Captain GUEST (Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury):
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
In asking the House to give a Third Reading to this Bill, there are one or two points which I think I might usefully lay before the House, which have cropped up at different periods during the passage of the Bill, and which will enable hon. Members to form a more accurate opinion as to the merits of the measure. There is an Amendment on the Paper standing in the names of hon. Members opposite to read the Bill this day six months, and it is followed by what I would describe as a reasoned Amendment. The Government hope that the House will give the Bill unanimous support; they feel that the reasons for doing so are unanswerable. No one has suggested that the proceeding is unnecessary from the military point of view or that the numbers upon which the Government have decided are too great for the duties involved, and, most important of all, no one has put forward any alternative proposal. One of the complaints of the opponents of the Bill had reference to the non-fulfilment of election pledges, and in reply to that I would like to say that it is much truer that at the last election hon. Members stood for a Government measure which would end Conscription in Europe, and that matter is being fought out in Paris to-day. The only other complaint against the measure is that insufficient efforts have been made to provide an adequate number of men by voluntary methods. I am anxious at once to correct a mistake in connection with the figures which were used during the Report stage of the Debate. From the words used by my right hon. Friend the Secretary for War, it might have appeared, and it was, perhaps, not unreasonably deduced, that the 130,000 who have volunteered and who are now serving on pre-war engagements, were exclusive of the Regular Forces of the Crown. That is not so. The Regular pre-war Forces of the Crown are included in the figure 130,000.
The Amendments which were put forward during the passage of the Bill maybe divided into two classes—those which were clearly wrecking Amendments, and no apology is needed or will be required or expected by those who have moved them because the Government have resisted them. Many of these Amendments have come from hon. Members who have at previous times in this House opposed other Service Bills. Then there were Amendments from supporters of the Government, and these should be very differently dealt with. Various degrees of support have been given to the measure, and the Government has attempted to explain to hon. Gentlemen the difficulties attaching to their proposed Amendments. There is one consideration I would ask the House to bear in mind during the course of the Debate this afternoon, and that is that this Bill is not an amending; Bill to the Military Service Act. It has nothing whatever to do with the Act of 1916, and it must not be regarded as an; attempt to amend it. Several attempts have been made, but they have been resisted.
The Amendments from those who haves given various degrees of support to that Bill may be enumerated as follows. The one-year voluntary enlistment Amendment was a strong point raised by soma hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I think it was adequately replied to on the Report stage when it pointed out that, in order to relieve garrisons in the Far Eastern territories and in India, a one-year voluntary enlistment would not be efficacious. It is to these far distant contingents that our first duty lies. Then, again, there was an Amendment dealing with the employment of soldiers in labour units. Perhaps the use of the term "labour units" was rather unfortunate, because these units are a vital necessity to the effective management of the Army in the field. I think, however, that point has already been explained. Another Amendment was as to the constitutional position of the soldier, and as to that I have to say that this Bill does not and will not attempt in any way to interfere with that. This, however, is not the place nor is this the Bill upon which to raise so wide and far-reaching an issue. The Amendment to change the date of the Bill from 30th April to a date coincident with the termination of the War, or to 31st December, can best be answered by reliance on the advice of the military experts who assisted to draft the Bill. It is a convenient date and it must not be forgotten that there is no connection whatever between the date selected, 30th April, 1920, and the passage of the Army (Annual) Act. A distinct understanding has been given that under no circumstances will this Bill be continued under the Expiring Laws Contingency Act which is brought in each year. But the Amendment which called for the most sympathy was one which asked that men who had been abroad for more than two years without leave should at once be given leave and sent home. But for the difficulties of our Far Eastern campaigns I think it is quite possible it would have received less opposition from the Government. The strongest point urged was, however, regarding Russia, and, curiously enough, after the explanation given on that subject the Amendment raising it received less support than any other. The only remaining feature of the Bill which I think it is not unreasonable for me to remind the House of was what was described as its unpopularity. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belfast (Sir E. Carson) pointed out to the House in no uncertain terms that the very last man who would wish to be associated with an unpopular measure was my right hon. Friend the Secretary for War. But that did not deter him from placing before the House an Issue so grave as this and one which has behind it such overwhelming support. It is, of course, a measure which may easily become unpopular if misrepresented, and possibly some complaint by the Government on this score would be justifiable, if the times were not so serious. We have debated this measure as if the War was over, but every serious thinking man knows that peace is by no means signed yet, and I would suggest it is hardly patriotic, while war is still going on, to seek to obtain some political advantage at the expense of honesty of purpose. Is it worth while to risk the chances of a lasting victory in order to win a by election? Is it worth while to gamble with the future in order to obtain a momentary political success?
I beg to move to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words
this House refuses to give a Third Reading to a Bill which, in the absence of any immediate national necessity and without any efforts having first been made to secure its objects by voluntary means, confers upon the military authorities the power to extend the period of Conscription under the Military Service Acts as and when they think proper within the limits of the Bill, and thus delegates and hands over to Government Departments powers and responsibilities of supreme importance which should be exercised, if at all, by Parliament alone.
We have listened with the respect that we always show to the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has moved the Third Beading of this Bill. He practically suggests that we should not undertake the task to which we have committed ourselves in the Amendment put down on the Notice Paper. If we had weakened in our opposition to this Bill we should not have done so. But we have not. We are as strong in that opposition, or even stronger to-day, than we were when the Bill was proposed for Second Beading. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War, on the Second Reading, found it necessary practically to lecture us who sit on these benches, as though we were failing in our duty to the nation. But some of us who take part in these Debates are as anxious to do our duty to the nation as any of the hon. Members who have jeered at me for that remark. Some of us have reminders every day at our homes, by empty chairs, of what this War has meant, as much as hon. Gentlemen opposite have.
We are as keen to secure the results of this War as any hon. Member opposite is. As far as I am concerned, I have arrived at a state of life in which the last thing to attract me would be to engage in anything in the nature of barren controversy. When we took this course we took it impelled by as high and patriotic a motive as hon. Members opposite did in proposing the Bill. Surely we can agree in the House of Commons to allow for differences of opinion in great political issues, and those of us who have supported this War right through as earnestly and as faithfully as any gentlemen here have done have a right to express themselves when they come to such an issue as this.
Our view is that we realise that we are dealing with the lives and fortunes of nearly a million of our fellow men, and we cannot but be very thoughtful and anxious to make sure that we do our duty to them. I for one, and I believe my friends who are with me, realise that at such a stage as this we have to be satisfied on two points. We have to be absolutely satisfied that there is an overwhelming necessity for this Bill as it is presented to the House, and we have to be absolutely satisfied as to the hands into which we are going to commit this million of men. When I voted for the first original Service Bill, I was absolutely satisfied on both those points. In voting against this Bill I am satisfied on neither. I will explain why I oppose it. I draw the contrast between the way in which the previous Bill was presented and the way in which this Bill is presented. When the first Military Service Bill was presented the House was placed under such conditions that we had absolute freedom. The Committee state of that Bill took place on the floor of the House in open day. The Committee stage of this Bill has been sent upstairs. That Bill was subjected to criticism from every quarter of the House. Those criticisms were listened to, Amendments were made and when it left the House it was a House of Commons measure, with the impress of the House upon it. This Bill has none of those characteristics. In the whole course of the Committee and on Report only one small change has been made. The Bill seems more like an Imperial decree coming from the War Office than the act of a free and independent House of Commons. Even in the attempt that was made to modify it slightly, and made by hon. Members who supported its Second Reading, the attempt was flouted just in the same way as all the other Amendments to the Bill were immediately cast on one side and voted down. What is said of it by one of the greatest supporters of the Government in the Press? The proposal to which I refer was a suggestion that the date fixed by the right hon. Gentleman should be antedated two or three months. It was only an attempt as they thought to be a little fairer to the men who were involved in this controversy. I would remind hon. Members that in what we are doing we are dealing with men who cannot speak for themselves. In the previous Bill we had to do with men at home, men who could go before civilian tribunals and who had the privilege of stating their own case to men who could understand their circumstances. Those conditions do not obtain here, and therefore there is more reason that we in the House of Commons should regard ourselves as trustees for those unfortunate fellow citizens who are forced into the position they do not desire to take. What was the position that the "Daily Chronicle" took in regard to it? It objected to it because it said it ignored the fact that "nothing causes so much discontent to soldiers as to be promised or allowed to expect one thing and then to be palmed off with another." That is what this Bill is. Under the existing law the men are entitled to their release and discharge at a certain period. Now, against their will, they are being "palmed off" with something otherwise.
It seems to me, therefore, that we are entitled to say that this Bill has not received that due consideration at the hands of this House that so important a measure deserves. We contend that there should have been greater attempts to make it clear to the House and the nation that the treatment which is now being given is just. We submit that this is not being done. In the previous Bill it was done to the full. Not only the whole House, but the whole country, was convinced as to the wisdom and necessity of the proposal. I noticed only on Saturday that the Prime Minister—and it seems in strange contrast to his dealings with this House—wrote a letter to the "Manchester Guardian" for their great League of Nations issue, in which he said:
To set up a society of nations to insure effective fraternity among the peoples of the earth, whilst at the same time increasing armies and navies, is to make a mockery of a great ideal.
It seem to me that what we are doing in this House is making a mockery of a great ideal. With these enormous and swollen Estimates, amounting almost to what the National Debt was before the War, and with this Bill bringing Conscription in the form in which it is, it seems to me that we are making a mockery of a great ideal, and making it impossible for the nations of Europe to believe that we are sincere and earnest in our determination to secure the reward of what we have attempted to do.
What is now desired ought to be done by a volunteer Army. Voluntaryism is the essential condition of the Armies we have to put in the field in order to do what may be necessary in Europe and elsewhere at the present stage. We contend that sufficient steps have not been taken to secure such a voluntary Army. They are being taken now, and I saw on Saturday a belated big advertisement, "The soldier's great chance." If this step had been taken at the beginning and every effort made to make the men realise the situation and the privileges they would enjoy, I believe you would have got all the men necessary without taking these steps. There are further things which are necessary if you are going to get a voluntary Army, and which I conceive to be vital for such an occasion as this. You should make the men know the conditions and make the Army attractive to them. I have a letter from a friend and constituent—one who supported this War as earnestly as any man, one who has sent five sons to the War—who writes to me bitterly complaining of the way in which one of his sons who has gone right through the War came back at the very risk of his life. This is how he ends his letter, and I think it explains why the volunteers have not come forward as they might have been expected. He writes, "It seems to me that everything is done to make the Army as obnoxious as possible, and then we wonder why the men do not join it." I submit that the proper efforts have not been taken to secure a voluntary Army. The attempt to make a compulsory Army should have been the last and not the first resource, and that is why we so strongly object to the course that is now being taken by the Government. We claim that before such a Bill was produced every attempt should have been made, as was done in the previous Bill, to secure the general consent of the country. There was general consent when the first Bill was introduced; indeed, the public were in front of the Government in demanding the Bill, and to my mind that is just the best thing you could secure. You want unity in the country, and instead of promoting unity we are provoking discord.
On the Second Beading of this Bill a dilemma was placed before the Government by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock: it was that either at the General Election the Government knew that this was necessary, and yet did not disclose it, or they did not know it was necessary, and therefore were guilty of a grave lack of prescience. The right hon. Gentleman endeavoured to answer the dilemma. As to the first point he endeavoured to answer it partly by producing a bill which had been issued by the London Liberal Federation, which told the people what they could expect if this Parliament were re-elected in the form in which it has been elected, and, as he said, notwithstanding that they have been so elected. Surely it was manifest to anyone what really took place. Another statement to the same effect had been made in another quarter. It had been represented to the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister had denied it categorically as an absolute untruth. The electors, therefore, believed the Prime Minister and refused to take notice of the warning. But the election having taken place and the opportunity coming within the very area of that London Liberal Federation, the first time they had a chance after the election the West Leyton election result comes and tells the Government what they think of this particular measure. The man who won that election—we cannot be got off by the remarks made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Guest) as to the way in which by-elections have got to be fought—the man who won that election is an hon. Friend of mine who, I hope, will be here to-night to tell you the circumstances, under which that election was won. The other answer was in regard to lack of prescience. The right hon. Gentleman then, to my mind, made the most astounding admission that has ever been made by a Minister at that box. The election had gone right through, there was no hint of this proposed Bill, and no one imagined it would come—indeed, pledges were given to the contrary—and it is only after the-election is completely over that we have this Bill brought before an astounded House. What did the right hon. Gentleman reply? He said that it never occurred to him.
If such a thing as this Bill was necessary, surely the necessity for it ought to have been known for days, weeks, and even months before. It ought to have been known before the General Election. We might have been told of it in the old Parliament, before we were dismissed. At least we might have been told of it during the General Election. But we were told nothing of the kind. It is only when the election is entirely over that we hear of the vital necessity which now suddenly has been sprung upon the nation. It seems to me that, if ever there was a case, this is a great case of the blind leading the blind. It would not have been so serious if they were only leading one into a ditch—we might scramble out of that—but one of their own supporters told them of the dangers to which we were exposed, and said that we were being led into a whirlpool, and that if we got into the vortex of that there would be no possible escape. From every aspect of the case the Government are doing what is unjust. They ought to have made the position clear to the country. They ought to have taken every step to secure the men by voluntary methods. It is because they have failed to do their duty as we conceive it that we are exposed to the position that we have now, in the early stages of this Parliament, to consider such a Bill.
We are told that we are up against facts, and that the facts are such that we cannot possibly do otherwise than pass a Bill of this description. It is suggested that the Government are the creatures of circumstances, and that they cannot avoid what they are doing. I submit that they are largely the creators of the circumstances, and that many of the difficulties we have to face we should not have had to face if they had taken a course different from the one they have taken. Before this War commenced we were their friends. We helped them to the extent of our power to win this War. We desire to remain their friends. We desire to help them to win the peace. But a different course was adopted, and we were forced into a position of antagonism we did not desire to take. So there came the General Election, in which we were forced into this narrow, small minority with which we are trying to stand for all that we believe to be the liberties of the people. [Laughter.] I should not have thought that this was a laughing matter. I am not treating this as a laughing matter; I am treating it as seriously as I have ever treated anything in my life. I may be wrong, and you may be wrong, but I have a right to express my views, and I mean to express them to the utmost of my power. The effect of that General Election, bad as it has been in distracting and dividing the people, has had an infinitely worse result. You lost by it the most precious six weeks we could have had in the interests of peace. What we wanted was a quick peace. If we had had a quick peace and had used those six weeks to get it, many of the difficulties which now confront us would have been avoided absolutely. Therefore, it is not fair to charge the farts as though they were such as the Government had no association with them. In regard to many of the difficulties, it is the Government, by their action in the General Election, who have produced them. Of course I know, from what has happened this afternoon, and from what happened on the Second Reading, what will happen when we go into the Division Lobby to-night. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Yes, I know; you will vote us down—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—but you will not beat us down. I heard those cries and jeers on the Second Reading, and ? they seemed to me very much like a thin echo of the jeers which came from the Germans when they had their big battalions against the little battalions we sent out to meet them, when they said, "Get rid of French's contemptible little Army." You are trying to do the same thing. Our men out there were not intimidated by the sneers of the Germans, and we are not going to be intimidated by your sneers either. It seems strange, perhaps, to hon. Gentlemen that a minority in this House should dare to raise its head and stand for what it believes to be freedom. We have been sent here for a definite purpose, and are going to fulfil the purpose for which our constituents have sent us here. [HON. MEMBERS: "So are we!"] We are not pledged to the Government; we are pledged to our constituents. They have sent us here as free men, to freely speak our minds. [HON. MEMBERS: "Wee Frees!"] We believe that the course now being taken is the wrong course, that it hinders instead of helps the peace we desire, and because we believe that, we shall not be intimidated by taunts, but shall strive throughout to stand for the principles we have have been sent here to represent.
