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Volume 237: debated on Monday 24 March 1930

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Army Estimates, 1930


Order for Committee read.

I beg to move, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."

In presenting the Estimates for the year I have had to consider what method of explanation would best meet the convenience of the House. As the Estimates themselves with the explanatory memorandum give very elaborate details, I have come to the conclusion that it would best meet the desires of the House if I use the minimum of figures and only call attention to them in cases where either a matter of principle or the importance of the subject necessitate a reference. Of course, it will be understood that anything left in doubt or any subject untouched will be dealt with during the course of the discussion if hon. Members will state their wishes.

It will be seen from my memorandum that, as compared with the Estimates (including the Supplementary Estimate) for 1929, the Estimates for 1930 show a net reduction of £605,000. The decrease of expenditure is £1,343,000, but, unfortunately, it is largely counterbalanced by a diminution of receipts by £738,000, More than half the latter amount is accounted for by the loss of receipts to Army Funds from Germany through the evacuation of the Rhine. This loss in a full year is £950,000. The Supplementary Estimate for 1929 included £560,000 on this account for part of that year, and a further £390,000, therefore, remains to be made good in 1930. In addition to the loss of receipts, I was faced with certain inevitable increases of expenditure amounting to over £500,000, due mainly to the automatic growth of the Army Reserve and of non-effective charges and to the exhaustion of war stocks. The House will perhaps agree that these initial handicaps were sufficient to render the task of securing an ultimate saving anything but easy.

I have definitely promised, in reply to questions, to allude to certain questions in the Estimates speech. The hon. Member for East Leicester (Mr. Wise) asked whether it was possible to reduce the Army on the return of the troops from the Rhine. The hon. Member for Gravesend (Mr. Albery) and the hon. and gallant Member for Buckrose (Major Braithwaite) asked questions about the number of recruits and the policy so far as the Territorial Army was concerned. The hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha) asked about mechanisation in the Army, and the hon. Member for Birkenhead East (Mr. Graham White) about the conditions regarding officers' training corps and the recruitment of officers therefrom.

I will try to deal with all these questions so far as they are not directly answered by the printed Estimates and the memorandum of explanation. I desire to draw the attention of the House first of all to pages 2 and 3 of the Estimates, which give an historical summary and a comparison of expenditure. From this it will be seen that, taking 1921 as a commencing year, the actual numbers of the Forces have decreased from 641,000 to 148,900 estimated for 1930. The net cash expenditure has fallen from over £86,000,000 to £40,500,000. There was a tremendous drop in 1922. but ever since then there has been a continual fall both in numbers and in cost. I will give one or two details to show the relative position between pre-War times and to-day, and at a later point I will speak of the number of men and the relative position as compared with other countries.

The number in Vote A this year 13 148,900 as against 186,400 in 1914, a decrease of 37,500. The Estimates are now £40,500,000 as against £28,845,000 in 1914. This is an increase of nearly £12,000,000, of which nearly £4,500,000 is in the non-effective Votes. The increase of cost is of course to be explained by the fall in the value of money, which is reflected in the rise in prices and the increased cost of living. The rates of pay throughout the Army have been increased generally, and the number of men drawing skilled rates of pay is now much higher than it was in 1914. The institution of marriage allowance, which was not provided before the War accounts for over £750,000 this year, and the growth of social legislation, such as widows' pensions, and unemployment insurance, throws an extra charge on Army Funds. We have also new arms of the Service to provide for, such as Signals and the Royal Tank Corps, and army organisation is now much more complex than it used to be. Pages 4 and 5 show the increases and decreases on each Vote, resulting, as I have said, in a net decrease of £605,000. There is a saving of almost that amount on warlike stores, but it is impossible to analyse every separate item and difficult to know in advance which points are of greatest interest to the House. Any matters left uncertain by the printed Estimates or not explained by my speech will be answered during the discussion, or at the end by my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary.

The method of dealing with the expenses of additional troops in China has been changed on Treasury suggestion, and the estimated cost for 1930 has been embodied in the main Estimates. Previously, this special cost has been met by a Supplementary Estimate. This naturally leads to a statement as to Government policy in China. The Government will watch with sympathy the efforts of China to organise her own form of Government, and will act in a friendly way with other Powers to make arrangements which will secure the safety of all peoples in a self-governing China.

The troops evacuated from the Rhine have gone to Catterick, They form part of the normal Home Army and, for this reason, it is not possible to effect any very considerable reduction in numbers. We have, however, been able to reduce establishments on this account by 688 all ranks. As I have explained above, the loss in receipts from Germany in a full year is £950,000. Against this the evacuation has enabled me to effect savings amounting to £343,000. I must here pause to pay tribute to the conduct of the troops in carrying out their very difficult task in Germany, which I am glad to know has left a most favourable impression among the local population, and has enhanced the reputation of the Army. Every credit is due also to those who are responsible for their orderly and punctual evacuation. In passing, may I say that every plan worked absolutely to scale and there was not the slightest hitch from the beginning of the evacuation to the end.

Perhaps for a moment I may turn aside to a small detail. With regard to Vote 12, the cost of the War Office Staff, hon. Members may ask why there is a net increase of £10,000 in the cost. There are two principal causes for this:—a higher rate of Civil Service bonus is applicable in 1930 than in 1929, and provision has to be made for normal increments, as civil servants are paid on regulated scales and there are still many who have not reached the maximum of their grade.

Page 7 gives the numbers of actually serving soldiers and an analysis will show that some 130,000 men are serving in Britain, her Colonies and Mandated Territories—excluding India. An estimate of soldiers as a percentage of the populations is a matter of simple arithmetic. I would like to draw attention to the list of "stations abroad" given on page 29. The mere reading of the names will show what our responsibilities are. We have men in Bermuda, Jamaica, Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus, Egypt, the Sudan. Palestine, Aden, Mauritius, Ceylon, Malaya and China. Some 60,000 men of the British Army are serving in India. The population of India is generally spoken of as being in the region of 300 millions. It is really considerably higher, so that actually there is one British soldier for over 5,000 of the Indian population. I draw special attention to these figures, as I am afraid somewhat exaggerated opinions are prevalent regarding the number of white troops in India.

4.0 P.m

Here I would like to refer to a matter of an entirely different kind, and I do it because India plays a part. On the Order Paper there is a Notice of Motion by the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto), who I do not see in his usual place at the moment. [An HON. MEMBER: "He is sitting on the benches behind you."] He has a Notice of Motion to reduce Sub-head G of Vote 11 by £5, and when I have answered his point I hope his conversion will be complete and that he will come over to this side altogether. I presume that the Motion by the hon. and gallant Member for Tiverton (Lieut.-Colonel Acland-Troyte) and the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha) deal with the same matter; that is the refusal of the grant of a medal to the 1/6th Devons. This is one of the very hard cases that have arisen, and, frankly, had it stood alone I should have been inclined to waive everything else that has been done and comply with the hon. Baronet's request. These men were sent to India in the early part of the War. When they went they had a guarantee by Lord Kitchener 4.0 p.m. that their going to India would not in any way debar them from receiving every honour and every decoration that were given to others. Lord Kitchener, of course, could not foresee at that time what would take place, and these men arrived at an actual theatre of war three days after the time when it was decided to give the Star. It was a very hard case. Those men were on the seas; they were not responsible in any way, and, as I said before, had the case stood alone, I think it would have been possible to meet the hon. Baronet's wishes, but, unfortunately, the case is not as simple as that. There were over 30,000 of the Forces on the sea at that time. There were many thousands who reached the actual theatre of war before these men. The whole matter has been considered by three Ministers; it has been investigated by a Committee presided over by the Earl of Cavan, and, everything considered, the decision with regard to the grant of the Star has always been maintained that those men are ruled out. I am sorry that the weight of evidence, and the difficulty there would be if once the gates were opened on this matter, prevent me, however reluctantly, from agreeing to the request of the hon. Baronet. May I assure him that it is with the greatest regret I say this, because, personally, I should have been only too delighted had I been able to meet his wishes in the matter. I hope he will take it for granted that if it could have been done without a great deal of trouble, I should have been only too glad to do it.

May I call attention to the Motion which appears on the Order Paper dealing with the reduction of the armed forces, and state the policy of the Government? The Prime Minister has specifically declared that we stand for reduction of armaments, which, of course, is an inclusive term, by agreement. That is the method also of the League of Nations. It is not the present intention of the Government to make another cut without an international agreement. It is assumed by some theorists and speculative philosophers that if we reduced considerably and consistently without regard to other nations we should help along general disarmament. Unfortunately, the facts confound the theorists, and show that the philosophy is more speculative than philosophical. The Government, while willing not merely to take part in international arrangements for drastic reductions in armaments, but to take the lead in negotiations, is not prepared at the present moment to go further in unilateral action. I would ask the Movers of the Motion for the abolition of the Army—for that is what the Motion means—carefully to consider whether they are not suffering from a very bad attack of inverted nationalism? It seems to me that if one thing has become clearer than another since the War, it is that both economically and politically, whether we like it or not, we are bound to an international system.

Attending to his business, as I hope the right hon. Gentleman will attend to his. The idea that we should do what we think best without reference to others is, in my opinion, the very worst way of dealing with our problems; while the best way is to agree with others to make the necessary improvements.

Dealing further with Vote A, I have no great changes in methods to announce. My predecessor last year made a full statement regarding mechanisation, and as this change of method is proceeding as quickly as practicability and finance will permit, I do not wish unnecessarily to repeat what he said in his last Estimates speech. Nor is there any intention of making any change of a drastic character so far as the Territorials are concerned, although we have asked the Territorial Associations to help us to cut down expenses by accepting smaller allowances for clothing. I desire to take this opportunity of calling attention to the tremendous amount of voluntary work done by the Territorials and of expressing the thanks of the Army Council through this House to them, and specifically to ask Lord Derby, as the President of the Central Council of Territorial Associations, to convey our appreciation. May I here say a few words about training?

Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the subject of the Territorials, may I make a personal appeal to him to say a few words on the question of recruiting, which has given me, and others who have been members of Territorial Associations for many years, very considerable concern?

There has been no change in the method of recruiting, and there is no change immediately proposed, but I should be very glad to consider any suggestion from the Noble Lord or any Member of the House which would lead to an improvement in any method which is not working as well as it might at the present moment. As stated in my Memorandum, we propose to make this year a "Territorial year," in order to emphasise the close connection between the Regular and Territorial Armies, and arrangements have been made to hold joint Regular and Territorial Army camps during the summer.

As regards the Regulars, the 1st and 2nd Divisions will train this year at Aldershot. For reasons of economy the 3rd Division will not be concentrated this year. The 4th Division, which did not train in 1929, we propose to concentrate in Norfolk and Suffolk. The printed Estimates give such a wealth of detail, that I feel I can leave all further specific reference to Vote A. The tables in Votes 1 and 2 are self-explanatory, and I will not attempt an analysis of the perfectly simple figures which hon. Members already have. May I say, with regard to these Votes, that however keen may be the desire of the Government to economise, they do not desire to do so at the expense of either the amenities or the pay of the soldier. I shall refer to this subject later.

Would the right hon. Gentleman kindly say a word in that connection on the policy of the Government in relation to the ordnance factories?

If the right hon. Gentleman will not be impatient, I will deal with that subject.

A statement of Government policy has already been made regarding Singapore, and I hope that it will be sufficient to make any reference to the matter unnecessary on the item appearing on page 53. Page 203 also contains an item regarding Singapore. On Vote 3, I regret to say that we appear to be suffering from a shortage of medical men who are prepared to undertake a career in the Army. Even the most ardent non-militarist, I am sure, will share my regret that the medical arm of the Service is not easy to keep up to strength. I also desire to call attention to the fact that although physical tests have been scaled down, so to speak, we are under establishment so far as the Army as a whole is concerned. I should be very sorry to think that what I said shows that there is a temporary lowering of the physique of the people. Even the thought is disquieting. Of a total of 72,268 recruits presenting themselves for enlistment in 1929, 28,131, or 39 per cent., were accepted, which means that fit out of 100 were rejected, even on the standard that is now insisted upon. Of the rejections, 91 per cent. were on physical and medical grounds. The lowering of the dental standard, which had been previously tried in Scotland, was extended to England, and by this means an additional 2,384 recruits were enlisted for all arms. In December, 1928, the height standard for the infantry of the line was lowered to 5 feet 2 inches, and 907 young men of suitable physical development were enlisted. By these two measures—the lowering of the height and the dental standard—3,291 recruits were accepted who would otherwise have been lost to the Service. Without them, the intake for the year 1929 would have been only 24,840.

The physical condition of those who tender themselves for recruitment is a very serious matter. When one remembers that the boys and young men of to-day are the children of the War years, the remembrance may supply the answer to the problem presented by this apparent physical decline. [Interruption.] The War ended 12 years ago; it began 16 years ago. Boys and young men join anywhere from 17 to 20 years of age, so that the children of the War years are now joining the Army. [Interruption.] It does not matter what the cause is, as long as we find the cause and provide a remedy for it. In that, I hope, the House will agree with me. I will ask my staff to investigate, so far as they can, whether this physical deterioration is localised, and how far it is due to industrial depression or other causes.

The right hon. Gentleman the ex-Minister of Transport asked me the other day, as a supplementary question, whether I was prepared to consider the use of more brilliant uniforms as a method of recruiting. Obviously it was impossible, in question and answer, to deal with a subject of that magnitude. May I call the attention of the House to the fact that these difficulties of recruiting were just as great in the brilliant uniform days as they are to-day. Let me read this extract from the "Manchester Guardian." It will speak for itself:
"In 1801 men were called for to join the Light Dragoons, and these were the inducements held out to them: 'You will be mounted,' says the official invitation, 'on the finest horses in the world, with superb clothing and the richest accoutrements. Your pay and privileges are equal to two guineas a week. Your society is courted. You are admired by the fair, which, combined with the chance of getting swished to a buxom widow, or brushing with a rich heiress, renders the situation truly enviable and desirable. Young men out of employment or otherwise uncomfortable,
There is a tide in the affairs of men Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.
Nick it.'"
I do not think that I could have approached that, but even that was not enough, apparently, in 1801.

Let me turn to Vote 4, which is to me one of the pleasantest sides of Army work—in education. The details given in the Estimates are very full, and I do not intend to attempt an analysis for which, indeed, the time would be all too, short. I am assured—and I believe the assurance to be well founded—that any young soldier willing and anxious to improve himself physically and mentally can find in the Army at least as many opportunities for physical, technical, scientific and literary development, as he could find in civil life. The probability is that he has a better chance of making himself efficient, mentally and physically, than has the ordinary working man who re- mains at home. It will be seen from my memorandum that 2,193 men passed through Army Vocational Training Centres during 1929, and that 76 per cent. of them obtained employment immediately they had completed their training. It will also be seen that men serving in India and the Colonies can obtain the benefits of the scheme. There is an Amendment on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Ludlow (Lieut.-Colonel Windsor-Clive) dealing with this matter. May I assure him that I am in full agreement with his desires and am willing to accept suggestions from any source that will help in the direction that he indicates.

That brings me to a somewhat analagous subject, namely, Officers Training Corps and Cadet Corps, and grants to associations of boys belonging to certain religious and other bodies. Considerable public interest has been shown in this matter and there is unquestionably great objection to the spending of public money on semi-military bodies in our schools. There are also allegations that compulsion is exercised and that boys are dragooned into joining Officers Training Corps and Cadet Corps. I have carefully, even anxiously, considered the matter and have come to the conclusion, on definite expert advice, that Officers Training Corps are really valuable organisations for providing a future supply of officers for the Army. So long as armies exist on a voluntary basis there will have to be some form of recruiting, and the boy attending a public school is certainly not too young to join an Officers Training Corps at an age which has been considered high enough for a working class boy to join the ranks. There is no compulsion exercised by the Army Council: there is no intention, nor is there any desire, on the part of the Government to compel any boy to join these Corps. A boy who is forced against his will to join these organisations is likely to become not merely disinclined to join the Army but to become actively hostile.

But, while expressing the keenest objection to compulsion, I cannot agree to cease to support these Corps. So long as we have an Army we must fill its ranks, and there is an overwhelming opinion, military and scholastic, so far as the schools which have Officers Training Corps are concerned, in favour of main- taining the Corps. I cannot, however, take the same attitude regarding Cadet Corps and bodies like the Church Lads Brigade. I have had the opportunity of discussing this question, as indeed that of the Officers Training Corps, with many Members of the House, and with a delegation from the National Union of Teachers, and I have come to the conclusion that representations made to me on educational and moral grounds are unanswerable. Teachers in elementary and secondary schools appear to be, in a large majority of cases, against this particular training on educational grounds. I agree with the case put to me, and I intend, with the consent of the House, to cease to give any War Office assistance to the bodies I have spoken of after existing contracts have expired.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say distinctly to what bodies he refers?

There are bodies like the Church Lads Brigade which get grants under the same system as the Cadet Corps. If the House accepts my submission, the Officers Training Corps will remain, but the Cadet Corps and the grants to these extraneous bodies will disappear.

When the right hon. Gentleman says "disappear," does he mean that the Government, in addition to giving them no grant, will refuse to recognise them in any way?

I said that the grants would disappear, and that is what I mean. So far as I am concerned, the only body of that type that will be recognised is the Officers Training Corps.

This is a very important question. At present a Territorial Force Association has put upon it the obligation of deputing one of its members to act as inspector of Cadet Corps. Will that liaison still exist, or will there be failure to recognise this most useful body?

The Cadet Corps as recognised by the War Office, will disappear as such, and the liaison will disappear also. Here let me say—this will deal with another point which has been raised by the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. O. Baldwin) by question in the House—that I am not satisfied that only boys of the public school type can become efficient officers. Still less do I believe in an Army where there is not a free and easy passage for men of capacity from the lowest to the highest ranks. It seems to me that the more men from the lower ranks qualify for the higher, the better for the Army. Up to the present no way has been devised for the systematic promotion of fairly considerable numbers of really capable soldiers from the non-commissioned ranks to commissions, but I intend to have the question examined and am hoping to find more ways of making la carrière ouverte aux talents.

Vote 5 raises, among other things, the fundamentally important question of the quarters and amenities of the Forces. I took the opportunity of going to visit two of our overseas stations, Gibraltar and Malta, to see with my own eyes what the conditions were. I am glad to say that on the whole they were good, and I intend to visit, so soon as circumstances permit, a large number of our establishments at home. I have had somewhat disquieting reports from a number of places and desire to see for myself what the conditions are. I know that there is financial stringency, but I am sure that I shall carry all the House with me when I say that all ranks in the Army are entitled to decent accommodation, to reasonable comfort and to sufficient amenities, and that we are still rich enough to provide them. I am advised that many soldiers are sleeping in places that are not even weatherproof. If I am satisfied from my own observations that men are housed under bad conditions, I shall not hesitate to ask for the necessary money. In this connection let me say that I carefully observed, so far as I could during my short visit, the appearance of the men, and made many inquiries as to their health conditions. I am glad to say that the present-day soldier, even on overseas stations where perhaps temptations are more plentiful, is a sober, healthy, well-behaved young Briton, of whom we may be proud. He is not, of course, a plaster east saint, but he is letting the wet canteen go largely out of commission, he reads as well as plays games, and the medical records show remarkable progress so far as freedom from disease is concerned. I wish to conclude with a few general observations. The first is that we are trying to secure avoidance of waste during the present transitional period from horse to machine. It seems to us that until the experimental stage is finished, huge bulk manufacture of new types of machines is not only costly but to be deprecated on other grounds as well. Far better during experiments is it to wait until there is reasonable certainty that success has been achieved, than to pile up machines and stores which the march of science may quickly make obsolete. Here let me touch on one of our difficulties. Wherever an economy is made and whenever production of armaments is reduced, Government workshops and Government workers at once begin to suffer. I can only say that whilst every move towards disarmament will find the Government in the van, we recognise that places like Woolwich and Enfield are justly anxious as to the results. Every effort will be made to keep Government workers at work, and only in cases of compulsion shall we resort to extreme measures. It would not be frank and open, however, if I hid the fact that great difficulties have had to be faced and, I am glad to say, to a certain extent surmounted. To turn to a different subject, I find that I am asked to abolish compulsory church parades. So far as I know, no man is ever forced to go to a church in which he does not believe—

On a point of Order. I wish to raise what seems to me a rather important question of procedure. The right hon. Gentleman has for the second time during his speech decided to refer to the contents of an Amendment which is on the Paper. I presume that that will not prevent those of us who wish to refer to that Amendment from doing so when the occasion arises? Is it not more usual for the reply of a Minister to an Amendment to be made after the Amendment has been actually moved?

As to the reference which the right hon. Gentleman has made to the first Amendment on the Paper, I intended to call the Mover of that Amendment very early in the Debate and to get the Amendment out of the way. As soon as it is disposed of, I should not be able to put any further Amendments. Therefore, those questions which arise on the two subsequent Amendments which are on the Paper must be referred to in the Debate on the main Question that I leave the Chair.

I have referred to these Amendments in order that those who had put them on the Paper may know what Government policy is, and may be better able to discuss it than if I kept absolute silence on the question. As I was saying, so far as I know no man is ever forced to go to a church in which he does not believe, nor does any man join the Army in ignorance that these parades exist. If men were forced against their conscience, if there were any difficulty in getting a pass for absence on any reasonable ground, or even if proof could be supplied that a keen and widespread objection existed amongst present-day soldiers, I would consider the matter, but I am advised, and no proof to the contrary has been given to me, that objection to these services is not widespread or even vocal amongst soldiers. I do not see my way to alter long-established practices unless I am satisfied that there exist really serious, as apart from academic, objections to them. I hope that my hon. Friend will withdraw his Amendment, and I am prepared to give him an assurance that if facts are put before me showing that these services are forced upon unwilling men, or are in any way objected to by them on conscientious grounds, I shall reconsider the matter.

I trust that I have dealt with the points which have been raised by the many questions asked by the hon. Members I have named, and by others to whom I did not give a promise to deal with their questions in my Estimates speech. I have tried not to weary the House with a mass of detail which has already been supplied to them in the Estimates and the explanatory memorandum. I personally sat with the Army Council during the whole of the consideration of Estimates, and I hope that the proposals will meet with the approval of the House. I cannot close without expressing my warmest thanks to the Members of the Army Council, both military and civil. The Civil Service is renowned for capability, and may I say that the military members of the Army Council, while stating their views with exemplary frankness and brevity, were certainly both able and loyal, and ready with helpful suggestions when needed, and it is by the co-operation and help of the Army Council that the substantial savings which I have announced have been made possible.

I first desire to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman upon his speech. It is not an easy matter, when one is first Secretary of State for War, to rise with a large book of Estimates, bristling with controversial questions, and to get through a speech without more trouble than the right hon. Gentleman had. The right hon. Gentleman has my sympathy in trying, as he has been trying, to produce a reduction of the Estimates without doing irreparable harm to the Army. I propose to call attention to some of the reductions which he has made, because in some cases I think he is taking an undue risk. If we look at Pages 4 and 5 of the Estimates, we shall find there the plus and the minus quantities—the decreases of expenditure and the increases of expenditure. I take, first, Vote 6—Supplies, Road Transport and Remounts—on which there is a decrease of £243,000. Except as regards one item, I have no objection to that decrease, and indeed, I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman upon it. He has had the luck in this matter. This is not one of those decreases which is procured by much toil and thought, but is due entirely to the reduction in the cost of food and clothing and so forth. But there is under that Vote a reduction of £23,000 in reference to the Royal Army Service Corps, which is due to skimping the provision of mechanical transport and spares. I propose to deal with that point later on, because on another Vote I shall have something to say about mechanical transport.

Vote 8—General Stores—shows a reduction of £91,000 and this is a typical case. It relates to barracks and hospitals supplies. Last year I had to present an increase of £141,600 on this Vote, and I know that there is no such stock as would permit of a reduction in this Vote without running a risk. I do not know the extent of the risk, or whether the right hon. Gentleman is dipping in any way into mobilisation stores, but, whatever he has done, he has certainly produced a reduction. In the comments on the Estimates which he has published, he says that general stores normally cost £660,000 a year and that this year he is taking £489,000 only, which show s that he is living on stocks to the extent of £171,000. That is a very serious amount. It is a great deal more than the saving. It means that £171,000 worth of general stores are being exhausted this year without replacement. This item is brought in as if it were an economy this year, but of course it is not an economy in the long run, because the stores will have to be replaced, if not by the right hon. Gentleman himself, then by his successor next year or the year after that. I would like the right hon. Gentleman to explain how he is justified in drawing to such an extent upon stocks.

The case of Vote 9 is even worse because in this case we are dealing with, warlike stores and the right hon. Gentleman is budgeting for a decrease of £630,000. That is not the full extent of the reduction, because only a few weeks ago the right hon. Gentleman introduced a Supplementary Estimate and there he showed a credit of £80,000 by reduction of expenditure on this same Vote. Therefore, as I understand it, he has reduced the provision which I made last year by £80,000 on his Supplementary Estimate, and he is now reducing it again by £630,000. Let me ask the House to consider upon what items the right hon. Gentleman has saved. One item is small arms and small arms ammunition. Small arms include machine-guns and small arms ammunition includes, of course, the cartridges for rifles and machine-guns. That item shows a saving of £240,000. There again, either the right hon. Gentleman is dipping dangerously into stores or else he is budgeting for less expenditure of small arms ammunition—that is to say, he is going to cut down musketry practice or training to an extent which will save this amount of money. Then there is motor transport and tractor vehicles on which he proposes to save £150,000—that is £150,000 in addition to the £23,000, the consideration of which I left over from Vote 6 to which I referred just now.

The right hon. Gentleman tells us that he intends to go on with mechanisation as fast as he can. That was the phrase used by him, but, he says, it is unwise to make a large expenditure while we are in the experimental stage. We want the money, he says. Well, we have never had any large expenditure in the Army on mechanisation. At least all through those years when I was responsible we used the Votes for experimental work, and, practically, had nothing but samples of mechanised vehicles in the Army. In the case of a number of transport vehicles, the six-wheelers for instance, they are, of course, to some extent standardised both for Army and civil purposes, but as regards actual fighting vehicles—tanks, tractors for artillery and so forth—we were always in the experimental stage. The money which was voted was used for that purpose, and practically none of it at all was used for standardisation. If in that stage, the right hon. Gentleman cuts off £150,000, it seems a most dangerous attempt at saving.

We are in the stage of transition. With a reduced number of men—30,000 or 40,000 less than the pre-War strength—our chance of making the Army efficient for our purposes, for the defence which we have to put up, is to equip those men and make them individually as efficient as we can. To equip with mechanised transport and with mechanised arms, is the line upon which we have been experimenting and to cut off this experiment now is, to my mind, a retrograde action. One should remember too that the vehicles on which the right hon. Gentleman is cutting down are all the mechanised vehicles, except the transport vehicles, in use in the Army. Machine-gun carriers, artillery tractors—both tractors and vehicles for mounting guns on—cross-country vehicles for infantry, all the vehicles that go with first line transport—all of which are in a highly experimental stage and upon the provision of which depends the up-to-dateness of the Army—are to be reduced. It seems to me that, whatever progress we were making in that direction, there will be a serious set-back because the amount actually provided is not more than enough for partial maintenance and allows for little or no development.

