Зображення сторінки

which would be very serious in its magnitude if measured against the business of South Africa only, yet because of the magnitude of the United Kingdom and the British Empire, against which the interruption has really to be measured, it is hardly sensible. What it comes to, as far as the United Kingdom is concerned, is mainly the stoppage of the labour of the reservists and volunteers who have been called out and who have left the country for service in South Africa. There is no industrial loss, additional to what was going on in time of peace, as far as the services of those soldiers who were with the colours when war broke out are concerned. They are maintained by the country in time of war just as they were maintained in time of peace. The case, however, is different with the reservists and those who have volunteered, numbering about 120,000. They represent so much labour diverted from its usual occupation. Estimating the product of the labour of 120,000 men as worth on the average to themselves and to the community about £80 each per annum, we have a sum of about £10,000,000 sterling annually lost to the community by the diversion of industry which the war occasions. This is not all. It is a fair calculation that for every person actually in the fighting rank, another person in civil occupation is employed in manufacturing implements of war, clothing, saddlery and harness, and other requisites for the field army; and as our field army is altogether about 200,000 men, we must assume that there are 200,000 men in civil employments in this country practically as much engaged in working for the war as if they were in the field army itself. In other words, besides the £10,000,000 which we lose through the abstraction of the people from industrial pursuits to engage in the fighting line itself, we must lose from £16,000,000 to £20,000,000 annually by the abstraction of people from ordinary civil occupations into the business of making things for those who are engaged in the fighting line.

This is the economic loss of the war properly so called. What the Government pays is a different thing. What it pays is a payment really from some members of the community to others, many of whom make large profits; and the net loss to the community as a whole must be measured in some such way as has now been applied.

What the final loss will be, then, depends on the length of the war. A year of it will apparently involve a loss of about £30,000,000 to the community, that is a net loss; and if the war continues longer the loss will be much more.


From the point of view of the Government, the position is perhaps more serious. They estimate

expenditure of £60,000,000 for the past and the present financial years, and it is probable that this sum will be exceeded. Very likely the charge may be even £100,000,000 before the present financial year expires, as we have not merely to beat the enemy, but to occupy the country inch by inch. In any case the outlay by the Government must be enormous. It must not be confused with the net loss to the community ; but, looked at by itself and from the point of view of the national finances, it seems a formidable figure.

Large as the sum is, however, it cannot be said to be a very formidable one when compared with the resources of the United Kingdom itself. £100,000,000 is about a sixteenth part only of the aggregate annual income of the people of the United Kingdom, and almost an infinitesimal amount compared with the sixteen or twenty thousand millions at which the wealth of the country is estimated. It is no matter for surprise therefore that the burden of the war seems to be hardly felt at all. Important as the war is for the loss of life it has occasioned, and in other aspects, it is in reality a little war as far as our resources in men and money are concerned.

It seems unnecessary to say anything as to the loss of the war to other parts of the British Empire. The other parts of the Empire outside the United Kingdom and South Africa appear to have supplied about 10,000 soldiers altogether, and they have spent some money in fitting out and equipping these soldiers. The maintenance of these soldiers in the field, however, and the supply of arms and other requisites have substantially fallen upon the United Kingdom, and it may be doubted whether the war has cost anything to the Colonies which have helped us. We are, in fact, providing a fairly good occupation for about 10,000 colonists outside those belonging to South Africa itself, and the Colonies so far really benefit by the war expenditure in the same way that the communities of South Africa benefit by it.

It is, no doubt, in contemplation that South Africa is to furnish an indemnity towards the outlay which we incur by carrying on the war. In this way it may be said the cost of the war, which is incurred in the first instance by the home Government, will be transferred to the communities of South Africa. As a matter of fact, however, the Transvaal indemnity will never be directly paid. When it comes to be settled the money will be supplied by a borrowing operation, and the loss, when it falls ultimately on the communities of South Africa in the shape of the interest payments on the loan, will fall largely on a different people from the present, while the repayments will go to our successors, and not to the generation which has suffered the loss. In this aspect what the Government pays for the war may be said to be an investment of capital which will directly come back to us in time along with all the profits which we shall receive as the result of the peace and prosperity to be established by meaus of the war.