I beg to second the Amendment.
My hon. Friend who has just sat down has, in an eloquent speech, announced the general principles which compel many of us to take up the attitude towards this Bill which we do. In the observations I have to make I shall confine myself exclusively to the considerations contained in the Amendment. I am quite aware that this Amendment contains statements which, in view of all that has been said from the Treasury Bench to the contrary, must appear somewhat startling. It declares that there is no immediate national necessity for this Bill and that no attempts have been made to secure its objects by voluntary means. I am going to be sufficiently presumptuous to say that both those propositions can be established beyond doubt, and further that it is possible even now, by a simple Amendment which the Government could get inserted in another place, at one and the same time to remove
the gravest defects from this Bill and give time at least to try to secure the objects of the Bill by voluntary enlistment, and that without in the slightest degree jeopardising any national interest whatever. First, let me deal very briefly with the other great defect in the Bill referred to in the Amendment, namely, that it is one more attempt to take away from Parliament and hand over to the military authorities powers, duties, and responsibilities which Parliament should never delegate to anybody. Taking advantage of an inexperienced and acquiescent House of Commons, the Government has been steadily pursuing this course ever since Parliament met. I called attention to it on the Second Reading of the Ministry of Ways and Communications Bill. But when it comes to handing over to the military authorities the power to conscript 900,000 British subjects, it is quite time that Parliament began to take a serious view of this matter. For that is what the Bill does. Probably many hon. Members, when they were voting for it at previous stages, were under the impression that they were themselves voting to extend the period of Conscription. They were doing nothing of the sort. If they will read the Bill carefully they will see that Clause 1 provides:
If the competent authority is of opinion—
that is, the military authorities—
that; as respects any men to whom this Section applies or any class of such men, they cannot consistently with the public interest be released from actual service … Any such man may be retained and his service may be prolonged for such further period, not extending beyond the thirtieth day of April, nineteen hundred and twenty, as the competent authority may order.
That is, as the military authorities may order. That is a power and responsibility which Parliament has no right to delegate to any other authority and which the Government has no right to ask them to so delegate. This is far more than a debating point. It is far more than a constitutional point, important as that is. There are certain very important and practical results flowing from it. To ascertain what these are, let us look at what the situation is to-day. I am quite content to take it as described by the Secretary of State for War. The prologue to his speech on the Army Estimates consisted of a very vivid and illuminating description of the fluid state of affairs in the world to-day. He said:
Almost every factor with which we have to deal is uncertain and fluctuating. We cannot forecast the exact rate at which demobilisation will be completed. We do not yet know what requirements affecting armaments will be embodied in the Treaty of Peace."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd March, 1919, col. 69, Vol. 113.]
It is perfectly true that all the factors and all the considerations upon which military decisions will be taken are still liquid. They are still malleable from the effects of the fiery furnace of the War through which we have just passed, but they are now being moulded and cast. Some of those factors have already become established, stabilised, and set, or will be in the near future. One of the immediate results of handing over this power to the military authorities now is that it deprives Parliament of all power of shaping events and policy. It deprives Parliament of all control over the situation when it has further developed, when some of the unknown factors are known, and when the necessities and requirements of the occasion are fully appreciated and known. It relieves the Government from the necessity of coming and telling the House of Commons the facts when they are known, and it enables them to commit the country to practically any military policy without Parliamentary control or even without Parliamentary knowledge. "Events must govern us now" the Secretary of State for War told us, so in the meantime, while the situation is still fluid, while it can still be moulded, we are to hand everything over, all our prerogatives, all our powers, and all our responsibilities; but next year, the right hon. Gentleman told us—that is, when the situation is more set—when decisions have been taken which are irrevocable, when we can no longer take any share in controlling policy, "if all is well Parliament should once again be able to resume the general control of our Army finance," and, of course, policy—that is when it is too late for us to be able effectively to control it at all. I cannot emphasise too strongly that Parliament should never have been asked, and certainly should never consent, to delegate its powers and its responsibilities in this supremely important matter of Conscription and at the same time deprive itself of all power of effectively controlling military policy.
Let me deal with another point which is raised in the Amendment. The case put persistently and insistently from this side was that compulsion under no circum-
stances should be resorted to until every endeavour had been made to secure the objects of this Bill by voluntary enlistment. The reply of the Government upon this point was that they had made every effort, and the right hon. Gentleman was very angry with my right hon. Friend (Sir D. Maclean) because he made the suggestion that every effort had not been made. The right hon. Gentleman told us what efforts he had made. He said he had increased the pay, he had renewed the bounties, he had renewed the bonus, and also that he had gone so far as to advertise. He administered a stern rebuke to my right hon. Friend, and accused him of inaccuracy. Speaking during the Report stage, he said, referring to the speech of my right hon. Friend:
He said we have not tried the voluntary system. There is no truth in that accusation. The Government have tried very hard to obtain men by other means under the voluntary system. They are trying very hard to obtain men under the voluntary system and they will continue to do so.
Again, in the same speech:
To say it was not a bonâ fide attempt to obtain men under the voluntary system is quite inaccurate.
Seeing that that statement was made in the Debates on this Bill, and seeing that the observations of my right hon. Friend (Sir D. Maclean) were directed to obtaining men by voluntary service for the purposes of this Bill, I think the House had every right to assume that the right hon. Gentleman meant that he had taken every step to provide by voluntary effort the men provided by this Bill. But when he was pressed later on in the evening by my hon. Friend (Mr. Hogge), he had to admit that he had taken no steps whatever to obtain the men provided by this Bill by voluntary effort.
It is open to any man not included in the scope of this Bill who has not yet been demobilised, and it has been open to any man up to the present, until he was demobilised, to volunteer for the Army of Occupation and receive at once the substantial bonus which had been granted as from 1st of February.
Yes. It was made known to every man from the moment this scheme was introduced that if he was not in the class which had to be retained he could volunteer to stay on, and he would be treated exactly the same with regard to pay and bonus; and so far from that not having reached the hon. and gallant Gentleman, 6,000 men in the Army of Occupation on the Rhine have volunteered to stay on.
I am exceedingly glad to hear what the right hon. Gentleman has said, and I hope he will continue in his effort. I hope he will take every step in order to induce men to continue their service for the purposes of this Bill, but I am still of the opinion that the right hon. Gentleman has not made it clear previously in this Bill.
One might well ask what could have induced the Government to bring in such a Bill as this. Why should they come to Parliament and ask for an extension of Conscription at all? I have a sufficient appreciation of the courage and independence of the right hon. Gentleman to know that he was not acting under duress; he was not acting under undue War Office influence, although we heard rumours some months ago that the War Office had quite made up its mind that, having once got Conscription, they were going to keep it. But I do not take that view at all. What then could have been the reason? There is only one reason which could justify such a Bill as this, and that is urgent, pressing, immediate, national necessity, and that as a matter of fact is the case of the Government. The Patronage Secretary, in moving the Second Reading, said:
This Bill comes within the category of those which need urgent decision.
The Secretary of State for War said:
The only reason which has led us to bring, forward this Bill has been the driving power of imperious necessity.
So that is the Government case, urgent, pressing, immediate, imperious necessity.
That is the only reason which could possibly justify and warrant such a measure as this. I waited to hear what that immediate necessity was. The Patronage Secretary in his speech commending the Second Beading of the Bill gave us not a word of explanation as to what the necessity was. The right hon. Gentleman in his speech did explain. In a passage of lofty and forcible eloquence he told us:
In quite a few months, how many we cannot tell, and the uncertainty alone adds to the difficulty of the position, but on a certain date, which is certainly approaching and which is near, but which cannot be fixed, the entire structure of your Army system flies into a myriad pieces automatically. That is what we are approaching. On the day of the signature of peace—
I will accept that amendment.
On the day of the ratification of peace every man who is with the Colours would be entitled, in the absence of this Bill, if the House acceded to the sugg3stio'i made and refused to pass the Bill, to be released, because the whole structure of the Army falls to pieces in every part of the world simultaneously.
That is certainly a most alarming prospect, and enough be give anyone pause. No wonder the right hon. Gentleman rubbed it in, and delivered to us a very serious homily, amounting to a stern rebuke, with regard to our responsibilities. He said:
To vote against this Bill is a very serious step because it is a vote which deliberately seeks to plunge this country and its military system into absolute anarchy on a date which cannot be far distant, and it is a vote which undoubtedly would deprive this country, if successful, of all power of securing the fruits of the War, and of making the Germans observe the Peace Treaty and of doing our duty equally with our Allies.
No wonder, speaking later on the Report, the Patronage Secretary borrowed so powerful an argument from his right hon. Friend, and complained, as he has complained again to-day, that we have not met that argument. I propose to do my best to meet it. The truth is that these lofty and imposing periods of the right hon. Gentleman, which as oratory I admit are quite incomparable, are nevertheless a very unsatisfactory medium for accurate definition. My reply to this whole story of the Army flying to pieces, annihilated on the ratification of peace as at the crack of doom, is that it is absolutely untrue. The fact of it is that the Government
has entirely overlooked its own termination of the Present War Definition Act which was passed at the end of last Session, Clause 1 of which provides that the date of the termination of the War shall not be the signature of peace, not even the ratification of peace, not even the ex-change of the treaties of the peace, but such date as His Majesty in Council may declare. This whole story of the Army flying' to pieces and simply disappearing on the conclusion of peace as at the wave of the magician's wand, and which is the whole case of the Government for the Bill, simply falls to the ground. It is true that Clause 2 of that Bill provides that the date so declared shall be as nearly as may be the date of the exchange or deposit of the ratification of the Treaty of Peace, but that makes no difference to my argument, and it does not strengthen the Government's case, which is that without this Bill this overwhelming calamity will overtake them on the ratification of peace, and without the Government having any control over it. Now it appears that is not so, but before such a contingency can arise there has to be an Order in Council, which is within the complete control of the Government, and, in case of necessity, it could be held up without doing any injury to anyone until the Government had made themselves secure. I quite agree it would be a most inconvenient and inexpedient course to hold up either the signature of peace or the ratification of peace or the exchange of the treaties, but it is another story altogether to hold up an Order in Council until you have made yourself secure. The point is that the Government has already, by the Act to which I have referred, protected itself against such a calamity as the right hon, Gentleman said would arise. The right hon. Gentleman is very fond of accusing hon. and right hon. Members on this side of inaccuracies. I heard him do it twice last week. Inaccuracies are often inexcusable and often inevitable in hon. and right hon. Members who have non-official sources to which to go for their information; but I suggest that inaccuracies are quite inexcusable on the part of Ministers of the Crown in dealing with a very important Bill like this. I am not making this as a mere debating point. It is one of real substance and has a very important bearing on the case which has been made by Members on this side, I make it in order to show that there is still an alternative possible.
The Patronage Secretary has complained on three occasions that we have suggested no alternative. He complained again this afternoon. I propose to make a suggestion and I submit it to the very earnest and serious consideration of the right hon. Gentleman. The suggestion I make is this: that he should get an Amendment even now inserted in another place providing that the powers conferred by this Bill should be actually exercised, not by the Military authorities but by an Order in Council, the draft of which should be laid before Parliament in some such way as was provided by the Ministry of Ways and Communications Bill. Or I would suggest another course, and that is that the right hon. Gentleman should adopt the procedure of the Reserve Farces Act, 1882. That Act provides that the reserves should be called up by His Majesty in Council by Proclamation; the occasion and necessity for such proclamation having first being submitted to the House of Commons and to both Houses of Parliament. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman would suggest that we should not take equal precautions in conscripting 900,000 British subjects as in calling up the Reserves. The only possible objection I can conceive to such a course is that it would in the meantime keep the men in suspense. That is precisely what the Bill does as it stands, and the proposal that I make would not alter the Bill in that respect at all. While there could be no objection there are certain very obvious advantages in such a course. First, it would remove this gross constitutional defect in the Bill. It would give us not only the shadow but some suggestion of substance of real Parliamentary control. At any rate, it would save the face of Parliament. It would keep up appearances, and there would not be the undisguised, unadorned self-abnegation which this Bill proposes. It would be a very real check on military policy. Can it be doubted that it would have a very healthy and a very moderating influence on the military advisers of the Government if their policy had to be submitted to the House of Commons once more before this Bill could be made effective. Secondly, it would give Parliament an opportunity of reviewing the situation when it is more established, when some of the factors which are now unknown are known, and when we know what arrangements affecting armaments will be embodied in the Treaty of Peace.
Finally, there is this advantage, that it will give the Government in the meantime ample opportunity of ascertaining whether they can get the men required for this Bill by voluntary enlistment. Up to the present they have not done that. The right hon. Gentleman on several occasions has accused hon. Members on this side of the House of persistently and consistently opposing everything the Government does. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that that is not so. Our attitude is precisely what the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman was towards the Government when he sat on the Bench below me before he crossed over on taking office. I approach this subject entirely in the spirit of the opening observations of the right hon. Gentleman in his Second Readng speech, and that is
with a sincere desire to understand each other's points of view and with the resolve to act in accordance only with the real necessities of the country.
One of the real necessities of the country is that its susceptibilities should not be rudely and wantonly wounded by measures of this kind, except at the dictates of imperious, urgent necessity, which I think I have shown does not exist. [HON. MEMBEKS: "No, no!"] At any rate, the point that I have already made does prove this, that the Government could not be taken by surprise; they have always their Order in Council to fall back upon, so that they can make themselves safe. I make this final appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, let him get this safeguard included in another place. Let him withhold his hand from making this vicarious sacrifice until he has lifted his eyes to see what voluntary offerings the thicket will provide, and if all else fails let him come to Parliament with the suggested Order in Council and I am quite sure Parliament will readily grant whatever the necessities of the occasion require.
I agree entirely with the hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment and with the Seconder, that this is a matter of extreme importance, and a matter of very grave anxiety to the country. I hope the Prime Minister in Paris is learning a lesson from day to day from what is happening in this country by reason of the protracted delays in Paris and the putting off from day to day of a concluded peace. I am one of those who have always believed and have stated that the first and main duty of those who went to Paris, from every reason, was at once to get a satisfactory peace with Germany. I think it is a great pity that they were led away into the discussion of the broader questions which would follow from peace, and which no doubt ought to be part, at all events, of the consequences of peace. The Prime Minister must learn, in Debates such as we are having this evening, and particularly from the speech of the hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment, that we are fast losing sight of the broader interests of the country and degenerating into the less important interests of politics. The hon. Gentleman said that he and his group—he did not exactly explain why—were forced into antagonism to the Government. Let me ask him to beware lest by his conduct he and the others are not being forced rather into antagonism to the country. It is impossible to avoid in the delays which have occurred a natural reaction in the country after the War, a longing, craving desire for peace, for the sons and the husbands in the homes, is the most natural human feeling that one can have after nearly five years of war. And anybody who has watched the situation must know that if you have a small, disgruntled political party in this House, they have a most fertile ground to work on in the country. The Mover of the Amendment said, "Look at West Leyton." Yes; look at it. Look, if you like, at Hull. Follow what has been going on in these elections. I do not think there is anything to be proud of in taking advantage of a Bill of this kind, which would necessarily be an unpopular Bill under any circumstances, and trying to win a by-election. All I can say is that if I were never to get another vote in my own Constituency I should be sorry to make use of an occasion of this kind to angle for votes, or to angle for popularity.
