§ Order for Committee read.
§ * THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. HALDANE, Haddington)
It is the custom upon this occasion for the Minister responsible for Estimates to explain them somewhat fully, but I do not imagine that the House will desire that I should upon the present occasion linger long over that task. There will be other opportunities in the course of this week, and I have matter to place before the House which will require an economical use of time in order to bring it within reasonable compass. Therefore I propose to say very little about these Estimates. They show, as the House knows, a substantial reduction under two heads. Under the head of capital, under the loan system, which is now coming to an end, we have reduced our demand upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer by upwards of £600,000 this year, and I am glad to say that, being a conscientious Department, we have repaid to him for Sinking Fund and interest 1280 considerably more than we have received from him. In addition to that there is a sum of a little over £2,000,000, which has come off the income account, and of that reduction I wish to say something. Less than half a million is the result of the reduction in the Line battalions which took place last summer. The reasons for that reduction I shall have to touch on later on, but, as regards the rest, the remaining £1,500,000, of this I may say emphatically that the Army Budget this year is a soldier's Budget. I took office deeply impressed by a declaration of Lord Randolph Churchill. He pointed out that his experience as Chancellor of the Exchequer had convinced him that the civilian economist would get nothing substantial off the soldier if he kept him at arm's length, and for that reason he made the proposition that the head of the great spending Departments of the Army and Navy should be somebody who should be closely in touch with the naval and military element. What Lord Randolph Churchill said I think has been shown 1281 to be profoundly true. The soldier is the only ultimate judge of military necessities. If he presses the matter the civilian must accept what he says. It is no use trying, as I think we have tried too much in the past under our financial system, to set spies upon him. When the spy goes he generally does not get within the lines, or if he does get within the lines he is made an end of by the soldier or captured; and the consequence is that, notwithstanding frantic efforts, we have never been able by the mere imposition of civilian scrutiny to reduce Estimates. Feeling the truth of that doctrine, I took counsel with my hon. friend the Financial Secretary, and also with his very able and devoted Director-General of Finances, Sir Guy Fleetwood Wilson, and we resolved on a different course. We went to the soldiers and said that, so far as the law and the constitution allowed, we were going to give them their head; that we would enter into a covenant with them that the things they wanted—and they were a good many—for military efficiency and for preparation for war we would do our best to get for them. On the other hand, we asked them to make a covenant with us that they would take the Estimates in hand, and would deal with them upon the footing of cutting down all things that were merely for show and were not useful for war, and of securing that the nation should, as far as possible, got value for its money. The soldiers entered into the covenant. They get this year the enlargement of Sandhurst, on which we propose to spend £250,000 with a view to giving a better education to the young officers. They get the beginning of the programme for new howitzers, which is to bring that part of our artillery up to the level of other nations. They get the building of the Victoria Barracks at Windsor on a footing which will give the private soldier better accommodation than he has—a cubicle in place of the old-fashioned barrack, and better dining and recreation rooms. They get a much-needed improvement in the pay of the commanding officers of battalions and regiments, and various minor changes on which I need not enlarge. And these things they have secured for themselves by effecting ruthless economies in the things which they judged were not necessary for the purposes of war. I do not, as far as I can judge, doubt for a 1282 moment the opinion which they have expressed to me that these economies—I am not talking of a controversial subject of the reduction of the infantry, but of the £1,500,000—I do not question for a moment their judgment that they have not detracted in the slightest degree from the fighting efficiency of the Army or the preparation for war. But, however these things may be, there is one remark which I wish to make, and that is that it would not have been possible to get this new instrument for economy had it not been for the distinguished generals who form the Army Council. Each of them now has his functions assigned, the sphere of his activities mapped out, and a definite opportunity. This is the result of the re-organisation which was made, under the powerful chairmanship of Lord Esher, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London. Without the reform of the War Office, which was made then, it would, in my judgment, have been impossible to get, at any rate in anything like the same degree, the economies which we have succeeded in getting this year, and which I trust are not the last which the soldiers will secure for the nation. I think we may probably carry the policy with advantage still further, and, following out the principle of that assignment of definite duties, add to it the assigning of definite financial responsibility. The civilian cannot check the soldier, and it is much better to place financial responsibility where real power rests. Revise his estimates, audit his accounts, watch over his proceedings, but leave him, telling him what you want him to do, to work out your economies for you. I believe you will find, if you trust him, that you have in the soldier by far the best economist to whom you could turn. That at least has been my experience in. the course of the present year, and I believe it lies at the root of the possibility of securing further reductions in Army expenditure.
But I do not want to pursue this subject of the Estimates any further. It is some fourteen months ago since it fell to me to make a speech on behalf of the Government in the City of London on the subject of the Army, and I said then that I had it in commission from my right hon. friend the Prime Minister to declare that our settled 1283 purpose was to endeavour to make the Army better and not worse, and if necessary for that purpose, if necessary to bring it up to a condition of fighting efficiency, to find more men and more money. But I went on to say that we were profoundly convinced of this—that the key to having plenty of money for making preparations for war lay in frugality in time of peace, and accordingly that we were not without hope that we should find that substantial reductions could be made on the charge to the public for Army services. What was then speculation has become, to my mind, a certainty. I went into the matter, as far as I could, in the spirit of a plain person of business. What would one do, on coming face to face with an ordinary business problem, if one had it to cope with—nay, to put it more simply, what would one do in the simple case of being responsible for the administration of a large household? Suppose one were made steward or majordomo of a great country house, where the complaint had been that the books were too high and that, on the other hand, there was too little accommodation for guests and too little provision for entertaining them—suppose one found oneself in such a position, what would one do? One would not be content with seeing, what one could see at a glance, that there was a very fine butler and half-a-dozen magnificent footmen; one would go down into the kitchen and see whether one could trace the source of the complaint that there was never enough for dinner; and if one found when one went down that, although there was a French cook, there were no kitchen maids, or very few, and that upstairs there was a deficiency of housemaids, and if one went further and discovered that the garden was being kept by an altogether extravagant number of gardeners, who were not only, some of them, doing labourers' work when they had nothing else to do, but were making work for themselves, then one would begin to get some light at once on the size of the books; and if one discovered in the stable that there were very few horses and a large number of carriages which could not be taken to the station to convey the guests one would begin by selling some of the carriages and by buying horses. One would go on to cut down the number of gardeners, and with the money so saved engage 1284 kitchen maids for the kitchen and more housemaids to look after the rooms. One would knock off a few footmen, and then one could mobilise for "weekending" by getting a number of civilian waiters on a militia basis. In other words, one must look at the organisation as a whole, and endeavour to proportion its parts, and then one would have good hope, not merely of doubling the capacity for entertaining, but of a considerable and substantial reduction in the books.
That was exactly the situation which confronted me in the case of the Army with this new machinery of the Esher organisation, and the new constitution of the War Office which I had handed over to me by my predecessor, who had taken so large and honourable part in constructing it, but who had to leave it before he had an opportunity of using it. I found myself in the position to use for the first time this machinery to the full. My hon. friend who sits beside me and myself began by taking stock exactly as in the case of a household. I do not think the Army has every had such a stocktaking. We have surveyed it and made out a sort of deficiency account, just as an accountant would do who was liquidating an old business and reconstructing it with fresh capital. The result of that deficiency account I shall lay before the House this evening. But when we came to consider the reconstruction there was one thing, and one thing only, that we set before ourselves, and that was this—for our reorganisation in peace all the arrangements we had to make must be based upon preparedness for war. It is preparedness for war which is the key to the sort of organisation we ought to have in peace. If you try to do anything else you fail, us we failed in our preparations for South Africa. South Africa has taught us several lessons. There is the terrible waste of public money, and the still worse lesson—the terrible waste of valuable lives. We were resolved we would do our best with the materials handed on to us, not only in the shaping of the new organisation at the War Office, but in endeavouring to see what would be wanted in war, and to prepare to that end.
The first thing we had to consider was the test, which is the ultimate test in these matters, of readiness for 1285 mobilisation. No army is worth anything which is not ready to take the field. As a nation, we have a genius for getting ourselves through unheard of difficulties which would defeat most other Powers, and, after great waste, we sometimes manage to make up our shortcomings. But preparedness for mobilisation is to-day far more important than it was in times of yore. The old generals—the men of genius—did not make the elaborate distinction between the combatant on the one hand, and the administrative services on the other—supply, transport, and so on—which it is absolutely necessary to make to-day. The reason was that the forces they had to handle were much smaller. It is impossible to handle our Army to-day unless you have it perfect in every part—perfect in the civilian as well as in the combatant services. I need hardly say that the non-combatant services are essential in order to make the combatant services effective. It is in the highest degree important that every bit of the organisation should be made to fit into every other bit. That is the thing which requires years of work and months of preparation for any particular campaign, and it can only be successfully done if the matter is taken in hand in the most thorough-going spirit. Now, taking this test of mobilisation, and looking at Continental armies, there is one thing which strikes the eye at once as different from our case. A Continental Power has a land frontier, and the certainty that, if war breaks out, it must give shock to an invading enemy almost within a few days. Such a nation must prepare itself in a way which is not apposite to our case, and must throw as much as possible into the first line. They have no real second line and would have to bring up reserves in support, and, under their system, they would bring them up from the depths of the nation itself which is trained for war. But with us, fortunately for ourselves, we retain, and we mean to keep, the command of the seas. We are in a position to be sure that if we have this command, and if we possess a small, but well equipped Army ready to take the field in defence of any part of the Empire, and if we have behind that a second line distinct from that Army, we may then have a sense of considerable safety. We have this which stands out and distinguishes our case from that of all 1286 other nations. We need a first line which, compared with that of other nations, may be small in quantity, because it has to operate in the main across the seas, but which for that very reason must be very high in quality. It must be professional. Behind that we should have a second line resting in the nation itself, slumbering in times of peace, although prepared to be called upon only in times of supreme national emergency, but there when it is wanted for the defence of our shores and for the expansion and support of the Army abroad. Therefore it seems to me the true organisation for this country is an organisation in two lines, not three lines. So far as we can at present be said to have any organisation, our mistake has been that we attempted to make it in three lines—the first, professional; the second, semi-professional, I mean the Militia; and the third, the Volunteer organisation, purely voluntary. What has been the result? Each has been starved by the others. Our first line is full of gaps; our second line is decadent because it is not possible to find men and money sufficient; and the third line is totally disorganised because the military talent has flowed so largely into the other lines. Instead of having a homogeneous organisation we have got a confused mass of troops coming under these three heads, but with no place in a definite military scheme.
On behalf of the Government I am going to make an appeal that goes beyond this House of Parliament to the nation. I am going to appeal to the nation to recognise that it is only in two lines that we can successfully organise if we are to have anything near perfection in military organisation, and that it is only by making sacrifices, because sacrifices will be required, that we can carry out the reforms which are necessary to put ourselves in a position of fighting efficiency. We shall have to call upon the Auxiliary Forces to give up many traditions, to remould themselves and to be prepared for war as completely and thoroughly as the first line. This is the key to the proposition I have to submit. I cannot say I approach this task without diffidence, but the diffidence would have been greater had the results of twelve months' pretty hard labour fallen upon myself alone. I have had the assistance of the best brains in 1287 the British Army and the co-operation—the cordial co-operation—of my colleagues on the Army Council. We had our different points of view and have adjusted them in getting this scheme, which I believe represents the best mode practicable of solving the national problem. Then the whole matter has been thoroughly tested and sifted by the Defence Committee, so that we have the opinion, not only of soldiers inside the War Office, but of distinguished soldiers outside. Last year we took the preliminary step, which had become clearly necessary, of organising our first line into six divisions and four cavalry brigades. That was embodied in the Army Order published on 1st January, and although the units are there and the organisation is there, and although preparations are rapidly being concluded which will put that first line into a condition of readiness, yet there are gaps—gaps which were not caused by me, but which I have inherited, and my predecessors have inherited from the days when people in this country were slack in military matters and did not pay that attention to them which the highly scientific problem of to-day will require.
