I beg to move to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words
with a view to the proper co-ordination of operations for which the War Office is responsible, involving the use of units of the Royal Air Force as the air arm of the Army, it is desirable that the policy of His Majesty's Government in regard to the organisation, training, and command of such units should be more clearly defined, and that for this purpose the whole problem should be dealt with by a permanent expert advisory sub-committee to be set up by the Committee of Imperial Defence.
As the right hon. Baronet has invited support for the suggestion he has just
made, I would like to say that personally I think his suggestion indicates the only line upon which it will be possible to secure any real economy in the Army. Before bringing before the House the Motion that stands in my name, there is one matter that has been raised in this Debate by the hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood), to which I would refer. He referred to the question of our garrisons in Egypt. This is a very remarkabe item in our Estimates Some 45 per cent. of the whole cost of our forces abroad is in respect to the garrison in Egypt. It is costing us £3,300,000. It is necessary that we should consider what the reason for that garrison is. It. is not, except in a very small measure, policing Egypt. It is not in Egypt to repel any possible foreign attack. It is in Egypt for the purpose of a show of strength, to replace that force by which we used to held Egypt, the force of our civil administration in that country. We have withdrawn our advisers and civil administrators, and we have practically left the internal administration of Egypt to the Egyptians themselves. We exercise no administrative control, but in its place we are holding an enormous garrison in the country—enormous compared to the size of the country, enormous compared to the actual work that force has to do. That situation, evident on the face of these Estimates, is one to which it will be impossible for this House or this country to reconcile itself in the long run, and we roust demand a definition of our position in Egypt, and a stabilisation of our position in Egypt which w ill enable us to reduce that garrison.
The Motion which stands in my name is one for the setting up of a sub-committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence to secure proper co-ordination of operations for which the War Office is responsible, involving the use of units of the Royal Air Force as the air arm of the Army, and asks that the. Government's policy in regard to the organisation, training, and command of such units should be more clearly defined. It may he thought that this question has been discussed at such length during the last 24 hours that any further discussion would he useless That is so far true that. I do not propose to keep the House for many minutes; but in spite of our discussion yesterday, in spite of such illuminating speeches as that of the hon. Member for Hallam (Sir F. Sykes), there is one point which does need to be brought to the attention of the House, and this point was implicit in the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr and Bute (Sir A. Hunten-Weston), which filled me with the profoundest misgiving.
We discussed this question, not only yesterday, but a year ago. We were then told by Mr. Winston Churchill that there had been a number of committees on the question of the co-ordination of the Air Force with the other fighting services. He enumerated these committees. Ho threaded his way with great circumspection, as usual, through the labyrinth of committees which had sat on this subject and his final conclusion was that the whole question of co-ordination of the Air Force with the Army was now finally settled, and that it would not form part of the terms of reference to another committee, but that another committee was being set up to consider the naval question. Now we have another committee announced by the Prime Minister, which is to consider the three fighting services. The hon. and gallant Member for Ayr and Bute suggested so many subjects into which it would be necessary for this committee to inquire, and he expected its inquiries to extend over the whole area of Imperial defence, that it is perfectly obvious any such committee, if it is to indulge in inquiries of that nature, could not be expected to report for a very long time.
I cannot help having a grave feeling of distrust of these committees of inquiry. Committees of inquiry have always been a speciality of the Committee of Imperial Defence. No one could over-estimate the value of the plans laid down before the War as a result of such inquiries, but there has always been a tendency even in the Committee of Imperial Defence, I am afraid, towards something like that of the White Knight in "Alice Through the Looking Glass," who was always considering new inventions, but those new inventions did not enable him to sit in the saddle for many minutes together. An inquiry into the possibility or the feasibility of a Ministry of Defence will mean that after the Committee has discussed all these intricate subjects, the Cabinet will go on discussing them, and we shall not have a definite decision for at least two years. Meanwhile, what is going to happen to the actual co-ordination, and the joint staff work as between the Army and the Air Force?
My Motion calls for a permanent expert advisory sub-committee In view of the Committee set up by the Prime Minister, and in view of the fact that we are apparently going to seriously consider this question of a Ministry of Defence, that must be read as meaning "permanent," until some other complete scheme is set up. The point of my Pesotion is that the Army in this matter is not pressing for anything like the Navy. It is not pressing for an Air Service for itself. It is not out for a policy of grab, and therefore it lays emphasis, as the Navy does not lay emphasis, on the supreme. necessity not for a committee of inquiry but for a committee of staff coordination. That is what this Motion calls for. That is what I believe to be absolutely essential. What ever may be the requirements of General Godley or General Harington in regard to the Air Force, those requirements have to be discussed and fought out from time to time between the Army Council and the Secretary of State for Air. They are fought out and they are not co-ordinated by any general authority. That, we affirm, is an impossible situation. This Motion does not ask for any grandiose committee, but it does ask for the setting up of a small joint staff committee between the Air Ministry and the War Office, under the. control of the Committee of Imperial Defence, so that the co-ordination which I believe to be absolutely necessary may be carried out pending the result of the larger inquiry that is being set up.
I beg to second the Amendment.
As regards the first part of the Motion, namely, that the policy of the Government should be more clearly defined as to the air arm and its co-ordination with the Army, there is no doubt, as the Noble Lord has said, that we shall get some enlightenment if not to-day and perhaps not to-morrow, at least we hope some time that we shall get some enlightenment from the Committee which the Government has announced its intention of setting up, Ns regards the second part of the Motion, namely, that there should be a permanent expert advisory sub-committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence, I do not think it is possible to lay too much emphasis on the importance of that. The reason is obvious. The Noble Lord has given several reasons why such a Committee should be set up. I will confine myself to giving a general reason, and it is this, that whereas there is mass of accumulated evidence, open for all who care to read, in relation to the operations of the Army and the Navy, in fact, in relation to the whole question of fighting by land and sea, yet as regards fighting in the air, so far the accumulated evidence and experience is extraordinarily small and limited.
The mechanical side of flying is still only in its infancy. The Secretary of State for Air told us yesterday that the complete life of practical flying has only been 20 years, but the experience of fighting in the air has been confined to a little more than five or six years, and in consequence we cannot at the moment hope to congratulate ourselves that we have got any very definite basis on which to formulate our fighting plans. If it is true to say, as it is, that the mechanical side of flying is still quite in its infancy, it is obvious, also, and it follows as a corollary, that the strategical and tactical side of flying must only be in its infancy. If flying is still in its infancy, it is sufficient to assume that the growth of the air arm will be much more rapid than any development that may be looked for in the growth of the two sister Services. The two sister Services are already grown up, and we know a good deal about them. The growth of the infant air arm, until it becomes more stabilised than it is at present, will make it necessary to have same permanent organisation to watch every stage of growth and development, and especially to watch its relations with the two older sister Services.
This Motion deals only with the relations of the air arm to the Army. For the reasons which I have given, that you must expect very rapid expansion in the air arm and the knowledge of the air, I second the Motion, because it is a matter of vital importance that we should watch it very closely. The Memorandum issued by the Secretary of state for War, which accompanies the Army Estimates, states that, owing to the needs of economy, it will not be possible to hold any manôuvres this year for any formation larger than a brigade. We know that aeroplanes are not attached to any formation so small as that of a brigade; in fact, except for spotting purposes, I do not think that any aeroplanes are attached definitely to any formation smaller than an Army for the purposes of fighting and reconnaissance. That being so, if there be no manôuvres held this year for any formation larger than a brigade, I should be glad if the Under-Secretary of State would inform us how it is proposed this year to carry out any manôuvres between the air arm and the Army.
I should like to allude to two other questions. One is the question of defence from the ground against air attack. We know, and we are told, that the best way to meet air attack is to meet it in the air. That is perfectly obvious and true; but we must also keep in mind that there is auxiliary defence against air attack, which is possible from the ground. I am not aware that any special measures are being taken by the War Office to see that we are sufficiently paying attention to the development of resistance to air attacks, by such things as anti-aircraft guns. I do not know what is being done, but I should be glad of any information. One thing strikes me in this connection. It is possible that very large developments may be made as a result of investigation and experiment in repelling air attacks from the ground, and as the flying life of an air officer is rather short, I would suggest that a very good way of utilising the services of officers whose flying days are over, and who are most intimately acquainted with all that has to do with aeroplanes and flying, is that they might he very fruitfully employed by their being entrusted with the working out and development of our defences against the air from the ground.
As we have now left the broad discussion on the Army Votes, and have come to the small but very interesting issue of arrangement between the Army and the air, I think that it would be for the convenience of the House if I dealt with the points which have been raised by the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) and the hon. Member for Malden (Major Ruggles-Brise) so that we might come to a decision on this matter, and get the Speaker out of the Chair so as to enable the wider question again to be taken up. The Noble Lord has stated that his object is a narrower one, than that which is covered by the prime object of the Committee to consider the co-ordination of the fighting Services and the machinery for that purpose, which was announced by the Prime Minister last week. The proposal of the Noble Lord is that for the organisation, training and command of units to the Army there should be a control by a Standing Committee set up by the Committee of Imperial Defence. The whole question therefore seems to be whether you are to have a committee of this kind or mere staff co-ordination direct, as you must have some such machinery both now and after the Committee Reports, and the machinery is set up en a permanent basis.
Perhaps the Noble Lord may not be familiar with the position as it now exists. A conference was held only last month at the War Office between the Air Staff and the General Staff to work out details as to co-ordination and the problems which affect both Services. The arrangements which it recommended have been worked out in full agreement between the two staffs, and will shortly be laid down clearly in the new edition of Field Service Regulations which is now in preparation. Briefly, the arrangement if that the Air Council will supply the Air Fore, directly under them, in pursuance of- the policy of the Government as it is, and the distribution of the Royal Air Force will be decided by the Commander-in-Chief in consultation with the Royal Air Force Command. The Officers commanding the Royal Air Force contingent will be attached to the headquarters of the. Commander-in-Chief. The military authorities will define the tasks to be performed, but will leave the method of carrying out those tasks to the discretion of the Air Force Commander. General responsibility for providing the Air Force units with their daily requirements is vested in the military authority. The personnel will be subject to Air Force and not to military law. At the conference which was held last month, the General Staff were satisfied that the Air Force were doing everything they possibly could to help towards a solution of the fighting problems as affecting the two Services to the extent of their powers with the present establishment, because, of course., we should like to have greater facilities, but the Air Force are necessarily limited by their resources. At the present time there is definitely allotted one air squadron for Army work, and there is also a call on further machines and personnel for military purposes when they are required.
I realise that the Air Ministry is limited by its resources, but who is there to say in the future that the Air Force resources are sufficient for military measures and that the military shall obtain from those resources sufficient to meet what military requirements there will be?
I quite agree that in weighing up the rival claims between one force and another none of Otis machinery of which I am speaking is of the slightest use. That is obviously a much bigger question which must be decided by some outside authority. But for the moment I am dealing rather with the question of training and command of the units to which the Noble Lord referred, and I want to point out that under the present system of direct communication between the two staffs we are working smoothly, and these problems are being considered and adjusted. At the conference held last month the Chief of the Air Staff detailed particular experts to advise each command on matters concerning the air, in co-operation with the. Army, and in the same way experts have been detailed to help the artillery. Lectures have been arranged at .the Staff College, and there is no doubt that the Services are drawing very much more closely together than they were directly after the War.
A great deal has been done in the way of education. Lectures are being given at the Royal Air Force Staff College by an instructor from Camberley, and a great deal is being done in the education of Army officers in what is required from the air point of view and in liaison work by an Army co-operation school which has been set up to instruct infantry officers in the developments of the Air Service, and at this school they are now arranging for taking 30 officers. I think that this and other evidence show that the present system is not working too badly. I do not deal with the further proposal of the Noble Lord that there should be some committee set up to co-ordinate the forces on a permanent basis, as it is hardly desirable to take a step like this until we have received the report of the Committee which is exploring the whole subject. When it has been considered, of course, steps will be taken to improve the staff training of these forces, and all that, therefore, is a necessary preliminary to any real scientific co-operation, and the Sub-Committee of Imperial Defence set up by the late Government, to make recommendations as to the creation of a joint brain or General Staff for die three Services, has been reappointed and is about to report.
