On the 31st of next month conscription will be abolished, and within a month from that date the last conscript is entitled to be released from; the Army. The vast process of demobilisation will then be completed. In the interval, and only just in time, we have succeeded in raising and organising, unit by unit, an entirely new Volunteer Army, which by the time conscription lapses will, we estimate, number about 220,000 men, exclusive of those serving in India. We have completely relieved the whole garrison of India and all other foreign garrisons, permanent or temporary, and we have replaced them by new troops properly organised in regiments, batteries and battalions. In other words, we have recruited in a single year what is, broadly speaking, the pre-war Regular Army, and we have organised the additional troops which are needed to discharge our temporary and new liabilities. I venture to think that that is a remarkable achievement. It almost deserves, I do not say an arrest, but, at any rate, a momentary check in that stream of criticism and abuse under which the War Office has for so many years past been accustomed to carry on its business. It almost merits a word, or at any rate, a nod of recognition for the officers who have worked so indefatigably and so devotedly through all this year and have now achieved a result which I venture to think any one of us here a year ago would certainly have declared to be impossible. In the absence of any such tribute, I will invite the Committee to consider what sort of language would have been used supposing we had not succeeded, and supposing I had had to stand here to-day, as I might easily have done, and point out that, owing to the fact that we had not been able to recruit a volunteer army, I must ask for a prolongation of compulsory military service, keeping at any rate the younger conscripts who took no part in the War for another year to come. The measure of the irritation which would have been excited by such a demand is, I think, the measure of the recognition which should be accorded to the military men who have succeeded in staving off such a demand.
We have abolished conscription. At, the General Election we pledged ourselves to fight for the abolition of conscription at the Peace Conference, but we were very careful to add that our own action must depend on what others did. Our representatives fought at the Peace Conference for the abolition of conscription, but they fought with singularly little success. In fact, there was no response at all to the representations which they made. The only other great nation whom we have succeeded in persuading to abolish conscription is Germany, and that is only under dire compulsion and as part of her punishment for having lost the War. The following States, among others—I do not pretend for a moment that my list is exhaustive—retain compulsory service as the basis of their military system, and apparently have no intention of departing from it: France, Italy, Japan, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Denmark. Rumania, Greece, Poland, Jugo-Slavia, Czecho-Slovakia, the United States, the originator of the League of Nations, Russia—here we tread on controversial ground—the home of advanced political thought, where there is not only military conscription but industrial conscription also.
Undiscouraged and undeterred by our failure to convert others, we have proceeded to set an example ourselves. Alone among the nations we have decided to abolish compulsory military service, and I venture to think that this action, coming as it does apart from the action of all other nations, deserves additional recognition from those who have so vehemently demanded it We alone, who have far greater extent of territory to control, who are responsible for a far larger mass of human beings in every part of the world, have returned to that voluntary system which we pursued before the War. At the Armistice we had on the whole the strongest army in the world. Our-normal army and our present army will be weaker than the army of Belgium. And then we are called militarists. Alone among the nations we have abandoned compulsory service. Yet I suppose we shall be treated to a continuance of the line of criticism which brands us as a Jingo Government and accuses the Secretary of State for War as being a bellicose and ambitious administrator.
If not, I hope that a new grievance will be found, because this one at any rate of the many grievances which necessarily flourish in the present period has been satisfactorily met. Before the War we had approximately 175,000 white soldiers, apart from those serving in and paid for by India. We have now, or we shall have by the 30th April, 220,000 white soldiers, apart from India. We had before the War on our pay, serving out of India, about 9,000 Indian soldiers, and we have now, and we propose to keep during the greater part of the financial year, 109,000 Indian soldiers. I suppose that the first question that will be asked me is: "Why should we have a larger army now, after the War, when Germany has been smashed up, than it was necessary for us to have before the War, when we were preparing to meet that formidable antagonist?" The answer is a very simple one, and I venture to think that it is a very conclusive one. The size of the Army before the War bore no relation to the German menace or to any European conflict. No increase was made to meet the German danger, and therefore no reduction is possible now that that danger has passed away. The size of the British Army before the War was fixed by two considerations: first of all, the number of units necessary to garrison the Empire abroad and the number of units necessary at home to sustain them and keep them in being, together with such force as was considered indispensable for internal security, out of which a moderate reinforcement was provided for the Empire in case of serious emergency. That was the line of thought by which the size of the Army was regulated.
The second consideration was still more arbitrary. The Army was limited by the numbers of men who could be persuaded to enlist in it under the voluntary system. It happened that those two separate and unrelated considerations arrived by their different roads at a very similar conclusion. Over a long period of years the peace and order of the British Empire was, in fact, maintained by about seventy-five battalions abroad and seventy-five at home, with the due pro portion of the other arms. Is it not a wonder, and is it not an admirable fact, that the Imperial authority should have been maintained over these vast expanses comprising more than one-fifth, I believe, of the entire population of the world by less than a quarter of a million of white soldiers? To find a parallel you have to go back to the greatest period of the Roman Empire, to the age of the Antonines; to find a parallel for so great and so wide a peace being sustained upon so slender an armed force you have to go back to the Antonines, and even then the parallel is greatly in favour of the British example. That is in principle what we are striving to reproduce in, future years. When in the years following the South African War the German antagonism began slowly and steadily to develop, the one great measure of pre caution taken by the Government was the strengthening of the British Navy. No addition was made to the Army to meet the growing peril. On the contrary, nine battalions were reduced from the Army in 1906 and not subsequently replaced. No increase in numbers was made in consequence of the German danger, nor was there any substantial increase in the Estimates over all those years. The administrative measures which Lord Haldane took in his long and remark able tenure at the War Office were directed, not to increasing the size, but to making the best possible use of the limited material at his disposal.
I do not want to embark on a detailed argument which is irrelevant to the general theme that I am pursuing. His reforms were directed to making the best possible use of the limited material at his disposal. He formed out of the units at home an Expeditionary Force of six divisions, and he used the savings which he made through reductions of various kinds, including an alteration in the number of artillery batteries, to complete and perfect the organisation of those six divisions. Out of the old Militia he formed the Special Reserve and later the Extra Special Reserve battalions, which were designed as draft-producing machinery for the first six months of the War. Out of the old Volunteers he formed the fourteen divisions of the Territorial Army for home defence if the Regular Army was sent out of the country, and, in addition, he provided a considerable force, nearly 150,000, for coast watching and for coast defence. That was all that he did, and within the limitations under which he was working, that, in my opinion, was the utmost that he could do. The ordinary annual intake of recruits into the British Army before the War amounted to between 30,000 and 35,000 a year. That gives the Committee some idea what effort we have had to make this year to recruit the whole of the Army within the compass of the twelve months. With long service, seven years with the Colours and five with the Reserve, which is essential on account of the needs of upholding our Indian garrison, the six divisions properly organised were the extreme limit of our military power. Indeed, the remarkable fact, in my opinion, is that the organisation with the interior economy of these divisions was raised to so high a point out of the limited elements which were at Lord Haldane's disposal.
It may also be said that this small Army was employed in exactly the right manner and in the nick of time, and it reached the vital point at the moment when we may reasonably claim that it played a decisive part, or at any rate an indispensable part, in the greatest decisive battle of the War. I believe that in principle the arrangements which we then made, within the limits and upon the conditions prescribed, were upon the whole the best that were possible, and the proof of it is to be found in the fact that we have returned, or are returning, under a similar condition of public opinion, to arrangements which in principle, speaking broadly, are identical with those under which we lived before the War, and it certainly does not lie in the mouth of anyone who applauds the abolition of compulsory service and approves of it, as this House has done and has this Government has done, to cast reproaches at the administrators responsible under circumstances of so great a difficulty and without any of that experience which is at our disposal to-day, for the arrangements they made before the War. Of course, it is idle to pretend that the pre-War Army was proportionate to the risks which we had to run or to the enemies with whom we came in collision. Nor was it proportionate to the important part in European diplomacy which we played and to which we aspired. The British Army before the War was provided for garrisoning India, for garrisoning our fortresses abroad and our dependencies, and any expeditionary force available for Europe was just made up out of the spare parts of that machinery, grouped together in the best manner that could be devised. Anyhow, you always get under an estimate in voluntary recruiting. So much so, when the War broke out the policy of recruiting had forced our establishment 8,000 below their proper strength. That is why the removal of the German danger does not in itself enable any reduction to be made in the strength of the British Army for garrisoning the Empire.
I have explained why there are no reductions. Let me explain now why there should be increases. On the other hand, new and serious responsibilities, temporary and permanent, overseas, have been placed upon us in consequence of the War, and, apart from that, the whole Eastern world, in which we are perhaps interested more than any other Power in the world, is in a state of extreme disquiet and unsettlement. Let me remind the Committee of what these new liabilities and responsibilities are at the present time. We have to keep, in discharge of our obligations to the Allies, about 16,000 men on the Rhine and in the Plebiscitary Areas of Germany. We have to keep, through the military needs of the situation, 9,000 white and 14,000 Indian troops at and around Constantinople We have to keep 6,000 white and 20,000 Indian troops in Egypt, additional to the pre-war garrison, on account of the unrest in that country. We have to keep a certain force, not of great dimensions—a brigade or so—in N.W. Persia, arising out of the situation created by the War, and the policy of the State towards that country.
All these now responsibilities are temporary, and many of them, I trust, will be wound up before the end of the financial year. But they bear heavily upon us at the present time, and I am bound, as representing the War Office, to make provision for them in accordance with the decisions which are taken by the Cabinet with the approval of Parliament, and in accordance with decisions which are taken by our representatives in harmony with the representatives of the other great Powers. I take this opportunity of pointing out that these are not matters on which the War Office decides. It is not the Army Council or the General Staff who choose what territories should be occupied or what the policy of the State should be in this or that country. Such matters are decided by the Cabinet with the approval of Parliament, and the War Office responsibility is limited to providing the necessary troops and making sure that those troops are not endangered through being too few to do the work that is set them, or too scattered for a sound military disposition.
Besides these new temporary liabilities, there are two important permanent liabilities—Palestine and Mesopotamia. Both these countries have garrisons at the present time, the cost of which far exceeds any revenue which is likely to be derived from either Province. In Palestine there are 10,000 whites, and 13,000 native soldiers; in Mesopotamia 17,000 whites and 44,000 native Indian soldiers. It is obvious that both these garrisons must be enormously reduced if either of these Provinces of the old Turkish Empire, which have fallen into our possession, is to pay its way, or to be anything but a drain and a burden upon the British Treasury. But Palestine is prejudicially affected by the fighting that is going on in Syria between the French and the Arabs, and it is affected by the unrest in Egypt at the present time, and Mesopotamia is disturbed also by the excitement of the Arabs due to the disturbances in Syria; secondly, by the increasing movement and power of the Turkish nationalist forces in Asia Minor; and, thirdly, by the unceasing advance of the Bolshevik force from the North, and the impending capture by them of the Caspian and the whole of the Trans-Caspian areas. The armies of Denikin have hitherto prevented the junction of these hostile forces, and they are still resisting desperately and not without occasional claims to success. But how long they can continue to resist, isolated as they are, it is impossible to forecast. All those factors act and react upon Mesopotamia, and upon our interests in Egypt, and in Persia. No further relief, it seems to us, from the burdens which we have to bear throughout the Middle East—Con stantinople, Egypt, Palestine, Persia, Mesopotamia—can be looked for until a real peace is made with Turkey. We have lost ground steadily through the whole of last year, and I trust that, having dispersed our armies, we shall not now take steps which will drive the Turkish people to despair, or undertake any new obligation, because our resources are not equal to the discharge.
I am not aware that we have failed to discharge any of the obligations into which we have entered, although I have frequently been pressed to do so from the benches opposite. We do not know when peace with Turkey will be made, or what degree of acquiescence it will command from the Turkish population. We do not know what aggressive action the Russian Bolsheviks may take in this sphere. We do not yet know how far the Milner Mission will be able to reduce the tension in Egypt. We do not know at what date our responsibilities in Constantinople will terminate, or when the expense of maintaining an International force there will be taken over by an International body, and paid for from funds raised from some other sources than the British taxpayer. We do not know any of these facts at the present moment, and all these factors of uncertainty make it impossible to estimate the men and money required for the discharge of these new liabilities in the Middle East with any approach to accuracy. But we have decided to take an optimistic view, and we have therefore made provision in the Estimates which involves during the new financial year, that is to say, up to the 31st March, 1921—13 months from the present time—a reduction of these garrisons in the Middle East to half their present strength within the time, and the termination of our financial burden in regard to Constantinople about half-way through the financial year.
That is the provision which we have made. If events take a different and less favourable turn, these arrangements will have to be altered, and it will be necessary for me to come back to the House, lay the new situation before it, and ask the provision of the necessary addtional credit. The army expenditure this year, as hon. Members may see by studying the White Paper, has been divided, for convenience sake, into three broad headings. The abnormal, or quasi war, expenditure on the basis of halving the garrisons of the Middle East by 31st March, 1921, amount to approximately £37,000,000 additional. I believe my right hon. Friend is going to follow with a motion to reduce, this vote by £15,000,000, and I hope he will not shirk the responsibility of specifying precisely the means which he will adopt to effect the reduction. Reduce the commitments, and the expenditure can be reduced. There is certainly one way in which the right hon. Gentleman's policy could be given effect to. If he persuaded the House and the Government to abandon Mesopotamia and give it back to the Turks, I could undoubtedly accept his motion for the re-deduction of the Estimates.
There is no extra charge on account of that temporary domestic unsettledness. It is met by an alteration of the balance of troops between England and Ireland, and no further charge is necessitated at the present time. I invite those who criticise these estimates to tell us what great, broad measure of economy, of reduction, they recommend as a specific instance. It really is not much use proposing vague and irresponsible reductions, certainly not from the Front Opposition Bench, and ingeminating economy with many cheers, but it does not clarify the counsel which we have to take with one another, or throw any light upon the path which we ought to tread. So I trust my right hon. Friend who is going to follow will deal with the constructive as well as the merely critical aspects of the large problem with which he intends to deal. There are two other liabilities which I must mention, although they do not involve any addition to the number or expenses this year. We require to keep in Ireland during the year 35,000 effectives as against 25,000 before the war—that means about 40,000 men altogether. That, as I have already said, is being met by a transference between the forces in Great Britain and Ireland. In the second place, any obligation which may be entered into by this country separately, or in conjunction with the United States, to aid France and Belgium in the defence of their territories during the period of the occupation of the Rhine is an entirely new obligation, such as this country has never in pre-war days foreseen, and for which the military organisation has never in any way been adapted. That is a grave matter which must be decided between the Governments. It will constitute an obligation requiring, if the worst comes to the worst, the whole armed exertion of the nation. Certainly it is not an obligation which can be fully discharged within the limits of the provision we are making at the present time.
I have dealt with the new and temporary liabilities or quasi-war expenditure. I invite specific items to be challenged if it is thought to reduce the Vote by so great a sum as £15,000,000, I turn to the second classification, the terminal charges marked sub-section (b) in the White Paper. That is to say, the expenditure actually incurred, or expenditure unavoidable for winding up the War. The net total of that is £29,500,000. All the items included in that class of the Vote speak for themselves. You cannot turn 8,000 war-wounded men into the streets, even if you want to reduce a Vote by £15,000,000. You cannot leave the dead unburied on the fields of France, nor can you deny the victors the medals they have won. The cost is £3,000,000 in the present year alone. You cannot refuse to pay the shipping charges, costing £5,000,000—the French and Belgian railway charges, he money for bringing the armies home, and other similar items; or the war-time separation allowances, which have been earned, and which aggregate in the present year £6,000,000. You cannot refuse to reinstate the land and buildings taken over by the War Office, which will cost £1,500,000 to put straight before being handed back. Nor can you in any other way repudiate the obligations undertaken by the State. And I say to my right hon. Friend, if he is looking for £15,000,000, he must look somewhere else!
That brings me, I think, to the only other remaining quarter—the normal Army. I have explained, or endeavoured to explain, to the Committee why it is we need a larger Army this year than before the War. Another question arises: Why should the Army, man for man, unit for unit, be more costly than it was before the War? The question is put at its best in this form: Admitting the terminal charges and temporary new liabilities, why have we to pay £55,000,000 for the same military establishment which cost, before the War, £28,000,000? Again, I think the answer is simple. The pay of the Army has been multiplied by two and a half times, and that accounts for over one-third of the whole expenditure.
For the purpose of these Estimates we investigated the Army expenditure Vote by Vote and branch by branch. We applied to each branch what we thought was the true magnifying factor, 2, 2¼ or 2¾, as the case may be. On the whole, we found it averaged out at 2¼ times. The same Army costs 2¼ times what it cost before the War. That is, I believe—I do not want to make a mistake—125 per cent. more than before the War. That 125 per cent. is a lower figure than is very often taken as the basis in dealing with other matters, so I do not think it is excessive. We have to pay £2 5s. for the same unit of military power as we formerly obtained for £1; or, alternatively, you may put it that the fall in the purchasing power of money has made the military pound worth 8s. 10d. Two and a quarter times multiplies the £28,000,000 to £63,000,000. But what the War Office receives to maintain the normal Army is not £63,000,000, but 63,000,000 eight shillings and tenpences. Not only that, what the country gives to us is also 63,000,000 eight shillings and tenpences. If we turn, as we always should do in these matters, from the shifting sands of nominal values to the actual drain of goods and services which lie behind them, to think truly we should recur in this—and I think in almost every other thing—from the financial to the economic sphere. The reproduction of the pre-war Army at the present time involves the withdrawal of no more men from the productive life of the nation, nor the consumption by those men, or in the maintenance of them, of an appreciably larger quantity of goods than before the War. In parcelling out the resources of the State between its different liabilities the post-war Army will make no larger demand upon the available store of manhood and goods than did its predecessor before the War. Each of the men are not appreciably more valuable as producers—they are slightly—nor do the goods which they consume or which are consumed in their maintenance constitute an appreciably larger portion of the national wealth. Of course, there are many other aspects in which this proposition may be examined, and there is much to be said about all of them. But the fact remains that out of a population of 45,000,000 about 175,000, or the 1/250th, were taken—apart from Indian needs—before the War for Imperial defence.
That is the measure, and it is the only true measure, of the drain upon the national resources. So long as these proportions are not exceeded for the normal Army—there are certain minor improvements like education and so forth, which add, to a certain degree, to the expenses of our establishment—I am speaking in the main in general—so long as these proportions are not exceeded, the fact that normal money values have expanded 2¼ times is irrelevant to the argument. The price of money or the rise in prices produces reactions on every class which are harsh and capricious in the last degree. It is probably the main cause of our discontents at the present time. From the economic point of view, however, the expenditure of £63,000,000 upon the normal post-war Army involves no greater demand on the national resources than the pre-war expenditure of £28,000,000.
The Committee will observe in the White Paper that the figure for the charge of the normal Army is £55,000,000 instead of £63,000,000. That is because we are living on stocks of clothing, equipment, and munitions, to a large extent, for this year and the next two years, and also because the Reserves, the militia, and the Territorials are not expected to reach the approved scale till a very late period in the financial year. But the £55,000,000 is really £63,000,000, and this latter figure constitutes no greater assignment of the national resources than the £28,000,000 did before the War.
Notwithstanding that the people are bearing a greater burden? I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but I rather gathered that his point is that £63,000,000 at the present moment is not a greater burden, proportionately, than was the £28,000,000 of prewar times?
I cannot put it more simply that this; that the post-War Army, although its charge will amount to £63,000,000, constitutes no greater subtraction of men from the productive industries of the country nor any greater demand in goods produced by other labour for their maintenance than did the £28,000,000 on the Army that we had before the War.
There is no greater shortage of men. As a matter of fact, the population has slightly increased since the War, I am told. Anyhow, I am stating a very general proposition. I quite agree that with our finance in a disordered state and with values mounting so very capriciously, so artificially, and so unfortunately, no doubt there will be many classes of the population on whom the burden of taxation will fall far more heavily than it did before the War. But I am looking at it from the point of view of the nation, devoting its strength according to the various services—so many men for the railways, so many men for cotton, so many for the production and distribution of food, so many for the production of clothes, also for the preservation of peace and order, and so many in khaki, I say it is most misleading in regard to that, to allow the nominal values which have been fixed, and the present purchasing power of money to distort the judgment as to the demand which the War Office is actually making upon the nation. A similar limitation characterises the new liabilities, and I hope that will not be forgotten. The expense of maintaining the soldiers overseas is still more increased by the War.
It is pertinent at this stage for the Committee to ask me another question as to whether the interior economy of the Army is as good as it was before the war. Are we getting the same value for our money? That is to say, are we getting the same war power for the money provided or the same amount of war power for a less sum of money? Taking the military power at 8s. 10d. are we getting more for it or less? There is not the slightest doubt we are getting less. I put it in another way: The Army cannot be expected to show the same value for money as in 1914. It is a brand new Army. It is full of recruits and young soldiers. It is cumbered with exceptional large training staffs in the schools and depots. There are many ancillary services which are overloaded with the debris of the great war establishments, and which require searching and patient investigation.
There is a large surplus of officers and a shortage of technical personnel, such as signallers, wireless telegraphists, motor drivers, ordnance artificers, and all those classes which are becoming more and more important to the modern army are so short, and that affects the general efficiency. It is not reasonable to compare the internal economy of this new Army, the product of a single year, with the high standard of economy which the refining processes, the skin-flinting processes of so many generations had produced in the old pre-war military organisation. Three or four years of detailed study and exertion will be needed to get the same value for money out of the Army as was attained in the pre-war period. That is a task which must be sedulously pursued. There is no difference of opinion about that. We will do our best.
The young Army is improving every day. Every day these lads, most of whom have enlisted for seven years, will be growing up to the efficiency of the old force before the War. A great advance will take place in the present year. This organisation is fitting together and great developments are possible. I am not attempting at the present moment to embark upon the discussion of the enormous number of very interesting, complicated, and debatable matters, problems of Army reform which have often exercised the House in previous years and Parliaments, and which will no doubt will exercise it again next year and the year after. This year our supreme pre-occupation has been to carry on, to produce an Army, when conscription lapses, which will not leave us without the means of administering the Empire, and that we have done. No doubt there are many other short-comings but that has been achieved, and the rest can be achieved with patience and industry.
There is another aspect of the new Army which I should rather like to treat in the same manner. We must not expect too much in a hurry, and we must pursue an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary course. We must develop our processes for the next few years, I mean the demand for what is called a mechanical Army. Lord Fisher is very angry with everybody, except my right hon. Friend opposite who is a strong supporter of his, for wasting our resources on an obsolete Navy and an obsolete Army, and he would like us, and many writers in the newspapers follow in this order of ideas and along this trend of thought, to confine ourselves at the present time to an aerial armada and a submarine fleet. Lord Fisher appears to believe that we could now make arrangements to hold our Empire on this basis. I do not believe we could do it now. Any way, how much would it cost? The best way to avoid Naval expenditure, as I know well, is to avoid new construction, and not to start new cycles of changes in design. I can see the gallant Admiral sitting down with a smile of a hungry ogre, surveying a particularly numerous and succulent batch of captives, to design a brand new submarine fleet to defend the British Empire, and I can see the Chancellor of the Exchequer at a later period without any smile on his face sitting down to add up the Bill.
