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crease. Taking this into consideration his estimate was that the charge on the taxpayers during the next sixteen years would not exceed 33,0001. annually.
Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman seconded the resolution, and the opposition to it was confined to the Irish Nationalists and a handful of Radical and Labour members, including Mr. Labouchere (Northampton), Mr. Burns (Battersea), and Mr. Keir Hardie (Merthyr Tydvil). They only numbered 62 in the highest of the three divisions which they took against the resolution as a whole and on points of detail.
On the following evening (May 10) a brief but warm debate took place on a motion for the adjournment made by Mr. Dillon (Mayo, E.) in order to protest against the seizure of the Irish People newspaper by the Dublin police on the previous day. Mr. Wyndham had already explained that the object of the seizure was to prevent the further dissemination of a seditious libel, and the step was taken under the common law which authorised the prevention of crime and the preservation of the evidence. The police were not provided with warrants. Mr. Dillon said the seizure of the organ of the United Irish League afforded additional evidence of the determination of the Executive to destroy, if they could, every Irish newspaper that opposed the policy of the Government. The Irish People, he understood, contained a somewhat strong and violent attack on the King, but it was for the courts of justice, and not for the Executive, to decide whether it was a seditious libel. Mr. W. Redmond (Clare, E.), who supported the motion, suggested that the Irish People had really been seized because it gave a full report of a speech attacking the Chief Secretary. Mr. Wyndham contemptuously brushed aside this accusation. The reason of the seizure had simply been that the paper had printed an article, directed against the King, of so gross and scandalous a character that he declined to soil his lips by reading it to the House. He, as Chief Secretary, was personally responsible for the action which had been taken, but any loyal subject was bound to intervene in such case. He must decline for the present to state whether a prosecution would or would not be instituted. Mr. J. Redmond (Waterford) accepted the Chief Secretary's assurance that the paper was not seized on account of its attack upon himself, but ascribed the action of the Government to its fear of a powerful organ of public opinion. Mr. Balfour insisted that a serious offence against public decency and public morals had been committed, and had been repressed in a perfectly legitimate way. If, however, the law had been broken the persons aggrieved had their remedy. Mr. Asquith (Fife, E.) emphasised this point, observing that if the question were taken before the courts members of the Government could shelter themselves under no privilege as such, and it would be most unwise for the House of Commons to pronounce upon an act which could be, and ought to be, legally inquired into before
Debate on Army Reorganisation Scheme. [129 another jurisdiction. The motion was rejected by 252 to 64. Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Fowler, and Mr. Bryce voted with Mr. Asquith in the majority. The minority included eight Liberals, whilst others of the party—among them Mr. John Morley-walked out of the House before the division.
The debate on the Government scheme of Army re-organisation occupied three sittings—not an excessive allowance, considering the great importance and complexity of the subject. Yet there was throughout a certain element of unreality about it, owing to the fact that the front Opposition bench moved an amendment which both challenged the existence of the Government and also was so purely negative in its practical drift as to disentitle it to the sympathy of the friends of genuine Army reform. The result was to check to some extent the expression of independent opinion on the merits of Mr. Brodrick's scheme and to make sure hat the division would take place almost entirely on party lines. At the outset Mr. Brodrick (May 13) formally moved : “ That it is expedient that six Army corps be organised in the United Kingdom, with the requisite staff, stores and buildings; that a Reserve for the Militia be enrolled, not exceeding 50,000 men ; that the establishment of the Yeomanry be raised from 12,000 to 35,000; and that eight regiments be enrolled for garrison service."