I had no coupon. I know nothing about it. There was a time not very long ago when we used to hear cheered to the echo in this House, the statement "Never again. This must be the last war." I would suggest to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that they are going a bad way about the "never again" and the "last war" business, if before we know what course Germany is going to take, instead of strengthening our position as our negotiations advance, we weaken our position, to such an extent that it may be even at the eleventh hour Germany will be prepared if not to resist to the end, at all events to prolong the agonies of war. The very men who think they do without this necessary preparation are the very men who, above all others, I believe, wish to get out of this War the League of Nations. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear!"] The hon. Member says, "Hear, hear," but a League of Nations without power to enforce its will is the most useless thing of all, and it will be nothing but a trap for the unwary to allow themselves to be beguiled by these broad theories when there is no force behind them. These are the men who say, "Let us get rid of Conscription and the necessity for large armies and extended armaments." Will you be in a position to do this if once you let your whole organisation fall to pieces, as it undoubtedly will. [HON. MEMBER: "No!"] I will take up the hon. Member's argument in a moment—unless we pass this Bill to keep a sufficient and a barely sufficient Army together for that purpose. The opposition to this Bill, and the remarks that I have seen in the papers, have been the best tonic that Germany and Austria could have had at the present moment from this country. Just imagine what Germany in her present position must be thinking of those who say that we are forcing people into antagonism to the Government even when the Government are making these efforts to secure a position which will enable us to reap the fruits of our victories. I should like to ask if hon. Members are opposing this Bill so very meekly because they know they cannot defeat the Government? I will put it to those who are leading the Liberal party—I do not know who they are—that if they were sitting where my right hon. Friend the Secretary for War is sitting, if the right hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment was Secretary of State for War, and I am glad he is not, would he take upon himself, as against the course suggested by our military advisers as to what the necessity really is to say, "I will run the chance of the whole fruits of our sacrifices in lives and treasure for the last four and a half years being thrown away." I do not believe he would, or any other man who has a sense of responsibility to his country.
There is another aspect of the question. What do you think France must think of all this. We used to hear during the War of a great ambition on this side of the House to bring about a closer alliance and a closer brotherhood with our nearer neighbour and one time our oldest enemy. Many of us have gone over the fields of France and have seen what has happened in their towns and villages. They have had the enemy over their land and he has knocked at their doors. Their women have been ravished, and their communities destroyed. What are they thinking? They are thinking, Is this ever going to happen again? They are thinking what is the line between us and the Germans which is to prevent them attacking them if they are allowed ever again to revive as a military Junker power, and they are asking what will save us in the future. They are determined, as far as I can gather, and rightly determined, so far as they are concerned, they will not weaken and if they can prevent it they will not allow the Allies to weaker one iota till they have made secure, not merely for the present but for all future time, their lives and liberties. Anyone reading extracts from the French papers can see now that they are growing gravely suspicious as to whether this country is really going to see them through to the end. We are in certain respects a strange people. While all the horrors of the War were present to us and while the War was going on we were prepared to make any and every sacrifice that was necessary in our determination to win, and we must take care although the Armistice was signed, and when peace has not yet come that we are not too ready in the other direction to say we must have peace, and forget all about our preparedness and organisation. The right hon. Gentleman opposite and the hon. Member who moved this Amendment said nothing but overwhelming necessity would justify this Bill, and I quite agree. How are we to judge that overwhelming necessity? Am I to take it from the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member opposite, or am I to take it from a responsible Government with their military advisers. Which of them am I to choose? What is the last argument?
Yes, when the Germans are in Paris. They got near enough before, and they are not going to get near again. The hon. Member opposite, in a most closely reasoned speech which I tried to follow, used a most extraordinary argument. He said if the Government had only looked at the Act of Parliament which defines the termination of the War they would have found they could have done all that was necessary by an Order in Council. I have looked at that Act of Parliament, and I do not agree with the construction which the hon. Member has placed upon it. But I will take the hon. Member's own argument and assume that they could. What is all this fuss about? Why all these horrible things about prolonging the service of soldiers if it could be done by an Order in Council. But even if it could be done in that way, the bravest course is to come to this House, and ask that this prolongation should be made. The argument as to overwhelming necessity was the only one which the hon. Member put forward. He did not bring forward any military or naval opinion, and I do not suppose he could, and he gave no reason that led him to believe that Germany would be so docile that if we had no Army she would be willing to accept any terms we put upon her.
We are driven to a case of this kind. We have to say whether we will take the facts as to the necessity for this measure from the responsible Minister, and the Government with all their military advisers at their back, and the men we trust to win the War, or whether you will accept the attitude taken up by the remnant of the Liberal party opposite. I am not on this occasion going to refuse my support to the Government. I remember once;, when a number of hon. Members were pressing—I do not know whether it was my right hon. Friend opposite or somebody else—for a reduction of Naval Estimates. On that occasion the hon. Member for Stoke (Lieutenant-Colonel Ward), who has since covered himself with the highest honours in the field of battle, got up amongst his old comrades and said, "I, at all events, will never be a party to a Vote that could in anywise weaken the naval defences of this country." All honour to him, because he acted against the views of many of those with whom he was closely associated.
Any man voting here will have exactly that responsibility in opposing the recommendations of the Government, and those responsible for the carrying out of this War to the end. We ought to remember that the end of the War has not yet come, and those who oppose this measure will be relying upon I do not know what to defeat this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member opposite said there was an alternative. They asked us to do what was done on a former occasion, that is, start a Derby scheme or another voluntary scheme, and advertise it for several months all over the country. Was there ever anything more ridiculous? I am as well aware as hon. Members opposite how this Bill can be misrepresented, and it is being misrepresented day after day. It is the? cheapest popularity that you can get when you know that you are safe and the Bill will pass, to go and abuse those who bring it forward, and try at a moment like this to discourage the people who are sick and tired of war, whereas if the Government had not the courage they have shown in bringing forward this Bill those are the very people who would have been robbed of the fruits of the victory which their sons have won.
I rise to intervene in this Debate with the greatest possible reluctance, and as a new Member with a considerable amount of diffidence, and this is rather increased by the fact that I have to follow such a convincing speech as that which has just been made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir E. Carson). I would have liked to have made my first speech in support of some great Government measure with which I was in cordial agreement, but that pleasure is denied me on the present occasion. In opposing this Bill I completely dissociate myself from those charges of corruption and bad faith which have been brought against the Prime Minister and the Government, and I accept without reservation the right hon. Gentleman's assurance that there is no intention of fastening a permanent system of Conscription upon this country. There is no one more aware than I am of the insignificant position which a private Member holds in this House, but if I may, I should like to explain how it is that, as a Coalitionist Liberal returned to support the Government, I find myself in opposition to them on the present occasion. Rightly or wrongly, at the General Election I interpreted various speeches of the Prime Minister and other members of the Government as meaning that no further conscriptive measures would be introduced into this House. In that interpretation I may have been wrong, but it was mine. It was my first election, and it is quite possible that in the storm and stress of a General Election one's powers of concentration are somewhat impaired, and I may not have read those speeches aright. There are many other Coalition Liberals who were more cautious, more far-seeing, and more experienced than myself; but I am only a simple Soot, and in the hurry and bustle of a General Election forgot the Psalm of Life, which enjoins me to remember, especially in matters political, that things are not what they seem. Be that as it may, on my interpretation of those speeches I made the most definite pledges regarding Conscription, and I promised to vote for the abolition of Conscription as soon as peace was signed. I am quite aware that peace has not yet been signed, but by peace I mean the final ratification of the Peace Treaty, and until that time comes you have got your present Army in being. In case there is any misconception I should like to explain that my vote on this occasion is not animated in the slightest degree by any wish to be tender to Germany. I wish the most stringent peace terms to be enforced. We owe it to our great sacrifices in this. War, and we owe it to the memory of those men who have given their lives fighting for their country, to see that the fullest possible reparation is made by Germany; and above all we must demand, as far as our own country is concerned, that we have the most absolute security for the future. It is from that point of view I wish to consider this Military Service Bill.
What is the right hon. Gentleman's position and what is his case? He states that a large Army of Occupation is necessary in Germany, and that we must provide troops for other parts of the Empire, including territory over which we hold mandatory authority, and that if the House does not pass this Bill our Army will fly to pieces when peace has been finally ratified. I do not think there is any man in this House who could view without grave concern the position of our Army flying to pieces even at the ratification of peace, and if I thought such an event were possible I should not be opposing this Bill, and if indeed I thought that by opposing this Bill I was in the slightest degree endangering the fruits of victory I should vote for the Government. I contend that my objects, so far as the war is concerned, are exactly the same as those of my right hon. Friend, but our methods of achieving those objects are entirely different and divergent. May I say a single word about the general Army of Occupation? Our Army is there now, and will remain until Germany has finally accepted whatever terms we care to impose. I take it, therefore, that my right hon. Friend has in view the keeping of an Army in Germany in order that Germany may observe the terms of the Peace Treaty. If an Army on such a scale in Germany is really necessary I should be the last to oppose it, but is it really necessary? What other resources have we at our command in order to make Germany observe the most stringent terms of the most stringent peace treaty we may impose on her. On the Second Reading of this Bill there was scarcely a single word said about the Navy, but the Navy was the main factor in winning the War, and I suggest that it ought also to be the main factor in winning peace. In our naval power alone, and certainly without an Army of Occupation on such a huge scale as is suggested, you have got sufficient power to impose upon Germany the observance of the last word and the last comma of the Peace Treaty. I would remind the House that we are only one of many Allies making peace with Germany. If the Allies are going to hold together, and if there is to be any meaning in the League of Nations, we have almost incalculable resources to impose our will upon Germany for as long as we like, and it seems to me that the power and resources of our Navy in this matter have been entirely left out of account. Incidentally, the Allies have got economic resources, the power of which they can make Germany feel at any time, and, incidentally, they have got the power of imposing financial pressure, one of our most potent weapons, upon Germany should she show the slightest desire to depart from any terms contained in the Peace Treaty. I know that the idea of using economic and financial pressure upon Germany is, in the opinion of some men highly experienced in international affairs, the most powerful weapon we could use, and I am also aware that that was the view of the Government until a comparatively recent date, and why it has been changed I am not aware.
In making these observations I speak with all humility, because I am not a military expert. I am an ordinary business man, who tries to bring whatever measure of common sense and business ability Providence has endowed him with to bear on these questions, and it has simply come upon me, and I do not know whether other hon. Members have had similar experience, as a startling and unpleasant revelation that in the first year of peace we propose to spend between £400,000,000 and £500,000,000 sterling upon our Army alone. This House conveys many impressions to a new Member, many of them agreeable, but I think the most amazing of all is that of the prodigality with which this House spends the nation's money. Our present war expenditure is simply appalling. I do not know how long it is to go on, but I do know that we are living in an atmosphere of absolutely artificial prosperity, and the day of reckoning cannot be long deferred, and it may be nearer than some of us imagine. I almost wish my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War, who possesses such versatility, could combine along with that office that of Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I think if along with a Bill for Army expenditure he also had to find the money for it, I suggest that his Estimates would be furnished on a somewhat less extravagant and wasteful scale. I do not wish any false economy, I wish to have the largest possible margin of safety for our own country, but I think some regard in all these matters ought to be had to the present financial position of the country, and that there should be some attempt made at least to correlate the enormous expenditure of the various spending Departments of the Government.
I wish to consider this Military Service Bill from the point of view of the man in the Army. To-day our first consideration always must be to conserve the fruits of victory and our national safety in the future, but I suggest that those objects are not incompatible with keeping faith with the men in the Army who were enlisted under the Military Service Act of 1916. Considerations may arise in the present unsettled state of Europe which may cause you to revise and reconsider the provisions of that Act, but I contend up to now they have not arisen. I deliberately make the statement that whatever else may be said
in favour of this Bill, at the present time it is at least distinctly premature. I confess that in listening to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War, and sitting on these benches under the magnetic influence of his eloquence, I sometimes almost say to myself, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a conscriptionist," but to vary that a little, and to take an illustration which he himself gave last week, I am glad to say that my better self, or my more logical self, prevails. I have listened to every speech which my right hon. Friend has delivered, and he has absolutely failed to convince me on one point. On one point I consider his case for this Bill absolutely breaks down, and this has been referred to by more than one hon. Member. I do not think that he has presented any case to this House which shows that on the part of the War Office itself any serious effort whatever has been made in the voluntary direction. I saw in the "Daily Chronicle" last week, a paper which this House knows is noted for its accuracy and strict impartiality, that regarding Conscription there was an interview at Old Scotland Yard, and the official in charge there said:
We are filled right up to-day and we are now taking men on for to-morrow. Recruiting at present is far in advance of the pre-war rate. We are getting a far better class of man. It is the same for the Army as for everything else. You have got to advertise.
I think that that recruiting officer at Old Scotland Yard would be quite a useful man at the War Office. He knows his job. You have got to advertise to-day. I see no sign of any serious attempt to advertise for men in the Army at present on the voluntary principle. What is the present position? You have got your Army until the final ratification of peace, and the statement has been made, and not contradicted, that a period of possibly six or nine months will elapse before the final ratification of peace. What could you do in that time in the way of a voluntary Army? I have gone into this question closely, and on Saturday I sent for a gentleman in London who has great experience in publicity propaganda. I think the House ought to remember that advertising now has become a very highly specialised profession. I put the Army case before my friend and told him that the War Office were recruiting at the rate of a thousand a day at the present time, and I asked him, if really up-to-date, organised methods of advertising were em-
ployed in order to get a voluntary Army, what in his view could be done. After going into the matter, he gave me as a minimum, if the methods which are employed to-day in advertising War Bonds, for instance, were employed, that the number of men voluntarily recruited into the Army would reach not less than 4,000 a day. If that statement is correct—I say that if you allow one month for preparation of your propaganda—your recruiting is still going on—and another five months for propaganda and recruiting, by the end of that time you could have a voluntary Army of between 500,000 and 600,000 men, and that, in my opinion, in all probability before the final ratification of peace. I do not wish to detain the House, but even if my friend's calculation is exaggerated I would point this out. I am extremely anxious that the country should keep faith with the men in the Army. There are many hard cases, but there is not a Member of this House who does not get letters every day bringing these cases before him, and I am anxious that these men in the Army who have got business, social, and family responsibilities and who are being kept against their will should, when peace is ratified, be released. If this enlightened propaganda were undertaken, you would be able at least to release all the hard cases, or nearly all, and save all this dissatisfaction that is going on at the present time. I wish to conclude these few rambling observations by giving the representative of the War Office a single hint, if I may do so with the utmost respect. I think the War Office should remember that a great many of the men in the Army who have been fighting for such a long time, who have been out for years, and who have returned home, might not be so enamoured of home as they expected. They have been visualising and idealising, home life, and I am quite certain that a most skilful and fruitful appeal could be made to those men, considering the very attractive conditions which are now offered for service in the Army. I trust that this will not be lost sight of, because it seems to me that if the War Office for once would take a little advice from a civilian it would not be altogether to its disadvantage. I have finished, and I am sorry I have spoken for so long, but I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to discard Conscription, to develop the voluntary system, and for once in its long history to introduce some imagination into War Office methods.
There was, I think, one blemish in the speech of the hon. Member who has just addressed the House, and that was when, towards its close, he described his speech as but a few rambling observations. I am sure the House will desire me warmly to congratulate the hon. Gentleman upon both the form and the force of the excellent maiden speech which has just been delivered. I cannot address myself to the Bill now before the House without first saying a word with reference to the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Duncairn Division of Belfast (Sir E. Carson). I have heard him in this House deliver many powerful speeches, but if he thinks that his speech of this afternoon can be classed amongst them he is really making a mistake, for it was not a defence of the Bill at all; it was merely a succession of unworthy personal thrusts at those of us who differ from the Government on matters of high policy, and who believe that the Government is not keeping faith either with the country or with the Army in pressing this Bill through. We least of all are entitled to hear taunts from the right hon. Gentleman as to either our patriotism or our duty to the country, for he himself is not without some embarrassing records of having made a large share of the difficulties for at least this country, and it may be that when full authoritative information is revealed to the world as to why precisely the Germans chose August, 1914, for beginning the War, it will be seen that their choice had some connection with the condition of things created by the right hon. Gentleman. Nor can I altogether hear without some discount his references to there being a complete absence of any party motives in the course which is being taken on those benches as compared with the benches behind me. What was the object, for instance, on the eve of the election of the Prime Minister and many of his immediate associates describing those with whom I act on these benches as being in sympathy with the Bolsheviks and as taking a course wholly unpatriotic and ruinous to their country? We are not opposing this Bill because we are less inclined now to sustain our country in its present great difficulties than those who sit on the benches opposite, and we are entitled to ask that our arguments, such as they are, should be examined without reference to these merely manufactured personal motives which are alleged against us. It is no answer to our arguments to refer to the remnant of a party or parties on this side of the House. Clearly, if we are to take the usual test which is always accepted in the country, the test of by-election results, we are, however small in numbers here, at least the interpreters of a very large body of opinion in the country. We are not manufacturing that opinion; we are merely expressing it, and therefore it is the duty of those who support this Bill to do themselves some credit by doing justice to the arguments which we are endeavouring to adduce.
