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Clause 5—(Liability To Complete Interrupted Service)

Volume 437: debated on Wednesday 7 May 1947

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I beg to move, in page 3, line 35, to leave out from "shall, to "attained," in line 36, and to insert:

"unless he has attained the age of thirty-six years or has ceased to be liable under this Act to be called up for service otherwise than by reason of his having".
We discussed this matter earlier in the Committee stage and you undertook, Mr. Beaumont, to allow a wider discussion of the question on this Amendment. The general purpose of the Amendment is to redeem the undertaking given by the Minister earlier to place an upper age limit so that men would be clear as to their obligations. The position is that men are liable from the age of 18 to 26. There are two exceptions, first, in the case of doctors and dentists, and, second, in the case of students. Some students can get their deferment up to the age of 25½ years, and then apply to the hardship committee for postponement beyond the age of 26. The intention of this Amendment is to prevent them from escaping the liability which they would legally have, but morally ought not to have. This Amendment also deals with those men who have been called up but have not done their full time. Take the case of a man who has joined the R.A.F. to do his 12 months' training. It may be found, during his period of training, that he can never become an airman, and the service may discharge him. That will not relieve him of his liability to do his 12 months' service in the military forces. Then there is the case of the man who volunteers to join the Army without being conscripted, whose behaviour in the first two or three months warrants his discharge. That man is not to be allowed to escape, and he will have to serve the same as everyone else.

In regard to part-time service, in the case of the man who has joined from full-time service and has taken up a Commission, but is found within a short period not to make a suitable officer and is discharged, he will be called up to do his 60 days' service. Unless this provision were in the Bill, we could not call up these men to complete their service. We also have the position of the man who has done his full-time service and then joins the Regular Army, or the Territorials, and having done his 60 days, jumps out. He will have done his 60 days with gratuity, whereas the ordinary conscript has to do his 60 days over a longer period, and without a gratuity. It is to catch these cases that this Amendment has been proposed.

I am a little surprised that the Parliamentary Secretary should not have referred to the fact that there is an Amendment on the Order paper in the names of myself and my hon. Friends, to do precisely what the Government are now proposing to do. I am glad that the Government have adopted the suggestion of the Opposition to incorporate this in the Bill. I cannot accept some of the observations of the hon. Gentleman as being in the least degree accurate as to what the Amendment does. I agree that many of his observations were directed to justifying the provisions of the Clause itself, in providing liability of complete interrupted service. The whole point of the Amendment, and our Amendment, is to put a ceiling on that liability. The hon. Gentleman omitted to make clear that the Amendment imposes a ceiling only in the case where the man's service is interrupted after he has been serving in the Armed Forces. In his preliminary remarks, the hon. Gentleman indicated that he was meeting a point raised earlier tonight.

What I tried to explain was the general position under Clause 1. I agree that I was skating on thin ice, that I was in danger of getting out of Order.

Then I cannot see what satisfaction the hon. Gentleman gave. It is clear that this Amendment does not apply except in the case of the man who has come out of the Armed Forces. There is no provision in the Bill for a ceiling of age liability in any other case. I am glad that the suggestion which came from this side of the Committee has been accepted, but I think that the hon. Gentleman might have acknowledged our assistance in this matter.

I do not wish to be obstructive, but it is necessary to put a point on this Amendment. A previous Minister of Labour, now my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, was in office when inquiry was made about men who had been serving in the Royal Air Force, and who had been discharged on medical grounds. There was a suspicion that there had been some "fiddling" at some stage. There were prizefighters, and various other people, of whom the then Minister of Labour said, "I do not propose to interfere with the decision of the doctors. Once a man has been certified as medically unfit for one Service I cannot call him up for another Service." Men came out of the Service classed as medically unfit, but they were able to persuade the doctors of the British Boxing Board of Control that they were seven times fit to fight for a purse of thousands of pounds. Where there is such a type of man in the future, and he is not certified as fit to serve in one Service, cannot he be made to serve in the Pioneer Corps, or do sentry duty? Let us have the position stated clearly, because it was a position which was repudiated by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor, who is now the Foreign Secretary. He allowed boxers to escape and get out through one door, and I want to know whether there is not a way of overtaking these boxers and bringing them back through another door for service under the Bill.

2.45 a.m.

I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Walkden) in regard to his unit, the Royal Corps of Sentry Duty. I want to put this point very seriously to the Minister, because I feel there has been some misunderstanding on the point. It will be within the memory of the Committee that earlier art Amendment was moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Merioneth (Mr. Emrys Roberts) and we were assured that the point would be met at a later stage. I should like to know whether this is where that point is being met, because it is quite clear that this Clause does not cover exemption in any way. That was the point which was raised specifically by my hon. Friend and we were given to understand that there was an age limit for exempted classes. I understand that coalminers are going to be exempted under this Bill.