The other item under warlike stores refers to guns, searchlights and signals and the right hon. Gentleman proposes to save £100,000 this year on that item. The development of searchlights is re quired specially in connection with aircraft defence, and, signals, to-day, are more than usually important. We have fast-moving vehicles which want to communicate with their base, or with headquarters, and also with each other because unless you can maintain communications with them and between them you cannot use them to their full value. This little saving of £100,000 is really closing the eyes and the ears of the Army and seems to me a most dangerous saving to attempt. On Vote 10 works, building and lands the right hon. Gentleman is making a saving of £180,000. I must confess that last year I made a saving of £192,000 on this Vote, but, if I made it last year, it cannot be made again without serious trouble. The right hon. Gentleman said he was going into the question of amenities. I went round all the commands and he will find it useful to do the same. I understood him to say that he had found some cases of huts which were not weatherproof.

I said that I had had reports, and that I was going to go round and look into these matters.

also had reports, and I went round and looked, and there were huts which were not weatherproof. They were not in the possession of the Army, however. The huts which I have in mind had been vacated by troops, but they were occupied by civilians who were working with the Army. That raises another question altogether, namely, whether the right hon. Gentleman is going to provide accommodation for the civilians who work with the Army at the depots and in other places, but I will not go into that question now. The right hon. Gentleman, however, is going to cut down by £180,000 the provision for keeping the buildings of the Army up to date. This is a Vote at which everybody likes to have a cut. It is a big Vote and reducing it does not involve reducing a military unit, and means a nice saving, but I warn the right hon. Gentleman again that he is only postponing payment. He is not really saving and if he does not spend the money this year he is going to do it next year or at some future time. Marriage quarters are wanted, new barracks are wanted, replacements of huts will become necessary, and an extra £500,000 could be spent usefully under this heading. But when it comes to postponing £180,000, after last year's postponement of £192,000 I think there is danger.

The right hon. Gentleman, speaking of Singapore, said that the Government's policy had been stated, but he is doing a rather curious thing in respect of Singapore. He is spending £33,000 this year on Singapore—I think that is the figure. It is a "marking time" expenditure—not increasing but simply keeping the work in hand. But I observe that the right hon. Gentleman is taking credit for an appropriation-in-aid not of the £33,000. which he is spending, but of £121,000. He is taking from the Federated Malay States £92,000 and from New Zealand £29,000 and 'he is only going to spend £33,000, and he is keeping a profit of £88,000 which he is bringing in as an appropriation-in-aid of the general Army expenditure. I thought he was a little sketchy when he was dealing with Singapore just now. He said, "You will see it on page 33 and also on page 200," and, looking at it, I find that is what it is, but it would have been difficult from what he said about it to have arrived at a proper appreciation of what he really was doing in regard to Singapore.

Talking of the Appropriations-in-Aid, he quite truly said that he was losing a considerable Appropriation-in-Aid on the troops having come back from the Rhine. He is also losing another, of which he said nothing. He is losing £150,000 a year from Egypt. It is quite true that for the last three or four years we have not received £150,000 a year from Egypt, but we have always had it in our Estimates as an Appropriation-in-Aid which we expected to receive from Egypt, and the right hon. Gentleman now seems to be finally giving it up. Really, there is no reason whatever why, when the further stages of a possible Treaty with Egypt are negotiated, it should not be put to the Egyptians that if we are going to make a Treaty together for a joint defence of Egypt by the British Army and the Egyptian Army, there ought to be a joint contribution towards the expense. If that is done, he will find that not £150,000, but probably a very much larger sum would be the appropriate contribution from Egypt to that joint defence.

I can imagine Egypt preferring to do it that way. After all, she wants to be recognised on a footing of equality. She does not want to be, as it were, protected as a minor Power out, of the beneficence of a stronger Power. If it really is to be a Treaty in which both are doing something, both ought to contribute, and I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he ought to press for a contribution from Egypt towards the extra expense, because that is what it is, of the British Army being in Egypt. If that British Army were at home, there would be one expense, but in Egypt there is an additional expense, and there ought to be a contribution made by Egypt towards that expense.

I want to say a word or two about recruiting, which seems to me to be in a very serious position—very serious indeed. I will not take it quite from the angle that the right hon. Gentleman did, of the general physique of the nation. That is, of course, intensely interesting, but I do not think it has made any particular difference this year as against last year or the year before. I do not think you can show from those figures that the physique of the nation bar gone back to such an extent that it has altered the probabilities of recruiting. That does not seem to me to be the reason. Let us see what the figures are. Last year we got in 26,000 recruits, as against 30,000 in the previous year. We got in the 26,000 recruits after having reduced the standard, and reduction of the standard meant bringing in about 3,000 more, so that really on the comparable standard with the year before, we got in 23,000 recruits, as against 30,000, or something like 7,000 less. I am speaking from memory, but I do not believe that in the last five years certainly there has ever been a decrease of that proportion. There have been fluctuations of 2,000 one way or another, but never so big a fluctuation as that; and the result is that the Army is 10,000 men below establishment, 6,000 at home and 4,000 in India.

In the Blue Book that was issued a short time ago on the British Army for the year 1929, there is, in Part 1, a chapter headed "Annual Report on Recruiting for the Regular Army for the Year ending 30th September, 1929." It gives the figures, and then it says:
"Factors affecting recruiting.—The decline in recruiting may be attributed to the following causes:
Expectations of a large increase in the unemployment benefit.
Uncertainty as to the future of the Army, owing to the publicity given to disarmament."
I believe that those two are the main causes. There are given in this Report four or five more causes, no doubt each one operating to some extent, but I believe those two are the causes which operate most. In regard to the expectations of a large increase of unemployment benefit, I do not think there is any doubt that there has been in the past always a certain amount of economic compulsion, if you like to call it so, which made men join the Army, and if you remove that by substituting some subsistence money from another source, you do to a certain extent relieve the pressure, and consequently you deprive the Army of a certain type of recruit, who, in the hands of the Army, becomes a first-class man very frequently. I do not think there is any doubt about that, and the higher you make the unemployment benefit, the more risk there is of that.

It may well be that at some time the State will have to consider whether a man is to be treated as unemployed when the State is willing to employ him in the Army. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh !"] Hon. Members will realise what I said, that it may at some time have to be considered whether a man should be treated as unemployed when the State is willing to employ him as a soldier or a sailor. I myself think that that could not be done with the Army exactly as it is to-day. Of course, legislative compulsion is out of the question, and if you do not compel in any form, you have to attract. You have to get recruits somehow. It is suggested that uniforms might attract. Personally, I do not believe—I know I am a heretic—that the full-dress uniform is going to attract, to any large extent, the type of man we are now getting in the Army. The type of man we are now getting in the Army does not want so much "spit and polish," as the phrase is, as other and more useful occupations, and I am not by any means sure that he would be attracted by a uniform.

But attractions will have to be found. You cannot go on having the large drops in numbers in the way that you had last year. I do not say that it is dangerous at this moment, but no one can say that, if this went on for another year or two, it would not be dangerous, and so, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman has to prepare in advance a policy to deal with recruiting. As I say, if you do not compel, you have to attract. Pay alone, I do not think will attract. The reduction in pay has really not made any considerable difference in recruiting. There was a drop immediately after the last reduction in pay, but it was soon made up again, and the reduction in pay, in my recollection, was in operation during the whole of 1928, which was a bumper year so far as recruits were concerned.

The second cause in this Report is the uncertainty, and I believe myself that that is the real cause of the recruits not coming into the Army, exactly in the same way as I believe it is the real cause why men do not go for commissions in the same way as they did before. It is the uncertainty. A man does not know whether, as an officer, he is getting 'a job for life, a career, or whether he is going to be sent out at 40, perhaps, at a time when he cannot get into proper civil occupation; and, as far as the man is concerned, he does not know whether at the end of his service he will not be thrown upon the labour market, 'an unskilled man, whereas those who went into trade, either as apprentices or in other ways, at the same time as he joined the Army, have become skilled men and have got on in life, while he may have to take a lower place because he served his country in the Army.

If it is true that uncertainty is what is affecting it, we have to do something which will give him a certain career after he leaves the Army. Something has been done with vocational training, but at best vocational training is 'a drop in the bucket. It is 5 per cent., or under 6 per cent., of those who leave the Army who get vocational training, and it is not enough. We ought, in some way or another, to be in a position to guarantee to the man who joins the Forces a career afterwards. While he is with us we ought to teach him a trade, if he wants to learn a trade, or he ought to have such secondary and even university education as will fit him for higher positions when he leaves the Army. Why should not the Army be the road of entry to the Civil Service in the clerical classes? [An HON. MEMBER: "Or the City!"] Yes, or the City. Why should they not learn in the Army what is wanted to give them a chance, when they come out of the Army, of doing something better than taking the un-skilled posts, to give them a chance of getting into a really first-class position? If you do that, you are going to attract, and if you were to do that there would be very little difficulty, I think, in saying that a man is not to be treated as out of work if the State were willing to employ him in the early stages in the Army and in the later stages in the Civil Service. I feel myself that you have got a different type of man going into the Army to-day. You have got better raw material to-day than you have ever had in your life before, and I feel that you are wasting it if you do not take advantage of the chance in front of you.

Is the right hon. Gentleman really suggesting that if a man is out of work, and he is offered entrance in the Army, and refuses to go, that will be used as a disqualification for unemployment benefit?

No, I was not suggesting anything of the sort. I was suggesting something quite different. This is, I believe, the most serious phase of the Army administration with which the right hon. Gentleman has to deal. He has not made any statement in his opening speech with regard to it, and I shall not press him to make any statement to-day, but I would suggest to him that it would be worth—

I called attention to the Notice of Motion on the Paper, and I said I was thoroughly in agreement with the principles of that Notice of Motion, and was prepared to listen to suggestions from any quarter that would help in the direction indicated.

5.0 p.m

Then I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will consider what I have said. It is a difficult matter; a soldier. stays a year at home, and then he may be drafted out to India or some other place abroad. and it is difficult to provide continuous training at a trade. These difficulties can be overcome, however, if it is really considered that this training is as essential as the Army training, and, if you are going to attract men and remove the uncertainty before them, you can do it by giving them such training as I have suggested. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to have the matter examined. He will find lots of sympathy, I am sure, among the soldiers, and he will have considerable assistance if he sets up a small Committee inside his office to see what can be done in the matter. I notice that the training is cut down. I realise that the right hon. Gentleman has to find money somewhere if he is to reduce his Estimates, but it is not very wise to reduce the training. On the whole, I must say that these Estimates might have been cut down in a worse manner than has been done, and I only hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be careful how he squeezes out more money for mechanisation, for that is a fatal cut and one that cannot but be harmful.

The right hon. Gentleman is going to save a certain amount. I understand, by cutting down the 4s. grant to cadet corps. I do not suppose that the cadet corps could by the most anti-militarist be considered a military formation, or one that could make a boy wish to be belligerent. It is undoubtedly a useful source of recruiting. My recollection is that we used to draw something like 800 or 1,000 boys into the Service through the cadet corps.

It is bigger than I thought. Surely, now is not the time to cut down the source of those whom we require in the Army. These corps have great social value, because they give the lads a chance of marching about to music—[Interruption]. And a very good thing too; they enjoy it. It does them physical good, and it cannot do them any mental harm—[An HON. MEMBER: "Wave the flag!"] Yes, wave the flag too. Surely, you are not going to grudge this money to help these boys. Do hon. Members know who these boys are" They cannot afford to carry on formations of their own without getting subscriptions from somewhere. I remember that I was once guilty of looking into this Vote with a view to cutting it down, but I gave it back again, not because of the military value of this movement, but because of its social value, and because of the good it did to these boys, both physically and mentally, to be banded together in these small contingents. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not, because of what I believe to be a totally wrong aspect of the case that has been put before him, cut down this Vote.

I want to make only a few remarks on a subject with which I have been long associated. I should like to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on his first Estimates. They were clearly put, and his speech, which had the great advantage of brevity, contained all the matter which we want in a speech on this Motion, I hope that the Financial Secretary will he able to reply to the various points which I propose to raise. With regard to the Estimates generally, I have stated before, and I am sure many Members agree with me, that we cannot really discuss expenditure on the Army without its relation to the expenditure on the other Services. Again and again, we are faced with the difficulty that we are not able to express our views and the various strong arguments in favour of a united defence Ministry. Therefore, I must enter a protest, and Say that I hope that the Government at a, later date may be able to give us an opportunity, as was done when the last Government were in power, to discuss this very urgent subject, and a subject which is becoming increasingly urgent, The only advance towards getting the best value for the money spent, and for getting the best allocation of the money between the three Services, can alone be attained through a combined Ministry.

I agree with the late Minister of War when he referred to the gravity of the recruiting situation. It is extremely grave, and it is grave from many points of view. It is particularly grave from the point of view that it unbalances the whole Army. Every year, so many men leave the Service, and, if there be a large increase in one year, and a small increase in another, there are corresponding outgoings at the end of the periods of service; thereby the Army is unbalanced, and it is a serious matter from the point of view of organisation. It is difficult to say what can be done. Undoubtedly, the insurance benefits which now fall to those out of work have had a deleterious effect on recruiting, but I think that there are certain other causes. There are small petty grievances which are translated and passed on from those serving in the Army to those who are outside and might come in, and they have the effect of preventing others joining up. I will give an example. The ration allowance is being cut down for new entrants into the Army. It does not affect those who are under present engagements, but it will affect those who are coming along to join. The sum saved is so small that I think some attention should be given to this grievance.

Then there is the question of dress. I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's (Sir L. Worthington-Evans). I have heard many serving soldiers express the view that they can never be smart when walking out in khaki. I am inclined to agree with them, and I suggest that some form of inexpensive blue uniform, which would be in the nature of a walking out dress, and not merely a dress for various ceremonial occasions, would be an attraction to the Army. I know that there has been a Committee on this subject, and no doubt they have reported upon that point, but I put it forward that there is an expression of opinion in the Army that some form of dress other than khaki would be an advantage, and have an attracting effect on those who might wish to join.

I am pleased to see in the White Paper the co-operation which is going on on the research side with India and elsewhere. I would suggest that that co-operation might be extended to financial arrangements. In India, during recent years, there has been a departure from past procedure in dealing with finance. In this country, we control all finance from the War Office. In India, they have tried, during the last two or three years, a system of allocation of money to units to be expended as the commander directs, and the savings are carried on into the new year, and not handed back to the Treasury. In that way, I understand considerable saving has been effected in the Army Vote in India. I would suggest that such an experiment should be tried at home. The Government might try one command at a time, and allocate to units, either divisions, brigades or battalions. blocks of money to be administered by those units, and allow the necessary saving to be done by the officers administering the money. I am certain that a saving would result. It has been recommended before that more latitude should be given to the officers in charge of finance, that is, the major-generals in charge of administration of commands, but I would go further, and pass it down to the smaller units. I understand that savings have occurred in India and officers in charge of units like the system, and I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that the procedure be examined.

I pass to the subject of pensions under Vote 13, where there are one or two troubles in the Army. There is the longstanding grievance of the ex-ranker officer. We had a Committee when the Labour Government was in power in 1924. I do not want to base my request for a reconsideration on the pure grounds of legality; I want to base it on the grounds of equity. Many of these ex-ranker officers, who had retired before the War, were called up for service in the War and given commissions; and, when they retired after the War, they were not treated as the ordinary non-commissioned officer in a unit, who, if he got a commission, retired on £150 a year, that is, an officer's pension. These ex-ranker officers went back on their old non-commissioned officer's pension; it was reassessed at between £70 and £80 a year, instead of the £150 which the other noncommissioned officers got. There was a similar type of non-commissioned officer who was called up for service in the Marines, and he got different treatment, but I have no doubt he got it for legal reasons, owing to the wording of the instructions issued. From the point of view of the small number of these officers remaining—about 2,100—it is worth while that their case should be examined from the point of view of equity. We do not want to have grievances continually hanging about among these men. I do not want to put it higher than to ask that some examination of their case should take place, and, if possible, some alleviation of their condition arrived at.

Then there is the reduction of 7 per cent. in pensions, half-pay and other allowances owing to the fall in the cost-of-living. There may be something to be said for such a reduction in the case of pensioned officers of high rank, but when we come to the case of officers who have probably no more than about £200 a year to live upon, any reduction, however small, cuts right to the bone. Although the cost-of-living figure is perfectly fair, yet there are many points on which the cost-of-living figure is calculated which do not affect their expenditure. For one thing, rents do not come down, and expenditure on food and clothing does not bulk so largely in their expenditure. Again and again I have heard it said that those with pensions of £200 or £300 a year have been very seriously affected by these continued reductions on account of the cost-of-living. No doubt the Financial Secretary will say when he comes to reply that all must be treated alike, but I am prepared to say that those with small pensions ought to be treated differently from those who enjoy larger pensions.

I am glad to hear very good accounts of the system of vocational training in the Army, and hope it will be extended and improved. The men like it because it gives them a chance of preparing for their civilian life after they leave the Army. During the many years of service I had in the Army we were always confronted with the difficulty of what men were to do when they left the Army, and anything that can be done to improve their chances of getting employment is all to the good. I am glad to see that the percentage of those who go through the training is so high. More might be done, perhaps through various agencies, to try to place men in the trades in which they have been trained, and, also, we should see that they are trained for the trades which are likely to be able to absorb them; but in speaking thus to the Financial Secretary I am really carrying coals to Newcastle, because I know that he has this subject very much at heart.

I also welcomed the indications we have had of closer relations in training between the Territorial Army and the Regular Army. Ever since 1919, when General Hamilton Gordon sat as chairman of a committee in the War Office, I have always advocated closer and closer association between the Regular Army and the Territorial Army, especially in regard to training—training in joint camps, and exchanges of officers between the regular units and the territorial units. The more we can do in this direction the more we shall assist the Regular Army, by letting the territorial units get to know the regular units; and the territorial units, on their part, will be assisted in making themselves more efficient. The more we can bring the Regular Army into association with the civil population the better it is for both. I welcome the joint camps, and I hope everything will be done to extend that system to all units, and not only to one particular type of unit, so that all may be closer knit together.

I would also like to call attention to a matter, small in itself but which does cause a grievance in some directions, and that is the regulation with regard to the official allowance for officers using their own motor cars. I have specially in mind the case of retired officers who are working for the War Department. After 7,000 miles the allowance of 6d. a mile is, I understand, reduced to 4d., and the result is that officers do not use their cars but call on the Public Hire Department for cars. The charge for these is 1s. a mile, which is debited to the War Office and duly paid by the War Office. If the Financial Secretary would like me to give him details of the actual trouble, I think I can not show him where an improvement in the regulations might be made, but also how we may save War Office money. Lastly, I wish to say how very much indebted we all are to the right hon. Gentleman for his Army Estimates, which are clear and presented in a wonderfully good form. As a result of the work of his predecessor, the Estimates are now so clear that one can follow them much more easily than before and see where the various reductions have taken place. One improvement might be made. Could not we have a summary showing the total amounts of money which have been saved under the various heads of the service, so that we could see them at a glance without having to search right through the accounts under each head? However, I can only thank the right hon. Gentleman for these Estimates and say that we are glad the reductions are not more drastic:

On a point of Order. When we get back on to the Vote may we take it that in the usual course we shall have a general discussion on Vote 1 and Vote A?

I do not know Mr. Speaker's intentions when the Amendment which is to be moved is out of the way, but a general discussion will be allowed on Vote 1 and Vote A provided hon. Members do not go too much into details of the other Votes.


I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words:

"this House regards with great concern the heavy expenditure upon the Army, and being of opinion that all such expenditure in preparation for warfare is wasteful, serving only the needs of capitalist imperialism, calls upon His Majesty's Government to realise a policy of disarmament by adopting a programme of annual extensive reductions in personnel and material of its military forces and the immediate withdrawal of all State grants for the maintenance of the officers training corps and cadet corps."
Up to the present the House has been in comparative agreement, if not in en-time harmony. There has been a general desire to see that the troops are comfortable, that the Army is efficient and that recruiting is kept up to normal standards. This Amendment is a prelude to deeper and more significant differences, which are not concerned so much with the numbers and the effectiveness of the Army as to differences which are concerned with the purposes and functions of the Army in modern capitalist, imperialist society. The Amendment, in a brief and summary manner, sets forth the purpose and the cause of modern armies. Armaments are but the executive arm of modern imperialism and we call for a steady and progressive reduction; we call not so much for the exercise of sovereign right in increasing armaments and becoming more powerful, but for the exercise of sovereignty in the reduction of armaments.

The Amendment asks the Government in a most reasonable manner to take the initiative in disarmament. I know that it is the official policy of the Labour party to secure disarmament by agreement, but I hope it will not be regarded as an offence against the Government, or as a sin against the Holy Ghost, if we dare to suggest that so far that policy has not brought much fruit. I hope it will not be regarded as disloyalty to the Government if we dare to say now that this Labour Socialist Government should set the example in doing good by itself taking the initiative in disarmament. Progress by agreement has been slow. If we judge by the results up to now I am afraid we shall have to say that the policy will need revision inside the Labour and Socialist movement, and, therefore, we ask the Government, in the most moderate and the most reasonable manner, to take the initiative and to go forward in the good cause of disarming this country, resting their case upon the great common sense and decency of other folk throughout the world.

Why it is that we have not disarmed? Why is it that armaments are still being piled up? Is the necessity of armaments to be found in the moral rottenness of men and women, to be found, in brief, in the psychology of people? Is it because men and women throughout the world are inhuman, are barbarians and are un reasonable? As a matter of fact, I think it will be agreed that, as far as the moral standards of mankind are concerned, war is morally obsolete. The moral sentiment of the world is strongly against the killing of men on battlefields or upon the high seas. I do not think we can find the cause of war in the moral rottenness or inhumanity of men. Then, I doubt whether there is any militarist or group of militarists in this country who, since the War, will say, as the German militarists said, that perpetual peace is a dream, and not a beautiful dream. No one in this House will say with the German militarists of before the War that war is the finest expression of human personality. No. The whole spirit of the times regards war as hideous, degrading and inhuman. If the humanitarian sentiments of our time were the deciding factor, if humanitarianism had to determine whether we should have no Army, Navy or Air Force, then the people would say let us have complete abolition of all armed forces, and those who wanted armaments would have to look elsewhere for them.

The moral sentiment of our times is embodied in pacts and covenants, declaring that countries will not go to war. Almost every nation is pledged to put armaments on one side. We are members of the League of Nations, we have signed the Kellogg Pact, by which we forswear resort to force, and by which we agree that argument shall be the deciding factor in all disputes that may arise And yet, in spite of our membership of the League of Nations and the signing of the Kellogg Pact, we are still building up armaments. Is it hyprocrisy on our part that we have signed the Kellogg Pact and that we belong to the League of Nations and still go on building up our Army and Navy? I do not believe that it is hypocrisy. I believe that the desires of the common people are embodied in these covenants and pacts. The great mass of the people, the, ordinary decent citizens of every nation desire to see this world ruled by covenants, by pacts for peace. and arbitration. It is not insincerity. What I believe makes pacts and covenants null and void is a stage in our history when the interests of the few dominate the interests of the nation, and this makes the need for armaments more and more.

I remember reading a discussion as to the cost of the last War in connection with a society in America and someone asked, "What was the cause of the War?" The answer given to that question was, "Capitalism." Further discussion ensued, and it was argued that even capitalism was not the cause, because capitalism has not always desired war, although in its early days it was aggressive. Capitalism sought new territory and desired new markets and new fields for investments. After that, we had the cotton era and the Free Trade policy of the Liberal party. During the cotton era you had good peace men, because they recognised that if you killed their customers they could not sell their cotton cloth. During that era, "Peace, retrenchment and reform" was the slogan. The dominant factor about modern capitalism is not the sale of goods, but the export of capital. Then we had Imperialism, and the dominant factor about that is that as long as we have the export of capital we have behind it the whole armed forces of the nation, and so long as that state of things exist you will need the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force.

I would like to give the House a very significant quotation. It is a quotation from a message sent by Lord Salisbury showing how the State has become identified with the interests of capitalism when capital is exported and invested in trade abroad. When capital is invested in railways, factories and workshops abroad, of necessity it brings to the rentier class a return which does not redound to the general well-being of the ordinary worker; the income from that source is solely beneficial to the few who have been able to make those foreign investments. I know very well that the interests of those people are sometimes said to be of national importance. I hold myself that, both from the point of view of workmen and employment, and trade interests, the rentier foreign investing class are not only not in harmony with the nation, but they are inimical to the best interests of the nation, and that class is no use to the ordinary workers of the country. [HON. MEMBERS "No!"] I see some slight indications of dissent on that point, but may I be allowed to point out that the investments made by people in this country in Japan and India in the form of cotton machinery are one of the great contributory causes of the unemployment which exists to-day among the cotton operatives in Lancashire.

To protect British investments of capital in India and Shanghai, or wherever it may be invested, stands the might and force of the British Navy and the British Army, and, in spite of the investment of all that capital in cotton mills, salt factories, and the iron and steel industry abroad, those very investments are one of the greatest contributory causes of unemployment in this country. The workers of this country are asked to maintain the Army and Navy to protect foreign investments in the shape of capital when such investments are really the principal contributory cause of unemployment. It is true to say that the maintenance of the Army and the Navy does not help to solve unemployment; its upkeep is not only a positive burden, but also a negative burden, because it is one of the main causes of unemployment. Our national might and national arms are used to protect the private interests of the few who invest abroad. This is one of the dominant features of the times, and, although it is not the only cause, it is the root cause of war and the root cause of the need of armies and navies. I will read to the House a passage from a chapter dealing with the export of capital from a work entitled "British Imperialism in China." It says:
"In 1897, two years after the Japanese War, a Belgian syndicate secured a concession to build a railway from Pekin in the north to Hankow on the Yangtsze river, a distance of about 750 miles. Immediately British rival interests asserted their claim, and the British Government, acting as the tool of these interests, began to threaten the Chinese. Lord Salisbury informed the British representative in China that:
'A concession of this nature is no longer a commercial or industrial enterprise, and becomes a political movement against the British interests in the region of the Yangtsze. You should inform the Tsungli-Yamen (i.e., the Chinese Government) that Her Majesty's Government cannot possibly continue to co-operate in a friendly mariner in matters of interest to China, if, while preferential advantages are conceded to Russia in Manchuria and to Germany in Shantung, these or other foreign powers should also be offered special openings or privileges in the region of the Yangtsze. Satisfactory proposals will be forthcoming if the Chinese Government will invite the employment of British capital in the development of those provinces.'
When the Chinese persisted in granting the Belgian concession, the British Minister presented an ultimatum to the Chinese Government. He informed that Government that:
'Her Majesty's Government considered that they had been badly treated by China in the matter of railway concessions, and now demanded from the Chinese Government the right for British merchants to build the following lines upon the same terms as those granted in the case of the Belgian line.'"
Obviously, here we have the announcement of the gospel of modern capitalistic Imperialism backed up by the armed forces of the nation. For these reasons, I want to say definitely that the fight against armaments must necessarily be a, fight against the capitalistic system of society; a fight against armaments must also include a fight against the unequalled distribution of wealth. There could be no investments abroad unless capital was allowed to accumulate. There are a number of us in this House who, while we do not think that force of itself is wrong, while we do not believe that force is always wrong, as a matter of fact, and while we believe that force has at times been a liberating agent in the progress of humanity, at the same time, we say definitely that, under modern conditions, force in the shape of armaments can, only prove to be a reactionary agent. Force under modern Imperialism has been proved to be a reactionary agent used to buttress up the interest of the few who have been able to invest their capital abroad. We are asked to look at our needs and the miles of ocean we have to protect, and we are told that armaments are needed to protect our ships against people outside our own shores. On the basis of the sentiments of our people, there is no need at the present time to use force and armaments. What are the real needs that dominate modern society and determine the quantity of armaments? The real need is to be found in the personal interests of the privileged class who invest their money abroad in foreign fields.