The case of the Army and the Air Force is not quite so clear as the case of the Navy. The evolution must be more rapid because the plant involved is far less expensive, but although I cannot accept the view of those who say or write "halve your Army and quadruple your Air Force," it is an interesting hypothesis, I cannot quite accept that at the present time. I favour the steady increase of the Air Force at the expense of the Army and the Navy, and I believe that will be the tendency increasingly year by year, but I am sure that any such increase should only take place in proportion as the Air Force is actually able to discharge blocks of day to day duties which are in fact discharged by the Army and the Navy now, and in proportion that it is able to give us the assurance that in an emergency it will afford the same solid if somewhat prosaic foundation for our safety. I am anxious to give the Air Force an opportunity of substituting air power for military power wherever substantial economy can be shown and provided the work can really be done.
We have had an example of the possibilities of the Air Force recently in the Somaliland campaign, which for a cost of about £30,000 achieved much more than we were able to do in one expedition before the War for an expenditure of over £2,500,000, and that would be £6,000,000 or £7,000,000 of the present currency. That campaign was particularly interesting because it was the first time the Air Force was in command and where the ships and the military or ground forces and the sea forces cooperated under the general direction of the aerial command. I propose to apply that principle to another field. I have directed that the chief of the Air Staff to submit an alternative scheme for the control of Mesopotamia, the Air Force being the principal force or agency of control, while the Military and Naval forces on the ground and river would be an ancillary power. Up to the present the General Staff have not been able to offer any solution of the problem of Mesopotamia except by the employment of a Military garrison, the cost of which will crush the country. I propose to invite, as it were, competitive tenders from the Air Staff. It may be that by changing fundamentally the point of view and by applying an entirely new line of thought a great saving in annual expenditure may be effected, and should a practical scheme involving a real reduction be framed on high professional authority, and should it receive the approval of the Cabinet, the Air Forces Estimates will be increased by the amount necessary to provide for the security of Mesopotamia, and the War Office Estimates will be decreased by what I hope will be a much larger sum.
It will also follow that the Command-in-Chief in Mesopotamia would be vested in an officer of the air force just as in other parts of the Empire for tactical purposes of the Empire the air forces are placed under the command of the local military Commanders-in-Chief, so that if the air force becomes responsible in this theatre the naval forces on the river and the military forces on the ground would be under the command of the Air Commander-in-Chief. Whether this development is possible or not must depend upon the result of the staff studies which are proceeding both in the War Office and the Air Ministry, and on the amount of economies resulting from the change, and the degree of reliance which can be placed upon aerial methods of control. I do not prejudge the issue, but I am sure the Committee will see that the air force is being given every possible chance of expansion and developing provided they can show any specific case like this, that they really can do the work that has hitherto been done by the other branches of the Services, and can do it with a substantial saving in cost. Then there is another aspect of mechanical warfare—I mean tank warfare. The most surprising developments in tanks have taken place since the War.
I am dealing with the technical and not the tactical aspect. The progress of experiments and design on this and many other fields of war weapons has been unceasing. There is less difference between the first crude production of a tank in 1915 and the best tank which fought in the Great War than there is between the best tank in the Great War and the tank we have in existence to-day. By the adoption of springs and other mechanical devices a speed of 20 miles an hour, which is a great deal faster than a fox hound, can be attained across country over hedges and ditches and so forth, and one thousand miles have been run without any appreciable wear and tear in the gear. This tank weighing 30 tons is able to pass over a brick lying on the road without crushing the brick, so delicate is the mechanism. This is a very important point. One of the great difficulties has been in the past the damage to the roads, but these new tanks have a contact with the surface which is so excellent and the weight is so evenly distributed that so far from injuring the road they say they actually improve it. It is also thought that the heat inside the tank would preclude its use in India and other tropical countries, but I can assure the House that the engines to these new tanks exercise a refrigerating effect, and that consequently the interior will be agreeably cool by comparison with the outer atmosphere.
On the other hand the methods of anti-tank warfare have also made a profoundly significant advance. A new-form of grenade has been devised which can be discharged from the ordinary rifle capable of inflicting mortal injury on the wonderful little instrument which I have just described.
The young disease, that must subdue at length,
Grows with his growth, and strengthens with his strength.
And the same thing applies to the growth of the tank as to the dual system of gun and armour. Whether the tank by increased speed, by the use of smoke, by increased protection, and by some other devices can maintain its ascendency cannot yet be foreseen. Of course its value against all enemies unprovided with these special means of offence will remain. The whole subject, however, is highly experimental and we should be most unwise to commit ourselves to any large programme of tank construction, involving heavy expense, until much more definite results can be reached and the whole practical aspect of this new war weapon has been further examined. It would be a great mistake to try to jump to a conclusion about the lessons of the War in a hurry. It really is not asking too much to allow military men two or three years to digest, to consider, and to reflect upon all that has taken place in order that when a decision has to be taken it shall really be one characterised by soundness and by foresight.
I come now to the military organisation which we are trying to establish for Imperial defence upon a voluntary basis. Broadly speaking, we are reproducing the pre-War Army and its Reserves with the improvements suggested by the War. The same number of units, Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery, have already been created. These units will be distributed in general accordance with the unshakable Cardwellian system, half abroad and half at home. The units at home will supply the units abroad in time of peace with drafts. The units abroad will secrete the Reserves who, on mobilisation, will raise the units at home to full war strength. The units at home will be organised to form, on mobilisation, something like the old Expeditionary Force in six Infantry divisions and one Cavalry division, and this force will be the central Reserve of the British Empire, available to be sent in time of trouble to any part of the world. Behind each linked battalion of the Regular Army there will be a Militia battalion, which will discharge the function hitherto discharged by the Special Reserve and the extra-Special Reserve of supplying the drafts for the Regular battalions which are sent out of the country in time of war. These seventy-four Militia battalions may be capable, when the country is a few months at war, of taking the field themselves for the extension of the Regular Army. They may, in fact, become six divisions developing behind the Regular divisions. These forces I have described constitute the first line of the British Army. The second line, we hope, will be composed of fourteen Territorial Divisions and a Yeomanry Cavalry Division. These divisions will be organised so as to be a replica unit for unit of Regular divisions.
Yes, money will be provided for their establishment. The Territorial Force will not be liable to be embodied, unless and until the Army Reserve has been called up by Royal Proclamation to meet a grave emergency. It will not be liable to be sent out of the country unless it has been embodied, and a special Act of Parliament passed, authorising its departure. They will provide, in the first instance, for the internal security of this country after the Regular Army has gone overseas, and they will also ensure for the Regular Army the power of movement which is indispensable for the discharge of its functions in the defence of the country. Apart from the Militia battalions, the Territorial Army will be the normal means of enlarging the British national forces in time of war. Arrangements will be made for each Territorial Division to throw off a cadre of Second Division, on which the manhood of the country may form, either on a voluntary or compulsory basis, as Parliament may decide in the existing circumstances. Until, however, Parliament passes a General National Service Act, the men of the Territorial Army will enjoy the privilege of serving, whether at home or abroad, in their own regimental units.
There is an important question for these recruits. Will they not be able to serve also in their own battalion in the event of Parliament passing such an Act? I think that would be the main inducement.
I do not agree it is a main inducement, but it is not necessary at this moment to consider what would happen in that very remote and hypothetical contingency of war. On the other hand, inconvenience would be caused by the creation of a special class in a war of the greatest magnitude which would not be liable to be transferred to meet the ordinary exigencies of the service. Apart from that, recruiting has now begun and will be pushed steadily throughout the year. It will be a long and hard business and we will need all the help that we can get. Everything will be needed to make recruiting for the Territorial Forces a success. I cannot tell whether it will be a success, but the course we have adopted is a perfectly straightforward and honest course, and it was the one recommended by the Territorial Forces Association, by an overwhelming majority. It was recommended by the Service Members Committee and by the military authorities, and it was approved by the Government after very careful consideration. We hope an adequate response will be made. If we do not get that adequate response it will be necessary to propose an extension of the Army Reserve to take the place, at any rate, of a portion of the Territorial Force. I should just like to say that owing to the fact that Coast Defence is no longer a part of the duties of particular units of the Territorial Force, I propose to reserve a final decision as to these units until I have heard what they have to say for themselves, and I certainly do not propose to abolish any unit which can show that it possesses vitality enough to produce the number of men required. With regard to the Yeomanry, I propose to make a further statement later on, before Easter, when the Army Votes will no doubt again be put down, and I can deal with the matter more in detail.
If all goes well, for a supreme emergency such as occurred in August, 1914, we shall be able to provide, complete in all details—one cavalry division, and six divisions of regular troops immediately, and in the course of the following two months one yeomanry division and fourteen divisions of the Territorial Army, all complete in equipment for war service. Behind them, that Special Reserve, there will be cadres in skeleton, a force which can be called into being, as it was during the great War, of about 20 divisions. For the first portion of this force we shall have sufficient ammunition and equipment of all kinds to supply its requirements for the first six months, and during that six months our industries will have to be turned from a peace to a war basis. I have said nothing of the assistance that could be rendered by the Forces in the Middle East, because we propose that these garrisons shall be reduced to the barest minimum compatible with local security. If anything happens there, reinforcements will have to be sent from home or from India. But India is in a different position. The Forces are not exactly proportioned to the internal need, but they are intended to enable India, in a time of need, to repel any invasion from outside. The discussion of these matters is proceeding between the War Office and the India Office, and when the occasion later arises I hope to make a further statement in reference to it. The same also applies to the Dominions, who contemplate raising a considerable number of divisions of the very fine military material which they possess, and adjustments of our relations with them will be undertaken in a few months
I have now covered most of the ground, and though the arrangements which I have described may seem imposing, the House and the country must be under no illusion in regard to them. After all, if carried out as we intend, if the response of recruits of the territorial army is what we hope, the military power of this country will not be numerically greater that it was before the War. For some years no doubt we shall have large latent reserves of war-trained manhood. We shall also have ample accumulation of war material for a time. Moreover, Germany cannot become a formidable military power for many years to come. France is organising a large conscript army on pre-war lines and Belgium, whose military forces have been greatly in creased on a compulsory basis, is another country bound to us by tics of friendship and interest. Therefore, for the time being, there will be no immediate danger in Western Europe, but the day may come when our reserves of trained manhood will grow old, when our accumulations of war materials will be used up or become absolete, and if this period coincides with a revival of the military strength of Ger many or the military strength of Ger many and Russia combined, the arrangements I have described to-day will require drastic and timely revision. We are the only nation which have abolished conscription. It was a tremendous decision; it was a decision of the Government, the Parliament and the people taken together. It was, undoubtedly, the wish of the nation. Coming victoriously out of the War, it vehemently demanded a return to the old voluntary system, a restoration of the non-military character of our national life. There are many countries where a national Army on a compulsory basis is the main foundation of the State, and is regarded as one of the most important safeguards of democratic freedom. It is not so here. On the contrary, the civil character of our Government institutions are one of the most deeply cherished convictions of our island life, a conviction which our island position alone have enabled us to enjoy. I can testify that the Military Authorities have loyally accepted the decision and are doing, have done, and will do their best to make a success of the voluntary system. It would be dangerous, however, to demand this immense relaxation of national effort in organisation and to exult in the individual freedom which follows from it, unless at the same time there is a frank recognition of the consequent limitations of our military power, and unless those limitations influence our policy. It is no use expecting a powerful, perfect, symmetrical, efficient and cheap military organisation on a voluntary system, or that Forces can be provided by it which will correspond to the part which we are likely to wish to play in the world or to any military contingencies which may arise. We are not in a position alone among the Governments of the world to ask the ques tion what are our dangers and what forces do we require to meet them. All we can say is: Here are certain Forces to which our people have been accustomed by tradition and which have their roots in the country, which attract from year to year the necessary recruits. We will do the best we can with these Forces to discharge our duties to the British Empire, but should a great emergency arise we must trust to the Fleet and to the air to give us time, after a year or so, to bring the might, the irresistible might as it has been proved, of Britain into the field.
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by the sum of £15,000,000.
It is always a very difficult task to follow the right hon. Gentleman. He invariably illuminates every subject he touches, and has a wonderful power of inducing in his audience the belief that the subject with which he happens for the moment to be identified, is more vital than any other. That makes it difficult to follow him. But I take heart of grace from one fact. Those who remember his Estimates speech last year, will recollect that he then proved to us that the Army was really a considerable financial asset to the State, and that it was a privilege to pay for it. This year he has confessed that the Army is going to cost a certain amount of money and he has, I think, claimed that it may be possible, by the development of Tanks, to solve the problems of the Ministry of Transport, by making their roads, and the problems of the Food Ministry, by providing unlimited food storage. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman in one thing. He said that the decisions in these matters are in many cases and in many departments, not the decision of the War Office, but the decision of the Government. Last Wednesday week, we had a Debate on economy, and the then Chancellor of the Exchequer complained, as I am sure the House thought with some justice, that very often his hands were being forced by the House, and that on subjects like Housing, Insurance, Education and Wages, it was not really his doing, but it was the doing of the House which forced expenditure upon him. At any rate, however, in the case of the Army Estimates, we have the matter really effectively under the control of the Cabinet, and it was quite within the power of the Cabinet, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, to settle what our military policy should be, and then the Army Estimates could have been reduced to £100,000,000 or £110,000,000 if necessary, and the Secretary of State and the Army authorities could have carried out their decision.
Before I go into the question, of expense I want to touch on one general point which has not been mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman. I am not satisfied that we ought not to have had the Army Estimates this year in the ordinary form, so that we might really sec the details of Army expenditure as we were wont to do in the past. I know that the Finance Department of the War Office is in such a state of efficiency that if the Cabinet decision on policy had been come to in good time the department could have turned it into terms of money; that if the decision for instance had been come to by the New Year in that case we could have had the Army Estimates in their full form instead of the skeleton now presented to us. It really looks as if the Secretary of State had asked the Cabinet quite late in the Session for a certain figure and as if the Cabinet had insisted that the figure should be smaller, and that the right hon. Gentleman had not yet settled how he is going to arrange the expenditure within the total sanctioned. If that is so, it is perfectly intelligible we should have the Army Estimates in this form, for the longer the delay the greater are the chances of something turning up which may enable the right hon. Gentleman to induce the Cabinet to modify their decision. But look at the position of the House of Commons, which has most jealously treasured the principle of not voting supplies without having the full Estimates before it. The Vote on Account is of course carefully designed to last until the Votes are guillotined at the end of the Session. So that when we pass from this stage, which can only last one day, and from the Report Stage, and when we get Vote A., it will be absolutely unnecessary for the Government to get a single further War Office Vote for the whole of the year as they will have enough money to last them until everything is automatically guillotined. I know that the procedure on Votes on Account was in this form recommended by the Samuel Committee, but I suggest that the House never intended to enable the Government to get all the, money it wanted for the whole period of a Session without laying Estimates before the House. Therefore I have put down this reduction, not in the interests of any particular school of Army economists, but on behalf of the House and its ancient privileges. I want an assurance that the Estimates will be laid before the Report Stage of this Vote is taken, or, if that is impossible, before Vote A is taken, or, as an alternative, that they will be laid and a further day for their discussion given, say not later than the middle of April. I think it is only fair, and if we do not get such an assurance then I think the House would not be following its ancient and honourable traditions if it were to vote the money which is now asked for and thus lose all control over Army policy so far as obtaining votes in this House is concerned. That is why I have put down this reduction. I think it will be ample to give the Government half the money necessary for the whole estimated annual expenditure of the year and force them when the Army Estimates are properly laid to come back to this House for a further Vote. I do not think that on these skeleton Estimates before us we should vote all the money that they require for the whole of the year.
There is another assurance which I should like to obtain, although I am afraid I shall not get it. It is this. When the Estimates are produced, seeing their complexity, and the enormous importance of the matters with which they deal, they should be referred to a Commitee on the lines recommended by the National Expenditure Committee which we debated in this House the week before last, so that the House should have before it the report of the Committee to guide it in its discussions here. A very curious thing happened on Wednesday last week on the Debate on Economy. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was, or seemed to be, imperfectly informed on the recommendations of the Public Expenditure Committee, and on this Motion he asked my right hon. Friend, the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean), to explain to him the recommendations of that Committee. That was done. The right hon. Gentleman made a quite important speech on economy later on, but in it he made no mention whatever of that extremely important recommendation of the National Expenditure Committee in favour of setting up a proper Estimates Committee of this House, advised, as it should be, by an officer of the House of Commons responsible for that duty before the matters come up here. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman thought it wise to get a decision of the Cabinet on it. I should be very glad if before our Debate ends to-day we can have the decisions of the Cabinet; if we can be informed whether the Estimates are going to be presented, and when, and if when they have been produced we shall not have lost an opportunity of considering them. Fourthly, I want to know whether they will be referred to such a Committee as was recommended by the National Expenditure Committee. Let us look at the figures such as they are. This Vote on Account contains provisions for £55,000,000 for the same estimated numbers as in 1914–15, and for terminal charges to the amount of 29½ millions, while there is also an extraordinary provision of £40,000,000 for overseas garrisons. Of course, the first and last items are the really important two, but I would like to say a word or two in reference to the item for terminal charges, which includes the salvage Army. Whereas all the proceeds of salvage sales are going to the Ministry of Munitions Vote, the charge is to be borne on the War Office Estimates, and the effect will be this, that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State will be able, in defending his Estimates here, to point to the charges forced upon him by the Ministry of Munitions for realising his stocks, whereas the Minister of Munitions will be able to say, when his Estimate is under discussion, "Look at the money I get for the salvage. Another effect will be that he will be able to keep the stocks in hand, to nurse his market at a heavy expense to the War Office, and then show a big profit on realisation without showing the cost. We want to bring the. two items together—the actual amount realised and the cost incurred in realising it. Therefore, we suggest that the salvage Army must be under War Office control and under military discipline. The cost should not be shown here, but it should be charged against the Ministry of Munitions.
But there are far more important considerations under the other head, the provision for the same establishment as in 1914–15, £55,000,000, and the extra- ordinary provision for overseas garrisons. Unless there is a serious intention of reducing the British establishment to the same figure as it was before the War, it is really almost pure humbug to put it on the Estimate. I believe I can show that this figure, so far as this year's Estimates are concerned, is misleading, that it means absolutely nothing at all and that really it would have been better, if you have any real intention whatever of reaching it, not to put it on the Estimates before us. Let us look at the figures. The number of men on the British establishment in 1914–15 was 174,000, and yet I think I can show that there is nothing at all in the figures or in the statement the right hon. Gentleman has made to bind him to come below that figure of 239,000. That is a difference of 65,000. The figure of 239,000, on the same proportion that 174,000 bears to £55,000,000, would mean an expenditure of £75,000,000. Of course it would have been inconvenient to say "My Estimates mean, if they are accepted, that I may keep a force of British troops of 239,000 all through the year, but that has no relation whatever to this figure of £55,000,000. If I have to do that, it will cost at least £75,000,000." It would have produced an unfortunate impression to give that figure because the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made a forecast, which we still hope may be realised, that the Army and Air Force together in a normal year will be brought within that figure. I am not counting, of course, the extraordinary provision. It would, of course, have taken some part out of the £40,000,000. If he put this British establishment at 239,000 costing £75,000,000 it would have reduced the extraordinary provision from £40,000,000 to £20,000,000. But unless he is really pledged, as he is not, to any reduction of the British establishment below 239,000 it would really have been more honest not to put this figure of £55,000,000, which can only be reached if the British establishment goes down to 174,000. I think that it is clear from the Estimate.
May I again ask the Committee to look it the figures? It is stated on page 2 of Vote A that the 520,000 will come down to 280,000, a reduction of 245,000. Clearly, most of that reduction comes under heading 3, the sick and the salvage, or of the men being demobilised. All of these come off that 176,000. If 176,000 are taken off the 245,000, it leaves 70,000 men to come off somewhere else. Then he says, at the end of page 3 of Vote A, that the garrisons employed in other territories are in process of reduction to approximately half their present strength where local circumstances permit, and they amount to 168,000 men, of whom 68,000 are British and 100,000 Colonial and native Indians. If one half is to come off this, that is a total of 84,000, or, as he would put it, approximately half, and that would be represented by possibly the 70,000 instead of 84,000 which have still to come off the grand total. But he can take off that half of the 170,000 in any way the likes, and it is quite clear that all of it might come off the 100,000 Indian troops, leaving a nice useful balance of 30,000 still at his disposal, and that the British force abroad might be left wholly untouched, and therefore a total British establishment of 239,000 at the end of the year just as at the beginning. If that is the meaning of the figures when analysed it is rather moonshine to suggest that it is within the bounds of practical politics even to think in terms of this figure of £55,000,000 or £63,000,000 allowing for the stores as he has put it before us. If he had said "The total British establishment at the beginning of the year is 239,000, of which I have a definite intention of making such and such reductions," there would have been very little criticism, but he has so arranged his figures that no sort of expectation can be held out on the face of the Estimates of any reduction of that force. In fact I think it comes back to this. There ought to have been laid before us, and surely there might have been, a proper Vote A. This is a mere substitute for a Vote A. Vote A normally takes 13 pages of the Army Estimates, and gives the House some very valuable information, and we ought to have figures which would show the permanent establishments of our post-war Army separately from the temporary garrisons. Instead of that, we only have the geographical distribution on 1st April and nothing to show what troops under heading 3, on page 3, are permanent and what are temporary.
Let us look at the figures a little further. Looking at Vote A for what it is worth, the list is headed by cavalry. There we find that it is practically the same figure as before the War, and yet I should have thought if anything had been proved by the War it was that cavalry was less useful that we had previously thought it was going to be. There are the same totals as before the War, the same as in 1914 when the, cavalry was tuned up to the highest possible pitch, and with the very fullest possible establishment of horses, and men to groom them, whereas now there is no need whatever for it to be tuned up in anything like the same way. If you do not need the same establishment of horses, you do not need the same establishment of men, and yet here the right hon. Gentleman has the same establishment of men. I should have thought if they were not tuned up in the same way it would have reflected itself in a reduction of numbers and consequently a reduction of expense, and certainly in this arm, which we know to be a most expensive arm, a little reduction of numbers and expenditure would have been very welcome. Next, the artillery. There you have 29,000 against 32,500 before the War. There is an apparent reduction of numbers. That is the only case of an apparent reduction of numbers. But of the 32,500, about 14,000 were garrison artillery, leaving only 18,000 horse and field, and of course coast defence will be unnecessary for years and years—we hope for ever—and yet, although the garrison artillery of 18,000 are really unnecessary altogether, we only have a reduction of a few thousand.
