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Clause 6—(Calling Up For Training During Part-Time Service)

Volume 437: debated on Wednesday 7 May 1947

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I beg to move, in page 4, line 22, at the end, to insert:

"Provided always that in selecting the time and place of training the service authorities shall have due regard to the distance of the man's residence from the training place and the hours of work during which a man earns his livelihood."
This Amendment is self-explanatory, and as the Government are in an amiable mood I hope they will accept it. It seeks to ensure that the Service authorities should have regard to the convenience of the man who is called up for part-time training, that they should consider the distance which the man lives from the place of training, and the hours of work by which he gets his livelihood. I believe that it is the intention of the Service authorities to pay regard to these matters, but it would be a safeguard to put a proviso of this sort into the Bill, as a constant reminder that the individual is entitled to consideration. It is possible, as the Bill is drafted, to call up a man for training, to direct him to attend a drill hall 15 miles away from his home, and to be there by 6 or 6.30 p.m., when he might not finish work until that time. The man gets only one month's compensation if, as a result of the inconvenience he causes to his employer, he is sacked from his job. I agree that there is no penalty that can be enforced against a sergeant-major who directs a man for training at an inconvenient time, but I believe that it is important to have something in the Bill to see that the' Service authorities should pay the utmost attention to the convenience of individuals who are called up. The sort of sergeant-major who puts a man on fatigues, who goes out of his way not to study his convenience, is not entirely dead.

I see the desirability of the aim behind this Amendment, but it would be unworkable in practice. There must be a place at which it is necessary to group the people who are to be trained. It is very difficult to suit every man's convenience. In the Navy, training areas are very strictly limited. For instance, a man who lives in Portsmouth or Chatham can be trained in those areas, but it is difficult to arrange proper training near his home for a man who lives in Birmingham. We are doing our utmost to curtail the number of training areas, so that we can release them for other purposes. While we realise that it is desirable to give every help to a man if we can, it would be impossible to guarantee to do this in every case. We could not possibly include this proviso in the Bill.

4.15 a.m.

I am not quite certain what is meant by a training notice under this Clause. Does it cover every bit of training that the man has done during his six or seven years? Will they serve separate notices for every drill during the course of the year, or is training merely for the longer periods?

How then is the man notified in regard to the shorter periods of training which he has undergone throughout the year, or are they left entirely to his own will? It raises a very important point in training, because, surely, the Service Departments must have in their minds the 60 days spread over six years, and the divisions between certain periods spent in camp and certain periods spent in week-end training and evening training. If there is no training notice in respect of the evening drill, would it not be possible for a man through voluntarily doing training in the evening, which obviously for him is the most convenient form of training, to be able to say, when the compulsory notice is served on him to go to a camp for a week or a fortnight, that by reason of the voluntary training which he has done, he has gone beyond the limit of the days on which he has to train and thereby can evade camp training?

I do not suggest for one moment that this will be an entirely haphazard arrangement. There will be a notice in the ordinary way and the man will be informed by his commanding officer or sergeant-major, and the commanding officer will see that the man has not more than his requisite training.

Can the commanding officer send a man away if he has done all his drills?

Perhaps I can try to put this matter in order. Obviously, the three Services will differ considerably. The Navy have ships and they have to send their men to sea. In that case they will want their men for longer periods than the Army when the men are engaged on anti-aircraft defence. It will he necessary to give the national service reservist and the employer full notice that the man is going to be taken away from work to go into camp for the annual 30 days' training. The notice formally served on the man will tell him that he will be required to report at a certain date, at a certain time and at a certain place. He then comes off his employer's pay roll and goes on to the Service pay roll. In the case of the Army, where we shall endeavour to commute as much as possible of the time in evening training, it will not be possible to serve notices for that kind of training because the man will not be taken away from his work and he will be able to do that training in his spare time.

The right non. Gentleman has sufficient knowledge of the Army to know how orders are issued to a man to turn up on parade. I am sure in the Territorial unit, where a reservist will be serving, a notice will be placed on the notice board and he will be warned of a parade on a certain date. For example, if he tells his commanding officer that it would be more convenient for him to attend a drill on Thursday night instead of Friday, I am sure, if at all possible, that will be arranged. That procedure is quite understandable by all hon. Gentleman in this Committee who have had experience of Army life. I do not think that there will be all these complications which the right hon. Gentleman imagines. This thing will work as smoothly as it has worked in the Territorial Army for 40 years when the volunteers presented themselves for drill.

The point goes really beyond the Amendment and already the Debate has gone wide enough. I think the matter could be raised on the Motion that the Clause stand part.

With all respect to you, Mr. Touche, I am perfectly prepared to raise it again on the Motion that the Clause stand part, but I feel that we can dispose of it on the Amendment which I have moved.

I only want to refer to one aspect of this Amendment. We know what the Navy and the Army are going to do, but we have not the slightest idea what the Royal Air Force are going to do and it is really very wrong that, throughout the whole of this important Debate, no mention should be made of the proposals in regard to the Air Force, which is a most important Service. Now that we have the Minister of Defence back with us again, his usual cheerful self, perhaps he will tell us what the Air Force intends to do. It is really not right that that Service should be pushed away into a corner by the Secretary of State for War and the Financial Secretary to the Admiralty. This is a very modern Service, and we want to know something more about it in relation to this Clause.

Amendment negatived.

I beg to move, in page 4, line 24, after "time," to insert:

"not less than fourteen days."
The object of this Amendment is to prevent any undue hardship being caused to the man called up for training assuming that the man has to go away from home, for a week, 14 days, or even 21 days. The Clause as it stands lays down that the Service Departments give a man 30 days' notice that he is to be called up and he is to report at a certain place, at a certain time, on a certain date, but if unforeseen circumstances arise the notice can be cancelled by giving one day's notice. In my opinion that is likely to cause great hardship to a man and great hardship to his employer and would only encourage certain slackness in the Departments. To give one example, a man who is called up on 1st August may have to postpone his holidays and he may have to get his children away somewhere. Then his wife might be afraid to live by herself, as many wives are, and he may have to arrange for his mother-in-law to coma and stay with her. On the other hand, he may have to arrange for his wife to go and stay with his mother-in-law. Assuming, therefore, that the Service Departments send a notice and then cancel it at one day's notice, there may be hardship caused when the man comes back and finds his mother-in-law in the house with his wife, and has to stay there as well. On the other hand, if his wife has gone away to the mother-in-law, he will have to stay at home by himself until she comes back. It is a very serious matter.

Let us assume, for instance, that he has made arrangements with his employer that he is going to be away for a fortnight. The employer arranges for a man to take his place, and then, the day before this happens, the notice is cancelled, and the whole arrangement at the works is upset. [Laughter.] I cannot see why this is causing amusement. It is a very serious point. If the Service chiefs think they can get away with one day's notice, if the people who are arranging the camps think that they have another week or fortnight and all they need to do is to send a notice on the last day that they cannot make the arrangements, it will not be fair on the man or his wife or his mother-in-law or his employer. In my opinion, we should not tolerate this state of affairs. I think that, by making a Service Department give 14 days' notice of a change in plans, it will obviate hardship and make the Service Departments efficient, and prevent them from pushing the man around.

