§ Mr. WILLIAM THORNE
moved, as an Amendment, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add instead thereof the words, "in the opinion of this House the conditions of service of Government employés should be in every respect at least equal to those observed by the best private employers or by local public authorities doing similar work, and that, in interpreting the Fair-Wages Clause in assigning contracts, responsible officials should be instructed to see that the spirit of the Clause is properly carried out when the actual wording gives room for some doubt."
It was not very interesting to some of us to listen to the speeches that have just been delivered. They have talked about the guns for the soldiers, about flying machines, and about other questions, but not one single word has fallen from the lips of either of those two right hon. Gentlemen about the men who make these machines or the people who make the clothes for the soldiers. The House will notice the Resolution is a very broad and elastic one. It was put down so that we might have an opportunity not only of discussing the work that is done for the War Office, but also the work done by outside contractors. This question has been before the House for many years, and it has been 82 before the Trade Union Congress time after time, and I do not think there is any solution until we arrive at a minimum wage of 30s. per week. It is very desirable that not only labourers, but all those working for the War Office should receive nothing less than 30s. per week. I do not think the Government have moved very far in the matter since we gave consideration to this question in 1910. When the War Office Estimates were under consideration in 1910 the Government, in consequence of a very unsatisfactory statement made by the Secretary of State for War, put up the President of the Board of Trade, and he said it was the intention of the Government to be amongst the foremost employers and to pay the best wages, or at least the best wages in the particular district where the work was done. The Government from that time to this have done very little. It is quite true they have increased the minimum for a number of employés at Pimlico, but there are many working there for rates of pay very much below those paid by the ordinary contractor. Last year the chairman of our party brought this matter before the House and pressed for the Report of the Advisory Committee promised in 1910.
The statement made by the Government was that they were not prepared to publish this Report in consequence of the information they had received from the employers being of a private and confidential character. As a matter of fact, if the workers had only known it was not the intention of the Government to have printed the Report of the Advisory Committee, it is questionable whether they would have been prepared to give the evidence they did. It appears to me it ought to be possible for the Government to publish the Report without divulging the names of the contractors or employers who gave the information, and if the Report is printed, and its recommendations acted upon, no doubt many employés working in Pimlico will have their wages increased to a very great extent. I understand that when they got this information from a number of factories adjacent to Pimlico it was found that the average for a similar class of employment worked out at 25s. 6d. They do not state how the average is arrived at: whether they took a number of factories or only just one factory. They might have taken a number of factories where the rate varied from 14s. up to 28s., and I think it is very questionable if they could there have got an average of 25s.
83 I think I am right in stating that the Pimlico people would like to be placed on the same footing and under the same working conditions as a similar class of men working in His Majesty's Stationery Office. There you have men starting at 25s. and rising by annual increments to 30s., and receiving, in addition, sick pay and annual holidays. Surely if it is advisable for the Stationery Office to pay their men, who are on a similar class, 25s., it should be possible to pay a similar minimum at Pimlico. In face of what has been going on recently—in face of the fact that during the last six or eight months, the wages of thousands of workmen in many parts of the country have been increased, the least the War Office and the Government could have done was to have increased the wages of many more of their employés at Pimlico. I understand there are a number of leading storehouse men at Pimlico receiving 20s. per week.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
That is the information I have received. I was looking at the report of the Debate which took place in 1910, when my hon. Friend the Chairman of the Labour party (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) brought a number of cases under the notice of the Government. Two years have elapsed, and there has been but little rectification. Perhaps the Under-Secretary can tell us what has really been done in these matters during the last two years. There is the class of men known as packing bale men. They receive 21s. per week. Surely there is no one in this House who is prepared to defend that wage.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
Are the Government prepared to grant a committee of inquiry into the matter, so that we may get at the facts. The information I have from the men at the work is to the effect I have stated, and I must take it as correct until proof is given me to the contrary. Then I come to the case of the crane men and the slingers. The crane men start at 27s. per week, and go up to 32s. The slingers start at 26s., and rise to 36s. Surely the Government will not say that a minimum of 27s. per week is a proper wage for the crane men, when a similar class of men working outside for ordinary contractors can command anything between 35s. and £2 a week. Then there are the barge 84 loaders and the van men. They get 24s. per week, without any chance of promotion. These men are doing a similar class of work to that for which, in the docks and on the wharves on the river, 8d. per hour is paid, with 1s. per hour for overtime. Yet these men are being given the magnificent sum of 24s.!
The case of the women is more glaring still. Hosiery trimmers start as girls at fourteen years of age, with the magnificent sum of 6s. per week. If they stay until they are eighten they receive 12s., and if their services are further required they may possibly get 15s. In the tailoring trade the wages are a great deal worse. I am very pleased to say that, in consequence of thousands of the men joining their respective trade organisations during the last six or nine months, we have been in a position to find out the rates of wages paid to a large body working under outside contractors, and I have here some very glaring cases. I should like to ask the Financial Secretary whether, before the Government give out a contract, they make inquiries as to- the wages paid and the hours worked under the contractors, because it does seem to me it should be the duty of someone before a contract is given out on the part of the Government to inquire into these points, and that, if it is found out that the wages are exceedingly low or the hours of labour exceedingly long, the Government should refuse to give a contract in such cases.
I have here the case of Clarke's Biscuit Works at Stepney. I am told they pay 19s. 6d. per week for sixty hours' work. These people are biscuit, makers to the War Office. Then I come to MacNeill's Patent Felt Works. They pay some of their men 14s. per week for fifty-six and a-half hours' work. Surely the Government ought to try and prevent contractors of that kind getting Government contracts. I have the case of Burgoyne and Burbidge's, who do work for the War Office. They are paying some of their men 17s. and 18s. per week for fifty-four hours' work. Again, at Rushton, where boots are made for the War Office, the Fair-Wage Resolution is absolutely evaded, and they are very much behind the rates paid by local bodies. I have another piece of information coming from the Aldershot Liberal Association, which is complaining very bitterly because the food supplies of the soldiers are given out to one or two fancy contractors, without any advertisement. I think that system is strongly to be deprecated. I do hope the Government 85 will take this Pimlico case into very serious consideration, and carry out the pledge given by the Prime Minister when he said some time ago that the Government ought to be in the first flight of employers. I believe the same declaration was made by the late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, and bearing in mind what is now going on in many parts of the country, in consequence of the state of unrest and the economic difficulties arising from the payment of low wages, surely it is incumbent on the Government to put their own house in order. This afternoon we had a very interesting statement from the Prime Minister in regard to the coal strike. The right hon. Gentleman expressed deep sympathy with the men. I would like to point out that the minimum asked for by these people at Pimlico is very much below that which is asked for by the miners. We are looking to the time when every employé working for the Government shall receive not less than a minimum of 30s. Of course, that depends on the will of this House. If the majority declare in favour of it it will have to be carried out, and, later on, we shall have to inquire into the hours of working, and see if we cannot get them reduced to forty-eight per week. I see the Estimates for the War Office this year show a considerable increase. Surely it is only fair that the wages of these factory workers should also be increased, even if it involves an addition to the Estimates.
Mr. TYSON WILSON
There is no doubt a great contrast between a discussion on the wages paid by the Government to their employés and one on the matters contained in the speech of the Under-Sectary for War and the Leader of the Opposition. Still these matters which my hon. Friend who spoke brought forward have to be dealt with. I may, in passing, speaking with some knowledge of rifles, suggest, in reference to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition, that there is something more than the question of trajectory required to be considered in connection with the rifle. In 1910 the then Secretary for War said the War Department paid the same wages which were paid by employers in the neighbourhood. They had not only laid down that principle, but had amended the Fair-Wages Resolution accordingly. That was to lead the House and hon. Members on this side to believe that the Government really intended to adhere to the conditions set down in the Fair-Wages Resolution. But I do not think they have done so. He also said the War Depart- 86 ment is bound, both by its promises and by general considerations, to aim at being a model employer. I think my hon. Friend has shown that it is not a model employer. I wish to supplement his case by one or two instances which have been given to me, and by one or two which I have investigated personally, and I hope the Financial Secretary to the War Office will make a note of them. I think it is generally admitted that the cost of living has considerably increased during the past few years, and the question we have to consider is whether wages have increased in proportion. I do not think they have. We are told that the result of the Advisory Committee's inquiry was that the Government decided to raise the average pay of Government employés to 25s. per week. That is the average; it is not the minimum, remember. It is not a very high rate of wages, particularly for those who have a wife and family dependent upon them. I hope in that connection that the Government will try to increase the average rate of pay.
One of the cases I have is that of the Royal Laboratory at Woolwich. Up to last year boys were kept there until they were twenty-one years of age and then discharged. I understand there is an improvement in connection with that matter and that a new rule has been brought into operation whereby the boys are discharged at seventeen years of age, which gives them a better opportunity of securing employment elsewhere. I want also to refer to the question of bonuses. Under the bonus system men who leave the service without a certificate cannot get a bonus, but other men on being discharged get what is sometimes a considerable sum. I have had a case given to me where a man was employed at Enfield factory for forty-two years. He went home in his usual health one night during the last month and died suddenly. If he had lived a week or two more and the doctor had attended him and given him a certificate he would have been entitled upon discharge to something like £80. He died before the doctor could give a certificate. No bonus was paid; the wife and family got no bonus, and we think, and they think, that they are entitled to it. There were three cases at Enfield in the last few weeks in which workmen died suddenly after being in the employment of the Government for a long time, and no bonus was paid. We think that is a great hardship. If these bonuses are really a deduction from pay, we think the men are entitled to the 87 bonus though they may have died before the doctor could certify that they ought to be discharged from the service.
Another case is that of the store men in the Army Ordnance Department at Woolwich. They presented a petition in December last asking for a minimum of 26s. per week. Some of these men are promoted to the position of foremen and underforemen without having their wages increased. Very often they have men working under them whose wages are higher than theirs. Now I think it is a fact that every private firm when it promotes a man to a position of foreman arranges that he should receive higher wages than the men under him. I think the Government ought to see that the men in their employ who act as foremen are treated as liberally, if not more liberally, than men in private firms. That is a matter I would like to impress upon the Financial Secretary. The increments in this Department are only paid triennially, and, in our opinion, that is too long a time to wait for an increase of wages, and to reach the maximum. They do not get the maximum in some Government Departments until the time comes when, owing to age, they have to submit to a reduction of wages. We think that these men should have their increment yearly until they reach the maximum. Is there any reply to the petition of these men? If not, when may we expect to receive it? At Waltham Abbey things have improved somewhat during the last six years, and the minimum is now 24s. per week. But the work is very injurious to health. The materials employed get into the system, affecting the heart, particularly the nitro-glycerine, and this is a kind of work at which men do not live long. In view of the fact that it shortens their lives, some consideration ought to be made to men who are engaged on work of this kind. The men who are employed in making cordite are men whose lives very often cannot be certified as sound, and I think the conditions should be made better than they are at the present time. Towards the end of last year notices were issued that flannelette shirting was not to be worn by the men who were employed in dangerous buildings. That Regulation, I believe, has been amended, but in certain cases the Government supply clothing to men on account of the nature of the work they are engaged in and I think that if they provide clothing in some departments they ought to pro- 88 vide clothing in all departments for those men. Of course, all this will cost money, but if we can find the money for testing aeroplanes and other devices, I think we can also spend the money in seeing that the men who are doing the work are well paid, and that the conditions under which they work are good conditions.
I have a special complaint with regard to Weedon. When the inquiry was held it was the only factory or the only department that supplied full information with regard to the wages paid by local employers of labour, and it also supplied full particulars of the cost of living in that particular district. I do not know whether it was because it supplied those particulars, but as a result the labourers, who got an increase of 1s. per week elsewhere, only got 6d. per week at Weedon. I do not see why there should be this differentiation in the treatment of workers with regard to the minimum wage. They have some unskilled workers who got an increase of 1s., from 19s. to 20s. The skilled labourers get 19s. per week and 2d. per day extra duty pay. They have not received any increase at all. I would like to know whether the hon. Gentleman is in a position to make his promised statement with regard to these men. It has been promised, and promised again, that a statement would be given with regard to them. I would like to know whether an increase is going to be given, and, if so, when it is going to commence. I believe it is intended that the increase shall date from last April if any is given.
I now come to Enfield. There the minimum is 23s. 6d. The local employers of labour pay 6½d. to 7d. per hour. If the Government wish to carry out the promise made by the Secretary for War in 1910 that they will be model employers, surely they will pay wages equal to the wages which are paid by local employers, and they will raise the wages of these men to 6½d. or 7d. per hour, and not pay merely a minimum of 23s. 6d. per week.
There are also cases of hosiery firms who are supplying the War Department for the wear of soldiers and other servants, and some of these firms have said themselves that they do not intend to pay the standard wages except in Government contracts. Some are paying 2s. to 7s. per week less than the standard rate of pay to workpeople engaged upon other contracts than Government contracts. We say that a firm of that kind should not be 89 patronised by the Government, and I ask the War Department to make more particular inquiries with regard to the firms that they give work to. There are other firms at Carlisle and Sheffield who pay a fair rate of wages for Government work but not in other contracts. In our opinion the Government ought to say that these firms pay the standard rate of wages to all employés, and we believe that if a statement or instruction were issued by the Government that they would not employ firms who did not conform to the Fair-Wages Resolution in all contracts, it would be very useful. I know some inquiries have been made by officials sent by the Government with regard to these firms, and I ask the hon. Gentleman, if it is in his power, to give instructions to those officials who make inquiries as to the carrying out of the Fair-Wage Clause and to inquire of the men as well as from the employers. Some may say it is only a halfpenny or a penny an hour and that is not very much. But it is a great deal to the poorly paid workman. It means 2s. 2d. or 2s. 3d. per week. It means the food and clothing for a child. It is the difference between living with some amount of comfort or being deprived to some extent of the necessaries of life. A penny or two pence per hour means a great deal more. The War Office and other Departments allow firms to pay considerably less than the standard rate of wages to their workpeople, and at the same time there are other Government Departments which prosecute people for overcrowding, for want of sanitation, and for slum property. One Government Department is trying to stamp out disease and to make people live under better conditions with better housing and better food, and other great Departments—like the War Office—are doing their utmost to compel people to live in the slums, and to be badly fed and clothed, because they have those low wages. We appeal to the Government to carry out the promises of the War Secretary and the Prime Minister and to do all they possibly can to make the conditions of the men working directly under them and indirectly employed for them by contractors to whom they give the work better and brighter than they are at the present moment. With that appeal, I have great pleasure in seconding the Motion of the hon. Member for West Ham.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. TENNANT
We at the War Office are as anxious as any hon. Gentleman can be in any part of the House to see the Fair- 90 Wages Resolution carried out, not only in the letter, but in the spirit. We are always ready to receive complaints, and I invite the hon. Member (Mr. W. Thorne) to give me that list which he read of cases in which he maintained that we had not done that which we ought to have done in thoroughly carrying out the Resolution. I was a little disappointed at one observation which he made, that the Government have not done very much since 1910 to carry it out. We have referred many cases since then to the Fair-Wages Advisory Committee, and we have invariably acted upon the suggestions which we have received from that Committee. We have raised the minimum wage from 23s. to 24s. or an average of 25s., which, if you calculate the privileges as well, brings the average to 25s. 6d. for unskilled labour. [An HON. MEMBER: "What privileges?"] The well-known privileges of medical attendance, holidays, sick pay, and gratuity. The hon. Member (Mr. Thorne) asked whether I would consider the publication of the Fair-Wages Advisory Committee's Report. That is a matter which is not in my hands. It was delivered to us on the distinct understanding and stipulation that it should not be published, and it is not possible for me to go behind that or in any way to hold out a promise that there is any likelihood at all of these reports being published. The hon. Member went on to say he wishes we would take into consideration the condition of affairs at Pimlico. He rather implied by that that we had not given it any consideration at all. I do not believe he really thinks we do not consider these matters. I have paid visits to Pimlico myself, and these matters do engage not only our consideration, but our most earnest attention. We invite hon. Members below the Gangway to give us facts, or what they believe to be facts, in regard to breaches of the Fair-Wages Clause, and we wish particularly that the contractors outside should realise that that is our attitude. We are determined to the best of our ability to put this Fair-Wages Clause into operation, and if they do not conform to it, the serious step will be taken of striking them off our list.
