§ Debate on the Motion of the Earl Roberts to resolve, That, in view of the altered strategic conditions in Europe, this House views with grave and growing concern the inadequate military arrangements of His Majesty's Government for the defence of this country and of His Majesty's Oversea Dominions; resumed (according to order).
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
My Lords, this is not the first of the discussions on the general military situation of the country into which we have been drawn in the course of the last two or three years, and I confess I should have deprecated a further reiteration of facts which are already so well known if it were not that I think the situation with which we have to deal becomes yearly more acute and the public becomes more apathetic as to the condition of our military affairs. But if justification were necessary for specially pressing this question in the very strong and impressive language used by the noble and gallant Field-Marshal last night, I think it is shown in the speech in which the Secretary of State replied. I confess that that speech was to me, as I believe it was to many members of this House, a profound disappointment.
919 What was the position? We had had an indictment, drawn on the highest authority, going through the whole circumstances of the numbers, the training, and the quality of our troops left at home for the defence of the kingdom, and also a fair and reasoned estimate of the possible source of attack. That was the case as it stood when the Minister for War rose to reply. What did we hear in reply? We were met with absolutely no challenge of the figures; we were met with some question as to the quality; we were, I think, not reassured at all on the training; but, unfortunately, the greater part of the noble Viscount's speech was devoted to a number of generalities which had absolutely no bearing, I submit, on the speech which was under reply, and a number of details were dragged into the discussion, details which had never been challenged, of proposals which had never been made, and a coloured presentment of a case to which the noble Viscount had never been asked to reply was put before your Lordships, much in the same way as in legal circles they say "No case; abuse the plaintiff's attorney." I should like to made good those statements.
In the first place, the noble Viscount went back to Von Moltke, and referred to Von Moltke's answer when asked whether Prussia was organised to meet France, Austria, and Russia combined—"We must defend ourselves as best we can." But that was not the sort of case which the noble and gallant Field-Marshal put last night. The question is whether, after you have sent your organised Army abroad in answer to a call from a distant part of the Empire, you are in a position to defend this country against any attack which may be reasonably expected at home. In the same spirit the noble Viscount discussed an alternative which he drew from a book, inspired, no doubt, by the noble and gallant Field-Marshal, but from a part of it which was not written by the noble Earl, and he compared the proposed force of 300,000 men having a year's training with our present Expeditionary Force, trained for a minimum of three years. But the point of Lord Roberts's observations lay in the comparison of the force which had had a year's training with a Territorial Army which only had a fortnight's training. The noble Viscount forced an open door, and so gained an easy victory. It is just that which makes me speak of his speech as a succession of non sequiturs and consequently a great 920 disappointment to us, who had hoped to hear this great question dealt with, not by debating points and a soothing pronouncement, but by a broad view of our responsibilities.
In the same way I confess I grudge the time out of the noble Viscount's speech which was devoted to the proposition that there might be circumstances in which a blow struck in Europe would neutralise a possible attack on these islands. I will not say that is a far-fetched theory. I will not say that there are no circumstances under which it may be necessary for us at some time or another to act as a make-weight on the Continent. But I do venture to say that we should limit the discussion of this Motion to the words of the Motion. The whole question before us to-day is whether the troops we have left at home and the Army generally are adequate for the defence of His Majesty's Dominions here and overseas. There is no question before us of landing a large force on the Continent to take a hand in Continental affairs. There is no question of landing 300,000 men in Belgium. Difficult as it is at this moment to persuade anybody of our danger or to make the necessary sacrifices, it would be infinitely harder if the public were persuaded to read into the policy of the noble and gallant Earl a determination that we should attempt to rival Continental armies or turn that which is only asked for to defend our shores into a large offensive object. I deprecate strongly on the one side the ambitious proposals of those who would inspire a policy for which the nation is not prepared to make the necessary sacrifices, and I deprecate on the other the too confident reassuring statements by which the nation is encouraged to believe that no extra sacrifice is entailed upon it in order to maintain the integrity of our own Dominions against very highly organised neighbours, some of whom are also acquisitive neighbours.
I am sure there has not been anything of Party controversy introduced into this debate up to now. I would propose only to argue this case by contrasting the proposals of the noble Viscount, made after due examination of our position, with that which he has been able to achieve after an uninterrupted period of office of five years. The noble Viscount has stood, and stands now, in an almost peculiar position. He has been Secretary of State for War longer than 921 any man in the last fifty years—I am not sure that I might not say in the last one hundred years. During that period he has not had his hands hampered by providing even for small wars. He has enjoyed the absolute loyalty of his colleagues, the sympathy of the public, and the unstinted support of his political opponents in carrying out his policy. He has been perfectly clear as to where he was going and what he wanted to do. He knows that inside this House there is not only no difference from him on the ground of Party, but there is no difference on the ground of policy as regards what he aimed at when he took office. We might object to his methods, but oil general policy we were at one with him. It is not too much, I think, to ask that I should be allowed to state what it was he aimed at and what it is he has achieved, and at the end I believe you will come to this conclusion. If such a man, with such a backing, still leaves grave gaps in our defences and is forced to fall hack on the vague assertion that in case of emergency we must defend ourselves as best we can, we must come to the conclusion that the problem is insoluble under present conditions, or we must ask why, if the noble Viscount wants to obtain an equipoise between his aspirations and his actions, it is not he instead of Lord Roberts who is moving this Motion and asking your Lordships to accompany us into the Lobby into which we must go to-night.
In 1906 the noble Viscount paid a tribute to the Army. He said that the Army was in a condition it had never been in before, both in quantity and quality; but lie said that it was too costly and he hoped to reduce its cost. I am averse to troubling your Lordships with figures, but I have prepared sonic figures on this subject, and I hope I may be allowed to cite them. The cost of the Army when the noble Viscount took it over was about £ 28,500,000, but to that may be added some capital expenditure out of loans on barracks. What is the present state of the Estimates? They are £ 1,000,000 less, but they provide for 74,000 fewer troops than they did five years ago. If those 74,000 troops according to their relative cost were still on the Estimates the cost would be about—2,000,000. Therefore the sum of—1,000,000 has been saved—whtether well or not I will leave your Lordships to consider—and £1,000,000 has been spent. The sum of £1,000,000 has been taken off the Regular Army and added to the Territorial Army. The cost of the Volun- 922 teers was about £7 10s. per head; the cost of the Territorials is half as much a: fain. The cost of a Militiaman was £22; the cost of a Special Reservist is £28. It is easy for any soldier to decide, even if the advantage of the Special Reservist is greater than the Militia, whether the improvement in the Territorial Army justifies the cost having been raised by fifty per cent. But in any case this Army, which was too costly, has had to give up a large number—Lord Roberts stated last night 30,000 men—in order to supply this deficit in the home force. I will ask presently whether that home force has been made adequate to our needs by this great sacrifice of the Regular Army.
The noble Viscount said that there were gaps to be made up and superfluities to be knocked off, that we were wanting in proper training, that he was going to place us on two lines instead. of three, that we lacked the power of expansion, and he said he proposed, and he has since endeavoured, to meet all these difficulties. With regard to superfluities, the noble Viscount said he would provide what was necessary and lop off what was unnecessary. He has lopped off one battalion of Guards—the finest troops in the Army—eight battalions of the Line, and eighty men of each of the home battalions. He will not know what he has lost, in those eight battalions of the Line unless lie finds himself in the position which Lord Lansdowne occupied at the beginning of the South African war, when almost his last battalion of the Line had had to be sent abroad. He has already found what it was to knock off eighty men from each of the hone battalions, because he has this year had to send extra men to battalions unable to supply the regiments abroad because the establishment had been reduced too low. Then, again, there was a proposal to reduce the Artillery. I am not going to trouble your Lordships by going into that to-night. It has been most vigorously protested against in this House, and if these debates have done nothing else they have done one great thing in that they have forced the Government to recognise that this proposed reduction in Artillery must be given up. The reduction has been given up, and I will only say that there is much joy in this House in consequence.
Then take the question of gaps. After five years there are certain gaps which we 923 might have hoped to see filled up. Take the question of officers. I admit that when the late Government left office we had not solved to the full the question of obtaining sufficient officers for our home troops. But has the noble Viscount solved it? When we left office five years ago there were 10,788 Regular officers. There are now, according to the latest returns, 10,705. I regret to find that it is impossible at present to obtain candidates for Sandhurst and Woolwich without greatly lowering the standard, and I cannot help feeling, in a day of almost universal progress with regard to payments, that the time has come when you must pay officers more. The Militia five years ago had 2,450 officers; the Special Reserve has to-day 1,840, and is short of its numbers by 1,167, according to the latest figures given to the public. The Territorial Army, despite all the efforts of Lords-Lieutenant and County Associations, has 9,7:50 officers, or 1,500 short of its strength. You cannot say that a Regular Army which is barely officered, a Regular Army which has not got a Reserve which will enable it to mobilise the Expeditionary Force without drawing on the officers who are attached to the Special Reserve at home, and which, therefore, has to absorb for the Expeditionary Force all those officers who were expected to remain here to give a nucleus to the home defence force—you cannot say that that Regular Army is more than supplied, and you find the Special Reserve short of 1,100 officers and the Territorial Force short of 1,500 officers. Surely I have made my point that the noble Viscount has not by his voluntary system been able to supply us with the all-important substratum of our military strength—a proper number of officers. I say nothing—Rome was not built in a day—about transport for the home Army; I say nothing about horses; I say nothing on this occasion about stores, though the return of stores has given some of us who have served in the War Office great anxiety. But I do submit that, great as have been the exertions of the noble Viscount, if he were to leave office to-morrow and an impartial critic were to take his place, the impartial critic would say that he had to clothe the skeleton of the noble Viscount's scheme in order to give it flesh and blood and reality for action in the field.
Then we were told we should have a power of expansion of the Regular Army.
924 The Secretary of State has on several occasions told the country that the Regular Army was 90,000 stronger in the five years since he took office. He added what he hoped he would get in the Special Reserve to the Army Reserve which now exists, but which by his admission will be diminished in a few years, and he made out a figure of 90,000, which I have often invited him to substantiate. The real number is not 90,000 but 20,000. It is quite true that by taking 65,000 of the Special Reserve, men trained for six months and then for three weeks a year, and adding them to his Army reduced by 20,000 and his Reserve reduced by between 10,000 and 20,000, he gets an increase of a little over 20,000 men who are liable to go abroad and support the Regular Army on an emergency. I do not wish to say a word against the Special Reserve, but read the noble Viscount's own aspiration in 1907. He objected to the Militia, which he was about to do away with, on the ground that many battalions enlisted youths of only seventeen years of age who could not be taken into the Line and would he useless for war. But does the noble Viscount cease to enlist these youths? They are enlisted now at the age of seventeen for the Special Reserve, and those very boys who he said were useless for war when in the Militia are now placed on the roll of the Army Reserve to support the Regular Army in the tropics. Yet the supporters of the noble Viscount have twitted us that he, with a reduction of £1,000,000 in the Army Estimates, has been able to add to our striking force.
Next I come to the question of training. We were to have boys trained at the schools—a most desirable plan, but a plan that was abandoned on the first trumpet call of the Labour Party in another place. I cannot understand how any man who has the interests of the country at heart can surrender to those who are not anxious for defence when training of that kind is so necessary. Next the men were to be better trained and longer trained. It has been found impossible to force the whole of the Territorial Army to the longer training. Officers were also to be trained quite differently from the Militia officers. In a. Memorandum issued a fortnight ago to officers of the Special Reserve battalions the Secretary of State for War mentions the large deficiency of subalterns, and proceeds— 925There is reason to think that one of the principal obstacles experienced by candidates is the length of the period of probationary training, twelve months. While that period cannot be considered longer than is desirable for the training of an officer at the present day, it is useless to maintain a standard which experience has shown to be prohibitive. It has, therefore, been decided to reduce the period of twelve months for Infantry Officers to six months.Can your Lordships have a stronger proof than that that, with the best will in the world, the standards laid down by the noble Viscount himself cannot be maintained, and that you are asked to accept officers with much less than the minimum training originally laid down because they are not to be obtained otherwise. Last night the noble Viscount disclaimed the statement attributed to him that he had at one time the idea of a Territorial Force of 900,000 men. That idea had been current in the country for a long time before the noble Viscount thought it necessary to dissociate himself from it.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
I wrote to The Times three years ago, and I have been trying ever since to get rid of a statement which somebody said I had made.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
I have in my mind a speech which the noble Viscount delivered to my old constituents only a few months ago, in which he told them that the Territorial Army was going forward at such a pace that he could get 500,000 at any moment if he wished.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
What I said was this. I said it was simply a question of money and the extension of existing organisation into parts of the country to which it had not been extended. I did not say I could get 500,000 at any moment.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
We shall be glad to see the organisation extended, because we look upon the present shortage as a very serious matter. Let us consider the state of affairs. The number of troops 926 now available to keep up our fighting force abroad is very much the same as before, because the noble Viscount has brought home a good many regiments from South Africa and elsewhere which before were not so available. But the point is, what remains at home? A nucleus of 20,000, 30,000, or 40,000 organised Regular troops may not seem a large number, but they mean forty regiments of infantry, which in a force largely composed of partially trained troops supply exactly that nucleus on which every commander has insisted. That nucleus has been cut away. What remains behind? The noble Duke on the Back Bench (the Duke of Bedford) had intended, and I hope still intends, to show what is the value of the various units remaining behind, and the number of men attached to no unit at all. But I am not going beyond the truth when I say that those units must be hastily put together, that they have no cohesion, that they will have no, or very few, Regular officers, and that they will be milked for drafts. Therefore you have to depend almost exclusively for home defence on the Territorial Army.
Testimony was given last night to the increased value of the Territorial Army. I believe the noble Viscount was fully justified in claiming that the organisation of the Territorial Army has greatly improved, and I think we should be wanting in gratitude to both officers and men and also to those who have helped in the organisation if we did not acknowledge the patriotism and self-sacrifice with which a large number of individuals who could ill afford the time have endeavoured to fit themselves for duty. Having said that, I hope I may be pardoned if I do not reiterate another word of compliment to the Territorial Force. I ant going upon facts, and when we are asked in the face of military opinion to accept this Force without backing or stiffening of Regulars to meet a possible invasion by a force of 70,000 trained men, I think we are entitled to ask what really is the value of the Force upon the bare facts. I deeply regret that in the part of his speech dealing with this matter the noble Viscount misled us last night. He quoted in defence of his view the words of Colonel Repington that the Territorial Force might in a majority of three to one encounter picked Continental troops, and that after six months training they might encounter Continental troops 927 in the majority of two to one. But here he stopped. Why did the noble Viscount not proceed to give Colonel Repington's opinion of the value of the Force as a whole, not the relative value. On December 10 last Colonel Repington gave that opinion, and I will read it, He said—Is the Territorial Force ready to undertake this great and responsible mission'? "—that is, of home defence—It is easy to explain why the Force is not yet ready for war. Numbers are not yet made up, and establishments if filled are insufficient. The training, though almost as good in the Midlands as it could be made with a fifteen-day camp, is not up to the standard that war requires. The mobilisation stores and First Line transport are not complete. Your mission in war may not be bootless, but fear that some of your men will be… Horses, wagons, and motor-lorries you will have to whistle for until the census and classification arc everywhere in force. Finally, the Force is not suited to long embodiment under arms.That is the testimony of the officer who was cited to us last night by the noble Viscount to confound Lord Roberts as to the value of the Territorial Force for the defence of the country.
Giving every credit that can be given to the Force, when out of 265,000 men there are 134,000 with a period of service under two years, when 83,000 are under twenty years of age, when 100,000 did not fire their musketry course last year, when 24,000 were unable to attend camp, and when the Force is short of 1,500 officers, am I not justified in saying that this is a rather rickety parapet for the edge of an abyss at the bottom of which is our absolute destruction as a first-class Power. I sometimes fear when I think of the 30,000 Regulars cut off to make improvements in the Territorial Force, that the noble Viscount may have exchanged susbtance for shadow. Possible invasion by a force of 70,000 men has been spoken of, but two steamers—and there is one now building—might carry the 70,000 up to 100,000. I suggest that there is no finality in this matter. We are not dealing with an exact science, and I hardly think that in those circumstances it is fair for the noble Viscount to say, as he did last night, that he may exclude from consideration such an invasion in the handling of practical affairs. If that be so, why all this paraphernalia of County Associations, Territorial manœuvres and all that is being done in order to try and bring the Force up to the necessary standard '? The noble Viscount told us that 928 we might just as much exclude this as a noble Lord would exclude the risk of being run over by a motor car. I would put it differently. I would say that no one if he were crippled and unable, as other men, to hold his own, would be wise to venture into the middle of crowded traffic; and the men you would put into the field would have to meet men of the first class.
When I heard the beginning of this debate I wondered by what military opinion the present position would be supported. It is remarkable that, with the unexampled array of high military authorities this House supplies, the views of the noble Viscount have not received military support. We have five Field-Marshals in this House. One has spoken already. Lord Grenfell on a previous occasion supported every word said by Lord Roberts. Does any one doubt that if that illustrious Field-Marshal who was Inspector-General of the Forces for three years were able to support the view which is taken by the Government he would be absent to-night and unwilling to rise in his place to reassure us? Can any one doubt that if Lord Kitchener, a member of the Defence Committee, were in sympathy with the policy of the noble Viscount, that if he were able to say "ditto" to Sir Ian Hamilton, he would not be encouraged to be in his place also to reassure us? I listened to speech after speech last night by men who have served in every category of our Forces, and in not one of them did I hear that the Force on which such great reliance is placed was fit for the task to be entrusted to it. The noble Viscount himself, in a speech which will never be forgotten, said—I think we can dismiss from our minds all notion of organising ourselves voluntarily up to the war standard in time of peace—all notion of playing at soldiers which we shall never be—and spend the money—in organising ourselves in skeleton.I want to know by what military authorities that view is supported. I venture to say that it is not an undue demand to make that some military authority, utterly unbiassed by politics and entirely uncommitted to any of these schemes, should be allowed to examine the state of the Forces of this country after the main Army has embarked, and tell us whether the state of those Forces is adequate to the danger which His Majesty's Government admit they may have to face. Until we have some pronouncement of that kind from an independent authority we cannot be censured if we feel that the views expressed are not the views 929 of the Army but the views of His Majesty's Government.
I for one deeply regret that the office of Commander-in-Chief was ever abolished. If I had realised that the results of Lord Esher's Committee—the determination to establish a board on the principle of the Board of Admiralty—would have had the effect of condemning to complete silence all the soldiers whose opinions we had most right to hear, and whose opinions have, been voiced from the Front Cross Bench in your Lordships' House for fifty years by successive Commanders-in-Chief, I confess I would sooner have resigned my office than have been a party to placing the Army in the position it has been for the past five years. W can never get from the Government now a vestige of idea whether the opinions they express and the proposals they put forward are backed by the military authorities or not. We are sometimes twitted with not having a scheme of our own. It is not the business of the Opposition to put forward a scheme. Amateurs or professional soldiers who are not themselves responsible are heard with great respect, but, of course, it is on the military advisers of the Government that the responsibility falls, and those are the very men whose opinions in the mass we are never allowed to hear.
