services they had rendered in the eyes of the public. It must be remembered that when the Committee was appointed they had had three years of Army administration by the present Secretary for India. The House would remember what those three years brought forth. In the first year, when this great scheme was produced with a flourish of trumpets it was hailed, like every scheme of Army reform was hailed, with applause and rapture by the daily newspapers. It was quite true that the question was dealt with in this House, but the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for India, by his Parliamentary skill and the support he received, was able to carry all before him the first year. But when the second year came round it was found that the scheme did not provide the men and there were no signs of the men being forthcoming. The conditions of enlistment were altered and the pay of the soldier was substantially raised, and both those expedients had only one object and that was to get more men. It was thought that they would get more men by asking them to serve for only three years, but all those expedients failed; at the end of the second year the failure of the scheme was apparent. The House knew perfectly well how they got through the third year. The Army debates were a little more animated than this one, and he might safely predict that the right hon. 507 Gentleman who now represented the War Office would not be exposed to so much criticism from all quarters as his predecessor was. He did not put the whole responsibility of those three years upon that right hon. Gentleman. The Cabinet were responsible with him, and the Prime Minister was absolutely as responsible as he was. He noticed that the Prime Minister was now on the side of Army reform. He made a speech in which he said that they did not want a large Regular Army for home defence, and after this he published a second Report which was written in strong terms of censure of all that had been done during the last three years. One would almost have thought that he had had nothing to do with it, but there was no one more formidable than the right hon. Gentleman himself, and there was not a single item in the whole Army administration in the three last years which the right hon. Gentleman had not made it his business to defend and extol. What was the condition of the Army at the end of those three years? They all knew that its cost was nearly £29,000,000, an increase of a most striking character with which the House was quite familiar. The Secretary for War was glad last night to be able to boast of a small reduction this year in the normal expenditure, but as a matter of fact it was a small reduction on the highest year's expenditure known. The hon. Member for Manchester had shown how illusory some of the reductions were and how gloomy were the prospects for the future.
The Army Corps scheme had been found by the Committee to be absolutely unsuited to the needs of the country, and the Army Corps themselves were officially found to be non-existent. The Report of the Committee stated that they saw no object in attempting to organise additional Army Corps which in no reasonably probable circumstances would be required, or used as such, if they existed otherwise than on paper. He remembered a certain White Paper issued last year which showed three Army Corps completely equipped for war and a fourth to be ready on 1st April. Now they learnt from the Reconstitution Committee's Report that these Army Corps never existed except on the White Paper. It was also found that the recruiting was 508 quite inadequate to the number of battalions for that scheme, and also for the right hon. Gentleman's scheme of which they knew so little. It was quite clear that the increase of pay and the altered conditions in the Army, though costly to the nation, had not tapped any new sources for recruiting, while they had injured recruiting for the Guards when it was desired to increase the Guards battalions. He ventured to point out last year that although a bounty of £3 per head had been paid to the Militia, involving an expenditure of £300,000 a year, the force was smaller than before, and that to all intents and purposes this amount had been expended by the taxpayer for no return whatever. The right hon. Gentleman went to Manchester and said the Militia were being murdered. If it took £300,000 a year to murder them it was the most expensive act of homicide on record. He remembered that the Prime Minister alluded to the great Militia Reserve. That Reserve had been practically non-existent, and now his right hon. friend came down to the House and said this experiment was undesirable, and that it would be discontinued. The House had heard the sorrowful tale of the Volunteers, who were to be reduced until they reached 250,000, but who had now sunk to about 240,000. He thought the House and the country ought to realise that the British Army was at the present time in a very unsatisfactory and even alarming condition. He welcomed the admission the Secretary of State had the courage to make last night to that effect, but whatever the condition of the Army at present it was threatened with much greater danger and difficulty in the immediate future. How would the reliefs for India be provided, if the new short service men would not undertake to extend their term? It was in the face of these conditions that Lord Esher's Committee was hurriedly called together and set upon its course of work. In considering the Report of that Committee hon. Members should bear in mind these circumstances.