I would say personally for myself that I have not said a word in the country against this Bill, nor written a line against it. I would p refer on such a matter as this to leave it to the test of the collective judgment of this House. I will say that I would rather have this Bill than in the present circumstances have no Army at all. Many of us for as long as it was thought necessary and wise supported the principle of voluntary recruitment during the earlier years of the War, and when a stage of the sternest necessity was reached, many of us agreed that those who had not volunteered could justly be called upon to join the ranks and share the burdens of a soldier with those who had volunteered. But I will ask the House to remember that the country as a whole prized very highly the principle of voluntary service, and that we departed from it only because of supreme national need, and having so departed from it and having won the War, we ask now whether it is not proper to return to that principle, which was departed from, as I say, only for a supreme purpose and as a temporary necessity. Any class in the country may claim it has been treated badly as a result of the War, but the class which has fared worst is surely those who have formed the rank and file of our Armies. No section has been treated so badly as our soldiers. They had to serve, either voluntarily or as a result of the various measures which forced them to join the ranks, and it is a real ground of grievance amongst the soldiers of all ranks that when the War was over, as we were told it was, the country was rushed into an election under conditions which, as experience has shown, and as was, indeed, forecasted by many, made it impossible for the men who have borne the main burden and weight of the War to cast their votes or express their views on the future policy of this country. In pay, in conditions of service, and in treatment as citizens in being deprived of opportunities to vote, no section has been treated as badly as the soldiers have, and this is a further wrong that we are doing to the men in the Army, and we would suggest to the Government that when the Germans were at the highest point of their apparent success—that is to say, the nearer the Germans came to our shores and the greater were their initial successes—the greater was the response on the part of our people to join the ranks in a voluntary way. If it be true, as the Secretary for War declared in this House a few days ago, that our difficulties are so immense and the dangers so great, I am sure he has only clearly to make known to the country the extent and the reality of those dangers to produce a response that will fill the ranks for service in any part of the world; and I think we might have tried—there yet is time; there yet is plenty of time—we might have tried to have secured the Army said to be necessary now to the extent of either nine hundred thousand or perhaps a million men, and to have offered attractive conditions of service on good terms, service not unduly long, and under arrangements which, coupled with the necessary military efficiency, would not have imposed an unduly long period on any section of men.
Before I finish, I am coming to that point about pay. These millions of men, who either volunteered or who had to join, joined as they understood, in the simple terms of their bargain with the State, "for the duration." They have been told the War is over, and here now is a Bill telling them in effect that just because they are now in the Army they are the men who have to be kept there. A Bill which places in the hands of what is termed the competent authority the power to retain in the Service any man who in the eye of the present law is entitled to be released is not what the soldiers or the country expected. It is not equitable. My right hon. Friend says they can call up others.
Certainly not. I am pleading for a return to the principle of voluntary service, under conditions which, if it be true, as my right hon. Friend says, that there is still enormous danger ahead of us, the country I am sure would respond to. Why are these men to be retained in Germany on the Rhine and in other parts of the world? Is it—as they have been told, and as we have often been told in this House—to make the best job of the victory we have secured by collecting the costs of the War from the people who brought it about? They are to make sure of the indemnities for which we are striving to pay off the charges of the War. If these are not the reasons, why are they put there? They are not put there merely as ornament, or merely for parade purposes. It must be for some reason of substance in connection with the closing stage of the War, and I conclude it is in order that Germany shall be compelled properly to pay the bill she has incurred on account of the courses which she took until the War was ended.
If these men are to be, in the main, great debt collector? following the end of the War, I think they will naturally expect some better terms of service and higher rates of pay than have yet been promised to them as soldiers. The hon. and gallant Member who began the Debate to-day told us that the War was not yet over, and, so far as I gather, that was the only reason that he adduced to the House for asking for the Third Reading of this measure. Why was the General Election held? It was held because the War was over—at least so we were told—and now this Bill is wanted because we are told the War is not over. The War was over in order to get power for the Government. The War is not over in order to keep in the Army men against their will, men who volunteered for the Army merely for the duration of the War; and I am sure that no one would have been more astonished than the masses of the people, who gave their votes to the present Government, had they been told during the course of the election that a few months after the Government was installed in office this Bill to perpetuate Conscription, and to retain men in the Army against the bargain into which they had entered, would be introduced and forced through Parliament. It is the inequalities inherent in the measure which draw, at least from the benches on this side, opposition to the measure. It is not fair that so many millions of men should be released, and so large a number retained against their will. It is not fair that the Government, as they are now doing, should be paying to a very large number of men a weekly sum, for doing nothing at all in this country, more than the soldiers are being paid abroad for rendering this high national service to the country. The right hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity to dispose of my statement, but I repeat that men are being paid out-of-work State contributions for doing nothing, which amount to more than what men are receiving for their work as soldiers in foreign lands.
We have repeatedly asked for a fuller statement of the Government's policy as to what these men are intended for in parts of the world other than Germany. Why are our soldiers to be kept in any part of Russia? What precisely is the policy of the Government policy in Russia? I agree with the criticism of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Duncairn Division of Belfast (Sir E. Carson), when he referred to the slow pace of the Government in reaching a settlement with Germany on the main outstanding questions of the War. The impatience of the country is being manifested in many and eloquent forms. But it is not merely in respect of that that the country is being kept in the dark. In spite of the cries about open diplomacy, and the taking of the country into the confidence of the Government, we really know very little of the arrangements being completed by the Great Four who are settling these matters in Paris. Eventually, I suppose, there will be a statement made in this House which, as loyal followers of the Government, the House of Commons will be expected to support, and those who do not readily accept such statement will be taunted with a lack of patriotism and with not really appreciating the high national interest. I ask again, What is the Government's policy in relation to Russia? This is a question which is greatly disturbing the Labour mind in this country. My right hon. Friend in the course of the Second Reading of this measure gave us a very moving picture of the march of Bolshevism in various parts of Europe, and of the growing troubles from which we are not altogether free. I can assure him that an army such as might be recruited under this measure would be no defence against Bolshevism. Bolshevism is an ideal. It is mistaken. It would be ruinous. It is tyrannical in its effects and in its application. But it is-an ideal, and if it is thought that working men in this country can be compulsorily recruited for the purpose of interfering with the internal affairs of the Russian people, I think my4 right hon. Friend will find, in practice, that there will be even stronger and more Vehement protests in working-class quarters than has been shown with regard to the Government policy on this Russian question.
I remember, in the course of my right hon. Friend's speech, he told us that there was a larger number of Army officers offering themselves for service in the Army than the Government could find places for. I would like to have some explanation. If it be true that you have a larger number of men to lead the Army, willing voluntarily to perform their duties, than you can find places for, surely there must be some inherent mistake, some inherent defect in the policy of the Government in relation to the rank and file of the Army, and if good and attractive conditions, now that the main burden of the War is over, are offered to men who have to fill the ranks, I am certain the response from the rank and filers will be as full and satisfactory as it may be from the officers. Our objection, then, to this measure is that it is a breach of faith with the electorate, that it perpetuates the vicious principle of compulsory service, and that it unfairly discriminates between those who are now in the Army and those who have left it. These, surely, are arguments against this measure which are entitled to more serious treatment than they have yet received from the Treasury Bench.
I think the right, hon. Gentleman, in alluding to the General Election, should bear in mind also what was the attitude of the Labour party at that election on this question. In my Constituency I was opposed by Labour candidates, the official programme of whose party was, "The total discharge of Tommy, and the immediate repeal of the Military Service Act"; so that the electors were asked to vote for the Labour party and the immediate repeal of the Military Service Act. It is not to be very much wondered at that the electors, seeing the great danger such a policy involved, repudiated the policy of the Labour party. Can anyone conceive anything more dangerous than that a great party like the Labour party should solemnly pro- pose to this nation, in November last, that the Military Service Act should be repealed and the whole Army disbanded? At a moment when our Army was holding a large part of the line the Labour party proposed the immediate discharge of the whole Army except such men as would volunteer to stop on. That did not seem a responsible position to take up on the part of a party claiming one day to conduct the government of this country, and I do not wonder the country repudiated it.
There is another point, which I do not think has been made in this Debate, and it is this. The whole of the opposition to the Government is that it is a Government advocating and introducing compulsory service. That is the exact opposite of the truth. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Well, I shall be very happy to prove it. This Amendment says that no efforts are being made by the Government to secure the objects of the Bill by voluntary means. The facts are perfectly well known to everybody in this House. What are they? First, it is well known that the Prime Minister has been making the most tremendous efforts in Paris to abolish compulsory service throughout Europe. Then the Government started, as long ago I think as last November, a system of bounties, costing a very large sum of money, to induce men to remain in the Army voluntarily. In some cases the Government was giving as much as £50 in order to get a man to stop in, and to start to form the new voluntary Army. That? shows the Government was not working with a view to future Conscription, but was endeavouring to start a new and voluntary Army. Moreover, the Government stopped recruiting more men for the Army by compulsion. Further, the Government has given increased pay to the men, and very much better conditions, and I would say to hon. Members opposite, in the presence of the House, that both the last speaker and the right hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas) do very little to help the voluntary service by misleading the country with regard to pay which these voluntary soldiers are to get. Everybody knows that the soldier, with the benefits which he gets in housing, food, clothing, and pay, is very much better off than the unemployed, and therefore to suggest, as they have done in this Debate, that the unemployed are better off than the soldiers, is to discredit the voluntary system, which, I think, in their own interest, they ought to do everything in their power to help.
Nobody sympathises more than I do with the men who are now being kept in India, many of them old men, who have been out there two, three, and four years. There are men in Mesopotamia, men in Egypt, men in the East, who have been out far too long; but the way to get them home is to push on actively with this voluntary enlistment, which the Government is starting, and to help it, and not discredit it, as the right hon. Member for Derby did the other day in his speech. To say that this Bill is to effect compulsory service is misleading. The Government is starting a voluntary Army, giving bounties and better pay, and this is an arrangement to bridge the gulf between the compulsory service which has carried us through the War, and the Army of the future, which the Government is endeavouring to raise on a voluntary basis. In no sense can this Bill be held to be a Bill introducing for the future as our permanent national military system a system of compulsion. I have only one more comment to make, and that is, that it is a little unfortunate that those who began the Debate did not speak in the inverse order, because the hon. Member who spoke second proposed keeping men in the Army by a system of Orders in Council, whereas the hon. Gentleman who introduced the Amendment spoke very strongly in favour of everything being done by Parliament. It seems to me that this is a perfectly fair way of putting before the country and the House a provision for bridging the gulf between the old compulsory system and the future policy which the Government is doing its very best to introduce and get to work.
In the very brief remarks which I have to make, I appeal to the sympathy of the House which is so readily accorded to new Members when they make their first speech. I shall admit at once that I have very little that is new to say. That being so, I must either "point the moral or adorn the tale." The latter I shall certainly not attempt to do. The former I claim to do with some authority. I refer to the authority of the recent by-election. I was pledged up to the hilt to make known, at the earliest possible moment, to His Majesty's Government and to this House the reason for that result. I do not wish to overstate my case. To accuse the Government, however, of deliberate breach of faith would be to state in the mildest possible manner, the views of those people who have sent me here. They have very decided views on the question of Conscription. I have seen very many reasons, not to say excuses and explanations, for the result of that election in West Leyton. The most general explanation was the unsuitability and past political record of the unsuccessful candidate. I think that is grossly unfair to a perfectly honest politician who was merely desirous of joining some hundreds of others in this House who hold similar views, and who have a similar political record.
I am here to tell the House emphatically—and I have abundant proof of this statement—that the result of the election in West Leyton was due mainly to this question of Conscription, and a Relief—rightly or wrongly held by the electorate—that they had been deliberately deceived. The transfer of votes was mainly composed of women and absent voters. The reason for that transfer was because the absent voter was being retained in the Army against his will, and because the wives and mothers of such men, who? were expecting them home, and had a right to expect them home, knew that in many instances they would not be able to return for some very considerable time. There is another aspect of this matter which, in my opinion, is very grave indeed—that is, the fact that there will be a large number of men retained in the Army who will have a grievance because they believe that they were entitled to be released on the signing of peace. These men will disaffect the remainder. I want to put this question very plainly to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War. Does he think that he can with justice hold a court-martial on a man for breach of discipline when the fact that the man is in the Army at all is due to a breach of faith? You cannot maintain the discipline of the forces on a broken pledge! This Army may crumble to pieces in the hands of those who control it at the moment when it is most vital to the country. We are always told that an alternative to Conscription has not been proposed. We seldom find what we do not seek, and you do not seek what you do not want. I am going deliberately to say that the Government have not sought an alternative to Conscription, because they did not want such an alternative. That, then, is practically the message which I have to convey to the Government and the House from the people who did me the honour to send me here. In face of that result, and of another result which the House will hear of in the course of a week or so, if the Government proceed in carrying through this measure of Conscription they will do it without any mandate from the country—in fact, against the obvious will of the majority of the people of this country.
The objection to the present Bill is, I understand, that this country shall retain the military weapon which it finds to its hands. We have been four years in forging that weapon. It is the finest military weapon the country ever had. The question is whether we can now afford to throw it aside, and whether we are going now to disarm because its work is supposed to be done. I take it from speakers on the other side that it is not suggested that we can, in the negotiations which are at present proceeding, or in the general settlement of the world peace which is to follow that conference, afford to be without a weapon. Various other weapons, alternatives and so on, have been suggested. I think, however, it has not been suggested to-night, and I do not think it can be suggested, that we can do without a weapon, and can now afford to disarm this country—indeed, at the present moment it would be impossible to do that. When we see Bolshevism, like a devastating fire, sweeping over half Europe; when we have seen in the last week one great country, Hungary, lapped over by that fire, and submerged by it; when it is even now a matter of grave doubt as to whether or not Germany will welcome Bolshevism as a means of escaping from the retribution which she so justly deserves, then I say it behoves us to look ahead. An hon. Member on the other side said that Bolshevism was an idea, and that you would never be able to get the British working men to fight against an idea.
Well, whether it is an ideal or an idea, it is one, in my opinion, made in Germany. It was invented by the Germans, subsidised by them. It was a great weapon in the Germans fighting the whole of civilisation. At the present moment it is still being used by German agents, still being subsidised by Germany. The Germans would appear to have great hope in it of escaping the consequences of the War they let loose upon the world. Bolshevism may be an ideal, but, as Poland has found to her cost, and as other countries which have the misfortune to surround Russia are finding, it is an odd one. It is an ideal which comes with a bomb in one hand and a rifle in the other, and the Chinese executioner not far behind. I say that in this state of affairs it would indeed be a perfectly suicidal thing if we were to disarm, especially when we find this great and most effective military weapon in our hands.