So it goes on. The engineers and the Colonial service are 23,000 as against 10,000 in 1914. The A.O.C. is more than double; the R.A.M.C. three times, the Royal Ordnance Corps 2½ times, and so on almost through the list. When we come to the new items of machine gun corps and tank corps, I do not complain of then-existence, their development and their numbers. But it is an obvious subject of complaint that these new technical corps, no doubt of very high efficiency and in particular with the Royal Air Force at his disposal, of whose use we have recently seen such a striking example, he should be still going on with what I may call the old Army not only undiminished, but very considerably enlarged. It would seem to an ordinary person that if there was any real gain to be anticipated by having a single Minister of War and Minister of Air it would have been that when he saw how extraordinarily successful the Air Force was in doing work which it had previously taken vastly greater numbers of other arms to do he would have had the strength to reduce to some extent at any rate—not absolutely altogether of course—some of the forces which ought now to be unnecessary. I am only taking the Government at their word, and assuming that they really are desperately keen on national economy. If that is not so, my criticism falls to the ground, but it seems to me, and it must seem to the Committee, as though instead of using that wonderfully keen intelligence which he has, the right hon. Gentleman had rather left himself in the hands of the soldiers, who are, I fear, in general the last people to whom we can look to advise any cutting down of the old Army, however completely it may have been superseded. Or is it possible that the eternal vigilance of the Prime Minister for economy which he exercises day and night has somehow not penetrated across Whitehall?
But let me return to the figures. I have tried to show that the total reduction promised for this year is more than accounted for by the disappearance of the temporary men and the reduction of the foreign garrisons. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman would suggest that there was any reduction of our British troops at home. They are shown on the top of page 3 as 161,000 men. It is a remarkable thing, in view of the very great decrease of our home responsibilities, that he has a considerable increase above our home establishments in 1914–15. Our home standing Army in 1914–15 was 138,000, as against 161,000. One surely would expect that, whereas in 1914 everything was ready for the instant mobilisation of a six-division army, whereas we had to provide considerable numbers of troops, I think 150,000, for coast defence—
They were mainly Territorials. Now but for one thing—I refer to Ireland—the strain is not at home, but abroad. It is the garrisons for Palestine, Egypt and Mesopotamia which he most needs, and home coast defence is unnecessary for a generation, at least, and there ought not now to be any necessity to be able to throw six divisions across the Channel in a fortnight. I think the words the right hon. Gentleman himself used towards the close of his speech bear that out. For the time being, he said, no danger is imminent in the West of Europe. Therefore, one would have thought, he would have been able temporarily, at any rate, to reduce his home force in order to provide these garrisons. But he does not. The figures are quite interesting. Compare them with 1914. There are 23,000 more men at home, and if you look abroad, in 1914 we had 33,000 British troops abroad, excluding India, and now we are to have 9,600 in the Colonies, and I am assuming a reduction to a half of the British troops as well as native troops. We are to have at the end of the year 34,000 in the garrisons a total of 40,000, an increase of British troops abroad, although it is there that the strain is compared with pre-War times, of only 11,000, and an increase of troops at home by 23,000.
What is the explanation? The right hon. Gentleman has already ruled out one which is Ireland. He states that the large garrison which unfortunately is inevitably kept in Ireland is simply arrived at by redistribution. We are merely housing troops in Ireland which we should have to keep in the United Kingdom somewhere, and we are keeping them there for the purpose of keeping order. That is consoling as far as it goes. It would indeed be rather a curious thing if he had to confess that part of the increase in the establishment of British troops was due to the state of Ireland, By the way, it is a matter of interest among those who are trying to work with him on Territorial matters to know whether in the event of emergency—the Reserves being called out, Acts being passed, and that kind of thing—the Territorial Force could ever be asked to serve in Ireland? That is a matter of interest to which we shall perhaps get an answer later on. If it is not Ireland that accounts for this large home establishment are we really, in spite of the clear absence of any necessity, keeping a home Army of six divisions instantly mobilisable? That would partly account for the big increase. If that is one of the things we are bound to in consequence of a friendly alliance we ought to be told so clearly. If that is the explanation for our keeping more troops at home than we had before the War, then I would say that there does not seem on the face of it the necessity to mobilise six divisions, or anything of the kind. Or is it that we are afraid of civil disturbances at home and that we are keeping a specially large number of troops here for that purpose? That might be a useful subject to explore. Or is it due to the methods of recruiting? I think it is due in the main to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman in order to get his large number of soldiers, 329,000 compared with 174,000 pre-war, is sweeping in his recruits from every possible available source. It is the fact that he has gone absolutely full speed ahead in the matter of recruiting. I believe he has taken men as poor of quality and as young as he did before the War. In fact, he really is getting more return for the very great increase in pay which has been given in order to attract men to the Army. There are units that are very illiterate. I know there is one unit which has over ten per cent. of its men illiterate That is a very extraordinary thing, and it shows to what a degree our standard of education has been relaxed during the War, and how the boys were allowed to go away from school without being properly taught.
That is rather personal. They are at Aldershot. I do not suppose the fact that you have 10 per cent. of illiterates in one unit has ever been known in the last half century in our Army. This taking of what he can get and taking them much younger than they ought to be taken, is unduly swelling the home establishment. It is clear that if he had hardened his heart and had reduced some of the establishments of the old Army he would not want so many recruits, and if he did not need so many recruits ho could pick and choose a little more and get a better class of recruits and better value for the great increase in the pay that has been given. We could also take them at a later age, say, at nineteen, instead of eighteen, and younger, and then they would be able to go abroad after six months' training and the home strength thereby could be cut down instead of its being swollen by men waiting, at great expense to the taxpayers, until they are old enough to go abroad. Recruiting is very delicate. You may have to touch quite new sources. You may have to go lower and to raise an enormous amount of money if you are absolutely determined to get a number of men by a certain date. Reduction of numbers is the only thing which will allow you to have a high standard and enable you to get the best value for money.
I should like to ask a few more questions about numbers. Can we have an analysis of that rather high figure, 5,207, for the staff and Departments, compared to 1,242 in 1914. This estimate suggests that the War Office establishment is still very full, perhaps unduly full. I know-that many of the passages there are still occupied by clerks and typists, whereas the rooms designed for the typists are occupied by officers. I am not convinced that there might not be during the next few months a large reduction in the actual staff employed at the War Office. I can say with certainty, born of very definite experience, that it is a much more difficult thing to get a War Office director to give up a single man on his staff, than to put down a cavalry or infantry regiment. The War Office is a place of quite extraordinary centralisation. The captain insists on referring everything to the major, and the major insists on referring things to the colonel, and the War Office docs over again the work that has been done in the commands. The only way to stop it is to cut down the staff so that the men at the top, as a result of the centralisation, get so overworked that in self-defence they force the men underneath them to take personal responsibility in the work they have to do. It is only drastic cutting down of staff that will make people take the responsibility which they ought to take. In regard to the miscellaneous establishments, including schools of instruction, the staff, 7,275, is very high compared with 1,500 before the War; nearly five times as large. No one would grudge the highest possible standard of scientific education and a liberal expenditure on research, if there were real signs that the Army of the future was going to be very small and very highly trained, but until there are real signs of reduction of expense on numbers, it is no use to try to justify a very large increase of the staff of instructors.
Shall we really, on 1st April, need 100,000 native troops in Constantinople, Egypt and Palestine and Mesopotamia, in addition to nearly 50,000 British troops? If we are in those places, as we are told, with the complete goodwill of the in habitants, it seems to be a very large number of troops to be maintained. Are we really, as some of the words of the right hon. Gentleman would lead us to expect, going to build up a great new Eastern Empire which will always have to be held by an expensive garrison? A little more light on the policy of the Government in regard to that matter, and a little more light upon our permanent responsibilities in those countries, would be useful. I think I should be justified in saying that if it is the policy of the Government permanently to occupy a great Empire in the Middle East, there is really no chance whatever of cutting down the Army Estimates to the £53,00,0,000 or £63,000,000 a year which has been referred to. The numbers are very large, particularly in regard to Mesopotamia. What is our policy going to be in that country? It necessitates, on the 1st April, 18,500 British troops and 53,000 native troops. That is a large number. Everyone knows the difficulty. If you occupy only a small part of the country, say, only the Basra Vilayet, your oil supplies are in danger, and at certain times of the year troops will sweep down upon you from the hills and there will be trouble. If on the other hand, you go into the country and begin to occupy the hill country your only natural boundaries are the Black Sea, the Caucasus, the Caspian, and the deserts of Kharasan and Turkastan. I do not believe any natural frontier can be found north of that vast territory. What is the policy of this nation with regard to that territory? We ought to realise that we only went to Baghdad and beyond as a military enterprise to retrieve the failure of the Dardanelles expedition, and in these days when economy is so absolutely vital we ought to think well whether we really want to be there and whether we can afford permanently to occupy extensive territory in that part of the world. Are we going to push our military-forces forward until they get into contact with the Bolshevists who are pressing round the Caucasus? If so, it means armies of hundreds of millions if we once undertake to occupy that great line of the Black Sea, the Caucasus, the Caspian, and the desert. That is a wrong policy for the country to adopt.
I should like to know something about our military missions in Russia. Have we still military missions in the country which formed part of the Russian Empire, and if so, what are they doing? Whatever they are doing, would it not be very much better to withdraw them at' once? The Bolshevik armies are big and very highly organised, but like every other army on the face of the earth, they want to go home. Surely, it is our job, if we can, to give them a good justification or a good excuse, if you like, for going home. So long as we are in any sort of way by military missions backing up the nations with whom they may come into contact or conflict they will not go home, and once again, the policy of the right hon. Gentleman at the War Office will checkmate the policy of the Prime Minister at Downing Street. The policy of the Prime Minister at Downing Street is that we shall trade with Russia. He told me the other day, but I did not quite believe it, that there was abundance of corn and other things which could be got out of Russia. There may be corn, but there is no transport, and there is no chance whatever of getting any of this corn out of Russia, because the transport is taken up in provisioning the Army. Once these armies went home and once the transport was not occupied in provisioning the armies along hundreds of miles of railway, we might have some chance of being able to get the supplies which it is said Russia can give us.
Now I come back home, and I will deal with the Territorials. So far as I can understand the right hon. Gentleman's scheme, he is determined to set up the Territorials again, and. has begun recruiting. I very much doubt whether it was necessary to reorganise that Force on a new basis. Whatever he may say about following the old lines laid down by Lord Haldane, he is organising that Force on an entirely new basis. The matter might have been discussed, not simply in the terms of how to extend our military strength in times of emergency, but in terms of what it is our duty to do as members of the League of Nations with regard to the reduction of armaments and the expenditure on armaments. It might well have been, if the matter had been gone into from that point of view, that in addition to the forces necessary to police the Empire and to deal with minor wars which must occur—and which, of course, the Territorials ought not to be called upon to do—it would be better to put our contribution to the force which is to be at the disposal of the League of Nations in the form of ships and aircraft, and not in the form of a large force of partially trained Regulars, as the right hon. Gentleman seems to want the Territorials to be. I leave that point to be amplified by others, but I would point out that if and when we begin this sort of discussion the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has rushed into the recreation of the Territorial Force will enable him to say that the Territorials are fait accompli, and that that Force cannot be reduced but must be maintained. I would say a few words as to the change in the method of organisation. So far as I can understand his scheme, the two points of difference betwen his scheme and that of Lord Haldane are, first, that there is to be a great decrease in the functions and the importance of the Territorial associations and, secondly, that there is to be pay given for every drill and every musketry practice until the Territorial soldier can, in addition to getting full pay and allowances while in camp, earn for himself the payment of £5 a year. In fact instead of the Territorials being a real civilian force depending upon the goodwill and patriotism of the masses of the citizens, they are going to become pinchbeck regulars dependent on money and organised purely on a military basis. I believe that both changes are in the wrong direction; I believe that the Territorial associations should be revived and increased rather than diminished. A very great mistake was made in snuffing them out at the beginning of the War. Everything in the way of organisation should be in close touch with civil life. The leaders of the force should feel that they have an active responsibility and should not be sacrificed by having the force made an imitation military and not a civilian force.
The state of recruiting of the Territorial Army ought to reflect the general public mind towards the military policy and ambitions of the country. I believe that the system of payment for every drill is a mistake. My experience as a Territorial, as a private and an officer, and in helping Lord Haldane to form Territorial associations, was that it was the experience of officers that those men who would not join except for a money consideration left all the work to the sergeant instructors and did not do all they could have done in helping to qualify themselves. You will get better men, men of greater energy and activity at their work, by other means than by depending mainly on money to get the men to come. With 200,000 men and a grant of £5 per man the cost will be £1,000,000 a year. One fifth of that money spent on making the work really attractive, by providing drill halls, giving better courses of instruction and providing more week-end attractions in the country, would give a better return for the money. There can be no necessity for expansion. For many years to come there can be no necessity for the expansion in the Regulars, and for some years to come it would be better to leave the Territorials alone, and revive the Officers' Training Corps—for you must have constant provision for training officers—and make it really efficient and attractive. This can be done for one tenth of the money which is spent on the Territorials. But surely this is the time when the right hon. Gentleman might have made some illusion to what we are under obligation to do as members of the League of Nations. I hoped at any rate for some word as to what our action would be when we began to implement our definite undertaking towards disarmament. There was going through the right hon. Gentleman's speech in every word and phrase the spirit of more military expeditions, more military adventures, in which this nation should be engaged, which could not be less and might be greater than before, and as if no idea of international disarmament had ever crossed anybody's mind, and that in reference to the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force we were to continue this reckless competition of armaments. If we intend to carry out our word at all, and of course we do, there ought to be sooner or later some agreement as to what forces nations may keep as police forces for their Empire, so many per million of the population in their civilised or partly civilised dependencies. There ought to be some agreement as to what total strength, excluding those police forces, each nation shall contribute as the force which is to be at the disposal and under the direction of the League, and there will have to be some equivalent standard agreed upon as between the partly trained and the wholly trained soldier.
These things are very difficult, but the more difficult they are the more necessary it is to show that we are beginning to think about them and work at them and take our responsibilities seriously. I do not say that the time has yet come for actual arrangements with other nations, but I do say that we ought to lead the way and we ought not to be content with saying that no other nation has begun to bother about it, and therefore we will not. We are more secure and more settled than any Power in Europe that was engaged in the War, and it is for us to hold out hope to a world which is crushed with a burden of armaments. It is for us, by word and deed in season and out of season, to show that never again will a disastrous race for armaments be allowed to go on. I have found no sign of that in the whole speech of the Secretary of State for War.
Repeating briefly the points which I have made, the first is, we cannot finally vote all the money until Estimates are laid and debated. Then when Estimates are laid they should go before an Estimates Committee. In the third place, the figure £55,000,000 is misleading, as it does not correspond to anything that is actually existing. Fourthly, there ought by this time to be some sign of real reduction in the old armaments. Then the home establishment is swollen, as, I believe, by reckless recruiting and other unnecessary causes. We are not satisfied as to the policy underlying these large garrisons in the Middle Last, and we would like to know more about them. Seventhly, we want the military missions in Russian territory withdrawn, so that we may have some assurance of having the Bolshevist armies disbanded. Eighthly, the Territorial Forces, if they are needed at all, should be kept solely as a civilian army and should depend for their success on civilian patriotism, and should not become simply a reflex of the Regulars. Lastly, we should have made some approach to planning the disarmament to which we are pledged.
It is necessary to make these points, not because as things go now under this Government the figure of £125,000,000 is anything astounding. We have a series of these inflated estimates whatever the department may be. Or not because I do not admire, for I do, the Secretary of State for War. I admire him particularly for one thing; that is the very generous spirit which he has shown towards the effort which the German Government are making to pull their country through a most critical condition and meet their obligations. I believe him to be far ahead of other Ministers in that respect. It is a defect of the right hon. Gentleman's great qualities that he is a militarist Minister in a country which is not militarist. He believes in compulsory service; he believes in a big Army; he wants to do what soldiers tell him and not what the Cabinet tells him or what the country tells us in these matters. I believe that he will really give us these great services, of which he is abundantly capable, if he forces himself to realise that it is in the direction of economy that the eyes of the country are determinedly bent, and it is our duty to bring this lesson home to him on every possible opportunity.
I may respectfully crave the indulgence of the House for a maiden speech. I was returned to this House to endeavour to fight waste, and I consider these Estimates an absolute example. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman does not coincide, in my opinion, with the White Paper issued by the War Office. The right hon. Gentleman promises that the Army will be reduced to the strength of the pre-war Army. The White Paper makes no mention of that fact. Instead, it only expresses the hope that the Army will be reduced to 280,000 by the end of the financial year. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman could not be called a peace speech, but it might almost be called a bellicose speech. It seemed in some parts of it to hint that we were in years to come to undergo another war, and that we must prepare for another war, and that, perhaps, the Estimates presented to the House to-day would in years to come have to be revised in a very stringent manner. Surely, as hostilities ceased fifteen months ago, we could have got the Army back to pre-war strength by this time. At present the cost of the Army according to the White Paper is to be £125,000,000, whereas in 1914 the Army cost only £28,845,000. The whole of the national revenue before the War was only £200,000,000 a year. That is to say the present War Estimates will be two-thirds of what the whole national revenue was before the War The figures of 1914 did not include two very important items—munitions and the Royal Flying Corps. Both have since become separate Ministries, and that fact goes to show that there is even a greater difference between the two Estimates than appears at first sight. The number of the Army provided for by this Estimate is 525,000. In 1914 the number was 186,400. That shows that we are not in anyway getting near the pie-war figure.
The White Paper suggests that the number may drop to 280,000 men by the end of the financial year. Is that to be the number of the future standing Army? The pre-War Army was 186,000 men, and the White Paper promises a reduction to 280,000. Does it mean that this country is to keep up an Army which it cannot afford, an Army which is enormously larger than that which it possessed before the War? The mere fact that the Army costs so much more to maintain is an added reason why we should reduce its numbers in order to reduce the burden on the taxpayer. In this debate there does not seem to be very much reference to the taxpayer. The War was fought to a great extent to end militarism in Germany, but now that the War is ended we find that the disease of militarism seems to be creeping back into the hearts of the people who defeated Germany. It was perhaps an ideal for which we fought. I believe it was a great deal more than an ideal. It was something worth striving for, and something in regard to which this country ought to set an example to other countries. Because other countries happen to have great armies and large estimates I see no reason why this country should be affected. The mere fact that they intend to keep up large armies is a reason why we should set an example to them and maintain a small Army. We have to keep a certain number of troops for the policing of the Empire, but apart from that there is absolutely no reason why we should keep a single man more for aggressive purposes, or for what would appear outwardly to be aggressive purposes. To maintain these extra troops, and at the same time to suggest to the world that we should have a League of Nations, is not the way to make other nations trust us, and is certainly not the way to make them demobilise their armies.
In 1912–13 the whole aspect of the question was entirely different. We then had a nation which was building up an Army against us; a nation that was obviously going to attack us, and anyone at that time would have supported a large Army. The problem is entirely different now. We have defeated Germany, and with Germany we thought that we had defeated the spirit of militarism, though it seems now to have spread around the world to a greater extent than ever before. The apologists of the large Army would have it that the unsettled state of the world makes it necessary for us to maintain these forces. I believe that the cost of this Army in England is one of the causes of the unsettled state of the finances, and therefore one of the causes of any unrest there may be in England. We are to spend, it appears, £35,500,000 in the Near East. We are to keep 70,000 men in Mesopotamia and Persia, to act as a garrison. Why are we to spend such enormous sums in Mesopotamia and Palestine? Is it the idea that out of Mesopotamia we are going to erect a new Babylon and going to find a new gold mine? I am perfectly certain that the money we are sinking in Mesopotamia would not have been held by Babylon at the very height of its prosperity.
The War Office seems to be infected with the same disease as the other Ministries—that of enormous staffs. It has a staff about three times as great as that before the War; its staff is 5,207 compared with 1,529 in 1914. Everyone of those 3,000 to 4,000 extra people in the War Office has to be paid for, and probably 2,000 or 3,000 of them are entirely unnecessary. Why should they be necessary now if they were unnecessary before the War? There has been some talk of the possibility of a war coming in the future; is that the reason why we are to keep up the Army? The right hon. Gentleman suggested that tanks would be used in great numbers in future, that in all probability in 15 or 20 years' time all foreign warfare might be fought entirely with tanks or with some new invention that is not yet discovered. It is obvious, then, that drilled soldiers would probably be useless and that modern armies and weapons would be obsolete. The War ended 15 months ago and we have not yet got back to a normal year. It would be very interesting to know when that normal year will come. At this speed it is very doubtful whether anybody will see it come. While we wait for the normal year we see immense sums wasted and Government expenditure exceeding income. In the trail of this extravagance we see prices rising like a flood and the value of the £ going down in New York. The price of every commodity has risen, and even the price of bread is kept down only by a subsidy. When will the Government lead the nation in national economy? All that it seems to have done so far is to add an enormous sum to the National Debt, and to-day, for the second financial year since the Armistice, it presents these Estimates.
Lieut. - Colonel WILLOUGHBY:
In alluding to the speech of the hon. Member who has just spoken I would say that I do not find myself quite in agreement with the propositions he has put forward. I hope in the course of my remarks to show that I am in favour of reductions. I should like to see the Estimates much less, and I am sure that the whole House and the Secretary of State for War himself are most anxious that economy should be practised. I think it is asking for the impossible to suggest that we can go back to the pre-war status of our Army. I would suggest to the hon. Member who has just spoken that, though returned to Parliament on an anti-waste ticket, it is not true economy to give away what you have won. It has cost us a great deal to get to the position that we now hold in the near East, and I think it would be a very short-sighted policy to withdraw all our troops from there and let the Turks run rampant. In the remarks that I have to make I may touch on rather more detailed matters than the Secretary of State for War mentioned. As we have not got the definite Estimates before us, it is difficult to criticise, but unless there is criticism I feel it is likely that that cost will go up and that it will be too late then for the House to exercise any power of restraint. As to our Regular Army, I may say that I have been more closely connected with the infantry than with any other branch. The only way in which I can see that economy is possible in that branch is by the reduction of the management; in other words, of the staff. I know that at the beginning of the War we may have been found short in this direction, but it seems to me that when we have only a small number of men in our ranks, to have a very large number of staff and supernumeraries is to maintain a very large expenditure for the military forces that we have. Speaking purely from my own point of view, I should have thought that one of the great misfortunes of the War was that at the commencement of it we expended such an enormous amount of our best material in inferior positions. If we had only been able to retain many of our Company Commanders and Subaltern Officers who were lost at the beginning of the War, if we had been able to retain them to a later date, we should have had a far better Army to carry this War through.
I ask the Secretary of State for War whether it is not possible to work out a scheme by which a battalion should be a unit which could be increased to a brigade in case of a big war? I believe that such an idea is possible. If the Secretary of State will allow we to state the proposal to him more fully I shall be pleased to do so. Speaking as an old regimental officer, I think it would be an enormous encouragement to such officers—many of them have hold higher positions—if they knew that in case of war they would get at any rate the rank that they held during the late War. I should like to refer also to the Tank Corps, for which I had a great admiration during the time I was in the Army. I know it was a well-organised force, and in my opinion had attached to it some of the ablest officers in the Army. I feel confident also that it is in good hands to-day. Speaking in the interests of the taxpayer, and there are those besides my hon. Friend who spoke last who are interested in that subject, I should like to have seen special Estimates as to what this corps is to cost this year. Such a corps was necessary in War, and saved the lives of a great number of our soldiers, but it is undoubtedly a very expensive force to keep running, especially with petrol at its present price. At this moment I feel convinced we have a sufficient reserve of officers and men who could take up fighting with tanks should the necessity unfortunately arise. Those officers did splendid work in manoeuvring with tanks, and I am quite sure we could rely on them in the future. As to the infantry, if the scheme is to be carried out the second line would have, I think, largely to be a reserve. Many hon. Members I think will disagree with that. The record of the Territorial Army in the War was perfectly splendid. I saw some of the first line battalions arriving in France, and I remember one Division which I think was equal to the best troops we ever sent out of this country. There were difficulties in connection with the raising of the Territorial Force before the War, and those difficulties are in some respects increased now. In the past there was personal sacrifice on the part of many of the officers, not only from the point of view of time, but also from the pecuniary point of view in keeping that force in the excellent condition in which it was. I am afraid it is going to be a very expensive force if the Territorial Army is to be kept at that pitch at which we should all like to see it kept, but I do not think we can expect the individual officer to put his hands in his pockets in the way in which he did before the War.
