§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA'S STATEMENT.
§ Order for Committee read.
§ 4.14 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Hore-Belisha)
I beg to move, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
As will be seen from page 9 of these Estimates, there could— from troops raised in this country under a voluntary system—be mobilised in an emergency for action in the field, or perhaps I should say in the various fields of our Imperial responsibility, over 500,000 soldiers. This number is exclusive, of course, of the 150,000 soldiers maintained by the Dominions; of the Indian Army, which, with reserves, is about 170,000 strong; and of many thousands in the local forces of the Colonies and Protectorates. Such difficulties as confront us are not difficulties of man power, but of its correct organisation and distribution. Given these, we should not be under-insured. It was to these two problems that our two greatest army reformers devoted themselves—Cardwell, mainly to distribution; Haldane, predominently to organisation. By bringing men home and encouraging the Colonies to undertake their own defence, Cardwell aimed at an arrangement whereunder no more than approximately half the units of the British Army should be stationed overseas and an interchangeable half kept in the United Kingdom to relieve them. He obtained, in the process, without expansion of numbers—indeed, he effected an economy—a strategic reserve of 100,000 Regulars, composed of those who at any moment happened to be in this country. Lord Haldane set himself the task of moulding this strategic reserve, which was amorphous, into homogeneous divisions on the Continental model. As Sir Frederick Maurice explains in his "Life of Haldane"It became a question of how many of these divisions could be formed from the troops quartered in Great Britain, and it was found that there were rather more than enough for one cavalry division and six (infantry) divisions, but not enough for seven.2134 By eliminating superfluities and also by encouraging the principle of local defence, he likewise effected a saving in numbers. Since Cardwell gave us the substance and Haldane gave us the form, external influences have altered. In Cardwell's time Mr. Gladstone was pointing out that the development of steamships enabled the strategic reserve to be kept at home and despatched quickly, whenever and wherever needed. The progressive acceleration of sea voyages during the generations that followed, up to the Haldane regime, continued to favour such a policy. There is now, however, the complication to be faced, in narrow seas, at any rate, that we have had, first, the development of the submarine, and then of aircraft. This latter arm, in its impact upon the movement of armies, is perhaps the greatest external influence of all. On the other hand, in those regions where the task of maintaining order falls upon our Army, the improvement in internal communications and the quickening of transport must have increased the effectiveness of a given quantity of soldiers by adding to their mobility.
There has been—since Cardwell's redistribution of the Army—a great extension of our liabilities in the Middle East, but not in India. Yet it is observable that, whereas there has been a very small increase in the number of troops maintained overseas outside India, there has been a very modest decrease in the number of British units in India. These considerations impinge on distribution, and I ask myself this question: Would a commander to-day, having our Regular Army under his single control, and surveying the Imperial field at large, dispose his forces in exactly their existing proportions? Would he not, having fixed his garrisons so that each one of them, where its communications could be interrupted, should be maintained in peace at a strength adequate to discharge its defensive duties at the outbreak of war, aim at holding strategic reserve in a zone whence it could be directed most rapidly to those alternative places where security is most likely to the threatened? The location of such a reserve would not be fixed, but would be liable to change in the light of changing conditions and requirements.
A commander endeavouring to operate on these principles would find himself at 2135 present confronted with a rigidity, namely, that the number of units to be stationed in India is predetermined. This rigidity does not only affect the number of units; their establishment cannot be altered without India's consent. Any change in their equipment must be similarly approved. As it is an essential feature of our distribution that units at home are interchangeable with units in India, the pace of the re-adaptation of the rest of the British Army is influenced by the speed at which the Government of India find themselves able to proceed. Further, the amenities which can be given to the British soldier are controlled by what India is able to afford or agree. Indeed, the Government of India have represented the serious effect upon the Indian Budget and the increase in the cost of the British troops in India which must necessarily result from the various measures I shall to-day propose for the purpose of improving the conditions of service in the Army. Again, the terms of service of a soldier and the period he must spend in India must be decided in the light of the existing arrangements. This rigidity also from time to time imposes upon us the necessity of resorting to devices such as calling upon troops, who are due for home service, to undertake a further spell of overseas service, and this, because they have to be found from the home quota. It must, at the same time, be recognised that the Government of India have never been and let us hope never would be, less willing than we ourselves in the converse case to dispatch forces beyond their frontiers on occasion of need.
The question I have mentioned—and there may be others on either side of the scale—have brought both my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for India and myself to the conclusion that they should be objectively examined, and I am in a position to inform the House that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is prepared to initiate inter-Departmental discussions. As in certain contingencies armies can determine the fate of nations, it is vital that they, above all other institutions, should adapt themselves to changing times. Without delaying until the outcome of the inquiry which I have outlined, we shall proceed to achieve, for that part of the Army which is outside 2136 India, the best attainable form of organisation. This requires a statement of its role. The role of the British Army is known to comprise a number of different purposes, but in the view of the Government it is now possible to classify them in order of importance, and, further, to subdivide the priorities within each purpose.
The first purpose of our Army is home defence. In preparing the Army for war the menace of air attack is a primary consideration. On the outbreak of war defence against air attack may be the primary requirement. In this major respect home defence is in the first category of importance and in a form unknown in 1914. The priorities in home defence are, in their order, air defence; internal security, which assumes a widened scope in the light of air-raid precautions; and coast defence. It is the responsibility of the Air Force to meet hostile attacks by action in the air, but the Army is responsible for action from the ground. Two Territorial divisions of enlarged scale are at present employed in the air defence of Great Britain. Their total establishments are 48,000, manning 76 batteries and 108 searchlight companies. They cover our vulnerable area, and the belt of defence will be extended.
While the duty of defending this country against air attack is entrusted to the Territorial Army, an increase of strength and an acceleration of action can come to them from the regular anti-aircraft units while any part of them is in this country. It may interest the House to know that over 33 per cent. of the approved establishment of Royal Engineers are at present engaged in cooperation with the Royal Artillery, in anti-aircraft and coast defence duties. As these duties are more appropriate to the Royal Artillery we have decided to form a separate branch of the regiment to undertake them. This is to revert, but in a new grouping, to the old division of the Royal Artillery into two parts, thereby increasing both the specialisation, the efficiency and the prospects of promotion in each part. The Royal Engineers, having successfully pioneered a new service, will be free once again to resume their more characteristic functions, for which there is an ever-growing military need. For the moment this arrangement is confined to the Regular Army.
2137 Internal security is a second duty in Home Defence, and this duty, because of the possibility of air attack, also comes in a form unknown in 1914. There may be many ways in which organised forces can help the civil population, and all troops at home, whether regular or Territorial, will be practiced in them. The coast defence of Great Britain is now entrusted to units of the Territorial Army consisting of heavy artillery with the necessary searchlights. By relieving the Regular Army of this duty they enable the strengthening of the overseas defences. Being specialised units, each adjusted to the needs of its particular location, they do not interfere with the free disposal of the normal formations of the Territorial Army.
Second in classification to Home Defence comes the discharge of British commitments overseas, including defended ports on the trade routes. The size and type of garrisons are being made to conform with the principle I have already mentioned, namely, that each one where communications can be interrupted should be maintained in peace at a strength adequate for its responsibilities of defence at the outbreak of war. Local forces are invaluable in reducing the number of regular British units to be maintained, and wherever it be possible to employ further local personnel for antiaircraft and coast defence duties in particular, whether in combination with British personnel or otherwise, the practice will be followed. Twenty-eight British battalions are now stationed overseas, excluding India and Burma, the infantry equivalent, measured by the present standard of some two and a-half divisions.
The final head in the classification of the role of the British Army concerns the uses to which the strategic reserve can be applied, and raises the question of the organisation necessary for them. These uses are a reinforcement, wherever required, of internal security; defence from external attack of territories for which we may be responsible overseas," and next, co-operation in the defence of the territories of any allies we might have in the case of war. Lord Haldane, having as his object the creation of an expeditionary force, took, as I have recalled, the Continental model of a division consisting of 12 battalions, and found that he could make out of the 2138 strategic reserve six infantry divisions of Continental pattern. This pattern, which, owing to his foresight, was found suitable in the Great War, has remained virtually unaltered. History, it is true, sometimes repeats itself, but rarely in the same context. The assumptions of an unforgettable past are not always the surest guide to an unpredictable future. They tempt us to leave out of account certain only too obvious tendencies, developments and modifications.
The power of the defence has increased since the close of the last war as anyone who has been privileged to see the masterly and formidable defences of the Maginot Line, constructed with all the ingenuity and thoroughness of a great military nation, will realise. The problem of holding positions is not in the same degree as it was a problem of personnel. A mere description, such as has been given, of the rôle of the British Army, disclosing how under the stress of new methods of warfare a fresh allocation of our forces is called for, primarily affecting on the one hand their distribution and on the other, their responsibilities at home, emphasises how the factors in the situation have altered since 1914. The extent to which we might be required, or expected to send, or have available, assistance for an ally, and what form it should take, must be related to these considerations. It must be remembered that support on land is not the only support we can offer.
To have one stereotyped division conceived for all purposes is to overlook, in the circumstances of to-day, the necessary preparations for each one. It is not our intention to retain a fixed division, but one flexible for the different objects in view. There will be two types of division and variations within the types. One type, a Motorised Division, based on the Light Machine Gun, and the other, a Mechanised Armoured Division, based on the Tank. The first type, the Motorised Division, when used for internal security operations, such as those being carried out in Palestine, may consist of six battalions with such ancillary troops as are necessary for their maintenance and communications. When used for war it may consist of nine battalions, supported by artillery and other arms according to need. These battalions will each possess 50 Bren guns, of which a proportion will 2139 be borne in armoured carriers. They will, in fact, be Light Machine Gun Battalions.
A proportion of heavy machine-gun battalions, having a special aptitude for sustained fire, particularly in protracted defence, will be kept as corps troops, one per division. The remaining heavy machine-gun battalions can be more usefully converted to light machine-gun battalions to form the nucleus of motorised divisions. The conversion is all the more logical because the anti-tank gun which used to be handled by the heavy machine-gun battalions is a weapon more appropriate to the divisional artillery who will in future man it. There is another development in the Royal Artillery. Its fire unit will in future be 12 guns instead of six. With fewer personnel and more centralised control, lire power will be better concentrated. The object underlying all these changes is to provide a flexible organisation of the regular forces at home capable of producing a greater number of divisions, better suited than are the existing formations to meet the varied commitments which may devolve upon us. Smaller divisions are easier to manage, to move, to supply and to transport—important considerations for a country which has to operate overseas.
The strength of the Navy is assessed in ships and not in personnel, that of the Air Force in squadrons and not in ground staff. Following this line of thought the strength of the modern Army is based, not on the individual, but, rather on fire units which combine fire power and mobility. Why alone in the Army should heads be counted and fire power and mobility discounted? The number of men required in each unit is the number needed to man and serve the weapons, together with the necessary elements for service, replacement and administration. Every man above this is an additional target and a strain on the service which has to feed and maintain him, in which I include those diversions from our Naval and Air Forces which have to protect his passage. The mechanised standard suits us well. For an industrial country there is a great advantage in so organising the Army that employment in it maintains as close a relationship as possible with a man's normal avocations and interests. It 2140 means that the Army could, in case of need, be rapidly and effectively expanded. The speed at which it is being mechanised and supplied with modern fire-producing weapons is perhaps best revealed in Vote 9 which, standing at over £43,000,000, is greater than the whole of the Army Estimates, including pay and pensions, for 1934.
Fulfilment of our programme depends on the 30,000 workpeople now employed in our ordnance factories, and on an equally large number in private enterprise outside. May I express a debt of gratitude for their efforts and the efforts of those who direct and supervise them. The harmony of our relations has been undisturbed. A reorganisation in the Department responsible for the Vote for warlike stores is now proceeding. We have brought directly under one head the responsibility previously divided for design, experiment, production, inspection and issue, with a marked acceleration of all the processes involved. In order to obtain a further acceleration in these processes we have in this department undertaken a readjustment of internal functions. Each class of article to be produced becomes the responsibility of a specialised authority. The ever increasing complexity of modern methods of warfare requires that the branches of Scientific Research and Experiment should be kept at the highest pitch not only of inventiveness but of inter-relation. Many eminent scientists are employed by the War Office directly or in an advisory capacity. Their invaluable labours will be co-ordinated by a Director of Scientific Research.
Another Department has been reorganised. A Deputy Chief of the Imperial General Staff now enables the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, undistracted by routine, to devote himself to the larger issues of strategy and policy. The Deputy co-ordinates Staff Duties and Military Training. The Director of Military Operations and Intelligence works directly with the Chief of the Imperial General Staff. When so much instruction is to-be gained from present events the absence of any branch exclusively concerned with pure military research is noticeable, and a small section to study the practice and lessons of actual warfare will be established. A Standing Committee of the Army Council, meeting regularly, disposes of current questions out of hand 2141 instead of by minuting. To promote the closest possible identity of purpose between the War Office and the Commands, a Commanders Conference over which the Chief of the Imperial General Staff presides, exchanges experience and ideas, particularly on training and organisation.
Our central purpose in all these reforms is to abbreviate the hiatus between consideration and decision. An earnest of our intention to make the Army in all respects the embodiment of businesslike practice is further evidenced by the progressive elimination from a soldier's drill of all superfluous postures requiring rehearsal and from his kit of all superfluous gadgets requiring polish. The experimental clothing to be issued shortly will be of a design and of a material suited to his increasingly mechanised function. What, if any, walking out dress a soldier should have should be evolved from his service uniform, and should not be a compromise based on the fashions from which we are so rapidly emerging.
It is with some pleasure that I can now pass from topics of direction, administration and machinery to the more human side. No one can remain long in association with the Army without conceiving towards it the warmest and most admiring feelings. The virtues and code of living which it embodies, its communal life, the give and take and understanding, the efficiency with which it discharges every task that can befall it, the spirit which it shows at play, the relations so closely binding between officers and men, the interest which is never lost by his comrades in a man who has once belonged to a regiment, the affection and respect in which the British soldier is held in every quarter of the world, make it a privilege to facilitate in any degree the conditions and circumstances of the Service.
Rules now followed by the Selection Board have already in their application shown that suitability and merit, regardless either of age or youth, will, in the Army, as in outside professions, determine the selection of officers for the most responsible posts. Indeed, for such posts the Army can afford less than outside professions to follow a routine of promotion by seniority. Too much is at stake. Another principle being followed—or perhaps the same principle in another form—is that promotion to ranks qualifying for these higher posts is not a reward for past 2142 services but an assumption of capacity to fulfil present responsibilities. Every officer now appointed to a command is being selected on the footing that he can hold the command in war.
Several questions arise, however, in connection with the career of officers as a whole. Have we an adequacy of officers, or is there a shortage? It is significant that the responsibilities allotted to the officer have never been re-examined in the light of actuality. Could not other ranks be given an opportunity of discharging some of the responsibilities confined to the commissioned ranks? If this could be done, the purpose for which higher education has been given to these other ranks would be justified, and the prospects before these other ranks would be enlarged. The warrant officer of today is surely capable of commanding a platoon and similar sub-units hitherto generally entrusted to subalterns. We propose to enlarge the complement of warrant officers by the creation of a new Class III for this purpose. The number of entries into the cadet colleges will fall to be correspondingly diminished, and we shall enjoy the great advantage of being able to select only those who fulfil the highest standard. Another effect of a reduction in the subaltern class will be mathematically to increase the prospects of every officer joining the British Army, whether from the ranks or from the cadet colleges. At present, the officer's career suffers from a defect absent in many other State employments, as the number of entries is not adjusted to correspond even roughly with the number of vacancies in the higher ranks. Promotion is therefore both slow and irregular. Promotion, indeed, is like a pyramid. Aspiration diminishes as the apex is approached.
Under a proposal which we have in mind, a reduction in the establishment without recourse to axing of over 1,000, will enable a greater number of officers to rise more rapidly. Would it not be possible to accelerate even this rise by guaranteeing a definite limit on the time during which each rank is held so that, with certainty, promotion in the junior and senior ranks should come to every efficient officer within a maximum specified time? Further to improve the officer's career, it might be possible to lower the ages at which the senior ranks are attained. Such measures will result in an improvement in the pay and the retired pay code. The 2143 grievance of the officer, as I see it, cannot be that the pay in the lowest ranks is low so much as that the difficulties in the way of his reaching to a higher rate of pay within a reasonable time are prolonged.
If I am not able to lay a complete scheme before the House, it is because, conjointly with these general aims which I have had in mind, falls to be considered the report of the Departmental Committee which my predecessor appointed to advise him. Lord Willingdon and his colleagues have devoted a patient examination to various aspects of the subject, and their report having, as Army proposals always do, repercussions on other services, a decision could not be taken on all these matters without interdepartmental consideration of all the issues involved. This is now proceeding, and if I appeal to the House to show the same patience as the officer is showing, it will be in the officer's ultimate interest.
I am able to announce meanwhile, that the Colonial allowance given to certain officers and other ranks to meet the special expenses at appropriate stations abroad, has been reviewed, and that £180,000 per annum will be added to the present rate on the present distribution of troops. I am glad to announce a new allowance to meet the expenses to which married officers and other ranks are put in moving from station to station. The rate will be £20 for an officer and £5 for each other rank. The cost will be £70,000 per annum. The quantity of an officer's furniture conveyed at public expense on change of stations will be increased from three tons to a maximum of eight tons, according to the rank of the officer. The cost is £14,500. We show by these provisions our concern to improve not only the governing principles of the officer's career but to ease, wherever it is open to us, such strains as affect the more domestic aspects of his Army life. The same motives must inspire us in our treatment of the men—not to attract recruits but to do justice.
I have already shown that the British Army would not be short of men if those we have could be better distributed and better organised; further, men desirous of serving are coming forward in increasing numbers. Is it realised that applicants are now trying to join the British Army at the rate of nearly 60,000 a year, 2144 a total far in excess of our requirements? The proportion of rejections is very high, and it would seem to be a form of national service for us to enlarge the system whereby recruits below the normal physical standards can be engaged and brought to a better state of health. There could be no more impressive way of showing the parents of such boys what the Army can do to enhearten them, to strengthen them, than, by special diet, education and exercise to free them from a physical handicap which might otherwise endure. Out of every 100 boys who have passed through the Physical Development Depot which my predecessor established at Aldershot and which is now at Canterbury, 92 have passed into the Army as fully fitted soldiers. In view of the very satisfactory results, we propose to open at least one more physical development depot in 1938.
One of the items of diet on which recruits in the Physical Development Depot are sustained is, in accordance with the prevailing medical doctrine, milk. Not only those recruits, but all others who, in the opinion of the medical officer, need special nourishment, will have an extra issue of half a-pint of this stimulant per day. The cost will be £8,000 per annum.
§ Mr. Hore-Belisha
Yes. Perhaps the most obvious way of obtaining recruits would be to take precautions at an earlier stage for filling the establishments. Parents are not lacking who would like their sons to be trained, either with units as musicians or at appropriate establishments as skilled tradesmen, in both cases subsequently to pass into the rank as adult soldiers. Such a policy would seem to be a direct advantage both to the boys and to the State, and to provide another example of the manner in which the Army can render a national service, this time not in health alone, but in education also. We have been taking annually about 1,200 boys for training with the units and about 500 at technical establishments. I propose that the total shall be more than doubled next year, and to take, in 1938, 1,500 boys for training with units and 2,000 into technical establishments. The strength of the Army will, of course, not be effectively increased for two or three years until those boys have grown up; but we are providing for 2145 the future. I may, perhaps, interpolate here that on a recent visit to Northern Ireland I was impressed by the expenditure which a boy is called on to incur, in relation to his pay of 1s. or slightly more a day, in returning home for leave. It is a pleasure to be able to say that arrangements will be made for enlisted Army boys to receive one free railway warrant per year when proceeding on furlough and, for enlisted technical schoolboys who have two vacations, two. The cost is £3,000 per annum.
In small matters, as in great, these Estimates will be found to be no inconsiderable aid to the comfort, convenience and resources of the soldier. As regards his housing, my predecessor announced last year an important programme of barrack modernisation and construction, intended to provide both amenities and labour saving devices. I am glad in this respect as well as in others, to build on his firm foundations. It is the intention of His Majesty's Government to adapt all barrack accommodation to the latest standard, though this will necessarily take some time. We are including for this purpose £800,000 more this year than last. Various additional furnishing improvements have been authorised, including the provision of better beds and bolsters, at a cost of £87,000 for 1938. I hope that this part of the programme will be completed in three years.
On rations for the Army, £4,000,000 per annum is spent. We have thought it desirable to obtain the guidance of one who has incomparable experience in the most useful and attractive treatment of food. I am glad to tell the House that my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow (Sir I. Salmon), who in another capacity directs a famous catering organisation, has consented to become Honorary Catering Adviser to the Army and to work in association with the Quarter-Master-General in the War Office. Acting on his advice we have already obtained the services of a Chief Inspector of Army Catering; and a chief instructor of the School of Cookery will shortly be appointed.
§ Mr. Hore-Belisha
He will be given a temporary military room. The chief inspector and the chief instructor come to 2146 us not only on the highest recommendation, that of my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, but with the highest professional qualifications. They will review our present arrangements for cooking, bearing in mind that food is a factor of imponderable importance in the health and contentment of us all. In connection with this subject the heart, and I hope the palate, of the hon. Member for Hemsworth (Mr. G. Griffiths) will be softened by the knowledge that the ration of butter which was introduced at home last year by my predecessor will be issued at stations abroad as well. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] The cost is about £12,000 per annum.
Having referred to, and, I hope, enhanced the amenities of the soldier's living conditions, it is possible to pass to the terms of his engagement. It has frequently been represented that the Army should offer not only the six or seven years of guaranteed employment that it does, but, from the outset, an assured career for those who wish to make it so. To what extent the desire may be prevalent it is impossible to know without a trial. We tested last autumn the inclination of men who had left the Army after their normal colour service, to return and qualify for pension. Nearly 3,000 reservists availed themselves of this opportunity. But to offer men who have left the Colours an opportunity to return or, indeed, to offer to those still with the Colours an opportunity to continue, is not quite the same thing as to offer a man an opportunity of pensionable service at the time of his engagement.
The Government now propose, as a further experiment, direct enlistment for 12 years with the Colours with the certain prospect, subject to suitability, of reengaging for pension. We shall thus have two categories of enlistment, the present one for the soldier who desires to serve on short terms, and another for the soldier who desires to make the Army a career. For the short-term soldier who has not had specialised training, vocational training will be given in the last six months of his service to increase his prospects in civil life. From this system most excellent results have accrued. For the long-term soldier, completing 21 years, there will be a pension. It may perhaps be possible to arrange that the long service men should transfer from the more to the 2147 less active arms of the Service in the course of his progress. The quota of long-term soldiers we can take in the Army must be fixed in the light not only of the number forthcoming, of which I make no optimistic forecast, but also in the light of experience and the reaction on the reserve.
An employment which is to give the proper incentive should provide suitable opportunities for increased remuneration. The Government have decided to provide for increases on the normal post-1925 rates of pay as the private soldier's service progresses. We have further decided to give special proficiency pay at the discretion of Commanding Officers to up to two-thirds of the men below the rank of sergeant of three years' man's service on the strength of their unit. The increases will be cumulative and will be 3d. a day at the end of the first year's man's service, if it be satisfactory and a further 3d. at the end of the second year. Another 3d. at the end of the eighth year and yet another at the end of the thirteenth year's man's service will be earnable as good conduct pay. The special proficiency pay will be 3d. a day in addition. There will be adjustments upwards in the case of certain non-commissioned officers. The cost of these increases is £850,000 in 1938.
I will illustrate the effects of these increases after I have mentioned another financial benefit which His Majesty's Government have decided to introduce. A married soldier of 26 years of age and upwards now draws an allowance in respect of his wife, varying from 10s. for a man on the lowest rate of pay to 7s. for a man on higher rates of pay. If, however, he be on the married quarters roll, he obtains no allowance for his wife, but a quarter or an allowance in lieu thereof. We propose to give an increased allowance amounting to 17s. a week in respect of a wife to married soldiers above the age of 26 years, with somewhat higher rates for those above the rank of sergeant. To this allowance falls to be added children's allowance—5s. 6d. for the first child, 3s. 6d. for the second child, and lower rates in respect of each additional child. If quarters are available and allotted to a married soldier he will not receive the allowance in respect of his wife. In other cases he will receive the 2148 17s. All these families will receive certain other privileges now confined to the married quarters roll, such as free conveyance on change of station and free medical attendance. The cost in 1938 is £360,000.
