Order for Second Reading read.
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."This Bill is largely an administrative Bill in order to facilitate the calling-up of young men at 18 years of age instead of having to wait for a later period. It gives effect to the statement of policy which I made to the House in response to a Question a few weeks ago. It is not the intention of the Government to lower the age of liability to military service below that of 18, which was carried in the original National Service Act, 1939. When that Act was passed the minimum age was fixed at 18 years, and as far as the man- power situation would allow we have endeavoured to keep off the day of coming right down to the minimum age to the last possible moment. But the man-power situation is such now that we feel it incumbent upon us to take steps in this Bill to make it possible actually to enrol the young men at 18 years of age. Under the present arrangements it is from 18 years and four months or 18 years and six months before a person liable at 18 can be enlisted. The reduction of the age to 18 has its compensating advantages. We originally fixed the age for lads to go overseas at 20. Following the last National Service Act we reduced it to 19. It has an advantage, and we do not propose to reduce the age of going overseas below 19. That age stands, but no one who is conversant with modern war and the essential training through which these young men have to go could deny that a long period of training is to the advantage of the young man himself. The old idea of the infantry is dead. It is a very strenuous training. I think I can say that there is no longer any chance of winning this war with a mass-produced Army. Individual action on the part of the soldier and in training is absolutely essential in his own interests, even in carrying the campaign to a successful conclusion in this great war of movement. Therefore there is an advantage in giving the longest possible period of training to the young men who are called up, and I suggest to anyone with knowledge of modern warfare that 11 or 12 months' training in this country is not too long to mature them and make them fit for the strenuous battles that have to be faced. There is one thing that the Government have been reluctant to do. Indeed, I feel personally very strongly, owing to what happened in the last war, that it is wrong to leave this thing so late until the casualties begin to mount and then suddenly to get a demand to fill the ranks and send untrained young men overseas in panic. In order to fill the gaps it is better to face the position now and to provide for the call-up, to give them proper training and to know that when they reach 19, they are fit to go through the strenuous campaign. Therefore, while we have been reluctant to reduce the age to 18, yet I suggest that it has its compensatory advantage. At present it is necessary to have a Proclamation and registration and medical examination after reaching 18 years of age. The Bill provides that we may take all these preliminary steps at 17 years and 8 months, so that during the remaining four months we carry out our administrative machinery which we have hitherto been doing after the age of 18. In Clause 1 (3) of the Bill there is an important provision. At present a person cannot exercise his right of either conscientious objection or hardship until the time of liability for call-up. We propose to make provision that all the rights under the National Service Act can be operated at the time of registration, and that is an advantage to the young person and to us, because if these rights are operated at the time of registration—17 years and 8 months—we know more precisely the numbers that will be available, because the hardship courts will go through their lists and the tribunals for conscientious objections will go through their business, and we shall know the residue that is left.
Would the right hon. Gentleman say whether this is in substitution for the present method or in addition? There might be cases of hardship which would only arise after registration, and it is important that that opportunity should still remain as under the existing law.
He can appeal at any time after registration. At present he could not appeal at all until he was liable for call-up. This I thought to be rather a hardship. We also provide in Clause 2 that a Proclamation should be made to cover men and women who reach the calling-up age at a subsequent date and thus avoid the necessity for a series of Proclamations to cover those who reach calling-up age after the date of the Proclamation. We think it desirable, at this stage of the war, that there should be one further Proclamation to deal with all of the ages covered by the National Service Act. It will simplify matters and prevent confusion, and it will mean that all those who register will be covered by one Proclamation.I would like at this stage to say that there has been a good deal of argument about the merits of calling up these young men or of obtaining others from industry at later ages. As a result of examination of the man-power problem—I cannot go into details in public, because I understand that the question will be debated in secret later, when the total figures will be given to the House—I ought to make it clear that the situation is such that we have to use every possible resource at our disposal if we are to have the men we need for munition factories, the Services and to maintain the civil life of the community on a balanced basis. We cannot afford to denude vital industries, and we feel that the step we are taking will assist to a very marked degree in giving the Forces, particularly the Navy and the Royal Air Force and certain branches of the Army, the type of young men they need for their special requirements. There has been a good deal of argument, too, about the upper age limit. It may well be necessary as the war progresses and casualties occur to go up into the higher age limits, but we desire to avoid that as much as possible. We are taking two steps in that direction. Where we take people of the upper age limit and use them in sedentary occupations in the Services to relieve men for the front line, that, in our view, is not a hardship. It is a wise procedure. But, on the other hand, experience shows that it takes about four age classes at the upper end of the scale to give the same number as one class at the lower end. That is largely due to reasons of health, the necessity for deferments because of skill, and a variety of other reasons, but mainly it is largely due to the physical capacity of the people you are calling up. Those, I think, are, very shortly, the main reasons for making the administrative changes we are introducing in this Bill. We are, however, making certain other adjustments on this occasion which we believe to be just and proper. We are taking power to deal with persons from the Dominions and Colonies who are at present exempt under British law but who may be resident in this country. At present the law lays it down that people from the Dominions and Colonies who are temporarily resident in this country do not come under our Act. Therefore, they may be in this country for the whole period of the war but may still be regarded as temporary. We think it very desirable, in view of the Military Service Acts which have been carried out in different forms in the Dominions and applied to other parts of the Commonwealth, that our National Service Acts should apply to them.
Will they be allowed to join their own Forces?
I was just coming to that point. This power will have to be applied by a Defence Regulation which may differ in respect of the different Dominions, because it will have to be based on agreement with them before it can be actually operated. Therefore, I cannot say whether they will be given the opportunity of joining their own Forces, because treatment cannot be uniform. It will depend upon what the Dominions—India, Burma and the others—have to say. But we are taking power in the Bill in order that they may be able to render service.
Does this apply only to Dominion subjects resident in this country, or will it also apply to British subjects resident in the Dominions?
It applies to Dominions subjects resident in this country, but I have no doubt that just as in the case of the United States there will be a good deal of reciprocity in the arrangements. This is all the power, however, that we can take at this moment in this Bill.
Can the Minister say whether there is a similar call-up arrangement in the Dominions?
They differ. There is compulsory service in some parts and selective service in others.
But can a citizen of this country, temporarily resident in a Dominion, be called up in the same way that the Minister proposes to call up Dominion persons resident in this country?
They have taken powers to call him up in their service according to their laws. When discussion comes to take place in connection with the framing of the Defence Regulation, we shall have to have regard to the different position in each Dominion.
Does the Minister propose to call up a citizen of a Dominion which itself has no compulsory service?
Yes, provided the Dominion agrees. The Dominion will have to be consulted, and its decision will be embodied in the agreement. If the Dominion agree that it should be done, we shall call up, but it is not automatic, if that is what the hon. Member means.
I take it that it will not apply to Eire?
If the Eire Government agree, it will apply to Eire.
Do those powers in the Dominions apply equally to women as to men?
The laws are all different. I am afraid I cannot answer questions about the laws in every Dominion. The laws in the Dominions are in a constant state of flux. For instance, at the present time the whole man-power situation in Canada is undergoing alterations, and in Australia discussions are going on concerning the man-power situation. When this provision comes to be embodied in a Defence Regulation, there may be in the Dominions a situation entirely different from that which exists at the present time. Therefore, it would be unwise for me to give answers as though the laws in the Dominions are static; they are not; they have to be adjusted from time to time.Clause 3, Sub-section (2), deals with an important matter, namely, bringing officers of the Sea Cadet Corps, the Army Cadet Force and the Air Training Corps into line with the Home Guard. This matter is dealt with at the present time in rather a roundabout way, which I do not very much like. They are regarded as being in the Services, and if we want to call them up, they have to resign and then be called up; but in the process it is very doubtful whether they have all the hardship rights which they would have if they were called up in the same way as officers from the Home Guard. I think this matter should be completely straightened out so that everybody may know where he is. Therefore, this Measure makes them liable to be called up, notwithstanding the old provisions concerning the Cadet Corps and the A.T.C. There are, however, a good many people holding these commissions who have businesses, and so on, and this Measure will allow them to come under the operation of the hardship provisions. The question of conscientious objection will not arise in view of their having been doing this training work, but the question of hardship is a real problem. I feel it is better to make the liability for service quite clear, together with all the rights that exist under the National Service Acts.
I am not quite clear how this Clause is to work. Is it just a routine matter to put these men on the same basis as the Home Guard, or does it bring them into line with the people who are covered by the administrative memorandum of the Board of Education of 12th March, 1942, according to which anyone who is doing substantial part-time services in recognised youth work for 40 hours a month is liable to be deferred? Many of these people are undistinguishable; it may be they are running scout organisations or cadet organisations. Does this Clause put the people to whom it refers on all fours with them?
Any Department will be allowed to apply for a deferment, or the man himself will be able to apply on hardship grounds. It puts all these people on exactly the same basis as the others we call up, and it allows each case to be dealt with on its merits.
Under this Clause, would they be on the whole more liable to be called up, or does it rather tend to safeguard them?
I cannot give any guarantees. Legal liability is being imposed but the question of actual call up depends on the progress of the war. People ask me whether I can give undertakings in this or that direction. What we have tried to do has been to keep all these organisations and institutions as long as we could, but I must give a warning that if we are to have what so many people rightly want, a final showdown with the Nazi regime, it will involve us in casualties, whether we like it or not, and in those conditions guarantees of any kind are bound to go by the board. I want to be quite frank about it. What we are trying to achieve in the administration of these things is that whoever is called will have equal treatment meted out to him before the law in the light of the circumstances. In the administration of this very difficult problem, I suggest that one thing which has helped us to carry out these things with the minimum of trouble—and there has been a minimum of trouble in the administration of these complicated and very difficult things—has been the fact that we have been able to satisfy the public that we are trying to be scrupulously fair in our administration. However ruthless we may have to be in finding men in the interests of the country, if people are satisfied that we are fair, they will see us through successfully. It is in that sense that we propose these alterations. They are in the interests of the citizens themselves and in the interests of better administration. As regards the first part of the Measure, I believe we have now come to the stage where it is absolutely necessary to take this step, which we have refrained from taking until the last moment. I hope the Measure will receive the support of the House.
The people for whom I speak have consistently supported this war in defence of the achievements of mankind. This war has now become in many respects a national war of liberation, but our interpretation of that is that it means also economic liberation. I have been instructed to say that we shall support this Bill, although at the same time I wish to ask a few questions and to make some observations. No one is competent to deal adequately with man-power questions unless he has access to the whole of the facts, and only the Ministry have those facts. I understand that the Ministry desire this Bill in order to complete the man-power organisation of the country. May I remind the Minister that the Bill is an indication that Parliament has now provided the machinery for the complete mobilisation of the man-power of the country? Some time ago, I understood the Minister to say that we have already mobilised our men and women to a greater extent than we had done at the end of the last war, and I would go further and say that on this occasion it has been done more efficiently. It has been a Herculean task. The United Nations and the free peoples of the world owe a great debt to the Minister, to the Ministry's officials and to the British people for their good will and co-operation in making Britain a mighty fighting force. As I understand it, the main purpose of the Bill is to take the necessary legislative action to implement the announcement that was made by the Minister last October. May I remind the House that not one word of opposition has been raised to that announcement since that time? The other purpose of the Bill seems to be to bring about administrative simplification.
To which announcement was the hon. Member referring when he said that no objection has been taken?
I am referring to an announcement that was made by the Minister one Thursday after the announcement of the Business; the only person in the House who commented upon the announcement was the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton). Since that time, as far as the people for whom I am speaking are concerned, no other objection has been raised. Another object of this Bill is to make certain improvements which have been indicated by the Minister to-day. I understand that no man will be posted to the Services—and this needs to be emphasised—under 18 years of age and that the Minister has reiterated the assurance given to my hon. Friends and to other hon. Members since the beginning of the war that no man under 19 years of age will be forced to go overseas.
I ought to make it clear that that referred to the Army. They go overseas in the Navy. [HON. MEMBERS: "And the Air Force?"]