Taking that view of the difficulties of the Territorial Army, it seems to me it would be easier to have a reserve of men trained to march and shoot so that should war break out you would be able to fill up your battalions I have no doubt that many men with the instincts of the late war still in them would like to do a bit of soldiering and to get in touch with so many friends whom they would otherwise lose sight of. I hope the Territorial Force will get the necessary recruits, but I do think that the Territorial who did his duty in this war ought to be given every consideration possible if we want them to come back again. I am not sure whether further consideration does not want to be given to those Territorials who volunteered to go out in 1914–15. I am glad to see that a medal is being given to those who went to India, but I would suggest that it should be considered whether it would not be advisable to give a Territorial medal to every man, whatever his position, so long as he volunteered to go Overseas, and I would ask the Secretary of State to consider that point. I know that there were a great number of men in the Territorial Army before the war who felt that it was a man's duty to be in that Army. Those men had a rather thankless task, and I am a little bit afraid if such a view were to spread that you would not get full support for the Territorial Army. I wish to say a word also on the question of gas. I notice from the White Paper that it is still being considered. Anyone who took part in the late war would, I am sure, wish to see that form of warfare wiped out. I hope that the League of Nations and the conferences which are taking place are doing something to make such a form of warfare impossible in the future. I regretted to be told by an officer that he was informed that this was going to be the great force by which future wars were going to be won It seems to me to be very terrible to lay that down. I feel certain it is contrary to all our wishes, and I object to any feeling of that sort being told to any of our men. I do not think at this moment we should be teaching that in the future gas is to be a weapon of offence. There is also the question of transfer from one regiment to another. The Secretary of State said that efforts would be made to keep men in territorial groups and units. This is a point on which I have the strongest views. I think that much of the efficiency of the units depends on the men being kept in them, and it leads to a great reduction of efficiency to have men transferred from one unit to another. That is the feeling of men who have served in a battalion or regiment, and I think the War Office should make every effort to consider the men's point of view. I hope that these points I have mentioned will meet with consideration. I press for economy and I do wish we could have had more specific details before us so that those of us who have had experience might be able to point out where economies could be made. I feel convinced that criticism of that sort would be useful.
I think everyone will agree with my hon. and gallant Friend who has just spoken as to the difficulties which are likely to arise in re-forming the Territorial Force, and they will also agree with him, all who have had experience in this and previous wars, as to the very great danger there is of losing efficiency if you are not careful to keep the units together. With regard to the first point, the fact that it is going to be difficult is all the more reason for doing our best to carry it out. I do believe that a Territorial Force is necessary for us. Even when we have got the whole numbers which the right hon. Gentleman asks for, and which are similar to what Lord Haldane had, we should have a very much smaller force for any aggressive purpose than any country in the world proportionate to our liabilities, even including Germany. Therefore, although I entirely agree with those who say, and for reasons which I will touch on later on, that we ought to do all we can to secure a League of Nations and reduction of armament, that argument does not arise in the case of the Territorial Force, for it will be such a very small contribution in proportion to our total liabilities and the immense population of our great Empire that no criticism can be made of it on the score of strength. We will do our best, I can assure the right hon. Gentleman, as one specially concerned in the raising of the Territorial Force, and I speak as one of the presidents of the county associations, and I know that other hon. Members will also do their very utmost to make it a success. There is one point on which I ventured to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman when he was speaking, for which I hope he will excuse me, but I did so because it is a point of such great importance, and one which, I hope, he will make clear before this Debate comes to a conclusion. When it was first proposed to reform the Territorial Force, the Force was asked to enlist on similar terms to those on which it had enlisted before, with this difference, that it was asked to undertake to serve abroad in time of national emergency. I am one of those who think that is quite wise. I do not believe there ever was any danger of the invasion of this country, seeing the great fleet we have, and the experience of the late war tends to show that that view, which the Committee of Defence unanimously came to, was correct, and therefore to have a considerable force primarily designed to meet a danger which did not exist seemed to me then to be a mistake, and it would be a mistake now, when the principal fleet which might be brought against us is at the bottom of Scapa Flow.
Therefore, I think it is wise to say the Territorial Army should be available to serve abroad in time of great national emergency, but it was also explained at the time in a memorandum that Territorial officers and soldiers, especially the other ranks, would not be transferred from one unit to another, except in case of great national emergency, on the passing of a General Service Act, in which ease they might be so transferred. That is taking away with one hand what you gave with the other. I am quite sure the right hon. Gentleman, who has himself been a Territorial officer, will understand that the one thing to which a man attaches importance, the one thing to which my hon. and gallant Friend opposite attaches importance himself, from the point of view of efficiency, is that units should be kept together. If you split them up, as adjutant-generals' departments are very apt to do, what you gain in apparent simplicity you lose 10 times over in efficiency. Then, if you are going to announce that in a great national emergency, which is the only time when this Force will be called upon to fight, they are liable to be redistributed irrespective of their units, I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that our difficulties in getting men to join the Force will be multiplied tenfold, and at the same time we should be running the risk of decreasing the efficiency even of those we have got. Therefore, I beg of him to consider some form of words which, while safeguarding the necessary rights of the authorities to move men from one theatre of war to another, and to make changes in emergencies such as those we became accustomed to during the late War, nevertheless, it should be made plain to the men of this new Force which we hope to create, that they shall serve in their own units all the time, whether the rest of the population be embodied or not, so far as it is humanly possible to secure that that shall be so.
I must congratulate my right hon. Friend upon his most persuasive speech, but in one respect I confess it did not persuade me at all. I believe these Estimates are much larger than they need be. I agree with the hon. Gentleman who made his maiden speech (Mr. E. Harms-worth)—and I am sure we were all very glad to hear it—that they are larger than they need be, but not for the sort of general and vague reasons which he gave. I am not sure that the right hon. Gentleman is asking here for more military force than is needed. I think he made out a fairly good case, in view of our immense added responsibilities, that a very large amount of military force is still unfortunately required. On the one hand, Germany is out of business, but on the other hand we have taken over with the full assent of this House and of every Member in it the immense responsibilities of Mesopotamia, Palestine, and a disturbed Egypt and Soudan. What I quarrel with is the method by which he has done it. If one looks at this memorandum, I think nobody can fail to be struck by the extraordinary fact that after all the experience of the late War we have this paragraph: "In the meanwhile we have re-organised our first line on pre-War principles." That is exactly what we have done, a most astonishing thing to do in view of the fact that all the principles which applied before the War are inapplicable now. I think we may say, if we view it straightforwardly, that whatever establishments for our Army were wise, and well advised on the 4th August, 1914, not only may be inapplicable but must be inapplicable to-day. Think of the lessons we learned during that War in the hard school of experience. If we consider that before the War it was thought that shrapnel was more effective than high emplosives, that has turned out to be a complete delusion. It was considered then—a most amazing theory—that the proportion of machine guns which then obtained to each battalion was adequate for the purpose. Far from being that during the four years I was at the War machine guns were added again and again, a machine gun corps was created, machine gun squadrons were added to all units, and yet there were not enough, but here we are reforming the Army on pre-War principles.
But I am quoting the right hon. Gentleman's own words in the Memorandum. I have seen in detail, as published in the Press, and I presume they were accurate, the detailed establishment. It is all the same old business, and why, when my right hon. Friend stands up there and pours scorn on the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Devonport (Mr. Lambert) and his friends, Lord Fisher and others, for their new-fangled notions, he solemnly proceeds to spend £125,000,000 of money on reforming the Army on prewar principles. Of course, he tells us that in the future it is going to be very different. We are going to have wonderful things then, but we are not getting them now.
But the right hon. Gentleman cannot escape so easily. Is he going to tell me—of course, if he does, I shall be very much surprised, because my information is quite to the contrary—that the proportion of machine guns to the Army is going to be as great as, or greater than, it was when we had all those machine guns at the close of the War? I think, if he will look into it, he had better not say it is, because I am sure it cannot be so.
It was decided not to maintain a separate machine gun corps, but to put the machine gun units into the different battalions and squadrons, and that implies no diminution in the proportion of machine guns, but a different method of arranging them. There is no question of our abandoning machine guns, the most vital part of the whole of our military machine.
Nobody ever supposed he would abandon machine guns, but what I have been told is the case, and I still believe to be so, is that in abandoning the machine gun corps he is not incorporating the whole of the machine gun power thus abandoned into his other units. If he is in fact doing so, I shall be delighted to hear it, and that will be one respect in which the Army is not being reformed on pre-war lines.
Yes, but I say it ought to be more. I would like to draw the attention of the Committee to a very remarkable statement by the Prime Minister at the end of last Session. He said:
What would happen if we had another war baffles the imagination. Discoveries made almost at the end of the War, if they had been used, would have produced horrors indescribable—discoveries by ourselves, by the French, and by the Germans. If we are to have a repetition of that, civilisation may well be wrecked, and the world be driven back, not to a condition of the middle or dark ages, but to something which the world has never conceived of in its most imaginative moments.
Would anybody believe that the Prime Minister could make such a statement as that? If military power is capable of doing these astonishing new things, how comes it that we are going to spend the gigantic sum of £125,000,000 on the old-fashioned things? There must be something wrong, and there is something wrong. I myself regard that statement of the Prime Minister as an overwhelming argument in favour of the League of Nations, and I think that every thoughtful man agrees with me that that is so, but it also means that until we can get the League of Nations, we must construct our offensive power in case we are attacked, and above all our defensive power, on modern and scientific lines, and I say, from all I have been able to learn, that we are not doing it. I am glad we have increased the number of our machine guns, but I know we have not increased them enough, and on the subject of the division between aerial and military power, to which the right hon. Gentleman devoted a portion of his remarks, I think the discrepancy is deplorable.
I will take the case of Mesopotamia. He tells us he hopes to put it up to auction, competitive tender; but why did he not do it before? Enough was known about it to have enabled him to make a very great and real reduction in the garrison in Mesopotamia this year. But the air has many enemies, and I have been at some pains to find out what is happening in Mesopotamia, and shall be glad to give the result of my inquiries to the right hon. Gentleman. A great many of the older school of soldiers do not believe in the air, and now they give it a grudging belief and will not allow it to perform its functions in the proper way. They say: "Of course, we must have some aircraft, but they can be only ancillary—they are only the eyes of the army—and a few machines flying over the enemy to complete the rout will be of use." But they will not let air power be used as air power should be used. If you have a completely separate air power, and enable them to work under the political heads, you will save yourselves certainly millions of money, and I am quite sure you will save thousands of lives. The power given to the political chiefs to go to any threatened point and there to warn the tribes of the impending disaster to them if they are not complying with our wishes is a power which will really stop any number of these small wars. It has stopped a good many already, but it has not stopped them all. There was a punitive expedition to Mesopotamia the other day, and it took it 15 days to get to a place where aeroplanes can get in three hours, but the aeroplanes could not prevent the necessity for it, as they ultimately did after the expedition had gone, because they were under the control of the military authorities and not of the political chiefs. We have had an instance of it, as the right hon. Gentleman says, in Somaliland. We were told that for £30,000, I think the right hon. Gentleman said, we did more than we had done with £2,500,000 before. Yes, but what were the casualties in each case? The Committee will remember that in the operations against the so-called Mad Mullah we suffered thousands of casualties. In a tiny little operation, in the middle of the War, one British officer was killed and five were wounded in attacking one little outpost, and in the main operations we had thousands of casualties. The right hon. Gentleman himself tells us that the operations on this occasion had more far-reaching results than any previous one. What were the casualties? Amongst the European officers and men engaged the casualties were nil, and, so far as information has been received from the Colonial Office, the total casualties of all the operations involved in the destruction of the power of the Mullah was one native African soldier died of wounds and one slightly wounded. That is what happens when you let air power have its way. But the right hon. Gentleman knows very well that it was not very easy to let air power have its way, even in the case of Somali-land. All through this business, as I see it, the right hon. Gentleman has been gradually driven over to the reactionary side. He has been angry with those who have pressed him to adopt new methods unduly, and he has been ultimately driven to the reactionary side, and we see the results in these Estimates. My right hon. Friend has fallen into this error, if error it is, because he has not been able to give enough time to the two things he tries to control. I do not wish to dwell at further length upon this, except to say that I am quite sure he cannot preside over two councils any more than a steam engine can pull two trains on different lines. I am quite sure it is no use trying to be a sort of political Capablanca, who can play a number of games at once and win or draw them all. The right hon. Gentleman has lost one game already, and it is my conviction that, unless he sticks to one job, which I hope will be the Army, very soon he will lose them all.
I have no intention of following the line of technical criticism we have just had from the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who preceded me. There are, however, one or two aspects of this question that have not been very fully touched upon by the previous speakers. I could not help wondering, while we were listening to the Secretary of State for War this afternoon, and more particularly as certain of his observations were greeted with approval by certain sections of the House, whether we had already forgotten the tragedy of the last-five years. As he pictured the new military machine, as he talked so easily and so glibly of these huge and horrible methods of destruction that would be adopted in the future, one really wondered whether the lessons of the last five years had been altogether lost. The speech did certainly not reflect the mind of the civilian; still less did it, I believe, reflect the mind of the soldier. To me it appeared rather to indicate what I might perhaps be permitted to describe as
the mind of the military romanticist. At all events, that was the way in which the speech we had this afternoon impressed me. Before, however, dealing with it and the memorandum which has been issued, there are two matters of War Office administration to which I would like briefly to refer, in the hope that the right hon. Gentleman will give us some statement of policy with regard to them. The first is one which has been discussed very freely in the Press during the last few weeks, and about it I believe a question has already been asked in this House. I refer to the War Office treatment of mental cases. It seems to me that of all the human wreckage this War left, there were no cases so tragic as those of men who temporarily or permanently lost their reason, and those of us who, in any way whatever, were brought into contact with men living under conditions that drove them to madness, do feel—and I am quite sure every member of this House will feel—that nothing that modern science, nothing that human goodwill can do, is too much to be done for those men who have been bereft of their reason as a result of the strain to which they have been subjected. Allegations have been made in the Press of a most serious character. If 10 per cent. of truth is contained in those allegations, there is abundant justification for an immediate and an impartial inquiry. I do not want to weary the Committee with quotations to-night, but I want to quote one paragraph that I saw in the Press.
It is estimated that between 20,000 and 30,000 shell-shock patients have been treated in the military hospitals. … Many of the brave men sent back from Prance, speechless or witless for the time being through shock, were given the 'treatment' of prisoners in gaol. Many of them spent long weeks or months in solitary confinement, in cells destitute of furniture, and not even provided with a chamber utensil. They were compelled to do menial work. There were no games for their amusement. Visitors were allowed two days in the week. All letters written were subjected to severe censorship. They were at the mercy of callous and arrogant warders, who punished the least complaint or reluctant obedience by physical violence of an inhuman kind.
I am quoting from the "Daily Herald." [Laughter.] I cannot understand any reason for that laughter. There is certainly no reason for it in the tragic state of affairs indicated in this paragraph. I say if there is the slightest element of truth in a statement of this kind—and I may say other papers, in addition to the "Daily Herald," have quoted similar examples—there is every justification for an immediate and impartial inquiry. The right hon. Gentleman, in answer to a question the other day, stated he was satisfied that this state of affairs did not exist, and that there were no grounds for that inquiry being held. He may be satisfied, but I submit to this House that public confidence in this country has not been restored, and the very least that the War Office can do is to agree to an immediate independent and impartial inquiry into this state of affairs.
The other point I wanted to raise really relates to the educational work that is proposed under the new scheme. I do not want to discuss that scheme in detail, but I merely want to ask a question regarding the appointments that are to be made under this scheme. I understand that there has been in existence for many years a Corps of Army Schoolmasters—I believe about 350 of them altogether—who hold the rank of warrant officers. They were refused commissions. During the War many of these men filled very responsible positions, and were given charge of important work. They proved their worth in all sorts of positions, but they were debarred by the War Office from accepting commissions. I heard of two of them who deserted from the Corps of Schoolmasters, joined up as privates, and ultimately secured commissions, and, apparently, did very satisfactory work. Under Lord Gorell's temporary education scheme, which was introduced while the War was in progress, a number of men holding temporary commissions in the Army were given appointments as education officers. Probably many of those men were highly qualified men, and while I do not quarrel at all with any appointment that may have been given to a man who possessed real educational qualifications, what I want to know is whether in the new scheme, which is indicated as coming into operation almost immediately, the warrant officers who have done good service, and who possess unquestioned educational qualifications, are going to be given the chance, on level terms with those possessing similar qualifications, of holding a commission? I would like the Secretary of State for War to give us an assurance that the claims of these men who have done good service will be fully considered, and that when the Board of Selection, which has the making of these appointments, does its work, due regard will be paid first of all to educational qualifications.
I would like to say a word or two with regard to general policy indicated in the speech to which we listened this afternoon, and in the Memorandum we have had submitted to us. That speech to us—and I am sure I speak for the other Members of the party with which I am associated—is a terrible disappointment. These huge Estimates coming at this time, fifteen months after the War is over, do seem to show that we are going hack again into that vicious circle from which some of us hoped we would escape as the result of the War.
I am not discussing the question of the Tommy's pay. I quite agree it is very necessary, and every improvement in the conditions of the men in the Army we most cordially support. But my point is that before the War this vicious circle, by which armaments led up to war, and war apparently led back to armaments, did exist, and one realises, perhaps more forcibly at the moment than we have realised before, the cant and hypocrisy talked in the early days of the War about "the War to end war." No one can suggest for a single moment that in the speech we have had from the right hon. Gentleman there is any indication of a constructive policy on the part of the Government which is going to see us out of the appalling difficulties with which we are faced at the present time. When the right hon. Gentleman was speaking this afternoon, and hon. Members in some parts of the House were applauding his words as he talked about the progress of the tanks, I was wondering how far Members had tried to visualise the next war, whether they realise what it actually is going to be? There has been a book published during the last few weeks by an Army officer in which there is some indication of the kind of war that we may look for in the future. It is going to be a war of machines rather
than men. Here is a quotation from the book—a reference to use of poison-gas:
The first stroke of genius delivered in the War was the use the Germans made of gas on April 22nd, 1915, and the second the use we made of the tanks on September 16th, 1915.
A stroke of genius, mark you! not a method of barbarism. At the time when the first poison-gas attempts were made, I remember the indignation that was expressed in almost every British newspaper at this barbaric method of war We hear nothing of that indignation now. Instead of that we are told in this Memorandum:—
Research must not be only directed towards the gases and apparatus likely to be employed in the future, but also towards protection against all possible gases. Training in the use of gas will be confined to appropriate branches, but training in defensive measures will include the whole Army.
Poison-gas is now a recognised weapon in the armoury of the British Army.
Col. Fuller, late General Staff Officer, Tanks Corps. Perhaps I may be permitted to quote another paragraph: It indicates that the war of the future is not going to be directed so much against the armed forces of the enemy as against the civilian population:—
Fast-moving tanks, equipped with tons of liquid gas, … will (in the next war) cross the frontier and obliterate every living thing in the fields and farms, the villages and cities of the enemy's country. Whilst life is being swept away around the frontier. fleets of aeroplanes will attack the enemy's great industrial and governing centres. All these attacks will be made at the first, not against the enemy army,… but against the civil population, in order to compel it to accept the will of the attacker.
Is this an accurate forecast of what is going to happen? If so and if we are in any way to contribute to that state of affairs, then it seems to me that the millions of men who died on the field of battle have very largely died in vain. They died to free the world from the curse of militarism! What is it going to be? A speech was recently delivered in his constituency of Dundee by the right hon. Gentleman. He said that there were in the Labour movement those who
were anxious to Russianise this country I am not sure to whom he referred; but, speaking personally, I have no desire to see the Soviet system here. I do not think it is at all in harmony with our national genius. At the same time, if it becomes a choice for this nation to be either Russianised or Prussianised, then I prefer the former. I should like to ask one or two questions. I have referred already to the use of poison-gas. I suppose I can take it that it is now a recognised weapon in our armoury?
As a matter of fact that is really the previous paragraph. [Laughter.] I have not the slightest objection to that at all. I suppose even the War Office would require some justification for this policy, and apparently would find it there. I want to ask if this policy of securing peace in the world by being prepared for war is to be continued? That policy was condemned again and again before the War, not only from Labour platforms, but from Liberal platforms for many many years. Is that policy to continue? I submit it is that policy of building up armaments under the cry of securing the peace of the world which in a large measure brought the catastrophe of the last five years. In view of statements contained in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, I want to ask further as to the increase of our commitments in different parts of the world, and as to whether the policy of coercion that is being pursued in Ireland, in Egypt, and in other parts is to be continued? The right hon. Gentleman told us that as a matter of fact the Army at present in Ireland does not involve any additional charge on the Estimates. Is he prepared to agree that if that policy continues, it will not very soon involve an additional charge on the Estimates? A situation has been brought about in Ireland, about which, if this policy continues, there is not the slightest doubt we shall have very enormously to increase our armed forces. Is the Government prepared to reverse its policy? Apparently that is the only way to save the situation.
Evacuate the troops from Ireland. That is the only solution, in the opinion of some of us, of the Irish problem. If a policy of repression and coercion, whether in Egypt or Ireland, or any other part of the Empire, is to be continued, it seems to me that that is the direction in which madness lies, and ultimately the disintegration and smash-up of our Empire. As has been suggested by one speaker, are the authorities building up this big military machine in view of possible civil disturbances in this country? I know that one or two spokesmen for the Government have shown during recent Debates a certain amount of apprehension as to what might happen in this country as far as the industrial side of our life is concerned. We have on more than one occasion been told that all the resources of the State will be used against any section of the community that endeavours, in the judgment of the Government, mark you! to impose its will upon the nation. That statement was applauded. I want to know whether this Army is being built up, this huge machine maintained, in view of controlling our civilian population at home, so that people cannot secure reforms along the ordinary constitutional lines. [HON. MEMBERS: "The minority."] I should like to ask a question relating to another matter. We have been told again and again that so far as our commitments in Russia are concerned they are practically at an end. Is it true that on Thursday last there was despatched from this country 3,000 cases, containing about 5,000,000 rounds of ammunition, addressed to the British Military Mission, Reval, Russia? I have information which to me is quite reliable. I would like to know what the right hon. Gentleman has to say on this very important point. He told us in the speech to which I referred a moment ago, the speech at Dundee, that in his opinion Labour was not fit to govern—
If that is the War Office policy, the Government policy, which is really doing nothing to destroy militarism, which every sane man and woman condemns, either in this or in any other country, then I say, so far as I am concerned, I am glad that Labour is not able to govern on those lines. The right hon. Gentleman also described the Labour party as visionaries, and he expressed the hope that Dundee would not be represented at the next election by such. Personally, I am rather glad that Labour is visionary, that it has some outlook.