I should like the House to know that I have to-day received Treasury sanction to raise the wages at Enfield and Waltham to the level of Woolwich and Pimlico. Deeds are better than words, and I hope the House generally will believe that that is a real gratification to me.
§ Mr. TENNANT
I believe at Waltham Abbey there are very few persons working on the actual minimum, so it will really not affect them; but at Enfield it will apply to a considerable number. I have also, by Departmental action not requiring the same formalities, been able to raise the wages of the crane-drivers and slingers by 1s. a week at Woolwich. I informed the secretary of the trade union the other day:I have to inform you that it has been decided, after careful consideration, that the minimum rate suitable for crane drivers in the department should be at least 27s. instead of 26s. In cases where special skill is required the rate may rise to a maximum of 31s. 6d., each individual being paid according to skill. As regards slingers the rates will normally run from 27s. to 30s. a week, according to skill. In exceptional circumstances a higher special rate may be paid.The hon. Member (Mr. Thorne) referred to the crane-drivers and slingers, and I thought perhaps he would be glad to know that I had been able to raise their wages by 1s.
§ Mr. TENNANT
No, I am not aware of that. If the hon. Member informs me of it and will bring a case to my notice, I will have the investigation made. Another proposal I have been able to make in my short period of office is that I think it is a good thing that members of the Army Council should from time to time visit the factories and the establishments which we conduct, and I propose to make it an annual practice that one or two members of the Army Council should go down, myself and another, and should advertise these meetings, and should have any complaints, of which due notice has been given in accordance with a scheme which I shall draw up, submitted to us on these occasions. In accordance with the promise made by Lord Haldane to the Parliamentary Committee of the Trades Union Congress we have put up a notice in all our factories in the following terms:—The wages paid and the hours of labour worked in this department are regulated in accordance with a Resolution passed by the House of Commons on 10th March. 1909, relating to Government contracts.There follows the Fair-Wages Resolution, as passed by this House. I want the 92 House to realise to some extent the steps which we actually take to see that the Fair-Wages Resolution is carried out in contracts. In the first place, there is an annual advertisement of contracts, which says that those who are invited to tender must give an undertaking to comply with the Fair-Wages Resolution. The second step is that before the firms are noted on our list at all their works are inspected, in order to ascertain their capabilities, and attention is paid, of course, to the conditions which are found inside the factories, also as to whether they have or do not have an excessive number of apprentices. Furthermore, the contractor is obliged to sign a pledge to observe this Resolution. The next step is that lists of firms are sent to the Parliamentary Committee of the Trades Union Congress, so that they may make any observations about them that they feel are deserved. When the tender is called for, a copy of the tender form is sent to such local officials of the Union as may have been arranged with the Parliamentary Committee. We also exhibit patterns of the articles and specifications to the trade union official for him to see. After that, regard is had to the general reputation of the contractors as employers of labour before their tenders are accepted. That was a distinct promise given by my predecessor, Mr. Mallet, from this place All the contracts, of course, contain the-Fair-Wages Clause and a stipulation that proper wages will be paid, and that books shall be kept which shall be open to inspection by the department. Further, in the case of unorganised or partly organised industries, clauses are inserted requiring direct payment of the workers in order to eliminate the middleman. In the cap and clothing trade there are special rates for women mentioned actually in the contract.
We require all contractors to put up these posters such as I have just indicated we put up in the Government factories ourselves. All complaints are received by the Director of Army contracts, and if there is any special difficulty it is brought to the Financial Secretary. I am now arranging that more of these complaints shall be submitted. If there are real cases of difficulty which we are not able ourselves to settle, we send them to the Fair-Wages Advisory Committee, who give us advice upon the subject. If the complaint is substantial we demand of the contractor that he shall give an undertaking that in future he will abide by the terms of the Fair-Wages Clause. I think this is a pretty long list of what might be called 93 obstacles which the contractor has to get over, and yet I know that hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway think that the contractors constantly get round them in some way. I know, as an old student of the Chief Inspector of Factories' Report for years and years, that such obstacles can be got over, and the law is constantly evaded. In fact, it would seem that they are extraordinarily skilled in the art of evasion. Directly we ascertain that they do such things we shall strike them off. It is not always easy to detect such evasion, there are two or three methods which I may bring to the notice of the House. There is the employment of learners and apprentices, and they get round the Fair-Wages Clause by employing too many of these. Then there is the method of confusing the Particulars' Section of the Act of 1901. If an employer gives his employés a wrong account of the statement of particulars he is able to give less wages than he ought to give, but these are not so common as the method of deduction, and it is deductions which I really fear are the greatest evil in the whole matter. Hon. Gentlemen may say, "Why do you not see that they do not make deductions?" Of course, directly we find out that they make deductions which do not comply with the Fair-Wages Clause, at once we say, "You must come off the list." Clearly this is a case for an alteration of the law relating to truck, and if the hon. Gentleman can succeed in getting that done he will have achieved a great step in advance.
I would like to give an illustration of the deductions that are made, because the House may not believe that these deductions do take place. A complaint reached me that, although the girls working on Government clothing contracts are paid the regulation rates of 2¾d. and 3d. per hour, they had deductions from their wages of 2s., 2s. 6d., and 3s. per week made for sewings. We had an examination to find out whether that was true or not, and the inspector reported that the wages paid, after the deductions had been taken off, were well over the minimum rate. I mention that as an illustration of the lamentable fact that, although the contractor complied with all that is required by the Fair-Wages Clause, the wages paid are still deplorable. The wages are in accordance with the Fair-Wages Clause in this case, and yet the pay is at this low rate. The remedy for this lies along the lines of a measure I had the honour to introduce in this House—I mean the 94 Trade Boards Act. It is too early to consider the extension of that measure to any trade other than the four scheduled. The Act is still in an experimental stage^ and, though much progress has been made, there are only two trades in which rates have been compulsorily fixed, and only one in which we have any experience of the results. When the time comes for considering extensions the claims of cap making will be carefully taken into account with those of other trades. It must be remembered that the schedule of the Act cannot be extended without the authority of Parliament. I would like the House to realise that in the Fair-Wages Clause exhibited in clothing factories it is specifically mentioned that the Clause setting forth the amount of money to be paid per hour will remain in force until the minimum rates applicable to the branch of the tailoring trade concerned are fixed by the Trade Boards. As soon as such Trade Board rates come into operation the contractors will be required to pay not less than these rates as a minimum.
I do not know whether hon. Gentlemen in all quarters of the House realise that the Advisory Committee is not an Administrative Committee, and that it is not even a deciding body. Its only duty is to look into the facts, which, of course, are of very great importance. They are of enormous importance to us. There is often vast difficulty in ascertaining what fair wages are in a particular district. I wish the House to realise that the duty devolving upon those who have the responsibility of fixing the rates of wages is not a light one. We have 15,000 men in our employment in and around London alone, and we are paying £1,340,000 a year in wages. I do not myself shrink from this responsibility, but I should like hon. Gentlemen to believe that it is an onerous responsibility. I wish to impress upon the House that admirable though the advice given by the Fair-Wages Advisory Committee is, it does not relieve us in the least of the responsibility we have as the Department concerned in actually fixing the rates of wages to be paid. I ask hon. Gentlemen to believe that we are duly seized of the responsibility that lies upon us. We know, first of all, of course, that we are the trustees of the taxpayer, and, as such, are bound to consider the national purse. If the Financial Secretary is not going to be an economist in these days of expanding, expenditure, who is?
§ Mr. TENNANT
We are in the War Office the trustees of the taxpayer, and although we are great employers of labour, and desire to enjoy the reputation of being good employers of labour, we feel the responsibility that is laid upon us. I think the House will agree with me when I say that we are in a wider sense the trustees of the national well being.
§ Colonel LOCKWOOD
May I ask the hon. Gentleman what is the minimum wage paid to labourers at Enfield and Waltham?
§ Mr. W. THORNE
May I ask the hon. Gentleman to answer my question with respect to contracts for food supplies to the soldiers.
§ Mr. TENNANT
If my hon. Friend will bring the matter before me afterwards I shall be glad to investigate it.
§ Lord H. CAVENDISH-BENTINCK
I heartily associate myself with what has fallen from hon. Members opposite as to the necessity of contractors observing not only the letter but the spirit of the Fair-Wages Clause. I hope the result of this Amendment will be that something will be done to make contractors do so. I feel particularly strongly on this subject myself, as there are a great number of workmen in my Constituency who are losing employment on Government contracts through their employers having been undercut by others in the hosiery trade outside who are not observing the Fair-Wages Clause in its proper spirit. I hope I shall be in order if I draw the attention of the Financial Secretary to another branch of this subject, namely, the irregularity of the employment caused by the manner in which Government contracts are given out. The House well knows that there are irregularities of employment in connection with various trades, and that there is a growing body of opinion that it is possible these irregularities might be avoided by more goods being ordered during slack times and minimising rather in good times. I do not know what the official mind thinks of this, but, so far as the contractors themselves are concerned, especially those who are employed in connection with goods of a non-perishable character, there is a feeling that this is a possible policy. I hope my hon. Friend will give this matter 96 his consideration. I do not wish to dogmatise on the point, as I have not given it, as a matter of fact, very much investigation.
On the point of the possibility of regularising employment in seasonal occupations when there are variations in the amount of employment from month to month within the year, I feel on firmer ground. I think the House will agree with me that the Government ought to do all in their power to make the work as regular as possible and to help contractors to keep their staffs together and not to lose them. When the staff are dismissed employers have to take on casual labour in a hurry. There is every reason to believe that, although the War Office may be most conscientious guardians of the public purse, so far as the workmen engaged on its contracts are concerned they have not given the matter such full consideration as they might have done in view of the possibility of making arrangements which would result in the regularising of employment. I have been in correspondence with several contractors, and there is a strong opinion that if the gaps which exist between the expiration of an old contract and the commencement of a new one were eliminated, if orders were distributed more over the whole year, and if contractors were given a longer time to execute their orders, they would be able to keep their staff more together and to give regular employment to their workers. I have in my hand a letter from an Army and Navy contractor in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in which he says that his contract has expired, and that it will be six weeks or two months before he gets another. His workmen are either on short time or leaving his employment, so that when he gets a new contract he will have to get new workers and train them, and that will cost a great deal of money. I asked another contractor what should be done in the way of getting greater regularity for the workers, and in his reply he said that the War Office is especially bad in this respect, as they appear to have no regular or stated periods for distributing tenders. This causes spasmodic employment, and much suffering and distress among the workmen engaged on Government contracts. He points out that greater regularity in the giving out of contracts would be mutually advantageous to the Government Departments and employés. Another employer says:—I find that the Admiralty find the General Post, Office are fairly regular with their contracts, and 97 endeavour to spread the deliveries over the period for which they will be required for use, but the War Office is very irregular in giving out orders. I think regularity is most important, as it enables a regular staff, of experienced workmen to be kept together, instead of having to take on inexperienced men at a time of rush.I would point out also that irregularity of employment is caused by working overtime to give delivery at the time specified in the contracts. When a time for delivery is specified the contractors naturally jump to the conclusion that the War Office wants delivery as quickly as possible. That means that the contractors have to rush their orders as quickly as possible, and their employés have to work overtime, and after it is all over the workers have to be dismissed. There is another point to which I would call attention. It would be a great convenience if orders were placed in December rather than in January, February, or March, because employment is much slacker in December than at the beginning of the year, and they would be able to contract more cheaply if the orders were to be given then, because they could get raw material more cheaply in December than in the spring of the year. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will give attention to these points. If more trouble were taken to give out these orders more regularly a great deal of unemployment might be prevented and a great deal of overtime might be saved.
§ Mr. HOHLER
I listened to the Financial Secretary to the War Office with some surprise, because I am accustomed to the speeches which conclude by saying that we are trustees for the taxpayer, trustees for the War Office, and trustees for every virtue. The taxpayer is not even considered by the Financial Secretary. He said, as I understood, that from 24s. to 25s. 6d. is the bedrock of the wages which the War Office paid. This is not the case. His only excuse for saying this can be that he has only recently entered upon the office, which I congratulate him on holding. I shall certainly support the hon. Member for West Ham if he goes to a Division, which I strongly urge him to do. It was only by reason of the Labour party not supporting this Resolution when they moved it in the year 1910 that this matter has not been remedied long ago. After the Resolution was passed I well recollect that the Financial Secretary to the War Office was in some difficulty, speaking from the Treasury Bench, and communications went on in order to induce the Labour party not to hold to what they proposed to do. The result was they, I suppose, took the advice given to them, with the further 98 result that for at least two years these men have been deprived of their just and legitimate advance. Founded upon what the Secretary for War said as to the intentions of the Government in regard to the Fair-Wages Resolution, I thought it better than putting a question on the subject to him to write him with regard to the men employed by the War Office in the Army Ordnance Depot at Chatham. I pointed out that the wages paid were 2ls. and, in the case of a few favoured men, 21s. 6d. I suggested that in my opinion that was quite inadequate, that the rents there averaged from 5s. to 5s. 6d. per week, and I respectfully submitted that those wages should be increased. Further, I gave cases in which they were paying more for ordinary labour outside. That was in May, 1910. I received a reply from the Secretary of State for War that he would put the matter before the Advisory Committee. I wrote again, and he said that the matter was then going before the Advisory Committee. I kept pressing them, with the result that he said the matter was before the Advisory Committee, and he would write me what their Report was. I continued to press the matter in the year 1910 until the Army Estimates were discussed here last year, when the Financial Secretary to the War Office announced that an advance in wages had been made in regard to Waltham Abbey and Woolwich and some other places, and he never mentioned Chatham at all. When I asked about Chatham he looked surprised, and did not seem to know that these people existed, and I believe that that was his then state of mind. I want to press upon the Financial Secretary that it does exist, and that these men are employed at the rates which I have mentioned, and that when he states the bedrock at 23s., 24s., or 25s. 6d. wages, it is no such thing.