I make one appeal to the noble Viscount before I sit down. I thought that his speech last night was too much on the line of special pleading, and that it dealt too little with the deficiences and defects which he himself would be the first to acknowledge. I remember his Bill of 1907 being before your Lordships' House. After long discussion in the House of Commons questions in that Bill were debated here with absolute freedom from Party and with a determination to get at the truth; concession after concession was induced from the Government, and the measure finally left this House a very different measure from the one that came here. Will the noble Viscount tell me whether he has ever felt cause to regret any single one of those concessions? 1 ask him to regard the opinions expressed in this debate from the same standpoint. What we are asked to do is to acquiesce in a state of affairs which no other country in the world which has any care for its defence has ever agreed to. We are the only nation in the world which, with all the lessons we have received in the past and all 930 the mistakes made in military strategy in South Africa, is encouraged to accept naval opinion as though it were absolutely final and conclusive on every detail in a science which cannot be an exact science, and in which we are gambling absolutely with the very life and existence of the nation. I know that nothing is more unpopular than to speak out truthfully and with sincerity on these things. My noble friend Lord Milner dealt with this point last night, and showed that the very step which we are assured by the Government would cripple the Navy would actually set the Navy free for its operations. While other nations cease their military preparations on the day war begins, we are the only nation whose main preparation is not to begin until the first gun has been fired. Great nations in the past have come to grief because they believed they could rot ask their democracy to make sacrifices which were really necessary. If with this record of facts before us, and with the knowledge of the constant endeavour and high purpose which have stimulated the War Office during the last five years, we see results which no soldier can look at and justify; if we sit down and accept the impotent conclusion that we can do no more and must defend ourselves as best we can, then I say His Majesty's Government and the country must absolve those who sit on this side of the House from any share of responsibility for a want of preparedness which we have clearly foreseen and pointed out.
THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (LORD LUCAS)
My Lords, I do not propose to follow the noble Viscount very far into the realm of figures. We have had a great many discussions on figures, and I have to the best of my ability opposed the figures he has offered with figures which I believed, obtained as they had been from the best sources, to be strictly accurate. First of all the noble Viscount accused my noble friend of having reduced the strength of the Infantry because he reduced its establishment shortly after he came into office. He did reduce the establishment, but my noble friend was very far when he did that from reducing its strength. He was simply bringing the establishment into some sort of accord with the strength. The noble Viscount opposite accuses us of having made reductions in Artillery. No reductions were made in the Artillery. Then he made a comparison between our military position in 1905 and 931 the position as it was last year. On that I would point out that the position in 1905 was imaginary in so far as the strength on mobilisation depended almost entirely upon a Reserve which never existed. When he says we have reduced the fighting strength of the Army I would like to put before your Lordships what the actual position was when my noble friend took office.
We fall into the error, in discussing these matters in this House, of discussing the question, not from the point of view of what the fighting strength is that you can mobilise, but the actual numbers of men that you have in your Army irrespective of what organised force you could form out of them. When my noble friend first took office and worked out the possibility of mobilising an Expeditionary Force of six Divisions he found that there were considerable deficiencies. The noble Viscount opposite has twitted us with the fact_that we are going to call upon the Special Reserve to provide some of the officers required on mobilisation. It may possibly be news to the noble Viscount to know that to have organised a similar Expeditionary Force in 1905 would have required 1,677 officers and 26,147 men of different arms who were not on the peace establishment of the Army. That, I would remind the noble Viscount, was the position for mobilisation of an Expeditionary Force of 160,000 men in the early part of 1906.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
I have had to observe on many occasions that you cannot create an Army in a year or two. You must wait and compare the normal when the men who have enlisted have gone to the Reserve. Our Reserve was then 94,000, and would have been very much larger long before now.
The system organised by the noble Viscount was completely overthrown by his successor long before my noble friend Lord Haldane took office. The position was as I have said. You could not mobilise six Divisions nor go anywhere near mobilising six Divisions. There was a deficiency of officers then, but it is rather less now than then, and there was a very much larger deficiency of men. Allowing that the system of the noble Viscount opposite had been permitted to attain the normal, he could not have mobilised a larger Expeditionary Force in terms of Divisions than is possible now. He might possibly have mobilised six 932 Divisions, but six Divisions was the utmost that could have been mobilised then. We do not deny that reductions have been made in the Regular Army, but we have set ourselves to mobilise an Expeditionary Force of six Divisions, and when the noble Viscount twits us with having made comparatively small saving in expenditure I would only say that the saving would have been considerably more had the holes that he left to be filled up been smaller. After all, a great deal had to be done in order to complete mobilisation arrangements. The Special Reserve in its present form is a far more valuable part of the military system than the old Militia, on which a considerable sum of money had to be expended. An attempt has been made to provide for the known deficiency of officers by the institution of the Officers-Training Corps. Another equally important matter has been the formation of depot machinery for the purpose of training drafts. The result of all this is that at the present moment, in spite of having a slightly smaller Army, we can mobilise just as large a force as would have been possible under the noble Viscount's scheme, and. can maintain it longer in the field than he could ever have done.
A great deal of yesterday's debate consisted of complaints as to the details of the present system. Admittedly there are a great many details to be filled in and a great many points that will require attention; but there is one thing which you have to thank for that, and one thing alone, and that is the lack of continuity which has always existed in military affairs. Ever since the attention of the country has been seriously turned to the Army it has been going through a series of the most important and fundamental changes. Principles and details cannot be settled at the same time. My noble friend has done more in the time that he has been at the War Office than I think anybody else. He has settled the principles, and I hope has settled them for a long time to come; but there are, as I have said, a great many details which remain to be settled. It is only when you have got the principles settled that you can work out the innumerable details. Under that head I place the matter of horses and other things of the greatest importance. If the present system is allowed to continue for another five years I venture to say that the great part of those numerous details will have been 933 settled. We are not offered continuity. Instead of being offered anything like continuity, the Motion before the House, if it were carried into effect, would involve the complete upheaval and destruction of the present system.
I confess that in view of what the noble Viscount who has just spoken said I find myself in a certain amount of difficulty. I remember the debate which took place about eighteen months ago in this House on the Motion of Lord Roberts, when about half way through the debate the speakers for the National Service League began to disclaim the documents which had been put forward as being their scheme. I do not know if we may regard the noble Viscount as one of the speakers for the National Service League, but he has certainly disclaimed the scheme which is before the country under the aegis of the noble and gallant Field-Marshal—namely, the scheme contained in the book which bears his name. We who lack information to the contrary, and that includes the country at large, are going to continue to consider that the schemes which are laid down in that book are to be regarded as the schemes of the National Service League. The noble Viscount declared that it was not the business of the Opposition to produce a scheme. Our complaint is not that they have not produced a scheme, but that they have produced too many schemes in the last few years. The noble Viscount, it is true, did not produce a scheme, and I confess that as I listened to his speech I was puzzled to know whether he favours the scheme advocated by the National Service League. I think that we have every reason to consider that we are entitled under the very wide terms of the Motion before the House to discuss the schemes contained in Lord Roberts' book, although there is one part of that book which the noble and gallant Field-Marshal does not accept in its entirety.
The scheme which is the constructive part of the book, and which proposes a definite military policy as an alternative to the present organisation of our Regular Army, has taken four or five years, I presume, to produce. The writer of it has suffered no limitation; he has had no Chancellor of the Exchequer to pull him up in the matter of finance, no Adjutant-General to warn him as to the effect of his scheme on recruiting, no one to tell him 934 that the necessary supply of officers was not forthcoming. The writer has been his own General Staff and has laid down his own standard of training. I would like to take that scheme and institute some sort of comparison between it and our present military system. This new proposal would divide the Army into several categories. First, there are the foreign garrisons. They are to consist of men all of whom had enlisted for twenty-one years, and all of whom would be entitled to pensions on leaving the Army. That system of long service foreign garrisons has been tried in this country and deliberately discarded because it was wasteful, costly, and for military purposes inefficient. The fact is, soldiers cannot serve for a long time abroad in tropical climates without deteriorating in fighting qualities and without costing very large sums for invalidity and pensions. There is no soldier who will not say that the Cardwell system gives you better foreign garrisons than this proposal. Therefore in the first category the present system is better than the proposed new one.
Then I come to the second category—the Expeditionary Force. With all deference to the noble Viscount I maintain that the speech of the noble and gallant Field-Marshal, and particularly the speech of Lord 'Milner and tilt book itself, all point to the same thing, and all say that this Expeditionary Force is to be used for immediate foreign service on the Continent and elsewhere.
Yes, the Expeditionary Force of 300,000 men. I am quoting from the book. No reason has been given for the selection of that number, and why it should not be 200,000 or 400,000. That Force, which, as I have said, is to be available for immediate foreign service on the Continent or elsewhere, is to depend for its existence upon the small proportion of long service men who happen to be at home, and on obtaining 70,000 recruits each year—more than double the number of recruits obtained at present for the Regular Army. In view of what my noble friend the Secretary of State said yesterday as to the impossibility of having a compulsory system and a voluntary system existing side by side, the proposal 935 to get 70,000 recruits annually must be regarded as in the nature of an extremely dangerous gamble. I believe that every soldier would say that the greater part of the proposed Expeditionary Force would be undertrained for the purpose for which it is intended, and that many would prefer to lead in a campaign 170,000 men of the present Expeditionary Force than 300,000 of the proposed force; and I have no hesitation in saying that if there was the faintest chance of this scheme being carried into effect it would create consternation in the minds of the best soldiers in the British Army at the present time.
I pass to the third category—the question of home defence. The scheme of the National Service League remains unchanged from what it was about two years ago. At that time we ventured to make certain criticisms upon it based on the opinions of experts, the principal one of which was that for the purpose for which it was intended—namely, to encounter a large invading force of Continental troops at very short notice—it was not suitable, for the reason that, first of all, the force would never have sufficient embodied training, and, secondly, that no measures were indicated whatever for the provision and training of officers. I do not think that the National Service League have made any reply. They certainly did not at the time. We see no proposals on their part to improve the home defence force in any respect. Fortunately, however, both for the National Service League and for us the problem of invasion is not as they have stated it. We have had reason, I know, to deplore the fact that when we have been discussing this very important question in this House we have not had at our disposal expert naval opinion. That, I am glad to say, is not the case at the present moment. Now we have expert naval opinion on the question of invasion crystallised in the recently published Admiralty Memorandum on the Navy, and I think it is a significant fact that not a single speaker on behalf of the National Service League has made the faintest attempt to criticise or try to refute the principles of home defence laid down in that Memorandum.
There has been a good deal of comment upon the details of the Memorandum. Everybody who has mentioned this Memorandum seems to have skipped the first three paragraphs. The points which are 936 germane to this particular question are quite short. I will read them. The Memorandum begins—The really serious danger that this country has to guard against in war is not invasion but interruption of our trade and destruction of our merchant shipping.And it goes on in the third paragraph to say—The main object aimed at by our Fleet, whether for the defence of commerce or for any other purpose, is to prevent any ship of the enemy from getting to sea far enough to do any mischief before she is brought to action.My Lords, that is the naval position on this question. What does it mean? It means that the defence of this country is not what it is described to be by the various speakers on the subject as tying the hands and destroying the initiative of the Navy, but that it is an incident in the first and paramount duty of the Navy which is to keep open the trade routes for the supply of food to this country. Just as the part is less than the whole, so is the defence of these coasts less than the task of the necessary command of the sea for the purpose of keeping clear our trade routes. If the Navy cannot do that; if the Navy is unable, in the words I have quoted, to prevent the enemy's fleet from getting to sea far enough to do any mischief before being brought to action, which is necessary to prevent invasion, how is it going to be possible for them to keep open the trade routes for the food supply of this country? If the Navy is unable to carry out that part of their task, of what use is one million, two million, or three million bayonets in this country? You may make invasion impossible, but if you let the enemy's Navy out, invasion is no longer a necessity for them; the thing they will have to do, instead of invading this country, will be to close the trade routes. Therefore, my Lords, that is the position as it stands at the present moment. The vital thing is to keep open the trade routes. The methods that the Navy propose to use for that purpose will automatically save us from invasion. That is a point that has not been tackled, as I say, by any speaker yet on behalf of the National Service League. They have not proved the case which, after all, is the foundation of their whole scheme—that this country is liable to invasion; and I therefore submit that the view of the Committee of Imperial Defence, of the Government, and of the two great Departments which are chiefly concerned carries 937 the day. According to that view, allowing for everything in the way of accidents and mishaps and miscalculations and over-calculations, 70,000 men is the maximum number that can under any possible circumstances come to this country. And, my Lords, I further submit this, that the force which we shall have in this country at our weakest moment immediately after mobilisation and if the whole of our Expeditionary Force is out of this country, will be capable of dealing with that 70,000 men. We shall have fourteen Territorial Divisions and fourteen Mounted Brigades. We shall be able, if it is necessary to do so, to bring them up to their war establishment by means of the Territorial Reserve, which includes not only men who have served in the Territorials but also ex-Regulars and ex-Special Reservists and Militiamen, and, if necessary, we shall be able to stiffen them—that is, fill their ranks—with some of those Regulars left in this country. In addition to the fourteen Divisions and fourteen Mounted Brigades, we shall have besides 160,000 men composed of Regulars, Regular Reservists, and Special Reservists. I believe that that is a force which is absolutely adequate for dealing with any invasion or raid up to the size—allowing for an ample margin of safety as we have done—that it is possible to land on these shores.
Now I come to the final point, on which undoubtedly the scheme detailed in the noble Earl's book is superior to the present scheme. What its value is, I hesitate to say. I refer to the question of the Reserve that you will have behind your organised forces. You are to have, as I understand, this mass of half a million or so of men behind your Territorial Force, and you are to have a figure, which is not quite so easy to determine from the book, but something like 500,000 Reservists behind your Expeditionary Force. They are to be used, as we understand, for the possibility of expansion. I am extremely doubtful, when it comes to the practical test, as to how you are going to use those men for expansion. At any rate you will be only able to use them to a limited extent, and nothing like the extent that would be conveyed by their total numbers; for this simple reason, that you confessedly do not have in peace time any sort of organisation for them, and especially no officers. You can use those men to maintain drafts, and, to a limited extent, for forming new units, but to think that you are going in a 938 comparatively short time to form them into Battalions, Brigades, Divisions, and all that kind of thing, means that you are leaving out all the most important part of the machinery of an Army—that is, the Staff work generally and the higher commands. It is quite true that on those lines you have provided ample material of men, but it has never been laid down clearly exactly for what purpose or how you are going to use them, beyond the rather vague word "expansion." After all, to have a big Reserve of that kind is not the monopoly of the compulsory system. You can have it, if you want it, under the voluntary system as well. Suppose the necessity were proved—it has not been proved yet, and I think it would be a difficult thing to prove—of having behind your organised forces hundreds of thousands of Reservists. The voluntary system passes men out of it at somewhere near 100,000 a year, and if some change took place which suddenly made it necessary to increase your home defence forces, or to build up a great Reserve, it is by no means beyond the wit of man, especially when that wit is coupled with the power of the purse and you are prepared to spend a good deal upon it, to arrange for those men as they are passed out to spend one, two, three, or four years, if you like, in a Reserve, with liability for Home defence, and you can by that means, and at far less expenditure than anything contemplated here, provide a Reserve numbering some hundreds of thousands. Therefore, even on that point I do not see that there is any very greatly marked advantage in the proposed compulsory system over what our present system could provide.
My Lords, you are asked to break up everything that has been built up for so long in this country—a system which has been made after great care, great trouble, and great experiment to fit into our requirements for peace, and, as far as we know, to our requirements for war as well—and to replace tha-5 system by a system which is going to cost you far more; how much more it will cost I hesitate to say, but certainly a great deal more than the figures in the book, which leave out of account altogether such very important items as the whole of the pensions for your twenty-one years' service men, and there are a number of other errors equally big. You are asked to replace that by a system which, first of all, is going to be immensely more costly; 939 which is going to be, with regard to certain definite points at any rate, of marked inferiority to your present system; which is based on most tremendous uncertainty on such points as recruiting; anti which is, admittedly, a scheme to meet, not what my noble friend so rightly calls the reasonable probabilities of war, but to meet a situation with regard to invasion to prove the correctness of which I submit the National Service League has signally failed.
§ *THE DUKE OF BEDFORD had the following Notice on the Paperx2014;
§ "To call attention to the number of troops left at home after the departure of the Expeditionary Force according to the statement of the Secretary of State for War on February 28, 1911, namely:—
|Militia and Militia Reserve||4,076|
|Regular Reserve from Abroad||7,225|
The noble Duke said: My Lords, I rise to support the Motion of the noble and gallant Field-Marshal. One of my reasons for so doing is the inadequacy of the troops available for home defence after the departure of the Expeditionary Force. The Secretary of State for War on February 28 last gave a table of these forces. That table I have reproduced in my Notice on the Paper. It shows our military forces left at home under six heads—five being the Regular Forces and one the Territorial. I take the Regular Forces first; 55,988 Regular soldiers serving with the Colours are shown as left in the United Kingdom. Of these 29,623 would be, by the statement of the Secretary of State for War on March 1, 1911, under twenty years of age. We should, therefore, have at home 26,365 serving soldiers of over twenty years of age. It is I know said that there is no good reason for distinguishing between soldiers above and below twenty years of age. The noble Lord, Lord Haversham, in a discussion which took place in the House a short time ago, reminded us that boys of under twenty had fought at Waterloo and in the Crimea. But the noble Lord omitted to remind us of what happened to the boy
soldiers in the Crimea. May I therefore quote the account of an eye-witness? Sir William Russell in his "British Expedition to the Crimea," describing the failure of the attack on the Redan on September 8, 1855, writes as follows—
The rapidly increasing swarms of wounded men, some of whom had left their arms behind them, at last gave rise to suspicions of the truth, but their answers to many eager questioners were not very decisive or intelligible, and some of them did not even know what they had been attacking. One poor young fellow, who was stumping stiffly up with a broken arm and a ball through his shoulder carried off his firelock with him, but he made the naive confession that he had never 'fired it off, for he could not.' The piece turned out to be in excellent order. it struck one that such men as these, however brave, were scarcely a lit match for the well-drilled soldiers of Russia; and yet we were trusting the honour, reputation and glory of Great Britain to undisciplined lads from the plough, or the lanes of our towns and villages. Nor can it be considered as ought but ominous of evil that there have been two Courts of Inquiry recently held concerning two most distinguished regiments—one, indeed, belonging to the highest rank of Infantry; and the other a well-tried and gallant regiment, which was engaged in this very attack—in consequence of the alleged misconduct of their young soldiers during night affairs in the trenches.
Surely we do not want to repeat these failures. We are warned against their recurrence by those who are responsible. For instance, the Report on the health of the Army for the year ended 1909 comments on the want of maturity in our recruits, and ends by stating that—
it should not be forgotten that many of the lads will be incapable of doing the work of a seasoned soldier for at least two or three years.
§ A similar report was made in 1907 and 1908.
§ The second heading in the Table is the Regular Reserve, the strength of which after the departure of the Expeditionary Force is estimated at 34,871. The number of the Regular Reserve, according to the Army Estimates of 1911, is 136,337. Of these 85,023 are required for the Expeditionary Force by Table I of the Army Memorandum of April 8, 1907, leaving a surplus of 51,314. The following extra demands, not mentioned in the Army Memorandum of 1907, must, however, be made upon the strength of the Regular Reserve. By the statement of the Under-Secretary of State for War on November 15 last there would be required from the Regular Reserve to fill the deficiency in the Special Contingent 6,622 men; to serve with the Army Medical Corps, 1,739; for the Regular. Mounted Infantry in place of 941 non-Regular Cavalry for six Divisions, 2,016; for the two Mounted Brigades, 5,765. These additional demands total up to 16,142, thus making the total number required from the Regular Reserve up to 101,165, leaving 35,172. But of these 7,225 are resident abroad. We have therefore at home 27,94-7. Lord Lucas, when Tinder-Secretary of State for War, informed us on February 22 that it was necessary to allow on first calling up the Reserve ten per cent. for men who are unfit. Ten per cent. of the total strength of the Regular Reserve, less the number abroad, represents 12,911. Therefore, the number of the Regular Reservists at home fit for the field would be at present 15,036. We must, however, look ahead for a bit—not more than eighteen months—to the moment when the reductions initiated by the Government in the Regular Army have been fully realised. In 1913 the estimated strength of the first-class Regular Reserve is 106,372, a drop of 30,000 men. These 30,000 men will have left the Army Reserve without being replaced. We see, therefore, that in 1913 the figure of 34,871 given as surplus Reservists in the Table will be cancelled by the reductions now in process.
