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Trial Of Spies By Court-Martial

Volume 65: debated on Friday 7 August 1914

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I beg to move, "That leave be given to introduce a Bill to make Regulations during the present war for the Defence of the Realm." I ask leave to introduce another emergency Bill, the object of which, while it is important, is extremely simple.

We ask for the following powers. Clause 1 provides that—

"His Majesty in Council has power during the continuance of the present War to issue Regulations as to the powers and duties of the Admiralty and Army Council, and of the members of His Majesty's Forces, and other persons acting in His behalf, for securing the public safety and the defence of the Realm; and may by such Regulations authorise the trial by courts-martial and punishment of persons contravening any of the provisions of such Regulations designed—
  • (a) to prevent persons communicating with the enemy or obtaining information for that purpose or any purpose, calculated to jeopardise the success of the operations of any of His Majesty's Forces or to assist the enemy; or
  • (b) to secure the safety of any means of communication, or of railways, docks or harbours;
  • in like manner as if such persons were subject to military law and had on active service committed an offence under Section five of the Army Act."

    Punishment under Section 5 of the Army Act would not include the death sentence-Therefore, there would always be an opportunity of considering any action taken by the court-martial. The House will readily understand that it is extremely desirable in cases of tapping wires or attempts to blow up bridges that there should be an immediate Court to consider the offence of the offenders. I ask leave to introduce this Bill.

    No, Sir, it will date from the passing of the Act, and the Regulations will last during the continuance of the war.

    No, it will only apply to offences committed after the passing of the Act.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. McKenna and the Attorney-General. Presented accordingly, read the first time, and ordered to be printed. [Bill 359.]

    Bill read a second time.

    I beg to move, "That this House will immediately resolve itself into the Committee on the Bill."

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Bill accordingly considered in Committee; reported without Amendment, read the third time, and passed.