§ Mr. HOHLER
That is not what the Financial Secretary said. He said they proposed to increase Waltham and Enfield. Why is Chatham not going to have it? Because the Member for Woolwich sits on those benches and he controls some thirty votes. Can the Financial Secretary give any other explanation? I suggest that it is nothing but pressure can drive this Government to do justice of any sort. They often get pressure which they do not like and yield to it. I have in black and white the statement of the Secretary of State for 99 War that the case of these men was under consideration, and that he would let me have the result of the inquiries of the Advisory Committee in regard to every question I put before him. I have pressed for this information, and I have never been able to get it. Are such promises as these when they are made intended to be kept? I want to know why the Division of the hon. Member for Woolwich, who has thirty votes behind him, gets these concessions, while Chatham, which returns an opponent of his party, does not. It ought not to be a question of party at all, but a question of doing justice with regard to these men. The workers of the corporation of Gillingham, in my Constituency, who had a forty eight hours' week, are now about to have, from the 1st April, a wage of 25s. per week, while the Government are giving 21s. to 21s. 6d. to the men in the Ordnance Depot. In Chatham they are not getting a forty-eight hours' week, but they are increasing their wages to 26s. Here you have two examples from municipal corporations which you are slow to follow.
I shall press this matter upon every possible occasion. I do not see why His Majesty's Government should ignore the condition of these men in Chatham. It is not that I am standing for the minimum wage. However that may be in the future, I think that what would satisfy these men would be to let them have the bedrock wages paid in other places. Give my men 24s., and I promise I will let you alone next year. Under the present system the petitions by the men are never answered until the Debates on the Estimate are over. You get men to send in a petition and say you are dealing with it, and you allow it to be slept upon until all chances of effective action in the House of Commons has passed by. Then it goes on for another year. If meantime I put a question in the House to anybody responsible in the Department with regard to this matter, they say that it is under consideration. We have had this matter under consideration since 1910, when the Financial Secretary made the promise, which has not yet been fulfilled. I trust now that it shall be fulfilled, and that the men in Chatham will be given the same increase as has been given in Woolwich and other places. The expenses of living are just as high, and when His Majesty's Government tell us that they are trustees of the taxpayers, may I remind them that they have put taxation on these men which will begin 100 next July under the Insurance Act. The cost of living has gone up, and there is no excuse for the Government not redeeming the promise which was made in 1910 to give them an increase of wages to which the men are entitled at Chatham.
§ Mr. NEWMAN
As representing the workers in the factory at Enfield, I beg to thank the Financial Secretary to the War Office for the statement which he has made. We at Enfield could never understand why the rise was not given to us before this, and why Woolwich got it and we did not. We made our case out and failed to get it admitted. Now I am glad to see the Government are determined to give us this rise. I had no opportunity of hearing the speech of the hon. Member for West Ham, and I have some diffidence in intervening in this Debate. We represent a Division where there are these Government factories. As I understand, hon. Gentlemen opposite below the Gangway do not like us to take part in these Debates at all. During the long discussion on the Insurance Act last Session I, as representing Enfield, on more than one occasion asked where did the employés in these factories come in under the Insurance Act. They had asked me and I could not tell, so I had to ask the Government to let me know. I have in my hands a copy of the "Government Workers' Advocate," the organ of the Federation of Workers, which contains correspondence between the hon. Member for Leicester and the secretary of this federation in which my name is mentioned. I call attention to it because it deals with a difficulty which I have felt in this case, That is a difficulty in which those who represent these taxes committed, and yet hon. Members opposite do not think I have a right to speak on behalf of the men employed at those factories. Hon. Gentlemen on the Labour Benches cannot for a moment imagine that every man employed in those factories is a labour man. The majority of the employés are Conservatives, and will be seen coming out of Enfield Factory wearing my colours, and therefore I have a perfect right to speak on their behalf. This is the correspondence which appears in the journal of the Organised Government Workers. It is headed—" Mr. J. Ramsay Macdonald, M.P., and Government Workers." The first letter:—Mr. J. Ramsay MacDonald, M.P.Dear Sir,—I am desired by my Executive to ask whether you intended to include the members of our 101 Federation, whose objects are to make the Government the model employer, in the description 'spongers' applied to Government workers in a speech made by you in the House of Commons last week during the Debate on the National Insurance Bill? As representing the organised Government workers, we feel that we cannot too strongly protest against such an undeserved charge being made against them; and in view of the sympathy that yon have always shown to our movement, we feel that there must be some explanation you can give us.Thanking you in anticipation,Yours sincerely,JAMES G. KING.The reply was:—28. Victoria Street, S.W.1st December, 1911.Dear Mr. King,—Mr. MacDonald asks me to say, in reply to your letter, that the whole thing is a 'mare's nest.' A Conservative member read out certain demands which had been put in his hands by Government workers in his constituency, and they were so unfair, and the member was so reckless in his willingness to advance them, that Mr. Macdonald applied the epithet 'sponger' to these men. There is no doubt but that an irritation exists amongst some members of the Labour party in view of the action of such members as Sir Kinloch-Cooke being regarded by Government workers with approval, and outside Trade Unionists are following the matter with a good deal of suspicion.With kind regards,Yours very sincerely,J. S. MIDDLETON,Asst. Sec.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I fail to see the relevancy of this to the Amendment now before the House. The matter seems to me to be some quarrel between the hon. Member and the hon. Member for Leicester in reference to something that happened last year.
§ Mr. NEWMAN
I was going on, in the few remarks I have to make, to refer to the position which the employés in the Enfield Small Arms Factory occupy under the Insurance Act.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The Amendment has nothing to do with the Insurance Act, as the hon. Member will see if he looks at its terms. He must confine himself to that to be in order.
§ Mr. NEWMAN
In that case, I am afraid the remarks I have to make had reference to what the Government were going to do in regard to the employés in the Small Arms Factories under the Insurance Act. Therefore I will not proceed with the matter further.
§ Mr. GEORGE ROBERTS
The hon. Gentleman who has just resumed his seat need not entertain the opinion that we on the Labour benches offer any objection whatever to his taking up cases affecting his constituency. If we did offer any such objection I fail to see how it could be upheld at all, because, after all, the people of Enfield have certainly a right to elect 102 whom they will, and, having made their choice, the hon. Gentleman has to represent them in this House. For my own part I should have liked them to make some other selection, but that is beside the point. The constituents have to choose; they have made their choice, and it is not for us to deny the right of their representative to voice their opinion in this House. If he in any way entertains that idea from any utterances of my hon. Friend I beg him to accept the assurance that, so far as I am concerned, and so far as I understand the hon. Members with whom I am associated are concerned, he totally misapprehends our view of the matter. Since 1906 the party with whom I am associated constantly raised the question of the employés in various Government Departments as well as those who are engaged under Government contractors. We are pleased to know that some small concessions have been made, but we are bound to confess that we had hoped the Government would have gone a good deal further than has been shown by the speech of the Financial Secretary to the Department. Nobody can view with complacency certain cases submitted to us as illustrations this afternoon.
If it be true that there are men engaged in the Government employ at 19s. or 20s. a week, then I feel that the Government ought to recognise that it is not a living wage, and that it ought to be materially increased, despite what may be the rate prevailing in other centres. I have been interested in the broad question of the Fair-Wages Resolution, because I can well recall the discussion we had in this House on 10th March. 1909. The Resolution was then undoubtedly amended and strengthened; nevertheless, we feel that it is quite within the competence of the Government Department to administer that Resolution in stricter accord with its spirit if not its precise wording. I feel that the Government ought to lay down the condition that not only shall firms undertake to pay fair wages on actual Government work, but that they ought to have the assurance from those who receive Government contracts that they will pay fair wages all round. One of my hon. Friends cited a practice prevailing in the case of one of the Leicester hosiery firms, who undertook to pay fair wages for actual Government work. In our opinion that is not satisfactory; we feel that at least the Fair-Wages Resolution demands that those firms shall be fair in respect of all work that they perform.
§ Mr. TENNANT
There have been cases in which the War Office have struck off the list firms who have been giving wages below the rate of fair wages, though not in connection with Government contracts at all.
§ Mr. G. ROBERTS
I am glad to hear that the Government contemplate a departure in that direction. The Government should compile lists of firms from whom tenders can be invited, and no firms should be placed on that list unless it has previously given the Government a promise that it is fair in all particulars in relation to its employés. I cannot see how we shall ever have satisfactory administration of the Fair-Wages Clause unless the Government do adopt that particular point of view. It is all very well for a firm to enter into an undertaking. The hon. Gentleman himself has admitted that some firms are not beyond evading their responsibilities, even after they have engaged to recognise fair conditions and conform to the Fair-Wages Clause. We feel that something more is required, and that the Government should adopt the suggestion we have often made, that lenders should not be invited from firms unless they are satisfied that those firms are fair in every particular. We are glad to recognise that improvements have been made because of the extra supervision we are enabled to exercise in consequence of the action of the Government in supplying the various trade unions with particulars of tenders that are being invited, even to the extent of submitting samples of work to be done by those various contractors. We feel that while some improvement has I hereby been effected, nevertheless we still have tangible cause of grievance, inasmuch as the wages, so far as our information goes, do not come up to the standard generally recognised by the fairest employers in the districts. In some departments the minimum I am told has been raised from 23s. to 24s. a week. Everybody is glad of course even of a slight advance that may be made, still, having regard to the enormous advance that has taken place in prices, the ultimate value of wages is affected, and the standard of remuneration does not mark any tangible elevation in the standard of life of Government workers.
Therefore we feel that the men have a legitimate claim to ask that a higher minimum wage be established. We have urged the Government to lay down the 104 standard of 30s. a week. Certainly nobody will deny that 30s. is a small sum for a man to maintain himself, wife, and family anywhere near or round and about London. My hon. Friend who seconded the Motion gave an instance, cited from the evidence which was given before the Committee, in which the Government increased the weekly wages by 1s., which means that the workers receive 20s. instead of 19s. a week. A man cannot decently maintain a wife and children on a miserable 20s. a week, and, whatever may be the case with the private employers, our suggestion is that the Government ought to ensure that everybody in their employ shall have a standard of remuneration which would permit of each employé and his dependents living decently and comfortably. We are glad that the hon. Gentleman has been able to assure us that the Army Council now adopts the practice of a periodical visitation to Government factories, and presumably also to the factories of those firms who are engaged on Government contracts. That is very good; nevertheless, I would like to know whether any particulars of that work are available for Members of this House? [Mr. Tennant was understood to assent.] Furthermore, we understand it is the practice of the Government, when complaints are made through hon. Members in this House, to prosecute inquiries into the wages paid and the conditions recognised under Government contracts.
The hon. Gentleman has assured us that at least one firm has been struck off, because the Government was convinced that they had not conformed to the Fair-Wages Resolution. In our opinion, so far as the evidence supplied to us goes, there are quite a number of firms that ought to be struck off, and we trust that the action of my hon. Friend will have the effect of stimulating the Government to closely look into the conditions which prevail in connection with Government contracts. I am perfectly certain that if the Government were to take drastic action now and again against contractors they would remove many grievances which we have constantly to submit to their consideration. We are pleased to recognise that the wages of Enfield and Waltham are to be raised to the level of Woolwich. Whilst we are pleased to acknowledge the concessions, however small they may be, which the hon. Gentleman is able to announce to us this afternoon, we feel that they are not altogether satisfactory, and that the Government ought to pursue this policy much 105 more rapidly and much more extensively. There is one point which we have constantly brought under the consideration of the Government Departments. It is quite a common practice for firms located in large centres to secure a Government contract, and then to go to works outside those large centres and fix their own rates, thus, in our opinion, evading both the word and the spirit of the Resolution. We should like to know whether the Government has been able to devise any means yet of meeting those cases which apply in connection with many trades and constitute one of the most substantial grievances with which we have to contend. I do not know what is in the minds of my hon. Friends who moved and seconded this Resolution, but we take advantage of the facility of the ballot for the purpose of raising certain matters which we feel to be not only of interest to Members, but also to a considerable section of the general public. I feel sure that the hon. Gentleman who represents the Government will not complain of the method or the manner in which my hon. Friends have drawn attention to a number of grievances this afternoon. Whilst we are pleased to acknowledge that some concessions have been made and some more are contemplated, we trust that the investigation that has been pursued this afternoon will have the effect of inducing the Government to recognise that substantial grievances do exist, and we respectfully request that they will exert themselves to the utmost, so that on a subsequent occasion the number may be diminished, and that we may be in the position to congratulate the Government on being, what I believe we all desire they should be, the model employers of the land, and that at least it cannot be said that any private employer treats his workpeople better than the Government.
§ Mr. CHARLES DUNCAN
There is one point in connection with this Vote which I think should receive a little attention, perhaps not so much at the hands of this particular Department, but of the whole of the Departments administering the contracts. The Amendment which has been moved declares that in interpreting the Fair-Wages Clause in assigning contracts the responsible officials should be instructed to see that the principle of the Clause is properly carried out when the actual wording gives room for some doubt. It seems to me that the great difficulty in 106 the carrying out of these contracts is this, that the Government themselves have no very clear ideas as to what the Fair-Wages Clause should mean. They have no definite figure in their own minds with regard to the wages which should be paid to the various sections of men employed on a Government contract. A case in point may be helpful in elucidating the matter. The Government itself certainly sets the pace with regard to the rate of wages of unskilled labour, and which, roughly, is between 24s. and 25s. per week. On the other hand, we have millions worth of Government work going to large firms in this country who employ thousands of unskilled men who are in receipt of wages as low as £1 per week of fifty-four hours. If 24s. or 25s. is low enough as a fair wage for the Government labourer, then I cannot understand how it is that Government work should be given to a Government contractor who is only paying from 17s. to 21s. I think that the Government may very well make up their minds on this matter, and, at any rate, establish the principle and fix a minimum for the poorest paid and the unskilled men below which no person employed on a Government contract should be paid. If we could once get the Government or the Advisory Committee covering the whole of the Departments to make a beginning in this direction we should, I believe, be getting on to some thing like right lines, and there would be considerable progress made in gradually levelling the conditions of the persons employed in Government contract work if we only began at the bottom. Their practice, however, seems to be to jump from case to case as they arise, without any principle, or method, or system. The Government wait practically until some person makes a complaint, and they invite that person to supply the whole of the facts. They then deal with that case, and sit down and wait until the next case arises.