In explaining the Army Estimates the noble Viscount said—
Inasmuch as the Reserve in 1913 would be the product of the system of nine years service with the Colours and three in the Reserve the battalion being full of nine years trained men would require fewer Reservists to mobilise.
§ This means that when there is a drop of 30,000 men in the Reserve, there will be a corresponding increase in the number of men serving with the Colours of over twenty years of age. In short, the men for the Expeditionary Force will come from the Colours instead of from the Reserve. Now if 30.000 more men go abroad from the Colours and 30,000 men are gone from the Reserve, that makes a difference of 60,000 men of the Regular Army in the number left at home. Thus we see that in 1913 there will be 25,000 soldiers of the Regular Army left at home, and no surplus first-class Regular Reservists. This situation I believe the noble Viscount is trying to meet by forming pools of unallotted men, and by reopening the second class of the Army Reserve, that is Section D, for enlistment. The present pool is 3,700 men, lint how is that going to produce a Reserve of 30,000 men? We know for a fact that 30,000 men 942 disappear from the Regular Army by 1913. We know for a fact that nine Infantry battalions have been destroyed, and that the establishment of all Infantry battalions at home has been reduced by-thirty men per battalion—that is a total of 2,220 men, a number equal to three Infantry battalions. We have thus lost the numerical equivalent of twelve Infantry reserve-creating cadres. The noble Viscount, in explaining the Army Estimates, stated that the wastage is now so much less that a battalion of 720 is equal or even better to-day as a reserve-creating machine than one of 800 was in the time of his predecessor. But whether this will prove to be the case or not we must "wait and see." Anyhow it cannot affect the difference which must be made in the numbers of the Reserve due to the loss of nine Infantry reserve-creating cadres.
The third heading is the Special Reserve, of which 59,455 are tabled as available after the departure of the Expeditionary Force. By the statement of the Under-Secretary of State for War on November 15 last, 15,175 Special Reservists are required to form the Special Contingent of the Expeditionary Force on mobilisation, and to go abroad. The 59,455 less 15,175 leaves 44,280. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, told us that forty-seven per cent. of the Special Reserve go direct into the Line. In other words, forty-seven per cent. of the Special Reservists are Line recruits. I have before now alluded to the fact of such recruits being counted twice over, and I am now glad to see that this fact is recognised in the last Army Annual Return, which states—
Amongst the men entered as recruits for the Militia or Special Rese7ve are included a number who subsequently joined the Regular Forces; thus some are counted twic3 over as recruits, but so long as they are permitted to pass from one force to another this is not to be avoided.
§ The available strength, then, of the Special Reserve is 44,280, but of these it must be remembered that by the Army Annual Return a considerable proportion must have been counted twice over—with the Line and with the Special Reserve.
§ The fifth heading on the Table is the Militia and Militia Reserve showing a strength of 4,076. Since the Table from which I quote was made the number has already fallen, according to the Army Estimates of 1911 -1912, to 3,239. No 943 future establishment is laid down. This is a moribund force, and I pass on to the last heading of 7,225 Regular Reservists residing abroad. In 1906 a Bill was passed giving powers to the Secretary of State for War to allow 10,000 Regular Reservists to reside abroad, but with a view to their services being of advantage to the military authorities on the spot, whether India, South Africa, or the Crown Colonies. Anyhow, it is obvious that since they are abroad they cannot be available for home defence or yet for embarking with the Expeditionary Force.
§ Before considering the Territorial Army it would be well to examine the organisation and the composition of our Regualr Army of 100,000 men returned as available for home defence. On the departure of the Expeditionary Force we are left at home with four Regular Infantry battalions, three regiments of cavalry, and twenty-three service batteries of Artillery. I have already shown in detail in your Lordships' House—and my figures were not challenged—that if every Regular officer is taken from the four home battalions. then the Expeditionary Force would still be 575 Regular Infantry officers deficient, and we should not have a single Regular Infantry officer in the Army of the four home battalions. As regards the Infantry of the Special Reserve, there are seventy-four third or depot battalions and twenty-seven fourth battalions. The seventy-four depot battalions absorb all the unfit and immature men from the Line and all the incapable men from the Regular Reserve. None of these depot battalions are intended to be used as battalions in the field. They are deficient in officers and non-commissioned officers. In the whole Special Reserve Infantry there ought to be 1,915 subalterns. By the Return of February 27, 1911, there are 648 subalterns, a deficiency of 1,267. But by the Army Order of December 23, 1907, every Special Reserve and extra Special Reserve battalion must send four subaltern officers to the Line on mobilisation—that is 404. This leaves 244, rather less than two and a half subalterns per battalion.
§ As regards non-commissioned officers a Line battalion would take into the field a staff of eighty non-commissioned officers for 880 trained men in the ranks. For the Special Reserve battalion a staff of thirty-two Regular non-commissioned officers is allowed to manage 1,000 or more 944 men and boys collected from different sources and devoid of all regimental discipline and feeling. Battalions so composed are' not battalions at all. They are mere crowds of men and boys, quite incapable of performing any military duty pertaining to a battalion. The fourth battalions have an establishment of 530 men; but many are below establishment. They have no Reserve and receive no additional men on mobilisation. They are intended, according to the statement of the noble Viscount on March 14 last, to go abroad in the same way as the old Militia battalions. One battalion, however, is short by twenty officers. Two more are each eighteen officers short, and none are less than ten officers deficient. Moreover, they have just been deprived of all their Regular officers with the exception of their adjutants. For foreign service they would not average more than 370 men per battalion. At present they are quite unfit for foreign service, and there is no prospect of their becoming fit for that duty.
§ It is true that it is proposed to increase their establishment up to 750 non-commissioned officers and men, but seeing that the Special Reserve Infantry is now more than 7,000 short of its establishment it is not easy to see how the additional 5,940 recruits are going to be obtained. I read in the Army Annual Report of 1911 that 7,503 less recruits were obtained for the Special Reserve than in the previous year, and that in spite of having reduced the height in October, 1909 to 5 ft. 2 in. You are at present 7,000 short in the Special Reserve Infantry, and you propose to increase the establishment by 5,940. You want to raise 12,940 additional recruits for the Special Reserve Infantry. Does the noble Viscount really imagine he is going to get these men? There are but two ways of increasing the intake of recruits; the first is to offer bounties, and the second to lower the standard. You cannot offer bounties for recruiting the Special Reserve without upsetting the whole recruiting of the Army. You certainly cannot lower the standard. We have just had an instance of what the present standard for the Special Reserve really is. A Special Reserve recruit was charged with desertion before the magistrate at the West London Police Court last 'February. The magistrate described the deserter as a child dressed as a soldier, and remitted the boy to the Children's 945 Court, because he proved to be not sixteen years of ago. Now the noble Viscount, in answer to a question addressed to him on February 22 last, stated that this recruit, described by the magistrate as a child, was enlisted because he was up to the physical standard now in force. If the standard under which children are enlisted into the Special Reserve is lowered it means that you will open that force for the enlistment of infants.
The noble. Viscount, however, falls back upon the abnormal outflow, which, by the way, will cease in two years time, from the large Reserve created by his predecessors, and trusts to this to get him out of his difficulty. Hence the proposal for adding to the numbers of the extra Special Reserve battalions by re-enlisting men who have passed out of the Reserve of the Regular Army. At the moment when the Special Reserve was first created, enlistment into the second class of the Army Reserve—that is Section D—was closed. The proposal was then made to enlist men after twelve years of Colour and Reserve service into the Special Reserve. In the Army Annual Report for 1908 the point is dealt with as follows—
The maximum age for a recruit, of the Special Reserve has been fixed at thirty. This limit has caused considerable comment and it has been pointed out that ex-soldiers are thereby debarred from enlisting into the Special Reserve on the termination of their Army and Reserve service. The point, however, is overlooked that these Special Reservists are required to take their places as drafts of the Regular Army. An ex-soldier on completion of his twelve years cannot he less than thirty and may be considerably more, while if he takes advantage of his opportunities and enlists in Section D he must be at least thirty-four. To enlist such ex-soldiers into the Special Reserve would mean that drafts for the Regular Army in time of war would be liable to be composed of men to a considerable extent who would be less fitted to undergo the arduous work of a campaign.
On March 9, 1910, the noble Viscount objected to a proposal to allow men to reengage in the Army on completion of their first period of service with the Colours at the age of twenty-six on the score that "he did not want old stiff soldiers." Now, however, a man after he has been four years in Section D, the second class Army Reserve, is to be eligible for enlistment into the Special Reserve at about thirty-four years of age. The noble Viscount described these men on March 14 last, not as "old stiff soldiers," but as "youthful veterans." The noble Viscount and the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, differ widely in
their views as to which force the men are likely to prefer, whether they will re-enlist in Section D or go at once to the fourth battalions of the Special Reserve. Lord Lucas, in a letter to the Press on July 18 last, wrote as follow.
Section D fills quickly whenever it is opened, and if the Army Council decide to keep it open for the next three or four years, we can say with Conviction based on yews of experience that it will contain from 15,000 to 20,000 men in 1011
§ Then on. November 10, 1910, the noble Lord estimated the strength of Section D in 1913 at 24,895. On February 22 the noble Lord estimated the strength at 26,000 men. Then comes the noble Viscount, who, in explaining the Army Estimates, states that "comparatively few men go to Section D."
§ On consideration I expect the noble Viscount must hope that he is in the wrong and that the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, is in the right, because if there are not 25,000 men in Section D then the Expeditionary Force is absolutely bankrupt in the matter of numbers. But this is not only a question of quantity; it is a question of quality. The question I should like to put to the noble Viscount is this. Can he assure us that the men in Section D, the second class Army Reserve, upon whom he relies to make good the deficiencies in the first class Army Reserve, are in any way fit for the purpose for which he is going to use them? The noble Viscount must, in order to complete the numbers of his Expeditionary Force, send the Section D men abroad at once on mobilisation. We know from the evidence of Lord Methuen and Sir Thomas Kelly-Kenny that these men proved unfit for service in South Africa. Why, then, should they now prove fit for service in Europe or elsewhere That is a most important question, and I hope the noble Viscount will tell us something about it.
§ It is necessary to remember that the whole principle of the re-organisation of the Army was to substitute two lines for three. The Special Reserve and the Regular Army are to become one line on mobilisation. There is no force between the Regular Army and the Territorial Army. Now we have been told by the noble Viscount on June 27, 1910, that "the Special Reserve is not for mobilisation," and it is obvious from the nature of its composition that it cannot be used 947 for that purpose. The Infantry has no Brigade organisation and has no transport. Therefore on the departure of the Expeditionary Force there is nothing left in the shape of an Army except the Territorial Force. The strength of the Territorial Army by the Table is 260,981 noncommissioned officers and men. The noble Viscount has told us that the full establishment of 303,257 non-commissioned officers and men is the minimum consistent with safety. When explaining the Army Estimates the noble Viscount did not anticipate a strength of more than 250,000 noncommissioned officers and men in time of peace. But still if 303,527 is the minimum consistent with safety, it would certainly seem that 250,000 were inconsistent with security. The noble Viscount is, of course, well aware that 166,093—that is more than two-thirds of the number now serving—become time-expired between 1911 and 1913. In less than two years 166,093 recruits must be raised to maintain the Territorial Army at its present strength of 260,981.
§ It may be said that of course some men will re-engage. According to the figures given by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, on July 18 last, nine per cent. had re-engaged during that quarter. That rate of nine per cent. will not do more than balance the rate of wastage amongst the 95,000 men whose term of service does not expire till a later date. It comes to this: if the noble Viscount raises 155,000 recruits in the course of the next two years he will then get his 250,000 non-commissioned officers and men. But it means that he must almost double for two years in succession the last Year's intake of 42,000. It seems to me, therefore, that the noble Viscount's estimate of 250,000 men as the future strength of the Territorial Army is an impossible one. The number of men in the Territorial Army on January 1, 1911, was 257,156. Of these, according to the statement of Lord Lucas, on March 20 last, 195,000 men ought to have fired their musketry course. In musketry 180,724 were tested. The number that failed to qualify was 53,812 and the number not tested 15,000, but 62,156 men were not required to do any musketry training at all. This large number of men not required to do musketry I do not understand, but it follows from the statement made by the noble Lord on March 20. Deducting men not qualified, men not tested, men not 948 required to do musketry—a total of 131,000—it leaves available for the firing line 126,000 men. But deductions must be made from that number for men who are unfit on mobilisation, for men who remain absent at home, for men who have emigrated abroad, and for recruits who are untrained. Then there were by the last Return 83,088 boys of under twenty years of age. Thousands of these boys do not weigh 1201bs. apiece. You have only to look at them to tell that. How can they carry a kit of 601bs., half their own weight, and march and fight? If they cannot carry ball ammunition, which is heavy, and a great coat and some rations, they are useless for active service. There are now in the Territorial Army 1,025 officers and 17,459 non-commissioned officers and men who have agreed to serve abroad on mobilisation and who will be absorbed by the Expeditionary Force. At least 45,000 men must be sent to garrison Ireland, which is left without any Regular regiments at all. Finally, a large number—I cannot give figures because those are the secrets figures of mobilisation—must be allotted for coast defences and for garrison duties in Great Britain, from which it is impossible to remove them in time of war.
§ One conclusion only can be drawn from a careful study of these War Office figures and Returns, and it is this, that although we now have a gross total of 422,596 men remaining at home after the departure of the Expeditionary Force, yet in eighteen months time, when the reductions initiated in the Regular Army by the Government have been fully realised, we shall not have a field force of more than 60,000 men available for the defence of Great Britain. We have at length been told the use of the Territorial Army. We have been a long time arriving at it, but now we really have got at it, and it is this. The Territorial Army is to compel the invader to come with a force of not less than 70,000 men. In that event the Fleet undertake to swallow him up. It is all so easy and so simple, if the invader does just as we expect. But surely the strength of the invasion will depend, not upon the value which we attach to our Territorial troops, but upon the military value which the invader puts upon them. Possibly military history may influence him in forming his opinion upon this point. The later phases of the Franco-German war furnish examples of a citizen Army opposed to a Regular 949 Army. On November 28, 1871, at Beaune- la-Rolande a French Army of 60,000 men with 138 guns was opposed to a German force of 11,000 men with seventy guns. Now here was a great opportunity for the citizen Army, with a superiority of five and a half to one in men and two to one in guns, to fall upon the invaders and crush them by sheer weight of numbers. The result of the action was that the Germans were victorious. The French lost 1,300 killed and wounded, and 1,800 unwounded prisoners. The German loss was 900 killed and wounded. I take the figures from the German official history of the war compiled by the General Staff.
§ Now why should the invader trouble to come with 70,000 men when 15,000 men would be sufficient? It may be said that it is absurd to talk about the invasion of England with 15,000 men. But given that 15,000 men were once landed, it is not absurd to say that they will win their first action. On the contrary it is precisely what you must expect from the teaching of military history and from the quality and the quantity of the opposing forces. Imagine the consternation throughout the Empire and the wonder throughout the world when it was known that the invasion of England was an accomplished fact, and that the Territorial Army had been defeated in their first action. If my criticisms of our forces are of a destructive character it is not because I underrate the immense difficulty of creating an Army for the defence of our Empire under the altered strategic conditions of Europe. I fully recognise the difficulty. I admire the ability, the zeal, and the untiring energy displayed by the noble Viscount opposite in his attempt to reorganise our Army. But T do protest and shall always protest against any attempt to hypnotise the country with imposing displays of paper figures which lull the nation into a false sense of security by producing an exaggerated idea of the real value of its defensive forces. For these reasons, my Lords, if the noble and gallant Field-Marshal goes to a Division I shall have much pleasure in giving him my vote.
§ LORD AMPTHILL
My Lords, I hope the noble Viscount the Secretary of State for War will allow me to introduce myself to him as a not unfriendly critic of his administration. Indeed I am a warm 950 admirer of many things that he has done, and since he cannot have any knowledge of my obscure activities I should like to take this opportunity of telling him that in the many speeches I make in different parts of the country on the subject of National Defence, I very seldom lose the opportunity of asserting that the nation owes him a debt of gratitude for a great deal of his work, and particularly for the untiring and resourceful energy with which he has done that work. I am also one of those political opponents whom the noble Viscount has so dexterously employed to assist him in making the Territorial Force a success. I know that the political friends of the noble Viscount think it extremely wrong for chairmen of County Associations to criticise the Territorial scheme, but I am sure the noble Viscount himself does not share that view. On the contrary, he must think, as we do, that those who are privileged to take part in the administration of a national system are under a special duty and obligation to point out to their fellow-countrymen whether that system is satisfactory, and whether in their opinion it is working well or not. It is from that point of view, as well as from the point of view of one who has had twenty-five years of personal experience as a Volunteer, that have felt bound to take part in the criticism of our military system, and to study, to the best of my humble ability, the great military problem in which it is a factor.
But before I venture to address any further remarks to the noble Viscount, I should like to say a few words in reply to his late Lieutenant. I am sure the House will be with me when I say that we congratulate the noble Lord on his promotion to another sphere, and that we all recognise the great gallantry and resourcefulness with which he has faced overwhelming numbers of antagonists in controversy. The noble Lord, I thought, rather wasted his time in criticising the obiter dicta, or tentative suggestions, put forward by the writer who assisted the noble and gallant Field-Marshal in his book, instead of criticising the proposals of the noble and gallant Field-Marshal himself. The noble Lord spent all his time in endeavouring to ridicule a scheme which has no authority except that of the writer of the second part of this book, which has not even been discussed by anybody else, and which on the face of it is merely put forward as a tenta- 951 tive suggestion. In the circumstances, I do not think it necessary to take up the criticisms of the noble Lord. But I cannot help thinking that the reason why lie adopted that course is the same as that which actuated General Sir Ian Hamilton when he devoted the greater part of his memorable document to the criticism of schemes which had never been put forward by anybody. It was simply because the noble Lord was not able to answer my noble and gallant friend on the Cross Benches. That is why he preferred to answer an anonymous writer who was speaking only for himself. The other complaint of my noble friend opposite was that nobody had dealt with Sir Arthur Wilson's Memorandum. I confess that that statement astonished me, for it seemed to me that the whole of the speech of the noble and gallant Field-Marshal was in effect a reply to that Memorandum. I have a very distinct recollection of his pointing out in considerable detail that Sir Arthur Wilson had assumed that the enemy would have everything against them and that we should have everything in our favour. Therefore, again, I do not think it necessary to repeat arguments which have already been so fully given, and I will only express my surprise that they should have escaped the recollection of the noble Lord.
But there is one of his remarks to which F should like to call attention, for it was singular enough. He told us, and presumably he speaks for the Government, that the Navy, in the course of defending our trade routes, would automatically save us from invasion. Well, my Lords, that is a view which we cannot accept in spite of any expert opinion. We do not believe that the Navy will automatically save us, and the mere fact that it is considered necessary to have a Home Defence Army at all is surely sufficient to prove that we cannot rely on the automatic action of the Navy. Lastly, the noble Lord told us that it would be possible to provide for expansion by building up a Reserve from the Territorial Force, and he hinted that that could be done by means of the power of the purse. In default of details as to the amount which would be given to each soldier to enrol himself in the Reserve and as to other particulars, it is hardly worth while to speculate upon that possibility. But I should like to say this in regard to the concluding remarks which my noble friend made. He accused us of 952 wishing to break up the existing system. Speaking from the point of view of the National Service League, I say that that is an entire misapprehension of our objects, for we assert on every platform that we have no desire to break up the Territorial scheme. What we want to do is to give it the two things which are essential to its success—sufficiency of numbers and sufficiency of training.