Some will, perhaps, be surprised at the burden of the war being thus in appearance whittled down. To minimise the evils of war in any fashion may even be regarded as almost criminal. It is necessary, however, to state facts precisely if we are to have clear ideas at all, and if we do so it is beyond question that the economic evils of the war as far as we have gone are not of a very serious kind. The broad reason is, that notwithstanding the importance of the war in many aspects, the burden of it is really small compared with the immense resources of the United Kingdom, while the burden on the South African communities, where the disturbance of industry has been very great, is mitigated in the various ways we have described. As far as the United Kingdom is concerned, the injury may be described as equivalent to what would be caused by a big strike such as we have had in recent years in the coal mining industry and in the engineering industry. In the coal mining strike several years ago, about 200,000 to 300,000 people were engaged, and the industry to that extent was suspended. In the engineering strike, not quite 100,000 engineers struck work, but the numbers really involved and put out of employment directly were considerably greater. We know, however, in how small a degree the product of the general industry of the country was diminished by these events when accounts came to be made up at the end of the year. Similarly now the abstraction of 200,000 to 300,000 people from their usual occupations into direct and indirect military service appears to be lost in the general volume of the national activities. The numbers, large as they are, are not big enough to be missed, and the effect in proportion to the numbers is, perhaps, less than it was in the case of the big strikes referred to, because in these strikes, especially the coal strike, other employments were almost immediately affected through the deficient supply of raw material to work with, whereas in the present case workmen are taken in proportion from great varieties of employments, and there is no stoppage in consequence of the failure of some particular industry to supply its quota of raw material for the others. Apparently, also, the abstraction of workers from active industry is not equal in numerical amount to the numbers of reservists and volunteers who have gone to the front, because there are included in the latter considerable numbers who were more or less unemployed, and they did not therefore form a part of the army of labour proportionate to their numbers.

There remains, however, the final question under this head as to the tendency of the war on account of political and other changes in relation to the industry of the country. A large field of speculation is here opened up. · It is quite plain to begin with that the revelation of the country's want of preparation for any considerable military undertaking will lead to the very greatest changes in our military and naval departments at home. The country has been thoroughly alarmed at the necessity which has been imposed upon us of sending all available troops to a distant field like South Africa, so that no reserve is left for any other contingency which may befall. Even greater alarm has been produced by the apparent ignorance of the art of war in high quarters throughout the British army, and the consequent neces. sity for improvising everything which is necessary to create an army as distinguished from a mob of armed men. In particular, the lack of the best provision in the way of weapons and ammunition and the shortness of supplies of every kind have made a most painful impression. It is therefore undoubted that at the end of the war great reforms must be taken in hand; the numbers of the regular army greatly increased, and everything done which has been so long neglected to make the framework of the army complete and efficient, so that operations can be undertaken at any moment without danger of a breakdown. At the same time measures have obviously become necessary to render more efficient every kind of auxiliary force at home, so that in an emergency the country may not be left without a reserve force for a second unfortunate contingency when we are already deeply engaged. All this means a very considerable addition to the outlay for the army and navy in the next few years of a more or less permanent kind. Estimates vary as to what the addition should be; but I am inclined to think that a very high estimate will not be short of the mark, for two reasons: 1. The necessity for increasing the permanent standing army by 100,000 to 150,000 men, which is rendered unavoidable in part by the state of affairs in South Africa, and in part by the necessity for strengthening our garrisons in Egypt and other places which the defects of our want of preparation in South Africa have made manifest. 2. The evident necessity which has arisen for increasing sensibly the pay of the army all round. At present about 150,000 is the number of the regular establishment, exclusive of India. An addition of £10 per head to the pay of this force alone would come to £1,500,000 per annum ; but the additional pay must be given not to 150,000 merely, but probably to 250,000 or 300,000 men at the very time also that preparations are being made for improving the auxiliary forces at home, and that reserves of stores, guns, and ammunition are being prepared on a scale that has not hitherto been thought of. It is hard to see, then, in what way the doubling of the Army Estimates, which just before the war had mounted up to £20,000,000 sterling, can be avoided.

The indirect teaching of the war goes further, It has brought the country face to face with new and unwonted political dangers. The hostility to us of almost every continental people has been revealed, and the nation has felt that in its fight in South Africa it has been fighting not merely the Boers, but the continent of Europe. No Continental Government has actually menaced us with intervention; but the will has been there, and our success in South Africa will be bitterly resented. The feeling evidently is in France, in Germany, and in Russia, that England has too much of the world, and that its dominion should be curtailed. Germany and France, moreover, are each of them covetous of some of our possessions for themselves, and Russia at least finds us very much in the way of its own enterprises. The other great world-power, the United States, has also given some encouragement to the idea of intervention on the sentimental ground of sympathy with republican states. As the result, we have to consider that the position of the British Empire in the world is challenged in a way that has not been the case at any time in its previous history, and that at any time we may be called upon to fight for mere existence by one or other of these great powers, or by a coalition. This is the permanent condition; and, considering what some of these powers are, and the immensity of their military and naval preparations, we are bound to recognise that the British Empire in turn must arm itself on similar principles to those of Russia, and Germany, and France, if we are to be secure. In this view even the doubling of the Army Estimates will not be sufficient. We should not be surprised before long to find the Army and Navy Estimates of the United Kingdom amounting together annually to £70,000,000 or £80,000,000 sterling, along with a great development of the defensive forces at home and throughout the English-speaking portions of the Empire. Looking

« НазадПродовжити »