Thereupon Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman moved as an amendment: “That this House, while desirous of supporting measures for improving the efficiency of the Army and securing Imperial defence, is of opinion that the proposals of his Majesty's Government are in many respects not adapted to the special wants of the Empire, and largely increase the burdens of the nation without adding substantially to its military strength." The formation of six Army corps, he observed, was the main feature of the Government scheme, and it was a mistake, as such an organisation was not suited to the practical needs of our country either in peace or war. The maintenance of three Army corps ready for service abroad was not only unnecessary, but politically undesirable, as likely to excite suspicion abroad and stimulate militarism at home. With regard to the recruiting question, he contended that it was not so much an increase
pay that was needed to attract the right sort of recruit, but a prospect of better treatment than he actually received. There should be fewer humiliating rules and greater freedom from barrack life. Commissions should also be more liberally granted to non-commissioned officers ; the present practice of filling the commissioned ranks with young men from the public schools was carried too far.
In the course of an elaborate reply, Mr. Wyndham (Dover), Irish Secretary, pointed out that the net addition to the Army under the new scheme would not amount to more than five battalions. Justifying the division of the kingdom into six great commands, he observed that some six or seven generals
and a score of staff officers had proved themselves in South Africa to be men of exceptional ability, and it would be most unwise economy to waste the experience they had gained. As to the cost of the scheme, he reminded the House that the contingency proposals brought forward last year involved an expenditure of 6,000,0001.; and one object of the Secretary for War was to render it unnecessary to make similar demands on the country in future. Referring to the matter of pay, he stated that, taking everything into consideration, the soldier got the equivalent of 30s. a week. Generally, the policy of the Government was the organic development of Lord Cardwell's system.
Sir Charles Dilke looked upon this Government scheme as a paper scheme only, and as involving extravagant expenditure. He declined to admit that it would add to the military strength of the country, and the only part of it which he could support was the part relating to decentralisation. The most effective form of home defence, he insisted, was an efficient fleet.
Mr. W. Churchill (Oldham), whose speech was frequently cheered by the Opposition, opposed the resolution on economical and other grounds. He argued that too much was spent on the Army already, and that if there was to be further expenditure it was the fleet that ought to be developed. Wise Army reform, of which he was an advocate, meant increased efficiency at the same cost, or the same efficiency at a reduced cost. An addition to the numbers of the Army was not Army reform, but Army increase.
He could not support the plan of keeping three Army corps ready for expeditionary service, one Army corps being sufficient for warfare with savages, and three Army corps quite inadequate for a European contest.
Captain Lee (Fareham, Hants), who had been Professor of Strategy and Tactics in the Royal Military College, Canada, gave a general and cordial, though by no means undiscriminating, support (May 14) to Mr. Brodrick's scheme, but urged that the inducements held out to recruits must be improved, and, following the American plan, he suggested that a rate of pay equivalent to ls. 9d. a day should be offered to men of over twenty years of age, of good physique, intelligence and character. Lord Stanley (West Houghton, Lancs), Financial Secretary to the War Office, assured Sir C. Dilke (who had doubted it) that the present scheme was put forward in entire accord between the Commander-in-Chief and the Secretary for War. Explaining the reasons which made it necessary for us to have a mobile force in readiness to attack, as well as sufficient troops for the defence of our colonies and dependencies and for home defence, he pointed out that in recent years other countries had acquired colonies which, in the event of hostilities, we might have to attack. Wars were hardly, if ever, brought to a conclusion by the unaided efforts of a Navy. On the other hand, Sir J. Colomb (Great Yarmouth), a considerable authority on questions of Imperial defence, insisted that the scheme was not suited to
[131 the needs of the country. He held that it should rely for its protection on its naval power. At the same time he was in favour of proceeding with reforms of our military system in order to secure an adequate and efficient Army to provide for the necessities of the Empire, and also of consolidating the Empire's means of defence by co-operation between all its parts.