Now, my Lords, I turn once more to the noble Viscount the Secretary of State for War. The greatest service which he has rendered to the nation is that he has undoubtedly aroused widespread and unprecedented interest in the questions of national defence and military administration, and also that he has enjoined the practice of clear thinking on the military problem. Since the noble Viscount commenced that process and set that fashion, many others have been endeavouring to follow his example. The result is that we have gone some way beyond the old idea that all that was necessary was to tinker at the existing system. We have thought it best to go to the root of things. Instead of considering only how the Army can be improved, we have asked ourselves as a necessary preliminary what the Army is for, and whether it is in every respect suitable for the purpose for which we believe it to exist and for which indeed we believe every army to exist. We have begun to realise also, thanks to the precepts of the noble Viscount, that circumstances have changed, not only our circumstances but also those of other nations, and that a system that suited our needs fifty years ago is not necessarily suitable at the present time. We agree with the noble Viscount that there is still that same strip of sea between us and the Continent, but we cannot fail to perceive that the means of crossing that strip have been considerably improved.
For generations past our forefathers were able to sleep in their beds with the comfortable assurance that British sea power was unchallenged and unchallengeable. But has not that changed? Is there anybody who can say at the present day that our seapower is unchallenged? We know that it has been challenged, and by a competitor who makes no idle boast. In short, we have begun to ask ourselves whether the armed forces of the Crown 953 are ready for a European war at any moment. That. I am sure the noble Viscount will admit is within the scope of reasonable possibility, which is the standard he himself laid clown. We may possibly be obliged in the future, as we have often been obliged in the past, to engage in a war with one of the nations of Europe, or to take part in a war in which several of the nations of Europe are engaged. That surely is a proposition which does not need to be established by any argument. It is self-evident. If it were otherwise, why should we be obliged to maintain a powerful Fleet in European waters, and why should we need to have a Home Defence Army at all? My Lords, were such a war unhappily to be forced upon us, we might have to fight upon land as well as at sea. That also I venture to think is self-evident. It is unnecessary, and perhaps undesirable, to suggest possible contingencies. Past history affords us many examples, and the principles of strategy seem to show us that it is not possible to bring a war to a successful conclusion at sea alone. And looking at the political situation there is nothing in the present state of Europe to render it impossible—I will not put it higher than that—that we might once again be obliged to fight on land, and on the Continent, for our own safety and our own independence. It seems to me that our security and our freedom depend no less upon the maintenance of the balance of power in. Europe than they did in the days of Napoleon and at other periods of our history. It follows therefore, it seems to into, quite logically that the real problem is whether our armed forces are ready for such a contingency. I need not discuss how, when, or where it might arise. Are they ready now to deal with any strategical situation in which we might reasonably expect to be involved at the outbreak of a war in Europe? That is the question.
My Lords, what is the situation so far as our armed strength is concerned? I shall endeavour to deal with generalities, rather than with the details, of which we have had such able and copious exposition. The situation is this. We have a magnificent Navy which we believe to be in the highest possible state of efficiency and readiness, and which for the present is up to the standard of numerical strength which for a long time past we have believed to be essential to our needs. Whether we are likely to maintain 954 that standard during the next few years, and whether we shall be able to maintain it in the more remote future, are questions which it would not be appropriate to discuss at this moment. But our Fleets are not free to go anywhere to fight our battles, which is the proper function of Fleets, because they are hampered by the necessity of guarding their base—that is to say, of guarding these shores. The idea which is gaining ground, in violation of all strategical principles. is that the Navy is to he used primarily as a coast-guard for these shores. The noble Viscount himself fully accepts the doctrine which has indeed at all times been one, of the first axioms of strategy, that there is no sure defence except unhampered power of attack, but he does not seem to recognise that until we can depend upon our land forces to prevent invasion the Navy will not be absolutely free to seek out and attack our enemy wherever that enemy may be. Our Navy, therefore, is not as free to act as are the Fleets of foreign nations, none of which are fettered in the same way. But we may have to fight on land and on the Continent of Europe, and for that purpose we have what is called a striking Force, and that very term surely admits the truth of the doctrine that in order to be able to defend ourselves we must also be able to attack. The question, therefore, is whether our Striking Force is able to strike—is able to strike at once and. with full strength. It is surely unnecessary to argue that a blow which is given too late or without sufficient force is not likely to be effective. It may also be necessary to repeat the blow, and therefore a Striking Force or an Expeditionary Force has to be maintained in the field.
The noble Viscount said last night that we could mobilise the whole of our six Divisions; but that is not a complete answer. That does not allay the anxiety which has given rise to this debate. What we want to know is, How soon can he mobilise those Divisions '? Can he mobilise them within the first ten days of the war? According to the opinions of all experts anything later than that is likely to be too late. Neither did the noble Viscount tell us with what detriment to the Reserve and the Home Defence Army he would be able to carry out his promise to mobilise the Expeditionary Force. Here, again, we are hampered. by the defencelessness of our base. Even if we could send away the whole 955 of our Expeditionary Force at once in good time and maintain it in the field, we should not dare to do so—this has appeared from all that has been said—because part of it is required to defend this country from invasion, a function which ought to be left to the Home Defence Army. It is required, we are told, and the late Under-Secretary repeated it, to stiffen the Territorials until they have been sufficiently trained. But unfortunately we know, what is worse, that the whole Expeditionary Force cannot be mobilised at once—that is to say, within the first few days after the outbreak of war—days and therefore our Regular Army also is not as ready or as free to act as are the armies of other European nations. Thirdly, what about the so-called Home Defence Army—the Territorial Force? After all that has been said, it is not necessary to say more than that it is not sufficient in numbers or sufficiently trained to be available for effective use at short notice. That is a proposition from which I am sure nobody will dissent. The position, therefore, which is manifest to anybody who is acquainted with the simple facts—for they are simple enough to those who will take the trouble to think—is that none of our armed forces are ready for immediate and unfettered action. They are all hampered by being tied together. Instead of being able to co-operate and help one another by the full and free use of their individual powers, they are mischievously dependent upon one another, and both the Navy and the Army are hampered by the weakness and the unreadiness of the Territorial Force. This is a sufficiently disquieting and unsatisfactory result of the expenditure of millions of money, and of constant alterations and reforms in our system.
It would seem to be imperative, at any rate to ordinary people, to find a remedy. But the remedy, so far as this part of the problem is concerned, seems also to ordinary people to be fairly obvious. It is to make the Territorial Force ready for use at short notice, for it is certain that we shall only get short notice in the case of a European war. That is impossible under the voluntary system. It is unnecessary to argue that which is admitted by all, and which has been proved by long experience. If we want to establish a system which is satisfactory from the point of view which I have ventured to set forth the voluntary system must go, and in one form or another we must train all our able-bodied manhood 956 to fight for the safety, honour, and welfare of the nation. just as do all the other nations. of Europe. We must have that "Nation in Arms" which the noble Viscount so rightly made his ideal when he commenced his great task if we are to be able to hold our own against other nations in arms. And why not? There is no reason whatever, if we go back to root principles and consider what is the object of armies of all nations. The object of armies is not so much to fight as to prevent war, and there is nothing which we all of us more fervently desire than the prevention of war. Surely we cannot be reluctant to do anything which may be necessary in order to prevent war. But the noble Viscount has thought it right—and we of the National Service League do not blame him. for we recognise the circumstances—to argue against the proposals for national service. He has found that it is not sufficient to tell people who have. taken to clear thinking that the Government are not going to be "dragooned" into into "Conscription." He has therefore discarded the old arguments and put forward a new one, to winch he seems to be sticking with some consistency. He tells us that national service would interfere with recruiting for the Regular Army, but unfortunately he has not told us, or attempted to tell us, why it would do so. All our experience points to the contrary, and so far as our clear thinking goes, we feel obliged to reject the assertion.
Let us consider, in the first place, why men enlist in the Army at the present time. That is the way to get to the root of the problem. A small minority, I believe, enlist because they have a taste for military life, and it is difficult to see why such men should be deterred from following their inclinations just because their fellow-citizens were obliged to go through a period of military training. On the contrary, there is every reason to suppose that they would take a greater pride in having special and professional knowledge of that which was the business of all. Again, there are many existing prejudices against the Army which would surely disappear when every family in the kingdom contained some man who knew something about the Army and what was meant by military service. But why do the rest enlist? Simply because they are out of work, because they are hungry and cold. Now, if universal service is going to do away with that stimulus to recruiting; if it is going to bring to an 957 end, or to materially diminish, unemployment and destitution, then for goodness sake let us have universal service. It will be the solution of one of the most pressing and cruel social evils of the time, and prove the most excellent social reform we could possibly bring about. Does the noble Viscount think that he would have the people of this country with him if he declared that unemployment and destitution must continue in order that we may have recruits for the Regular Army under the voluntary system? Yet that is the logical conclusion to which we are driven if we accept his argument, or rather his assertion, for he has not thus far supported his statement by any attempt at proof. But we do not accept his assertion, and we believe, as the result of clear thinking and actual experience, that we should get more recruits for our long range Army if we had universal service for our short range Army. The spirit of adventure is still alive in this country, and I believe there are thousands who would join the Army to-day if they were not entirely ignorant of the advantages of military life.
I began by saying that the noble Viscount had done much good work. For that we are grateful to him, and I think there have been many admissions during the course of this debate of the sincerity of our feelings in that respect. But I venture to think that, much though he has done, he has chosen the easiest part of the great task which lay before him when he commenced his administration. He has been repairing and improving the old machine instead of setting up a new one. What we want. is an Army adapted to our present needs, and capable of dealing with any strategical necessities in which we might be involved within the scope of reasonable possibility by the changed circumstances of the European situation. We want a Striking Force that can strike, and a Citizen Army which is ready to fight at short notice. It is only thus that we can prevent war both for ourselves and for our friends and neighbours on the Continent. It is idle to suppose that an enemy ready to strike at us will wait until we are prepared to ward off his blow, or that an invader will be deterred from invading us by the existence of an Army, however numerous, which is not ready for active service. If we want to force the enemy to bring an invading force which will afford a sufficiently large target for the Fleet, it must be by means of a real Army, 958 an Army which is ready to fight at once. But by far the better plan is to have a Home Defence Army so strong that the would-be invader would never dream of coming at all. That is the ideal which we of the National Service League, who have taken up the noble Viscount's phrase of a "Nation in Arms," have at heart, and that is the task which the noble Viscount set himself in the beginning, and which he still has before him.
My Lords, I have the actual words which the noble Viscount used in the speech which he told us last night had been misrepresented. I am sure your Lordships wilt not blame me for quoting them, as they are worth bearing in mind. Speaking at Newcastle-on-Tyne on September 14, 1906, the noble Viscount sail this—They must look to great expansion in time of war, and for that expansion they must go to the-nation and ask for the co-operation of the nation. A nation in arms was the only safeguard for the public interests. If we had sufficient national enthusiasm we might manage to get into the field and maintain an Army of seven, eight, or nine hundred thousand men. That would require national spirit, but he thought the thing was within compass. IL did not pass human wit to devise a system under which a very much larger expansion than any that had yet been contemplated might be formed on the broad basis of the Military Cone.That was the problem—expansion in time of war—and that is the task which the noble Viscount himself undertook. It still lies before him. It is for him to arouse national enthusiasm and to continue-preaching the ideal of a Nation in Arms, and so to devise that system of expansion which he tells us it does not pass human wit to devise.
In reply to objections that were made from his side of the House, I should like to say that none of us expect the noble Viscount to bring in a Bill for universal service. We fully recognise that neither Party in the State could do that in the present condition of public opinion. We also hold that this is not a Party question. It is a national question, and a national question can only be settled by national consent. How are we to get national consent? We are doing our best to educate public opinion up to this ideal, but we shall never succeed unless they get a lead from the Statesmen and politicians who are at the head of affairs in both Parties. If the political leaders agree, the consent of the nation would follow very quickly and very easily. I, for one, do not doubt- for a single moment that the nation would 959 unhesitatingly accept the obligation if the necessity were pointed out to them. There is nobody who is in a better position than the noble Viscount himself to make the first move, and to bring about that agreement among the leaders which would lead to national consent. He holds, as my noble friend on this Bench pointed out this afternoon, a unique position. He has established a great reputation and a great influence, and I do not doubt for one moment that anything which he declared to be necessary now would be accepted, not only by a large number of his own Party, but also by the overwhelming majority of his political opponents. The impression which the speech of the noble Viscount left on my mind, I am glad to say, was that he still retained an open mind on the question, and I hope, therefore, that he may vet crown his distinguished career by adopting a course which I fully admit would require an amount of courage and patriotism which has seldom been displayed in political life.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
My Lords, I must apologise for being the third in succession to rise on this side of the House, but perhaps it is not altogether inappropriate as I am in that undesirable position of feeling myself at the present moment not entirely in accord with either side. I certainly disagree with one statement made by my noble relative just now, when he said that never had there been a time when greater interest was taken in national defence than at the present moment. I wish he was right. I think, as a matter of fact, that never has there been more apathy shown than at the present moment. There are a great many enthusiasts working one way or the other, but the general mass of the public at the present moment is in a complete state of apathy as regards our national defence; and, if I may say so without offence, I think the reason is that both sides rather over-state their respective cases and the public, deluged with blasts of figures on one side and counter-blasts of figures on the other, cannot in the least realise what the true position is. I venture to hope that in this debate, in which figures have been placed before your Lordships with extreme moderation, we may be able to interest the public more, and that they will more clearly see what the position is at the present moment.
I should like to say one word—and it is the only subject with which I propose to 960 deal—on the subject of the Territorial Force. I have been a great advocate of that Force, and am still a complete believer in it up to a certain point; but what I do deprecate is the way in which the Territorial Force has been spoken of, not in this debate but in the country at large. Speeches are made which begin by complimenting the Territorial Force and telling them that they are a bright example to the rest of the country, but, that having been said, the whole of the rest of those speeches is generally devoted to showing that under no circumstances could they be of any earthly use to their country if called upon. I venture to say that is just as great an exaggeration as is the statement on the other side that with a very short training they would be fit to pit against the best picked troops that might come to this country. I would ask those who do not know the Territorial Force and what they do not to judge them by the fortnight's training they undergo and by the compulsory forty drills. That is not by any means the extent of the training that they get. Many of them, I know of my own knowledge, put in scores more drills than they are compulsorily obliged to do, and they are infinitely better trained in my opinion than those figures and days would give the general public to understand. That statement is not based in any way on official reports. I never have believed for one minute in official reports. I go by what the best men who have had personal experience of the handling of these Territorials in large masses tell one privately, and I have no hesitation in saying that those I have come across are most favourably impressed with this Force—much more favourably impressed than they expected to be when they first came into contact. with it.
I would now like to turn to the other side, who ask the noble Viscount to use the Territorial Force as an answer to those who advocate a national service. If he is going to use that as his answer, lie must be prepared to substantiate in every way his assertion that they are up to the standard that he himself laid down. I want to ask him one or two questions on that point. The first question is with regard to numbers. When the noble Viscount first put forward his proposal for the Territorial Army he mentioned a certain figure as being the minimum number required for the safety of this country.
961 He last night told us that he had got five-sixths of that number, and he expected us to wax enthusiastic about it. Well, I refuse to do so; and I still more refuse to accept with complacency his willingness to look upon that as being a satisfactory number. I ask, At what particular percentage below the required minimum number will his complacency give way to some apprehension as to the state of that Force? And I should be still more obliged if the noble Viscount would tell us whether, in the event a its going below a new minimum he may impose, he will then be ready to take the step which I and a great many others in this House advocate—that is, that if he cannot get the men to make up the number by voluntary means he should then employ some means of compulsion. Will he tell us, therefore, what, is the number that he is prepared to see the Force reduced to? I daresay he will answer by saying, "Oh, you can make up that sixth very easily by the number of Reserves you have got at the present moment. You will get Reserves from which you will be able to fill up the whole of your requirements." Yes, but at what expense? Does the noble Viscount not realise that to make up his deficiency from the Reserves in time of war would be to use that which ought to be utilised for the wastage of war to make good the shortage in time of peace? He ought in no way to rely on the Reserves he may have to make good the shortage, which, if it cannot be got by voluntary means in time of peace, must be got by other means.
There is one other question to which I would refer, and that is with regard to stores. If an Army is to go into the field it must be complete not only in numbers but in stores. Last year in a debate in your Lordships' House Lord Ashby St. Ledgers made the rash statement that the Force was complete in every respect. I do not think much attention was paid to Lord Ashby St. Ledgers' statement, and it was disproved directly afterwards. I ask the noble Viscount what has been done to make that good since, and I ask him with a rather striking fact in my mind at the moment. It is a local matter, but I dare say your Lordships will forgive me for mentioning it. We are called upon in the West Lancashire Division to send a Brigade of Infantry of four battalions to the Army manœuvres this year. We hope to send four battalions 750 strong apiece. As soon 962 as we knew it was to be done, a small committee was formed to find out what the requirements of that Brigade were, in order to give them what Line regiments under similar circumstances would require, and I received yesterday an estimate from the Association which tells me that, granted we can get certain things from the Government, for that one Brigade alone for a fortnight's manœuvers we have to call on the patriotic spirit of the locality to contribute £3,200 to mobilise them—that is for a fortnight of Army manœuvres. Surely, my Lords, that speaks for itself as to the absolute deficiency there is in the way of mobilisation stores for the Territorial Army, and without mobilisation stores it is no use having your men and it is no use spending your money on those men in time of peace.
I will go back for one minute, if I may, to the question of the deficiency of men. Personally I am generally of a sanguine nature, but I confess I am not sanguine when I think of the possibility of keeping up even to our present strength. There was a great wave of enthusiasm last year, but I am perfectly certain that there is a distinct diminution in the feeling that prompted men to come forward last year, and if I may say so with due respect to the noble Viscount, abuse of the National Service League will not help him to get men. They have in our part of the world helped us very considerably and in every way to recruit our ranks. You have to face one other point that I have not heard dealt with to-day, and that is the question of the employers. There is no doubt whatever that you are having more, and will have more, difficulty in getting permission from employers for their men to go to camp. We have found it growing every year, and it stands to reason that it should be so. It has come to personal canvassing in many cases amongst employers. Employers who are willing themselves to permit their men to absent themselves for the training are able to point to bitter rivals in business who will not allow a single one of their men to go into camp. Human nature is human nature, and men will look after themselves first, and I am sorry to say that we are finding greater difficulty in getting even the limited amount of training that is at the present moment allotted to the Territorial Force. I venture to think that the noble Viscount will have to consider the advisability of 963 some sort of compulsion being applied to force one and all to allow their men to go into the Territorial Force if into no other highly trained force.