It was very difficult for private Members to form a just and well-considered opinion upon a large constructive scheme of reform. Difficulties 509 could be pointed out in the working of any scheme; it was easy to show where there had been failures and miscalculations, and they must be able to indicate the direction in which they ought to move to repair these miscalculations, but it was hardly in their power to give an authoritative opinion on a great new scheme. He confessed that he was favourably predisposed towards the Report of the Committee, because it was encouraging for what it condemned, what it left untouched, and what it provided. It condemned the whole system of Army organisation and War Office control, and in condemning that system it bore out much that had been said by hon. Members on both sides of the House It cleared the ground by consigning to the limbo of the past all the old costly apparatus of extravagance and inefficiency against which they had so long inveighed. There was nothing in the Report about the size and cost of the Army. That was outside the province of the Committee altogether. That was a matter on which hon. Members would have much to say. There was nothing in the scheme, so far as he was able to understand, to prevent large reductions both of men and money. The Committee had nothing to do with the organisation of the Army, and they did not attempt to regulate recruiting, or the periods of service, or the way in which the reliefs for foreign service were to be conducted. All that was in the province of the right hon. Gentleman. It was quite true that the Committee assumed that the linked battalion system would be abolished, and in his view that was a wise and salutary assumption. He agreed with his right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean that they would never be able to make large reductions in the cost of the Army unless they did away with the idea that they must have unnecessary battalions at home for every battalion their Empire abroad called upon them to keep. The Committee had left all these questions untouched, but they provided in time of peace a much more harmonious system of governing those troops which the House of Commons might think it necessary to keep in this country. He believed it was a more efficient and rational system for checking the expenditure of the money which this House was pleased to vote. 510 He did not pretend to criticise this Report. It was quite impossible that any great scheme of reform could command agreement in every detail. It would be quite easy to find lots of subjects for criticism and censure in it if one were so disposed. He thought that at this stage they should take the Report as a whole. For his part he should require to be very carefully reassured that the position of the Secretary of State for War, under the new arrangements, was not in any way impaired, because that Minister was the supreme authority and civilian representative in this House. He was sure that the House as a whole and the country would be desirous that the Government should move forward in the direction indicated in this Report. He was perfectly ready to admit that technically the Government wore not committed to the adoption of this Report en bloc, but he submitted that they were morally.
The Secretary of State for War made it pretty plain in his speech yesterday that if the scheme of reform now put forward were shelved or mutilated beyond recognition it would be very unlikely that he would continue to be responsible for the administration of the Army. He hoped he was not misinterpreting his right hon. friend. Most of all were the Government committed by the fact that they had already taken considerable steps to carry out the recommendations. The first step had involved the summary dismissal of some of the most important officers of the Army. Though he differed from the late Secretary for War on a great many points, he admitted that the right hon. Gentleman made many very excellent appointments, particularly at the War Office. Of all the appointments which the right hon. Gentleman made he supposed the best from the point of view of the Army were those of Sir W. Nicholson and Sir Ian Hamilton. He regretted, however, that it had been necessary to remove from their positions distinguished officers who could not be said to have been in any way connected with the old régime at the War Office. But if they were prepared to support the scheme as a whole, they ought to be ready to accept some things they did not like as well as those they liked. The dismissal of these officers, and others much humbler, pledged 511 the Government to go on with their scheme, for it was obvious that their removal should not end in nothing being done. It could not be said that this was to be considered a tentative proceeding, and that the scheme could be put aside. To back out after having dismissed these men would be like what had been seen in a greater matter in which the Cabinet had been completely altered and transformed, and then it was said that there was no intention to revert to protection. Men could not be used like pawns in that way. He asked the Secretary for War and the Government to consider what would be the effect on the Army if it were shown that they had made a clean sweep of the most distinguished soldiers in the Army in a spirit of levity, without any real purpose lying behind such action. He knew that the Army was not at all adverse to this new scheme of reform, and many welcomed the arrival of the right hon. Gentleman at the War Office, not only for his own sake, but for the sake of the change. But, if a feeling of doubt prevailed in the Army through the removal of officers from their offices, great risk would be run of making the Army less confident in the honesty of the administration, and especially if it could be shown that generals were dismissed to tide over the exigencies of a debate on the Address, and in order to soothe the susceptibilities of a colleague in the Cabinet. Lord Roberts and Lord Wolseley had resigned their commands in bitterness and disgust, and two Secretaries of State, distinguished politicians, had served at the War Office during the same time. The record of neither Minister had greatly enhanced the position which the Government occupied in the eyes of the country, but both these gentlemen had been promoted to higher office. One was at present Secretary of State for India, and the other had succeeded the Duke of Devonshire as Leader in the House of Lords. This great disparity of treatment between the soldiers and civilians was noted by the Army. Of all men alive the Secretary for India should be the last person to interfere now in the direction of military affairs. It would be extremely undignified, and ungenerous, and improper, if he were to allow himself to be drawn into opposing the necessary steps for the reorganisation 512 of the Army that might be taken by his successor; and he was certain that so far from the Secretary for India prejudicing the cause of reform, by any action he might take, he would only strengthen the demand for reform in the country, and draw upon himself an unpopularity which he would gladly spare him.