I have no hesitation in making known these things to the public because, although the British public may not be familiar with them, they are well known to the general staffs in the Rue St. Dominique and in the Thiergarten. One is revealing no secret when one goes into detail of the shortcomings affecting the first and second line with a view of doing all that is in the power of the Government to set them right. As I have said, we settle upon six divisions and four cavalry brigades of 160,000 men and officers as the strength and the size of the first line. Some persons will say, "Why fix on this force? Up to now we have never talked of more than the mobilising of 100,000 or 120,000 men; now you are proposing to mobilise 160,000 men." The answer to that is very simple; I have all these men for another reason than that of putting them into these divisions. I have them here to supply drafts for the battalions in India and the Colonies. I have not learned that my right hon. friend the Secretary for India is prepared to ask me to withdraw any of the fifty two battalions which he has already from me for the purposes of India, and which he has had much on that scale from the time of 1288 the Mutiny. We have reduced the number of troops in the Colonies across the sea by eight battalions, and they may be reduced still more in the future. I cannot tell—that depends on considerations of policy; but I have to keep a sufficient force to supply the drafts for the battalions abroad. Whether you do it in accordance with the Cardwell system or whether you do it through depots, you have to find the drafts to keep these battalions abroad alive. Therefore we have felt ourselves justified, and more than justified, seeing that we have the material there, in putting it into the most useful form possible, and we have done it, leaving a considerable margin over, so that if further reductions are to come—I am not saying that they are coming—we have a margin on which we can draw with the least disturbance to the organisation I am proposing. From the point of view of economy and efficiency, it is the best thing we can do to put the material into some sort of arrangement. It has been often asked, "Is such a force in accordance with the requirements of the Empire?" I have never been able to work out the standard of the requirements of the Empire. Given a peaceful policy, we hope that these requirements will be very small, and we ought to keep them as small as we can; but at any time clouds may come over the horizon, and therefore we ought to keep something in reserve. But, although we are not laying down any standard of requirements for the Empire, we are seeking to keep together a force which is better prepared for war than any force which we have hitherto had, and that seems to me the first step to be taken in order to satisfy the requirements of the Empire, It gives, at all events, more than at the present time, while one is prejudicing nothing and no principle. I should define the obligation of the War Office to be to keep this force of six divisions and four cavalry brigades with their military administrative services in an efficient condition for mobilisation, and to maintain them for a period of at least six months. After six months, drafts are found by the ordinary machinery of war. It does not follow that we shall use the whole of that force at once, and therefore we hope to spread out its use for a larger period of time. But with the wastage of war one feels 1289 that at the end of six months the resources of the War Office may be at an end with that amount of men, and then an appeal must be made to the nation itself. We ought to give the nation itself an organisation which imperceptibly in time of peace may enable it to come forth in a moment of supreme emergency and support and expand the force that has gone over sea. The obligation ought to be two-fold. First of all, the Government should have ready this force of six divisions and four cavalry brigades and keep it alive through regular machinery for six months, and after that the nation should be prepared to do its part. That aid should come, through channels which should be provided for it beforehand, to the support and the expansion of the professional Army of the country.
There is one other important consideration wholly overlooked in our organisation. It is a point which has not been applied in practice. It is this—that in modern war the combined action of the various anus is vital and essential. Suppose the infantry are attacking a position against the modern breech-loader with smokeless powder. It is hopeless to expect that any men could get across an open strip of country to make a frontal attack. Their only chance of success is that the artillery should first of all help by pouring shrapnel into the enemy's trenches, and thus enable our own infantry to get up. On the other hand, it is impossible to prepare for these things without the use of cavalry, the purpose of which is to operate far ahead of the lines of the Army, to locate the position of the enemy, and, if possible, induce him to show himself. Therefore, you require a combination of the three arms in their proper proportion, and such an adjustment is just as essential as it is in the case of the household I have but lately described. You must have these things, not in excess, but in their proper proportion, so that the one can operate to the support of the other. We have defined the amount of artillery for the field artillery of these six divisions and four cavalry brigades, and we have defined the proportions in which the cavalry, artillery, and infantry should stand one to the other; and to these proportions, in the opinion of the General Staff, we should hold. In passing I may say that we are 1290 realising the enormous advantage of the General Staff. Without the General Staff it is impossible to work out and to solve these problems. We used to operate in a slap dash way in the old days, and the result was confusion. The General Staff is the brain of the Army, which thinks out these problems; and it is to the General Staff that we owe the organisation which I am going to describe and to suggest as the means by which the requirements are to be fulfilled.
Bearing in mind that it is only through the better combination of arms that infantry can be made effective with the requisite proportions of artillery and cavalry, let me take stock of what the nation has, with a view to seeing whether we have anything like a satisfactory organisation for war. I begin with the second line, because I can come back to the first line after I have sketched the background. I take first the materials which we have got for rendering possible the formation of the second line with the proper proportions of cavalry, artillery, infantry, and administrative services; and I will see what are the deficiences that exist in the present arrangement. I take first the Militia. Now the Militia is the oldest force in this country. It is a force with many traditions, and it goes to one's heart to note what the scrutiny has disclosed as inevitable. The Militia must undergo a great transformation before anything can be said to justify the £2,000,000 which the nation is spending on them at the present time. Their material can be made useful, but great changes will be required, as will be seen from the present position. They have no cavalry, no artillery; and therefore the Militia by themselves would be useless for the kind of warfare which we have at the present time, except that they could be used in supplement of the Regular infantry units. They have an establishment of 131,000 men, but their strength is only 94,000 men. They are deficient in a thousand officers, and their cost is going up. Ten years ago the cost was £14 per man; now it is £22; so that while they are steadily increasing in cost per head they are steadily decreasing in the efficiency of their units. Of their battalions, of which there are 124, forty-six are under 500 strong. But that does not disclose the worst feature 1291 of the organisation. Many battalions have enlisted youths who are only about seventeen years of age because they could not be taken into the Line; and these youths would be useless for war. If we had to send the Militia abroad, and if these youths volunteered to go, we could not, as a rule, send those who were under twenty; and as a large number are under twenty, the battalions are in reality much under their apparent strength. That is a deplorable state of things. That is a force which is not yielding anything like what you would expect from the men who compose it, and who, through no fault of their own, are condemned to impotence. The public spirit of the country gentlemen of this country about the state of the Militia shows the pains they still take to struggle with their difficulties, while it is impossible not to recognise the gallantry which the officers and men have shown in the past. It is painful to see that the nation has condemned the Militia to a state of things which steadily makes for the degradation and the incapacity of the force to be useful. When one asks for the causes one finds a simple explanation—namely, the greater necessity, almost the paramount importance, of the first line of the professional Army. The professional Army must be kept alive; and accordingly by sure and slow degrees the Militia have been made the hewers of wood and the drawers of water to the Regular forces. Lord Lansdowne in a debate not long ago said—The Militia has been plundered at one end by the Line and encroached on at the other by the Volunteers.The War Office has been powerless to remedy this serious state of affairs. It is essential to the War Office to get recruits for the Regular Line. We get 12,000 recruits a year for the infantry of the Line from the Militia at present, and without the Militia we could not get them. These recruits go into the Militia young, and the Line takes them up when they reach the age at which they can go to the Line. The result is that under the existing system the War Office must control the Militia. It is impossible to get away from that, and if the Militia protests against it, the protest is met with the argument that the most important thing is to get the infantry of the Line sufficiently recruited, 1292 and if one has to suffer the Militia must go under. I think that the state of the Militia demonstrates the impossibility of organising three lines of which two shall be professional. The Militia do not come any more from the county only. They are recruited in all parts of the kingdom. They come to get a job. They are professional soldiers for the time they are engaged, and the result is that the tendency of the nation has been more and more to say that as we pay for these men, they must go where we most need them—the service of the Regular Line—and the conclusion we have come to is that the only solution of the Militia problem is one of two things; either the Militia must be available for drafts, or else they must revert once more to their old county place and give up their present professional substance. They must give up to the service of the Line the men who have been enlisted for six years, and who go out for a certain period every year and are paid while they are out as professional soldiers, and must look out for recruits—I will not say on a Volunteer basis, but on something better than a Volunteer' basis—men who give service not on a professional footing, but on a footing of voluntary service rendered to the nation and inspired by the spirit of the country in which they live. The Militia ought to go back to the position which it occupied at the end of the eighteenth century, before Pitt connected it as closely as he did with the Regular Line. If the Militia could go back to that kind of basis, there would be much to be said for it. After all, such a force as I am describing, a peace force required and to be prepared only for great emergencies, is a thing not that inspires the spirit of militarism, but that deepens the sense of responsibility. We should all be glad to see some interest in military affairs made possible for the agricultural labourers, who are cut off at present on the one hand from the Volunteers, and on the other hand from the Militia, where the period of service is too long for them. We should all be glad if the counties could go back to the old condition under which the country gentleman had the young labourers on his estate and round about working with him in his own voluntarily raised battalion. So the proposal of the Government which I shall develop in detail later, is that the Militia, 1293 parting with their professional substance for the service of the Line to be used by machinery which conies later, shall take their cadres over into the second Line, and there, under a proper organisation, form part of the infantry of the second Line.
Now I come to the Yeomanry, whom I can deal with very shortly because they are in a much more satisfactory position. They were reorganised in 1901. They have fifty-six corps, and their number is something over 26,000 of all ranks. Their cost is a little over £21 a head, and £5 for horse allowance, with 5s. 6d. a day paid to each man when training, the annual training extending over a period of from fourteen to eighteen days besides the preliminary training. On the other hand, they have no brigade organisation, no staff nor administrative service connected with them. If we came to war nobody would quite know where to put them. There, again, you have an illustration of the fashion in which our Auxiliary Forces, which ought to be our national second line, have grown up like mushrooms, without plan, without regard to efficiency or economy, with the result that a vast amount of public money has been thrown away by Ministry after Ministry, and very little added to the fighting strength of the nation, tested according to modern scientific standards. In the Yeomanry all one can say is that one has got here an element which may form the cavalry, or the nucleus of the cavalry, of the second line, and which may be adapted on such a footing as to make it render a far more immediate service than the infantry in their present condition could possibly perform.
I come now to the Volunteers, the third element which is available for the second line, with an establishment of 338,000, and an actual strength of about 247,000. They cost the nation nearly £1,800,000. They have a certain amount of administrative services connected with them, the Army Medical and Army Service Corps, but these are altogether in insufficient proportions. Their organisation, I think, is probably the most confused thing we have in the British constitution. They are paid in twenty-two different ways. They get a capitation grant of 35s., which is practically a premium on the enlistment of inefficients. They have no supply organisation for 1294 war. If they were at war the colonel, whose business it is to provide socks, clothes, ammunition, and everything else, would have to carry these things with him in his saddle-bags. The financial position of the commanding officers is deplorable. The unfortunate commanding officer of the Volunteer battalion is an even greater patriot than is popularly supposed. He risks not only his life, but his fortune. If he wants a drill hall for his corps and borrows money to enable him to build, the Commissioners lend him money, but make him personally liable. If he does not get a capitation grant and his corps fails then he has to make these things good. We propose to deal with this point drastically if the House will allow us. We propose to remove the financial liability from these commanding officers and set them free to do their work of commanding and training their corps. There is a Supplementary Estimate which I have put down in connection with this matter which looks as if it contained something very serious, but only contains something which is very innocent. I will explain it. By careful administration last year we saved a good deal of money which we did not spend. I went to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and said, Here is the grand plan of the Government; it may go through or not. If it goes through, then it is absolutely right and essential that we should relieve these unfortunate commanding officers of this responsibility for public purposes, and make the halls free for the use of the second line. If, on the other hand, it does not go through, I said to my right hon. friend, I propose doing something which must remind him and myself of old days. We arranged to take a transfer—an equitable transfer—from the Public Works Loan Commissioners of their debt, paying them off £400,000 odd, owed to them for debts for Volunteer halls. In the Supplementary Estimates we ask the House only to sanction this transfer to the War Office. If the scheme goes through the money will go to a purpose on which, I think, we are mainly agreed. If not, no loss will be incurred by the State. At the present time of those who enlist in the Volunteer corps 80 per cent. are artisans. In the old days the Volunteer corps were a middle class organisation, and found nearly everything for themselves. To-day the case is different. I think it is much better if we are to have 1295 a real second line that we should be in earnest about it, and should find them equipment and endeavour to make the Volunteer element in the second line as real and efficient as we can; and that is what we propose to do. We propose to take a definite and easy mode of enlistment, very much like that of the Yeomanry, and that the Volunteer should go out, on proper notice being given, something like three months. In that way we should get security in his services for the amount we have spent upon him. I will deal with that when I come to what I have to say about the organisation of this second line.
Of that organisation I wish to add this—that, having got these three elements, the Volunteers, the Yeomanry, and the Militia, and our problem being to convert them into a real second line, the first thing that is necessary is that we must do it thoroughly. No tinkering of this matter is of any use. We must have the different arms in their proper proportion, and we must follow as far as we can the standard and canons of modern organisation for war in determining the shape which the organisation should take. In order to get a proper organisation for war of all arms in their proper combination what is the obvious thing for us to do? I do not think there can be a doubt about it. It is—what has not yet beendone—to apply divisional organisation to the second line. The division is the only unit in which all arms are combined and in their proper proportion. A divisional organisation enables you to have a definite plan by which you can test and see whether each part of your forces is in proper condition. The General Staff have made a careful survey for this purpose, and they find that we have the materials available. It would be odd if it were not so; for between nineteen and twenty-four years of age there are upwards of a million young men available for the second line, after the requirements of the Navy and the Regular Army have been satisfied. Three hundred thousand would be within the number we have now in the Auxiliary Forces, and if properly organised they would be a force infinitely more useful than the present organisation, which has been condemned by eminent soldiers, to whom the Government has submitted consideration of it, as useless for 1296 the purpose of modern military necessities. It is a hard condemnation, which makes, however, not the least reflection on the commanding officers or men of the Auxiliary Forces. It is the way in which we have let them drift into the present position without taking thought that has produced the sterility and impotence of their organisation and let it grow in a fashion which has in it neither plan nor reason. The General Staff in its survey has found that a divisional organisation is possible. As those interested in military matters in the House of Commons know, Great Britain is divided for purposes of military administration into twelve grouped regimental districts, each containing four or five counties, and several depôts. Each regimental district is under the command of the brigadier at present commanding the forces in each of those twelve grouped regimental districts. The General Staff has made a survey, with a view of seeing what they contained; and we find this remarkable result—each of them contains very nearly the materials for a division, and some of them contain a good deal more. Indeed, out of the Lancashire and London districts we ought to be able to get two divisions, and out of the others in nearly every case, a complete division out of the material we have ready to hand. Of course I cannot tell what the response to the new organisation will be; but if, as I believe, it appeals to the sentiment of the Auxiliary Forces, if, as I believe they will, the Militia, Yeomanry and Volunteer commanding officers rise to it, then I believe we shall get the men.