The results of the increases of pay which I have announced are for an unmarried private of Infantry as follows. In his second year's service his pay will be increased from 17s. 6d. to 19s. 3d. a week; in his third year's service from 17s. 6d. to 21s. In his fourth year's service from 21s. to 26s. 3d. In his ninth year of service from 21s. to 28s., and in his 14th year's service from 21s. to 29s. 9d. The results of the increases of pay and allowance for a married private of Infantry living out of quarters and with one child are as follows. If he is, for instance, in his sixth year of service, he will find his present pay and emoluments increased from 49s. 5d. to 63s. 4d., and in his ninth year to 65s. 1d. In addition to the figures mentioned he receives a clothing allowance. The new rates will take effect from the 30th April.
It is a great satisfaction to feel that the soldier will have in future some addition to the means at his disposal but it is an equally great satisfaction to anticipate that the Army wives who share with the soldier the vicissitudes of a calling which requires many and frequent adaptations to new and unaccustomed circumstances, will now receive the wherewithal to make better provision for their homes.
The House may now permit me to announce one or two measures affecting particularly those who have left the Army. A hardship with which we have been impressed is that men discharged on medical grounds are discharged from the moment they are found unfit. These men in future will be given 28 days' furlough on full pay without prejudice to any pension claim which they may have. The ex-soldier may also derive some advantage from the additional £50,000 allotted for this year to extend my predecessor's scheme for engaging civilians to do certain work now done by the soldier but which does not directly concern his military training. The employments involved are, for instance, those of gardeners, butchers, sanitary men, firemen and watchmen, and ex-soldiers will be given a preference for them.
2149 There is a grievance of a more widespread character affecting men whose Colour service has expired. Hon. Members are aware that dissatisfaction has sometimes been expressed on behalf of the unemployed members of the Reserve or Supplementary Reserve who are in receipt of allowance from the Unemployment Assistance Board. The Board's instructions hitherto have provided that, apart from purely temporary local modifications under standstill arrangements, one-half of their reserve pay or bounty should be allowed for the personal requirements of the applicant, the remaining half being brought into account when received at the end of the quarter.
I am happy to be able to announce that as a result of negotiations with the Unemployment Assistance Board, whose sympathetic assistance in this matter I gratefully acknowledge, the Board's instructions will in future provide that in the case of reservists who are applicants to the Board, the first 5s. of the weekly amount by way of reserve pay shall be allowed for personal requirements; the additional 6d. a day which a Section "A" Reservist draws in virtue of his special liability will also be allowed. Further, the Reservist will be given the option of having his pay dealt with on a weekly or quarterly basis. The effect of this concession will be that Reservists who enlisted into the Army after the 30th September, 1931, will not in effect have any part of their pay taken into account in assessing need while those enlisted before that date—an obsolescent class—will have a materially smaller amount taken into account than formerly. These instructions will take effect as from the 1st April next.
The Government recently approved certain encouragements to those serving with the Territorial Army. At the time that I made these announcements affecting principally the ranks and Commands to be held by officers, the pay of Adjutants and Regimental Sergeant-Majors and opportunities of higher training, I also set up a Committee to inquire into the finance and administration" of the Territorial Army. Pending the Committee's Report it will not be desirable to make any permanent change in the grant given to associations for administration. But 1938 will be an important year for the Territorials. We are making great demands on them, and we are hoping for 2150 a great response to those demands. In order to enable Associations to play their part in next year's effort, we are provisionally making certain increases and additions to the grant for 1938 and without prejudice to the findings of the Committee. The total additional income which will be allotted in 1938 will be in the neighbourhood of £110,000.
The grant for Anti-Aircraft units has been recalculated and there are very substantial increases over the existing rates. We are making additions to the establishment grants of other units which should enable a full-time clerk to be provided at the headquarters of units with an establishment of 300 or over. We are increasing the general purpose grant; and a grant is being made towards the cost of bands in Anti-Aircraft units. Many of these units lost the grant for their bands on conversion from Infantry and I am glad to be able to restore the grant for this purpose and to extend them to the new Anti-Aircraft units.
There is one other change we are introducing which has been constantly advocated. We are withdrawing the limit of 1s. which has hitherto been placed on the fare allowed to Territorial soldiers travelling to drills. In future the payment of actual fares will be allowed within the limit of the county boundary, and instead of being restricted to 50 drills—two or more of which may be performed at one attendance—it will be extended to 50 attendances. This will remove a restraint on enthusiasm. The cost will be £30,000.
There has been a general desire expressed for a badge symbolising service in the Territorial Army which all ranks could wear out of uniform. His Majesty has been graciously pleased to approve the design and grant of such a badge, and Their Majesties the King and Queen, who are both Honorary Colonels of Territorial Army units have been graciously pleased to accept the first two badges to be issued.
The proposals which I have announced for officers and men of the Regular Army amount to £1,600,000, apart from the building programme, in 1938. In addition they will cost over £500,000 attributable to India. Most of the proposals were not finally settled in time for their inclusion in these Estimates. It may, therefore, be necessary to present to the 2151 House a Supplementary Estimate at a later stage. Lest it should be thought that these proposals are intended solely as an inducement to recruits to join the Army, let me emphasise that that is not their inspiration. They have been adopted from a sense of what is appropriate and fair.
There is a growing enthusiasm to join the Army. The number of applicants endeavouring to do so finally proves that. Men seek to join the Army because they like the soldier's life and because they desire to serve their country in this way. In a world which offers so many alternative openings it would be ridiculous to say that the military career is followed to-day from other motives. Be it remembered that both the Navy and the Air Force are expanding, and that while, therefore, the pool at our common disposal has to supply bigger needs, we shall none the less have taken into the Army several thousand more men in the last 12 months than in the previous year.
The only effective deterrent to recruiting in certain quarters could be a possible failure of the public to recognise, I will not say the qualities of the soldier, but the importance of his service and those features in his career which are attractive. The chief external assistance which would come to recruiting would be a habit of representing the Army always and everywhere in its true light, and of stressing its advantages at least as much as its shortcomings. There is no industry in ordinary life, so far as I am aware, which offers to a man guaranteed employment for six or seven years on end, and which offers so many varieties both of scene and of occupation, so many opportunities of comradeship. All this is not to say that the State should refrain from making more agreeable, wherever it practically can in relation to its other obligations, the soldier's life. It will be our ideal in the War Office so to conduct our business that in all important matters there will be speed in decision, flexibility in action, and in administration not only thoroughness, but that humanity which can help to give in peace time to the soldier the security which we expect from him in the blunt eventuality of war.
§ 5.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Lawson
The House naturally expected colour and virility in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and it has 2152 not been disappointed. Whatever Department he is in, he knocks things about a bit. If he has been a little subdued to-day, it has been rather because of the complexities of the organisation with which he was dealing. The right hon. Gentleman has made certain announcements to-day which express the modern views following from the mechanisation that has taken place in the Army in the latter years. Those who follow Army organisation know that units which have been mechanised have, as a rule, fewer men than the ordinary battalions, and that the modern division is slightly less in size. The right hon. Gentleman, in the policy he has laid down to-day, has recognised those great changes of organisation so emphatically that it will be difficult to speak decisively on the implications of the policy without reading his speech. I believe, however, that in the recent tragic battles in Spain the division in some cases has been as low as 5,000, for the reason that, when machines have to be handled on a system of what one might call a kind of controlled dispersion, the unit, for effective handling, has to be much smaller than it has been in the past.
If I may endeavour to sum up in a few words what the right hon. Gentleman said on the mechanisation side, I should say that he has abandoned the old maxim, supposed to be due to Napoleon, that God marches with the big battalions. The right hon. Gentleman has truly said that at the present time defence is the first element rather than offence, except in certain circumstances, and, for that purpose of defence, personnel is not as important as it once was. I think that is the general position. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman one question? I gather that there is considerable misgiving because there is a shortage of officers. That, of course, would be met to some extent by the proposals which the right hon. Gentleman has laid down, but, with the reduction in the number of men, is there to be an actual reduction in the number of officers, both in the higher commands and among those who are actually handling the units? I think it is rather important that we should have an answer to that question, because it affects the number of officers to be used. At the same time, the fact that the lesser units are now acknowledged by the War Office, as they are in actual warfare, means that there is no longer any need 2153 for something approaching hysteria over what is called the shortage of soldiers.
We on this side of the House were pleased, as I am sure the whole House was, to hear the right hon. Gentleman's references to the improvements that are being made in the life of the soldier. The right hon. Gentleman can take it for granted that, as far as we are concerned, nothing that he does to improve the life of the soldier will be unwelcome to us. After all, the soldier is, in the main, a working-class man, the son of working-class parents, and he is among the most intelligent and sober and well conducted of the citizens of this country. On enlistment he sacrifices his home life, he accepts discipline, and his whole life is sidetracked. He loses contact with those personal and social relationships which go far to make up the savour of life. We must never forget that the great bulk of these men are from working-class homes.
Those of us who follow the life of the soldier closely must be struck sometimes when we look at the Army Estimates and notice, from the large table of figures on page 30, the remarkable fact that, of about 159,000 men in the Army, some 46,000 are scattered over various outposts and garrisons like Bermuda, Jamaica, Sierra Leone, Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus, Egypt, the Sudan, Palestine, Aden, Mauritius, Ceylon, Malaya and China. It is remarkable that the young men, living among people different in colour, in creed, in race and in outlook on life, who go out to these places, so conduct themselves that there is scarcely ever an incident of which we need be ashamed. We take all that for granted. I have often thought that these young men, born and bred under democratic conditions, are among the best examples of democratic institutions that can be given to the world.
The hon. Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) was here a few moments ago, and I was hoping that he was going to stay here. I heard him make a speech the other night in which he seemed to indicate that he was very much disturbed about the condition of the youth of this country. He said something about a cartoon in a German newspaper which stated that the working-classes of this country were decadent. I was very much surprised that he should take that line. As a matter of fact, the Kaiser said the same thing and held exactly the same 2154 view before 1914. I only mention that because the hon. Member has been writing recently in a great newspaper expressing views which are held by a certain section of people in this country. Those who hold any such views are in remarkable ignorance of the discipline of working-class life in every aspect, and certainly they are ignorant of the general sentiments and moral backbone of our people. I was glad that the right hon. Gentleman, in addition to his praise of the soldier in his speech, included in his Memorandum certain paragraphs concerning the education, health and conduct of the soldier. Those paragraphs have usually been hidden in a kind of blue-book in a rather obscure way, but they are worth putting in the forefront of any statement on the work of the Army, because they are very much to the credit of these young men. The simple facts and figures are worthy of prominence, for they certainly do credit to the soldier.
The right hon. Gentleman said something about adapting barracks to the modern conditions of the soldier's life, but I wonder whether it is possible, in the case of most barracks, to adapt them at all. If I were the right hon. Gentleman, I would have a very careful look at that suggestion. My right hon. Friend the Leader of this party, and others who have been connected with the War Office, will remember that, when the Curragh Camp had to be abandoned, we had to do a considerable amount of building for soldiers at Catterick Camp. A great deal of it was reconditioned huts. I question very much whether, if that work had to be done again, in the light of experience, we would not have erected fresh buildings, instead of reconditioning those huts, which cost vast sums. I do not like the idea of barracks. They are evil to look at and very gloomy. I am glad, at any rate, that the Labour Government cannot be blamed for barracks. I sometimes find consolation, when the Labour party is being criticised for its attitude towards the Army, that the barracks are a relic of the days when the Whigs and Tories were in control. It seems as though those barracks were designed to cut the soldier off from the rest of the community, as though he were in prison. Some of my hon. Friends and I saw buildings which were erected in Spain during this conflict that really are worth looking at from the point of view 2155 of the living conditions of the soldier. It is true that they were built for the new cadets on a vast scale, but, judged by our standards, they are worth consideration in respect of light and living conditions and health amenities. I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should seriously reconsider the question of rebuilding the barracks. Why should not the soldier have at least as much consideration as people in ordinary civilian life, who have had their housing conditions improved, to some extent?
The right hon. Gentleman had not been long at the War Office before he began to stir things up. I gather that certain people left the War Office on the ground of age. I must say that a good many Members of Parliament must have felt uncomfortable when the question of age was raised. I think that Cabinet Ministers and men in business might well have the same test applied to them. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman meant that age should be the standard under the new conditions, but he certainly bombed old areas of activity in this country. I think we found new courage in the thought that perhaps merit was in his mind as much as age. Merit has never been considered so much a necessity in the Army as in most walks of life. We have heard a good deal about speeding-up promotion for officers. Has the right hon. Gentleman not thought that in the modern Army, with its small units, quickly changing, the whole tendency is almost automatically to democratise the Army, so that ultimately the rank and file will have to be considered more for commissions. Some of my hon. Friends are going to speak on that, so all I will say is that merit should be the future test for officers, irrespective of class, family or the walk of life to which men belong. New standards are being thrust upon us by new conditions. The average layman has no idea of the swift changes that have taken place in Army organisation. The wartime soldier would hardly recognise the modern Army. Even the officer who left the Army two or three years ago would find himself lost in it to-day. The most remarkable change that has taken place is in regard to the relations of the officer to the men. I was told quite recently by a young officer who had been on the frontier in India how he had got 2156 on intimate terms with his men, simply because of the changed conditions under which they now operate. There are new qualifications coming into operation, not only in respect of technical knowledge, but in respect of characteristics required for the purpose of command.
I want to cast a critical eye on these Estimates. We have been asked to vote £106,000,000 for the Army alone. That is a colossal sum, and it certainly demands very serious consideration. We have reached such colossal figures in these matters that we are apt to overlook the fact that not long ago £24,000,000, which is the increase this year, was half the total amount of the Estimates for the year. The right hon. Gentleman himself stated that there was one item in Vote 9 which is actually greater than the whole Estimate was three or four years ago. I shall have something to say about that Estimate later on. The first year in which there was an increase was 1935, when the Estimate increased from about £40,000,000 to £45,000,000. In 1936 there was an increase of £10,000,000, bringing the total to over £55,000,000, and last year there was an increase to £82,000,000. This year the total is £106,500,000, or twice the amount of the 1936 Estimates. If we take the standard year of 1935, the Army has had in the last two full years an increase of £48,000,000, in addition to the ordinary Estimates. What have we got for that £48,000,000? Is the Committee satisfied with what is well known to be the position as far as the Army is concerned?
Two years ago we were told that it had been decided to equip the infantry with the Bren gun. That has not been done. Would it be true to say that there is one Bren gun per battalion instead of 50? The right hon. Gentleman's predecessor, in the same speech, talked about the anti-tank rifle. The right hon. Gentleman, answering a question this week, was very proud about the quality of that gun—and quite rightly, from the point of view of its efficiency as a destructive machine—but he was very careful when asked about it, so far as quantities were concerned. I know the difficulty of giving explicit answers, but we ought to be assured that the object for which money is being voted is being realised in actual fact. What is the position in regard to tanks? What about delivery? Is the position any better? 2157 It does not give one any pleasure to draw attention to these things. The War Office in March, 1935, made a statement that the Army had been mechanised by the provision of up-to-date equipment. In 1936, it was discovered to be urgently necessary that army formation should be equipped with the most up-to-date arms; in February, 1937, it was said that steps were in active progress to do so; and in March, 1938, this is what is said in the White Paper on Defence:In the production of nearly all the major articles of armament and equipment for which new designs are being adopted, the stages of design and development are already ended, or are within sight of completion.We know very well that the Army is being considered as a very bad third to the Air Force and the Navy. The right hon. Gentleman has got in first with his Estimates. I wonder if he can use some of that energy of his to see that during the coming year we shall know what our money is being spent on. This year there is another increase of £24,000,000 to add to the £48,000,000 of the last two years. I do not know what guarantee there is that both the Army and Territorials are equipped and efficient. I would ask the Committee to look closely at one or two of these Votes. The Vote for the Territorial Army in 1932 was as low as £4,000,000; in 1935 it was £5,000,000; in 1936, £6,000,000; in 1937, £8,000,000; and on this occasion it is nearly £10,000,000, although there is included in that sum something like £3,000,000 for the Reserve and Supplementary Reserve, but still that leaves £7,000,000 for the Territorials, a continual increase since 1935. What is the position with regard to the Territorials? I met a young officer recently, quite an enthusiast, who was in camp this year. He is in the "Heavies," and he has never heard a gun fired and has never seen one. Surely, it is necessary, if we are to depend upon the Territorials for the defence of this country that they should at least be equipped with the necessary materials and equipment to enable them to carry out their functions. This money has been voted year after year, and there is no guarantee as to where it has gone. It has not gone in equipment, it has not been used to revolutionise buildings, it has not, apparently, been spent upon any of these things for which the Committee thought that it was voted.
2158 On Vote 7, Clothing, there is a total Vote of nearly £2,000,000—an increase of £430,000. In 1932 the War Office decided to abolish the old Army Clothing Factory. We on this side said at the time that that was a bad decision. Even though we admitted that in normal times it would have to carry high overhead charges, we said that there probably would come a time when it would be a good measuring wand for the price of things. In 1933 the Estimate was less than £1,000,000. It is true that there were 20,000 fewer soldiers. There were 150,000 soldiers, and now there are 170,000, but the Estimate is twice the amount it was in 1933. That is a matter which ought to cause some concern not only to the House, but to the War Office itself. I do not know whether there are reserves concerned in this matter but, as a rough figure, the cost would appear to work out at about £400 per soldier for equipment. I would ask the Financial Secretary when he replies how prices compare with what they were when the Army Clothing Factory was in the possession of the War Office, and was producing clothing for the troops. What is the War Office doing properly to measure prices, so as to see that there are no undue profits made by people producing clothing privately for the Army? I hope that the House will take note of Votes of this kind. In Vote 8, relating to General Stores, the sum of £50,200 was required in 1936 for accoutrements and musical instruments; in 1937 it was £88,500, and in 1938 it has reached £463,000. I do not object to the Army having a few instruments, but you could make all the musical instruments required by all the bands and musicians in Europe for that amount. I do not know whether the money is for the purpose of blowing the trumpet of the Secretary of State.
I now come to the grimmest feature of these Votes, namely, Vote 9, Warlike Stores amounting to £43,310,000, which the right hon. Gentleman said is as much as the whole of the Estimates two or three years ago. On page 191 of the Estimates there is an item of £38,383,000—an increase of £13,000,000. This Vote is one-third of the whole of the Estimates. It is under three small heads, and there are half a dozen lines in explanation. Last year there were nine heads, but they were itemised more closely than they are to-day. Why has there been this change? 2159 Why is there not a fuller explanation of these particular items? I can understand that there has to be a certain amount of secrecy about these matters, but we are now in the third year of rearmament. These Estimates amount to over £100,000,000, and there is nobody who is sure that we are getting value for our money in equipment. The one thing of which everyone is sure is that there is very little control at all as far as this House is concerned. The Prime Minister said in this House on Monday:I can assure the House that the money we are asking them to spend is being spent wisely, and that we are, I believe, obtaining full value for it…. The House may remember that last year the Estimates Committee went fully into the question, and they reported that they were satisfied that the methods followed were soundly conceived and fair to the taxpayer and the contractor."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th March, 1931; cols. 1560–61, Vol. 332.]But the Report of the Estimates Committee does not come into our hands for 18 months, and I suggest that it is really time, in the face of Votes of this description, that there should be some really representative body of the House of Commons to keep a grip upon the Estimates so that we could know what is happening on particular Votes./We should be able to see whether prices were something like normal, whether any undue profit was being made, and whether the work for which the money is being spent is being accomplished. I would ask the hon. Gentleman what is happening with regard to the prices of guns, small arms and ammunition? Last year I asked for a comparison of the prices of private firms and of Woolwich, Enfield and other Government establishments. I believe that the War Office was in the mood at that time to give the information, and I hope that if it has the information at its disposal now, it will be given to the Committee in order that we may know what is being done. When the Government decided to rearm three years ago, the Army Estimates stood at about £45,000,000, and they have mounted stage by stage until we have reached what has been called "rearmament on a terrifying scale," to use the words of the Prime Minister.
I and many of my hon. Friends who speak from these benches represent working-class areas which have known hard times for years—most divisions are in that 2160 position the further north we get—and I should be doing less than my duty if I did not say that the workers are conscious of the fact that they will have to pay for this expenditure in reduced social services or in some form or other. When this rearmament began it was reluctantly consented to because, in the face of the Fascist Powers, difficult as conditions are, the workers realise that their only hope of improving their position lies in the democratic evolution of the people. To people with a history like ours dictatorship is an intolerable thing. Let there be no mistake about it, the worker is not deceived by the old tag that increased armaments ensure peace. There is one way in which you can avoid the disaster of war. It was the star of hope from 1914 to 1918. There should be pooled security among the nations to maintain law in the world. Statesmen of this country proclaimed that continually during the War. For nearly 20 years they have proclaimed it, and yet there are people in this House who actually laugh at the idea of pooled security. [Interruption.] I have heard them do it. It is certain that collective security as an effective instrument has not been strengthened. It has not had the support in this House in the Government ranks which it had only a few months ago. I cannot forget my own experience. On the other side of the Channel I had to go from Etaples to Ypres day after day, and one went from cemetery to cemetery where millions of men were lying dead. You felt differently, you looked on life differently, in such circumstances. When the late Prime Minister called for rearmament he based his plea definitely on the League of Nations and pooled security. It is on record what he said:I want to remind the House that defence requirements and foreign policy are so closely and so firmly inter-related that one cannot be considered apart from the other. The objective of the foreign policy of the United Kingdom and the end to which every endeavour is being steadfastly and continuously directed may be summed up in one sentence—to secure peace for the peoples of the British Empire and for the nations of the world, and the means of obtaining that objective are collective security and friendship.The late Prime Minister ended by using these words:We shall continue to work for peace, but to review the state of our Defence Forces to see what is needed, first to fulfil our obligations under the Covenant of the League of Nations, and, secondly, to enable us to safeguard ourselves.2161 On that plain statement the late Prime Minister won his majority in the country. There was the fact that the increased power and strength of this nation would help to make the League a decisive factor in the assertion of international law and release the nation from the gnawing fear of war. What has happened in the last few weeks? There are some people who take this thing as a joke—at least it seems so to me. One thing is certain. Hon. Members can think what they like, but it is certain that the Prime Minister has, in the opinion of the nation, departed from the statement made by the late Prime Minister. He has dimmed that vision and damaged the morale of the people, who believe that under collective security they will be definitely secure from the fear of war and will be able to live under conditions of permanent peace. But alliances are to take the place of the League of Nations. The Prime Minister used the term which we never heard until a few weeks ago. It is the view of my friends and myself and it is the widespread view of the country. We stand definitely and clearly by the League of Nations and collective security.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Sir Archibald Sinclair
My first duty is to offer to the Secretary of State for War a tribute of sincere congratulations not only on the speech of rare power and clarity with which he introduced his Estimates, but also on the evidence which he gave that he was tackling the problem of the Army with energy and vision. I shall have to refer presently to some of the things he has said and to some of the principles he laid down. With some of them I warmly agree; but I must at once say that I think the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) was amply justified in drawing attention to the very formidable total of the Estimates we are asked to vote this afternoon. A total of £106,000,000 for the Army alone is one which must call for very anxious and even critical scrutiny. It is nearly three times as much as the total of the Estimates six years ago, and it is clear that it can be justified only on the ground that it is essential emergency expenditure. If this figure is to be taken as reflecting a permanent tendency of increasing expenditure on the Army, or even if it means that His Majesty's Government contemplate an expenditure on the Army 2162 for some time to come far in excess of normal standards, I should regard the policy and the Estimates with the gravest misgiving.
For reasons with which we are all familiar, and which we have discussed in our Debates on foreign affairs and on the broad aspects of Imperial Defence, it is generally conceded by all parties that world conditions at the present time impose upon us the necessity of rearming. But the key elements of our national and imperial security remain the sea and, increasingly, the air, and I was delighted to hear the Secretary of State for War express so clearly his view of the importance particularly of the air in the problem of our National and Imperial Defence. I was glad to hear the statement that his main objective was not to increase the size of the Army, but to improve its geographical distribution and organisation. With certain exceptions, to which the Secretary of State has referred, no additional burden ought to be thrown upon our land forces at the present time, and if we divert to strictly military object resources which ought either to be employed in strengthening our air and sea forces or to be husbanded to maintain our economic and financial strength, we shall not be increasing, but diminishing our powers of resistance. That is why I welcome the statement of the Secretary of State for War on the role of the Army though it was necessarily in vague and general terms. Obviously he could not give us a detailed description of his plans until the inquiry which the Prime Minister has initiated is concluded, but I welcome the indication he gave of his view as to what should be the proper role of the Army in war.