I am very glad also that Labour has a Socialist vision, and outlook. Labour certainly does decline to accept the philosophy that underlies the policy of the right hon. Gentleman, believing that the philosophy has plunged Europe into a hell during the last five years. The faith we have in our movemnt has not any connection with aeroplanes and tanks. We try to make no appeal to the atavistic instincts in man. I submit that the whole of the policy of the right hon. Gentleman does that. We desire to build on co-operation on international goodwill, upon an understanding amongst the peoples. We are opposed to what we regard as an appalling waste of money in the Estimates that have been submitted, and not only waste of money, but the unwise policy that the Estimates indicate, a policy which, we believe, if continued by Britain and the other countries will bring about the ruin of our country and probably wipe out Western civilisation. I think the history of our country shows the way in which Britain has always stood for freedom from the time of Magna Charta. I do feel that there is that in the British people at this moment which is prepared to lead other nations of the world along the path that will bring us freedom from the burden of armaments and militarism, and all that these involve. We have had enough of the slavery of the past, and I would like to see the right hon. Gentleman who represents the Government indicate to us some way out of this morass of loose thinking, some way that would lead us, not back to war, but away from the madness of it.
Before I attempt to reply to the observations of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen I should like to say a few words about the finance of the War Office. I have been only a short time at the War Office, therefore I cannot speak with the long experience acquired by my predecessor during the four and a half years of strenuous work which he put in at the War Office. I went there with little knowledge and possibly some prejudice concerning War Office accounting and finance. A short acquaintance of some six weeks has impressed me with the enormous volume of the work and the minute attention given to details of expenditure. The Finance Department is not only the cashier of the Army, but it is also its bookkeeper and the auditor as well as the financial adviser, and the presence of financial staffs sent from the War Office with all our armies abroad throughout the War is a new departure which has proved its great value. It is gratifying to read in the report of the Committee on Public Accounts that
having regard to the range and amount of expenditure incurred, the Committee desire to bear testimony to the good system of accounting and financial administration at the War Office.
The Select Committee on National Expenditure, in their report published in December last also state:
The finance of the War Office is, on the whole, efficiently conducted, and due regard is had to economical administration.
Though doubtless there have been mistakes, I believe that it is without precedent that at the end of a great War, during which, and up to the 31st December last, the gigantic sum of about £3,800,000,00O sterling has been disbursed by the Department, commendation should have been expressed by two Committees of this House, both with regard to the system of financial control of the War Office and its practical working. The work connected with demobilisation, the settling of individual accounts, gratuities, the re-assessment of service pensions, the estates of deceased soldiers, etc., has been colossal. The Army Pay Department had the task of issuing payments to demobilised men for their period of furlough, which during 1919 rose to over 3,000,000 payments weekly. It also had to settle their accounts, including payment of War I gratuities, clothing allowances and other
terminable credits. This work still continues, although in a diminishing volume. In addition, the War gratuities of several millions of men discharged before the termination of hostilities had to be assessed and paid, and War gratuities due to the estates of deceased soldiers had also to be assessed and notifications sent. Of these latter cases I regret to say that there have been no less than 46,281 flicers and 730,000 men, and there has been paid out in respect of these estates the very large total of £13,322,000.
The number of staff employed in the Army Pay Offices touched the high-water mark in March, 1919, when it reached the large total of 53,277. Since that date some 25,000 have been discharged, and by the 31st of March the figures would be brought down to under 10,000. So far as the financial work of the War Office is concerned I can inform the Committee that I found the reduced staff working at high pressure, and obviously bearing traces of the heavy burden which has fallen upon them during the War. The financial side of the War Office is perhaps not one which comes in for medals or public recognition, but nevertheless its arduous work deserves the gratitude of the country. On the general subject of the reduction of the staff, it is interesting to draw attention to the figures showing the number of letters and papers opened at the War Office. In November, 1919, the figure was 360,000 per week, which showed an actual increase of 110,000 on the corresponding figures of 250,000 at the time of the Armistice. A year after the Armistice the letters and papers opened daily and weekly in the War Office had actually increased by 100,000, but since then it has fallen to about 126,000. In spite of these figures the staff at the War Office was reduced long before November, 1919. Between the 11th of November, 1918, and the 1st of February last the total figures of the civil and military staff in the War Office were reduced considerably more than 50 per cent., that is from 22,279 to 8,360, of which the military staff was reduced from 3,525 to 903, and the female staff from 13,090 to 2,579. The work in connection with all these details of compiling the Estimates has been unusually complex and difficult this year owing to the fact that it covered the period which may be described as one of transition from war to peace conditions. Estimates of the pre-war type have been impossible during the war. While we have endeavoured now to get back to the pre-war system it must be obvious that a great many items are based upon hypothesis, that we are in a period of great fluctuations in prices and costs in which it is difficult to forecast with the accuracy of pre-war days. It is difficult, no doubt, to get back from the free and even lavish expenditure developed during the exigencies of war to the more careful expenditure of times of peace, but I can assure the House that the urgent need of curtailment to the minimum is fully realised. It must, however, be remembered that the cost of military forces and their equipment depends largely upon national policy. Within the limits dictated by the policy at present adopted a most careful scrutiny of the details of estimated expenditure under each heading has been exercised. I hope the detailed Estimates which have been asked for will be in the hands of Members in the course of the next month.
If the hopes centred in the League of Nations to which reference was made today are realised, the effect on national policy and armaments must, of course, be revolutionary. If a saving of half the expenditure were possible and the sum so saved was spent, say, upon housing at home or upon the development of some of our fertile possessions abroad it would be an immense boon to humanity. We earnestly hope for a better understanding and improved international relations. For the present it is our duty to make due provision for the security of the Empire. It may here be interesting to recall that while most expenditure during the War was wasteful and unproductive, there are some few instances where an asset to civilisation will remain in the form of some material improvement. For example, the railway from Egypt into Palestine, which is 385 miles long, the railways in Mesopotamia, 1,300 miles; motor roads in Mesopotamia and Persia, 530 miles; irrigation works on which £564,000 have been spent, and there is also the creation of a port and shipping facilities at Basra on which over £500,000 have been spent. No doubt a large amount of this expenditure will serve for the improvement of those countries in the future.
There is one matter upon which a number of questions have been asked, and perhaps it would be well for me to say a word of two about them. One is with regard to pensions. Before the War the War Office dealt with the whole question of pensions and non-effective grants generally. In 1916 the Ministry of Pensions was set up and took over disability pensions arising out of the War. The War Office continues to deal with service pensions and also wound pensions and gratuities. Improved rates of pay and pensions were approved in September, 1919. Pensions earned before the War are re-assessed in cases where "satisfactory paid military service" was given during the War. Questions as to the limitations imposed by these words have led to some trouble. In particular, pressure has been brought to give reassessment in cases of pre-war pensioners where the men were not allowed to re-enlist. I sympathise with these cases, but it is clear that the line must be drawn somewhere, and it has therefore been decided that a departure cannot be made from the rule requiring enlisted military service during the War as a condition of increase of pension.
It is difficult to see any other point at which it would be better to draw the line, otherwise we would open the door to the claims of thousands of army pensioners who have been doing some war work in civil or semi-civil capacities, including many who have been working under the Ministry of Munitions, and an even wider question is then opened, namely the demand for a general revision of all pensions in existence before the War in the civil departments of the State as well as the Military. This was dealt with by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his speech on the 13th inst. when he pointed out that this would involve an enormous charge upon the State, and that the proposal could not be accepted. With reference to service gratuities of officers the position is liable to misapprehension. The chief difficulty appears to be with regard to the different treatment of officers holding temporary rank as distinguished from those who have held acting rank. In the case of staff appointments and substantive or temporary rank the rate of gratuities depends upon the rank in which they were actually serving on the 11th of November, 1918, or the last day of service, if prior to the 3rd August, 1919, or the 3rd August, 1919, if serving on that date. In the case of acting rank if it has been held for 182 days or relinquished owing to a wound, the' gratuity is allowed on that higher rank, irrespective of whether it was held on the 11th November, 1918, or on the date of demobilisation. There is that difference between them and the temporary rank. In respect to the gratuities it may or may not be desirable that there should be some modification. This question is now under consideration.
The army is now a profession which in peace times confers invaluable service in many ways on the men on resuming: civil life. The average pay and allowances, including the value of rations, etc., of the private soldier is 47s. a week if unmarried, and 80s. for the married man with two children. Military service is no longer a blind alley occupation. After a short service in the army a man is enabled to go back to civil life equipped in many ways for his future career.
The educational scheme has been referred to. It helps the man while he is in the Army and also when he has gone back to civil life. It has already been considerably extended and developed, especially towards giving education on practical lines. There are four certificates which may be obtained—Nos. 3, 2, 1, and special. For the lowest of these, No. 3, the teaching is in elementary subjects, the three R's and history. For No. 2 it is English, mathematics and languages, or some practical subject with a view to helping the man when he goes back to civil employment. This practical education is a new feature. It includes carpentering, painting, glazing and agriculture—in which the men take a very great interest—and also shorthand, typewriting and mechanical training. There is also theory and practise of commerce, accountancy, chemistry, electricity, engineering and such like subjects. This is an entirely new proposal, and in a very practical way it improves the position of a soldier when he leaves the Army and returns to civil life, and it also enables him to give greater service to his country. This must be a great attraction to men who take up service in the Army. The obtaining of No. 2 certificate is necessary in order to get proficiency pay, and in the case of No. 1 it involves a much higher course, and the same applies to the gaining of a "special" certificate. The examination for the "special" certificate is about equivalent to matriculation for a university, and the possession of this "special" certificate will no doubt be of great influence in reference to eligibility of those who are seeking promotion to commissioned rank. We are endeavouring to make the Army an avenue to success in civil life, and the effect must be to bring the Army and civil life closer together. Certainly it should bring about an improvement in the standard of the recruits. I shall now turn to some of the questions which have arisen during the discussion.
I am afraid that question will have to be put to the trade unionists. I am not in a position to answer it. The Member for Cambourne (Mr. Acland) asked why this should be a Vote on Account instead of being a Vote on the Estimates. In reply I would say we had much less than this before us during the War. All the votes we had were simply token votes, but we have at present this vote and we have also had a White Paper dealing with it. Therefore we have made one step forward towards the old pre-war conditions. The Estimates which will be put down will give full detail, and I hope they will be laid before the middle of April, which is what the right hon. Gentleman, I think, asks for. It may be they will be available before the end of March. He asked whether the Estimates would be referred to the Committees on the Estimates which has been recommended to be set up by the Committee of Public Accounts. I can only reply that this is a matter for the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the House of Commons. It is not a matter for the War Office to decide by itself. He also made a suggestion that there was a higher number than pre-War numbers—239,000 men—being kept up for this year, and he suggested that by a certain transaction the expenses might have been reduced With regard to that, the reason is the new obligations which will involve a higher number of men than we had in pre-War days. There is an increase, 261,000 now against 241,000 pre-War. That also touches the reply to his question as to the 20,000 extra men in this country compared with those who are abroad. That is accounted for by the larger number of men in training. We have taken one and two year men who go off before the 31st March, 1821. Secondly, we have a large number of untrained men. It was felt that it was wise to go on with recruiting and not to turn off the stream of recruiting which was running. Therefore no check has been placed upon the number of men recruited. That accounts for the larger number of men at home compared with the number who are abroad. There have also been increases in the Staff connected with school instruction, ordnance, tanks, and other military Departments. This will account for some of the increase.
I regard the 10 per cent. of illiterates which has been referred to as a matter for regret. It is quite true that the standard of illiteracy in the Army at the present time is greater than in pre-war time, but it seems inconsistent that the right hon. Gentleman should complain of the large number of illiterate men and also complain of the number of instructors who are being added. We are in that way trying to improve upon the pre-war standard. The policy in Mesopotamia was also referred to and we were asked whether we could afford it, I am inclined to share in the apprehensions on that point, but the fact is that at the present time we have to carry out the policy which is laid down, and it must be remembered that part of that policy is affected by the delay in making peace with Turkey. Therefore, so far as the War Office is concerned, the policy must be carried out until at such time as that policy takes another form. A question was also put with regard to the Territorials. It was suggested that they should be administered solely by the County Associations and I was asked whether there was any decrease in the functions of these Associations or in their responsibility. There was also a complaint made that there had been an increase of pay for the men in this force. I can hardly imagine that anyone could wish to see the Territorial Army built up otherwise than as a sound, effective body, and therefore I do not see the ground for the complaint of the increase of pay. It was suggested that if they were paid less we would get better men. If that argument is worth anything at all, if we paid nothing we might get paragons of excellence. I do not think the argument is a good one. If we are to build up the Territorial Army on good lines there ought to be some inducement in the way of recompense for the time given by the men to training themselves for the defence of their country. There was also reference made to the League of Nations and it was said that there was no reference to that body in the speech of the Secretary of State for War.
Could the right hon. Gentleman answer the question about the functions of the County Associations? I assume that there is no truth in the statement that they will have less important functions?
So far as I am aware, there is no reduction either in their function or their responsibility. I do not know what are the rumours, and I know nothing of the statements that they will have less responsibilities. It may be that these responsibilities will be greater, because there will be the addition of new arms to the Territorials. It has been suggested, also, that the League of Nations might have come to some agreement, so that we would not have required to maintain so expensive an Army and so large a number of men, but the scheme of the League of Nations moves slowly, much as we hoped from it, and we have to take short views und to deal with what is nearest our hand. The defence of the Empire has to be maintained and we have to keep its outposts in security. The proposals which are before the Committee will be in no way prejudiced by the future policy of the League of Nations. It is just possible that there may be an agreement in the course of the financial year, and if that takes place it may then not be necessary to maintain the whole of the forces for which we are providing, but the money must be provided at present, even though, in such a case, it might not be necessary that the whole of it should be spent. We all hoped a good deal, certainly I did, from the League of Nations, but there has been a somewhat disappointing result. It was hoped that it might really be a going concern at a very early date, but we are being disagreeably disappointed, because the signing of the Treaty with Turkey has been delayed and our cousins across the Atlantic have not been willing to come forward to take their share in the burden of the world and to make the League of Nations a reality.
The Member for Thanet (Mr. E. Harms-worth) has spoken, and I offer him my congratulations upon his speech, and I hope that on many occasions we shall be able to listen to him when he rises in our debates, and when his remarks will have much value. He expressed a hope that the Government would do its best to get back to pre-war figures with regard to the Army. We should all like to get back to those figures, but we must not forget the increased obligations involved which call for a larger number of soldiers than we had in pre-war days. The Member for Ilkeston (Major-General Seely) asked whether it would not be possible that those who were in the Territorial Army should serve in their own units whether there was conscription or not, but there are reasons why that could not be done. Of course, it is very difficult to put into words or to say exactly what would be the emergency which would have to be met, or which would make it desirable not to allow them to continue in their own units if conscription is in force, but we must maintain the power to do it in case of emergencies.
Reference has also been made to some of the medical cases and to certain remarks and rumours on the subject. With regard to that I have a paper here which deals with the whole treatment of neurasthenics and mental cases in detail, and it seems that in 1915 the President of the Royal College of Physicians at the invitation of the Army Council arranged for a committee of members of the College to visit the various military hospitals in which nerve shock and mental cases were being treated, and to submit a report on the adequacy or otherwise of the arrangements made for the care and treatment of the patients. There is a report, which was satisfactory, and further supervision of these hospitals and asylums and patients has been carried out, the hospitals were frequently visited, and it was an unvarying rule that any complaint was immediately fully investigated Some cases have been brought forward which have been investigated by the War Office and there is found to be no foundation for the statements which have been made. Several allegations have been made against one hospital, the Lord Derby War Hospital, and the visiting committee and that of the hospital immediately pressed for an independent inquiry, and the War Office authorities are fully prepared to offer every facility for the fullest inquiry, and investigations on a prima fâcie case for inquiry being shown. Of course the War Office are not prepared to hold inquiries without some grounds, but if any responsible body of people can bring forward an allegation which seems to have some basis the War Office is fully prepared at once to order an investigation to be held. The hon. Member (Mr. Spoor) raised a question with regard to the education of officers, and expressed a hope that in the new scheme warrant officers are going to have a chance of holding commissions. I am glad to be able to say that they will have a chance of holding commissions and their claims will be fully considered with regard to their educational qualifications, which is what he wished.
I wish to thank the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Churchill) for having put quite clearly what the obligations and liabilities of the Territorials will be in future. I am sure they will appreciate that and will not have any suspicions which may prevent them from enlisting. Reference has been made to the duties of county associations, and I am glad to hear that those responsibilities will not be lessened in any way. I want to put forward as a suggestion for the consideration of the War Office whether it would not be to the advantage of the Special Reserve, or Militia, also to be administered by county associations. The Territorial Force has always appreciated their administration, which is much more sympathetic and in much greater touch with them than that of the War Office. With regard to recruiting there is a great scarcity at present of adjutants of the Territorial battalions. In the regiment of four battalions in which I am interested there is only one adjutant available, although there are plenty of applications from officers who have received some injury during the war. They have not been accepted by the War Office on account of some slight disability. It would be very greatly to the advantage of the battalion to have an experienced officer. He might have some slight injury, such as the loss of a finger, or perhaps even the loss of an eye, but so long as he is active and experienced and knows his work he would make a most excellent adjutant and ought not to be turned down.
The War Office has not come to a final decision as to the Yeomanry. The great value of the Yeomanry is the class of society from which it is drawn, and the splendid fighting material which it possesses. There were fifty-two regiments of Yeomanry before the War, and only some ten are to be retained, and it is a great pity that this material should be lost to the new Territorial Force. A good number of theme have been transferred to the Field and Horse Artillery, but not in all cases, and in one particular case of a regiment which has done extremely well and has as fine a record as any cavalry regiment during the War, the only alternative that has been offered it-is to become a company of an armoured car, which has a personnel of about 120 all told. Some better inducement might be offered to these men who have served during the War and have been through it to the number of something like two thousand. It is a great pity if they are not retained in some form. A better allotment of units might be made to different counties. The Special Reserve regiments of cavalry which have been suggested I do not think will be found very feasible or workable. It is asking too much of a county to find a whole regiment on the terms which are suggested—three months' training for recruits and a months' training for trained men. If these regiments are really wanted, the terms might be modified and possibly men might be found, or even a squadron from each county, three or four squadrons composing a regiment The Prime Minister once referred to the Air Force as the cavalry of the sky. Might I submit to the consideration of the War Office that a Territorial Air Force should be formed, and it might be formed from those men who used to form the Yeomanry.
I wish to say a few words with regard to the Yeomanry and its future. We who take an interest in that force realise that drastic alterations will have to take place. But I would like to submit that the proposals of the Secretary for War appear to be rather hard on some units. For instance, I know of one case where a unit, throughout the period of the war, was on active service; now it is to have garrison artillery duties allotted to it. It has no choice in the matter. I think it is rather hard for the War Office to lay down the law in that way. Then it is also hard that those regiments which, according to the White Paper, come first in order of precedence are all grouped in one portion of England. Seven of the 10 are in the Midlands, two in Yorkshire and one in Scotland. I would support any plan which would spread the Yeomanry over the whole country as widely as possible. The adoption of the seniority principle appears to me to afford a somewhat artificial basis, because seniority may have been obtained in old days by influence. I hope the War Office will review this matter and try and produce something better. I have heard suggestions made that some of the regiments might be split up in various commands, leaving it to the commanders to decide what they should do. I think that would be a fair arrangement. We in the regular cavalry during the war worked with the Yeomanry for the first time, The Yeomanry became regiments in the brigade and served alongside the regular cavalry. I hope that, after the war, there will be opportunity for the Yeomanry and for the regular cavalry regiments to serve side by side as in the past, because it is a good thing for recruiting for the regular regiments; it provides a lot of young officers and men for them. It creates a better spirit, and secures greater efficiency all round.
With much that has been said on these Benches with regard to Army matters I find myself in complete agreement, and especially with what fell from the right hon. and gallant Member for Ilkeston (Major-General Seely) in connection with that useful body the Air Force I think it is due to the conservative spirit of a great many of our commanders that inadequate use is being made of this new weapon. But I rose to deal with the. question of Russia, and I wish to draw the attention of the House to the policy of the War Minister and the harm which that policy has done throughout this country in connection with our relations with Russia. I listened carefully to the speech of the Minister for War, which lasted over an hour. The right hon. Gentleman came down to the House full of smiles, hoping to obtain applause from hon. Members by stating that conscription had been abolished. But he omitted to deal with one of the most important topics in connection with war policy to-day He said nothing about Russia. One cannot deal with that subject without offering congratulations to the Prime Minister on the way in which he is gradually jazzing this House of Commons into a policy of peace with Russia. While the Home Secretary-last February vehemently denounced any attempts to negotiate with the Bolsheviks, the Prime Minister in Paris was negotiating direct with them through Messrs. Bulitt and Stephens, and although we were told that the hon. Member for South-East Leeds (Mr O'Grady) was carrying on negotiations only for the exchange of prisoners.
I was con gratulating the Prime Minister on the way in which he was converting the House to a policy opposite to that advocated by the Minister for War, and I was saying that while the hon. Member for South-East Leeds is conducting negotiations for the exchange of prisoners we learn from a Moscow wireless that those negotiations were also for peace. Then M. Clemenceau—
I rose to draw the attention of the House to the sinister effect which the War Minister's policy is having on our relations with Russia. Negotiations are being carried on through military missions in the Baltic Provinces, in Ukraine, and in Siberia, and these will have an effect in years to come which cannot possibly be countered until a new Government is in power in this country. There is a mission in Esthonia which has been doing everything possible to bring about war between Esthonia and the Bolsheviks. Of that there is no doubt whatever. These Missions have been helping these' little countries to arm themselves. As one hon. Member informed us to-night, five million rounds of ammunition went out last week to Reval. Has that ammunition been despatched for the purpose of attacking Russia? Has it been despatched in accordance with some secret transaction? Has it been des-patched to further the cause of peace in this world? We are entitled to know for what purpose these cases of ammunition were shipped to Reval last week. These intrigues have been going on for the last fifteen months. On November 27th a conference was held of French, British and American representatives at Reval, at which they concocted a policy and presented it to the Esthonian Government, making demands which were tantamount to demands to carry out a belligerent policy against the Russians. I know that that has been denied in this House. It has been denied as much as matters are denied in this House, and one has been able to get as much satisfaction out of it as one expects to get out of question and answer. We cannot pass the question of the Baltic States without offering a word of congratulation to that gallant little country, Esthonia. With all these difficulties and intrigues, and all these low, undermining influences, that country has had the statesmanship and the moral presence of mind to carry through peace, and I hope that that policy which it has carried through with such success in face of difficulties from the Allies will be followed as soon as possible by the remaining Baltic States which formed part of the former Russian Empire. We cannot express our admiration in terms too high.