At the Second Reading of this Bill I observed a tendency to take the line that the danger was over, and that the world was at peace. But have we yet, and I think everybody will recognise it, to gather in the fruits of victory. We want to be faithful to the men who are in the Army just now. Nobody here will keep these men from their homes in the country they have served so well for one hour beyond what is necessary. But while we are faithful to these men, we do not want to be unfaithful to the men who fought and died for their country. We do not want to deprive the country of really establishing the peace of the world on a proper basis, and of getting from Germany what is justly due to us from Germany on account of her crimes. It would be impossible to disarm and then to write a letter to Germany and tell her that we want Dantzig, or that the Kaiser must come across to Great Britain to be hanged, or anything of that sort. We cannot afford to deal with Germany without a big stick in our hand. That is the object of this Bill. Other weapons have been suggested. The weapon of the Navy was suggested by the hon. Member for Dunfermline. The Navy of course, was in at the beginning of the War, and through it; but nobody has ever said that the Navy can put an end to the War. The hypothesis on which the wars of this country, every one, have proceeded is that the Navy could not possibly put an end to the War. Nobody in the Army, would for a moment minimise the tremendous influence of the British Navy during the War. But the Navy alone cannot end the War.
Take the situation as it was in March of last year and the situation which emerged in November. In those five months there was a difference between threatened defeat—defeat which seemed so imminent—and victory absolute. What made the difference? It was not the Navy. Five months were not sufficient for the Navy to make the difference. An Army must end the War. The Navy can support the War and the Navy also must be there. It is the Navy which enabled the War to go on, which enabled this country to maintain the war, and enabled the country to bring pressure to bear upon the enemy. But to end the War we require an Army. Then there is the question of another alternative in a voluntary Army. We know that the Government have done their best to enlist soldiers by voluntary means. We know that failed—as it was bound to fail! We have read very wrongly the lessons of this War if we have not read that the voluntary system has failed, and failed utterly, and failed when every attempt was made to give it success. Every condition was there for success. There was the excitement of the time. The War was new. The spirit of adventure was abroad. There was the cry that the country was in danger. Then was the time certainly for voluntary enlistment and voluntary recruiting to have succeeded, if at any time. The voluntary system did not succeed. It broke down. How much more will it break down to-day? We know the soldier is tired. To use his own expression, he is "fed up" after all these years of war. Nobody can blame the soldier if he thinks he has had enough of it. Just when they were expecting to come back to their homes, back to the easy, pleasant life which they thought awaited them—I hope it will await them—back to their pre-war life, and away from the discipline and restraint of the Army. They all want to-come back. They have to remain. In that state of the soldier's feeling, when the excitement and novelty have worn off, you cannot expect the system of voluntary recruiting, which failed in the War, to be a success, even at the higher rate of pay—and the soldier, I am very glad to say, is getting better paid now. He is getting good pay, if you take into consideration his pay, his living, and the allowances to his dependants, and he has every right to it. The soldier on the Rhine has a good right to what he is getting to-day. But the day when we can raise men by posters and bribery, as we tried to do, and failed, has gone for ever. There is no other way than this in which we can get a weapon into our hands. The Navy will not do it altogether. A voluntary Army will not do it altogether. You must have Conscription carried on. You must have the system of keeping in the Army the men who are there. Try to get new men if you can by a voluntary system, and then you can release more men, but you cannot afford to throw away the weapon which you have in your hand.
The other objection to the Bill was that at took the matter out of the hands of Parliament and put it into the hands of the military advisers of the Crown. In the state in which Europe finds itself now, and which will probably continue for an indefinite time, because it is impossible to say that there is peace in Europe—there is not peace. There are new countries being submerged in the War. There is tremendous strength in a new kind of war that has sprung up—not the war of Germany, but the war of Bolshevism, which in my R Relief has Germany at the back of it. I quite agree that the Government will have to find out a policy to apply to the new situation in Europe, but when it has done that, then certainly the military advisers of the Crown are the people who have to lay down how many men exactly we want and how they are to be used. It is not a matter which you can bring before Parliament. It is a matter of from day to day expediency, and the military advisers of the Crown are the people to lay down the proper military policy of the Crown. We have earned golden opinions from our Allies. No country came into the War with higher ideals than we did, and no country has stood by these ideals more than we have done, but we cannot go now out of the fight and leave France to fight her own battles. It would be an indelible stain on this country to weaken the Army which is the method we must use to help France. France would take it as perfidy from us if we did anything to weaken the military power of this country to-day.
It is an extremely important thing even in connection with our Allies, even in the general negotiations of the Conference, that we should have this strong weapon of force in our hands against Germany in the first place—[An HON. MEMBER: "Against Bolshevism!"]—and, of course, against Bolshevism, but no one can say that the weight which the representative of this country has at the Conference in Paris is not to a large extent due to the fact that this is now not only a great naval country but a great military country as well. Our ideals may be as great as you like. The Prime Minister may have tremendous personal weight, but what would be the difference if our Prime Minister was talking for one of the small nations, a nation like Belgium or Greece? Nobody could say then that he could carry such weight in the Conference as to impress upon Europe the ideals for which you have been fighting in this War as he does when he is the representative of a country like Britain, which is a tremendous military power at the present moment. Once we weaken our Army we at once weaken our position in the Conference in Paris. No one can say that we did not come into this War with great ideals. Of course we did. We stick to these ideals. We have never been in the War to make profit for ourselves. We have never been on the make, but we have certainly the right, when we have come through the War victorious, to see that the interests of Great Britain and the special ideals of Great Britain must receive proper respect and attention, and we cannot enforce that unless we have a strong weapon in our hands.
Nobody has a greater respect for the French nation than I have, but the French are a nation who can always be trusted both individually and collectively to look after No. I very well indeed. We are not on the make in this War, and have never been on the make, but we have got tremendous interests at stake in this Conference, and we must go into the Conference and keep in the Conference as a strong nation. A nation has to be taken into account, and when the League of Nations comes it will be only by the strong combination of Powers that it will be able to realise its ideals, and unless the League of Nations itself has in its hands this power it will be a futile thing altogether. We cannot afford to lay aside this great weapon which we have forged with so much difficulty. I am quite aware that in voting in favour of this Bill we are bound to lose something in the shape of votes, and on the other side, of course, there is a gain to be made in opposing a Bill like this. Nobody can say that we have a lack of sympathy with our soldiers or that we do not want to demobilise them at the earliest possible moment, but we should be false to the great traditions of our country, false to our great actions in this War, and false to the men who lave suffered and fallen in this War if we did not finish the task which they took up, and carry to completion the victory which they have won. This is only to be done by keeping in our hands a strong and efficient Army.
It is with a certain amount of diffidence that I rise to address the House, and I will claim its indulgence. The hon. Gentleman (Major Jameson) spoke about using the big stick, and I must say that I would rather be his superior than his servant. He also condemned the voluntary endeavours of this country. I wonder if he has forgotten that for the first three years the War was carried on entirely by voluntary efforts, and that it was not the failure of voluntary effort that brought about Conscription, but simply that voluntary effort was prevented owing to certain industries not being able to spare any more of their men for military service from having its full effect. I am speaking now as a representative of a mining constituency. I know that large numbers of men left these particular mines with a view to joining the Army, and were prevented from doing so. They would not be permitted to join the Army unless they had a certificate from the colliery manager stating that they could be spared from the mines. That would apply through all the mining districts of the country, and there would not be this opportunity of referring to the failure of the voluntary effort if the key industries of the country could have let their men go. The voluntary effort provided something like 5,000,000 men, which shows the wonderful response that was made by the people to the appeal that was addressed to them by the Government. In 1916 compulsory service may have become a necessity. I quite believe that it did. I did my best to help the country to get the men necessary for the War, and would do so again if the occasion arose, but I hope that such an occasion will never arise again.
But does the necessity which arose in 1916 extend after peace will be signed? The answer to that question is in the negative. The time will then have arrived when a very large number, practically all the people who joined under the National Service Act, or under the appeals made from this House, should have the opportunity at least of terminating their service Since Armistice Day, there has been quite sufficient time to raise, by voluntary effort, the number of men required to police the line if proper methods had been adopted. If the authorities had been so keen in their desire to introduce voluntary methods as they have been in the past to introduce compulsory service, if they had been as desirous to carry it to a successful issue as they appeared to be when necessity demanded, then I am confident that they would have been able to get sufficient men by the voluntary method. Since the signing of the Armistice I do believe that with the improved conditions of service and increased pay they would have had to-day quite sufficient men without retaining the men who joined up for the period of the War only. It is well known that Conscription has been condemned by the Labour organisations of this country from time immemorial, the Trade Union Congress, the Labour Congress, the Mining Congress, and the conference of every organised labour body throughout the country has condemned Conscription. The Allies have been successful in destroying the military system of the greatest military country in the world, and we are introducing the same system into this country. We have killed Conscription in Germany, and we are bringing it into England. That is not the only point that troubles me. It has been stated this afternoon that there has been a direct breach of faith, and to me that is the worst feature of the whole business.
At the commencement of the War we blamed Germany for a breach of faith. The whole country was aflame because of what Germany had done. She had treated a treaty as a scrap of paper. That was a direct breach of faith. Everybody was agreed that Germany had done a wrong thing, and consequently we were incensed with her. It appears to me that the Government are breaking faith with the people of this country. Since the very beginning of the War they have stated that those who joined the forces would terminate their service at the end of the War, namely, at the signing of peace. Now after all these promises, commencing with the Army Council Order of 17th August, 1914, and followed by the Derby scheme of 1915–16, we find that men are to be retained until 30th April, 1920. Can those promises be ignored? If we blame another nation for a breach of faith, and if we expect other people to observe their obligations, we ought to observe our obligations to the people of this country. Hundreds of thousands of these men have been looking forward with the great glee to returning to civilian life to take up their old occupations, and they are now faced with a continuance of service until 30th April, 1920.
The industrial community resent this breach of faith, and it is the industrial community from which the bulk of the Army was withdrawn. The Government ought to be true to the pledges they gave the men when they joined the Army. The time has arrived when they ought to be given their liberty, and the Government by voluntary efforts ought to be able to secure the men necessary to police Germany. Unless the Government keep faith with the people, we cannot expect contentment to prevail among the industrial classes.
During the election the cry was "No Conscription." The people did not want Conscription. My Constituency is dead against it. I receive letters every post asking me to do all that I possibly can against the Conscription Bill. Everybody is appealing for the return of their children or their husbands. I have not the slightest doubt that the people of this country would meet all their obligations by voluntary effort. I believe that all the men necessary could be secured by voluntary means and without the aid of Conscription. Conscription ought now to end, and people who have served two, three, and four years abroad ought to have the opportunity of coming home and settling in industrial life. We are working for the reconstruction of England, and so long as we have so many people policing the Rhine we shall not have the people for the industries which are so essential if this country is to have the prosperity which it enjoyed prior to the War. We ask the Government not to press Conscription any further. We ask for a free England in the sense that England was free before the War. We ask that the people shall be given a free choice as to whether they will remain in the Army or return to civilian life. If the Government would give them that freedom it would go a long way to secure industrial contentment and to bring about that feeling between the industrial community and the country which will help to build up the fortunes of the nation and re-establish the country on the pinnacle of prosperity, which it enjoyed prior to 1914.
I desire to congratulate the last speaker upon a fair and temperate statement of his point of view, and I was also interested to hear from the hon. Member for West Leyton (Mr. New-bould) the reason of his election so recently to this House. He told us that he won on the cry of "No Conscription!" Of course, it is a very easy thing to win a by-election on a cry of that kind. Nobody wants soldiers in a peace-loving country like ours. Therefore, a candidate who goes down to a by-election and says, "I am the man who is going to liberate all your sons now that the War is over "—he ought to know that the War is not over until peace is won—may very easily win the election, but he wins it at the expense of the eternal verities.
The Government cry was "Return us to win the War and to win the Peace." That was the pledge upon which the Government were returned—to bring the War to a satisfactory conclusion. That was the superior pledge which overruled all other pledges, and it is in order to fulfil that pledge and carry it out to its logical conclusion that this Bill is necessary, deeply as all freedom-loving men must deplore it. The War has made no impression upon the benches opposite. They do not know what war is.
No; the hon. Member is entitled to make his statements, and the proper way is to answer them in debate, not by a running fire of comments. That may be done in meetings outside, but it is not done here.
War is the absolute denial of equity or justice or freedom, or anything which we all love. The hon. Member for West Leyton talked about a court-martial and a breach of faith. Would it not be ten times a breach of faith to all the history of this country, to the men who went before us, and to those who are to come after us, if we were to throw away the means whereby we can bring this War to a successful conclusion, and it is not brought to a successful conclusion until we have absolutely secured that it can never again occur in our generation or for some generations hereafter? You cannot do that if you do not keep adequate forces. That is what Germany is biting on. If she saw us making no preparations for fresh breaches of faith would she not sit tight, and when hon. Gentlemen opposite had got their way and the French were left without any assistance, say, "We will try to get to Paris again. The third time is lucky. We will get there this time." That would be a serious breach of faith, a betrayal of this country and of the whole world. That is the supreme test. Can we dispense with this Bill? We cannot afford to take any risks. The Germans are great bluffers, but it may be, when they see that there is no possibility of us betraying our cause, that we shall get things satisfactorily settled, and get all that we have fought for. Surely it would be a gross breach of faith to throw the whole thing into the melting pot. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are very fond of talking of democracy. We have the lessons of democracy in this matter. France is a democracy, and was before we were a democracy, and France has never failed to call upon her sons in the equitable way, "You shall all serve." She takes them all and makes no distinction. America is another great democracy. She did not waste any time over the voluntary system. She took all classes of the community at once. These are the lessons of democracy. Cannot hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite take the hint from the two oldest democracies in the world?
Take our own history. There never was anything but compulsion in our history for military services. Nelson's victory were won by men gathered by the Press-gangs. The Press-gangs were at work all during the French war, and they fought just as well as the men who went voluntarily. I have always believed that the conscript fought as well as the volunteer, because when he gets the enemy in front of him he realises who it is that has conscripted him. It was the Germans who conscripted our men for all this long period of nearly three years. We hid our heads in the sand and made all sorts of appeals to all sorts of men, but at last the Germans conscripted the men, and it is the Germans who are forcing this Bill upon the country and not the British Parliament. We have been driven to it by necessity, and there is no use taking refuge in words. It was very unfair of the hon. Member to say that the Government did not want an alternative to Conscription. The Government have done their very best to find an alternative to Conscription, but if you raised an entirely new Army of men who had had no experience of this War they would be raw and would be of no real service until they had had actual experience of battle. One man who has been through this terrible conflict is worth two men who have had no experience. One hon. Gentleman opposite said that the Labour party has always been against Conscription. There is some truth in that, and I do not think that the soldiers have any occasion to thank the Labour party for it. It gave them a terrible time until they got the full companies of men they required. Was the cry "No industrial conscription" a just or fair cry when the rest of the community were con scribed? Why should one section of the community because they were put in khaki be subjected to Conscription, and another section because they were not put in khaki be at liberty to do what they like? There should have been Conscription at the beginning of the War; Conscription in everything. They should have said to all classes with any property, "Go to the nearest justice of the peace and make a sworn declaration of your possessions and at the end of the War make another declaration and account for the difference." There is no reason why something of that kind should not be done even now. Every man should have been taken. They should have been called up by some form of the Militia ballot. No one class in the community and no section of the community should have escaped. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not even the lawyers!"] There is no section of the community which has done more in this way than the ancient faculty to which I have the honour to belong. I repeat, one section should not have been taken and another allowed to escape. I am sorry that at the beginning of the War the Government spent most of its time in declaring how innocent it was of the War and in boasting of its state of unpreparedness for it. It does not matter who begins a war. What matters is who is top dog at the end of the fighting. We are top dog so far, and we are not going to give up that position until the end is completely won. The Government by this Bill are trying to secure that end. I believe the boys on the Rhine will have a fairly useful time, and they certainly will not be exposed to the dreadful hardships which their brothers underwent early in the War. I do not believe in the charges of breaches of faith of which we have heard so much, and I hope that hon. Gentlemen opposite who for political purposes are trying to instil these poisonous ideas into their minds will cease doing so, but at any rate I feel confident that the souls of these young people are so healthy that they will only reject the poison. Those who do not assist the Government to-day are the ones who will be guilty of the greatest breaches of faith.