The suggestions made by the. Noble Lord and the hon. Member for Malden are very valuable. I am sure that the Committee will consider the views which have been expressed in this House, and I do not suppose that the House would expect in view of this Committee that I should prejudge the issue by any opinion at the present time. The hon. Member for Malden asked what was being done about the training of infantry personnel, etc., in anti-aircraft gun work, and that is being considered. I do not think that at the present time we can decide—and I think that it would be a great mistake to prejudice the issue—as to whether you are to have a Standing Committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence doing this work or whether it is better to lay down rules which will cover the relation of the Services without any such committee control. I hope that despite the fact that my answer has been rather vague and I am afraid from the Noble Lord's point of view unsatisfactory, we may now get a decision on this matter and get. back to the general discussion. I hope that we shall soon get Mr. Speaker out of the Chair so that I may then on Vote A be able to answer the various points which I cannot deal with now on this narrower question.
in the first place, may I point out most respectfully what a disadvantage it is to us that these Estimates should he in our hands such a short time before the discussions take place. Unless one is an accountant, it is extremely difficult to deal with the volume of figures in the brief time available. I am indeed glad to find that important economies have been effected in the Army Estimates. I would like to congratulate the hon. and gallant Gentleman on the way he has presented the Estimates and on the efforts he has certainly made to achieve these economies. But I cannot help thinking that he, in his heart, shares my view that the economies have been made in a spirit of partiality towards the War Office and its staff at the expense of the fighting units. I am disappointed to see that although the Army, because of economies effected, is a less efficient fighting instrument than it was in pre-War days, yet the overhead charges have enormously increased since 1914, and are, indeed, quite out of proportion to the Army's size. I am certain that all Members of the House who have ever been connected with the Army share my anxiety in this respect. The Estimates for 1914, including £1,000,000 for the Air Force, amounted to £28,845,000. The Estimates for this year amount to £52,000,000, of which £3,500,000 is for terminal charges. That is a difference for current charges of £20,500,000. Of this, we are told that £9,000,000 is accounted for by increased rates of pay. That leaves an increase of £11,500,000 to be accounted for.
When a business house finds that its expenditure is too great, it looks to its overhead charges and begins pruning at the top. Not so the War Office. Such methods of mere commerce, good for a nation of shopkeepers, are beneath the War Office. It reduces its fighting units: it wipes out the cadets: but the staff thrives and multiplies. The position is that, although the cost per man to-day is slightly less than double the pre-War cost, the cost of administration, for instance in the War Office, is in many cases three and nearly four times what it was in 1914. We have not yet got to the stage of the South American Republic, which counts more officers than men in its lighting forces, but it would seem that one of the lessons taught by the War, one of the axioms to be deduced from many a hard-fought battle, is that it does not matter how much you reduce your troops provided you have an ample supply of generals. We are in the proud position of being able to say to any potential enemy that, although we may he short of privates, we have on the other hand a plethora of Staff officers. We have heard a good deal about the increased correspondence which has necessitated this large staff. The answer of the Geddes Committee to that was that the way to stop this correspondence was to reduce the staff that creates it.
May I explain to the hon. Member and to others who may have misunderstood me? When I said that the correspondence has doubled I was not referring to staff correspondence at all. It is entirely correspondence from the outside public. That would not be reduced by reducing the staff.
I do not wish it to be thought that I am blaming the staff for these extravagances. I am certain that many attempts at reform have been made from inside the War Office itself. What I mean is that for these reforms to be effectively carried out a strong impulse from outside is necessary, and I am sure that if such an impulse is provided the staff itself will give the most loyal support to these reforms.
My contention is that the considerable economies effected on the Army Estimates have been achieved by the wrong methods. The Army to-day is a much less efficient fighting instrument than it was in 1914, but, as I have said, the overhead charges have increased enormously. Whereas in 1914 we could mobilise six divisions in 10 days, we could now mobilise only four divisions in four months. Historic regiments have been dispersed. They are absolutely irreplacable, for you cannot recreate tradition nor manufacture esprit de corps. Regiments which have written their names deeply on the history of our country have disappeared, so that the War Office shall remain full to bursting point, with a distended Army Council, an immense number of general officers, and a horde of civilians, and this enormous head directs our poor, puny, maimed little Army.
The War Office expends nearly £600,000 more than it did in 1914. That is an increase by more than double, of which £300,000 can be accounted for by higher rates of pay, leaving £300,000 as a net increase. The 1914 figure included the staff of the Air arm. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, in introducing the Estimates, invoked the plea of great post-War commitments to explain increased expenditure. I am sorry that he has clone so. If the War Office considers that our commitments are more serious than they were in pre-War days, why has it sacrificed units and kept a large headquarters staff? If it is argued that we have greater commitments now than before the War, the War Office ought to have made every sacrifice to maintain the fighting troops and compass the necessary economies in other directions. I think the Committee will accept with difficulty the statement that our post-War commitments are more serious than our pre-War commitments In pre-War days we bad the prospect of a European war before us. We certainly do not believe that, we have that prospect in view now. want to make it clear that I am not advocating any increase in our military units; what. I am objecting to is not the size of the Army but the cost of administering it. Let me quote a few figures to prove that I am not exaggerating. I want to take as standards of comparison our own pre-War expenditure and that, of the French, and to show how the French figures and our own compare to-day. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has told us that the French Army is an organisation so different from ours that such a comparison is meaningless, and I admit that there are differences, the chief being that whereas the French Army is a conscript Army ours is not. But there is no earthly reason why we should not take what is good in the French Army and adapt it to our own needs. Nor is there any reason why we should not compare our Army with theirs. No one can deny that. the French Army to-day is the most efficient. Army in Europe, and unless it can be proved that the problems with which the French have to deal are completely different from ours, I cannot see any reason why such comparisons should not be made. Indeed, I know that many of the problems which the two Armies have to face are identical. The main reason why the administrative cost of our Army is very heavy is that it is mainly a colonial Army. But the French also have a huge Colonial Army of 200,000 outside France, directed from Paris. It was proved during the War that their Army could be organised as efficiently as ours for service in distant theatres.
In 1913–14 our defence expenditure on Army, Navy, and Air Force was £80,200,000. In 1922, reduced to pre-War price level, the figure will amount to £102,531,000. That is an increase of 19.2 per cent. Treating the French figures in the same way, we find that the defence expenditure on Army, Navy, and Air Force was 1,807 million francs in 1913, and in 1922 it was 1,664 million francs. That is a decrease of 7.9 per cent. This year the Estimates show a decrease on our defence expenditure of £16,000,000; but we are still very far from having got back to pre-War expenditure, even after making every allowance for the difference in price levels, whereas the French figures, as I have shown, actually show a decrease. Let me give some figures of comparison with the French Army. The French Army for 1923–24 will consist of 659,000 men, including native troops, whereas our Army consists of 160,300 men exclusive of the Army in India. This huge French army is administered from a War Office with a staff of 485 officers and other ranks, and 700 civilian employés, whereas our War Office consists of 375 officers and other ranks, and over 2,000, nearly 3,000, civilian employés. The personnel at the War Office in 1914 was 1,190, including Air Staff. In view of these figures, I think that the House will come to the conclusion that what I have said about staffs is not too far-fetched hon. Members may also be interested to know that the staff at the War Office actually shows an increase on last year.
In the French Army the number of staff officers is 1,679, and in our Army 1,000. Regimental officers, as well as this House, may be interested to know that the proportion of staff officers to other officers in the French Army is 1 to 20.4, whereas in our Army it is 1 to 9.5. This is a percentage in the case of the French Army of 4.9 staff officers to 100 regimental and other officers, and in the case of the British Army 10.5 staff officers to 100 regimental and other officers; that is to say, more than twice as great. In our Army, out of a total of 9,499 officers, exclusive of the Territorial Army, only 5,870 officers are with fighting troops, infantry, cavalry, artillery, tanks, etc., and 3,629 are staff and administrative officers or belonging to the specialist services. It may be argued that a smaller Army is bound to have a higher proportion of administrative and staff officers, and such is the case to a certain extent. In this case, however, with an Army 500,000 less than the French, the number of administrative and staff officers proportionately bears no comparison.
We have heard a good deal in recent times of economies that have been effected Take the War Office, for example. We were told that the Deputy Chief of the. Imperial General Staff was abolished, but another Major-General, the Director of Military Training, was immediately appointed. I find it a little difficult to talk about his appointment after the hon. and gallant Member for Bute (Sir A. Hunter-Weston) told us that he held this appointment. I am sure with much distinction, in pre-War days, but I cannot help thinking that, as far as post-War commit-merits went, we were getting on perfectly well without this appointment. Then again we were never told that four new Deputy Directors, whose joint pay amounted to £5,582, had been appointed, these appointments having been unknown before the War. I am sure we will be told that instead of a Director of Military Operations and a Director of Military Intelligence we now have one Director. So we had before the War, and these Deputy Directors are a brand new invention. The Department of the Chief of the Imperial General Staff costs £145,348. In 1913 the cost was £60,685, showing an increase of more than double, that is of £84.663. Whilst in 191:3 that Department had nine General Staff Officers 1st Grade, in 1923 there are 15. In 1913 there were 19 General Staff Officers 2nd Grade, and in 1923, 36. Similar increases are to be found throughout the Department, and all this increased administrative personnel for an Army smaller than our pre-war Army! The figures are 183,000 men in 1914, and 160.000 in 1923. The figures of personnel of the Joint Operations and Intelligent. Directorate, in comparison with pre-War days is instructive. This Department shows an increase on the 1914 figure of one Deputy Director, three General Staff Officers 1st Grade, 9 General Staff Officers 2nd Grade, 1 General Staff Officer 3rd Grade, 9 Attached Officers and 30 clerks, making a total increase of 59. This kind of thing can be found in almost every Department with the except ion of that of the newly re-created Department of the Director of Military Training. This Department, it, is only fair to say, shows a decrease on pre-War numbers, but perhaps that is because it has only just started. For instance, the Adjutant General's Department shows an increased cost of 3.7 times the 1914 figure, or nearly four times. Again, take the Department of the Director of Staff Duties which shows an increased cost of £12,139 on the 1913 figure. The figure is £27,589 now as against £15,450 in 1913, and an increase in personnel of 3 General Staff Officers 1st Grade, 7 General Staff Officers 2nd Grade, 1 General Staff Officer 3rd Grade and 1 Quartermaster. I will take one example of the sort of lavishness and extravagance in personnel of which one could multiply instances indefinitely. It takes 1 Assistant; Secretary, 2 Principals, 1 Chief Examiner, 1 First Class Assistant Accountant, 2 Staff Clerks, 1 Minor Staff Clerk, 3 Second Division Clerks, 4 Clerical Officers, 1 Ex-soldier Clerk, Class A, Temporary Civil Assistant, 4 Junior Administrative Assistants (Women), 3 Ex-Soldier Clerks, Class B, 1 Temporary Clerk, Grade III, a total of 25 persons to consider financial proposals connected with establishments and emoluments of the military and civil staffs of the War Office. It is not only within the War Office itself that these examples are to be found.
To give one last example of the generous, not to say lavish, way we do things compared with other nations, let, me take the ease of Constantinople. There we and the French are lying side by side. The French have the value of about one division of troops, and we have about one and a half divisions. We have out there 1 lieutenant-general, the G.O.C., and on the staff 2 major-generals, 14 colonels and lieutenant-colonels, and 24 other staff officers. Then, of course, we have a major-general in command of the division with his own staff.
But then you have a major-general commanding the division, and the French also have a general. The staff I have just enumerated is for one division and a half. The French division is commanded by a major-general, and his staff is a colonel with a baker's dozen of junior staff officers. I understand our staff has been somewhat reduced lately. Some people travel for pleasure, some to find softer climes, and others come home so as to be here before the Estimates are published. To touch on another question, as to the proportion of regimental officers in our Army compared to the French, the French battalion forming an independent unit comparable to ours is commanded by a single major, whereas ours has a lieutenant-colonel assisted by three majors The French battery is commanded by a captain, whereas ours is commanded by a major assisted by a captain. I would not quarrel with our very heavy establishment of regimental officers provided it were understood that the supernumerary officers were earmarked to take command of units in reserve or territorials in ease of need, but as far as I know to-day we have really no means of expanding in case of emergency.
