16 SEPTEMBER 1905, Page 14

[To THE. EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR. "' SIR,—Mr. Balfour in his

speech on national defence and the Volunteers makes two remarkable statements. He says that unless the force " justifies its existence "—presumably by increased training—the British public will " condemn " it. Further, that we throw upon the taxpayer "a not inappre- ciable portion " of the Estimates. Surely the Volunteers are taxpayers. And if so, what right has the public to complain of the Volunteer grant, which the Volunteer is taxed to supply, equally with the other ten men who do not serve? We are taxed for our own upkeep, and, in addition, we pay far more out of our own pocket than we receive, and we also give our time. We pay a treble tax. I should like to ask, then, as a Volunteer, what right has the British public to complain or " condemn " ? If the force represented the public, then it would have the right; but in that case the force would number something like two million men. Let the British public earn its right to condemn or criticise—even to praise—the Volunteers by training its sons by some system of universal service. At present it has no right either to blame or praise.—I am, Sir, &c.,