I am afraid I am in the difficult position of not being in entire agreement with either side, not having been wholly convinced even by the arguments that I have heard here. I confess that there is one question which I should like to have answered by the military experts of the War Office. The noble Viscount has set, if I may say so, what is a very had precedent. He has allowed a pamphlet to be written by a military expert, and has himself written the preface to it. I wish the noble Viscount would change the situation and write the pamphlet himself and let the military authorities, without fear, let, or hindrance, write the preface. I venture to think that it might have a startling effect, and I am perfectly certain it would carry great weight in the country. I for one should then be perfectly prepared to accept, as I am not at the present moment, their statement. as to the adequacy of our defence. The question which I would like the military experts to answer categorically is, Are they prepared, in the event of the Expeditionary Force being sent abroad, even with six months' training, to defend the country against the attack of 70,000 picked German troops by means of the Regulars left behind and the Territorial Force? If they say, "Yes," I confess I should be surprised, but I should accept the answer, at all events for the time, as being conclusive. I have ventured to say these few words to your Lordships although I have no new project to put forward. But I do ask the noble Viscount whether he will answer the questions I have asked him, and if he is able to answer them and to give the military hacking, if I may say so, to the statements, then I think that this debate will have done a great deal in allaying some of the anxiety which I believe the thinking part of the public have at the present moment with regard to our national defence.
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX
My Lords, I ask leave to detain your Lordships for a very few moments on the one question of home defence. I wish to emphasise as much as possible the closing words of the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Milner, yesterday afternoon. It seems to me that we have a right to ask from the men of this country those sacrifices which are necessary to secure the safety of the 964 country in the event of invasion. It is thought that invasion is impossible or at all events so improbable that it is a contingency which need not be seriously considered. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, if I correctly understood his remarks this afternoon, told us, on the strength of the Admiralty Memorandum, that the fear of a foreign army landing in this country is one which we may almost dismiss, that it is practically impossible and need not alarm us.
But, my Lords, it is just those things which are most improbable and which are supposed to be impossible which do occur. Would any one have supposed antecedently that in the short period of six weeks Austria would have been left defenceless before the Prussian armies? Much less would any one have predicted that in less than a year the whole of France would have been overrun by German armies, Paris besieged and compelled by starvation to surrender, and France compelled to accept all the terms Germany chose to impose upon her. Had such prophecies been made a year or two before those occurrences they would have been dismissed as highly improbable But they did occur, and if we are wise we should take warning by what has happened in the case of our neighbours. However improbable we may think any contingency of that sort occurring to ourselves, we have a right to ask of our countrymen that they shall take those measures which are necessary to secure us from the alternative of which the noble Viscount, Lord Milner, spoke yesterday afternoon, of having to choose in such a war as might be forced upon us between sacrificing the safety of India and our Colonies and the safety of our own shores. And I believe that compulsory military training imposed upon all, from the highest to the lowest, is the only measure that will give us real security in regard to such a contingency. I do not for one single moment believe that if that question were put before the men of this country irrespective of Party they would hesitate what answer to give to it.
My reason for that belief is this. I have taken some trouble to ascertain the general feeling of the working classes in the north of England. I have several times had to address them on various subjects. Among those subjects has been the need for the defence of this country by a system of universal compulsory military training, a 965 system of training irrespective of class, imposed upon all from the highest to the lowest, and I have never found that expression of opinion received with anything but welcome and applause. I should like to re-echo what has been said this afternoon, that this is in no sense a Party question it is a question which concerns the safety of our country, and I believe that, over and above the security which it would give us, a universal system of compulsory military training would be of the utmost value with regard to the physique, the health, the intelligence, and the well-being of the men of this country. And if we wish for another reason why it would not be unpopular, may we not refer to the astonishing way in which the Boy Scout movement has been taken up and accepted throughout. the whole of the country? The reasons which make that movement popular are precisely those to which you would appeal by a general system of compulsory military training. My Lords, one of the reasons why I welcomed the Territorial scheme of the noble Viscount the Secretary of State for War was that I thought, as far as I was able to understand it, that it provided a machinery by which we might have compulsory military training which I believe to be essential for the security of the country and for the good of the country in all ways. It seems to provide a machinery for establishing that system with very little trouble, and it would put us in possession of the required training almost immediately if the matter could, as I have said, be brought before the country irrespective of Party, and we could all be stirred up to see the necessity of some such measure to place England in that position of safety and security which we all wish to see our country occupy.
LORD BELHAVEN AND STENTON
My Lords, I desire to support the Motion of the noble and gallant Field-Marshal, and in doing so I do not intend to take up more than a very few moments of the time of the House. The noble Viscount who has just sat down has spoken very strongly in favour of compulsory military training. That, no doubt, is a counsel of perfection which I hope some day we may see realised. But there is a great deal of difference between compulsory military training for every man who arrives at the age of eighteen or twenty, and the liability to that compulsory military training which 966 may be necessary for a certain number in order to fill up the gaps in our Home Defence Army. I cannot agree altogether with the scheme of the National Service League. There is one detail in the scheme laid down in the Bill which was brought forward by the noble and gallant Field-Marshal eighteen months ago of which I could not at all approve. He proposed a four or six months' preliminary training for those who were called up. If we are to have a Force which is to defend our country against the possible invasion of highly trained troops, then I consider that nothing less than one year's training is sufficient. I will say later why I mention one year. Six months training means really nothing more than making recruits of them, and I appeal to any noble Lord who has served in the Regular Army whether he would like to go into action with a body of recruits with six months' training, still less if those men after their six months' training had returned to civil life and had not used their arms except for occasional exercises for three, four, or five years.
I base myself also on the Duke of Norfolk's Commission. In their Report they say——we believe that the necessary thorough training could be given within one year, after which only one or two annual periods of a few weeks exercises, or manœuvers would be needed.With that I entirely agree. But there are other objections to the six months' training which I wish to point out. What period of the year would be selected for that six months' training? I know that that has been discussed, and it was at one time proposed that they should be trained in winter. But what sort; of a training would you give to them if you called them up on October 1 and dismissed them at the end of March? What with the dark days, the bad weather, and all the disadvantages of winter, the training that would be given would not be equal to two months' training in summer time; so that I think we may entirely dismiss the idea that the six months' training could be given in winter. Then, again, if you take the men up in the beginning of April and dismiss them at the end of September, what complaints there would be in other ways. The summer is just the time at which labour is most wanted, just the time when there are fewest unemployed. It would probably cause a great deal of inconvenience to take these men away from their work in April, and at the end of 967 September turn them off again only to join the already too numerous army of unemployed. On the other hand, if you call your men up for twelve months, you are able to call them up at the beginning of winter, say early in October. You must, of course, have drill halls and other conveniences for drilling under cover, and you would take advantage of those on the dark days and in the bad weather. Then on the fine days you could train your men in the open in marching, and so on, and so bring them up to a considerable degree of firmness of muscle by the time Spring arrived. You would then have everything you wanted in the way of weather in the open air, and you could finish up with manœuvres in September and then dismiss your men. Let us see how this would affect the labour market. Just the same number of men that you return at the end of September to seek employment—whether 60.000. 70,000 or 80,000—would be called up at the beginning of October, and with judicious arrangements beforehand I believe that a billet could be found for every man whom you had trained in the filling up of the vacancies which would be created by the men who were called up to undergo their training for the next year. In this way the labour market would be affected only to a minimum degree, and I believe that the Service would be much more popular than it is likely to be by any of the other methods that have been suggested.
LORD ST. LEVAN
My Lords, I must ask for that indulgence which is usually extended to one who addresses your Lordships for the first time, because only on one previous occasion have I spoken in this House, and then what I had to say only took the form of a very short interpellation. But I feel that on the subject now before the House I may perhaps be entitled to say something, because I happened to hold a command in the Auxiliary Forces at the tale the change took place from the Volunteer system to the Territorial Force system. When that change took place I looked upon the scheme of the noble Viscount opposite as a sincere and honest attempt to improve the conditions of the Force, and it may possibly be within the recollection of the noble Viscount—although I am afraid my position is not so prominent as to make him remember anything in connection with me—that as far as lay in my power I did 968 what I could to promote the new state of things.
LORD ST. LEVAN
I have no reason to regret all that I did then to promote the efficiency of the new Territorial Force, and having commanded a Brigade for two years under the old system and two years under the new system I have had, perhaps, an unusually favourable opportunity of comparing the two, and I have no hesitation in saying that the new Force is far superior to the old one. It is superior, as we have heard before, in organisation, in training, and in the quality of the men. The noble Viscount has heard this repeated so often in the course of this debate that he must be almost tired of hearing it. but I should not like him, or anybody who knows my connection with the Force, to think that I had any reason for thinking otherwise.
It appears to me, after listening to this debate, that the one important point which is before us is the question of the efficiency of the Territorial Force, and the question of the deficiency or insufficiency of that Force is due a great deal to the method of the training of the Force. It has been said by the noble Lords on this side of the House, and I have not heard it seriously disputed on the other side of the House, that the present training of the Territorial Force is not adequate to make them fit to meet the best foreign troops in the field. I do not think there is any question about that. It has also been pointed out that the brunt of the attack, if invasion does come about, will fall on the Territorial Force. I should have thought, that being the case, that the question of the increased training of the Territorial Force would have come before the House; but I have heard nothing from the noble Viscount opposite, or from any noble Lord who has spoken on that side of the House, to indicate any intention or any hope of their being able to give that increased training to the Territorial Force. I suppose that if we could rely upon a Territorial Force of 270,000 men sufficiently trained the minds of most of us would be considerably set at rest, but although all are agreed that the Territorial Force do not have sufficient training, we have heard of no promise or hope of that training being increased at all, or to any adequate degree. That makes it very difficult, I think, for anybody to vote 969 against the Motion of the noble and gallant Field-Marshal.
I quite know the difficulty there is about increasing the training—I may say nobody more so—and I wish to endorse as strongly as I can the words that were said just now by the noble Earl who spoke about the difficulty of the employers. It is a difficulty which employers have also put before me, and I am quite sure the noble Viscount, unless he can overcome that difficulty, which I may shortly describe as the inequality of sacrifice, will find it an increasing and serious obstacle to the welfare of his Force. At the same time, my Lords, while I find it difficult to dissent from the Motion of the noble and gallant Field-Marshal, I do not wish it to be considered that one need feel bound to adopt the alternative which he has laid before the House. I think he must allow us more time to consider the situation; and though I am sure, speaking for myself, that all the time I could give to it would not result in a more useful opinion than that arrived at by him, still if I do vote in favour of his Motion I am not prepared to say that 1 would therefore accept his alternative. I thank your Lordships for listening to me on this the first time I have really addressed the House and I have only to add that I cannot consider the position of the Territorial Forces in this country a satisfactory one without the prospect of adequate training.
§ [The sitting was suspended at a quarter to eight o'clock and resumed at a quarter past nine.]
My Lords, I have listened with considerable interest to the debate on this question during the past two days, and I am sorry to see that the eloquence of noble Lords on this side of the House has not altogether produced the effect that I should have hoped on noble Lords opposite. At least that is my impression and if that is the case. I think I may say of the noble Viscount opposite, in his own words, that he is in the position of one who refuses to exchange his Consols for what we believe on this side of the House would be a better form of security. It is generally admitted that national defence is not a Party question, and we have on this side of the House given the noble Viscount all the support we can in trying to forward the Territorial scheme, for which we give him every credit. I have no doubt I may 970 say this further to the noble Viscount, that he possibly experiences an unpaternal feeling that this Territorial child shall develop into an enfant terrible. We only hope it may; but, admitting; that His Majesty's Government are not in any way to accept the scheme as propounded by the noble and gallant Field-Marshal, which has received so much support on this side of the House, I think with that patriotism that is felt throughout your. Lordships' House we shall only be too glad to further assist the scheme which the late Under-Secretary of State for War has suggested should be given a further five years trial. I am not saying that I agree with that scheme, but, as I say, our patriotism will carry us forward to support it to the best of our ability.
But it is not only the Territorial scheme that calls for our attention. When I look at the General Annual Report of the British Army for the current year, I notice that the Regular Army is wanting, to complete, 3,794 men; the Special Reserve requires 23,453 men, and the Territorial Force requires 45,526. A formidable array, my Lords ! I do not desire to criticise the scheme that at present exists, but I wish to try and indicate some means by which this shortage could be met. When I turn again to the Report I find that some 63,000 odd men presented themselves as recruits for the Regular Army, but at the bottom of the page where I see the words "Joined unit "I find that the total has dwindled down to 26,386. Those casualties are very heavy. I find that, roughly speaking, about 30,000 of those men who were ready to join the Regular Forces have been rejected for physical reasons. This is a conundrum that does not face the British Army alone. To what is it due? It is due apparently to physical deterioration. Even if these men were accepted in that state of physical deterioration, we are not likely at that age to make them sound and well. I would suggest to His Majesty's Government that a scheme of training for boys should be taken up, and there is no doubt that the earlier it is taken up the better. The longer you leave the cure of physical deterioration, the less likely you are to find a panacea for it.
I have in my hand a scheme which is being advocated in Germany, a country from which we take so many ideas, and which is always being quoted, not only with regard to naval, but with regard to military and 971 commercial matters. The scheme is called "The Care of the Youth." I will not trouble your Lordships by reading the whole of it, nor will I, knowing what a master of the German language the Secretary of State for War is, venture into that language. I will read one or two extracts. The first runs—One of the most troublesome problems facing German social reformers is the lot of the youth who has been freed from the restraints of school, and who has not attained the age for entering the Army and undergoing any kind of discipline.I think that largely describes our own position. In another part it says that between the ages of fourteen and twenty is the time when, from the point of view of both physical and moral development, discipline and care are most needed; and it adds that compulsory continuation schools, ceasing at seventeen, are nothing like universal in Germany. Then it says—The idea of the Government is to start in every district in Prussia organisations for supplying secular instruction, recreation, sport, and religious and moral teaching, and members of these organisations will not be paid. They are to be local officials, teachers, municipal workers, and also private individuals.We do a great deal of voluntary work in this country. Then in further describing what this youth care is they say—It is to work towards the creation of a social and physical efficiency, moral excellence, a youth filled with a sense of solidarity, fear of God, and love of the home and Fatherland.Noble words, my Lords, and words which I think express very much the speech of the German Chancellor only a few days ago.
Finally, there are to be organisations and instruction in sports and athletics. Doctors, Judges, engineers and Army officers are requested to deliver special lectures, particularly military lectures, and emphasis is to be laid on heroic and patriotic deeds of individuals. Can we have more noble sentiments than these? These are the sentiments we want to inculcate into our youth. Let them think of their country. Do not let them all think merely of football. Think of 30,000 people attending a football match! How many of them play themselves? We want men to play the game, and not merely to look on. Why should we not have a similar scheme for the instruction of our youth between fourteen and seventeen? It would get them largely over the drudgery of a soldier's life, because they would be inculcated with the feeling of discipline, the feeling of trying to be smarter than those alongside of them.
972 That would get them over the drudgery to which reference has been made, and they would be released, as it were, from the recruit's drill in whatever branch of the service they might go. There are schemes in this country which are due, not to the action of the British Government, but to the extraordinary enterprise of private individuals.
Look even in our own times how men like Mr. Cecil Rhodes have helped to make the Empire. Look at what Sir Baden Powell has done in starting the Boy Scout movement, and instilling into the youth of our country noble sentiments which every patriotic young man ought to hold. There is a certain amount of work done by means of physical instruction in our secondary educational system, and I was sorry to observe that the noble Viscount. Lord Halifax, who is such an eloquent advocate and is so well versed in all educational systems, should not have made some reference to it in his speech to-night. I think we ought to go a little further, and endeavour to make this physical instruction general. If some scheme of this kind was devised, instead of having something like 30,000 rejected as medically unfit out of 63,000 odd recruits, we should find we had not only sufficient recruits for our Regular Forces but that there would be a surplus, many of whom I hope would go to the Territorial Army. Many of your Lordships who have been in various branches of His Majesty's Service will know that the class of man you get in the Regular Army is perhaps not exactly the same class as you get in the Territorial Force. Therefore I am not taking too much credit in thinking that this scheme would bring a surplus of men, not alone for the Regular Army and the Special Reserve, but for the Territorial Force. That is a big question. and one that would require a good deal of thinking out, but I think it is worth it.
May I deal now with some of the minor details which would help in some way, perhaps, to make up for the deficiency in numbers in our Territorial Force. As I have already said, quoting from the Annual Report, the Force is about 45,000 short. The scheme of His Majesty's Government of course, anticipates the possibility of certain contingencies, and I presume that the establishments are drawn up with a view to meet those contingencies; but if you are 45,000 men short in your last line of defence, I that is a serious matter. Instructions have 973 recently been issued which will somewhat alter the position of sergeant-instructors in the Territorial Force. That question was fairly and fully entered into the other night, and I will only pause for one moment to say that I believe it is a mistake to send the sergeant instructor to the Territorial Force for a very short period, because he is required to make himself acquainted with the whole of a district. When a recruit goes to a recruiting sergeant, that recruit may be taken on there and then. The sergeant does not require to know much about him. But in the case of a sergeant-instructor the position is totally different. He wants to know all about the man and his family, and, in fact, has to "nurse" the district. To do that he must, so to speak, know every individual in it, and the characteristics of the various men who come forward to join the Territorial Force. Therefore I think it would be wiser that these sergeant-instructors should be appointed for, say, a period of five years, and the officers commanding units given the option of getting rid of them at a much shorter time should they prove in any way inefficient and not up to their duties. Another point with regard to these sergeant-instructors. We have been told by the War Office—I speak as the chairman of a Territorial Association—-that it is impossible for us to be allowed more than eight sergeant-instructors for an Infantry battalion. Why eight? Is it because there are eight colour-sergeants in the battalion? I suppose that is the answer I shall be given, but we must look at the enormous districts in the country. In the part I come from, one sergeant-instructor has to go perhaps five-and-twenty miles to an out section. How is it possible for him to look after a company spread over miles and miles of country, and make the men efficient?
It is admitted by many of your Lordships who represent every branch of the Territorial Force that the material is excellent, but what is lacking is the training, and the facilities for training. That being the case, possibly your Lordships will forgive me if I make a sort of personal remark about the Association with which I am connected. I refer to one of these very scattered districts, a district in Aberdeenshire. The enthusiasm of one section of a company of the Gordon Highlanders was so great that the men themselves paid a sergeant-instructor to drill them. Surely these men, if they do that from a spirit of patriotism, are 974 worthy of some encouragement. In the case of forces below establishment, if an excellent sergeant-instructor will produce 50 or 100 men surely he is worth having. `Then as regards these sergeant-instructors I shall be told that on mobilisation they will be supernumeraries. I do not think so at all. If a battalion is mobilised, you naturally must have a regimental sergeant-major. One of these could perform those duties. Another might be appointed to be regimental quartermaster-sergeant; so I think that argument, assuming it to be made, will fall to the ground.
Another thing to make the Territorial Force more popular is to better equip them with rifle ranges. As it is, men very often have to go eight or nine miles in country districts to do their firing. That does not encourage the men. I am sure chairmen of County Associations in this House will bear me out when I say that we meet with all sorts of obstacles in trying to acquire ground for rifle ranges. The matter of shooting is a great inducement to the men to join the Territorial Force, and a rifle range close at hand would increase that inducement. I think that very often the expenses of going to rifle ranges would be more than counterbalanced if the War Office could see their way to put ranges closer to hand, and so encourage men to join, and give them less trouble in going both to the rifle ranges and to their drills.
We have heard a good deal in the last two days about the drudgery of a soldier's life. I do not want to make the Territorial Force any less efficient than it is, but there is no doubt some men fear the prospects of the drudgery of drill, though, after all, recruits' drill is not really the most essential part of the training of the Territorial Force, though it is important. Some men will master in twenty drills what others will take forty or fifty to learn. It would be a saving to the Government if the adjutant or the commanding officer could have power to dismiss a likely recruit his drills as soon as he has rendered himself efficient, in the same way that a recruit is dismissed his drills in the Regular Army. Many people will say that the Territorial Force is not worth the money that is being spent on it. That is a mistake, because the Territorial Force is really being run comparatively cheaply; you are getting the free services of County Associations with every goodwill. As I have said, I ant only too ready to assist the noble Viscount the Secretary of 975 State for War in furthering his scheme, though at the same time I should have much preferred that His Majesty's Government had lent a more willing ear to the scheme that has been propounded by the noble and gallant Field-Marshal who sits on the Cross Benches. whose Motion I shall support.