I have occupied such little time as I have been able to spare from the somewhat heavy task in which I have been engaged in going about nominally and ostensibly to distribute prizes for Volunteers and making speeches, which I fear have somewhat bored the country, but really for the purpose of conferring with Volunteer commanding officers; and I tried to get into as close relations with commanding officers of Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteers as possible. I found a recognition on all hands that the present state of things was deplorable, and a readiness to make an effort at amendment. I feel, of course, that in the division of opinion there are many commanding officers who will feel the 1297 change very much; and who may fight against the departure from their old organisation. I cannot tell. But not one of them fails to recognise, as much as we recognise, that if there is to be a real second line in this country sacrifices have to be made which may well be called for, because the interests of the nation must predominate over the interests of anything in the nation. The survey the General Staff has made shows that in each of the twelve grouped regimental districts in Great Britain—Ireland requiring separate treatment—there is material for a division exactly analogous to the divisions into which we have organised the first line—that is to say, a division of three brigades, each of which contain four battalions. London and Lancashire districts will give two. Scotland will give us two magnificent divisions. I have had to make up my mind between having three from Scotland, which would not have fitted into the scheme of the grouping of regimental districts, or having two very strong ones; and I was naturally attracted by the prospect of having a Highland and a Lowland division; and I hope we shall organise two divisions in Scotland at a higher strength than elsewhere We may well keep them at a higher strength, because Scotland is a part of the country which has fewer Regular troops of its own than any other part of the United Kingdom; and we have, on the other hand, a most magnificent surplus of second line material north of the Tweed.
That being the organisation I should like to say something about it. The fourteen divisions of Infantry, with three brigades of four battalions each, give the equivalent of forty-two brigades of four battalions, or 168 battalions. The existing Yeomanry if they are taken in for this purpose give us an equivalent of fourteen brigades of Cavalry, with the necessary divisional element. There are fifty-six regiments of Yeomanry, as I have said. We can get our fourteen brigades there if they will respond to our appeal. The Artillery we require for the Territorial force is perhaps the point on which there is the largest deficiency. The Volunteers, where armed at all, are armed with ridiculous and obsolete guns. But on taking stock we find that the old field guns exist in large numbers in very good condition and can be converted into quick- 1298 firers at comparatively little expense. A battery can be converted for somewhat under £1,000 to make it complete. The result is that we propose to arm the Territorial Artillery with good fifteen-pounders, and convert these as rapidly as we can into quick-firers. We have taken an estimate of £10,000 for the purpose of making a beginning, and thereby we hope to organise the Artillery of the second line, so that it may be real Artillery proportionate to the other arms. Our advisers tell us that these old field guns will be very good indeed, all excellent field guns and admirably adapted to the second line. Our plan is never to allow the second line to have obsolete weapons; but as we take weapons away from the first line, where we must always be keeping up to the highest standard, to pass then on to the second line, so that although they are the second best they shall be a close second best, and not a remote second best. Economically, and by degrees, we shall thus always be raising the armament of the second line. An army cannot go to war without its non-combatant units, without its army service corps, its army medical corps, its engineers, its telegraphists, its railway men. Where do you get a more magnificent field for drawing these elements from than in the second line? You have got the highest technical skill among the very men who belong to your Volunteer corps. No finer Engineers than those commanded by Colonel Crompton, or those in some of the Engineer corps in the North, are to be found. I doubt whether the Engineers of the line can compete with them in knowledge and intelligence. You have among them a great reserve not only of men, but also of officers of the very highest technical skill. And what is true of them is true of the Army Service Corps and the Army Medical Corps—magnificent corps—and the other technical services required for the mobilisation of an army. Nothing can be done with an army going to war without proper transport and supply, proper medical equipment, proper technical and scientific arrangements. Wireless telegraphy, the telephone, every modern invention from the balloon downwards, is brought into requisition in these days, and without its technical services an Army is incomplete. When we build 1299 up our second line we shall have in view the first line and its requirements in these respects, and take some of these non-combatant men, and train them in the second line, making them supernumerary to their corps, bringing them over along what I may call a bridge from the second line to the first on mobilisation, so that we may get more men for the first line at much less expense than if we placed them on a professional footing. In nations where they have compulsory service they take men according to their trade, so that we should be doing exactly what the great continental nations do. What is more natural than that we should come to the nation itself in the second line, which is the home army of peace, but prepared for emergency, and ask them to prepare for those services which they can give at much less cost than in the organisation of our first line? The House will see how this proposal to organise in two lines, having a definite relation one to another, over what we call bridges from the second to the first line, substantially promises not only to promote efficiency, but also to dimish cost. What we hope to get is fourteen divisions of the second line as complete in every detail as the first line.
Coming to the terms of service, the Volunteers hitherto could go out at fourteen days notice in time of peace; but should war break out there was for them no such beneficent provision as existed in the case of the Regular, the Militia, or the Yeomanry. They, after a certain time, had finished their service, although their term might be prolonged for a short period for war; but the wretched Volunteer, once caught in the trap of war, was compelled to remain there, so far as any legal power to retire was concerned, until death released him. What we propose is that the recruits of the second line shall come in on the footing that will meet their civilian conditions in a more definite and more reasonable manner than with the Volunteers. It cannot be a long term as in the case of Regulars, nor yet so short a term as in the arrangements with the Volunteers. The Yeomanry are, after all, a sort of Volunteers, though they come in because they wish to serve the State. The Yeomanry force affords us the best type for our purpose, and we propose that the new line shall enlist their recruits on 1300 something akin to the terms on which the Yeomanry come in at the present time. Now, as regards the appropriate period, we propose that a man should come in between eighteen and twenty-four years of age, and that he may undertake to train in four years, subject to this, that if he is minded to go, by reason of shifting of occupation, of his getting married or something of that kind, he can do so, on giving three months notice, and paying a small sum of something like £5 compensation to the State for the amount spent on his training. It is quite right that the State should get some security for the money it spends on recruits, but we have tried to make the terms sufficiently elastic to meet the social necessities of the recruits. I do not want to dwell on this part of the subject, because it is all to be embodied in a Bill which I hope to introduce next week and on which a discussion will probably arise. I, therefore, pass from it now with this reference, that if we get them to come in for the four years training, some of them may wish to stay, and then they would cost less, because they would be able to do with less training and would form a reserve line of the corps. I have never thought the word "Reserve" appropriate for a body whose training is intermittent, but if you are to use them as a reserve they will be men who have taken sufficient training to remain on the strength, or at any rate to remain supernumaries of their corps. In order to keep up to their level of training they will take much less annual camp training than the soldier of the second line must necessarily take in his early days.
We propose to organise this force upon the county basis, and the reason why we do so is that the county is the most convenient administrative area for the purpose. Under the county basis, we hope to find that we shall be able to affiliate the rifle clubs, which are somewhat unorganised at the present time, unconnected as they are with corps. We propose to bring them into definite relations with the battalions of this second line, in each county, and to make these rifle clubs places where the recruit who has gone in for four years training may practice musketry, and where a man who has gone through his four years may keep up his musketry. We hope for great assistance from the rifle clubs, 1301 if we make them adjuncts of the organisation instead of part of it, and so bring them into the discharge of useful and necessary functions.
Then as regards the period of annual training, the men will go into camp, or into what is equivalent to camp, much as they do at the present time, and we hope to bring them into close contact with the Regulars on those occasions. The camp will be for a period of fifteen days wherever that is possible. Many of them will not be able to give so long a time, many will not be able to give more than eight days, but we will take them, rather than not have them, for that period. Where we can get these men to come forward we hope that they will come for fifteen days and thereby get substantial preparation. But there is another feature on which we rely still more than upon the amount of annual training and the preliminary training, and that is that we propose to make it part of the terms on which a second line soldier engages himself, should there be a great mobilisation and the nation be plunged into war, not to go abroad, because his service is for the United Kingdom only, but that he is to be embodied to train for war. We propose that if a great war were to break out, and the strength of the nation was called on, measured by the necessity of calling out all the Regular Reserve, the second line should be mobilised in its units, and be embodied for war training for six months. And our belief is that at the end of that time (and in this we are confirmed by a high military authority) not only would they be enormously more efficient than the Volunteer or Yeomanry Force is at the present time, but that they would be ready, finding themselves in their units, to say—"We wish to go abroad and take our part in the theatre of war, to tight in the interests of the nation and for the defence of the Empire." It might be that they would not only go in their battalions, but in their brigades, and even divisions. If given the occasion I do not know that there is any limit to the spirit of our people when the necessity is upon them. At any rate they will have that opportunity. Our principle is purely voluntary enlistment. Compulsion is remote from our mind, and I trust it will always be so. Nor do we wish to encourage anything like excessive military spirit, and we feel this, 1302 that we can best prevent these contingencies by making use of the voluntary contribution of the nation of its manhood and its strength, on such a footing, that if war break out, their engagement will become a serious responsibility, thereby making, them, on the one hand, a source of strength to the nation, and, on the other hand, making them disinclined light to take upon themselves the perils and horrors of war which would confront them. We think that this plan of embodying the second line for mobilisation for war training, and leaving them free to volunteer, is something which will give a sufficient sense of seriousness, and that there is not a man who joins but will feel disinclined to omit any effort in his power to prevent a state of things that might separate him from his wife and family and home, and make him compelled to take upon himself the serious responsibilities of war. The engagement would therefore be to enlist for four years, with power to go out after three months notice, and to be embodied in time of war for six months training. That is the very essence of the proposals for increasing the efficiency of the second line, and that is the only way in which we can hope to give to it the real character which it ought to possess. In that way we hope to produce a real second line.
Such a force, of course, will require to be instructed in time of peace, during the intervals between camp and camp, and there we think the county organisation lends itself to the purpose. We shall have instructors who will go from centre to centre on their bicycles, gathering in the young men belonging to the corps, on the village green in summer, and in the schoolhouse in winter, and giving them instruction on a more scientific footing than the Volunteer receives to-day, and than the Yeomanry has at the present time. In that way we hope to raise a force on a county basis which will be a real contribution to the second line. The great feature is the six months training for war mobilisation. Hitherto the puzzle has been how to get a sufficient training for a Volunteer second line fitted for serious duty. A man may not be able to undertake training for such a long period as six months. We have proceeded on the footing of getting very much greater efficiency than anything we ever 1303 had in the past. The duties of the force will be, shortly, to garrison the naval ports, and to take the place of Regular troops and garrison Artillery and garrison Engineers, who will probably go abroad on a great mobilisation. I say a great mobilisation, because although it may be unlikely, yet it is a sort of thing for which we must be prepared. In any great mobilisation the garrison fortresses would be manned, as, indeed, at present they would be, by Auxiliary troops. The second duty will be to repel raids. There has been a great deal of discussion about the Blue Water school. For my part I never thought that the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the late Prime Minister, when he made his speech about the raids being very small, intended to say that a second line would be of no advantage; on the contrary, I think he meant to convey that if the Navy were kept up to its strength so as to command the sea, we could be content to allow a second line to slumber in time of peace, if only we were adequately prepared for war. Raids might be serious things, and it is always possible that a considerable force might be got over. Therefore, although we rest on the Blue Water system, I do not think there is any less necessity to bring about a state of things in which our second line should be a reality. The third function will be the one I have described—a purely voluntary function. The undertaking will be to serve only in the United Kingdom, but such is the strength and spirit of the nation, of which we had an example at the time of the South African war, for instance, that I myself do not doubt that if this second line was embodied for mobilisation in time of war in its units, they would express their wish, at the conclusion of the six months, to go out in large numbers to the theatre of war, possibly in divisions, and so serve for that expansion and that support of which the Norfolk and the Elgin Commissions said so much. Of course, our proposal is to organise them in units, and we do think there is a possibility of expansion. It may be said that it is speculation, that the Auxiliary forces will come forward and respond to the appeal to organise themselves. I admit it is speculation, but one is bound to take some chance in these matters and make some appeal. It is the last effort to get forward upon the sort of line which we have to follow, and I believe it 1304 is because our people have objected to take compulsory service, because they have always said that they are ready, if appealed to in the right spirit, to respond to the appeal, that the Auxiliary Forces will come forward in numbers even in excess of what we are asking, and give us a force which in time of peace need not exceed a quarter of a million, and in time of war would reach the strength of 300,000.