So far I have done a good deal of criticising, and I may perhaps say something now of a constructive nature with reference to the War Office itself. I want to speak with all diffidence, because I am a, civilian now and pretend to no special knowledge of any kind. It does appear to me, however, that the fact that there are two new secretaries attached to the Army Council drawing together salaries of £6,000, as opposed to the secretary of pre-War days who was not a member of the Army Council and who drew £2,000, is quite indefensible. In pre-War days the Army Council cost. £17,500. To-day it costs £28,861. I thoroughly agree with the hon. and gallant Members who said that in their opinion the Master-General of Ordnance should he done away with.
I am very glad I am speaking now, because earlier in the day he was looking down on us himself, and I should have found it very painful to refer to him. I think it would be quite possible, and that the Army would be better organised, if you organised the Army Council so that the Adjutant-General had discipline, personnel, and recruiting, in which way he would fulfil the logical functions of supply, clothing and housing. Equipment and organisation would be a branch of the General Staff. What could be more logical than that he who has to train and command the fighting man should also supervise his equipment and armament? Any other arrangement must lead to duplication, contradiction, inefficiency and, generally speaking, waste.
Should the worst happen and a war of any importance break out, experience has taught us that a Ministry of Munitions would have to be formed. A nucleus of that could be maintained in time of peace by putting the manufacturing Department at present under the Master-General of Ordnance under the civil member instead. It would be his function to have plans ready for expansion in ease of mobilisation. If this suggestion were adopted, the Army Council would at once be much less unwieldy, and the salary of Master-General of Ordnance, amounting to £3,228 a year, would be saved, not to mention the fact of the disappearance of his Department, which costs £105,217, although this would not mean a net saving since some of his functions would have to be taken over by other Departments. I would suggest that the whole question of organisation should be taken away from the Adjutant-General and placed under the Chief of the Imperial General Staff. This is only logical, as it is the General Staff which is responsible for the fighting forces, and it is absolutely illogical that the organisation should not be in its hands. I have given the above simply as an example of what I mean when I say that great economies can be effected in Army administration. Then, again, the same can be said of all sorts of specialized services. I have been hunting down the Army vets. I do not know what they are doing. Whether they are administering pills to tanks or passing aeroplanes as sound I do not know. This country certainly expects the Government to do all it can to reduce armaments. What we want to see is the maximum of efficiency with the minimum of expenditure anti an intelligent use of our resources. Our greatest resource is the large number of trained men that we have as a result of the War. Until these men are too old for military service they constitute a trained mass of soldiers who could automatically form an Army if the emergency arose. This reserve ought to last us over the period of maximum depression through which we are passing and enable us to effect the maximum of economy, especially as we are convinced that no considerable War is likely to take place in the immediate future. A plan ought to be worked out to organise this potential reserve.
I venture to submit that I have proved that there is something radically wrong with the Army. The system on which it was based, even in pre-War days, was most wasteful and extravagant, and resulted in an enormous wastage of man power, and I think I have shown that our system is even more wasteful and extravagant to-day. To sum up, the question of Array policy and Army expenditure as a whole must, be reviewed. If we cannot afford to maintain more than our present lighting strength, which is very small, we can save enormous sums on overhead charges by bringing these down to the level of our diminished units. To do this, organisation is required. It is our duty to insist that the sums expended on the Army must result in efficiency. I most respectfully ask the Government, and I hope the House will support me, that the whole question of Army organisation and expenditure should be looked into without delay and the plan for such an examination should be laid before the House at the earliest possible moment. It is far easier for a Minister to face Parliament and ask for money than to face his permanent officials and ask for reforms. To face Parliament involves but a storm in a teacup. The waves of our criticism break unavailingly against the solid rocks of the Government majority, and that is an end of the matter. The Minister call return to the placid atmosphere of his Department, where the only excitement take it—though this is a purely imaginative picture—is to poke a little quiet fun at the Treasury by abstracting a million or so when they are not looking. To face his permanent officials is another matter. They have always been there; they know all about it. A Minister, to them, is but a passing shadow. What is a right hon. Gentleman to do when they refuse to be responsible for the results when he makes suggestions for economy. He is in their hands and they know it, and so, I suppose, the right hon. Gentleman does what others have done before him. With a sigh he trots off to Westminster to face the storm, consoling himself with the thought of the welcome that awaits him on his return to his cosy office in Whitehall.
But it is our duty to reverse that state of things. It is our duty by the force of our attack and the vigilance of our scrutiny to make it felt that any Minister would a thousand times rather face all the permanent officials in his Department than face the criticism of the House of Commons. The Government must translate the will of the House into action. We have seen that the great spending Departments are of so tough a fibre and so thick a sinew that the axe that attacks them is blunted in the attempt to lop off some of their unnecessary excrescences. To fact the axe, ceasing to be a cutting weapon on meeting so unyielding a surface, actually turns into a boomerang that hits back at him who wields it. It is a struggle between Parliament and bureaucracy. We are here to assert the will of the people, to relieve them by the only means in our power of the burden that is crushing them, and I think we will win. Otherwise, Members must return to their constituencies, and say that they have failed; that this country is no longer governed by its elected representatives, but must for ever bow under a bureaucracy which substitutes inertia for progress, and for initiative, the iron rigidity of routine.
I propose to apply my remarks to the Territorial Army, to which allusion has been made this afternoon. As Chairman of a Territorial Association, I must say that it was with very great regret we heard that the capitation grant for cadets was to be discontinued We have accepted the decision, and we are resigned to it in the interests of economy We intend to do Our best to carry on the work in connection with the cadets without the grant, but we ask one thing, and that is that the War Office will still recognise the cadet force, and will not hand it over to the Board of Education or any other Department. I am quite sure such a step would be fatal to the cadet organisation. If the boys heard they were going to be handed over to the Board of Education they would at once conclude that it meant more lessons, and they would have nothing to do with the cadets. We ask the Under-Secretary that his Department should continue to recognise the cadets and have them inspected and rejected upon annually certainly in the case of cadet, units affiliated to Territorial battalions. Allusion has also been made to the comparatively new formation known as the Divisional Signal Unit. That I consider to be one of the most important. units in the Territorial Army it is a unit of which any Army might well be proud. It is composed of technical experts, and cannot be extemporised; it must be in a state of preparedness and readiness, both as regards training and personnel, and I would submit that every encouragement should be given to it. I notice that in the Memorandum drafted by the Secretary of State for War he mentions that every provision is to be made for the accommodation of the Territorial units to unit requires accommodation more than the signal unit it has most valuable stores—the value of the .stores amounts to something-like £18,000 for .a Divisional Signal Unit. Although the personnel is small, that property is very large, arid to my knowledge, in one particular instance, there is no accommodation For all these valuable stores, and they are scattered about in open sheds. It is necessary that, in training the men of the signal units, they should have access to their instruments, and therefore the stores must not be mere lumber rooms Where thing are hacked away. They must he store rooms where the men can have access to their instruments in order that they can practise with them, and so become efficient. In the same way, there must he proper accommodation for both officers and men, so as to encourage them to join this most valuable unit.
Some reference has been made by the Under-Secretary to-day to the fact that the Territorial Army will require a. good many men to make rip its proper complement In order to do that it is very important that we should remove all cases of injustice, and I should like to draw the hon. and gallant Gentleman's attention to paragraph 660 in the Territorial Regulations. It is with regard to compensation for injuries that may occur to any Territorial man, and it is laid down that compensation shall be paid only if the. man's accident or illness occurs in the performance of his military duties. To illustrate my point, I would like to give a case that came to my knowledge last summer, when a quartermaster-sergeant, who was engaged in his duties, caught a very bad cold, which turned to pneumonia, and he was detained in hospital after the camp was broken up for many weeks. The War Office refused compensation because they said that his illness was due to natural causes. I think that is a great injustice, and I hope it will be looked into, and that this Territorial Regulation will be amended.
There is another matter which is also mentioned in the Memorandum to which I have referred, and that is with regard to Territorial Associations. They have been reduced, and further reductions in the interests of economy are to be secured by concentrating the Territorial Associations. That, I think, is perhaps necessary and desirable, as the cost of administration in the Territorial Associations varies from 5s. per head to over £3; but I would submit that there is an alternative to this proposal, and that is that further duties and obligations should be imposed on Territorial Associations. I cannot, of course, vouch for it that all associations would be ready to accept further responsibilities, but I believe, knowing the spirit which exists amongst them, that if they knew it was to be in the interests of the country and to save money, they would be ready to take on further duties. The Territorial Associations are composed of men very similar to those who compose this House. They are men of experience, they are frequently experts in many ways, and I think they are capable of dealing with all the duties that are likely to be imposed on them.
The additional duties that I would suggest would be, in the first instance, recruiting for the Regular Army. It is notorious that the Regular units do not adequately represent, and in many instances do not represent at all, the county whose name they bear and if the men were recruited in the county they would he much more representative. Then there is the clothing of Regular units, which might also be undertaken by Territorial Associations. It has been suggested to-night that the Regulars and Territorials should be brought into closer touch with each other, and I submit that by these measures we should initiate that closer feeling, which is so much to be desired. The acquisition of laud is a matter that could be dealt with very well by Territorial Associations, who have their own surveyors and their own agents, and there is the care of barracks and of ranges, and, in addition, there are, of course, pensions, with which they could very well deal. Then again, work which they carried out successfully and effectively during the War was the separation allowances. There are many inure duties, and amongst them the employment of ex-service men. I submit this scheme to the War Office for their consideration, and I think myself that a beginning might very well be made with the Militia. Of course, it is not proposed to raise them for the, present, but I think they are a very necessary force, and they might be required very badly to assist the civil power. If they were administered by the Territorial Associations, they would be very closely associated with the county in which they were raised, and they would be treated with every sympathy and every encouragement, and, above all, I think it would lead to their officers being raised in the county to which the regiment belonged, which has not been the case of late with the Militia regiments.
I am encouraged to put this scheme before the representative of the War Office, because I think I was the first person to suggest, some years ago, that there should be a Territorial Air Force, and I am glad to say that that suggestion has now materialised. As to the suggestion of territorialising the whole Army, that is a matter, I think, that ought to be done gradually, by a system of evolution, so that all units and all regiments would be raised from different counties and districts. I believe that that scheme of territorialising the Army is one that would lead to financial economy and to general efficiency, and it is a scheme that is supported by many experienced officers and men who have had more experience and are morn able than myself, and know much more about the subject.
I want to draw attention to one or two points on these Estimates. First of all, I notice that there is to be a great economy in general education. I think that is the most unfortunate thing that could be done with regard to the Army, because the Army has suffered from this fact that there has always been a sort of feeling that the Army was not the place for any person with any brains. I think that was abundantly demonstrated in the War, in which we went through a series of disasters which were very largely due to the utter failure of the thinking branches of the Army to realise modern conditions of warfare. I am going to make one or two suggestions in regard to promotion in the Army, because I consider if we have an Army, we may as well be as economical about it, and not only economical in seeing that it pays by keeping the cost down, but that we get value for our money. Personally I think the time has come when we ought to do away with all armies, and all wars. I take that position, but I have to realise that there is not very much likelihood of the present Government taking that attitude; in the meantime I want to criticise some of the items. I say that the thing which has been extremely well economised in these Army Estimates has been the brain power The brain power of this country has not been mobilised. To a certain extent during the War period it was, but, broadly speaking, people with brains were not encouraged to go into the Army, and if they got in they were not encouraged to stay there. I remember that when I was serving in the Army I very nearly spoilt the career of a young officer I was asked by the colonel what sort of a man ho was, and I said he was a clever fellow. That settled it.!
As a matter of fact, Army officers have been drawn from a fairly narrow class, a class that has some great virtues, but many serious deficiencies. If we want to have good men in the Army and good officers, you will have to draw from the whole population for the thinking part of the Army. Of course, during the War the whole Army changed. Before the War had gone very far the Regular Army officers were almost all on the Staff, while the ordinary fighting unit was commanded by temporaries, and the officers of the battalions, or whatever the unit might be, to a very large extent came up from the ranks, and I think they were all the better for it. You found that in a comparatively short time during the War you had got sound regimental officers. You also found that for fighting commands you wanted young men. Many of our troubles during the War came because old men were in authority. That brings me to the matter of promotion. The average officer stands far too long in one place. By the time ho arrives at a position of importance he is practically worn out. I am not now suggesting there are not exceptions to that rule, but, broadly speaking, we got a good many failures because the superior officers arrived at their position far too late, and their ideas were 20, 10, and even five years out of date.