Though the Estimates which they were called upon to consider were described as interim, they were real Estimates all the same, amounting to £29,000,000. He understood it was not possible to hang up the Army, and cut off expenditure until the new scheme was ready, and he was not disposed to quibble and cavil at all the inconsistencies and novelties which these Estimates contained; but they embodied the same objections which might be urged against the late Estimates. Unless the Secretary for War satisfied the House that he meant to make a substantial reduction, both in men and money, from what the right hon. Gentleman called the normal cost, he at any rate would give his votes in Committee of Supply in favour of the principle of those reductions. He had no wish to embarrass the right hon. Gentleman in any way. The hon. Member for Manchester seemed to think he was desirious of embarassing the right hon. Gentleman. [Mr. PEEL: I am sure of it.] The hon. Member no doubt knew more about his motives than he himself did; but they desired, if possible, to support the right hon. Gentleman, and in so far as he moved forward in the direction of this scheme no lack of Party feeling would prevent him from giving the right hon. Gentleman the necessary support.
§ *MAJOR JAMESON (Clare, W.)
said he might congratulate the hon. Member for Oldham that he had taken several hon. and right hon. Gentlemen to task for their adverse criticisms of the War Office. The hon. Member for Oldham told the House that it was very easy to criticise and very easy to destroy. He did not think any Member of the House had had an easier time of it during the last year, in which he had lived on criticisms. The hon. Member for Oldham complained of the late War Minister, and of the way in which he had carried on the affairs of the Army for the past three years. He defied the hon. Member for Oldham, or anybody else, to 513 have succeeded with a Commander-in-Chief round his neck. [An HON. MEMBER on the MINISTERIAL Benches: Oh, oh!] He had a right to his opinion on this subject, even though he was not a Yeoman. The best step which had been taken was the quick way in which these reforms had been carried out by the Government. The best thing that had happened to the Service was the disappearance of the Commander-in-Chief, and nothing had pleased him more than the removal of Sir Ian Hamilton. Six months ago a proposal was made by the Commander-in-Chief and Sir Ian Hamilton which practically amounted to the abolition of cavalry altogether. These generals took away the lances from the Lancers, and the swords from the Hussars. He supposed that Sir Ian Hamilton was a Highlander, and the suggestion about the lances and the swords was about as sensible as if this Highlander had ordered all the Cavalry to ride in kilts. Nothing more foolish had ever been done by a Commander-in-Chief at the instigation of to do away with an esprit de corps in the Cavalry. He maintained that any men would take an enormous responsibility who went against the Report of that Committee, or threw any obstacle in the way of those who desired to carry it out. For the first time since he had been in the world the Army was going to get a chance of reconstruction, and the War Office was going to put it into a workmanlike condition.