They are going to be deferred so long as they are coalminers. In other words, this Amendment will not apply to them, or will it?

As soon as he ceases to be a coalminer at the age, say, of 25 a man is not liable for military service?

Can we get this absolutely clear? When a coalminer reaches the age of 26 he has no further liability for national service of any kind?

The difficulty with this Amendment is that it deals only with men who have already gone into the Service. The men who have reached the age of 26 during deferment are not liable to be called up.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, and I presume that that applies, too, to agricultural workers. I am sorry to have taken up the time of the Committee, but I think there was some misunderstanding on the point. The only other point which I should like to raise with the Parliamentary Secretary is in regard to the age of 36. On what grounds was it chosen? It is perfectly logical to take eight years and add that to 26, which gives 34. Is there any particular reason for 36? Furthermore, when a man has reached the age of 35 can he be called up for his seven years' training? If he can, that seems to be a most uneconomical way to train a man up to 40, because after 40 it is not likely that the State will get much useful service out of him.

The Parliamentary Secretary has just quite categorically replied to the hon. Gentleman with regard to the position of those under the age of 26 who have had their call-up deferred. Has. Clause 17, which deals with postponement, no effect whatever on the position of a miner?

There seems to be some confusion as to the use of the terms "postponement" and "deferment." Those terms begin to assume some special function in the machine. Postponement is something for which a man asks on grounds of domestic hardship, which is decided by the Hardship Committee, and which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) had something to do with under an earlier Military Service Act. Deferment is something that is granted by the Manpower Board on either industrial, educational or professional grounds, and covers such persons as apprentices, learners, students, articled clerks and so on. Clause 17 deals with those cases who have applied for consideration on compassionate grounds. With regard to the age of 36 which was referred to by the hon. Gentleman for Northern Dorset (Mr. Byers), doctors are liable for service at a later age than 26 and it is necessary in order that all doctors shall enjoy the full benefit of deferment, in order to qualify as specialists and whom we want to use in the Armed Forces, to ensure that they shall not escape their full liability. Thus the upper age limit of 36 will apply in those cases.

I am grateful for the explanation, but will a man who has been deferred until he is 35 have to serve until he is 42?

I thought I had made that clear. A man who has been deferred up to the age of 26 escapes liability, but a man who applies for postponement and comes to 36 does not escape.

I would again raise with the hon. Gentleman the very important matter which I mentioned earlier. Why is he dodging the column which was dodged entirely by the Coalition Government? These men to whom I referred dodged the column and I want to know if there is any power whereby they can be brought back after they have escaped.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move, in page 3, line 40, at the end, to insert:

"Provided that a person's term of whole-time service shall be deemed to be completed if at any time after the start of the said) term, he is discharged or released from service in the armed forces, otherwise than at his own request."
This Amendment is simple and uncontroversial, and I think it will command general support from the Committee. My only doubt on the subject of the acceptability of this Amendment to the Government is that these particular Clauses are so very obscure and difficult to understand that I am not sure whether the Amendment fully meets the needs and the purpose which we wish to serve. After the remarkable revelations which we had from the Parliamentary Secretary a few minutes ago, I hope that some more revelations will come in reply to this Amendment.