It has been pointed nut by an hon. Member who spoke from below the gangway that there were serious faults in our Army before the War, and there are serious faults in our Army after the War. These faults are exactly the came, and we are again going to have an old Army. A general whom I served under, a very distinguished man, said that in any war no commander of a company should he outside the twenties, nor the commander of a battalion outside the thirties, while the commander of a brigade or division should be under 40. More often than not in peace time you can add about 20 years to each of those figures. We want to enhance promotion in the Army, with a far quicker clearing out of people when they begin to go. That means that if you are not going to have ark enormously swollen non-effective list you have to have far more brains in your Army, and that means far more general education, so that those retired may move on into other occupations.
The next point is this, Our Army was unfortunately very largely a. stupid Army. Of course if there are hon. Members in the. House who are Army men I say that there were always exceptions, and, naturally, I shall except hon. Members who are listening to me. But in the old days brains were very largely discounted. I say also we had a class of army officers who had come to be of one class. I think it; is a very unfortunate thing in a democratic State like Ours that an army should be run by one class. It has been suggested, or said, that the Army, I refer to the officers, is like a little family, that there is a family feeling between those in command, and if "Old Bill" made a bloomer steps were taken not to let him down. During the War all that changed. People of every rank of society served as officers, and were very often extremely efficient officers. I know that in the unit I commanded most of the officers came right up through the ranks. How many have stayed in the Army? There seems to me to have been a process of elimination after the War.
A class army is a dangerous thing in a modern State and in a State that is faced with grave social and economic problems. We on these benches do not want armies, but if we are to have armies, navies and fighting forces, we say that at least they ought to he democratised. If you want to get efficiency you must not have a class-privileged army. You must have a career open to all the talents. It would be far better if every single person who wanted to be an officer in the Army came up first of all through the ranks. I shall be told that there is a need for specialised training, and that the time of officers-to-be is wasted in the ranks. That is all nonsense. The training may be highly specialised in the case of some officers, but I am not aware that officers generally give a. vast amount of time to study. They may have a stiff time of it in the training season, but there are long periods when they have a fair amount of liberty, when they go on leave, and so on. Besides, it is bad form in the Army to be supposed to be thinking too much about the profession, and you could find plenty of time for officers to study far more widely than they perhaps do at present.
I want also to point out in respect of promotion the ridiculous waste of man and brain power. I could give one instance, amongst others, of an efficient brigadier who served three years commanding his brigade in France and subsequently, four years after the War, accepted a staff captaincy in a Territorial brigade! If you want efficiency in the Army it has got to be a young army—that is to say, if you want an efficient Army, if you expect we are going to have more war. Though, of course, I should like to have it the other way, and say that it is the old people who ought to go cut to fight: that would be more like the thing. I think there should be a regulation that the older men should go to the war. First of all they would be learning the lesson they have been teaching, and in the next place they have had a longer period in which to beget children, and therefore they would not leave their families so badly off; and finally, because they were always the people who used to want war. They were the men who used to say, "Ah, my boy, if only I was twenty years younger, how glad I should be to have your chance." Perhaps we might be able to work it in that way and provide that after they reach their grand climacteric they should descend into an elderly first line, which should be the first in the event of any war. In time of war you get a great widening of the Army, and you get out of that extraordinary and narrow class feeling. It appears to me that you are now coming back to the old narrow lines, and I think we should sweep away our aristocratic or, shall I say, plutocratic units such as the Guards. I think we ought to have a democratic army, if we cannot do the best thing of all, arid that is, see that you have peace at home and abroad, and have no more armies and no move wars.
I do not intend to follow the hon. and gallant Member, who has just sat down. The hon. and gallant Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir B. Hutchison) referred in his speech to the staff. Though I greatly sympathised with much that he said, it struck me that I had heard the same complaint made in the Army before the War, and during the War, and it is now being served tip again after the War, namely, that there is a great deal too much money being spent on the staff. I agree that if more money could be spent on the personnel of the Army instead of on the staff it would be a great deal better for the Army, and the commitments the Army has to look after. I want to draw the attention of the House not so much to the point of view of economy, but to the work that our Army has to do.
The Army Estimates give a few of the little duties and the countries where we are called upon to perform the duty of holding up the British flag. The Army as at present constituted is simply one to police our Empire. We have a few troops at Gibraltar. Malta, Ceylon, Hongkong, North China and other places, and they are not enough to do anything more than simply perform police duty. And now I come to what are on page 20 called armies. When you come to look at their numbers and think what the armies were in the late War or in any war you know of, you are bound to conclude that the troops we have in these particular places are also not more than enough to do merely police duties. The troops we have at the present time at Cologne are well worth the money, not as an army but as a deterrent to the French advancing and they are trusted by the Germans. At present they are about the only unit over there giving us a chance of making peace. Then we have about 4,000 men at Constantinople. When things were very serious there a short time ago and a dangerous situation arose owing to the policy pursued it was saved by the British troops under General Harington. At that time the Turk thought very little of Britain and everything of France and Italy, but owing to the tact of the British Force in Constantinople the British are now considered the one real nation worth treating with, while France and Italy no longer count. That state of things is chiefly due to the behaviour of our troops when they came in touch with the Turks and the Turks with us. I suggest that in a case like Mesopotamia where we have two battalions it is quite absurd from the military point of view to even think of holding a country like that with so few troops, no guns, and a few aeroplanes, and the sooner those troops are withdrawn, and put to places where they are wanted more so much the better.
You have also to think of India, and there are always dangers there whatever your policy is in India. I think that anyone who has been to the Residency at Lucknow must think of what the British women and children went through there, and we must be very careful about reducing the number of troops in India, as suggested by an hon. Member, for the sake of economy. That is not the only thing in India If you reduce the Army in India, what about India herself, and the Indian Frontier. I would just like to tell hon. Members a little episode to show what things are like en that frontier. On one occasion I was driving through the Khyber Pass, which is open on two days a week by arrangement with the tribes, and I was accompanied by a friend We were just about to sit down on a stone to eat our sandwiches when we noticed that the stone was covered with blood, and so we moved away and sat on another stone. Very soon after this an old man came up with a rifle, and I knew enough of his language to converse with him, and said: "What is the cause of the blood on this stone?" He told me that only the day before the tribes had had a fight over a mealie patch and there were eight or nine people killed. That goes on weekly amongst the tribes. It is their idea of a bit of fun. That is a situation which cannot be dealt with except with an army. I very much deprecate, in any Army Estimates, any cutting down of the numbers of fighting men in India or anywhere else where we are responsible for the safety of the people and are endeavouring to keep their business going.
I should like to point out the great importance to the Army of keeping up the Militia or Special Reserve. The Militia was the old constitutional force of this country, and, with the exception of the Section D Reserve, there was no other reinforcement for the Army. The Special Reserve, which is the old Militia, was the only thing that enabled our Regular regiments to keep up to strength during the late War, but it never got the credit of that, because it was merged in the new Kitchener's Army, which took a great deal of the credit belonging to those whose job it was to reinforce the Army. I am glad to see that some provision is made for that, and I hope that that sum of £340,000 will not only be expended, as was suggested, in telegraph and transport personnel, but that something will ho done to reorganise the Militia, which, in every war we have had during the last 100 or 150 years, has been the only means of keeping our fighting forces up to strength.
I should like to say one word about the Territorial Army, which, I think, is now of even greater importance than when our Army was stronger. I am glad to see that, in connection with it, an economy of £1,000,000 or so has been made, as well as in connection with the Regular Army, but I do suggest that in the case of the Territorial Force Associations more money can still be saved without interfering with the organisation of the units, by amalgamating more of the associations together In many cases, anyhow, that could be done without interfering at all with the efficiency of the troops they administer, and the money saved could be spent on personnel to improve the Territorial Army. I think it was suggested by the hon. and gallant Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir R. Hutchison), who criticised the staff, that the Territorial Army should be much more knit with the Regular Army, and there I agree with him; but he did not, suggest what has always seemed to me to be a natural thing, namely, that there should be a representative of the Territorial Army on the Army Council. I know that that has often been asked for by the Territorial Force Associations. To keep the Territorials in touch with the Regulars, there should surely be a, Territorial officer as a member of the Army Council.
The hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) said that he objected to the cut in education, and I must say that I have very much sympathy with him in that. Earlier in his speech, however, he was running down the present Army, saying that it was nothing like the Army of 1914—that, in fact, we never had such a good Army as that of 1914. I would only like to point out to him that in the case of that Army there was not half the amount spent on education as there is at this moment, even with the present cut. Although I am sorry that any saving has to be made in education, I think that, from the point of view of the efficiency of the Army, much greater military efficiency will be secured by an increase of personnel. I should like to congratulate the Minister in not having greatly reduced the personnel. I hope he will still find means to reduce the staff, and also to save some of the expenses on our military missions, and that he will he able to restore to the Army system an efficient and well-trained Militia.
I should like to join with an hon. Member who has already spoken in expressing regret that these Estimates were not in our hands before Monday morning last. The book is one of nearly 300 pages of figures, needing close examination, and there has not been really a great deal of time to go closely into the matter. The first thing which struck me on a somewhat cursory glance at the Estimates, was the amount shown on page 71 as spent by way of education in some. 27 schools. The net figure shown there as the cost of the various schools is £1,411,900, but, although some 27 schools are shown, I had to go to the trouble myself to take out exactly how many persons attended those schools. It worked out to 4,030 of all ranks, and that gives an average of some £350 for each. On closer examination of the figures I found that, of those 4,030, only 1,829 were officers, 1,371 were men, and 830 were boys. I know sufficient about the Army to know that the cost of training boys in schools, if it is shown at £350, is at any rate a highly extravagant figure and would be so even for men, and I would suggest that the cost accounting staff ought to be put on to that to see if it can be reduced. While on the subject of schools, I turned to page 76. You have there schools for boys. You have the cost of the education of some 510 boys at the Duke of York's Royal Military College. The average per boy is £113 3s. 6d. At the Royal Hibernian Military School, although the number of Boys is very nearly a half, the cot is only £91 10s. 9d. One would rather have thought that where you have a bigger number of boys it should be easier and cheaper to run the school. There is a difference between those two amounting £21 12s. 9d. per boy. At the Queen Vietoria School you have 296 boys, and the cost per head is only £81 9s. 9d. So the difference between the highest- school and the lowest is £31 3s. 9d. per head. I commend that again to your cost accountant to go into and ask why that should he the ease. I do it in the friendliest spirit possible. It is the first thing business men would apply their minds to when they saw for the same art idle a difference of £31 odd per head. If you got the cost of the first and second schools down to the cost of the, third I have calculated that you would save:£18,579 16s. 9d. It is something worth saving. I regret very much that 1086 boys attend these schools at all. I think the age of 18 is quite early enough to implant the military spirit into boys.
The next thing I want to draw attention to is the record offices I understand the record offices were amalgamated with the pay offices some time ago. What is a record office? One would imagine, in view of the fact that you have a full colonel in charge of a record office, that it was a highly important duty. As a matter of fact, it is the sort of job that in civil life you give a man about £4 a week to do and expect it to be done very well, indeed. These Army Estimates are occasionally tricky, and I could not find in them precisely how many colonels there were, and I had to look at the Army List and worry the thing out. We find they have amalgamated the pay offices and the record offices, but whereas in the past you never had in charge of a regimental office, except during the War, a man holding a rank higher than a lieut.-colonel, you now have a record officer who knows nothing at all about figures in charge of the pay office. Was there ever such a farce, and was there ever such a cost? I find that, at Perth for the records you have a colonel and two lieutenants. At Hamilton—I hope Scotsmen are pricking up their ears—they have a colonel, a major, a captain, and a lieutenant of records. At Preston you have a colonel, a lieut.-colonel, a major, and a captain; and at Shrewsbury, a colonel, a lieut.-colonel, and a major. I find from the Army List you have a total number of officers of 39 in 12 offices looking after records. It would be worth while if you put your cost accountant on to that. The whole lot of these record officers, as I understand the position, ought to be dismissed straight away. Their cost amounts to £33,950 per annum. H would not matter at all if the tragedy did not lie in the fact that you have two million people out of a job. I now come to Chelsea Hospital.