I wish to deal with certain items of the policy of the War Office, as opposed to the policy of the Prime Minister, in connections with our relations with Russia. On February 13 I saw a communique in the stop press of the newspapers, in which the War Office announced that, according to reports from the British Mission in South Russia, the condition had considerably improved. What on earth did that communique mean? To what did the improvement of the position relate? We are not at war with any country out there. Are we entitled to take sides with one band of partisans and another? Has not this convention ceased months ago? Does not the representative of the War Office realise that if by these communiques we outwardly show that we are taking sides with those whom I cannot do other than call roving bandits, it is bound to influence the whole of our relations when Peace, which must be declared soon, is ultimately achieved? Imagine the hostile feelings which will ensue between this country and Russia as a result of the events of the last eighteen months. In my opinion, and in the opinion of a great many hon. Members, we ought to put a stop to this policy of pin pricking and the policy of rhetorical abuse, not merely in this House, but in the country, by speeches at Dundee, Sunderland, and other places. It is time the Government faced the facts and confronted the realities of the situation concerning our Russian policy. This country has a moral duty in Europe, and that is to bring about Peace, and these speeches, these communiques, and the other activities, constitute one of the biggest factors in delaying the Peace for which so many millions of lives were lost in the Great War.
Who are these people on whom the War Office has been spending our money? Who are these partisan leaders, these marauding bandits on which the British taxpayers' money has been so ruthlessly squandered during the last 18 months? Admiral Koltchak is now dead. I will not say much, but from information I have received he was a person quite honest and quite straight, but totally unfitted to be in charge of the intrigue and dictatorship. He has passed away to another place. From what I hear General Knox, who was the Government's advisor with General Koltchak, reported some weeks ago on the position in Siberia. The Government, as usual, took no action as was the case in regard to the reports of General Gough last August and September. The Government, in regard to Russia, has been adopting the policy of accepting only such reports as come from those sources that are favourable. I see that General Knox declared publicly a short time ago that it is no use keeping Bolsheviks in prison; that it is much the better plan to shoot them without trial. I cannot imagine that is the policy of a general attached as the adviser of a Foreign Mission; the adviser on a policy which has never been defined. It does not sound like words which have come from a British General representing the British nation.
I will show it to my hon. Friend. Yesterday General Knox was granted the K.C.B. Was it for that he was granted the K.C.B. or was it for organising the Koltchak regime? Who were the men who surrounded Admiral Koltchak? Unelected, unnominated, unconstitutionally elected people, who had no connection with the Russian people. They were a purely self-constituted group of men who assumed one of the greatest dictatorships we have seen in the whole of Europe. These are the people who are styled as the loyal Russians for whom we fought during the War, They represent nothing of the sort. The large bulk of the loyal Russians, whose prowess and valour were largely responsible for the glorious victory of the Marne, are now serving in Central Russia, and if the title "loyal Russians" can be applied to any section it can be applied to the Russians whom we are fighting.
I now pass to General Denikin. I will not burden the House by repeating the terrible list of atrocities which have been reported concerning territories occupied by General Denikin. I will only mention one or two. I will read a few from reports which have reached me. It is well that the House should know these things. We have been spending money and sending ammunition and tanks to these people, and it is only right to ask what has been done with these munitions, and to know the sort of people whom we have been helping with the taxpayers' money.
The first report to which I will refer comes from the town of Kharkov:
The Red troops surrounded by the Denikinites were brutally massacred. Those who had not time to take off their caps, with the Red Star, were branded by the ferocious mob with hot irons, after which they were told they could go to all the four corners of the earth and that no decent merchant would give them employment. The Jewish Red troops were separated into a special group and handed over to the volunteers, who shot them all with machine-guns on the spot. Having finished with the Red troops, the Whites turned their attention to the workmen. For the latter four gallows were erected in the centre of the town, in the Rosa Luxembourg Square … Four gallows were found to be insufficient, and in view of this the workmen were hung on lampposts. More than two hundred workmen were executed in this way.
These, unlike the items of tittle-tattle which appear in some of our papers, are signed by the witnesses, and I am informed that the Soviet authorities are prepared to allow impartial inquiry into these atrocities, which is more than Kolchak or Denikin would allow. The next relates to the question of women:
On Monday, September 1st, Cossacks appeared at the house of the Communist, Zelakovsky, living in Sloboda Argamack, outside the town. Having first flogged Zelakovsky with the knout until he had lost consciousness, they then violated his wife, knocked the teeth out of his young daughter, aged seven years, and beat the other, aged thirteen, with their sabres. The house was laid bare from top to bottom.… In the town the orgies and the pillaging of the Jewish and Communist houses continued. The Jews, according to the report of their neighbours, were plundered for the simple reason that they were Jews. It was not permitted to make searches and to bury the dead, and only on September 7th did the funerals of the dead victims take place. Fifty-three corpses of men and women were buried in the Jewish cemetery. Among them are two girls, aged seventeen and nineteen, who were first violated and then murdered.
I have just read these instances out of the voluminous accounts in order to show the sort of individual to whom we have been supplying money and whom we have been assisting. To show further the kind of individuals on whom money was spent, I may say that we had reports, which would be comic if they were not so serious and regrettable, from correspondents serving with Denikin. One of them, writing of the supplies of uniform and clothing, says:
Last year you sent Denikin 1,500 complete nurses' costumes, and during the whole of my service in the Army in Russia I have never seen a nurse in a British uniform, but; I have seen girls who were emphatically not nurses wearing British hospital stockings and skirts.
And he goes on and deals with the same question of officers' uniforms and materials. The War Office sent it out. It was sold by profiteers or used for all manner of purposes for which it was never intended when despatched from
this country. Then, after discussing the question of graft, he says that it is possible to square practically anybody in South Russia, high or low. He deals with the despatch of munitions and tanks to the forces of Denikin. He deals in detail with the way a huge quantity of our small arms ammunition and 60,000 of our big gun shells were stored for months at an exposed point, and in spite of the warnings of the British military mission. Ultimately the dump was blown up, presumably by spies. The invariable excuse given by Denikin's staff officers was that he was suffering from a severe lack of railway transport. On one occasion, I think, eleven tanks were rolled off the quay into the sea. The correspondent goes on to say:
Denikin's staff offered many excuses for this calamity, the main one being shortage of rolling stock; but I saw a certain General's train coming back from the Front with forty-four trucks and coaches, and the gallant officer carried with him ids own orchestra, a number of operatic stars, and a troop of performing acrobats.
That is an example of the sort of man we have been supporting in South Russia. At the same time we find going on in this country a propaganda which is sometimes supported by the War Office which is intended to stir up hate against the Russian Soviet population. Only the other day under the auspices of one of the G.O.C.'s—I think it was the G.O.C., North Command—all the troops and officers were ordered to parade, to listen to one of these propaganda lectures by a certain reverend gentleman, a member of the Church of England. I hope in passing that that does not represent in any degree the feeling of the Church of England, but here is a man who has been used by the War Office to preach a propaganda which is not true and which everybody knows is not true. If you asked any of the dozens of people who have been actually in Russia whether those statement are true they will tell you that they are not. Those persons try to appeal to the instincts of humanity in the people's mind. They talk about the destruction of churches, of the massacre of the clergy, of the nationalisation of women, of the destruction of works of art and beauty, and tell all those stories which all of us know have been long exploded. Every independent witness who has been in Russia comes back and contradicts all that, but this man, supported by the
supervision of the G.O.C. preaches this hymn of hate and tries to stir up hate between the people of England and the people of Russia.
When the Trade Union Congress delegate visited the Prime Minister—I think it was a week or two ago—he told them that it was impossible to make peace with Russia if for no other reason that that after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk the Bolsheviks had sold a certain number of guns to Germany for use against the British on the Western Front. I challenge the Prime Minister or the representative of the War Office to produce any evidence to bear out that statement. I do not believe that there is a word of truth in it, When the history of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty is read and when the negotiations leading up to that treaty and the subsequent breaking off of the relations are studied it will be found that every effort was made by the Bolshevik Government to come to terms with the Allies, and that they even went the length of agreeing to refuse to sign the Treaty and to continue the war against Germany. Those are the plain facts of the case. They can be read by any man who studies the documents. As to the question of the Bolsheviks having an alliance with Germany, I need only quote what occurred in the Prussian Diet on January 21st, when Herr Heine, the Minister for Home Affairs, in addressing the House, accused the Independent Socialists and Bolshevik sympathisers of receiving money for their propaganda from the British military party in England. That, I am sure, is not true, but it shows the feeling that is held. You accuse your opponents politically of obtaining money from the enemy. No doubt there is just as much truth in that as in the statement that the Bolsheviks are supported by German influence and German money. We are not, technically, at war with the Russian Government. According to the tenets of international law we are still their allies, but practically, and that is the most important consideration, we are at war with them. We are supplying arms, munitions, money and so forth; we are supplying highly trained staff officers, naval military and air force, to keep the War going on, and by sinuous, underhand, dirty intrigues are trying to do everything to prevent peace with the surrounding countries. We are told by the Prime Minister that there is a suggestion to trade with the co-operators. Everyone knows that is quite impossible. We have first to conclude a real peace. There are no two policies; there is no question of trading—
There is no matter more closely connected with the War Office than war, or at least it should be so, and I am trying to put forward a ease for establishing peace. It may be rather an unpopular thing to do, and the majority in this House may be in favour of War, but the mass of the people of this country are in favour of peace with Russia. My right hon. Friend may know the feeling that exists throughout the whole of the organised Labour movement. Possibly he has seen resolutions on this matter. I think I am right in saying that many thousands of resolutions have been passed in favour of a down-tools policy in the event of peace not being concluded with Soviet Russia, and if he has seen the letters accompanying those resolutions, the statements which have been sent out to every corner of this country from every industry—we shall have an opportunity of seeing them soon—he would realise the feeling behind the people of this country with regard to the desire to conclude peace with Russia. I fear that if peace is not concluded the Government may have to face a more serious situation than I like to contemplate. It is necessary to remember that "The Times" and the "Daily Mail" do not represent the mass of public opinion in this country, and the sooner we realise and face the facts the better. You have got in Russia this great mass of mobilised energy forming a two-edged sword, and the sooner you can convert that mass of destructive energy into something which will produce good, something that will be of utility to mankind, the better it will be for humanity in general. If it was right and moral and just to bring all the misery of civil War into Russia 12 months ago, nothing has since occurred to render it right and moral to withdraw that obligation. If it is right in withdrawing at the end of this month all our support for these marauding bandits and partisan leaders, the Denikins and Koltchaks and so forth, then by supplying these men with arms and munitions, with tanks and with poison gas, followed by their use in massacreing and murdering the Russian peasants, we were committing one of the gravest crimes which history has ever recorded. I hope that we can stop once for all this mad tomfoolery and bring about a complete and real peace.
Though it may seem a little inconsiderate after the eloquent sermon to which we have just been treated, I propose to ask the House to come back to dull business, because, after all, we are a business assembly. I want to revert to the speech of the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Spoor). While I listened to him, I could not help wishing that something could be done to lay once for all the bogey of militarism, of which he seems to be so afraid. There are in this House something over 100 Members who have served in the War. Most of them have had experience of war at first hand. Some of them have suffered severely. It is probable that the great majority will never be quite what they were before. Does ho think they are going to assent to any policy setting up militarism permanently in this country? It is contrary to the pyschology of the people, contrary to the experience of the War. The one thing desired by the vast majority of men who served in the War was to get out of the Army. The Secretary of State for War dealt at great length with many aspects of the question we are here to discuss, but he did not touch upon one point, and I was glad to see that the Parliamentary and Financial Secretary dealt with it in his speech. I refer to the life of the Army. I do not think any of us doubts the Army would do its job to-day just as well as it did it in the past. What is the life of the Army? Has the Army learned anything from the lessons of the War? Has it learned anything new in regard to discipline? Has it learned that discipline can be maintained without the hard and fast and rigid system which seemed to be the custom before the new Armies took the field? I was glad to hear that military service is to be no longer a blind-alley occupation, and that soldiers are being trained for employment in civil life at such time as they leave the Army. That is not all that is required.
The Army is a machine, and it is in many respects an inexorable machine. Its laws are stern rather than just. Nearly every man who serves in it has no affection or loyalty for the machine as a machine. It has no soul and no conscience. All the loyalty and devotion go to the unit. The machine wants humanising. That is the. reason why when soldiers do a job they always need to have somebody standing over them to see that they do it. They do not feel that they owe anything to the machine which employs them. When they go into civil life it takes them some years to get away from the habit of doing as little as possible for as much money as they can get. That habit would be destroyed if the human element were introduced a little more into the administration of the Army. I am very glad to note in the memorandum of the Secretary of State that a beginning is about to be made in the improvement in barracks. I have often wondered why it is necessary to put men in barracks which are more like prisons than anything else. I have not had the advantage of being in a prison, but I can well imagine that some prisons are a great deal more comfortable than most of the barracks I have been in and seen. Prisons are usually lighted by electricity and prisoners have a certain privacy, and the officers of the prison have comfortable, clean, well-kept quarters and do not have to rely on candles for light. As I say, I am glad that the barrack system is going to be brought up to date, and more in accordance with modern thought and requirements. We are all agreed upon one point, and that is upon the need for economy; but we are not all agreed as to how that policy should be carried out. There is such a thing as good economy and false economy, and I think the vast majority will agree that it would be a false economy not to have a force which would be capable of policing our possessions and discharging our responsibilities. I am of opinion that the Secretary of State has asked for a minimum and not a maximum, and that minimum will, I think, only discharge its functions so long as it has behind it an efficient, well-trained citizen force.
What, may I ask, is happening with regard to the Territorial Army? We have been told that we performed great service in the War, and we are always having nice things said about us; but actions-speak louder than words, and we want to see something tangible. We want to see this system, to which some of us have devoted the best years of our lives, set on a permanent footing, and launched boldly forth and not in a half-hearted manner which nobody understands. The Secretary of State in his speech devoted a very short space to the Territorial Army. He told us that everything would be done to make recruiting a success. We have got to make it a success because we must have a Territorial Army. The very first thing that should have been done by the responsible authorities was to have approached employers of labour and obtain their support, but that has not been done. In Liverpool the Cotton Association passed a resolution by which the employers undertook to give every facility to the Territorial Force, and to allow those of their employees who joined it special holidays for camping and training. That should have been done throughout the whole country and the force should have been boomed. Instead of that there was an order issued stopping recruiting. Commanding officers have been appointed, but what has happened to the rest. Are we going to learn anything from the lessons of the War? Has the experience of the latter end of 1914 when there was a new army without officers or staff all been thrown away? There was one instance of some seven hundred men with four officers, and I was the only one with any military training, and yet we were expected to turn them into a battalion. The same thing is happening to-day. The Territorial Force has got a certain number of recruits but has no one to deal with them. This Force should receive a little more consideration and should be treated in a more businesslike manner. I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman what is the position of the officers of the Territorial Force now? Are they to be gazetted out of the old Territorial Force and into the new Territorial Force? Why should every man who wishes to join the Force have to enlist as a private? Is there any reason why a company sergeant-major should have to enlist as a private and wait till his promotion is approved? I do urge that before it is too late, if the War Office really means to make the Force an effective Force, that it should be well boomed and advertised without further delay. It is going to be difficult to get recruits and to build it up, and the very-least the authorities can do is to assist commanding officers in these matters and not throw all the responsibility and burden on them as they have done in the past.
I am sure the House will agree with me when I say that we are all very grateful to the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken for his admirable speech in which, speaking from practical experience, he put his finger on all the weak spots in connection with the recruiting for the Territorial Force. I do not rise to criticise the Secretary of State for War, although I have put down a motion for a modest reduction. Although his political past varies in one's estimation from the purest white to the deepest purple, still I think he has displayed great courage since he went to the War Office, and ought to have the approval of everyone interested in the defence of the British Empire. There are one or two remarks of the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Spoor) to which I desire to refer. He asked us if we had forgotten all the lessons of the War. I venture to think the thought must have gone through the minds of hon. Members that he at least was where he was before the war, and that he did not rise to the imperative need of the moderate requirements the British Empire is asking for as compared with every other organised community in the world. He made a great point with regard to the treatment of mental cases in the army. I cordially agree with him, and I hope that the War Office will do everything in its power to persuade the Ministry of Pensions that wherever a man is known to be suffering from mental trouble, or where there is any doubt, that doubt ought to be given to the man who served his country, because it is almost certain that that trouble has occurred through military service. The hon. Member went on to refer to the treatment of 30,000 shell-shock cases which he described from a newspaper I think the hon. Member should not make that kind of statement unless he had proved the facts, because it is an unpardonable calumny against the conduct of the authorities of this country. Although I have had a great deal to do with many of these mental eases, I have never heard charges of that description before, and I hope the hon. Gentleman will inquire into the truth of his statements. The hon. Gentleman also told us he was speaking for the Labour party when he held up his hands in horror at the expenditure on the Army Estimates at the present time. Does the Labour party not realise that we are the only country of all the belligerents, with the exception of Germany, which has got back to a voluntary basis, and is it not from the point of view of the Labour party something to recognise that that has happened? Personally, I make no bones about this question. I feel that it is a very grave mistake, and I think it would be far better that you should say precisely how many men you want, and that you should spread the burden evenly, by ballot or by some other means. I have fought three elections on that issue, and I still feel that that is the reasonable solution. I do not think that men ought to suffer as the Territorial Force suffered in this country from their patriotism at the commencement of the War—a patriotism which I think has been most inadequately recognised, because, after all, the Territorial soldier had no time to put his house in order, his business in many cases went to ruin at once, he had no opportunity of trying to find anyone to carry it on, and he was immediately mobilised, although a civilian. He suffered far more, in my opinion, than any other class of the community. Apparently the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland would render this country once more naked and defenceless, in spite of the unrest which exists in the world, and he would be prepared to reduce our armed forces to a point which no competent critic would deem sufficient to preserve the outer marges of the Empire against the unrest which we see on every side.
I want to deal very briefly with two points which I hope the Minister in charge will refer to the Secretary of State for War. One is the niggardly manner in which the Regular Army is in many cases being treated. Some extraordinary things are being done in the matter of pensions, for instance. In regard to the Kut prisoners of war, there were two major-generals in command of brigades, and when they were taken prisoners they were receiving pay as prisoners of war which was less than that of battalion commanders who had served under them, and when one inquires into the reason one is told that it is because General Townshend, who was the commanding officer, was himself only a major-general, and therefore these officers must be paid less. That kind of thing is monstrous. "Make not thy captains sick." Officers ought not to be treated in that way any more than soldiers. That kind of injustice rankles, and such a small matter ought to be put right. In regard to allowances, a great deal of capital was made out of the fact that under the new scheme very generous allowances were going to be given in the Army.
May I take the case of married officers? In the Aldershot Command, at any rate, if married officers go on more than fourteen days leave their allowances are stopped by the ruling of the Command Paymaster, Aldershot Command. I believe that is entirely contrary to the spirit of the new Regulations, which lay down that officers' families should be recognised in the future as a reason entitling officers to increased allowances. Again, with regard to servant allowances, paragraph 10 of Army Order 324 says the rate of servant allowance is two shillings per diem for each European servant at home or abroad. It is not stated in the Army Order that these servants must be soldier servants and limited in number, and on the strength of this fact many officers engaged servants and now find themselves in great difficulty, and there, again, something should be done to mitigate the hardship. There are many allowances already very much in arrears, and they are continually withheld from officers for one reason or another. I hope the War Office will get rid of this niggardly spirit. I do not believe the House of Commons, when it agreed to these increased allowances, meant that officers and men were to be deprived of them on every possible quibble, but that they were to be given in the most generous possible spirit. In exactly the same way, when it was agreed to give officers furnished quarters, it is monstrous not to include in the furnishing of those officers' quarters something for an officer to lie on. When I tell the House that furniture does not include a bed, I think the hon. Gentleman will agree that also is most unjust.
I wish to say a word in regard to the subject raised by my hon. and gallant Friend (Lieut.-Colonel Willoughby) with regard to the Territorial Medal? For many months past there have been indications that there was going to be a recognition of those Territorials who had served prior to the War and who undertook service conditions immediately on the outbreak of War, and I believe I am right in saying that the country as a whole appreciated that special recognition. An announcement appeared in the Press recently, in which it said that this medal was going to be granted to all Territorial soldiers who had served four years and who volunteered for active service, that is to say, outside their home service conditions, on the outbreak of War, provided, first of all, that they were medically fit for active service, and, secondly, that they had not received the 1914 or 1915 Star. It seems to me that even if a man was medically unfit, providing he had served his country and you had kept him in the Force and allowed him to remain there, providing he was fit in heart and volunteered for active service, his service should also be recognised. But I want to call particular attention to this extraordinary ruling, that this medal, which is to be granted to Territorial soldiers because they had fitted themselves for war, should not be granted if by any chance they had received the 1914 or 1915 Star, which has nothing whatever to do with their Territorial pre-War service. What does that really amount to? It means that Territorial units—I am not suggesting that there were not many efficient units which did not go to the front early in 1914 or 1915—which were specially selected and taken out early in 1914 or 1915 are deprived of the Territorial medal which recognised their pre-War service because they earned this Star, and because they went through and, of course, as we all know, because they suffered very greatly, there are very few of them left. I say it is just as reasonable to say to a regular soldier, "Because you have earned the 1914 or 1915 Star, you must not be allowed to have a good conduct and long-service medal." If the Secretary of State for War had recommended that those Territorial divisions which went to India and the East should receive a special medal, I could understand that, but I cannot understand penalising the most efficient units, and saying they are not to receive this recognition. I believe it is a mistake, and I hope it will be put right at the earliest possible moment.
With regard to the reorganisation of the Territorial Force, if the Secretary of State for War would take to heart the words spoken by the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Lieut.-Colonel Buckley) who has just sat down, we should very quickly know where we are. It is very difficult at the present time for those engaged in organising units to know exactly where they stand. Let us have a few more facts on the table and a little more propaganda on the part of the Government to encourage employers of labour to fall into a general scheme. I do not think that anyone in the Territorial Force will object to the plan of the scheme. I am glad to see that this sham surrounding the idea of active service has been got rid of, because I am perfectly sure, if war occurs, that anyone who joins the Force will be ready to follow that foreign service providing that he goes as a unit. When we come, however, to the question of the Yeomanry Cavalry, I am compelled—I am extremely reluctant to criticise the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman—to enter a protest before it is too late. It is very easy to destroy a unit, but it is very difficult to build one, and, when one realises the traditions of the Yeomanry and what an asset they have been to this country in time of peril, I think it is extremely regrettable that for a niggling economy, as we look at things now, you are going practically to destroy all the Yeomanry. True, you ask them to undertake duty with other units, but the fact remains that those units will not appeal to the men who at the present moment form the backbone of the Yeomanry, and I do not think that the Secretary of State will get that yeoman class to join them. I believe that the cost of the Yeomanry before the War was something like £250,000. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Transport and his staff are already costing the nation at the rate of £250,000 per year.