I think that is understood throughout the country, and, as regards many men under 19, I imagine the difficulty is to hold them back. But the assurance to which I refer has been given to the country by the Government, and I would emphasise that that assurance stands. I wish now to refer to a matter which I think ought to receive consideration. It was put to me by a foreman in one of the largest tool-making departments in this country. He said that young men engaged in this work were called up and registered and in many cases medically examined at the same time. In some cases they returned to work for quite long periods after this examination, and my informant told me that these young men—whose employment is making a big contribution to the war effort—when they returned to work in those circumstances became unsettled. They could not give their minds to their work, and this affected not only their own output but the output of others. They were looking forward all the time to joining the Forces. I consider that in cases of that kind it would be better that young men whose work is of importance in the war effort should not be called upon to register or to be medically examined until the time arrives for taking them into the Forces. I know that it is a question, largely, of administration and machinery, but I hope the Minister will see whether this could not be done. I understand that the reservation and deferment machinery will still function for those who are affected by this Bill. In view of the large-scale dilution which has been carried out with the co-operation of the trade union movement and the need for key men, will the Minister also consider whether young men who are making a contribution to the war effort and at the same time are receiving the training necessary to enable them to become key men could not be allowed to continue that training as long as possible?The people of our country have for three years made a great effort, but let me remind the House and the country that the engineers in many parts of the country have been making the same effort for four and five years. It should never be forgotten that the engineers of this country agreed to dilution even long before the war broke out, so concerned were they at the worsening of the international situation. Our country stood alone for 12 months fighting the world battle for freedom. No nation toiled harder or longer than ours after the losses of equipment which we suffered at Dunkirk. At the same time we withstood terrible night air attacks, and those of us who live among and belong to the people of the industrial centres will never forget those experiences. They have made us proud of our race. Our fellow countrymen have strained themselves to an extent which is little understood in many parts of this country and in many parts of the world. Credit is now being given to our people by all objective visitors to this country. I quote from the "Manchester Guardian" of 5th December the following reference to a Russian Youth Delegation which visited this country:
With all that in our minds, we are entitled, on the occasion of the introduction of this Bill, to ask a few questions. Is the man-power of other countries being mobilised to the same extent as the manpower of this country? Do the people of other countries realise the efforts that our people have made and the strain placed upon them since the beginning of this war? Are they coming to support us as quickly as they might? Are we doing all we can to create a Stalingrad spirit throughout Europe? We are only 45,000,000 people, but we have built a mighty Navy and a powerful Air Force, and we have now a large and efficient Army. Our output per person employed is the greatest in the world. The publication "Front Line" is a fine piece of work, and thousands of copies of it should be sent to the United States, the South American Republics and other parts of the world where they do not fully realise what our people have gone through. I would ask the Minister to consider the publication of the great story which he and his Ministry could tell of the work done in our industrial centres to enable this country to play the part it has played and is playing in the world battle for the maintenance of freedom. A number of proposals are contained in an Amendment which I understand is to be moved at a later stage. In regard to the suggestion about men over 37, I think the reservation and deferment machinery deal with that matter. If it does not deal with it, it certainly should do so. The suggestion is also made that the age of calling-up for men should be reduced to 17. I hope that proposal will not be pressed to a Division. In our view the age of 18 is young enough. The Minister has made an announcement that a Secret Session is to be arranged to enable us to discuss the man-power position of this country. Therefore, there should be no need to press this Amendment too far. It would be better to leave the matter until that Secret Session has been held, so that we can discuss it."They have visited 15 cities and this is the report they are going back with, according to the statement that they made at a meeting at the Ministry of Information. They take back with them memories of the stern and somewhat tired faces of the working men and women who told them that they were willing to increase their output still further; of the offensive spirit of the Forces, and of the bomb damage which surprised them by its areas of complete destruction."
I have not heard about this Secret Session, but do not the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends for whom he speaks think it would have been much better to have had such a Debate before this Bill was introduced?
I had not heard anything about a Secret Session, nor had my hon. Friends until this morning.
But would it not have been preferable to have had it before rather than after the introduction of the Bill?
I am only making the point that there will be an opportunity to discuss this matter. I do not press it further. The people for whom I speak have a consistent record in regard to the war since September, 1939, and we are not prepared to relax until Hitlerite Germany has been completely defeated. The people of this country will not falter. We are now confident of victory, but we believe that a military victory is not enough. We are concerned about our economic future. We do not want to lose the peace by economic aggression, as we did for 20 years of the best part of my life. Twenty-four years ago, in France and in Germany, I lay on my bed for hours and hours thinking of the future. "Shall I get my job back? Shall I be able to hold my own at work?" The men who are affected by this Bill will think as I did. Millions of people are thinking as I did during that period. They have looked with glee on the publication of the Beveridge Report. They want to grasp it with both hands. We do not want any more tinkering. At last the war has taught us that democracy must be dynamic and must move in a big way. There has been no quibbling by us on this side at any action required for the prosecution of the war, and that is our attitude on this Bill. But we shall expect no quibbling on the full carrying out of the Beveridge Report and on the rebuilding of Britain after the war.
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:
The purpose of my hon. Friends and myself in moving this Amendment is to put forward constructive suggestions as to how the most effective use can be made of our man-power, and also to give the Government an opportunity of explaining their policy in the calling-up of our men and women. We have been told that a secret Debate is to be held in order that the Government may take the House into their confidence. I very much welcome that proposal, but I agree with the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) that it would have been far better had that secret Debate taken place before this Bill was introduced. I am sure the country is willing to make any sacrifice that is necessary for winning the war, but it asks to be satisfied that the sacrifices are necessary, and, before further classes are to be called up, it wishes to have some assurance that the Armed Forces of the Crown are making economical use of those who are already called up. It was certainly the case until April, when I returned to the House, that there were many cases where both men and women were not being used as efficiently and as economically as they might have been. The Beveridge Report upon the use of skilled men in the Forces showed that at one time at any rate there were many men in the Army whose skill was not being used to the greatest advantage. My own personal experience tended to confirm the findings of the Beveridge Report. The Ministry of Aircraft Production recently told us that the use of manpower was being most carefully scrutinised. I asked whether that scrutiny was extended to the Armed Forces. The Minister gave the assurance that I asked for, but I think we might be told what steps are being taken to make certain that all those who have been called up are being used as efficiently as possible. Coming to a rather broader issue, I should like an assurance that the general policy of the ceiling of our man-power has been adjusted to the changed conditions that exist at present. While the country has made great efforts, and is willing to make the utmost efforts in the future, it is obvious that we have in our Ally across the Atlantic a vast reserve of man-power, and it may well prove to be the case that we can make a more effective contribution to the war by keeping a larger number of men in industry here, in what might be called the advanced ordnance base from which the offensive against Germany will be carried out. I should like an assurance that the Government have taken into account the changed conditions in which we are fighting at present. We have a very great Navy, a very great Mercantile Marine and a very great Air Force, and the production of munitions is upon a gigantic scale. It is not possible, while carrying all this immense burden, to maintain at the same time a very large Army. In each year since 1903, the number of men born has been steadily declining, and it would not be possible for us, as we progress further into the 40's of this century, to maintain the same man-power under arms as would have been possible had the war broken out a few years earlier than it did. I think there is a good deal of evidence that we are trying to maintain a larger Army than we can adequately man. There are a very great number of units in the British Army, and, almost without exception, while in this country they are far below the war establishment. It follows, therefore, that on each occasion that a unit is sent overseas it has to be brought up to full strength, which is done by drafting officers and men at almost the last moment from some other unit which is remaining behind. This has a most unfortunate effect both upon the unit that goes overseas and upon the unit that remains at home. It means that the unit going overseas has to incorporate in itself at the last moment a number of officers and men who are, practically speaking, strangers to the unit. It has the most unfortunate effect upon the training of the unit left behind, which periodically has withdrawn from it a number of the officers and men who have been going through the training. It has an unfortunate effect on the esprit de corps of units and extends even to brigades and divisions. I would like to urge strongly upon the Parliamentary Secretary to the War Office that it would be a far wiser policy if at an early stage in training each unit were brought up to full war establishment with a certain margin for wastage, so that it would be possible for the unit to carry out the whole of its training and ultimately to go overseas as a unit. Every officer and man would know the rest of the unit and it would be trained as a single fighting force. There is in the Army an acute shortage of young men of first-class mental and physical qualities who are required for armoured divisions. Down to the present time the Navy and Royal Air Force have enjoyed a high degree of priority, but there are many units in the Army where the same qualities are required. The qualities of an air crew are required for a tank crew. In one Guards squadron no fewer than 25 per cent. of the men were agricultural labourers before they were called up. Agricultural labourers may be intelligent and are no doubt extremely gallant, but if men are to be trained in a short time in highly technical matters like wireless, signalling and maintaining a tank, it would be better to choose the raw material from those who had had some mechanical experience before they joined the Army. There are very few reserves for tank crews in the Army, and if there were five weeks of heavy campaigning on a European scale with the casualties that must be expected, the position would be one of great difficulty. In order to deal with these problems the Government are in a large degree calling up middle-aged men. There is a constituent of mine in his 43rd year who is practically blind in one eye and ruptured, and he is about to be called up for the Army. I have had some experience of cases of this kind, both in the Army and as a Member of Parliament, and I will venture to give a forecast of that man's career. He will go to the Army, and in the course of the first week the officers responsible for his training will come to the conclusion that he is not likely to be a very effective soldier. It will then take them some weeks to arrange for a medical board, and the board will invalid him out of the Army. By that time it is possible that his disability will be worse. Then I shall write to the Minister of Pensions, and he will explain to me that because this man was ruptured before he joined the Army his disability was neither due to his military service nor aggravated by it. I approached the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour about this case and argued it on the strength of the man's medical disability, but I should not consider that he is a suitable man to call up for the Army even if he were fit. He is 43, he is postmaster of an isolated village, he has a small shop and he has children to support. It would be far better to leave a man of that kind carrying on his civil avocation, because the social and economic dislocation which would be caused in his village would be far greater than any comparable advantage that would be gained by his joining the Army. He has appealed to the hardship tribunal and has been turned down. It was useless for me, therefore, to press the case on hardship grounds, and I argued it on the grounds of the man's disability."this House declines to give a Second Reading to the National Service Bill until steps have been taken to discontinue the calling-up of men over 37 years of age who are rendering important service in their civil avocations and until provision has been made for calling to the Colours men between the ages of 17 and 18½ who could be withdrawn from civil life with less social and economic disturbance and would be available immediately for home defence and adaptable for training to modern war; and until provision is made for an unified scheme of pre-entry training common to all three Services."
Did the civil doctor pass the man?
The civil doctor certified that he was ruptured, but he was medically examined again, and the view of the Ministry of Labour was that the rupture was not sufficiently bad to make him unfit for service.Since this Amendment was put on the Paper we have heard from the United States of America that the War Department has decided not to call up men of 38. The explanation given is that the experience gained in the last three years indicated that men of 38 and over were generally physically less able to withstand the rigours of present-day military activities. I have been trying to emphasise the shortage of suitable man-power in the Armed Forces of the Crown, and my friends and I are of the opinion that the right way to deal with this situation is to call to the colours boys at the age of 17, not for the purpose of sending them overseas, but in order to begin their physical and mental training and then to use them for home defence.
If they are in full-time education?
I would say that in cases where a boy is engaged in full-time education, particularly where he is training to become a fitter, it would be better to continue his training, because he would be of greater value as a trained fitter at 18½ than he would be at 17. I am talking about the general policy of calling up boys of an earlier age. When conscription was introduced I regretted that the age of calling up was 20. When I was in the Army early in the war it was remarkable to see how boys developed physically and grew as a result of physical training, open air and good food. I believe that from the physical point of view 17 is a better age at which to begin that physical training than 18 or 20. At this stage in the war there are so many mothers who are now engaged on war production that they are not available for cooking meals for their sons, and so many fathers who are away that they are no longer able to exercise any discipline over them.
While the hon. Member is picking out working-class mothers who are busily engaged, does he not realise that there are many mothers who have never known how to cook a meal and who are doing nothing at all?