The first thing which hits you in the eye, to use a vulgarism, is the cost of 558 pensioners at £228 13s. 6d. per head. On the face of it, one would imagine it is rather a delightful place to be in. On an examination of the figures, we find the salaries of the administrative staff are £6,255 per annum, the subordinate staff £9,143, salaries of clerks £20,705, a total of £36,103, or at the rate of £65 per year per head. Every one of these pensioners is costing 25s. per week per head for being looked after by this staff. I find that for rental value, rates, maintenance of buildings, fuel, light and furniture £87,600 is charged, or at the rate of £157 per head. £3 a week goes in that item. Household disbursements, £1,140. That comes to 10d. per man per week. Let us sec what the pensioner gets. He gets his provisions, which amount to £27 16s. 5d. per annum, or 10s. 8d. a week. He gets clothing at £6 8s. 2d. per annum. That is 2s. 6d. a week. He gets his medicine, £2 3s. 8d., which is 10d. a week. Then the pay of in-pensioners, £5 16s. id., is 2s. 3d. a week. In other words, he gets 10s. 3d. a week. Looking at the credit items, the cost of administration of service and post-war disability pensions, transferred to Head VII, Sub-head B, is £20,400. Does that £20,400 consist of pensions due to these men and taken from them while they are in the Chelsea Hospital? If that is the case, we find that the net cost of Chelsea Hospital is £4 8s. a week. This is how it goes. Rental value, rates, etc., £3; salaries of staff, £1 5s.; household disbursements, 10d. That is £4 5s. 10d. a week, and the cost of each pensioner is 16s. 3d. per week, 9s. less than the administrative charges. If I understand this aright, the amount taken off the pensioner is 14s. id. He gets 10s. 3d. and puts in 14s.1d. The Under-Secretary will correct me if I am wrong, and I hope, for the sake of the country, that that is not true.
I come to Woolwich. That is on page 40 of the Estimates, and was the subject of so much comment by Sir Eric Geddes at the time he attempted to use his axe. I find the net cost, as shown at the bottom of the page, to be £87,300, but looking higher up I find an item, "Allowance to Gentlemen Cadets," £18,980. That cannot be the amount the father remits, because that is shown below under "Sums receivable — payments by parents," £30,500 As a matter of fact the sum receivable from the parents is not £30,500 at all, because they have to be debited with £18,980. The payments by the parents of £30,500, less allowances— which most people get form their parents if it is pocket-money, and is £18,980—leaves, a total of £21,520. That means that the average cost to the parents of the Cadet is only £83 a year. Again, I stand subject to correction if I have made a mistake. I now look at page 41—in fact, I am looking for a summary which you have not got—and the summary there shows me that they had no less than 39 instructors and teachers to these Gentlemen Cadets, of whom there are 260, or one instructor to teach rather less than seven cadets. Now we go back to page 40. There are these items, "Military subordinates," £7,335, and "Civilian subordinates," £18,265. The Estimate does not give us any figures, and I do not know where the costs accounting comes in at all, but I should have thought the Estimate would have shown the precise number of military and civilian subordinates. Then one could have worked out a calculation to show how much the pay was. I have worked out a rough calculation, and I find that every two of these Gentlemen Cadets has one full-grown man to look after him.
I now go back to page 42, and look at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. I have examined the accounts there, and I see the same thing, "Allowance to Gentleman Cadets," £49,240. I add that on to the net cost, which is said to be £192,900, and 1 find the average cost per cadet per annum is £361. How much do the parents pay? They pay rather something less than £100 a year. On the other side, I look at the instruction staff, and find that there is one instructor or teacher to less than 10 cadets. I would draw the attention of the Committee to the bottom portion of Page 43, which throws rather a sidelight upon the manner in which boys get into Sandhurst. The first item is "King's Cadets." They get in for nothing, and I pass that by without any comment at all. The next class of boy who gets in is the sons of "Deceased officers and men whose families are in pecuniary distress." I pass that by. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I want to take the Committee to those which I shall not pass by. The third class is "Certain deceased officers and men, and serving and retired officers up to Major." I pass that by. When I come to the next rank, I find sons of "Serving or retired Lieut.-Colonels or Colonels "—men getting well over £1,000 a year. If they send their boys to Sandhurst they save £120 a year. If the lad's father is a Major-General or a Lieut.- General he saves £105 a year. If he is a General, he saves £90 a year. Did you ever in your life sea such a bolstering up of a class to feed the, Army? They are kept at this place for something less than £100 a year, and then they go into a profession and get a job at about. 2380 a year. No wonder thy; hon. Member for Greenock (Sir G. Collins) stated that today the Army was the best paid profession in the world.
I am very sorry, Sir. I made the same mistake before, but I will try and do my best. I now take the Committee to page 26. It will be seen there that the cost per head in the Royal Army Pay Corps is £368, totalling 2319,792. I add to that the cost of the corps of military accountants, which is £297 per head, totalling £234,630. Then, I add the cost of the financial staff at the War Office, which I get from page 243, and which is £169,310. To that, I add what I find on page 244, "Department of the Finance Member, financial staff at out-stations," and that comes to £122,911. I also add one of the Permanent Joint Secretaries of the War Office, whose work is purely finance, and who receives £3,000 a year. I will not add on the 21,500 a. year for the Financial Secretary to the War Office, but we have a total of 2849,634 a year for accountancy in the Army.
On page 10 the number of men on the establishment of the Army is given at 160,300. Therefore accountancy in the Army costs per soldier per annum £5 6s. This is just. £66,577 less than the total cost of the Army Ordnance Corps, with a personnel of 3,546, and just a little more than half the whole of the Army Service Corps of 7,572 men. While I am on that point, I want to draw attention to the fact that there is a difference in the cost per head of the Army Pay Corps and the Corps of Military Accountancy
of £71 a head. Accountancy, as I understand it, is an exact science, and I really suggest that they should get down to costing themselves, and find out where that ell goes. In regard to the comparison of officers and men, I find that to one officer in the Pay Corps you have 5.1 men, and in the Corps of Military Accountants you have one officer to 6.5 men. It has been suggested that these two bodies should be amalgamated. What was said when the suggestion was made that they should be amalgamated? I refer to the first, second and third Report of the Select Committee on Public Accounts. This is a question put to a gentleman responsible for the finances:
When you get your new system complete, will it be possible to amalgamate these three—meaning the Corps of Accountants, the Paymasters and the Army Ordnance Corps, and the reply was that Paymasters are an old-established corps. The system of paymasters is absolutely indispensable, and we cannot throw them into confusion, and amalgamate them with a body like the military accountants, while they are a temporary and experimental Department.
Is it still considered to be an experimental Department? They have been going on for four or five years, so far, experimenting with £232,000 a year, and they have not found out yet whether they are any good or not. That is rather trifling, and it shows your kind of financing. observe the hon. Gentleman laughing at me, and that confirms what I think. These things are introduced in an offhand manner when there are as many as five or six present on the Government Benches, and that is their measure of regard for the expenditure of the country.
I now draw attention to page 71. One of the most delightful things in that summary is that there is a school for nearly everything under the sun except accountancy. There is a school of electric lighting, a school of signallers, an R.S.C. College, an R.A.M. College, hygiene and pharmacy instruction schools, a school of music, and a school of farriery for shoeing horses, hut no school of accountancy. I said that not a fortnight ago in a speech I made to this House on the constitution of the Pay Corps, and the only reply I got from the Minister was that it was an interesting speech.
A. few days ago I put a question to the Financial Secretary to the War Office, in I asked him how many officers had been transferred from other corps to the
Royal Army Pay Corps since the Armistice, and how many so transferred are either chartered or incorporated accountants. The answer was that the number of commissions granted was 36—presumably granted to men who joined the Pay Corps during the War. I have nothing to say against that. They may have done good work, but when I find that the principle, ever since the Pay Department has been in existence, has been to transfer men from the combatant arm of the Service to the Pay Corps, one would have thought that by now they would have had their lesson and said that that would not do. I find that, since the Armistice, the number of men transferred is 14, and one was a chartered or incorporated accountant, I do not know why, leaving 13 men 'transferred from the combatant arm of the Service. It would be interesting to know if he was one of the Sandhurst or Woolwich gentlemen who cost us so much to train, and who is put into a Department that he knows nothing about. I would like to read to the House the supplementary question I put to the Minister. I asked —
Is it considered to be in the interests of sound financial administration that men should be transferred from the combatant arm of the Service to the financial department of the Army?
I got no answer. On the same day I put another question. I asked the Financial. Secretary to the War Office what was the total amount per annum of the pay and allowances of a lieut.-paymaster which is the most junior rank in the pay department. The answer I got was that the total pay and allowances was £468 a year if the man was single, and £534 if married. That is a good job. I then put a supplementary question:
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the average pay in a City of London office to-day for a newly qualified chartered accountant is £250 per annum, and does lie consider that, in the interests of his Department, commissions in the Royal Army Pay Corps should be given only to men qualified in view of the high salary given?
I got no answer. I hope he will give me an answer to-night. I am not doing this for fun. I am going to considerable trouble in doing it. I desire to help in the interests of sound administration. It is not the hon. Member's fault; he has only been in office three months.
While I am dealing with this point, I want to draw attention to the position of the non-commissioned officers and men of the Pay Corps. They are a fine body of men—the salt of the Pay Department. There are sergeant-majors promoted to the rank of assistant-paymasters. When I got the information that there were 14 men who have been transferred from the combatant branches of the Service to the Pay Department since the Armistice, I naturally looked to see if any of these sergeant-majors had been granted commissions. They are men who, it is well known, are the best qualified men. I found that only three commissions had been given, and those, in 1920, to sergeant-majors. That is not good enough. That is what our constituents are sending us to this I louse to try to level up, and I maintain that before any more transfers are made from the combatant ranks to the Pay Department, these sergeant-majors should be taken into consideration.
These assistant paymasters, by some rule—I do not know how old it is, and I do not care—never rise beyond the rank of captain, except two who became majors, and they can never become staff paymasters. They can never hendle m ney. If a man happens to be a ranker—I use the term respectfully—and he obtains a commission in a fighting regiment and then transfers his services to the Pay Department, he may rise to the rank of a full colonel in that. Department, with pay of about £1,450 a year. I do ask the Financial Secretary to consider wiping out that rule. it is putting an absolute discount on the energies of men who are the finest men in the Department. The Department cannot go on without them; that is well known. Nevertheless, these men, work as they will, cannot get higher in the ordinary way than the rank of captain, and never can they aspire to he staff paymasters. I suppose the idea is that they should not handle money. I think that sort of theory ought to he disposed of.
Now I want to deal with the question of MeGrigor's Bank, but before doing so I may say that since the last speech I made on this subject. I have received several letters from men in the Pay Corps, expressing regret and surprise that I should have delivered myself as I did. I have no personal feelings against any of them. I have nothing but friendship for them. I desire to see the Department administered properly, and I make that statement in this House so that they shall know. They are the victims of circumstances. If I happened to be in their place I would take the job, just as they have done, but that is why you get high cost.
I think I am right. I did speak about the bank, but I deemed it to be my duty before leaving the subject to refer to my old friends in the Pay Department, and I wanted to explain that. I bear them no ill-feeling I suggest that the Noble Lord is rather premature. In the OFFICIAL REPORT of 28th November, 1922, on page 482, there is an answer in connection with McGrigor's Bank which was given to the hon. Member for. Holborn (Sir J. Remnant) to the effect that the War Office had intimation on the 6th October that McGrigor's bank was in difficulties. That either means something or it does not. If a. man is in the city in business and there is a sum of £13,000 to be paid over and there is a risk of its being paid into the wrong quarters, he would consider what he ought to do. What actually happened in this case? On the 13th of the month, the Paymaster-General who, after all, is only the agent of the War Office, paid over that money to McGrigor's bank. I hold the view that there is a moral responsibility on the part of the War Office for the whole of MeGrigor's debts. I am not going to argue about that to-night; but what I do say is that, so far as that £13,000 is concerned, there is an absolute obligation en the part of the War Office to pay that to whomsoever it was due at this time. That sum of money was in respect of pensions, payable in arrear and not in advance, in cases many of which were hard cases. In respect of these payments, the Paymaster-General was the agent of the War Office, who should have advised him not to pay to McGrigor's bank, but they did not so advise.