I turn now to the last part of my Amendment in which I ask, as a little step in the direction of disarmament, for the withdrawal of grants from the Officers Training Corps. I understood the Secretary of State for War this afternoon to make some concession, but I should like to be quite sure as to what it means. He said, as I understood him, that grants were to be withdrawn from the Cadet Corps, and that the Officers Training Corps were to remain exactly as they are. I should be glad if the Financial Secretary, when he replies, would tell me—or perhaps he can tell me even now—exactly what that means. How much money does it mean? How many people will it affect? From how many people will the grants be withdrawn, and how many will that include who are now in school? As I understand it, this is a very small concession. Indeed, I almost agree with an interjection that was made to the effect that it is almost nothing. I would like, however, to be perfectly clear about it.

As I understand it, the Officers Training Corps are to remain exactly as they are. If I am right, what does that mean? It means, in the first place, that, in the case of the children of the workers, who are not in the generality of cases going to be officers, these grants will be withdrawn, but that the "posh" schools, the public schools, are still going to have their grants maintained as they are now. Therefore, the suggestion of the Secretary of State for War does not touch in the slightest degree class distinction, class privilege and class rule inside: the Army. As I understand the Secretary of State—I am prepared to he corrected—the whole of the grant will still be given to the Officers Training Corps in these public schools, and I believe that, if the figures are examined, it will be found that the amount to be given this year is between £1,000 and £2,000 more than was paid last year. Hence, so far as the Officers Training Corps is concerned, we are still going to give more than the Tory Government gave in the previous year. If I am wrong, I shall be very pleased to be corrected.

Some people have suggested, and I believe that the Secretary of State for War suggested, that there was no force or compulsion so far as these training corps are concerned, hut I would like the Financial Secretary to listen to one or two extracts with regard to that question. The League of Nations Union were concerned, as I understand, some time ago, about compulsion in regard to the Officers Training Corps, and they sent out inquiries to headmasters throughout the country with regard to it. A number of replies were received, and l think that nearly all of them say that there is no compulsion, that is to say, that there is no compulsory regulation, but no other sort of compulsion is denied. I have some of the replies here. The following is one:
"As I expected, though not formally compulsory, it becomes practically so in many cases. What we used to call 'voluntary compulsory' is the common feature of public schools, and where the authorities do not exercise pressure, public opinion or custom among the boys is the equivalent."
Here is another:
"The Officers Training Corps here is not compulsory, but in practice nearly every boy joins in the end, though not always at the age of 14. A few never join owing to ill-health, and there are one or two, especially among the day boy. whose parents object. At the present moment, over 80 per cent. of the boys in the senior school belong, and as long as we can keep it at this I personally should prefer not to have any compulsory rule."
Another says:
"When a boy enters, he does so on the understanding that he will serve in the Officers Training Corps at the age of 15 unless the is medically unfit—"
[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] The Tory party wants to deny educational facilities to boys unless they are prepared to join the Officers Training Corps. [Interruption.] Can anyone on those benches deny, after the cheers that we have heard, that the essential purpose of the Officers Training Corps is a military one? Will anyone put up the humbugging case that it is for educational reasons that the Officers Training Corps is formed? [An HON. MEMBER:" Health!"] If it is health, why not ask the medically unfit boys to join? As a matter of fact, the medically unfit are excluded, but, if it were for health purposes it would have been very good to take the physically defective and those a little below normal. No; I say, and on this all progressive educational opinion is agreed, that it is entirely wrong and unfair to make it compulsory—for that is what it means—that a child must enter the Officers Training Corps for military training in order that he may get into certain schools in this country.

The hon. and gallant Member knows quite well that what I am reading are quite genuine replies, of which I have a number here. I have deliberately not put any school down, because I do not want to single out any particular school, but, if the hon. and gallant Member wants to force me, I can tell him a few. [Interruption.] The contention of Members on the other side, and I believe, of the Headmasters' Conference—an intellectual body with unprogressive minds—is that it is justified on educational grounds. I have here a speech which was delivered—

I have here some extracts from a speech which was delivered by Lord Allenby. It is taken from the "A.M.A." of July, 1929–[Interruption.]

I hope that the hon. Member will be allowed to proceed with his speech.

This is an extract from the "A.M.A.", which the hon. Member who has just risen will know. [Interruption.] It is the Assistant Masters' Association. It is an organisation whose members consist of assistant masters in secondary schools, and the extract to which I refer is as follows:

"To the Editor of the A.M.A.
"Sir,—There has recently appeared on the Cadet Corps notice board in my school an article taken from a Sunday newspaper, and entitled Lord Allenby on Every Boy's Duty.' The Field-Marshal, who is stated to be 'the personification of the man which every boy would like to be,' states that the idea of the Cadet Corps Association 'is to teach boys to be self-reliant,' etc., 'as well as to give rudimentary ideas of military training.'"
For health and educational purposes you drill them, make them form fours, walk up and down, use rifles, dummy or otherwise—all for the sake of developing their bodies and their minds. As a matter of fact, military training, as is now admitted, cuts right across all modern tendencies in education, and cuts right across the fundamental principle of self development and self-initiative. [Interruption.] The drill-sergeant is an anachronism in modern educational systems. [Interruption.] I now find that it is agreed that it is military, and, if it is military, we say, as educationists, that the job should be done outside the educational system. If it is necessary to have an Officers Training Corps, do not intrude it into the educational system. It has been suggested that the schools should be used as agents for internationalism, for propagating the ideas and purposes of the League of Nations, but how can the schools perform that international function on behalf of the League of Nations when at the same time they are dominated by the Officers Training Corps and their militarism? All progressive educationists say that the Officers Training Corps should be kept out of the schools, that it should be carried on outside the school walls—[Interruption]. If you like, in the boys' holiday time. The letter that I was reading goes on:
"'When the boys grow too old to be in the Cadets they can pass to the Territorials'. He explains that the masters of the various schools arrange 'rifle practice and all other adjuncts of military training'"—
for the purposes of the education and health of the boys. It goes on:
"'It cannot be too often repeated,' Lord Allenby insists, 'that it is the duty of every boy to fit himself to become a defender, if necessary, of his country I do not want to teach militarism,' he protests. 'I am not a militarist myself… But the old proverb that the best way to ensure peace is to prepare for war is just as true to-day as ever it was.'"
That is the principle of the Officers Training Corps-that the best way to ensure peace is to prepare for war. That is what we are teaching in our secondary schools and our public schools in this country, and teaching it with a direct grant from the War Office. I am going to ask the Secretary of State for War, quite reasonably and nicely, whether he does not think that he is not touching the heart of the problem one little bit by what he suggested. Does he not think that it would do far more good in the cause of peace if he took half the money away from the Officers Training Corps and left as it is the money that he is now taking away from the Cadet Corps? The vital point of attack, to use a military phrase, is not so much the Cadet Corps, whose grant is to be stopped, as the Officers Training Corps in the great public schools and in the secondary schools of this country. I appeal to the Secretary of State, therefore, to tackle this problem, and to get away from class distinction in the Army, because it is only those who are in a privileged class who can go to those schools where the Officers Training Corps exists. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to get away from this class privilege and do a real bit of good work in the schools for the cause of peace and disarmament, by saying that in the case of the Officers Training Corps, and the Junior Section of the Officers Training Corps, the grant shall be taken away, and that it is not the business of the school to train men for military purposes, but that it is the business of the school to train our youth for the broader work of citizenship, to give them peaceful ideas, to train them in initiative and self-control, to give them the power of self-preservation, and to make their tastes and pursuits such that they are not thinking of rifles, but of the arts and sciences that will bless humanity.

I beg to second the Amendment.

This Estimate is for some £40,000,000. On a similar Motion the other night we dealt with an Estimate of £50,000,000 for the Navy. On a similar Motion on Tuesday we dealt, in round figures, with an Estimate for £20,000,000 for the Air Force. Those three Estimates together make up a total of £110,000,00, or some £2,000,000 per week. It is 6.0 p.m. a striking commentary en the amazing and dangerous difference between our national professions arid our national actions that 11 years ago, after the end of the Great War, after a peace Treaty in which we bound ourselves to disarm, and after a whole series of disarmament conferences, we should now, in 1930, be voting £110,000,000 for armaments, and still more amazing that the first voice to draw attention to that situation comes not from the Government Front Bench or the Front Benches opposite, but from back benchers here. It is utterly inconsistent with the Treaty of Versailles, with the Locarno Treaty, with the Pact of Paris, with any one of the solemn undertakings we have entered into to repudiate war as an instrument of national policy that we should at this time be voting £110,000,000 for military preparation. I desire to do two things. The first is to show that, even upon the assumption of those who disagree with us and believe that military preparations may go on, we ought not to vote the money we are being asked to vote, and, secondly, that the assumptions upon which those who differ from us work will not bear investigation. I will take, first, my suggestion that, even on military assumptions, we ought not to vote this expenditure.

When the South African war broke out, the War Office discovered the need for cavalry on a scale that it had not contemplated before. The South African war was a war of horses and of movement, and we learnt, in the heavy loss of life, the need for the provision of cavalry on a scale that the War Office had not previously contemplated. The War Office learnt its lesson and it took cavalry and movement to its bosom. How many millions of pounds were wasted between the end of the South African war and the beginning of the Great War on cavalry I do not know, but when the Great War came we found, as we might have expected to find, that it did not reproduce the features of the South African war, that it was not a war of movement and of horses, but of trenches and men. The War Office had learnt its lesson in 1902. The only thing it failed to learn was that the world does not stand still. I suggest for the consideration of the House that the next war, when it comes, will be even more different from the Great War than that War was from the South African war, and yet the bulk of this expenditure of £110,000,000 is based upon the assumption that the next war will be, at any rate in the main, like the Great War.

If that is not the assumption, I ask the House how it comes about that we are proposing to spend 2½ times as much on the Navy this year as on the Air Force, and twice as much on the Army as on the Air Force? The battleship has not merely become obsolete but has become a nuisance, but we are going to maintain it. The scene of war shifts from the land to the air, but we are spending twice as much on the Army as on the Air Force. All modern war experience shows that the old-time distinction between the soldier and the civilian breaks down in time of war, but we are still maintaining a standing professional Army on the apparent assumption that it does not. Even on the militarist basis, the assumption of those who believe that war cannot be destroyed, and that you must prepare for wars in the future, there is something profoundly wrong about the allocation of that £110,000,000 as between Navy, Army and Air Force for the coming year.

The views of those who sit on these benches go very much further than that. The last two decades have proved four things which have a most intimate bearing upon this matter. Three of them are proved up to the hilt, and the fourth is in process of being proved. The first is that you do not secure peace by preparing for war. If any shoddy doctrine was ever thoroughly destroyed, the doctrine that you make peace safe by preparing for war has been destroyed for ever. The second thing is that the growing frightfulness of war does not act as a deterrent to war. I remember in the years before 1914 reading many articles, and listening to many speeches, designed to show that, with science and invention at its then stage of development, war had become so frightful a thing that its very frightfulness was a guarantee that it would not be resorted to. That argument has also been destroyed. The third thing that has been proved is that you cannot humanise war. War knows no Queensberry rules. You may have international conventions prohibiting this, limiting that, vetoing the other, but when war is once embarked upon and nations are at each other's throats, all your pacts and all your statutes of limitation go by the board and self-preservation demands of a nation that it shall use any weapons within its power.

The fourth thing, on which there will be more dissention than on the others, is that you cannot achieve disarmament by international agreement. If any evidence is wanted of that, I will quote what was said the other night by the leader of the Liberal party in his tribute to Lord Balfour. He referred to the Washington Conference, and, in a tone of voice in which there was more sorrow than humour, said the Washington Conference was the only disarmament conference that had ever produced any measure of disarmament. Admiral Dewar told us in another place not long ago that the only reason why that one achieved any measure of success was that the Secretary to the American Navy threw the experts overboard, a course which I urged we should take on the Navy Estimates the other night. You cannot achieve disarmament by international agreement because, so long as the contributions of any Power to disarmament conferences are based upon an estimate of that Power's needs, you get no further. The Prime Minister said recently in a magnificent preoration, "We must take risks for the cause of peace." The risk that these Army Estimates take is one of just under 1 per cent.—in round figures, or—500,000 reduction on a—40,000,000 Estimate. We may take risks for peace but, if these Estimates are any criterion, we are not taking much risk, and yet the result of not taking risks for peace is that war preparation goes on and on. All experience shows that, when you build up Navies, Armies, and Air Forces, the time will come when those instruments of destruction will be used.

The last War shook European civilisation to its base over large areas of Eastern Europe. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that another 12 months of that War would have smashed civilisation in Western Europe as well as in Eastern Europe, and, whatever else is clear, it is clear that the next war, when it comes, will destroy civilisation, if only because in the interval between the last War and the next science and invention have progressed at a rate that has completely out-distanced any scientific progress between the South African war and the Great War of 1914. Lord Halsbury, armed with a copy of the War Office Manual, and speaking in another place not long ago, said that a new form of poison gas had been invented, one part of which mingled with a million parts of air world destroy all life within its radius of action in a minute. He went on to say that one bomb containing that gas dropped on Piccadilly Circus would wipe out all life between Regent's Park and the Thames, and I note with satirical appreciation that that area includes this House. Lord Halsbury said that he thought it would be a good plan if copies of the War Office Manual could be printed and circulated broadcast, because if that happened there might be such a wave of indignation and horror amongst our people that the use of these things in war would be prevented. Herr Nessler, an officer of the German gas corps, testified recently that it was a delusion to suppose that there was any adequate form of defence from poison gas attack, and added that the gasses which would be used in future wars would make protection of the civil population impossible, because they would be of a character which would destroy the very texture of skin and flesh itself. If the last War, with its instruments of destruction, robbed civilisation of its best, the next war, with its instruments of destruction, will destroy our civilisation.

We remain in a vicious circle where no one will move until somebody else moves, and because no one will move until someone else moves, none of us moves, or shall I say, we move only to the extent of 1 per cent. It is said that if you take a piece of chalk and make a circle on the ground around a fowl, the fowl will be afraid to cross the line of chalk, and will stay in the circle. Humanity at the present time is very much like the fowl in the circle. The chalk with which that circle is drawn is the chalk of fear, and if these Estimates mean anything, they mean that that fear is as heavy upon our Government as upon any Government, or, at the outside, only 1 per cent. less.

On behalf of those who are associated with me, may I say this in conclusion? There has been a good deal of Press speculation during the week-end as to whether we intend to carry a Division in the House to-night on this subject, and the answer is that we do. I want to make it clear that we are not doing that merely because it will be interpreted as cowardice if we do not do it. Do not let there be any mistake about that. We are doing it because between our point of view and the point of view which these Estimates embody there is a profound gulf. These Estimates mean no risk for peace, or only 1 per cent. The position of those of us on these benches is that we are prepared to take great risks for peace. Whatever are the risks involved in sweeping reductions of our naval, military and air forces, those risks are nothing to the certainty which is involved unless that line is taken—for the alternative to our line is continued military preparation—of war at the end of it all. For those reasons, I beg to second the Amendment and to ask the House to back us up in the endeavour to carry into effect the pledge which our Prime Minister made when he said that, in contradistinction to those who sit on the opposite benches, in our party, at any rate, we were prepared to take risks for peace, and would take them.

In accordance with the invariable custom of this House, I would ask for that consideration and kindly sympathy which are always extended to one of its Members who speaks for the first time. Perhaps it may seem strange that a representative of one of the older Universities should dare to address the House on a mater concerning the Army Estimates. The reason for my boldness is explained in the wording of the Amendment which is now under discussion. I wish to confine myself to the latter part of the Amendment which concerns the withdrawal of all State grants for the maintenance of the Officers' Training Corps. I have always been particularly interested in the Officers Training Corps and I wish to show reasons why these grants should be continued. The speeches to which we have just listened seemed to cover a much wider range, and to refer rather to the necessity for having an Army at all. I do not propose to discuss that question, and will leave it to be argued by other speakers. The wording of the Amendment deals with the necessity for reducing expenditure upon the Army and proposes to reduce the expenditure in the first instance by the withdrawal of the grants from the Officers Training Corps. In my opinion—and I hope to give reasons for that opinion—the expenditure by the State on the Officers Training Corps in the past has been repaid many-fold, and any expenditure which it contemplates in the immediate future will most likely also be repaid over and over again.

I do not know whether there are many Members in this House who have served both in the old Volunteers and in the Officers Training Corps. I have had that experience. I refer to this because I want to compare my experiences as a volunteer with my experiences as a member of the Officers Training Corps. I joined the Cambridge University Rifle Volunteers in 1905, and served three years as an officer in that Corps. Then Lord Haldane, as part of his great administrative changes in the Army and the creation of the Territorial Force was faced with the problem in the year 1908 of the supply of officers for the Special Reserve and the Territorial Force, and he turned with great foresight to the schools and the universities of the country. He said that the only possible source from which he could get the men fitted by education, by training, by physical fitness, by the power of leadership, by the gifts of command were the schools and the universities of the country. He did not confine himself, as has been suggested, to class schools. There is no distinction of the kind. There are many schools possessing junior Officers Training. Corns units which cannot possibly be described as class schools.

It was clear, as Lord Haldane pointed out, that Sandhurst and Woolwich could supply only the Regular Army, and, therefore, he turned to the schools and universities for the supply of officers for the Special Reserve and for the Territorial Force. He changed at once the status of the old Volunteers and also the whole system of training to which the old Volunteer Corps had been accustomed. He decided that no longer should the school and the university volunteers be trained from the point of view of supplying men for the rank and file. He said that he wished in future to regard them as potential officers ready to assume greater responsibilities, to be prepared to take on leadership and the command of men. Men had to be led and they had to be commanded. He said that the best places from which he could get leaders were the schools and the universities. He changed, therefore, the training absolutely and fundamentally. He said that these young men should be encouraged to think that their future, in any great national emergency, would be in the Commissioned ranks of the Army and not amongst the rank and file.

I welcome the statement which has been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War that he does not propose to accept this Amendment for the reduction of the grants to the Officers Training Corps.

It was obvious from the very start of the new movement that a new interest and a new spirit were to be seen and that there would be a much higher standard of military efficiency under the new conditions than existed under the old. I, myself, had to transfer to the Officers Training Corps, and I can speak from my personal experience of the very marked change which took place when through Lord Haldane's foresight this corps was first founded. Under the old conditions which existed there was at Cambridge practically nothing but infantry, a small body of men who were generally known under the somewhat derogatory name of "Bugshooters." They were not a very popular corps. They consisted of a rather small number of enthusiasts. As soon as the Officers Training Corps was formed, a very much larger number of men joined, arid the very best type of men. Every- one in this House knows that great honour attaches at Oxford and Cambridge to the "Blues," the men who row for their University, play cricket and so on, and it had not been the custom for these men to have much to do with the Volunteer Corps. But under the new conditions when the new Corps was started, and owing to the personal influence of a very great rifle soldier, Captain, now Colonel, Leslie Thornton, these joined in large numbers. They did their work in the time that had usually been devoted to their games. This was a complete change from the old conditions, and the Corps became a very real and important factor in the life of the under-graudates at the university.

Another marked change that took place was the change in the view of the Regular Army officer. In the old days, he looked with a somewhat kindly tolerance and amused indifference at the efforts of the volunteer corps, but he was the first to recognise that under the new conditions a really important and most significant change had taken place. At once we received encouragement from the Regular Army which we had never had before. Opportunities for working in closer contact with the Regular Army were given, and I was glad to hear the Secretary of State for War refer to that fact to-night. I hope that he will encourage that development still further. For the first time, units of the Officers Training Corps were allowed to work side by side with units of the Regular Army. Another very important change took place. In the old days there was practically nothing but infantry, but under the new conditions we had every branch of the Army represented in the Officers Training Corps—artillery, infantry, engineers, signallers, the Army Medical Corps. It became the custom to allow these units to go into camp for a short period with a unit of the Regular Army and to work side by side with them.

I have confined myself so far to the question of the difference in training and the difference in outlook. I should have thought it unnecessary to remind the House of what took place when War broke out had it not been for what has been said by the Proposer and Seconder of the Amendment. Again, by a coincidence, I am personally acquainted with what took place at the outbreak of War, because I was one of two or three men who were taken at once from Oxford and Cambridge to serve at the War Office. We served in the branch which concerned itself with the supply of junior officers for all units of the Army—the Regular Army, the Special Reserve, the Territorial Force, and the New Army. I am not exaggerating when I say that the demand for junior officers in the first year or two of the War was one of the most urgent, one of the most important and one of the most difficult demands with which the country was faced.

How did the Officers Training Corps respond to that demand? Eighty per cent. at least of the junior officers who received commissions in the first two years of the War came from the junior and senior branches of the Officers Training Corps. The boys leaving school, the young men already at the universities, and members of other Officers Training corps volunteered with enthusiasm. In the early days of the War they responded to the call of the country with practical unanimity. The consequence was that the establishments of junior officers in the Regular Army, the Territorial Force, the New Army, and the Special Reserve were all kept up to strength, and that was accomplished to the extent of 80 per cent. by the boys and youths whom it is now proposed by hon. Members opposite should no longer be trained to help the country should a similar emergency arise. Surely, after such an experience as that, nothing could be so foolish as to suggest a change in a policy which was so successful and which stood the strain of war in the way it did.

If the proposer and seconder of the Amendment had confined themselves to a general attack on the existence of the Army, and had not singled out for special reference the Officers Training Corps, I should have sees more reason in their criticism. I could understand the point of view of certain hon. Members opposite that we should have no Army and should simply trust to luck, and hope that other nations would be kind enough to leave us alone. I could understand to a certain extent their position if they had said, "We want a small Army but we want it to be first-class." The effect of their proposal is that they realise we must have an Army, but they want it to be second-class. I can see no reason whatever for anyone giving support to that view. Why abolish the grant to the Officers Training Corps? Either hon. Members must prove that the Officers Training Corps is not giving the right alms of officers and that it is a waste of money, or they must admit that, on their showing, we must be prepared to be content with a second-rate type of officer and a second-rate Army.

Another statement is made, although it was not made by the proposer or the seconder, to the effect that the study of war has a bad influence upon character. Reference to that has been made in speeches from the other side of the House. It has been suggested that the mere fact of boys and young men serving in an Officers Training Corps instils into their minds the desire for war, that the effect is felt throughout the whole community, and we are encouraged to make war unnecessarily. I have heard that statement many times, but I have never heard any single fact or bit of evidence which supports it. When the War brake out in 1914 I did not notice a sign of any hysterical thirst for blood on the part of the undergraduates at Cambridge. The attitude of the regular soldiers did not suggest anything of the kind. There was no frothy talk about the glamour of war, or anything of that kind. Therefore, failing evidence to the contrary, we may brush that argument aside as not worth consideration. If evidence of a desire for war is to be sought for, it must be looked for in another direction. It seems to me that it only exists where politicians have misled their populations, where Ministers and Governments have lost their heads, and where those who are responsible for the policy of State have imagined that there is some easy path to honour, glory and conquest. That was a charge, I think, that we might make against some of our enemies in the late War.

If there was any evidence that military training and the study of the science of war encouraged people to desire war we should have found evidence of it in the writings of British military historians. I have read a good number of their books, but I have failed to notice anything that could bear such an interpre- tation. So far as I have seen, there is no glorification of war in the writings of the British military historians. There is only a sober analysis of military tactics and strategy, of conduct and morale, with a good deal of humour, and nothing of a bloodthirsty nature. There is no encouragement in their writings in regard to war as a policy. I admit that you do get that in certain foreign writers, but we have to remember that we are discussing now British policy, the British Army and the British soldier. No charge can be laid either on the soldier or the statesman so far as the late War was concerned which would bear any interpretation that they had a desire for war for war's sake.

The military training of the boys in the schools and the universities, apart from the military efficiency which it gives, has a very good and important effect upon their characters. It encourages a spirit of discipline, of order, of regularity, of decency of conduct and of self-sacrifice. all of which are of value to the community as a whole. For these reasons, amongst others which I have not mentioned, I hope that the House will reject the Amendment when it goes to a Division. Various arguments have been made from the other side of the House with which I will leave others to deal. I trust that there will be a very substantial majority against the Amendment.

Although I am a junior Member of this House, it falls to me to have the privilege of congratulating the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. G. Wilson) upon a very excellent maiden speech. He has put the case of the Officers Training Corps very clearly and, although I cannot completely agree with him, I should like to say that he has put his case in an exceedingly lucid way. I wish to thank the Secretary of State for War for the concession which he has given to us in regard to Territorial Cadet Corps, but I should like further information as to what he means by his statement that cadet corps as recognised by the War Office will disappear. For many years I have had a lot to do with boys' organisations which were not recognised by the War Office. Our experience has been that the Church Lade Brigade, for instance, has been in many cases preferred by boys not so much because it earned a grant from the War Office of 5s. a year, but because the Church Lads Brigade, like other Territorial Cadet Units, had various other privileges. I should like to know whether those other privileges are to be withdrawn. Those privileges include the use of Government camp equipment, and of camp sites and also the use of a certain number of Government rifles. Then there is the possibility of being trained by members of Territorial units and the further possibility of getting their equipment moved to camps at special rates. But what appeals to the boys most of all is that they are allowed to wear Territorial uniform and to take part in ceremonial parades with other Territorial units. I hope that the Financial Secretary, when he replies, will say quite frankly that all these privileges are going to be withdrawn because these units are no longer recognised by the War Office as part of the Territorial Army.

I should like to refer in the next place to the Officers Training Corps. May I remind the House that there are two sections—a senior and a junior? I am going to say nothing at all about the senior section. This is composed of young men from the universities and medical schools who are at an age when they should be able to think for themselves. When they join the Senior Officers Training Corps they know exactly what they are doing. But I submit that the junior branch of the Officers Training Corps is a very different organisation. The object of this junior branch, I contend, is to force children to become soldiers before they are able to think for themselves.

Yes, I will tell the hon. and gallant Member where the compulsion comes in. I maintain that the object of the Junior Officers Training Corps, as the Secretary of State for War has clearly indicated, is to provide officers. Let me call the attention of the House to a provision in the rules and regulations of the Officers Training Corps. Section 122 says:

"A grant of £1 will be made to school contingents for every certificate A gained after 1st April, 1920."
The same Section goes on to say:
"In addition to this, a further grant of £9 will be made to school contingents for every cadet who has obtained his certificate complete while a member of the contingent and who is afterwards granted a commission in the Supplementary Reserve or Territorial Army."
I take the view that this extra £9 will be very useful to those concerned with contingents of the Officers Training Corps, and that its object is clearly to induce those responsible for these unite; to use every reasonable pressure to get their members when they leave these units to become officers of the sections I have mentioned. There is no doubt at, all that the object of the Officers Training Corps, junior as well as the senior section, is to get officers for His Majesty's Army. Now comes the question of compulsion. I submit that directly and indirectly a great deal of compulsion is used. Let me read one or two extracts I have from certain school prospectuses.

One is on the authority of the Women's International League—[Interruption]—and my quotation is taken from the prospectus of the Birkenhead school:

"All boys not specially excused are expected to take part in school games. All boys over 14 years of age who are medically fit are expected to join the Officers Training Corps."
I have extracts from the prospectuses of the Monmouth Grammar School and Edinburgh Academy. Further, it seems to me that there is clear evidence of a great deal of indirect pressure. For instance, boys are excused unpleasant, lessons while they are doing Officers Training Corps drills. Marks are given for the work, and if they do not attend. they do not get these marks, and so their place in school is affected. In some schools boys are not allowed to become prefects unless they join the Officers Training Corps.