I must apologise to the House for having so often to trespass upon its good nature. But the course of Parliamentary business during the last few weeks has accidentally involved the War Office at various points, and I have been forced to make incursions into the Debates of the House much more frequently, I trust, than will be necessary during the rest of this year. I have listened with great attention to this Debate, and I have heard hardly a single new argument from those who are opposing this measure. I also observe with great regret that the arguments which we have advanced, as we think with an overwhelming array of force and in inexhaustible variety, have apparently made not the slightest impression upon the minds of hon. Gentlemen who are opposing this measure. The maiden speech of the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Parkinson) was from beginning to end a mere dead-weight repetition of assertions. He said we had only to ask people to volunteer, and they would have been forthcoming. In no way, apparently, have we succeeded in conveying to them any fragment of our thought, or any great portion of our argumentative case; in no way have we succeeded in inducing them to take a differentview on this matter. But there was one new point referred to in this Debate by the hon. Member for Dunfermline (Mr. Wallace), who spoke a little while ago, and who raised a most pertinent question. He asked how much is it all going to cost? How much are these Armies of Occupation going to cost? At the present time we are spending on the Army over £400,000,000. I must confess I am very much surprised: that the arguments and comments of the Front Bench opposite have not referred to this aspect of the question before.
I have listened to the Debates, not only in the House but in the Grand Committee, and I have not in the course of those Debates heard any reference made to the financial point which was very properly put forward by the hon. Member for Dunfermline. I think his question is an extremely pertinent one, and I should like to give the House a few figures on the financial aspect, because it may be possible thereby to sweep away exaggerations of the Press and to disentangle the actual cost of the Army of Occupation from the general terminal charges of winding up the War and to show how much extra financial burden is thrown on the country thereby. The financial year begins at midnight to-night, and the Estimates for 1919–20 provide £506,500,000 for the Air Forces and the Army, including the Army of Occupation. That is the tremendous total, and I can understand it may excite apprehension. But let us analyse these figures, and see what belongs to the Army of Occupation and what belongs to the-terminal charges of the War. First of all, the gratuities that fall due for payment to officers and men of the Army during the financial year 1919–20 amount to £65,000,000. The charges for winding up the munition contracts which were running when the Armistice was signed amount to £39,000,000. The completion of works undertaken in the War and regarded as inadvisable to scrap amounts to £7,000,000. Bringing over troops from all parts of the world for de-mobilisation is estimated to cost £25,000,000. The enforced maintenance until transport can be provident of a larger number of men than those actually provided for in the Armies of Occupation—we have a large number on our pay-list whom we are trying to divest ourselves of as quickly as possible—all these services, including the period of furlough for the men, are estimated to cost £35,000,000. Bounties to the new voluntary Army are put down at £4,000,000. The Salvage Army, which is doing such extremely remunerative work in France—the men looking after the motors and horses to be sold, the men engaged on the demobilisation machinery—these involve a charge on the State of £48,000,000.
There are many hundreds of millions' worth of stores which are being realised. I will refer to that later on. I say that these men who are looking after the motors and horses and our stores and supplies in France, and who are engaged in the work of de-mobilising the Army, are estimated to cost £48,000,000. There are remaining on our hands, I am? sorry to say, sick and wounded in the great War, and the care and cure of them involve an addition of £12,000,000 to the Estimate. The issue of medals to the Army will cost about £2,500,000. The plain clothes to be given to the soldiers on discharge are estimated at £6,000,000. The restitution of property taken over by the Government during the War for purposes of defence and training and the putting it in order again is estimated to cost £6,000,000. The maintenance of prisoners of war is estimated at £4,000,000, and these items give a total of £253,500,000, representing inevitable terminal charges of the War out of a total of £506,500,000, curiously enough exactly one-half of the total gross estimate for the Air Forces and the Army. I think the House will be interested in this catalogue. Therefore the total cost of the Army of Occupation is not £506,500,000, but £253,000,000. Against that we have Appropriations in Aid, excluding the charges which we make against Germany for the cost of our Army on the Rhine and certain other charges connected with the Colonies. These Appropriations in Aid are estimated at £50,000,000, and therefore the total net cost of the Army of Occupation, including the Air Force is not £506,500,000 but £203,000,000. That is a very formidable figure, and there is no need to darken counsel by exaggerating it.
Let us compare £203,000,000 with the cost of the pre-war Army, including the Air Force and Royal Naval Air Service. That cost in the last year before the War was £30,000,000, but if that Army had been paid at the present rate it would have cost £46,000,000 for the same number of officers and men, and if the prices which we have to pay for food, clothing and supplies had been then as they are now the cost would have been not £46,000,000 but £57,000,000. Therefore the true comparison is not as we have been told in a great many organs of public guidance to believe it is, not as between £506,000,000 and £30,000,000, but as between £203,000,000 on the one hand and £57,000,000 for the pre-war Army on the other. If we deduct the charges we are entitled to recover from Germany for the upkeep of the Army on the Rhine after the Armistice, charges which rank very high in priority of claim and which therefore have a much greater chance of being paid than the more ambitious claims which figure lower down on the list, if we deduct those charges from the total they are calculated to amount to about £70,000,000. Therefore the cost of the Armies of Occupation would fall on this showing to £133,000,000 net, as against a true comparable pre-war equivalent of £57,000,000. For this difference of £76,000,000 we are holding not only all our own Empire, but our position in Europe by the Army which we are maintaining on the Rhine and, for the time being, we are holding very large portions of the Turkish dominions. Let me point out—and we really must not overlook the money side of the question, although it may be overlooked by the economists on the Front Bench opposite—that this £133,000,000 compares with about £1,500,000,000 which was the comparable net expenditure of the Army, Navy, and Ministry of Munitions in the last twelve months of the War—comparable expenditure. Therefore, so far from the House blaming the War Office and the Air Ministry for not having succeeded in effecting substantial reductions of their expenses in the transition from war to peace, we ought really to be congratulated on having reduced our expenditure to one-tenth of what is was only a few short months ago. Let me add that the amount to be recovered and realised almost entirely by military agency in regard to salvage and other matters is calculated at so high a figure—I do not attempt to give it exactly, but it certainly will pay two or three times over for the whole of the cost of the Army of Occupaion during the present year. None of this really could have been obtained without the victory which we have won, and none of this could be realised if we were to throw that victory away.
The hon. and gallant Member who seconded this Amendment told us that there was no need or necessity for this Bill, we could have got round it, he said. The Act which enables Parliament to fix the termination of the War at any date it pleases, he says, was quite sufficient authority; you have only got to postpone the date until you think fit, and you can hold as many men as you please. What an argument to put forward! I was very glad to hear my right hon. and learned Friend deal with that argument. In the first place it is wrong in fact.
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not wish to misrepresent me, but he has quite missed the point I made. If he substitutes an Order in Council in his Bill as the real authority, which shall exercise the powers under this Act then as he has the Order in Council under the Termination of the War Act, he will be quite safe in the meantime, and can come back when he does know the position and restate the case.
No. The hon. and gallant Gentleman particularly quoted the Act fixing the termination of the War. He said: You can make this date what you like; therefore why have a Bill? Simply put a fictitious date in when the time comes and you can hold the whole of the men. But that is, of course, far less straightforward and far more drastic than anything' which the Government is proposing. So much for there being no legal necessity. I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the Government would not have thought it necessary to bring forward this Bill if they had not satisfied themselves of the actual legal position. The next argument advanced is that there is no national emergency. I really do not know by what variant of words, by what renewal of argument I can impress upon hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite the abundant, imperious necessity by which we are faced.
I am not afraid of its being called an Imperial necessity. The day has, I hope, gone by when we are ashamed of paying proper regard to Imperial necessities. But how can any man say that be is unaware of the necessities by which we are confronted? From the White Sea to the Caspian at the present moment a whole broad band of Europe is smouldering or flaming, or even exploding. That is the fact. Along the whole of that front Bolshevik armies are attacking. The little States—Esthonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the new State of Poland, Czecho-Slovakia, Roumania—all these countries are in direst straits.
I really think my hon. and gallant Friend must allow me to make my speech. An hon. Member says, what business is it of ours? Is it really to be supposed that we have no interest in seeing the world coming to a peaceful settlement and coming to rest after its long travail; have we fought all these years and spent so many millions and cast away so much precious life, and then have we no interest in seeing the world come into a peaceful state? The moment we have divested ourselves of our military force, the moment all the great Allies have done that, they are powerless to intervene or to exercise the slightest influence upon the course of events all over Europe. Germany and Austria are, at the present time, in an attitude which is half defiance, half despair. They threaten at one moment a vast, passionate refusal to acquiesce in the result of the War, and threaten at another moment to slide into hopeless anarchy by a military alliance with Bolshevism. Hungary has already broken the terms of the Armistice and defied the victorious Powers. Bulgaria has made military movements in the last few weeks to strengthen her forces in the neighbourhood of Roumania in a manner which has excited very significant comment. So far as Egypt is concerned, we have had to take the step of stopping the demobilisation which was in progress, on the request of General Allenby, and it has been necessary to reinforce that country by troops brought from various other quarters. The necessity with which we are faced is to keep certain forces in occupation of the territories for which we are for the time being responsible, or which belong to us. We have to keep certain garrisons there during this stormy period of convulsion. We have also—England, with France and the United States—to keep an Army of a certain size on the Rhine, which shall be strong enough to secure the peace settlement, and to see that that settlement is not merely agreed to and ratified, but is reasonably carried out. That is the necessity. How can I state that more plainly? My right hon. Friend the Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) asked if we are keeping an Army on the Rhine as a debt collecting agency? No, certainly not! The Prime Minister has laid down that we will not so handle this question of indemnity that we should on that account be forced to keep, for many long years, large forces to collect it. That was stated repeatedly by my right hon. Friend at the election. But how any man, seeing the state of the world at the present time, and the importance of the issues that are being decided, can grudge the British Government and the Allies the possession of certain moderate military forces in Europe to exact compliance with the results of the War and the fulfilment of the terms of the treaty, to enable us to handle the situation with the sincere desire to see this age of strife pass away—how any man can grudge that, and why any man with my right hon. Friend's experience can challenge that at the present time, passes my comprehension.
Are these forces for which we are asking too large for the task they have to do? I am going to give the House a few figures showing exactly where these forces are. I am going to give the figures—not exact figures, but approximate figures—as I think, perhaps, that is more to our interest to do. There are figures from which an opinion can be formed. We contemplate under the Armies of Occupation—we have a larger force now, but we are getting rid of it as quickly as we can—after the period of demobilisation is over, under the Armies of Occupation there will be, in Great Britain, 176,000 men; in Ireland, 44,000 men; in France, engaged in clearing-up work of a non-combatant character, 120,000 men. In Germany, the Army of the Rhine consists of 264,000 men. In Italy there are 10,000 men. Someone has said, What do we want these 10,000 men there for? When one follows the course of the lamentable controversy, which I hope will be adjusted, between the Italians and the Jugo-Slavs, it is a precious asset to have a small force of British troops there in many localities where troops of no other nation will be.
No. Really, the hon. and gallant Member must contain himself. He is not in the air now. We have been asked to provide, in conjunction with our other Allies, the French, a small force of troops there who represent elements not at all intrigued in the conflicts or disputes in progress there; troops who can prevent trouble between the local populations by merely, in some cases, arriving there and putting both sides at their ease during this period when you are-trying to settle matters. Of course, they are there by the request and desire of both parties, who feel otherwise that by firing or a fracas which might lead to loss of life, a grave situation might open up. There are no troops in the world, probably, who are doing a more beneficent task than these. In the Middle East and the Caucasus we shall have 75,000 men—in the Balkan area and in the Caucasus—and that force, I hope, may be substantially reduced in the near future. These men are not fighting; they went into these territories to expel the Turks and the Germans, and they are there merely trying to keep the people from flying at each others throats until the League of Nations or the Paris Conference can reach a conclusion as to their final force. I hope that may be substantially reduced. In Egypt and Palestine there will be about 60,000 men. In Mesopotamia we are keeping 30,000 men, in that enormous region, until just lately, of prolonged and protracted struggle.
In India and Aden we have our regular garrison of between 60,000 and 70,000 men. Then there are in the defended ports and in the North of Russia and in Siberia—in all of those three I am carefully avoiding giving an absolutely clean cut figure, although I have observed that figures have been given which are more precise in another place—there are something like 20,000 men. So that out of a total of 859,000 British troops whom we contemplate should form the Armies of Occupation during this critical year, there are 20,000, some of whom are at present in various parts of Russia and the Caucasus. I hope that, at any rate, will give some sense of proportion to the Debate and will show to hon. Gentleman opposite and the country—for if we cannot convince hon. Gentlemen by our Debate we can convince and reassure the country—that so far from this measure being required in order to enable us to carry out some purposes in Russia or some expedition to Russia, even if Russia did not exist the measure would have to be passed. It is only an insignificant fraction of the troops raised by this Bill who are at present, by circumstances well known to the House, in occupation of certain points of the Russian Empire.
I have given this figure of 892,000, which covers the British troops in the Armies of Occupation all over the world, as the number which we propose under this measure. But from those you should deduct about 208,000 men who are really not combatants in any sense. They are men employed at dispersal stations, employed in the transport of the Army Service Corps, excluding supplies, employed in the transportation branch and who are employed in the care of remounts, and transport and so forth. So that really what we have got available to keep the British Empire safe, these Islands safe, to keep peace and tranquility throughout those immense regions which have fallen into our hands during the course of the War, to secure the fulfilment of the Peace Treaty and to enable us, in conjunction with our other Allies, to influence the settlement of Europe in a manner which will be agreeable to its future peace—for all these purposes the total number of troops we propose to keep for our purposes does not exceed 650,000 men. Does the House consider that is an, exaggerated over insurance? Does anyone on the Front Opposition Bench say that these totals are beyond what is necessary and beyond what a wise, prudent and practical man would provide to safeguard our interests during this present year? I do not believe my right hon. Friend would say that that figure struck him as being grossly excessive having regard to all that is going on and to our needs and difficulties. I do not believe that my right hon. Friend would consider it to be an absurd or wrong figure. What they say is, "You ought to get them by voluntary means." Do let us face the facts. It is absolutely impossible to get 890,000 men—the others are just as necessary as the fighting men—by voluntary means before the Peace Treaty is ratified—[a laugh]—unless war breaks out again and the Treaty is not ratified for any length of time—but assuming that all goes as we hope it will and that before the end of the summer or before we are far through the autumn the Treaty is ratified—not merely signed but finally ratified—supposing that sort of result is reached, we could not get one quarter, of the men who would be needed by the voluntary system.
We have got now, by the efforts we have-made and which have been very great efforts and costly efforts from the point of view of the State, a total of about 70,000 new recruits and re-enlisted men. In addition to that, 6,000 men of the Army on the Rhine have signed on for another year. We have done our best in one way or another for three months trying by every channel open to us to secure these men. That is all we have got. I should imagine it is absolutely true to say that whatever we do, whatever exertions we make, we would not at present, when everyone is tired of the War and militarism and wants to get home, back to his work—I heartily sympathise with them—when that feeling is abroad and no one has the feeling of vital danger that existed formerly, we have absolutely no chance whatever of securing more than one quarter of the men we need at the time peace is ratified. My right hon. Friend said we were paying in unemployment benefit more than we were paying our men at the front. I do not see how that could possibly be. As I told the House the other day, a man with a wife and two children, if he was in the Army on the Rhine, was receiving in kind in every consideration—clothing, food, lodging, separation allowance, medical attendance and fuel—approximately 79s. a week, while the single men were calculated to be receiving 49s. a week. I am inclined to agree with my right hon. Friend that perhaps the scale of the unemployment benefit at the present time is higher than is needed. But I have never heard of anything in the neighbourhood of the figures I have quoted and which the Army in one way or another is undoubtedly receiving.