LORD ZOUCHE OF HARYNGWORTH
My Lords, I only venture to intervene for a few minutes in this debate as being a humble member of the Territorial Force with a few years' experience, although I do not for one moment presume to pose as an authority on this great subject. It is impossible not to sympathise with the noble and gallant Earl, Lord Roberts, who has continually brought this important and vital subject before the country, and I hope that his efforts may be crowned with the success that they deserve. This has been mentioned very often, and it would be unbecoming of me to enlarge upon it. At the same time, it is impossible for me to refrain from sympathising with some of the difficulties which beset the War Office authorities and the Secretary of State for War. Many difficulties surround this complex question. The War Office authorities may, of course, be open to criticism. I suppose they do not mind that; and if there are things which merit criticism they ought to be spoken of and testified to in the hope that they may be remedied. Difficulties are found on every side, and I think they can be divided into two main heads—they are of a twofold nature.
There is, first of all, the difficulty that by our laws not a single citizen can be called upon to lift one finger for the defence or interests of this country. And it must be remembered that England has more to lose than any other civilised country in the world; perhaps it is not an exaggeration to say that she has more to lose than most of the world put together. This has been already remarked upon, and it is a most extraordinary state of affairs which hardly obtains in any other civilised nation on the face of the globe. It is quite true that in spite of this, we have got on pretty well during our history and have a splendid record. None the less it is a source of danger, and it is a thing which must be seriously dealt with in the immediate future.
The other great difficulty with which we have to contend, and to which it is 976 hard to refer without indulging in the language of indignation, is the wretched abuse of the Party system which is so rife in our time. In some part of Parliament do not refer to your Lordships' House—it would really appear as if everything of importance were relegated to this wretched Party system; not that they should be debated on their merits, but discussed with a view to the ascendency of this or that Party. The public arc deceived; the truth is kept from them. Even this great and vital question seems to be getting a sort of bone of contention in the ignoble strife between the kites and the crows. That is one of the great dangers under which we labour, and certainly one of our chief difficulties in arriving at a solution as to what is best to be done with regard to our defensive force.
My Lords, none of the various speakers has criticised the Regular Army as far as its efficiency is concerned. All that is complained of is that it is not strong enough, and that its numbers have been somewhat unduly reduced. There is a general consensus of opinion that it is as good and as efficient a force as it can be. What we have really to consider is the question of the Territorial Army, and 'also the Special Reserve that was formerly called the Militia, because it is on those two auxiliaries that we have to depend to supplement our Regular forces, which, as has been said, are extremely efficient, hut not quite as strong as we could wish. Many things have been said about the Territorial Force. It has been said that as a half-trained Force it might be a source of serious danger if we relied too much upon it. But at any rate there is this to be said, that we have got this Force. We have a large force of men, not indeed up to the numbers that were laid down by the War Office but still we have a force of between 250,000 and 300,000 men. Your Lordships will all remember the great difficulty of recruiting. The famous cookery recipe which instructed persons how to prepare a hare for dinner, began with the immortal words "First catch your hare." Those words, I think, might be engravers on some of the doors of the War Office, because upon that question the whole thing turns.
So far, we have caught our hares in the Territorial Army. There may be some of them good, some indifferent; but at all events, there they are, a fine body of men in the prime of life. They are 977 absolutely loyal—I believe there is no question of that—and they are extremely keen and desirous of doing their best as far as they possibly can. You have got them on your list. You can get at them at any time. You can, I suppose, trace them if they move from one part of England to another. At any rate this Force is better than nothing, because if you did not have your Territorial Force, you would certainly have to fall back upon people who were absolutely ignorant, men who have not had any training whatever. I do riot know what would happen with the Territorials in case we were unhappily involved in war. I suppose they would be immediately mobilised and trained as carefully as possible and would become a reservoir of partly-trained men to supply gaps in the Regular Army as circumstances would determine. If that view is taken, I think it would be always a good thing if the Territorial Force could be more in touch with the Regular Army during their small opportunities of training than they have been. I know that that is not very easy to work out, but cannot help thinking that the more they are brought in touch with the Regulars the better the Force will be. They would see a good example before them, and would get many more chances of becoming efficient than if left to themselves.
In this connection I think we may rather deplore the idea sometimes supported that the Territorial Force should be regarded as an independent Force, and left only half-trained to take the field against the picked troops of a hostile Continental Power. That idea, of course, will not hold water for a moment. Such a course might unhappily be forced upon us were we driven into a corner. We might have to do the best we could, but for any Government; to pursue such a course as that as though there was no sort of alternative would be only courting the destruction of the Force itself, and very likely disaster to the whole country into the bargain. If I may venture upon a detail, although it is not my intention to go into details to night, I should like to mention one which I think goes rather to the root of the difficulties in the important question of training these men, and that is with reference to the annual camp. I think if the camps were made a little more instructive than they are at present, if they could have the services 978 of a certain number of Regular officers who could attend part of the time, not merely as spectators or umpires, but to help in the actual training, it would get over a considerable difficulty, and tend to save time in the matter of training.
This view was put forward in a debate last year, and if I remember aright was not received with any very great favour. It. seemed to be the contention of the Government then that it was far better that the Territorial Force should be left; to themselves and to their own officers, that they should not have too much help, and that; they should work out their own salvation in their own uninstructed and ignorant way. But it so happened that when the battalion in which I have the honour to hold a small commission actually went into camp a short time afterwards, I found that there were two or three Regular officers attached to us who did exactly what I have suggested. They went with the men, superintended the training, and gave the great benefit of their experience and advice. I will give an instance. The company to which 1 belong was ordered out for special training, and the task set before us was to practise the attack on a neighbouring hill. One of the Regular officers came with us. First of all he rather deprecated doing anything, because he said he did not wish to take the command of the company out of the hands of its own officers. I told him that we had come to learn, and legged him to give us the full benefit of his assistance. He kindly showed us the proper disposition of the troops according to his idea, took an immense deal of pains and trouble, and superintended the movement. The movement was shortly afterwards carried out, and I need not say rather badly. He very kindly criticised what was wrong. There were mistakes which were very obvious when pointed out, but which I confess had escaped the observation of both myself and the other officers. The movement was repeated more than once, and at the end he was good enough to say that although there was a good deal to be desired, the thing on the whole was done fairly well. We all felt that we had learned far inure in a couple of hours, or whatever the time was, under his instruction, than we should have learned in six months if left, at to speak, to flounder about in our own ignorance, not knowing 979 exactly what to do, and then to have the benefit of a more or less politely worded criticism at the end of the day and no further notice taken of it. This I consider is well worthy of the attention of the authorities, because it seemed to me to meet with marked success, and it was a very valuable help to the training of the men, which is in itself a great advantage in this extremely difficult and complex problem.
The noble Lord who last spoke mentioned the question of sergeant-instructors of the Territorial Force, and wished to know why there were no more than eight sergeant-instructors allowed to one battalion. I do not know, but I suppose one reason is that there are usually eight. companies, and one instructor is allowed to each company. I have heard it suggested that the number of these valuable sergeant-instructors should be reduced. I earnestly hope that that will not be the case, but that, if possible, their number might be multiplied, because it is no exaggeration to say that upon the sergeant-instructors almost everything depends in the way of training the men individually and collectively when they first join, of bringing them up to a proper sense of their duties, and generally giving them every help and assistance.
The question has been asked, What is really the good of discussing this matter? Will any great good come out of this debate? This is one of those questions which requires a moment's thought before answering, but I think after a little consideration we may safely answer it in the affirmative. The people of this country may not view with equanimity the question of compulsory service. They are evidently conservative in their nature, and look askance at any chance of a change of which they do not see the whole bearing. But how is the public to be instructed unless it is spoken to by people who take an interest in these questions, who have a knowledge of them, and who speak simply from a patriotic and not from any Party point of view? It is only by instructing the people gradually that they can be brought to see the rights of this question. Whether the Motion now before the House is going to be put to a Division or not, or whether the interests we all have at heart will be best served by a Division, of course I leave to wiser heads than my own to decide. But there can be no harm whatever in ventilating this subject, and I can only 980 say, and I am sure you will be inclined to agree with me, that the more this subject is ventilated from an independent point of view the better, and if the words that have been spoken in this debate do tend to elucidate this thorny question and bring the public into a proper frame of mind in regard to it, they will not have been spoken in vain.
§ LORD SOUTHWARK
My Lords, as a new member of your Lordships' House I crave your indulgence while I say a few words in this debate. From 1892 to 1905 as a Whip in the House of Commons followed the policy adopted by Whips on our side and did not take part in debate, and from 1905 until last year during which time I had the honour of filling the office of Paymaster-General I found that the work of my Department was so admirably conducted that it never lent itself to Parliamentary criticism; so that for nearly twenty years I have been a silent member of the House of Commons. But between 1882 and 1885 I had the honour of being Member for Colchester, and in that capacity I always took an active and lively interest in all military matters, and perhaps took more interest in that branch of the work which dealt with the non-commissioned officers and men than in any other in connection with the Army. As Paymaster-General. from 1905 until last year, it was my privilege to be Chairman of the Commissioners of the Duke of York's School, and as member for West Southwark, representing a poor district of London, it has been my privilege to work amongst the boys of that crowded area, and in that way I have seen the advantage of Lads' Brigades.
I may commence by saying that I am a whole-hearted supporter of the Secretary of State for War in his very active and energetic work, and I rise now simply to make the suggestion that the question of Cadet Corps should receive his immediate and serious consideration. I cannot help thinking that Cadet Corps would be a splendid recruiting ground for the Army. We are told in this debate that it is very difficult to find recruits, and that their numbers are very short. I think that if the question of Cadet Corps were seriously entertained by the Secretary of State for War he would find a large recruiting field. The lads of our country, and especially the poor lads, should be induced to join Cadet Corps where they would be taught 981 self-respect, discipline, and many other things that would be of advantage both to themselves and to the country. I am not suggesting that we should bring the youth of the country up in a military spirit. Boys leave the Board Schools at the age of fourteen. What are they to do with themselves between the ages of fourteen and, say, seventeen to eighteen? Could anything be better than Cadet Corps? I am not suggesting that in school hours they should have military instruction, but I think that after their schooling, between the ages of fourteen and seventeen, they might be more or less associated with their schools, and the schools might be made drill grounds for them. I have personal experience of this in connection with the poor in Mission Halls where the lads have been looked after and where this Lads' Brigade policy has been adopted.
If you were to go to West Southwark to-night you would probably find in most of the Board School.- drilling going on by more or less rough lads, with rough clothes, perhaps, with a little shako, and with a belt across their breasts, proud and pleased to be drilled and looked after by voluntary officers. I am connected with a Cadet Corps which is perhaps well known to many of your Lordships and in which Miss Octavia Hill takes great interest., and that corps has many companies throughout London. I was chairman of the Southwark company, and I can say that those boys are more or less connected with the Army. I believe they appear in the Army List. It is a Cadet Corps very economically managed, with very cheap clothing, but still doing a useful work amongst these poor lads. On high days and holidays and when Royalty pays a visit to Southwark these boys turn out in their uniforms and with their band, and they have formed Guards of Honour. I have had the honour of representing that district in the other House for twenty-two years, and during that time I have perceived a marked improvement in the condition of the children there, and I attribute a great deal of that to the interest that has been taken in the way that I have suggested.
Take, again, the Duke of York's School, one of the most admirable and useful institutions in this country. It is a school that I should like to see the Secretary of State for War developing. That school, 982 which used to be at Chelsea, is now removed to Dover, its splendid buildings covering 140 acres of ground, with every- possibility of development. I am sorry to say that because a Scottish school of a similar character has come into vogue with a number of boys, the Duke of York's School has been reduced in numbers. I would point out to the noble Viscount the Secretary of State for War that if he could develop the training of a number of boys in the Duke of York's School he would have growing up die best non-commissioned officers in the Army. It is really a Lilliputian army. If you have never been in that school and have never seen those boys, I would invite any of your Lordships if you happen to be in t he neighbourhood of Dover to go to the school and ask the commander to bring out the boys. You would then see what they can do, not only in the way of drill, but in the way of drilling others. They have their sergeant, and their corporals, and they give their orders in a way that would do credit; to any officer in the Army. I suggest that this is one way of encouraging the youth of the country. These boys of the Duke of York's School, I ought to mention, are not bound to go into the Army. Many go into civil life, but they turn out most useful soldiers if they join the Army. I would suggest also that every municipality in the country might have its Cadet Corps, and those again would be ground work for recruiting. 1 thought that I might venture to intrude these observations and make these suggestions, which I hope are of a practical character, to the Secretary of State for War, and I thank your Lordships for having given me this patient hearing.
My Lords, I rise to ask the special attention of the Secretary of State for War to one or two points which I think may possibly assist his object in having a large and efficient Territorial Force. The first is a point that materially affects recruiting. There is a serious grievance now in that there is no separation allowance for the young married private. The noble Viscount has recently made some increases in the grants, but there is no provision for that, and I honestly believe that if the Regulations could be changed so as to allow of some separation allowance being given to young married men, the noble Viscount would have the satisfaction of making a very great advance in recruiting.
983 The second point is a grievance as regards officers. The officers get no encouragement whatever to go to musketry, or to attend -any assembly of officers where a war-game is being carried out, because they have to pay their own travelling expenses. Out of the allowance grants the Associations may not at present make any allowance for these purposes, a serious matter to a great many officers. You are short of officers, and one of the reasons why you are short of officers is that you are throwing upon the officer an unfair amount of expense. If the Secretary of State for War would agree to look into that matter he might possibly induce a larger number of young men to take commissions. I understand that an Army Order has been issued this year to the effect that, in the case of Territorial officers going into a class, if they did not get a certificate they should not get the pay hitherto allowed them for the time they are at that class. If I am wrong, perhaps the noble Viscount will correct me. But if my information is correct it is extremely unfair. If a Regular officer is sent to the class and does not get a certificate, you do not dock him of his pay. The Territorial officer, however, is docked, and that is a discouragement to these young men. They are busy, their first business is in a civilian profession, and they probably utilise their holidays for 'the purpose of attending these classes. I hope the Secretary of State for War will give his attention to these two points if he wants gentlemen to take commissions more readily than they do now.
The other point in connection with the Territorial Force about which I wish we had more information is as regards the classification and the registration of horses. I heard a part of the speech of the Secretary of State for War, and I gathered that he had got a scheme. As far as I remember the noble Viscount's speeches, which I think he will admit have been extremely numerous during the last two or three years on this subject, he has always had a scheme. He rather reminds me of our old friend James Lowther when Secretary for Ireland. He used to be constantly making speeches and saying that at the time the Conservatives retired he had actually a Bill in his pocket which was going to make Ireland the best country in the world. The Secretary of State for War has always had a scheme for horses, but he has been so proud of it, so pleased 984 with it, that he has never disclosed it. During the last two and a half or three years that this has been going on, we have never yet discovered what the noble Viscount's scheme is with regard to horses, and unless he has got one ready to come out I do not believe he is one iota further in his scheme for registration of horses or the distribution of horses on mobilisation than he was two years ago. This is a county grievance. Two years ago the County Association to which I belong sent up a scheme, and asked that it might be tried in one regiment. It ought to have appealed to the noble Viscount, because it was not going to cost one penny more than the present grant of £5 a horse which a Yeomanry regiment receives. No; they had got a very much better scheme of their own, and they would prefer to try that. That was two years ago, and it has not been tried.
I suggest that occasionally the War Office might take a little advice from outside. Here was a very practical scheme which was not going to cost any more than the present arrangement, and under it a man was to know where his horse was during the twelve months. He would be able to lay his hand upon it at any time. Under any scheme suggested to us up to now by the War Office they always had a base, and there was to be a collection of horses in large numbers at some central place in the county. The first suggestion was that all the horses were to be collected at one central place in the county of Kent, and having been brought five-and-thirty miles from one place to the central place, a horse might have to be sent back five-and-thirty miles to find the man who was to ride it, or the cart into which it was to be put. I do suggest that the scheme we asked the noble Viscount to try was rather more practical than that, because every man in the regiment would have known where his horse was on the word of mobilisation coming round, so that all he had to do was to take his saddle to the horse. Those are points as regards the Territorial Army which 1 think might with advantage be considered by the Secretary of State for War.
As regards the general question, I have only one or two words to say. I would not venture to detain your Lordships at any length to-night, because it is hardly possible to say anything new now. This 985 debate has lasted a considerable time, and it has been treated from many points. If the Motion proposed by the noble and gallant Field-Marshal goes to a Division I shall support him; but I am very much in the position Lord Derby is in—I am unable to agree wholly with either side. I have taken part in too many debates on military matters to accept altogether the lurid colours in which the condition of the country and the condition of the Army is painted by one side; and upon the other side I am very doubtful, if the political pendulum were to swing and the Party that I support came into power, whether they would make very material changes in the Army system. I had the honour of representing the War Office in this House for four years, and I have five-and-thirty years experience of what is now the Territorial Force, and that is the result of my experience of many debates and much administration. But I do venture to point out to the Secretary of State for War that he has pinned his faith upon the Territorial Force and upon its being of sufficient numbers and efficient. Well, I think he must know that as regards numbers it is perilously near a failure. He is not getting the numbers that he expected, and I am very much afraid that in the next twelve months he will find that, notwithstanding the beating of the drum that is going round, notwithstanding the efforts and the influence of those to whom he has appealed—influence which is very much decried by many members of his Party in other niatters—notwithstanding the influence that is being brought to bear, the Territorial scheme is not going as successfully as he and all of us hoped. If that is so, I do not see that there is any alternative but a system of compulsory service for home defence.
I am consistent in this, for I voted for it last year, and I see no reason to change my opinion now. I believe it is the best thing for the country. I believe it would make a great deal of difference to our young men. I think that the habit of discipline would have an educational effect upon many classes which would be distinctly advantageous for the country, and therefore I do not take altogether the hopeless position that some people do. I am a believer in a system of national and military training, and I live in hopes of seeing it come some day. I think the Secretary of State for War has got to recognise that 986 he is getting very near that. I think he will admit that the Association of which I am a member has done what he asked it to do upon the old grant. That is a fact, and we have nothing to grumble about. The new grant is so much more in our pockets, but for all our success as regards economy we cannot see that we are increasing the popularity of the Territorial Force.
As far as the Yeomanry is concerned, they have nothing to thank the Secretary of State for. He has ill-treated them in every way he could, but, as is their custom. they have ignored that and have responded with the utmost loyalty to what he has asked of them. But as regard, the Infantry and the Artillery, the thing is not going; and I venture to suggest one or two points in which he might help to get a quicker move. Failing that, I cannot see any result for this country but to admit a system of compulsory military service for home defence. Last night the Secretary of State for War told us it was generally recognised by foreign countries that it was impossible to have the two things together—that voluntary service and compulsory service for home defence were impossible together. He supported that by saying that that was the opinion of many distinguished Continental officers. But are they particularly good judges of what. England can do, or of what is suitable for England? I very much doubt it. We. are quite as good judges in our humble way as those distinguished Continental officers. If the Territorial scheme does not go, what is the noble Viscount going to fall back upon? I venture to say that the safest thing to fall back upon is that which was advocated by the noble and gallant Field-Marshal last year and is still advocated by a good many of my noble friends on this side of the House. At any rate, I have never seen any reason why I should change my opinion. It would not only be a good thing from the military point of' view, but an admirable thing from the civilian point of view.