As I said in the Debate last Monday, if this country should unhappily be involved in the calamity of war, our main contribution would have to be made on the sea, in the air and in the munition factories. An expeditionary force for a limited operation like the Shanghai expedition of 1927, or an expedition which could be regarded as an extension of our naval power is one thing, but an army on a continental scale is quite another, and to attempt to organise it would, in my view, be a disastrous blunder. We must, therefore, consider whether the purposes for which this expenditure is demanded are unavoidable and to what 2163 extent they impose a continuing and lasting burden on the taxpayer. It seems to me from the Estimates themselves, from the Memorandum which accompanies them and from the speech of the Secretary of State, that there are four main heads under which this expenditure falls to be considered. First, and, of course, by far the most formidable in size, is the change from the horse to the machine. That process is inevitable as was the slower, but no doubt inconveniently expensive change over from the bow and arrow to the blunderbuss. Moreover, for all the normal functions of the Army—home defence, and garrison and police duty in our overseas territories and on our lines of communications—this change ought in the long run to be a measure of economy. If an army equipped with machines can develop more fighting power than an army equipped with horses we must be able to obtain the fighting power which our army requires to discharge its functions at less expense by the employment of machines than by the employment of horses.
The next heavy item of expenditure is the re-fortification of the ports of this country and our naval bases and fuelling stations overseas. No one who is aware of the state of our forts and coastal defences in recent years will deny the necessity for this expenditure in present circumstances, but here again, once the necessary fortifications have been carried out, there should be strong resistance to unreasonable and costly demands, and there should be a sharp decline in this expenditure. The third important category is, of course, what the Secretary of State has rightly said is a new service which the Army have undertaken since 1914, and that is anti-aircraft defence. No one will grudge wisely directed expenditure on that Service. My own doubt in the past has been—it was a doubt I had until this afternoon—whether a sufficient measure of priority was being given to this demand. I have raised the question on several occasions in the past on the Estimates of the Minister for the Coordination of Defence and on the Estimates for the fighting Services. Now for the first time we have had a statement from the Secretary of State that he gives this Service absolute priority. He gave us the functions of the Army in the order of their importance and said that the first 2164 function was home defence, and that the first sub-head under that heading was defence against air attack. I welcome that assurance.
We all know that if Europe were again to encounter the catastrophe of war this country would feel the first shock and would have to sustain it in the air. I wonder if we can press the Secretary of State to give us just a little more concrete information and assurance on this point. I know that I am not entitled to press him very hard, but if he could give us some indication of what he is doing to supply the equipment it would greatly reassure the House. Is it true that our anti-aircraft defences are still equipped with the 20-year old gun? Is it true that, roughly, only half-a-dozen guns of the new types are available for the units engaged in anti-aircraft defence; and by what date will our anti-aircraft defences be fully equipped with new guns? I am sure that some information on these points will be welcomed by the House. We also hear some unsatisfactory reports about the balloon barrage. I cannot understand why we are to be content with a balloon barrage which, I understand, goes up to a height of only 10,000 or 15,000 feet, whereas the French balloon barrage goes up to a very much greater height, exceeding 20,000 feet.
Another question which I have raised before in these Debates, and on which I have not yet received any satisfaction, is the location of factories on which the Army and the Anti-Aircraft Defence Units will depend for their supplies. I am told that there are contractors and sub-contractors, and perhaps little subcontractors of sub-contractors, who are manufacturing, perhaps in quite a small way, chemical products or some small but indispensable part of a complicated mechanism, and who are still carrying on this work in the most vulnerable zones in and around London and between London and the East Coast. It is not sufficient to say that this matter has been referred to a Royal Commission, which may not report for some months. Surely, the Government ought at least to announce forthwith that there will be no compensation for or State insurance against destruction by air attack of any new place of employment established in certain vulnerable areas. That would be only a first step, but I think it is one 2165 which the Government might reasonably take.
Moreover, although passive measures of defence are not the responsibility of the Secretary of State for War, I gladly welcome the declaration which he made on the very important problem of policing during air attack. That, again, is a question which I raised in the Debate in July of last year on the co-ordination of defence. The policing of communications and vital points, superintending evacuation and establishing emergency services of transport, health, sanitation and food, are duties which will need to be undertaken by disciplined bodies of men trained for the task. Therefore, I was glad to hear that the Secretary of State accepted, on behalf of the Territorial Army, responsibility for those vital duties.
I come now to the fourth main head of expenditure, namely, improvements in the conditions of soldiers, both in the Regular Army and the Territorial Army. As the Secretary of State said this afternoon, it is not only a question of encouraging recruitment. They are improvements which have been demanded by hon. Members in all parts of the House for many years past, and even in the old days, when we were all concerned with cutting down expenditure on armaments as much as possible and resisting the world tendency to re-armament, I urged more than once that special provision should be made for the improvement of barracks, many of which, as the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street said, have long been in a deplorable condition. The right hon. Gentleman did not mention barracks in his speech.
§ Mr. Hore-Belisha
I said that we would undertake the modernisation of every one of them, or new construction, where necessary.
§ Sir A. Sinclair
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. I missed that point in his speech, and I am very glad to have his assurance on this very important matter. The expenditure on barracks ought to be more or less non-recurrent, because if they are built well and on modern lines, they ought to last a very long time. The other measures which the right hon. Gentleman announced will throw a permanent charge on the Exchequer. Nevertheless, I believe, there was no part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech which was so universally welcomed 2166 in the House as the part in which he promised that there would be these improvements. From time to time efforts are made in the Press and elsewhere—I am sorry to say that sometimes the speeches of hon. Members opposite rather tend to encourage them—to represent Parliament, or at any rate the Opposition parties in Parliament, as not being interested in the welfare of the Services. Before concluding my speech, I intend to draw attention to a flagrant instance of this misrepresentation. Meanwhile, I do not believe there is any part of these Estimates which will receive such approval from hon. Members in all parts of the House as the expenditure on improving the accommodation and other conditions of soldiers serving in the ranks of the Regular Army and the Territorial Army. The welfare of the soldiers, sailors and airmen is, and must remain, the constant concern of Parliament. Therefore, reviewing these four main heads of expenditure, it seems to me that the case for these Estimates, as emergency Estimates, has been made out, but that we are entitled, on behalf of the taxpayers, to receive from the Government definite assurances that every effort will be made to reduce the burden as speedily as possible in the future.
There are three other points with which I wish to deal briefly before resuming my seat. The first refers to the four new battalions, the raising of which was stated, in the White Paper on Defence which was circulated in 1936, to be necessary on account of the hardships which garrison duties were imposing on our then existing establishment. So necessary was that step considered to be that it was stated in the White Paper that even those four battalions would onlyto some extent mitigate the present difficulties.Again, in the White Paper on Defence issued in 1937, the Government stated that two of those battalions were being raised and that all four battalions wererequired for maintaining our overseas garrisons.Now, the Secretary of State, in his Memorandum accompanying the Estimates, says curtly that it is not proposed to raise the two remaining battalions this year. Why not, if this strain still persists, and if even the raising of four battalions would only mitigate the difficulties to some 2167 extent? On the other hand, if this delay has not proved injurious, I ask him whether indeed they are really necessary.
My second point relates to compensation for injuries sustained during training by members of the Territorial Army. The man who joins a light tank unit, or a heavy artillery unit or an Officers Training Corps runs a serious risk of injury in the course of his training, especially if he drives a tracked vehicle over rough ground. If a Regular soldier is injured in such conditions, he is given free treatment in hospital and if the injury is temporary, he goes back to his job, and if it is permanent he gets compensation; but the young Territorial may lose his job, or his prospects of higher wages or salary and attainment to a responsible position in his industry may be destroyed. Surely, a man who gives up his time voluntarily to the public service ought to receive some compensation for injuries which he may sustain in such circumstances.
Now, lastly, I wish to draw attention to an article which appeared in the magazine "The Territorial," in February, and to which I referred when I was dealing a minute or two ago with misrepresentations that are made about the attitude of this House towards the Army and its concern for the welfare of soldiers. This magazine is not a small and insignificant sheet, but a well-produced magazine; and it is stated to be for the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, the Auxiliary Air Force, the Officers Training Corps and the Cadet Corps. In the February number, there was an article headed "Citizen or Janissary?" and the subtitle was "Is the Soldier to be Regarded as a Sentient Being or a Chattel in the Hands of the Politician?" The article begins by saying:It is a curious fact that in this country, no matter what civilian book or speech dealing with matters military one may peruse today, all have one thing in common, and that is a complete and cynical evasion of the soldier's personal view towards war. This attitude …presumes that the defence forces, Regular and Territorial alike, can be hurled into any conflict at the will of unscrupulous political parties or to correct the errors of big business interests or diplomacy,The article goes on to suggest thatThe most legitimate cause for war is, obviously, the defence of one's own territory or vital communications against armed aggression. In some cases this may be extended to 2168 the case of an ally in sore distress (if the ally is really a genuine friend, which is not often the case).Who is to judge whether the ally is a genuine friend? Obviously not this untrustworthy Parliament; whether it is to be the writer of the article, or who it may be, I do not attempt to guess. The article continues:Unfortunately modern wars do not seem to be entered into on these principles. Grab, self-seeking, the need for stabilising new national constitutions at all costs, or blood feuds between the extremist elements in a nation have been the direct cause of every war since 1914–1918.The writer of the article then goes on to say that there is an even worse cause of war, an even more futile cause than the blood feuds between the extremist elements—he says:To these mercenary motives must be added the even more futile one of participation in somebody else's war for sentimental or League of Nations reasons, a fashionable complaint in certain circles to-day.The complaint is a little less fashionable now than it was at the time of the last General Election, because, after all, the policy which the writer is criticising now is the policy on which the Government fought the General Election and on which they received their great majority. The article concludes by saying that if warever does come one wonders what will be its origin, legitimate defence of the homeland, or some chimera bred in the brain of a Dictator or in the sentimental chaos of a super-democratic Parliament.That article appears to be written by a distinguished officer who is the military editor of "The Territorial Magazine." I cannot conceive what object it was intended to serve, but its effect, if any, on the minds of its readers can have been only to undermine their confidence in Parliament and the constitutional Government of this country, and therefore to discourage recruiting. If anybody says that it would have been more mischievous if it had been less muddleheaded, I should be obliged to agree, but I think the House and I hope the Secretary of State, will agree that any attempt, however clumsy, to drive a wedge between the Army and the representatives of the people in Parliament is dangerous to civil liberty, and should be severely reprobated.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Amery
I should like to open by congratulating my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War very warmly 2169 upon what I regard as the most interesting and refreshing statement on the Army Estimates that I have heard during the quarter of a century or more for which I have followed these Debates. The statement, as I understood it, portended little less than a complete revolution in the structure and organisation of the British Army. Of course my right hon. Friend did not come here with a revolutionary scheme cut and dried. He was wise enough not to do that, and, indeed, as he has told us, no complete scheme can be worked out before that inquiry, which I am glad to think the Prime Minister himself is undertaking, and which will survey, not only our own Army problem, but the problem of the Indian Army and the necessary and intimate correlation of the two.
What is revolutionary to my mind is my right hon. Friend's whole approach to the problem. Not the least revolutionary part of it is the fact that it would appear from his speech that the war for which he is preparing is not the last war, but the kind of war that may conceivably arise in the circumstances of the future, and under the conditions which, since 1914, have been created in the whole field of strategy by the development of the air. Again, what was very refreshing was the fact that, evidently, his whole conception of Army problems begins at the strategical end. He begins by asking the question "What is the Army for?" and, after that, considering how the structure, recruiting and organisation of the Army can meet that end. It is perfectly clear, I think, that the end contemplated by him is not that of mass warfare on the Continent of Europe. He evidently had not in mind the creation of a number of divisions to be attached to the divisions of a Continental ally in the fields of Flanders or anywhere else in the main area of a Continental war.
Modern conditions, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) pointed out the other day, mean that the main targets of air attack are going to be the rearward services of armies, and, therefore, the more mobile and smaller armies are, the less rearward services they have, the less vulnerable they will be. The mere addition of a large mass of British troops and a still larger mass of transport, say, to the French Army, would be of infinitely less help to them than the direct and immediate 2170 service of the whole of our Air Force at the disposal of, and in co-operation with, theirs. In putting the strategical problems he quite rightly gave priority to one entirely new problem with which we are confronted, namely, the problem of the defence of this country against air attack. The Cardwell system always included as its main objective the keeping of a strategic reserve in this country to offer resistance to an actual armed landing. That was superseded long before the Great War. Lord Haldane's organisation contemplated our main strategic reserve being here for easy mobilisation and transport to the Continent.
It is not from that point of view that we wish to keep an Army in this country in the future. What we need is an effective anti-aircraft organisation, administratively under the Army though, from the tactical and strategical point of view, under the actual control of the Air Ministry in time of war. That is going to be our main defence at home. I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman opposite that there still seem to be considerable gaps in the adequate strength of that scheme and in the civilian scheme of air raids precautions. I will not dwell further on that point except to say that if our scheme of protection against air attack in this country is adequate it will mean a great economy both to the Navy and to the Regular Army. It will free them both strategically to a much greater extent for the kind of purposes for which they are likely to be used.
That brings me to the future role of the Regular Army. My right hon. Friend pointed out very truly that the development of the air and in a lesser degree of the submarine makes it impossible for us to contemplate bringing our normal garrisons, which are vital to the strength of the Navy and to our communications, up to war strength after war has broken out. Therefore, I gather, part of his programme is a definite reinforcement of the normal strength in peace time of the garrisons of our main naval stations, Gibraltar, Malta, Singapore and the rest. More than that, if we are to have a strategical reserve it is essential that it should be on the other side of the zone of danger so as not to have the zone of danger between us and the areas in which it is likely to be required. No one can doubt that the 2171 main areas of stress in the near future, in which a small expeditionary force may be required, lie east of Suez, and I include Egypt and Palestine in the general definition "east of Suez." [Laughter.] I recognise that I am sacrificing geographical accuracy for the sake of a phrase. They lie from that, eastwards to India, and, indeed, to the Far East, where we may have to consider problems of no small difficulty in the future.
I gather, therefore, that there is contemplated a great strengthening of the troops which we keep there, not for mere emergency purposes like the present Palestine disturbances, but for the normal training and work in that part of the world. Indeed, from many points of view, not all strategic, facilities for training in that part of the world are better than they are here. I agree with him that we could afford to place more reliance on the valuable services which local forces could give. It would be well worth while, not only from the purely military point of view, to enlist the active service of the loyal populations of Malta and Cyprus and to make use of the many fine fighting elements which exist throughout the Near East, in Palestine and elsewhere. In that connection, I would put in a word for those Assyrian troops who have given such splendid assistance to this country in the past, and have shown themselves to be the finest non-British fighting material ever enlisted in our forces
Apart from those, when it comes to our own regular forces, it becomes obvious, as my right hon. Friend indicated, that this strategical redistribution of the Army cannot easily be fitted in with the rigidity of the linked battalion system established by Card well 70 years ago. You can, of course, even on the Cardwell system, get a certain element of flexibility by treating areas outside this country which have a healthy climate as being on the home establishment. For instance, the climate of Palestine is, I believe, one in which young troops, fresh from the depots, can quite well go through their ordinary training and be trained so as to provide drafts for India without danger to their health. Even so, I think we shall have to come to something like a double period of service.
There, again, I have no doubt my right hon. Friend is right in not attempting, at 2172 one go, to commit himself to a cut-and-dried scheme. He is tentatively and experimentally introducing the opportunity of career service. I was very interested to hear from him that career service may involve progression, not only within the same unit, but from the more active to the more sedentary branches of a force like the artillery or the engineers, so as to give variety and change of work and not that mere continuity which might have a deadening effect on a man's energies. It is clear that sooner or later we shall have to work towards a division in which the short service will become shorter and the career service form a larger part. I have no doubt my right hon. Friend is wise in not committing himself at this moment to any particular specific scheme. He may have, not merely two, but three or four terms of service; the great thing is that our system should be flexible in order to correspond with the flexible needs of our strategy.
Then, again, he took a revolutionary line in his approach to the problem of organisation. For the first time he has laid down that the basis of our establishment is not men, but fire-power, agreeing in that respect with what Napoleon said that:Fire is everything, and the rest very little.Undoubtedly the Army, like the Navy and the Air Force, and like industry, must be governed more and more by output, and owing to the developments of modern science it is an output which increases far more rapidly than the number of men required to produce it. Economy in men is not merely economy in the particular unit, but it is an enormous economy in war, in supply and transport, in the diminution of vulnerability against air attack, in increase of mobility and therefore of surprise, which is the first factor of victory in war.
In all these matters it seems to me that my right hon. Friend is initiating a move towards a flexible organisation which will give us far greater striking power and far greater strategic mobility with, at any rate, the maximum of economy in cost. It will at the same time increase our power of selection in respect of men. The new type of Army will necessarily require a more intelligent and self-reliant type of soldier. It is the quality of the soldier far more than numbers that 2173 will count in the kind of war which my right hon. Friend has clearly envisaged. When it comes to that, he is also contributing to the solution of his problem by all those reforms in the soldier's life which he has enumerated and which will be warmly welcomed in every quarter of the House. Increased allowances in respect of the married soldier and in respect of the expense of moving from one station to another of officers and men alike, are things not much in themselves, but calculated to alter the whole appeal of the Army by meeting human and reasonable requirements, in a way which I think will be welcomed everywhere.
I should like too to say with what special pleasure I welcomed the announcement that he was increasing early recruiting. I know, in respect of the Navy, that an integral part of its strength is the fact that so large a proportion of really able and competent boys are brought into the Navy as boys, who will look to it as their whole life and not enter it like those who, having tried other branches of industry, then go into the Service. I am sure that this enlargement of earlier recruiting is something that ought to be carried even a good deal further than my right hon. Friend is proposing to carry it in the course of the coming year. There are, no doubt, minor points of criticism which on another occasion I might be disposed to raise, but to my mind they are at this moment minor only, and what I wish to say to the House is that I honestly think the Secretary of State is laying his hand to something that may mean a really vital reorganisation of our whole military system, something that may give us an Army very different from the mass armies of the Continent, something much nearer to that "Army of a dream" of which Rudyard Kipling once wrote.
§ 6.47 p.m.
§ Major-General Sir Alfred Knox
As one who has not always agreed with the Secretary of State for War, as one in fact who has violently disagreed with him on occasions, I should like to congratulate him on the very lucid exposition which he has given us to-night. It is a matter that is so complicated that it would be much better, I think, from the point of view of an ordinary Member, and especially one who is perhaps suffering from over-age, as I am, if he had printed a Budget statement beforehand to let us 2174 know some of his proposals. We could then grasp them more easily. I mean something circulated at the beginning of the Debate; we should not want to get hold of his proposals earlier than that. There are many things which he said with which I cordially agree, and there are other things about which I should like to ask for further information. The right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery) is wholeheartedly in favour of war, I gather, on the limited liability system, which I do not believe in. I do not think it is possible to limit the amount. If you go into a dreadful thing like war, you have to go all out to win, and you have to put everything into it. For that reason, I am a whole-hearted advocate of peace and I hold that war is the very last resort of civilisation.
But while I quite agree with the idea of a strategical reserve at home, I am very vague as to what the right hon. Gentleman meant about the strength of that strategical reserve. He talked of two divisions, I think, and the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook said that, in his opinion, the fewer men we put into the line the more possibly our Allies on the Continent would be pleased. I wonder whether that idea has been put up to those possible Allies of ours. Of course, we do not know who they would be, but we have Lord Baldwin's statement that our frontier is on the Rhine, and we also have the statement of the late Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that we must take part in the defence of the Southern ports on the English Channel and the Low Countries. That gives a certain idea who our Allies may be. If France is to be an Ally, would it be very acceptable to France, with her depleted manhood, that we should say to her, "We will send very few men to help you. You will provide the men; you have a big standing Army." I do not imagine that the French soldiers are much behind our leading soldiers in their ideas on the strategy of war. Why do they have these enormous armies? Why does Germany increase her Army to something like 72 divisions? It is not done for fun, and there must be something in that idea of these big armies still. I should like to hear something more about that.
I think the Secretary of State was perhaps a little optimistic in what he said about recruiting. I know his idea is to 2175 get recruits by psychology, and it is an excellent idea to advertise week by week. It rather makes foreign nations laugh that we have had five or 10 more recruits in the London district in the past week, but it helps here. The right hon. Gentleman is trying to create a situation in which the manhood of the nation will say, "I must hurry up and get into the Army; to-morrow there may not be a vacancy." If he can do that, it will be an excellent thing. I understand that there is a new department at the War Office given over to publicity. No doubt they are working overtime, and I hope the department will be a success. We cannot help noticing that in this Memorandum on the Army Estimates we still have a shortage in the Army of, I think, 1,200 officers and 22,000 other ranks. That shortage is really bigger than it was at this time last year, in spite of all the attempts made by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor and himself—most praiseworthy attempts—to increase the attractions of voluntary service. It is quite true, as he says here, that there has been a most satisfactory increase in the number of applicants, and that is the main thing that we have to look at, to see what number of men want to go into the Army; but looking at the results of the last calendar year, the year ended 31st December, I find there were 1,000 fewer applicants in the last six months than in the first six months of 1937. There has been a great increase in January, and I do not know what the figures are for February, but I hope they have gone up.
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State said that we have no fewer than 60,000 men striving to get into the Army every year. That is practically true, as in 1937 we had 51,000, and probably the number is going up now. But we can only count the number of men we can take into the Army, the men who are likely to make efficient soldiers. The question, to my mind, with the Army at present, say, 22,000 short and with 32,000 passing to the Reserve in the next year, is, How are we going to fill up the ranks? If the right hon. Gentleman, when he travels about the country, which he very properly does, and looks at our different Army institutions, were to go to some of these depleted battalions in the country, have a quiet talk with their commanding 2176 officers, and ask them how they fancy soldiering with the few men they have, he would find rather a less optimistic point of view than he has presented to us to-night.
Like the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook, I am wholly in agreement with the idea of getting together with the Secretary of State for India and devising some scheme which will produce perhaps, what I should like, a separate Army for India, a long-service Army, the men of which would get a pension at the end of their time in India. I should like to see that, but I hope—naturally he could not give any account of the terms of reference—they will evolve something. I am convinced that there is no Army in the world that is more in need of thorough reorganisation than the Army in India. As it stands at present, it was organised by Lord Kitchener, when he went out there after the Boer War, with the idea of meeting a great advance through Afghanistan. That advance is not possible now. It is not that the people on the other side are more friendly, but they have different methods. They send a single germ-carrying propagandist, probably into Bombay, and he will do far more harm than any great Army marching across the Hindu Kush. What we want in India are small mobile divisions that would be able to go about the country and keep internal order, and possibly prevent Hindus and Mohammedans from getting at each other's throats, which will quite posibly be one result of the Government of India Act which both Houses here passed some time ago.
I whole-heartedly welcome the idea of the Secretary of State in raising the pay, but until I see this on paper, I cannot realise whether it will be sufficient to bring in the men we want. As represented by many speakers in the Debate last year, pay is the thing that the men really want. They want more pay. I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman has not mentioned the possibility of giving the men a really decent walking-out dress. He spoke of the new service dress, which is an excellent dress, but it is not the sort of dress to attract recruits into the Army. I hope that they will produce an attractive walking-out dress that the men will be proud of. Before the War each man had a walking-out dress and two suits of khaki. Now he is cut down to two suits of khaki. We have economised 2177 there, no doubt, but it is not helping to fill the ranks of the Army.
I hope the Secretary of State, with his great influence in the Cabinet, will try to put before some other Departments the idea that they should take in more old soldiers after they have done their service. I have tried to get the figures out of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. I want to find out how many retired ex-service men are appointed to Government offices every year, and I cannot get the information. There is no reason why they should not be appointed. The reason why the Guards are always off the street is that they get jobs in the police, and they have a more or less assured future, but many of the poor fellows who come from the ranks are turned out on the world after seven years, when their pals in civil life have learned trades. I am sure that if the Secretary of State puts his mind to that question, he can force these other Departments to take in more ex-service men. Last year I pointed out that the chief of the Post Office said that he employed more ex-service men than any other Department. So he does, and so he ought. He ought to employ far more than he does. Take the case of the telegraph boys. They are allowed to become postmen, and when I objected to that he said, "You cannot make the position of a telegraph boy a blind-alley occupation." I claim that the telegraph boy can go into the ranks, do his work as a soldier, and come back and be a most efficient postman. Why should he not?
The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State has given some concessions as regards the officers, which I think will be very popular. He has also mentioned the idea of, I understand, reducing the number of subalterns and giving their positions to warrant officers, and that sounds a possible idea. He talked of fixing a time limit for officers to occupy each rank. That, no doubt, would make a flow of promotion, but what I am frightened of is, what you would do with officers who were not quite up to the standard to go on to the next rank. The right hon. Gentleman is surely not going to turn them out on to a cold world with a very inadequate pension. If he did, it would not only be cruel to those officers who are passed over, but it would have a very great effect on the recruiting of 2178 further officers, because if parents saw their sons allowed to be turned out at 30 or so, they would not encourage them to enter the old regiment. As a whole, I agree with the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook, who spoke so much of the right hon. Gentleman's revolutionary enthusiasm—so much so that he rather shocked me. I am in no sense a revolutionary, but I welcome the changes that the right hon. Gentleman has made and is making.