I think the time has arrived when the Government should lay down a minimum, beginning with the unskilled men, and that they should enforce that minimum upon the whole of the contractors doing Government work in this country. I am confident unless that principle is adopted that the Fair-Wages Clause in all those contracts covering millions of pounds worth of work is of no earthly use so far as the unskilled labourer is concerned. We are all aware that the wages of the unskilled labourer are very largely fixed by competition, and competition which is brutal and ruthless. 107 We know that the wage those men receive is not a living wage. There is not a man, either in this House or out of it, who would suggest for a moment that the wages that thousands and hundreds of thousands of unskilled labourers are receiving are sufficient to enable men of the kind with a wife and even one or two children even to exist; they cannot exist. Everybody who has studied the matter knows that it is simply a matter of slow starvation until that man's family grow up and enable him by bringing in a little money to face his responsibilities. I say that the Government should be the first party to make a move in this direction, and that it will be a direction that will reflect the very highest credit upon them. I am confident if they were to set the example to others, and if the workers were able to get the backing of the Government behind the Resolution, it would go a very long way towards wiping away some of the vicious conditions that exist, particularly with regard to unskilled workers. This is the first time I have mentioned this point,
§ and I think it is an exceedingly important matter. It starts, at any rate, at the bottom of the social ladder, and with the worst paid, and with the people who are least able to defend themselves. It cannot be said that large numbers of those men are in trade unions. A very large percentage of those men are so poor that they even cannot afford to pay the small and paltry contribution that a man requires to join some of the organisations in this country. It is because I know and feel, and my experience teaches me, that a very large number of those people are in an absolutely defenceless position that I think the Government might themselves, either through the various Departments or through the Advisory Committees, set up some such standard as I suggest covering the whole of those contractors who do Government work. In that way I think an excellent work would be performed by the Government.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 129; Noes, 99.109
|Division No. 31.]||AYES.||[8.15 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Hinds, John||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Holmes, Daniel Thomas||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Agnew, sir George William||Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Barton, William||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Benn, W. W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Radford, George Heynes|
|Black, Arthur W.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Raffan, peter Wilson|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts., Stepney)||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Joyce, Michael||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Bryce, John Annan||Keating, Matthew||Reddy, Michael|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||King, Joseph (Somerset, North)||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Leach, Charles||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Lewis, John Herbert||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Clough, William||Lundon, Thomas||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Clyde, James Avon||Lyell, Charles Henry||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Cotton, William Francis||McGhee, Richard||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Crumley, Patrick||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Macpherson, James Ian||Scanlan, Thomas|
|De Forest, Baron||M'Callum, John M.||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Delany, William||M'Curdy, Charles Albert||Sheehy, David|
|Donelan, Captain A.||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Doris, William||M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Masterman, C. F. G.||Waring, Walter|
|Field, William||Meagher, Michael||Webb, H.|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||White, J. Dundas (Glas., Trodeston)|
|Furness, Stephen||Millar, James Duncan||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Molloy, Michael||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Mooney, John J.||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Morgan, George Hay||Wiles, Thomas|
|Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Griffith, Ellis Jones||Murray, Capt. Hon. Arthur C.||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)||Nolan, Joseph|
|Haslam, Lewis, (Monmouth)||Nuttall, Harry|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon. S.)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Higham, John Sharp||O'Dowd, John|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Glanville, Harold James||Nield, Herbert|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Goldstone, Frank||O'Grady, James|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen B. (Glouc., E.)||Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Rowlands, James|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Rutherford, W. (Liverpool, W. Derby)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Bird, Alfred||Hill, Sir Clement L. (Shrewsbury)||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Hodge, John||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Houston, Robert Paterson||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Boyton, James||Hudson, Walter||Stanier, Beville|
|Brace, William||Hunt, Rowland||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hunter, Sir Charles Redk. (Bath)||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Jackson, Sir John||Stewart, Gershom|
|Butcher, John George||Jessel, Captain Herbert M.||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Campbell, Capt. Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Jowett, Frederick William||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Campion, W. R.||Kinloch-Cooke, sir Clement||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Lansbury, George||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Cassel, Felix||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Wor., Droitwich)||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Cave, George||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Valentia, Viscount|
|Clynes, John R.||Mackinder, Halford J.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Croft, Henry Page||Macmaster, Donald||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Malcolm, Ian||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Dixon, Charles Harvey||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Moore, William||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Morrison, Captain James A.||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)|
|Gill, Alfred Henry||Newman, John R. P.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. G. Roberts and Mr. Pointer.|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Viscount CASTLEREAGH
The speech delivered by the Under-Secretary of State earlier in the evening was somewhat shorter than usual, but perhaps this was owing to the fact that his remarks were more in the nature of continuing the policy which up to now has been carried on by the Government. In only one respect did the right hon. Gentleman touch on a new subject, and that was in. regard to aviation. Although the right hon. Gentleman, in a very plausible manner, endeavoured to support the policy of the Government, even his well-known ingenuity was hardly equal to the occasion. He endeavoured to explain that in regard to the weapons with which the Army at present is equipped we were in a position of great strength in comparison with other nations of the world. I disagree with the right hon. Gentleman almost entirely in every statement he made in that connection. With regard to the Artillery, he apparently is of opinion that the gun with which they are armed is superior to the weapon with which foreign armies are equipped. He argued the point by dividing the excellencies of the weapon into so many different points, and taking the majority as being in our favour. I do not propose to quarrel with the right hon. Gentleman on that score on this occasion; I would only say that, though our weapon may be as good as the French, if he says 110 it is superior I think his statement is a little wide of the mark.
I wish to devote myself in particular to the question of the rifle. I do not think that we can for one moment claim to have, a rifle as good as either the French or the German. It is all-important that we should arm our Infantry with the best possible weapon. We have the advantage of having a much smaller Army, and consequently are able to arm our troops at a far less cost than is possible for a foreign Power. It should be our prime consideration to find a weapon which is superior to all others. The right hon. Gentleman endeavoured to persuade us that we were in no sense in an inferior position from the fact that the trajectory of the bullet we employ is higher than that of the bullet employed by foreign countries. He also told us that it was not of such very great importance to aim at an exceptionally rapid muzzle velocity. These are two points to which all experts in different parts of the world have devoted their attention. They have been desirous of providing a rifle combining with a very flat trajectory an exceptional muzzle velocity; but the right hon. Gentleman tells us that that is not so material. He told us that in the course of his experience in South Africa a horse which he was leading was killed by a bullet at a distance of 3,000 yards. Nearly all modern 111 rifles, if held at a certain angle, are capable of killing a horse or man at that distance. What we want to devote our attention to are the occasions on which we might come into what may be called close quarters with the enemy. The conditions of service in the future in any European war will be different from those that were experienced in South Africa. If troops are pitted against each other in this country a range of 3,000 yards would very seldom be effective. The effective range would be, I venture to say, at something about 1,000 yards. The troops would be called upon to meet each other at ranges under 1,000 yards, and it is all important on those occasions that our rifles should be able to fire at what is called "point-blank" range. Lord Haldane has told us already in the House of Lords that the bullet which we use at the present time is practically the same as used by foreign countries. The word "practically" covers a multitude of sins. It may mean almost anything. The trajectory has been lowered to a certain extent, but at the present time—I think I am quoting accurately—the trajectory of the bullet is 2 ft. higher than the trajectory of the bullet of the German or the French rifle. When we consider the conditions under which troops will fight in the future, at ranges certainly not of the same extent as in South Africa, but in enclosed countries like this country, and also those on the Continent of Europe, surely the nation which employs a rifle with a flatter trajectory has an insuperable advantage over the armies of the nation which uses a rifle with a higher trajectory. The matter is one of supreme importance. It was passed over by the right hon. Gentleman as if it was not a subject of that great and vital importance which we on this side of the House think it.
I should like to say a few words with respect to ammunition. The right hon. Gentleman took a very optimistic view in respect to that. He told us that it was true that there are two kinds of ammunition which are being employed. The ammunition in one rifle, he said, does not make very much difference in its accuracy at 670 yards. He did not go further, and enlighten us as to the exact inaccuracy after that point. I am not in a position to say exactly what effect the different ammunition has on the different rifles, but I think I am correct in saying that the extra ammunition has entailed an alteration of the sighting of a certain portion of 112 our rifles. I do not know in what Department this particular matter rests—
§ Mr. TENNANT
If the Noble Lord is asking whether both kinds of ammunition can be shot from the same rifle, I say "Yes." It makes some difference in the sighting; but our rifles have been re-sighted for the new ammunition.
§ Viscount CASTLEREAGH
That is exactly what I wanted to hear. All our rifles, or a certain proportion of our rifles, have been re-sighted for the purpose of employing the new ammunition. Can the hon. Gentleman tell me at what period these rifles were being re sighted, because that has a very important bearing upon the matter?
§ Viscount CASTLEREAGH
That appears to me to open up a very serious situation. During last September the country considered itself to be on the verge of war, or there were great possibilities of it, and it would appear then that the rifles belonging to four Divisions in this country were at that time in the factory, being re-sighted.
§ Viscount CASTLEREAGH
Well, I am very glad to hear it. It seemed to me that the rifles had been out of the hands of those who would know what use to make of them if necessary.
§ Viscount CASTLEREAGH
The hon. Gentleman has enlightened me on the point that I desired. Now, about the range facilities in this country. It is a matter of grave concern, or ought to be, to everyone in this country. They should realise that we are very deficient in range facilities. On this question we can take an example from foreign nations. I do not know if the right hon. Gentleman can tell us if there are to be additional facilities for the provision of ranges in this country. I do not think he will deny that at the present time we are singularly deficient in adequate ranges. By that I mean ranges in which the different distances are very clearly and definitely marked. I do not know whether any money has been put aside for the purpose of establishing more ranges. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned a new rifle as within the possibility 113 of being introduced. If he really considers that our present rifle is of such an excellent character, why does he consider that there is any need for a new rifle? Is he aware of the fact that foreign nations are bringing in a rifle of superior quality to ours; or does he believe that after so many years service it is necessary to introduce a new rifle in this country? He told us in his speech this evening that the present rifle was introduced into this country in 1903, and that it is the most modern of the rifles used by the European nations. Will this introduction of the rifle of which Lord Haldane spoke in another place take place in the near future?
Before the right hon. Gentleman came in again I went so far as to say that I did not share his optimistic view that our rifle was superior to the rifles used in foreign countries. I think all he said was most comdemnatory of the view that our rifle was the best. He told us that in respect of the breech that it was not strong enough for the purpose of carrying the stronger ammunition made use of by foreign countries. I do not know whether we are going to receive any further enlightenment from the right hon. Gentleman, but we are entitled to it. In respect to the Territorial Force, I do not feel that we in this country can look with satisfaction on the system which we are employing. That Force is still something of an exotic. It is a delicate plant, which we are told to assist in all practical ways that we possibly can. But we are told that at the present moment it hardly fulfils the requirements that we expect of it. I do not think that it does fulfil those requirements. It is believed to be in existence for the purpose of repelling a raid. It is the third line. We are expected to call upon the Territorial Forces to save us in our distress. The Force is armed with an inferior rifle. The right hon. Gentleman does not admit it. Does the right hon. Gentleman maintain that the rifle used by the Territorial Force is the same weapon with which the Regular Forces are armed?
§ Viscount CASTLEREAGH
It is the same weapon then. Lord Haldane's words were, "It is practically the same." I hope he is right, because I venture to say that if any portion of our defensive forces should be armed with an excellent and first-class weapon it is the Territorial Force, especially when we consider their 114 position. They are to be called upon to repel a raid of 70,000 men. It is not likely that these 70,000 men will be any other than the best picked forces of the enemy. The enemy will send their best armed force and their best trained force. Is the right hon. Gentleman really satisfied that, from the training which the Territorial Force receive, that they are in any way fitted to cope with the forces of an enemy which may be landed upon these shores? I venture to say that any suggestion in that direction is a great fallacy, and that it is absolutely impossible that troops trained as they are at present should be able to cope with the Regular forces of the enemy. I know there are great difficulties in connection with the training of the Territorial Force. The Government has to compete with labour. I do not know that all the employers are desirous of coming forward and giving the assistance to the Government which they ought to do. But even with that, is the training vouchsafed to the Territorial Force in any way sufficient or adequate to enable us as a nation to rely upon them for our defence? I believe the Government are endeavouring to place facilities in the way of the Territorial Force. I always felt, and I felt when the scheme was brought in by Lord Haldane, that he was endeavouring, and a great many other people were endeavouring, to trust too much to what is called patriotism.
Of course, we know very well there is a great deal of latent patriotism in everyone in this country, but in the piping times of peace that patriotism does not always come to the surface, and to enable the Territorial Forces to obtain the training they desire and are entitled to obtain it is necessary that the Government should hold out some inducement. I think it is the intention of the Government to do something in the way of separation allowances. Of course, there are a certain amount of allowances given to the Territorial Forces in respect of drill which that Force is called upon to carry out in different parts of the year. I wonder if the right hon. Gentleman could see his way to pay a special remuneration to all those who come up with the intention of making themselves efficient and making themselves useful in the various duties to which they belong. I think that is a matter of great importance, and one to which the Government might very usefully give their attention. There is one subject to which I have always devoted as much attention as I possibly could, and that is in respect to the horses for the Cavalry in this country. I 115 understand the Government have found it possible to increase the establishment of the horses by twenty in the various Cavalry regiments. That is a matter on which most of us feel a certain amount of satisfaction, but the numbers are not nearly what the Government would like, and are not nearly the number that would be satisfactory to us who attach a great amount of importance to that branch of the subject. Perhaps it may be the desire of the War Office to remedy that this year. I only rose for the purpose of drawing attention to the remark the right hon. Gentleman made in respect to the rifles, and I certainly hope that before this Debate is ended we shall receive some more adequate assurance as to the weapon with which our forces are armed than that which has been given by the right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary.
§ Mr. CAMPION
I desire to congratulate the Government and to express my gratitude to them for the action they have taken with regard to separation allowances for privates in the Territorial Army. They are removing what has been a considerable grievance. Promotion in the Territorial Army does not come altogether in the same way that it does in the Regular Army A man is promoted generally, of course, because of efficiency, but it does happen on more than one occasion that the man you wish to promote will ask not to be promoted, because either he feels his education is not quite as good as it might be, or that he is in another walk of life employed by some of those men whom he would be asked to lead as a soldier, and these men very often for these reasons cannot be promoted. He is a good soldier, he attends camp regularly, and he feels a grievance that his non-commissioned officer, who is very often better off than himself, should receive a separation allowance of which he is deprived. I very much hope the Government will adhere to their present intention of giving the old separation allowance only to those men who attend the whole fifteen days in camp. The right hon. Gentleman in his speech said very truly that at the present time the Territorial Force is approaching a very critical period. At the end of this month the time arrives when the terms of service of numbers of men who engaged four years ago will have expired. If the Territorial Army is to maintain its numbers and be a success it 116 is essential that these men should reengage. One is glad to see that there is some increase in the numbers of the men of the Territorial Army. These numbers are kept up with very great difficulty. The employment difficulty has been alluded to and it is a difficulty that really exists. As a rule, I think, the employers do their best to help, but we have very great difficulty in meeting managers of works, or of firms, or bailiffs, or worst of all, the head gardeners of private establishments. A man who belongs to the Territorial Forces, very often finds that although leave is given to attend drills and to attend camp yet when it comes to a question of promotion in his work, or particularly in the garden, he finds he is not the man who is selected, but when it is a question of reducing the staff he very often finds he is the man selected. That is a very real difficulty, and it is a very hard one to overcome. It is not a question of the employer or the master, but it is the difficulty with the foreman, the bailiff, and so on. The position at the present time does not strike me as altogether satisfactory, particularly when regard is paid to the attendance of the Territorial Force in camp. I notice from the figures that 44,989 men did not attend camp at all last year, and that is practically between one-seventh and one-eighth of the whole Force. When one considers that the only real training in the whole year a Territorial receives, and such a large percentage of the Force is absent, one realises what a drawback that must be on the efficiency of the whole Army. I regard as even more serious the shortage in the officers. Men can be replaced and can be trained to a certain degree of efficiency fairly quickly, but it takes a long time to train an officer thoroughly in his duties. When one sees that the Force is no less than 189 officers short, and that out of 9,381 no less than 1,336 officers did not attend camp, and 1,074 only attended for eight days, I think one needs to pause considerably in one's appreciation of the efficiency of the Force.