I am glad to see the Secretary of State for War here, because it is an important point. I know that he is being appealed to all the time to economise, but possibly he has been persuaded by some of his military advisers, although as a gallant Yeomanry officer himself he ought to know better, that the late War has proved to us that the Cavalry arm was excessive. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to remember what happened after the South African War? We were then told that all wars were going to be fought with the same kind of loose formation as in the South African War. Is he not too much inclined at the present time to stereotype his future reconstruction of the Army on trench warfare? I venture to submit that trench warfare, as we knew it in the late War, is impossible unless you are going to have conscript armies, because the armies of the Continent are going to be comparatively small, and the wars there are going to be wars of movement. The right hon. Gentleman himself has said that he is not contemplating any European entanglements, for which we are extremely pleased, and that it is the more distant theatres that we have to consider in connection with the future of the Army. When you remember the asset that the Imperial Yeomanry units were in Mesopotamia, Palestine, Egypt, and other distant theatres, and when you realise how much they accounted for the success of the Great War, I say, "Is he wise, for an economy of £250,000 a year, to get rid of all these Yeomanry regiments with all their great traditions and their great accomplishments, not only in this country, but in the South African War, where they were badly needed?" Is he wise to scrap all these splendid units for a sum of money which he could easily find if he would encourage his colleagues to scrap the Minister of Transport and his staff?
The argument which has run through all the speeches from these Benches this afternoon has been on the lines of the League of Nations and armaments ending, and the absolutely monstrous proposal has been put down that the Army should be reduced by £15,000,000. How can any such reduction be justified? I could understand anyone moving a reduction of £1,000,000 or £2,000,000, but everyone knows that this is sheer party bluff, and that the reduction is put down simply to try and score a party point, in order that hon. Gentlemen can go on the platform and say that they wanted to reduce the public expenditure. Is it not time that we really came back to the realities of the case? There is tremendous unrest throughout the whole world, and that unrest, unfortunately, is affecting the British Empire. At no moment for the seven years preceding the War were the conditions among the native races of the British Empire more difficult than they are at the present time, owing to the propaganda which is being set up and which is spreading throughout all the outer marches of the Empire. Is this the hour to come down and propose a reduction of £15,000,000 in the Estimates? Is it not reminiscent of the fact that we had proposals made to limit armaments because of friendly conversations at The Hague Conference? When the hon. Gentlemen get up and say, "Have we not got the League of Nations!" I reply, "For Heaven's sake let us wait until it is in being and until we find the same spirit permeating the whole world that you have here, until you have converted the 400,000,000 people in China." The fact is that we have not converted the rest of the world.
Is it not also the fact that the United States possibly may not be in the League of Nations, and does not that mean that our military commitments in the League of Nations are going to be very great? If you eliminate the United States, the population of the British Empire is more than one-quarter of the world. Is it not a fact that in the League of Nations populations will have to be considered in contribution of arms, and is it not possible, instead of engaging in a war once in fifty years, that under the League of Nations we may have to engage in many wars? Is it not also a fact that possibly the Czecho-Slovaks, the Yugo Slavs, and the other small peoples may feel very reluctant to make a big contribution? Until the League of Nations has won through and has made good, I submit that such a proposition as has been urged from these benches this evening is one that shows that there are some people who are absolutely regardless of the safety of this country, who are bankrupt in political ideals, and who believe it is proper to try and deceive their fellow countrymen to think that such a thing is in any way possible at the present moment. I hope that it will go to a division, and I hope that the country will be made to understand this deliberate attempt to endanger the safety of the nation by the very same men who endeavoured to endanger the safety of the Empire prior to the War.
I am sure that the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just
spoken must, in the opinion of the whole House, have touched the spot. We have to-day had two theories of the defence of the country: One, the theory put forward by the Secretary of State for War, sound, wise, cautious, and at the same time a perfectly peaceful theory, and the other the theory which has been advocated by Members on the other side of the House, that we should immediately withdraw from all our obligations all over the world, that we should withdraw our troops from Mesopotamia, from Palestine, from Egypt, and some may even go so far as to say from Constantinople. If that is to take place, and if that is to be the policy to be advocated, the Secretary of State for War was perfectly correct when he suggested that the Labour party is not fit for government. We have heard a good deal to-night about the Treaty of Peace and the League of Nations, and I rather think hon. Members have not grasped actually what the Treaty of Peace gives. It must be remembered that it was very largely contributed to by our own people, and by the theories which they put forward as to the armaments that would be necessary after peace was formulated and signed. In the first place, Members are aware that the German military forces were to be demobilised as stated in the Treaty:
Within three months from the coming into force of the present Treaty, the total number of effectives must be reduced to 200,000.
Then they were to be reduced further in accordance with the table set out in the Treaty itself. Article 170 says:
Importation into Germany of arms, munitions, and war material of every kind shall be strictly prohibited.
The same applies to the manufacture for, and export to, foreign countries of arms, munitions, and war material of every kind.
In addition to that, Article 173 says:
Universal compulsory military service shall be abolished in Germany.
The German army may only be constituted and recruited by means of voluntary enlistment.
Those are the outstanding obligations in the Treaty, and I am one of those who think we shall have to be very careful to see that those obligations are carried out, otherwise we shall not only have to adopt the measures which the Secretary of State has adumbrated in his Memorandum on the Army, but we shall have very much to increase armaments. Let me turn to what the League of Nations
has done, and how far it affects our position with regard to this question. In the first place it says:
In order to promote international co-operation and to achieve international peace and security.
By the acceptance of obligations not to resort to war. … Agree to this Covenant of the League of Nations.
Article 8 says:
The members of the League recognise that the maintenance of peace requires the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety and the enforcement by common action of international obligations.
The Council, taking account of the geographical situation and circumstances of each State, shall formulate plans for such reduction for the consideration and action of the several Governments.
Article 10 says:
The members of the League undertake to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all members of the League. In case of any such aggression, or in case of any threat or danger of such aggression, the Council shall advise upon the means by which this obligation shall be fulfilled.
It goes on to say in Article 13:
In the event of any failure to carry out such award, the Council shall propose what steps should be taken to give effect thereto.
And now follows what, to my mind, and what many others, I am sure, will agree, is the most important part in the Covenant of the League Of Nations:
Should any member of the League resort to war in disregard of its covenants … it shall ipso facto be deemed to have committed an act of war against all other members of the League which hereby undertake immediately to subject it to the severance of all trade or financial relations, the prohibition of all intercourse between their nationals and the nationals of the covenant-breaking State, and the prevention of all financial, commercial, or personal intercourse between the nationals of the covenant-breaking State and the nationals of any other State, whether a member of the League or not,
and so on. Then it says:
The members of the League agree, further, that they will mutually support one another in the financial and economic measures which are taken under this Article.
It also says that:
It shall be the duty of the Council in such case to recommend to the several Governments concerned what effective military, naval, or Air Force, the members of the League shall severally contribute to the armed forces to be used to protect the covenants of the League.
The League is absolutely based on a physical force argument. The Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord R. Cecil) the other night, though he did not think the circumstances required resort to physical force, said:
I should like to see them (that is the Council of the League) come to a conclusion to give directions to the warring sections and parties of Eastern Europe that they must cease their fighting, that they must draw back well within the provisional lines of their own countries, that they must absolutely stop fighting on pain on being cut off from all kind of connection with every country in the world.
All that shows that, expressly and directly, the time has not come to go further than what is contained in the statement of the Secretary of State for War to-night. Let me say a few words with regard to the Territorial Force. I think that the enrolment of the Territorial Force as part of the Army is what experience has shown during the War as essential. Very great difficulties arose at the commencement of the War, owing to the fact that existing units had not all been enlisted on the Imperial service obligation, and when recruiting actually commenced men were enlisted on the Home service obligation. There were some of us who took the bull by the horns and refused to enlist anybody who would not take the Imperial service obligation, which saved a lot of trouble, and the War Office two or three months afterwards actually insisted on that condition. I think the Secretary of State himself in the speech he made on 31st January, this year, laid down the really proper and sound basis for the Force. He said:
If a Territorial Force is to spring up again into life and vigour it must be on a real basis, and not on a sham basis.
And he proceeds:
The Cabinet has therefore rejected all suggestions for recruiting a Territorial Army under false pretences. We must take the manhood of the country into our confidence, and tell them what we really want them to do; and for good or ill we must bide by the result.… We have to be ready to defend the Empire and to discharge any obligations which our Government may think it right to enter into with France and Belgium for common defence against Germany. We must therefore raise a new Territorial Army on the basis of Imperial defence.
I venture to think that is entirely sound, and that the obligation which is now asked for is a sound one. There was a little criticism on the terms of the
obligation. I happen to have here the actual form which is being provided for the men, and under the present statutory-conditions of service a man shall be liable to serve outside the United Kingdom. In addition, the first form he has to sign says:
I agree that, in the event of an Act of Parliament being passed for that purpose after the embodiment of the Territorial Force, I may be required to serve outside.
that I shall serve with my own unit,
and so on. I really think that is perfectly clear. No one can be in any doubt whatever about it. It is a sound principle to ask a man to do that. One other word. My hon. Friend opposite who has just returned to the House seemed to think that it was a wrong system to pay the men. I entirely differ from him. I have had a good deal of experience in this matter. It has been conveyed to me by Territorial Association chairmen all over the country that it makes an enormous difference whether or not a man can be sure that at least his out-of-pocket expenses will be paid. The £5, the actual amount mentioned as the sum agreed upon, is that suggested by one of the most important Territorial Associations in the country. I believe this will get over the particular difficulty involved. Men, of course, will get full pay in camp, and will have allowances, I understand, for separation, and so on. In the days before the War the Territorials were absolutely out of pocket. Of course that did not matter to a man in a fairly good position, but throughout the country not only did a man give up his time and energies, but also in the long run he took upon himself the fearful responsibility of losing his life in war. He was out of pocket during the whole time, and you can hardly expect even a constitutionally loyal working man to accept that treatment. I do not understand the view of the right hon. Gentleman opposite suggesting that the Territorials are pinchbeck soldiers. I wonder what the founder of the Territorial Force would have thought of that observation?
Quite enough to defend the Empire. For the various reasons I have given I think the Secretary of State is working on perfectly sound lines. As to recruiting, I have only one criticism. I think if the paper value is cut down you will get really the men you require. I believe the scheme will be a success. We must all take a hand in it and make it a success.
I do not think a Debate of this character would be complete without something being said by a representative from Ireland. Ireland is the only country with which the Empire is at war to-day. [An HON. MEMBER: "Somali-land."] Yes, and Somaliland. Therefore I think we are entitled to express the views we hold upon the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman in the speech he made this afternoon. I never saw the right hon. Gentleman look so happy and so self-contented as he was when he rose to make that speech. He invited the House to listen with admiration and to sit down with wonder at the great performance he was about to carry through. I suppose that he does not expect any Irish Member to contribute any leaves to the laurel leaf which the House is supposed to place upon his Napoleonic head. I for one, therefore, cannot possibly join in any congratulations which the right hon. Gentleman has received, however delighted I personally am at his great Parliamentary triumph. I was rather sorry that the representative of the War Office left the House without any representative. There were on the front Bench opposite three Under-Secretaries representing the Foreign Office, the Labour Department and the Transport Department. What seems to me the more inexplicable and indefensible was that there was proceeding a remarkable contribution from the Leader of the National party. That was very disrespectful to the Leader of the National party, especially as he had all his party around him.
As I listened to his glowing periods, proceeding with corresponding enthusiasm on the part of his followers, I was exceedingly sorry that that contribution, so eloquently given in debate and so magnificently backed up, did not receive the reception it ought to receive from the sympathetic ear of the right hon. Gentleman. There was only one portion of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman with which I was really interested: it was the concluding part of it. He said the future of this nation does not depend upon its military machine or its military power. I think I am correctly quoting the sentiment. It depends upon the strength of the civil power. I think that was a sentiment worthy of the Radical politician, and which showed that he still retains some of those beliefs in the spirit of justice and humanity which inspired him to so many good deeds during the time he held high office. [An HON. MEMBER: "In his Radical days."] But was not that a very curious observation to come from the right hon. Gentleman who is the ruler of Ireland to-day?
I still assert that there is no rule in Ireland to-day but military rule, that there is no machine in Ireland to-day but the military machine, that there is no spirit in Ireland to-day inspiring the Government and the Administration but the military spirit. Therefore, if you stand up here in this House, and declare that the safety of the State and the glory of the Empire depends upon a well-ordered foundation of civic power and civic administration, but that you must make an exception in the case of Ireland, then I am not inclined to enter into any controversy with the right hon. Gentleman. It is no use either the right hon. Gentleman or any Member of this House trying to hide their heads in the sand. They must face the realities of the situation and admit what everyone sees around, and come to the only conclusion, whether they are Englishmen or Irishmen, that Ireland is a country with which you are at war, and it is being governed, not by the civil power, but by the military machine.' The Secretary for War, strange to say, dealt with the number and the cost of the troops in Ireland quite differ ently from the way he dealt with this question in Dundee. I think one of the interrupters at a Dundee meeting asked the right hon. Gentleman why he wanted such a powerful army in time of peace, and he said, "We want it because of the condition of affairs in Ireland," and to-night, when challenged about the 40,000 soldiers in Ireland, he stated that they were there for a precisely different reason. He said that they were simply part of the 220,000 troops, and if they were not there they would be somewhere else.
Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly explain how it is that he gives two different reasons for this in Dundee and in this House? He says in Dundee that the reason for this tremendous military force in time of peace in Ireland is due to the fact that you have unrest in that country, but he gives an entirely different reason in this House. There must have been no Irishmen at the Dundee meeting, but there happens to be one or two here, and therefore the right hon. Gentleman changes his course, and takes up an entirely different attitude. It is not fair to have conflicting statements on this point, because you have failed to apply to Ireland those principles which you so eloquently advocated on every platform in the United Kingdom during the period of the War. I trusted Englishmen when they made their declaration in this House as my leader did, when this great worldwide tragedy commenced, and at one of the most tragic and touching moments in the history of this Empire, I heard Lord Grey state at that table that Ireland was the one bright spot in the Empire. At that time we supported you. We took our courage in our hands, and as agents of liberty in our small island we joined with you as agents of liberty for the promotion of human causes throughout the world. We took our text from you, and you declared it was a fight for human liberty and for the freedom of small nationalities. Were we wrong? We went on fighting and assisting you, and during the first twelve months or two years of the War Ireland, in proportion to her population, gave more voluntary recruits than were secured in this country.
I do not care what the National Party unanimously say. The War was a terrific undertaking, and whatever the triumph of this country may have been, it has proved a terrific tragedy for this nation. It was under taken to crush militarism. You would not have got even the English to support you in this War if it had been under taken simply to crush Prussian militarism. I do not want to speak disrespectfully of military men, but everybody knows that the military spirit, whether it is in Prussia, England or America or anywhere else, is a thing which we should extirpate from the civil life of the nation. One of the vital causes for which the War was waged was to destroy militarism, and as regards Ireland, whether it be the National party or any other party, any influential Parliamentary force, badly led or not led at all, or whether it is a party with a leader or a, leader without a party—
The difference between the hon. and gallant Gentleman and myself is that I rejoice in being in a minority and he has grievous feelings of pathos about it. Whatever may be thought of the purpose for which you said you entered the War, you received our support because you said you wanted to crush militarism. No members of this House more loyally supported you, and now there is no denying that in Ireland to-day there is a system of militarism and a machine as perfect and scientific engaged in crushing what is regarded as the national sentiment of the country, and it is a military force as well organised and powerful as the military machine which crushed Belgium during the War. The last encounter I had with the right hon. Gentleman was in a Debate dealing with the arrest of Father O'Donnell, when the right hon. Gentleman made a very poor case, and I never witnessed him display so little power in defending the indefensible as he did on that occasion. The right hon. Gentleman could not secure either support or enthusiasm from the House for the case he made, and then he thought he would rouse the passion of the House by talking about the murder of policemen in Ireland. But I would like the House to understand that these outrages, which everyone who loves Ireland deplores and condemns,
have not been created by them, and the military regime of repression has not been created either by them. It has been the cause of these outrages. I do not know any House of Commons in which I have sat which had more profound respect for the law than this one. If I were to describe the situation in Ireland you would not believe me. I propose to tell the House why 40,000 soldiers are kept in Ireland with all the scientific machinery of war, why this country is not able to stand proud and erect before the world now that the War is over. It is because of the condition of Ireland. I will read for you a description of Ireland by Lord Mounteagle which appears in this day's "Times." Perhaps you will listen to Lord Mounteagle. I will read what he has written because he is telling the truth. If he told lies he would not be a Lord, he would be a Duke. I know it is the truth. This is the quotation from the letter of Lord Mounteagle. He describes the system of ruin which is going on in Ireland:
There were no murders of police before the military régime began. Who started drawing the vicious circle? Worst of all the system is producing the most disastrous results on the gallant men whose ungrateful duty it is to secure its execution. Soldiers returned from vindicating the liberties of the world on the battlefields of Flanders are becoming demoralised by police duties. The Royal Irish Constabulary, that splendid force, is so absorbed in political and semi-military work that civil police work is perforce largely neglected. Half the police barracks in the country districts are closed, while the rest are sandbagged to stand a siege, and in the absence of the police peaceful citizens are obliged to form vigilance committees for the protection of their lives and property against attacks by hooligans.
That is the description Lord Monteagle gives of the state of Ireland, and the way it is governed at the present moment. He goes on:
What is the remedy? The extreme militarists would answer more coercion, more thoroughness and efficiency in the suppression of crime. 'That order' might eventually be restored by dint of abandoning all pretence of constitutional government and resolutely Prussianising the whole system is possible, but by no means certain. It might even prove necessary to go to the extreme described by Tacitus—'They call it peace when they create a desert.' Would public opinion in Great Britain and the Dominions, would the Army of Occupation itself, tolerate a war of extermination, or even an Amritsar? To an Irishman like myself, whose most earnest desire it is that Ireland should take a place within the British Commonwealth
of free people, it is unthinkable that Great Britain, fresh from her victory over the Prussian powers of darkness, should, in dealing with her nearest neighbour, stoop to the methods of frightfulness practised by Germany, to her lasting shame, in Belgium and Northern France.
That is the statement of Lord Monteagle. He has no sympathy more than anybody else with these transactions, and he knows very well that you will never settle the question of Ireland in this way. You cannot do it by keeping up the military occupation any more than it could have been done in Belgium by a permanent occupation with German troops. The "Times" newspaper—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!]—I agree with the "Times" newspaper.—[Interruption.]—That is another sample of your mentality. It used to be your Bible. What a transformation! The "Times" agrees with the judgment of Lord Monteagle and I think it is telling the truth, because it seems to be well-informed, and it says that the policy in Ireland at the present time is to make impossible any settlement of the Irish Question. Behind the Government in Ireland, day by day and week by week, are the Ulster Unionists, and then there are those in the House who turn up their eyes in holy horror at the state of Ireland.
I cannot discuss the policy of the Government in Ireland because it has no policy. The hon. Member is one of those of whom O'Connell said he was sorry to have emancipated them. One of the English Catholics, I think he is a member of the National party. I will ask Mr. Speaker to have the two Members of that party suspended. If there is to be a military machine in Ireland it must be used in the work of repression.
Yes, Sir, but what I am pointing out is this: There was far more necessity in 1912 than there is now for the military machine in Ulster, and I can prove that. The right hon. Gentleman on one occasion had the temerity to declare that he was going over to Belfast to address a meeting, and, with characteristic courage, he came. But before he came all the leaders of Unionism in Ulster declared that, great asset as he was to the Empire at the time, and as he has proved since, he would not be on safe ground if he came to Belfast. In their speeches or declarations they did not threaten the murder of a policeman, because they knew if one policeman was murdered another would at once take his place, but they threatened the murder of the right hon. Gentleman, and where could a substitute be found for him? Look at the position the Empire might be in to-day. Not only would we not have had the magnificent statement of war policy and expenditure and revenue which we have had to-night, but we would have missed a more important statement from him as Air Minister a few weeks hence. One of these Ulster Members in addressing a meeting in England at Hayle, wherever that is—I do not know where it is, but I hope it is not a place represented by a Coalition man, because if it is it will make him more unhappy than ever—said that the Radical Press was talking a great deal about the right of free speech. Somebody thereupon interjected the cry "Long live Winston Churchill." The learned orator repeated that the Radical Press was talking a good deal about the right of free speech, but he did not know why, because if Mr. Churchill came to Belfast he might not live long when he got there. There was a declaration not delivered before a per-fervid Irish audience, but delivered in England by an Orange orator, who never gets excited, and who, before a meeting of law-abiding Englishmen declared that if the right hon. Gentleman did go to Belfast he would be murdered. But he came to Belfast. I was there at the same time, and I watched the mobs gathering round his hotel. I watched how every force that could be gathered together was brought to see that he was allowed to hold a meeting in law-abiding Belfast—the Belfast that rules Ireland, the Belfast that rules the Empire, the Belfast that has the Government in its pocket, the Belfast that will not allow a settlement of the Irish question unless it gets its own way. That is one reason why passion and outrage and hatred obtain in Ireland today. It was not a crime to murder Mr. Churchill, but it was a crime to murder a policeman in Skibbereen.
Now I come to the question of expenditure and what it is for. There is something like £9,000,000 being spent in Ireland at this moment on the military forces in that country, and what for? It is for making. searches in the private houses of law-abiding citizens, for the proclamation of public meetings, for the suppression of trial by jury, for the suspension of newspapers, for the refusal to allow sports meetings to be held, for preventing markets and fairs being held, and for the purpose of preventing any gathering of the people for any purpose whatever. Finally, the City of Dublin, because of outrages for which very few of its citizens are responsible, is put under the curfew. I understand that at the time that this orator from Ulster was threatening to murder the right hon. Gentleman at Hayle, there was a certain meeting of the Cabinet called, and it was declared that Belfast should be put under the Curfew Act. But the right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) went over two days afterwards to Belfast and said, "Curfew shall not ring to-night," and the result was that the curfew was not put into operation. If you are to have a military machine to crush outrages, it ought to be used impartially, if you use it at all, between all sections of the population. You never did it in the case of Ulster. On the contrary, you gave Ulster all she wanted. Ireland wanted to govern herself. You would not allow her to govern herself, but you gave her, as a substitute, the right of the minority to govern the majority. No one knows better than the right hon. Gentleman that we won this claim for national justice and freedom long before you trippingly talked about the freedom of small nations or the right to satisfy the aspirations of a civilised nation to live its own life and work out its own destinies, and we won it by thirty-five years of constitutional effort. We did not appeal to arms. We appealed to the spirit of justice, to the logical sense of the Irish race, the liberty of mankind and all your Colonies, and if ever there was a question on which there was the most complete unanimity in every part of the world, it was on this question of conceding to Ireland the right within the Empire to manage its own affairs and to determine its own destinies, and yet that right has been taken from us. The right hon. Gentleman may say, "After all, Ulster has to be considered." I regret to confess it, because I am an absolute democrat, but in dealing with these matters one is more safe in dealing with Tories than with Liberals. When the right hon. Gentleman was in the Radical Government, I understand he had something to do with the drafting of the Act of 1912. Why did they not put this into their Clauses—
I will give the speech in instalments. I will keep the other part of it for later on. If you want to end this thing, every thinking man, I believe even the Chief Secretary himself, will admit that you may carry on this military campaign and these military operations from day to day and year to year and decade to decade as it has been carried on from century to century, and you are in a worse position than when you commenced. There has been 18 Coercion Acts in 90 or 100 years and yet here you have Ireland more discontented, more irritated, more dangerous than at any previous time. If Ulster had been able to rise above its prejudices and English statesmen had been touched with some imagination, you would have had a constitutional solution of this question, which would not only have divorced the conditions of Ireland from the operations of your Imperial progress, but you would have hardly an enemy in the world. Why is there no League of Nations? I do not believe the position of America is so much due to any quarrel they have with you as to the ultimate adjustment of this question with yourself at the Peace Conference. I believe your relationship with the world has been poisoned by your treatment of Ireland and by your refusal or incapacity to solve the problem. I cannot for the life of me see, and I do not know how men infinitely more patient than I am can see, how it is possible that you can have a true understanding or a real ending of the horible condition of affairs that exist in the world, unless you adopt a different attitude. When the War was over, and your triumph was won, you thought that all the bitterness and the unrest was ended, and it would have ended if you had acted otherwise. Look at the condition of public; sentiment in Canada, and especially in Australia and America. Among all the great English-speaking people, every man who values the welfare of humanity and freedom is anxious that the English-speaking peoples should live together in amity and work together for the common causes of human progress. Vet, you go on and on blundering over this Irish question, and afraid of this man here and that man there, and yon have not the vision of imagination to see or to decide that the only solution of the Irish question is to be found in the recognition by yourselves of those great principles for which you say you entered into the War.