For the purpose of working out the problem how to get from each county its quota for the divisions, for the group of regimental districts, I come now to the new piece of machinery, which I will only shortly describe, for the obvious reason that it is the subject of the Bill I shall have to introduce. We propose to create a military committee in each county, composed of commanding officers of Auxiliary Forces, with the addition of such elements as will be necessary to bring the Regular Forces into touch with the Auxiliary Forces. We must, therefore, have the General Staff, through its brigadiers, represented upon the associations. The lord lieutenant of the county will in each case be the president of these county associations. I will tell the House why. It is not merely for the old technical and constitutional reason that the lord lieutenant is the military representative of the Crown in the county. It is not merely that we desire to turn him a little from his present magisterial to his old military functions. But it is that we feel that he is the link with the landowners of the county, and it is from the landowners we hope to get much help and great saving to the public in our new organisation. We need manœuvre areas; we need rifle ranges. The other day, in organising the great cavalry manœuvres in Scotland, it was my duty to make an appeal to the great landowners in that country; but without pressing the appeal I am glad to say they came forward most generously and offered us more land than we needed for those particular manœuvres. I believe that if you take the country gentlemen in the right way, if you get them to interest themselves in this new organisation, they will respond to your appeal, they will make their lands available in every way, and show that their public spirit is as strong as ever it was in days of yore. Therefore, we think it very important 1305 that the lord lieutenant, representing the country gentlemen from whom we hope so much for the good of the State, should be the president of the county association. Then we propose that the constitution of these county associations should vary with each county. We call them "associations" because that is a good old term invented by Oliver Cromwell. They represented in those days functions which we expect the new bodies to fulfil in our time. We want them to organise the county quota of the division, and to do the administrative work of the forces in the division. Therefore, we propose that in each county the association should be constituted by a scheme worked out by the Army Council. There will be a different scheme for each county, and it will be possible under that scheme to get proper representation of labour as well as of capital, for we must keep ourselves in close relationship with the artisan classes as well as the employing classes in the working out of this scheme. The functions of these associations are military functions. But even so they are functions not connected with command and training, which we propose to separate altogether from administration. Administration means the raising of the force, the finding of supplies, the provision of the necessities for a campaign, the payment of money, the furnishing of weapons, and so on. The command of the troops and their training will be delegated to the commanding officers of the new units—the officers who correspond with the existing Militia, Yeomanry, and Volunteer commanding officers. They will be under their brigadiers and their divisional commanders, with their general in command as their supreme chief. But the administration, the spending of the money, which will be furnished by the War Office—for we make no appeal to the rates—on estimates carefully scrutinised, will be in the hands of the associations, who will employ it in providing their corps with all necessary equipments. Thus the commanding officers will be fully relieved not only of debts incurred by their corps, but of the burden of administration which at present weighs heavily upon them. In short, the duty of the county associations will be to look after the business side of the second-line troops of the county, and they will have, in addition to the lord lieutenant as 1306 president, business men as chairman and secretary, who will carefully deal with, all matters delegated to them by the Army Council. The chief duty, therefore, of the county association will be to re-arrange the existing Auxiliary Forces within the county area, and get them into such a shape that the county may supply the quota which it is to provide to the divisional organisation. The quota will necessarily differ. One county may be strong in cavalry, another in artillery, and a third in infantry. The thing is that the authorities should study the idiosyncrasies of each locality and take what the locality can most readily and easily give. Of course, the new force must be represented at the War Office, and our proposal is that there should be a committee to represent the interests of this Home or Territorial Army. But that will not be the only connection of the troops of the county with headquarters. Who is to command these divisions? There will come a time when, no doubt, they will be commanded by civilians who have so trained themselves that they are able to control great bodies of troops. I look forward to a time when the brigadiers, at all events, and possibly the divisional generals, will come from the ranks of the Auxiliary Forces. But we want to make this thing a scientific reality in the first instance, and therefore we think it better that we should put on the very best men we have, and men who will give their whole time to the work. Accordingly, to begin with, we propose that each of the fourteen divisions shall be commanded by a Regular major-general, who will give his whole time to his duties and who will have his Regular general staff officer, and his Regular administrative staff officer. The brigadiers may in time, no doubt, be got from the Territorial Force. We shall start, however, with the existing brigadiers; and we hope that by degrees we shall make this force more and more a really civilian military force. This, then, is the second line, which is to be behind the first line, and, as the House will see, it is a line which, if our hopes are realised, will have its proper proportion of all arms; and in the event of mobilisation will be ready to be called out for its six months training for war. Of course, this is not a standing Army. It is rather the last resource of the nation in a time of great emergency.
1307 I now come back to the field force, the first line, because I am now in a position to place it before the House and explain what we require for the organisation of six great divisions of three brigades. We require for the six divisions, so far as infantry is concerned, sixty-six Line battalions, and six of Guards. Of course, I am now only speaking of the Home field force, and not of the fifty-two battalions in India, and twenty-five battalions in the Colonies, which remain as at present. We actually have at home seventy-one battalions of infantry and eight of Guards. Thus we have a surplus of five battalions of infantry and two of Guards; and that notwithstanding that we made a reduction last summer of nine battalions—eight of infantry and one of Guards. The House will now see why I made these reductions. I am coming to great deficiencies and gaps in the first line which I have had to fill. At the present moment, out of the 227,000 men we have at home, counting the Reserve, it would not be possible to mobilise more than 100,000 men, for want of ammunition columns, administration services, transport, Army Medical Corps, and so forth. Never has the Army been subjected to such a stocktaking as in the last twelve months. It was carried out by the soldiers themselves with great zeal. We have found that our first line is full of gaps, and we feel that our main duty is to fill up those gaps in such a way as to make that first line efficient. I doubt very much whether you can mobilise 100,000 men at the present time. I know that a foreign General Staff—I do not know what the German view is; I am talking of another—consider that we could not mobilise nearly as many. But, at any rate, you cannot put it higher than 100,000. If these plans succeed, we shall be able to mobilise 160,000. We require sixty-six battalions; we have got seventy-one; so that there are five left. If it should be necessary to take off more, I am well within what I have to keep up. So much for infantry, of which we have a surplus.
Now I come to cavalry. We require four brigades, or twelve regiments. I ought to remind the House that we have published the new organisation of our cavalry, which has been completed. The cavalry now works in three sections. There is one section, 1308 called strategical cavalry, which operates away in advance of the line of the Army in the field; it operates not only directly on the enemy, but may operate on his flank. Its purpose is to keep in touch with the enemy, to make him disclose himself, and to make reconnaissances on a sufficient scale to locate the enemy for the purposes of the plans of the general commanding the main body of the Army. It cannot do the screen work, for which we have a second section, which works with mounted infantry and with a certain amount of artillery. This is the true screen, to use the old fashioned expression, between the main body of the army and the enemy. Then the third section of the cavalry is the divisional cavalry, which does the work which has to be done with the troops and at headquarters. For the strategical cavalry we require four brigades, or twelve regiments, and two brigades of horse artillery. Military members know that a brigade of horse artillery has only two batteries; that means, therefore, four batteries of horse artillery. The second section, the screen cavalry, consists of two brigades, according to the general staff plans, each consisting of two battalions of mounted infantry and one cavalry regiment, and, operating with each brigade, one battery of horse artillery. The third section of the cavalry consists of fifteen squadrons of Yeomanry, and they are to form the divisional cavalry for the future. They are Yeomanry who are supernumerary to the establishment of the Yeomanry in their present corps. Each regiment is to furnish us with a troop, and we get fifteen squadrons in that way which are to go out on mobilisation with the Regulars and operate as divisional cavalry. To meet the twelve regiments which we want for the strategical cavalry we have thirteen regiments of cavalry and a competent regiment of Household Cavalry. That gives us two regiments over—just what is wanted in forming the second section of cavalry. Then for the Yeomanry we have got the fifteen squadrons, so that as regards cavalry we are just right.
In the case of Artillery the tale is not so satisfactory. According to the final working out of the requirements of the General Staff for the six divisions, the 1309 Artillery which are wanted to make the infantry of these divisions effective to conduct its general operations—I am talking of field, not horse artillery—will be as follows:—The artillery consists of fifty-four batteries of field artillery, twelve batteries of howitizers, and six batteries of heavy 60-pounders. I am glad to say these last are the most magnificent guns, as far as my judgment goes, I have ever seen; they are complete and are giving the utmost satisfaction. These are manned by garrison artillerymen; they have a range of something like 13,000 yards, and are of 5 inch diameter. That makes seventy-two batteries in all wanted for the six divisions. We have ninety-nine batteries of field artillery and six of heavy guns, making 105 in all. Therefore we have a surplus in artillery of guns over what is required for the divisions, a surplus of thirty-three batteries. On the other hand we are very short of the ammunition columns to man them. The House will realise that artillery organisation, owing to the introduction of quick-firing guns, is a wholly different thing from what it used to be. You have a battery with its men intrenched in their pits, you have the shrapnel bursting overhead, so that the men serving the guns are in the greatest peril, and you require the very highest trained men you can get. They have a certain amount of ammunition in each battery, but it soon runs out with the modern quick-firer, and they have to depend on the next source of supply—the brigade ammunition column. That is a small one, and is to bring up the ammunition from the rear, and it brings it up with the aid of men a large proportion of whom are drivers. These drivers have to come under fire, and, therefore, must be highly trained. The particular question which the general staff has under consideration is as to what extent in the brigade ammunition column you can bring in Militia-trained men. We are considering that, and have not come to a final decision upon it. I have not, therefore, been able to do what I intimated I hoped I should be able to do—to substitute to a moderate extent for certain at least of our Regular artillerymen 2,000 or 3,000 artillery men trained on a Militia basis. I wanted these men, not for serving guns, but as drivers bringing up ammunition 1310 in the brigade ammunition column. Whether this can be done or not remains to be seen. The closest investigation is going on, because we think this is a matter of such seriousness that we ought not to run any risk. My own belief is that it can be done to some extent, but I think it right to go very cautiously in this matter. We must know first exactly how far we can go, and consequently I have not reduced a single Regular artilleryman at present. The shortage is due to the three-years system, which has made it impossible to find the drafts. The surplus batteries which we do not want for the divisional organisation we are going to use as training batteries in which to train men for the divisional ammunition column. Of course training batteries do not require so many horses as Regular batteries for service in the field. The training batteries will have a lower establishment of horses and men, but we have not reduced the horses in the Regular batteries. We have placed some of the Regular batteries on a four-gun establishment in time of peace, but that is done by other Powers, and of course when we have only a four-gun establishment we do not use all the horses at one time, but we have the same number of horses available to complete the war strength. At the present time we require a considerable number of men for the divisional ammunition column, that is the column which takes the place of what used to be called the "park," which was an organisation adapted more to the Army Corps than to the division. The more mobile divisional ammunition column which never comes into he firing zone has been substituted for the old park. It is the brigade ammunition column that takes the ammunition brought up by the divisional ammunition column to the battery. It is hoped to get a very large part of these divisional ammunition columns on a militia basis. It is not a question of reducing, because they do not exist at present. All told, using up every man, we could only at the present moment mobilise forty-two batteries for the service of the Regular force out of the seventy-two which we require, and that is one of the reasons why it is that we could not put into the field more than 1311 100,000 men. To mobilise seventy-two batteries, to provide ammunition columns, brigade and divisional, we require 39,000 men. Of these we have available 23,000 on the present Regular establishment. We lack 16,000, and have to get them, and perhaps to get them by converting the Militia Garrison Artillery, and by other methods, and training them for the service of the Regular artillery. That we hope to do by taking the surplus thirty-three batteries, which have got all their valuable reserve of guns, and turning them into training batteries located in different parts, of the country. These will serve the double purpose of forming a training school for the drafts and of training the artillery officers and non-commissioned officers of the second line.
Now I come to the deficiencies in transport, for the deficiencies of the Army Service Corps are equally formidable. I believe that they constitute a more formidable part of the difficulty in mobilisation at the present moment than even the Artillery. On the other hand, these deficiencies are more easily supplied on the militia basis. We have worked out the deficiencies under every section of the Army. We find that for the six divisions we require for transport alone in he head Army Service Corps 14,800 men. We have some 12,500 of those, including 9,000 Reservists, a deficit of 2,500. We feel that we ought to get not only that deficit, but a considerable proportion of the others from territorially trained men, from the civilian element. Because, after all, what is the work of the kind of men who render services of these kinds? They are bakers, butchers, drivers, smiths, every kind of men who render non-combatant services. We, therefore, feel that there is a considerable prospect of economy ahead by doing what the Continental nations do, that is, going to the man who is practised and trained, and to get from him, for a small retaining fee, an undertaking to come up for mobilisation and practice his trade in the Army Service Corps. The deficiency is 2,300 under the head of transport, and under the head of supply it is 1,100. In the Army Medical Department the deficiency is very serious indeed. We 1312 require 8,500 men to look after the wounded in the hospitals. We have 4,700, including 2,000 Reservists, so that the deficit is 3,800. Well, we see our way through negotiations for replacing a large portion of these from civilian sources, where there are those who take a great interest in these matters. I do not forget, either, that on mobilisation we require nurses to go to the hospitals. They are an essential part of the organisation for war. Various schemes are under consideration, and I cannot speak with confidence yet. The whole topic of nurses is one that I approach with diffidence. I find it one of the most difficult that I have had to deal with. The Army Ordnance Cores is a small body which looks after the hardware stores, and of these we have sufficient, and they might be put on a militia basis. The veterinary deficiency is very serious. We require 800 for mobilisation, and we have only 136. Of engineers we require 7,500, and we have with the reserve an actual surplus and a splendid additional reserve, too, in the second line. In officers there is a very serious deficiency indeed. I calculate the deficiency of officers, including wastage, for mobilisation on this footing. We require for six months 10,200. We have 4,500 and 1,500 in the reserve. There is a deficiency of at least 3,800 and probably of over 4,000.