My hon. Friend has presented the Committee with a matter of substance. What he says, in effect, is that if the Service authority issue a 30 days' notice ordering the man to be at a certain place at a certain date and time, they should not unreasonably cancel that notice at the last moment. I quite agree with him, and I can assure him and the Committee that the Service Departments will not deal with men in this fashion. What would happen if they did? I am afraid that this Bill, even though it were passed, would not work. The Service Departments will issue the 30 days' notice because they want the man to come for training at a certain place, date and time, and it will only be through matters over which they have no control—perhaps transport arrangements, or an outbreak of infections disease, or flooding, or something of that sort which is beyond their control—that it will be necessary to cancel the notice. The notice will be cancelled only if the date of joining is changed, because the time and the place can be altered without cancellation of the notice. The Department, once the notice is cancelled, will serve another 30 days' notice, so that the national service reservist will have ample warning of where and when he has to report. I hope my hon. Friend will withdraw the Amendment. I see his point and I assure him that the Service authorities are not going to act in the unconscionable manner which he rather suggested might happen.

4.30 a.m.

I think the hon. Member who moved this Amendment in a very humorous speech has raised a point of considerable substance and that the Committee will see that, although 30 days' notice is provided in the case of the original notice, the right hon. Gentleman is not providing that any notice should be given in the case of the supplementary notice, which is a different point from the cancellation.

Another notice will be necessary if the first notice is cancelled and another notice has to be served giving 30 days' clear notice of the instruction to report, but not if the time and place is altered—only if the date of joining is altered by cancellation of the original notice.

I am sorry, but I do not think this Clause is very clearly drafted if that is its purport. There is no provision here for the giving of 30 days' notice in the supplementary notice. It says supplementary notices can be served following training notice by altering the time and place at which the person is required to present himself. There might be cases for saying that you cannot be expected to give notice of cancellation, but if you cancel and then say to a man, "You must come" he ought to have at least 14 days' notice in every case. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider that point. It is a distinct point from having the right to cancel at short notice because of a breakdown here or there. Fourteen days' notice is the least that ought to be given to a man after cancellation. He has arrangements to make for accommodation, for holidays, and for things of that sort and I would have thought that the right hon. Gentleman could have said that in every case of a supplementary notice which varies the original notice there should be 14 days. I would ask him to consider that point.

I think it is clear from this Clause that if the original notice is cancelled a new notice has to be served and the new notice must be 30 days in advance of the joining date. Any of the notices must have 30 days attached to it and if one is cancelled, a new one is issued. It is not such a great hardship and the reason is, obviously, to avoid hardship which the hon. Member is talking about. It is no great hardship on a man to switch him about in the time of joining. For example, it may be necessary to say that, instead of reporting at Euston at 10 o'clock to catch the 10 o'clock train, a man should report at 10.30. That is no hardship to him. He does not lose a day's pay over it or have the trouble the hon. Member is talking about. It is also no great trouble if he is told that, instead of reporting at Gravesend he must report at Chatham. It is a hardship if the notice telling him to report on a certain date is cancelled and, therefore, it is obvious that once the notice is served cancelling his reporting date, a new one must be served.

I am not quite clear that the right hon. Gentleman has clearly recognised the point made by the hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment. The point surely is—I may be wrong—that as the Subsection now stands it is left entirely to the Service authorities to decide when a cancellation notice shall go out. That might very well mean that a man would receive a notice telling him to report on such-and-such a date—let us say, on a Tuesday—in order to start duty. On the Monday evening, by the last post, he receives a notice cancelling the previous notice. This man would have made all arrangements to leave, and it would seem to be rather a serious matter, and it is not right for the Minister to talk of fire and flood and other acts of God affecting an otherwise efficient authority. Service authorities have been known to make administrative mistakes. Young ladies in Whitehall sometimes get their shorthand notes wrong, and the wrong people have been called up at the wrong time. The mistake might be discovered, and immediately a notice is sent out cancelling the previous notice after the fellow has made all preparations. It might well be that a man has finished work in the normal way on a Friday evening, if he works in a factory where the five-day week operates, ready to report on the following Monday. But he is then told to report on the Tuesday. He forfeits one day's pay, and he has no recompense, not even an apology from the War Office whose error has been responsible for his inconvenience and pecuniary loss. Unless we get a much better and more satisfactory assurance, we must press this Amendment. In time of war, we assume that the Service Department is right, but, in time of peace, we are not entitled to think so. I hope that my hon. Friend will press this.

Two questions are involved in this, and I agree with the hon. Member who has just resumed his seat that a late cancellation can cause much hardship. Whether the interval of time mentioned in the Amendment is correct, or whether it should be a reasonable time, is a matter for consideration. But I would pass to the other matter where the Secretary of State for War, although putting forward what appeared to be reasonable if the Clause said what he thought it said, was assuming that the supplementary notice meant what he said it meant. The notice here referred to could only be a notice varying the training notice by prescribing a different place or time. It does riot seem clear that time must mean hour. If the learned Attorney-General has looked up precedents and says that he is quite confident about it, I will say no more. But there appears to be no such limitation and this whole Subsection could be interpreted as saying that the Service authority could completely change its mind about the time, using "time" in the widest sense. I hope that more attention will be given to that point, in addition to that raised by the last speaker and the mover of the Amendment, unless as is possible the right hon. and learned Attorney-General can satisfy us more fully tonight.

I fully realise the difficulties of this position. If my right hon. Friend can give an assurance that he will look at this matter between now and a later stage, to see if the draftsmen can draft some words to meet the point of hardship, without detracting from the efficiency of the services, I will ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

I cannot give any undertaking that I will look at this matter with a view to incorporating something similar to the suggestion in my hon. Friend's Amendment. I am prepared to look at any case where there is a possibility that hon. Members may fail to understand it, or there may be incomplete understanding by an hon. Member, and to try to show that any case they have submitted has been fully covered. I certainly will give hon. Members an undertaking to look at this matter again.

On a point of Order. May I ask whether the Amendment in my name has been included in this discussion, or is it about to be called?

We are discussing the Amendment to line 24, and the hon. and gallant Member's Amendment is included in the discussion.

May I also ask whether the Amendment in my name to give 21 days' notice on a supplementary notice is also included?

I should like a further explanation from the Parliamentary Secretary. He stated that the supplementary notice would imply a further 30 days' notice. Is that what he intended to say? A supplementary notice can take effect on the following day. If that is so, I consider it utterly wrong. That is why I have proposed this Amendment which would give 14 days notice to the man on top of the supplementary notice. He gets 30 days on the original notice; I then suggest that he needs 14 days' supplementary notice. I agree that 21 days is not sufficient notice. I have sometimes as a yeomanry officer had to postpone camps for a fortnight because of bad weather. Therefore I think it would be wrong to make the period more than 14 days. It would make it impossible to have a temporary postponement of a camp. Therefore I suggest that 14 days is the minimum which should be allowed.

