22 JULY 1905, Page 12


SIR, —Your services to the Volunteer Force can never be forgotten. But I venture to point out that the objection of your leading article on the Volunteer debate of July 13th, that no pledge was obtained that Mr. Arnold-Forster would not, while the House was prorogued, sanction any .measure which would have the practical result of reducing the Volunteer Force, is met by his explicit declaration (Times, July 14th, p. 7, col. 3) :—" I can assure my hon. friend the Member for Sheffield, who is naturally anxious about this matter, that there is not the slightest intention of reducing the Volunteer Force during the Recess in any way except by the application of the ordinary regulations." Any departure from this undertaking will of course be met by an amendment to the Address, which would certainly defeat the Govern- ment of which its author was a member. I cannot forbear from adding that the valuable information obtained by " Volunteer Field Officer," and summarised in your issues of April 8th and 15th, concerning the Volunteers in the South African War, with the details concerning the fitness of the Volunteers for the field collated by " R. J. C." in the number of May 13th, were absolutely new to the War Office; indeed, so new that even now it cannot grasp the information. Last month I asked for a Parlia- mentary Return of " the number of units which volunteered as units for service outside the United Kingdom, or for permanent embodiment in the United Kingdom, at any time between October, 1899, and June, 1902, but whose services were not accepted." The answer came,—" No record." Albeit I hold letters of thanks for such offers. Further, I asked for "the number of individual officers and men in each unit who volunteered for South Africa." Again the answer,—" No record." Nor could the figures be given of the Volunteeri

who enlisted in the Regular Army, Militia, or Colonial Irregulars to go to the war. But the answer to the last question capped all the others. I asked for " the number of officers and men, if any, in the Volunteer Force, who, having been called upon to serve in South Africa, refused to do so." This was the reply : " Can only be conjectured from the difference between the numbers called. for and those who actually embarked for South Africa." Of course, I pointed out that recruits having been called for for the Army during the war, Mr. Arnold-Forster and all not responding "refused

to do so."—I am, Sir, &c., C. E. HOWARD VINCENT. House of Commons.