The purpose of the Amendment is to ensure that the Service authorities do not play "cat and mouse" with any national service man who does not complete his training in the statutory period for any reason which is not his fault and which is primarily due to the failure of the Service authorities to provide training facilities. In fact, there are a number of different circumstances in which the power in the Bill can be exercised. I would like to draw the attention of the Committee to Clause 5 (1), in which it is made clear that the Service authorities can call back for further service a man who for any reason has not completed his whole-time or part-time service. There are a number of different sets of circumstances in which this power may be operated. For instance, a man might receive temporary release for some compassionate reason, and obviously the wording of the Amendment which we are supporting excludes such a case. Then there is the man whose term of service is interrupted as a result of some illegal act of his own resulting in imprisonment, and the First Schedule covers that case, I think, because in that Schedule there is power for the Service authorities to postpone the completion of the full term of service. The case in which we are interested is the case of the man whom the Service authorities have to release because they cannot make proper use of him, due to lack of training facilities, for instance. The only clue we have to such a state of affairs was given on Second Reading by the Minister of Labour, who said:
"For example, we are informed by the Royal Air Force that a man being trained as one of an air-crew, may reach a certain part of his training at the end of 12 months, and that the time left to him is not sufficient for him to go right through the next stage; and that it might be better to release him, and to carry on with his part-time training, at the end of 12 months. We have taken power in the Bill to allow that, should it be necessary; but if a national service man is released for any of these reasons from full time service before the 18 months expire, he will be expected to make good that time by a little extra time in the part time service training programme, and so to make up, to some extent, the full time lost.—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 31st Mar, 1947; Vol. 435, c. 1680.]
Under Clause 5 (1) and (2), it appears that there are powers to compel him to make that up; yet, a little while ago, the Minister indicated that anyone volunteering to be air crew would, in fact, enter voluntarily into an agreement to make up the extra time that was necessary to permit him to do his duties as a member of air crew. So we are in some doubt as to the use that is to be made of the powers in the Bill. It is quite unreasonable that a man who, through no fault of his own, may find himself released in the middle of his training, should be liable to be called back for a further term of full-time training. The power is in the Bill for that to be done, because, in Subsection (2):
"The Service Authorities shall by regulations make provision for defining what terms of service shall be treated as equivalent to terms of whole-time and part-time service for the purposes of this Section and for prescribing the terms of whole-time or part-time service which will, with any service completed by any person, be equivalent to the terms of service for which persons are liable under Section one of this Act."
3.0 a.m.

If a man, in the middle of his whole-time training in the Services, is suddenly released and finds himself liable in the future to be called up again up to the age of 36, it may be a very serious impediment to his getting a job. An employer might take the view that if he were liable to lose a man after a period of a few months, it would not be worth while taking him on. Even a period of extra part-time service might be a serious and undue hardship, because it may involve the man in a certain amount of extra training each year. So, I think, it should be made quite clear that if a man's training is not completed the first time he is called up, he should, if released for reasons I have just given, be considered to have finished service. There is one snag, but I hope the Minister will not use it as a reason for rejecting the Amendment. This is, that a man who volunteers, for instance for air crews, if found to be unsuitable and transferred to the Army would possibly have to be discharged from the Air Force. I do not know whether the transfer could be made between the two Services. If he had to be discharged first, obviously the Amendment I am moving would not cover that case but it would be easy, I submit, for the Minister to undertake to produce an Amendment which would meet it. What we ask is, that when national service men are called up, they should be made use of during the first period of full time training and if it is necessary for them to be put on half-time, the Government should not tie those men. They should be finally released.

I can sympathise with the point put by the hon. Member. His fear is that the Services, or one of them, might play "cat and mouse" with the men. It is not the intention of any one of the Services to release a man and then pull him back, and keep, as it were, a sword suspended over his head during the period for which he is liable under this Bill. But the purpose of this Clause is to deal with just some of those technical points which the hon. Member has raised. For example, it is necessary, if a man is transferred from one service to another, or from one reserve to another, that he should be discharged from that reserve and should then be enlisted in the other one. It is also necessary in the case of a man who is commissioned. Before he is commissioned, he is discharged from his other rank service. Obviously, it would be unfair if, between a discharge from the ranks and the commissioning, something happened which enabled him to avoid his proper service under the Bill. It is for those reasons that we want this Clause.

My hon. Friend has referred to the case where the man is released temporarily on compassionate grounds at his own request, which is the normal procedure. Obviously, in such a case we shall have to write to recall him, but we shall recall him only if such a course would be worth while to the Service. That is, if there is enough unexpended liability so that it would be worth while to continue his training. Reference has been made to the Royal Air Force, with comments on the speech of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour on the Second Reading of this Bill. There, the Minister was dealing with a situation which was definite, and he said that there was power in the Bill to reduce the period of 18 months. But that has been changed to twelve months, and I understand that the Royal Air Force does not intend to release men now that the period is only twelve months. So, the situation will not arise which was contemplated when that speech was made by my right hon. Friend; the situation whereby a man would be released and would then undertake, voluntarily, to do duty in the reserve. For technical reasons in the main, we must have the right to recall a man for the unexpired portion of his service except in those cases where we discharge him, or where there is the proviso in the compassionate cases. When I say we shall discharge him, I mean that we shall discharge him finally unless he goes to another arm, or is commissioned. I hope that I have satisfied my hon. Friend and removed the apprehensions which he had.