4.45 a.m.

I think I can assist the Committee on this. I can advise the Committee with complete confidence that a supplementary notice, which can only vary the training notice, cannot alter the date on which a man has to report for duty. All the notice says is that you may report at half-past two instead of half-past ten, or at Waterloo instead of Euston. That will impose no real hardship on a man whose arrangements are changed and there is therefore no reason why additional notice should be given. If what is intended to be done is to tell him, you are not to report on the day on the training notice, it would impose cancellation of the original notice and the serving of a new notice.

I hope the Committee will not be too ready to part with this point. I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for clearing up a matter about the supplementary notice but the Secretary of State has made no promise to reconsider the wording of this Clause and it is absolutely clear in the wording, that the Service authority can cancel a training notice at the very last moment.

Yes, but it is the point of the Amendment. If a training notice is given to a man to report on 1st September, he will have made arrangements with his employer on 1st August, assuming he has, received his notice 30 days before. Then he may receive a cancellation notice on 30th August. The Amendment is designed to prevent any hardship owing to his being prejudiced with his employer or otherwise.

I think the difficulty is that we are discussing two Amendments with wholly different purposes and two wholly different cases at the same time. With regard to the second Amendment which deals with supplementary training notices, the right hon. and learned Gentleman's statement has made a great difference to my point of view. In order to reinforce his statement it may be necessary later to insert "time of day" instead of time. So far as I am concerned, this disposes of that part of the case. There is another important point, although I think the Amendment proposed is inappropriate to the problem it is meant to cover. In the case of cancellation, it is impossible to impose on the authority 14 days' notice before cancellation. The emergency may arise at the last moment. No one can seriously say that, an emergency having arisen on Thursday, when the camp is starting on Friday, you may cancel on 14 days' notice. What I think the supporters of the Amendment are really getting at is the hardship and possible loss caused to people by a sudden cancellation of a notice and they are trying to get from the authorities some statement on whether it could not be possible in cases of that kind to give some compensation to people who have suffered from a sudden cancellation. I would not press the Amendment as it stands, but I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he cannot consider the real point behind it, and whether something cannot be done, to enable compensation to be paid in cases where hardship is caused by sudden cancellation of training notices.

That may well be under military administration, but I still do not think it necessary to alter the Clause to ensure that compensation should be paid. I am prepared to look at the point and see whether I can meet the right hon. Gentleman on the question of compensation.

Amendment negatived.

I beg to move, in page 4, line 30, to leave out Subsection (3).

This Amendment has been put down in order to obtain an explanation. It raises a question of some substance. We are considering what penalties should be imposed on a person who fails to comply with a training notice. The first question which arises is whether the penalty is to be the same in each auxiliary force. This Subsection is very vague. It merely says:
"A person who fails to comply with a training notice shall be liable to be apprehended and punished in the same manner as a person belonging to an auxiliary force failing to appear when called into actual or permanent service or on embodiment."
What that means is that if a man is in the Territorial Army, or in the Territorial Reserve, he will be charged or tried as a deserter, and will be liable to two years' imprisonment. The same will, apparently, be the case if he goes into the Royal Naval Special Reserve. I do not know what the penalties are for desertion under the Naval Discipline Act, but in the case of the Army the penalties are fairly substantial. If one compares these with the similar provisions in the Territorial and Reserves Act of row, one finds that the liability for failing to attend annual training is the payment of a fine of There may be a case for a higher penalty for the national serviceman than for the Territorial for failing to comply with his voluntary undertaking.

I suggest that a great deal must depend on the interpretation of the words "training notice." There is no definition of these words in the Bill. We have had a good deal of discussion in the course of today and yesterday on their precise significance, but I am still not clear what they are intended to mean. The Secretary of State for War indicated that training notices would only be served in relation to annual camps, and not for attendance at drills. That is so far as the Army is concerned, and I suppose that the same procedure applies to the Navy. If that is so, there should be a definition in the Bill of a training notice, limiting it to that effect. It may be a matter of amicable arrangement to ensure the attendance of the national service man for his hourly periods of training, but surely some sanction will be imposed to ensure that the necessary drills are attended by him as by the Territorial. I can see no provision in the Bill which will enforce the attendance of the national service man. If a training notice is served on him what machinery will enable him to be punished if he abstains from attending? The Committee ought to know what penalty there will be on the man who fails to comply with a training notice to attend an annual camp. We ought to be assured that the penalty for not attending training will be the same in each of the three Auxiliary Services.

If this Subsection were left out it would mean that the man would be free to ignore a training notice, and would then be subject to only a small penalty, which has normally been imposed only on the volunteer member of an Auxiliary force. I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite will agree that a fine is not sufficient penalty, or could be regarded as a sufficient deterrent in the case of a man who has to serve under a compulsory engagement. The provisions of the Subsection are designed to enable such a man to be dealt with as an absentee, or a deserter. The man who has served with the Colours for 12 months will know what are the rules and practices of Army discipline. The hon. and learned Member referred to the man who is subject to compulsory reserve training, but who wishes to commute his call-up for a period of training by putting in alternative drills, or week end courses, by arrangement with his unit. I should have thought that the best deterrent, in the case of the man who did not avail himself of the weekend he had arranged with his unit, would be the suspension of the arrangement. There would, therefore, be rare cases of that kind, and that man would be subject for call-up for that period of training which he had failed to commute as he had agreed to do.

5.0 a.m.

I do not think we can leave the matter there, because, as the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) pointed out, I do not think the Minister yet appreciates that there appear to be two different types of training notices—that for the annual camp and that for the man to turn out at the drill hall or week-end camp.

I am surprised that an hon. Gentleman like the hon. Member for Northern Dorset who has held the rank of lieut.-colonel in the Army does not know how the men are warned to attend a parade for an evening drill or a week-end camp.

Well, training then. We are splitting hairs over words. A notice to attend evening drill or week-end camp or week-end training, whichever hon. Members prefer to call it, is not necessary. I am sure that during his Army career the hon. Member for Northern Dorset (Mr. Byers) instructed his n.c.o.s. or warrant officers to warn the men to attend for training and he knows the procedure.

I am surprised at this insubordination on the part of a relatively junior officer. I am pointing out that as the Bill stands, it is not clear that the training notice refers only to the annual camp. If it is not clear it should be made clear. If the Government want to define the different types of notices, then they should be so defined in the Bill. If it is a parade notice, call it a parade notice and put it in the Bill. It seems perfectly absurd to think that the words "training notice" in the Bill should mean anything else than for a man to come along for training purposes. I ask the Minister of Defence to treat this matter seriously, because it is going to cause a great deal of inconvenience and ambiguity, and we have a chance now of putting the thing right. This is the Committee stage of this Bill.