§ 6.59 p.m.
§ Major Milner
The last speaker has, with all those who have spoken, congratulated the Secretary of State on his speech, and I should like to associate myself with all that has been said as to the right hon. Gentleman's lucidity, the way in which he has put forward two or three of the objects that he has in mind, and the changes that he has brought about and hopes to bring about in the future. It he will forgive my saying so, his speech was at times reminiscent of Field Service Regulations; none the less, it was a very lucid and valuable contribution. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Wycombe (Sir A. Knox) was, I thought, a little hard on the right hon. Gentleman in regard to recruiting. As I understand the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, he has a surplus of applicants for the requirements of the Army to-day. It is a case of the many being called and the few chosen, because the great majority of those who apply are not, I gather, up to the requisite physical standard in one direction or another.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman will not mind my saying to him and to his friends on the Government benches that we on this side have at all times preached in this House the very great advantages that would accrue in this direction, as in so many others, if greater efforts were made to improve the conditions under which so many of our people live—if they had more food and greater leisure, and enjoyed other conditions of that sort which we advocate in this House, and which supporters of the Government oppose. I feel that if some of our proposals were accepted, many more of the men who offer themselves to the recruiting officers would be accepted.
I have been looking at the Estimates, and my first criticism is that they are extremely confusing. If hon. Gentlemen 2179 will look, for example, at the Memorandum published with the Estimates and then look at the Estimates themselves, pages 4 and 5, they will see that in no single case do the figures agree. Looking through the various yearbooks, you hardly ever find the same figure quoted as the total of Army Estimates for any particular year. Taking the Minister's White Paper, there you find that the total charges in 1931 were £39,930,000, but if you look at the Estimate, page 5, the figure is £38,445,496, or a difference of about £1,500,000. Similarly the year 1936 shows further differences. Perhaps whoever is going to reply will inform the House why those figures do not agree. Then if Members would look at the year 1934–35, those figures in the White Paper exclude the Supplementary Estimates, but if the year 1936 is looked at the figures include the Supplementary Estimates. It is surely not beyond the wit of the financial authorities of the War Office to have a uniform system year by year. I suggest that where a Supplementary Estimate has been passed it should be included in the total figures. I cannot think that this confusion is caused purposely, in order to prevent hon. Members or the world generally from ascertaining the correct figures; it must have to do with some method of accounting, and the right hon. Gentleman would do well to have it put right.
We on this side of the House, as is probably the case in all quarters, look at the Army Estimates from two points of view. First, do they make the Army more adequate, more efficient for the purposes, whatever they are, for which it is intended? And, secondly, are the conditions of those who are employed in the Army all that they ought to be? Are the rank and file, in particular, getting satisfactory conditions, and are we getting value for the money expended? With regard to the first point, efficiency, it is obviously difficult for any of us to form a satisfactory opinion unless we know the Government's policy, or its conception of the use to which the Army is to be put. This afternoon the right hon. Gentleman has indicated a number of functions which the Army might undertake. It was extremely difficult to follow him and one must read at leisure what he said. But it seems to me that the policy of the Government at the moment, 2180 possibly the right one, is to make the Army a sort of all-purpose force, a flexible force which can be used either on the Continent of Europe or elsewhere.
There was one point on which I was not clear. Are we to understand that the idea of what we understood to be the Expeditionary Force, or that force of the Regular Army set aside for expeditionary purposes to the Continent of Europe, is now gone; or is that still part of the policy of the Government? The right hon. Gentleman did not seem to indicate that that was one of the purposes of the Regular Army, which of course it always has been in the past. Then I should like to know what the Government's views are with regard to an increase in the size of the Army in the event of war. I presume that in that event, which we hope will not come to pass, the size of the Army would be increased. What are the intentions of the Government with regard to that? Are they treating the present Regular Army as a sort of cadre, which will be enlarged or extended when necessary, or are they proposing to form a separate force—I sincerely hope not—such as the new Army was in 1914? What exactly is the method by which it is proposed to increase the Army? Or is it going to depend upon circumstances?
Then the right hon. Gentleman spoke of our troops overseas as being maintained at a strength which would be sufficient in the event of an outbreak of war. Turning to page 312 of the Estimates I should certainly have thought that in almost all those cases the troops which are set out in column I are wholly inadequate for that purpose. Take, for example, Aden. There there are 249 Regular troops of all ranks.
§ Major Milner
I do not know how far the hon. Gentleman is correct, but the right hon. Gentleman said that it was the policy of the Government to maintain sufficient forces to co-operate in the event of an outbreak of war. I suggest that in no single case, with the exception perhaps of Egypt, are there sufficient forces at the places set out on page 312. We are particularly liable to be attacked in certain circumstances, and I should have 2181 thought a very much larger force was necessary, even in such an inhospitable spot as I know Aden to be, in order adequately to protect it. Then it is remarkable to see the number of troops in China. I assume that those troops are in the main for policing purposes, and to have fewer than 9,000 troops in China at the present juncture seems to me a little suicidal. There either ought to be a mere civil police force in China, or a much greater number of troops than appear to be there. With regard to Palestine, of course that is an instance where the Government's vacillation and general policy have put them into difficulties. I am one of those who believe that if the situation had been handled more strongly in the early days in support of the Mandate in Palestine, the present situation would not have existed there.
Vote 8, page 151, deals with the question of workshops. I see that there are 31 ordnance workshops which carry out the repair of general and warlike stores. That is on page 153. I do not quite know the situation of all those workshops, but it seems to me a very large number deal with the current repairs of the Army, and I should like to ask whether those factories are co-ordinated. If one workshop is short of work, are arrangements made to send work which may be surplus in one factory to another factory, and, if so, under whose directions are those instructions given? It is quite obvious that the object ought to be to keep those workshops fully employed. I should also like to ask whether there is central purchasing, for example of vehicles, in the Army. I take it that without question there is. Here we have 31 different ordnance workshops all over the country. Are the vehicles for those workshops bought centrally, or does each workshop purchase its own vehicles?
I think my hon. Friend who opened the Debate from this side dealt shortly with the question of warlike stores (Vote 9, page 191). I should like to ask what is that Government's policy in regard to reserves. I see it stated in the Statement Relating to Defence that:As regards the Army, the accumulation of the necessary war reserves is proceeding on a large scale. In the production of nearly all the major articles of armament and equipment for which new designs are being adopted, the stages of design and development are already ended, or are within sight of completion. The present year should see warlike stores of modern pattern in growing use, 2182 and, what is equally important, the potential needs for maintaining and replacing such stores in time of war will be keeping pace with actual issues.Is the policy of the War Office to accumulate larger reserves in every case? It is worth considering whether a moderate reserve would not be sufficient, whether the War Office should not actively organise industrial production so that it would be unnecessary to keep large reserves which become obsolete or useless, but only necessary to have moderate reserves, and industry so organised as to be able to turn out the requirements in a short space of time. I wonder what steps the War Office are taking to compare costs. My hon. Friend referred to the abolition of the Royal Army Clothing Factory. How do the War Office compare costs of clothing now that they have no factory?
Turning to the human factor in the Army, the right hon. Gentleman has, we all agree, done a great deal in that direction, and every credit is due to him for it. I should like to know where the money from the Army, Navy and Air Force Institutes goes. Is it spent for the benefit of the men, or are the prices reduced, or what happens to the large sums which must be made by the institutes even in these days? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can inform me or refer me to some document in which the allocation of the money is shown. The question of physical fitness was referred to by the right hon. Gentleman, and we all know that the Board of Education had a physical fitness campaign in the country. The commanding officer of a Territorial unit called my attention to the fact that, as has always been the case, the Territorials have no facilities or apparatus for physical exercises. Would the right hon. Gentleman make a note of that fact? The Regular Army has its physical training establishments, but there seems to be a lack of co-ordination between the Board of Education and the War Office. Would the hon. Gentleman look into the question of giving Territorial units facilities to enable them to take part in the physical fitness campaign?
I mention this matter because I took the liberty of mentioning it to the Minister of Education when I accompanied him the other night to a meeting in Birming-him, at which I supported the Government in this campaign. With regard to 2183 barracks, I have on other occasions mentioned the question of Harewood Barracks in Leeds. I have written to the right hon. Gentleman about it, but it has not been possible for him to let me have a reply, and I should be grateful if it can be looked into. The right hon. Gentleman spoke to-day of modernising and rebuilding barracks, and I would like to assure him, from personal knowledge extending over 30 years, that there cannot be a worse specimen of barracks for a Territorial unit than those barracks in Leeds. Nothing has been done for them within my lifetime. It used to be a girls' school, and prior to that many other things, and if the right hon. Gentleman could have it looked into I am confident that something would be done.
Another matter to which I would like to refer is one in which the right hon. Gentleman has for many years taken a great interest, namely, the question of giving the ex-ranker officer the same pension as the ordinary officer has. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will not think I am hard on him when I say it has been a great disappointment to his friends and to those of us who have supported this cause, which he himself in past years has strongly supported, to find that he has not been able to do something about it. He spoke to-day about doing what is right and proper in order to induce recruits, and I would like to assure him that in my view, which was at one time the view of half the Members of the House, it would have been right and proper had the right hon. Gentleman found it possible to do something for these men. There are about 2,000 of them now. They were the backbone of the Army in past days—sergeant-majors and so on—and they are suffering from a grievance which a small amount of money would remedy. I hoped, when the right hon. Gentleman was appointed to his present high office, that it would be possible for him to set aside precedent and the views of the Civil Service of the War Office, and to cut this Gordian knot. I hope it will be possible to do something for the men, or at any rate for their widows. These men would be an eloquent recruiting force, whereas now they are not unnaturally inclined to dissuade people from entering the Army.
I think that the right hon. Gentleman would render a great service if he appreciated 2184 that to-day men want to know before they join up what they are joining up for. They want to know that the policy of the Government, whatever political complexion it may have, is not going to lead to war, and certainly not to a war without ideals and without collective support. If the right hon. Gentleman could see his way to influence the Government to support collective security and to form an Army to carry out those higher ideals, I am sure that his efforts for recruiting the Regular and Territorial Armies would be much more successful than they are. I wish him well, however, in his work.
§ 7.25 p.m.
I do not propose to follow the hon. and gallant Member for South-East Leeds (Major Milner) very far into a discussion of collective security and its influence on recruiting. I do not think there can be many people who, when they join the Army, really consider seriously whether they are joining an Army which is to be used for the purpose of collective security or not.
It may have been the case when people were being recruited at the time of the War, but I am talking about recruiting in peace time. I often think that the difference of opinion which is apparent between hon. Members opposite and hon. Members on this side on this subject is more a question of the theoretical interpretation of phrases than the direct application of policy. The right hon. Gentleman must have been gratified with the reception that his speech has had in the House to-day. It is one of the most powerful speeches that has been heard on the Army Estimates. If we start with the premiss that we must have a stronger Army, whatever the reasons may be, what the right hon. Gentleman has said has shown that the Army is now getting the benefit of all the drive of which he is capable in order to put it on the basis of being the most formidable and at the same time the most flexible instrument, provided with the most up-to-date equipment for the purpose which he has been at such pains to define.
I was interested in the statement he made about recruits. It is true that he laid emphasis on fire-power, but, as other hon. Members have said, it is clearly of 2185 the greatest importance that we should have not only 60,000 applicants for the Army in the year, but sufficient to make up the deficiency which exists. I have studied the Memorandum on the Army Estimates, and the statement on page 4 in relation to this matter. I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman to clarify the position later, but it appears to me that the increase of recruits in the present year up to 31st March over last year is in the order of 5,700. If that represents an increase for the 12 months, it would not be enough to balance the outgoing of 32,000 for the year. The largest increase appears to have taken place since August. In that case, it may be estimated that the total increase for 12 months, if we take it to next September, would not be 5,700, but about 10,000 as compared with the previous 12 months. In that case, there would be about 32,000 recruits in the 12 months, which about balances the outgoing.
In other words, we should begin, for the first time for many years, to reach the position when we have not merely slowed down the increasing deficit, but to reverse the process and to pick up again the total establishment figures in the Army. I imagine that that is a complete change from the experience of many years past. Even if there is a change, it clearly cannot be a very large one on this showing. I would like the Secretary of State to give us some assurance that the pick-up will be a progressive increase so that the 22,000 deficit will be made up in a reasonable number of years. I would also like to ask him whether the improvement is confined to the technical and mechanised units or whether the infantry is showing the same kind of improvement.
The question of recruiting involves various problems. There is the competition of civil life and of the other services. These have not altered during the period in which the improvement has taken place. On the contrary, the competition has, if anything, become more definite owing to the expansion of the other Services. Then there is the problem of getting a reasonable balance between increasing the amenities and comfort of the soldiers, on the one hand, and, on the other, of sacrificing the proper object of training to too much comfort. It is difficult to get the right balance, but I am convinced that the balance, having 2186 been the wrong way, is now to a certain extent being put right. One of the most difficult problems which the right hon. Gentleman has had to overcome is the psychological problem, which derives from the fact that for some years past the Army has had a bad name. There has been a lack of interest and of money, and the Army has come to regarditself as the Cinderella of the Forces, as farmers came to regard themselves as the Cinderella of industry. The measures that have been taken in the last 12 months or so are an earnest of a complete change of heart in the Government in relation to conditions in the Army, and the first thing that has to be done is to get those conditions put right and to make it widely known that that has been done. Everybody must welcome the changes that have already taken place—the improvement in rations, the provision of new buildings, the modernisation of the Army, and the announcements that have been made to-day.
There is a point I would like to make about new buildings and modernisation. That is the need for speed, and I am sure it is very pressing in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman. One understands that there may be delays for various reasons. If new barracks are being put up on the site of existing hutment camps which remain occupied, it is obvious that the work must be delayed to a certain extent by the mere fact of the occupation of the existing buildings, and, again, there may be a shortage of skilled labour and of building materials. But it is important to realise that delay may have a bad result in that recruits who join the Army on the basis that conditions have been modernised may suffer disappointment if they find that the modernisation has not taken place, and that disappointment will communicate itself to their fellows who might join up.
However that may be, it is clear that we are moving in the right direction, and there are two reasons why the movement may become progressively accelerated. In the first place, the best recruiting agent of all is a satisfied recruit. Secondly, the mere fact of getting back towards establishment strength in certain units will in itself be helpful from this point of view, that where units are very much below strength—and in some cases, it is said, they have been only about 25 per cent. of establishment—much more 2187 work devolves upon the individuals in the unit. It might be possible to cut down the amount of work until the strength of the unit has been brought up.
A good deal has been said about the Army being the start of a career. I suppose there are many recruits who have not thought carefully what joining the Army will mean to them later, but there may be others, and I hope there will be an increasing number, who do consider that question, because they are the sort the Army wants to enlist. It is to that type that we want the Army to make a wider appeal. But whether the recruits do think of this point or whether they do not seems to be immaterial, because the plain fact must be, surely, that it is the duty of the Government—and not at all from the point of view of recruiting—to provide a proper career as a matter of justice and policy in Government service. I do not want to discuss new proposals for long service enlistment, but would like to refer to one or two matters in regard to vocational training in connection with short time service.
Last night we had a discussion on the subject of the transfer of vocational training centres to the Ministry of Labour. I understand that that is in the experimental stage and may come up for discussion later. Meanwhile, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to bear in mind that there is a certain amount of apprehension that if, under the new scheme, the existing centres are abolished, there may not be the same facilities for training or the same number of courses available as there are at present. Further, there is a certain amount of anxiety among instructors in centres which may be closed down as to whether their future will be secured. I gather from the statement made last night that that is likely to be the case. However that may be, I think it is clear from the figures quoted that there is a growing appreciation of these centres and their use, and it is important to make sure that anyone on leaving the Army who is suitable and so desires should have an opportunity of going to one of these centres. That may mean extending the number of centres, or the number of courses available, but any demand there may be should be met by the Government.
2188 Lastly, I would say a word about publicity. I know that that is a subject which, if I may say so, is near the right hon. Gentleman's heart, and we all admire him for it, and it is particularly useful in the present circumstances. I shall not refer to films or the Press or the B.B.C., but I have seen one or two posters which make me wonder whether it is my own personal judgment which is at fault in rating them rather low and hope that they have escaped the right hon. Gentleman's eye. I trust that he will cast an eye on them and have them altered, because the type of appeal to be made is important. It is no good appealing to men to join the Army from the point of view of amusement, or fear, or duty. The only possible appeal is an appeal from the point of view that the Army offers a good job, and I do not think that appeal is presented in the posters which we see. Naturally, any appeal must be based on truth.
However, publicity is not confined to the Press, to films or to posters. It is really a question of the whole attitude of public opinion in Parliament and throughout the country. It is that which the right hon. Gentleman has set himself to change and which he is changing. We have all felt the change during this Debate. I consider that it is that change which is going to make all the difference to the future of the Army. He has arrived at the stage where the Army is beginning to do more than hold its own, from the point of view of recruiting, in competition with the other Services and with civil employment. The right hon. Gentleman is showing the firmest intention to carry through the reforms demanded and to make them widely known, and I feel sure that, as his efforts progress, more and more young men will find in the Army a career such as they might rightly look to find. The position in Europe to-day constitutes a challenge to the voluntary system. The right hon. Gentleman and his advisers have accepted that challenge, and it is for Parliament and for the people of the country to do everything they can to assist him in meeting successfully that challenge as quickly as possible.
§ 7.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Tinker
The Government having outlined their programme for the Army, our job to-day is to examine it and to 2189 find out whether the money has been properly expended. We cannot take exception to what has taken place at the present time. We all recognise that the country must be defended, but, after all, the speech which we have heard this afternoon ought not to divert our attention from the tremendous expenditure involved, a point which I have not once heard mentioned in the Debate. If the right hon. Gentleman will turn to the first page of the Memorandum he will find that we have to spend £85,000,000, which is £22,000,000 over and above the sum last year. Then comes a point about which I am not clear. The Memorandum goes on to say that £21,000,000 will be raised by issues from the Consolidated Fund. If it had not been for that, £106,000,000 would have had to come from the Exchequer, and that would have meant £24,000,000 more than in 1937. Looking through the figures one finds that the expenditure for 1937 was £63,000,000, as against this £106,000,000, a difference of £43,000,000 according to my arithmetic. Perhaps it would be as well if the right hon. Gentleman later cleared up that point.
I have listened in this House to a number of War Ministers, and each time I have thought "I have never heard a better explanation," and this afternoon the right hon. Gentleman has kept up the traditions of lucidity. He kept us spellbound, not because we were altogether in agreement with him, but by the way he put the case as he sees it. First he dealt with our defences, and said it had been suggested that here was one of the weak spots, but that he was pleased to say that that was not the case, because the defences were very high indeed. Did he mean that the defence was better by comparison with the attack? Did he mean that, taking into account the possibilities of air attack and all the rest, we are better situated to-day than we were formerly?
Then he dealt with the question of the Army and dress. I have previously drawn attention to dress in the Army. I have never agreed with the high collars that have to be worn on the soldiers' tunics, and I am pleased to know that there is now to be a better kind of dress for the private soldier. I have here a picture which I took last week from one of the newspapers showing two experimental uniforms for soldiers on active service, One shows an open neck. Is it 2190 the intention of the right hon. Gentleman to introduce the open neck for the ordinary soldier similar to that of the officer class? I went through both classes in the Army. At first I had to wear a high collar. Once or twice when going on parade I loosened the neck of my uniform in order to get greater freedom and was at once pulled up for not being properly dressed and force to tighten up the neck again, much to my disgust. Then I passed to the officer class and wore a beautiful low collar, but I could not do anything for the ordinary soldier. I enjoyed the privilege of an easy neck while the ordinary soldier had to put up with what I had gone through, and I said that if ever I had influence I would do my best to get for the ordinary soldier what the officer class had. I am very pleased that this change is to be brought about.
I am glad, also, that the right hon. Gentleman is giving a greater extension to the warrant officer, a class of soldier who has never had in the past the rights that he ought to have enjoyed. There is something I could not understand about removals of furniture for officers. The figure given by the right hon. Gentleman was that it is now proposed to pay the cost of the removal of eight tons of furniture as against three tons before. That seems excessive and stretching it altogether too far. I could understand some slight increase, but an extension from three tons to eight tons seems to be out of all reason.
I turn to the question of mechanisation. I have been looking at the benches of the Government supporters to see whether any of the old cavalry leaders were there. I have many times emphasised that I could see the time coming when horse warfare would be abolished, and I have said that if we were to have an Army we should have it as efficient as possible. Every time I have said those things, some of the old cavalry leaders on the other side have resented them. Possibly they now recognise what everybody will have to recognise, that mechanisation must come. I notice that there is a further decrease in the number of horses by 1,762, and that there are now 5,205 horses as compared with 28,742 in 1914. I hope, when we get down to the last horse, and if the right hon. Gentleman and myself are here, 2191 that he will make me a present of the last horse to leave the British Army.
On the subject of recruits, I notice that a number of them have had to be turned down because they were not efficient. The saving aspect of this matter is that a method has been adopted of feeding and training recruits who are below standard. That is a very wise move, although it is an indictment of our present system. It is a recognition that these young men are fit to serve in the Army when they are fed properly and that there is no outstanding physical defect that cannot be overcome. If they can be trained to be efficient soldiers when they have been taken into the Army it suggests that we should feed and train them properly before they get into the Army. Many young men are ready and willing to serve, and if they had been fed properly and had strength they would have been in the Army at an earlier age. Everyone knows that an empty belly, or one not properly fed, does not provide much spirit for anything. If young men were properly looked after before they got to the Army they would be much better citizens.
The right hon. Gentleman also said that no industry offered the same terms and conditions as the Army did now, but that is a statement with which it is rather difficult to agree. That is a sorry state of affairs. I like to think that there are industries that offer the same decent standard of life for our people as does the Army; otherwise there is a temptation to draw people out of civil life by the offer of better conditions. The right hon. Gentleman rather confused that point when he said that men wanted merely to serve their country. I often think that many men go into the Army because of the better conditions they can get there. I may be wrong. I agree in the main with what the right hon. Gentleman is doing. I want him to offer to the intending recruit better conditions in the Army, and to let the fact be known. Hitherto, it has been the glitter on the outside, watching the Horse Guards Parade and seeing the cavalry riding down Whitehall, which have induced many young men to join the Army. When they have got into the Army they have been disillusioned because conditions have not been up to the standard they expected. 2192 Then there has been the clamour to get out of the Army. When a man joins the Army I want him to know the conditions that he will have, so that when he gets inside there will be no unrest and ill-feeling in trying to get out again.
I believe the right hon. Gentleman is trying to make it clear to the recruit what he will get, and therefore there will be greater satisfaction. The right hon. Gentleman is endeavouring to get recruits by good conditions and not by external glitter and pomp. It is for such reasons that I appreciate the speech which he made. On behalf of myself and most of my colleagues I can say that we recognise that we have to have an Army and that we want it to be as efficient as possible. Whatever money Parliament grants should be spent as usefully as possible, and the welfare of the soldier should be looked after and made as good as possible.
§ 7.54 p.m.
§ Brigadier-General Makins
It was a great pleasure to an old officer to come down to the House to-day and hear the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. I congratulate him on the vigorous way he is taking up his duties, reorganising the Army and bringing it up to date. I would like to say something about our overseas bases. I was glad to read in the Statement relating to Defence thatCertain of our overseas garrisons have been strengthened and that further increases were in contemplation; steady progress has been made in improving the defences of our overseas bases.But it must be admitted by anyone who has been to some of those bases that this strengthening is long overdue. In the old days of the Pax Britannica and when our Fleet had undisputed sway in various parts of the world, those bases were organised under certain conditions. They had only to keep off the raider and the commerce destroyer and to deal with cruisers up to 10,000 tons. They were lightly gunned and not very strongly defended, because they were to be used only for a short period while the Fleet was away from its base.
I cannot help thinking that the reduction in the number of ships in our Fleet and the advance of the aeroplane have created different conditions from those 2193 which existed in the past. They may have to hold out much longer, and have to deal with a very much stronger force than they used to deal with in the old days. In many of those bases we never found it necessary to have a larger gun than a 9.2, until recently at Singapore, when we mounted a 15-inch. I presume that the 15-inch guns have been put in at Singapore because the base is very much out in the cold, and is a long way from where they can get reinforcements. I am told by experts that the difference between the 9.2 and the 15-inch gun is that the former will damage a ship and the latter will sink it. I would urge that at a base like Gibraltar 15-inch guns be mounted in preference to the 9.2, in order to command the Straits much more efficiently than is the case at the present moment.