In other schools they are not allowed to joint the Scouts. I have been informed directly by the boys of a school which I know that when the Officers Training Corps are doing drill, those who do not attend are set to do menial tasks, and in this particular school are given the job of weeding the lawns. Yesterday I met a man I know very well, who told me that when he was a member of the Officers Training Corps at his school the boys were set to do bayonet drill. They were informed that the proper way of attacking an enemy was to get the bayonet right through his throat. This upset a boy very much and made him sick, and he applied to his parents to be allowed permission to withdraw from the Officers Training Corps. This was only obtained on the payment of £5. Whether these regulations exist at present I do not know.

Let me deal next with what the Secretary of State for War has said in attempting to justify what seems to me a most unjustifiable position, that whilst he intends to withdraw Government support from Cadet Corps he intends to maintain it in connection with the junior Officers Training Corps. His words were that a boy attending a public school was certainly not too young to join an Officers Training Corps at an age which has been considered high enough for a working class boy to join the ranks. A working class boy joins the ranks at 18, but I submit that a working class boy of 18 is very much more mature than a boy of 18 of the middle classes. A working class boy leaves school at 14 and either starts work or becomes unemployed. During those four years, between 14 and 18, for good or evil, he learns a great deal of the world as it really is to-day. The argument might hold good and would hold good, perhaps, if the entry age to the Officers Training Corps was 18, but the age of entry to the junior Officers Training Corps is 13, and from the age of 14 grants can be obtained. I read that a small capital grant to assist in meeting initial costs and the provision of ranges, etc., will be granted in respect of all cadets who are 14 years of age or over. A boy when he is 15, or in the case of a rate-aided school when he is 16, earns grants for his Officers Traning Corps. If we accept the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that a boy is not too young to join the Officers Training Corps at an age when a working-class boy joins the ranks only at this age, I submit that it rules out completely the junior Officers Training Corps.

Finally, let me briefly reiterate what has been said with regard to the junior Officers Training Corps. In my experience boys, if they are allowed to play as they like, very often imitate adults. A boy who joins the Officers Training Corps feels that he is a member of the Army, and indeed he is. At the same time, if he is at school, he goes to lectures on the value of peace, on the Kellogg Pact and the League of Nations. The boy is taught by inference therefore that there is nothing incongruous between being armed to the teeth and universal peace. That is a very dangerous doctrine to teach. A short time ago I had occasion to visit a big public school in the Midlands intending to enter my boy. I asked if there was an Officers Training Corps and the headmaster said there was, and for some 10 minutes tried to show me that training boys for war was going to make for world peace. I was so impressed by his logic that I decided to enter my boy elsewhere. I want the right hon. Gentleman to stand by the words he has used and prevent the training of boys in schools at an earlier age than the age at which boys of the working classes join the ranks of the Army.

We have had a very full Debate so far, and, with a desire to expedite your removal from the Chair, with great respect, Mr. Speaker, I venture now to intervene. Before I proceed to deal with the issues involved in the Amendment which has been moved from the benches behind me must reply to the several point's which have been raised by the late Secretary of State for War and by the hon. and gallant Member for Montrose (Sir R. Hutchison).

I must point out to the hon. Member that he would be out of order if he replied on the Amendment to the questions which have been raised on the main Question. We are now on the Amendment, and he must confine himself to the questions which are raised in it.

The hon. Member can reply on the other points when we have disposed of the Amendment and get back again to the Question, That I do now leave the Chair.

7.0 p.m.

I am entirely in your hands, but I understood that, so far as the Debate had gone, I might be entitled to reply on the points raised. That, however, can be done at a later stage. Until then, the right hon. Gentleman must possess himself in patience. Obviously, my reply will be very much curtailed in consequence of the decision which you have just given. I shall confine myself, therefore, to the points which have been raised in the Amendment now before us. I confess to considerable perturbation of mind in consequence of the arguments addressed by my hon. Friends behind me. So far as the particular Amendment now before us is concerned, it is perfectly pacific in its terms, though somewhat vague in its implications. The ordinary course of Debate is to be expected, but what I cannot understand is the attitude of my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton West (Mr. W. J. Brown), who, in arguing his case, informed us that pacts and understandings and the League of Nations and international negotiations and discussions were of no value. I was almost inclined to the view, when I heard the hon. Member speak, that nothing was of any value beyond himself, nor did he seek to agree with his hon. Friends beside him, and for whom, curiously enough, he professed to speak.

Surely the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) is not reconciled to the view which was expressed by the hon. Member for West Wolverhampton. It is only a year since that a Debate proceeded in this House on a Motion for Disarmament. It was moved by the present Deputy-Chairman of Ways and Means, and it read as follows:
"This House considers that national security, and therefore international peace, can only be assured by international agreement for a substantial all-round reduction in military forces, and according urges His Majesty's Government to put forward and support proposals at the preparatory commission for the Disarmament Conference at Geneva for the drastic reduction of personnel, and for the reduction both of military expenditure and of material."
That resolution is consistent with the policy of the party for whom I speak—disarmament by international agreement. Not to assume that by cutting off a few men here or some material there you will bring about an era of peace, but a policy broadly based on the assumption that international security will be best secured by a readiness to resort to arbitration. That is our policy, but the hon. Member for Aberavon will be pleased to learn that he supported in the Division Lobby the Motion which I have just read out. To put it shortly, the hon. Member supported 12 months ago a policy of disarmament by international agreement, the policy of the Labour party, and now his, con. Friend beside him, speaking for the hon. Member for Aberavon, claims that that policy is no longer adhered to by him and his friends. Whom are we to believe? What is the policy of my hon. Friend? Is it a policy of disarmament by international agreement or is it a policy which implies voting against all war credits? The hon. Member for West Wolverhampton stands alone in relation to the somewhat strange policy which he has enunciated. It is not a policy which ever found acceptance in the Labour ranks. It is an academic policy, and it is not practical politics. There are few, if any, of those for whom he claims to speak who accept it. I would remind the House that some of the hon. Members, who were associated with the Division the other night in relation to our Air personnel, voted for this Motion last year.

I understand that the First Commissioner of Works voted for the Motion to abolish the whole Army.

Not at all. The Noble Lord should pay a little more attention to me than he does to his Friends beside him when I am speaking. He would then be able to follow. May I clear away a little misunderstanding from his mind? The position is as I have described it. There was a Motion last year on the Army Estimates when the Noble Lord and his Friends sat on these benches. Several of my hon. Friends voted for that Motion which implies disarmament by international agreement and not by the abolition of war credits. They included the hon. Member for Aberavon, the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly) and the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). Yet the three of them went into the Lobby the other night demanding a reduction of 30,000 men in the Air Force. No doubt they will seek to reduce these Votes to-night, but, if they do, their conduct requires some explaining away. What is it that in the course of 12 months has caused a change of heart? I leave it to the House to decide. The hon. Members ask for a reduction in armaments. The hon. Member for Aberavon asks for a programme of annual extensive reductions. The hon. Member for West Wolverhampton asks that we abolish the lot. Nevertheless, he is associated with a Motion that is down on the Paper and will be discussed in due course, which will leave us in possession of 50,000 Regulars, 100,000 Territorials, all our war materials and accoutrements and some poison gas. Where is the consistency of such a policy? I have no doubt hon. Members who sincerely believe in the pacification of the world by such means as I have indicated—

The hon. Gentleman has said that my name is associated with a Motion that will come later on in the day for a reduction of the vote by 100,000 men which will leave us still with a considerable regular Army, a volunteer force, and some poison gas. Would he mind looking at the Order Paper?

Will the hon. Gentleman also look up his facts again about the voting on the Air Force last week, and see if I was there or not?

I am all the more pleased to have this recantation. If my hon. Friend the Member for West Wolverhampton is not going into the Lobby to-night all the better.

I have not said that. I am merely asking the Minister to be a little more accurate.

Naturally one assumed, after the hon. Member had made his speech, that he certainly looked with favour upon such a proposal, however drastic. why was it—I ask this question in all seriousness—that the hon. Member who are now pressing for drastic disarmaments and who are asking for the abolition of war credits—that is what their speeches imply—when the Navy Estimates were before the House Navy Estimates were before the House merely stated their case and did not go to a Division? What is the virtue in a battleship which does not reside in a tank? One can be just as effective, just as dangerous, just as death dealing as the other. We are entitled in these circumstances to ask that question. So far, we have had no clear expression of opinion from the hon. Members.

Some very strange arguments have been adduced in support of the Amendment. We have had the philosophic dissertation from the hon. Member for Aberavon as to the causes of war. As to war itself, I shall say something before I sit down. What did he say? He said the fight against armaments is a fight against capitalism. It may be, but I am not here to-night discussing economic or social problems. The hon. Member may be right, but does he seriously suggest that, if we cut off a little here or there, reduce our reserve stocks, we are going to prevent war? We do not prevent war, according to the hon. Member himself, by annual extensive reductions in armaments. If his argument that capitalism is at the root of the trouble is sound, we may reduce the Army by so many men, we may cut off some of our war material, but, if capitalism still remains, war is just as possible in such circumstances as it would be if no interference was made with the personnel and material at the disposal of the War Department. Moreover, we have been told that force—I speak of what the hon. Member for Aberavon said—is not wrong in given circumstances. I entirely agree. I can conceive of circumstances in which force would be wholly desirable. I hope the Noble Lord will never give us an occasion for using it. [Interruption.] The Noble Lord has made a threat to resort to arms before the evening is over.

I wonder whether the hon. Member for Aberavon would allow us to use the Army against a recalcitrant House of Lords? We have had quite a lot of talk from the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, West (Mr. W. J. Brown) as to the risks that we must take in the reduction of our Estimates. The hon. Member was hardly fair to us. It is perfectly true that the net reduction upon our Vote is something over £600,000, but if the hon. Member had studied the Estimates, as he might have done, he would have discovered that the bulk of the reduction effected relates to materiel, and that to a very large extent we have disarmed. It is a very strange thing that we should have had complaints from the other side that we have gone too far, and at the same time complaints from our own side that we have not gone far enough. I entirely agree that we are not going far enough. But there are commitments for which we are not responsible—commitments the world over—and we are not able to abandon those commitments until such time as we have had an opportunity to assist, for example, by our readiness to resort to arbitration, in the pacification of the world through international agreement. That is our policy.

So far as we are concerned—I speak for the Government in this connection—we regard war as being as objectionable now as ever it was and we shall certainly spare no effort to avert its horrors. But in our judgment success cannot be achieved by theatrical and futile gestures which deceive no one. I hope that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite will not seek to extract too much enjoyment from that observation. When I refer to theatrical and futile gestures I mean the assumption underlying the argument that simply by reducing our Estimates by a few hundred thousand pounds we can lead to the pacification of the world. It is not enough. Nations, not one nation but all nations, must be swept into the pacific net. That is our policy. When the right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary for War seeks to advance a policy of that kind it will be time enough for him to cheer the observation that I have just made. We shall continue to effect economies and reductions as circumstances warrant. There is ample room in the War Department for reorganisation. I hope the right hon. Gentleman has taken note of that statement. There was much that he might have done in that direction when he was at the War Office.

To produce material for production's sake in our judgment is of little value. To build up huge stocks is equally so. The right hon. Gentleman when Secretary for War made no effort, so far as I can gather, to effect any reorganisation which might have led to economy. We seek every opportunity of effecting reductions. The approach to peace is broad based on security against aggression. The policy of the Government is to avail itself more and more of international negotiation and understanding. The Government has already proceeded far along that road. I would remind my hon. Friends of certain things—the League of Nations and our efforts before the Preparatory Commission, the Five-Power Naval Conference itself, our signature appended to the Optional Clause. In a variety of ways this Government has made a real contribution to the cause of peace and it will continue its efforts. However much my hon. Friends who support this Amendment may value their method above ours, I beg them not to take action which might imperil the advancement of the cause that I have adumbrated.

In a few words I wish to refer to that part of the Amendment which relates to the Officers Training Corps and Cadet Corps. There have been allegations this evening about compulsion, and the allegations have been confuted by hon. Members opposite. For our part—in this I speak for any right hon. Friend the Secretary of State—we do not wish to take sides in this matter. The allegations may be well founded or they may be fallacious. We have already received from hon. Members certain evidence which indicates that compulsory methods are introduced at public schools and universities. Hon. Members who have spoken from the Labour Benches, and in particular the hon. Member for Reading (Dr. Hastings), will no doubt be good enough to furnish us with further particulars. Those particulars will be closely examined. One thing I can say: My right hon. Friend will use his best endeavours to prevent anything in the nature of compulsion. With regard to the maintenance of the Officers Training Corps we had to consider bow far the Corps provide training ground for officers of the Army. We were assured by eminent military experts that the Corps did provide such training round, and in the circumstances we are not disposed to make a change. But just as the question of compulsion or the allegations of compulsion will come under review, so will the general question not be overlooked. As to my right hon. Friend's decision to refuse further financial grants to the Cadet Corps and Church Lads Brigade, we have made up our mind. In our judgment, there is no military value in furnishing such grants or in the maintenance of these Corps. We have been asked for certain explanations in relation to the matter. When we speak of the Cadet Corps to whom we refuse in future to furnish grants, we mean the Church Lads Brigade; among school units those of public secondary schools and industrial schools; and in non-school units the Jewish Lads Brigades and the Catholic Cadets—probably in all more than 50,000 boys, involving an expenditure of more than £16,000. Reference has been made to the provision of funds for these purposes, as outlined in the Estimates. The explanation is that the Estimates were prepared before this matter was considered on the representations made to my right hon. Friend. The representations were made by hon. Members of this House, and substantial arguments were adduced in support of the withdrawal of the grants. In short, the case was made out, my right hon. Friend was responsible for a decision, and here is the decision.

Is it intended to withdraw the facilities which would be given to these cadets for the use of Government grounds, transport, etc.?

So far as existing contracts are concerned, they must be allowed to expire in the normal way. We shall not interfere with contractual obligations entered into.

They are only yearly contracts. Is it the intention not to renew them?

Contractual obligations which are to expire on a certain date will be allowed to remain until that date, but when they expire we shall not render any service whatever to these Corps. In our judgment these Corps are of no value whatever for military purposes.

More and more we wish to prevent the mind of the child from being destroyed by military training. Before I sit down, let me say to hon. Friends on the Government side of the House that, so far as gradual disarmament is concerned, they are pushing at an open door. That is our policy. To those who are a little apprehensive lest we are not proceeding rapidly enough in relation to the training of the young, I would say that in the few short months we have held office many changes have taken place, and I hope my hon. Friends will accept those changes in the proper spirit and go on demanding more.

I hope that, as a humble Cambridge graduate, I may be permitted to congratulate the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. G. Wilson) on the admirable speech which he delivered just now and to say that, if, at any time, one were looking for a justification of University representation, it would be found in the fact that our ancient Universities send to this House men of the type and the character of the Master of Clare. We shall look forward with pleasurable anticipation to his future contributions to our Debates. The hon. Members who have put forward this Amendment have raised an issue of first-class importance namely, the issue between disarmament by example, or one-sided disarmament, and disarmament by international agreement. I do not think that anybody sitting on these benches has any sympathy with the idea of one-sided disarmament. Certainly, it is not my view. I have no intention of supporting the Amendment, and I am afraid that the representation of Wolverhampton is divided on this issue. It seems to me that the right course for the Government is to press forward, at the earliest possible moment, for a meeting of the Preparatory Commission on Disarmament at Geneva, to insist that the Governments of the world shall carry out their pledges on disarmament and make those countries, who will not take part, stand out before the public opinion of the world. I think when the peoples of the world come to realise that the only alternative to disarmament is a new race in armaments, and a new war, that we shall hold these countries and Governments responsible who are not willing to come in and combine with all the other nations, anxious to play their part. I hope, that as a result of the present disarmament conference in London it will be made clear who is obstructing the onward march to peaceful disarmament.

I should like to refer to the question of the Officers Training Corps and the cadets. I was very glad to hear the statement of the Secretary of State that he proposed to withdraw the grants from the cadets, and, personally—I am not able to speak for anybody else on this matter—I regret that the right hon. Gentleman did not go further and say that he would withdraw the grant from the Officers Training Corps also. I quite agree that we must have officers for the Army, and keep it up to the necessary standard. My only quarrel is with the particular method adopted for obtaining officers. It may be that in the old days before the Great War when most people regarded war as the ultimate method of settling disputes between nations, it was legitimate and desirable to make this training part of our educational system, and to work through the Officers Training Corps, but I submit that the outlook on the matter has wholly changed. The idea about settlement by force has gone and every nation is pledged through the Kellogg Pact not to fight. It seems to me a wrong psychology that a boy going through school should find it a normal part of the educational process that he is expected to join an Officers Training Corps. It naturally tends to make him think that war is a, normal, natural thing—that, as war always was in the world, so war always would be in the world.

I say that that outlook has changed. I well remember, a year or two ago, listening to Lord Cushendun speaking in the Assembly of the League of Nations on a point of this kind and he said that the children of the future would be taught not to think that war was a glorious adventure, but to think that it was a national dishonour. Those were very wise words and they give us cause to wonder whether it is wise at this juncture to make Officers Training Corps part and parcel of the educational system of the country. I ask the Secretary of State to consider, during the next year, whether it is not possible, if they must have Officers Training Corps—as I dare-say they must—to separate them from the educational system and, possibly, attach them to the Territorial Force, or in some way operate the system so that it is not connected with the educational system of the country. It is said that this method gives very good discipline and affords very fine physical exercises to those at school. That may be so, but there are many other methods of getting physical exercise at school, as we all know, and in any case it is not the job of the War Office to devise physical exercises for schools. Their job is to get recruits and when they go beyond that, they are getting out of their depth.

Looked at even from the purely military point of view, from the point of view of getting recruits, the Officers Training Corps system does not seem to be very economical or effective. On 1st October, 1929, there were 39,878 boys and youths in the Officers Training Corps and during the same period 1,052 were granted commissions. I know that all of the first-mentioned number were not available but, taking the spread of years, there must have been tens of thousands of boys available for commissions who did not take them and whose military training therefore, for that purpose, was wasted. I suggest that from that point of view alone we are getting very poor results from the military training which we are giving and the money we are expending. In regard to the cadets there were 51,262 on 31st October, 1929, and the number who joined any branch of His Majesty's Forces was 1,848—again a very small proportion. In the case of the Church Lads Brigade of 19,515, only 433 went to the Army—and the Church Lads Brigade is associated with the King's Royal Rifles. I am very glad that the grant has been withdrawn from the Church Lads Brigade, and I venture to think that there are many, closely associated with the Church Lads Brigade, who did not realise that it was receiving State grants; that it was part of the Army, and that these followers of the Prince of Peace were being trained for war. I venture to think that when they do realise it, many of them will be only too glad to be clear of any association of the kind. Let us keep everything in its right place—the Army in its place, and education in its place. With regard to the issue of compulsion, I was very glad to hear the Secretary of State make a clear pronouncement that it was not the desire of the Government or the War Office that there should be any compulsion applied to boys in schools to join the Officers Training Corps. I hope that headmasters, assistant masters and boys in our schools will realise this or have it brought to their attention, and that no effort of any kind will be made to apply compulsion. I do not think that anybody who thinks about the matter, or who has close association with schools, can deny that there is inevitably in many schools—not in all by any meane—a form of indirect compulsion which makes it impossible for a boy, unless he is of outstanding character, to resist the pressure which is put upon him. We know that in many prospectuses it is said that the boys are "expected" to join the Officers Training Corps. In many cases that means that they are expected and nothing more, but in some cases the word is a euphemism for a much stronger term. I have had an opportunity of looking at the originals of a number of letters on this subject from the parents of boys in different schools. It is impossible to mention names, for obvious reasons, but I am convinced that what I am saying is true. Reference has already been made to this matter by the hon. Member for Reading (Dr. Hastings) and I would only mention a few examples of the kind of pressure which is put upon boys.

Headmasters very often feel that it is their duty to make the Officers Training Corps "go," and one cannot blame them if they are led to assume that the State and the War Office attach importance to the use of the educational system for producing recruits for the Army. With that point of view they do their utmost to make it a success, believing, naturally, that they are doing a patriotic duty. There are headmasters and others who take the opportunity of speech days to make recruiting speeches, and to urge every boy, if he possibly can, to join the corps, and who jeer and sneer at boys who have not joined the corps, and make things as uncomfortable as possible for those boys. That is the system—I am not so much blaming any individual. In some cases, unless a boy joins the corps—voluntarily, of course—he is never allowed to become a prefect. In some schools they have also Scouts, but unless a boy will join the Officers Training Corps, he is not allowed to join the Scouts. There is no rivalry to be allowed there. Then, when the Officers Training Corps goes out on parade the other boys are kept indoors at very dull work, almost a sort of detention work, in order to make it quite clear to them that, although there is no compulsion, they are going to be made to feel the fact that they have not joined the corps. Boys have been openly accused of shirking because they did not join, and it is no exaggeration to say that in some schools—I am not speaking of every school—a boy's future is prejudiced by the fact that he declines to join the Officers Training Corps.

I wish the right hon. Gentleman had been able to go further and to amend the regulations governing these grants so as to make it quite clear that there must be no compulsion of any kind. It may be that the clear indication of the Government and the War Office policy on the matter which he has given will have some effect throughout the country, though I am much afraid that, from the nature of the case, and in the circumstances, you will never be able to prevent compulsion of some kind. After all, we are proud in this country of our voluntary system for the Army, and it would be a shocking thing if compulsion were allowed to creep in by the back door and if people, hardly realising what was going on, permitted a system of that kind to grow up in the schools. I hope that the statement of the Government and the force of public opinion on all sides of this House will be sufficient to prevent any pressure being applied in schools in the future. Let us keep our different national objects separate and distinct. If we want an Army, let us concentrate on the military side as regards getting recruits and officers, but let us keep it separate from education and from the question of physical exercises.

I hope it may be possible for right hon. Gentlemen opposite, when they come here next year—as of course they will—to state that they have given this matter careful consideration and have been able to devise some other method. The speech of the Financial Secretary to the War Office was very interesting from this point of view, that it was a public and full-dress rehearsal of what is going to take place privately at the meeting of the Labour party next week—I mean when he was addressing hon. Members on the back benches behind him. I quite understand that at the present time there is a strong feeling among members of the Labour party, and there appears to be some doubt as to how long they are going to be allowed to remain members of the Labour party, but we shall watch developments with the greatest possible interest, and I have no doubt that a satisfactory solution will be reached.

I should like to begin by expressing appreciation of the announcement which has been made from the Front Bench of the withdrawal of the grant to the Church Lads Brigade and to the Cadet Corps. I want fully to recognise that, and I think the Financial Secretary to the War Office can be sure that we shall accept his invitation in urging that that preliminary step should be taken further next year. About the Officers Training Corps, I only want to say that I have in my hand half-a-dozen prospectuses from public schools which include the definite statement that it is expected that the students of those schools shall belong to the Corps, and in effect when the headmaster and those who control the school give a lead in that direction, the Officers Training Corps becomes compulsory. Even before a reconsideration of this matter next year, may I express the hope that the War Office may not only make clear to the schools that they are opposed to the principle of compulsion, but that they will issue regulations so that where evidence of compulsion is produced, the grant which they expect to have will not be given to such schools?

My intention to-night is rather to raise the bigger issue which has been discussed from these benches. The Estimates before us announce a reduction of £600,000, and probably a reduction of that amount is the best administrative reduction that can be secured within the terms of the present policy, but I want to suggest to the Front Bench that when the Labour party contested the last election, rightly or wrongly, hopes were aroused among the electors that the return of a Labour Government would lead to really sub- stantial reductions in armaments; and the argument that the reductions which are now offered are the best possible reductions administratively within the present policy is the greatest argument in favour of a new policy to yield more substantial results. The issue that is before us is not really the Cost of the Army, it is the effective power of the Army for destruction; and when we approach the problem in that way, we find that instead of a reduction having taken place, actually an increase in military power has occurred. This point was made in a speech by the Financial Secretary to the War Office in the last Government, when a similar Debate took place last year. He pointed out that mechanisation was taking place in all spheres of the Army, and he concurred in the view that although during the last five years there had been a reduction in Army expenditure by 11 per cent. the actual fighting power of the Army had been increased by over 100 per cent.

The Financial Secretary to the War Office last year used these words:

"The argument has been made by hon. Members that we have increased the fighting power of the Army. That is so. They say that we are justified in saying the Army may be no larger than is wanted, but that with all these mechanical inventions, and tanks, and various new appliances, it has twice the fighting power which it had before. That is true, but it applies equally to every other army.'—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th February, 1929; col. 2304, Vol. 225.]
During the course of that Debate it was agreed from the Conservative Front Bench that though there had been this reduction in expenditure, the actual fighting power of the Army had been increased by 100 per cent. The present Financial Secretary to the War Office hopes I will not suggest that a similar process was in operation during the past year. Upon that, I would remark that during the present year the process of mechanisation, which had the effect of increasing the fighting power of the Army by 100 per cent. during the 4½ years during which the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues opposite were responsible for the Army, has continued, and if one is going to have an Army at all, there can be no quarrel with that process. Rationalisation is proceeding in the Army as it is in business, and rationalisation means less expenditure, but more capacity. When we face the problem of the Army, it means less expenditure, but greater destructive power and greater power for death; and that brings me to the heart of the problem which we are trying to raise from these benches.

In the quotation which I have made from his speech last year, Mr. Duff Cooper emphasised the fact that a similar process was taking place in all Armies, and that we recognise, but we wish to point out that a new stage is now being reached in the method and technique of warfare which makes new policies absolutely necessary if the world is going to be saved from destruction. I remember immediately after the War speaking to a very well known scientist in this country, who had been engaged by the Government during the War in the preparation of new methods of destruction by chemical and other means, and he. said this to me: "Remember, the Government have only asked the help of chemcial science within the last two years of this War, and during those two years we have made discoveries for death and destruction which have increased one thousandfold the power of death through the military machine."

Those researches are continuing, and the next fact which we must face in reference to the problem of war is that the application of science to the methods of war brings mankind before a situation where mankind must either control science and determine that science shall be used for construction and life, or else, if science is to be used for destruction and death, that power will overcome the moral and intellectual control of mankind, and mankind will be destroyed by those new forces which will have been let loose in that kind of way.

Side by side with this development of the scientific method in warfare, we have the fact that the Governments of the world, owing to the pressure of popular opinion, are increasingly making treaties renouncing the method of war. We have had the Covenant of the League of Nations, we have had the Pact of Paris, we have had the signature of the Optional Clause, and we hope next September at the League of Nations that we may have the signature of this country to the general Act. I hope the Financial Secretary to the War Office will not imagine that any of us are opposed to those constructive measures towards arbitration and peace. We are enthusiastically behind them, and we recognise the measures which the Government have taken in this connection, but side by side with measures of that type, we face the fact that the nations of the world, while renouncing the method of war, still base their ultimate security upon the method of armaments. We are seeking to press the point of view that, so long as the nations of the world base their security upon the method of armaments, research rivalry will continue between the nations, and one day that rivalry will lead to another terrible explosion, in which the new scientific measures to which I have referred will be let loose for human destruction.

The hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the War Office has tried to suggest that there is a fundamental difference between the policy of disarmament by example and the policy of disarmament by agreement. I would say this to him, that those of us who are desiring to see a disarmed world, those of us who are desiring to see a warless world, will support with the utmost enthusiasm every proposal made for an international policy, every attempt to obtain international agreement towards the reduction of armaments, but we have to point out that that method so far has not had conspicuously successful results.