I think the more advanced the time becomes, the more confused we get over this, and what was said just recently by my right hon. Friend has not made it any plainer. I understood him to say in the course of his speech that a training notice was not necessary at all. What is puzzling me is, if a training notice is not necessary, how anyone who does not comply with such a notice can have all these penalties imposed upon him. I do not think that Bills of this kind ought to be drafted in this way. Penalties should not be im- posed upon people for failing to obey something which is not really necessary. My right hon. Friend explained how the notice was given and how it told reservists to attend parades and he then went on to say in emphatic language that no training notice was necessary. We are proposing to impose all sorts of penalties upon people who are supposed to be deserters, for failing to obey a notice which we are told is riot necessary. I think the Government should not use language of that sort, but should decide whether the training notice is or is not necessary.

We understood from the Secretary of State for War that a training notice was only to be issued in the case of a long term camp, and that, therefore, Subsection (3) of this Clause would only apply in that case. We are told that other forms of training for which a man is required like a week-end camp do not need a training notice but that the man will be notified through the usual channels. What is the sanction behind the notification for the man who tails to attend for the drill or week-end camp? It is clearly not sanctioned in Subsection (3). Could the right hon. Gentleman tell us what the sanction is?

I think it is quite obvious. A reservist is liable for 60 training days over six years. He has to do that. He can be served with a training notice, but only to go to a long period camp, and if he fails to obey that, he will be treated in the same way as a man who fails to obey a notice under the Act from the Minister of National Service—he will 'be treated as a deserter. The man who does not attend a week-end camp or weekly drill, will not get the credit for those days off the 60 days' training which he must do. There is no other penalty, except that he has not carried out his undertaking to compute a certain number of days in that way. He has still to do his drills to make up the period.

I ask the Secretary of State to look at this matter through the eyes of the man who is receiving the notice. He may receive two different types of notice, one calling him for his camp and another calling him to a drill. That will not be a training notice but a notice to parades or week-end drills. How is the man to know that the second type of notice is not a training notice rendering him liable to heavy penalties if he disobeys it? They are both notices and so far as the Reservist himself is concerned. I do not know how he is to differentiate between them.

It is absolutely necessary to define what a training notice is. No matter what definition we may have from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War—there are times when his definitions lack a certain clarity which might be helpful to us—those definitions are not in the Bill, and I do not really know what precisely is a training notice within the meaning of this Subsection. It will be observed that the Subsection refers to a person who fails to comply with a training notice, and then makes threats. The person who fails to comply is entitled to know quite clearly what he is not complying with, and unless we state precisely in the Subsection what is the thing with which he is not complying, there will be trouble. Is it a man coming to the door, a registered letter, a postcard, or a telephone call? I hope my right hon. Friend will give us more satisfaction than he has done hitherto on this rather shabby Subsection of this rather shabby Clause.

I want to put a simple question. A man in his seventh year who has passed his last camp, has still eight days' training to do to make up his total of 60. The only way he can do those eight days is in hourly periods of instruction. If he does not do them, what is the sanction to make him do them?

We shall have taken steps in the Service Ministry to see that he did it before that time. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman is going to put all these hypothetical questions, I think my hon. Friends must at least assume that the Service Ministries will see that he will do his service or receive notice to do it in proper time before his seventh year is reached.

The right hon. Gentleman has made a statement just now which has really altered the understanding that I had of this Bill. I understood that a lot of these reservists were to be employed in anti-aircraft work, doing their training at weekends and in hourly periods in the evenings. - Are we to understand from the right hon. Gentleman that the only compulsory training the reservists will do will be in attending an annual camp, and that the rest of the year it is entirely optional for them to attend at weekends and in the evenings as they choose? If that be so, I suggest that there can be no harm done in defining the words "training notice," and that this Bill could go much further in specifying what was meant by part-time service. I suggest we cannot leave it in this vague state of creating a criminal offence with a very heavy penalty without a definition of what is a training notice. Although the Minister of Defence may not be able to deal with this now, I suggest that he really ought to undertake to give this further consideration.

I think the position under the Bill is as I put it in my first answer to the hon. and learned Gentleman, that there is no doubt with regard to the man who fails to turn up in response to the call-up notice for embodied training. There is no doubt also that, where a man is commuting his liability to call-up for a period of camp training by taking weekends or evening training, the only method by which we could proceed against him would be that if he did not complete his engagements for that scattered training, he would be liable to be called up and if he did not then respond proceeded against. However, in view of what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said, I will have the legal position examined and see if any further definition is necessary and possible in order to make the position clear.

I should like to plead with the Secretary of State for War that in any arrangements he makes in the future for delivering training notices, there will be a slight improvement on the prewar practice. Then in the Supplementary Reserve the commanding officer was responsible for issuing to each officer, warrant officer and N.C.O. a notice on Army form E654 to attend the annual training, and these notices had to be sent 14 days before the date of attendance. In addition to that, the commanding officer was responsible for sending out notices to the constabulary throughout Great Britain with the request that they would fix the notices on to the church doors, and the fact that the individual did not receive the Army form and the fact that it was put on the church doors was sufficient evidence for the man who failed to attend to be convicted on a charge of desertion. That is a very serious matter, and if one looks at Clause 6 in conjunction with the First Schedule, one finds that if we pass this Clause without looking at it very carefully, the Service. Department will then have power to define by regulation what Constitutes a day's absence and subsequently to declare a man a deserter, certainly for any period he is so absent, to be deducted from the 12 months' training. I hope the Minister of Defence will ensure that the Service Departments do see that the matter of serving training notices is improved. I want to draw attention to the practice in the Territorial Army of publishing a Part I order at the conclusion of camp training, from which half the names were missed out, and on which there was the information that the man should attend on a particular date. I hope that training notices will not be served by the Service authorities, but through the machinery of the Ministry of Labour; that they will be delivered by registered post in the first instance, and that a man shall not be placed in the position of having to prove that he did not receive a notice which, in fact, might not have been posted.

5.15 a.m.

I am horrified by the information that there is to be no sanction of any sort with regard to attendance at parades and training. You really cannot run training for an Army in this slack, happy-go-lucky way. If a course of training is to be of any use it must have some consequences attached to it. Otherwise, who is to see that a man turns up at any particular parade or on any particular weekend? Or is it suggested that the chap who has had lesson No. 1 will only turn up when it gets to lesson No. 6, and that another chap who has had lessons No. 3 and No. 4, will miss lesson No. 5? I ask the Defence Minister to take this matter seriously. We are making provision for the safety of the country. This is not the way to treat this sort of matter. It is an appalling waste of instructors' time. Rather than have parades in that sort of way do not have them at all. I seriously urge the Ministers to think again on this matter and say that the people who do these things do go through the proper course, and that there can be proper training for those concerned, and an assurance that the people do turn up.

We will certainly look into this Clause to have these points made clear. We will see that the training notices are certified as notices which contemplate some period, and not merely an hour's drill. It is only on this form of notice that these substantial penalties for desertion arise. The existing position is not the same "Fred Karno" position which my hon. Friend suggests. When a man does not turn up when he has been ordered so to do, there is a penalty. It is a small sum—about £5 I think. The failure to turn up at a drill might involve a breach of military law, but, as I have said, we will look into this Clause and try to satisfy the most careful minds on both sides of the Committee.