I am not completely satisfied. I understand that there are powers to meet a situation which arises when a man who is in the ranks is commissioned. The situation there has always been, I think, a little odd because when a man is commissioned, he is discharged from the Army under the category of "services no longer required." That seems a little slovenly and it has an unfortunate effect. I am sure that it is not a question of satisfying my hon. Friend, or any other hon. Member, but of satisfying the young men and women who will buy copies of this Bill when it becomes an Act, in order to see what their position is. They will look at one part and see one thing; then they will look at Clause 5 and find something else. It should not be left in this loose way so that people may go out but never know when they will be called back again.

I find the explanation of the Secretary of State wholly unsatisfactory. This is a Bill the object of which is to make military service fit into the general and ordinary life of the community. It is essential that people should know when they are going to be called up and when they are going to be released. It is essential, too, that their employers should know these things, because their employers have to find jobs for them when they return to civilian life. It must be understood that this is a definite and specific liability. Here is a Clause which in terms provides that the Army can take a man, give him a course, and then, saying that it has no other course available for the time being, send him on leave for about six months, later calling him up for another course. On the present basis, that could be done almost indefinitely. It may well be that while my right hon. Friend is in charge of the War Office he will see that this does not happen in his branch of the Services. In other branches it may be different. But my right hon. Friend perhaps will not always be in charge of the War Office. The purpose of this Bill is to provide for each citizen to give a period of service, and the wording of the Bill should make clear the intention of the Bill. I would say to my right hon. Friend that it is for him and the Parliamentary draftsmen to think out a form of words which express the intentions of the Bill. Let us have a specific assurance that when we come to the Report stage he will provide some words which do express what he says it is the intention of the Government to do. On receiving that assurance, we certainly will not press this Amendment. But we shall press it if we do not get that assurance.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will look into this again. I accept, as I think we all do, his assurance that the form of words in the Amendment will not do. There are, as he mentioned, two technical points in this Amendment which would allow a man to step out, when it is nobody's desire that he should be able to do so. At the same time, the right hon. Gentleman has quite fairly informed the Committee that with the exception of these technical points it is the Government's intention that any discharge or release at a man's own request shall be final. But it does not seem to me to be beyond the wit of the right hon. Gentleman, or at any rate of the Parliamentary draftsmen, to find a form of words which would cover the case which quite rightly he wants to cover and at the same time meet the perfectly legitimate demands which have been made. It is true that he said that there is no intention on the part of the War Office or the Service authorities, if a man is released or discharged, ever to call him up again. The fact is that on the Statute Book will remain a power for the Service authorities to do so. The man, I think, is entitled in those circumstances to have a statutory protection, rather than the mere protection of a statement by a Minister, which I am sure is valid so long as that Minister holds office, but is not the reassurance for the man or his employer, which a statutory protection would give.

3.15 a.m.

I have been long enough in this House to know that whatever form of words are found, somebody will criticise them. Still I want to make the Clause as watertight as possible and to express clearly the intentions of the Government. If this Clause is not sufficiently clear I am prepared to look into it again.

In view of the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman who promised to make the Clause watertight—and as it is obvious to everyone it is not watertight, I hope that means he will be doing something about it—I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I beg to move, in page 4, line 12, after "therein," to insert:

"not being earlier than the fourteenth day after the day on which the notice was served."
A man called up for part-time service is deemed to be duly entered on the day on which he gets notice of calling up for that part-time service and it is suggested by this Amendment to give to a man following a civil occupation, 14 days more. He will have certain arrangements to make. He will have to give notice to his employer and make certain domestic arrangements. There is no great reason why he should not be given 14 days' grace. I hope the Minister will see his way to accept this very simple Amendment.

I ask that this Amendment should be withdrawn. This is only a case of a notice served on a man who has completed his full-time service, as to what his period of service will be, the date on which it commences and the place in which it will be served. It is not the actual call-up form. It is merely giving him formal notice as he leaves fulltime service of his liability and where it will be discharged. Subsequently he will get a proper notice telling him where to report and when, so that he will have plenty of time. It will not interfere with his domestic arrangements at all. He will get adequate notice of the place to which he has to report to do his part-time service. There is really no need for this Amendment.

Amendment negatived.

I beg to move, in page 4, line 15, at the end, to add:

"Provided that any person on whom such notice is served may, within seven days from the service thereof, if he disputes his liability for part-time service, serve a notice in writing on the service authority concerned, stating the grounds on which he disputes his liability, and thereupon he shall not be deemed to be entered or enlisted for part-time service unless and until a court of summary jurisdiction has held him to be so liable."
In the case of whole-time liability, any person who wishes to query his liability is able to utilise the procedure under the original Act, which is contained in Section 3. It is for the courts to decide whether or not a man is justified in not presenting himself for a medical examination. It appears that there is no provision made, in the case of part-time service, for a man to make a protest as to his liability to call up for part-time service. It seems that he will render himself liable to punishment and apprehension, as prescribed in Clause 6 (3), which I do not think is desirable. It happened frequently during the war that a man was called up, and it was not until he appeared before a court martial that it was discovered that he was not liable to call-up. It is suggested here that he should have the same protection as the man who is called up for full-time service.