I will not refer to the Naval Conference which is now proceeding, but I will refer to the Preparatory Commission on Disarmament, which sat for two years at Geneva, in connection with the League of Nations, and sought to find a basis of international agreement on arms. It discussed whether the method of the Budget should be used, whether the method of the strength of personnel should be used, whether the method of military research should be used, whether the method of various forms of ammunition should be used, and for over two years that purely preparatory body discussed all those proposals and failed to find any possible basis of agreement. The task is extraordinarily hard, but even if it were successfully achieved, the sense of security upon armaments would remain; and it is that sense of security upon armaments in the world which we must destroy if we are going to move towards a disarmed world and a world in which there shall be war no more.

8.0 p.m.

It is the psychology of fear in the world, as my hon. Friend the Member for West Wolverhampton (Mr. W. Brown) has so well said, that is responsible for the competition in armaments and the imprisonment of war which now encircles the world. Those of us who urge this policy are not urging as an hon. Member opposite said, that we should disarm and merely take our luck. We have a positive policy as well as a negative policy, and our positive policy is that we should base security, not upon armaments, but upon the justice of our relations with other nations. If we pursued foreign policies towards other nations, if we pursued policies within our own Empire to the subject peoples of those nations which were based upon justice and upon freedom, then we could, with perfect security, follow the course of disarmament by example, because it would be seen in our actual foreign policies that we were carrying out policies which were not dependant upon force, upon domination, upon military power, in order that they might be carried out. Our appeal to this House and to the Government is to base the peace of the world upon the justice of our policy rather than upon placing security upon the basis of armament. The right hon. Gentleman, in presenting the Estimates, suggested that those of us who take this view are speculative philosophers. I wonder whether in the future, if this Debate is read by the citizens of that time, it will be those of us, faced by these new methods of war, who will be thought to be impracticable, who will be thought not to be realists; or whether it will be those who are still living in a mental world, where the method of war and the method of armaments can safely be used. Our view is that all the creative forces in civilisation are destroying national

Division No. 236.]


[8.3 p.m.

Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-ColonelAitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigle M.Aske, Sir Robert
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (File, West)Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.Atholl, Duchess of
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)Arnott, JohnAttlee, Clement Richard

frontiers. Politicians are maintaining them, but politicians, in maintaining national frontiers, are standing against those forces in civilisation which are making for a world order, an, international order, an order which is based upon co-operation. Even in industry today national frontiers are becoming of less and less account. Modern transport with the airplane, is linking up all parts of the world, while education and travel are making national frontiers of less and less account. A new generation is growing up which has not only a national consciousness, in the sense of desiring that its own nation shall lead in the arts of peace and of science, but an international consciousness, in the sense of feeling a unity with the people of other nations.

I suggest that the really practical people are those who are seeking to bring political policy into line with these forces, because as policy is brought into line with these forces, we are speeding progress. If we continue to withstand them, we are obstructing progress, but we shall be overthrown by these forces making for that new world order. We hope that the day will come when there will be a Government which will place itself in line with these forces, and will express them rather than be the destructive force which armaments and the reliance upon methods of war mean. In view of the character of this Debate and of the Amendment which is before us, although my name is down in connection with an Amendment later on the Paper, I shall be satisfied in taking a Division on the Amendment which is now before the House.

In order that Mr. Speaker may leave the Chair, and that we may get on with the business, I appeal to the House to come to a decision. The question at issue important, and the two sides have been plainly stated, so I appeal to the House to let us get on with the business.

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

The House divided: Ayes, 274; Noes, 21.

Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)
Barnes, Alfred JohnGriffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)
Bellamy, AlbertGriffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)
Benn, Rt. Hon. WedgwoodGunston, Captain D. W.Palin, John Henry
Bennett, Capt. E. N. (Cardiff,Central)Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.Palmer, E. T.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South)Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Benson, G.Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)Penny, Sir George
Bentham, Dr. EthelHamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)Perry, S. F.
Betterton, Sir Henry B.Hanbury, C.Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Birchall, Major Sir John DearmanHarbord, A.Phillips, Dr. Marion
Blindell, JamesHarris, Percy A.Picton-Turbervill, Edith
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. MargaretHartshorn, Rt. Hon. VernonPole, Major D. G.
Bourne, Captain Robert CroftHenderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)Power, Sir John Cecil
Bowen, J. W.Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)Purbrick, R.
Broad, Francis AlfredHenderson, Thomas (Glasgow)Pybus, Percy John
Brothers, M.Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield)Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.Rawson, Sir Cooper
Brown, Brig.-Gen.H. C.(Berks, Newb'y)Herriotts, J.Remer, John R.
Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)Hopkin, DanielRichardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Burgess, F. G.Hore-Belisha, Leslie.Ritson, J.
Butler, R. A.Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.Romeril, H. G.
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.)Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)Rothschild, J. de
Cameron, A. G.Hunter, Dr. JosephRowson, Guy
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)Hurst, Sir Gerald B.Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.
Cautley, Sir Henry S.Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Charleton, H. C.James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. CuthbertSalmon, Major I.
Chater, DanielJohn, William (Rhondda, West)Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Church, Major A. G.Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Clarke, J. S.Jones, Henry Haydn (Merloneth)Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)
Cluse, W. S.Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.Kennedy, ThomasSandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Cocks, Frederick SeymourKenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.Sanders, W. S.
Compton, JosephKindersley, Major G. M.Sawyer, G. F.
Courtauld, Major J. S.King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.Scurr, John
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.Lamb, Sir J. Q.Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Crookshank, Capt. H. C.Lang, GordonSherwood, G. H.
Croom-Johnson, R. P.Lansbury, Rt. Hon. GeorgeShield, George William
Dagger, GeorgeLathan, G.Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Dallas, GeorgeLaw, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)Shillaker, J. F.
Dalrymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir GodfreyLaw, A. (Rossendale)Shinwell, E.
Dalton, HughLawrence, SusanShort, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Davies, Dr. VernonLawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)
Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)Sinkinson, George
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)Leach, W.Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)Lee, Frank (Derby. N. E.)Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Denman, Hon. R. D.Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)
Dickson, T.Lewis, T. (Southampton)Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Dixey, A. C.Llewellin, Major J. J.Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Dugdale, Capt. T. L.Lloyd, C. EllisSnell, Harry
Dudgeon, Major C. R.Longbottom, A. W.Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Dukes, C.Lovat-Fraser, J. A.Somerset, Thomas
Duncan, CharlesLowth, ThomasSomerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Ede, James ChuterLunn, WilliamSouthby, Commander A. R. J.
Edmondson, Major A. J.MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)Stamford, Thomas W.
Edmunds, J. E.MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)Strauss, G. R.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)McElwee, A.Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Egan, W. H.McKinlay, A.Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Eillot, Major Walter E.Makins, Brigadier-General E.Sullivan, J.
Eimley, ViscountMalone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)
England, Colonel A.March, S.Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Evans. Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)Marcus, M.Thomson, Sir F.
Foot, IsaacMargesson, Captain H. D.Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Ford, Sir P. J.Marshall, FredTinker, John Joseph
Forestier-Walker, Sir L.Mathers, GeorgeTitchfield, Major the Marquess of
Fremantle, Lieut,Colonel Francis E.Mellar, R. J.Todd, Capt. A. J.
Galbraith, J. F. W.Merriman, Sir F. BoydTownend, A. E.
Ganzonl, Sir JohnMills, J. E.Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.Vaughan, D. J.
Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)Montague, FrederickVaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn)Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)Viant, S. P.
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)Walkden, A. G.
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs. Mossley)Morgan, Dr. H. B.Walker, J.
Gill, T. H.Morley, RalphWallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Gillett, George M.Morris, Rhys HopkinsWallace, H. W.
Glassey, A. E.Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Glyn, Major R. G. C.Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)Warrender, Sir Victor
Goseling, A. G.Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Gould, F. Mosley, SirMosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)Watkins, F. C.
Gower, Sir RobertMulrhead, A. J.Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)Murnin, HughWayland, Sir William A.
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)Wells, Sydney R.
Granville, E.Nicholson, O. (Westminster)Welsh, James (Paisley)
Gray, MilnerNoel Baker, P. J.White, H. G.
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)Oldfield, J. R.Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)

Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)Womersley, W. J.TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir KingsleyMr. Hayes and Mr. William
Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-ColonelGeorge Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.Whiteley.
Winterton, Rt. Hon. EarlWright, W. (Ruthergien)
Withers, Sir John JamesYoung, R. S. (Islington, North)


Ayles, WalterKinley, J.Wellock, Wilfred
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)Kirkwood, D.Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.
Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Bromley, J.Longden, F.Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Forgan, Dr. RobertMaxton, JamesWise, E. F.
Haycock, A. W.Owen, H. F. (Hereford)
Horrabin, J. F.Scrymgeour, E.TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Kelly, W. T.Simmons, C. J.Mr. W. J. Brown and Mr. Brockway.

Main Question again proposed.

The Financial Secretary during his speech made the remark that military training destroys the mind. If that is his opinion, I am rather surprised that he accepted his present office, because I do not understand how he can do his duty to the great Department to which he has been privileged to be appointed, if he holds such a view. It is an offensive thing for him to say to the distinguished military officers with whom he has to work. I should like to support what has been said by my right hon. Friend the Member for St. George's (Sir L. Worthington-Evans) with regard to the reductions in warlike stores, more especially with regard to the reduction of nearly £120,000 in small arms ammunition. It must mean one of two things—either that stocks have been dangerously decreased, or that musketry training is being cut down. I think either of those alternatives is very unfortunate.

Can the Secretary of State tell us anything as to any combined naval and military exercises that may have been going on during the past year? The First Lord of the Admiralty, in his statement a week ago, referred to something of the sort having taken place, and I should be glad to know, from the Army point of view, what has happened, and whether there has been any combined naval and military practice of disembarkation. It is of the utmost importance that the Army should have practice in disembarkation. It requires practice, and both Services would get to know each other's limitations and each other's point of view. I would like to know what is the position as regards the supply of candidates for Sandhurst and Woolwich. A short time ago there was a considerable shortage. We have had considerable debate on the subject of the Officers Training Corps, and there- fore I do not want to go into that in any detail, but I would like to know a little more about the results. On page 63 of the Army Estimates we see the number of cadets who have taken commissions during the past year.

I am afraid we cannot revert to matters contained in the Amendment the House has just voted upon.

Then I will pass to the question of the falling off in recruiting. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's has referred to certain possible causes, and I would like to know whether it can be due in any way to any failure on the part of recruiters. Many of them are permanent staff instructors of Territorial units. In these days more and more work is put upon the Territorial Army, and I wonder whether these permanent staff instructors have so much other work to do that they have not time properly to carry out their recruiting duties. The Secretary of State himself referred to reports about bad barrack accommodation, and that may also have had some effect upon recruiting. A third possible explanation is that potential recruits are afraid that if they join the Army they will not have such a good chance of getting employment in civil life. Is their seven years in the Army a handicap in getting work afterwards? The Secretary of State has said something about vocational training, and I wonder whether the opportunities for such training are made sufficiently well known by recruiters. If it were possible, I would like to see the Government in a position to give a guarantee of employment, to every man of good character when he leaves the colours. One thing certainly the Government could do, and that would be to allow the time a man has spent with the colours to count towards Civil Service pension. That would make a great deal of difference in attracting the right class of men to the Army.

I have one other point, and it is not a party point, because I put it to the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor in office. Are the Government satisfied that in the event of war they would be able to maintain the strength of the Regular Army, and more especially of the infantry, during the first few months of war? If the late War is any guide, the Army Reserve would be used up before very long. In the late War we had the Special Reserve units to fall back upon when the Army Reserve was used up, but now the Special Reserve units have been abolished, and there is nothing to take their place. If such an emergency did arise, I am afraid there would be a temptation to use the Territorial Army for drafting purposes, and in my opinion that would be absolutely fatal. If the Territorial Army has to be used, it must be used as units, and Territorials must not be used to supply drafts to the Regular Army. If the right hon. Gentleman would resist that temptation, as I hope he would, then I would like to ask how he would maintain the strength of the Regular Army between the time when the Army Reserve is used up and the time when recruits first become fit to take their places in the ranks.

I have given a good deal of thought to the reply made by the Secretary of State to the Amendment standing on the Paper in my name. He said there was no compulsion for men in the Army to attend church parades. I have been given to understand that there is. At all events, I understand that if men do not attend the church parades when they are ordered to do so their refusal involves them in a good deal of barrack intimidation and persecution. It is not the case that the man has a choice of whether he will attend church parade or not. If the Minister says there is no compulsion, it seems to be very much like what happens in other cases we have been considering, such as boys attending school; there is no compulsion, but woe betide the lad who refuses to go. Years ago it may have been useful to have church parades, because of the demonstration, because the beautiful uniforms of the troops were useful in inducing others to join up. Even now some hon. Members are very desirous that the troops should have a more decorative uniform. They hope it would encourage young men to say, "That's the suit I should like to have, and I shall have to join the Army or I shan't get a suit of that kind."

Some time ago a great number of hon. Members opposite seemed to be very much incensed about intercession services and so on, but I notice that a good many of them fail to come in to prayers in the House. Evidently they like liberty and freedom for themselves, and we desire that the men in the Army should have the right of saying whether they will go to church or go for a walk or engage in any other kind of recreation, because the time is past when we need to have church parades as a demonstration. I ask the Secretary of State for War to look into the matter, and see what is the effect of the present regulation. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman may alter the regulation and submit something under which the men would have a choice in regard to this question. I am fortified in my view by a cutting from a newspaper which I saw a few days ago. It was the statement of a Nonconformist minister, who said that it was not a question of the men being forced to go, but a matter of what the men did when they got there. The point is do the men take any interest in what goes on at those services? So far as this Nonconformist minister is concerned, he says that the men might very well be away from the service, and that he does not like preaching to men who do not want to listen to him. He writes:
"Why should this obsolete system be continued? I speak as a man who has preached very many times at compulsory parade services. I have always resented the fact that some of my congregation were there against their will. I suggest that the Government abolish the compulsory element, making arrangements for parades as at present, except that no soldier or sailor be compelled to attend. Then the question of the right of the Archbishop to issue orders for political prayers would not arise.
Grosvenor Road, Muswell Hill, N.10."
Many people know this Nonconformist minister, and I have had the pleasure of listening to him at a service. When I was a boy attending school it was a condition that the boys must go to church, and we all had to go not only on Sundays but on other days. I had so much of being compelled to go to these services that as soon as I got old enough to leave school I went to a chapel service instead, and many other boys did the same thing. When you compel either boys or men to go to a service where they do not want to go, as soon as they get an opportunity they keep away altogether. I want the Secretary of State for War to say whether it is compulsory for these men to attend church parades.

I hope we shall not waste much time upon this question. Nobody in the House wants a man to be compelled to attend a service. We all know that if you compel a man to attend a service you are only doing something that will turn him against religion altogether, and you cannot compel a man to take tip a religion against his will. The question put to me is whether it is a fact that men are forced to go to church against their will? I am also asked if it is a fact that they are forced to go to these parade services against their conscience? I am told that the men object en bloc to attending these services. 1 am also asked if it is a fact that the forcing of the men to attend these church parades leads not to religious observance but to the very opposite? None of these things has been proved to me, and, if proof of them is given, I am willing to go into the whole thing again. Up to the present, having no proof, and having only the allegation which has been made without a scintilla of evidence, how can I be expected to break down a custom which seems to have the support of a vast majority of the people concerned? If hon. Members will furnish me with proof of these allegations, I will agree to go into the whole question.

I hope the Secretary of State for War will maintain the attitude which he has adopted in regard to these parade services. In reference to what has been said by the hon. Member for South Poplar (Mr. March), his experience is certainly diametrically opposed to mine. My experience is, first of all, that there is no objection on the part of young men to attending these church parade services. Of course, things being as they are, the men naturally want to get off attending parades if they possibly can, but my experience is that they display far less anxiety to get off church parades than they do in regard to route marches or any other kind of parade.

I hope that I have not misunderstood the Secretary of State for War with regard to what he said about compulsory attendance at these services. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that no man was compelled to attend the service of any denomination to which he did not belong, and I believe that is the actual state of affairs. In a battalion or unit where the men are predominantly, shall I say Church of England, there is a Church of England Chaplain and a Church of England parade, service every Sunday morning; but those who are not members of the Church of England are fallen out, and they can attend the services of the denomination to which they belong.

Every man on joining has the opportunity of declaring the denomination to which he belongs. In a unit where the majority of the men may be expected to be Presbyterians, there is a Presbyterian padre attached and a parade service is held for Presbyterians every Sunday morning. In that case, the men belonging to the Church of England or the Roman Catholic Church are fallen out, and they march to the service of their own denomination. The only instance where there seems to be any difficulty is where a man is an atheist, and within my knowledge such men have been sent to the services of all denominations. If a youth of 16 or 17 came to me and said that he was a confirmed agnostic, I should say to him that it the other side. What ever may be the opinion of the hon. Gentleman who raised this subject, I am quite convinced that in the majority of cases the mothers of these young men of 17 or 18 would be only too pleased to know that their sons were being taken to a religious service on Sundays.

After all, what is the position? Some of these soldiers are very little more than boys who are suddenly are very little more than boys who are suddenly taken away from home influences, and placed in the maelstrom of garrison life. If you take away this religious guidance, they have little left to keep them straight. If you remove them from the influence of the chaplain, there are many temptations which garrison life holds out to them which may prove too much for them. By attending these services many of the men come to know the chaplain of the denomination to which they belong personally and intimately, and more often than not he proves to them to be "a guide, philosopher and friend."

Not only is the chaplain invaluable to the troops, but he performs useful service among the officers, and he exercises a restraining influence upon the perhaps too exuberant spirits in the mess, and acts as a friend to the officers. I think it would be little less than a disaster if the parade services were done away with. Antiquity may be worth something or it may be worth nothing, but I would like to point out that these parade services are not by any means of recent origin. They were introduced, I believe, before the Regular Army came into existence at all. I think I am right in saying that they were actually introduced by Oliver Cromwell—a name which this House, although it may not treat it with affection, will certainly look upon with respect. Ever since that time a compulsory religious service has been held every Sunday morning, year in and year out.

There is, however, another aspect of this question. Supposing that these parade services are done away with, what are the men to do? I am one of those who believe that Sunday should be a day of rest, or, at any rate, a day of recreation, but what form of recreation can be provided for the men from eight o'clock in the morning till 11 o'clock at night? As it is, the parade service occupies them until dinner-time, and they have the rest of the day free, which, in my opinion, is quite as much as the average young man of 16 or 17 can have without getting into mischief. Of course, a good many people will say, "Organised games"; but the people who talk so glibly about organised games seem entirely to lose sight of the amount of prepared space that is necessary for carrying on organised games on a large scale. It takes at least an acre of prepared ground to provide organised games for 20 men, and no garrison town in this country or in the world has sufficient prepared space to provide organised games or recreation for anything like the number of men who are in that garrison town at any one time.

There are many other arguments in favour of the retention of these services. The principal one, in my opinion, is the fact upon which I have already dwelt, that the mothers of these young men, who, as the Secretary of State said, join the Army at 16, 17 or 18 years of age, will be glad to feel that, at any rate, on Sunday mornings their sons are going where they will certainly hear nothing that will do them any harm, and where they will, in all probability, hear some thing that will do them a great deal of good. For these reasons I sincerely hope that the attitude on this matter that he has displayed to us this evening, because I honestly believe that to do away with these church parade services would be to strike a very deadly blow at the moral welfare of the troops.

I do not wish to pursue the subject which has been raised by the hon. and gallant Member for North-West Hull (Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward) and by my hon. Friend the Member for South Poplar (Mr. March), but I want especially to direct the attention of the House to a matter to which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made a very brief reference in his earlier speech, namely, the changes which are proposed in reference to the State factories at Woolwich and Enfield. I want, in Particular, to deal with the proposal as it Enfield. There it is proposed, as from the 1st April next, that the men engaged on piece-work shall be changed over on to time rates. I understand that the number of men likely to be affected is approximately 500, representing about 160 skilled workers and 340 unskilled workers.

This change will mean a very substantial reduction in their earnings, varying, I believe, from 13s. to 20s. a week. Such a substantial reduction in weekly wages will be easily appreciated by hon. Members, and I do not think it is necessary for me to stress the point unduly. Nor do I wish to make any accusations against my right hon. Friend and his colleague, of indifference to the interests and well- being of the Government factory workers. To do so would be to make a grotesque and unjust representation of their attitude. Both of them have received deputations representing the men, and throughout the discussions they have not only shown a ready sympathy but have expressed an anxiety to avoid as far as possible, or rather, to minimise as far as possible, the ill-effects of any change which they may find it necessary to make. I say that because I want my right hon. Friend to know that, while we have been very persistent in our efforts to influence him on this matter, we have not been unappreciative of the ready and sympathetic understanding which he has shown of the case submitted to him by the men. Both he and his colleague have had industrial, factory and trade union experience. They know from first-hand knowledge what unemployment, short-time and reduced wages mean to the average working-class home, and I personally feel convinced that, if there is any avenue of outlet from the change which has been proposed, they will not hestitate to explore it.

As I understand the position, it is that the volume of work available and in prospect for the coming year is not sufficient to enable the factories to be continued on their present basis—that there is a gap between normal capacity and ascertained requirement; and, as the Financial Secretary cannot be expected to create or invent needs where none exist to fill the gap, the gap is to be closed by making the change to which I have referred. I can quite easily understand the problem which confronts the Financial Secretary. We have been fortunate not to have been engaged or involved in war for some years. I do not think that any Member of the House will regret that. On the contrary, I think that it should have been so. Consequently, the consumption of stocks and the wear and tear of equipment and implements have tended to fall to a minimum, while at the same time there has been a steady building up of reserve stocks and a falling off in the requirement for replacements and repairs.

As I have said, we can easily under stand the problem which has faced the Financial Secretary, but to me, at any rate, it is to be welcomed in so far as it is evidence of the developing condition of security in which we have been living and will, I hope, continue to live. I do not imagine that any intelligent person will regret or complain about the diminishing need both for the use and for the piling up of munitions of war. I do not believe the factory workers themselves would demand steady and continuous employment on munition work if that could only be obtained by the steady consumption of their output in war. I do not think the factory workers look for security of munition employment, nor their wives for security of wage income, at the cost of security of life and happiness for their children and those of the nation as a whole. My knowledge of the factory workers leads me to say with confidence that they and their wives are at one with the workers in other industries and services in the desire that national security should be obtained and safeguarded by international agreement and by international co-operative organisation. That is the policy for which the present Government stand, and, in their endeavours to give practical effect to that policy, I am convinced that they can count upon the earnest and wholehearted support of the Government factory workers as of the workers in other industries and services.

But in seeking to give practical effect to that policy, the Government are expected, and I think rightly expected, to take every possible step to ensure that, while the blessings and the benefits of that policy are shared and enjoyed by the nation as a whole, that section of the community which is dependent at present for its livelihood on employment in Government ordnance factories shall not be called upon to bear any avoidable hardship during the period of transition. In the present case, which arises from the inevitable decline in the consumption of munitions, due to the absence of war rather that. from any specific and positive accomplishment in the direction of disarmament, the Government are anxious to minimise the ill-effects of whatever ultimate decision they may have to take. They do not intend to select, quite arbitrarily, a number of the workers and dismiss them. They do not propose that a proportion of the men, chosen at random, shall feel whatever consequences flow from their decision. They desire to avoid dismissals and to keep on all the men at present engaged in the factory, but, in order to do that, the War Office hold that it would be necessary to make the changes on 1st April to which I have referred.

If the changes were inevitable, if there were no practical alternative, if every avenue of escape had been explored without success or promise, I should feel reluctant to persist in pressing a view which in such circumstances might seem to be an unreasonable one. But is the War Office satisfied that the proposed change is inevitable? Has the Financial Secretary convinced himself beyond any doubt that there is no step that could properly be taken that might enable him either to drop the proposal or to modify it and temper its effect? I am not going to suggest for a moment that orders should be given for work which is not required now and will not be required in the future. That sort of suggestion, which involves wasteful expenditure of money, a useless application of labour and a false conception of the duty and responsibility of a Government in the running of State enterprises, has little or nothing to commend it. It might, indeed, be cheaper financially, though perhaps more foolish socially, to take a section of the men, give them their wages, and not trouble to put them on to making things which are not wanted. Production, whether of munitions or of other articles, merely for production's sake and without any reasonable prospect of consumption or use, either now or later on, is not a policy which I am prepared to advocate in connection with the running of State enterprises.

There is, however, one suggestion which, I think, is worthy of consideration. The Government factories at present are run on what is called a peace basis, that is to say on the smallest nucleus from which the maximum number can be reached without delay in case of emergency and without hampering the work of production. This nucleus is fixed at such a point as will effect economy of production in time of peace and ensure power of expansion in time of war. For the Enfield factory this nucleus was fixed in 1907 at 2,000, and its war capacity at 3,500. I believe its war capacity was expanded during the Great War to something like 10,000 or 12,000 workers. But its nucleus or minimum capacity at present is not 2,000. It is slightly over half that number. Yet we are told that the factory must either change over from piecework to time rates or else a still further reduction must be made in the nucleus.

I want to suggest that in peace time, and as the necessary complement to the pursuance of a disarmament policy, no Government contract that can be efficiently handled by a State factory should be given to the outside trade unless and until the State factories have received sufficient work to keep them fully occupied at their minimum or nucleus capacity. That is the policy of suitable alternative employment. After all, State factories have only one customer, and that is the State itself. So far as War Department contracts are concerned, there is a growing opinion throughout the world that the private manufacturer of munitions and implements of war is open to grave objection and should be concentrated, wherever possible, in State factories. That view is definitely expressed in the Covenant of the League of Nations, and I need hardly remind the House and the Government that this country is one of the signatories to that Covenant.

My suggestion goes further than that. I am fortified in my view that other types of Government work should be given to these factories by the reluctance or the objection of Governments to allow State factories to compete with private establishments in the production of articles for sale in the open market. I am not concerned at the moment with the objections to that competition, though I can readily understand, in existing circumstances, the special objection that it would not increase the volume of employment but would rather merely change the incidence of hardship from one group of workers to another. But if there is to be an embargo on State factories competing with private factories in the open market, it is fair and proper that private establishments should not be given Government contracts until those Government factories have been given sufficient work to keep them fully occupied at their minimum establishment. The War Office, the Admiralty, the Air Ministry, the India Office, the Post Office, and other Depart- ments spend very large sums annually on their various requirements. There should be set up, and without delay, an interdepartmental committee charged with the responsibility of co-ordinating different Government requirements and allocating Government contracts—

If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will allow me to explain, the particular type of committee to which I am referring is different from the one which is now in existence. The sort of committee which I want is an inter-departmental committee definitely charged with the responsibility of co-ordinating all State requirements, not merely war contracts, and to be responsible for allocating the contracts involved and working specifically and definitely to the accepted policy of feeding State factories before any contracts are given to the outside trades. I think that I am right in saying that that is not being done at the present moment. It is one of those developments which are essential in the present situation. The different spending departments are each responsible for making their own contracts, and where they are, in addition, producing departments also, like the War Office and the Admiralty, you may find them competing against one another in their endeavours to secure contracts from other State Departments. I believe that if this co-ordination were arranged it might be possible, even in the present circumstances in the particular case with which I am dealing at the moment to ascertain some existing requirement in one or other of the State Departments which would enable my hon. Friend to avoid having to make a change—to enable him to cancel or suspend or modify the change contemplated.

9.0 p.m.