The expense, of course, is greater, but if you propose to sink a large battleship which is worth a great many millions of pounds it is worth while spending a little more money on a gun which will sink it rather than to rely upon a smaller gun which will not sink it. It is known that the Italians have mounted 12-inch guns at the mouth of the Red Sea to command the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb. We have to keep our hold on the Mediterranean. There may be some difficulty in certain eventualities of doing that, certainly in keeping it open for independent merchant ships to go on their lawful occasions. We ought certainly to bottle up the Western end of the Mediterranean, Gibraltar, and to ensure our hold on the Eastern end of the Mediterranean. That would very likely entail Malta having to hold out for a longer time than it was originally armed to do. The extreme back door of the Mediterranean is the Red Sea, and there the Italians are very strongly fortified at Massowah and Assab, and the extra territory which the French kindly gave them some time ago enables them to command the Straits. If we were to lose the long sea route via the Cape, several bases and defended ports would assume a great deal more importance, such as Colombo, Cape Town, Mauritius, Simonstown, St. Helena and other places. With regard to these bases, I often think that we do not take sufficient advantage of the population resident in them. At Malta, for instance, there is a large perimeter to defend. It has three battalions of British troops and a Maltese Territorial 2194 battalion. From the island, certainly, two more battalions, either Regular or Territorial, could be raised. I believe they are anxious to take on the duty. There is an increasing population which creates some difficulty for the Government out there. If we raised these additional battalions not only would they be very useful for defence, but it would also be a good thing from the point of view of getting the Maltese to take a share in the defence of the Empire. At Cyprus we have one company of British troops. There, again, there is plenty of man power. At the present time there is a very fine police force of Turks and Greeks working together, smart and efficient. I am given to understand by those who know Cyprus very well that a regiment or two composed of Turks and Greeks would be most efficient and would help in the defence of Cyprus. We do not know what the policy of the Government is in regard to Cyprus. Situated as it is on the east of the Mediterranean there is no doubt that Cyprus is assuming day by day a great deal more importance than it has assumed before.
Take Bermuda. I visited Bermuda a few years ago, and I should be sorry to say what were the defences of the island at that time. It was really at the mercy of any force that came against it, if the Fleet were away. It is the headquarters of our West Indian and American Fleet. I believe the Government of Bermuda would be only, too ready to help to raise a regiment to defend Bermuda. It may be said that Bermuda is out of the picture, that it is a long way off, but one never knows in a world war where we are going to be taken. I do not suppose that before 1914 anybody in this House would have believed that in December, 1914, a most important naval action would take place off the Falkland Islands. It was a very fortunate thing for us, according to Lord Fisher, that we defeated the German squadron at the Falklands. Lord Fisher says in his "Memories" that if we had not defeated that squadron we should have lost control of the Pacific, we should have been unable to get any nitrate from Chile for our explosives, and the Germans would have interfered entirely with General Botha and his transports to South-West Africa. Von Spee had reservists collected in South America and was 2195 ready to land them at the Falkland Islands and to start a submarine base there. Lord Fisher gives about a dozen reasons showing how important it was that that action took place and that Von Spee was defeated. I mention these facts to show that anywhere in the world our Fleet may be needed.
Defence, it is said, becomes stronger every day. With regard to locally raised troops in these overseas bases, it may be said that they would not be anything like as good as British troops. That may be true, but a lot of those troops would be very good in defence, and they would serve a useful purpose in that we should not need to send out so many reinforcements, as we had to do in 1914, to strengthen the defence of these places. But we do not want to lock up more troops than we can afford in fixed defences. A large force in these places could never compensate for an inadequate Navy.
It is our view that if we lose command of the sea we lose these bases and even Great Britain as well. The Fleet would be powerless without these bases. They contain the fuel for refuelling and some of them have docks, workshops, etc., without which the Fleet would become seriously handicapped. Even if they were left alone for some time they would be useful at some period of a war. I believe it is more than likely that they might on occasion have to hold out for longer, and against heavier metal, than they have had to hold out before. That is all that I desire to say about the overseas bases, and I throw out these suggestions for the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman.
The only other point in the Estimates to which I would call attention is with regard to the vocational training centres. I was not here last night when these centres were mentioned in the Vote of the Ministry of Labour, but I was rather amazed to read in the Memorandum on the Army Estimates, on page 6, thatThe Army vocational training centres are being kept in operation until the Ministry "—that is the Ministry of Labour—is in a position to take them over.I have always taken a great personal interest in these vocational training centres, and have visited them, and I should be very sorry if the Army gave them up. I am 2196 somewhat vague as to what may happen. It was decided that the Ministry of Labour should take them over some months ago, but I understand that the right hon. Gentleman was so impressed with the work the Army vocational training centres were doing that he reprieved them for six months. That period of six months is not over yet; therefore I was rather surprised to see that statement in the Army Memorandum. I hope that that is not the final word.
I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me the Army vocational training centres have been very well run, and that they have created a great deal of esprit de corps. The centre at Aldershot runs a most excellent journal. Employers of labour have told me that they always go to the Army vocational training centres for their men because they can get much better men, who have been disciplined and brought up in the right way, and they prefer them to any men they can get from the Ministry of Labour training centres. The Army vocational training centres have worked out their own salvation. They have bought their own equipment, their own lathes and everything. I am told that the Ministry of Labour have expended a great deal of public money in setting up their shops. I am also told that the men prefer to go to the Army vocational training centres but they are applying to go to the Ministry of Labour centres because they get more pay there. I cannot understand why that should be so.
A soldier at an Army vocational training centre, if he is married and under 26 and not in receipt of a marriage allowance, draws 3s. a day and a ration allowance of 1s. 7d. a day, or a total of £1 12s. 1d. a week. If the same man goes to a Ministry of Labour training centre he draws has pay of 3s. a day, and it appears from the Army Council instructions of 1937 that he is allowed lodging, fuel and light allowance of 1s. 8d. a day and a higher rate of ration allowance of 2s. 5d., making a total of £2 9s. 7d. a week. I cannot understand why the same man at an Army vocational training centre gets only £1 12s. 1d. whereas if he goes to a Ministry of Labour training centre he gets £2 9s. 7d. Naturally, authough the men prefer the Army vocational training centres, they apply to go to the Ministry of Labour training centres 2197 because the money is an attraction. I do not know where the money comes from; whether it is from the Army Vote or the Ministry of Labour Vote. The Army Vocational training centres have been most successful.
If the centres at Hounslow and Chisledon have to go over to the Ministry of Labour I hope that the Army vocational training centre at Aldershot will be kept going. They have a fine staff there and everything has been running extremely well, and if this centre could be kept going it would be most useful. It would be very useful for the old soldier of 12, 18 and 21 years' service who presents a different problem from the young men; he needs more training. The centre might also be retained for training boys for the Royal Engineers, the Army Service Corps, the Ordnance Corps and also training men as tradesmen and mechanics at the beginning of their Army Service. A good type of young men would be attracted to the Army by offering to train them in this way at the beginning of their service. The men would join as privates and go through a special course before going into their regiment. Some 500 men could be trained every six months, which would mean that a thousand men a year could be trained as tradesmen and mechanics. I am given to understand that the cost would be £10 per man. That would be £10,000 and would be money very well spent. Students would join the centre, as they do now, at the beginning of each month, and, after the first six months, there would be a continuous flow of trained tradesmen from the centre. I understand that we are concentrating in the Army on training men for civil life at the end of their service, and that the Army is sending men even now to civilian firms to train them in motor fitting, welding and so on for work in the Army. In my view it is better to train our soldiers at a centre than to send them to civilian firms to be trained while they are in the Army. The Army is becoming more and more mechanised every year, and it is very short of tradesmen and mechanics. I think it would be an inducement to recruiting and a very good thing for the Army, and that many men would be inclined to join the Army, if they got that training at the beginning of their service. I hope that something will be done for these Army vocational training centres, 2198 and that they will not be handed over to the Ministry of Labour.
§ 8.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Batey
I beg to move, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:in the opinion of this House, the present Army system governing the conditions of the serving soldier and under which officer commissions are almost wholly reserved for the sons of the well-to-do is out of date in a democratic country.There are two things that I want to make clear at the outset. The first is that I do not believe in conscription, and the second is that I do not believe in a citizen army. But I do believe that the serving soldier should have the best conditions that the country can give him. In my opinion the soldier in the ranks ought to be able to climb from the ranks to the highest posts in the Army. I want the door to be thrown wide open, so that any man of ability possessing the power of leadership may rise from the ranks. A hundred years ago the lack of education would have made that request impossible, but things are altogether different to-day. The rise in the status of the working classes has increased the number of men who have both ability and the power of leadership.
The Minister seemed satisfied with things as they are, but we are very much dissatisfied with things as they are at the moment. In answer to a question which I put to him two weeks ago, he said that 17 per cent. of the officers in the British Army have risen from the ranks. In my opinion that is a very disappointing figure, because, at the time when Mr. Tom Shaw was Secretary of State for War, he gave exactly the same figure; he said that 17 per cent. of the commissions granted in the last year had gone to men from the ranks. He said, moreover, that it seemed to him that, the larger the number of men from the lower ranks who qualified for the higher ranks, the better it would be for the Army. To-day we have the same figure of 17 per cent., so that we have made no progress. Had the Secretary of State been in the House, I should have liked to draw his attention to some important remarks on this question which were made by Mr. Tom Shaw in introducing his Estimates on 10th March, 1931, seven years ago to-day. I commend his words to the Parliamentary Secretary, and ask him to draw 2199 the attention of the Secretary of State to them. Mr. Tom Shaw, who was speaking with experience of the Department, said:It is to be hoped that a method will be found … for the systematic promotion of men from the ranks into the commissioned ranks in such a way that the trained soldier, with the modern scientific knowledge required, will find his way easily from the bottom to the top. … In the past there has been a wide gulf represented by differences rather in education and in social training than in other things. …I will give some figures to show that the education of the men in the ranks is improving in such a way as to give every justification for the hope that before long it will be quite an ordinary thing for men to move from the ranks into the commissioned ranks, their qualifications being based on an education quite as sound as that of the ordinary commissioned officer, and with a knowledge of the service quite equal to his."—[OFFICIAI REPORT, 10th March, 1931; cols. 1015–16, Vol. 249.]To-day we are no further forward; the number of men who have risen from the ranks is no larger than it was at that time. I do not intend to throw a single stone at any of the officers in the Army. There must be among them men who are efficient, and also some who are inefficient. I do not want to say that all the men in the ranks are efficient and could qualify for leadership, but I do say that the leadership of the Army should not be confined to men of one class. Officers to-day are mainly drawn from the upper and middle classes; the ranks are filled by men from the working classes. The Minister said to-day that both officers and men join the Army because of their interest in their country. Officers and men do not join the Army altogether because of their interest in the country, but for other reasons. Officers join because of the attractions of Army life, and because of the social prestige that it gives them. Men join the ranks chiefly through unemployment, or because of some dissatisfaction with the work in which they are engaged. The Minister in his White Paper makes two or three most interesting statements. He says:The strength of the Army…will be approximately 1,200 officers and 22,000 other ranks below establishment, and the number of men leaving the Colours during the year will be 32,000.I thought that the right hon. Gentleman seemed abundantly satisfied with everything in connection with the Army. He seemed to indicate that even to-day he 2200 was abundantly satisfied with that shortage of officers and men. We believe that there should be no shortage of officers. We believe that, if officers are needed in the Army, qualified men should be taken from the ranks and promoted to be officers. There is no excuse or reason, except bad management on the part of the War Department, for the Minister having to say in his White Paper that there is a shortage of officers. There must be in the ranks to-day a large number of men who could become qualified to act as officers. I was interested in a leaderette in the "Daily Telegraph" only last Friday, dealing with this question. It said:One change which will almost certainly be necessary to reduce the shortage of both officers and men is a widening of the percentage of commissions granted from the ranks. Already 17 per cent. of the serving officers have been promoted from the ranks, but the path needs to be further cleared, and to be cleared with the maximum of publicity.I ask the Government not to be satisfied about the shortage of officers, but to recognise the need for making it possible for more men to rise from the ranks. The Minister seemed to be abundantly satisfied with recruiting and suggested that there was no shortage of men. In the White Paper, he used a most interesting and illuminating phrase. After dealing with the question of recruitment, and saying that there has been an improvement, he went on to ascribe the improvement toa growing appreciation…of the importance of the Army and of the advantages which it offers.I was rather interested in the word "advantages," and I propose to look at two or three of those advantages. The Minister referred to-day to what one might term one of the advantages, when he spoke of men who were entitled to service pay, and said that this service pay will no longer be brought under the means test if they joined the Army since 1931. If they joined prior to 1931, it will still come under the means test. He said he had an arrangement with the chairman of the Unemployment Assistance Board. When we have complained, as we have again and again, of service pay being taken into consideration in connection with the means test, we have been told that the Act lays it down that all earnings going into the household must be taken 2201 into consideration. How has the chairman the authority to override an Act of Parliament, and say that men who joined up since 1931 will not have their service pay made subject to the means test? If the chairman of the Unemployment Assistance Board has that power, or is proposing to come to the House of Commons for amending legislation, I suggest that it is a most mean thing to make that differentiation between men who joined after 1931 and men who joined before. We have been complaining for years that men who were soldiers before 1931 and have left the service, when the time has come for them to draw their service pay, have had it taken from them under the means test. If the War Department want to do the fair thing to these men, they should say that, wherever there is a soldier receiving service pay, whether he was in the Army before 1931 or not, that service pay will not be taken into account under the means test. I hope we have not heard the last from the Government on that question.
Another thing which the Minister said rather tickled me. He was dealing with the question of soldiers' clothes. He inferred that the soldiers' new uniform was going to be a splendid one. I saw a photograph in one of the picture papers a week or two ago of two soldiers dressed in this uniform, with baggy trousers, far worse than those I have on now, trousers which were not fit to look at. The War Department are putting the soldier into an immensely worse uniform, and leaving the officer's uniform as it is. They should not play tricks like that with soldiers. If there is anything which helps the young soldier, it is a smart uniform, which attracts the eye. With regard to these advantages of which the Minister spoke, I would ask whether the present system of court-martial is an advantage to the soldier. We are told that there have been almost 10,000 courts-martial during the last five years. Are they fair, so far as the serving soldier is concerned? There is not a representative of the ranks on them. They are composed of officers. There is no man with any knowledge of the life of the soldier. In our local police courts it used to be thought that no working man or woman could sit on the bench. The upper and middle classes had seized all the places. But we have seen an enormous change in recent years. Working men and women are sitting in 2202 police courts, because everyone believes that, with their knowledge of the working people and of their lives, they will deal more justly with working people than those who do not understand.
The same thing should apply to courts-martial. Officers compose the courts-martial and they have no knowledge of the conditions of life from which the soldier comes, or the struggles he has had to endure before joining the Army. I had a case of a young man from my division who was tried by court-martial. I knew his father very well. This young man, who had a wife and child, had to act as cook last Christmas Day. He was given four turkeys to cook for the officers' Christmas dinner. He thought one had gone bad, and buried it in the garden, with the result that some of the officers had to go short of turkey. They dragged this young fellow before a court-martial. They gave him 120 days for burying that turkey. It was simply scandalous. Today that young soldier's wife and bairn are in my division having to receive Poor Law relief, and the poor woman's husband is in gaol for a trivial offence like that. To make matters worse, I sent a letter on the case to the War Department at the beginning of the year and they have not had the decency to reply.
§ The Financial Secretary to the War Office (Sir Victor Warrender)
Did the hon. Gentleman send it to me?
§ Mr. Batey
No, I sent it to the Secretary of State for War, and it is not my fault that he is not here to answer for it. I sent particulars of the case and the next day I had an acknowledgment of my letter and a promise that the matter would be looked into. After the 17 weeks' confinement and punishment of that man the War Office will probably reply to my letter. I was amused to-day, when, at the end of his speech, the Secretary of State for War said that the War Department always act with speed and decision. I wonder what he calls this. The letter was sent by me to the War Department weeks and weeks ago and I have not had an answer yet. He must not call that speed. He can call it decision if he wishes, but he must not call it speed. I would like to know whether the Secretary of State for War considers that the courts-martial composed as they are to-day, are an advantage to the soldier.
2203 The Secretary of State for War dealt with the position of married soldiers, and I want to ask the Financial Secretary whether it is an advantage for a serving soldier not to be allowed to marry until he is 26? The right hon. Gentleman told us of some of the increased benefits that are being given to married men. It is disgraceful to keep a soldier from marrying until he is 26 years of age. The age ought to be brought down substantially. If I were Secretary of State for War and had to fix the age, I would fix it at 21, because I was married myself at 21, and on 30th March I shall be celebrating my golden wedding. I read of a case in the "Evening Standard" on Monday, and I want to state that case in relation to the age of marriage being fixed at 26. The case was heard at the Aldershot Police Court. A young soldier was charged with being a deserter. He had taken an officer's bicycle because I expect he thought he could get along better, and he stole a pint of milk. Except for the stealing of a pint of milk, I cannot see much harm that the soldier had done. His commanding officer stated that he had been in the Army 21 months and that he had been a good soldier until he got married. Since getting married he had had only 14s. a week and his wife could not get a home under 10s. a week in the locality, with the result that the man took the bicycle and deserted, and he was tried at the police court and sentenced to two months' hard labour. It was a vicious sentence, and I should like to know who was on the Bench—whether there were any military men? I rather think that some of them must have been Colonel Blimps to give this man two months' hard labour simply because he had stolen a pint of milk and taken the loan of an officer's bicycle. The time has come when young men ought not to be kept waiting until they are 26 before they can marry. The age ought to be substantially reduced. Men ought not to be penalised in the way they are at present.
There are three points I want to emphasise in regard to my Amendment. My first point is that the conditions of the men in the ranks must be improved. The improvements about which the Secretary of State has spoken to-day simply left me cold. One felt that he had done a little here and a little there, but nothing 2204 substantial, to improve the conditions of the men in the ranks. My second point is that there must be a breaking down of the rigid separation between officers and men; my third that there must be an alteration in the methods of recruitment for the commissioned ranks. I have not said a word in regard to the officer-ship in the Army. I do not want to criticise the present officership or the leadership, but one cannot forget that after the War there was an abundance of criticism of those who had been leading the Army during the War. That criticism tended to unsettle the people of the country, and we have to remember that the next war will involve all the people of the country and that they ought, therefore, to be satisfied that, if there is danger of another war or even if there is not another war, the leadership of the Army is the very best that we can get. I recommend this Amendment to the House to-night. The time has come when there ought to be a substantial change in regard to the Army, and any man who joins the ranks, if he has ability, ought to be able to rise and become an officer.
§ 8.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Parker
I beg to second the Amendment.
I am sorry but not surprised that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War is not in his place when an Amendment of fundamental importance is raised from these benches. In listening to his speech this afternoon, I could not help feeling that it was a wonderful exhibition of making a great deal out of very little. In fact I think that most hon. Members on this side of the House will agree that the Secretary of State for War is the best publicity merchant of the Government, not even excepting the Minister of Health. It is only right when we have had such a great display as we have had this afternoon, to examine the record of the right hon. Gentleman. I will take a few figures in connection with his record at the Ministry of Transport. In 1934 we had a record figure for the number of deaths and injuries on the roads. When the right hon. Gentleman became Minister in 1934 there was a substantial reduction, 12 per cent. reduction in the number of deaths and 4.5 per cent. in the number of injured on the roads. The next year there was a rise again, and by 1937 we 2205 were practically back to the figure of 1934. Yet so good is the right hon. Gentleman at publicity that the disquiet of the public has been successfully stilled and he has earned a reputation as a highly skilled administrator.
Let us look at the various changes in personnel which the right hon. Gentleman has introduced during his term of office at the War Office and see their real value. The high spot in his record up to date has been the important changes he made in the higher commands of the Army. What did they amount to?
§ Mr. Parker
I want to point out that the changes made by the right hon. Gentleman have not been in any way fundamental and do not contribute to the democratisation of the Army. If you take the various changes in personnel which the right hon. Gentleman has made so far they may have led to a reduction in the average age of the military members of the Army Council, but have they led to any important change of policy? If the changes in personnel had been followed by a change in policy they would have been of some importance, but the fact that they have not been so followed shows that they are not of any great importance. We must also examine the various changes in regard to the regulations and the concessions made to the men to see whether they will increase the democratisation of the Army. The right hon. Gentleman glossed over the recruiting figures, he did not make very much of them because he had a very sorry story to tell. He has made various changes in regard to recruiting.
For example, the maximum age for recruiting has been raised from 25 to 28, and the medical standard for recruits lowered still further. Those below weight are to be allowed to join so that they can be fattened up to make soldiers. Soldiers on the reserve have been allowed to return to the Colours for a period, and married men can enlist provided it is proved that 2206 their wives are financially independent. Then soldiers over 21 are to be allowed to sleep out of barracks. That is not a change of fundamental importance because a soldier's pay is too small to allow him to live out of barracks unless he happens to be in his home town. Then he is allowed to go in for vocational training during the last six months of his service instead of after he has left the Army. That is a greater improvement and to my mind the only concession of any importance. I have received from a serving soldier a letter which sums up the right hon. Gentleman's record. He says:It makes me angry to see the smug satisfaction with which the weekly recruiting figures are greeted when the Army is now being steadily infiltrated with a bundle of crocks who could hardly stand up to a week's wet weather under canvas.The right hon. Gentleman's only great achievement has been an improvement in the publicity in connection with the Army. What changes are necessary if we are to make the Army a democratic organisation? I will take the various reforms in turn and say a word on each as to the cost. The first fundamental reform is that there should be free education for officers at Sandhurst and Woolwich. This would cost about £102,000. Secondly, I think it is essential that there should be an increase in the pay of officers. The right hon. Gentleman has announced certain increases in pay, but I do not think the scheme goes anything like far enough. I see no reason why an attempt should not be made to level up the pay of officers in the Army to that of officers in the Air Force. At the present time a second lieutenant in the Army receives £268 a year, a pilot officer in the Air Force £381. A lieutenant in the Army receives £301 and a flying officer £448. A captain with 15 years' service in the Army receives £514, a squadron leader in the Air Force with about 12 years' service £717. The highest grades in the two Services are paid about the same.
No doubt it will be possible to effect many economies in a democratic Army in connection with the expenses of officers, in regard to uniforms and specially in regard to amusements, Quite a lot of money is required by officers at the present time because they have so little to do. Young officers complain very loudly that their work is uninteresting and that they have to go in for 2207 expensive amusements. Various changes could be made so that they could have interesting work, and with increased mechanisation I have no doubt people will be wanted of a higher technical ability, so that officers should be able to spend their time much better than they have spent it in the past. If we are going to have a democratic Army it is essential that officers should live on their pay and not be expected to have private means, as they are at the present time. If we bring up the salaries of Army officers to the level of those of the Air Force, I reckon that it would cost about £700,000 a year.
Then it is essential that there should be an increase in the pay of the ranks. I do not like the increases announced by the right hon. Gentleman. They seem to have an undesirable element of favouritism about them. It would be much better if there was a flat increase of 50 per cent. of the basic pay of men in the ranks. It is essential to raise the minimum pay of 14s. a week to 21s. at least, if we are to induce people to join the Army by having reasonable standards inside the Army. It would also be necessary to have an equivalent increase in the pay of non-commissioned officers. If you were to level up the pay of the men in the ranks of the Army to this figure it would cost about £3,000,000 a year. I should like to support the suggestion for giving a marriage allowance to a soldier at 21 years. If that were done, and assuming there was a gradual increase in the number of married soldiers between 21 and 26 years, it would cost about £300,000 in a full year, but obviously that expense would not become operative immediately. That sum is about half as much again as the present marriage allowance. Then it is also desirable to have better pensions for soldiers with long service and a rather more generous scale of pensions for widows and children of men who have died.
Improvements in the conditions of foreign service have been mentioned already but I should like to add one or two points. It is essential that there should be a much shorter period of service overseas. At the present time many soldiers serve as much as six years. There ought to be a maximum period of three years. The shorter period would be much more popular. This, of course, would 2208 mean greater expense because transport ships would have to be more frequently employed. Also, much better accommodation on troopships would be required than is the case to-day. I have received many letters about the overcrowded conditions on troopships and the abominable stench which exists in tropical waters. If you were to have better transports and shorter service abroad these changes together would probably cost about £300,000 in the first year.
I agree with the suggestion that the military quarters at home should be renovated and improved, but I think it is necessary to go very much further than the right hon. Gentleman suggested. All military centres ought to have proper club rooms, reading rooms and libraries, and they require far better canteens than they have to-day, as well as better living quarters. They also need better facilities for games, swimming, and so on. While dealing with that matter, I would mention that anyone who visits a place such as Tidworth is bound to be struck by the class character of the British Army. One has only to watch British soldiers when they are off duty and at play to see how deep that class distinction goes. One sees the officers playing polo and "rugger" and the men playing "soccer," and one sees that they rarely mix when they are off duty. If one goes to any small French town, however, one can see the officers and men mixing together and playing bowls in a friendly way when they are off duty. In that way one sees the wide difference in this respect between the Armies in the two countries.