Then there is one other deficiency at the present moment. Besides the field or expeditionary force, we require a striking force. Without general mobilisation, we require a small force to send out at short notice. Thus, last year we were face to face with a crisis on the Egyptian frontier. There were rumours which made us very uneasy, and it might have been necessary to take steps at very short notice. Our difficulty at the present time is that our striking force is rendered very inadequate by the shortage in the number of available Reservists. Therefore the A reserve has been organised; but it consists of only 5,000 men, who are taken in the first year after they have retired from the colours. But not enough have come up to make up the 5,000. We propose, therefore, by a provision in the Bill which I shall introduce, to increase the number of the 1313 A reserve, and also the time in which they may be obtained, so that we may create an element which will enable us to mobilise a striking force of larger dimensions, and capable of more rapid mobilisation. The plans of the General Staff as to the dimensions of that force have not yet been completed. It comes to this, that we have all these lacunœ disclosed as the result of the stocktaking which we have initiated.
Now I want to speak of the remedies. In the case of the infantry, we have to supply in the first place the wastage of war. It is true that we have a surplus of infantry, but that is of units which we do not want to break up. Therefore we must have something to supply drafts for the wastage of war. The Militia cannot be used as mere draft-finding units; and therefore we propose to take their substance and organise it. Some organisation for training the drafts is absolutely necessary. In the South African War there was the spectacle of bodies of 2,000 men being trained together by inexperienced officers. What we want is to get an efficient machinery to provide these drafts. The wastage we propose to provide for by certain new cadres which we call into existence. The House must not be alarmed. We propose to create seventy-four new battalions behind the seventy-four pairs of battalions now existing. These battalions will not add an additional man to the establishment, because they are only to train the substance that was in the Militia before. They will be training battalions only. They will have a considerable staff of officers, Regular and Reserve, attached to them. They will each of them train from 500 to 600 men, but they will not train them all at ones. We propose to take men and train them until we have upon the list of the battalions, liable to come up on mobilisation and to go abroad, 500 to 600 men, who will serve as a reservoir from which drafts can be obtained for the Regular battalions; and the effect of setting up these third battalions is that the existing depots will be absorbed and merged. There are great advantages over the Militia, in respect of the officers and men who will be trained 1314 in these new battalions belonging to the Regular line. In the first place, the men in these battalions will be under engagement to go abroad; and, in the second place, we shall be in a position to supply drafts to make good wastage. In the third place, these battalions will expand and take in the recruits who flow in under any great national stress to make up the number of drafts to supply the wastage of war. In the last place, they will have more Regular officers than has hitherto been the case. They will have as their function to train those special Reservists, those civilians enlisted on a non-Regular basis, who are to take their training very much as the Militia do now. During the past year we have had the advantage of two interesting experiments. One was our own. We have been training twenty battalions of Militia experimentally, and we have found that it has not only been very popular and successful, but we have reached a class of the population where we have done a great deal of good. The other experiment, conducted under the auspices of Colonel Pollock, has shown how much may be effected by six months training. We propose to take these young men at the age of seventeen, and we hope to get from them 12,000 recruits for the line annually, and also the requisite, supply to meet the wastage of war of trained men. They will engage to enlist for some six years, and come up for fifteen days in the year. This nucleus or training battalion will thus train non-Regular or special Reservists to supply the drafts for the Regular Army; but they will also, as they have a great supply of officers, form, we hope, the training school in which the officers and non-commissioned officers of the second line will get their training. They will be distributed about the country, and we hops in this way to get a better elementary training for the officers of the second line. The higher training must be done in instructional schools organised by the General Staff and working in conjunction with the commander of the command, but the elementary training we hope to be able to give in these nucleus training battalions. These local training schools will have a locality from which 1315 they will not move. They will not be battalions which will ever be as such mobilised into actual fighting battalions, but they will be training battalions from which provisional or rather composite battalions will be drawn on stress of war.
§ * MR. HALDANE
No; so far as they remain merely training battalions, they will never go abroad. [An HON. MEMBER: Do you pay them?] Oh yes, just like the Militia. They have the training and get the pay. They will form mobilisation centres. The Regulars will recruit there; but, instead of training at the depots, they will, as a rule, we hope, go at once to the second or home battalions. We should like to give up the training of line recruits in the small depots. I think the right hon. Gentleman opposite will agree with me in this, that trying to train in small depots is no use, and we propose to send recruits to the home battalions as far as we can in the future, and to keep these new battalions for the purpose of depots for the training of special Reservists. Their staff will consist, besides the half-pay colonel, who will come up when he is wanted, of a major and four captains. When the recruits come in, in large numbers in time of war, and when these battalions expand, they will remove to the barracks which are rendered vacant by troops going abroad, and these officers will go with them. What we hope is that they will form great double-company battalions—four double companies—each of which will be commanded by a regular captain, and that they will form a training school for finding drafts for war much better than anything we have had up to the present time.
To sum up the effect. The Militia cadre, of which there are generally two staffs at each of the depots, will shed its substance, which will go into these new training battalions, which are to be trained by Regular officers. Militia officers will belong to the reserve of officers attached to the battalions if they so wish, and those who do not so wish will go to the second line and take their cadres there, and, on a 1316 county basis, enlist recruits of a different kind, who will now be I hope, on the footing and trained on the terms I have described. These terms, with their county basis, make the organisation of what is the second line no longer analogous to the old Volunteer organisation, but analogous to the true Militia basis such as existed before Pitt began that process by which they lost their county character. The conversion will, as I have said, be a gradual process, but the machinery I can describe with greater appropriateness on introducing the Bill than it is possible for me to do at the present time. Ireland has got no Volunteers, and therefore for Ireland we have had to make special provision. She has got a splendid Militia, and we propose to make these third battalions just as we have in the other case. We propose to put third battalions behind each of the eight Irish Regular pairs, and we propose that, while that third battalion resembles the training battalion of regiments in Great Britain, there shall be behind it at least one battalion, and probably two battalions, in four or five regiments formed by the existing Militia taking service under the new terms for special Reservists, that is to say, engaging to go abroad and to find drafts—but embodied in their unit and kept as a sort of Militia. Observe how valuable a dozen of these battalions will be to us, and we hope to get them by amalgamating and bringing together the Militia cadres which exist now. We shall be able to send them to relieve Colonial battalions. It may be that these Irish Militia battalions will have to be asked for that purpose. We may think it necessary to take some of them as A Reservists of the new class or we may think that sufficient of them may volunteer to enable us to get the necessary number. Generally the Regular Army will in the training battalions have, we hope, a self-contained infantry organisation and will not depend any more on the Militia, which will have reverted to its county basis and taken a new class of recruits. Looked at in the concrete, I will, by way of illustration, to make it more intelligible to the House, take the county of Norfolk. Norfolk has got a famous regiment of two battalions. At this moment one is at Bloemfontein and the other is at Warley, in Essex. 1317 Under the new system the depot will be at Norwich, but it will be a depot for training only special Reservists. As the recruits come in they go off to Warley to be trained for the home battalion, while Norwich will be training from 120 to 150 men at a time to keep up the reservoir of 500 or 600 men who are on the roll and who will be called up on mobilisation. The six days musketry will be given where convenient in the neighbourhood of the training battalion. The present staff consists of two Militia staffs and four officers, one of whom is a major, and sixty-one non-commissioned officers and men, who form a third staff. For the future the Regular staff will be enlarged, and part of the Militia will have been brought in, some as Reserve officers of the second line, and consequently we shall get one strong staff. The nucleus of the battalion, which, upon war, will remain a training battalion, will go on expanding so as to throw off a large provisional battalion of trained drafts. That seems to us to be a very much more satisfactory organisation than that of the present time. The Reserve officers will, of course, become Regular officers, and as such they will have their function and play their part. I have spoken now of what I call the first of the bridges—the bridge between the first line and the nation—and these bridges are the road by which we wish to bring the Army much more closely to the nation than has hitherto been the case, and if possible to interest the nation more closely in it, and make it feel more closely that it is its own possession.
The next I come to is the artillery. The shortage in artillery at the present time is not due to reduction but is due to the three years system. That system produces the wrong Reservists, and we are beginning to feel the evil of a short time with the colours and a long time in the Reserves. I have had this year to place a sum of£4,000 on the Estimates for the training of the Reservists under the three years system. I have described the ammunition columns, and I have spoken of the thirty-six training batteries which we propose to organise in the shape of twelve training brigades in different parts of the country. These are to be local 1318 artillery schools, just as we have got local infantry schools. They will also serve s as depots for the purpose of Regular recruits. We have reduced the number of depots for the Regular artillery, but we propose to add these new twelve training schools or brigades, which also will be localised, territorialised, and which will train men on what I may call the special service basis—civilians who give a certain time to military work and who are prepared to take an engagement to come up at once on mobilisation. We propose to train, on that footing, the whole of the artillery which goes with the divisional ammunition columns. We hope in that way not only to be able to get a divisional ammunition column but possibly also to provide part of the brigade ammunition column. At least, we shall be providing a number of people available for the artillery. The establishment of each of these brigade schools will consist of a colonel, three majors, and six other officers, and about 150 non-commissioned officers and men and 125 horses. These training brigades will have a small number of guns, probably two to each battery—at the most four—and it will in that way be able to train as large a number of men as can get an efficient training. In addition, just as the infantry third battalions form an infantry school battalion where officers and non-commissioned officers of the second line are to get some training, so these will be local schools which will train second line officers and non-commissioned officers. On mobilisation they will also train the drafts, and, as each has got the whole of its guns in reserve, the country will have the comfortable feeling that it is not denuded of its artillery, and that there are field guns of the most modern pattern which, I have no doubt, will be admirably used by some of the new Territorial artillery-men whom we propose to train up under the new system which brings the new artillery organisation into the second line.
I now come to the cavalry. The cavalry organisation is one of the most difficult problems which we have. There has been a vast divergence of opinion, some wishing for large depots to train the cavalry, others wishing to train up the 1319 cavalry with the regiments. Many believe the best training is the training which is given with the regiment; but be that as it may, what we have to do is much simpler than in the other case; what we have to do is to train these fifteen squadrons of Yeomanry, a troop being furnished by each regiment, who are to form the third section of our cavalry in our new cavalry organisation. For that a certain amount of local training is wanted, and we shall have to organise local cavalry schools on a modest scale. We shall have to organise them so as to give that training. Then there is the Army Service Corps. Just as we have brought across the Yeomanry squadron from the Yeomanry, so we propose to bring from the second line men who have engaged for mobilisation, and who have been paid a moderate sum for doing so. We have negotiated these things, but I do not wish to go into details about it just at this stage. We hope to get an Army Service Corps organisation for the territorial force, and we hope also to supply the deficits of 2,300 in transport and 1,100 in supply, of which I have spoken, in the six divisional organisations. These men will, of course, be supernumerary. We shall be able to bring them up to Aldershot for any extra training that they want, or possibly it may be done locally. This is being worked out under the eye of Sir William Nicholson, the Quartermaster-General, with Sir Edward Ward and General Clayton, both of whom have great experience of Army Service Corps organisation. In the case of the Army medical element there again we have to have our special bridge between the two lines, and the special contingent that we want for the field force is some 331 medical officers, thirty quartermasters, and 4,400 men, which will provide for wastage and give us enough to make up the deficiency which we require for mobilisation of the first line. We propose to organise—and the negotiations for it are in progress—a large territorial Army Medical Corps analogous to the Regular Army Medical Corps. The British Association have already taken a great interest in it, and have suggested that we should organise our corps not merely locally but as a great corps—just as the engineers and the artillery are 1320 great corps—organised under the Director-General of Army Medical Corps. We have accepted that suggestion and are going to organise one great Army Medical Corps, and we hope in that way to get a very large number of people connected with the medical profession to take an interest in the Army medical branch of the service, both Regular and second line. In that fashion we hope to get both officers and men who will go out on mobilisation. I may say that we entertain no doubt that we shall be able to succeed to some extent in that, and we think to the full extent of our desires. As regards the engineers, we have got enough engineers for the Regular Forces—we have even a surplus; and it is a great asset to the nation that we should have the magnificent technical corps that we have in the second line and that we do not propose to cut down—on the contrary, we propose to organise that element rather strongly in the second line forces, and thereby have a reserve of strength in case of emergency. I doubt very much whether there is any better class for working in the field, even under fire, than you can get in the highly-educated men who are to be found in some of the corps in various parts of the country. In all these cases these men, so far as we want to supply deficiencies in mobilisation, will get a retaining fee. They will get, of course, a handsome bonus on mobilisation, and they will be paid at Army Service rates while they are out for training; and generally we shall adapt the terms of their service to the requirements of their position. I am getting towards the end of my task. It is almost impossible to shorten it, but I am trying to condense.