I want to make an appeal to my hon. Friend. I know that he must have been very active in his approaches to the different Government Departments already, and I daresay that he is feeling, like his distinguished colleague the Lord Privy Seal, that he is rapidly qualifying for membership of the Commercial Travellers' Union. I want to ask him not to grow weary in well doing. I believe that if the course I have indicated could be followed, if there were there this centralisation of State requirements, this centralised allocation of Government contracts, it would be possible for the Financial Secretary to avoid having to put into operation on the 1st April the change in the wage conditions which is proposed in the Small Arms Factory at Enfield. I ask him, when he comes to reply, to give me an assurance that between now and the 1st April he will do everything he possibly can with a view to finding new work which will enable him to avoid having to carry through the change which is proposed to operate as from that date.

The hon. Gentleman the Member for Enfield (Mr. W. Henderson) has spoken for the first time in this Parliament although we have been able to hear him on other occasions in the Parliament before this one. I was very glad to hear him speak again, especially as an old friend of mine, but I must confess that I do not think that I have ever heard in this House such a string of apologies as I have heard on this occasion. The hon. Gentleman seemed to be wrestling with himself and endeavouring to convince himself that all was well both with regard to his constituency and with regard to himself. I wish that I could think so. The hon. Gentleman represents a division which includes Enfield and I represent a division, in conjunction with the hon. Member for East Woolwich (Mr. (Snell), which includes Woolwich, and I can say that things are very serious as far as both these divisions are concerned. The action of the Government—and there is no need to minimise it, or apologise for it, or to endeavour to explain it—has caused the greatest possible anxiety. [An HON. MEMBER: "The same as your Government did."] That remark does not help. The action of tie Government has caused the greatest possible anxiety in those divisions.

What has happened as far as Enfield is concerned? I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Enfield—and I am sure that he is desirous of doing the best be can for the men of his division—would have explained to the House what exactly the Government have done. It is not a question of proposals. as far as Enfield is concerned—and the Financial Secretary will be able to tell us later whether it is correct or not—for I understand that there has been an official announcement posted at the Royal Small Arms Factory that the Government have definitely decided to effect economies by abolishing piece-work at the end of the month. [Interruption.] Let me assure the hon. Gentleman that it is no laughing matter.

I know that the hon. Member represents a division which has other interests outside the interests of Woolwich, and where, no doubt, he will be pressing the claims of private contracts as befits a Member of the Socialist party. I am concerned with my own division.

May I be allowed to inform the right hon. Gentleman—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order! "]

Has this official announcement been made? If so, I should be glad to hear that the matter is to receive further consideration.

The right hon. Gentleman is now inquiring whether this official statement has been made. He accuses me of not looking after the interests of my constituents in not blaming the Government for issuing such a statement, and now he is inquiring whether there has been such an official statement. He cannot have it both ways.

I am asking the Financial Secretary whether such an official announcement has or has not been made. It was announced in the "Times" newspaper and other journals, and I think it was also announced in the official organ of the Labour party that that had been done. If that has not been done, so much the better for the men concerned. What is the position so far as Woolwich is concerned? The first that we heard of the matter was in answer to a question which was put in this House as to the possibility of discharges at Woolwich Arsenal. We were informed in February, that this question was receiving the close personal attention of the Secretary of State for War and of the Financial Secretary. Therefore, anything that may have been done or that may be done has received their personal attention, and has been done with their authority. Since then the Financial Secretary, I understand, summoned the representatives of the men and informed them that there must be a considerable number of discharges at Woolwich or that a certain amount of short time must be worked at the Arsenal. The representatives summoned a meeting of the men and put before them the suggestion which had been made by the Financial Secretary, that it would be far better that instead of there being a large number of discharges, short time should be worked. That was the proposition of the Financial Secretary. A mass meeting of the men rejected that proposition.

I was considerably surprised when I asked the Financial Secretary in this House what the proposition meant as regards the reductions in the earnings of the men concerned, that he seemed to have a very hazy idea of the proposition which he had made. It is apparent to anyone who gives a moment's thought to that proposition that if short time is to be worked at Woolwich Arsenal there must be reductions in the earnings of the men concerned. I understand that, following the rejection of the Government proposals by the men at the Arsenal, the Financial Secretary made a further proposition, and I hope that he will explain to the House exactly what that proposition is, and whether that, in its turn, does not mean a reduction in the earnings of the men. This is a matter to which the fullest publicity should be given in order that the men may be fully apprised of what is proposed by the Government concerning them.

The matter is very serious so far as the borough of Woolwich is concerned, because in Woolwich we have a Socialist majority on the borough council who have declined to adopt any of the schemes of the Lord Privy Seal. I asked last week what was the position in regard to the unemployed in Woolwich, particularly in relation to disarmament, and the reply of the Lord Privy Seal was of a two-fold nature. He said that he much regretted that, contrary to the decisions of the great majority of local authorities up and down the country, the local authority at Woolwich had declined to take any steps to promote special schemes of work for the Woolwich unemployed. In an optimistic moment the right hon. Gentleman invited me to use my influence with the Socialist council of Woolwich to get them to adopt the Lord Privy Seal's proposals. He flattered me. I hope the Lord Privy Seal will endeavour to make another effort with this particular council. The Socialist members of the London County Council have agreed to adopt schemes for London as a whole, which mean bringing in what is called transferred labour, and so have other local authorities with Labour majorities. I hope that the Lord Privy Seal will, I think he may, make another effort with this particular borough council. The second part of the answer which he gave to me dealt with the question of disarmament. I asked him whether he was going to make any special arrangements for discharges due to disarmament, and he replied that he could not make any special arrangements for any particular class of discharged labour.

Therefore, we find ourselves in this position at Woolwich, that the borough council have not adopted any special schemes for unemployment, and in view of the decision of the Lord Privy Seal we can expect nothing by way of any special scheme for any men who may be discharged on account of disarmament. That means that in the case of a considerable body of men who have been employed at Woolwich Arsenal all their lives, and who have nowhere else where they can look for employment except in the direction in which they have been engaged for the whole of their careers, their opportunities of getting employment must be very circumscribed. I hope the Financial Secretary will be plain and open about this matter and tell us exactly what is intended, because I cannot share the enthusiasm of the hon. Member who has just spoken as to the statement which has been made this afternoon by the Secretary of State for War. I hope the Financial Secretary will reread the statement made by the Secretary of State for War with reference to ordnance factories and their employés. When he reads it in the morning he will probably agree with me that it does not take the matter very much further.

The hon. Member who has just spoken has applied his mind to the question as to what should be done, and ought to be done, in circumstances of this kind. His main point was that some committee should be appointed. I am informed by the late Financial Secretary to the War Office that there has been a coordinating committee in existence for some time, but whether that is the case or not I am surprised that the hon. Member has come forward with such milk and water proposals this evening. What is the matter with the proposals in "Labour and the Nation"? Why has there been no reference to them in the course of this Debate? So far as this matter is concerned the Government cannot go to Woolwich or Enfield and say that they are only a minority Government. This is a matter upon which they have acted, and are acting, through their executive authority. I should have thought the hon. Member, when dealing with a proposal of this kind, whould have looked up that great document of which we have heard so much at the General Election and of which we hear so little to-day—

I am glad that the Under-Secretary of State for Air has joined in this Debate, because we are expecting some work at Woolwich from the Air Ministry, but it is rather strange that he should ask me to tell him what was in "Labour and the Nation." I think there was a hint that contracts were no longer to be given to private individuals. That would strike a note of terror into the heart of the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Mills), who is naturally looking about for orders for private contractors. [Interruption.] There was a hint that so far as work on armaments was concerned it was not to be entrusted in the future to private firms but to the State alone. No doubt the hon. Member before he retires to rest to-night will verify that reference. There is another matter upon which I invite the hon. Member to think before he makes the proposals he has suggested to-day. He is not in the position I was at the last General Election. In Woolwich we heard all. sorts of things as to what the advent of a Labour Government would mean so far as Woolwich Arsenal was concerned. It was to mean a full factory. [Interruption.] We were rather familiar with it in Woolwich because only a compara- tively short time ago we had the present Prime Minister as a candidate at East Woolwich, and at no time in his career did he devote himself—[Interruption]—so much to the position and needs of the munition workers of the country. The Financial Secretary to the War Office, and the Secretary of State himself, might with profit endeavour to obtain all the undertakings and schemes which were put—[Interruption.]

We cannot conduct Debate if hon. Members conduct themselves in this way.

On a, point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I should like to ask if your attention has been called to the hon. Member's insulting remark to an hon. Member on this side of the House in which he called him "an insolent young cub." I should like to ask whether it is in order for an hon. Member to use terms of that kind and whether it is not a gross abuse of the Rules of the House?

I did not hear the words myself, but, if words of that kind were bandied about the Floor of the House, they certainly are out of order.

I do not think any words of mine provoked so peaceful an hon. Member as the hon. Member for Erdington (Mr. Simmons) to enter so violently into this Debate. I was calling the attention of the Secretary of State—and I hope the hon. Member himself will turn his attention to really vital matters—to the schemes and statements made by the present Prime Minister at Woolwich, and if he has any difficulty in regard to the present position he may think there is something to be gained from those particular statements and undertakings. The Prime Minister when he was a candidate at Woolwich—[Interruption.]—made very many promises to the munition workers. He said that if there was any difficulty as regards reduction in armaments they could turn the war factory into a peace factory. [Interruption.] The majority of the electors did not believe it because they rejected the right hon. Gentleman on that occasion. Perhaps the Financial Secretary, or whoever is going to reply to the Debate, will tell us whether the Government propose to undertake the rather big programme which was presented at that time. At all events the hon. Member is, I think, very fully apprised by this time of the difficulty and anxiety in which the action of the Government has placed Enfield and Woolwich.

There is one other matter upon which I want to ask one or two other questions. The Financial Secretary has been conferring with a number of representatives of the Woolwich Arsenal employé. He has received a request from the largest trade union at the Arsenal asking for permission to make representations to him concerning the Government's proposals. The union in question is the Government Workers Industrial Union—[Interruption]—and it is a registered trade union.

It is the largest trade union of employés in the Woolwich Arsenal. I think it numbers over 3,000. This Union has asked the Financial Secretary—I think it is not an unreasonable request—for an opportunity to place before him the views of their members, who include a very large number of the more poorly-paid employés at the Arsenal, at this critical time, when there is, of course, so much anxiety among them. They have not asked to go along with the representatives whom he has already seen. All that they have asked is to be permitted to put their case before him. As I understand it, up to the present moment the Financial Secretary has refused to receive them.

It is perfectly true that this Union is not affiliated to the Trade Union Congress. Whatever the hon. Gentleman's views may be from his own party standpoint in that particular connection, I hope he will not for a moment allow that particular deviation to stand in the way of this very large body of men making proper representations to him. It may be that there is some mistake in this matter. I hope there is, but I hope at any rate the hon. Gentleman will say that any representative body of men, who are deeply concerned from the point of view of themselves and their wives and families, will be gladly received by him and that he will only be too glad to listen to any suggestions they care to make. I think that is a proper and decent attitude to take up, and I hope the hon. Gentleman will be able to assure us that he is at all times ready and willing to receive representations and will give us a full and complete statement of what he intends to do so far as these two important areas are concerned, with their many thousands of men who are so anxious as to their position at the present time.

Although the Division which I have the honour to represent has within it the vast majority of the workers of the Royal Arsenal, I will endeavour to confine what I have to say to a very few minutes, because the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. W. Henderson) has put with great force and striking moderation the general claim which we desire the Government to consider. Before I make a plea on my own behalf, I would like to indulge in a few words of criticism in regard to the speech to which we have just listened. I do not detect any similarity between the fierceness of the right hon. Gentleman opposite towards the policy of the Government and that complacency with which he regarded a similar policy of the Government which preceded it. If it would not be thought rude to say so, the right hon. Gentleman seems to have got the last election somewhat on his mind, as though one side alone made promises. I understood that at the election every- body had a scheme for the cure of unemployment. I think things relating to the Woolwich Borough Council are better argued in Woolwich itself than on the Floor of this House.

It was refreshing at an earlier period in the Debate this afternoon to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's (Sir L. Worthington-Evans) recognise the responsibility of the Government for the welfare of their employés in the Army and elsewhere. He was quite correct when he said that recruiting was not successful, because it did not offer a career. The soldier always wondered what was to happen to him after his Army period was over. Life is a continuous thing, and business men require men to have a tradition of service behind them, and that they do not always get from the Army itself. If that is true in regard to soldiers, it is no less true in regard to the civilian people whom the Government employ. We welcome, as the whole of the House will welcome, a reduction in the expenditure upon the Army and Navy services, but let us be quite sure that redactions in expenditure are real and nit spurious economies. You may economise in figures without economising so far as the nation is concerned. The nation may make a cut in expenditure, if it can do so, and it is a very good thing if it can, but it ought not to make the workers bear the burden of that economy. If you save £1,000,000 and it means that the poorest-paid workers in His Majesty's service are to bear the burden, it may appear on the face of it to be an economy, but from the point of view of the nation it is not an economy at all, because it means a reduction in the standard of life, and it may mean a reduction in efficiency. I am led to say that, because I desire to make a plea on behalf of the poorest-paid workers in the ordnance factories. The hon. and gallant Gentleman for Montrose (Sir R. Hutchison) said that if a cut was made in an officer's income of £200 a year it would be a cut to the bone, but if you make a cut in the wages of men who earn only £2 9s. a week, however small the cut may be, it cuts through the bone, and almost through his life.

I only wish to say that I accept all the arguments that were advanced by the hon. Member for Enfield, and I do not propose to repeat them, because I desire to economise in time. But there is this plea to be urged on behalf of the average worker in the Royal Arsenal and the yards. They are budgeted up to the last shilling in their income. They have their little houses to buy through building societies, insurance to pay, children to educate, and they have to pay to their trade union, and so on. Up to the very last shilling their income is budgeted, and if a cut is made in their wages, it really is a most serious thing for the happiness and welfare of the family concerned. I* cannot help hoping that it will be possible in the near future to secure what we may call a stabilised state of employment. The man who takes service in the Arsenal and other factories is specially trained for a particular piece of work, and, when he is thrown out of that work, he is at a real disadvantage in the market for reemployment. It must be remembered that, so far as boroughs like Woolwich are concerned, there is no alternative employment to which a man can go. It is either the Government yard at Woolwich or it is nothing at all. Therefore, I hope that the Government will give, as I am sure they will give, their best attention to the matter, and see whether it is possible to arrange for the security of employment of these men, free from dreaded cuts in their income. They are paid at a rate which does not allow of any reduction. Even a drop of a shilling or two shillings in income represents not only a very serious disadvantage to the individual and the family, but reduces the whole prosperity of the community in which they live; and it may have the result of economising so far as the taxes are concerned, while representing a corresponding charge upon the rates. I ask the representatives of the War Office to continue to give their sympathetic attention to the matter.

Perhaps I may be permitted to reply, shortly, to the observations addressed to me in relation to the ordnance factories. I must confess that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) seemed to me something like a death-bed repentance. Certainly the right hon. Gentleman, during the time that he was a member of the late Government, never expressed disapproval of the frequent discharges that resulted from a reduction in the output of warlike material at Woolwich. To make doubly sure of the position of the right hon. Gentleman I have looked up the figures relating to discharges in the past five years. This is what I have found: The number of industrial, that is manual, workers in 1925, the first year of the late Government, was 7,980. When we took office in June last 'the numbers were down by close on 1,500. So that while the right hon. Gentleman was a member of the late Government approximately 1,500 men—I am submitting net figures—were discharged from Woolwich, ordnance factory. So far as I know not a single word of remonstrance was uttered by the right hon. Gentleman. On, this matter his hands are not very clean-Whoever has the right to speak about these discharges at least he is not the right hon. Member for West Woolwich. I understand that there is some mis understanding as to the figures I have just submitted. They are net figures after allowing for the annual wastage—the actual discharges effected at Woolwich during the late Government's term of office.

My recollection is that there were 250 or 350 a year to represent wastage at the Arsenal. Do these figures allow for that wastage Does the hon. Member remember that during the period of the late Government £4,000,000 a year was cut off the Army Estimates?

The annual wastage certainly never amounts to 200 a year, and I am surprised at the right hon. Gentleman giving such a figure. I join issue with him at once in relation to that. Indeed I wish that it did reach that figure, because our difficulties would be very much less than they are. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that I had a very hazy idea of what was about, in happen in relation to the ordnance factory position. I have a very clear idea of the position. I have been very much troubled, as no doubt the right hon. Gentleman is as representing a section of the workpeople in the Woolwich area, about the position. As the hon. Member for Enfield (Mr. W. Henderson> very properly said in a thoughtful and very constructive speech, for a number of years we have had no war. War material has been accumulating all the while. The time comes when we find ourselves with excessive stocks and a curtailment of production is forced upon us—as indeed it was forced upon the right hon. Gentleman himself, otherwise there would not have been the reduction in personnel in the last five years.

Before I proceed to deal with the actual position in the factories I want to reply to the right hon. Gentleman's observation regarding meetings with representatives of the workpeople at Woolwich. He suggested that we had refused to meet a section of the workpeople's representatives described as the Government Workers' Union because they were not affiliated to the Trade Unions Congress. I reply at once that that is a consideration which we have ignored entirely. We have had other considerations to take into account. As far as Woolwich is concerned we do not deal directly with the trade unions; our negotiations are with the shop stewards' committee. There was at Woolwich for a considerable time a combined shop stewards' committee which claimed to represent the work-people there. Two or three years ago, in some dispute, a number of workpeople divorced themselves from the main body and formed a separate union, and apparently also formed another shop stewards' committee of a rival character.

What is our position? We met a body which claims to represent the bulk of the workmen. It is true that that claim is disputed by the other body. But who are we to decide about the rival claims? 1 have ventured in the past few days to address communications to both sides, asking them to table their claims. When I have them before me, and I can get at the truth I shall be only too pleased to make a pronouncement. Meantime I refuse to treat with two bodies. I have dealt all through with the combined shop stewards' committee. I have told the others that until we can have proof to the contrary regarding the claim of the combined shop stewards' committee to represent the workpeople, I must maintain my original decision. That is all there is to be said on the matter.

In the few moments available I want to put the position of the War Office before the House. We were faced with a substantial reduction in warlike stores. I have already indicated the figures. Therefore we were forced to consider whether we should indulge in discharges or, alternatively, spread the available work over the widest possible area. We came to the conclusion that whatever happened there would be no discharges. That has been the policy of the late Government. We asked the representatives of the workpeople to meet us. We stated quite frankly what the position was. We pointed out that we had taken almost everything that we could from the private armament firms. Therefore to that extent we had met the views of my hon. Friends the Members for Enfield and East Woolwich (Mr. Snell). Having done that, we found ourselves unable to maintain the whole of the personnel without some curtailment of production. As far as Woolwich is concerned nothing has been definitely settled. There have been propositions and alternative propositions, and the representatives of the workpeople have given us the promise that after consultation on these propositions they will come back and see us again, and we hope that a definite agreement may be reached.

May I say at once that we regret having had to curtail production and hours of labour and consequently, to some extent, the earnings of the men. But short time is not unusual in the industrial concerns of this country. Miners and cotton operatives and all sorts of workpeople have been forced to work short time, and, thought we are far from being pleased at the prospect, and would wish it to be otherwise, yet there is no alternative. At the very worst, I may tell the House that in the case of Woolwich there will only be a reduction of little more than three hours a week and we hope that that will be temporary. As regards Enfield, no definite decision has been reached there either. Proposals have been made to the workpeople; we have not yet received their reply, but we hope to have it shortly. In that case also we have refused to discharge men, although we could do it quite easily, taking military considerations into account. Discharges could be affected without any prejudice to such considerations. At the same time, we have decided to spread the work over as wide a field as possible, and we may have to resort to time-work instead of piece-work. That will mean a reduction in the earnings of piece-workers but there will be no change at all as regards the unskilled people. We hope in this case also that it may prove to be temporary. Practically nothing is being given to the outside private armament firms, and that is a constant source of trouble to us because of the military considerations involved. Nevertheless we cannot help ourselves, and, in the circumstances, we believe that we are doing the best thing.

Reference has been made to the need for consideration and review of the whole problem of alternative employment. We have had the matter constantly under review. The right hon. Gentleman opposite interpolates, "They will have a Committee on this." Well, even having a Committee is better than discharging 1,500 men which the late Government did. They had not even the wisdom to set up a Committee. The matter is being considered now by an inter- Departmental Committee, not of the kind referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for Paddington (Commodore King). It is not the Contracts Co-ordination Committee which has been in existence for quite a long time, but an inter-Departmental Committee. They are now considering how much work can be secured from other Government Departments, and much success has been achieved. We have been able to provide both Woolwich and Enfield with a considerable volume of work which would not otherwise have been available.

The Committee is sitting at the moment, and we propose to go further, and, if we find that the Committee is not able to expedite operations in that direction, we shall assist it to some extent, but that question will come later. My last point is that we believe that much work of an alternative character can be found for Woolwich. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Woolwich will assist us in this matter. If his protest means anything at all, if it is not mere empty talk, mere verbiage and criticism, he will be willing to assist us in regard to alternative work in the interests of his own constituency. But we must remember that it is not possible at this time for a Government Department to engage in deadly competition with outside firms. we must be careful therefore, and all these factors must be considered. They are now being considered, and, in the meantime, we hope that the men will only be required to work these shorter hours for a temporary period, and that that period will soon pass. We hope that we may have the opportunity, with the assistance of the right hon. Gentleman opposite and his friends, to find work which will provide these men with full employment. There has also been under consideration a pensions scheme which would have the effect of inducing many of the older men—and there are very many old men working in the factories—to retire on pension. A scheme has already been submitted. It will be considered in the light of the criticisms levelled against it, and if we can find some means of inducing some of the older men to out, it will, naturally, provide more work for those who are left. I have done my best to meet all the point which have been submitted and I appeal to the House to meet us on this point, because the Votes on account have yet to come, by allowing Mr. Speaker to leave the Chair.

The speech to which we have just listened may, without offence, be described as being vigorous without being convincing. The hon. Gentleman evidently regards this as a matter of considerable electoral importance, judging from the earnestness with which he addressed himself to it. I do not blame him for taking that view, because when the electors of the various districts in which these arsenals are situated learn of the record of the Government and hear of the speech of the hon. Gentleman to-night, they will find that there is a great difference between the promises made by Members of the party opposite at the last Election and their performances. But I have not risen for the purpose of engaging in any recriminations on this matter. All I would say is that the arguments which have been brought forward from this side have been, not so much on the question of whether this Government or the last Government discharged more men from Woolwich, as on the question of what this Government are doing to provide alternative work for the men who have been discharged. The gravamen of the charge against the Government is that at the last election, in the constituencies in which these arsenal men work and live, they promised distinctly, and claimed that it was the policy of the party opposite, that, if it were necessary to reduce the numbers of men employed on account of reduction of armaments, alternative work would be found for those men. It is hardly necessary to ram home that charge because the promise can be found in the election literature of the party opposite and more especially in their famous book called, I think, "Labour and the Nation."

To-night, I wish to refer to some other matters of considerable moment. I take, in the first place, the question of the Territorial force. I have some qualification to speak on this subject, because ever since the creation of the Territorial Force Associations, I have been a member of the association of my county. I was a pre-War Territorial. I was with the Territorials in the War—as it happens, I have the long service medal—and I wish to speak on the position of the Force to-day. I would preface what I have to say on that subject by remarking that, though this is not the time to speak of it, I hope that some day full historical justice will be done to the, as I claim, indispensable service which the Territorial Force rendered to this country and to the whole Empire in the early days of 1914. It enabled the Expeditionary Force to be sent overseas. The history of Europe and the history indeed of the world would have been very different had it not been for the existence of the Territorial Force in this country, and I hope that, when that history is written, not only will full justice be done to the Territorial Force, hut that some thing will be said on the subject of the attitude which was adopted by certain distinguished persons in high places towards that Force, an attitude which had lamentable results in after years and which caused, in the minds of many who were serving in the Territorials at that time, a feeling of grievance and of resentment. But the time has not come to deal with that.

We see a considerable shortage, both in officers and in men, in the Territorial Force. I want to make it plain that I do not for a moment place the blame for that wholly or mainly upon the right, hon. Gentleman opposite and the Government. There has been such a shortage since the War, and it is only partly set off by the improved training and, I venture to think—and, after all, I am not biased in the matter, because I was a member of the Territorial Force before the War, and am not now—by the improvement in the personnel which the Territorials have had since the War. The fact of the matter is that a Force like the Territorial Force cannot live without encouragement, and without very constant encouragement, and I fear that that encouragement has not recently been forth coming. I am, therefore, very glad that in certain quarters attention has recently been called to the need for giving encouragement to the Territorial Force; and in that connection the "Times" newspaper has done valuable service in calling attention to the need for authoritative statements by Members of the Government on the subject of the Territorial Force, by which I mean statements encouraging the nation to support it in every possible way.

Before dealing with that matter more fully, I would like to make reference to the lamentable decision which the right hon. Gentleman has come to in refusing grants and, as far as I know, recognition too, to the Cadet Corps of the country. I think I am speaking for all my hon. and right hon. Friends on this side with whom we have had a private conference since this announcement was made—and it was entirely new to us—when I say that we are seriously perturbed and alarmed at the decision which the Government have taken. I want to develop the reason why we object to this decision.

This particular question was dealt with on the Amendment. If the Noble Lord desires to raise it again, it had better be done on Vote A, and not on the Main Question.

I low to your Ruling, but I was under the impression that on this matter we could deal with the whole question. Should I be in order in dealing with the question of the Territorial Force?

The Noble Lord has misunderstood me. I think the particular question which the Noble Lord was then raising with regard to the Cadet Corps was dealt with on the Amendment. If he wants to revert to that subject he should do it on the actual Vote which concerns it, but he can, of course, raise the question of the Territorial Force on this Motion.

10.0 p.m.

May I point out my difficulty? I need hardly say that I am not attempting to controvert your ruling in any way, but the situation is that it is almost impossible to deal with the question of the Territorial Force without dealing with the Cadet Corps, because it is the Territorial Force Associations which are responsible officially for the Cadet Corps, and it is difficult to deal with one without dealing with the other.

I think it would be better for the Noble Lord to deal with the Cadet Corps on the Vote.

I bow to your ruling in the matter of the Cadet Corps, but in regard to the Territorials I do not understand you to rule that it is out of order to refer to them now.

Then I am afraid I must avail myself of my right to raise the question of the Territorial Force now, and trouble the House with another speech on the Cadet Corps when we come to Vote A. Those who, like myself, were in the House at the time when the Territorial Force Bill was first passed in the year 1907 or 1908 will recollect that an essential part of the scheme of Lord Haldane, who, as Mr. Haldane, was the founder of the Territorials, and whose memory, if I may say so, is entitled to almost as much respect for what he did in creating the Territorial Force as it is for the action which he took in creating the Expeditionary Force—Lord Haldane, in the course of the very interesting discussions which we had in the House at the time of the creation of the Territorial Force, made it quite clear that he based his idea, in forming the Force, on the idea of the integral connection between it and the counties and towns of the land. Indeed, the very name of the Force presupposes that. The Force was to be supported by the enthusiasm of the towns and counties, the localities, of the country.

While it is quite true that some towns and counties, and especially such places as the City of London and the City of Manchester have given every possible encouragement to the Territorial Force, it is unfortunately also the fact that other towns and counties, including some of the largest municipalities and some of the most densely populated counties, have given no assistance in recent years to the Territorial Force, and have treated it as if it were a hostile body connected with militarism. I think that there is a special responsibility resting upon the Members of this Government, because the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War is the official defender of the Territorials, and it is in the localities where those of his political faith are in power that there has been, not universally, but in some cases, unfortunately, this cold shouldering of the Territorial Force.