He cordially agreed with the hon. Member for Mid Essex in what he said as to the shameful way in which changes had been made during the last two years. The khaki craze was the most senseless piece of business that he had ever known. Because the Boers fought gallantly in khaki and slouch hats was no reason for putting our soldiers into the same uniform. On a previous occasion he had pointed out that matter, and had also pointed out that lie supposed if the Zulus had beaten us in earlier times we should have put our soldiers into feathers and paint. The doing away with old badges and old regimental ideals was one of the saddest things he could conceive, although possibly hon. Gentlemen opposite who had not not served in a distinguished corps did not understand the esprit de corps which 514 existed in these old regiments. He would like to see a different term of service for the Indian Army to that of the Home Army, and he hoped that this matter would be considered by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, and that the service Members of the House would assist the right hon. Gentleman in carrying out the recommendations of the Reconstitution Committee. He agreed that those recommendations should be carried out as nearly as possible en bloc and that it would be a great misfortune if they were not, and he cared not what outside criticism the hon. Member for Oldham felt called upon to make, so long as he stuck to the text that the War Office must see that the recommendations of the Committee were carried out. He desired to call attention also to the great dissatisfaction among the Reserve officers with regard to the way in which they were treated at the time of the late war. The Service Committee of the House of Commons were of the opinion that if a premium was to be be put upon those who had retired with a pension, and not upon those who had retired with a gratuity. He himself believed that officers should be retired on a pension, because then they could be laid hold of by the authorities in case of an emergency, and could always be found, but, as a matter of fact, so far as he could see, the officer who retired with a gratuity always held a much better position than his brother in arms who retired on a pension. He hoped all the service Members of the House would stand or fall by the recommendations of the Committee. When the late Secretary for War was so strongly attacked—and those who attacked him forgot that his action, after all, was hampered by the outcome of years and years of the maddest projects that were ever placed before the House—he recognised the almost herculean task of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, and congratulated him upon the fact that not only had the Committee come nearly to the end of its labours, but he congratulated the right hon. Gentleman and the Government on their pluck in acting with such promptitude and vigour on the Report of the War Office Reconstitution Committee.
§ *MAJOR SEELY (Isle of Wight)
said he wished to say a word in reply to the extraordinary attack made by the hon. and gallant Member opposite on the most distinguished living soldier we had, who could not defend himself in this House, and who was moreover a countryman of the hon. and gallant Member's. The hon. Member for Oldham had been explaining to the House that certain provisions which had been introduced by the late Secretary of State for War had not had the desired result, and was pointing out that the late Secretary of State for War had not been entirely successful. Now everbody realised how much the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India hid done for the Army, although some differed from him profoundly on certain great tendencies of military rule, but everybody realised how much he had done for the Army more than his predecessors. But believing that, as they did, what could they say of the conduct of the hon. and gallant Gentleman whose complaint was that if the late Secretary of State had not done any good to the Army, could he be expected to do it with the burden of the late Commander-in-Chief round his neck. He did not believe that there was a single Member of this House who would support the hon. and gallant Member in attacking distinguished soldiers who had no opportunity of defending themselves.
§ MR. O'MARA
said that he had gone into the Estimates very carefully and he was sorry that stress had not been laid upon the fact that the large reductions that the Secretary of State for war had referred to on the previous evening were most of them effected on war charges and that no saving had been made on the normal charges of the Estimates. The growth of the Estimates during the last few years was appalling and deserved the attention of the House. In 1895 and 1896 the whole amount was only £18,000,000. In 1898 and 1899 they were some £20,000,000. This increase of about 30 per cent, in the Army Estimates carrying the same number of men, was a most extraordinary thins; and required some consideration. There was another point. Why was it that although Estimates were passed every year for a certain establishment the numbers of the Army 516 never came up to the establishment provided for? The Volunteers, for instance were 100,000 below the establishment, and he would like to know what was done with the money which was provided for that 100,000 men who did not exist. Other branches of the service were also considerably under strength, and it was therefore necessary to ask when the Estimates were being considered whether there would be any saving under this head. Another point deserving of the attention of the House was the amount of the contributions made by the Colonies towards the upkeep of the Army, and he would like to see a Return, similar to that made in the case of the Navy, made in connection with the Army in this regard. The Army being kept for important purposes it was only just and right that all parts of the Empire should contribute towards its maintenance, either in proportion to its population or its wealth. Ireland was largely over-taxed according to the findings of the Financial Relations Committer, but it was pointed out that in the expenditure made in Ireland on account of the Army there was in some degree a set-off for that over-taxation, but although that was said with regard to Ireland he noticed similar expenditure was made in Canada, Halifax Nova Scotia, and other places which did not pay a single shilling towards the maintenance of the troops stationed there. Under the last Military Works Act an expenditure of £5,000,000 was authorised, and the Secretary of State in reply to a Question had expressed Jus inability to state how much of that sum would be spent this year. It was not fair to the House that Estimates should be brought forward from which four or five millions sterling were left completely out of account, and in view of the unsatisfactory nature of the replies he had received he should oppose these Estimates to the fullest extent allowed by the Rules of the House.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
supported the views expressed by the hon. Member for the College Green Division of Dublin with regard to Army contracts in Ireland. The complaints of the hon. Member were well founded, and in many quarters a feeling of injustice obtained. His hon. friend, representing 517 an industrial constituency, had made a very reasonable speech, and it was very unfair that the Secretary of State for War should not have vouchsafed the least reply. If the right hon. Gentleman maintained that attitude, it would be taken as an indication of his determination not to listen to any complaints, no matter how reasonable, put forward by the Nationalist Members. One case referred to by his hon. friend related to Belfast, and surely in a matter affecting his own constituency the right hon. Gentleman might have been expected to make a statement.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
reminded the hon. Member that the right hon. Gentleman had no right of reply in the present debate; but that he would have opportunities in Committee of answering any questions that might have been raised.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said he was aware that technically the right hon. Gentleman had exhausted his right to speak, but it was usual in such circumstances for Ministers, by leave of the House, to indicate that the matter which had been brought forward would receive their attention. In any case, another representative of the War Office might have spoken.