The right hon. Gentleman said that he hoped we would not belittle any portion of His Majesty's Army, whether Regular or Territorial. I think most of us on this side of the House, whatever our opinions may be, are always prepared and do our best to get recruits and endeavour to maintain the efficiency of the Territorial Army. Some remarks have been made with regard to the action of the National Service League, and from my own experience I 117 am able to repudiate the accusation, that that league limits the recruiting in this country. As a matter of fact, circumstances have come to my notice during the last few months which lead me to an opposite conclusion. A certain village which I know, which has so far been left out in the cold as regards recruiting for the Territorial Army, is six miles from the company headquarters, and it was proposed that that village should be taken into the area of that Company, and that a separate drill station should be established there. The War Office have a very good rule that for a separate detachment with a separate drill station there should be no less than twenty members in that detachment. It was represented to the War Office that if eight or nine men could lie sworn in on the first occasion when a visit was paid to that village they would be practically sure of getting the remainder, and so getting the twenty men, but unless one could swear in those eight or nine on the first visit one would not be able to get them, and then, one might not be able to get the detachment of twenty men. The War Office reduced their number to fifteen, and even then they would not allow any men to be sworn in until the whole fifteen men were forthcoming, although it is obvious that, had eight or nine been forthcoming, the balance of seven or eight would easily have been obtained. A committee was formed, and the march out was taken to that particular village. Certain preparations were made. The village band received the Company marching in. There was a supper arranged for those who joined the force. Something of that sort is always necessary if you want men to join the force. The result was that on the first visit no less than twenty-two nien were sworn in, and there have been ten more since. The point I wish to emphasise is that the committee who organised that affair and canvassed the whole village and secured the whole of those recruits were almost entirely composed of National Service men. Practically we had the position that the War Office were, by too great an adhesion to the principle of red tape, interfering with the getting of recruits, while the National Service League helped us to get them. I am afraid I have let the cat out of the bag by saying "us." This had to do with the Company which I have the honour of commanding myself.
I wish to say a word or two on the classification of horses by the adjutants of the Territorial Army. I do not mean only 118 adjutants of Yeomanry, who might possibly be well qualified to carry out this, work, but adjutants of Infantry regiments in the Army Service Corps. At present they give four days a week during the months of February and March to this work of classifying the horses. I contend that in a country regiment, if an adjutant of the Territorial Force is to do his work properly and efficiently, he has not time to give four days a week for two months in the year to the classification of horses. I think that interferes unduly with the ordinary duties of an adjutant of a regiment, and I cannot believe that the work in many cases is really efficiently carried out by adjutants of Infantry regiments. I am sure that in order to classify horses it requires a man of very considerable experience with regard to horses. I put a question, to the right hon. Gentleman as to whether he thought Infantry adjutants could satisfactorily discharge this duty on the 26th February, and his reply was:—It is considered that, with the aid of the memorandum recently issued on the type of horses suitable for Army remounts, the officers in question will perform those duties efficiently.I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman when the Memorandum was issued by the Board of Agriculture dealing with the types of horses suitable for Army remounts. I have a copy of it here, and a very interesting document it is. It contains ten pictures of different types of horses suitable for different branches of His Majesty's Service, and I can just imagine the adjutant of an Infantry regiment, having no particular knowledge of horses, going round looking at the horses, turning over these pages and trying to fit the horse to the picture, perhaps without any great efficiency or any satisfactory result. In these instructions the adjutant is informed as to the general conditions applicable to Army remounts, and here is an example:—Soundness.—Entire, unmanagaable or vicious horses, crib-biters, windsuckers, parrot-mouthed, or undershot horses, or horses with capped elbows, damaged knees, injured or deficient teeth are not admissible. …. Soundness in eyes, wind and limb, is essential; no animals with worn, upright or overshot joints, and none with curby hocks are passed.He is also informed that the horses he is to classify are to be horses that, in his opinion are, from general appearance and soundness, fit for active service oversea. I have some little knowledge of a horse, but I should be very sorry to undertake to efficiently carry out that work without very much more skilled knowledge than I possess or that I think the majority of 119 Infantry adjutants possess. I do not believe this work can be properly done, and if it is not properly done it is not worth doing, unless either the inspection is compulsory or the obligation to allow one's horse to be inspected is compulsory. There are cases where a man objects to having his horse inspected, and in that event the adjutant has no power to go and inspect the horse. We all know people do not always strictly speak the truth when they are talking about horses, and, if the adjutant were to turn to the owner and say, "I suppose that horse is sound in wind," we may be quite sure the owner would not say he is unsound. The only way in which the adjutant could ascertain whether he was sound or not would be to have a trial, which we may be quite sure the owner would not allow. I think these points are important. I cannot conceive that the work can be in many cases efficiently done merely by the aid of this memorandum. I am afraid if unhappily at any time we had to undertake mobilisation in this country the remount officer, when he took over the list that these different adjutants had left behind of the horses they had classified, would find that the whole work had to be done again, and that either the horses were unfit for classification at all or that they had been put into the wrong class. I cannot help feeling that the fault lies in our system of running our remount staff during peace time at too low a strength. Surely, if we are to carry out this work satisfactorily, and if we are to have a proper scheme of organisation, that organisation should take place during the time of peace. If the remount staff was manned to its proper strength, and if the organisation was properly carried on, it would not be necessary, the moment there is any suggestion of war, to add considerably to the staff, and to do the work in a hurry. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give his attention to this question, and consider the advisability of having a thoroughly manned remount staff, and having the work performed by competent and skilled officers.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Sir C. HUNTER
A very strong indictment has been made against the Government. We have heard of the shortness of officers and of the shortness of the Special Reserve of officers, and we have heard also of an inadequate rifle; but I think there is another shortage just as important. It would only come out in case of war, which 120 usually means a case of panic. There would be a considerable shortage in the number of staff officers available. I should like the Under-Secretary of State for War to tell the House where, in case a Territorial Division is mobilised for war, he would find staff officers to fulfil the duties that would be required of that division. Everybody knows that an ordinary regimental officer can be made out of the man of ordinary ability, but the position of a staff officer requires a man not merely of extraordinary ability, because very often when he has the ability he has not the aptitude which fits him for staff work. I questioned the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, I think in March last, as regards the number of staff officers available for an ordinary division of the Regulars in case of war, and the number of staff officers available for a Territorial Division on mobilisation, and his answer was a very peculiar one. He told me at that time that there were six officers on the personal staff in a division, and also thirteen staff officers in a Regular Division; and he went on to say that in the Territorial Division there were six staff officers available at the present moment, but that it was the intention of the Secretary of State for War to bring that six up to thirteen.
When I saw that statement I turned to the Army List to see who the staff officers were, and I found there is a second-grade officer with every Territorial Division. There is the deputy-assistant-adjutant and quartermaster-general; there are three Brigade majors, who ought not really to rank as staff officers, because they are really concerned with the detail work of the Brigade; and, besides that, there are the medical officer and the sanitary officer. I should very much like anybody to say whether either the medical officer or the sanitary officer is a proper staff officer. It is perfectly ridiculous to give answers like that and to expect people to be deceived by them. Certainly, nobody who has ever served in the Regular Army was deceived. An Army without a staff certainly marches to death and destruction, and the damnation which ought to come to those people who sent it to destruction is not often meted out in the proper quarters. History repeats itself in these cases, and to make my point clear I must go through a little military history. There are three comparatively recent cases where large bodies have been used in the field with untrained staff officers. There is first the great war 121 between North and South America; there not is, secondly, the Franco-German War, and there is, thirdly, our own Boer War. In the first case, undoubtedly the great success achieved by the small body of men from the south in the early days of the war was entirely due to the fact that all their officers had staff training. No doubt enormous losses were caused by men getting into positions where the staff officers led them, and being unable to get out. Everybody knows that great wars produce great geniuses. Nobody in this House will deny that Ashby and Stewart were great geniuses produced by a great war, but is there anybody who will say that these men, good as they were, would not have been better, and much better, if they had had a staff training? Another lesson to be learned from that war—they were all irregular, untrained men, very like our Territorial troops, with little or no staff—is this: the war lasted two and a-half years. In the Army of the North alone there were 39,320 officers dismissed for disgraceful conduct in the field; and 202,410 men deserted during the course of that war. I should like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that these were not men who were unwilling to fight, for this army sustained tremendous losses, losses just as heavy, if not heavier, than those sustained in the great Napoleonic battles.
I come now to the time of the Franco-German war in 1870. Perhaps I should more accurately say in January, 1871, when General Bourbaki was entrusted with the duty of relieving Belfort, and cutting through the German communications with an army which was really a body of untrained men. In a certain measure it consisted of trained men—men who had been broken up in the early battles of the war and scattered themselves over France, but were reunited in order to form a great army. It was estimated by the staff it would take seven days to form an army of 320,000 men. It actually took fifteen days. The army was formed without food, or shelter, or clothes; the weather was extraordinarily cold, and the men died by hundreds and thousands. When it came to fighting they fought heroically, as I believe our untrained men and unstaffed men would, but, at the same time, what was the result of that fighting? I am only quoting from the French official dispatches. At one period Bourbaki, for a very short time, and with only 32,000 men opposed to him, was within four miles of Belfort, but 122 not a single staff officer in his whole army was aware of the fact. If anybody reads the German official account, they will find General Von Werder, when only 32,000 men was in front of him, and the messages sent to him were to the effect "You have only so and so in front of you." Does anybody imagine, in case our Territorials, with an inefficient staff, had to go to war against highly-trained staff officers, the word "only" would have been used?
The third and last case is that of our war with South Africa. It is a well-known fact—I do not think anybody will deny it—that when Lord Roberts captured Pretoria the Boers were perfectly willing to enter into peace negotiations. But what happened at that moment? There were two disasters at Roodeval and Rhenoster Spruit, and from that moment the Boers became encouraged and the war continued a considerable time afterwards. Why did those disasters occur? Because you had entirely untrained troops sent to the front without any staff officers at all in charge. We were not the only people to suffer in that way. The Boers suffered just as much as we did during the war. General Botha was unable to keep his men together around Ladysmith, and they were always deserting, as they were in the case of the Armies of the North. Wherever you look at history, I do not care how far back you go, you find that an untrained army of men with untrained staff officers is always in danger of destruction. I hope and trust that before this Debate closes the right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary for War will be able to tell us that some steps are being taken to put our Territorial Army in such a condition as regards staff officers as that if it ever should have to take the field, it will not only do so on a basis of equality, but that, at all events, it will have some chance of success thereon.
§ Mr. SANDYS
I should like to make one or two remarks with reference to that portion of the right hon. Gentleman's speech which he devoted to the subject of military aviation. I am obliged to use that term, although I know it is objectionable to the right hon. Gentleman, but I cannot think of any better one to describe it. I was very glad to know that under the present Estimates we are going to have much more generous provision for this important branch of military science than last year. The Government have now at least abandoned what I may call the Micawberlike attitude of waiting for something to 123 turn up, and have decided to do something for themselves. I think the right hon. Gentleman is not devoting too much time to this question of military aviation. Our Army is a small one, and, because our Army is so small, it is all the more necessary that these technical branches should "be the more highly developed. Especially so is this the case when we remember that, in time of war, our small Army has to be enlarged by improvised troops. In case of serious war I am inclined to think this is a very undesirable policy, but, as it is admittedly the policy of the Government at the present time, I suppose we shall have to do the best we can, and under these circumstances it is quite evident, so far as the technical branches of our Army are concerned, we must make provision, not merely for our Regular Army as it exists, but for that additional Army coming from somewhere or other if we are involved in serious military operations.
I am glad the right hon. Gentleman and the Government have appreciated the importance of this development of the science of military aviation. A great deal of attention was attracted to the French manœuvres last year. I will not deal with that point now, except to say it was evident, as a result of those manœuvres, that an army which went into the field unprovided or inadequately provided with efficiently trained officers and the best class of machines for the purpose of gathering information, was courting risk and almost certain disaster. As one result of those manœuvres, the French Government, which voted £750,000 for aviation last year, on the 13th February last decided to allocate another £1,000,000 for similar purposes this year. I only mention those figures because of the comparison I wish to draw later on with the sum asked for by the right hon. Gentleman. So far as the scheme of organisation which the right hon. Gentleman outlined in his speech this evening is concerned, I will only say it seems to me an admirably thought-out scheme, and one which certainly is going to get an aviation service for our Army and Navy far and away beyond what we had reason to anticipate a year or two ago. There are one or two points the right hon. Gentleman did not make clear. I would like to know whether this new flying Corps is to be an entirely separate organisation, or will it be to a certain extent under the Royal Engineers?
§ Mr. SANDYS
I am very glad to hear that. I think it will give us a much better organisation than could have been secured under the old system, which was largely under the management of the Royal Engineers. I understand that in this new organisation soldiers, sailors, and civilians are to take part, and it is very satisfactory to have the statement by the right hon. Gentleman that all those officers who hold executive positions are to be themselves qualified flying men. I also understand that after to-day the Air Battalion ceases to exist. That is not a very great loss, because although the right hon. Gentleman was unwilling to give me the particulars for which I asked the other day, the Air Battalion, I believe, only consisted of five officers, twenty-five, non-commissioned officers and men, and five modern machines suitable for Army purposes. I think, although I agree with him in the high opinion expressed of these five officers and these men who have been able to play such an important part in the development of our Army aviation, it was not a very big contribution towards the somewhat ambitious scheme which he has outlined. As I understand, the right hon. Gentleman was not yet in a position, I hope he will soon be, to settle the question of the pay of aviation officers. I am glad that the Government have adopted the scheme which has been carried on for some time in France—at least, I understand that that is the opinion of the Government, that officers irrespective of rank should be paid a fixed additional sum in recognition of the dangerous service which they are undertaking in joining the aviation branch. I am sorry the question of pay is not yet definitely settled. I hope when it is settled it will be upon an adequate basis with full recognition of the hazardous service which these officers are engaged in.
