Page images
PDF
EPUB

Government to be contrary to the treaty of 1862, and to the Sultan's special obligation in respect to the alienation of his territory. The Sultan was thereupon required to cancel the lease, which after some hesitation he consented to do. Mr. Brodrick went on to say that the action of the British agent was taken under the instructions of the Government, and that Lord Salisbury had informed the French Ambassador more than once that it was impossible for the Government to recede from its position in this matter. Apparently the French local agent had acted in excess of his instructions, and Lord Salisbury regretted that it should have been necessary to take such public action on our part as a threat of bombardment, though no blame could attach on that head to our agent. There was nothing to prevent France from having a coal store at Muscat, but that was a different thing from a concession of territory with a right to erect fortifications thereon.

Apparently communications must have passed between Downing Street and the Quai d'Orsai relative to the apparent discrepancy between the two Ministerial statements, for Mr. Brodrick two days later (March 9) took occasion to make a further statement. The site of the French coaling station had not been absolutely settled, but the Sultan would be advised to grant a depôt only at Muscat itself. The French Government, moreover, had accepted our view of the treaty of 1862, that it precluded either country from accepting any cession or lease of Muscat territory. The French Government, therefore, had agreed to accept, in lieu of their former concession, a coal depôt on precisely the same terms as our own.

It was left to a private member, however, to bring in and finally, notwithstanding every discouragement, to carry a measure which in its action promised to be more far-reaching than the London Government Bill, and directly influenced the happiness and well-being of the whole country. The Education of Children Bill, introduced by Mr. W. S. Robson, Q.C. (South Shields), provided that the earliest date at which a child should be permitted to leave school should be raised from eleven to twelve years, and would apply to all except those who under existing bye-laws were wholly or partially exempt from school attendance. The principle with regard to factories had been already accepted by the representative of Great Britain (with the explicit approval of Lord Salisbury) at the Berlin Conference of 1890, but no steps had been taken by either the Conservative or Liberal Government to give statutory effect to this important reform. Other countries had long since conformed to this or even to a longer period of education, with the result that in technical and even in commercial training their youths had been able to enter upon the struggle for life better equipped mentally and better qualified physically. In moving the second reading of the bill (March 1) Mr. Robson, in an unanswerable speech, dwelt on the position occupied by England among European nations with regard

to the protection and education of children ; and he strenuously condemned the half-time system as in every way prejudicial to the true interests of the children concerned. The chief and nearly the whole opposition to the measure came from the Lancashire members, headed by Mr. George Whiteley (Stockport), and supported by the agriculturalists, represented by Major Rasch (Essex, S.E.), who adduced the arguments of “the nimble finger," and the labourers' necessity, both of which were shown to be fallacious. Mr. Buxton (Poplar), for instance, doubted whether parents would really suffer by the loss of their half-time children's wages; for the work done by the half-timers would have to be done by others, and the parents would probably reap the benefit of the change in larger earnings for themselves. The vice-president of the council, Sir J. Gorst (Cambridge University), took up a very independent line, and detached his personal from his official opinions with his customary freedom. He said that there could be no doubt that, five or six hours of labour in a mill were not a good preparation for attendance at school, and all educational authorities were opposed to the half-time system. The adoption of this measure would result in an improvement in the education of the people, and the only question was whether those concerned would pay the price which would have to be paid for the change. The bill, however, would not really cause any serious disturbance of the existing state of things, for the children who annually left school between the ages of eleven and twelve were only 23,000 out of 600,000, while those who became half-timers between those ages did not exceed 50,000. It should be remembered that half-timers had all succeeded in passing some educational standard, and were therefore children who were likely to profit by further instruction. As far as children in towns were concerned, it appeared to him that the country was pledged to this legislation by its participation in the Berlin Conference. But the case of children in agricultural districts was quite distinct, and was not considered at the conference. To growing children light employment in the fields was beneficial, and an educational system which was good for towns was perhaps not equally good for the country. It was not impossible to reconcile the employment of children in the fields with proper progress in education, and he should like to see children in the country made to attend school until a comparatively advanced age, the schools being closed in summer when agricultural operations were being carried on.

Mr. Asquith (Fifeshire, E.) took an even stronger view, and had no misgivings as to his action being endorsed by his colleagues. He thought that even with the adoption of Mr. Robson's proposal the British standard would be ridiculously low compared with foreign countries, but he cordially welcomed any step in the direction of reform. When the division was taken it showed that the second reading was passed by 317 to

Cons quite - Children onal systehe countikaren inte To growd an edually gooloyment na he sho

59 votes, but out of ten Cabinet ministers having seats in the House only one, Mr. Ritchie, voted for the bill. The others abstained presumably because they held it more important to conciliate the Lancashire members than to support a measure of humanity and practical foresight.

The wording of the paragraph in the Queen's Speech referring to the estimates, as well as the rumours which had been in circulation, had prepared the public mind for increased expenditure on both the Army and Navy. It was, moreover, understood that this year the land forces, or second line of defence, would be the chief object of the attention of the Government. The memorandum prepared by the Secretary of War, Lord Lansdowne, began by showing how the proposed increase to the Army, which had been begun in 1897-8, had been carried out. In that year the total regimental establishments (of all ranks, exclusive of India) was 147,398, and the Government then proposed to itself to increase this force by 25,083 of all ranks by March 31, 1901. The number reached in 1898-9 was 160,139, and it was now proposed to raise 167,632 for the year 1899-1900. The actual strength of the Army on January 1, 1897, was 145,737; on the same day, 1898, 148,677; and on January 1, 1899, 158,318. This large increase, however, had to be taken with some caution, the inflow from the Reserve to the Colours in 1898 having been much greater than usual. At the same time 40,729 recruits of all branches had been obtained in 1898, against 35,015 in 1897, and 28,532 in 1896, while the Reserve on January 1, 1899, stood at 78,798 men. At the same time 1,750 men of the Army Reserve had accepted ls, a day special Reserve pay with a liability to recall to the Colours in minor emergencies, and it was expected that 5,000 men would within a short time be similarly engaged.