With regard to the Estimates themselves he desired to know why no provision whatever was made for the cost of the Somaliland expedition during the ensuing financial year. The House was in the extraordinary position of knowing that a war upon a considerable scale, and under circumstances of great difficulty, was being carried on, and that not a farthing had been placed on the Estimates in respect thereof. That was surely not the way in which the business of the country ought to be conducted. It was doubtless true that the exact cost could not be foretold, but it was bound to be considerable, and some provision ought to have been made to meet it. No real explanation had yet been given of why the war was being waged at all, although it had been going on for over three years. He hoped, but did not expect, that the absence of provision meant that the campaign was to be dropped. He quite understood the feeling that having 518 suffered reverses this country was bound to go on with the war until some striking success had been achieved. Once hostilities were commenced it was difficult to bring them to a close, but in the interests of the taxpayers, particularly in Ireland, it was extremely desirable that this fruitless strife should be ended at once. If they wanted to garrison the sea-coast districts they might do it with comparatively little cost, but this idea under which General Egerton was pushing on indefinitely into the heart of this practically unknown and difficult country was a plan of campaign which could not possibly have a satisfactory ending, and was sure to lead to renewed applications for large sums of money. He was astonished at the conduct of those who were supposed to be the legitimate Opposition in this House upon this question, for he considered that the Front Opposition Bench should have insisted upon having some explanation of this campaign in Somaliland. What would have happened if a Liberal Government had been in power carrying on an aimless and endless campaign in Africa? What would the Conservative Opposition have done? They would have made this a question upon which the Government would have been pressed very hard to give an answer. Instead of the present Opposition objecting to this wholesale wasting of life and treasure, it was left for himself and a few private Members to object. He took the same attitude upon these Estimates as he did upon the Navy Estimates. It was a matter of indifference to him how much the people of this country considered it right to spend upon the Army, but if they were satisfied to squander the taxes of this country in that manner they should suffer alone. It was an outrage, a scandal, and a piece of diabolical injustice that the taxpayers of Ireland should be called upon to contribute directly or indirectly a single farthing towards the prosecution of this campaign. There was scarcely an hon. Member opposite who could give an intelligent explanation of why this campaign had been undertaken, and that being so it was absurd to assume that the people of Ireland would be satisfied with this enormous expenditure. He protested against it from the point of view of the Irish taxpayer. Ireland was 519 in a state of extreme poverty, and her industries had gone to rack and ruin, and yet they were asked to vote these enormous sums of money. The hon. Member for Exeter asked the other day for a Return of the expenditure on the Army for the last four years, and he was told that it amounted to close upon £350,000,000 sterling. That was the sum which had been spent upon matters connected with the Army and warlike operations during the past four years, for which they would never get any return. That ought to be sufficient to make hon. Members pause long and deeply before they sanctioned any more expenditure. When they got into Committee he would take every legitimate opportunity of protesting against this system of conducting the Army Estimates. What was the good of the Secretary of State for War making a virtue of the fact that he was proposing a decrease in the Army Estimates? It was easy to show a decrease when they did not put upon the Estimates expenditure which they knew they would have to meet. It would be found before the end of the next financial year that this campaign for nothing, and leading nowhere, in Somaliland would have to be provided for. He hoped a division would be taken, if only as a protest against the system of not putting upon the Army Estimates large sums
§ which the Government knew would have to be spent in the coming year.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
There is no money being voted now and that question will come on afterwards. The question before the House now is that I leave the chair.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 255; Noes, 153. (Division List No. 45.)523
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Burdett-Coutts, W.||Dalrymple, Sir Charles|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Butcher, John George||Davenport, William Bromley|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Campbell, Rt Hn J A (Glasgow||Denny, Colonel|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Campbell, J H M (Dublin Univ.||Dewar, Sir T R (Tower Hamlets|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Dickson, Charles Scott|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt Hn Hugh O.||Cavendish, VCW. (Derbyshire||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.|