As I understand from the right hon. Gentleman, during the course of the year sixty officers, during three terms of four months each, will pass through the school—that is, 180 officers in the course of each year—and after this course they will go to the military or the naval wing, or else to the Reserve; but he did not make it quite clear whether the military or naval officers are to go to the Reserve or whether the Reserve is entirely for the civilian portion. Perhaps he will make that clear in the course of the Debate. I should like 125 to make one more remark with reference to the military wing, which he told us was to consist of seven air squadrons, each of twelve machines, eighty-four machines in all. He also referred to an eighth squadron of balloons, kites, and dirigibles, and referred in particular to two dirigibles which he considered were available at the present moment. I should like to have some further particulars as to our position with regard to dirigibles. I think the whole situation wants clearing up. We want information with respect to the Clement-Bayard and the Lebaudy, and also with reference to the Beta and Gamma, which are only, I think, for purposes of instruction, and not for actual military work, and we have also been a good deal exercised with regard to the Delta, upon which, I understand, a considerable amount of money has been expended. Will the right hon. Gentleman, in the course of his reply, give us some information with regard to dirigibles? I am sure it will be of great value. With reference to the naval wing, he told us it was to be situated at Eastchurch, where some naval aviation has already taken place, and I should like him to give some indication as to where the military wing is likely to be stationed, and as I gather that the sum of £15,000 is allocated in this Estimate for the purpose of constructing a dirigible shed, I conclude that dirigible shed will lie constructed upon the place where the military wing is actually to be situated, and I hope that there will be some definite plan in regard to it. There are two other points. The Air Craft Factory expenditure has gone up from £85,000 to £161,000. The right hon. Gentleman indicated that this factory was to be for experiment and construction of experimental machines, and sometimes for building. I hope he will stick to that word "sometimes." There was built in that factory a new aeroplane about which there was some discussion some months ago, and which has turned out a complete success; but I hope he will not adopt the policy of having machines built only in this factory, but that he will follow the sounder policy which has been adopted in France of giving some encouragement to manufacturers who are building these machines, so that we may have a large number of independent factories available for the production of these aeroplanes at a time of national crisis and danger.
Another point I would like to have cleared up was referred to by the right 126 hon. Gentleman when he said we should want 131 aeroplanes and 167 officers; I am including the thirty-four naval officers to whom he referred. Looking at that from the financial standpoint of view, I find that, last year we had a sum of £131,000 allocated to aviation. That gave us in the most flourishing period of the Air Battalion, six efficient machines, and six officers engaged in aviation in that Battalion. For these six machines and six officers an expenditure of £131,000 was required, and for 131 aeroplanes and 167 officers it is suggested that a sum of £320,000 will be sufficient. I think the finance of that requires a little examination, especially as the right hon. Gentleman indicates that considerable sums are going to be allocated for rent of sheds and landing places, which are very desirable, I agree, in different parts of the country; and also that out of that £320,000 no less than £90,000 is going to be spent upon the purchase of this property, the extent of which the right hon. Gentleman is not yet in a position to tell us. If this £90,000 is to be expended on land, and £38,000 on buildings, we have really to deduct from that £320,000 a sum of no less than £128,000 for what are really capital charges, and then the right hon. Gentleman suggests we shall still be able to get 131 aeroplanes and 167 officers. One other point is with regard to the mechanics. The right hon. Gentleman did say something about the mechanics and the necessity of getting a larger number of highly trained mechanics for this particular service. I hope he will do so, and I do not think he will have so much difficulty as some people expect may be the case, becaiise you can get a reasonable number of skilled men for this work. At the present time I believe there are only twenty-one men available as mechanicswho are all members of the Royal Engineers. It is not quite evident how many more will be required, and it may be difficult to get them in a hurry. I hope that suitable men will be able to apply direct, not only from the Royal Engineers, but from any other regiment. I would suggest that suitable mechanics who are at present in other regiments should be given an opportunity of transferring into the Air Corps. In fact, volunteers might be got from all round. But it is absolutely essential that these men should receive an adequate rate of pay. At present some of the men who are doing this arduous work, which entails getting up at all hours of the morning, and is of a very responsible character, because the lives of these aviators depend 127 on the efficiency with which these mechanics do their work, are only being paid at the same rate as men who are engaged in digging trenches. That is an unsatisfactory state of affairs and I hope the right hon. Gentleman in his new scheme will provide for proper pay for these men who occupy a very responsible position indeed and upon whose integrity the safely of men's lives depend. I am glad to hear that it is going to be the policy of the Government to encourage cross country flights far more than has been the case in the past. I understand the right hon. Gentleman is going to expend a considerable sum of money immediately on the purchase of further aeroplanes. I hope he will do this in time so that we may have a proper aviation service, or at any rate a certain aviation service, ready for the manœuvres next summer, because it is highly desirable that our officers should become accustomed as soon as possible to the new conditions which prevail.
With reference to the purchase of this ground, for which the very large sum of £90,000 is being allocated, that is to say between a third and a fourth of the whole sum which is put down for aviation, the property is either land of a very valuable character indeed or else is of very considerable extent. I am told it is about 12,000 acres. That seems to me a very large property indeed for the purpose for which it is supposed to be required. I believe it is situated in the neighbourhood of Upper Avan village, and I have been told it is really not altogether an ideal place for this particular purpose on account of the unevenness of the ground, which consists largely of spurs and ridges, and is really in some respect most undesirable for this purpose. But I do not think such a very large property is desired. I am told that about 1,500 acres is all that is wanted for aviation purposes and, at any rate, I shall be glad of an assurance that this property is entirely for aviation purposes and is not going to be used as a camping ground, for instance. The right hon. Gentleman has outlined to us what, I think, is a very satisfactory, but, we must admit, a very ambitious scheme in view of the actual sum which he has allocated to himself for carrying it into effect. We must congratulate him on having recognised the importance of the development of military science and on having recognised the fact that we are behindhand, and that we have to make up for lost time. When I consider his scheme, 128 without having seen it actually in print, I am inclined to think that additional money will be required in order to carry it into effect, but if it is required I am certain the right hon. Gentleman will have every support from Members on this side of the House, because I know we are determined, as I think the right hon. Gentleman himself is determined, that we shall have an aviation service which shall be adequate for the needs of our Army and for the safety of the nation generally.
MARQUESS Of TULLIBARDINE
I should like to congratulate, the Undersecretary on the success of his endeavours so far as aviation is concerned, and also on keeping the Debate out of politics so-far as it was possible for him to do so. So long as he takes that line and does his best to keep the Army up to the mark he will certainly find no better friend, talking from the Army point of view, on either side of the House than myself. The question of armaments has loomed rather largely in the Debate, and it is one in which I have been interested for some considerable time. It is a question also on which I think he wished to meet our Leader on the floor of the House, which he has done to admiration to-day. I am not at all certain that the floor that the right hon. Gentleman was speaking about when he issued that challenge, quite unsupported by any other word, was not probably that of the War Office, where he might get some of that expert advice about which he has been so unkind as to say that only the more intelligent people at the War Office agree with him. The right hon. Gentleman anyhow has come here armed with a bundle of statistics and figures with regard to the bullet, and, from my own point of view, they are not as pointed as perhaps the bullet itself. I should like to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman can tell me how the extraordinary inconsistencies have occurred which have been made by his distinguished chief in another place on various occasions. I think he will see the extraordinarily vacillating policy which the Government has pursued with regard, first of all, to the new bullet and afterwards with regard to this present rifle and the future rifle. I think we have some reason to complain either that the Secretary of State for War has not been giving us the full facts of the case or else that he has changed his mind on several occasions, and has really no policy of any sort at all. On 28th February, 1910, in reply 129 to the hon. Member (Mr. Wedgwood), he stated with regard to the new bullet:—Experiments have been so far successful, and an extended trial will shortly be made by troops, and ammunition is now being manufactured.That means they have had several technical experiments, and it has been served out to the troops obviously more to try the rifle than the bullet, because technical experiments had already been made which untrained troops who are not experts would probably not be able to appreciate. In 7th March of the same year he said:—As the result of four years' work we have produced ii new bullet which very satisfactorily responds to the tests we have made, and weighs 160-grains …. We are going to proceed experimentally by arming a certain number of companies, and making a test on a large scale.Here, again, we have the right hon. Gentleman repeating it, and calling it the 160-grain bullet. Then he went on 15th March to say:—What we have done promises to fill the gap very satisfactorily.And he spoke very highly of this 160-grain bullet, and told us of the various tests which had been made. Perhaps he can tell me what company carried out these tests prior to March. Then on 14th June, 1910, in answer to me, he began to hedge rather, because he said:—The trials are still progressing. I do not want to jump to conclusions.So that he was not quite so certain as he had been when he told us what a magnificent bullet this 160-grain bullet was. Then again, to another Member, on 18th July, he said:—The manufacture of the new cartridge is proceeding, deliveries are being made, and extensive trials are in progress.I presume that was with the 160-grain bullet, because on 19th July curiously enough an hon. Member on this side applied for a heavier bullet—a 175-grain bullet. He was laughed at, and told there was no idea at all of having a heavier bullet. Lord Haldane said, two days afterwards, that no trials are being, or have been, made with the 175-grain bullet. It is a curious fact that if there was no intention to touch the 175-grain bullet he, during August, should have sent to some people in the country, not only the 160, but also a 174-grain bullet, and rather recommended the heavier of the two. It was rather curious that, although he told us that no trials had been made, they should have been manufactured and that they were in store a fortnight later. On 28th February, 1911, he said that the experiments with the new bullet, were satisfactory, but that no issues would foe made until a sufficient stock was accu- 130 mulated. In March he confessed that the 174-grain bullet was the one which had been chosen, and so we are entitled to say that all the extensive tests with the 160-grain bullet represented almost a waste of money. The effect of the whole thing is that the tests could not have been satisfactory. Otherwise why not adopt it?
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
Exactly, the other one was better, and the tests Lord Haldane said were satisfactory were not so. I come to another point, and this is rather a serious question to which I wish to draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention, because it is one on which he challenged me a few months ago—namely, the situation of this country during July last. At that time I refrained, for reasons which he will appreciate, from asking any questions about this matter. I did not ask any questions until 11th December, and then I asked the Under-Secretary of State for War:—Whether on the 1st July last the stock of reserve small-arm ammunition of the present pattern, and not more than five years old, was depleted or up to the full quantity usually stored; and whether there was a large or small quantity of the new pointed ammunition in store at that time?The Under-Secretary replied:—It is not in the public interest that any details of stocks of reserve of small-arm ammunition should be disclosed. It may, however, be stated that during this year prior to 1st July the new pointed ammunition was manufactured in lieu of the old pattern, so as to obtain a sufficient stock to allow of a rearmament at an early date, and the stock of the old pattern was in consequence gradually reduced, though always remaining at an adequate figure.I then asked:—Can the right hon. gentleman give me any reply as to the old pattern ammunition? I may take it that it was easy to say it was satisfactory if it was actually satisfactory With regard to the pointed bullet, what was the object of having a large stock if you had not rifles to fire them?The right hon. Gentleman replied:—With regard to the first part of the question as to whether the ammunition was satisfactory, I have said that it is not in the public interest that details should be issued I may say at once, if the Noble Lord is anxious, that on the date named there was more than twice as many cartridges in this country alone as were fired during the whole of the South African War, a period of two years and three-quarters. With regard to the pointed bullet, there is always inconvenience in a transition period, but we endeavoured to see that no risk was run during that period."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th December, 1911, col. 1895.]Surely it would have been in the interest of the Service to say that it was satisfactory, and his answer could only have meant that it was not satisfactory. Really when you summarise these questions it comes to this that in July, at a time of national crisis, the stocks of ammunition, were reduced. That is admitted.
§ Colonel SEELY
No. It would be very inconvenient to discuss the stock of ammunition at any date, but the moment any statement of that kind is made it is desirable to put it right. The total stock of ammunition is not reduced.
MARQUESS Of TULLIBARDINE
Then what did the right hon. Gentleman mean by saying that the stock of ammunition for the old rifle was gradually reduced? I am talking of the ammunition that fitted the rifle. A large proportion was pointed ammunition, which did not suit the rifle with which the soldiers were armed. The right hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that if it did suit the rifle it would be perfectly unnecessary to alter the whole of the sights. I will put it to the right hon. Gentleman in another way. Does he mean to say that a proportion of it was not ammunition that had been cast during the South African war? I think he will find on inquiry that some of it was, and also that it was not sufficiently good for the soldiers to shoot with in this country. Many of the Territorials also refused to have it. May I also ask if he did not withdraw some stocks of ammunition from Malta. That is really the situation we had at that time, and I do not think it was a healthy situation. I do not think it was one creditable to His Majesty's Government.
I will leave the ammunition for a little, and go on to deal with the rifle. Here again you find exactly the same extraordinary process—the same vacillating policy right through. Before I deal with that I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman with reference to another point. A statement was made the other day by the Secretary of State for War in another place that Noble Lords need not be the least bit afraid, because the old ammunition was still of considerable use to us because we could always fire it out of the new rifle and it would be useful up to 500 yards.
§ Colonel SEELY
If the Noble Lord will refer to what the Secretary of State for War said he will find that it was never intended, nor is it the least likely, that it would be any good except with a suitable rifle. He was very rightly pointing out that a scare had been got up by certain newspapers. There is no intention what- 132 ever that it should be fired out of rifles not properly sighted.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
I can only go by the statement of the Secretary of State. He said that "it was not uninteresting to know that in the re-sighted rifles the old ammunition—he was not going to suggest that it was going to be done—in an emergency would work up to 500 yards." I think the right hon. Gentleman will find that if it comes, to that it will be better to trust to bayonets than wait until the enemy comes to within 500 yards. There have been a great many changes in the rifle going on. The first small bore rifle, when it was introduced in 1888, was a very good rifle, and perfectly well up to the requirement. I myself saw it the first time it was used in action, and there were no complaints against its powers. Since then, in 1903, the same rifle was converted into a short rifle. I think the chief reason was that we found that the carbine in South Africa did not suit the mounted troops, and was not as good as the weapon brought against us. So then we had the short rifle with which the troops are armed at present. At that time—I still think that the right hon. Gentleman will bear me out—that rifle was, to all intents and purposes, as good as any other military rifle in the world.
MARQUESS Of TULLIBARDINE
In that case does he mean to say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer thinks that the Army is going to stand still for twenty years. It is only since 1903 that the great improvements in the bullet came in. In 1903 Germany introduced the Spitzer bullet secretly, and she sprang it on the world in 1905. So I do not think you could really blame the War Office at that time for not, when they converted the rifle, thinking of making it a magazine, because they had no idea of the new inventions that were likely to come on. But I do think that once it was known that this bullet did exist something ought to have been done to try to come up with the times. Lord Haldane stated last year that he had been making experiments for four years. They ought to have been making experiments from the end of 1905. We all said at that time, "No doubt the acme of a good military weapon will be the automatic, but that is a long way off." It would have been wiser if now he had introduced a better magazine rifle than the present one, one that would take the 133 pointed bullet. I do not think there would have been any great difficulty in finding such a rifle. The difficulty is not to find a rifle to shoot well with small bores; the difficulty is in getting an automatic rifle. It is a waste of money, if you are not going to get an automatic rifle, not to have gone in for a magazine rifle and introduced that instead of going to all this expense of converting the present rifle. If that had been done there would have been a new magazine rifle probably ready by now for the whole of the troops instead of putting off the question, whether in the hopes that we should have to do it or for motives of economy I do not know; but it would have been wiser to have adopted that policy.