The War Office was absolutely liable For every penny of that money, and they ought to pay. This incident reveals the weakness of the whole system. There is no liaison between one Department and another where finance is concerned. There never has been. We get that revealed only as far back as last October. I suppose the Financial Secretary will say that we have had an amusing speech, and he may say that my speech has been interesting. What I ask him to do is to try to answer the statements which I have made. I am perfectly willing that they should if possible be disproved. I hope that some of the things I have said may be wrong, and. that my reading of this hook may not be absolutely accurate. If it be accurate, then it is a shameful state of affairs. I ask the hon. Member to answer the things I have said, because they have been said with the greatest respect, and with a desire to help.
I hope that the Financial Secretary will understand that I am putting forward my suggestions only with a desire, if I can, to help, and not in any way to hinder or embarrass him. I am not going to be as critical as the hon. and gallant Member who has just sat down. I am afraid I am not so good at arithmetic as he, and for that reason 1 shall not go into so much detail. Great credit. is due to the War Office in having been able to effect economies amounting to nearly R,l0,000,000 over the Estimates of last year. In spite of this, I gather from the Estimates that the strength of the fighting forces has been slightly increased. The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood) pointed out that the Estimates of this year were still twice. as large as the expenditure on the Army in 1914, but he did rot mention the fact. that this expenditure is due practically entirely to the increased pay of the Army. And it is only right that he should have mentioned that.
As to whether the establishments provided for in this year's Estimates are sufficient for the defence of our Empire, for the maintenance of law and order and to cope with any unforeseen situation which may arise in the near future, I do not intend to give an opinion. The Under-Secretary of State for War said that he thought that we were running very great risks owing to the smallness of our present establishment. I hope that that is not the opinion of the General Staff. If I may say so with respect, I do not think it possible for any Member of the Committee to give as sound an opinion on that subject as the General Staff, considering the mass of information and technical knowledge which they have at their disposal. But if the General Staff think that we are taking any great risk in having so small an Army, the Committee ought to know exactly the extent of that risk.
I do think that it is the duty of the Committee, however large or small the Army may be, to ensure that it is as efficient as possible and administered at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer. On this point. I repeat what I said on the Estimates last year—that I cannot see the reason why the staffs of the War Office and commands, and the ancillary, auxiliary and miscellaneous services should have increased to such a vast extent as compared with the 1914 establishments, at the expense of the fighting Services. I think that the same remark applies to a. certain extent to the Estimates for this year. The hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme said that he considered that the ancillary and auxiliary services had been cut down. at the expense of the fighting Services and that. that was wrong because those services could not be improvised in the case of necessity for expansion. I do not agree with him. All the evidence points to the fact that the fighting Services have been cut down at the expense of the ancillary and auxiliary services. Moreover, from the knowledge and experience that I have it seems to me that the auxiliary services such as the Royal Medical Corps and the Royal Army Service Corps could more easily be improvised in times of necessity from outside sources than the fighting Services, which cannot be improvised at short notice.
With regard to the War Office staffs and the staff of commands, I do wish that the War Office or the Army Council would just make one more effort to weed out some of the vast number of people with soft jobs and turn them into fighting soldiers. Again comparing with the 1914 Estimates, this year there are in the War Office and command staffs 1,173 of all ranks to administer an army of 160,000 odd, as compared with 788 of all ranks in 1914 to administer an army of 186,000. These figures do not include civilian staff, which I gather have been also largely increased as compared with the 1914 establishments. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that these increased staffs are due to the winding up of the legacies of the War, and that various Committees which are now sitting are exercising close scrutiny with a view to further cutting them down. May I suggest humbly that since the War was ended four and a half years ago it is time that, these legacies were wound up I hope that the Committee will make a further effort to get these staffs cut down.
Last year I pointed out the increase in the number of Chaplains, but I notice that in this year's Estimates there is a reduction of only 4. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colchester (Sir L. Worthington-Evans), who was Secretary of State for War last year, told me in reply to my speech that there was a Committee then sitting, and he believed that as a result of their inquiries the number of Chaplains would be cut down to the pre-War figure. I would like the hon. and gallant Gentleman to tell me why the right hon. Gentleman's hopes have not been justified, and what the lie-port of the Committee was. The cost to the taxpayer is £105,900. It does seem to me that a great deal of the work performed by these reverend gentlemen cannot be unduly heavy, and might very well be undertaken at a reduced cost by civilian clergy. I think that the number could be reduced without, to use the hon. and gallant Gentleman's phrase, falling within the line of great danger.
I see in the memorandum of the Secretary of State that the personnel of the Veterinary Corps has been reduced by five officers and 64 other ranks. But considering the abolition of the boarding-out scheme for horses in the Territorial Army and the vast reductions that have taken place in Cavalry and horse-drawn artillery and transport, I do not think that the Veterinary Corps has been reduced sufficiently, and I cannot see why there should not be a further reduction. One further point It does seem to me to be odd that whereas in 1914 511 military police were sufficient for the disciplinary needs of an Army of 186,000 men, 766 are now required for a very much smaller Army, at a cost. of £151,000. The case of the Army Pay Corps a Corps of Military Accountants has already been mentioned. Their Establishments seem to me to be still very large. They have been reduced from last year only by 200 of all ranks, and they are still twice as large as the pre-War establishments. If as I suspect, the hon. and gallant Gentleman will tell me that the increased establishments are due to war accounts. I suggest to him that it is time that some of these accounts were closed down.
The next point is the amalgamation of cavalry regiments. I do not believe that it is a sound scheme. I am not in favour of reductions in Cavalry, in spite of the deprecating remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for New castle-under-Lyme about the cavalry's work during the War But if reductions have to be made. I consider that it is very much mote humane to kill a certain number of regments with one fell blow rather than to let them die a lingering death by trying to graft, a squadron to another regiment. They cannot possibly live. The identity-of a regiment is the regimental headquarters. You cannot keep up the traditions of a regiment by making a certain number of officers and men wear the badges of that regiment, although they are living with, and are administered by, a completely different regiment. In time they are- bound to assimilate the traditions of the regiment to which they are drafted. What happens I understand, is that when an officer or an N.C.O. or man in a headquarter regiment is due for promotion, he can be drafted into the squadron of the other regiment, and made to wear its badges, although that officer or man may have spent the, whole of his service in the headquarter regiment. The whole thing has become a farce. It means merely that it makes administration, maintenance of records, and so on, very much more difficult and more costly. I hope that the War Office are realising this, and will revert to the old system of whole regiments.
The hon. and gallant Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme raised the ques- tion of officers' pay, and said that it should be cut down. But I noticed that he made no mention whatsoever of the pay of non-commissioned officers and men. He appeared to be trying to draw some sort of class distinction. I am of opinion that the whole scale of pay for the Army is very much too high, and I hope that next year it will be revised. Certainly I think it would be very wrong to cut down the pay of officers without cutting down the pay of non-commissioned officers and men in proportion, or indeed vice versâ. I raise this point only because, as a fact, the pay of the non-commissioned officer and men was raised by a very much higher proportion than the pay of the officers. The Army Council, at the time when they raised the pay of the Army in 1919, were rather shortsighted. Nothing was good enough for the people will; had won the War, and, presumably, this action was taken in order to benefit them. But it did not benefit them. The only people who benefited were the boys of 18, who joined the Army after the War and of whom the post-War Army was constituted. It was also a very bad thing and a great waste of money, as all those who have had experience of post-War soldiering will agree. Before the War a private in an infantry battalion got 1s. a day when he joined. With that 1s. he had to do a great deal more than the private soldier of to-day, who gets 2s. 9d. when he joins and 3s. 6d. after two years' service. These figures are, of course, exclusive of any proficiency or additional pay which ho may earn. As I have said, a private before the War had to do a great deal more for his 1s. He had to keep up more kit, including his full dress kit, and to subscribe towards his messing expenses.
The unmarried boy in the Army to-day, the boy under 20, is not in the least affected by the cost of living. He has everything found, and this extra 2s. 6d. a day is pocket money. This sort of thing tends towards a great deal of absence without leave. These lads save their money, and go off for a "bust." They do not mind doing their turn at cells, when they come back. But it does not tend towards the maintenance of discipline. The pay of a lance-corporal in the same way has increased from 1s. 3d. in 1914 to 4s. 3d. now. The pay of a second-lieutenant was increased from 7s. 6d. to only 13s. I mention these figures so that the Committee can see that the second-lieutenant's pay has not been increased in proportion to the man's pay, although he is to a certain extent more affected by the increased cost of living. I hope that when the scales of pay come under revision this year or next there will be a very much greater distinction drawn between the married officer and man who is affected by the cost of living, and the unmarried officer and man who are not affected. In conclusion, I wish to express my gratification, which I believe is shared by all Members who have had the honour of serving in the Army, that the affairs of the Army, in so far as they concern the Members of this House, are in the hands of the two hon. and gallant Gentlemen who represent this Department, and who themselves in the past have had so close a connection with the Service and such a very distinguished war record.
The hon. and gallant Member for Newbury (Brigadier-General Brown), speaking about the cost of the various armies and police in different parts of the Empire, touched upon the cost of the Army in Constantinople, in Iraq, and places of that. description But I noticed that he made no mention whatever of the cost of policing in Egypt. I find on reference to the Estimates that there is an army of 12,000 men stationed in Egypt, at a cost of over £3,000,000 per annum, while on the Rhine, in enemy country, we have an army, I believe, of less than 10,000 men. What I want to call attention to is, that it appears to me that the use of thee, 12,000 men in Egypt is totally unnecessary, that although reduction has been made in the number of the personnel of the Army, they can he still further reduced, and that if the Army now Were reduced the cost to the country would he saved of over . £3,000,000 per annum. I take it that from the point of view of equity, we really have no right in Egypt, at all. We have been pledged, time and time again, to evacuate Egypt. As a, matter of fact, as far as our pledges are concerned, and as far as the policy of the Government has gone, we have gone out, of our way to declare that Egypt was an independent State. In spite of all that, we still have an army of 12,000 men, casting, as I have said, over £,3,000,000 per annum. My opinion is, that if the people whose interests we are out in Egypt to safeguard want the army maintained, they should pay for it themselves, and not place it on the backs of our taxpayers. I do not think it can be said that we have gone there in the interests of the Egyptian people, or that we are remaining there in the interests of the Egyptians. My opinion is, that we are there in the interests of the Egyptian bondholders.
All the objects for which we asked the Egyptians to fight have been denied to them. During the War we placed Egypt under martial law, established conscription, enlisted 1,000,000 men, and placed one-thirteenth of the total population in the Egyptian labour corps, and similar bodies. They played their part in attempting to achieve liberty for the Czecho-Slovaks, but seem to have lost it themselves, because, although we have promised to them time and time again their independence, we are still there maintaining them under martial law, and it would appear we have stretched the law by the imprisonment of Zagloul .Pasha. In 1914 His Majesty stated:
I feel convinced you will be able in co-operation with your Ministers and the protection of Great Britain to overcome all influences that are seeking to destroy the independence of Egypt.
In December, 1921, the independence of Egypt was proclaimed. Since that time we have gone on, it appears, from bad to worse, and now the state of Egypt is something synonymous with the state of Ireland a little while ago maintain that from the point of view of equity, and from the point of view of policy, the country might easily be saved the amount we are now spending in Egypt provided only that we were prepared to keep the pledges we have given. I hold that we have no right there at all, and the sooner we evacuate Egypt and leave it to be governed by its own people in concert with its own desires the better for all concerned. Reverting to the question of pledges we have given to the Egyptian people, we have been offering these for over 40 years. Various statesmen have given their pledge, and still we remain there spending money, wasting men, imprisoning men who ought to be free, for the purpose of protecting the interests of people who neglect their real responsibility. We shall get no peace whatever, we shall not be able to do the thing we
ought to do, until Zagloul is released, martial law is abandoned, the legislative assembly is elected, British troops are withdrawn, and Britain ceases to claim the sole control of the Sudan. The solution of the Sudan problem appears to be the federation of Egypt and the Sudan and the sooner we clear our troops from there the better, and so save the expenditure of millions of money.
Major-General Sir R. HUTCHISON:
I wish to raise a question of some importance to a large body of our troops. I have again and again addressed questions to both the War Office and the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to why our troops in Cologne are not paid in sterling. I have had very evasive answers. I gave notice to Mr. Speaker that I would raise this question on the Adjournment of the. House, but as I find that this occasion is quite suitable for the purpose, I will raise it now. The answer I received from the Chancellor of the Exchequer last time I addressed a question to him in this House was:
To pay troops stationed abroad in sterling is not only contrary to the established practice, but quite unnecessary from the point of view of the men whose expenditure is in local currency.''
That is just the point; it is not so. Our men in Cologne suffer from a great injustice in that they are paid in German marks. A rate per £ sterling is fixed on a Friday morning at a rate more or less in conjunction with the commercial rate, and that rate is the value per £ which the man has to make his budget upon for the following week. His accounts at home in this country are debited in sterling, but that man has to buy the various commodities he requires in marks because he is paid in marks. Our canteen, however, will not sell to that soldier any goods at all during the week except on a sterling rate. Perhaps I am over-stating the ease. It is all goods other than those bought by the canteen in Germany. All goods that come from this country or any other outside Germany have to be paid for in sterling. The result is that for the last three years, owing to the continuous depreciation of the mark, they have suffered a very serious loss week by week. In addition to that they are up against the fact that our officers are paid in sterling and need only translate that sterling into marks on the day on which
they want to make their purchases. That is a great hardship on our non-commissioned officers and men. I doubt very much whether there is any legality in the system whereby they suffer this loss, but whether it is legal or not, it is a great hardship. Further than that, the War Office began to buy marks in the market, and when you begin to buy millions of marks to pay the troops on a Friday, it is perfectly obvious to anyone who knows the working of the exchange that you have to begin to buy on Tuesday. You buy on the Tuesday, the Wednesday, and the Thursday, for payment to the troops on Friday, and the result of that can be appreciated when it is remembered that the slump in the mark is going on in a greater or lesser degree. The War Office is charging the taxpayer with the loss involved in the buying of the marks because of having to fix the rate for the men on the Friday. Not only do our soldiers lose money, but the British taxpayer also loses money.
I understand it is proposed to change hack to the old system of requisitioning marks, but I question very much if the German Government will allow the British Government to requisition marks. Whether that be so or not, the injustice to the men remains, and I ask the War Office to make an arrangement with the Treasury to pay these troops in sterling, as is only reasonable and just. I may say that when the American troops were there they were paid either in dollars or marks at the choice of the men. That is a reasonable and just arrangement, and I do not see why we should not pay in sterling or marks at the option of the men. If, from the Treasury point of view there are reasons for not having our currency on the Continent, I suggest it would almost meet the difficulty if the men were allowed to purchase their commodities in our canteens in Cologne at the same rate per £ as the rate at which they are paid in marks on the Friday. They receive their pay on Friday at the rate of so many marks to the £, and in justice they should be allowed to purchase goods in the canteen, which is a War Office affair, at the same rate as the rate at which they receive their pay. They-should also, in fairness, be allowed to buy savings certificate—which they are able to buy at Cologne—at this rate. Instead of having to translate the marks at the commercial rate from day to day into ster- ling, they should be allowed to buy these certificates, provided it is a genuine purchase for saving purposes, at the same rate as that at which they are paid.
It may be for the convenience of the House if, at this juncture, I reply to some of the questions which more directly concern the Department for which I am responsible. No one representing the War Office can complain of the tone of the Debate or of the criticisms which have been made in various quarters of the House. I am sure these criticisms are intended to be helpful. One hon. Gentleman to-night made a most interesting speech, though I must say I found it somewhat difficult to follow the details of it very closely and he told us he had made that speech with the intention of having it published. I have come to the conclusion that was really what he intended. Perhaps I may be allowed to answer the speech which has just been made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir R. Hutchison), on the question of payment in sterling on the Rhine. There has been a certain amount of feeling on the subject, and I think it is right that a statement should be made upon it as soon as possible. I was interested in the hon. and gallant Member's suggestion that the rate of exchange should be fixed, as far as the canteen was concerned, week by week, so that the soldier when he received his pay would thereby have a regular rate at which he could make his purchases at the canteen for the whole of that week. It would neither go up nor down. At first sight, that appeals to me very strongly, and I personally, and I should think my hon. and gallant. Friend the Under-Secretary of State as well, would be quite prepared to recommend that for the consideration of the Secretary of State, in the hope that he would recommend its adoption on the Rhine.
There is a great difficulty in regard to actually paying in sterling on the Rhine. The Treasury have had the matter in front of them time after time, My hon. and gallant Friend has worried them very considerably, and they have considered it time after time, but they have always come to the conclusion that they cannot do it, and that it would not altogether be advisable. There is one consideration I would like to point out, and that is that pay is credited to both officers and men in sterling. The pay may be credited to the agent in London of the officer, and to the pay sheet of the man in the same way. If he does not want to draw the money out, he can say that that money shall be credited to his account in sterling.
Under the new Army Order an officer can draw his pay from the Army Paymaster in sterling, and therefore on the Rhine he can draw his pay in sterling, whereas the man cannot draw it in sterling, but only in marks.
I was not aware of that. I will verify it, and if I am wrong I will apologise. If a man does not want to draw his pay it is in sterling, and he can have it sent over here if he likes. A remark was made as to the cost to the taxpayer of buying marks, but I believe the loss is very small indeed. There is a considerable difference in the ups and downs, but I believe that on balance the loss to the public is very small. After most careful consideration, the opinion has been formed that on balance it would not be advisable to exchange from a system of paying the troops in marks on the Rhine, and I think it will be generally agreed as being in the national interest, if the requisitioning of marks goes on satisfactorily, that the services we are rendering on the Rhine should be paid by the Germans themselves in money which it is calculated will come to as much as £600,000 a year, and it is just as well that we should get that money for those services. May I just refer to the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Preston (Colonel Hodge), a speech that I tried to follow with great interest, for the reason that any remarks by the hon. and gallant Gentleman should be received with respect, as being based on knowledge. I notice that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is a barrister and an accountant—a most terrifying combination. I do believe that the hon. and gallant Gentleman was in the Army Pay Department early in the War, and spent the better part of the War years in that Department. Therefore, he ought to have very good knowledge of all that goes on inside that Department. I tried hard to follow him, but I must confess that I could not quite make out exactly what he was getting at. There are, however, one or two points made by him to which I propose to refer. He said he was open to accept correction if I could offer it. The £20,000 for pensions in connection with Chelsea Hospital, which is about 16s. 3d. per head, are not for pensioners at the hospital only, bat for pensioners of all kinds all over. The calculation, therefore, that he made is entirely wrong. Let me next refer to the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Colonel Wedgwood). He wanted to know about certain things in connection with the Estimates and the speech of my hon. and gallant Friend the Under-Secretary. My hon. and gallant Friend will himself deal with the subjects which more directly concern his Department. I will not attempt to deal with those. The hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite wanted to know about the non-effective services of £7,500,000 for pensions, retired pay, and so on. He asked whether a large sum was included in this total for compensation to "axed" officers. I am told that except for retired pay there is no compensation for "axed" officers included in this sum, and that it is the amount required to pay pensions, retired pay, etc., as specified in the. Estimates, page 80. He also wanted to know about the terminal charges, which he thought rather large, and asked how soon they were going to be decreased and disappear altogether Next year the terminal charges, the item for making medals and other matters, will be much smaller and some of them will go out of the Estimates altogether. With regard to stores, it has been stated that £11,000,000 worth were issued, and only £8,000,000 charged in the Estimates, hut the amount is really about £2,500,000.
The question of the Blandford School has been raised. That school is looked upon by the Army Council as one of the most important schools we can possibly have because it is a place where boys train as tradesmen for the Army. Today it is necessary to have these tradesmen in order to be able to run the machine of warfare efficiently in these modern days. The buildings at Blandford have been purchased from the Disposal Board and consequently the taxpayer receives the money back again This is rather a roundabout method but it is necessary in order to keep proper accounts. It is true that some houses will have to be built at Blandford which will cost a considerable amount of money. With regard to McGrigor's Bank, I have been asked if we are quite satisfied with the arrangements with the Army agents. I think it would be very difficult to find a bank service in a greater position than Lloyd's Bank, who have taken over Messrs. Cox's Bank, and Messrs. Glyn, Mills and Co. who have taken over Holt's Bank. Without saying too much on that point, I think the Committee will be satisfied that it would be difficult to find any agents we could employ more safe and more sure to do their part properly than those two banks. It must be clearly understood now that the officers are not forced to bank with these agents, but they are at liberty to do so if they like and it is a matter for their own judgment whether they draw it from the agents or
A great deal has been said on the question of cost accounting, and I think it may be desirable if I say one or two words about, that, because it seems to interest everyone, and nearly all who have spoken about it have agreed that a system of cost accounting of some kind, if it is desired to carry on the War Office properly and economically, must be adopted in that Office just as anyone wanting to run a business with any chance of economy and success would, naturally, insist upon having a really good system of cost accounting in that business, so that he might be able to know exactly what was being done. Everyone knows the history of the introduction of cost accounting into the War Office. I remember very well that in this House, in 1917, there was an application for the formation of a Committee in order to go into the national expenditure. My hon. Friend the Member for Greenock (Sir G. Collins) took a great part in getting that Committee set up, and I think it was proved, when the Committee on National Expenditure had been set up, that it was of very great importance and did a great and good work. That Committee went into the question of cost accounting, and had before them Sir Charles Harris, the head of the Finance Department of the War Office; and they were so impressed by the scheme which he put before them that they did not hesitate to recommend that it should be adopted immediately in the War Office, and that it should have a proper trial. That was done, and accounts were created throughout the Army, where they had been absolutely no accounts before. The Committee on National Expenditure reported upon it, and also the Public Accounts Committee twice blessed the scheme, and it was, naturally, given a chance to go.
It has now been running for three years, and, as has been pointed out by several speakers to-day, it is about time that something definite should be done about it, and that it should either be adopted or scrapped. It is not necessary that I should weary the Committee by going very closely into what cost accounting is supposed to do; everyone knows what it is supposed to do. The most important thing that is happening in regard to it at the present moment is that it is being considered by a Committee of experts, set up by the late Secretary of State in the last Government, under Sir Herbert Lawrence. That Committee will come to conclusions which will decide as to what is to happen as regards the cost accounting system in the War Office. It will decide whether the system is to go on as it is at the moment, or whether it can be pruned down, as many people think it can, and made more economical. At the present moment it is costly, as everyone must admit, hut at the same time it will not prove to be too costly if, as I personally believe, it will be proved that the system, if only it is properly and carefully worked, is of enormous advantage and the greatest possible means of effecting economy in the Army.
The Public Accounts Committee, I suppose, will be consulted. I was saying it was costly. Any new system that is introduced into the Army like that, where there has been no system at all, is bound to be costly as long as it is experimental. Perhaps it has been experimental too long, but the Committee will soon reports upon it so that something definite shall be settled as to whether it shall go on or not. I have heard many hon. Members find very considerable fault with it at various times, and I have found great fault with it myself. I went to the War Office a few months ago very much prejudiced against cost accounting because of what I had been told by friends who thought they knew something about it. But I inquired of Sir Charles Harris as to what it all really meant. I put it to him definitely that I thought it would be costly and there would be a lot of overlapping. He was perfectly open and straightforward and ready to admit that undoubtedly it was costly, but a lot of improvement could not easily be made in the system as it was then. There were the Royal Army Pay Corps and the Corps of Military Accountants running side by side. The Royal Army Pay Corps had to, be kept going. They are the cash accountants. There is no doubt, in the judgment of Sir Charles Harris and others who thoroughly understand cost accounting, that amalgamation can take place, and if it does you will have a system which will prove both economical and efficient.
I have been asked a question with reference to the military police, which shows an increase over the 1914–15 establishment. It includes over 200 police on the Rhine who are under the Rhineland Commission. Therefore it accounts for a great deal of the increase over the 1914 period. With regard to the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, I am told that, compared with before the War, that force has been brought down.
There is one other point. The hon. and gallant Member for Preston (Lieut.-Colonel Hodge) referred to the Royal Army Pay Corps, and to some questions which he put to me in this House, with the answers to which he was not satisfied. I remember one question very well, and that was the last to which he referred. He put a supplementary question, and another hon. Member on this side of the House asked me another thing. Mr. Speaker said they had better go out and settle the question in the Lobby, so I never got a chance of answering it. The question was with reference to the transfer of combatant officers to the finance side of the War Office. The hon. and gallant Member took tremendous exception to the combatant officers going to the finance side. I took the trouble to go very carefully into that question when I saw it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. What did I find? That these transferred combatant officers were all selected for their suitability for Pay Department work. I maintain most emphatically that because an officer is a combatant, and fights at the front, that does not dull his skill as an accountant when he comes back. We are proud to think that among the military accountants at the present moment we have two or three of these officers, who came in on temporary commissions. They are skilled men, who went out and fought, and came back as military accountants. One of them received the highest honour a man can get on the field, the Victoria Cross. I only state that because it is not fair to many of these officers who are serving now. We do not want to cast aspersions on them, and to say they are no good and cannot deal with finance. These transferred officers do their work extremely well and no fault is to be found with them. We are naturally watching them with great interest to see what the result will be, when compared with the Regular officers, who have been in the habit of going into the Pay Department. They are doing very well, and there is every chance of their continuing to do so. I think now I have answered most of the questions put to me. If there are any other points which hon. Members wish to put I shall be glad to deal with them.
I wish to draw the attention of the Under-Secretary to the question of the grants which used to be made by the War Office to the cadet corps. That was a very valuable thing, and the entire sum was only something under £50,000. The grants were made for the annual camps, and for a certain amount of training to lads of all sorts. I have had experience of being in camp with the lads' brigade, and, speaking for myself, I can truly say that it was an invaluable training for the lads. They got a certain amount of discipline, equipment was lent by the War Office, and certain grants were made. I am sure the camp was of real value, both to their moral and to the material of the nation. I see that £112,300 is put down for money to be spent upon officers' training corps. I do not know if I can bespeak the consideration of the Labour party with regard to that £112,300, which apparently, is to be spent by the War Office on training of young officers. I do not see why £20,000 should not be spent in training boys in any class of life. I hope the Under-Secretary will show me some consideration in this matter, and that the War Office will reconsider the question and allow this paltry sum of £50,000 to be granted for this purpose.
I only want to ask a question in regard to the policy to he pursued by the hon. Gentleman in respect to barrack accommodation. He tells us that he intends to withdraw cavalry from outlying stations and concentrate them in the larger cavalry depots. I am certainly not going to criticise any administrative action which may tend to efficiency and economy, but I would like to point out that the standing Army plays more than one role, and that apart from its primary duty as a defensive force it represents some of our historic traditions. When the hon. Gentleman tells us that he is going to vacate altogether the barracks at Dunbar, then I am bound to say I think it is a pity that he should sever the very long connection this town has had in the Army and that this historic spot from the military point of view was not in future to provide a home for some of His Majesty's land forces. There is, admit, a more material side to this question. I feel that so long as everyone constitutes in taxation to the standing Army, the Army should endeavour to distribute itself throughout the provinces, consistently, of coarse, with Army efficiency. The Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme suggested that these buildings should be taken over for other purposes. These buildings are situated in a seaside resort, they were only completed a year or two before the War, and the whole district around has unrivalled facilities for the training of troops. I do hope the hon. Gentleman will reconsider his decision to abolish Dunbar Barracks altogether.
I do not think the hon. Gentleman can altogether justify his action on the ground of economy until such time as he has decided to vacate those barracks which are situated in the most expensive residential districts of London. The troops have disappeared from Knightsbridge Barracks for a long time, but we find that the hon. Gentleman proposes to house half a battalion there. These barracks occupy a fine residential and commercial site. I would not like to give an estimate of what they may be worth, but I should be right in saying not less than £250,000, and possibly £500,000. The hon. Gentleman is keeping £20,000 a year locked up in these barracks. That would meet the cost, pre-War, of a regiment of soldiers. The hon. Gentleman might take his half battalion of Foot Guards to some less fashionable district of London. They might be taken to Hounslow; the Cavalry could make room for them. The barracks at Knightsbridge could then disappear and the taxpayer would be saved a very considerable sum of money, which may not be increased if the hon. Member would extend his activities to Wellington Barracks, where he would not in any way incur the criticism which has fallen upon the unfortunate Bishop of London in respect to his City churches. I hope the hon. Member will be able to tell me what he has decided to do.
I should like to put a few questions on the subject of the medical services, which have not been referred to this evening, and which are liable to be forgotten. The medical services during the War were the subject of much interest amongst the civilian population at home, and very largely amongst the Forces, not simply from the humanitarian point of view, but mainly from the point of view of efficiency. Therefore, it is only right that this House should examine with the greatest possible detail, and most critically, the provision made for the medical service. I want to ask a question about the Army Dental Corps, which is very vital for the purposes of the Army. I am glad to sec that there is a slight increase in the provision for the Army Dental Corps, which is the smallest of all the corps in the Army, but extremely vital from the point of view of efficiency. Those of us who served as medical officers to the forces during the War know how vital dental work was and what a fruitful source of invaliding and inefficiency was the absence of proper dentures. Very frequently insufficient provision for the dental condition of the troops, and the recruits in the first instance, resulted in the loss of enormous sums of money, due to the fact that they had to be invalided through digestive and nutritive troubles which arise through defective teeth. Therefore, I am glad to see that there is some increase in this Estimate for the Army Dental Corps, although it is a small provision.
I should like some reply on a question, in regard to which there has been no reply through the ordinary channels, namely, the question of the Army dental surgeons who served during the War. It was extremely difficult to get dental surgeons to serve in the Army during the War, because there was a very small number of them, and they were required in their practice, but certain provision was made for Army dental surgeons, who were encouraged to go into the, Army as officers. When it was decided as a new departure in the permanent Army to have a certain establishment of dental surgeons, the men who served so well in the Army during the War were encouraged and urged to join the Army permanently. The Army cannot attract people from the technical professions purely on its financial merits; it does so on general grounds, the amenities of life and society, the company and the general patriotic spirit. But in addition, you have to give a man certain financial considerations which they balance up against other things. Therefore it becomes of material interest to them whether they are going to get the gratuities or not. Dental surgeons like medical officers serving temporarily with the forces were under contract to get a gratuity when they left the Service, but that is taken from them when they enter the permanent service. There are only 83 of them, but it was a great grievance to them to have to give it up.
It is definitely laid down in Army Council Instruction 131 of 1919:
Approval has been given to the issue of gratuities to temporarily commissioned dental surgeons on the termination of their service. The gratuities will be at the rate of £50 for each completed year or part of a year and will be subject generally to the conditions laid down in respect to gratuities of contract doctors,
The contract doctors have been allowed to retain the gratuities when those doctors took on permanent service. Therefore, the dental surgeons feel that they have an equal claim to retain the gratuities. The British Dental Association have gone to the War Office, and the Army Council repudiated the agreement made under Instruction 131, and refused to refund the gratuity. I would ask for a reply on this point from the Financial Secretary to the War Office.
The Army Medical Corps of the Territorial Army is a difficult subject. The original idea was that when they were reducing it they should keep up the cadre of all the different units, so that in the event of war, as in the case of the late War owing to the scheme initiated by Lord Haldane, there could be complete expansion. It was neglected under Lord Kitchener. The arrangements for expansion in war ought to be complete for all purposes, and this holds good with regard to the medical service units. Perhaps the chief requirements for expansion are the requirements of the big general hospitals. The general hospital in war is capable as regards the ordinary technical medical and surgical work of obtaining what is needed from civil practitioners. The real requirement is the military organisation of the hospital to make the organisation work smoothly. So you want to have the establishments kept up in peace time so that you may be able to get to work at once.
I would remind the Committee that, at the beginning of the late War, there was an outcry, "Why are the hospitals and transport not ready'? Why is the accommodation so bad? Why were the casualty clearing stations not ready? "You want to have everything ready for expansion when the need arises. There is always the idea that there will he six months in which to get ready. That is not right from the point of view of the hospital or the medical corps. You can do what is necessary, without undue expense, by having the nucleus of these units. The nucleus of the Territorial Army medical units is the general hospital. They have been cut down. There was one general hospital for each Territorial division and that provision has been cut down. Instead of there being 14 general hospitals there are now only three. There is one general hospital in London, one in Edinburgh, and one in Manchester. In the rest of the country the doctors have no experience of the organisation of a general hospital. It would be infinitely better to have the cadres of 10 big general hospitals in the big centres in order that a fresh set of young medical officers might have training in the organisation and running of a hospital, than to have three large hospitals in three large towns.
As to the Royal Army Medical Corps, there is a point where something is wrong. Since the South African War the corps has held a very high position. In fact among the medical services of the Crown it has attained to the premier position, and it proved its worth during the Great War. But when the last examination was held for 15 vacancies in the corps there were only four applicants. One was not qualified and only three passed the test. All four were, given commissions, and the remaining 11 commissions were left vacant. Why this falling off in the popularity of the corps? I do not understand it. It is for the War Office to explain. If they cannot get men to fill these places, and they have to take a man rejected on examination, it shows that the corps is going down. No one will mind during peace—only the poor and unfortunate Tommy, and he will not be heard much. But when war breaks out again there will be the usual outcry. It is not a thing about which to make any dogmatic statements. In the case of the technical professions, you have to remember that the Government has to compete with civil practice, and you must have comparable terms and conditions. I imagine that some of the conditions in the Royal Army Medical Corps do not correspond sufficiently well with the prospects in civil life, and that that is one of the results of economy. I am as keen on economy as any one, and I am very glad to see that the War Office have managed to economise during the past year. But, at the same time, you have always to expect that where you are economising you will get some bad results. The Royal Army Medical Corps is a fine corps with fine traditions, and it is extraordinarily efficient. Now it has to be saved.
That brings me back to my last point. I have referred to it every year since I became a Member of this House. The Committee that reorganised the Army medical service in 1902 proposed advances of various kinds. All these, one after another, were adopted, with one exception, with the result that the corps was so good. The one exception was that the time had come when the medical service, so vital to the efficiency and the strategy as well as to the ordinary life of the whole Force, required a man to be responsible for the whole medical service, and that connected with the health side of the Army work he should have a seat on the Army Council. The Esher Committee went into it, and after great deliberation eventually decided not to recommend it on the ground that the Army Council was large enough. But since that time, and as the result of the War, Lord Esher, himself, publicly, in the "Times," has revoked his opinion and said he was perfectly certain that the only way in future to get proper administration of the medical and health services throughout the Army was for the Director-General of the. Army Medical Service to have a seat on the Army Council. I know the difficulties, that you want to keep the Council small, that there is pressure from every side to provide seats on the Council. I believe the Director-General of the Territorial Army is being given a seat on the Army Council. I know the difficulties, but I say that health is so vital all the way through the activities and organisation of the Army that the only way you can prevent the constant trouble, loss of life, and lack of co-ordination you have had at the beginning of every war—you had it most disastrously at the beginning of the last war and you will have it at the beginning of the next—is to organise properly and give your Director-General of the Army Medical Service a seat on the Council.
This brings me to the point which I hope we shall he able to develop in a later Debate. It is the question of how far that co-ordination of the Services, Army, Navy, and Air Force, is going to affect the medical Services. In raising the general question, we were met with the difficulty of the gigantic size of the problem, but the Cabinet Committee under, I believe, the right hon. Member for West Swansea (Sir A. Mond), which was appointed to inquire into the question as far as it concerned the technical Services, did report, I believe some time last summer, on the subject of the medical Services and how far it is possible to get union, fusion, or cooperation between the medical Services of the three fighting Services I asked last year whether that Report would be published, and I received no reply. I ask again now whether it can be published. It would be invaluable, because the civil medical service will give any amount of help in getting this fusion, for which they are always working. But for this purpose they must have the facts in possession of the Government. I believe the result has been so far satisfactory. It is possible that you cannot fuse them in advance of the general fusion of all the fighting Services, but it is bound to come, and the sooner the better it ought to be prepared for, and I should like to know how far it is being prepared for and how far what is obviously the necessity of fusing the three into one medical Service can be and is going to be carried out.