Now I want to touch on another subject. To my mind there is no more serious problem to be solved than how to get over the deficiency of officers. We want 4,000 to make up the deficiency for mobilisation for the Regulars, and about 6,000 to make up the deficiencies of the second line—that is, assuming that we should have only those that are already there for the second line. Well, the present Reserve is made up of officers who are middle-aged. Many of them would not be available, although they would be very 1321 useful, if the country was denuded of younger officers, in coming up to the training battalions and taking their place in training drafts. We have thought it right to make the most searching investigation we could into this officer problem, and we appointed last autumn what we conceived was a strong committee, and what, I think, has borne out its reputation as a strong committee. Sir Edward Ward, who has great experience in organisation, presided, and we saw that there was only one source from which we could hope to get young men of the upper middle class, who are the usual source from which this element is drawn, and that was the Universities and the big public schools, like Eton and Harrow and other public schools of that character, which at present have large cadet corps. You are not in danger of increasing the spirit of militarism there, because the spirit of militarism already runs fairly high both there and at the Universities. What we propose to do in our necessity is to turn to them, and to ask them to help us by putting their militarism to some good purpose. They are willing to do it, and their willingness will go a considerable way towards helping us to solve the problem. We thought it necessary to put upon that Committee representatives of the Universities and public schools. On that Committee are sitting Professor Hudson Beare, of Edinburgh; Professor Bourne, of Oxford; Colonel Edwards, Fellow of Peter-house, who represents the University of Cambridge; the Rev. Mr. David, headmaster of Clifton; Lord Lovat, who has taken a great and distinguished part in this matter; Major-General Ewart, Director of Military Operations, formerly Military Secretary, who has great technical knowledge; Brigadier-General Wilson, Commandant of the Staff College; and last, but not least, a representative of the Finance Department, to see that all goes smoothly there. That Committee has made an interim Report, and I am going to take a very unusual course. This question is so intricate, and it is so impossible for me to explain it within compass that, finding the Committee had got to general agreement on certain broad lines, I asked them to make this interim Report 1322 in such a fashion that I could lay it on the Table of the House, that Members might study it in detail. I am not bound by that Report. The Army Council has not yet considered it. We approve of the general lines most heartily, but we have got to consider the details. My right hon. friend (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) has not considered it. He has approved of the most general features of the scheme, and he has allowed me to put £50,000 on the Estimates this year to give it a start and make it a reality. But, of course, it will cost a great deal more than that. It may cost in the end £250,000 a year. But I have provided for that by automatic savings which I have been able to make, because this question of the officers is a problem so vital that one would rather cut off some things than leave it unsolved. I have, therefore, made these automatic savings, which will cover the full cost, even if it should amount to £250,000 a year, which is a very outside figure. However, my right hon. friend s has not yet considered the details of the scheme, and neither he nor I am bound—nor is the Committee bound. We have been in close consultation with the headmasters and the Universities and other authorities, and we have their approval of the main features of the proposals of the Committee. Accordingly, although the Committee's Report is a detailed Report, it is not the final word, and they have prepared it merely at my request to meet the convenience of the House by giving it something on which Members could form a judgment. It will be on the Table to-night, and hon. Members can take it and consider it. Here are the broad features of it. The Committee studied the systems of France, Germany, Russia, and Japan. France has her own way of obtaining a reserve of officers. They are officers from the non-commissioned ranks—a way which she can use, but a way which is not adapted to our necessities, since we have not the material which France gets through her compulsory system. Germany and Japan, and, to a considerable extent, Russia have all hit upon the same scheme. They take the officer whom they want to train from the 1323 Reserve, and, having satisfied themselves that he is a well-educated man, they attach him, à la suite, to a general unit; and there, after a year's training, and on passing a further examination, he goes into the reserve of officers. He is called up from time to time, and on mobilisation he becomes a Regular officer at the foot of the rank to which he belongs, and joins the battalion. We want a reserve of officers for two purposes—one for the Regulars, and one for the second line, and we propose to take the standard, that has been found sufficient on the Continent, of a year's attachment à la suite to a Regular unit—whether it is cavalry, artillery, or infantry it comes to the same thing. We propose to do something more. A man may take his year à la suite, but if he has done well in the cadet corps, then two years service in the cadet corps permits him to take what we call Diploma A, which lets him off four months of the twelve months which is to be passed à la suite.If he goes on from the public school to the University, which in a large proportion of cases he does, and takes a couple of years with the University corps under the lecturers, who in most of the Universities now give some of the military instruction, he can get a second diploma, called Diploma B, which will let him off four months more, so that he will, in order to become a Reserve officer, only take four months à la suite. Diploma A. brings him to the level of instruction of a second lieutenant of the Volunteers—not a very high level, but ensuring a certain amount of instruction. Diploma B. carries him up to the standard of a cadet after six months training at Sandhurst or Woolwich. That is the way in which we hope to get a considerable number of men. Well, we propose to form an Officers' Training Corps, which shall be in relation to these cadet corps and University corps, and which will supervise and help them, and see that they train up to a standard requisite to justify us in making the man who has got the diploma have a title to be relieved of a certain amount of service à la suite. That is the scheme, and we hope by it to get a very substantial addition to the number of officers which we have got at the present time. The 1324 calculations are somewhat complex, and I propose to leave them to Papers which will be laid on the Table of the House this evening. It would take me too long to go into it, but the House will see that the problem will be nearly solved if these officers take their service à la suite. These officers when they join the Reserve will probably get an outfit costing about £40; they will also get an initial payment of a retaining fee. Those who are liable to mobilisation will get an annual fee of something like £20. These details have to be worked out between my right hon. friend here (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) and the Army Council.
§ * MR. HALDANE
They will be engaged from year to year. We think that will be the best plan. To-day officers can send in their papers at any moment, and we think it the best plan, therefore, to follow with the reserve of officers. That is the provisional suggestion of the Committee. The result will be, if our plans are realised, that the Army generally will have two lines. As I say, we are only projecting the doing our best, but we hope that our best will be realised. The Army will have two lines with bridges between, over which the Regular officers will pass for training and commanding the second line. The first line will be mobilised completely to the extent of six divisions and four cavalry brigades. All my calculations are based on the complete mobilisation of the front line, and the result will be that on mobilisation the effective strength will be fifty to eighty per cent. more efficient than at the present time. In the second line, when they mobilise, the strength will be 160,000, a figure in excess of the very sanguine estimate of 100,000, while another estimate is only 70,000, but we should have a struggle to provide that at the present time. The second line would be free from the confusion of infinite separate regulations, separate modes of payment, and separate Acts of Parliament. We propose to pay everyone in the second line on the same footing as the Regulars.
§ * MR. HALDANE
Yes. The right hon. Gentleman says we are destroying the Yeomanry by asking them to take the terms which are given to the Regular Army. I do not agree with him. I think that giving 5s. 6d. in a lump to the Yeomanry was a very doubtful experiment, and I do say this, that if you keep the Yeomanry on that principle of payment, you will ruin the rest of your forces and create a sense of injustice and unfairness. We must make some sacrifice in the interests of the nation. We shall appeal to the patriotism of the Yeomanry and of the officers commanding that force, and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman would be the first to appeal to them to discharge the part of becoming Regular soldiers of the second line, so that the honour, the rank, and the pay in that line correspond to the honour, the rank, and the pay in the first line. On no other footing can you get an organisation that is worth having. It is just like the case of a field army brigade who had their 5s. a day, which created unrest and dissatisfaction among the whole of the Volunteers. I appeal with confidence to the nation, and I feel sure that the patriotism of the country and the result will show that all men will come forward in this Home line. They will be indemnified against cost, they will be taken care of and looked after in the field, they will be relieved of all expense, and when war comes separation allowances will be given to those who have families, and who are prepared to take their part in serving the interests of the country.
§ * MR. HALDANE
For our second line we require over 120,000 horses. I hardly thought we should require so many, but I have taken that number and an estimate of £5 a horse, which I think is a very large amount. We wanted, however, to be on the safe side; we have calculated everything very liberally and worked the matter out accordingly. The amount is the same as is given to the Yeomanry at the present time.
What are the general advantages, Sir, which we shall reap? They are, in the first place, the definition of 1326 functions. To that we attach the utmost importance. Each army and each line will have its functions in the great national organisation. The second important thing will be readiness for mobilisation. We may reasonably hope to be free from any more South African experiences. The third advantage will be that the second line will be available from the first, and will improve monthly up to the sixth month, and, as we hope, will be a really efficient force, which will render the country quite free from anxiety as to raids. It will be essentially a peace organisation, because it implies the assent of the nation to the calling of this second line into activity, and, as I hold, it will bring home a sense of responsibility and of meaning in all these things to our people, while it will allay uneasiness and leave our minds free for social questions. It will give us an organisation which will have the advantage of being self-contained, each division being self-contained, but capable of being expanded or contracted according to the necessities of the time. If a period comes in which the nations generally agree to reduce armaments and go about it gradually, we shall be able to take off a division from both lines without destroying the organisation as a whole. We shall be able to reduce our force slightly, or we shall be able to expand it under the machinery we have created, should the necessities of the nation make it essential. It may be said that a force so created is analogous to the forces of a province which is threatened with invasion, and which has an army organised on modern lines. The out-posts are on the frontiers always ready, representing our distant corps which to-day are serving across the seas, in the far away places of the Empire which they police. They are the out-post lines. Then our Regular Army, acting in combination with the Navy, constitute what may be called the reserve of our out-posts, not so completely in readiness as those who are beyond the seas, on the frontiers with their rifles in their hands, yet still in a high state of preparation, and ready to start to the assistance of the first line of out-posts. Behind that is the main body of the Army of the King and of the nation in reserve, scattered about in our towns and villages, slumbering, it may be, but prepared on short notice to go to the 1327 rescue of those who may be called upon to endure a sudden and severe attack. We see no reason why in this way we should not be able to get something like equality of strength with establishment. One of the scandals of our arrangements hitherto has been the non-correspondence of strength to establishment. It will interest the House if I compare the establishment of to-day with the establishment as it will be should this scheme be worked out. To-day we have 134,000 Regulars serving on the Home establishment, and 122,000 in Reserve. We are slightly short of the establishment in strength, but that is intended to be made up, and therefore I take no account of it. But the Militia, who are 131,000 in establishment, are shockingly short of that establishment. The Yeomanry are very nearly at full strength, 27,000; and the Volunteers are much below establishment, being 338,000 in establishment. The total forms an establishment of 754,000 men at home. Well, the establishment that I am proposing, and which deals, I hope, only with realities—that is what our efforts are being directed to—will be a much smaller establishment, and will be only 621,000 as against 754,000. But we shall be up to strength, and if you take the reality there will not be so much difference between the actual strength of the one and the other, and the average may be very much the same. You take the substance of the Militia and you divert it to your special contingents, to your special service men—for the artillery for the infantry, for the cavalry, and for other purposes, and that special service contingent will amount to about 80,000 all told. That is against the Militia establishment which is disappearing on the basis of 131,000, so that you really diminish the establishment in that case. Our territorial force has a war establishment of over 300,000, including about 12,000 port defence troops.
Now, Sir, the House will ask about the cost of all these things—what we are going to spend on this new line, on the artillery and all those things with major-generals commanding divisions—on this organisation, which we are endeavouring to make as complete as possible. Here, again, the House must remember that these matters are very apt 1328 to be misunderstood. Because they cost a great deal in the present time, it does not necessarily follow that the cost is as much under other systems. The Swiss Army, which has a very effective second line, has about 250,000 men, and about 250,000 in reserve, costs only £1,200,000 a year. But, of course, we cannot do anything like that in this country. Feeling that this matter of the cost should be tested very thoroughly, I asked the Finance Department of the War Office to make a searching investigation into the question, in conjunction with the General Staff and the Committee now sitting under the direction of the Army Council. They are working out the details of the scheme, furnished with all necessary materials. At present our Auxiliary Forces cost us £4,400,000 a year, and they have an establishment of between 300,000 and 400,000. Our second line, if this scheme succeeds, will be 300,000 in number, and will cost, according to the careful calculations of the Finance Department of the War Office, £2,886,000. The whole thing has been taken on the basis of the Army service rates; the salaries from the major-general downwards being the same as they would be in the Regular Army, and it works out at a figure which is extremely small compared with what we are spending on our Axiliary Forces at the present time. I have got to pay for training schools and other matters for which I have not all the details before me now, but I can do so within the margin of one-and-a-half millions. I am well within my figure when I say one-and-a-half millions, and in this, with the £2,886,000, you will have the sum we are spending at present upon the Auxiliary Forces. I think it will be interesting to the House to have these calculations before it, and I have arranged for a Paper containing the whole balance-sheet to be laid upon the Table to-night showing the whole thing upon a war strength. We shall not get the war strength, however, for years, but it is best to put in everything that is required.