In the course of a vigorous and effective reply on the debate, Mr. Brodrick said that the case of the Government was this. There were in the country a great number of valuable forces, but they were not properly organised, and it was proposed to supply them with an organisation for peace and war purposes. Masses of troops had not at present their due proportion of different arms, and this deficiency he intended to remedy. Then our half-trained troops were to be raised to the level of efficiency which the military authorities deemed necessary. If his scheme were accepted we should never be again in the position we were in lately when troops had to be improvised; for when the first three Army corps had left the country we should have the remaining three for home defence. Other vital reforms which the scheme would effect were the delegation of business from the War Office to the military commands, the organisation of different units under the commanders who had led them in time of war, the better training of officers and men, the improvement of the Army Medical Service and of the transport system, and the reform of the War Office itself. Justifying the adoption of the Army corps organisation, he said that in war it would be valuable because the officers would be familiar with the qualities of the troops they commanded, and that it would be also valuable in peace, for the Army corps would be the pivot of the system of decentralisation. The time had come for putting an end to the paralysing practice of referring to Pall Mall everything that concerned the soldier's life. He claimed that the Army corps scheme was wise and practical, while denying that it was " grandiose” as had been alleged. With regard to the cost of the scheme, he explained that the proposed expenditure on barracks would have been necessary in any case. Replying next to the critics who averred that the requisite number of men would not be obtained as it was not proposed to increase the pay of the Army, he pointed out that considerable additions had been made to our Regular forces in the last few years upon the existing terms. Last year 46,000 recruits joined the Colours, or 11,000 more than the normal number before 1898, and they received the ordinary pay. In the first four months of the present year 16,000 recruits had joined. If they continued to enlist at the same rate, 48,000 men would be obtained this year, and his estimate of the normal number that would be required under the new system would be about 45,000. The popularity of the Army in time of war had been established, every regiment in South Africa being at this moment over its strength. Captain Lee's proposal that we should adopt the scale of payment in
force in the United States would involve altogether an expenditure of 5,000,0001. annually, and he feared that if the estimates were raised by so large an amount Governments would be tempted for the sake of economy to reduce the number of men in our battalions. He repeated, however, that, if it should be found that the war fever which had promoted recruiting was followed by a peace collapse, the Government would not hesitate to make fresh proposals. Whilst the success of the scheme, as far as it related to the Army, depended upon the recruiting question, there was, he held, no doubt as to the success of the plan for the organisation of the Auxiliary forces. As to the proposals affecting the Yeomanry, he might say that they were assured against failure already. Several of the garrison regiments, he stated, had already been formed and had won high praise. Turning to the subject of the growth of our military expenditure, he argued that it could not be obviated unless recourse was had to compulsory service, and observed that members who urged the Government to increase the vote for pay and at the same time complained of the growth of the estimates were inconsistent. He devoted some time to answering Mr. Churchill's speech in favour of economy, and said he would never subscribe to Lord Randolph Churchill's theory that the Treasury should dictate to all other departments, turning a blind eye to the progress of science and a deaf ear to the arguments of responsible Ministers. Replying to the argument that the possession of a sharp sword was likely to lead to its use, he reminded the House that there had been moments of peril for this country when our sword was not sharpened and could not have been sharpened in time to avert danger, and dwelt on the futility of preaching Imperialism unless the country was prepared to bear the burden which Imperialism imposed.
Mr. Asquith (Fife, E.) complained of the unconsidered haste with which the Ministerial plan had been brought forward, and of its being made a question of confidence in the Government. The vital defects of the scheme were its setting up a form of organisation which was either a mere change of nomenclature, and therefore a sham, or, if intended to be a reality, was not adapted to our military needs; its failure to deal effectively with the question of recruiting; and its implied view that home defence concerned the Army more than the fleet.
The scheme having been subjected to a good deal of further unfavourable criticism from Unionist speakers, including Colonel Welby (Taunton) and Sir J. Dickson-Poynder (Chippenham, Wilts), Mr. Balfour, in winding up the debate, reminded the House that foreign experts had held a raid into this country to be feasible, and maintained that the fact that we were known to be fully prepared against such a contingency was the best way to avert it. In conclusion he dwelt on the grave responsibility the House would incur by rejecting the Government scheme when the Opposition were not prepared with coherent alternative