The Force not only lacks encouragement, but unfortunately it meets with actual discouragement, and the House will be very interested to know that in the past one of the people who have given it very considerable discouragement is the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War himself. On an earlier occasion to-day, when the Financial Secretary was speaking on the Amendment, in the first of his two speeches, he was very indignant with me when I interrupted him on the subject of the vote given by the First Commissioner of Works. He said that I had got hold of the wrong end of the stick, and that the Resolution for which the First Commissioner voted was not a similar Resolution to that on which we voted this afternoon. That was not the point at all. Let me quote to the House the vote that was given. On the 31st July, 1928, there was a Vote for the whole cost of the Territorial Army and the Reserve Forces. That Vote was opposed by a number of Members of the present Government. It was opposed by the Minister of Agriculture, by the First Commissioner of Works, and by the Secretary of State for War, so that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, on the 31st July, 1928, voted for the abolition of the Territorial Force.

The hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary was highly indignant this afternoon, and has been throughout this De- bate, at the attack which has been made on the policy of the Government by his supporters below the Gangway. The hon. Gentleman should have been more sparing in his indignation, considering that his own chief, the Minister for War himself, voted for the abolition of the Territorial Force on 31st July, 1928. I can give him the reference if he wants it; it is in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Of the two, I prefer the honest pacifist, such as we have below the Gangway, rather than those of a more disingenuous kind who, because they now sit on the Front Bench, have to defend and support something against which they voted a short time ago. We have never had a case before where a Secretary of State for War has sat in the place where the right hon. Gentleman is now, and who only a short 18 months before voted for the abolition of a considerable portion of the Force which he is now willing to defend. That certainly does not look very much like an encouragement of the Territorial Force.

It is not only the influence of the Minister for War, important no doubt as that influence is, which has been thrown into the scale against the Territorial Force in the past. There is no question that in the last few years there has grown up a school of writers and playwrights who have sedulously conveyed the idea that the profession of arms is itself a degrading profession, and it is natural that the result of the propagation of their views is to discourage recruiting. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am glad to have that assent from below the Gangway. If you represent to the public that there is something discreditable in being prepared to serve your own country, you cannot expect to get recruits for the Army. I am glad that the honest pacifists below the Gangway cheer that statement.

I did not cheer the sentiment that it is wrong to serve the country, but that it is wrong to kill.

I was not referring to the hon. Gentleman but to the general cheer. If the profession of arms is represented in that way, we cannot expect to get good recruits for the Army or for the Territorial Force.

How can the hon. Gentleman say it is not discouraged when his own party have voted for the abolition of the Territorial Force, and when the Amendment which was moved earlier in the evening speaks of service in the Army as being in the interests of capitalist Imperialism. Let hon. Gentlemen be honest in the matter. They have done everything they can to discourage recruiting in the Army by the attitude which they have taken up.

My interruption was not what the Noble Lord imagined it to be. What I said was, "Do not discourage war then," for to discourage war is to discourage recruiting.

When the right hon. Gentleman referred to the question of the difficulty of recruiting from the point of view of physique, he was referring to what was only partly true. It is true that a number of recruits have to be rejected on the score of physique, and it is unfortunate that it should be so, but one of the causes that makes for bad recruiting in the Territorials and the Regular Army is unquestionably the attitude which a section of the people in this country take up that the profession of arms is a degrading one. Everyone knows that the profession of arms is not a degrading one. Those of us who bore arms in the War had the satisfaction not only of defending our own kith and kin, but of enabling those who now criticise us on the benches opposite ant elsewhere to be alive and well in this country. Every time I see a conscientious objector in this House, I cannot but feel that I helped to keep him alive. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the soldiers?"] I feel somewhat sorry for the soldiers who have to sit on the other side of the House.

Some astonishing statements have been made during the Debate on the subject of the preparation for war. I do not want to refer to them in detail. I to not often pay compliments to the Financial Secretary, but I think that he has answered them very effectively, with a vigour and vehemence which does him great credit, and which I hope will he helpful to his party at the next Election. One hon. Gentleman said that preparation for war does not give security against war. Of course it does not; whoever said it did? But the converse is also true. It has been proved again and again in history that a lack of preparation for war does not give security against war. It has been proved over and over again, and what is the use of making a statement of that kind without having regard to the circumstances? Let us never forget that the small professional Army in this country, backed as it is by the Territorial Force and by the Army Reserve, is responsible for police work on a scale that has never been exceeded or equalled in the history of the world.

We have Africa, Asia and our mandated territories—what would those who have voted, and are going to vote again, for practically the abolition of the Army, have done had they been in office and faced with the situation with which the present Government were faced in the mandated territory of Palestine last August? Who saved the situation there? Was it the conscientious objectors or the pacifists? It was the soldiers, the sailors and the airmen of His Majesty's Forces. How would they have prevented what might have taken place had it not been for the armed forces of the Crown? I am very glad of one thing about the present Government; it is almost the only thing about them that makes me glad; it is that when they were in Opposition it was easy enough for Members opposite to vote in the most irresponsible manner against the existence of the armed forces of the Crown, but now that they are in office they have, even though it may be against their own wishes and intentions, to support what they know is absolutely essential not only to the continued existence of the British Empire and of this country, but to their own safety. They know it, and so do hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway.

I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question of a specific character in regard to a matter which has been raised at Question Time from time to time. I refer to the question of Army bands. While the right hon. Gentleman has resisted efforts made by his supporters to abolish the opportunity which Army bands enjoy for obtaining private engagements, nevertheless, the right hon. Gentleman, without saying very much about it, has made a rule that no Army band of less than 20 performers shall be allowed to perform. I understand that that comes very hard on some bands, including certain bands of the Brigade of Guards, who have been in the habit of taking engagements for dinners and engagements of that kind, where less than 20 performers were required, and where it is impossible, owing to the size of the hall in which they were performing, to have as many as 20 players. I should like to know why the right hon. Gentleman has done it. It looks as if it were an attempt to hinder the progress of Army bands. The agitation which has been put forward in some quarters against Army bands is ridiculous. Why should the Musicians' Union object to the competition of Army bands, and why should anyone object to engaging gentlemen who are good enough to serve their King and country in the Army? Are the men out of the Army better men than those in it? I do not know what right anybody has to say so. In my opinion a regiment has a perfect right, under military regulations, to use its band to give performances to the public.

I am informed, though I hope my information is not correct, that though this restriction upon Army bands of less than 20 performers has been imposed that the Secretary of State for War has given orders that the massed bands of the Brigade of Guards are to take part in a conference to do with a poultry show to be held at the Crystal Palace next July. If that is so, it seems to be rather inconsistent. Surely he should engage his friends of the National Musicians' Union to play to the assembled poultry at the Crystal Palace next July. It is appropriate that there should be a band of some sort, and that they should play, because I think it will probably drown the remarks of the Minister of Agriculture when he is trying to explain the policy of the Government. I should like to know whether the information which I have had is correct. All of us will be very much interested to hear the reply which we are just about to have from the right hon. Gentleman as to the reason for his very fortuitous change of view on the subject of the Territorials between the 28th of July, 1928, and to-day; and we hope, further, that he will be able to give us an assurance that, if he voted against the Territorial force in its entirety in the past, that in the future he will be as anxious as we are to resist the efforts of those who wish to destroy this most useful and esssential force.

May I claim the indulgence of the House, before you leave the Chair, to answer a few of the questions, some of them serious and some of them flippant, which have been put during the discussion? The ex-Secretary of State for War was afraid that the cuts in warlike stores were reaching the danger point. May I assure him that we are perfectly satisfied that that is not the case, and that the warlike stores in this country are quite sufficient to meet any emergency that can be foreseen? In fact, it is the intention of my hon. Friend, who on my instructions has taken a great deal of trouble in this matter, carefully to review the whole position with a view to seeing whether it be not the fact that we have a surplus of stores that under no circumstances could be said to be necessary in the present state of affairs.

Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the point, will he say whether that observation applies to mechanical vehicles and mechanical instruments?

As regards mechanical vehicles, we are quite satisfied that our policy is the right one. There is no finality in regard to these vehicles. They are purely experiments. We are using them in the proportion that we consider necessary to give the experiments a fair trial, arid we believe that it would be the grossest mistake, particularly in view of the developments taking place in mechanical science, to get stocks that might cause us to use an obsolete machine because we had it rather than get the best that science can produce at the moment when necessity arises. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that we have not acted in a reckless way, that things have been very carefully considered, and that we believe we are taking steps that are not only economical but will be more efficient in the long run than the policy of manufacturing, perhaps rather too largely, machines that are experimental rather than machines that have reached something like a degree of efficiency that could be relied upon.

Then the right hon. Gentleman was very anxious about the saving on works. He pointed out that in my speech I had alluded to reports that had reached me about the condition of some of the buildings in which men were housed. May I point out to him that his record with regard to works is pretty much like my own? I will not willingly be a party to British soldiers being accommodated in buildings that are not reasonably comfortable and healthy. I say that without hesitation, because what is not good enough for me is not good enough for the soldiers, or any other body of men. With regard to Egypt, so far as the contribution is concerned, I think the right hon. Gentleman tried to involve me in a discussion that would he more apposite to the Foreign Office than to the War Office. I will call the attention of the Foreign Office to the fact that this matter has been raised, and that Egypt has made no contribution since 1923. If I find we have been making a mistake since that time, I will ask my right hon. Friend to reverse the engine.

With regard to the training of men for civil life, I am at one with what has been said, and I am prepared to receive suggestions from anybody that will help to devise a method whereby the men who leave the Army will leave it properly equipped for entering civil life. It is one of the worst things that can happen to a man, whether he is an officer or comes from the ranks, that when he goes hack into civil life he finds himself an extra wheel on the coach. Vs do not care from whom the suggestion comes, if it is a practical one we shall be glad to accept it. I am sure the members of the Army Council will be very glad of any help that can be given in this respect. The question of cadets will be discussed later if the necessity arises, and I will not deal with that matter at the moment. Time will not permit me to go into long details with regard to many other questions which have been raised. The question of the relation of the War Office to the other services has been discussed, but that is a question of general policy that can only be dealt with by the Prime Minister. The question as to whether all the services should come under one head, or should be redistributed in some other way, is not a matter for any in- dividual Minister to deal with, and it must be dealt with by the head of the Government.

It can be arranged through the usual channel. As far as the question of another uniform is concerned, 1 am very doubtful as to whether the suggestion is practical, and whether the expense would be at all justified. The hon. Member made certain suggestions with regard to units dealing with their own finances, or part of their own finances, on a somewhat similar system to that which exists, apparently, in the Territorials, and also with regard to officers refusing to use their own cars at a certain mileage rate, and the country being called upon to pay rates three times as high as those offered to officers for their own cars. Those statements I will submit to the Staff at the War Office, and will ask them carefully to examine what it is possible to do in the matter. The hon. and gallant Member for Newbury (Brigadier-General Brown) asked if there had been naval and military exercises, and with what results. There have been naval and military exercises during 1929, in the North of Scotland, and very valuable experience was gained, but I think that the hon. and gallant Member would be the last man in the House to ask for a detailed statement of what the valuable experience was.

I did not ask that; it was my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ludlow (Lieut.-Colonel Windsor-Clive).

I beg pardon; I confused the constituencies. The hon. and gallant Member also asked questions with regard to Sandhurst and Woolwich. There is at the present moment a shortage of cadets at Sandhurst, but there is no shortage at Woolwich. With regard to the Territorials, the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) may take it for granted that the present Secretary of State is quite aware, as, indeed, was the late Secretary of State, of the importance of the Territorial side of the Army, and I tried my level best in my speech to convey, perhaps in halting fashion, my appreciation of the services of the Territorials; and I asked the House to join with me in asking Lord Derby, as head of the Central Organisation, to convey to the Territorials the appreciation of the whole House. I think, therefore, that I have done some little to let the Territorial side of the Army know that their services are recognised.

I have not time to deal with the Noble Lord's interjection, but the only Vote was a block Vote, in which the Territorial Vote was a section. The Noble Lord knows perfectly well what takes place when block votes are dealt with.

I turn now to the question of military bands. The instructions have been explained to the House more than once, and I have said to the Musicians' Union, in effect, that the military band has been an institution in our life, at any rate ever since I remember anything, and that in a sense there is nothing like it, and I am not prepared to interfere with a practice that has gone on, certainly, to my own knowledge, for half a century. But it was brought to my notice that some men in the Forces were taking outside engagements, and it was alleged that they were being taken at rates that cut out of competition the man who had to depend for his living on the practice of his art. I do not think that members of His Majesty's Forces, drawing the pay and having the accommodation due to their rank, should act in the labour market—that was the allegation—as competitors, and sometimes unfair competitors, of men who have to practise their art for a living. I ask the House to agree that that is wrong.

If it was not true, nothing has been done. If those things have not been done, there is no change. The only action I have taken is to make it as nearly impossible for it to be done as human skill can make it. [An HON. MEMBER: "How about the limitation of numbers?"] I have said a military band ordinarily consists of, I think, 22 players. [Interruption.] If it has been reduced, it is perfectly justified, because I do not believe individual Army musicians should enter into competition with private musicians. The full Army band has been a national institution for generations and with the full Army band I do not feel inclined at all to interfere. But, even with the smaller number of players, there have been exceptions which will meet every reasonable case. For instance, there is no opposition to portions of the band playing for bona fide charities. There is no opposition, of course, to anything they do in departmental buildings, or even in private buildings, which belong to members of the forces, even retired members of the forces. There is no objection to Army bands, or parts of them, playing, whether with or without fees, in places of worship, and every engagement that had been entered into for three months subsequent to the date of the letter that had been sent out was allowed to be completed. I do not think that is an unreasonable position to take up. I have tried to reply to the chief points that have been made. I suppose pretty well every other point that needs to be put can be put on the separate Votes. I ask the House now to allow you, Sir, to leave the Chair and let us get to the discussion of the Votes.

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

Supply accordingly considered in Committee.

[Mr. ROBERT YOUNG in the Chair.]

Number Of Land Forces

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That a number of Land Forces, not exceeding 148,900, all ranks, be maintained for the Service of the United Kingdom at home and abroad, excluding His Majesty's Indian Possessions (other than Aden), during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1931."

We have heard that there are 21 Members in the House who are of opinion that the provision made by the Government for the Army is much in excess of what is necessary. I suppose those 21 Members represent some body of opinion in the country. After all, there is no proposition so foolish that you cannot get some people to agree to it. The great majority of the House has shown in the Lobby, as I think the majority in the country would show if they had the opportunity, that the provisions that the Secretary of State has made for the maintenance of the Army are not excessive. That being so, it is obvious that the question of maintaining the establishment he has laid down is of first rate importance. For that reason I wish to make a few observations on the general question of recruiting.

I should like to remind the Committee of the exact nature of the problem we have to face. In the Annual Report of the Army, which has been circulated, the figures are set out showing tae difference between the establishment which the Secretary of State for War says we require, and the actual strength of the Forces we, in fact, have. The figure given for the Regular Army, excluding the Indian Army, for establishment is 138,469, as against which we find a strength of 131,221, showing an actual deficiency at the moment these figures were prepared of 7,248. Moreover, we read in another part of the Report that of those recruits who have been taken, some 3,291 were only obtained by lowering the normal physical requirements. So that if we regard the position of recruits from the standard which we should like to have, we must add back that number to the deficiency. We must add back these 3,291 men on the lower physical standard to the actual shortage of 7,248 shown in the tables, and we arrive at a deficiency of 10,539 recruits of the standard we should like to have as compared with the establishment.

A shortage of something over 10,000 on an establishment of 138,000 is in itself a matter of some seriousness, but it is rendered more serious still by the fact that in the Annual Report of the Army it is expressly stated that:here has been a steady decline, and, unfortunately, there are at present no indications of an early return to normal which means, in the opinion of those best able to judge, that we cannot now, and we see no prospect in the immediate future of being able to, obtain sufficient recruits to provide the establishment which His Majesty's Government tell us is necessary. It is worth the while of this Committee to give very serious thought in those circumstances to the problem of how this deficiency in number is to be made good. There is no legal compulsion to serve in the Army, and I take it that it is the general view in this Committee that we do not desire any form of legal compulsion.

The right hon. Gentleman the ex-Secretary of State for War referred earlier in the Debate to the question of economic compulsion, and I should like to enlarge a little upon what he then said. He reminded the House that the increased system of unemployment insurance affected and was bound to affect the question of recruiting. This is not the time to go into the merits of the system of unemployment insurance which we have to-day, but I think I shall be permitted to say that the problem as it affects the Army is rather aggravated by the fact that, although we call it unemployment insurance benefit, it is partly insurance benefit and partly poor law relief, administered nationally. The benefit that the man receives is not, and cannot be, entirely or even chiefly provided by the contributions paid by him in respect of his employment. The Fund is bankrupt and is only maintained by large State grants.

The hon. Member must not enter into a discussion of unemployment insurance.

I will not carry that point further, but the suggestion has been raised as to whether a man who refuses an offer of employment by the State can claim to be maintained in idleness by the State. Obviously, his position is very different. He comes forward and claims something which actuarially he is not justified in claiming in respect of contributions that he has paid, or he claims an unlimited amount of relief. Take the case of a man who is able-bodied and young, without any wife or any other dependant, who is offered employment in the Army, and refuses it. Is the State to maintain that man in idleness for an unlimited period of time? That is a problem that will one day have to be faced. If the Secretary of State for War, later in the Debate, takes note of what I have been saying, I imagine that he will say that the issue is so obscured by the present system of insurance that he would not be justified in following that line out as a means of improving the chances of recruiting. In that case, we are driven back to the purely voluntary basis of recruiting. Recruits we must have.

It has been stated this afternoon, with perfect truth, that a most serious bar to purely voluntary recruiting is the sight of a time-expired man out of a job. A man may have served his country in the Army, and served it well, and when the time comes that he wants civilian employment he finds himself not fitted for any particular skilled calling and often unable to obtain even unskilled work. If that difficulty is to be removed it can only be removed by some extension of vocational training. The Secretary of State for War said that he would welcome any suggestions that anyone could put forward. I am going, rashly, perhaps, to make a suggestion. Would it be possible as an experiment to try recruiting a limited number of a special class recruited, say, for three years with the Colours and seven years with the Reserve, the understanding being that during the three years the men are with the Colours half the time should be devoted to purely military training and half to learning some skilled trade. If something of that kind could be tried as an experiment it would demonstrate the fact that there is a large amount of excellent material available for the Army on some such terms. The total effect of that would make it worth a considerable sum of money. In the first place, you would get your recruits. In the second place, you would ease the burden on the Unemployment Fund, and, in the third place, you would give to the country a number of men physically fit, in good health and skilled in some useful occupation, instead of a number of de-moralised men, unemployed and incapable of earning a useful living at any skilled occupation.

I want to raise the question of the meat and bread supplied to the British Army, and to the Forces generally. In raising this question I want to make it quite clear that I do not lay the blame for the present situation on the present Government. The last Government have a serious responsibility in this matter. I do not want to be misunderstood in any way. I am not trying to curb the activities of the present Government. I have a tremendous admiration for the work they have done under difficult circumstances, but I think that the Secretary of State and the Financial Secretary would render a great service to a great but unfortunate industry if they will see that this question is reopened and that a full and careful inquiry is made. The criticisms levelled against the present Government are rather unfair. They were not in office for more than three weeks when hon. Members opposite were asking whether they intended to carry out an Election pledge given by hon. Members of the Conservative party at the time of the General Election. The last Government was in office for four or five years, and the late Minister of Agriculture bas told us that he and his colleagues pressed upon the Government the policy of feeding the Army with British beef and British bread, but in spite of all their efforts they failed to convince their fellow-Members in the Cabinet.

It is interesting to observe that although hon. Members opposite gave a pledge at the General Election they made no attempt whatever to carry it out. Between the date when the pledge was given and the date of the Election there were ample opportunities for steps to be taken for carrying out that pledge, if they so desired. The Farmers' Union, which is critical of governments, recognises that fact because the Essex Farmers' Union Journal last year made this statement:
"Headquarters made unavailing efforts before the late Government vacated office to secure the issuing of contracts for meat and flour for the Army this year, and had this course been adopted the present difficulties would not have arisen."
Ro that if the Conservative party were really sincere and in earnest in the Election pledges which they gave—and they twit this side with making pledges and not carrying them out—they had ample opportunity of putting them into force, and the Army would have had British meat and bread at this particular time. What is the reason generally given for not supplying the armed forces with British meat? It is one of cost. Cheapness is supposed to be the test. Is that test of cheapness to be applied only to agriculture? It needs more than meat and bread to maintain the Army. I would ask the Minister if in the ex- penditure of his Department he requires cotton or other goods, would he suggest to the electors of Preston that, cheapness being the test, we should buy our cotton for the Army either in India or Japan or some other place rather than Manchester? Again, if cheapness is the test, should it not apply to coal? We can get coal from abroad more cheaply than it is produced here. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] If cheapness is to be the test, it, should be applied to every commodity that the armed forces require. Take something which we produce in my own constituency. The British Army marches to battle on hoots made in the constituency I have the honour to represent—Wellingborough. You cannot get better boots anywhere, but you can get cheaper boots.

If we do not apply the test of cheapness to boots, my contention is that we have no right to make cheapness the test for the supply of meat for the Army. If it is not good enough for cotton or coal or boots or clothing or anything else, it is not good enough to apply it to agriculture. If cheapness is the test, it, should only be the test if you are comparing like with like. If you compare one article against another for price, you have to see that both articles are of the same quality and kind. Surely nobody will contend that frozen junk supplied to the British Army is comparable with fresh home-produced meat? I was very delighted to hear the Minister say that what was not good enough for him was not good enough for the British soldiers. Frozen junk is not good enough for me. We would not have it in our house although it is not a very wealthy house. I do not think there is a single Member of Parliament here who would have this frozen meat in his house. If it is not good enough for Members of Parliament, it is not good enough for British soldiers. I contend that the test of cheapness applied to meat is not a fair test. For instance, the difference between the price of British beef and imported beef, especially frozen beef, is purely illusory. The important point is the cost per pound of the cooked beef and the relative nutritive value. When these are taken into account, British beef will stand well in comparison with any beef, and especially with frozen beef.

I would ask, has the War Office made a test of the comparative cost of home- killed fresh beef and frozen beef in the cooked state and have they compared the nutritive value of each, pound for pound? If that is done they will find that the British beef will not cost any more, and, as a matter of fact, it may cost very much less. I do not want to contend that we should start off by supplying meat all the year round to begin with. If it is going to cost any more, obviously it is very unfair to expect the present Government in the present circumstances to launch out on new expenditure which the late Government under much better financial conditions and opportunities and with much more money at its disposal, failed to incur. One of the great difficulties in agriculture in recent years has been the fact that the production of cereals has been uneconomic. That has made a large number of agriculturists change from corn growing to cattle grazing, and many of the people who graze cattle cannot find winter feed for their animals. They part with the animals before the frost and snow and hard weather set in, and they all come into the market at about the same time. When that takes place they are at the mercy of the buyers and dealers, and down comes the price. I find on examination that for every 8s. decrease in price between mid-September and mid-December, the British consumer gets only 1s.

I am waiting for the hon. Member to relate this subject to the supply of meat for the Army.

I am attempting to do so, but perhaps in a roundabout way. It would be of great advantage to British agriculture if the Army would buy meat at this particular period. The cost would then be comparable even with that of frozen meat, and the buying of the meat at that time would 'Lot raise the price to the British consumer.

11.0 p.m.

I am quite in favour of British potatoes too, and I will deal with that subject on another occasion. Let me take now the case of bread. The contention that it would be dearer cannot be urged as an argument against supplying the Army with British bread. If we supplied British bread we would save money. It has been contended that British bread is not wholesome, and that the soldiers would not like it. Every piece of bread supplied to Members of Parliament is British, made from British flour, which in turn is made from British wheat, and seeing how well Members of the House look, I should say that the soldiers would come to no harm if they had a similar type of bread. It has been proved conclusively that we can get a British flour that produces even better bread than most of the bread that has been supplied in the past. It is some times said that we must have Canadian and North American wheat. For some reason best known to those in the industry, one of the great troubles is that the British millers and corn merchants have not bought enough American or Canadian wheat. They have been buying soft wheats from the Argentine and Australia—wheats which are comparable with our own wheat—and therefore the bread will be made from flour, similar to the flour which would be produced if only British wheat were used. The Financial Secretary, in this matter, might even effect an economy and he could certainly render a great service to the agricultural industry. We can produce a first-class bread—better than most of the other breads—and we must not forget that the people of these islands were fed for 1,000 years on bread made from British flour and British wheat. When we have one Department of the State sending 50,000 circulars all over the country asking people to buy British bread and meat, and trying to badger hotels and public institutions to supply their guests and their patients, with British bread and meat, it is rather inconsistent if the Government do not show a good example and put that principle into operation. If it is the case that British meat will cost a little more, that argument does not apply to the case of bread and I hope that the Department will be able to make some concession on this point.

Perhaps it will be convenient if I reply to the points which have been raised, as the hour is growing late. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I thought that hon. Members were anxious to retire, but perhaps we shall be better able to ascertain their desire after I have spoken. The hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. O. Lewis) in a very interesting speech, raised the general question of recruiting and of the difficulties which have recently confronted us in regard to obtaining recruits. I am sorry, however, that the only positive suggestion which he put to us is most impracticable. He suggested that we might enlist men for three years with the Colours, and seven with the Reserve. Apart from the difficulties which would be encountered in the organisation of the Army, and the linking up of battalions at home with battalions in India, there are other difficulties. In any event, it would not permit of the vocational training during 18 months of the Colour period which the hon. Member desires. Very few men leave the Army without technical training of some kind. Attention is not particularly directed to training, but with the advance of mechanisation in all its forms, the Army is becoming much more technically equipped than ever it was, and, now, when men leave the service, they are capable of driving and repairing cars and vehicles of all kinds. They have engaged in ordnance duties, they have engineering and similar technical qualifications, and that, in conjunction with the special vocational training which some of the men receive—we hope to extend it in due course—renders the position very much better than it has been.

I noted with regret that the hon. Member followed a line which unfortunately the late Secretary of State for War pursued at the beginning of the Debate today. Apparently both hon. Members agree that some element of compulsion is now required in order to stimulate recruiting. Though they were very tactful and to some extent reserved in their observations, I gathered they were doubtful as to the propriety of paying unemployment benefit to unemployed men who refused to avail themselves of military service.

I must protest. The hon. Member knows very well that I did not say that. I clearly said I did not mean unemployment benefit as such.

I cannot enter into a discussion on the technicalities of the terminology employed in relation to unemployment insurance, but to many of us there is no distinction whatever. [Interruption.] Why hon. Members opposite should display excitement in relation to this matter is beyond me, because it is generally accepted nowadays that what is called uncovenanted benefit has now become an accepted part of the Unemployment Insurance scheme.

It does not lie with the right hon. and gallant Member to speak of State poor relief when some of his friends are the recipients of that sort of thing on a much higher scale than friends of my own. I want to make it quite clear that my right hon. Friend is not prepared to employ—and in that connection we speak for the Government and for our party—any economic compulsion of that sort. We shall keep the question of recruiting under review, and take whatever steps we regard as adequate and necessary in order to meet the exigencies of the situation.