This is a most important matter. We have had a categorical statement from the Secretary of State for War, and I think that the Minister of Defence made a statement. [HON. MEMBERS: "He said he did not know.] The right hon. Gentleman said he did not know.

I pointed out that, if a man did not keep his engagement, he was liable for call-up for embodied service, and that if he did not comply, he would be treated as a deserter from camp training. I have since said that I would see if the Clause could be put in order.

What does the right hon. Gentleman mean by "putting the Clause in order"? At least we should learn from the Government whether they want a sanction. There may be a difference of opinion on this matter, but it is a matter of policy, and I ask the Government whether they want a sanction or not. For the purpose of making it clear, I ask, Is there a sanction behind the drill or is there no such sanction? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will answer that question.

The right hon. Gentleman has had experience of the War Office, and he knows perfectly well that in a matter of this kind there is bound to be a sanction in order to enforce it. I have said that my reading of the Clause is that if a man is commuting his liability for compulsory service in reserve training, and giving up his evenings or Saturdays to this, and he does not turn up, he is then liable to be called up formally for longer periods of training. He would be liable to sanctions if he did not turn up then. I said that I would consider the Clause, and examine it so that it might be made to work properly. The right hon. Gentleman will understand me when I say quite categorically that, of course, there must be a sanction to see that what is required of the men is carried out.

I think it would be worth while if the Government were to look at this matter in its entirety, and not simply in relation to the question of a training notice as meaning one thing alone. This notice may be of two kinds. Indeed, it may be of three kinds. It may have relation to a camp period—a period of continuous training. A second kind of notice may have relation to a sequence of training. If there is to be a sequence of training for artillery, for instance, and if those who are to follow that sequence are to be members of a gun team, and drill together, there must be some sanction to see that they do it together. That also has to be considered.

I want to raise a question on a point mentioned by the Attorney-General. He said that these people might be under military law. That is one of the major points raised by this whole Clause. What law are these people going to be under, if any; and what is the compulsion to be put upon them to carry out the drills which, as the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) has said, are run in sequence and must have some order? Unless we get a Ruling from the Government tonight, many of us will be forced to divide against this.

What is extraordinary about this discussion tonight is the attitude of the Secretary of State for War. There are two main doctrines which he seems to hold. The first is that it does not matter what the words in a Clause are because he assures us of the very worthy action which the Service authority will take whatever they are. The second is that, this being the Committee stage, hon. Members are not entitled to know what anything means. To these two doctrines is added the attitude of astonishment. We put to him some perfectly obvious Committee point, such as all Ministers in charge of a Bill in previous Governments came into the Chamber prepared to answer. When we do such a thing, he declares, indignantly, whether to hon. Members on this side of the Committee, or to those of his hon. Friends who raise points, "That is a hypothetical question." Why should it not be? Since when has it not been any part of the duty of a Minister to know what his proposals are? Since when has it been no part of a Minister's duties to know his own Bill?

5.30 a.m.

It is really the most fantastic argument this Committee has ever heard from right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench. I believe that is the view of Members in every quarter. The matters raised in the Bill, controversial as they are, are of enormous importance to the ordinary man and there is no reason why the Bill should not be made quite plain to the ordinary man. Not only does the Bill not do that, hut, when Members attempt to find out from Ministers what it means, the Ministers are unable to answer or give contradictory answers. They not only keep us up all night in order to display their complete and fatuous incompetence, but they revel in their display.

On a point of Order. What has this to do with the Clause under discussion at the moment—the alleged incompetence of the Government?

I am sorry I did not make myself sufficiently clear to the hon. Member who has asked what he called a point of Order, but I credited him apparently with too much intelligence at this late hour. Unless the Government give some explanation of this Subsection I hope a Motion will be moved to report Progress. The way the Government are behaving seems to me really an insult to this Committee. Even if the training notice were adequately defined, there is no reason why in this penalty Subsection now before us, we should legislate by reference. There is no reason why conscripts—though we are not allowed to call them conscripts—should not be able to look at the penalty Clause and see what it is, without reference to any other Act of Parliament whatsoever. I see surprisingly that that point has penetrated the intelligence of the hon. Member who has been interrupting. I am entirely undisturbed by the jeers of hon. Members. If they, like sheep, tolerate the incompetence of their Front Bench, they will tolerate anything. I resume my seat in the confident hope that some- body will move a Motion to report Progress.

I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."

I do this as an act of mercy. It is the only way I cart see of putting a number of right hon. and hon. Members opposite out of their misery, not, unfortunately, permanently, but, at any rate, for a few hours. I think anyone who has listened to the Debate on this important Clause will have come to the conclusion that a matter of such importance and, at the same time, so complicated is one that should be discussed at a more reasonable hour of the day. The hon. Member for East Coventry (Mr. Crossman) dissents. To him, day is as night, and night is as day. He finds no difference between right and left, black or white, but for the rest of us, we do find, on the whole, that complicated questions are more easily discussed and understood in normal working hours, than at six o'clock in the morning.

It is appropriate on this Clause to ask the right hon. Gentleman his intentions. We are dealing with the possibility of serving supplementary notices, which vary or alter places or time. I want to know whether the right hon. Gentleman will serve a supplementary notice which will alter the place in the Bill he desired to reach, and the time he proposed to set? This is now Clause 6, and between Clause 6 and Clause 19 lie a variety of problems, just as important, and even more difficult than those we have been discussing. They will give rise to just as many hypothetical questions, to which the Secretary of State will object, just as many legal points on which the Attorney-General will differ with the Secretary of State, and just as many points of interest on which the Solicitor-General will be seen in all his glory. I am sorry to see such a splendid appearance reduced apparently to what appears to be the role of a mere messenger. I cannot believe it can really be contemplated that we should discuss another 13 Clauses, each of which has a vital importance for the men to whom this Bill will apply. I cannot believe it is intended that we should discuss these Clauses between now and when the House has to adjourn at 11 o'clock Is it not much better for the legal controversy now being carried on between the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General on the Front Bench in publico to be postponed to the quiet of their study, where there will be nothing to disturb them—apparently nothing does disturb them—or at least to a place where any obvious dissent by the Solicitor-General to the legal opinions of his superior would not be displayed to the gaze of laymen on both sides of the Committee? It really does seem, for the sake of the Government Front Bench, and for the convenience of Members on both sides, and for the wellbeing of those to whom this Bill is to apply in the most serious time of their lives, that it would be well that this Motion should be accepted.

I should like to say a word in support of this Motion. I do not think it is necessary for the Motion to be supported by a quite unreasonable attack upon Ministers on the Front Bench, but I do think that if this fundamental change is to be made in our Constitution, it should be made not light mindedly, but seriously, with proper forethought, and with dignity. The proceedings of this Committee, during the last half an hour, or hour, have not been consonant with the atmosphere in which we should make a fundamental change in the law of this country. After all, what is the hurry? We are not at war. We are not waiting for these men. The Bill, when it becomes law, does not operate until 1949. [HON. MEMBERS: "We have said all this."]. I daresay, but I am saying it again. The discussion has shown either that the Bill has not been drafted with the care which ought to have been bestowed on it, or that there is not sufficient understanding, by Members in all parts of the Committee, of the implications of the machinery involved to enable us to discuss it at this hour of the morning, in this kind of atmosphere, and in this kind of spirit. Let us take our time. If we have to do the job at all, let us do it properly.