What more can I say of the necessity? I would ask my right hon. Friend, if the figures which I have quoted are not unreasonable—they are thought to be the minimum for which the Cabinet could make themselves responsible after hearing all that their military advisers have to say—if those figures are not unreasonable, if the ratification of the Peace Treaty is to come before we can possibly create a voluntary Army, if there is no means out of the elements in this country of creating a voluntary Army now the great struggle is not going on, which will be large enough for this purpose—if all these things are true, what force would he, as a responsible statesman, adopt to face this emergency? My right hon. Friend said that, little as he liked this Bill, he would rather have it than no Army at all, by which he means no Army capable of doing what that means. I am quite sure he would not. I am quite sure that if my right hon. Friend were confronted with these matters he would come boldly forward and say that we have to look to what is in front of us, we have to view the actual practical difficulty, and we are not going to throw away the advantages we have gained, and we have got to carry this Bill. As my right hon. and learned Friend has pointed out, if that is the conviction in the hearts of almost every serious man on the Opposition Benches, is it not a very cheap thing, knowing that the Bill is going to be passed and that other shoulders are going to bear the burden, to come along and endeavour to add to any weight of public misapprehension which may be excited by the passage of the Bill? Those who have opposed this Bill, so far as their speeches go—I quite admit that in their hearts they take a different view—have shown themselves utterly unconscious of the state of the world and have shown a significant detachment alike from the interests of this country and the interests of other countries. They have to a very large extent taken the position of my hon. and gallant Friend, of which he is the exponent, that, now the War is over and the Armistice has been signed, nothing else remains, that you can let everything rip in every quarter of the world. Russia is to stew in heir own juice, as he said the other night, or to stew us in her juice if she chooses. As for Poland, who cares for Poland? Let her shift for herself! Austria and Hungary have only to call themselves Bolsheviks to escape altogether from the consequences of the War, and to overrun anybody's territory in the name of Bolshevism that they may feel inclined to do! Roumania, who fought so gallantly in the War and suffered so much, she should be left to her fate! As to the little States I have mentioned, who have appealed to the League of Nations for protection and who have in one form or another been given a considerable amount of recognition and encouragement by the victorious Powers who will constitute the main part of the League of Nations, let them shift for themselves, unless, that is to say, the Germans will go to help them! As for Germany, the fact is that on the proposals which are put forward by this Amendment from the other side of the House, Germany has only to ratify the Peace Treaty to decree the destruction of the British Army. If we are to do what we are urged to do, the moment that Germany signs that Treaty in final ratification, that very moment we should lose all power to secure its final execution.
But for months and months until we have a voluntary Army? What the world needs is a ratified peace. Our responsibility is not only with regard to the countries in whose affairs we have been interfering in the course of the War, but even in regard to countries for which we were responsible before the War broke out. If there are disorders in Egypt, what did the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain W. Benn) say? It is all the fault of the ignorant, stupid soldiers who are misgoverning the country! Why has my hon. and gallant Friend formed such a bad impression of those who such a little while ago were glad to be his comrades? I do not believe that our military officers are ignorant in these matters. At any rate, they are more in demand in every country in the world, both British soldiers and British generals, as law-givers and peace-preservers, than the troops of any other country. As a matter of fact, British rule, under which Egypt has prospered so enormously, has never been a military rule—it has been a civil rule.
Not at all. Even after 1914, and until, owing to the state of the country, exceptional powers were taken, the administration of the country has been conducted through the civil authorities, and in the provinces of Egypt the administration has been almost exclusively conducted by the native officials who were conducting it in times of peace. Does not that show the mood in which my hon. and gallant Friend and those who act with him approach this case? I really do not understand where the hon. and gallant Gentleman can. We have been fighting during the whole of the War to gain certain objects, but the moment the fighting has stopped he uses his utmost energies to cast those objects away. If they have shown themselves unconscious of the state of the world at present they have also shown themselves impervious to the arguments we have endeavoured to address to them. If the course of policy they advocate were to be carried out, it is literally true, and no one in the Debate has successfully challenged the argument, that the Army in every part of the world would cease to exist, and would be released from its allegiance as a military force on the day the Peace Treaty was ratified.
That is the policy which the dissentient Liberals press upon us—what the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Thorne) called a narrow small minority. A minority may be small—that may not be its fault—but it has no need to be narrow. When we remonstrate with them they reply repeatedly, "West Leyton." Again and again in these Debates we have had this taunt thrown at us, and they apparently regard the West Leyton by-election as the all-sufficing explanation of their action, and indeed its complete vindication. But what would the people of this country say if they found in a year or two, perhaps earlier, when this Parliament has run more of its life than it has at present, that we had absolutely muddled away through weakness or cowardice or want of candour, all the fruits which our Army gained in the War. They would give us a condemnation which would not be a condemnation of an accidental by-election in a particular constituency but which would be a universal and final condemnation of all the constituencies of the United Kingdom at a General Election, and which would be a condemnation not only universal and overwhelming but absolutely deserved. This Parliament has come together to pilot the ship of State through the most perilous and difficult seas amid which we live, and to bring that ship and its precious cargo with all the fruits of victory into a peaceful harbour. If we can show that we have done this when the time comes we shall not need to be afraid of what the verdict will be. I have always noticed, as far as my experience goes and so far as my readings of history serve me, that in this country whatever has got to be done somehow or other is done. It may be done rapidly, grudingly perhaps, but at any rate it is done, and in vital matters what has had to be done has hitherto been done before it was too late. It is quite true there have on all sort of occasions been found in this country weak and degenerate elements which strove by every means in their power to hamper the efficiency of national action and to delay action which was vitally and urgently needed in the interests of the State and which has always counselled us to courses of imprudence and of neglect and often of base surrender, but there have also been found in this country on all occasions strong, solid, stable, resolute forces in all classes all over the country which have been sufficient in their own way to overcome and to bear down the councils of weakness, and they have been found strong enough to carry on their own shoulders the fortunes and the interests of the State and so secure that whatever was indispensable to the safety and the honour of our country was, in fact, granted to the responsible Government of the day. It is to these forces that the House in the Division which is soon to come will make a notable contribution?
I anticipated that the right hon. Gentleman would speak at the end of the Debate, but at the time he did speak many hon. Members were waiting to take part, and I did not anticipate that the Debate was coming to an end, so that I apologise to the House for appearing to invert the ordinary order. But I am sure the House will wish to give an opportunity to those who oppose this Bill with sincerity and conviction. The House always shows itself, as you, Sir, reminded us at the time of your election, tolerant in the extreme to views that it does not agree with, and therefore I conceive it will listen while I attempt to make all the points we have to make against this Bill. In the first place, it would be as well if hon. Members who support this Bill were to refrain from claiming a monopoly of patriotism. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) made a speech which I thought utterly unworthy of him. He claimed, and the claim so repeated by the right hon. Gentleman was first made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Guest), that they and they alone are the true patriots, and that we are only actuated by the basest motive to win by-elections, or to court a cheap popularity, and that we have not instinct in our hearts the same love for our country as right hon. Gentlemen opposite. If anyone says I do not love my country I make no reply. The arguments that the right hon. Gentleman has brought forward have been repeatedly used during these Debates, and really have no bearing whatever upon the issue raised in the Bill. He talks about Hungary, and about the Germans not being willing to sign peace, and in fact he actually talked about the Germans marching to Paris. These right hon. Gentlemen know perfectly well that until peace is signed and ratified, both by the Germans and by ourselves and by every other party to this War, the whole of the military force which has been raised in the last four years, amounting to millions, is at the disposal, and gladly and willingly at the disposal, of the right hon. Gentleman. So it is an idle argument and it is throwing dust into the eyes of the nation to talk about disturbances from the White Sea to the Caspian in view of the millions of men he has under his influence by the Act of 1916. This Bill has nothing whatever to do with this.
The right hon. Gentleman has the whole Army that was raised under the Act of 1916. He has 1,300,000 people under arms at present, and I presume he has the power to recall the men who have been demobilised but not discharged. As I understand it, the power that the right hon. Gentleman holds is over the whole Army as raised for the War. That Army remains in being until peace has been ratified and until the Order in Council has been made deciding that the end of the War has come. So that we must put aside all these arguments about the disturbed state of Europe, the world in flux, and so on, as having nothing whatever to do with the issue we are raising to-night. [Interrupton.] No doubt the hon. Member for Birkenhead will translate into the courtesies of debate the intervention which he is making. The right hon. Gentleman constantly says, "What is your alternative to the continuation of the Military Service Act?" He has given us a number of figures. He particularly referred to an intervention which I made some days ago in reference to Egypt. I hesitate very much to mention this subject, and I certainly should not have done so if the right hon. Gentleman had not raised it, because I would not willingly appear to give encouragement to those who are finding fault with our Government in Egypt. The right hon. Gentleman raised the question himself, and my reply is that a peaceful Egypt in 1914 is an Egypt, in the right hon. Gentleman's own words, in insurrection in 1918. That is the result of four years of partly martial law. The right hon. Gentleman says, "What is your alternative to the continuation of this Act?" He says, "Have you an alternative?" We have a reasonable ground for supposing that an alternative is possible because the Government themselves at the election said, "The Military Service Act will lapse and there is no intention to renew it." I have no reason to suppose the Government was deceiving the country, and I assume, therefore, that those statements were made with some possibility of terminating the state of affairs. That, at least, is a fair assumption. Many hon. Members are supporting this because they believe it is a temporary Bill. Many hon. Friends of ours are supporting it because they say "it is a bad Bill, but it is only to last until 1920, and surely we cannot object to a Bill which is for so short a period and which is so necessary for garnering the fruits of victory." My hon. Friends (Mr. Macquisten and Major Jameson) made speeches in support of the Bill which I am sure could not have been very gratifying to the right hon. Gentleman. They laid bare the whole plan. They supported it because they said, "Lay down our armed forces now? No. Our greatness depends upon the greatness of our military power, and it would be folly to give it up just at the moment of success." If that is the support that is forthcoming for the Bill—and I have no doubt a great deal of the support is based on those grounds—it is a Bill which should not be supported also by those who do it merely on the ground that it is a temporary measure which must come to an end in a few months time. The Secretary of State for War speaks with scorn of returning to the slender basis of 1914. We are never to go back to the slender basis of 1914.
The right hon. Gentlemen, of course, speaks with more knowledge than I do of the right hon. Gentleman's intentions, but the expression "slender basis of 1914" was the expression used by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Churchill), and our fear is that this Bill is committing us to a much greater military preparation than this country is justified in undertaking. It is fair to assume that on the basis of the preparations that we make, our Allies will make their preparations. The "Daily Chronicle" said recently that the necessity for the Armies of Occupation was a matter of agreement between the associated Powers on the basis of expert advice, and it would obviously be a step of the utmost gravity if Great Britain or any of the other five principal Powers were to cut adrift from the common decision of the Association in so vital a matter. We are now making an obligation for our Allies which this House will be quite powerless to discard in April. 1920. Supposing that they have made their calculations upon the same basis, and supposing that in April, 1920, it is impossible to secure the men by voluntary means, what other course will be open to the Government save to come to this House to continue this Bill for another year? That may be a course which hon. Gentlemen will be prepared to support. I do not know, but I imagine it would be one which this House, as a whole, would support. But I would remind hon. Gentlemen who are supporting this Bill as a temporary measure of this very grave risk, that instead of this being a temporary measure, it is, in fact, a commitment from which later we shall be unable to escape.
In a covenant of the League of Nations one Clause provides that each country shall only maintain an armed force that is a minimum consistent with national safety. "We shall be a party, I presume and hope, to that covenant. We, an island, seagirt, and not depending for our life upon an armed force, consider that the minimum that is consistent with our national safety is 900,000 men. That being so, what will be the calculation made by the Continental Powers? If they base their calculation on the same figure, and the smaller countries in the Balkans do likewise, the result will be that Europe after the War, with Germany prostrate, will be armed to the teeth, with a force far greater than existed before the War took place. That is the fear which we have in our minds. The Prime Minister has gone to Paris to engage upon a League of Nations, and, as he says himself, and as the heads of other Governments say, "to try to persuade all the nations of the world to give up Conscription." He goes to Paris, and the first nation to pass a legislative enactment to continue Conscription is our own nation. Is it unreasonable to think that if we are going to continue the mad race of armaments the League of Nations will in fact become a farce, and the prospect of universal peace will vanish? If hon. Gentlemen vote for this Bill under the impression that it is a temporary measure, are they quite sure, are we not justified in fearing that in April next year we shall find that the vested interests which have been built up, that the pressure of our Allies, that perhaps even the ambitions of this country and of the right hon. Gentleman himself, may prove what I have said, that we have taken an irretraceable step?