I am coming to the end of my statement. As regards our future discussion, what I think would be the simplest plan would be to get you, Mr. Speaker, out of the Chair to-night and continue our discussions on Vote A and Vote 1. Then 1329 next Monday I propose to bring in a Bill providing the machinery for putting the Army upon this territorial basis, and on this the whole discussion will be open, and there will be a Paper giving a précis of what I have said now. The preliminary discussion can be taken on Wednesday and Thursday, and the Bill next Monday. I propose to print the Bill at once and leave it until after Easter, so that it can be well discussed in the country. Then there will be material for a complete discussion on the Second Reading. I believe that only a young and strong Parliament such as this would be capable of discharging the task which lies before us. It could not be accomplished by an old Parliament, but only by a young Parliament full of vigour and fresh ideas. The Parliament which I am addressing may accomplish the first stage. I feel that if this is to be a reality and a success it requires the work of more than one Parliament and more than one Ministry, for continuity is essential, and that is why I am anxious not by word or suggestion to come into conflict more than is necessary with those who hold different views. We shall have to ask the Auxiliary Forces to take upon themselves considerable hardships, but we feel that they cannot at present become effective. Therefore it is better to help them and make things smoother for them by conceding points which are immaterial and insisting only upon the material principles. The work will take time and the transition must be gradual. The task is gigantic, but one feels that, after all, when the nation is willing, of such a task may be said what is recorded by the prophet Zechariah when the angel appeared and exhorted Zerubbabel, Governor of Judah, "Who art thou, O great mountain, before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain." What we ask for now is not the opinion of the House upon this scheme as a whole, for that the House cannot give without consideration—time and caution are wanted for such a great undertaking. But we ask that the first step should be taken by considering the question of entrusting us with sufficient powers which we can apply gradually under the supervision of Parliament, and report our progress from time to time. The transitory provisions of the Bill make allowances for a comparatively gentle and slow procedure. We shall 1330 go slowly; there will be no coercion, but there will be no further recruiting for the old corps on the old basis. All these things will be made plain in the Bill. We are at the beginning of a long undertaking. Our plans are made out in greater detail than I have put before the House, but I think I have shown the kind of machinery we seek to introduce. If Parliament and the country approve of our endeavour, we shall go resolutely forward on the road that we have mapped out, not hastily, but cautiously and considerately. All that we ask now is that a first step should be taken towards placing in our hands the instruments necessary to enable us to make a beginning with this gigantic task, and, if that is granted, we shall proceed to the next stage of our work resolutely and with good heart.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Croydon)
I desire to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman upon the lucid manner in which he has explained his scheme to the House. I cannot help feeling that there is now in the situation a certain similarity to the situation several months ago when the right hon. Gentleman spoke upon this question. I think we shall all be prepared to extend the most favourable consideration to the right hon. Gentleman's measures of hope and anticipation. Up to this moment, however, we have not got one step further than the measures of anticipation. This brings me to the only attempt I shall make at criticism of what the Secretary of State for War has said. We are face to face with a certain number of faits accomplis, and also with a number of propositions which are to see their accomplishment in the future. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that our future is very uncertain, and that whether his propositions were admirable or the reverse their accomplishment was problematic, because it depends upon a number of factors over which neither he nor anyone else has any control. It would have been infinitely better if, before committing the defences if this country to a number of plausible propositions, he had not proposed to diminish the power of this country for offence or defence. Let me summarise 1331 what the right hon. Gentleman has suggested. We are to have a great improvement in the defensive forces of this country, and how is it proposed to obtain it? The sanction of Parliament is asked to the diminution of our Regular Army, which has always fought our battles, by no less than 13,335 men. But that is not all. Everyone agrees that the most important item to consider is the question of officers, and yet the right hon. Gentleman tells us that no less than 577 commissioned officers and 709 sergeants are to be struck off the effective roll of the Army in the coming year. Is that the way to strengthen the Army for war? It would have been better if the right hon. Gentleman had displayed more patience and caution, and delayed the process of destruction until he was a little further on the road to construction. He told the House that this is a soldiers' plan, and that he has struck a bargain with the soldiers—they giving up so much and he giving up so much in return. I am astonished to hear that in the general military opinion of the country a reduction can be made in the Royal Artillery by 4,000 men, and a reduction of two battalions of the Guards.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER
I am glad to know that they have not been reduced. I understood that that was an integral part of the right hon. Gentleman's scheme. It does astonish me to know that it is soldiers' opinion that you can reduce the Royal Artillery of this country and provide a substitute for them effectively in auxiliary batteries at all. That may be their view. I did not know that it was. I am interested to hear that it is so. I did not know that it was the military point of view that we should have a large diminution in the number of Regular officers. I did not know that it was the military point of view that the force which now receives a considerable amount of annual training should have that training diminished. And when I find that all the soldiers have got in exchange for these diminutions is the resumption of the plan for completing the school at Sandhurst, and the transfer of the erection of barracks from one place to another, I am inclined to think that they 1332 have not got a very good bargain. Here we are face to face with all these great changes and what have we got in their place? In the first place the Militia is to be abolished. [An Hon. Member "No".] They are to be abolished lock, stock and barrel. Let there be no mistake about that. I do not quite understand the right hon. Gentleman's plan with regard to the Yeomanry, but something he said made me infer that they are to go also. I wish to know what he really does propose with regard to the Yeomanry. I think if he is going to make any sort of alteration with regard to the terms of service of the Yeomanry, he may find himself minus the Yeomanry, as well as minus the Militia. We have the line reduced eight battalions, and we have the Guards reduced one battalion. We have already had three battalions of Artillery destroyed, and we are told that we are to have a much larger reduction of Artillery in the future. The Volunteers have been reduced, and the whole of the fortnight's training has been done away with. What exactly is that force to be in the future? The Army Reserve is practically destroyed. The Army Reserve which is now being formed is not sufficient to mobilise the Army in time of war. That is the real plain upshot of the sketch which the right hon. Gentleman has given us to-night. We are to have the Militia abolished, a reduction of the Line, and a reduction in the Artillery, and what is to take their place? Have we got more men? No. I understand that we are to have many men less. We are to have a smaller force than now. Are we to have any alteration in the expenditure? No, the expenditure is to remain practically the same. What are we to get? We are to get old things called by new names. That may encourage new men to make new enterprises, but I do not for a moment see how you are going very much to strengthen the Auxiliary Forces on which you rely by calling them by another name. There is one matter on which I think we all sympathise with the right hon. Gentleman, and in regard to which, speaking for myself, he will have my support, namely, the effort to make more efficient the Volunteer force. That he will have difficulties in realising his high hopes I am certain, but I do wish him well. That 1333 is a totally different thing from taking away that which we had already got. The right hon. Gentlemen said he had been making a sort of inventory of the Army, finding out what was good and what was bad. He spoke of a house in which the footmen were to be discharged. I did not particularly care for the simile. What we are destroying are not the footmen but the Foot Guards. I do not know what is the effective force to be put in their place. The right hon. Gentleman told us that he was going to meet the real crux of the problem in a way which no doubt struck the House as original. It certainly was original. I should like to point out what the real crux of the problem is. I do not concern myself with this territorial Army. I do not suppose that it will turn out as the right hon. Gentleman believes. I think that things incidental to its formation will matter very much. The real crux is that the moment you destroy the Militia you deprive the Regular Army of the source of its recruiting. The right hon. Gentleman says that he has considered that you are going not only to recruit the Army but to form an Army Reserve from a totally new source, or from an old one called by a new name. There is considerable interest in this now proposal. The right hon. Gentleman is going to propose the creation of a short service Army—some 90 battalions of a short service Army—men enlisted for six months, to be trained in depots—and confined to service in this country, but to go abroad when required in time of war. That is short service in every sense. It is a short service Army of the very worst kind that can possibly be imagined. How is this invaluable adjunct of the Regular Army to be composed? Look at what is going to happen. At present 12,000 to 14,000 men pass from the Militia into the Regular Army. The right hon. Gentleman tells us that they are going to take the material now going to the Militia and pass it into the Line, or pass it into the Reserve of the Line. What does that mean? You are going to get young men at the age of seventeen, but you are not going to get the advantage they now possess. At present they are trained with the battalion, they know the officers, and the prestige is something which they under- 1334 stand. But you are going to induce them, by offering the pay of an ordinary soldier, to go to a depot to be trained for a period of six months. They will never see the officers of the battalion, they will never serve the colours of the regiment to which they are attached; they will be discharged into civil life at the age of seventeen years and six months, and they may be called up for a fortnight every year, or in the succeeding year, for the purpose of training. Is that the kind of men you want for reinforcements in time of war? Is it the opinion of any officer that he desires to see a battalion which will be composed of 300 of these reduced establishment long service soldiers supplemented by 700 men who have left the Army at seventeen years and six months, who have been in civil life for one, two, three, or four years, who have never served under the colours, and who have never seen their officers? Are these the men an officer desires to lead? If he does, he is different from any officer I have ever known. How are you going to get the men? We are told that this territorial force is going to be so attractive under the command of my noble friend Lord Portsmouth, that all the good elements are to go into it, and that all the undesirable elements which now go into the Militia are to go into the Army Reserve. Why should they do it? Here they have on the one hand regular pay in the territorial Army with this liability, at any rate, this certainty that under no circumstances will they be required to goon war service abroad, because they are confined to this country, and they have the alternative of going as nondescripts to a battalion which has no corporate existence, and which is a fleeting body? Who is going to do it? I will tell you who is going to do it. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the excellent effect of taking a certain number of men during the winter. He said they were saved from starvation and becoming reformed characters. Well, we are going to rely for forming our fighting Regular Army on men who come at seventeen years of age because their bellies are empty, and they are going to help us in time of war. If we are going to rely on these men, then I say, God help us in time of war. I want to know a little more about the 1335 Reserve. How is it to be formed? I think it conceivable that the Volunteers will accept these proposals. I hope they will. They are in many respects a great improvement on the Volunteer organisation of the present day. They involve a definite period of enlistment for, I think, four years, but they carry with them a penalty which will work out very disagreeably for many men who wish to get rid of that liability during the period of service. They will give a great deal of stability to the Volunteer force which is eminently needed. There is one question which we will need to be told more about, and which is of more importance. You are assuming that in the territorial force you will attract all the men who otherwise would go into the Militia, and you are going to leave the Army Reservists, who are the men who now go into the Militia. What are you going to do with them? Are you going to allow them to go into the Regular Army? If you are going to allow them to serve in the Regular Army, what becomes of the Reserve, and if you do not, what becomes of the Regular Army? You will have a depot somewhere where you will have these men serving for six months. They will have six months hard and very disagreeable drill, and at the end of that time they will do one of two things. They will either go into the Regular Army, or they will go into the Reserve. Are they to be encouraged to go into the Regular Army, or are they to be encouraged to go into the Reserve? My impression is that they will not go into the Army. At the end of six months they will be "fed up" with soldiering, and nothing will induce them to go into the Army, and the result will be that 12,000 recruits will be struck off the recruits of the Regular Army. If they do go into the Regular Army, their service will be required for seven years, and, again I ask, what is to become of the Reserve in time of war? If the Militia and the Volunteers do accept these new terms, I ask once more, what is the good of it? What are we going to do with them? Here we are with an Army composed of men whose maximum training will be eight weeks. They may or they may not do a certain number of terms. We hope that in time the officers will 1336 have the qualifications which the right hon. Gentleman described; that at some time the Force will be provided with all the arms of a modern army. When that day is going to be, I know not; but this I know: that when the right hon. Gentleman has really seriously provided this great Force with all the adjuncts of a Regular Army prepared to take the field, the cost will not be £2,500,000, but something so enormous that all questions of economy will have vanished and the right hon. Gentleman will have to rewrite his Army Estimates. With the training the Volunteer Artillery are to have for eight weeks, armed with inferior guns, will they be an Artillery force worth having? We cannot get an efficient force by a mere change of name. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, when he speaks again on this point, if he speaks with full military authority? I hear a great deal of what has taken place in other countries. Which country is making this great mistake? There is no country in the world that calls itself a military nation, which believes that it can fight a campaign by means of troops trained as the right hon. Gentleman suggests. Are these countries right, or are they wrong? If they are right, then we are making a most gigantic error. If they are wrong then we have made the greatest discovery of modern times. Reference has been made to the Japanese Army, as if it were an army levied en masse; but not a single man in that army is under twenty years of age, and every man has been trained under his own officer for three years, and organised on the most perfect military system known. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War knows the German Army, as I am familiar with the French Army; but does the right hon. Gentleman believe that all the trouble taken in training their armies, and all the securities demanded by them, are thrown away? Does he think that if we found ourselves in conflict with such armies, so trained and directed, and could only oppose to them an army depleted of men and guns, and behind the shadowy unformed force the right hon. Gentleman proposes, we could come out victorious in the struggle in which we were involved? That is a very serious question, which ought to be considered in all its 1337 bearings, before we commit ourselves to such a wide proposition. There are other important matters to which I wish briefly to refer. The right hon. Gentleman has once more repeated the strange misconception in regard to the Artillery and the Departmental Services of this country. I know he has not meant to deceive the House of Commons. He is not capable of it. But I know that what he has said now and on previous occasions has deceived the House of Commons and the country. The right hon. Gentleman says that there are great gaps in our organisation for war, and he cites especially the Artillery. I think it would have been fair if the right hon. Gentleman had told the House a little more of the history of those gaps. If he had turned to the Army Returns for the last year in which his Party was responsible for the administration of the Army, he would have found that the auxiliary services as an efficient force did not exist. There was practically no Artillery; there was no Veterinary Corps; other sections were practically non-existent; and it has been the work of three Conservative Administrations to repair the lapses of the previous Liberal Government. We are told that we cannot mobilise the auxiliary artillery, because we cannot do it by a stroke of a wand, and that we have doubled the Royal Artillery within the last year. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman that you may use the auxiliary forces to supplement the Regular forces in time of war; but that cannot be done without having a stronger Regular force. Why not leave the Regular Artillery alone and not destroy it? The right hon. Gentleman, not for the first time, has told us, and that no doubt has commended his proposals to the country, that he would be able to send by his scheme a larger force than now into the field on mobilisation. That is a perfect dream. When I come to examine the constitution of the right hon. Gentleman's force, I find that 50 per cent. of the Indian Army will consist of men who are not soldiers at all. You are not going by that method to get an effective Regular Army of 150,000. You have to depend for such an Army on youths who for a certain pay will be willing to give their services in circumstances which do not exist and on 1338 terms which they do not understand. When we are told that no less than 10,000 men are to be taken from one branch of the Militia, and that not one of these is under obligation to serve abroad, it would take years to make them effective even if they volunteered for service abroad. This is an Army of a dream, and of a very distant dream. It is not an Army which will ever be created. I am wholly at one with the right hon. Gentleman in his endeavour to improve the Auxiliary Forces, and I wish him every success. But when all is said and done, there remains in my mind a feeling that one consideration has been left out of the right hon. Gentleman's elaborate survey of the military problem to which he has devoted himself with so much zeal and intelligence. One little word he has forgotten, and that is war. I have heard nothing either now or in other speeches of the right hon. Gentleman in the country, which has made me feel that we are doing more in this matter of Army reform to satisfy the public opinion and enthusiasm of the country than before. We have been told that all that has been done in the last ten years is wrong and that the money spent on the Army has been useless. The history of this country's wars has been chequered, but it has been very rich in episodes. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us that when the occasion has arisen that demanded the services of an efficient Army these have not been forthcoming? He would be a bold man who would say that the actual invasion of this country has been unknown in the past and will be unknown in the future. If history teaches me anything it is that we may be called upon to enter upon a defence of our Empire, either here or beyond the seas, and I have considerable doubt that a scheme which weakens even a portion of the forces which are at present available for that service is a bad scheme. The regular Army has hitherto undertaken that task and has always performed it. The right hon. Gentleman has only too truly described the degradation of the Militia; but I should have preferred the plan to which he gave his early preference, namely, that of trying to resuscitate the force. He has, however, elected to take another course; he has destroyed the Militia, and he is now going to give 1339 us an Army which will be entirely confined to service in this country. He may have sanguine and confident anticipations as to the services that Army will render in war time to an Army in the field, but I think that if he were to ask the lights of the Staffs of the great continental Powers what they thought of a mobilisation which was marked at its earliest stages by uncertainty, which left them in the crisis of war not knowing what numbers they could employ or where they could employ them, and not daring to employ them at all until a particular stage of the war was reached the members of the Staff consulted would say that the organisation stood self-condemned. There are a good many other subjects with which I might deal, and it is because those other questions have been entirely left out of the exceedingly able speech of the right hon. Gentleman that I have ventured at this early stage of the discussion to deal with that part only of his speech which is vital. If we want to win in war we must make sacrifices. We are cutting our coat, not according to our necessities, but according to the humour of those who might be induced, in one way or another, to assist us.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
said that before he dealt with the general question he would like to explain an interruption which he made in the course of the right hon. Gentleman's statement, in regard to the Artillery. He complained that the horses for this force had been reduced here and increased in India, and suggested that an economy which had been made on this year's Estimates as a consequence of the reduction of that force was in conflict with the policy pursued by the military authorities in India. The right hon. Gentleman immediately exclaimed that it was nothing to do with him but with the Secretary of State for India. It was not quite fair to throw the responsibility upon the Secretary of State for India, but it was the plan of the War Office to throw upon India the responsibility for expenditure for high efficiency. In the present year, for instance, whilst we were reducing our horses for horse, field, and mountain Artillery from 10,311 to 9,680, we were increasing Indian horses from 10,236 to 13,347. This tendency 1340 to throw on India expenditure for attaining high efficiency which we never attained here was unfair, and he had never known it pushed so far as in the Estimates of the present year. We had given up mountain Artillery in this country, contrary to the practice of every other Power, and thrown the whole of our mountain Artillery on India. The reduction in horses had, moreover, been made at a time when omnibus horses ceased to be available.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE
said he was sorry the right hon. Gentleman should attempt to set up that high constitutional doctrine which he must know was opposed to the facts. The Indian generals were chosen by the Military advisers of this country, and the Secretary of State for India knew nothing of these changes, and nothing about that high efficiency which was aimed at in India, and which was shown by increased cost in India, and nominal economies in this country. It was idle for his right hon. friend to attempt to contend such a thing. [Mr. Haldane dissented]. This course was taken in defiance of the opinion of the Elgin Commission, the Esher Committee, and of those best qualified to judge, to the effect that our mounted men, and the number of our horses, must be increased. If the officer difficulty could be solved then the real military problem was solved, because we could raise the men under our volunteer system more rapidly, and they could be trained more rapidly, because of their higher intelligence, than those of other countries. But this necessitated our keeping up the more expensive Artillery and Cavalry unite, in regard to which the Government were making economies that they were not making in India. His right hon. friend had made a statement to-day even more interesting and valuable than was anticipated by the House. He had changed his opinion since he placed his memorandum before the great Committee, commonly called "The Duma." He had made two speeches in the previous year, and these changes showed a ripening and a mellowing of wisdom which met many of 1341 the objections entertained against this scheme at first. But his (Sir Charles Dilke's) support of, or opposition to, this scheme would depend entirely on the extent to which his right hon. friend convinced the House that he had met the difficulty of the transition period. Many of them would support the right hon. Gentleman in making a success of the great scheme which he had outlined; but it was a scheme that would mature very slowly, and take a long time to bring into operation; and it was calculated to paralyse the whole military administration during the transition period. Everything depended upon what was to happen during that transition period. The right hon. Gentleman had commended his scheme to the House by saying that it was a soldier's scheme; but soldiers had never shown their appreciation of the Auxiliary Forces, or their capacity to deal with them. The right hon. Gentleman, to show that he had military opinion behind him, vouched the Army Council; but the late Secretary of State for War vouched the same Army Council for an entirely different proposition; and he had written a book in which he had given chapter and verse for vouching General Lyttelton and General Douglas for opinions quite different from those upon which the right hon. Gentleman relied at the present time. The scheme was, in fact, the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman, and not a soldier's scheme. The right hon. Gentleman destroyed the Militia and recreated it. He recreated so many more battalions under the linked-battalion system. That was to say, whilst we already had seventy-one or seventy-four battalions which were supposed to, but never did, correspond with those we had abroad, there was now to be a third set created under the linked-battalion system, and the same gentlemen who advised the right hon. Gentleman that this system was necessary advised the late Secretary of State in an opposite direction. The Esher Committee assumed the abolition of the linked-battalion system, and the right hon. Gentleman was advised by the Army Council, the first and second members of which were the same as those who advised the late Secretary of State to abolish the linked-battalion system. This same Army Council had recently published a paper written by General Miles, in which that officer laid 1342 stress upon the reform of getting rid of the linked-battalion system, and said even now that it would come. The military advice upon which the Secretary of State relied was, therefore, not of much value, and the responsibility must rest upon the right hon. Gentleman. He, and he alone, could win the assent of the House to this scheme. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to win the assent of those who had always gone a long way in the direction of demanding such a scheme. He asked him to do that by showing them that the transition stage would be bridged over. The Secretary of State had said that this was a simple scheme, but that was hardly so, as it doubled the number of systems. For example, the Militiaman enlisted under the old system would serve under that system, and while the new men would be enlisted under the new system the right hon. Gentleman would have to keep the old men under the present system. The only way in which that difficulty could be overcome would be to get rid of all the old men who were not willing to serve under the new system. That was not at all simple. The right hon. Gentleman had said he could get rid of that difficulty by refusing to recruit those units. That was a miserable position into which to put a battalion. There was an example of that at the present time. The right hon. Gentleman had ceased to recruit for submarine miners. There were the Tay, the Forth, the Tyne, the Severn—altogether there were about ten divisions of Volunteer submarine miners which had been reduced. Then there was the well-known case of the Garrison Artillery which was not fully recruited. Those units were left as it were starving, not knowing what the system was to be, and were gradually pining away. It was not pleasant to contemplate in the future that units who refused the new system were to be starved until they pined away through their inability to recruit. He would like the right hon. Gentleman also to tell the House a little more as to what his policy was with regard to raids. In his memorandum on last year's Estimates the right hon. Gentleman described the system by which he would deal with the defence of ports. Everybody agreed that the Tyne was a place that was likely to be raided in time of war, and the right hon. Gentleman said, in adopting the policy of his predecessor, that he had 1343 given up the responsibility for submarine mine defence and had handed submarine mining over to the Navy. The right hon. Gentleman said—The future of the Volunteer mining units was at present under consideration.It had remained under consideration up to the present time. Yet these were those highly scientific units which were so much to our advantage, such as the London electrical engineers, for instance. These battalions were left in a wretched position by this change of policy. Then let the House consider the enormous waste of money in which the country was involved by such a change. First, millions of money were spent in a scheme for defending ports in this way; and then came a proposition to save £100,000 on the Army Estimates and to hand over to the Admiralty all the materials that had been purchased. The minefield material alone cost £1,000,000. It had now gone, and we were still paying for it. That material was probably sold by the Admiralty as old wire. Did it fetch£50,000? He wanted to know if we were better off now than we were then. The right hon. Gentleman further said, in his memorandum, that a joint Naval and Military Committee had been appointed to consider this matter; but there was a joint Naval and Military Committee in working order twelve or thirteen years ago. The whole system of the defence of ports rested on the opinion of the Naval and Military Committee, and he wished to know if the right hon. Gentleman, during the transition period in which this new territorial Army was to be raised, had any conception of how these ports were going to be defended against raids. This was a matter in which he (Sir Charles Dilke) had never taken an alarmist view; but everybody admitted that with regard to the Tyne and the Forth there was a possibility of a raid, and the net result of all these changes, which must be prolonged, was that the Tyne would be left without any system of defence. The right hon. Gentleman had provided no system of defence to take the place of that which had previously existed; and therefore he asked him to try and show those Members who were anxious to support the main details of his scheme how the dangerous transition period, which might last for a great number of years, was to be tided over, He would like to know, for example, how 1344 the right hon. Gentleman's arrangements, not only for war abroad, but also for the defence of the Tyne or the Forth, were to be carried out. Perhaps the Secretary of State might be able to throw some light upon what was apparently a reversion of policy upon this subject. They had been told that no money would in future be spent upon anything which was not preparation for war. He would like to ask what was the necessity for such enormous expenditure upon the fortifications of Queenstown, whilst the Tyne and the Forth were left practically undefended? He was afraid that his right hon. friend had had his time so much taken up with the greater subject that his attention had not been drawn to this serious departure from sound principles. He hoped it would be made clear to the House what methods were proposed to close the breach during the very dangerous period which must intervene between now and the time the right hon. Gentleman's scheme would be put into working order.
§ SIR HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
said it was impossible in the few minutes at his disposal before they proceeded to the consideration of another subject to discuss in detail the statement of the Secretary of State for War. The way in which the matter had been dealt with by the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly marvellous, but they would have to seek for much more further information. He would not traverse the great changes proposed in the first line, but those affecting the second line would require the greatest care and attention. He was sorry it was proposed to abolish the Militia, the Yeomanry, and the Volunteers under those names. There was always a danger in abolishing old names and old institutions. Whether the country would take to the old things under a new name he did not know. A great deal would depend upon, a variety of circumstances, and if the new name did not take, the disaster would be very great indeed. The right hon. Gentleman had done him the honour of appointing him a member of the Territorial Army Committee; but he regretted to say that the had not been summoned to a meeting since last summer, and therefore it could not be claimed that this scheme was the result of the deliberations of that Committee. 1345 He was very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for the efforts he had made to inform himself of the opinions of the Auxiliary Forces. He had done his best to encourage them in every possible way, but he thought his proposals with regard to men leaving the Volunteer force were most dangerous.
And, it being a quarter past eight of the clock, and leave having been given to more the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 10, further proceeding was postponed without Question put.