I agree with much of what the hon. Memfor Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) has just said, and I would remind the Committee that as we are celebrating V-E Day the remarks which he has just made are even more to the point.

I do not myself very much appreciate the atmosphere in which we have been working during the past half-an-hour. Everybody knows that this Bill is of great importance, that it' affects the lives of a large number of our fellow citizens in a very intimate and particular way. The Government want to see the Bill carried through in the proper atmosphere. When I am asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) what is the hurry, I can tell him that the Government do not want especially to rush the Bill through as a Bill, but we must see that it gets on to the Statute Book this Session in order that we may give proper notice to educational institutions, industry, and all those who have to make plans ahead. If the Bill is to get through another place, and receive the Royal Assent, it must, with the Government's other Measures, be put through according to programme. More than half-an-hour ago, I promised that I would have the Clause closely examined to see that the matter was put in the plainest terms. I gave a categorical assurance that if there was any breach by a man who was commuting his call-up training we must see that we have sanctions which we can apply against him. I cannot accept the Motion.

We are being asked to legislate by reference, and I confess that there is no one in the Committee, certainly not on the Treasury Bench, who knows, with accuracy and exactitude, what is the legislation to which we have to refer. Is it not, therefore, a great insult to the people of this country that we should legislate in these circumstances?

5.45 a.m.

Are we not entitled to ask the Minister of Defence what his intentions are if the Government propose to refuse to agree to the Motion? Can he give us some indication of the length of time it is intended that we should go on? I cannot accept the excuses which he has put forward, because I cannot believe that he will continue the Committee in session until 2.30 p.m. in order to get the Committee stage as far advanced as he possibly can. Surely, he is not going to suggest that Members who have sat in this Chamber working hard on these difficult and complicated points should be asked to go on and consider these things for another six hours. Could we not have some indication of the intention of the Government in this matter?

I really must ask the Treasury Bench to consider whether it is consistent with their own dignity to go on in the situation in which we now are. There are some here now—and I say this by no means criticising or reflecting on them because that would be an impertinence in my mouth—who have not been present here continuously, and there have been two or three speakers who have talked about the bad atmosphere of the last half hour. I do not understand what they mean by that; it is not for me to give certificates of behaviour on the Committee, but the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) rather rebuked speakers on this side of the House for having criticised the Treasury Bench and he then proceeded himself, by implication, to criticise the Committee as a whole. Some of us have been working for the last eight or nine hours continuously, and it is easier to get the impression of a bad atmosphere, as it were, by Members who only come in now and then.

If there is a bad atmosphere, I am sure that the Minister of Defence would not, unless he felt it absolutely imposed upon him by party considerations, wish this Committee to continue in its present tired state to deal with these matters now before it, for certainly, after the long period of consideration, the Committee is not in a condition to give full consideration to the important questions which have to come. I am sure there is nobody here who could deny the truth of that statement.

Secondly, I will put this to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. Do they really think that they themselves have displayed any kind of agreement during the last half hour about this Clause, and particularly this Subsection? It is perfectly plain I think that the Secretary of State is the worst in this respect. Not only did he dismiss questions raised on the Committee stage as being hypothetical—and anyone who has sat in this House for six weeks knows that that is what a Committee stage is for—but he also said if we wanted the information for which we were asking, we should put down a Question on the Order Paper, and anybody who has been in this House for only 48 hours knows that Question time is the only time in this House when a hypothetical question is out of order and is not answered. The explanation of the law has been the worst I have known, and the Attorney-General has been most disquieting in what he has said. He has swaggered into the thing with a sort of cold, free and easy insolence, and he has told us that there may be this or that penalty and this or that civil remedy, and then a few minutes later he interrupts to say that he had forgotten all about habeas corpus; never at any time telling the Committee what really was the state of the law and what the law would be if this Subsection passed. There was no clarification of the law from him at all. As far as any indication was given, it was that persons contravening the proposed Subsections might suffer from extreme penalties inflicted by courts-martial and that there might be civil remedies for wrongful arrest or there might not be.

I think the hon. Gentleman has got rather wide of the mark. The Motion we are discussing is to report progress and the hon. Member seems to be discussing the Clause.

With respect, Mr. Beaumont, I am not discussing the Clause, but I am giving my opinion why I think that the Committee in its present condition cannot continue to consider these important Amendments which follow. The reason why I do not think that this Committee can continue is that the persons authorised to explain and guide the Committee on this matter have amply demonstrated in the last 40 minutes that they do not agree with each other. I know it is very difficult to keep all the arguments that were used at one's finger tips. I have not any notes and I cannot recollect everything that we said, but I think if we had HANSARD before us it would not be difficult to see that none of the persons to whom I have referred agreed even with himself for very long. I hope hon. Members opposite have now seen that what I am saying is strictly relevant to the question before the Committee, because we are now considering whether we can properly go on with this business or not.

We are not considering whether that would be convenient or inconvenient to the party opposite. The Minister of Defence has made it plain why he has to have this Bill. It was in order that other Bills might be considered. Is it really to be maintained that this Committee should continue to sit, when it is sitting and acting ineffectively, to consider what the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne has told us is a most important constitutional issue in order that some other Bills should not be impeded in their passage through Parliament? Is there an hon. Member prepared to get up and say that that is not a fair case, and if it is, how many Members are there on the opposite side of the Committee who will conscientiously care to go into the Lobby in favour of this Motion?

I am sure that no one in the Committee will reproach the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Defence if he, reconsiders his attitude towards this Motion. I put this to him for his consideration. I cannot help thinking that many of the points which have been raised have taken the Government by surprise and it may be the same will

Division No. 194.]


[5.56 a.m.

Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. HStanley, Rt. Hon O.
Birch, NigelLinstead, H. N.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Low, Brig. A. R. W.Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Butcher, H. W.Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Byers, FrankManningham-Buller, R. E.Wadsworth, G.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. EMorrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)Peto, Brig. C. H. M.Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Head, Brig, A. H.Pickthorn, K.
Hollis, M. C.Prior-Palmer, Brig. O


Hope, Lord J.Rayner, Brig. R.Major Ramsay and Major Conant.
Lambert, Hon. G.Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)