Very shortly, I want to reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Welling-borough (Mr. Dallas) in relation to the question of British meat and flour for the Forces. I noted with some astonishment that although hon. Members opposite did not raise the question directly, they applauded the observations of my hon. Friend. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary of State for War is not present, because he was himself somewhat effusive in his support. It so happens that. we know the history of this adventure. We know that in 1923, when a Conservative Government was in office, one of my predecessors, Colonel Jackson, received a deputation from the National Farmers' Union in relation to this matter, and informed them that the cost was prohibitive, so that the proposal must be rejected. Again in 1923, another deputation was received by another Minister, and the proposal was dropped because of the Treasury attitude. Then we come to 1928, during the last dispensation when a deputation from the National Union of Distributive Workers was received by my immediate predecessor. He informed the deputation that the proposal was impracticable in view of the extra cost. Then we come to March, 1929, and we find that the late Secretary of State had addressed to him a question on the subject by the hon. Member for Wallasey (Sir B. Chadwick). He asked the usual question in regard to the purchase of British meat three days a week, and the Secretary of State replied:
"I regret that considerations of expense do not permit the adoption of this suggestion."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th March, 1929; col. 222. Vol. 226.]
That was as recent as March last year. Then a change came over the situation. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition made a speech at Drury Lane Theatre only three weeks after his right hon. Friend had stated quite categorically in this House that he was not prepared to accept the proposal. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley (Mr. S. Baldwin) announced a Cabinet decision that home-killed beef would be issued to the Services during six months of the year. There was some misunderstanding about his pronouncement. There were some agriculturists who thought that this meant home-fed beef. Others thought it meant home-produced beef; and some thought it meant home-killed beef, and they were right. That is what it meant, and there was a most important distinction. In any event, that decision was reached only a few weeks after the Government had confirmed that the proposal was impracticable. What was the cause of the change? Can it be the imminence of a General Election? It is not for me to impute motives, but I leave the Committee to draw their own conclusions. Sometimes electoral questions and possibilities do concern members of Governments. Few of us are immune from these considerations. It certainly affected members of the late Government; therefore it is not surprising that they are a little reluctant to raise this issue. Let me come to the practical side of the proposal. I cannot embark on an agricultural discussion, but I submit that it is quite appropriate to the discussion to affirm that to use British meat—that is, home-killed beef, for that is what is means—would not confer any particular benefit on British. farmers. It might confer distinct advantages on the cattle trade of the Irish Free State. Moreover, the bulk of our meat supplies are obtained from the Dominions. Only an infinitesimal proportion of the supplies used by the Army are obtained from foreign sources. It is hardly worth talking about. Are we going to destroy the Dominions' trade in frozen meat for the very dubious advantage that might be conferred on the British farming industry?

There was a further consideration. We have to take the risk of interruption of supplies. There was an occasion many years ago when the Army did use a considerable quantity of fresh meat, and then there was constant trouble—trouble in relation to the supply, to its regularity, to the quality of the meat, to its inspection. All those considerations were in- volved. There is a further consideration. The prospect of a recurrence of foot-and-mouth disease might seriously impede the supplies for the Army. All these factors have got to be taken into account; and finally we have to consider the question of expense. To provide the Army with British meat for six months in the year would cost us at least £200,000, and to supply the Army for a full year would cost double that amount. We are not prepared to accept that financial liability. If it were merely a question of cost it might be worth considering, but taken alongside the various other factors to which I have referred, we have come to the conclusion that it would be impracticable to adopt the suggestion. I must congratulate my hon. Friend behind me on the earnestness with which he has espoused the cause of British agriculture, but at the same time we are indisposed to accept his suggestion. I hope now that I have given these replies to both hon. Members that we may be allowed to have the Vote.

May I say a word on the question of time, because the Financial Secretary spoke just now as though he were winding up the Debate. That is the sixth speech we have had from the Treasury Bench. [Interruption.] Oh, yes. That was the third speech the Financial Secretary had made, and we had three from the Secretary of State, and each one has been certainly over 20 minutes long, I should think 25 minutes. I do not think we have had more than four speeches from hon. Members on the back benches on this side, and we must protest, and shall certainly take the opportunity of presenting our views.

We on the back benches are very grateful to my right hon. and gallant Friend for making this protest against the obvious intention of His Majesty's Government to smother discussion on this subject. We all realise the difficult position in which the Secretary of State has been placed, but the Opposition cannot allow themselves to be slighted on account of the long speeches required from the Government to quell the disorder on their own back benches. We are now discussing Vote A, but I think all on this side of the Committee must have felt that we were listening to the original discussion. The leader of the party of the mountain behind the Government did not himself speak, but hon. Members who did speak dealt with the League of Nations and every other subject. Surely if they do believe in the League of Nations—

The hon. Member is not entitled in Committee to refer to speeches made in the House.

I bow to your Ruling. May I return to the question of numbers? In order that the British Army may carry out its obligations, which are very largely influenced by forces not under our own control now that we are guided by the League of Nations, it is necessary that we should get recruits, and we can only get them if the country as a whole is in favour of the Forces and advantage is not taken of opportunities of debate in this House to belittle the Army and the men who serve in it. There may be difficulties in regard to offering alternative employment, but there is this fact which is perfectly clearly understood. Under the present scales of unemployment benefit a man gets 17s. a week, and the pay of a private soldier joining the Army is 14s. a week. Can you wonder if a man comes along and compares those figures which are not a true comparison? There is 14s. a week provided for a soldier and 17s. a week for unemployment benefit, and a man would naturally ask himself, "why should I join the Army if I can get 17s. a week for doing nothing?" There ought to be a good deal more propaganda by the War Office to show the advantages that a man gets by joining the Army where he is provided with clothing, good food, medical attendance, recreation, and a Magnificent life. There is nothing dis- graceful about being in the Army. Many hon. Members opposite have served in the Army, and how they can sit patiently and hear things said which are a slur on the people who are serving their country in the Army I cannot understand. What disgrace is there about being a soldier in the Army?

If that is so, why do hon. Members make such speeches as they have done in the House which by innuendo discourage men from joining the Army—

The hon. and gallant Member is not entitled in Committee to reply to speeches made in debate in the House, and he must confine himself to speeches made during the Committee stage.

Is it not an old standing practice not to reply to speeches that have not been made at all?

I wish to raise a point of Order. The Secretary of State for War referred to the Amendments on the Order Paper in Committee in his opening speech, and he explained to the House, in answer to the point raised from the Front Bench opposite, that he would let hon. Members know what were the views of the Government on those Amendments. It will be very difficult to debate this question unless we can refer to what the right hon. Gentleman said.

I was not in the Chair at the time, hut there is a long-standing rule in this House that you cannot reply in Committee to speeches made in previous Debates in the House.

I bow to your Ruling, Mr. Dunnico, and I agree that one is not permitted to deal in Committee with matters that have been raised in the House. In the report on Recruiting in the Army, certain very serious things have been pointed out which I think are pertinent to a discussion on Vote A. It is, surely, in the interest, not only of one party but of the whole House, to try to find out why the Inspector-General of Recruiting should have made that report. There is one aspect of attracting men to the colours and encouraging men to join the Army which I think could be developed, and that is that not only are there the advantages of vocational training, which are very great, but there is also the great advantage that a man who has joined the Army can, after his time is up, be assisted to settle overseas and have the advantage of aftercare by linked units in the Dominions. Not long ago, in Ontario, I was told by the units of British soldiers settled there that they had made it their business, if any ex-service men could obtain adequate training and get out there, to help them in every way to settle down and make a living.

The fact that there is a shortage of nearly 10,000 in recruiting is a serious matter this year, and, if it continues, it will be disastrous in two years' time. [Interruption.] An hon. Member says that that is one reason why we do not like it, but it is not a question of our liking it; it is a question of how the business of the country is to be carried on, and it is the business of this Committee to see that nothing is left undone to ensure that we get an adequate supply of men to serve in the different Services. I understand that there is no shortage of recruits for either the Royal Air Force or the Royal Navy, nor in the Royal Tank Corps, or the cavalry, or the gunners, but that the shortage is entirely confined to the infantry. If that be so, surely something might be done by the War Office to encourage mechanical training in the infantry, or something of the kind.

The Financial Secretary mentioned that, as units were being mechanised, every man who passes out is to some extent a trained man, but in another part of the Vote it appears that we have not sufficient money for the mechanisation of second-line transport units, and, if that be not done, I do not see how men joining an infantry battalion can obtain that extra training. I am certain that if the Secretary of State will make inquiries of the Employment Exchanges, and find out to what extent they are advertising the advantages of the Army to men who apply there for work—[Interruption.] An bon. Member says that the advertisements are on the walls, but, while they are in same cases, in other cases they are not.

If there could be a little collaboration between the War Office and the Ministry of Labour, I believe that, without any compulsion, but by giving men who have a spirit of adventure and desire a healthy life the opportunity of joining the Army, utilising the Exchanges to some extent as recruiting offices, we should very largely get over our difficulties. On the other hand, if Employment Exchanges are manned by people who have feelings very hostile to the Army and to the idea of serving the country, I would suggest that it is high time that something was done to enable any young British labouring man who wishes to join the Army, when he goes to an Employment Exchange, to be provided with all the information that he wants, and then I think that his spirit of adventure and his desire to serve will make him willing and anxious to join the Army, and we shall get over the difficulty of shortage of recruits.

I had desired not to move the Amendment which stands in my name on the Order Paper—to reduce Subhead G. of Vote 11 (Medals) by £5—but merely, in view of what the Secretary of State said in his opening remarks, to make one or two comments. But I gather from your Ruling, Sir, that that would not be in order. What I desire to do, therefore, is to move the reduction that is on the Paper in order that I may have an opportunity of saying something which I should desire to say in deference to the very kind way in which the Secretary of State met me in advance, not on an Amendment to reduce the Vote, but merely on the general discussion. In order to put myself in order, I propose to move a reduction of Vote 11.

The hon. Baronet can only move that when we come to that particular Vote.

I ought to make it clear that the hon. Baronet would not be entitled to discuss a matter to Vote 11 on a Motion to reduce Vote A by 100 men. That has obviously nothing to do with medals.

In that case, I must leave myself in your hands. I am quite prepared to sit here for any number of hours to raise this question in view of the speech we have had from the Financial Secretary, who seemed to think that we are much more anxious to get home than to discuss questions of which we have given notice. I will therefore wait till you allow me to move a reduction of Vote 11. I should like to say, had it not been for your Ruling, that I had no desire to move the reduction at all, and I shall not detain the Committee more than a few moments in making a brief reference to what the hon. Gentleman said.

The duty of an Opposition is a double one. One is to oppose and the other is constructive. I want to make a constructive speech which may or may not be opposition as the Front Bench may like to take it. It is with regard to the health services of the Army. I want to raise the question of the personnel of the medical service in the Territorial Force. As is now recognised as the result of the experience of the late War, the Territorial Force is the force for the future expansion of the Army in time of active service, and from that point of view the medical service of the Territorial Force must be capable of expansion in time of active service. In days gone by, the proper establishment for a Territorial division was one field ambulance for every brigade. As the result of economies since the War, that has been reduced from three field ambulances in a division to two. It was recognised that that was capable of expanding to three in case of mobilisation. It was not a good arrangement, but it was entered into for the sake of economy. Now the establishment of a Territorial Field Ambulance has been cut down further and consists of only two sections, and is, therefore, only a framework capable of expanding into two field ambulances, which obviously would not be sufficient to cope with three brigades in a division. I have raised this question before, but no attention has been paid to it, in spite of verbal replies from the Secretary of State. You cannot expect a force to be efficient when it is called out on active service unless, at any rate, you have a skeleton organisation in time of peace. What will happen if these three brigades are mobilised in time of war? They will only have the skeleton of these two sections of one field ambulance.

These things leave the House and the public cold in time of peace. Again and again in the last century the same thing happened. In each case the Medical Services have pointed out the inadequacy of the organisation. A deaf err has been turned and the services have been starved and cut down. A war breaks out—the Crimea, South Africa., to some extent even the last Great War. A force is suddenly mobilised and flung into the front line of battle. There is a breakdown and the blame is thrown upon the Director-General and his Department, whereas it has not been his fault, but that of the War Office or Parliament. That was the reason of the breakdown in the South African War, and of the breakdown in the Crimea. After the South African War an Army Medical Service Departmental Committee went into the matter thoroughly. I happen to know a good deal about it, because I was the Assistant Secretary to the Committee. This was in 1902. The Committee was presided over by the then Secretary of State for War. Practically every reform which was suggested was introduced, with the result that there was an extraordinary improvement in the Army Medical Service right up to the late War. But adequate attention has not been paid to the Territorial Medical Service. I am asking that this matter shall be taken into account, and I hope that every Territorial Field Ambulance will be extended to three sections. We have one Service after another complaining of the shortage of medical officers. In the course of the discussion on the Naval Estimates the First Lord of the Admiralty said:
"I regret that some concern is felt by my advisers over the difficulty of obtaining an adequate supply of medical officers."—(OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th March, 1930; col. 1747, Vol. 236.]
We have the Secretary of State for War saying that there is a still regret-able shortage of candidates for the Regular Army, and that the supplementary officers and the officers' reserve are much below establishment. We are getting into the same position as obtained before the South African War and before the Crimea. You are not worrying much about the Medical Service. You say, "It will be all right. When war breaks out medical men will come along." Of course they will come along, but they will be medical men who are untrained, and they will be below the proper strength and without organisation. Only four years ago my late colleague, Major-General Sir Richard Luce, then a Member for Derby, speaking on this subject, remarked that the establishment of medical officers was 900 and that strength was only 794, a shortage of 106. I see that the present establishment is 589 and that the strength is only 533. The question of the reduced numbers is one on which we have been working for a long time.

Previous Secretaries of State for War have asked medical men in the House to help them in regard to the matter. It is a very serious difficulty. I have gone into the question at length with several former Directors-General when they have left the Service, and I have had a considerable number of letters from them regarding their views of the medical service. I know the difficulties. I know that the British Medical Association feel that the War Office have treated them fairly in accepting their suggestions, but still we have not had the men coming into the Service. What is the reason? It is difficult to explain the reason. There is a series of reasons which will have to be inquired into. We are dealing here with very much the same problem in regard to medical officers as we are dealing with in regard to the training of men. What we have to consider when trying to attract young students or medical men into the Service is that these men are looking to the future. A man wants to know what is going to happen to him when he leaves the Service. A man comes out of the Army, say at 45 years of age, with a pension of £1 a day. What is he going to do if he has a wife and children and very little chance of getting other work? Sufficient attention is not paid to the outlets from the Service. It is obvious that the same suggestion which was made by the late Secretary of State for War this afternoon ought also to be applied to officers, and especially to medical men.

The Government is a large employer of labour and a large employer of medical men. In its many services and Departments it requires senior men, and very often senior men have to be brought in from outside. Municipalities often require senior medical men for their work. Especially under the Local Government Act of last year there is a great need for senior medical officers. The Govern- ment have great influence with the municipalities; they have the power of the purse, and if they could use their influence in helping in the selection of suitable candidates for the positions of medical officers in institutions under the local authorities, they would give a very considerable chance to a medical officer, after serving his time in the Army, to get a position on returning to civil life. So long as a medical officer in the Army serves on terms equally with the officer of the combatant arm, recruitment for the Service attracts, and rightly attracts, young men of enterprise who like to see the world. They will join for five, seven or 10 years, but you must give them an opening for employment on return to civil life. It is owing to Government Departments working in separate watertight compartments that one does not find the Government properly attracting medical men. You cannot go on as you are, with a service of officers who are getting older, and having to rely upon the older men to carry on work which ought to be done by younger men. Men who are constantly dissatisfied are liable to become anti-recruiting agents.

A most important matter is the direct representation of the medical side of the Army upon the Army Council. In the year when the Army Council was set up in 1904, there was a proposal of the Medical Departmental Committee of the War Office, which was not accepted, that the Director-General of the Army medical service should himself have a seat on the Army Council and be responsible, as lie is not at present, for the whole organisation and equipment of the medical services of the Army. That is a technical question which I cannot deal with now, but in its essence the idea still remains the fundamental belief, I think I am right in saying, of the successive Directors-General of our Army medical service, after their mature experience in the Army, that a necessary solution of this difficult problem is to have a man who can speak for the medical service, not merely when he is called in for consultation with the Army Council, when they, the laymen think he is required, but that he should be responsible himself, with a responsible seat on the Army Council, and should be held responsible for this service which he alone, as a scientific medical man, can explain to his colleagues on the Army Council. It is a serious question with which I cannot deal at length now, but I hope that the Secretary of State will go into the matter again himself, because it has a considerable bearing on the efficiency of the medical service, and that efficiency is vital to the future of the Army. If things are left as they are we shall be drifting, drifting, drifting, and in the end there will be a countless waste of life when the next war takes place.

May I assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that at least one Member of the House does not look upon this matter with any coldness? The authorised establishment of officers of the Royal Army Medical Corps is 846. We have a deficiency of 117; where we need seven doctors we have, roughly, six. That is not a condition of affairs that anyone can look on with equanimity. I am willing to take the matter back and have it considered by the Army Council in every way.

I am sorry that the Secretary of State has been so brief. The Debate to-day seems to have consisted of about two speeches from the Opposition and then a reply from the Front Bench, as if the Front Bench could not remember for more than half an hour what were the answers to questions asked. I want to raise the question of military bands. The position, I understand, is that there are a certain number of bands which for many years have taken engagements at festivities, City dinners, trade exhibitions and so on. The custom has been that parts of the bands, 12 or 15 musicians, attended these functions. I understand that the War Office has now taken the line that it is not right for these bands to take such engagements unless 20 or more of the musicians go. That is to say, that the small band, as it is known in the Army, is automatically to come to an end. The reason alleged is that these small bands have been getting pay which undercuts civilian musicians. The allegation is completely unfounded. The average small band from the Army requires something like two or three times as much as a civilian band of corresponding size. That is partly because they are highly skilled, partly because the men have to travel from home, and also because of the cost of upkeep of uniform and because last year the bands were put to considerable expense in changing all their instruments. There is no question of undercutting at all. It is a question of their being in a position to ask for a great deal higher fee than civilian bands. Therefore, it is all the more inexplicable that the War Office should stop what has always been the regular military practice. It has nothing to do with individual bandsmen accepting individual jobs such as playing in a civilian orchestra, in their off-time. That is to go on under the regulation as it used to do. I am talking about breaking up the ordinary string bands, which used to be six, eight, or 12 in strength, and making it no longer possible for them to take any engagements.

I hope the right hon. Gentleman will look into this matter, because I understand the only reason advanced for the order by the authorities is the definite statement that there are a lot of civilian musicians out of work. If the Army Council and the Secretary of State are going to lay down regulations for the Army on the ground of what happens to civilian musicians—people outside for whom they have no responsibility to this House and of whom they have no official knowledge—it seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman is failing in his duty to his own job, which is to look after the interests of the Army and the officers and men who belong to that force. Except in so far as he has Cabinet responsibility, neither he, nor the Army Council has anything to do with unemployed civilian musicians. I hope he will give the Committee some explanation on that point.

The second matter to which I want to call attention on this Vote is that of vocational training, about which the right hon. Gentleman was naturally very proud. Why is it that in his explanatory memorandum it is stated that during 1929, although 2,000 soldiers passed through training centres, that was only something like 10 per cent. of the discharges? A great deal more headway will have to be made before we can say that we have an adequate system of vocational training. The tragic part of it is that only 76 per cent. obtained employment on completion of training, compared with 81 per cent, in the previous year. A drop of 5 per cent. is a very considerable one, and I should like to know how far, if at all, it is due reluctance on the part of the trade union organisations to accept the training given at vocational centres as of a sufficiently high standard to enable the men to get into ordinary work straightway as they would have done if they had been trades unionists. I see the Financial Secretary shakes his head. I take it he means that he is quite satisfied that is not the case. His acquaintance with the War Office, or the Army at all, has been so brief that he may not be fully cognisant of what has happened in the past. There have been very considerable difficulties. Surely, it is the right hon. Gentleman, who, above all, ought to be able to bring influence to bear on the trade unions to make it quite certain that nothing of the kind happens in Future. If that is not the reason, may we have some explanation for this drop of 5 per cent.?

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will explain, as he is so keen on vocational training, how it is that this year there is a drop in expenditure allotted for that purpose of about 25 per cent. and a similar drop in the Appropriation-in-Aid, which are fees received from the men. It does not sound, from the figures, at any rate, as if there was going to be any very great development in vocational training. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will look into the question of fees. At present they are fixed at the very high figure of 7s. 6d. a week, irrespective of rank. Judging from the fact that only one in 10 of the men about to be discharged take the opportunity of getting vocational training at all, it looks as though the War Office experts have fixed too high a figure. I hope the right hon. Gentleman, if he is really genuine in his desire to push on vocational training, will look into this question. It would have been better if the right hon. Gentleman had continued the efforts which are described in the Memorandum, that is, to improve the machinery for placing ex-soldiers in civil employment through various regimental and voluntary organisations. If the War Office and the Minister of Labour encouraged these voluntary organisations, they could do far more towards finding these men jobs when they leave the Army. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to explain the position in regard to Army bands, which is creating considerable disturbance in some military circles.

12 m.

I desire to support what the hon. Member for Welling-borough (Mr. Dallas) has said with regard to British meat and flour for the British Army. In spite of what the Financial Secretary has said, the position is quite unsatisfactory. I have constantly urged that the supply of British meat and bread to the British Army should be a policy of the Conservative party, and pressed the late Government to take the necessary steps. I shall continue to urge it on the present Government, and I hope I shall be successful and that they will include it in their policy both now and at the next election. I hope the question will be further considered. The excuse given by the Financial Secretary is quite different to that given by the Minister of Agriculture, who has said that the reason British meat cannot be supplied to the Forces is because it would put up prices to the consumer. The Financial Secretary to the War Office put forward the plea of expense. No possible reason has been given by the Minister of Agriculture why it should raise prices to the consumer. I want to put three questions to the Secretary of State, and as the hour is late I will put them without comment. The clothing grant to the Territorial has been reduced by 6s. 6d. per man. One shilling and eleven pence of this reduction is on account of the estimated fall in the price of clothing. As far as I can make out the vocabulary price of clothes has not been reduced. If the vocabulary price was reduced by an equivalent to 1s. 11d. it would be fair, and I want an assurance from the Government that the amount of this grant will vary in accordance with the vocabulary price of clothes which is the price the Territorial Army has to pay to the War Office for the clothes they require. The second point is that the further reduction in the grant of 4s. is a purely arbitrary reduction, and no explanation has been offered for it. It is not clear whether it is a temporary or permanent cut. The Territorial Army has accepted it for one year but if it is to be a permanent reduction it will make matters very difficult. I want to know whether it is a reduction for the present year only or whether it is to be permanent. We heard a good deal about raids on various funds during the time the last Government was in power. A raid has now been made on the funds of the Territorial Army. In the case of my own county association it will cost £7,000. This raid is made by reducing the reserve of clothes held by associations. The Army Council will not take back clothes which are now held and county associations have to pay for them. I want to know the reason for this reduction being made, and how that £7,000 is go- ing to be spent. Then I want the right hon. Gentleman to give further consideration to the case of the ex-ranker officers and their pensions. We know that they have very little legal right to an increase of pension, but I ask the right hon. Gentleman to take into consideration rather their moral right in the matter and to give them more sympathetic consideration than has yet been given them by his Government or by the late Government.

I am fortunate in being able to make some observations without further intervention from the Treasury Bench, and I want to refer to the decline in recruiting. Some of the reasons for it given in the General Annual Report of the British Army are very extraordinary and interesting. They are as follow:

"Expectations of a large increase in the unemployment benefit.
Uncertainty as to the future of the Army, owing to the publicity given to disarmament.
An increase in employment in certain industrial districts since April.
Transference of labour under Government auspices for over-populated areas to other parts of the country where employment was more easily obtainable.
An increased demand for labour in agricultural districts due to the particularly fine summer.
The tendency of employers to replace older by younger men, coupled with the commencement of the decline in the number of boys attaining the age of 18.
Organised migration overseas and preliminary training in connection therewith.
The influenza epidemic in February, and its after effects on health."
Everyone knows that recruiting in the past has always improved when there has been a depression in trade. That was in the days when there was not so much generous payment of benefits, but to-day, I am afraid, a large number of young men who are really unskilled labourers prefer to draw unemployment benefit rather than join the Army, and I think it is a very sad and ominous thing for this country when they prefer to draw benefit to being in any business, trade, or profession where they can work and earn their money. The Government have heard a good deal of the detrimental effect on trade owing to uncertainty as to what is going to happen, due to the performance or lack of performance by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, so it is rather humorous to find that same reason given here for the decline in recruiting. I hope that when the Minister replies, which I hope will not be for some time yet, he will tell the Committee what the prospects of the Army are and how much further it is going to be reduced. With regard to the reason given, of an increase in employment, where has it taken place? The unemployment returns show an enormous increase in unemployment. Then, as to the increased demand for agricultural labourers, every hon. Member on this side is demanding from the Government what their policy is in agriculture, because employment in agriculture is decreasing, not increasing. With regard to organised migration overseas, I have made inquiries as to where the organisation is, but I cannot trace any. Can the Minister really state seriously, again, that the influenza epidemic had affected recruiting?

As a matter of fact, there were two serious factors which had affected recruitment, and one was the uncertainty as to the prospects in the Army and whether a regiment would be cut down any more. The second factor is the question of unemployment benefit, and it is a most serious thing. I should like to ask the Minister to tell me whether any information is given in the Employment Bureaux as to the possibilities and prospects of men if they enlist. Do the officers of the Exchanges ever give information about the Army and the possibilities there? After all, it is not a bad job. Men are well paid, well fed, well treated, and looked after, and in addition they have what is a very important thing to-day, and that is tile benefit of discipline, which is of use to them in all their after life. Then they get vocational training and the opportunity of learning a trade which, when they leave the Army, they can take up. That de- partment is being extended, and I think that a young man who cannot get a job to-day might do very much worse than join the Army and get training in a trade which he would not be able to get, unless very fortunate, outside the Army. I do not see any advertisements, or very few, inviting men to join the Army. It is a good career, and if the Ministry would only get rid of this question of uncertainty it would do well. For goodness' sake, lay down a plan and stick to it. Give men some encouragement to join the Army, and if you do that properly, there will be no want of recruits, and you will not need to cut down the stamina and physique of men whom you have to accept for the Army.

I must make a protest over the question of men in the arsenals and the way they are being treated. I was astonished at the reason given by the Minister in refusing to meet the deputation which wanted to see him. I presume the Financial Secretary is a Socialist, being a Member of a Socialist Government, and yet his reason or excuse for refusing to meet the deputation was—so puffed up with pride was he in his position—that there happened to he two sections representing this Arsenal, and so he declined to see them. Surely it is the duty of a Socialist Member of a Socialist Government to see all classes who work in the Arsenal under Government employment and not make such a miserable, pitiable excuse that because they happened to represent two sections of the men working, he could not see them. I hope the hon. Gentleman will reconsider that, because these poor fellows with this uncertainty hanging over them do not know what to do, and their own Minister refuses to see them. Is that fair? I happen to have works in Woolwich, and my manager there is inundated with applications by men looking for work, who have worked in the Arsenal, and they want to know if there is a chance of a job, because they do not trust their own Government. What is worse, they cannot even see their own Government representative to put their case before him. I hope that the Minister will carefully consider the whole matter.

We should like some more definite proof of that, because our information is that there are num bers of men under notice. Our information is that the men are not doing the amount of work they should, because the Government are endeavouring to spread the quantity of work over the arsenals and dockyards, and they keep the men apparently busy when they are not doing a genuine amount of work for the day's work. This is a serious thing, and wants to be looked into.