§ THE EARL OF CRANBROOK
My Lords, as chairman of a County Association I feel I have hardly a right to support the noble and gallant Field-Marshal without giving a reason why I do so. I am chairman of the County Association to which Lord Harris has referred, and which I think the Secretary of State for War will admit 987 has done its duty to the very best of its power, and has been on the whole rather an example to other County Associations. I have felt that the country has been greatly indebted to the noble Viscount, Lord Haldane, more for the introduction of the Territorial system than any change in the Army regulations. During my comparatively long life, and it is now more than fifty years since I joined the Army, nothing so important was done. I consider that the Territorial Force is as superior to the old Volunteers as is the Regular Army to the Territorials. We have an organisation which I will not say is perfect, but it is very satisfactory, and we find that those who do join are willing and able to make highly satisfactory soldiers if not all that we could wish.
But I regret to say I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to keep up the numbers of the Territorial Force, and I am convinced that, if we are to be safe at home, instead of our numbers becoming less they should become greater. We should have at least 500,000 men in the Territorial Army. Therefore I reluctantly come to the conclusion that without some form of compulsory service it will be impossible to keep up the numbers of the Territorial Force. The two next years are very serious, and I am quite convinced you cannot get the increased numbers anticipated by the Secretary of State for War in spite of his increased liberality. I do not quite agree with what Lord Harris said on that subject. We had not been able to look after the proper equipment of our Infantry, but in consequence of the increased grants we decided that the whole of the Infantry should be put in proper equipment. That is one of the advantages of the liberality to the Territorial service. But I have come to the conclusion that we cannot make the popularity of the service so great that it will be able to keep up its numbers.
Then I ask myself whether there is any injustice done to the people of this country in calling upon them to make the small sacrifice—I do not believe it would be any sacrifice—which would be required. The children of the working man are being fed and educated, old age pensions are given, and the means of getting employment are found, and there is the suggestion of the provision of insurance against unemployment. Is it any grievance that the State should ask the working man, not by himself but with the other members of the community 988 —all classes—to do his best to save his country from the attacks of an enemy? A great grievance of the working man is want of employment. If you were to take away 100,000 men every year to train them, that would give them useful employment for the benefit of their country, and it would take them out of the labour market for the time being. In my opinion we should find that the people of this country who had had twelve months' service would be far and away the best men as workmen. I know that in the north of England the services of men who have been in the Army or the Navy are preferred, because those men are all the better for the discipline they have been taught. I consider that for the benefit of all in this country we are bound to have a compulsory system of service, and the sooner it comes the better for the nation. I shall, therefore, support the Motion of the noble and gallant Field-Marshal.
§ LORD NEWTON
My Lords, the Motion before you Lordships is of a wide character, and the discussion has been of a somewhat discursive nature, but full of interest. I do not agree with the remark of my noble friend beside me that nothing new has been said upon the subject. As far as I am concerned. I certainly have nothing new to say upon it, because I long ago exhausted all the originality I possessed in making speeches in the country upon this question. But however that may be, the debate has at all events enabled the Secretary of State for War to make one of those eloquent optimistic, and complacent statements which have done so much to reassure our fellow countrymen. Whether the noble Viscount looks at the question of national defence from the point of view of international politics, from the point of view of the Navy, or from the military point of view, he finds the prospect equally reassuring and agreeable.
The noble Viscount holds the agreeable, but in my opinion pernicious, theory that the real military and naval arbiter in this country is the Foreign Secretary. If that were so, I only wish the Foreign Secretary were my noble friend Lord Curzon, because I know he is deeply committed to the principle of universal service. But when the noble Viscount asserts, as he did yesterday, that armaments are governed by policy. I cannot help expressing the opinion that he is uttering a complete fallacy. I was for some years myself in the Diplomatic 989 Service, and my experience goes to convince me that the exact contrary is the truth, and I think without any trouble I can adduce instances in favour of my contention. For instance, in the year 1898 a serious crisis arose between this country and France with regard to the question of Fashoda. That crisis came to an end in what way? The crisis was terminated in consequence of the fact that the French realised that they were no match for us at sea. I will take another instance. During the Transvaal War, as everybody knows—we know it upon the most august authority—an attempt was made to form a European coalition against this country. That coalition came to grief, as everybody also knows, because no foreign country was prepared to lose its Fleet in the event of a war with us.
And there is another instance which occurs to my mind. Only two years ago there was an acute European crisis caused by the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria. What happened then? That question was not in the least decided upon its merits, but when war appeared almost inevitable peace was secured simply by the fact that the German Government intimated to the Russian Government that they were prepared to stand by their allies. I maintain that it would be very easy to show that all such instances in recent European history have never been decided according to the merits, but by a threat of force. The noble Viscount, holding an entirely opposite view, surveys both hemispheres, and he sees nothing which is not good. I gather from his statement made yesterday—and he, of course. is in a position to know—that everybody is so fond of us at the present moment that there is not the least intention on the part of anybody to put us to any trouble or inconvenience at all. Why, says the noble Viscount, we are on the point of concluding a Treaty of Arbitration with the United States ! Therefore we may, of course, at once rule out the United States from the number of possible antagonists. We have, he says an Agreement with the French, a sort of blood-brotherhood weapon. We have also an Agreement with the Russians, and, as if that were not sufficient, supposing any unfortunate incident occurred to interfere with that Agreement we have an alliance with the Japanese, a simpleminded people who, although au island Power, yet nevertheless hold that it is necessary to develop their military as well as their naval resources.
990 Then we come to another potential enemy—Germany. But the Germans, according to the view of the Secretary of State for War, are a sort of country cousins of our own, and there is not the slightest danger likely to be incurred at their hands, because they have announced that they are willing to exchange information with us with regard to naval preparations, though what consolation anybody could derive by assurances of that kind is beyond,, my comprehension altogether. Supposing I were preparing for a race or a contest with another noble Lord, it would not be any consolation to me to know how much lie was eating a day or how much weight he was putting on. H the political and the international position is thus entirely reassuring, the military and naval position as regards ourselves is not less so. We have had many reassuring optimistic statements made to us in the course of the last few years. It was not so very long ago that the Prime Minister assured us that the invasion of this country was an impossibility. The First Lord of the Admiralty announced that a boat's crew could not land upon our shores, without his express permission. A little later on grudging admission was made by the Admiralty that under peculiar circumstances as many as 5,000 men might possibly land upon these shores, and subsequently a distinguished naval authority, a member of this House, advised us to sleep quietly in our beds and pay no attention to the warnings of the National Service League or other foolish institutions of that kind. The noble Viscount followed his advice so implicitly that he wakened up and the country wakened up before long to discover that the two-Power standard had practically slipped from our grasp.
Then we had an admission that under certain circumstances a force of 70,000 men might land in this country. But the present position is apparently infinitely superior to what it was then, because, according to the statement of the Secretary of State for War yesterday. the Admiralty have expressly asserted that invasion is an absolute impossibility. And Lori Haldane, I observe, in a speech which he made the other day, used these words—We are equipped to meet all emergencies, and the person who contends that we are not is in a blue funk.Well, we are going to translate "blue funk" into Parliamentary language. The 991 Parliamentary language I take it which we are going to employ for the purpose is that, under the leadership of the noble and gallant Field-Marshal, Lord Roberts, we are going to express "grave and growing concern" on account of our present military situation, and as far as I am concerned that Motion does not in the least meet my own requirements. I should much prefer to vote for something more definite than that. I feel very little relieved in expressing my grave and growing concern at the inadequate military arrangements of His Majesty's Government for the defence of this country and the oversea Dominions, because that is a feeling I have experienced for a considerable time.
What is it that has placed us, according to the noble Viscount, in this absolutely invulnerable position? It takes a great deal of clear thinking, but I realise it at last. The solid fact which places us in this perfectly invulnerable position is the possession of the Territorial Force. The Territorial Force is the glittering bait, a sort of military siren which is going to lure to his inevitable doom the invader who is going to make an attempt upon this country. It appears that any one who is senseless enough to attack this country is doomed to inevitable failure and disaster. If he comes in small detachments, he is cut to pieces—on paper—by Sir Ian Hamilton and the Territorial Force. If, on the other hand, he decides to come in a body amounting to 70,000, then lie is annihilated by Sir Arthur Wilson. The only comment that I have to make upon this peculiar position, and upon the question of our absolute invulnerability is this: It seems to me rather a curious thing that, in view of this abnormal arid extraordinary position, the Secretary of State for War and his friends are doing their utmost to invite all the counties in this country to form themselves into ambulance associations under the auspices of the Red Cross. The only inference which I can draw from this incitement is that the noble Viscount has not quite the same confidence in his own scheme which he would like us to think.
Now, I am bound to confess that I think the noble Viscount has a distinct grievance. Whereas he is being constantly subjected to an enormous amount of criticism, a great deal of this criticism appears to me to be of a purely destructive character, 992 I am afraid that I must state as an example of the destructive critic my noble friend behind me, the Duke of Bedford. There is nothing my noble friend enjoys more than pulling to pieces the schemes of the noble Viscount by showing that his figures are all wrong, that his men are boys, and that his boys are counted several times over. At the same time I feel bound to add that my noble friend has never suggested any remedy for this appalling condition of things except one. I remember that a year or two ago he suggested that Lords Lieutenant should come to the rescue of the country and put its military system upon a sound foundation. Well, readers of Lord Beaconsfield's novels will remember a gentleman who had a scheme in his mind by which the baronets of this country were going to regenerate the British Empire. The suggestion of my noble friend has been adopted; the Lords Lieutenant have been tried; and I think it is not the Lords Lieutenant's fault that they have been found wanting and have not been able to succeed in creating a national Army and a national force, which, upon the whole, is not very surprising.
But I am bound to add, although I feel I am doing almost more for the Secretary of State for War than lie deserves, that the criticism from the Opposition Front Bench is also of a somewhat arid and unproductive character. If we could be guaranteed that supposing a change of office were to take place Lord Curzon and Lord Milner were to be members of the Administration, we might confidently expect a radical change in our military administration; but as it is I, like my noble friend behind me, do not entertain any great expectation that supposing by some extraordinary chance a change of Government took place there would be any startling change in our military system. Noble Lords on the Front Opposition Bench are hardly candid in this way. They have never put forward any real alternative to the noble Viscount's proposal, and until they do suggest something else I shall continue to believe that if they came into office they would only continue to do what he has been doing. If I were in the position of the Secretary of State for War I confess I should not pay very much attention to criticism of this nature. I should pay attention to serious criticism, the criticism of persons like myself—and I say this in a perfectly 993 serious spirit—who have really got an alternative to offer in the shape of universal and compulsory service.
We serious people have a grievance, and a real grievance, against the noble Viscount. Our grievance is that, chiefly by his own merits and by his own talents, he has succeeded in persuading an enormous number of his countrymen that they have got something totally different from what they had before. In view of the limitations of time I cannot say as much on this as I should like, and I desire to keep my remarks as short as I can. But put shortly the situation amounts to this, that the noble Viscount has distinctly failed in his endeavour to create a national Force. When you are discussing military questions -on broad grounds like this I never think it is very much use dwelling too much upon the subject of the Regular Army, because, as I say, if the Opposition came into power again the changes which they would introduce would amount to very little. If you are going to introduce any radical change in our military system there is only one direction in which you can do it, and that is in regard to your Territorial Force.
Now, the Secretary of State for War has, in my opinion, missed his opportunity, and the crucial fact remains that with all his influence, talents, and industry, and despite the assistance which he has received from persons professing all sorts of political opinions, he has failed in the crucial point of getting the numbers which he requires. He asked for 315,000 men—not an extravagant number, considering the population of these islands. He has not got that number, and he knows perfectly well he never will get it; and I appeal in corroboration of my statement to what has appeared under the name of the man who has done perhaps more than anybody else, next to the noble Viscount, for the Territorial Force—namely, Lord Esher. He has plainly intimated that the game is up; that these men cannot: be obtained. And he has also pointed out that numbers are everything, and if you cannot get the numbers no amount of rhetoric, no amount of organisation, no amount of clear thinking, will supply these deficiencies. We have got to face that fact. I would also add that if you cannot find the numbers it is not much use bringing forward testimonials to the value of the Territorial Force, 994 whether those testimonials proceed from Sir Ian. Hamilton or from Generals in flights of post-prandial oratory at the Defence Association, or from that much quoted gentleman, Colonel Repington.
I should like to ask the noble Viscount, Lord Haldane, whether he attaches any particular importance to Colonel Repington's opinion. I understand that he does. That being so, I will ask him to pay particular attention to an extract that I propose to read. It is an extract from the much-quoted authority whom we all know so well by this time. Colonel Repington said—Every Statesman who from this time forward neglects to advocate national training as a public duty will assuredly deserve the maledictions of posterity, and every citizen who combats or delays the introduction of this indispensable reform deserves to be described as a public enemy and will richly deserve the worst fate that can befall him.I have never said anything half so unkind as that of the noble Viscount and I hope that I never shall, but all the same it seems to me to express, in somewhat rough language, what is absolutely true, and I do not know why we should conceal the fact. The fact is, we have arrived at what I am sick of hearing called the parting of the ways. Everybody knows perfectly well in their hearts that there is only one possible remedy, only one thing which will alter your military system, and that is the adoption of compulsion for the Territorial Force. Nobody in his senses, not even I, would advocate compulsion if voluntary effort could meet the deficiency; but unfortunately we have arrived at a time, like every nation does, when voluntary effort is not equal to the tasks imposed upon it.
We owe more, perhaps, than any other nation to voluntary effort, but the time has come when voluntary effort is unable to do what we require of it. Voluntary effort provides us with the work of the magistracy and local government, and provides Members for the House of Commons. Up to now it has also provided Members for this House, and it is not necessary to have recourse to compulsion in order to recruit this House, whatever may be the case in the future. But the leading instance in this country where voluntary effort proved inadequate was the case of education; and just as in 1870 it was realised that the voluntary system 995 was inadequate for the purposes of education, so now in 1911 it ought to be realised by every reasonable person that voluntary effort is no longer equal to the purposes of national defence.
LORD CURZON OF KEDLESTON
My Lords, I am really reluctant to add one more to the long and almost uninterrupted line of speakers who have addressed your Lordships on this subject from this side of the House. I say almost uninterrupted, because the sequence has only been broken to-night by Lord Southwark, whom I remember very well in the old days in the House of Commons though I do not think I ever had the pleasure of entering the Lobby with him while we were Members there together, and whose advent to this House has had to-night the result, as agreeable to us as it is evidently to him, that it has removed from his lips the gag which, as he told us. rested uneasily there for twenty years in another place.
I cannot claim to have any of that military knowledge or experience which has justified the remarks of so many of the noble Lords who have addressed this House. But, on the other hand, I think I may say that this is not either purely or even mainly a naval or military question. It is a political, a diplomatic, an administrative, and, above all, an Imperial question, and as such any member of your Lordships' House, even a layman, is, I think, not committing an act of presumption if he says something on the matter. We have had a number of very interesting speeches this evening on different branches of Army administration. Some of them have raised rather small points which must have almost reminded the noble Viscount opposite of a debate on Army Estimates in the House of Commons. Others of them, like the speech to which we have just listened, have been the humorous and witty expressions of the views entertained by their authors. But surely I am not wrong in saving that a good many of them have wandered rather widely from the large and enormous issues which were in reality raised by the noble and gallant Field-Marshal, Lord Roberts. This has in truth been a useful debate, but perhaps its most remarkable feature has been the speech which opened it.
Let me recall to the memory of the House what happened yesterday. At the com- 996 mencement of our proceedings we saw the first soldier of the Empire standing at the Table and not for the first time addressing your Lordships in grave and measured tones, equally free from panic and from passion, stating to this House his assured conviction, resting upon an experience absolutely unequalled among the commanders of this land, that the military forces of this country are inadequate both for the defence of the Empire abroad and for the protection of our shores from invasion at home. One by one Lord Roberts took the different constituents of our Army, Regular and Auxiliary, and subjected them to a searching and deadly analysis. He showed that whatever the zeal and valour and spirit by which they may be animated, they are in his opinion not fitted for war, or I at any rate for the particular kind of war which we may have to contemplate in the future. He argued to us—and who could argue with greater authority?—that already the lessons of the South African war are being forgotten. He told us that after ten years of experiment and of effort—and free homage has been rendered in the course of this debate to those who have initiated those experiments and made those efforts—that after ten years of all this the Regular Army is 30,000, if not 40,000, less than it was ten years ago—[A NOBLE LORD: No.] Well, I have not time to go into the figures, but I believe they are capable of being sustained. He told us also that the j Special Reserve had replaced the Militia, and that the Special Reserve is 28,000 less in numbers than the old Militia; and that the place of the Volunteers has been taken by the Territorial Force, greatly superior in organisation to that which it has succeeded, but inferior in numbers, insufficient in training, and undoubtedly more expensive in cost.
The noble and gallant Field-Marshal told us, further, that in total strength and in. readiness to take the field—and I think this was the gravest point he made—he believed' we were no better off than we were at the commencement of the Boer campaign. After thus demonstrating to his satisfaction that we have neither a serious Army for the purposes of our Empire abroad nor a serious Home Army for the defence of these islands, he concluded by an appeal to His Majesty's Government that these allegations should be inquired into, not by a Royal Commission or any such form of investigation, but by a committee of qualified experts who should 997 inquire into the truth of his allegations, and before whom, I take it, he and others would be prepared to give evidence. That is the nature of the case that has been submitted to your Lordships. I may have failed to remember anything that was said upon the subject of this suggested inquiry in the speeches from the Front Bench opposite, but I think no notice whatever has been taken of that serious appeal made by Lord Roberts. I believe his views are shared by the great majority of expert military and naval opinion in this country; certainly by the great majority of military commanders. They have been endorsed in this debate by the authority of a great number of noble Lords speaking from intimate personal knowledge on the subject. They were supported to-night in the powerful and comprehensive speech made by the late Secretary of State for War, Viscount Midleton.
What sort of reply have we had to this serious and formidable indictment? I think we might have expected from noble Lords opposite not merely an answer to the individual charges, if that is not too strong a word to apply, but a reasoned defence of our military system in all its various branches. What I should have liked to have heard still more was some examination of the strategic needs of the Empire as a whole, and the degree in which the various forces of the Crown are adjusted or capable of being adjusted to those needs. But we have had nothing of the kind. The noble and gallant Field-Marshal has recently brought out a book, assisted by two collaborators, in reply to a volume which appeared under the distinguished patronage of the noble Viscount opposite. This book consists of two or three parts, for one of which the noble and gallant Field-Marshal is explicitly responsible, but the Secretary of State for War appears to have thought that Lord Roberts was equally responsible for Part II. Had the noble Viscount looked attentively at the volume he would have seen on page 158 a foot-note in which the noble and gallant Earl expressly dissociates himself from the authorship of Part II, or from sympathy with all that is there written. I may say for my own part—and I am a Vice-President of the National Service League—that I never saw this article until two days ago. I was unaware of the name of this author until this afternoon, and a good many of the proposals which it contains, while they represent the views of a 998 very talented and accomplished writer, must not be held in any way to commit the National Service League, and certainly do not commit the noble and gallant Field-Marsh al.
And yet the noble Lord opposite, ignoring the speech which Lord Roberts did make, proceeded to reply to a Memorandum which he did not write. A little later in the afternoon we had a speech from Lord Ashby St. Ledgers, and he taunted and twitted the noble and gallant Field-Marshal for not having either in outline or detail produced an alternative scheme at all. What an absurd position we are therefore in: one noble Lord opposite attacking the noble and gallant Earl for not producing a scheme, and the Secretary of State for War attacking him for a scheme which he did not produce. The. noble Earl cannot, under our rules of debate, reply for himself this evening; but if he could I am certain he would say this, that it would have been entirely irrelevant for him to have introduced any scheme either in outline or in detail at present. He is asking for an inquiry. If an inquiry were granted he would be quite ready to state his views before it. What his general views are is not a matter entirely bidden from this House. His views are so well known that the Secretary of State for War has thought it necessary to take the unusual step of bringing out a book in order to answer them.