Adams, Richard (Balham)Driberg, T. E. N.Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.Dumpleton, C. W.Jeger, G. (Winchester)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)
Anderson, A. (Motherwell)Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)
Awbery, S. S.Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)Keenan, W.
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. BEvans, John (Ogmore)Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E
Bacon, Miss A.Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)Kinley, J.
Bechervaise, A. E.Field, Capt. W. JLee, F. (Hulme)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F JFoot, M. M.Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)
Bing, G. H. C.Forman, J. C.Lindgren, G. S.
Binns, J.Fraser, T. (Hamilton)Lipton, Lt.-Col. M
Blenkinsop, A.Freeman, Maj J. (Watford)Logan, D. G
Blyton, W. R.Freeman, Peter (Newport)Longden, F.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)Gibbins, J.McAllister, G.
Bramall, E. A.Gibson, C. WMcKay, J. (Wallsend)
Brook, D. (Halifax)Gilzean, A.Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)
Bruce, Maj. D. W. TGordon-Walker, P. C.McKinlay, A. S.
Burden, T. W.Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)McLeavy, F.
Callaghan, JamesGrey, C. F.Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)
Champion, A. J.Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)Marshall, F. (Brightside)
Chetwynd, G. R.Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)Mellish, R. J.
Collindridge, FGuest, Dr. L. HadenMiddleton, Mrs. L.
Colman, Miss G. MHale, LeslieMikardo, Ian
Comyns, Dr. L.Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)Mitchison, G. R.
Corlett, Dr. J.Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Monslow, W.
Corvedale, ViscountHerbison, Miss M.Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Crawley, A.Hewitson, Captain M.Nally, W.
Crossman, R. H. S.Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)
Davies, Edward (Burslem)House, G.Noel-Buxton, Lady
Davies, Harold (Leek)Hoy, J.Paget, R. T.
de Freitas, GeoffreyHubbard, T.Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Delargy, H. J.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Parkin, B. T.
Dodds, N. N.Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)Paton, J. (Norwich)

apply to what has to be raised on other Amendments which are to be considered. Is it really in the interests of the country and of any political party that matters of substance which will be raised should not be properly discussed? I do not believe that at this hour of the morning those points are likely to get the discussion that they ought to receive. I am also certain that the discussion will last very much longer than it would do if we were to adjourn and come back to those points again with clear and fresh minds. If the Minister cannot accede to the request that the Government should give another day to conclude this business, will he not be reasonable and indicate now an earlier stage at which we might adjourn?

Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 29; Noes, 156.

Pearson, A.Silverman, J. (Erdington)Watson, W. M.
Peart, Capt. T. F.Simmons, C. J.Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Popplewell, E.Skeffington, A. M.West, D. G.
Porter, E. (Warrington)Smith, C. (Colchester)White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Price, M. PhilipsSmith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Pryde, D. J.Snow, Capt. J. W.Wigg, Col. G. E.
Pursey, Cmdr. H.Sorensen, R. W.Wilkins, W. A.
Randall, H. E.Soskice, Maj. Sir F.Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Ranger, J.Stross, Dr. B.Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Reid, T. (Swindon)Swingler, S.Willis, E.
Robens, A.Sylvester, G. O.Wise, Major F. J.
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)Symonds, A. L.Woodburn, A.
Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)Woods, G. S.
Ross, William (Kilmarnock)Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)Wyatt, W.
Sargood, R.Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Shackleton, E. A. A.Tiffany, S.
Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)Tolley, L.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (St. Helens)Vernon, Maj. W. FMr. Michael Stewart
Warbey, W. N.and Mr. Hannan.

Original Question again proposed.

On a point of Order. When my right hon. Friend moved for leave to report Progress, we were still engaged in discussing an Amendment to Clause 6, line 30, to leave out Subsection (3). We had reached no decision on that and the Amendment had not been withdrawn. The discussion was proceeding when the Motion was moved to report Progress. I submit with great respect that discussion on that Amendment should continue.

The Amendment was to leave out Subsection (3) and the Question put to the Committee was "That the words proposed to be left out, to the word punished' in line 31, stand part of the Clause."

On that point of Order. I submit that the Chair is quite right. It is the same Amendment.

I am sorry if I have unnecessarily taken up the time of the Committee. I did not understand from the way it was put that it was the same Clause. May we now, perhaps, have an opinion from the Law Officers on the point in question, about whether punishment for desertion in this Subsection (3) is the same in each case?

Certainly, I have spoken only once on this Clause so far, and I do not propose to repeat what I said then, in regard to it. The advice which I gave the House then in regard to the matter was, I think, correct and it can be read in HANSARD tomorrow morning. The hon. Member correctly apprehended the effect of a failure to comply with a training notice. Persons who fail to comply with such a notice will be subject to the same penalties as the hon. Member indi- cated and such as would be appropriate in the case of a volunteer in the service in which the conscript had enlisted. That means that there will be some variation of penalties according to the particular force in which the person has been enlisted. The alternative would be to provide that all compulsorily enlisted persons, no matter to which force, Navy, Army, or Air Force, he was allocated would be subject to the same penalty for failure to comply with an enlistment notice. That would produce the curious discrepancy that you would have in the same force, Navy, Army, and Air Force, as the ca se might be, persons who were subject to different penalties for failure to comply with a notice requiring them to perform service. The volunteers would be subject to the penalties under the existing and the conscripted man would be subject to the common penalty. Facing this discrepancy, it was felt that the better course was to ensure that all the personnel in each branch of the service should be subject to the same penalty for failure to comply with the training notice, or corresponding notices requiring their enlistment although that would result in some small discrepancy in the penalties which might be imposed upon compulsorily enlisted men according to the service to which they were allocated.

I am grateful to the Attorney-General for his explanation on this Subsection. It was clear and lucid, but I hope that it will be possible to put the penalty in the Clause when it is recast. I am sorry the Attorney-General cannot allay my fears about the penalties for failure to attend week-end camps, but perhaps we shall have an agreed view later. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I beg to move, in page 4, line 31, after "and," to insert:

"unless he has some reasonable excuse."
The purpose of this Amendment is to effect, in a slightly different language, the purpose and intention of the Amendment put down on the Order Paper by, I think, the hon. Member for Merioneth (Mr. Emrys Roberts). The purpose is to ensure that there should be equal treatment for all persons who are compulsorily enlisted under this Bill, in whatever branch they may be enlisted. The onus being upon them, they have to show that they had some reasonable excuse for not complying with the training notice.

I thank the Government very much for accepting this Amendment. and for having rephrased it in their own words.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move, in page 4, line 42, to leave out from "or," to the end of the Clause, and to add:

  • (a) is a person not ordinarily resident in Great Britain who is, under the provisions of any Act in force in any part of His Majesty's dominions outside Great Britain, a national or a citizen of that part within the meaning of that Act, or is a person born or domiciled in any such part of His Majesty's dominions or in a British protectorate, a mandated territory, or any other country or territory being a country or territoy under His Majesty's protection or suzerainty; or
  • (b) is a person employed in the service of the Government of a part of His Majesty's dominions outside Great Britain, or in the service of the Government of a British protectorate, a mandated territory or some other country or territory which is under His Majesty's protection or suzerainty, being a person whose presence in Great Britain is occasioned solely by his employment in that service; or
  • (c) is a member of any of the armed forces of the Crown; or
  • (d) is undergoing training as a cadet at the Royal Military Academy, the Royal Military College, or the Royal Air Force College; or
  • (e) is a man in holy orders or a regular minister of any religious denomination; or
  • (f) is the subject of an order or inquisition under the Lunacy and Mental Treatment Acts, 1890 to 1930, or is being detained in pursuance of section twenty-five of the Lunacy Act, 1890, or as a criminal lunatic or in pursuance of an order made under the Criminal Lunatics Act, 1884, or is undergoing treatment as a temporary patient under section five of the Mental Treatment Act, 1930, or is a person placed in an institution or a certified house, or under guardianship, under section three of the Mental Deficiency Act, 1913, or is the subject of an order under section six, eight, or nine of that Act, or is under supervision provided under paragraph (b) of section thirty of that Act, or is an inmate of a home approved under section fifty of that Act, or is the subject of a notification under subsection (2) of section fifty-one of that Act; or
  • (g) is certified by a local authority, as defined by the Blind Persons Acts, 1920 and 1938, to be registered as a blind person under arrangements made by the authority under those Acts.
  • The purpose of this Amendment is to include in the Bill that part of the 1939 Act which is referred to in Subsection (5) of Clause 6. Most Members of the Committee will agree with me that where we can avoid legislation by reference, we ought to do so. This Amendment would lengthen the Bill only by some thirty lines or so. A Bill like this, which affects the life of every young man, ought to be easy to understand. At present, anybody wanting to know how he stands under the National Service Acts, has to look up three books like these I have in my hand, in order to discover how one Act relates to another. I hope that the Government will accept this Amendment in order to avoid legislation by reference. There is one error for which I apologise. We have included both the Royal Military Academy and the Royal Military College.

    6.15 a.m.

    I think the hon. Member probably overlooked the fact that this is an amending Bill, and that there are several places in which it refers to other Acts. If it is necessary to bring into the Bill an Amendment of this kind, such action could not be restricted to' this particular Act. It would be necessary to bring in all the others to which reference is made. This Subsection excludes from liability for training any man on the reserve who then gets into one of the several classes who are not, in the first instance, liable to be called up. Those who will not be liable to be called up in the first instance are men not ordinarily resident in Great Britain, certain men who are employed by Dominion and Colonial Governments. The third class is composed of ministers of religion. The fourth consists of those of unsound mind, and the fifth, the blind. If any man comes into any of these classes—it is possible that a man might become blind, and if we have many more nights like this, some of us may become of unsound mind—he is not affected, and there is no need: for this Amendment. The matter dealt with in this Amendment is in the Third Schedule of the Bill, and the draft in the Bill is simpler than that proposed in the Amendment. In any event the Amendment states the terms of Section 11 of the original Act as they were originally, and not as they will be amended if the Committee agrees, when the Third Schedule comes under consideration. Therefore the Amendment could not be accepted as it stands. I hope the hon. Member will accept my statement.

    I am grateful for the Minister's explanation. The point about this Clause is that it does not include the people who are excluded from liability for call-up. But surely that is one of the most important things, and one to which every young person, or anyone concerned with young people, will always be wanting to refer. They will want to see how they stand—are they liable or not. I suggest that it might he possible, between now and the Report stage, to put this into the Bill. It would be a great help if we could get it in, instead of referring people to other Acts.

    I think there is something to be said for having these five exclusions indicated. I do not know that those excluded will see the Bill, but others will, and if these five exclusions can be put into the Bill, it will be considered.

    I ask the Minister to consider whether it would not be more convenient to make the alteration at the beginning of the Bill, because these exceptions apply to whole-time as well as part-time service, and both are covered by Clause 1.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

    I should like information on two points. Let me return to training notices. I do not want to drag out the point but the Government by using this word "commuted", which the Minister of Defence brought in today, is rather confusing the Committee. It would appear that if it is a straight commuting of liability under this Bill to the fulfilment of training, that that is really a transfer from a liability under military law. There can be training during which men are not liable under military law. I understand that when in the Territorial Army doing training you are not subject to military law. There is this great discrepancy between earlier periods of training and periods when you are in camp. In camp you are subject to military law.

    The Government may be able to clear that up. I would refer to Subsection (4) in connection with change of address. Is it intended under this Subsection that when a man goes away for three or four days on holiday, to Blackpool, perhaps, he has-to inform the Service authorities under this Subsection? I suggest to the Minister of Defence that it is a needless burden. Suppose he is moving round the country all the time: has he to give information of his address from day to day?

    I ask guidance from the Front Bench as to whether it is intended to keep control over the movements of people who are liable to part-time service, in particular with regard to going abroad. I see they have to notify change of address but they do not have to ask permission to move. May I ask whether any control was envisaged over people who want to go abroad? Six years is a long period in people's lives. Obviously if they could go out of the country during the whole of that period and escape part-time service, it would be wrong. On the other hand, it would be very hard if a person could not go abroad, for example, to become a student for a year, during any part of that part-time service.

    I wish to add only one point to those which the Attorney-General has said he will be good enough to look into, and I dare say it is a point which he has in mind. It arises under Subsection (3) which is the penal provision. It says "A person who fails to comply with a training notice". I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman is satisfied that "training notice" will be interpreted as meaning a training notice as varied by any supplementary notice; otherwise we might have the ridiculous position that if a man who had not complied with a supplementary notice had to be prosecuted you would have to go through the form of prosecuting him for not complying with a notice with which he was never meant to comply.

    The Secretary of State for War repeated, in essence, a remark he made on a previous Clause, which may give rise to some misunderstanding. The effect of the remark was that it was either difficult or wrong for someone in the Territorial Army, or in the auxiliary forces, to do more than 15 days' training in a year. That arose when the noble Lord the Member for Rutland and Stamford (Lord Willoughby de Eresby) asked how a man was to get proficiency pay if he could do only 15 days' training. The Secretary of State said that he had no idea what the answer was. Surely the answer is that it is not only possible but desirable that men should do more than 15 days. Anyone who has had experience of the Territorial Army will confirm that you depend on men doing more than the minimum number of drills. If men simply do the minimum, it does no good at all. You have to depend on the men being really keen, otherwise you merely have a trained gang.

    The point which I put when I used the word "commute" was a perfectly reasonable one. The word I used may have been ill-chosen, but I do not want any wrong interpretation because I happened to use that word. With regard to the question of people who go abroad, I think it would be quite possible for people to go abroad, especially as people who leave the country are not being checked as they were during the war. I think it would be most unfortunate if there were a strict restriction that people liable to service should not be allowed to go abroad for a holiday or for business purposes, for such time as may be required. I will have the matter examined closely to see if we can get some regulations made which will be reasonable and proper.

    6.30 a.m.

    There will have to be some administrative arrangement. I do not say, at the moment, that it should go into the Bill, but I will look into the point.

    This is a very important point. This may mean the direction and control of the person during the whole of the period for which he is liable for part-time service.

    Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that he will look into the possibility of so providing in the Bill, with the confident hope of finding such a possibility, or does he mean that he will set out with the conviction that the thing cannot be done statutorily, or does he mean that he will be able to offer us, on the Report stage, some assurance about the regulations? The things are different, and I hope that the Committee will think that the former alternative is what ought now to be offered.

    I do not promise to look at the matter with the conviction that it cannot go into the Statute. I do not want to make any promise that we shall find that it is a matter that ought to go into the Statute, but the matter will be examined properly.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.