I must say, however, that I am a bit mixed up myself as to what has been done, but there are some extremely clever Liberals opposite, and no doubt they can explain to me what Lord Haldane meant when he made some of these statements. On 9th March Lord Haldane, in introducing the new bullet, said:—I do not doubt that when Germany and France have got a new automutic rifle they will get better results, but we shall try to get a better automatic rifle.Then an hon. Member on this side suggested that we should get another magazine rifle. He said it would be easier to get, and would not be so very expensive, and that we should have to wait for the automatic, and what was the reply? The Secretary of State for War said:—I venture to say that it would be the height of folly to take the advice given me.The same day he went on to say this:—One thing that struck me in this Debate is the concensus of opinion against an automatic rifle. Ah automatic rifle! What a retrograde thing! This attitude is something quite new. I can only remind the Committee that there is not a General Staff in Europe or anywhere which has not set before it this problem of an automatic rifle, and which is not working at it at this present time, and as far as one can judge all the Powers seem to be on the verge of discovering an automatic rifle, and I do think it would be a very serious responsibility for any Minister to take, even on the request of this Committee, if he were to abandon the prospect of securing for the country an automatic rifle by turning his money to something else, because abandonment it would be.On 14th March, 1911, he turned round and told us "the rifle you are going to get is a magazine, and not an automatic." A magazine, which he described a short time before as the height of folly. He now confesses that he is an abandoned Minister. Even now he is talking about the best rifle in the world. That statement is only a little bit of window-dressing, because he knows perfectly well that we have not got the best rifle yet, that it is really all in embryo or in the right hon. Gentleman's brain.
§ Colonel SEELY
It is in the War Office. If the Noble Lord will come to the War Office to-morrow, at half-past ten, he can see it and take it to the range and look at it.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
I want to know is it the rifle which the right hon. Gentleman is going to introduce? Why not introduce it if it is the best in the world?
§ Colonel SEELY
I do not wish to interrupt the Noble Lord, but in the matter of the automatic rifle it is, of course, a very difficult thing to discover one which is satisfactory. Two years ago we were told that every other country was going to find one, and we now have a magnificent rifle, which the Noble Lord can see, and if nothing better comes along we are going to manufacture it.
MARQUESS Of TULLIBARDINE
In view of the whole of the facts, I would observe that the advice generally given on this side of the House was not the height of folly: it was wise advice, and it has turned out to be wise. We do not bring these matters before the right hon. Gentleman in order to make any difficulty in his work; we want him to get the best rifle in the world. If he does introduce this magazine rifle it, of course, cannot be obtained until after three years. It is not now on the Estimates, and it is, as the right hon. Gentleman said in reply to the Albert Hall Speech, always a useful reply for the moment, and does not really stand criticism. We really want to help the right hon. Gentleman whenever we can, and I would suggest to him to be very careful that the rifle is of the calibre which would suit an automatic rifle afterwards, in order that we may not have this unfortunate chopping and changing of ammunition. In regard to the question of officers, the right hon. Gentleman may make as many "Sandhursts" as they like, but until the Government—it is not his fault, nor is it the fault of the Chancellor of the Exchequer—and both sides of the House, are prepared to pay British officers the ordinary standard rate of wage they need not expect them to flock to the Colours in any great numbers. They are the only class in this country since the time of Waterloo whose pay has remained exactly at the same rate it was then. If you want to meet competition in other directions you must pay the market rate of wages. Probably it would not be very high in the case of 135 the younger officers, but there should be an endeavour to meet the case of those of the rank of captain and senior lieutenants.
As to the Cavalry, I have not really thought the question out, but I was very touch struck by an article I saw in the paper the other day by that somewhat abused individual at the present moment, the correspondent of the "Times," in regard to the Cavalry Division. I think it is a matter that the War Office might well look into. There is a great deal to be said for altering the somewhat unwieldy division that there is at the present moment, and without much expense being incurred we might possibly create two divisions out of the one. I do not say that I agree with all the points that appeared in the article by the "Times" correspondent. Then there is the question of horse registration. Why should there be all this trouble and expense before getting people to register their horses? I strongly suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that it is really a good thing to put under compulsion. People like myself have to register the motor car, the gun, and the dog, and have to pay for them, and I certainly should be very proud indeed to register my horses for the national service. As to the Special Reserve, I get rather muddled about them and the Territorials when I try to compare the "states." This year's statement is different from that of last year. Last year it was said that we were 15,222 short, and a panacea was found, the excuse being that last year the numbers were short because they had lowered the age for soldiers. This year the excuse is that you have raised the age. I think it would have been fairer to the Committee to have submitted it in the way it was put last year, and not as it has been placed before us this year. Last year the result was described by saying we were 1,800 less. It would, I think, have probably been more instructive to the Committee to say that the shortage was 17,022 according to figures given last year—the real shortage according to figures given this year being over 28,000. Arguing on the figures of last year, instead of being 1,800 short this year, we are 17,022 short. In regard to the officers, there are seventy more than last year, but would it not have been still better to say that we are 760 short?
The right hon. Gentleman talked about active emigration and good labour 136 markets. I am not one who is good at conundrums, but I should have thought that one did not take place when we have got the other. Coming to the Territorials, exactly the same process has come on. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about the numbers in the Territorial Force, and, as regards the officers, I think they are thoroughly unsatisfactory. The officers are splendid men and are doing their best under difficulties, working very well, but their numbers are thoroughly unsatisfactory, being 304 less than last year. But if it is worked out in another way, the deficiency is that out of 11,249, instead of being 304 short of last year, why not have put it that we are 1,864 short? That would make people realise the trouble and difficulties we are in. Then it was not mentioned that out of 11,218 only 8,009 attended camp. It makes it very much worse when we find that the deficiency of the men is 42,947. I should not mind that deficiency personally, because I would far rather have a smaller number well trained and properly trained, and probably the right hon. Gentleman and I agree there. The attendances at camp were slightly better last year; 75,821 only attended for half the time, but I will give the right hon. Gentleman the benefit of the doubt, and call them fully qualified as far as drill is concerned. Then out of 224,103, actually 34,888 of the men did not attend camp last year. That is far too great a proportion. So, for any practical purpose, those men must be deducted. That leaves us 224,103. I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that the only effective soldier is the soldier who knows how to use his weapon. Of those 224,103 only 142,435 qualified for musketry. There is still another deduction. There are 19,481 who are marked down for Imperial service. Those will probably go abroad so that you cannot, have them for garrison in this country. Thus you have only 123,954 out of the whole of the Territorials efficient for garrisoning in this country against a raid of 70,000 men, and that total would be scattered from John o'Groats to Land's End. Out of the 259,000 there are 116,000 utterly inefficient, and if they are not efficient, what is the good of their training at all. Speaking of the Territorial Reserves, the right hon. Gentleman said that he looks forward next year to the Territorial Reserve being increased. Is that a matter of congratulation for the right hon. Gentleman when he cannot get recruits into the ranks. He knows that the Territorial Reserves is not 137 full because if they go to the Reserve we cannot get recruits for the ranks.
I would like to ask one or two questions of the right hon. Gentleman. What is the Territorial Force meant for? It is obviously intended for the defence of these shores. No one, I think, will quarrel with that. Who is it going to fight? Is it going to fight civilised or uncivilised troops? It is not likely to be going to fight niggers, and it would probably have to fight the best picked troops of the Continent. Is there any chance of a raid? A great many of us think not, but some experts say that under certain conditions we might have a raid of 70,000. The question then comes to this, are 259,000, of whom 116,000 are inefficient, and who are scattered from one end of Great Britain to the other, likely to be able to encounter such a raid with success. The right hon. Gentleman, of course, must adopt the answer of his chief, that it will be all right in six months after they had had six months' training. Does the right hon. Gentleman not recognise that first of all during that six months the whole of the people of this country will get nervous and they will anchor the Fleet round the island instead of letting it go away on its other duties, or else you would have to keep a great part of the expeditionary force. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman thinks you cannot have a raid until the Navy has been disposed of—that is to say, at the end of six months—and that by that time something may have happened. May I put this proposition to him. I am no scaremonger, and I am going to give a fictitious instance which may be founded a little more on fact than some people imagine. Suppose our Fleet was only about five ships mobilised ready for service at Cromarty, and that the rest was at Portland and Berehaven, and suppose the whole of the rest of the coast undefended, and that the ships there had nucleus crews and were demobilised, then I do not think he would call that a very happy position from a soldier's point of view.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
The two go together, and that is the thing I am trying to point out. You also talk about 138 an expedition, but if that is the situation of your Navy you would not be able to spare an expeditionary force. I will try to take a fictitious fleet of the enemy. We are always talking about the German fleet, but I will not. Suppose we had a fleet of twenty-two ships of an enemy at Bergen, does he think there would be no chance of the possibility of a raid? If there were, I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman does he not think that that raid would cause a great deal more trouble than if we were to work together and try and put our Territorial Force firm on its legs? It is no good trying to hide our head in the sand and say that our Territorial Force is fit to cope, and armed as they are at present, with foreign countries. In any case if there had been war there would have been a tremendous mix up, and even now you would have three rifles and two ammunitions and the very great danger of mixing them, and the promise of a fourth rifle and a third cartridge to complete this mixed armament. I think we ought to say frankly that if any party or any Member does not think the training of the Territorial Force, and the method of recruiting is satisfactory, that something ought to be done, and that the two sides ought to work together to try and work a solution, and take the Army and the whole question clean out of party politics, because, as the Secretary of State said the other day, the party that goes away from the voluntary system is bound to be condemned, and that means as big a handicap for hon. Gentlemen opposite as for this side.
§ Mr. HAMAR GREENWOOD
I follow the Noble Lord in his very proper condemnation of the War Office in reference to the shortage of horses, and also in reference to the parsimonious treatment of the junior regimental officers, but I am bound to say that I think the Noble Lord rather spoiled a very good speech by taking up more time than he should on a Debate of this kind when there are at least a dozen Members who wish to speak before eleven o'clock. [An HON. MEMBER: "We have three days for it."] I rise especially to deal with the charges made by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition in a recent speech, which charges he has attempted to justify here in the House to-night. In my opinion most of the Estimates, and they are most important, are rather overshadowed by the fact of those charges made by the right hon. Gentleman out of the House 139 and justified in much milder language inside the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition in that speech said:—Our Regular Forces are armed with weapons, but it is still truer of the Auxiliary Forces, which are utterly inferior to those of the armies of other nations.He says when he used the word "weapons" in the reported speech in the House as his explanation, and I accept it, of course, that he had in his mind rifles only, although I am bound to say he must have had in his mind all those armaments that go to make up the weapons of an army. In reference to that speech I do not apologise for quoting from the very well-informed and experienced military correspondent of the "Times." If there is a Member of this House with more military experience than that gallant gentleman, I hope that he will give of his experience to the House. The military correspondent of the "Times" says:—Never at any modern period of our history were we more formidable as a military power than we are today. We have the first Army led by soldiers the country has ever possessed since the middle ages, and we have every reason to he proud of it.[An HON. MEMBER: "He is employed at the War Office."] It may be that this distinguished soldier is also employed in an editorial capacity at the War Office. But is it to be maintained that because a soldier is in the War Office he is therefore to be reckoned as of no account, to be condemned and insulted by Members in the House and other gentlemen out of it, who have nothing like the great experience of this military correspondent, or that of any of the great soldiers in the War Office? I prefer the opinion of the military correspondent of the "Times" to the military opinion of the Leader of the Opposition. Moreover the opinion of the military correspondent of the "Times" is borne out by the "Army and Navy Gazette," which has nothing to do with the War Office.
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
Not as far as I am aware. The Leader of the Opposition says that the word "weapons" in his Albert Hall speech referred only to rifles, but in ths House he could not forbear criticising the Artillery. I noticed, however, that the Noble Lord the Member for Maidstone (Viscount Castlereagh), who is himself a soldier, refrained from criticising the Artillery and accepted the state- 140 ment of the right hon. gallant, and, I believe, learned Gentleman the Under-Secretary of State for War. I have yet to hear from any soldier on the other side of the House any criticism tending to show the utter inferiority of the Artillery of the Army. I will sit here from day to day through the Debate to see if any well-known soldier on the other side—and there are many of them there—will get up and condemn the War Office for the inferiority of its Artillery equipment. The Leader of the Opposition also quoted from a speech, which I do not remember, in which Lord Roberts is stated to have said that owing to bad fusing the Artillery was not automatic. I do not understand what either Lord Roberts or the Leader of the Opposition meant by automatic Artillery. Those were the words the Leader of the Opposition used. [Several HON. MEMBERS: "The fusing."] He said automatic Artillery. That is the whole point. It shows the difficulty of even an able man like the Leader of the Opposition, who knows nothing about rifles and armaments, trying to get up his case from a brief. [An HON. MEMBER: "What are you doing"] I have had more experience than the hon. Member, and I claim to speak as I feel from such experience as I have had, I trust with becoming modesty; if not with modesty, that is my calamity.
With reference to the rifle, I submit that, the Leader of the Opposition, like many other men, has gone wrong by emphasising the importance of the trajectory and leaving out of consideration of the essentials quite as important in the making and the using of a rifle. The right hon. Gentleman gave us a description of a possible battlefield which I thought ludicrous. His view was this: If you take the British rifle at 800 yards range it has a trajectory of 13ft.; the German rifle at the same distance has a trajectory of 6ft. Therefore, says the right hon. Gentleman, it is plain to anybody that the German rifle would be able—this is the effect of his words—to mow down the British soldier before he was able to shoot at his German opponent. I submit that such a description of the use of the rifle in modern war will not, and cannot be made by anybody in this House or out of it who has ever taken any serious interest in the study of modern armaments or modern war. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition presupposes a battlefield which is as flat as a prairie or a billiard table; he presupposes that armies march to meet each other in the mass; he presupposes that the foreign 141 soldier "will get the maximum out of his rifle." These are three things that, I submit, cannot be presupposed in calculating the effect of any Army rifle, be it German or British. The right hon. Gentleman made fun of one of Lord Haldane's expressions about "aiming low," which again shows that the Leader of the Opposition has not studied the matter seriously. Of course soldiers aim low. It is one of the essential maxims of fire practice for the rifle that the soldier must keep his aim low.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to butts and targets. Lord Haldane made no such reference. There are no such instructions to any soldier to aim low here as he suggested. A target is a fixed thing. Certainly, unless the School of Musketry at Hythe or anywhere else is teaching the wrong doctrine the soldier must be instructed to keep his aim low. The Leader of the Opposition leaves out of his description of the modern battle British courage. He leaves out of account generalship. He leaves out of account the ground on which these troops are manœuvring for position. He leaves out of account all the preliminary practice by the Artillery. He leaves out of account a consideration of those excellencies of the rifle, like reliability, rapidity of fire, accuracy, and so on, that, although not more important in turn than the trajectory, combined, certainly tend to make the English rifle, even the rifle with which the Army is armed to-day, superior to the German rifle with its flatter trajectory. I submit that the description of the Leader of the Opposition as to what he considers will be a battle in the next war with Continental troops shows first that he cannot and does not know anything about fire practice on a modem battlefield, and does not know anything about the work of the modern rifle. His description of the field shows next that his idea of a battle is the idea that we all of us have or had from reading a description of the battle of Waterloo. His idea of a battlefield does not take into account scientific soldiery Further, his condemnation of the weapon with which our troops are armed is to my mind a condemnation that he has not substantiated in this House. I think his speech at the Albert Hall is a most unworthy utterance of one of the distinguished leaders of Parliament.