I hope that that will be rectified before the war goes on much longer, but that is not the point I am dealing with. I am trying to deal with this question on broad lines, and it is not reasonable of the hon. Gentleman to raise a class point of that kind, which is quite remote from my mind. If the boys were called up at 17 and for three or four months were engaged on primary training, there would be ample scope for their services in the defence of this country. At the present time Anti-Aircraft Command are sending a large number of A.1 men to join the field force, and are confronted with an acute shortage of able-bodied young men to man the antiaircraft defences, and provided the boys were given an assurance that when they reached the age of 19 they would be allowed to have overseas service or service of greater activity, I am certain they would be perfectly willing to spend the intervening time increasing their skill as soldiers, thus replacing those older A.1 men who are at present being drafted in very large numbers from Anti-Aircraft Command to the field force.In moving this Amendment we are anxious to give the opportunity to the Government to explain what their manpower policy is. We want an assurance that that man-power policy has been brought up to date. We want an assurance that the Army is not too big and that it is being adjusted to the resources of our man-power. We suggest that it would be wiser to call up the younger material, which may not yet be mature but which is likely to go on improving, rather than to call up the older men who are likely to be going off. We suggest that it is rather by looking to the younger categories instead of to the older ones that the Government are likely to produce for the years of victory a highly trained and mobile and efficient Army, and one which we shall still be able to keep in being after the war for the purpose of garrisoning Europe in the days of pacification.
I beg to second the Amendment.Listening to the speech of the Minister when he moved the Second Reading, I felt he was making an excellent speech in support of this Amendment. In fact, every argument he used could be used in support of the Amendment. Particularly interesting was the information which he gave that by calling up one year at the younger end of the scale we could release four years at the other end. I do not intend to spend much time on this particular point. The first two points in the Amendment deal with the lower age limits, and the third point deals with pre-entry training, and it is on that that I wish especially to speak. Seeing that the Minister has these very wide powers over the man-power of this country, I would ask him to use all his great influence to compel the various Ministers concerned to co-operate in producing a unified scheme to deal with the whole subject of pre-entry training. Those of us who have had the heartening experience of being able to study it at close quarters have been infected by the enthusiasm and keenness of these young men. We realise that pre-entry training is one of the better products of this war, and we hope and believe that it has come to stay. It is, therefore, all the more regrettable that the present condition of it is so chaotic, because there exist rivalry and competition where there should be complete co-operation. The sooner we all come to regard the three Services as part of one great national Fighting Force with many different departments, and regard service in each-and all as equally meritorious, the better it will be for this country. Healthy rivalry between the Departments is both good and desirable, but unhealthy competition is only a drag on the national effort. In order that the House may understand just why we brought into the Amendment this subject of pre-entry training, it is necessary for me to give a short history of the conditions which have produced the present state of affairs. One of the tragedies of this war has been that thousands of young men have, owing to the failure of our present system of education, been refused entry into training in the Royal Air Force. They were magnificent fighting material, burning with desire to serve their country in the air, and at a time when their country needed them so badly, but they could not be accepted because they were unable to pass the comparatively simple combined physical and educational tests, tests which would accurately reveal whether they had a chance of absorbing that excellent though intensive system of training through which the Air Ministry quite rightly insists that every young man shall pass satisfactorily before he is allowed to take his place in the line of battle. It took about twelve months of this war before the manning department of the Air Ministry discovered that our present system of education was just not producing a sufficient number of young men who could pass these tests, and that something must be done if the vast expansion of the Royal Air Force was to be completed satisfactorily. There were two alternatives. One was to lower the standard of training, but since there can be no doubt that the greatest single factor in this amazing superiority of our young men over their individual opponents in the enemy air forces springs from the confidence which comes from the knowledge that one can do one's job, it would have been something in the nature of a national disaster to obtain quantity at the sacrifice of quality. The other alternative was to take hold of these young men while there was still time, between the ages of 16 and 18, and give them an opportunity of bringing themselves up to the required standard of both education and physical fitness. The Air Council very wisely decided to do this. It was a great experiment in education, and it was a very bold step for a Service Ministry to take. The nucleus of an organisation was to hand. In 1938 Air Commodore Chamier, who deserves in my opinion to rank with Lord Baden-Powell in envisaging the needs of young men had started, with such voluntary help as he could enlist, the Air Defence Cadet Corps. Other Members and myself had pressed upon the then Secretary of State for Air that he should give official backing to this movement, but without avail. What a difference it would have made to our preasent position. How many millions of pounds would have been saved had this been done. Nevertheless, early in 1941, the Air Ministry decided to take over the Air Defence Cadet Corps and to convert it into the Air Training Corps. From the very first it was a phenomenal success. It proved a lesson, which some still find so hard to learn, that no youth organisation will ever be successful which does not provide an incentive. Clubs for drama, darts and dancing are all right as an addition, but British youth, thank God, want first of all an objective to strive for. This, the Air Training Corps provides. Just as the motor car has held the intense interest, of young men in this country during the last 25 years, so—and it does not require much imagination to realise this—the aeroplane or the soaring glider will rapidly take its place in the future. Pre-entry training in the Air Training Corps is good for the young man because the basic principle of the training is to develop keen, alert minds in fit alert bodies. We aim to train the cadet to be able to think and act for himself. I was very pleased to notice that the Minister stressed that point in his speech on the Second Reading. It is popular with the Cadet, because no subject is taught the cadet unless he thoroughly understands the object and the necessity for each step in the instruction, and as to discipline it is given as a necessity to obtain the objective, and never is discipline insisted on for discipline's sake. Another fallacy which still exists is that youth dislikes proper discipline. So great was the success of the Air Training Corps, under the enthusiastic direction first of all of Mr. Wolfenden, headmaster of Uppingham School, and more latterly of the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Wakefield), that it led to the formation of the Sea Cadets and the Army Cadet Force. The Admiralty have always co-operated with the Air Ministry in this matter. The Air Training Corps has trained and is training many suitable young men for the Royal Navy. When the War Office woke up to the fact that the Air Training Corps was enrolling the cream of the young men of this country they took fright and decided that something must be done. What did they do? Did they say, "Here is an organisation which is successfully training exactly the type of young man that we need to fight our tanks and to man our armoured units; let us help to develop it and co-operate with it"? Not a bit. That, of course, would have meant an unusual thing, co-operation between two Ministries. They set about to see how they could pull a fast one over this younger Ministry which had been so cheeky as to steal a march on them. It seems that it did not occur to them that all the Forces of the Crown require the same type of young man, and that in any given age group there is a fairly consistent percentage of boys or men whom I would describe as Service minded, and that there is a far larger percentage who, for a dozen reasons which I cannot develop to-day, will never act unless they are compelled to. That is what is happening to-day in pre-entry training. The three Ministries are fighting over and competing for the smaller percentage of boys. The best idea that the War Office could produce was to enrol boys of 14, apparently in the hope that they would thus get them by being first in the field. In fact, that is what will happen to a considerable extent.
May I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman a question? Surely this is not at all the true picture. The Sea Cadets were not formed because of the Air Training Corps. They were formed years before. Secondly, is it not a fact that the age for the cadet was 14 long before and has nothing to do with the Air Training Corps?
I was aware that the age of the cadet was 14, but the cadets were chiefly in schools and were not in local units, such as have been introduced since the War Office formed the Army Cadet Force. I am not arguing as between one Ministry and another. The House will realise presently that I am arguing for a unified scheme. I want to do away with this competition, because it does not do the country any good. In my opinion you do not produce the magnificent fighting material which is needed successfully to prosecute a war to-day by putting boys of 14 into uniform and giving them little else. What matters most at that age are education and physical training, and I do not so much refer to the education of the school classroom as to objective and practical education such as is given in the Air Training Corps, not the soul destroying exercise of route marches, but physical training, games and sports designed to develop mind and body simultaneously. So we find the Service Ministers competing with one another not only for our youths but for officers to command them, instructors to teach them, buildings to house them, equipment, and, most absurd of all, we find that while the War Office, in this fourth year of the war, is issuing uniforms to boys of 14 in the Army Cadet Force, the Air Ministry is being told by the Board of Trade that there is no material to supply greatcoats for young men of from 16 to 19 years of age in the Air Training Corps.Not only are the Services competing, but all sorts of voluntary organisations and clubs, some of which I regret to say openly describe the Service organisations as "Hitler Youth." While this country is fighting a critical battle for its very existence, some organisations are telling our youth that equal service is performed by joining a purely social club, and stress is actually being laid on the fact that these clubs do not take the boys back to school as the Air Training Corps does. I hope that I have said enough to show how lamentable is the present condition of affairs when viewed as a whole. I realise that my criticism up to the moment has been purely destructive. What can be done to correct this picture, on the one hand, of only a small percentage of our youth getting the undisputed advantage of training in the Air Training Corps—that the training of the Air Training Corps is a tremendous advantage to a young man will not be seriously denied anywhere—and, on the other hand, the great majority still drifting and getting neither mental nor physical training, with many young men still learning no trade and certain, unless something is done for them, to build up again in the future a vast army of adults unskilled, and therefore difficult to employ such as we had before the war? I ask the Minister that he will take strong steps to compel the Ministers of all the Departments concerned—the President of the Board of Education and the Minister of Health, for they are equally concerned with the three Service Ministries—to agree jointly to the formation of a National Training Corps. This Corps might be administered quite well by a revitalised Board of Education from which have been moved those who persist in thinking that British youth only desires unearned recreation. Just as to-day the Board of Education control a given number of hours per week of the lives of all boys between the ages of five and 14, so they should, in my opinion, control so many hours per week of the lives of the same boys until they are 17 or 18, or whatever age is finally accepted for call-up to national service.
Why start at five? Why not start at the cradle?
The hours which they control should be strictly regulated and allotted between industry, education and physical training, with sufficient discipline to obtain the objective. It should be the responsibility of the Board to see that the boy in industry is, in fact, learning a trade, and not merely being exploited as cheap labour. Outside those hours these young people could still have free choice to join any voluntary organisation if they so desired. All boys who leave school before the calling-up age should be compelled to join the National Training Corps. Such an organisation would be the first step to the further extension of the school-leaving age. At 16 in the National Training Corps they could then opt for special training for the Service of their choice, and it might perhaps be possible to develop organisations on parallel lines to cover agriculture and engineering.When one thinks of what is being done to-day in the Air Training Corps, taking at 15½ youths who leave school at 14 and have had nothing to fill that awful gap during which so many forget anything they may have ever learned, what a different type of youth they would get at 15½ under such a scheme as I have suggested. Think what they could do with such a type? They could do with fewer instructors, who would then become available for the increased scope of the National Training Corps. They would certainly get through the present syllabus by the time the cadet reached 17. Above all, the appalling waste which goes on to-day of willing youths who, owing to the terrible effect of that ghastly gap from 14 to 15½, have slipped beyond reclamation, to the standard required. I appeal to the Minister to use the power he has and the great influence he has among his colleagues. I assure him that this is a vital matter which merits Cabinet attention. The present situation is a glaring example of that lack of co-operation between Ministers which Members of Parliament come up against almost daily. The whole problem must be approached from an entirely fresh angle. It is useless tinkering about and patching up. We have seen, in the recently issued Beveridge Report on social insurance, what can be done when a problem is tackled by someone who refuses to be bound by precedent. That Report has brought hope to millions that we do mean something when we talk about building up a better Britain. If the Minister will take the steps I am asking him to take to-day, he will, within a very short time, produce a race of young men, fit in mind and body, who will be ready to fill not only the Fighting Forces with magnificent material but will also be ready to take their full share in that great reconstruction we have got to face when final victory has been won.
I think that the emphasis which the last speaker has laid upon the question of education is something with regard to which we have been painfully lacking in the past, and while we might differ as to the means to which that education must be directed, we are certainly in the position to-day of suffering a very serious lack of education because there has been such a complete lack in the past. The Mover of the Amendment, and the other hon. Gentlemen who are associated with him in moving it, have been in the Services at one time or another and are speaking very largely from what they feel to be the result of those experiences. In that respect there is considerable commendation to be given to them for putting their point of view, although I have not very much sympathy with it. In the course of his opening remarks, the Minister again and again told as he was not going to give any guarantee, no guarantee that he would stop at 18, or at 17, or at 16, or at 15, or at any lower age.
I have never said that. That was not the question that was put to me. I gave a specific pledge regarding the ages of 19 and 18. I made no reference to ages lower than those stated in the Bill.