I do not intend to follow the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down into his discussion upon the general aspect of the Irish question. He has made, as he always docs, an eloquent speech; a speech which I suppose every Member has heard not once or twice but many times; not only upon occasions when it was a legitimate subject of debate, but, as was the case this evening, when it was entirely irrelevant. We are discussing the Army Estimates, and I would like to draw the attention of the Secretary of State for War to one or two points in connection with the Army in Ireland which are more relevant than the elaborate political argument which we have just heard. I am not going to touch upon policy, but to deal with one or two questions of military administration in Ireland which come strictly within the province of the right hon. Gentleman. It is notorious that breaches of the law and political outrages in Ireland are increasing from day to day in spite of the military form of government which exists in that country. I quite realise the difficulties which the Army has to face in Ireland. I realise that they are up against a position such as the British Army has never been up against since the days of the South African War. They are fighting the people in arms, who are carrying on a system of guerilla warfare. Has the best use been made of the British Army in Ireland?
How many men are there in Ireland? I understood—I think we were told last Session—that there were 60,000 troops in Ireland. To-day the right hon. Gentleman says that there are 35,000 effective men in Ireland, in place of the 65,000 before the War. Therefore the military garrison in Ireland during the last few months apparently has been reduced by something like 30,000 men. Is that reduction warranted by the state of Ireland being better to-day than it was three months ago? If not, can the right hon. Gentleman explain why the garrison in Ireland has been reduced by 30,000 men in the last throe months? Have all the demands of the civil authorities in Ireland been met? We. have seen from day to day a terrible, monotonous series of attacks by the civilian population upon isolated police barracks in Ireland. From day to day what are almost pitched battles are carried on. The population have almost all the paraphernalia of modern warfare within their grasp. They have got rifles and bombs, and the attack usually ends by blowing up part of the police barracks, yet so far as I know on not one single occasion of the kind have the military forces been able to put in an appearance.
The members of the Royal Irish Constabulary—that sorely tried body—have had alone to stand up against these attacks by the population, and so far as I know on no single occasion have the military forces of the Crown been able to put in an appearance before the battle has been over. That is a matter of sorry commentary on the right hon. Gentleman's administration of the military forces in Ireland. He is brave enough to produce tanks and machine guns, to search the house of a shopkeeper in Dublin, but when it comes to producing soldiers to protect the police who are being sorely harrassed by these isolated raids he cannot produce them. There are many other recent occurrences in connection with the administration of the military forces in Ireland which I think deserve some mention in this House, and as to which so far no explanation has been forthcoming. Some months ago we had the incident of a number of troops going with rifles and without ammunition to a church service in Fermoy. They were attacked by armed civilians. They were overpowered and their arms were taken from them. Why were those men, in the present condition of Ireland, allowed to go to church armed with rifles and without ammunition? The, result was, I think, that one man was killed, and after that incident there should have been no further excuse for allowing soldiers to go about Ireland unarmed.
Another episode which deserves attention of the right hon. Gentleman was the recent outrage on the Viceroy. The military forces on that occasion apparently consisted only of a military guard in one or two motor cars. There were no other forces present. The result of the battle—you can call it nothing else, for there were bombs thrown at the Viceregal car—so far as one gathered from the newspapers, was that the assailants, who were mostly mounted on bicycles, were able to get away scot-free without a single man being discovered or arrested, and that was so in spite of the fact that the military escort were in motor-cars. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether any military court of inquiry was held into either the Fermoy incident or the incident of the attack on the Lord Lieutenant. I saw the other day that a train was held up somewhere in the South of Ireland. There was a military guard in one of the rear wagons of the train. Yet it appears that a civilian was shot dead, a lance-corporal in one of the carriages of the train was severely wounded by a bomb thrown apparently by a civilian somewhere along the railway, and yet, in spite of this, the military guard in the rear carriages seem never to have made their appearance on the scene at all.
There was another incident which occurred recently and which I should have thought would have been an almost impossible occurrence after the incident at Fermoy. A motor lorry was going through the streets of Dublin. It contained two British officers upon the box seat beside the chauffeur, and a small party of men inside, I believe a sergeant, a corporal and five or six men. What they were guarding or what was in the lorry I do not know, but what took place was that in the streets of Dublin this lorry was suddenly held up by a number of armed civilians, revolvers were pointed at the officers, and the two officers and the men inside the lorry proceeded, at the request of the civilians, to get out of the lorry. They were formed up in a line beside the lorry amidst the jeers of the civilian population. There you have the appalling spectacle in the streets of the city of Dublin of half a dozen British soldiers and two British officers being lined up against the wall amidst the derision of a hostile population.
The condition of affairs in Ireland is going from bad to worse: in fact it is reaching such a stage as to be almost beyond description. Hundreds of innocent civilians are day by day in danger of their lives, unless they are properly protected by the forces of which the right hon. Gentleman has charge. During the war the British Army justly gained the reputation of having one of the finest Intelligence Services of any army in the world. When the War began we hoard a lot about the German Intelligence system, and about the net work of German spies throughout the world, but as the War went on the power of Britain's Army overcame the German Intelligence system and in the end we claimed that our Intelligence system was the finest possessed by any of the belligerents. I do say, having that intelligence system, it seems to me incredible, that the military forces in Ireland appear so utterly without any intelligence system whatsoever. These various acts and raids take place day after day, week after week. I ask the right hon. Gentleman has there ever been an occasion when the, military forces in Ireland have known beforehand of any single one of these raids which were about to take place. If so, all I can say is that the methods which they adopted to combat them were not adequate to the occasion. Surely, the experience which some of the intelligence officers gained during the War might have been made use of in Ireland by the military authorities to secure that intelligence, without which, as we know, it is impossible to fight organised forces, and without which it is doubly impossible to fight guerilla civilian forces such as they are up against in Ireland to-day. It looks as if the intelligence system in Ireland was not in force in the Army as it should be. I do not apologise for having raised this question, and I should have done so even apart from the speech of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Devlin), as the position is so serious when thousands of innocent people are subjected to death almost at any moment. Recently a woman was shot because she tried to protect her husband and her home against an armed mass who attacked them. A poor man, a Roman Catholic, had both his ears cut off in the presence of his wife.
When those unspeakable atrocities are going on, it is a time when the British Army and the forces to which all law-abiding people look for protection should be administered, if administered at all, with the utmost efficiency and in a way which will give the utmost protection.
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question, and I do so in order to emphasise a point which was made by my right hon. Friend who opened the Debate, and that is in connection with the special Committee which the Public Expenditure Committee recommended with regard to the great spending departments of which, of course, this is one. Will my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, as far as his department is concerned, agree that those Estimates when laid, and I understand they will be laid sometime next March, agree that they be referred to that Committee which is proposed with the authority of Mr. SPEAKER and you, Sir, and of the Clerks of the House and all the financial authorities who are brought before it, to explain the public accounts.
That answer was, to the best of my recollection, that he would take the matter into consideration and discuss it with the heads of the various departments. My right hon. Friend is, of course, one of the first with whom he would discuss it.
I should be anticipating the discussion which apparently is to take place. My right hon. Friend must allow these matters to take their regular course. You cannot expect a Department, particularly one pressed with the burden of work which falls to us at present, to seek to subject themselves to Parliamentary inquiries. On the other hand, we do not in the least shrink from a Parliamentary inquiry, but it is a matter which others should decide. We were the subject of a detailed investigation by the Committee presided over by the right hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) last year, and I wish I had the quotation with me at this moment, but it was read by my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary. We were dismissed from the Court without stain upon our character, and it is very remarkable, when you are disbursing sums of money of the size and disbursing them with the rapidity which falls unfortunately on the War Office to do. Therefore, I will await the approaches, the overtures which the Leader of the House is to make to me and to the other spending Departments in consequence of his conversations with my right hon. Friend. The Debate which has taken place this afternoon has been marked by several very interesting speeches. We have had, first of all, the speech, a maiden speech, of the anti-waste candidate (Mr. F. Harmsworth), and if he will allow me to offer him my congratulations, if he will accept congratulations from so guilty a quarter, they are most sincerely and cordially his, for his speech, although I did not agree with it in every respect, and although I thought it followed somewhat along the lines of public criticism which is presented to us day by day through most powerful agencies and organs with which he is not wholly unconnected: nevertheless, it was a definite point of view, and it was expressed with frank and manly courage and decision.
Yes, we need it. The effort which I made in the course of the argument which I addressed to the Committee this afternoon was designed to meet the kind of arguments which my hon. Friend has put forward this evening It really is no use saying the Army cost 28 millions before the war; why should it cost 125 millions now? That is good enough for the halfpenny press, it is good enough for all forms of public controversy, where there is no opportunity for an answer, but in the House of Commons these matters must be brought to the test of debate and of discussion, and this sort of statement which are made so freely outside are not the statements which carry weight and conviction among Members of Parliament, who know what is really going on and who are acquainted with a great many more details than are presented in the daily newspapers. If you ignore the fact that money purchases less than a half and little more than a third what it did before the War, if you ignore the fact that we have Palestine, Egypt in a state of excitement, Constantinople, the Rhine, the plebiscitary areas, portions of Persia—
Yes, Ireland; I am coming to that presently—and Mesopotamia on our hands which we did not have on our hands before the war, if you ignore those vital needs—the lower purchasing power of money and the greater expansion of responsibilities—of course, it is perfectly easy to point the finger of scorn at the Executive If you overlook the higher pay given to the men, and given with the unanimous approval of this House, if you overlook the aftermath charges—their medals, the care of the wounded, the payment of their separation allowances, and the payment of the obligations which the State has entered into in the war—of course, it is possible to point the accusing finger, the finger of censure, against the War Office. But, you have to make allowances for all of them. I would point out that I made an open challenge to anyone in any quarter to specify the method by which we could effect the desired reduction, and no one has attempted to reply. We had further a speech of this kind, much less amicable in its character, from the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Spoor) He opened out a general charge, not so much of extravagance, which was the charge of the hon. Member, as of militarism. He said that this was a war to end war. This was a war to end militarism. Why had not militarism come to an end? Why did not this country take the lead in bringing militarism to an end? I confess that is an argument which leaves me for a moment completely at a loss, because what more can a poor nation do with all the world interests of Britain on its hands but set an example to other nations of being the only nation among all the nations to abolish conscription? If the stupendous fact does not make its impression upon the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland, the resources of dialectics and of argument, such powers of discussion and logic as we may possess, or human beings may possess, will be utterly unavailing. A year and a half ago we had the strongest Army in the world. We are now planning our Army on a scale less than that of little Belgium that came to us for help in August, 1914, and scarcely more than Roumania, invaded and forced into a peace during the War. Our military power, before which the might of Germany has recoiled, which upheld the whole brunt or struggle for the last two years of the War, when France was exhausted and before America had come in or could come in, has shrunk to that of the small nations who are looking to Britain to see that they are protected and defended, has shrunk below them, and then we are accused of militarism and of setting the pace in armaments by the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland. Some people are never satisfied, and some people never will be satisfied. If the Committee will allow me to offer them this word of counsel, I would venture to say that sometimes perhaps we make a mistake in trying to satisfy them. Perhaps for a change one of these fine days we might adopt the opposite method. We might adopt the method of endeavouring to dissatisfy them on a particular point where their views are clearly adrift and clearly averse to the main and general interests of the country. [HON MEMBERS: "By-elections!] By-elections—I do not see the relevance of that interruption. [HON. MEMBERS: "The feeling of the country!"] The feeling of the country, as shown by the Wrekin election, is vehemently opposed to the views which the hon. Gentleman ex pressed. He has not been following the policy of the John Bull League. At any ate, it is not a policy which would seek to strip this country of the means of discharging its mission and responsibilities in the world, and at the moment when it, more than any other nation in the world, is setting an example in disarmament, which seeks to make a party score out of an accusation of militarism. But each by-election has its own moral, and almost every party is able to draw the moral it likes from each by-election. Personally, I have always based my calculations less on by-elections than on general elections, and I await the opportunity of seeing a general election where a Government, which has set the example to all the world, even to pious America, of anti-militarism—
Mr. C H U RCHILL:
My hon. and gallant Friend must really not develop more indignation than he can contain. The hon. and gallant Member for Christchurch referred to the question of the Yeomanry. I am very anxious that this matter should not be judged in a hurry. The Yeomanry representatives have been assembled in London, and we have heard all their views. We have told them the sort of things we want them to do and that they should consider, and they have told us how far they think they can do them. In view of what they have told us, we shall now reconsider the whole problem. I am not at all prepared to say that the lessons of one war are necessarily reversed by another. After the Boer War the whole idea was to make a great increase of Yeomanry. That was a war in a vast country, where a small mounted force travelled swiftly this way and that. Then came another War, where you had a line of barbed wire from the Alps to the sea, and the lesson of that War is that you want very few horses. I am not quite sure that a little more consideration of the subject may not show that, so far as there is any possibility or probability of war in the future, there may not be war in those vast, wide areas, and they may not be operations conducted by mounted forces and so on. At any rate. I am not prepared to judge this matter in a hurry. I think it requires more consideration than it has yet received, and I do say that any unit which really shows itself capable of producing the men who are needed to form the Territorial Army at full establishment will be a unit for which we shall try to find a place in our scheme. Now that we are on a voluntary basis we have to defer to the wishes of other people. In a constitutionally-governed country it is occasionally necessary to defer to the wishes and views of other people. Now that the War Office no longer commands but has to beseech in this unmilitary and anti-military nation we have to try and find support and help wherever it can be obtained. Therefore I wish to assure my hon. and gallant Friend that no hasty decision will be given about the Yeomanry.
There is only one other subject I should like to refer to before sitting down—an intervention in our debate. In a very moving and very stirring speech an assertion was made by the hon. Member for Belfast. This was replied to promptly from the other side of the House. In this Army Debate an unconstitutional and violent explosion occurred. We saw the flames of orange and green flash out from the Irish furnace.
We have our own troubles to bear, but amongst them the administration of law and order in Ireland is not included. The Irish Secretary conducts the Government of Ireland. The responsibility of the War Office is limited to providing the necessary troops. Criticism has been levelled against those troops from two points of view. The hon. Gentleman opposite told us how they erred with excess to their violence. The hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite him replied that they erred with excess of timidity. The one hon. Gentleman pointed out the harsh measures of the military in keeping down the population; the reply from this side suggested the extraordinary pusillanimity of the military, and must say that one instance the hon. and gallant Gentleman quoted struck me very unfavourably—the extraordinary pusillanimity of the military whenever they are brought in contact with the irate population. Sir, the military have a very difficult task in Ireland. They have a terrible task. I believe they have far more often erred on the side of weakness, even though it placed them in a foolish position, than on the side of violence. I think we will be agreed upon that. My hon. Friend spoke of the number of troops we had to keep in Ireland as a great evil which had arisen because in some way or other we had departed from the true line of policy towards Ireland. I do not think that is true. For many years I have been associated with the hon. Member and others in this House seeking to solve the Irish problem by a measure of self-government. We are endeavouring to solve the Irish problem by a measure of self-government. Before the War the Liberals of those days extorted from the Irish Nationalist leaders a definite agreement that Ulster was not to be compelled against her will to join a Home Rule Parliament until two successive General Elections had taken place, which everybody knew was tantamount to saying that she could never join a Dublin Parliament. That is the position the Government take up now.
That is quite irrelevant. My point is that the Government at the present time offer to the three parts of Ireland an opportunity of managing their own affairs, and the party Government before the War entered into an agreement with the Irish Nationalist party. [HON. MEMBERS: NO.] It was an agreement with Mr. Redmond and Mr. Dillon definitely that Ulster was not to be brought in against her will until two General Elections had taken place. We have not departed from those general lines; on the contrary, we have advanced enormously.
Before the War we were a party Government fighting against forces as strong as or stronger than ours. This is not the gift of a party but of all parties. [Laughter.] The matter is too serious to be laughable. I cannot see in face of these unchallengable facts that we are to be reproached because it is necessary for us to cope with a state of disorder which exists in Ireland by military means. If my right hon. Friend could lead his fellow countrymen to accept the measures now proposed in the name of all Britain for the first time, and make a genuine effort to work the constitution which will arise from this measure, the day would soon come when this military force to which he objects and which is no doubt a burden, and whose administration necessarily must be clumsy and galling would be withdrawn. The day would also come when after a few years of successful administration by an Irish Parliament on College Green dealing with the affairs of three parts of Ireland, the fourth part of her own free will would come in and associate herself with you. I apologise to the House for having been drawn by the eloquence of my hon. Friend and his many charges against the War Office for the great number of troops in Ireland into giving some of the reasons why we have a thoroughly good conscience in all that do and in all that we intend to go on doing.
I wish to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on his great success. He has been successful in establishing an orderly Government in Russia. He supplied the irritant which has united every section in Russia. In the long run, it will be seen, I believe, that he has been the best friend the Bolsheviks ever had. Secondly, I was anxious to show him how to save money. He suggested that Mesopotamia should be governed by, or kept in order by, the military authorities and that the Air Force should be asked to tender to keep order there. May I put a third suggestion? He should seek a tender from the Sheik of Baghdad and the King of the Hedjaz on the understanding that we should provide the necessary staff officers and airmen. I believe that is the only way to solve the Mesopotamia problem. I am willing to go into his constituency and fight him on that question, because it would mean pounds saved on the income tax. I regret there is no time for further criticisms.
|Division No. 15.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. F. D.||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Harmsworth, Sir R. L. (Caithness)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hartshorn, Vernon||Redmond, Captain William Archer|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hayday, Arthur||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Hirst, G. H.||Sexton, James|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Shaw, Thomas (Preston)|
|Briant, Frank||Kiley, James D.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Lunn, William||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Cairns, John||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Spoor, B. G.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Maclean, Rt. Hn. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Malone, Lieut.-Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Myers, Thomas||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth. Pontypool)||O'Connor, Thomas P.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||O'Grady, Captain James||Mr. Hogge and Mr. George Thorne.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Dixon, Captain Herbert||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Dockrell, Sir Maurice||Kerr Smlley, Major Peter Kerr|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Edgar, Clifford B.||King, Commander Henry Douglas|
|Atkey, A. R.||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Knights, Capt. H. N. (C'berwell, N.)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Falcon, Captain Michael||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Farquharson, Major A. C.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Fell, Sir Arthur||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Lindsay, William Arthur|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Foreman, Henry||Lister, Sir R. Ashton|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Forrest, Walter||Lloyd, George Butler|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Lloyd-Greame, Major P.|
|Bennett, Thomas Jewell||France, Gerald Ashburner||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Lort-Willlams, J.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Loseby, Captain C. E.|
|Hird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Galbraith, Samuel||Lyle, C. E. Leonard|
|Blades, Capt. Sir George Rowland||Gardiner, James||Lynn, R. J.|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Lyon, Laurance|
|Borwick, Major G. 0.||Glyn, Major Ralph||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith||Goff, Sir R. Park||M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Gray, Major Ernest (Accrington)||Macmaster, Donald|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||M'Micking, Major Gilbert|
|Brassey, Major H. L. C.||Greig, Colonel James William||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Gretton, Colonel John||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.||Matthews, David|
|Briggs, Harold||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Meysey-Thompson, Lieut.-Col. E. C.|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Hailwood, Augustine||Middlebrook, Sir William|
|Britton, G. B.||Hambro, Captain Angus Valdemar||Mitchell, William Lane|
|Brown, Captain D. C.||Hamilton, Major C. G. C.||Molson, Major John Eisdale|
|Brown, T. W. (Down, North)||Hanna, George Boyle||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Hanson, Sir Charles Augustin||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Morison, Thomas Brash|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Morrison, Hugh|
|Horn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Herbert, Denis (Hertford, Watford)||Mosley, Oswald|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Hinds, John||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Casey, T. W.||Hoare, Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. J. G.||Murchison, C. K.|
|Cautley, Henry S.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Murray, Lt.-Col. Hon. A. (Aberdeen)|
|Chadwick, R. Burton||Hood, Joseph||Murray, Hon. Gideon (St. Rollox)|
|Child, Brigadier-General Sir Hill||Hope, James F. (Shefield, Central)||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Neal, Arthur|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Hopkins, John W. W.||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Clyde, Rt. Hon. James Avon||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Nicholl, Commander Sir Edward|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Hurd, Percy A.||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||O'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H.|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Jephcott, A. R.||Parker, James|
|Courthope, Major George L.||Jessen, C.||Peel, Lieut.-Col. R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Henry Page||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Peel, Col. Hon. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Johnson, L. S.||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Johnstone, Joseph||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Denison-Pender, John C.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Ferring, William George|
|Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. G. F.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Prescott, Major W. H.||Starkey, Captain John R.||Wigan, Brig.-Gen. John Tyson|
|Purchase, H. G.||Steel, Major S. Strang||Wild, Sir Ernest Edward|
|Ramsden, G. T.||Strauss, Edward Anthony||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N||Sturrock, J. Leng||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Renwick, George||Sugden, W. H.||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald|
|Richardson, Sir Albion (Camberwell)||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud|
|Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)||Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)|
|Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Eeclesall)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Wilson, Daniel M. (Down, West)|
|Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Townley, Maximilian G.||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Rutherford, Colonel Sir J. (Darwen)||Tryon, Major George Clement||Wilson, Lt-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Gn.)|
|Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Vickers, Douglas||Wilson, Lieut.-Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.||Walters, Sir John Tudor||Wilson-Fox. Henry|
|Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Ward-Jackson, Major C. L.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)||Ward, Col. J. (Stoke-upon-Trent)||Young, Sir Frederick W. (Swindon)|
|Seddon, J. A.||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)||Younger, Sir George|
|Shaw, William T. (Ferfar)||Waring, Major Walter|
|Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)||Warren, Lieut.-Col. Sir Alfred H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander||Watson, Captain John Bertrand||Lord E. Talbot and Capt. Guest.|
|Stanier, Captain Sir Beville||White, Lieut.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
Original Question put, and agreed to.