The right hon. Gentleman asks what is our alternative. The alternative in the matter of armaments is the same as in the matter of finance. We must cut our coat according to our cloth. We contend that the right hon. Gentleman has not tried to the full the voluntary system. One argument which he has not used, but which has some weight, is that the merits of the case itself play an important part in determining the success or failure of voluntary effort. If we have a good cause, volunteers are quickly forthcoming. If the nation has no faith in the cause, volunteers are not forthcoming. My contention is that that in itself is a wholesome check upon the military expeditions of any country. The right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Gentlemen who support this Bill have said that it is a Bill for giving us the fruits of victory. What are the fruits of victory? In 1914 a great moral wave swept over this country, comparable perhaps to nothing since the time of the Great Crusade. Men went out in their thousands. They went willingly to fight. What did they fight for? I may define their objects in these words, "We shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest to our hearts, for democracy, for the rights of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own government, for the rights and liberties of small nations, and for the universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as will bring safety and peace to the nations, and will make the world itself at last free." The spirit behind the opposition to this Bill is not the spirit of pacifism. It is not the spirit which was opposed to the War. The same motives that impelled men to come forward and to fight are the motives that impel them now to oppose this Bill. They went abroad to try to dispel Prussianism and Sergeant Majordom, and in the same spirit they will oppose Prussianism if it finds its place in our own plans and in our own councils. They oppose this Bill
|Division No. 23.]||AYES.||[7.53 p.m.|
|Ainsworth, Capt. C.||Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hamilton, Major C. G. C. (Altrincham)|
|Archdale, Edward M.||Coote, Colin R. (Isle of Ely)||Hanson, Sir Charles|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Col. Martin||Cope, Major W. (Glamorgan)||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Luton, Beds.)|
|Atkey, A. R.||Courthope, Major George Loyd||Harris, Sir H. P. (Paddington, S.)|
|Bagley, Captain E. A.||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Univ.)||Henderson, Major V. L.|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Cowan, Sir W. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Hennessy, Major G.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Craig, Capt. C. (Antrim)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Craig, Col. Sir James (Down, Mid.)||Hewart, Right Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Barnett, Captain Richard W.||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hickman, Brig.-Gen. Thomas E.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Croft, Brig.-Gen. Henry Page||Hilder, Lieut.-Col. F.|
|Barrie, C. C.||Curzon, Commander Viscount||Hills, Major J. W. (Durham)|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Sir Samuel J. G.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Davidson, Major-General J. H.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Hood, Joseph|
|Bellairs, Com. Carlyon W.||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)|
|Benn, Sir Arthur S. (Plymouth)||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington)||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)|
|Benn, Com. Ian Hamilton (G'nwich)||Denison-Pender, John C.||Hope, John Deans (Berwick)|
|Betterton, H. B.||Dennis, J. W.||Hopkinson, Austin (Mossley)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Denniss, E. R. Bartley (Oldham)||Hudson, R. M.|
|Birchall, Major J. D.||Dewhurst, Lieut.-Com. H.||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Bird, Alfred||Donald, T.||Hunter, Gen. Sir A. (Lancaster)|
|Blades, Sir George R.||Doyle, N. Grattan||Hurd, P. A.|
|Blair, Major Reginald||Duncannon, Viscount||Inskip, T. W. H.|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Du Pre, Colonel W. B.||Jackson, Lieut.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Edgar, Clifford||Jameson, Major J. G|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur Griffith-||Edwards, A. Clement (East Ham, S.)||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Bowles, Col. H. F.||Elliot, Capt. W. E. (Lanark)||Jesson, C.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. W. E.||Eyres-Monsell, Com.||Jodrell, N. P.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Falcon, Captain M.||Johnson, L. S.|
|Brackenbury, Col. H. L.||Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Brassey, H. L. C.||Farquharson, Major A. C.||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)|
|Breese, Major C. E.||Fell, Sir Arthur||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)|
|Brittain, Sir Harry E.||FitzRoy, Capt. Hon. Edward A.||Joynson-Hicks, William|
|Broad, Thomas Tucker||Forster, Rt. Hon. H. W.||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Brown, Captain D. C. (Hexham)||Foxcroft, Captain C.||Kerr-Smiley, Major P.|
|Burdon, Col. Rowland||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||King, Com. Douglas|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Torquay)||Ganzoni, Captain F. C.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Burn, T. H. (Belfast)||Gardiner, J. (Perth)||Knight, Capt. E. A.|
|Butcher, Sir J. G.||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Knights, Capt. H.|
|Campbell, J. G. D.||Gilbert, James Daniel||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ. Wales)|
|Campion, Col. W. R.||Glyn, Major R.||Lewis, T. A. (Pontypridd, Glam.)|
|Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)||Gould, J. C.||Lindsay, William Arthur|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir E. A.||Lister, Sir R. Ashton|
|Carr, W. T.||Grant, James Augustus||Lloyd, George Butler|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Gray, Major E.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Hunt'don)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Greame, Major P. Lloyd||Lort-Williams, J.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Green, A. (Derby)||Loseby, Captain C. E.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Oxford Univ.)||Green, J. F. (Leicester)||Lyle, C. E. Leonard (Stratford)|
|Chadwick, R. Burton||Greer, Harry||Lyle Samuel, A. (Eye, E. Suffolk)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Birm.,W.)||Greig, Col. James William||Lynn, R. J.|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Gretton, Col. John||Lyon, L.|
|Child, Brig.-Gen. Sir Hill||Griggs, Sir Peter||M'Guffin, Samuel|
|Clyde, James Avon||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Mackinder, Halford J.|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Guest, Major O. (Leices., Loughb'ro'.)||M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Guinness, Capt. Hon. R. (Southend)||M'Lean, Lt.-Col. C. W. W. (Brigg)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Guinness, Lt.-Col. Hon. W.E. (B. St. E.)||Macmaster, Donald|
|Cockerill, Brig.-Gen. G. K.||Hacking, Captain D. H.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Cohen, Major J. B. B.||Hall, Admiral||McNeill, Ronald (Canterbury)|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir Fred (Dulwich)||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Colvin, Brig.-Gen. R. B.||Hallas, E.||Marks, Sir George Croydon|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Martin, A. E.|
|Middlebrook, Sir William||Raeburn, Sir William||Taylor, J. (Dumbarton)|
|Mildmay, Col. Rt. Hon. Francis B.||Rankin, Capt. James S.||Terrell, G. (Chippenham, Wilts.)|
|Mitchell, William Lane-||Raper, A. Baldwin||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Moles, Thomas||Raw, Lt.-Col. Dr. N.||Townley, Maximillian G.|
|Moore, Maj.-Gen. Sir Newton J.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. C. T.||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, E.)||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Morris, Richard||Reid, D. D.||Vickers, D.|
|Morrison, H. (Salisbury)||Richardson, Alex. (Gravesend)||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Robinson, T. (Stretford, Lancs.)||Warren, Sir Alfred H.|
|Mosley, Oswald||Rowlands, James||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Mount, William Arthur||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)||Weigall, Lt.-Col. W. E. G. A.|
|Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Norwood)||Whitla, Sir William|
|Murchison, C. K.||Samuel, S. (Wandsworth, Putney)||Wigan, Brig.-Gen. John Tyson|
|Nall, Major Joseph||Samuels, Rt. Hon. A. W. (Dublin Univ.)||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Nelson, R. F. W. R.||Sanders, Colonel Robert Arthur||Willey, Lt.-Col. F. V.|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. (Exeter)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone)||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Nicholson, R. (Doncaster)||Seager, Sir William||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Nicholson, W. (Petersfield)||Seddon, J. A.||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|O'Neill, Capt. Hon. Robert W. H.||Shaw, Capt. W. T. (Forfar)||Willoughby, Lt.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E.||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Parker, James||Simm, Col. M. T.||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, W.)|
|Pearce, Sir William||Smith, Harold (Warrington)||Wilson, Col. Leslie (Reading)|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Sprot, Col. Sir Alexander||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)|
|Peel, Lt.-Col. R. F. (Woodbridge)||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Preston)||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Percy, Charles||Starkey, Capt. John Ralph||Woolcock, W. J. U.|
|Perkins, Walter Frank||Steel, Major S. Strang||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Perring, William George||Stephenson, Col. H. K.||Yate, Col. Charles Edward|
|Pinkham, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Stevens, Marshall||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Pownall, Lt.-Col. Assheton||Stewart, Gershom||Young, William (Perth and Kinross)|
|Pratt, John William||Strauss, Edward Anthony||Younger, Sir George|
|Preston, W. R.||Surtees, Brig.-Gen. H. C.|
|Pulley, Charles Thornton||Sutherland, Sir William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—lord Edmund Talbot and Capt. Guest.|
|Purchase, H. G.||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Hayward, Major Evan||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Holmes, J. S.||Shaw, Tom (Preston)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Hurst, Major G. B.||Short, A. (Wednesbury)|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Sitch, C. H.|
|Benn, Capt. W. (Leith)||Jones, J. (Silvertown)||Smith, Capt. A. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Kenyon, Barnet||Swan, J. E. C.|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Kiley, James Daniel||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Briant, F.||Lunn, William||Thomas, Brig-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Cairns, John||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Casey, T. W.||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Tootill, Robert|
|Davies, Alfred (Clitheroe)||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Wallace, J.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Murray, Dr. D. (Western Isles)||Wedgwood, Col. Josiah C.|
|Devlin, Joseph||Neal, Arthur||White, Charles F. (Derby, W.)|
|Edwards, C. (Bedwellty)||Newbould, A. E||Wignall, James|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||O'Connor, T. P.||Williams, A. (Consett, Durham)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||O'Grady, James||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Young, Robert (Newton, Lancs.)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Grundy, T. W.||Redmond, Captain William A.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Hogge and Mr. Tyson Wilson.|
|Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Division No. 24.]||AYES.||[8.5 p.m.|
|Ainsworth, Capt. C.||Benn, Com. Ian Hamilton (G'nwich)||Brittain, Sir Harry E.|
|Archdale, Edward M.||Betterton, H. B.||Broad, Thomas Tucker|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Col. Martin||Bigland, Alfred||Brown, Captain D. C. (Hexham)|
|Atkey, A. R.||Birchall, Major J. D.||Burdon, Col. Rowland|
|Bagley, Captain E. A.||Bird, Alfred||Burn, Col. C. R. (Torquay)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Blades, Sir George R.||Burn, T. H. (Belfast)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Blair, Major Reginald||Butcher, Sir J. G.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Campbell, J. G. D.|
|Barnett, Captain Richard W.||Borwick, Major G. O.||Campion, Col. W. R.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Boscawen, Sir Arthur Griffith-||Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)|
|Barrie, C. C.||Bowles, Col. H. F.||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred|
|Barton, Sir William (Oldham)||Bowyer, Capt. G. W. E.||Carr, W. T.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Brackenbury, Col. H. L.||Cautley, Henry Strother|
|Ballairs, Com. Carlyon W.||Brassey, H. L. C.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Aston Manor)|
|Benn, Sir Arthur S. (Plymouth)||Bridgeman, William Clive||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Oxford Univ.)|
|Chadwick, R. Burton||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Luton, Beds.)||Parker, James|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Harris, Sir H. P. (Paddington, S.)||Pearce, Sir William|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Henderson, Major V. L.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Child, Brig.-Gen. Sir Hill||Hennessy, Major G.||Peel, Lt.-Col. R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford)||Percy, Charles|
|Clyde, James Avon||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward F.||Hilder, Lieut.-Col. F.||Perring, William George|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Hills, Major J. W. (Durham)||Pinkham, Lieut.-Col. Charles|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Sir Samuel J. G.||Pownall, Lt.-Col. Assheton|
|Cockerill, Brig.-Gen. G. K.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Pratt, John William|
|Cohen, Major J. B. B.||Hood, Joseph||Preston, W. R.|
|Colfox, Major W. P.||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Colvin, Brig.-Gen. R. B.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Hope, John Deans (Berwick)||Raeburn, Sir William|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hopkinson, Austin (Mossley)||Rankin, Capt. James S.|
|Coote, Colin R. (Isle of Ely)||Hudson, R. M.||Raper, A. Baldwin|
|Cope, Major W. (Glamorgan)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Raw, Lt.-Col. Dr. N.|
|Courthope, Major George Loyd||Hunter, Gen. Sir A. (Lancaster)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Univ.)||Hurd, P. A.||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, E.)|
|Cowan, Sir W. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Inskip, T. W. H.||Reid, D. D.|
|Craig, Capt. C. (Antrim)||Jackson, Lieut.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Craig, Col. Sir James (Down, Mid.)||Jameson, Major J. G.||Richardson, Alex. (Gravesend)|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Japhcott, A. R.||Rowlands, James|
|Croft, Brig.-Gen. Henry Page||Jesson, C.||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Curzon, Commander Viscount||Jodrell, N. P.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Norwood)|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Johnson, L. S.||Samuel, S. (Wandsworth, Putney)|
|Davidson, Major-General J. H.||Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Samuels, Rt. Hon. A.W. (Dublin Univ.)|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Sanders, Colonel Robert Arthur|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington)||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen)||Seager, Sir William|
|Denison-Pender, John C.||Joynson-Hicks, William||Seddon, J. A.|
|Dennis, J. W.||Kellaway, Frederick George||Shaw, Capt. W. T. (Forfar)|
|Denniss, E. R. Bartley (Oldham)||Kerr-Smiley, Major P.||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Dewhurst, Lieut. Com. H.||King, Com. Douglas||Simm, Col. M. T.|
|Donald, T.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||Knight, Capt. E. A.||Sprot, Col. Sir Alexander|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Knights, Capt. H.||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Du Pre, Colonel W. B.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Glasgow)||Starkey, Capt. John Ralph|
|Edgar Clifford||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ. Wales)||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Edwards, A. Clement (East Ham, S.)||Lewis, T. A. (Pontypridd, Glam.)||Stephenson, Col. H. K.|
|Elliot, Capt. W. E. (Lanark)||Lindsay, William Arthur||Stevens, Marshall|
|Eyres-Monsell, Com.||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Stewart, Gershom|
|Falcon, Captain M.||Lloyd, George Butler||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Falle, Major Sir Bertram Godfray||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Hunt'don)||Surtees, Brig.-Gen. H. C.|
|Farquharson, Major A. C.||Lort-Williams, J.||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Fell, Sir Arthur||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. Herbert A. L.||Lyle, C. E. Leonard (Stratford)||Taylor, J. (Dumbarton)|
|FitzRoy, Capt. Hon. Edward A.||Lyle Samuel, A. (Eye, E. Suffolk)||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Forster, Rt. Hon. H. W.||Lynn, R. J.||Townley, Maximillian G.|
|Lyon, L.||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Foxcroft, Captain C.||M'Guffin, Samuel||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Mackinder, Halford J.||Vickers, D.|
|Gardiner, J. (Perth)||M'Laren, R. (Lanark, N.)||Walker. Col. William Hall|
|Macmaster, Donald||Warren, Sir Alfred H.|
|Gardner, E. (Berks., Windsor)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Watson, Captain John Bertrand|
|Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||McNeill, Ronald (Canterbury)||Weigall, Lt.-Col. W. E. G. A.|
|Gilbert, James Daniel||Macquisten, F. A.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Glyn, Major R.||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Wigan, Brig. -Gen. John Tyson|
|Gould, J. C.||Martin, A. E.||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Goulding, Rt. Hon. Sir E. A.||Middlebrook, Sir William||Willey, Lt.-Col. F. V.|
|Grant, James Augustus||Mildmay, Col. Rt. Hon. Francis B.||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Gray, Major E.||Mitchell, William Lane-||Williams, Lt.-Col. Sir R. (Banbury)|
|Greame, Major P. Lloyd||Moles, Thomas||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Green, A. (Derby)||Moore, Maj.-Gen. Sir Newton J.||Willoughby, Lt.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Green, J. F. (Leicester)||Moore-Brabazon, Lt.-Col. J. C. T.||Wills, Lt.-Col. Sir Gilbert Alan H.|
|Greer, Harry||Morrison, H. (Salisbury)||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, W.)|
|Greig, Col. James William||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Wilson, Col. Leslie (Reading)|
|Gretton, Col. John||Mosley, Oswald||Wilson, Lt-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)|
|Griggs, Sir Peter||Mount, William Arthur||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Gritten W. G. Howard||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Wood, Major Hon. E. (Ripon)|
|Guest, Major O. (Leices., Loughb'ro'.)||Murchison, C. K.||Woolcock, W. J. U.|
|Guinness, Capt. Hon. R. (Southend)||Nall, Major Joseph||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Guinness, Lt.-Col. Hon. W.E. (B. St. E.)||Neal, Arthur||Yate, Col. Charles Edward|
|Hacking, Captain D. H.||Nelson, R. F. W. R.|
|Hall, Admiral||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. (Exeter)||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir Fred (Dulwich)||Young, William (Perth and Kinross)|
|Hallas, E.||Nicholson, R. (Doncaster)||Younger, Sir George|
|Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Nicholson, W. (Petersfield)|
|Hamilton, Major C. G. C. (Altrincham)||O'Neill, Capt. Hon. Robert W. H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Lord Edmund Talbot and Captain Guest.|
|Hanson, Sir Charles||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke||Arnold, Sydney||Benn, Capt. W. (Leith)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Irving, Dan||Shaw, Tom (Preston)|
|Breese, Major C. E.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Short, A. (Wednesbury)|
|Briant, F.||Jones, J. (Silvertown)||Sitch, C. H.|
|Cairns, John||Kenyon, Barnet||Smith, Capt. A. (Nelson and Colne)|
|Casey, T. W.||Kiley, James Daniel||Swan, J. E. C.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Lunn, William||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Davies, Alfred (Clitheroe)||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Thomas, Brig-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Devlin, Joseph||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Thorne, Col. W. (Plaistow)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Murray, Dr. D. (Western Isles)||Tootill, Robert|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Newbould, A. E.||Wallace, J.|
|Glanville, Harold James||O'Connor, T. P.||Wedgwood, Col. Josiah C|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh)||O'Grady, James||White, Charles F. (Derby, W.)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wignall, James|
|Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Hartshorn, V.||Redmond, Captain William A.||Young, Robert (Newton, Lancs.)|
|Hayday, A.||Rose, Frank H.|
|Hayward, Major Evan||Royce, William Stapleton||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Hogge and Mr. Tyson Wilson.|
|Hirst, G. H.||Shaw, Hon. A. (Kilmarnock)|
|Holmes, J. S.|
Question put, and agreed to.