I do not understand why we are continually referring to manpower. We are dealing to-day with boy-power, and we might as well realise it. You are going to let these boys appear before tribunals, before men who do not know what conscience is and who ridicule the idea of these boys having consciences. No guarantee is given that such men are going to behave better in future than they have done in the past. I notice that those associated with the Amendment are not only in the Services but are of a considerably lower average age than we on these benches unfortunately possess. That is perhaps the reason why we on this side have not so many Members in the Armed Forces. It gives us greater freedom to deal with these boys, to say that the proper place for them is in the Army, although we have never been there. My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Ellis Smith) said that we have to ascertain the man-power of other countries, and the man-power of other countries has been much lower than that of this country for some considerable time. That seems to me to be advocating that our man-power should go as low as that of other countries—and in some countries it is very low indeed—which only seems to confirm the idea that no guarantee ought to be given.
I am sure my hon. Friend misunderstood what I said, and that it is a genuine misunderstanding. What I was pointing out was the great strain that the people of this country are feeling, and I asked whether other countries realised the strain we have been under.
The position to-day, more particularly in regard to the present Front Bench and the frequent changes that have been made upon it, is very largely due to the last war. A very large number of the good and promising men were killed in the last war, and we have to make use of the best we have got. That certainly does not provide a particularly edifying spectacle in this House. It seems that we are to have a repetition of that sort of thing—to kill off all the promising boys and young people—and then these people and others like them will be left in control. I do not think that that is safe for the country. I hope the Minister will have the courage to see that if manpower and boy-power mean anything, there is going to be some point below which he will not go.
The Minister, in introducing the Bill, said that his primary concern was the maximum war effort. It is solely in relation to that need that I want to make a few remarks. I am worried at what appears to me to be a tendency to overstrain the home front at present. I represent a primarily industrial constituency, but I live in a rural constituency in the same county. Owing to the fact that the sitting Member for that constituency is Mr. Speaker, a great many of his constituents, owing to his position, unfortunately for me, come upon me, almost as though I were the sitting Member. Therefore, I get something of the purview of a rural Member, as well as that of an industrial Member. I am somewhat apprehensive lest the policy of calling-up the older age groups, as it is at present carried out, will result in undue strain upon the ordinary necessary machinery of life among the civil population. I am not going to refer to the hardships, because that is a matter for hardship tribunals, which, in my opinion, work well and fairly, but there is a strong feeling in the country that older men are being called up when younger men are available. That impression is, in the main, unjustified. I must, in fairness to the Minister, say that in my constituency, although I have had many complaints about the calling-up of older men, I have not had a case substantiated of an older man being called up and a younger man being left in the same job. That does not alter the fact that, in my view, we are getting to a stage in the calling-up of older men where the ordinary necessaries of life, in the way of repair and maintenance—not only such matters as building, plumbing, and cycle repairs, but all sorts of necessary repairs, particularly in the countryside, where you have not the resources of the town—are being unduly strained.It seems to me that the War Cabinet should very carefully review the policy of call-up for the Services and decide whether the time has not come to set a definite limit to what can be expected from this small and highly strained island, and whether there is not waste after the present call-up. I am not making general charges of waste in industry, such as are commonly but usually mistakenly made. I have something much smaller than that in mind, but something very important. Is the Minister satisfied that there is no real waste, particularly in the case of young women called up in Government Departments? I will give one instance which came to my notice recently. In my own small country town the National Fire Service, having made no effort whatever to find voluntary part-time workers, sent down six young women as full-time telephone operators. I was told that it was necessary, and I was given reasons, but when I fought the case and pointed out the effect on local opinion of these young ladies being seen, with not very much to do, sitting around, the number was reduced by half. If that can happen in one case, in one small town, I am sure it is happening in many others. There is a tendency for the machine, when it gets a person, to keep him, even if he is not being used to the best advantage. The Minister has to deal with high strategic policy; I am dealing with the relatively small local tactical effects of that high policy. I urge the Minister to consider carefully a revision and limitation of the demands that, for the successful prosecution of the war—which is all we care about—he is making on the people of this country.
I desire to intervene in this Debate to say that my hon. Friends of the Independent Labour Party take the same line of opposition to this extension of conscription that they have taken to all the other conscription Measures. We opposed each National Service Bill, and we see no reason for changing our decision with regard to this most recent number. When I first looked at the Bill I missed three words. In reading Sub-section (1) of Clause I, I did not notice the "seventeen years and", and I thought that if it was to be read as "not being less than eight months" the Minister was proceeding now to introduce a conscription Bill to take those over eight months into the Services. But perhaps experience will show that those who are only eight months old will be called up in some subsequent Measure, because the demand for man-power is growing and, as the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. Wilson) has said, is becoming more acute.I have not the least sympathy with the hon. Members who have put the Amendment on the Paper. I do not agree with them that we should take all the young people, and that to take the older people would be upsetting things. Let the House realise that the boys they are proposing to take for the slaughter-machine had no responsibility for the policies. The war might have been fought much better if the Government had started taking, first, the 70's, then the 60's, and had worked down to the young people. After all, the older people have been responsible for the policies which have landed the world into this mess, and they themselves should be called upon to pay for it, and not the innocents. It would be far better that Abraham himself should be laid upon the altar instead of Isaac. I notice that the Chief Justice of Australia has visualised this war being a 50 years' war. He evidently does not see much chance of defeating the Japanese under 50 years, and there will probably be another Minister of Labour and National Service before we get to the end of the 50 years in connection with this trouble. There is certainly a limit to what this country is able to do with regard to production and calling up men to fight. Possibly, as the hon. Member suggested, the Government are not appreciating sufficiently the fact that there is such a limit. It is as well that at this stage protest should be made. It is regrettable indeed that the Government have introduced and are passing this Measure and putting it on to the Statute Book before this survey of man-power has been made and the House has had an opportunity of indicating to the Government their views of the general position of the nation in connection with man-power. The Minister said that, after all, this Measure is in the interests of the young people; they will have a longer period of service. They will not go overseas at an earlier date, and therefore it will be an advantage to them to have this period of training. I am not the least bit convinced about it. The year from 17 to 18 is one in which, in suitable home circumstances, a great deal more good may come to the young person than if he is taken into the Army, sent to a camp and put under this military training. When the first conscription Measure of this war was before the House we were told how wonderful it would be for the young people to get training under the Military Service Act. As it turned out, it was not so very wonderful after all. There was no adequate provision made for them, and a whole lot of them get into bad health as a result of their training. There is one other point I want to make in connection with the boys and girls that we to-day are deciding are to go into the Services. A large proportion of these boys and girls are the sons and daughters of men and women who were unemployed in the period between the last war and this war. They are the boys and girls who have grown up and for whom decent treatment was refused in the pre-war years. We could not get maintenance for them when their parents were unemployed. When I first came into this House there was only 1s. a day provided for their maintenance, and we had to fight year in and year out to try and get the maintenance allowance raised. We starved them during those years, and we are now going to take them into the Army at 17 years and 8 months, take them into the slaughter-machine at this early age. It is a shameful thing that young people should be taken for the Services in this way. The burden of fighting the war should be laid upon the people who were responsible for the policies in the years which led up to the war. We certainly protest against the passing of this Measure, and I hope that the Minister will take steps to see that the hardship committees in the districts are given instructions to deal with the particular circumstances of the young people in a far more reasonable and humane manner than has been the case in so many instances in the past. Every one of us has had numerous instances. The hon. Member opposite mentioned the case of a man of 43, and I interrupted him. I do not know whether he thought I was not in sympathy with him and the statement of his particular case, but I can assure him my experience has been the same. So many members of these hardship committees seem to be destitute of common sense, although I will say for the Minister that when I have brought a case to his notice he has shown sympathy and common sense in dealing with it. He has shown courage in a very difficult post, and I pay tribute to him in that respect. I question whether the Government could have found any other person in the country who could have carried through the conscription of the working people in the way that he has done. After all, lives are being taken out of all proportion to the wealth that has been taken, and the working class are in the majority in the country. No steps have been taken to conscript wealth. The other day there was published in the newspapers a will which showed that a man had left over £2,500,000, a large part of which will pass to his heirs. Yet these boys and girls of 17 years and eight months are being conscripted into the Services in order to protect these large estates. The Independent Labour Party believes that there should be conscription of wealth before conscription of human life. The line we take is in complete opposition to the Government. We believe that in present circumstances, instead of seeking to increase the man-power of this country, a great deal more should be done to bring reason into the councils of the nations and to achieve an early peace.
I desire to go a very long way with my hon. Friend the Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson) in what he said to the House about the call-up of the older age groups, although I am afraid I shall have to join issue with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Erdington (Group Captain Wright) in some of the things he said in seconding the Amendment. I think it is obvious that it is a mistake to estimate the value of armies by counting heads. The point has already been made in the House that when you are getting in the neighbourhood of 40 and over it is very doubtful whether the ordinary man is able to stand up to the demands of modern warfare. Indeed, that has been recognised by the War Office themselves. As an illustration of that it so happens that I have with me a letter from a distinguished soldier who is in a position to judge the value, as fighting material, of older men. I would like to quote one or two sentences from that letter if I may. They are:
That does seem to indicate a realisation on the part of the Army authorities that there are distinct limitations to the usefulness of the older age groups of men in the Army. It so happens that I have a good deal to do with a deferment and calling-up scheme which affects some 30,000 civilian pharmacists and dispensers and we are finding that we have already reached rock bottom in the matter of civilian needs. We have had to go to the Minister of Health and tell him that if there is any more combing-out of that particular group, it will be very difficult for us to ensure that there may not be breakdowns in the civil services in the event of epidemic or serious illness. That is just one small section of the community. It would not be so serious if the experts were being used for their expert jobs in the Army, but I can say from my own experience that scores of these men for whom I have some responsibility are not, in fact, being used as specialists in the Army. As my hon. Friend the Member for The High Peak indicated, we have to think of the civilian organisation of this country. We are a sort of bridgehead for the United Nations, and the organisation of industry and transport is surely one of the big contributions that this country should be making rather than a contribution down to the last man who can possibly be combed out. That is all I need say, I think, on that particular part of the Amendment. I now want to say a few words on the subject of pre-entry training, which was raised by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Erdington. He spoke in favour of unified pre-entry training, and I gather that he was favouring a scheme which would ensure that most boys, even when they are at school, should find their way to one or other of their preliminary Service training organisations. I want to put in a very strong plea for the continued recognition of some of the other pre-service training organisations. I have had the very good fortune to have had about 30 years' membership of the Boy Scouts, and I have had a good deal to do with the training of boys from the age of 12 upwards. There is immense value in the diversity of pre-entry training organisations. Every boy is different, and one does not want to have one common mould into which one tries to fit every type of boy in the country. Over the last score of years education has been struggling to get away from fixed curricula or fixed syllabuses so as to draw out, as far as possible, the natural characteristics of each boy. Surely, we should see to it that where organisations, such as the Boy Scouts organisation, are providing variety and freedom in training for the young, they should be encouraged. At a time when there is not static war, but a war of manœuvre, with individual aircraft and individual small ships, initiative and a sense of responsibility should be encouraged in individual serving men; and some of the voluntary organisations do emphasise this, to the very great advantage of the boys who pass through them. There is another thing that needs to be remembered. Let us hope that the war will not continue for ever. We have to see to it that after the war there is a spirit among the young people of the country that will enable them to take up post-war problems less prejudiced than the older generations inevitably will be. In one way or another they will have to find a way of living with other European countries. We of the older generations will be bound to go into post-war problems with our prejudices. Youth will not. I believe it is among many of these voluntary organisations that one gets the best opportunities of getting the youth of different countries to meet one another without the barrier of service uniforms and an official atmosphere. I warmly support the first part of the Amendment, but I hope it will not be pressed to a Division, because I believe that at the back of the mind of the hon. Member who seconded the Amendment there is a conception of a state of affairs which would be detrimental rather than helpful to what we all have in mind."I can tell you quite definitely that I have had a great deal of trouble in this Command with a number of men over 40 who have not been able to stand up to the preliminary training, even when graded down for special training. As recommended by the Army Council in one of their instructions, a special medical category was instituted for men of 41 and over, because, presumably, it was found that so many were breaking down, as a result of strenuous military training consequent upon long periods of office routine in civil life. It would appear from this Army Council instruction and my experience in this Command that the matter is very common and must occur throughout the country or else the Army Council would not have taken the action they did."