What has been the general line of defence taken by speakers on the Front Government Bench? The noble Viscount the Secretary of State for War endeavoured to reassure us by telling us that we are at the beginning of a new era in which pacific intentions animate the great Statesmen of the world, and, as my noble friend Lord Newton has just pointed out, he even quoted, I might almost say with some audacity, the speech of the German Chancellor in proof of his proposition. He then went on to argue that we should indeed set a terrible and unfortunate example to the world if, at a time when these happy ideas are in the air, we showed any particular desire to look after ourselves. Now, there is not a member on this side of the House who does not welcome the speech made by Sir Edward Grey, the Foreign Secretary, in the House of Commons, the other day. We warmly welcome the idea of arbitration with the United States of America, either upon a restricted or still better upon an open and unrestricted field.
999 But it is not by the United States of America that we ever run the risk of being invaded in these islands, or indeed in any part of the world except Canada, and there we regard invasion as an unthinkable proposition. For my own part, I should wait to see an Arbitration Treaty concluded between ourselves and some great Continental State, or even between any two great Continental States, before I could dispense myself from feeling any apprehension or alarm; but I should like to record my conviction that in any negotiations into which we might enter with such an object, we should stand a very much better chance of success if it were known that we had an adequate force behind us, and that we were not so feeble as to be trifled with or ignored in any diplomatic negotiations that might ensue.
There was another remark made by the Secretary of State for War to which I ask his permission to allude. He indulged in what I cannot help thinking was a very dangerous fallacy. He said that the true commander of the naval and military forces in this country is the Foreign Secretary, and that upon him depends what our policy is to be. I dispute this proposition in toto. The heads of the Army and Navy in this country cannot shelve their responsibilities on to the shoulders of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Whatever the skill or diplomatic ability which he may employ, he is powerless without the sanction of the military and naval forces behind him. The Foreign Secretary in this country is in exactly the same position as Moses in the battle with the Amalekites. His two hands have to be held up by the Ministers for the Army and the Navy; and if they fail in their duty and let his arms drop to his side, the Foreign Secretary loses all power and force. The idea that the responsibility is not theirs but is his, is one which, as an old official of the Foreign Office, I must be allowed respectfully to dispute.
What are the positions which we claim to have established in this debate? I should like to deal with them under the two heads. We have, in the first place, a Regular Army which, for zeal and efficiency and patriotism, I believe is the equal of any Regular Army of similar or even greater size in any country in the world. But our case about it is that the Regular Army is painfully small in point of numbers, and that it possesses no means of expansion 1000 such as it might require in the event of a long and troublesome campaign. We have an Expeditionary Force of 170,000 men on paper for service across the seas. I have listened very attentively to all that has been said in this debate about the Expeditionary Force, and I own that I have been very much alarmed at what I have heard about the shortage of officers, admitted by the Secretary of State for War himself last night, and the deficiency of horses. I wonder very much—I wish the noble Viscount were going to reply, because I might then get an answer to this question—I wonder how soon he thinks that after the outbreak of hostilities or the occurrence of trouble in India the whole of this Force could be despatched from these shores. Could he spare it all? How long could it be maintained relatively intact in the country to which it was sent, and, still more, how when it began to dwindle under the inevitable stress of campaign would he succeed in replenishing it from the resources left in this country? I put my observations, not in the form of statements or charges, but in the form of a question.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
As I am asked a question, I may say that one of the arrangements which I believe we have made is this, that the Force can be mobilised very rapidly. I do not wish to give the exact number of this Force, but the officers are all there, and there is also machinery and provision for keeping up and repairing the wastage, and keeping the Force in existence.
LORD CURZON OF KEDLESTON
I am glad to hear that reply, but I confess I should like to know what the machinery is. This is a point on which we on this side of the House are very apprehensive. Many of us are very much afraid that the Expeditionary Force might never go out; that circumstances might exist in this country in which it would be unsafe to allow it to leave our shores. But that was not my point. Supposing it did go, I am indeed glad to learn that without detriment to the Territorial Force here and without detriment to those Regulars left in this country, by whom the Secretary of State for War has more than once told us the Territorial Force is to be stiffened in the event of invasion, an adequate supply to meet the diminution can be obtained. But the Secretary of State for War more than once last night endeavoured to 1001 reassure us by another observation. He told us that we have an enormous Army. That is a description that he has more than once employed—that we have the largest overseas Army in the world. Of course we have, because we have the largest Overseas Empire in the world. Obviously our Army must be suited to the requirements of the Empire, and the question is not whether that Army is large, nor whether it is larger than the forces of other countries that have no Empire corresponding to our own. The question is two-fold—first, is it large enough for what it may have to do, and, in the second place, is it as large as any foreign country—Germany for instance—would be content with in the same circumstances? If Germany possessed the Indian Empire, for instance, would she be content with an Expeditionary Force of 170,000 men?
I own I have been very much struck in this debate by the extent to which the Imperial aspect of the question has been ignored. Let me ask your Lordships to look at the Imperial aspect of the case. During the last fifty years, since the Cardwell system was introduced, while the organisation of our Army has not been substantially altered, and whatever alteration there has been has been in the direction of improvement, a vast and enormous change has passed over the rest of the world. All the great European States have adopted Conscription. They now possess armies amounting to millions of men, which may be said to contain the armed manhood of those nations. Simultaneously, almost without our knowledge if not behind our backs, our Empire has been swelling and extending in every portion of the globe. Compare India as it was at the time of the Mutiny with what it is now. Look at Africa. In Africa alone in the last twenty years there has sprung up an Empire larger than that of India itself. These Empires that we have acquired are not islands which can be maintained and defended by sea power alone. They are shut in and enveloped by the territories of foreign States, and no one knows better than the noble Viscount, Lord Morley, who has resumed for the time the duties of Secretary for India, that in India we have not to deal merely with the relatively feeble States of Persia and Afghanistan and Turkey and Siam or even China, but in India we are co-terminous with the great European Powers of Russia and France; and though our relations with those two 1002 Powers are at the moment of a friendly character, and we all hope that this will last, nobody can say that the situation is free from all risk in the future.
Take the case of Africa. In Africa we do not merely rub shoulders with naked and unarmed savages. Our territories there are co-terminous with those of Germany, Italy, Portugal, and France. All this means an enormous addition to our responsibilities, but simultaneously there has been scarcely any corresponding increase in our forces. Further I would observe that this is not merely a question of external and territorial expansion. Grave problems are rising that may involve, as nobody knows better than the noble Viscount, internal troubles too. If trouble of a serious character were to break out in Europe, which of us can guarantee that India will preserve a surface of unruffled calm? And if internal trouble were to break out in India, which of us can be certain that European Powers might not seize that opportunity to advance hostile and inconvenient claims? In those circumstances sea power cannot avail you. Sea power cannot save India. Sea power, it is true, can prevent any European State from conveying an armed force to India. It can save India from invasion from any great State except Russia, but it cannot put clown internal rebellion in India. It would be useless for that purpose. Therefore when you are discussing the issues placed before you by the noble and gallant Field-Marshal you have very anxiously and seriously to consider the enormous addition to your responsibilities which you have unthinkingly assumed, and which, although you may be able to discharge them from day to day, might at a moment of crisis place upon you a burden under which you would break down.
There is one branch of this subject to which I will only allude in passing, and that is the subject which was so powerfully dealt with by my noble friend Lord Milner. I mean the question of the Balance of Power. I mention this subject both for its intrinsic importance and because it ought not to be altogether shirked by any speaker in this debate. I do not take quite so high a view of the matter as Lord Milner did last night. No one, I imagine, now contemplates as at all likely that British forces will at any time in the future conduct campaigns on the Continent of Europe on the scale they did in the 1003 seventeenth, eighteenth, or even in the early part of the nineteenth century. Certainly no idea of that kind fills the mind of any Statesman of any Party in this country. That by way of qualification and of caution. But, nevertheless, the doctrine of the Balance of Power, by which I understand the resolve to prevent any dangerous predominance by any individual Power on the Continent, is still, so far as I know, part of the accepted policy of this country. It certainly has never been repudiated by any Secretary of State, and would, I believe, be acknowledged by the present Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey. So long as that doctrine forms part of our policy, it is conceivable that occasions might arise on which, in fulfilment of a treaty obligation, or to succour an ally, or for the maintenance of the status quo, or in defence of our own position, we might require to give assistance by military aid and not by the Navy alone. I do not put it higher than that; but for such a purpose it seems to me that we require an Army which is not absolutely negligible and which may assist the Foreign Secretary in any negotiations in which he may be concerned.
But I confess that I am far more concerned in the question of the defence of India and our Overseas Dominions than I am in the question of the balance of power in Europe. I think two contingencies arise which we must consider. The first is the contingency which I mentioned just now and to which the Secretary of State for War replied, that you may be able to despatch the Expeditionary Force, but that after it has gone out and begun to waste you may not have behind in this country the resources from which it could be replenished; and the second contingent is that you might not be able to send out your Force at all owing to the admitted inferiority of the forces on which you are depending for the defence of this country. In such a case I shudder to think of what might happen. How would you deal with a case arising in India which could only be met by the despatch of the Expeditionary Force, if the Expeditionary Force were unable to leave this country, not because you did not trust in your Fleet, but because a powerful European enemy threatened and you could not trust your Territorial Army? That is why I look with so much alarm, not merely upon the inadequate numbers of our Regular Army, but upon 1004 the appallingly inadequate training and equipment of our Defence Army at home.
Before I sit down I may, perhaps, be allowed to say a word or two about this Home Army. A little earlier in the evening we had an interesting speech from my noble friend Lord Derby. He spoke out for the Territorial Army with a wholehearted and chivalrous enthusiasm, arising from a great deal of personal interest and knowledge, which I am sure delighted all those who heard it. What is our case against the Territorial Army—or rather, I withdraw the word "against," because it may give offence to my noble friend, and we have no case against the Territorial Army. We have views about the Territorial Army, and that is the way I prefer to put it. Our case about the Territorial Army rests upon two bases. The first is the statements and admissions of the Secretary of State for War himself. He has told us over and over again that the Territorial Force never can he efficient in peace. He said this year, in the debate on the Army Estimates in the House of Commons, that at least two years would be required to place the Territorial Army man for man on an equality with an enemy whom they might have to encounter. He also said on the same occasion—In its nature the Territorial Army is a half-baked Force.I should not have dared to apply such an epithet for fear of giving offence to some of my friends on this side of the House, although my private opinion would be that the cake has scarcely got into the oven at all. However, it is upon these statements that our case rests first of all. The second part of our case rests upon the facts and figures contained in the Reports. I was astonished to hear Lord Derby say this evening that he looked with suspicion upon all official reports. I always understood that the annual report of the Post Office, which is one of the most engaging documents that comes under our attention and for which the noble Lord himself was once responsible, was au absolutely impeccable document. I myself have been responsible for issuing, and, indeed, writing, so many official reports in my day that I cannot be expected to endorse the rather cynical view with regard to them expressed by my noble friend.
But whatever may be the general merits of the case about official reports, you cannot get away from the facts and figures 1005 contained in this official report about the Territorial Army, all the more that they appear in a document issued by the father of the scheme, who, if he had a desire in the matter, would, of course, be anxious to represent things in the most favourable light. When you find from these official figures that in the Territorial Army there is a shortage of 1,450 officers and 44,000 men; that last year the total strength fell by 3,000 men; that the number of recruits—and this is a more than significant symptom—fell from 110,000 to 42,000, how can you say this Force is in a prosperous or flourishing condition? When, further, you read that it contains 13,000 boys under the age of eighteen and 83,000 lads under the age of twenty—nearly half of the total force—how can you say it is a mature or powerful Force? When you find that as many as 75,000 spent less than a fortnight in camp last year, and 26,000 never went into camp at all, how can you say that it is efficient for war? And when the Secretary of State for War repeats, as he constantly does, that this Force cannot be trained, and he does not expect it to be trained, until after the outbreak of hostilities, and that even then six months will be required for the purpose, how can you regard it as a serious unit in the defences of this country?
We all know that every conceivable effort has been made to give vitality and substance to this movement. The Secretary of State for War must be tired of the congratulations which are heaped upon him in that respect. We are aware of the speeches that he has made, the prize meetings which he has attended, the books that he has fathered, the success with which he has induced even Generals and Admirals—ordinarily the most diffident of men—to assume with him the joint privileges of authorship. We know he has told us that in the forthcoming year he is going to spend the best part of a million on drill halls and riding schools and all sorts of paraphernalia. Yet everybody knows the Force is contracting and that its limit has been reached. You cannot hope to add to the numbers, and, as a noble Lord reminded us in this debate, it is in the year 1913, in September of that year, when 100,000 men will be eligible to take their discharge, that the real moment of crisis will occur, and we shall know then and once for all whether the Territorial Force is going to survive, or whether it is going to dwindle and finally disappear.
1006 The Secretary of State for War once told us that the Territorial Army is "the last word of the voluntary system." I agree with him. I have never hidden my opinions upon this matter. I believe that compulsory training in some form or other must come in this country. I believe that many of us sitting in this House to-night will live to see it. I will not examine the somewhat difficult problem put before us by Lord Newton, who seemed to think that, whatever might be the views of some of us who sit on this Bench on the subject, no Government will ever dare to take the matter up. It is a fundamental principle of his view of politics that both Front Benches are invariably tarred with the same brush. However that may be, I am one of those who hold that the voluntary system in this country has failed, and that you can neither do your duty to the Empire at large, nor fulfil the obligations to your Allies, nor defend the United Kingdom under the voluntary system. I believe, further, that the feeling in favour of some such change is growing in this country as rapidly as it has done in the Colonies, where it is part of their accepted politics, a policy adopted by none more readily than by the Labour and Socialist Parties. I believe it is growing in this country, not on its military merits, but because of the enormous advantages, moral, physical, and industrial, which this country is gradually realising will ensue from its adoption.
I say it is not being adopted on military grounds. Why? Because I do not think that that feeling has a chance so long as the Secretary of State for War goes about making the sort of speeches he does throughout the country. So long as the noble Viscount goes about, invested with his high responsibility, and endowed with those powers of soporific and mellifluous speech which he possesses, I do not think we have a chance. I will give the House an illustration of the sort of speech to which I refer. He went down to Grimsby on November 28 last year and said—In naval and military defence we are absolutely equipped to meet all emergencies and situations.
LORD CURZON OF KEDLESTON
I am sure the noble Lord did not say "Hear hear" from any sympathy. His cheer is one of profound surprise, if not of unmitigated disgust. But the noble Viscount went on to say—And the person who says we are not"—1007 that is to say, not absolutely equipped to meet all emergencies—is in a blue funk.Well, if that be so, most of us are in a blue funk. I at once accept the position. I take up my position in the school of "blue funk" along with the noble and gallant Field-Marshal who sits upon the Cross Benches, and all I can say is that for my own part I would sooner be in a "blue funk" with the noble and gallant Field-Marshal than I would be in an asylum for the blind with the Secretary of State for War. However, I only make that confession about compulsory training for myself. I have no right to pledge, and I would not venture to pledge, a single member who is sitting on this side of the House, or a single member who sits on this Bench on the subject. Many of them hold entirely different views, although I think there is a movement in the direction of agreement rather than from it. However, as I say, many of them hold different views. But I would certainly like to remind noble Lords that in voting for the Motion of the noble and gallant Field-Marshal you are not voting one way or the other about compulsory service. That issue is not raised. [Ironical cheers from the Government
§ Benches.] I do not quite understand those ironical cheers. Noble Lords opposite seem to cheer as though they had suddenly discovered that we are suffering from some undesirable incubus. I am sure, for my own part, we should be only too glad to have a vote on the question. Whereas two years ago we were, in circumstances of particular pressure, only in a minority of twenty in this House, my impression is that if we were to vote upon the question now we should be in a considerable majority. However that may be, it is not the issue before your Lordships to-night. The issue raised is that stated in the terms of the Motion of the noble and gallant Field-Marshal, which it seems to me has been successfully established in his speech and in the speeches which have succeeded; it has been endorsed by all competent military authority both in this country and abroad, and if your Lordships proceed to a vote I believe it will receive the acceptance of the majority of your Lordships' House.
§ On Question?
§ Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 99; Not-contents, 40.1009
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Halifax, V.||Hastings, L.|
|Bedford, D.||Hampden, V.||Hindlip, L.|
|Hood, V.||Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare)|
|Winchester, M.||Iveagh, V.||Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll)|
|Milner, V.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)|
|Cathcart, E.||Bangor, L. Bp.||Lamington, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Lawrence, L.|
|Dartrey, E.||Abinger, L.||Leigh, L.|
|Denbigh, E.||Addington, L.||Lovat, L. [Teller.]|
|Derby, E.||Alverstone, L.||Middleton, L.|
|Devon, E.||Ampthill, L.||Monck, L. (V. Monck.)|
|Doncaster, E.(D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Ardilaun, L.||Monteagle of Brandon, L.|
|Atkinson, L.||Muncaster, L.|
|Eldon, E.||Barrymore, L.||Muskerry, L.|
|Gainsborough, E.||Belhaven and Stenton,||L. Newton, L. [Teller.]|
|Guilford, E.||Blythswood, L.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Hardwieke, E.||Brabourne, L.||Rathmore, L.|
|Harewood, E.||Brodrick, L (V. Midleton.)||Revelstoke, L.|
|Kilmorey, E.||Carew, L.||St. Levan, L.|
|Leicester, E.||Colchester, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Leven and Melville, E.||Crawshaw, L.||Sanderson, L.|
|Londesborough, E.||Curzon of Kedleston, L.||Sandys, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Dawnay, L. (V. Downe.)||Savile, L.|
|Morley, E.||De Mauley, L.||Seaton, L.|
|Portsmouth, E.||Desborough, L.||Sempill, L.|
|Roberts, E.||Digby, L.||Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)|
|Rothes, E.||Dunniore, I, (E. Dunmore.)||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway)|
|Sandwich, E.||Ellenborough, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Elphinstone, L.||Stuart of Castle Stuart, L. (E. Moray)|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Faber, L.,|
|Westmeath, E.||Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow.)||Teynham, L.|
|Wicklow, E.||Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne.)||Willoughby de Broke, L.|
|Gage, L (V. Gage)||Wynford, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Gwydir. L.||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
|Goschen, V.||Harris, L.|
|Loveburn, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Boston, L.||Pentland, L.|
|Morley of Blackburn. V. (L. President)||Colebrooke, L.||Robson, L.|
|Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.)||Rotherham, L.|
|Chesterfield, E (L. Steward.)||Eversley, L.||Saye and Sele, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Furness, L.||Shuttleworth, L.|
|Carrington, E||Glautawe, L.||Southwark, L.|
|Chichester, E.||Granard, L. (E. Granard.)||Stainley of Alderley, L.(L. Sheffield.)|
|Liverpool, E. [Teller]||Hamilton of Dalzell, L.|
|Russell, E||Haversham, L||Swaythling, L.|
|Herschell, L [Teller]||Tweedmouth, L|
|Haldane, v.||Ilkeston.L||Weardale L.|
|Lucas, L||Welby, L.|
|Aberdare, L.||Lyveden, L||Willingdon, L.|
|Allendale, L.||MacDonnell, L|
|Ashby St. Ledgers, L,||Marchamley, L.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative.