Democratic Promotion.

Orders of the Day — Supply. – in the House of Commons at on 16 March 1925.

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Photo of Dr Thomas Shiels Dr Thomas Shiels , Edinburgh East

I beg to move, to leave out from the word, "That," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words in the opinion of this House, the opening of a broader avenue of promotion in the Army and the abolition of fees at military colleges, to enable the sons of working-class parents to take advantage of the training provided, would promote efficiency in all ranks. I wish first to say a word as to the attitude of the Labour party in reference to the Army. This was defined in the Debate on the Air Estimates by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Miles Platting (Mr. Clynea) We have a minority in our party which favours immediate disarmament, but the great majority of our Members, both in this House and in the country, believe in bringing about disarmament by international co-operation, and in the meantime in the maintenance of a small but efficient Army. We believe that an efficient Army can best lie maintained by its being representative of every section of the community. All that we ask is that the Army should be democratic in constitution, because we realise that on its executive side, the Army can never be democratic.

I do not intend to speak as anything but a layman in military matters, but I have not been without some opportunity of observing the relations of officers and men in the Army. Long before the War I served as a private in the Territorials for five years, and after some experience, in Edinburgh and Oxford, of officers' training corps, I served as a combatant officer in one of the Kitchener divisions during the War. Therefore I do not speak on this subject entirely from an academic point of view.

I think it obvious that in regard to its officers the Army, as in other respects, is in a transition period. The old type of Army officer is passing away. He was generally of good family. He was noted at school for his lave of sport, for his physical courage, and for some qualities of leadership. With a very few exceptions, he was not bookish, and he sometimes had a little difficulty with his entrance examinations. I held a small brigade command during the War, and I had the privilege therefore of attending conferences before attacks and on other occasions, and I had the opportunity of meeting a great many of these regular soldiers. What I was struck with in most cases was their single-mindedness and their passionate devotion to their profession, and with the fact that the Army constituted practically their whole world. They denounced politicians and distrusted our whole Parliamentary system, but they obeyed those same politicians without hesitation, if not without some pungent comments. Their high personal courage and chivalry and their reckless daring cost the lives of many of them, especially early in the War, and they set a splendid example in this respect to the officers of the new armies. But during the War and since the War, there has been a great change in what is needed in our officers. Personal courage and qualities of leadership are still fundamental, but technical skill in many directions is now almost equally essential.

The fact that our Army officers are still almost entirely drawn from one class prevents the Army from getting all the best available brains in the country. Work in the Army is harder now; there is more drudgery, and the resulting interference with social claims has deprived the Army of the type of officer who used to give somewhat nominal service in the old days. The result has been that there has been a difficulty in maintaining the supply of officers, and the War Office has already gone a considerable length in widening the area from which officers are drawn. The fact that officers can now live on their pay has made that possible. Cadets can now enter Sandhurst and Woolwich from grammar schools, o to which they go from elementary schools. As has been said to-night already, an effort is being made to bring the university contribution up to what it was before the War, and there are efforts to secure recruits from the Territorials and from the Reserve. So that in these various directions there are certain possibilities of the sons of lower middle-class and working-class families finding their way into the commissioned ranks. Further, and most: important from the point of view of this Amendment, 30 junior noncommissioned officers now enter Sandhurst every year, are maintained there, and are given a grant when they obtain their commissions. It will be noted that it is junior non-commissioned officers who are sent, and I think that that is wise.

It is often said that non-commissioned officers, and especially warrant officers, when promoted to commissioned rank, do not make good officers. They know their work well; they are perhaps more efficient than their fellow-officers of the same rank, and yet great complaint is made that they are not popular with the men. I must say that in my experience, with certain notable exceptions, I found that to be the case. Why was it? The fact puzzled me. I asked myself, was there-something in the idea after all that there was an element in the social status of a man which enabled him to command his fellows, and to win their loyalty and respect '1 I felt, however, as a loyal member of my party, that that could not be the explanation. I think I realised the true explanation after consideration of the problem. What is a non-commissioned officer? He is a detective and a watch-clog, and he has to do the unpleasant work of the commissioned rank. After a few years as a non-commissioned officer, he develops the hawk-like eye and the suspicious mind which believes every man to be guilty until he is proved innocent. He is up to every device, innocent or otherwise, of the private soldier, and it is in vain to attempt to deceive him, even for his own good. When he becomes a commissioned officer—as is the case in many other walks of life—he cannot rid himself of his past.

Every officer knows that one of his most useful possessions is a blind eye. He sees a great deal, but he does not notice everything. The result is greater happiness for himself and for his men. But the ex-warrant officer and senior noncommissioned officer has no blind eye. He sees everything, and, from force of habit, he notices everything. The result is increased worry for himself and unhappiness for his men, who grumble, and murmur that they always prefer a gentleman. It is, therefore, the Army system and not any social difference that explains the unpopularity of the commissioned ex-warrant officer. Therefore, in the old phrase, "we must catch them young."

The Amendment also proposes the abolition of fees at military colleges. The cost to the country of a cadet at Sandhurst is £398, and at Woolwich £524. The fees charged to the cadet or to his parents vary very much. There are King's cadets, who pay nothing at all; they are the sons of officers killed in the War. There are other sums charged, varying from £40 to £200. A very interesting fact is that there is distinct preferential treatment given to the sons of officers. Some of these classes pay almost nominal sums—£40 a year, when the total cost of the education is £308 or £524. This system is open to the objection—some people think it is not all objection—that it maintains an officer caste, and prevents the recruits for the officer class being drawn from every portion of the community.

Photo of Dr Thomas Shiels Dr Thomas Shiels , Edinburgh East

There are various classes. I am not able to go into them all now, but they are detailed on page 57 of the Estimates. Those cadets who have no Army connection, who are not the sons of officers, have to pay the highest fees, £200. The result is that lower middle class, and working-class children, whose fathers have not been officers, are practically prevented from gaining entrance to the commissioned ranks by this method, owing to the high fees. We believe that the fairest way would be to sweep away the fees altogether. In any case they do not in any instance come up to anything like the total cost of the education. As a result of the activity of the Geddes Committee, the fees have actually been increased in recent years. We believe that excellent material could be got from the sources which I have mentioned, and that the existing discrimination in fees id undesirable, and we hold that it would be in the interests of efficiency and democracy if the fees were abolished altogether.

Then as regards actual promotion from the ranks, we believe that not nearly enough is being done. The Secretary of State for War very kindly supplied me with figures for the two years before the War and for the years since the War. In 1912 there were 13 promotions from the ranks, in 1913 there were 12. Then there came the War years, with thousands of promotions from the ranks, with results that justify my Amendment. In 1920 there were three promotions from the ranks; in 1921 there were 96, but that was due practically entirely to Army schoolmasters being appointed to the Army Educational Corps; in 1922, for some strange reason, there was none; and in 1923 there were 31.

Photo of Mr George Spencer Mr George Spencer , Broxtowe

Are the figures presented by the Committee that considered the question of the educational training of officers altogether wrong?

Photo of Dr Thomas Shiels Dr Thomas Shiels , Edinburgh East

I was about to say that there is a discrepancy between those figures and the figures of Lord Haldane's Committee. That Committee said that from 1919 to 1922, there were no promotions from the ranks. I do not know why there is that discrepancy, but it certainly exists. In regard to the number of men in the Army who are qualified for promotion, l must say something. There have been very great strides made in the educational system in the Army. I remember that after the War, when I was serving with the Army on the Rhine, just after the Armistice, a very great and fine effort was made to increase the educational efficiency of the members of that Army. Owing unfortunately to increasing demobilisation, the scheme fizzled out, But it has been revived, and in 1921 a very great increase was made in the Army education staff. Now there are excellent facilities for education in the Army. I would like to pay my tribute to the various Governments and the various administrators who have brought about this result. It is a very interesting fact, as showing the better type of recruit that is now being got into the Army, that a very large number of men qualify themselves for certificates. I am informed that last year 2,400 men sat for first-class and special certificates. The special certificates correspond with the University matriculation examination, which is a relatively high standard of educational efficiency. Of those 2,400 men, only 400 failed to satisfy the examiners.

7.0 P.M.

There we have 2,000 men, who presumably are qualified for these cadetships. But only 30 are allowed for in the Estimates and in the arrangements made by the War Office. We want that total of 30 very much increased. We believe that it will help recruiting. It will help to get a better type of man into the Army if a recruit feels that he has an opportunity of attaining what is the height of ambition of every soldier. Then, again, we want the principle extended from Sandhurst to Woolwich. This arrangement of non-commissioned officer cadets only applies to Sandhurst. At Woolwich officers are trained for the artillery and engineers. The cost of the training is very much more and the condition of things is such that at the present time one might say that it certainly means the entire exclusion of any lower middle-class or working-class boy from an officer-ship in those branches. I believe that in the artillery and in the engineers we want specially the type that we could draw from the sources I have mentioned, because these are specially technical departments where lads with engineering ability would be most desirable. We can get those types better, not from the big public schools of England, but from the rank and file of the working and middle classes. Therefore, we ask that Woolwich should also be open to the non-commissioned officer cadets, and the same opportunity provided as in the case of Sandhurst. If the right hon. Gentleman does not see his way entirely to abolish fees at these colleges, a very popular measure would be to abolish them at least in the case of the sons of men who served in the Great War. That would go a certain length towards meeting our case, and would, I am sure, be very popular in the country. There are some people who are of the opinion that all commissioned officers should first pass through the ranks. While there is considerable sentimental support for this, I am not satisfied that it is at present possible or desirable, but it is certainly an ideal that we might keep in view.

There is another point in regard to these junior non-commissioned officers. They have to be recommended by their commanding officers, who have to indicate their willingness to take them back into their own battalion if necessary. This has not prevented a full panel of cadets being obtained, but it is just possible that it might operate hardly in the case of some lad who was unfortunate in his commanding officer, and I think it would be desirable that all noncommissioned officers who secure certificates which I have mentioned, those high educational certificates, should have the opportunity of qualifying for the training in the colleges.

To make it possible for officers without private means to live on their pay, there must be rigid control of expenditure on messes, on society functions, on hunting, and so on, which are often a very great difficulty for young officers.

There is no doubt that social prejudice still exists in the Army, especially in the higher ranks, although I think it is less strong than in the Navy. We shall never have a truly democratically constituted Army until the social distinction between the various units is swept away. At the present time there is very little likelihood of a ranker officer of the Guards or the Household Cavalry. The feeling of superiority in those regiments is not altogether confined to the commissioned officers. I am told that many of the rank and file of the Guards are proud, not only of the fine physique of their brigade and of its perfection of discipline and drill, but also that their officers are lords or baronets, or are relatives of lords and baronets, or are possessed of so much of this world's goods that in the bad old days, which I understand, under democratic Conservatism, are now gone for good, they could have become lords or baronets. There is, unfortunately, a snobbery of the working classes as well as of other classes, and it must be swept away like the rest. After all, the Guards had a dilution in their ranks during the War. The social status of the officer was lowered. I met some of those war-time officers of the Guards in France, and I found them very fine fellows. There were many of them who never returned. They died as Guardsmen. While they, perhaps, were not a credit to the Guards socially, they did not in the field fail to maintain the high reputation of the brigade for gallantry and honour. But I understand that since the War we have returned again, in the case of the Guards, to the status quo ante bellum. These class distinctions between line regiments and the aristocrats of the Army will have to go, and the sooner the better.

We look forward to the time when an Army will be no longer necessary. We are sure that the lustre of its great history will not be dimmed if in its latter days. it is true in fact as well as in theory that every British soldier carries a field marshal's baton in his knapsack.

Photo of Mr Wilfred Paling Mr Wilfred Paling , Doncaster

I beg to second the Amendment.

Some of us on this side cannot by any stretch of imagination be called enthusiastic supporters of the Army and the Army system as a good many Members on the opposite benches. In any event, we realise the fact, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ince (Mr. S. Walsh) has stated this afternoon, that we have to have an Army at the present time. Whatever we may believe as individuals with regard to the Army, we have not got the country to agree to our point of view of putting it down altogether. We are as anxious as most people that that Army should be as efficient as possible. It is from that point of view that we are moving this Amendment. We also want that Army to be as democratic as possible. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister for War has been lamenting the fact that recruiting has fallen off. He wants it to go up, and mentioned that he thought the advantages the Army contained in it for young men were such that recruiting ought to go up, and that the full complement of men ought to be obtained. But they are not obtained. We on this side are of the opinion that one, of the reasons is the class distinction that still obtains in the Army. It is pointed out that there are men who rise from the ranks and who have risen from the ranks to the highest position in the Army. It is quite true, but they are the exceptions to the rule; they are by no means the rule. They are so uncommon that when one does such a thing he is pointed out as being a very exceptional case. The rule does not exist that there is to be opportunity for these men to rise from the ranks. These class distinctions are in the Army at the present time. The fact is illustrated in the story that went about during the War when so many working men—a good many of them men from the lower classes—were made into temporary officers. You know the old saying about an officer and a gentleman and how when it was pointed out to a particularly high officer in the Army about these men, he said, "Yes. Temporary officers and temporary gentlemen." That is the kind of distinction that has existed and to some extent 'does exist at the moment. We want to cut it out. We think that if these distinctions were cut out in the Army the question of recruiting would be easier.

There is the question of fees. Last week, when we were having a discussion on the Air Estimates, it was asked that the amount that had to be paid by parents who were anxious to send their boys to the college for training for the Air Service should be cut down. I remember the hon. Member who sits on my left (Lieut.-Commander Burney) getting up and saying that he hoped the Secretary of State for Air was going to pay no attention to the sentimental democratic fallacies expounded by the hon. and gallant Member for null (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy), and he said, "Surely there are wealthy families enough in this country who can afford to pay for their sons being taught in those colleges. Why should not the State take advantage of that fact, and take the money? "That very fact is keeping out possibly thousands who might be in the Air Service or the Army and who, if the conditions and the opportunities were equal, would come in, but who are not coming in under present circumstances. It is impossible for these people to pay these fees. I have been looking with some interest through these Estimates to see the amount which has to be paid, and I find—so far as my knowledge of dissecting a volume of this character goes, and it is a very difficult thing, I agree, unless you have had a lot of experience in it—that there is a table here giving a description of people who were helped. King's Cadets pay nothing a year. They go to these colleges and, of course, are found all the money. King's cadetships are awarded to the sons of officers who have been killed in action, leaving their families in need. The holder receives £40 a year between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, and is exempt from the Woolwich and Sandhurst fees. We make no complaint about that. There are Sons of deceased officers and men whose families are in pecuniary distress £20 a year.Sons of certain deceased officers and men and serving and retired officers up to Major £55 a year. It was £40 in 1922. Sons of serving or retired Lieutenant-Colonels or Colonels £80 a year. That was previously £75. Sons of Major-Generals or Lieutenant-Generals £95 a year"; Previously £75. Sons of Generals £105 a year"; Previously £75, and so on. We make no objection to that, but we do say that if help can be awarded in cases like these—most of them batter able to pay the full amounts than members of working-class families—it should be given in all others. We do not object to help being given in these cases, but we want equal opportunity for everybody. This table simply means this, that it is a caste system, and the people who have the money and can afford to pay are the people who are likely to have their sons get officer-ships in the Army. We want the system to be democratised. We want the sons of working-class people to have as good a chance of becoming officers as the sons of the well-to-do. A very interesting booklet which has just been sent out is the General Annual Report of the British Army, and on pages 74 and 75 it analyses the educational attainments of the recruits who have joined in 1924 and 1925, I find that between 6,000 and 7,000 ordinary rankers possess educational qualifications sufficiently good to enable them to go forward and ultimately become cadets either at Woolwich or at Sandhurst. I find there are 6,883 who come within the categories of Classes A and B. Class A consists of men of good education who can read a Standard VII reader, write a composition on a subject of which they can be expected to have some knowledge, work compound rules of arithmetic, vulgar fractions, and mensuration of rectangles and rectangular solids. Class B consists of men of fair education who can read a Standard V reader, can reproduce in writing a story which they have heard read twice and work the compound rules of arithmetic. If 6,883 of these men have been enlisted during the last year there is no shortage of material even in the present circumstances, and we suggest it is time that these fees and these class distinctions were swept away altogether. If we learned no other lesson from the War, we found in any event that it was necessary to go to the working-class families for officers, and we found that when it carne to the pinch these officers did just as well as the sons of the wealthy. If it could be done then it could be done in the future, and the War should have taught us at least that lesson. We ask for equal advantages for all in regard to education, and we want to spread the democratic idea all over the country, and I believe every Member of the Conservative party wants to do the same—with the possible exception of the hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge. If the principle is good in regard to ordinary education, it should be good in regard to the Army also. We want to democratise the Army and give equal chances to all, so that, the lowest recruit, however poverty-stricken the home from which he comes, may have the opportunity, if he has the capacity of rising to the highest place in the Army. For these reasons I desire to second the Amendment.

Photo of Commodore Henry King Commodore Henry King , Paddington South

It may be convenient if I reply to the two speeches we have just heard, as until this Amendment is disposed of we are not able to continue the general Debate. Ca course, in replying to this Amendment, I am precluded from answering many questions which have already been put in the earlier stage of the Debate. From the speech of the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Dr. Shiels), I think there is very little between us when we come to the general questions of democracy and the standard of officers in the Army. The main question which he and the Seconder of the Amendment raised was that of doing away with the fees, and the Seconder, I think, rather confused the question of class distinction with that of fees. I do not consider that class distinction is a money distinction entirely, and I think the hon. Member is taking up a rather false attitude with regard to the question of fees in that connection. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh, in dealing with the question of fees, referred to what he called "the officer class," and paid a very high tribute, which I think everybody in the House appreciated, to the officer class as he knew them before and during the War. On that I agree with everything he said. He mentioned that there was a certain distinction as between what he called the "old officer class" and some of the newer promotions, and apparently he found great difficulty in his own mind in finding wherein that difference lay. He said he only realised the reason of that difference when he became a loyal member of his party, and I take it he was quite unable, when a serving soldier, to appreciate a difference which now, as a loyal member of the Socialist party, he does appreciate.

Photo of Dr Thomas Shiels Dr Thomas Shiels , Edinburgh East

I should like to explain that I was a loyal member of my party when I was a serving soldier.

Photo of Commodore Henry King Commodore Henry King , Paddington South

But being also a loyal soldier, the hon. Member was prevented from seeing the reason which now as a loyal Socialist he does see. With regard to the question of fees and of limiting entry to the Royal Military Academy and the Royal Military College to what he calls the officer class, the hon. Member did not object to that officer class, but, indeed, as I have said, paid a tribute to it. I should like to point out to the House that the Army is, and always been, looked upon as one of the most honourable professions in this country. To serve His Majesty in one of the forces of the Crown has always been considered a very honourable profession. Alongside it come many civilian professions, such as those of medicine, law, and so on, and when we consider the possibilities open to the sons of working-class people of entering the Army as a profession, we must also consider the opportunities which they enjoy of entering the other profession. There is a method of obtaining entrance to all those professions under the very generous educational system which we have in this country.

I desire to deal with the question of entry from the Universities, but before doing so I go back for a moment to the question of abolishing fees. The Seconder of the Amendment has quoted from the Estimates various fees which are chargeable in connection with the Royal Military College and Royal Military Academy, and he read these out as though he disagreed with them, but he then stated that he and his party did not disagree with them. I can hardly see how either he or any member of his party could disagree with these terms because they are terms offered not to the sons of deceased officers alone, but to the sons of deceased officers and men. Surely there is no class distinction of any kind when these privileges are given to the sons of deceased officers and men whose families are in pecuniary distress. He also referred to the terms offered to the sons of certain deceased officers and men and serving and retired officers up to major. Surely there is no class distinction in that.

Photo of Mr Wilfred Paling Mr Wilfred Paling , Doncaster

Does it work out in practice?

Photo of Commodore Henry King Commodore Henry King , Paddington South

I am dealing with the actual figures and conditions set out in the Estimates and read by the hon. Member.

Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Don Valley

In order to avoid misapprehension, does the hon. and gallant Member think that the son of a deceased soldier who was a working man prior to joining the Army could possibly find £55 per year?

Photo of Commodore Henry King Commodore Henry King , Paddington South

The terms with which I am dealing undoubtedly apply to other ranks as well as officers and the fees under the second schedule amount to a sum of £20 a year and not £55. All I maintain is that there is no class distinction when the same terms are offered. Whether the hon. Member considers them to be high or low they are the same terms.

Photo of Dr Thomas Shiels Dr Thomas Shiels , Edinburgh East

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but is it not the case that working-class or middle-class entrants whose fathers were not either officers or serving in the Army, have to pay the highest fee of £200?

Photo of Commodore Henry King Commodore Henry King , Paddington South

Most certainly. I am coming to that point and I am showing that there are other methods by which they can come in. Seeing that I have the hon. Member so much with me as to the value of the old officer class, I maintain that the Army being one of the honourable professions, those who have no qualifications and who are not, under the Regulations, entitled to a reduced fee, can put their sons into one of the finest professions in this country at a lower cost than they can educate their sons for any other profession. That is most certain. When cadets have passed through their training, either at the Military College or the Military Academy, they are in a position to earn their own living, and I do not think you will find in the case of any other honourable profession in this country that a boy of 21 entering it is able after a very cheap education to earn his own living. Further, do the, hon. Members, who speak about the fee of £20 or whatever it may be which is charged for the sons of deceased officers and men, realise that every cadet at Sandhurst receives for the whole of his 18 months' course an allowance of 4s. per day. That is, certainly, not to he found in the case of any outside profession.

Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Don Valley

We ask that working men should get these privileges.

Photo of Commodore Henry King Commodore Henry King , Paddington South

Every cadet receives the allowance of 4s. a day.

Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Don Valley

Yes, after they get in.

Photo of Commodore Henry King Commodore Henry King , Paddington South

I will come to that point in a minute. Hon. Members keep going back to the point that working men's sons cannot get in. As I have said, there are other avenues through which the sons of working men have the same opportunity of entering this profession as they have of entering any other profession. I am very proud and glad to realise the opportunities which are given to the sons of the working class to take advantage of higher education. We know that the granting of scholarships by county councils and education authorities enables the sons of working men to go up to the Universities, and we hope the Universities are going to provide one of the most fruitful sources of the supply of officers to the Army. One hundred corn-missions are available to entrants from the Universities every year, and that does not mean merely the Universities of Oxford and. Cambridge. At the present time 20 Universities in the British Isles have the opportunity of sending candidates forward for entrance into the Army—for one of these 100 commissions offered every year—and that certainly gives an opportunity to people of all classes, throughout the country.

Photo of Mr George Spencer Mr George Spencer , Broxtowe

Does that include the number recommended by masters?

Photo of Commodore Henry King Commodore Henry King , Paddington South

That is another question, and I thank the hon. Member for reminding me of it. The Haldane Report suggested the possibility of getting the county councils and education authorities to allow scholarships to be used for sending boys to the military college. That has been put forward and is still the subject of negotiation. Up to now we have not been able to complete any definite arrangement with the schools, but we are not without hope, and the question is still under consideration. That would be another avenue, and it is not the fault of the War Office that it is not in operation at the present time. As to the men coming in from the universities, those 100 commissions, not even half of them are taken up, but those coming in, according to the order of merit in which they pass in, are being given antedated seniority. There is no doubt that those 100 commissions, if they were availed of, would put their possessors in a position of being able to earn their own living straight away. In addition to that, we also have the question of promotion from the ranks.

Exception was taken from the benches opposite to the figures which were given in the Haldane Report. I am not in a position actually to state the figures previous to 1922, but I think the hon. Member for East Edinburgh provided a solution of the difference when he said that most of those commissions were given for the educational branch, whereas the figures which the Haldane Committee were dealing with were admissions to the Royal Military Academy and the Military College. Though that opportunity has been given now since 1922 for certain men, certain other ranks, to be able to enter the Royal Military College, this January has been the first occasion on which all those opportunities have been taken up. In the previous years there have not been sufficient suitable men applying or being recommended for those vacancies.

Photo of Mr George Spencer Mr George Spencer , Broxtowe

Not from the ranks?

Photo of Commodore Henry King Commodore Henry King , Paddington South

No. I will give the figures. In August, 1922, the vacancies offered were 35, and the vacancies recommended and filled were 32; in January, 1924, there were 35 vacancies offered and only 32 recommended and filled; in August, 1924, came the new scheme of 15 in each half-year, and there were 14 recommended and filled; and in January of this year, for the first time, we had a sufficient number of recommendations to fill the 15 vacancies.

Photo of Mr George Spencer Mr George Spencer , Broxtowe

Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman consider it satisfactory that each of the entrants, so far as the rankers are concerned, have to he recommended, but cannot apply for examination and pass it and proceed on their merits

Photo of Commodore Henry King Commodore Henry King , Paddington South

I think every hon. Member in this House will agree with me that you have to have certain very definite standards for officers in His Majesty's Army. A man must have education, he must have ability, he must have character, and you can only arrive at those qualities by recommendation and by examination, and I am putting the definite fact that up to January of this year there have not been sufficient men who were thought suitable to recommend for the vacancies. To show that there is nothing behind that lack of candidates, if I may put it in that way, we find now that there were sufficient who were put forward in January, and there are sufficient to be put forward in the coming September, and, therefore. the question may arise as to whether it will be possible or feasible to increase the number of vacancies. In addition to that, we not only try to induce men to come in and take up commissions, but while they are in training at the military college they are receiving the pay of their rank, free education, free clothing, and everything provided for them throughout their 18 months' training, so that they are put to no expense and are receiving, while training, the pay of their rank and, of course, the grant of which I have previously spoken.

I want to point out one further inducement to men coming in, to democratic promotion in the Army. In this year, 11 scholarships are being offered, not to any particular class. When a man becomes an officer, there is no qualification about whether he is a ranker officer or anything like that. I object to the term. If a man is in possession of the King's Commission, whether dm originated in the ranks or anywhere else, he is an officer, and there is no question as to what his origin may have been, and 11 scholarships are being given each year, for £50 a year, for five years, to officers leaving the Military College and the Military Academy. Those scholarships certainly are going to be a very great help to those officers who are fortunate enough to get them. In addition to the pay of their rank, when they are promoted, they will be entitled to these scholarships of £50 a year for five years. I have tried, as far as possible, to convince the House that there is democratic promotion at the present time, and that there are ample opportunities for the sons of working men to obtain entrance to the Army as commissioned officers.

With regard to the question of free education, I would only say that, apart from any other reason there May be, one very strong reason against free education is that, though they might receive free a very valuable, expensive, and technical education, costing the country many hundreds of pounds a year, there is no power under which the Army could bind those cadets to stay on after they had been trained, and, therefore, you might possibly find that, if you threw the Royal Military Academy and College open without fee, you would find men coming there in order to get a highly technical and expensive education, and at the end of it saying, "Thank you very much, but we have no intention of going on." That, I think, is one of the strongest arguments against giving free education in the Academy.

Photo of Mr Wilfred Paling Mr Wilfred Paling , Doncaster

Could the hon. and gallant Gentleman tell us what proportion of the students are fee-paying, and if the entrance examination is the same for the fee-paying students as for the others?

Photo of Dr Thomas Shiels Dr Thomas Shiels , Edinburgh East

Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman comment on my point regarding Woolwich, and why it is not open to these junior cadets in the same way as Sandhurst?

Photo of Commodore Henry King Commodore Henry King , Paddington South

It has not been found possible yet to open Woolwich in the saine way as Sandhurst. With regard to the question put by the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Paling), the examination is the same, whatever fee the entrants pay, but I am unable without notice to say how many come under each category at the present time. If the hon. Member will give me notice, I will answer it another time.

Photo of Mr George Spencer Mr George Spencer , Broxtowe

I am not quite satisfied with the reply that has been given with regard to men from the ranks. I quite realise all that has been said, and the relevancy of it, with regard to the question of the entrance fees, but I am convinced that a lot could be done in the way of making it easier for members of the lower ranks to rise into the commissioned ranks. The figures put forward to-night by the hon. and gallant Member are very misleading indeed, because, so far as the Haldane Committee is concerned, in 1913 the commissions given were seven, and since the War, in 1920, 1921, and 1922, so far as the Haldane Committee was concerned, there was not a single commission offered to men who joined the ranks, but since that time there have been offered to men in the ranks commissions to the number of about 35, and I want to ask the hon. and gallant Member whether he thinks, in his own mind, that that is a satisfactory number out of 450.

Photo of Commodore Henry King Commodore Henry King , Paddington South

It is more than we have been able to fill up to this date.

Photo of Mr George Spencer Mr George Spencer , Broxtowe

I do not believe it. I quite agree on one point, and that is that the method you have adopted for filling them will probably prevent them being filled; but if you had a highway to allow these men in the ranks to enter a competitive examination, and be judged upon that examination, when they have the other characteristics which are essential for an officer, I am convinced that you would not have the plea that you have to-night of a dearth of entrants. It is because they have not got the opportunity. My hon. Friend who moved the Amendment stated definitely that 2,000 of them had taken Certificate A. Does the hon. and gallant Member say that; out of those 2,000 who, from an intellectual and an educational point of view, have equipped themselves with the essential qualifications, only 30 were competent to go up higher and become commissioned officers? If he believes that, I cannot agree with him, and what I suggest is that, instead of these vacancies for commissions being dependent upon recommendations which are made by the commanding officer, the entrance should be similar to that of cadets coming from the universities; that is to say, that when there has been a preliminary training, and they have satisfied the examiner that, from the point of view of intelligence and standard of education, they are fitted to take a commission, the commission should be offered them. It is very interesting to read what the Haldane Committee had to say with regard to officers.

They said: It is not necessary, nor is it wholly desirable, that all or even a majority of regimental officers should be intellectual That is a very interesting statement. What they do lay stress upon is other characteristics, and they say, later on, that what is essential for the majority of officers is: Character and capacity for leadership rather than special intellectual attainments. I quite agree that if a man in the lower ranks has ambition, and desires to qualify for commissioned rank, he should show certain definite qualities which are essen- tial for that high position, and one of those undoubtedly is character. The hon. and gallant Member emphasised the fact that what was essential was character and the qualities of leadership, and we on this side of the House quite agree. I would not for a moment stand up here and say that any man who belongs to the ranks should have the right to become a commissioned officer unless he had the essential qualifications. The high standard which has been set hitherto, by character, by qualities of leadership, and by education, so far as the officers are concerned, should be maintained, but the way for the lower ranks to reach the higher ranks should be made wider than it is now.

We on this side of the House are not satisfied with the 35 commissions held out to the men in the lower ranks. There is no opportunity whatever for them to advance along the lines on which they desire to advance. I would like to call attention to what is happening in other directions. I know perfectly well that, so far as educational facilities have been given for men in the mining world to take certificates of the highest character as inspectors of mines, the men from the lower ranks have taken them to such an extent that there are not jobs for them, and there are hundreds of men to-day holding first-class certificates who cannot get appointments. I venture to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that if he will give the same facilities for men in the ranks of the Army to fit themselves to become officers, he will find it will not be a question of getting the entrants, but he will be inundated with applications from these men, fully qualified from every point of view. He has only to let it become known in the Army that it is possible for a larger number of men to rise to commission rank. If he says there are a hundred commissions open to the ranks, if they can fit themselves for them competitively, I venture to say the men will come forward, fully equipped and capable of holding the commission, men who will do honour to the Army in peace or in war.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided: Ayes, 240; Noes, 100.

Division No. 41.]AYES.[7.50 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelFleming, D. P.Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Alexander, E. E. (Layton)Ford, P. J.Monsen, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.Moore, Sir Newton J.
Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)Ganzoni, Sir JohnMoreing, Captain A. H.
Allen, Lieut.-Col. Sir William JamesGates, PercyMorrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive
Applin, Colonel R. V. K.Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew HamiltonNelson, Sir Frank
Atholl, Duchess ofGilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir JohnNeville, R.
Atkinson, C.Grace, JohnNewman, Sir R. H. S. D. L (Exeter)
Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John LawrenceGrant, J. A.Nuttall, Ellis
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. StanleyGreene, W. P. CrawfordOakley, T.
Balfour, George (Hampstead)Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)
Barclay-Harvey, C. M.Grotrian, H. BrentOrmsby-Gore, Hon. William
Beamish, Captain T. P. H.Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.Pease, William Edwin
Bellaire, Commander Carlyon W.Gunston, Captain D. W.Penny, Frederick George
Berry, Sir GeorgeHacking, Captain Douglas H.Perkins, Colonel E. K.
Betterton, Henry B.Hall, Capt. W. WA, (Brecon & Rad.)Peto, Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)Harrison, G. J. C.Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)
Boothby, R. J. G.Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)Philipson, Mabel
Bowyer. Captain G. E. W.Hawke, John AnthonyPlicher, G.
Brass, Captain W.Headlamp, Lieut-Colonel C. M.Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton
Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William CliveHenderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)Price, Major C. W. M.
Briscoe, Richard GeorgeHenderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)Ramsden, E.
Brittain, Sir HarryHeneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel
Brocklebank, C. E. R.Henn, Sir Sydney H.Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.
Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.Hennessy, Major J. R. G.Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Chits'y)
Broun-Lindsay, Major H.Henniker-Hnghan, Vice-Adm. Sir A.Ropner, Major L.
Brown, Maj. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Buckingham, Sir H.Hilton, CecilRye. F G.
Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William JamesHoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Burman, J. B.Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)Samuel, Samuel (Widsworth, Putney)
Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.Hohler, Sir Gerald FitzroySandeman, A. Stewart
Burton, Colonel H. W.Holbrook, Sir Arthur RichardSanders, Sir Robert A.
Butler, Sir GeoffreyHolland, Sir ArthurShaw, Lt-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W)
Cadogan, Major Hon. EdwardHolt, Capt. H. P.Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)
Caine, Gordon HallHoman, C. W. J.Shepperson, E. W.
Campbell, E. T.Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester. City)Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)Sinclair, Col. T, (Queen's Univ., Belfst.)
Cazalet, Captain Victor A.Hopkins, J. W. W.Skelton, A. N.
Chadwick, Sir Robert BurtonHopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)Slaney, Major P. Kenyon
Charteris, Brigadier-General J.Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinedine, C.)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston SpencerHoward, Captain Hon. DonaldSmithers, Waldron
Clarry, Reginald GeorgeHudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whiteh'n)Spender Clay, Colonel H.
Clayton, G. C.Huntingfield, LordSprot, Sir Alexander
Cobb, Sir CyrilHurd, Percy A.Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.Hurst, Gerald B.Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.Hutchison, G.A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)Stanley, Hon. O. F. G.(Westm'eland)
Cohen, Major J. BrunelIllffe, Sir Edward M.Storry Deans, R.
Conway, Sir W. MartinInskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.
Cope. Major WilliamJackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.
Couper, J. B.James. Lieut-Colonel Hon. CuthbertSueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Courtauld, Major J. S.Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)Sugden, Sir Wilfrid
Courthope, Lieut.-Col. George L.Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir WilliamSykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.
Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)Tasker, Major R. Inigo
Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)Kindersley, Major Guy M.Templeton, W. P.
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir HenryKing, Captain Henry DouglasThompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Crook, C. W.Kinloch-Cooke, Sir ClementThomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)Knox, Sir AlfredTitchfieid, Major the Marquess of
Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)Lamb, J. Q.Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Galnsbro)Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir PhilipWallace, Captain D. E.
Cunliffe, Joseph HerbertLittle, Dr. E. GrahamWard, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)
Curzon, Captain ViscountLoder, J. de V.Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Dalziel, Sir DavisonLooker, Herbert WilliamWarrender, Sir Victor
Davidson, J.(Hertf'd, Hemel Hempstid)Lord, Walter GreavesWaterhouse, Captain Charles
Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh VereWatson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard HarmanWells, S. R.
Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)Lumley, L. R.White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dalrymple
Dixey, A. C.MacAndrew, Charles GlenWilliams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Doyle, Sir N. GrattanMcDonnell, Colonel Hon. AngusWilliams, Herbert G. (Reading)
Drewe, C.MacIntyre, IanWilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)
Eden, Captain AnthonyMcLean, Major A.Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
Edmondson, Major A. J.Macmillan Captain H.Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Ellis, R. G.McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald JohnWise, Sir Fredric
Elveden, ViscountMaitland, Sir Arthur D. SteelWomersiey, W. J.
England, Colonel A.Makins, Brigadier-General E.Wood, E. (Chest'r. Stalyb'dge & Hyde)
Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)Manningham-Buller, Sir MervynWood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).
Everard, W. LindsayMargesson, Captain D.Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Fairfax, Captain J. G.Marriott, Sir J. A. R.Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.
Falle, Sir Bertram G.Meller, R. J.
Fanshawe, Commander G. D.Merriman, F. B.TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Fermoy, LordMeyer, Sir FrankColonel Gibbs and Major Hennessy.
Heiden, E. B.Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)
NOES.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvii)Scurr, John
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Ammon, Charles GeorgeHarris, Percy A.Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Attlee, Clement. RichardHartshorn, Rt. Hon. VernonSimon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)Hayes, John HenrySinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)
Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)Slesser, Sir Henry H.
Barnes, A.Hirst, G. H.Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Barr, J.Hore-Belisha, LeslieSmith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Batey, JosephHutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Beckett, John (Gateshead)Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)Snell, Harry
Bromley, J.John, William (Rhondda, West)Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)
Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)Stamford, T. W.
Buxton, Rt. Hon. NoelJones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Cape, ThomasKelly, W. T.Sutton, J. E.
Cluse, W. S.Lansbury, GeorgeThomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Lawson, John JamesThomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W.)
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)Lee, F.Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Connolly, M.Lindley, F. W.Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)
Crawford, H. E.Livingstone, A. M.Thurtle, E.
Dalton, HughMacdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.
Duncan, C.Mackinder, W.Wallhead, Richard C.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, BedwelltylMarch, S.Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen
Edwards, John H. (Accrington)Morris, R. H.Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Fenby, T. D.Naylor, T. E.Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.Palin, John HenryWedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Gillett, George M.Paling, W.Welsh, I. C.
Greonall, T.Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)Wignall, James
Grentell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Pethlck-Lawrence, F. W.Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Ponsonby, ArthurWilliams, David (Swansea, E.)
Groves, T.Potts, John S.Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Grundy, T. W.Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)Riley, BenWright, W.
Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.) Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)Runciman, Rt. Hon. WalterTELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. T. Kennedy and Mr. Warne.

Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.

Supply accordingly considered in Committee.

[Captain FITZFOY in the Chair.]