At the present time, many of the barracks are in a far worse condition than many modern prisons. If there is really to be a fundamental change in the living accommodation of soldiers in this country, it will call for an expenditure of at least £2,000,000 in the first year, and that expenditure will have to be kept up for two or three years until there has been a thorough improvement in the living accommodation. The Government propose to spend only £800,000 in that direction this year. I think it is necessary that they should go in for a far more ambitious scheme if they wish to make any real improvement in the soldier's living conditions. I estimate that the various changes which I have suggested would cost about £6,500,000 in the first year, and probably that amount of money would have to be spent for a number of 2209 years, although it would decline after a time. Nevertheless, such an amount is very small when compared with the sum of £85,000,000, which is the total of the expenditure on the Army this year. Considering that the increase over last year is £22,000,000, surely it would be easy to make this small further extension which I have mentioned, and thus effect fundamental changes in the British Army. It may be argued that if changes of that nature were made in the Army, it would be necessary to make them also in the Navy and the Air Force, and I agree it is desirable that that should be done; but even if the changes in those two Services were made, the cost of making the improvements I have suggested in the three Services would not equal the increase which has taken place in the Army Estimates this year, as compared with last year.
How should officers be recruited, and how are they recruited to-day? I believe that the right standard as to the number of people who should be promoted from the ranks to become officers should be about 50 per cent. It seems to me that that would be a reasonable number. It is interesting to note that in the French and Russian armies, about that proportion of the officers are drawn from the ranks at the present time. In the French army, the proportion of men promoted from the ranks to become officers has gradually increased, and it has now been stabilised at about 50 per cent. In the Russian army, immediately after the revolution, of course, a very much higher percentage of the officers came from the ranks, but during recent years a number of men from the universities, technical schools and high schools have been brought in, and the figure there also is now stabilised at about 50 per cent. If we want to offer careers to good men with talent to go into the rank and file of the Army, they must be given a reasonable chance of becoming officers. The figure of 50 per cent. seems to me to strike a proper balance. What is the position in Great Britain at the present time?
§ Mr. Parker
Figures which were given in May, 1937, showed that for the previous three years, 15 per cent. of the officers came from the universities, 70 per cent. were cadets straight from school 2210 who had passed through the Military Colleges, and 4 per cent. only were cadets from the ranks who had passed through the Military Colleges. Eleven per cent. were quartermasters. Recently, the right hon. Gentleman stated in the House that 17 per cent. of the officers came from the ranks. He rather artfully included quartermasters in that figure, and if they were excluded, the figure for this year also would come to about the 4 per cent. which I mentioned. Even that figure of 4 per cent. includes a great many gentlemen rankers, that is to say, people who join the ranks knowing that, through the influence of their friends, they may be able to become officers. What about these different schemes, and how do they work at the present time? The university scheme works fairly well, but it will work much better as the universities become more democratic. It is desirable that a certain number of people of that type, especially if they have had some specialist education, should go into the Army. With regard to the Military Colleges, cadetships are granted at the age of 18 to 19 for three terms, a period of about 18 months altogether. The basic cost of the education for that period is £380. There is an extra grant for messing equipment, which on the whole is not enough to cover messing expenses. Probably the total cost for the period of 18 months is about £400.
Practically all these cadetships are given to boys from a selected number of public schools. What are their qualifications? First, they are supposed to have a school certificate; secondly, they are supposed to pass the easy Army entrance examination; and thirdly, they have to pass an interview. As a matter of fact, a very large number of those who go to Sandhurst and Woolwich do not have those various qualifications, because there are special ways of getting round the regulations. In the first place, for sons of officers there are reduced fees, which come to about two-thirds of the normal amount. Nominally, the reduced fees are open to all sons of soldiers, but the sons of ordinary private soldiers have not the means of paying even two-thirds of the fee which is normally payable, even if they have been given a secondary school education up to the age of 18. Secondly, there are King's cadetships, which are also open to the sons of officers. In this case no fees have to be paid at all and it 2211 is possible in certain circumstances to get a grant of £40 a year for boys between the ages of 13½ and 18½ on condition that they agree to go into the Army as officers afterwards.
Thirdly, there are honorary King's cadetships, which allow the boys to enter the military colleges even if they are not sufficiently bright to get a place in the examination. Fourthly, there are Army Council nominations. These are for boys who are not the sons of officers, but who are "sound financially and socially," although too stupid to pass the examination. Recommendations for one of these Army Council nominations can be obtained from the headmasters of 150 approved schools, although, needless to say, the title "approved school" in this connection does not have the same meaning as when we are dealing with the Home Office. These various exceptions are methods of side-stepping the competitive examination if a boy is too stupid, but has the necessary money and wants to become an officer. What is the quality of the boys from these approved schools? In most cases the Army class is hardly the centre of intellectual brilliance. In March, 1937, there was an interesting article in the "Times" about the ways of getting into the Army, and the writer quoted the remark of one headmaster, who said: "I only advise boys who would be quite impossible in any other walk of life to go to Sandhurst." That quotation rather aptly describes many boys who go to serve as officers in the Army.
I would like now to deal with the cadets in the Military Colleges who come from the ranks. When they arrive at Sandhurst and Woolwich they are given an outfit allowance of £100 and an ordinary clothing allowance of £50; they are also given the cost of the mess, books, and some higher pay. But they have a great many difficulties to face. First of all, no one can go to Sandhurst or Woolwich from the ranks who has not had noncommissioned rank for at least six months before entering the College. That is quite reasonable. But as he would not be able to join the Army until he was about 18, and would have to be in the Army at least two years before getting any chance of competing for one of the cadetships, the likelihood would be that if he got to Sandhurst or Woolwich, he would be at 2212 least two years older that the boy coming in straight from a school at the age of 18 or 19. There is no system for antedating his services and allowing him to have two extra years of seniority to his credit, although there is a system of antedating for the university graduate who enters at a later age.
Again, if a man comes from the ranks and wishes to go to Woolwich or Sandhurst, a recommendation is necessary, first from his commanding officer, then from his brigade commander, then from the general officer commanding the Division, and then he has to go up for selection by the War Office and the War Office select only a limited number from the names sent in to them. It is very difficult to get through all that hierarchy of officials. There is, however, plenty of keenness among men who want to get from the ranks into Sandhurst and Woolwich and to become officers. Another article in the "Times" in May, 1937, stated that "competition is keen and on the past three occasions there were on the average 56 applicants for 15 vacancies in Sandhurst." Yet we are told that there is a shortage of at least 1,000 officers in the Army.
What changes are necessary if the recruitment of officers is to be opened to talent? To begin with, I think it essential that Woolwich and Sandhurst should be recruited entirely by talent. It is necessary to abolish all fees and to give the necessary allowances for outfit and so on. The cost would not be very great. In the last year, the total cost of maintaining Woolwich and Sandhurst was £256,000. From parents £102,000 was received and the State already provides £154,000. Why should it not provide the other £102,000. Secondly it seems to me that it would be necessary to abolish all special cadetships and back-stairs forms of entry which are quite unnecessary. Thirdly, it is necessary to antedate the service of men coming from the ranks to give them equal seniority with boys coming straight from school. That would mean about two years in most cases. It might mean more in some cases. Fourthly, it seems to be necessary to simplify the machinery for entrance from the ranks and to allow all in the ranks who wish to do so, to enter for the examination even if they have not a recommendation from an officer. Later if they qualify it would be desirable to take 2213 the opinion of the commanding officer about them. The commanding officer should not necessarily be allowed to cut them out altogether, but, obviously, his opinion would have to be borne in mind. Finally it seems to me that we should encourage boys of secondary and technical schools to compete for Sandhurst and Woolwich and not merely those of the 150 approved schools. That would bring in any people who would be useful to the Army.
In conclusion, I should like to say that, as things are, the Army cannot possibly be kept up to strength. Either we have to democratise the Army and make it a career open to talent, or else go in for conscription. We on this side believe that the Army should be democratised. We believe that this is a democratic country and should be defended by a democratic Army. If the Army is democratised, we will do our utmost to assist recruiting and to see that the Army is made a really effective instrument of defence. If changes of the kind I have described are not made, and if the Army is not a national Army, a people's Army in the proper sense of the term, hon. Members on this side of the House cannot be expected to give their support to any kind of recruiting campaign. As I have said, we believe that the only alternative to democratising the Army is some form of conscription and I dare hon. Members opposite to go in for a policy of conscription. They know that if they did so they would be wiped out in the country, because this country will not stand for a policy of conscription. I believe that unless we have a democratic Army, we cannot have a proper modern Army and therefore I have much pleasure in seconding the Amendment.
§ 9.9 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Windsor-Clive
The hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Parker) in his concluding words dared hon. Members on this side to advocate conscription. I have not the least intention of advocating conscription. It is impossible to have conscription for the Regular Army in this country, for the simple reason that, owing to our peculiar requirements, we need a very large part of our Army serving abroad in time of peace. This Amendment is divided into two parts. First the House is asked to affirm that the system governing the position of the serving soldier is out of date in a democratic 2214 country. The hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) gave one or two illustrations in support of that argument, and I gathered that the principal one was that men have been punished for theft. I was not aware that theft was one of the democratic virtues.
The hon. Member for Romford mentioned several improvements which he wishes to see carried out, and with a great many of them I agree. He also wishes to see fees abolished in Sandhurst and Woolwich. All that means, in so many words, advocating a considerable increase of expenditure, and, that being so, I hope the hon. Member is not going to vote against the Army Estimates tonight, and I rather wonder how he has voted in previous years. There was one statement of his which is not accurate. He said that officers and men did not play games together. They do it, and they have done so for many years. I also understood him to say that people who paid reduced fees for Sandhurst had not to do examinations.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Windsor-Clive
The majority of the people who get some kind of reduced fees are sons of officers and they have to do examinations. The hon. Member then suggested that the examination was of no account. That depends on the number of candidates. It is true that recently there has not been a very great deal of competition, but I remember that when I went up for examination 40 years ago there were eight candidates for every vacancy, and it was a very stiff examination. Everything depends on the degree of competition. As regards the quality of the candidates, the hon. Member quoted the opinion of one headmaster. I am not very much impressed by that. I do not think every headmaster would agree with that opinion.
The second part of the Amendment says that commissions are reserved for the sons of well-to-do people. Again, I do not think that is correct. There is one avenue open which has, I think, been forgotten, and that is the universities. At present more and more boys from secondary schools go to the universities and the avenue into the Army from the universities is open to them as much as to anybody else. I am not sure to what extent it is suggested there should be 2215 promotion from the ranks. The hon. Member for Romford advocated that 50 per cent. of the commissions should be granted to people who had gone through the ranks, but I think the hon. Member for Spennymoor wanted all the commissions to be given to those who came from the ranks.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Windsor-Clive
The hon. Member wants the whole lot. But no military reason has been produced for that suggestion. We have to consider this matter not from the point of view of satisfying this or that political theory, but from the point of view of what system would produce the best officers. I think we are entitled to look back on our own record. In the past have regimental officers in our Army been less efficient and less devoted to duty than those of any other Army? Have the relations between officers and other ranks in our Army been less satisfactory than anywhere else? I do not think anybody would say that. In the past when we have had failures I do not think they have been due to the regimental officers. They have rather been due to some faults in the higher command, and more often to the parsimony of this House in not making adequate provision for the Army. Time after time, in the past, expeditions have left this country ill-equipped, ill-found, causing any amount of unnecessary loss of life and hardship, and that has been due to the fault of this House. Indeed, I think this country has been better served by its Army than it ever deserved to be.
I see the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) in his place. I do not know whether he is going to speak, and I do not want to take words out of his mouth, but I remember that in a Debate on this Vote some seven or eight years ago he said that during the Napoleonic Wars, in the French Army all its officers came from the ranks.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Windsor-Clive
Yes, but I think the hon. Member would have been right in saying that in those days the vast majority of the French officers did come from the ranks. There was, however, one Army that the French Army did not beat, and that was the British Army; and in the Peninsula War the French Army, whose officers mostly came from the ranks, was beaten in every battle by the British Army, whose officers did not come from the ranks.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Windsor-Clive
I was not talking about Waterloo, but about the Peninsula War. After all, there cannot be much wrong with a system which produced the regimental officers who trained our Army of 1914, which was, without doubt, the best trained Army in the world. Therefore, having got a system like this, I submit that we ought not to change it unless the most clear and cogent arguments are produced in favour of a change. It must be shown both that the present system is inefficient and that the proposed new system is better, and I submit that that has not been shown to-night.
§ 9.18 p.m.
§ Colonel Cruddas
The hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) said he would not criticise the present officers, and we who remember the criticism which officers got after the South African War appreciate his moderation. We realise that we are open to criticism, and we are always prepared to take fair criticism. The hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Parker) said that all the officers nowadays are supposed to have private means. They may be supposed to have them, but they have not all got them. In my own regiment we were particularly careful to keep our expenses down, so that we could have the best officer possible, whether he had means or not. I quite agree that the pay wants raising, however. The hon. Member talked about the French Army playing bowls. In 1910 in India a German officer who came there watched the companies' Rugby football ties in my regiment, and he asked whether the men were allowed to collar the officers. We told him, Yes, and he was very surprised and said that that would not happen in the Germany Army. I think it will be found that there is as 2217 much touch between officers and men in our Army as in any other.
The hon. Member for Spennymoor said that not enough officers were promoted from the ranks, but I do not think he gave any reasons why, and I want to give some reasons. A number of extremely efficient officers were promoted from the ranks in my regiment, but I will only quote one. He started life in my regiment as a drummer boy, he had two decorations in the War as a commissioned officer, and he occasionally wrote extremely interesting articles in "Blackwood," just to show that he was an all-round sort of man, but he had to leave the Army at the age of 48 because he was only a major. If he had not been a brevet major he would have had to leave at the age of 43.
My complaint of the system of choosing officers from the ranks is this, that to find the right man takes time, and when you have found him it is not really worth while his taking a commission, because if he serves up to 48 as a major, he gets a possible pension of £407 a year, but unless things have altered in the last few years, to do that he has to have a minimum number of year's service—28 years' service. You cannot get 28 years' service unless you join at the age of 20, and so you have got to pick your boy. To give him a real good chance of getting promotion and a pension, you have to get him as early as possible, when possibly he does not know his own mind and does not know what he is going in for. In 1918 we were trying to find as many officers from the ranks as we could, and I found, I thought, a very intelligent, efficient young corporal. I took him up to the Brigadier to be approved for a commission, and the Brigadier said: "I think you must wait and get some more experience." I thought the Brigadier was wrong, but he was right, because the boy then said: "I am very disappointed, sir." "Why?" said the Brigadier. He replied: "Surely if I can do the work of a corporal, I can do the work of an officer." I can understand a boy pitchforked into a war, who got all his orders from his orderly corporal or his section corporal, and who probably knew hardly more than that there was a higher officer existing somewhere about there, making that mistake. But the young fellow of whom I was talking 2218 showed, I think, that he was not really appreciating what would be required of him as an officer.
Hon. Members say there are plenty of people who do appreciate it. Let us put ourselves in their minds, and let us think what they would think. A man who has thought about these things would say, Supposing I join the Army with a view to getting a commission, I may be recommended for a commission after two years, but I may not, and then, when I go to Sandhurst and get a commission, I start with about 10 bob a day." On the other hand, supposing he joins a police force, I think he starts again with about 10s. a day, and he is quite certain that he has got it. It is not like going into the Army, where you may not get recommended, but in the police he is absolutely certain of it. I think the fellow who thinks about it will likely join the police force rather than the Army. Of course, we all have illusions when we are about 18. If you do not think you are going to become a great general when you are 18, you will never think so, because for the next few years of your service all your senior officers will tell you what a useless fellow you are, so you just have that time when you may think you may become a general.
The hon. Member for Romford seems to know something about me. I do not know how he has found it out. We are told that you join the Army for its advantages. I did not. I joined it because my father said to me, when I was about 16 years old, "What are you going to do?" I said, "I do not know." He said, "Well, you had better become a Royal Engineer, or a barrister, or go in for the Church." So I said, "I will join the Army."
§ Colonel Cruddas
It may have been bad luck for the Army, but it was very good luck for the Church. The hon. Member for Romford again seems to have some information, because when I went to my form master and said I was going into the Army he said, "I don't believe there is anything else you can do." But he added very certainly, "You will never pass the examination. As a matter of tact what you want is some decent agricultural employment." I have never regretted going into the Army. Well, I 2219 quote that to show that people of the age of 18 really do not know what they are doing. It is very hard to get a fellow of that age to say "I know exactly what sort of job I want to take on."
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War to-day made a very useful contribution towards the possibility of finding suitable officers from the ranks. He is instituting a new class of warrant officer, warrant officers, Class 3, who are going to do the duties of a platoon commander. I hope that they will take on all this other work and all the interior economy, and I hope for the sake of the hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) they will take on courts-martial as well. Whether they give a man anything less for burying one of their turkeys, I do not know. But if you want to make the officer's career worth while you have to find him early. It is no use making a man a warrant officer Class 3 at the age of 30 when in a few years' time when he has been tried out, he has no hope of getting a decent pension—unless, as is very likely to happen, the Secretary of State for War alters the pension.
The hon. Member for Romford says the pay ought to be higher. I quite agree. Ten shillings a day is all right when you are young and full of hope, when an overdraft more or less means nothing to you; but when you are getting on you want more money, and when you retire you must have a respectable pension, especially if you retire without being selected for a command. I think the time of retirement is likely to be earlier, and not later, than at present; I think the Secretary of State for War means that all officers should retire early. But it is not only officers from the ranks who are hard to find; it is any officers at all. They are not coming forward in the way they used to do. I do not know whether I am in order, but I should like to suggest that the House should await the Report of Lord Willingdon's Committee. Whether it is going to recommend an increase of pay and pension I do not know.
§ Colonel Cruddas
I did not know that he had refused to publish that report, but I take it that he is going to publish it. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Well, I did 2220 not know that. Then I think we ought to wait and see. I understand that the Secretary of State is going to make some proposal which will result in more officers joining the Army, and we should wait and see.
§ 9.29 p.m.
§ Mr. McGovern
I listened with sympathy to the hon. Member who moved the Amendment from the Labour Benches, and I must confess that I enjoyed his speech, because he always seemed to get right to the core of things in a simple manner, and to present a purely working-class point of view. I am in full agreement with the object of the Amendment, though I realise that the Government would never dream of accepting it and putting it into operation, because it would defeat the class intentions of the Government and of the ruling classes of this country. An army is for the purpose of defending the possessions of the ruling class—the result of previous exploitation of the masses, which has been invested in various parts of the world. It must be a class army, officered by the sons of the ruling class, who can be depended upon in every emergency to defend the interests of the ruling, exploiting class against the dangers of a rising to overthrow ruling-class interests. The democratisation of the Army by a ruling class is not possible. Democratisation of an army must be carried out by a working-class Government which is determined in its policy of economic change to have behind it a working-class army which can be depended upon to defend those economic changes.
I think the hon. and gallant Member for Wansbeck (Colonel Cruddas) set out in his speech to prove that some people with a very good knowledge of life had tried to get him to realise early in life that he was only fitted for the Army. What he really meant was that almost any person without brain capacity was good enough to run the Army. Well, that certainly may be a point of view, but I do not accept it. I believe there are many stupid men in the Army, as there are in other walks of life, but I do not believe that the Army is completely officered by men who are devoid of intelligence or ability. While it may be true that a large number of officers who come to this House have not proved very successful in the Army, it is also true that officers have passed into other employments and other 2221 walks of life. But at the same time I sympathise with the aim, because in a real democratic State—and we have not arrived at that stage yet—an army is the mainstay and basis for the defence of democracy in which it would be open to intelligent workers to move from the very bottom right to the top, if they had the ability. In the past armies which were not created on a democratic basis have been used for purposes which no democratic working class should allow.
We see, for example, the rise in Spain of the old army officer class because the army was not built and created on a democratic basis. That class was drawn from the landlords, the bankers, and the financiers of the country, and when a democratic movement in the art of government arose to bring about economic changes, the ruling class threw their sons into the Army and turned the Army machine against the democratic State machine in order to prevent the changes that ought to have been allowed to develop. In times of strikes armies have been used in order to overpower the working class, and, by a display of force in defence of the interests of the ruling class, have driven the working class back into the workshop and factory. Realising that that might take place in this country, I sympathise with this Amendment in favour of a democratic Army.
The Army ought to be run on a real democratic basis and not by an array of brass hats from Whitehall. It ought to be run, as any industry is, by those who are engaged in the task. We ought to have that which was advocated by an ex-Prime Minister, Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, when he held meetings in various parts of the country urging the formation of workers' and soldiers' councils. Such councils should be selected from the rank and file of members of the Army to take part in the making of the rules of discipline and in deciding the methods by which the armed forces are housed, fed and paid. Men in the Army have not the opportunity that the ordinary man in industry has. The man in industry can take a ballot in his trade union as to whether he will strike or not against the conditions in the industry. The soldier becomes a complete slave of the brass hat system as run by Whitehall, and he must accept his conditions, no matter how bad they are, unless he can get to the top here and get an expression of opinion 2222 in the House of Commons and a demand that the conditions should be changed.
When I was a lad of 17 I joined the Navy, and I was fairly simple at the time. I went to the naval dockyard at Chatham and on the first day I was walking across the barrack yard full of very democratic instincts. An officer called me back, and said, "Don't you know who I am?" I looked at him, and said, "I do not think I ever saw you before." He said, "I am Lieutenant Fisher," and I was going to put out my hand to tell him how pleased I was to meet him, when he quickly informed me, "You must salute an officer whenever you see him." He asked me how long I had been there, and I said that I came only the day before. Then he said, "All right, but you must salute every officer as you pass him." So my democratic instincts had a great shock on the first day of my service. As well as being in the Navy for a short period, I was also in the old Volunteers. I remember going to Edinburgh and being reviewed by the late King Edward. Although hon. Members may not believe it, I was chosen by the General out of 3,000 lads to receive the first prize as the smartest, cleanest, tidiest soldier on parade. The prize was £5 and it came in very useful. I afterwards joined the local fire brigade.
I have therefore had great experience of the disciplined forces, and I sympathise greatly with the idea of putting the armed forces on a better basis. I recognise that they cannot be run on a sort of go-as-you-please system. But there are certain things in regard to the rules and regulations in the Army that I cannot understand. Take, for example, the case of the young married man. The way in which he is treated is a standing disgrace to a State which prides itself on its greatness and its great Empire. It recruits young men for the purpose of defending its possessions in the Empire. They may have married at an early age and had children, but the wives are compelled to go to the Poor Law to beg for assistance during the time their husbands are employed in defending the possessions of the British Empire and India. We have a number of these cases in Glasgow. It is a disgrace to the country and to this House that you are prepared to recruit young men to defend the Empire, and then ask the wives and children to go to the Poor Law to beg for boots, 2223 underclothing and an income in order to maintain themselves.
I disagree with the policy of Empire and the defence of Empire, but if you want an Empire you ought to be prepared to pay for the defence of it by giving the wives and children of young soldiers the sustenance that all human beings require while their husbands are defending the State. Even if a man is 18 or 19 and is married and goes into the Army, his wife ought to become a charge on the State. If the State is not prepared to keep her, it ought to refuse to take the man for the purposes of defence. I had a case in my division of a young man who is serving in India. He went there before his child was born. After he arrived in India the child was born, and the mother could not properly register it without the presence of the father. He was over 26 and she was drawing an allowance, but, as the child could not be registered, the mother was refused any allowance for it. When the man came back and was able to register the child, the authorities refused to pay for the period of a year in which the mother had not been drawing any allowance for the child. That is meanness almost equal to taking a penny out of a blind man's tin. Conduct of that kind should not be tolerated towards men who are performing services to the State.
I disagree fundamentally with the whole idea of an Army for the defence of the Empire. I do not believe in the purposes of Empire at all. The Army is for the defence of those possessions, and if people who have invested money in India, in Africa and elsewhere are prepared to recruit an Army for the purpose of defending, not human life, but their possessions, they ought to be prepared to pay to the last penny. I believe, further, that every man who joins the Army ought to be paid the trade union standard of the trade to which he belonged and in which he was unable to find employment. There ought to be a decent standard of life for all in the Army. We ought not, while giving decent conditions to the officer class, to give to the men at the bottom the most horrible conditions that can be given to any human beings. Hon. Members may disagree with that statement, but we have seen in this House how tenaciously a Member on the benches above the Gangway on this side had to 2224 pursue his aim of getting butter substituted for margarine for soldiers. The shaming of the Members on the opposite side had to go on for over a year before the Minister was finally moved to replace margarine with butter.