|Arrol, Sir William||Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Chamberlain, Rt Hon J A (Worc||Dorington, Rt Hon Sir John E.|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Chapman, Edward||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers|
|Balcarres, Lord||Clive, Captain Percy A.||Doxford, Sir William Theodore|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W(Leeds||Coates, Edward Feetham||Duke, Henry Edward|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Dyke, Rt Hon Sir William Hart|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton|
|Beach,Rt Hn Sir Michael Hicks||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Colomb,Sir John Charles Ready||Faber, George Denison (York)|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M.M.||Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Fergusson, Rt Hn Sir J (Manc'r|
|Bignold, Arthur||Compton, Lord Alwyne||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst|
|Bigwood, James||Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith||Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Bowles, Lt.-Col H F (Middlesex||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Fison, Frederick William|
|Brassey, Albert||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Flannery, Sir Fortescue|
|Bull, William James||Dalkeith, Earl of||Flower, Sir Ernest|
|Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S. W.)||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Fyler, John Arthur||Lucas, Reginald J.(Portsmouth||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Sackville, Col S G Stopford|
|Garfit, William||Macdona, John Cumming||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H.||Maclver, David (Liverpool)||Samuel, Sir H. S. (Limehouse)|
|Gordon, Hon J E (Elgin &Nairn||Maconochie, A. W.||Sandys, Lt.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Gordon, J (Londonderry, S.)||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Saunderson, Rt. Hn Col Edw J.|
|Gore, Hn. S. F.Ormsby-(Linc||M'Calmont, Colonel James||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Malcolm, Ian||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Graham, Henry Robert||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Greene, Henry D (Shrewsbury)||Maxwell,Rt Hn Sir H E (Wigt'n||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||Maxwell, W J H (Dumfriesshire||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Groves, James Grimble||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Smith, Abel H.(Hertford,East)|
|Hamilton,Marq.of(L'nd'nderry||Milner, Rt Hun. Sir Fred'rick G||Smith H C (North'mb.Tyneside|
|Hardy, L (Kent, Ashford)||Mitchell, Edw(Fermanagh, N.)||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Harris,F. Leverton (Tynem'th)||Montagu, Hon J Scott (Hants)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Lancs.|
|Harris, Dr. Fredk. R. (Dulwich||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Moore, William||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Morgan David J (Walthamstow||Stock, James Henry|
|Heath, James (Staffords., N.W.||Morpeth, Viscount||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Henderson,Sir A. (Stafford, W.||Morrell, George Herbert||Stroyan, John|
|Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Hickman, Sir Alfred||Mount, William Arthur||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Hoare, Sir Samuel||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Talbot, Rt,Hn.J.G(OxfdUniv.|
|Hope, J F(Sheffield,Brightside||Murray,Rt.Hn.A Graham(Bute||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Horner, Frederick William||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Howard, J (Midd.,Tottenham||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Myers, William Henry||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Newdegate, Francis A. N.||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M,|
|Hunt, Rowland||Nicholson, William Graham||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Hutton, John (Yorks., N. R.)||O'Neill, Hon Robert Torrens||Tuff, Charles|
|Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Parker, Sir Gilbert||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred.||Peel, Hn.Wm.Robert Wellesley||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton||Pemberton, John S. G.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Percy, Earl||Vincent,Col. Sir C.E.H(Sheff'ld|
|Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Pierpoint, Robert||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Kenyon, Hon.Geo.T.(Denbighs||Pilkington, Colonel Richard||Walrond, R.Hn.Sir William H.|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Kerr, John||Plummer, Walter R.||Wharton, Rt Hon John Lloyd|
|Kimber, Henry||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Whiteley, H (Ashton and. Lyne|
|King, Sir Henry Seymour||Pretyman, Ernest George||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Knowles, Sir Lees||Pryce-Jones, Lt.- Col. Edward||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Lambton Hon. Frederick Wm.||Purvis, Robert||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Laurie, Lieut.-General||Randles, John S.||Wilson,A. Stanley(York, E. R.)|
|Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Reid, James (Greenock)||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Lawrence, Sir Jos. (Monmouth)||Remnant, James Farquharson||Wilson-Todd, Sir W. H. (Yorks|
|Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Renwick, George||Wodehouse, Rt Hn E R (Bath)|
|Lawson, Jn. G. (Yorks., N. R.)||Ridley, Hon M W(Stalybridge||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham)||Ridley,S.Forde (Bethnal Green||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Rigg, Richard||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H|
|Leveson-Gower, Frederick N.S.||Rolleston, Sir John F. L||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||TELLERS FOR THE AYES,—Sir|
|Long, Col. Charles W.(Evesham||Rothschild, Hon Lionel Walter||Alexander Acland-Hood and|
|Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Bristol, S.)||Round, Rt. Hon. James||Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.|
|Lowe, Francis William||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)||Russell, T. W.|
|Abraham, William (Cork N. E.)||Black, Alexander William||Caldwell, James|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Boland, John||Cameron, Robert|
|Allen, Charles P.||Brigg, John||Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Broadhurst, Henry||Causton, Richard Knight|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Channing, Francis Allston|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Clancy, John Joseph|
|Bell, Richard||Burns, John||Condon, Thomas Joseph|
|Cremer, William Randal||Kearley, Hudson B.||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Crooks, William||Kilbride, Denis||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)|
|Cullinan, J.||Kitson, Sir James||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Labouchere, Henry||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Langley, Batty||Price, Robert John|
|Delany, William||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Priestley, Arthur|
|Devlin,CharlesRamsay(Galway||Leese, SirJoseph F (Accrington||Rea, Russell|
|Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N.)||Leng, Sir John||Redmond, John E. (Waterfowl)|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.||Levy, Maurice||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Lloyd-George, David||Roche, John|
|Dobbie, Joseph||Lough, Thomas||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lundon, W.||Rose, Charles Day|
|Doogan, P. C.||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Macnamara,Dr. Thomas J.||Shackleton, David James|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Elibank, Master of||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Ellice,Capt EC(S. Andrw'sBghs||M'Crae, George||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Emmott, Alfred||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Sheehy, David|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||M'Kean, John||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Farrell, James Patrick||M'Kenna, Reginald||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Fenwick, Charles||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Ffrench, Peter||M'Laren, Sir Charles Benjamin||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Field, William||Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Spencer, Rt Hn C R (Northants|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Markham, Arthur Basil||Sullivan, Donal|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Mooney, John J.||Taylor, Theodore C (Radcliffe)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen,E.)|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Morley, Charles (Breconshire)||Thomas, Sir A (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Freeman-Thomas, Captain F.||Morley,Rt.Hon.John(Montrose||Thomas David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Fuller, J. M. F.||Murphy, John||Tomkinson, James|
|Gladstone,Rt Hn Herbert John||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Toulmin, George|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Ure, Alexander|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Norman, Henry||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan|
|Hammond, John||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney|
|Harmsworth, R. Leicester||O'Brien, Kendal(TipperaryMid||Weir, James Galloway|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Healy, Timothy Michael||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||O'Connor,James (Wicklow, W)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wilson, Fred. W. (Norfolk Mid.|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||O'Doherty, William||Young, Samuel|
|Hope, John Deans (Fife,West)||O'Donnell, T. Kerry, W.)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Horniman, Frederick John||O'Dowd, John|
|Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||O'Kelly, James(Roscommon,N)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Jacoby, James Alfred||O'Malley, William||Captain Norton and Mr. Charles Hobhouse.|
|Jones, David Brynmor(Swansea||O'Mara, James|
|JonesWilliam (Carnarvonshire)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Joyce, Michael||Parrott, William|
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.