I rise to support the Bill, but also to support the spirit of the Amendment proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for the High Peak (Mr. Molson). I support the spirit of the Amendment because I think the hon. Member for the High Peak and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Erdington (Group-Captain Wright) have presented an interesting case. If it had not been for their intervention in a Debate on man-power, I very much doubt whether the House would have had a chance of discussing pre-entry training. I do not know why it is, but it seems difficult to stir up any interest in the House on the only thing that matters about post-war times—and that is the condition of young people themselves. The people between 12 and 18 happen to be, in their persons, the post-war world, together with the rest who are at school. Since last January I have tried to get a Debate on the registration of youth, without any success. Therefore I am very grateful to the hon. Member for the High Peak for raising the issue.I do not know what is the position in the Army now. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. John Dugdale), who has had some experience, will speak about it, and indeed, I would have liked to have heard him before making the few remarks I propose to make. I know that in the last war there was not this distinction at the age of 18. I can speak with some feeling, because I was then at school, like many of the boys now at the age of 17; and then I had an interrupted career in the sense of winning a scholarship and not taking it up. We were in France at the age of 18, and nobody thought it was odd. [Interruption.] I am saying that none of us thought it was odd; we were volunteers. There seems now to be a different approach to the whole of the man-power question, and I have some sympathy with the hon. Member for the High Peak, and others who have been in the Army, in their feelings on the subject of those over 37 years of age being called up and the calling-up of those between 17 and 18½ years. I think the hon. Members have made a point. But what precisely the organisation is to be is another and difficult question. I am not sure whether hon. Members realise what the Bill implies. In the first glace, it is the end of university life for ordinary students during the period of the war, except for specialists. We are fighting for our lives, and university life has to go by the board, but what is also very important is that the decision as to who should go to the universities depends not on the Board of Education but on the Services. Selection boards go round the schools and pick out prospective candidates for the specialised branches of the Army and for the Navy and Air Force, and those young men go to the university, possibly for a six months' course. Not only are there radiolocation students but cadet engineers between the ages of 16 and 19. These matters are settled by the Technical Personnel Committee, or some such body. Therefore, at the present time the question of who shall go to the university is being settled by the three Services and by bodies outside the Board of Education or the Universities. That is a new war dispensation which I think needs watching. What happens in the case of those below these ages? There are now 500,000 boys between the ages of 14 and 18 who are, as far as their leisure time is concerned, under Army, Navy or Air Force discipline. I am not quite sure that I am quite prepared to resign all that to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Erdington, to the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Wakefield), to Lord Bridgeman, and to various high officials in the Services. I understand there is an Inter-Services Committee, and I hope that the Board of Education are properly and fully represented at all the meetings that matter of that Inter-Services Committee. I understand it was the policy of His Majesty's Government that up to the age of 18 the responsibility for the welfare of young people was to remain with the Board of Education. What was the criticism of that policy? We heard it from my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Erdington. It was, in effect, that the schools do not provide the right kind of mathematicians and that the A.T.C. can supply something that the schools know nothing about. I must by the way put in one defence for the Admiralty. Sea cadets were founded in 1887, and they have been going since that time. It is true, however, that—and I understood it was a Cabinet decision—the Air Ministry got in first and started a scheme which did not work through the local education authorities as such. They have a complete Regional Organisation. It is my estimate that at the moment the Air Ministry are spending more on the leisure time of the youth of this country than the Board of Education and all the local education authorities put together. That is a very significant matter. It means among other things that, once you take trouble about this problem and are prepared to spend money, you can do all kinds of things. I was glad that the hon. Member who spoke last put in a plea for a few voluntary societies, scouts and clubs which have existed for many years and which are also taking some part in youth training. My question to the Movers of the Amendment is a very simple one. I should like to know whether those in secondary schools at 17 are excluded or included. If you cut into that group, you are making the most serious interruption in the education system. It is bad enough at present. I would not advocate that, especially as most of them are in J.T.Cs. and A.T.Cs. at school. But what sort of organisation are you going to have between 16 and 18? I should like to see, on a completely voluntary basis, something like what the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Erdington was outlining. This snatching for bodies between the three Services is the same sort of snatching that used to go on between the voluntary societies in the old days. I remember it very well years ago in East London, when a great noise was being made about doing something for youth, but 80 per cent. of the boys slipped through. At present the Air Ministry get in first. I always understood that that was definite Government policy. Now it is officially recognised by the Admiralty and the War Office that their Cadet Forces, which were previously under the Navy League and Territorial Associations, are part of the State, so that you have three vertical State organisations with 500,000 boys under their control. Fifty per cent. of the officers are teachers. That is why I asked the Minister of Labour about calling them up. If this Subsection 3 (2) simply means that those cadet officers in the three Services are put on the same level as the Home Guard and part-time youth organisers, there is nothing in it, except that it makes them all on the same basis. If it means that there is a chance that some of these will be called up, and the pre-Service organisations will be in an even more difficult position than at present.
I think the position is clear. The people mentioned are left out of the National Service Act, 1939, and are not registerable because they are in the Services. We wish to take them out of that and treat them as civilians.
I am grateful, because that gives me a complete assurance that it is really a formal Clause. We have already had a registration of 16's and 17's. It has been going on since January, and if a White Paper were issued, it would probably give us the most complete analysis of what happens in those years—a social document of immense importance. It is beyond dispute that these boys are working far too long hours, and therefore their usefulness when they go into the Army is likely to be impaired. I should like to suggest that the time has come for having some form of organisation, which I think ought to be on a voluntary basis, between 16 and 18, or 17 and 18½, which gives all the things that the hon. and gallant Gentleman has rightly described. He said the fact that there is a clear objective and purpose in the A.T.C., the fact that the mathematics and trigonometry are related to something which every boy can understand, has made 210,000 boys—one in every five in the country between 16 and 18—join an organisation while hitherto it was impossible to get most of them to join anything. That is a minor revolution. The only question is whether it is temporary, whether it is the glamour of the uniform, whether it is this new element of conquest of the air, which is compelling a large number of these boys to attend evening institutes as part of their training.Now I am informed by the Admiralty that precisely the same thing is happening with regard to the sea, I have been told that some of the boys in the juvenile courts in London are there because they are stealing money to get to Liverpool to join the Merchant Navy, such is the great enthusiasm for the sea, not by any means only in coast towns but in quite inland places. There are perhaps 50,000 in the sea cadets. There could be 200,000 within six months if there were the uniforms and the officers. Some will not, perhaps, regret this but will think it retrograde. I assure them it is not. There is something exciting and much more interesting about the element of the sea and seamanship training than about normal evening classes. There is the same thing about the air and, what is even more remarkable, one boy in every ten is in the Army Cadets. If this is true, is it not time that some step was taken—I want it to be taken through the Board of Education—through a revitalised Board? Why cannot my hon. Friend, or the President, take the initiative? If they do, they will have far more backing from many people who are just a little suspicious of this training coming too much under the Services. I am aware that local authorities play a considerable part. I am aware that teachers are perhaps 50 per cent. of the officers. There is a feeling growing up that we are heading for a new administrative dual system as between the Board and the Services. I would like to ask what is supposed to be the relation between the numbers who are allowed to go into the pre-service units and the demands of the Forces. I am told by the Secretary of State for Air that there is a limit for the A.T.C., and he says they do not want too many boys. The Admiralty say that the number in the Sea Cadets is about the right number who could get into the Navy. The Army say that 200,000 is the ceiling. What precisely is the relation, and do they promise a boy that he will go into the Service for which he is training at the proper age? I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for the Combined English Universities and others that boys should not be strutting round in khaki at 14. I could not go the whole way with my hon. Friend the Member for Erdington because it would be equivalent to a National Training Corps for those under 16, and smack too much of the Conservative Party Report, which was disastrous and put back the clock, because it introduced two alien elements. One was premature compulsion and the other was a Federation of all youth organisations. I would like to suggest to the Joint Parliamentary Secretary that in thinking out the best way of dealing with boys of 16 to 18, the Board of Education, the three Services, and the Ministry of Labour should get together and frame a coherent policy. There is a case now for using the war, certainly for action during the war, to get either some combined system, or, if necessary, some arrangement between the Services so that they do not steal each other's recruits. My hon. Friend may say that that has nothing to do with this Bill, but the Bill has provided an opportunity for discussing the relation between this younger call up and the older people over 37 and I am grateful to the hon. Member who has given the opportunity for doing this. We are in danger of thinking that this training can be run entirely by the Services. I understand that in the universities there is a great desire by the young men to have training in something which is loosely called citizenship. I am not talking about citizenship training for boys of 14–16, but for boys of 16–19. There must also be included in any pre-service training some general cultural training as well. The Minister of Labour in his opening remarks said that individual action was essential in the modern Army. Other hon. Members have stressed the great need of good physical and mental condition for those going into the Services. I warn the House that if they simply concentrate on pre-Service training of a rather limited kind there is a danger of neglecting the wider citizenship training. The Markham Report has only to be glanced at to see the conditions that were found in the women's Services. Many young men are for the first time embracing brand new courses which are given men in the Forces; they never had any chance between 14 and 18. If we pay a little more attention to the pre-service training and to what young people themselves are demanding the Army, the Navy and Air Force will be better served. There is even criticism now within the Air Force and that is why they are sending men to the Universities for six months, in order to give them something else besides purely technical training. If that is true generally of all the Forces a great opportunity is presented to put somebody in charge. My hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary will reply to the Debate. I have the utmost respect for his work at the Ministry of Labour, but with the best will in the world he cannot know the ramifications of this problem in the three Service Departments and the Board of Education. A Ministry of Youth has been suggested, but nobody likes new Ministries. We want either a man or a Department who will regard this problem as a whole.