I disagree with the idea that soldiers join the Army because they want either to defend the country or to defend the Empire. A large number of them join the Army because the family are on the means test and have no income. A lad finds that he cannot get clothes or boots or the means of amusement, feels himself sinking down, feels his position becoming horrible, sees in the Army the prospect of getting the clothes and boots and food and amusement which he cannot get at home, and joins the Army. The working class are recruited for the Army not by a military conscription Act but by the conscription Act called poverty. It is true that many sons of the officer class go into the Army when they grow up. The position is that there is a large family and the father and mother look round to decide what they are going to do with their sons. As regards their daughters, there is always the hope that they will marry husbands with money, but they have to provide for the future of their sons, and they think in terms of making them bankers, or officers in the Army or sending them into the Church. Sometimes they divide them up, one going into a bank, one into the Army, and one into the Church, or perhaps becoming a lawyer or a doctor.
A large number of the ruling class look upon their action in sending a son into the Army not only as providing a future for that son, but as being the proper thing to do in order to retain control of the key positions for the defence of the capitalist State in the hands of the ruling class. They feel that in every emergency they should have people of their class in every key position, to defend their interests and, at critical times, to defeat the aims and interests of rising democracy and the aspirations of those who are in the progressive movements in the country. Therefore I say there is grave need for the democratisation of the Army. In sponsoring the idea of democratisation of the Army, the setting up of workers' councils and giving to soldiers a right to demand increased wages and better conditions, the hon. Member for Spennymoor 2225 (Mr. Batey) has rendered a useful service to the country and to the working-class movement.
§ 9.50 p.m.
§ Rear-Admiral Beamish
I should not like to have to follow the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) into his academic discussion of the use and abuse of armies. I am glad to think that he was at one time in the Navy, and I think that if he had stayed there a little longer he would have become a very good sailor, and that in all probability we should have lost the wonderful advice which he has been giving us to-night. As a sailor my intervention in this Debate may be regarded as a somewhat strange one, but I feel very deeply the views which I shall ask the House to accept from me. The voluntary system, under which the British Army has been in every way a pattern to the world, has for a good many years past left it in a very grave difficulty. I have the deepest admiration for the voluntary system, having lived and served for 30 years with volunteers. To-night we are asked to discuss the democratisation of the Army. While I will not attempt to define the verb "to democratise," surely it must include the duty of every citizen to prepare himself for the defence of his country as some small return for what the State provides for him.
When I realise that our Regular Army is from 10 to 12 per cent. below strength, and the Territorial Army even more below strength, it fills me with considerable alarm, and it is that which urges me to face the issue and to put my point of view before the House. With the inevitable few exceptions, we have all accepted the policy of a colossal rearmament, a rearmament on the scale of conscription, a rearmament on the scale of national service. We are piling up in almost astronomical numbers the munitions of war, but I ask the House to realise that it takes a great deal longer to train a man to be a man-at-arms than to build up vast stores of munitions. We are now building tanks, shells, guns and all the paraphernalia of the panoply of war, but I ask where are the trained and fit men ready to respond to the dreadful call of war if it should be forced upon us? I remember vividly how, in the last War, thousands of officers and men were sacrificed because we had to send to France troops who had been inadequately 2226 trained. I do not think that assertion can be refuted by anybody. I remember only too well the seamen reservists who went to Antwerp, and what their record was.
The other day I heard a Labour Member say in this House that in 1914 we were forced into war and that that might very well happen again. The House has been very patient, and I should like to say that my views are not in any way meant to provoke hostility or to aggravate party politics. I believe that the Labour party know just as well as every man on this side of the House that the great risk and the possibility of war does overhang this country at the present time. The hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Parker) spoke as though the voluntary system was the only democratic system in the world, but I do not find that it is possible to agree with him, because I feel that a wider system would really be the more democratic one. It is inconceivable that the Cabinet are not fully aware of the point of view that I am putting forward. They must know a great deal better than I do the quantity of munitions being built up, and presumably they have some plan of how the munitions are to be handled.
The Prime Minister has pledged his Government against conscription, and recently he has pledged it again against compulsory service. We all realise that the Government, much against the ideas of the Socialists and the Labour party, have modified their election pledges in regard to the League of Nations. It appears to me that if things go on as they are now going we may very well have to modify our views with regard to national service. Force of circumstances and an aggressive world may easily out us in that position. The trouble with many people is that they are ready enough to prepare for the best, but they will never consider that the worst may very well be in store. I would ask hon. Members how near the abyss we are to get before the Government decide to awaken the complacent consciences of the people of this country and warn them of the danger of an unprepared and untrained nation. I spoke of the League of Nations for a moment just now; I hope they will agree with the view that collective security and other phrases depending upon adherence to the League have been regarded as a sufficient reason in nearly every respect, 2227 and, m my view, in every respect, for a democratic form of compulsion for national service.
The failure of the League only accentuates the necessity for such a system of compulsion. I submit again with great confidence that the people of this country are ready and that they realise the difficulties in which we are placed. They must understand that it is a matter of common sense that the voluntary system is not sufficient to carry us through any really great danger. The democracy of this country would be quite as loyal to a carefully considered system of national service as towards the voluntary system and I believe they are prepared to accept compulsion as long as the system is thoroughly democratic and leaves nobody out.
My final word is that it is just as unwise and unfair to the nation to lull people into thinking that the voluntary system will suffice as it is to let them rely upon a League which has become a skeleton, and on phrases which are jejune and misleading. It is the duty of the Government to inform the nation of the prospects. One has only to look for a few moments at the report upon the Army which I have here, and at the White Paper, in order to know the proportion of rejections among those who have presented themselves as recruits. In no war in our history has the voluntary system sufficed to save us. In my life there have been two wars against white nations and in both of them we had to fall back upon compulsion or, in the case of the Boer War, on a very expensive form of recruiting, combing the whole country in order to get sufficient troops for what we had to do. By a form of ordered and carefully considered compulsion, possibly arrived at after the setting up of a Royal Commission, or in any other way that the Government may think wise, it would not be impossible to preserve all the bursting pride of the voluntary system while insuring a proper supply of trained men.
In the Debate the other night upon the London Passenger Transport Board's Bill, I was imbued with a feeling which I have now, that it is not fair and that it is invidious to select any such organisation as the Transport Board, to the exclusion of a great number of other 2228 authorities and public services in this country, and to say nothing to the great majority of large employers, in order to bring pressure upon the board to provide a number of Territorial recruits. It is unfair and wrong. It savours of trying to provide a stimulant from time to time to what has been a brilliant system, and may well continue so—the voluntary system—in order to keep it alive. I feel strongly that it is possible to provide in this country a universal service law, carefully considered and acceptable to every thinking citizen.
§ 10.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
If I were to attempt to follow the hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken I am afraid that the whole of my time would be taken up in dealing with the issues which he raised. Rather than do so, I want to spend my time to the best advantage on the subject of my hon. Friend's Amendment relating to the democratisation of the Army, and to refer to experiences of myself and of some other people. Most hon. Members who have spoken have interpreted this Amendment as raising only the issue of promotion to commissioned rank, but more than that is involved in it. The whole background of the policy of the Army Council is involved in this Amendment. When the right hon. Gentleman spoke this afternoon he announced a number of concessions and improvements, and the appointment of a committee. I want to produce some evidence which will enable that committee to consider the general question.
I was a private in the Army. I remember joining the Army. On the first night I ran away. There are a great many lessons for this House to draw from that fact. I went to Warrington Barracks and saw a sight there which is indescribable in language. One would have to have had that experience to realise what it meant. Despite the fact that I was within Army discipline on that first day, I could not tolerate the first night in those barracks. At that time and for some time afterwards I did not think that I should have an opportunity of speaking in this House on behalf of men who are inarticulate, and I therefore welcome this opportunity of saying something on their behalf. I was in the Infantry, I was trained and was ready to proceed to 2229 France, when I was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps. I was trained as a gunner, and then I was transferred to the Tank Corps. I was trained as a gunner in the Tank Corps, and then I was transferred into the Tank Corps section as a driver. Then I proceeded to France and had six weeks in a school, studying the internal combustion engine and the mechanism of a tank in order that I might be equipped to play my part as a mechanic in the Tank Corps. It was a good experience and equipped one to speak with knowledge of the conditions of the men in the ranks in the Army.
My first point is that, generally speaking, as soon as a man becomes a member of the Army he simply becomes a number. He soon begins to learn that initiative is discouraged and that his manhood has to be restricted. Many examples could be given of the humiliating experiences which I and other members of the Army have had. There is no need for such a policy; it is a relic of the bad days. The Secretary of State has set a good example by cutting through red tape, and I appeal to him to consider the evidence that we are putting before him in order that the red tape can be cut through even more, so that the men in the Army may benefit to the extent to which they ought to benefit in modern times?
I would first refer to the question of rigid discipline. I admit that it is necessary to maintain discipline, but it should be maintained and based upon respect for service, respect for smartness and respect for good example set by others. Even under an ideal system of society it would be necessary to maintain some form of discipline, but the present method of enforcing discipline in the Army is altogether out of date. If any one doubts what I am saying, let them go only half a mile from this House some morning and note the bullying attitude adopted by certain regimental sergeant-majors. Speaking from my own experience, I know that the men have admired their officers and would have done anything for them, would have risked their lives for them and were prepared to make any sacrifice in order to play their part; but I can recall other examples where discipline was enforced and the men did not respect the people who were enforcing the discipline but were resentful. They could not, however, show their resentment 2230 and had to wait for the opportunity of showing it in some other way.
In industry, I know of many examples where those responsible for the management have obtained the admiration of the men, who would do anything in order to help the management whenever they were in difficulties. When the management have carried on their business in a way to win the confidence of the employés, they have always been able to get much better results than under other conditions. What is our experience in this House? We differ on many subjects and speak from different points of view, but there is discipline maintained and that discipline is respect for the Chair. We might go a very long way in maintaining discipline in the Army by attempting a similar policy. I shall never forget an experience that I had in the Army. We were in training in France and the Tank Corps had met with certain difficulties, because the Hindenburg line had been built in such a way that the modern five-star tanks could not get out of the Hindenburg line once they had got into it. A number of us were set to work digging trenches similar to the Hindenburg line. Never did a body of men work harder— some of them were miners—than we did in building those trenches. We worked hard because we were all eager to use the tanks in the trenches and to show that they could be driven over the Hindenburg line. Despite the fact that I and the men associated with me had worked so well in the building of those trenches, an officer lined us up and addressed us in an insolent way, certainly in a way that would not have been adopted by the average officer. The average officer would have appreciated the work that had been done, but this officer did not, and he caused resentfulness. He addressed us in such a way that we were speechless. I happened to make a clicking noise with my tongue, and I shall not forget the experience that I had. As a result, I had to go before the commanding officer. Fortunately, the commanding officer was a man who would listen to reason and, therefore, I did not suffer as I might have done from that experience. That is an indication of the sort of thing that can take place in the Army.
I am hoping that, as a result of the evidence we are putting before the Secretary of State, he will consider bringing about certain changes. They may be 2231 looked upon by many hon. Members as only small changes, but they will make a great difference in the lives of the soldiers who, generally speaking, are lads who belong to the same class of people to which we on these benches belong. The Secretary of State has won the admiration of many people because of the changes he has already made, and because he has been prepared to cut right through red tape. I want to appeal to him to consider carrying out this policy in a more fundamental way.
The second point I want to make is the need for increasing the pay of the lowest-paid men in the Army. If hon. Members will turn to pages 4 and 5 of the Army Estimates, they will find that since 1929 the expenditure has increased from approximately £40,000,000 to £85,000,000, in addition to the sum which is to be taken from the Consolidated Fund and which makes the total £106,000,000. I would ask hon. Members to compare that increase in the total of the Estimates which has taken place since 1929 with the increase in the pay of the ordinary men during the same period. Again, hon. Members will see from page 45 of the Estimates that educational proficiency pay and military proficiency pay are granted to the extent of 1s. 9d. a week in each case, or a total of 3s. 6d. a week. It is true that the Secretary of State announced this afternoon a number of concessions whereby the proficiency pay will be increased, but let hon. Members compare these amounts, even taking them at the maximum that it is possible to secure, with the proficiency pay that men of the type of those for whom I am speaking would be able to earn on a system of payment by results or some similar system in ordinary industry.
With regard to the question of clothing, I was very pleased to hear the announcement of the Secretary of State that polished buttons are to be discontinued for the future. Polished buttons look very smart, but many men have had humiliating experiences as the result of having to spend hours on unnecessary work in polishing buttons. Therefore, I am very glad that the Secretary of State has decided to make that concession. Before, however, he definitely makes up his mind with regard to the question of clothing, I would ask him to consider 2232 another matter. I have here a photograph of the new clothing that is being considered, and, while I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) that it is a step in the right direction to change from the old buttoned-up collar to the open neck, I would ask him to give the matter further consideration before it is put into operation.
I would also ask him to consider the question of the need for turning over the trousers on to the puttees. There is a great demand on the part of the rank and file for a change of that character. Compare the smart-looking uniform of the Air Force with the uniform of the ordinary infantry, who, even when they are off duty, have to wear the ordinary puttees with the old turned-over trousers. I suggest that that is absolutely out of date, and that the Secretary of State, if he proposes to carry out modernisation among the rank and file to the same extent as he has done in the Army Council and in other respects, might consider a change in that direction also. I understand that the elimination of the old kit-bag and the introduction of a new form of suit-case is being considered. The old form of kit-bag is absolutely out of date; it is humiliating to soldiers to have to carry it about, and they ought to be provided with suit-cases.
Then we find—[Interruption.] I am not joking about this. I was a private in the Army. So far as I am concerned, I did not desire to be any different. I know the lives these men live, and it is for them only that I am speaking. They still have served out to them boots which are greased. As soon as they begin to wear these boots, the officers insist that they should be polished, and then men have to spend weeks in rubbing off the grease and bringing the boots to a perfect polish. That is a legacy of the old days, and it ought to be eliminated as soon as possible. A few weeks ago my wife said to me, "A young couple came here to see you, and I have asked them to come back in the morning." [Interruption.] There is a tragedy behind this, and the hon. Member would not be taking it like that if he knew the position these people were in. They came the following morning. I invited them into the house. They were each about 20 years of age. I was asked what could be done in order to get the man released from the Army. The wife was looking forward to having a 2233 child. He had no allowance made, because he was not 26 years of age, and if he remained in the Army they knew that the wife would have to go to the public assistance committee for relief. I suggest that those conditions are a relic of the old days. That woman was as good as any other woman. When soldiers become married, at any age, they ought to have the marriage allowance immediately, in order that they can do the right thing towards their dependants.
§ 10.24 p.m.
§ Sir V. Warrender
Although the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) is not one which the Government accept, I should like to welcome his participation in the Debate. Those of us who have sat for some time in this House with the hon. Gentleman have come to respect his sincerity and consistency of purpose, and the speech that he has made to-night was completely in accord with that reputation. My only regret is that that sincerity and consistency of purpose are so constantly mistaken in application. I have said that we are unable to accept the Amendment, and the House will not be surprised. Indeed, one has only to study its terms to come to that conclusion very rapidly. I cannot help wondering how many officers in the Army who happen to read the proceedings of this Debate—and I say that deliberately, because I do not think either officers or men in the Army are particularly interested in politics—will be surprised to learn that they are the sons of the well-to-do? I suggest that a great many of them will be very much surprised indeed.
It seems to me that in raising this topic to-night the Socialist party are really indulging in another of their little pastimes with convenient political phrases. Although I have heard every word of the Debate, I am still a little confused in my own mind as to what the democratisation of the Army really means. Whatever it may mean and whatever interpretation may be put upon it, the angle from which I propose to approach it to-night is, how will it affect the Army if the theories embodied in the Amendment and in the speeches of hon. Members opposite to-night are put into operation? Our sole interest should be the efficiency and the well-being of the Army, and no changes should be introduced unless they can be 2234 shown to be an advantage to our fighting Services. A great many points have been raised to-night and many suggestions have been made. We have had some amusing as well as some interesting speeches, but the discussion really boils down to the alternatives to the present system of recruitment of officers. Within broad limits I would say that the alternatives are two. One is that you should abolish the cadet colleges altogether, and, as the hon. Member for Spennymoor advocated, you should draw all your officers of the Army from the ranks. The second alternative is that you should extend the present system of assisted cadetships, free places and so on, and increase promotion from the ranks.
Before I deal with these alternatives, I hope that the House will bear with me if I offer one or two general observations which have a bearing upon this subject. One of the considerations which have rather been lost sight of in the Debate to-night is that the British Army is a voluntary Army, and whatever policy is adopted, both with regard to the recruitment of officers and the recruiting of men, it must be one which will attract the right type into the Army. The systems followed in certain foreign armies have been quoted, and although most of them have been quoted exceedingly inaccurately, these foreign armies are conscript armies. It is not a question there of a man offering his services; it is a question of the Government taking a man's services, a very different state of affairs indeed. The second consideration to which I would draw attention—and it has already been mentioned—is the fundamental importance of maintaining good relations between officers and other ranks. Everybody in this House who has not a prejudiced mind will admit that there is a happy state of affairs in the British Army to a very marked degree.
§ Sir V. Warrender
It would be playing a very dangerous game to experiment with theories. I think it was the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Parker) who insinuated that officers and men do not share in regimental amusement and games. Anyone who knows anything about the Army will realise that that is palpably incorrect. If the hon. Member 2235 had looked at the "Times" this morning and seen the result of the Army rugby final he would have seen that in the two sides who took part in that match there were no fewer than six officers playing. But not only in their amusements and games and sports do officers take part with the men, but they also share their regimental life to a degree to which those who have never served in the Army cannot understand. This association is not confined to games and amusements, but is to be found in old comrades' associations. In fact, every regiment runs an old comrades' association, and it is not an effort but a pleasure on the part of officers and men to keep their association with their units and to help those who may have fallen upon evil days by subscribing to funds organised by the old comrades' association.
The third general observation I would make is this: The first and foremost duty of an officer is to be able to lead his men in action. One might think from some of the speeches to-night that the prime duty of an officer is to maintain discipline among his men and to administer punishment when breaches of discipline take place. The ability to lead is the most important requirement to look for in an officer. The ability to give an example, to his men, to take responsibility, to come to quick decisions, is, I suggest, just as important as mental ability. I am not going to pretend that these qualifications are limited to young men of any one particular stratum in society, but we must bear in mind, if the interests of the Service are not to suffer, that these considerations must be remembered when we are considering any possible changes.
The complaint has been made that hitherto the Army has relied upon young men from a particular class of society to provide the officers. It is perfectly true that in the past the Army has drawn its officers chiefly from young men of the public schools and grammar schools and universities, but I do not want to be misunderstood in saying that in a sense that is perfectly natural. Boys who have the advantage of a longer education are more likely to benefit in the sense of having their characters developed and their personalities developed than the boy who leaves school at a much earlier age and 2236 goes out into the world to earn his livelihood. If anyone challenges that I would put this question to him: If the ordinary man in the street had the chance of sending his boy to one of our public schools or our secondary schools, or to a university, would he not take the chance? Of course he would.
§ Mr. A. Jenkins
As I understand it, the argument is that the boys who do not get an extended education are in a prejudiced position, and cannot become officers in the Army.
§ Sir V. Warrender
No, there is no question of prejudice. All I have been trying to point out is that if our system of education is as good as we believe it to be, it is reasonable to suppose that the longer a boy is submitted to its influence, the more beneficial the effect upon him. Let me now turn to the first of the alternatives which I mentioned, that is to say, the alternative of drawing upon the ranks for all officers. I am certain that it is useless for me to ask some hon. Members opposite to believe that I approach this matter in an unprejudiced state of mind, but I am asking them to believe what I say, because I think it is true. There is no demand in the country for such a system, and it is wrong to believe that it would be popular in the Army. In saying that, I am not casting any sort of aspersion upon those who have risen from the ranks and become officers. It cannot be denied that officers who have been promoted from the ranks have proved themselves to be officers of great distinction, and in some cases they have risen to the very highest positions in the Army. I think that all soldiers will admit, indeed, that the best type of officer promoted from the ranks is a most valuable asset to the Army. But from the point of view of the supply of what I may call officer material, the introduction of this system might be disastrous. Does the House think that we are likely to attract boys of the type we want to make good and efficient officers if the only road to a commission is to be through the ranks? I suggest that such a prospect must inevitably act as a deterrent to a young man and to his parents, and that it might defeat the very objects which hon. Members opposite have in view.
§ Dr. Haden Guest
Does that mean that conditions in the ranks are so bad that public school boys cannot go into them?
§ Sir V. Warrender
No, that is not the case; but if a boy is sent to a public school and a great deal of money is spent on his education, do hon. Members seriously think he will be likely to welcome or relish the idea of enlisting, and then having to take his chance of obtaining promotion?
§ Mr. Arthur Henderson
Is it not a fact that at the present time there is a system in operation in the Army whereby public school boys join and serve for 12 months as troopers, and then qualify for admission into the Military Academy? Cannot that system be extended to all officers?
§ Sir V. Warrender
It is true that boys can enlist to-day and take a chance of getting a cadetship. There are, however, plenty of other openings for boys of the type we want in the Army, and I think it is true to say that, in the case of that type of boy, if he had to enlist in the ranks and then run the risk of not getting his commission through ill luck, his parents might turn their thoughts to other Services or to other walks of life which might be more attractive. The other alternative, namely, the extension of the present system of assisted or free cadetships and increased promotion from the ranks, is quite a different proposition. It is something on those lines that the War Office would like to see at the present time. Those hon. Gentlemen who heard my right hon. Friend's speech will recall the passage in which he stated the kind of ideas that were passing through his head with a view to improving the conditions of officers.
Although I am no more in a position to go into details than he was, I would remind hon. Gentlemen of the suggestion that is being made at the present time of providing for the Army what are called Warrant Officers, Class III, who would perform the work and take the commands now given to junior officers, a scheme which I venture to suggest would provide increased scope for promotion of men in the ranks. Although the present system of granting commissions has been stated in detail by the hon. Member for Romford, I would like to go a step further than 2238 he did, to make the present position clear. It is no exaggeration to say that if you sum up the various scholarships and the various systems of cadetship which are open to boys of this country who desire to go into our military colleges, 45 per cent. of these cadets receive some form of State assistance. Coupled with that, it is to be remembered that those who come from the universities, come to a large extent, through some form of assistance either by scholarship or in some such way.
Our policy in the Department at the present time is to make commissions available to young men of the right type and to cast the net widely. Our object is in the case of officers the same as it is in the case of men, that is, to offer a career to the young man of ability and to make that career an attractive one from the start, to make it easy for the really good men in the ranks to rise from the ranks, and, finally, to draw on schools of the type that do not at present provide us with many officers. I hope that as a result of the deliberations which Lord Willingdon has undertaken and of the discussions now going on in the Department, we shall be able to proceed some distance along that road.
Before I sit down it would be only polite if I were to answer some of the questions asked by the hon. Member for Spennymoor. In the first place I would like to disabuse his mind of the idea that my right hon. Friend is satisfied with everything as he finds it. I think anyone who knows my right hon. Friend knows that he is scarcely ever satisfied with anything as it is.
§ Sir V. Warrender
The second inaccuracy which I must correct was the statement that most of the men who enlist in the Army to-day are unemployed.
§ Sir V. Warrender
I do not want to make too much of the point and if I misunderstood what the hon. Member said, I readily withdraw. I would like, however, to place on record the fact that 63 2239 per cent. of the men who join the Army come from good jobs.
§ Sir V. Warrender
Another point to which the hon. Member and the last speaker both drew attention was the new dress. The hon. Member caused some amusement by his references to it, but I am afraid that the photograph which he saw was not particularly good. The dress represented in that photograph is, it should be remembered, the dress which the men would wear on active service. It is not suggested that it is the dress in which the men would "walk out." The hon. Gentleman may object to baggy trousers but most soldiers would prefer them to tight puttees. This dress is in an experimental stage, and has been issued only for trial purposes. Only after a complete trial will it be adopted.
The hon. Gentleman had some rather unkind things to say about the court martial system in the Army, but I think his remarks were rather countered by some of the stories which he told later about the savage sentence passed upon a soldier in a civil court. It would appear that the court martial system is one which, on the whole, is favourable to the soldier. I would ask him to remember that every sentence by a court martial has to be confirmed, either by the divisional commander or the Commander-in-Chief, and that the Judge Advocate General has a supervisory interest in every court martial. Every effort is made, I think successfully, to see that justice is done both to men and officers when courts martial—which I am glad to say are decreasing—have to be held. As regards the instance to which he referred I must plead ignorance of it. I can only regret if there has been some delay in a reply being sent to him. If he had spoken of it earlier steps would have been taken to hurry up a reply and I hope he will accept my assurance that I will see that a reply is sent to him as early as possible.