Mr. MARK SYKES
I should like to draw attention rather in detail to what I cannot but describe as the deplorable 142 condition at the present moment of the Territorial Force. I want to keep as close to that point as I can. I hope the Under-Secretary for War will realise that from the very inception of this scheme I in my small way and in my private capacity tried to make the scheme go locally as well as I could. I say with the greatest regret to-night what I feel absolutely obliged to say, because the Territorial Force gives me my chief amusement and pleasure in the summer months. I do not say the Force at the present moment does not contain germs that could be made a reality, but I cannot say that since its inception the Government has done anything to make it a reality. I consider as the Force stands at the present moment it is more of a danger and a peril to the public than anything else, because it gives a sense of false security. I hope it will not be considered I am wasting time in saying that I am not a member of the National Service League, and I have no hopes from compulsory service. My reason is perhaps not the ordinary reason; it is this. That on the Continent of Europe they have a large number of men pressed into service unwillingly, and to make unwilling men into presentable soldiers takes two years. I cannot see that, the National Service League proposes such a scheme as that, and if we have to choose between untrained volunteers and untrained conscripts, untrained conscripts would be too terrible to think of.
As a practical man I suppose we have got to find by a voluntary draft-making machine men for foreign service and men for a voluntary defence force at home. We have anything from three and a half to five millions of money to do that job, and we have 50,000,000 people to draw from. The question is the money that is spent upon the 269,000 men—the approximate figures given were £3,500,000 or £3,200,000—is that going to continue to be spent upon this Force? I am not going for a moment to dwell upon the weakness of the Force. We were told some years ago we ought to have 316,000 as a, minimum. For one million shillings I would guarantee an army of one million men. That is by offering every man a shilling who was not to be asked to come forward in the event of war. I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman opposite would tell me that that army would not be worth one shilling. If the Territorial Force costs £3,200,000 that is a considerable sum in our national 143 finances. It would represent some hundreds of thousands for old age pensions; a serious reduction on debt and a serious increase for our Fleet. Whether you attack it from the point of view of the social reformer, a parsimonious financier, or a sailor, I believe the country would be better off if we spent the money on any one of those scores. What can the Territorial Force do? Can it find drafts for foreign service? It cannot do it in any greater proportion than the old Volunteer service did. Is it capable of meeting a hypothetical invading force of 70,000 men? If we have to meet 70,000 well-trained troops we do not want to do it with an enormous horde of untrained troops. Even if the six months' training argument is brought forward I do not believe at the end of that time the Territorial Force would form either a good Army or a good draft-making force. Very eminent officers and great generals have said that the Territorial Force baffles them by its efficiency and makes them astounded, and so on, and I can quite understand it. There is always the good-natured feeling of the professional for the worthy amateur, and they admire the Territorials as Dr. Johnson admired a dog that walked on its hind legs, not because it was well done, but because it was done at all. When these officers praise the Territorial Force indirectly they are praising themselves. Everybody who has had any military experience knows that when a general is taking over a corps or a division, it is always said to be in the worst possible state, and when he leaves it, thanks to his great work, it has become most efficient. It is not to their interest to say that the thing is not a working success.
You will never find generals criticising if criticism has an unpleasant effect on their future. I have seen enough of this kind of thing. Supposing a general who is enjoying £1,500 a year for three months' active work—if you can call signing a paper active work—was to parade his Territorial Division and say to them, "I have done my best, and you, under the circumstances, have done your best, but you are not fit to take on Continental troops, and the only military service you could satisfactorily and efficiently do is to grace a civic procession." Would that general retain his office or have any chance of promotion after that speech? They have got to report. They may even make speeches in public; they may even write pamphlets, but it must be 144 one particular kind of pamphlet and speech. In doing that they may do it either like Sir Ian Hamilton—that is, lay it on with a trowel or gracefully qualify by being astounded at such extraordinary progress in so short a time. It is certainly necessary, if they think at all when they make those speeches, that they should salve their consciences, because they are leading the country into a dangerous situation by getting the democracy to believe that they are in a more secure position, than they really are. The right hon. Gentleman cannot find rue an Army in the world, not even in Bulgaria or Servia, which has so little training, which is so poorly equipped, and so unfit or unready for war as the Territorial Force. Yet the public is only exercised and only troubled about one thing, and that is the question of numbers. It is a matter of detail whether we have 250,000 untrained troops, or 300,000 or 500,000; the fact is they are untrained, and I cannot think of any general or of any strategist since Thermopylae who has relied upon crushing a smaller and an effective force with masses of inferior material. That is absolutely unsound. To count upon large numbers of inefficient men against smaller numbers of efficient men is military madness and nothing else. If you carry that argument far you will be saying two hundred armed merchantmen are equal to one "Dreadnought," and so save a good deal on your naval Estimates. What has a soldier to be? He has got to be a man who can walk, who can carry weights, who can shoot straight, and who can obey orders Is the Territorial Force, owing to the Government, really effective under any one of those heads? I take the musketry, for example. Is the right; hon. Gentleman prepared to take at random the average Territorial Battalion as a whole to Strensall or Aldershot, give them twenty rounds a piece, and ask them to do field firing exercise as a battalion? The risk would be immense. I think the right hon. Gentleman follows me.
Mr. MARK SYKES
At random, twenty rounds, field fire? Very well. Is he going to have the recruits in the battalion who have never held a rifle in their hands before? Is he going to have the old hands who never shoot and whose kind friends shoot for them? Is he going to have the man who bobs and whom I have seen in 145 the Butts? I have seen a man being held while his rifle was let off and the sergeant squeeze the trigger. Is the officer who is continually losing his direction going to be eliminated, or is it going to be carried out by the adjutant and permanent staff? Is the colour-sergeant who is kept merely because he is popular and good for recruiting going to take part? Is he going to risk doing that with twenty rounds with a battalion which has never fired as a whole, and whose men have always fired in individual practice? I think he is taking enormous risks, and I hope he will do it after he has given that battalion due warning, and not take a battalion and do it suddenly. Personally, I think he is rash and bold to accept the challenge. All I can say is I should not like to do it with the most efficient battalion I have seen. I think this: if you consider the average state of the average Territorial battalion, if you consider what it would be if called upon to do field firing in peace, then you must consider what would be the result if a whole division of such troops were suddenly called upon to repel a night attack in war.
With regard to physique we shall probably know to-morrow the right hon. Gentleman's answer to the question what is the physique of the Territorial. Of the men presenting themselves for the Line this year—a good year—27 per cent, were rejected. In the Territorial Force I know from personal experience the medical examination is not rigorous. A great many battalions are pressed for numbers, and take what men they can get so long as they are of good character. But what is the real state of the Territorial Force? How many men have weak sight or adenoids; how many are really examined for rupture; how many suffer from flat feet, deformed toes, varicose veins, bad teeth, asthma, or chronic dyspepsia? I have seen all such cases myself among the men serving. The War Office does not know, and in my opinion does not want to know, but if you have to take the field with that force the War Office and the right hon. Gentleman soon will know, and the doctors hospital sheets will tell the tale. But take the smallest point. Is the average Territorial brigade ready to march seventy miles in three days and fight a battle at the end? What is the right hon. Gentleman's estimate of the road losses; what would be the state of the battalion at the end of the march?
Take the equipment. It is showy superficially; the badges are accurate, so too 146 are the buttons; the cut of the clothes is pretty good, and the walking-out dress is even richer than that of a private in the Line. That may be explained by the fact that the right hon. Gentleman at Leeds said that making love and making war were much the same thing. That is why the walking-out dress is of such good quality. But what about the boots, the socks, and the shirts? These are provided by the men themselves, and in many corps the allowance for them, given as an inducement, is really looked upon as a little extra pay. I know it is said these will be found on mobilisation. But if the right hon. Gentleman at that time is going to find these things he has forgotten everything we learned in the South African war, every lesson the Americana learnt in the Cuban war, and every lesson, everybody has learned who has gone into war unprepared with proper material. What the troops have in peace they have in war: if they do not have it in peace it is never really made up in war. There is always a shortage; there is always a difficulty in regard to delivery, and the Department is too busy getting the expeditionary force ready to see to these things, while the commanding officers have too much to do in looking after bread and billets to think of socks and shirts. But if you get the articles delivered is that the time to begin fitting them on? Is the right hon. Gentleman going to start marching his battalions in new boots? If so, he will lose 20 per cent, of his men on the first thirty-mile march. The boots worn by the working classes of England are not fit for campaigning. Those of the ploughman are too heavy: those of the town artisan are too light, and very often they are in bad repair. They are not usually shod in new boots. More than that, flannel shirts are not a commonplace thing among the working classes. They generally wear cotton and flannelette or some lighter material. Their socks are nearly always coloured or dark. The men in towns very seldom wear undyed socks. What will happen if you have cold weather—you will have dysentery and pneumonia. Every sore foot means a danger of blood poisoning and gangrene in the case of men wearing dyed socks. What about carrying weights? If we are to have war, are the men then to be laden for the first time with their full burden of ammunition and equipment, which they have not even got at the present time? Are you going to harden your men then and to let them find out for the 147 first time what a Service march really means, when it may be a wintry night, in frosty air, with snow on the ground? Much has been said already about the rifle, and I will only say a word or two on that. It is a long, straight shooting weapon, I agree; but the right hon. Gentleman will perhaps differ from me when I say that the back-sight is too delicate and not fit for service. It is made simply in order to enable the bad shots to do some decently high scoring at the range, to shovel more men through; at least that is the appearance of it.
Not the same back-sight; not the one to which I am referring with the wind gauge. It is the same type of back-sight, but the wind gauge has been put on and it is a delicate thing. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that we had no wind gauge in South Africa. It is a very delicate thing to put into the hands of a man who does not know much about arms; to leave out in the wet or to drag through a fence. The bayonet is an excellent one in the hands of a man who knows how to use it, but what if he does not even know how to fix it? How many of the battalions here have ever charged a flagged position? It takes more than three days to get a battalion trained so as to run in a straight line with fixed bayonets without danger to itself. It is not a question of skilful bayonet fencing, but you have to get 700 men who have never done it before to run in a straight line with fixed bayonets without danger of running it into each others legs or back. Such a battalion does not know how to hold a position, and will not be able to carry one when the time comes.
Lastly, I come to a most important point. I know that enthusiasm is immense, but enthusiasm is not discipline, and the right hon. Gentleman has not done much to enforce discipline. How many men absent without leave have been prosecuted? Of course very little is done, for a very good reason. The right hon. Gentleman goes to the working classes of England, and asks them to find him a voluntary Army in return for a fortnight's out and no pay. 148 So long as there is no pay there can be no discipline. There is no case against indiscipline, for the workman usually gets, or ought to get, 25s. a week, and in this case he is cut down to 14s. for two weeks. So long as a man is fined £l for his patriotism, there will not be much discipline in this force. You cannot fine a man £l for joining, and send him to gaol because his manners do not suit you afterwards. It is an absurd proposition. There is not in this force the discipline of an Army, which is sergeants' discipline; there is not the discipline of a trade union, which is committee discipline; there is not the discipline of a public school, which is conventional, antique discipline, there is not the discipline of a factory, there is not the discipline even of the Baden-Powell boy scouts, which is a personal matter. But behind this force there is one thing that the right hon. Gentleman or his predecessor has not destroyed. These are the bad traditions of the volunteers of 1864, the billiard taible, the bar, the Christmas dinner, prizes, the reluctant employer, all these bad traditions which have been the curse of the volunteers in the past, are still the curse of the Territorials, because you have an unpaid force, which really has the usual accompaniments of sweated labour. I verily believe if the right hon. Gentleman has six months to train his force in he will find these things recoil upon his head, and he will wish he had six months to raise an Army with which he might have started with a clean slate. Of course, the staff is excellent, because it is efficient and paid. The Artillery is open to many criticisms, but one need not be so nervous about Artillery, because the hypothetical enemy of 70,000 would not bring artillery; whoever wants to use Artillery will have to go to Salisbury Plain or the Cheviots to use it. But there is the Cavalry. The Yeomanry, because it is better paid, more consecutively trained, because there are more Regular officers serving in it, is more efficient But the Yeomanry has this drawback, that it is irregular horse, and irregular horse cannot screen and protect irregular Infantry. If Irregular Infantry are to be screened and protected they must be absolutely efficient, old, steady soldiers, because with the best will in the world the most intelligent men with a great number of Regular officers of war experience cannot learn in fifteen days on a road when the country is under crops, what can be learned only in the field in six years. What is this Territorial Force? Is it a 149 paper dragon merely to stifle public clamour? Because if it is it is costing a great deal. It has cost £3,000,000. Professor Max Reinhardt would give a better paper dragon for a much less sum—that is, if we are going in for paper dragons. If it is for the purpose of meeting 70,000 hypothetical invaders, 70,000 well trained regular, disciplined troops, which could be got for the same sum, would be safer to rely upon. The public would know how many cictual fighting men there were. I know it would be taking risks, but to take on 70,000 conscripts with 70,000 professional men is a much better proposition than to take on 70,000 conscripts who are well trained with 200,000 untrained men, because to take on 70,000 professional men with 200,000 or even more untrained men is to meet certain disaster. What I have said is painful to myself, but I hope the right hon. Gentleman will believe I have only said it because I felt it was my duty.
§ Colonel SEELY
May I suggest, for the convenience of the House, that the Motion I made at the commencement of the sitting might be agreed to, and that we should then proceed to the consideration of Votes A and 1 on the distinct understanding that the general discussion should continue. We must get Votes A and 1 in a reasonable time in order to be able to carry on the business. I think it would be more in accordance with the general custom if, on the first day after a very careful discussion extending over the whole day, we were to agree that you "hould leave the Chair, and then agree to continue the general discussion on Votes A and 1. That would be in accordance with precedent.
§ Earl WINTERTON
I would venture to point out that the right hon. Gentleman is hardly correct in saying that we have had a full day's discussion. It was due to circumstances over which we have no control, and we make no complaint of that. I would point out also, in no party spirit, for the consideration of the House, that we have had what always happens on this occasion—instead of having a general Debate on the interesting and important question, of the whole policy of the Army, we have had a discussion on a comparatively unimportant point in regard to wages. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] I am aware of the importance of the question of wages, but I mean that it is unimportant as compared with the general policy of the Army. There are about twenty Gentle- 150 men, some of them on the right hon. Gentleman's own side, who wish to speak, and, although we can speak on the general question on Votes A and 1, I think it would be more convenient to have the Debate with you, Mr. Speaker, in the Chair. I understand that my right hon. Friend below me intended to speak to-morrow, and I think the House should not agree to your being voted out of the Chair to-night. I beg to move "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ Colonel SEELY
The fact that the Prime Minister took up a certain amount of time in discussing a matter of vital importance to the State had the effect of setting aside for a little the discussion on the Army Estimates, and that will, of course, be taken into account in the allocation of time. I am authorised to make that statement, and again I venture to make the appeal that, in accordance with custom, we should now get Mr. Speaker out of the Chair.
§ Question put, and agreed to. Debate to be resumed to-morrow (Tuesday).