This Bill will, as the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Ellis Smith) has already said, do a great deal to show the people of the world what this country is doing in the war. It is the kind of Bill one would expect from the Minister of Labour, who has been perhaps the greatest protaganist in the development of our war effort and the mobilisation of our power which we have had. I support the Bill, but I want to make one or two observations on it. The first concerns the question of university students. I realise that we have to mobilise every man and woman in the country, that it is a 100 per cent. war, and that nothing should stop us from carrying it on to the full. I would ask, however, whether it is not possible for 10 per cent. of the best students in our universities to be able to complete their courses. At present students who are studying science and subjects which are thought to be useful for the war effort are allowed to continue in the universities until they have completed their courses, but students who are studying what are strangely named "arts" are not allowed to do so, because it is thought that what they learn at the universities will not contribute to the war effort. I would like the Minister to tell us what is being done in Russia. They have, I understand, mobilised their war effort every bit as much as we have, but there is exemption for students of high qualifications who are studying any subject which it is thought will be of use to the country, not only in war-time, but afterwards in the period of reconstruction. I would plead with the Minister, while giving the greatest possible help he can to the Army and all their requirements, to look seriously into the question of university students. It is not just a question of certain privileged classes; it is a question of those students who have proved by their ability that if they are allowed to complete their training, they will be able to contribute to the country's welfare in the future.I want to turn to another question raised by the Bill, namely, that of the medical inspection of the boys who are called up. I served for some months in a young soldier battalion, and have seen something of the quality of the men called to that battalion. I would say in parenthesis that they are not conscripts, but volunteers, They all had to undergo a medical inspection, and some of those medical inspections are nothing short of ludicrous. At least 10 per cent. of those boys who have come into young soldier battalions are totally unsuited to go into the Army at all. One extreme example in my own unit was the case of a boy passed by a board as medically fit to enter the Army and to go forward into battle who had a withered arm. I cannot think that inspections of this kind are the rule, but it shows that there is something definitely lacking in our system of medical inspection if 10 per cent. of those in many units have to go back into civil life, have to be reboarded, because they are found to be unsuitable for the Army. I turn now to the question of the training these young men. In the past—I hope it is not so now and think it is not so—young soldier battalions have been in many cases homes for tired colonels. Men who were not very successful in commanding in other units were sent to look after a young soldier battalion. To-day I think this has been altered; indeed, if I did not know that efforts were being made to alter it, I should not dare to say this in public, because it might have a very bad effect on the morale of those battalions. I think steps are being taken to appoint a very much better type of commanding officer to them. I experienced something of the change-over in the kind of commanding officers they had and also the kind of training they had. In the past these young soldiers, who had volunteered, who had come forward of their own free will, were sent to the most depressing of occupations, to guard aerodromes, where they had no kind of training at all. They had had, it may be, a few weeks at an infantry training centre before, but after that they were put to guard aerodromes day in and day out, and to guard them without any form of equipment which would have enabled them to resist successfully had those establishments been attacked. To-day those aerodromes are being guarded, as hon. Members know, I think, largely as the result of comments made in this House, by the R.A.F. Regiment, and the young soldier battalions are being withdrawn to do the real training they are supposed to be doing. That training, I submit, should be not only military training. At the same time as they are given military training they should be given some sort of general educational training. Who are these young men? They are a cross-section of the people of this country. Ten per cent. have received education in secondary schools and 10 per cent. education in night schools or some other part-time education, but the rest of them, 80 per cent., have had very little education of any kind since they left their elementary schools, where many of them did not learn very much. It depends largely on the commanding officers of these young soldier battalions what kind of education these young men are given. I happened to join a regiment at the moment when there was a new commanding officer. The old commanding officer had said that education was of no value, that it did not help the war effort, and that he was not concerned with it, and he did his best to see that every Army Council Instruction designed to encourage education should be disregarded. The new commanding officer was of an entirely different type. He said at once that he realised the value of education and that everything possible should be done to encourage it, and he helped to bring about whatever was asked for. What actually are the Army Council Instructions on this point? They are that boys in young soldier battalions shall have five hours educational training a week. I submit that in a very large number of cases this Instruction is totally disregarded. In some cases it is carried out, in other cases there may be two, three, or even four hours educational training, but very seldom is there the full five. When any other Army Council Instruction with regard to training is issued it is, in the great majority of cases, carried out to the letter by commanding officers, because they recognise it as a military instruction which concerns their military duty. Education, they say, is something outside their military duty, it has nothing to do with them and they often wink at it. I think that spirit is entirely wrong and I hope the Secretary of State will do his best to see that this Army Council In- struction requiring five hours education weekly is carried out in the letter and in the spirit. But it is not only a question of actual instruction; there is the question, which has already been referred to by other hon. Members, of the A.B.C.A. classes, classes in current affairs. These classes are common to all Army units, but they are of greater importance to young soldier battalions. Are the instructions as to those classes being carried out? I would submit that in probably 60, or possibly 70, per cent. of cases the instructions are carried out, but there are from 20 to 30 per cent. of the platoons in young soldier battalions which do not carry them out at all. Where the classes are held, who gives the instruction? It is given by a platoon commander. Some of these platoon commanders may be very intelligent men, they may know a great deal about current affairs, but many of them need educating themselves before they can hope to educate their men. They know nothing whatever about the subject. It is true that they are given booklets on which to base their lectures, but for all that they are themselves ignorant of the basis of the current affairs which they have to teach, and many of the men know it. If the men are to be given proper education every platoon commander in a young soldier battalion ought to be given, first, a course of instruction on current affairs and, secondly, on how to teach. Many do not know either. Among current affairs there is one subject which is frowned upon, which the Army Council does not like in this educational instruction. It is the most vital question of all to-day, the question of reconstruction. It is a question which the men are not supposed to discuss, not supposed to know about. It is too high and mighty, it would give them what the Japanese call "dangerous thoughts," and so it is kept from them. I submit that reconstruction should play an important part in all current affairs instruction, and that talks on reconstruction should increase in number. I see, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that you are looking at me with a wary eye, but I would submit that such education—and here I would say in parenthesis I am following the hon. Member for Stoke—that such talks should include matters, I do not go further than just to mention the name, such as the Beveridge Report. Men should know about such reports, they should know what is proposed for the future, and should be able to discuss it. In that way many would become far better educated than they would be, if they had not entered the Army. There is very great hope in the educational work being done in the Army, and I would pay high tribute to the Army education sergeants, who, day in and day out, do a tremendous amount to stimulate the minds of these men and to make them think in a way they have never been able to think before. I have taken the trouble to find out what some of these young boys think, and I find they have an intense desire for a new world but very great scepticism about petting it. They have an intense interest in Soviet Russia, which, they feel, has already got what they want themselves. They need talks on reconstruction, and I hope they will get them. These boys need all the training that we can possibly give them. The Bill will add many thousands of soldiers to our ranks—so-called soldiers—but it is not enough simply to register people and call them soldiers, and to dismiss it at that. Registration alone will not make soldiers. These soldiers need rifles, tommy guns and bayonets, but, above all, they need mental equipment. Let us give it to them.
The Movers of the Amendment have given the opportunity to the House to hear a number of very interesting speeches raising matters of great importance as regards education in the Army, which was spoken of with such knowledge and interest by the last speaker, and as regards pre-service training. I agree strongly with the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead) that it is most important that training before entry into the Army should be as varied as possible, but I would add as voluntary as possible. The framers of the Amendment have worded it in such a way as shows hesitation to face the fact that they are imposing, by the terms of the Amendment, a man's duty on a boy's shoulders. The Amendment speaks of postponing further calling-up of men over 37 "until provision has been made for the calling to the colours of men between the ages of 17 and 18½. Those are not men; they are boys, and they ought to be treated as boys. We ought not to put upon the shoulders of boys burdens that are sometimes too heavy for the shoulders of men. We could see that the Minister, in moving the Second Reading of the Bill, underneath his solemn sense of obligation to bring this forward in view of the national necessity, felt hesitation, in that he realised what a burden he, and we, are putting upon the youth of the country.I want to ask one or two questions of the Minister who is to reply to the Debate. One of them has already been raised, and the others I wish to put now. Under the Bill, the opportunity to apply to a hardship committee or to a tribunal for conscientious objection will be given when the youth registers under the age of 18. At present, that opportunity would come for him at a later period, that is to say, not earlier than his 18th birthday. I want to ask the Minister whether, either by administrative provisions or otherwise, the opportunity to make such application will continue at least up to the 18th year? In both cases there are very good reasons. In the case of the hardship committee, if the earlier date is the only date, the particular circumstance which would justify an application in the interim, such as the death of a father, for instance, might come after the boy had been medically examined and before he was 18. It is important that that right should be preserved. In the case of the application on the ground of conscientious objection, it is also desirable that the existing date should be maintained as far as possible along with the earlier dates. The second point is perhaps a matter for the military authorities rather than for the Minister of Labour. The hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Ellis Smith) called attention to the fact that there is a great deal of unrest during the period immediately before a man actually joins the Forces. It is very desirable that that period should be shortened, in his own interest. As a prison visitor, I have repeatedly seen, during the past two years, young fellows in prison who have got there in the interval before they were called up. They were expecting to be called up and were waiting, but for some reason, a military reason, I suppose, the actual call-up was deferred. During the interval the young men got into that trouble which brought them into prison. If the period were to be shortened, the men, who, in many cases, are anxious to join up, would be saved from offences which bring them into prison, mar their lives and do injury to the whole community. The third question was raised in a very impressive sentence by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay). It is as to the effect of this Measure on university life. Can we have an assurance that, where a university student is in the academic year in which he will become 18, if his work is satisfactory and has a certificate from the proper authority that his work is being done satisfactorily, he will be able to complete that academic year? During the last year or two there has been a tendency among universities to get back to the way of life of the Middle Ages in the lowering of the age of entry of students. If students have to leave the universities during their 18th year, it affects not only that year and the whole course of the student's life, but it means a serious interference with the continuance of the Universities as working institutions. I hope therefore that the Minister will be able to give an assurance of that kind. However much many of us dislike the principle of the Bill, we all have confidence in the determination of the Minister to work it justly. I think he has the trust of all sections of the House and of the country that he will fulfil his difficult and arduous duties fairly, even if sometimes it seems that he has to be hard in doing so. I regret that, even under the stress of war, we should now have to have before us a Bill which places upon many young shoulders a burden heavy to be borne and which, for some, may prove too heavy.
Like the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, I think the Amendment, which was moved in an interesting speech by the hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson), has given the House of Commons an opportunity to discuss the somewhat wider aspects of the problem as to whether we should call up those aged 18 or those aged 37. If I had to choose, I would leave the boys in industry, but I realise the force of the arguments that have been put up for the opposite point of view. But I do not think that that is the Minister of Labour's headache. His problem is to supply the Forces with men and with equipment and to keep the war machine going in this country and abroad.Therefore, I would suggest to my hon. Friend who moved this Amendment that, looking at it from the general point of view of the progress of the war and the responsibilities of the Minister of Labour, the real criterion is not whether we call up the ages of 17 and 18 or 37 but how we can maintain output in the factories to supply equipment to the large forces already called up. As most of this Debate has not taken in this side of the problem I would like to utter a warning to the right hon. Gentleman, who probably knows it quite well, that we have to-day reached a danger point in calling up so many of these skilled workers, whatever their ages might be. To my knowledge, in one factory 47 per cent. of the skilled workers will fall within the 18 to 30 group, and therefore now we have got down to the bone, as it were, in this man-power problem there are other considerations, perhaps more weighty than those put forward by my hon. Friend in moving this Amendment, which have to be considered by the manpower officials and the managements of works in agreeing on the list of those who have to be called up in their age group in the immediate future. Some of the problems which will have to be taken into consideration by these Manpower Board officers when calling up in this group are—whether substitutes can be found to do the job, whether women are really available as substitutes, how much upgrading can be done, whether substitutes can be found to do the job, in particular in these younger categories, if the group leaders and the instructors of trainees are to be called up. Of course, the Ministry of Labour has to consider whether the personnel in the factory concerned is engaged on high priority work. I would suggest to my hon. Friend who moved this Amendment that it is not quite as simple as he suggested in his speech as to whether the younger men or the older men are to be called up. For instance, if the supply of equipment, if war production, is an important criterion in the solution of this problem which has to be dealt with by the Ministry of Labour, one has to consider whether a boy of 18 who has had, say, two years' training in production planning, is more important in a vital war industry, which is perhaps producing aircraft or something on the high priority list, than a man of 37 who is, say, driving a Lister truck. One is 18, the other is 37; which one are you going to take? One also has to consider, for instance, whether it is more important that the manager of a plant, aged 37, who has a complete and practical knowledge of the whole of that plant should be called up than a boy of 18 working an ordinary machine in a machine shop for which a girl or some other trainee could be trained in perhaps two or three months.
There is nothing in the Amendment which will interfere with the ordinary procedure of the working of deferment.
I understand that. I am suggesting that the time has come, now that the Minister has cut down to the bone and is beginning to look around the plants and factories, to see on what basis he can get more people for calling up to the Forces. He has a local officer representing the Man-power Board when he discusses the list with the works management as to who are to be called up from previous deferments. Which would you call up, the 18's or the 37's? Would you call them on the age qualification or how they fit in to minimum requirements of industry? Would you consider the importance of the product being produced? I think perhaps that is the criterion the Minister of Labour has to consider. There is another aspect of this. It is not often I can congratulate the Minister of Labour, but I would like to congratulate him on the selection of some of his local officers of the Manpower Board. I think they are doing their job in discussing these difficult technical problems with works staffs with a good deal of common sense and a good deal of knowledge, and I am glad they are not only not taking an arbitrary line between the 18's and the 37's, but—this is extremely important—that they are not taking an arbitrary line between what is called productive and non-productive labour. I am not quite sure whether the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour has upon his area man-power board individuals who are using the same discretion about this, with the same knowledge, and I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary, who is to reply, whether he can tell us whether, on some of these area man-power boards in which is invested a great deal of responsibility, he has any industrial psychologists or vocational allocation officers who under- stand this properly. I hope he will be able to give us a reply on that point.I am convinced that before this war has been won we shall have to comb out our man-power on a more scientific and efficient basis. I believe they are trying to do this with regard to calling up in the United States of America. I have heard a whisper that they are attempting to begin this type of efficient allocation in the War Department and the Navy. I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour whether he has now, on his Central Man-power Board and in the Ministry of Labour, any of these industrial psychologists or trained men who understand vocational allocation. More and more this will play a part in the scientific and efficient allocation and disposition of man-power. The mobilisation and the demobilisation of such large forces in this country in modern conditions is not only difficult but requires planning, now, and planning when we come to the demobilisation period. The hon. Member who preceded me referred in passing to Sir William Beveridge's suggestion for an economic general staff. I think that this problem of demobilising the classes to be absorbed back into industry after the war will be so difficult under modern conditions that what we want is not only a Beveridge Report but a Bevin Report, as it were, to deal with this transfer and allocation to post-war employment. During the right hon. Gentleman's speech in introducing this Bill he made some reference to the part of this Bill which deals with the calling-up of Dominion citizens who are resident in this country, and he said that there will be discussions with the Dominions-before the drafting of the Defence of the Realm Regulations. I noticed that his Parliamentary Secretary made some notes when he was dealing with this point. I would like to ask him one or two short points on that, and ask him whether he would give us some answer in his reply. Will Dominion citizens who are called up in this country be given an opportunity to join the Dominion troops in this country? I ask that in relation to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman that there will be consultation with the Dominions before the Defence of the Realm Regulations are made. Also, alternatively, I would ask whether, if those Dominion citizens are called up into the Fighting Forces in this country, they will be given an opportunity to transfer to Dominion Forces when they are sent abroad? Finally, when they are demobilised, will they have an opportunity of being demobilised at the nearest point for them to return to their own countries? In the last war, in my own case, it was the other way about: I had to go back to the Dominions to be demobilised, although, as a citizen of this country, I would have preferred to be demobilised here. What I want to know is whether these people will be given an opportunity of going back to their own Dominions to be demobilised, instead of coming here first to be demobilised. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give us that information, and to tell us whether the Dominions themselves are making use of similar Regulations in regard to their call-ups. I realise that this is not the occasion to discuss the wider issues of man-power, which we are all anxious to discuss, as the Minister has said that there will be a debate on some future occasion. I am sure the House is anxious to hear a report from the Minister of Production about his recent visit to America as affecting man-power.
That does not arise on this Bill.
I was only mentioning the matter in passing, and I will not pursue it further. I hope that in regard to this call-up the Minister will take into consideration the fact that it was equipment which enabled us to achieve our victory in Egypt. I hope that he will bear in mind, now that he is using the fine tooth comb in getting men from our war factories, the fact that those factories are getting near to the danger point in the reduction of man-power, and that it is their production which will enable us to achieve final victory.
I want to say how much I regret that the Minister of Labour and National Service should have felt himself called upon to reduce yet further the age at which boys will be taken into the Army. Still more must I dissociate myself from the Amendment, which seeks to shelter men of 37 and over behind boys of 17. The Minister says that he merely wants to register them a few months earlier, but that means they are going into the Services at an earlier age. As soon as they reach the age of 18 they are to be pushed into the Services, into the camps, with all their temptations and lack of home influence. You may think that because I am a woman I am not qualified to talk on military affairs, and I quite agree; but I claim to know more than most men about the conditions of development for boys of 18. To classify them at that age as men for purposes of National Service, when it is claimed that up to the age of 21 they are not qualified to take charge of property and, in England, are not qualified to marry without their parents' consent, is a scandalous thing for men of mature age to do. The Minister—in all sincerity, I agree—guarantees that the age at which boys are sent abroad will not go below 19. But there is nothing in the Bill to prevent boys being sent abroad earlier if the Cabinet desire to send them. In the first Act, the age was fixed at 20, but when it suited the Cabinet the age was lowered to 19. I am rather suspicious of the present War Cabinet, dominated as it is by the Prime Minister. I well remember how in the last war, when he was at the Admiralty, young lads were sent over to Antwerp, with hardly any training, not because they could do much, but just as a gesture. That is how people come to look upon life in war.I read a good deal—I have perhaps more time than most Members—and I have read a number of books by men who came through the last war. I have also been told by men who came through the last war that the thing which unnerved them most was the boys who were lying wounded, and who were crying for their mothers—a natural thing for a boy to do. We are told that the young people are more suited to war. The military people are anxious to get the boys because they can be disciplined and moulded much more easily than older men. But modern war is much more horrible than ever war was before, and it is a scandal that just when life is opening up, glowing and bright, before them, these lads should be asked to make the supreme sacrifice in this terrible war. One feels that these boys are called up because what is wanted is an Army on the cheap. If you call up older men you have to provide for their dependants. Boys of 17 have no responsibilities. Even if the mother is a widow she will not get any- thing, because she will be told that the boy was not able to maintain her, although perhaps she was looking forward to getting some help from him in future. So there is a, great attraction about putting those boys into the Army. There is not much else that one can say, but if the War Cabinet put as much thought into seeing whether the war could be shortened as they do into pushing younger and younger boys into the Army, it would do more good. I do not suggest that it would be a good thing if we were defeated, but I think if the Prime Minister and Minister of Defence when broadcasting put forward his aims for the world after the war it would be better than engaging in a slanging match with Hitler and Mussolini. I think that if I were a German I would be behind Hitler myself, because I would feel that there was nothing for me but to prevent Germany being defeated. I notice that one or two Members who have criticised the Bill have stressed the need for exempting university boys. I have no objection to anybody trying to protect any section of boys. It is not a class business with me on this occasion. Boys are boys to me, and I do not care from what kind of family they come. But what is the position? You are going to exempt the most physically fit and mentally equipped boys. It means that practically all the working-class boys are going to be swept in. My little Glasgow undersized, underfed boys are to be pushed into all these horrors. I have a case pending with the Secretary of State for War of a little chap who was conscripted and put into the Army. He is so bandy-legged that he is a figure of fun and is ashamed to go out, because people laugh at him in his uniform. He is medically unfit in many other respects. This, the wealthiest nation in the world, could not better conditions that left that lad living under such shocking conditions that he is deformed for life. Nothing now can ever improve him, and he is pushed into the Army willy-nilly to go and fight for a nation that treated him so badly. The people round about, instead of being sorry for him, think that it is funny to see him in uniform. I suggest that 18 years of age is too young. The age should be increased so that these boys could have a little chance of develop- ment and to be strengthened, either through age or experience, before they were pushed into the terrible horrors of war. I am sure that I am voicing the opinion of many mothers; many of them who perhaps though not willing have allowed the older boys to go without protest will feel very sore indeed if a younger age is to be applied and these lads—only children in their eyes—are to be pushed into the horrors of war.
My intervention in this Debate will be for a few minutes only, because I am anxious to hear the Joint Parliamentary Secretary respond to the numerous speeches, to all of which I have listened. I sincerely hope that the Amendment will be withdrawn, because it is a most extraordinary thing for any Member of this House to suggest that in order to win the war we should call up boys of 17. I am fully aware of the difficulties confronting the Minister of Labour, and I enjoyed his refreshing and frank speech, but to suggest to me that it is necessary to drag boys into this accursed war is asking me to believe too much. If there is a Division, we shall only have to vote for the Bill, but in doing so I hope that we shall do it in sackcloth and ashes, because this is the second major war in a lifetime which has been brought about by the folly of the old men. It is about time that we faced up to our responsibilities as public men and as Members of this House and made it clear to youth that this is the last time we are going to call upon innocent youth to be dragged into this horrible business under the age of 20.I want the Minister who is to reply to assure us that full use is being made of the man-power already within the grasp of the various Ministries and to give an assurance that some practical steps will be taken to bring back to this country those people who fled at the outbreak of the war. There are thousands of them, to my knowledge. They ran away and are escaping their responsibilities at a time when it is thought necessary to bring in a Bill to authorise the recruitment of boys of 18, with a possibility of still younger boys being called to the colours before this war is won. I lay special stress on these two points, that, before these boys are asked to bear the sacrifices of the war the causes of which they are innocent, we should make sure there are no shirkers abroad at this particular time who are escaping from their responsibilities. I put that point by way of a question, and it was answered up to a point. To-day we have reached the limit when it is necessary for us to give authority for the recruitment of boys in order to win this war. I have every sympathy with the Minister of Labour. He has a very difficult task, and the object of his speech to-day, I am sure, was to inspire an all-embracing effort to win this war in the shortest possible time. With those words I sincerely hope that, when once we have passed this Bill, the pledges given that no boy should be sent overseas before the age of 19 will be honoured. If it is necessary in the face of a national or an international crisis to send these boys overseas, from their native heath, I sincerely hope that the Minister will come to the House and get authority from the House instead of getting it from the War Cabinet.
My right hon. Friend has no reason at all to complain of the reception of this Bill. Indeed, I think it has been rather a remarkable fact that, apart from the speech of the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Ellis Smith), the Bill has hardly been referred to by any speaker. We have had a most interesting discussion, ranging over many topics. Hon. Members have mentioned education in all its aspects and many other problems, but these topics refer to Ministries other than that presided over by my right hon. Friend, and therefore my reply, I am afraid, will be rather short and scrappy, because I have no first-hand knowledge of many of the problems that have been put up. I would assure hon. Members that their speeches will be studied with close interest in the Departments concerned. Moreover, my right hon. Friend announced that we propose to have a full man-power Debate shortly in Secret Session. I think, personally, it is quite time we had one. I have been at the Ministry of Labour for nearly a year now, and we have not had a man-power Debate since I have been there. I am very pleased that it is going to be arranged and that all the major manpower topics which have been mentioned by some speakers to-day will receive more adequate treatment then.The hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke, who followed my right hon. Friend, welcomed the Bill, and we were very grateful for the remarks he made about it. He mentioned the Herculean task of my right hon. Friend and ventured to suggest that the calling-up and mobilisation of man- and woman-power had been efficiently done. I am grateful for those words, because the thousands of hard-working officials of the Ministry of Labour up and down the country who actually do the day-to-day work of call-up will appreciate that measure of praise and commendation from the spokesman of the Labour party. I also appreciated very much the remarks on the same subject of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Eye (Mr. Granville), but I am afraid that I cannot agree with him that we should employ psychologists on our man-power boards. We have no psychologists on our man-power boards, but, in spite of that, I hope we have the maximum of common sense applied to what are largely common-sense problems. To go back for a moment to the speech of my hon. Friend, I would, as he asked me, emphasise that no man, under these proposals, can be called up for the Forces before the age of 18. Under the pledge of the Government no soldier will be sent abroad under the age of 19. Of course, the Army do take in volunteers of 17½, but no boy below 18 will be conscripted.
Volunteers are not sent abroad?
Volunteers to the Army are not sent abroad, either, under 19. I was asked a question about men returning to work for a long time after their registration and medical examination. If a man is reserved or deferred, he is not at present called for medical examination while so deferred or reserved. But sometimes a man is medically examined for a specially skilled vacancy in the Forces, which does not at once materialise. Efforts will be made in the Department to reduce such cases to an absolute minimum, because we appreciate the force of what has been said. A man must, of course, register before it can be settled whether he is reserved or deferred, because registration is the means of getting the necessary information about people. We will, however, endeavour as far as we possibly can to arrange that medical examination is delayed until it is almost time for the man to join the Forces.A point was raised about the admirable publication, "Front Line," by the Ministry of Home Security and it was asked whether my right hon. Friend had any similar proposals in mind with regard to the Ministry of Labour. The answer is that he has. The story of the mobilisation of Britain for war is being prepared by the Department at this moment, and its publication will be considered urgently as soon as it is ready.
Are the Department also considering producing the publication pictorially, so as to make it as inteersting as possible?
Yes, Sir. We shall endeavour to fall in with any suggestions that hon. Members make. The hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. John Dugdale) and the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. Harvey) asked about students under the new 18-years-old call-up going to universities. I am afraid that it will not be possible to defer calling up beyond June, 1943, to enable boys to take a course of study in arts at the universities. In the present strenuous and serious position of the war I am afraid we cannot continue these courses. We are continuing to make arrangements for the reservation of boys accepted as medical and dental students. Boys born in 1925, who are still at school, and who are candidates for the higher school certificate or for a comparable examination will have their call-up deferred until July, 1943, to enable them to take such an examination. Boys born in 1925, taking certain technical subjects at a university or technical college, or beginning such a course not later than October, 1943, will have an opportunity of applying to the University Joint Recruitment Board for the deferment of call-up.
Does that mean that apart from dental and medical students, universities will be closed?