§ Mr. Batey
I shall expect a reply from the Secretary of State on that point and I consider it is very discourteous not to reply to a letter from a Member of the House. But am I to understand that the hon. Gentleman is justifying the decision 2240 of a court martial in giving a man 120 days detention for burying a turkey?
§ Sir V. Warrender
I can only regret that the hon. Gentleman has been kept waiting for his reply and I will draw my right hon. Friend's attention to the matter. The hon. Gentleman also raised the point about the age of marriage. There is a great deal of misconception about that and I should like to correct some misapprehensions. Men are carefully warned when they enlist that if they marry under the age of 26 they will not be eligible for marriage allowance. I think it was the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) who suggested that even if a man married at the age of 18, if the State took him for its defence it should be responsible for his wife. But the State does not take the men; the men offer themselves to the State and they do so under conditions which are explained to them.
§ Mr. McGovern
Let me say this, that many soldiers, while serving, begin to go out with young women, and in due course there is the threat of the birth of a child, and the young man, in order to keep the child within the ordinary moral state, gives the young woman his name. In cases of that kind, I suggest that the State ought to see that both the wife and the child have the allowances, even though under the age at present required.
§ Sir V. Warrender
I agree that there are cases of that kind, but I would point out that they are not peculiar to the Army and that they occur in every walk of life. The reason why we do not want married men in the Army is, I suggest, the perfectly humane one that military life involves such conditions that we do not encourage or advise young soldiers to take upon themselves the responsibilities of a wife. That is only a prudent attitude and one which can be well understood.
Finally, I would utter one word of warning. I must say that the hon. Member for Spennymoor treated the subject of his Amendment in exactly the spirit that I would have expected of him, but during the course of the Debate there have been one or two suggestions that the Army is riddled with out-of-date practices and conditions, for which in a modern, democratic Army, there is no room. Those of us who have had the 2241 privilege of serving in the Army know and recognise that this feeling of tradition in the Army is very strong and that there are traditions which the men as well as the officers cling to most jealously. If the hon. Member is referring to customs that appear to the outside world to be somewhat illogical and out-of-date, I suggest that it is only because they have been, like traditions of our other great institutions, and notably those of this House, built up on experience and handed down through the ages. No one will deny that it is this feeling of esprit de corps and of regimental and other traditions that contributes enormously to the lighting efficiency of the British Army, and the man who endeavours to modernise the Army by revolutionary methods and ignores that vital fact is an exceedingly foolhardy and rash person. I am afraid I cannot have covered all the points that have been raised, because they have been so many, but I think I have said enough to outline—and I can only outline—the kind of proposals which the Government have in their minds to improve the conditions for the recruitment of officers, and I hope that in these circumstances the House will see fit to reject the Amendment.
§ 10.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Lees-Smith
A good deal of light was thrown upon the subject of our discussion by some answers to questions put to the right hon. Gentleman and his predecessor, which I followed in very great detail as they were given. In those answers it appeared that among the rank and file of the Army—and I am dealing now with the non-commissioned officers—there are 18,000 men in the Army who hold higher certificates, and over 1,000 who hold special certificates. It is claimed by officers in the Army that these higher certificates are about the standard of the matriculation examination. I have seen the papers and have visited the classes where the men are taught, and I think that that claim is true. So that we have the fact that there are in the Army below the officer class 20,000 men with certificates of matriculation standard. What about the officers, then? Boys from public schools and secondary schools—but they are mainly boys from public schools—who can pass the school certificate can get into Sandhurst. As a matter of fact, the school certificate standard is lower than the matriculation standard. 2242 The matriculation consists of the school certificate together with five credits in certain subjects. The number who get matriculation is only about half those who get school certificates.
I am trying to dispose by these facts of the idea that there is not sufficient intellectual ability among the rank and file. In addition, there is a large section of cadets at Sandhurst who would never be able to pass the school certificate at all, and others who went in for it and failed. They are there because they came from a small group of public schools; their headmasters gave them chits, and by an Army Council nomination they find themselves at Sandhurst. This justifies our argument about a small group of well-off people. The Financial Secretary to the War Office has a strange idea of the distribution of wealth when he thinks that those who come from public schools do not by that very fact show that they belong to what we call the well-to-do class. If he disputes that one belongs to the well-to-do class when your parents are able to spend at least £1,000 on your education, his definition of well-to-do class must be very high.
Look at the position we have now reached. Here we have 20,000 men who have the military qualities—because they have received promotion—and who have higher intellectual qualifications than the average officer. On the other hand, you are taking into Sandhurst boys who cannot pass the school certificate, that is to say, boys who could not be given a responsible position in Harrods Stores or the Gas Light and Coke Company. The Financial Secretary to the War Office justifies this system and is supported by a couple of hon. and gallant Members behind him, but, if he will refer back, he will find that speeches practically identical with the speech he has made to-night were given in this House over and over again, and always by Army officers, 50 years ago—such speeches were made when Mr. Cardwell proposed to abolish the system by which commissions in the Army were obtained by buying them. When that was proposed, nine-tenths of the officers in this House and the Tory Financial Secretary to the War Office at the time pointed out that the Army was getting a very good class of officer as it was, that there was an excellent feeling between the officers and men, 2243 and that such a system—to use words I heard my grandfather use—would send the Army to the dogs.
The Secretary of State himself said this afternoon that the Army must adapt itself to change, but as soon as it is proposed that the officers shall be adapted we hear these objections that we are experimenting with mere theories. The mechanisation of the Army is making this system of obtaining the officers progressively obsolete and more and more impossible. We shall not be able to get the officers required for the new, highly-mechanised service as long as we insist on selecting them from a small class of public school boys, whether they have any qualifications or not. I am not exaggerating when. I say that the majority of the officers come from well under 2,000 families in this country, from a very small section. Let us avoid the mistake of the dictatorship countries. If I were a citizen of one of those countries I should be terrified. I find when I go to a museum that the specimens with mammoth bodies have pin-point brains, and we are drawing the officers for the Army from a little pin-point of the population. That is a system which is not tolerated in any other profession, and it ought to be the last to be tolerated in the profession on which the existence of the nation and the lives of thousand depends.
The country accepted this system up to 20 or 30 years ago because, in those days an officer, by going into the Army, was, so to speak, patronising the country, doing it a service, giving it charity. He was living mainly on his own means, and we might put up with a position in which he was saved from the competitive influences which ruled in every other occupation. Nowadays that is not the position. It has been changed this afternoon. I should say from my observations and the inquiries I have made that nowadays half the officers in the Army are living on their pay, and their pay is being raised. In those conditions we are entitled to demand from them the same competitive efficiency as is required in other comparable occupations. It is not to be tolerated that young officers should be taken into the Army to perform for years practically the work of nothing more than a games coach, and have the intellectual qualifications required. To put 2244 it in me more genteel terms used by the military correspondent of the "Times," officers in the Army are lacking in mental adaptation. The proposals which have been made by my hon. Friends behind me are surely on the right lines. At present 17 per cent. of the officers come from the ranks, and of those hon. Members opposite know that at least half are not genuine rankers at all. They are, again, this class of public school boy who cannot gain the school certificate and who go in this way, as a second back-door, into the commissioned ranks.
Captain Arthur Evans
Is the right hon. Gentleman suggesting that the essential qualities of leadership are solely shown by an ability to pass written examinations?
§ Mr. Lees-Smith
I say that no man who goes into a position in which the lives of men are to be in his hands ought to have qualifications so low that no commercial firm would take him for a responsible position. It is clear that if out of that 17 per cent. there are no more than 8 per cent. of genuine rankers coming into the commissioned ranks, and if there are 20,000 non-commissioned officers at present of higher intellectual qualifications than the majority of commissioned officers, it is not unreasonable to suggest that a beginning might be made by doubling the proportion right away, and that it might be increased progressively.
One point about these non-commissioned officers who go to Sandhurst was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Romford (Mr. Parker), and I want to put it to the right hon. Gentleman. This is an unusual class of soldier. He goes into the ranks, achieves his position as a noncommissioned officer and then is selected to go to Sandhurst. It will take him some time, may be a year, to become a noncommissioned officer and then he has to remain for six or eight months, by Regulations, before he can be considered for entrance to Sandhurst. He ought to be put in the same position of seniority as other cadets, otherwise he loses two years, a loss which dogs him throughout the whole of his military career.
I would call attention to another feature of the officer's position to-day. I should say that officers in the Army live extraordinarily exclusively in a world 2245 of their own. The average officer goes to a public school, goes to Sandhurst, goes into a regiment and then into the officers' mess. In about 50 per cent. of the cases such an officer marries the daughter of an officer. There is no class in the community whose lives are so cut off from the ordinary population as officers in the Army. I am going to suggest that steps should be taken to give them a wider experience, and the type of experience that I suggest is that every officer should serve for one year in the ranks. A great many men who go into business and are predestined to occupy high positions as managing directors are sent by the business or by their parents into the rank and file of the business to begin their experience. What is good for the commercial leader would surely be good for the Army officer. I put that forward as a practical suggestion which would make a good deal of difference to their whole outlook for life.
It is a mistake to take these two years of an officer's life and to send him to Sandhurst or Woolwich, where, again, he is completely segregated from any other occupation or class in the country. The time has come seriously to consider whether it would not be better to send them to the university for two years. It is always claimed that the great advantage of the university is that the undergraduates by mixing with others of other types of occupations learn much more from their companions than they do from the dons. Why should not the officer have the same larger experience that is obtained by barristers, doctors and civil servants in these formative years?
I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that there ought to be an inquiry not merely confined to the scope of the Willingdon Committee but one into the whole question of drawing officers from the ranks and generally from wider classes of the community. I am sure that the present system would not stand the test of examination from first class searching minds. If there is to be such an inquiry, confine it entirely to civilians. It is perfectly clear from these Debates that those who have been officers in the Army get such an idea of their occupation that it is impossible for them to view this question with an open mind. I have listened to practically all these Army Debates, and over and over again I find Army officers putting forward in all 2246 manner of directions most radical ideas about the Army, but, strange to say, I have never yet heard a single officer rise and say a word for in any way enlarging the class and sphere from which officers are drawn.
§ Colonel Baldwin-Webb
Would the right hon. Gentleman refer a matter relating to the medical profession, to nonmedical men?
§ Mr. Lees-Smith
Yes, in exactly the the same way as we did a few weeks ago, when we referred a question relating to Air matters to men who had nothing to do with the Air Force, and we are to discuss their report next week. I am convinced that if we could get such a body of men as the Cadman Committee, men outside the question, we should get a report which would blow sky high one of the last strongholds of class prejudice and class snobbery in this country.
§ 11.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Markham
I apologise for intervening at this late hour, but what I have to say must be said by someone in this House, and from the Government benches My experience in the Army, as one who joined up as a private, went forward to commissioned rank, and saw service afterwards in India, was such as to lead me to views entirely opposite to those that we have heard from the Government benches during the last hour. I want to place it on record that, as far as I am concerned, I am most definitely opposed to this class system in the Army. It is a class system, and it is not a satisfactory system. I, for one, can see no particular merit in limiting the commissioned ranks of the Army to those who have been fortunate enough to secure their training in a very narrow school, however excellent. The history of the War tells us that, when there was a great shortage of officers towards the end of the War, and recruitment into the commissioned ranks was extended to all and sundry, when men—and I say it with great modesty—like myself were swept from the elementnry schools into the commissioned ranks, we were not less good than those who came from public schools. We were not lacking in courage, we were not lacking in character, we were not lacking in the qualities of leadership. And, as the War found out what we could do, I maintain with all my heart that peace time should 2247 find out what those who are younger than we can do.
§ 11.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I should like an opportunity to bring out the real question at issue in connection with the democratisation of the Army, and in that process to quote the Prime Minister in support of democratisation in the Army. It is not simply a question of bringing the rank and file into the present officer class; it is a question of getting rid of the officer class entirely in order to get democratisation. Those who join the Army are entitled to carry into the Army the same rights as they enjoyed as ordinary citizens. No one can deny that in the Army you have the most rigid discipline enforced by an officer class on the great masses of the rank and file. No one would suggest for a moment that there is democracy in the Army at the present time; it is non-existent. What did the Prime Minister say on Monday night? Before I quote it, let me refer to what the War Secretary said this afternoon. He said that we must tell the people the advantages that the recruit is going to get in the Army. But it is no use just telling him the advantages he is going to get if you are not going to tell him what he is going to lose or what he is going to give. If you tell him that he is to get certain advantages, you must be prepared to tell him the whole truth, and to tell him the disadvantages. When a young lad joins the Army, he loses his liberty, he loses his citizenship, he loses all the rights that he has hitherto enjoyed. The Prime Minister, speaking on Monday night, used these words:For the preservation of democracy, which means the preservation of our liberty."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th March, 1938; col. 1569, Vol. 332.]If a soldier is to have his liberty preserved, it is obvious that there must be democracy in the Army; and therefore I want to suggest that, just as the soldier has been given a vote, so the soldier ought to be allowed, when he is off duty, to discuss politics, and to understand the policies and programmes of the various parties. He should have every opportunity that the ordinary citizen has for understanding what the vote is to be used for, and how it is to be cast. That brings us to the essential question. While the soldier is on duty, there must, of 2248 course, be discipline; but when he is off duty, there should be no question of his having to salute an officer; no question of any distinction between the soldier and the officer; the soldier is as much a citizen as any officer, and should not be held down.
That brings us to the real question of democracy in the Army and the real character of the officer class. It is not only a question of having discipline while the soldier is on duty; when he goes off duty the same thing applies. We have a fair variety of colonels and generals in this House, and the greatest possible advertisement for preventing recruiting would be to march out the officers in this House and exhibit them all around the country; for their average of intelligence would not be such as to encourage anyone to trust their lives in their hands. Many families get their sons into the Army as officers in order, as was said in this House during a Debate on family inheritance, that they might subsequently leave the service and marry wealthy ladies—and then the wealthy ladies get fed up with the look of them and leave them. That was said, not from this side of the House, but from the other side. We have had demonstrations of the fact that the Army and Navy are used in order to get sons married off into wealthy society. If liberty is associated with democracy in the way the Prime Minister said on Monday night, it is necessary to have real democracy in the Army. How could I advise the young Communists, who are very keen, active and capable young fellows, to join the Army? But if there were real democracy in the Army, I could provide you with any amount of capable potential leaders. As it is, they would not get in; they are too lively, too energetic, there is too much spirit in them; and, with recruitment of young Communists, the officer class would soon be sent about their business. I demand that the rank and file in the Army shall retain the rights of citizenship. Otherwise, how is it possible for them to retain that intelligent interest in the nation's affairs which is essential in any democratic country?
§ 11.25 p.m.
§ Mr. George Griffiths
I did not come into the Chamber at ten minutes to Eleven. I have been here all the time. 2249 I want an opportunity to address the House for five minutes. I congratulate the Secretary of State for War on the manner of his speech, though I cannot congratulate him upon everything in it. As one interested in the soldier himself, I want to thank the Minister for giving every one of the soldiers butter instead of margarine. There is a bit of humanity about that. Somebody in this House occasionally says to me, "I like margarine," and I reply, "You can have as much as you like, I had more than I wanted when I was young." I am delighted that at last the Minister is giving every soldier butter. I also want to thank him for taking our advice. This is the second year he has taken our advice. Last year I spoke for a few minutes on the question of unemployment assistance scales being deducted from the reservists' pay. When a man received his quarterly pay of 65s., three weeks' unemployment payments were stopped. I told the House that the Army would not get any recruits from my Division under those conditions. The men were up in arms. When they went to the Employment Exchange on the 1st April, the 1st July and the 1st September they were told that they could not get anything more for another month. That was disgraceful after the men had served in the Army and had been discharged. I am very pleased that the Minister himself has rectified this grievance. Therefore, too slight grievances have been adjusted.
I want to do the hat trick next year, and I, therefore, ask the Minister to consider the question of the boy who enlists under the age of 17 without his parents
§ knowing anything about it. I received a letter from a widow in my division whose boy, unknown to her, came to London and enlisted in the Army. She did not know where he was for almost six months. Eventually the boy wanted to come out of the Army and the widow asked for his discharge. The Financial Secretary to the War Office, with whom I had communication, said that the boy would have to be bought out of the Army. The widow paid £35 for his discharge, having to borrow the money. She is still paying back the money by instalments. When I asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether he could not allow this widow some financial relief in order to get the boy out of the Army he said, "No, it cost us so much to train him." The boy had only just turned 16. I am asking the Minister now to do something in connection with this kind of case. He has made a stir in every job he has undertaken. When I first came into this House he was Financial Secretary to the Treasury and he impressed me from that standpoint. He then went to the Ministry of Transport and he established his beacons there all right, and he has now made a stir as Secretary of State for War. Now he is Secretary of State for War I am asking him to give human consideration to the case of these young boys who enlist without their parents' knowledge and let them go back to their homes.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 208; Noes, 105.2253
|Division No. 130.]||AYES.||[11.31 p.m.|
|Asland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple)||Bullock, Capt. M.||Crossley, A. C.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Burghley, Lord||Crowder, J. F. E.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Butcher, H. W.||Cruddas, Col. B.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Cartland, J. R. H.||Culverwell, C. T.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Carver, Major W. H.||Denville, Alfred|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Cary, R. A.||Dower, Major A. V. G.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Castlereagh, Viscount||Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)|
|Assheton, R.||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Duggan, H. J.|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Channon, H.||Duncan, J. A. L.|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Eastwood, J. F.|
|Baillie, Sir A. W. M.||Clydesdale, Marquess of||Eckersley, P. T.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Colfox, Major W. P.||Edmondson, Major Sir J.|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Colman, N. C. D.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Ellis, Sir G.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Conant, Captain R. J. E.||Elmley, Viscount|
|Bossom, A. C.||Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Emery, J. F.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Emmott, C. E. G. C.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Cox, H. B. Trevor||Erskine-Hill, A. G.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Craven-Ellis, W.||Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Crooke, Sir J. S.||Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Fildes, Sir H.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Croom-Johnson, R P.||Fleming, E. L.|
|Bull, B. B.||Cross, R. H.||Fool, D. M.|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Sandys, E. D.|
|Furness, S. N.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Fyfe, D. P. M.||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Selley, H. R.|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||McKie, J. H.||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Gluckstein, L. H.||Macnamara, Capt. J. R. J.||Simmonds, O. E.|
|Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Gower, Sir R. V.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Grant-Ferris, R.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Markham, S. F.||Somerset, T.|
|Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J||Maxwell, Hon. S. A.||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Grigg, Sir E. W. M.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Spens, W. P.|
|Grimston, R. V.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)||Storey, S.|
|Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake)||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Hambro, A. V.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Munro, P.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Harris, Sir P. A.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Hartington, Marquess of||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Palmer, G. E. H.||Turton, R. H.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Patrick, C. M.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Peat, C. U.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Higgs, W. F.||Peters, Dr. S. J.||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Holmes, J. S.||Petherick, M.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Pilkington, R.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||Plugge, Capt. L. F.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Procter, Major H. A.||White, H. Graham|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.||Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)|
|Jones, L. (Swansea W.)||Rankin, Sir R.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Keeling, E. H.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Rayner, Major R. H.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.||Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Kimball, L.||Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)||Wise, A. R.|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Latham, Sir P.||Ropner, Colonel L.||Wood, Hon. C. I. C.|
|Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)||Wragg, H.|
|Lees-Jones, J.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Rothschild, J. A. de||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Lipson, D. L.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M R.|
|Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Lloyd, G. W.||Salmon, Sir I.||Lieut.-Colonel Kerr and Captain|
|Loftus, P. C.||Salt, E. W.||Dugdale.|
|Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||MacMillan, M. (Western Isles)|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Frankel, D.||Marshall, F.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Gallacher, W.||Maxton, J.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Gardner, B. W.||Milner, Major J.|
|Amnion, C. G.||Garro Jones, G. M.||Montague, F.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Nathan, Colonel H. L.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Parker, J.|
|Barr, J.||Grenfell, D. R.||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Batey, J.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Pearson, A.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Groves, T. E.||Price, M. P.|
|Benson, G.||Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Broad, F. A.||Hall, J. H. (Whilechapel)||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Bromfield, W.||Hayday, A.||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Ridley, G.|
|Buchanan, G.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Ritson, J.|
|Burke, W. A.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Cape, T.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Sexton, T. M.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hopkin, D.||Shinwell, E.|
|Chater, D.||Jenkins, A, (Pontypool)||Silverman, S. S.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Daggar, G.||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Kirby, B. V.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lathan, G.||Stephen, C.|
|Day, H.||Lawson, J. J.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Dobbie, W.||Lee, F.||Taylor. R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Thurtle, E.|
|Ede, J. C.||McEntee, V. La T.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Edwards, Sir C (Bedwellty)||McGovern, J.||Viant, S. P.|
|Walker, J.||Westwood, J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Watkins, F. C.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Mathers.|
|Watson, W. McL.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
§ Question put, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."2254
§ The House divided: Ayes, 200; Noes, 100.2255
|Division No. 131.]||AYES.||[11.41 p.m.|
|Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple)||Furness, S. N.||Petherick, M.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Fyfe, D. P. M||Pilkington, R.|
|Albary, Sir Irving||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Plugge, Capt. L. F.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Gluckstein, L. H.||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Gower, Sir R. V.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.|
|Apsley, Lord||Grant-Ferris, R.||Rankin, Sir R.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Assheton, R.||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Rayner, Major R. H|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Grigg, Sir E. W. M.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Baillie, Sir A. W. M.||Grimston, R. V.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Guest, Lieut.-Colonel H. (Drake)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Barclay-Harvey, Sir C. M.||Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W.||Ross, Major Sir R. O. (Londonderry)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Hambro, A. V.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Rothschild, J. A. de|
|Bossom, A. C.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Hartington, Marcuess of||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Salt, E. W.|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (Hexham)||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Sandys, E. D.|
|Brawn, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Higgs, W. F.||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Bull, B. B.||Holmes, J. S.||Selley, H. R.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Burghley, Lord||Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Butcher, H. W.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Simmonds, O. E.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Jones, L. (Swansea W.)||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Gary, R. A.||Keeling, E. H.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Somerset, T.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.||Somervell, Sir D. B. (Crewe)|
|Channon, H.||Kimball, L.||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.||Spens, W. P.|
|Clydesdale, Marquess of||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Latham, Sir P.||Storey, S.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Lees-Jones, J.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Colville, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. D. J.||Lindsay, K. M.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Conant, Captain R. J. E.||Lipson, D. L.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Llewellin, Lieut.-Col. J. J||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Lloyd, G. W.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Cox, H. B. Trevor||Loftus, P. C.||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|Craven-Ellis, W.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Crooke, Sir J. S.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Turton, R. H.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.||Wakefi[...]ld, W. W.|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||McKie, J. H.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Cross, R. H.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Crossley, A. C.||Maenamara, Capt. J. R. J.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. E.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Cruddas, Col. B.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Watarhouse, Captain C.|
|Dower, Major A. V. G.||Markham, S. F.||White, H. Graham|
|Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||Maxwell, Hon. S. A.||Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Eckersley, P. T.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Mitchell. H. (Brentford and Chiswick)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Elmley, Viscount||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Wise, A. R.|
|Emery, J. F.||Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Munro, P.||Wood, Hon. C. I. C.|
|Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.||Wragg, H.|
|Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Fildes, Sir H.||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Fleming, E. L.||Patrick, C. M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Foot, D. M.||Peat, C. U.||Lieut.-Colonel Kerr and Captain|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Peters, Dr. S. J.||Dugdale.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Amnion, C. G.||Barnes, A. J.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Barr, J.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Banfield, J. W.||Batey, J.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Pearson, A.|
|Benn, Rt. Hen. W. W.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Benson, G.||Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.)||Price, M. P.|
|Broad, F. A.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Bromfield, W.||Hayday, A.||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Buchanan, G.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Ridley, G|
|Burke, W. A.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Ritson, J.|
|Cape, T.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Chater, D.||Hopkin, D.||Shinwell, E.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Silverman, S. S.|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Daggar, G.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Davideon, J. J. (Maryhill)||Kelly, W. T.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Kirby. B. V.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Day, H.||Lathan, G.||Stephen, C.|
|Dobbie, W.||Lawson, J. J.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Lee, F.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Ede, J. C.||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Thurtle, E.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||McEntee, V. La T.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||MacMillan, M. (Western Isles)||Viant, S. P.|
|Frankel, D.||Marshall, F.||Walker, J.|
|Gallacher, W.||Mathers, G.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Gardner, B. W.||Maxton, J.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Milner, Major J.||Westwood, J.|
|Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Nathan, Colonel H. L.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Oliver, G. H.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Parker, J.|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Parkinson, J. A.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Groves and Mr. Adamson.|
§ Supply accordingly considered in Committee.
§ [Captain BOURNE IN THE CHAIR.]