The chief increases to be made during the year were thus apportioned : (1) Cavalry—sixty men and twenty horses to each regiment at home on the lower establishment, and considerable additions to the cavalry depôt; (2) Field Artillery-five of the new fifteen batteries to be horsed and manned before the close of the financial year 1898-9, and five more in the course of the current year; (3) Foot Guards—the new battalion of the Coldstream Guards had been formed, and two companies added to each of the two battalions of the Scots Guards to form the nucleus of a third battalion; (4) Infantry-six new line battalions raised and on service in the Mediterranean, each home battalion strengthened by the addition of fifty-eight men to be increased during the year to eighty ; (5) the Army Service Corps, and the Royal Army Medical Corps to be considerably augmented during the year; and (6) native battalions to be raised in West Africa, British Central Africa and China to be employed on garrison duty.

In connection with a general revision of the schemes of defence a thorough examination was made during the year of

entad; (1) Camises to be sim

ies to be ho, and fivehe per

Corrent year; doar 1898-9, and find manned before tip

the condition of the armament of our defences at home and abroad. This inquiry revealed the necessity of carrying much further than hitherto contemplated the process of replacing muzzle-loading guns, now forming so large a proportion of the armament, by a smaller number of modern breech-loading and quick-firing guns. In concert with the naval authorities a scheme of rearmament was drawn up based on a consideration of the nature of attack to which each station was liable, and of the importance attached by the Navy to its defence. A satisfactory feature of the scheme, when completed, would be a material reduction in the number of garrison artillerymen required to man our defences in time of war. It was proposed to defray the cost of the works by loan, and that of the guns, mountings, ammunition and stores from the annual estimates.

The estimates of the previous year included provision for six batteries of field guns, and it was intended to include a like number in the estimates of the two following years. Of the total of eighteen batteries of guns fifteen were to be horsed and manned as part of the increase of the Army, the remaining three constituting a proportionate increase to the reserve guns. It was subsequently thought desirable to provide the whole of the eighteen batteries of field guns during 1898-9, and orders were given for their early completion.

All batteries of horse and field artillery were to be converted to a quick-firing system, and the conversion was proceeding with rapidity. The increased rate of firing which would be obtained with the new system made it necessary to provide a larger supply of ammunition and of waggons to carry it in the field; suitable provision was made for this purpose in the vote.

Statement of the principal points of difference between the estimates of 1899-1900 and those for 1898-9:

Automatic
Variations.

£293,000 150,000 60,000

314,000

Increases.

Variations Amounts provided in Supplementary Estimate for 1897-8 due to Policy in relief of 1898-9 on account of :

Warlike Stores
Clothing - -

Provisions, Forage, etc. -
Pay, Provisions, Messing, Clothing, Equipment, etc., of
additions to the Army :-

(a) Programmes of 1897-8 and 1898-9 ..
(0) Programme of 1899-1900 - -

£169,000 Militia and Volunteers - - - -

41,000 Clothing Services (Regular Forces) - .

117,000 Armaments and Stores

299,000 Works (including Barracks Act Annuity) - - .

145,000

771,000 Decreases. Manoeuvres -

100,000 Amounts provided for Clothing and Stores in Supplementary Estimate of February 14, 1899 .

100,000 War Office (3,5001.), Non-effective Votes (16,5001.) and Miscellaneous Items (42,3001.) - ..

3,500 203,500

20,000

51,000

888,000

58,800

58,800

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

The following is an abstract of the Army Estimates for 1899-1900:

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

2

[blocks in formation]

238,060

10,000 18,000

75,000

[blocks in formation]

II.-Effective Services.
| Pay, etc., of Army (General

Staff. Regiments. Reserve.

and Departments) - | Medical Establishment : Pay,

etc. . . . . . 3 Militia : Pay, Bounty, etc. Yeomanry Cavalry: Pay and

Allowances -
Volunteer Corps : Pay and

Allowances -
6 | Transport and Remounts .
Provisions, Forage, and other

Supplies . .
Clothing Establishments and

Services - - -
Warlike and other Stores :

Supply and Repair - . 10 | Works, Buildings and Repairs :

Cost, including Staff for

Engineer Services - -
Establishments for Military

Education - - .
Miscellaneous Effective Services
War Office : Salaries and Mis-
cellaneous Charges :

Total Effective Services

[blocks in formation]

III.- Non-Effective Services.
| Non-Effective Charges for

Officers, etc. - - -
Non-Effective Charges for Men,

etc. . . .
Superannuation, Compensation,

and Compassionate Allow-
ances .

[blocks in formation]

16,500

Total Non-Effective Ser-
vices. -

3,064,200 3,080,700
Total Effective and Non-
Effective Services 20,617,200 | 19,220,500 | 1,396,700 |

Net Increase, 1,396,7001.

The new Under-Secretary for War, Mr. Wyndham (Dover), created a very favourable impression on all sides of the House when introducing the Army Estimates (Feb. 27), naturally following the lines laid down in the explanatory memorandum. He began by showing how far the Army was fitted to discharge

« PreviousContinue »