They will be open for all technical and scientific students and various short courses which are being arranged by the different Services at the present time. What we shall have to close are the arts courses. We are at the moment sending full information on these subjects to the schools and universities.The hon. Member for the Combined English Universities also asked whether the rights of young men in regard to conscientious objection and postponement on hardship grounds will be maintained up to their 18th birthday. The answer is, "Yes, and beyond that, if necessary, right up to the time of the student's enlistment notice if the circumstances demand it." My hon. Friend the Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson), who moved the Amendment, spoke of the necessity for maintaining efficiency in man-power in the Forces. My hon. Friend of course agrees with the necessity of efficiency in every walk of life in this country. We cannot afford at the present time to waste one man or woman who can be used for the war effort. I am satisfied that it is well realised in all the Services that the best use of their manpower is at the core of their plans and their policies, and that all their energies are being applied to this fundamental problem. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Wing-Commander James) called attention to the same point and mentioned some cases of wastage in one of the Civil Defence services. I would be very much obliged if he would send details of these cases to us, so that we can take them up, because my right hon. Friend is keen on looking into all these cases of alleged wastage and rectifying them if they are proved. With regard to the part of the Amendment dealing with the reduction of the age to 17 instead of 18, I would consider, in view of the Government's pledge not to send boys in the Army abroad before the age of 19, calling them up at 17 and keeping them here for two years both wasteful and unnecessary. They would be much better employed in industry and in their pre-entry training. I am not persuaded that calling them up at the age of 17 would help; it would, I think, rather hinder the war effort. I am sure it would not be approved in the country, and I am also sure that it would not benefit the young men. Therefore, the Government cannot at this stage contemplate such a step. With regard to the portion of the Amendment asking that men of 37 and upwards should not be called up, I would like the House to look at the present position a little further. It is this: The requirements of the Forces and essential industry are so great that it has been necessary for us to register men up to the age of 50. Those born since July, 1900, are held available for the Forces, and those born before that date are held in general for essential industry. As the House knows, most elaborate machinery for the reservation and deferment has been set up to keep in civilian work those who must be retained in the national interest; but if a man is neither reserved nor granted deferment, then he is available for transfer. For the time being, a large number of those who had reached the age of 35 when they registered are being transferred into industrial vacancies instead of being called up to the Forces. They take jobs which at present are held by younger men so that the younger men can be released for the Forces. Quite apart from reservation and deferment, men liable for call-up have the opportunity of applying for postponement of their call-up for exceptional hardship, such as in the case of a one-man business.
Can the hon. Gentleman give us some figures?
I am sorry I have not them here now. The House will, therefore, see that my right hon. Friend has taken great care with older people in the call-up by using them for industry if it is in the national interest, but he could not possibly make a clean sweep and say that nobody over 37 should be available for the Forces. Indeed, we require great numbers of them. If I may give an instance, the Air Force is asking for volunteers up to the age of 50 to perform certain sedentary duties which will release younger men for active service. It would be folly at this stage of the war not to take advantage of these older men and fit them into positions where they can be of use in the Fighting Services if they are not definitely required in industry.The last part of the Amendment was dealt with in a most interesting speech by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Erdington (Group-Captain Wright), and by many other Members, and at one time the Debate developed into one on education and youth. There were very powerful speeches from the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay), the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Linstead), and others. It is, of course, a fascinating subject and one which we would all like to discuss in a full day's Debate, but I am afraid I cannot be drawn into an argument about youth and pre-entry training, as such, now. I rather regretted the fact that my hon. and gallant Friend made some derogatory, and I thought quite untrue, remarks about the Army. He said that the Army had tried to pull a fast one over the A.T.C. I do not think that is at all true. My hon. and gallant Friend spoke about what he called the lamentable position. I do not think there is anything lamentable about it. I regret that a distinguished member of one Service should have made this attack on another Service. I am in rather a difficulty about the whole matter because, although I understand my hon. and gallant Friend is one of the leaders in the Air Ministry hierarchy who look after the A.T.C. training, he does not seem to have been able to persuade his own Service. I think that before he comes to the House and propounds his theory to us, he should be able to persuade his hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. Wakefield) and others at the Air Ministry about his proposals. I do not propose to pursue that matter further at the moment than to say that the Services quite obviously do realise from the notes they send to me, that as far as possible it is desirable to standardise the training, especially of the younger boys coming into the Services; and they are taking active steps, in full consultation and collaboration—which might not have been inferred from my hon. and gallant Friend's speech—to that end. But it is important to remember that the cadet is proud of his uniform, proud of his association with the Service of his choice, proud of the fact that he is inspected by officers of that Service, proud of going to camp or to a naval base or an aerodrome. I know that in outlying districts of my own constituency, where possibly a cadet is the one member of a particular Service in the district, he is proud to be seen walking about the streets in khaki or Air Force blue, or whatever it may be. I think it would be a great pity to lose that esprit de corps. My hon. Friend the Member for Eye asked some questions about Dominion citizens. He asked whether they would be given the chance to joint the Dominion Forces in this country. The answer, I think, would be, yes, certainly, if the Dominion Forces agreed; and if a man joins the Dominion troops he would not, of course, be called up by us. With regard to the hon. Member's question about demobilisation plans after the war, I cannot discuss them at the present time, but I assure him that the point he has made will be borne in mind when these questions are considered. I have endeavoured to deal with most of the major points that have been brought up in this Debate, and the speeches that have been made will be read with interest. In conclusion, may I say that the Bill is designed to enable us to get all the available boys at 18 years of age for the Forces. We shall be faced in 1943 with the maximum demand for man- and women-power both for service overseas, and service at home in the Forces and in industry and munitions. It is not for me in my position to discuss the higher strategy of the war, but I think it is apparent to everybody that the very successes we have lately had will necessarily make increased demands on our man-power. We have opened up new opportunities which we must grasp, and nothing must stand in the way of our being able to exploit those opportunities to the full. Therefore, my right hon. Friend will be bound to make severe and drastic demands on the man- and woman-power of this country in the coming year. I am sure the House and the country generally will continue to respond to the full, as they have done in the past, to his requests, and thus alone we will be able to make an absolutely all-out effort towards victory in the year that is coming. I ask the House to support the Second Reading of the Bill.
The boys will not be available next year.
Although my hon. Friends and I cannot regard the reply of the Minister as entirely satisfactory, in view of the fact that there is shortly to be a Secret Debate upon the whole man-power problem, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Main Question, put.
The House divided: Ayes, 267; Noes, 5.
Division No. 3.
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Murray, J. D.|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Cannock)||Grigg, Rt. Hon. Sir P. J. (Cardiff, E.)||Nicholson, Captain G. (Farnham)|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Grimston, R. V.||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Assheton, R.||Groves, T. E.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Guy, W. H.||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Barstow, P. C.||Hambro, Capt. A. V.||Peake, O.|
|Bartlett. C. V. O.||Hannah, I. C.||Pearson, A.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Beaumont, Maj. Hn. R. E. B. (P'tsm'h)||Harris, Rt. Hon. Sir P. A.||Peters, Dr. S. J.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Headlam, Lt.-Col. Sir C. M.||Petherick, Major M.|
|Bennett, Sir P. F. B. (Edgbaston)||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Benson, G.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Peto, Major B. A. J.|
|Bevin, Rt. Hon. E.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Heneage, Lt.-Col. A. P.||Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hewlett, T. H.||Pritt, D. N.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Bower, Norman (Harrow)||Hollins, A. (Hanley)||Purbrick, R.|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T. (Cleveland)||Holmes, J. S.||Pym, L. R.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Hopkinson, A.||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Brabner, Lt.-Comdr. R. A.||Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||Raikes, Flight-Lieut. H. V. A. M.|
|Broad, F. A.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Rankin, Sir R.|
|Brooklebank, Sir C. E. R.||Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Reakes, G. L. (Wallasey)|
|Brooke, H. (Lewisham)||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Hughes, R. M.||Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham (St. M.)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Hume, Sir G. H.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Hunter, T.||Richards, R.|
|Burden, T. W.||Hurd, Sir P. A.||Rickards, G. W.|
|Burke, W. A.||Hutchinson, G. C. (Ilford)||Ritson, J.|
|Butcher, Lieut. H. W.||Isaacs, G. A.||Roberts, W.|
|Cadogan, Maj. Sir E.||James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Robertson, D. (Streatham)|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Jarvis, Sir J. J.||Robertson, Rt. Hn. Sir M. A. (Mitcham)|
|Cary, R. A.||Jeffreys, General Sir G. D.||Ross Taylor, W.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Rothschild, J. A. de|
|Challen, Flight-Lieut. C.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Rowlands, G.|
|Channon, H.||Jewson, P. W.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||John W.||Russell, Sir A. (Tynemouth)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. (St'l'g & C'km'n)||Salt, E. W.|
|Christie, J. A.||Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.||Savory, Professor D. L.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Comdr. Hn. L. W.||Scott, Donald (Wansbeck)|
|Cobb, Captain E. C.||Kendall, W. D.||Scott, Lord William (Ro'b'h & Selk'k)|
|Colegate, W. A.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Shaw, Capt. W. T. (Forfar)|
|Collindridge, F.||Kerr, Sir John Graham (Scottish U's.)||Shapperson, Sir E. W.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.||Shute, Col. Sir J. J.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Kimball, Major L.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Crowder, Capt. J. F. E.||Kirby, B. V.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Kirkwood, D.||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Davidson, Viscountess (H'm'l H'mst'd)||Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir D. B.|
|Davison, Sir W. H.||Lakin, C. H. A.||Southby, Comdr. Sir A. R. J.|
|De Chair, Capt. S. S.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Debbie, w.||Law, R. K.||Stanley, Col. Rt. Hon. Oliver|
|Drewe, C.||Leslie, J. R.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||Liddall, W. S.||Storey, S.|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Lindsay, K. M.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Dugdale, John (W. Bromwich)||Linstead, H. N.||Strickland, Capt. W. F.|
|Dugdale, Major T. L. (Richmond)||Lipson, D. L.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton (Northwich)|
|Dunn, E.||Lloyd, Major E. G. R. (Renfrew, E.)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray & Nairn)|
|Ede, J. C.||Lloyd, G. W. (Ladywood)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Loftus, P. C.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Logan, D. G.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Lucas, Major Sir J. M.||Sykes, Maj.-Gen. Rt. Hon. Sir F. H.|
|Edwards, Walter J. (Whitechapel)||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Elliot, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. W. E.||McCorquodale, Malcolm S.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Elliston, Captain G. S.||Macdonald, Sqdn.-Ldr. P. (I. of W.)||Taylor, Major C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Mack, J. D.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Etherton, Ralph||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. H. (Stockton)||Thomas, I. (Keighley)|
|Evans, Colonel A. (Cardiff, S.)||Maitland, Sir A.||Thorne, W.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Makins, Brig.-Gen. Sir E.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Foster, W.||Marshall, F.||Touche, G. C.|
|Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Martin, J. H.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Comdr. R. L.|
|Galbraith, Comdr. T. D.||Mathers, G.||Viant, S. P.|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Walkden, A. G. (Bristol, S.)|
|George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'broke)||Mellor, Sir J. S. P.||Walker, J.|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Mitchell, Colonel H. P.||Ward, Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Glyn, Sir R. G. C.||Molson, A. H. E.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Gower, Sir R. V.||Montague, F.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|Granville, E. L.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.||Waterhouse, Capt. C.|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Morgan, R. H. (Stourbridge)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry||Watt, F. C. (Edinburgh Cen.)|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S. (Cirencester)||Wayland, Sir W. A|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||Mort, D. L.||Wells, Sir S. Richard|
|Westwood, J.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)||Wright, Group Capt. J. (Erdington)|
|White, Sir Dymoke (Fareham)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)||York, Capt. C.|
|White, H. (Derby, N.E.)||Wilmot, John|
|Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)||Windsor, W.|
TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
|Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl||Mr. J. P. L. Thomas and|
|Wilkinson, Ellen||Womersley, Rt. Hon. Sir W.||Mr. A. Young.|
|Williams, C. (Torquay)||Woodburn, A.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Sorensen, R. W.|
TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
|Hardie, Agnes||Wilson, C. H.||Mr. Maxton and Mr. Stephen.|
|Harvey, T. E.|
Bill accordingly read a Second time.
Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House, for the next Sitting Day.—( Major Sir James Edmondson.)