Under the principal Act, a man is deemed to be enlisted once he is served with a notice. There were many cases during the war, where a man could only dispute his liability by disobeying the notice, being arrested and then appearing before a court martial. Under Section II of the principal Act, there is a wide variety of categories of persons not liable to be called up. If a mistake is made, and a man is served with a notice, who may come within these categories, the only machinery which exists at the present time is for him to disobey the notice. He will then be treated as absent without leave, or as a deserter, and will be arrested. It is not until he has been before a court martial that it can be shown that the Act does not apply to him. That has been the practice under the 1939 Act. So far as part-time service is concerned, the same procedure will apply under this Bill. It may be that a man has done his fulltime service; and since its completion has ceased to be resident in this country, in which case he cannot be a person upon whom a notice can properly be served. It may be that he wishes to dispute the extent of his part-time service, but there is no machinery available whereby his liability can be determined. As I understand it, anyone served with a notice under Subsection (3), if he wishes to dispute the notice, can only follow the same course as in the last war.

The purpose of the Amendment is to avoid that, because I do not think that a court martial is the right tribunal to determine a person's liability for service under this Bill. I think that it should come before a civil court. It does not at the present time. One has had experience of cases of people from Eire, who have been in this country, and who have been served with enlistment notices and have said that they ought not to have been served with them. In numerous cases the only way in which that has been determined has been by trial before a court martial. The same might apply when notice has been served on the wrong person in error, and to the person who is outside the age limit. I do not suggest that this Amendment is correctly drafted, but its purpose is to ensure that if a man gets an enlistment notice, and disputes his liability, he can give counter notice to the Service Department, stating the ground on which he disputes the notice, and then he shall not be deemed to have been enlisted in the Service until the matter has been adjudicated upon by a court of summary jurisdiction. There is a precedent for that procedure. If an absentee, or deserter, is arrested by a civil authority his case has to go before a court of summary jurisdiction before he is handed over to the military authorities.

I am certainly not unsympathetic to the point which has been raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman, but I do not think that either he or the mover of the Amendment have looked closely enough at it. This is merely the notice of the time for which the man must serve; it is not a calling-up notice.

If the hon. Gentleman will look at the Clause he will see that its words are similar to those in the National Service Act, 1939. They are:

"and upon the notice being served upon him he shall be deemed to be entered or enlisted accordingly."

The notice tells the man the length of the time he has to serve, and at what place. It is not actually a call up to report for duty. That is what I am advised. r can understand the hon. and learned Gentleman raising this point when we discuss the call up for whole-time service.

There is an Amendment on the Paper raising the same point in respect of the call up for whole-time service.

3.30 a.m.

This Amendment wants us to concede something that has never been conceded in the past. By and large, I do not think that the call up has worked badly. Seldom have the wrong men been called up. Difficulty, in some cases, has occurred when men have been deferred.

I take the matter a step further and say that when a man is leaving his full-time service he is given this notice in accordance with this Clause, and on that note, he is deemed to be an enlisted man in the reserve Forces for a period of six years. On that notice will be indicated the unit which he is to serve, and the place to which he has to report for duty, but the date on which he has to report is not on that notice. He will receive a subsequent notice informing him when to report and it is at that stage that some action might be taken.

There is one other point. When he gets this notice, if he disputes the liability—and it will be customary to give him that notice when he is leaving his unit—he can take the matter up with his commanding officer. If, on the other hand, it is posted to the address which he has given, he can still communicate with his commanding officer disputing the terms of the notice. That I understand is the position. Supposing he cannot take the matter up with his commanding officer, then I am advised that he can be arrested and tried as a deserter by the local magistrates. It will then be up to the military authorities to prove that he is, in fact, a deserter. That is how the matter has been put to me, and I am advised accordingly. I am quite willing to look at the whole matter again. There is no desire on our part to call up a man wrongly for part-time service—and it only applies to part-time service—or to make him serve longer than he is entitled to. We shall see that the Clause is drafted to protect a man against the possibility which has been suggested in this Debate, but we must remember that we cannot have a Clause whereby men can evade service by making all sorts of appeals. The thing will have to be solved somehow, but we cannot have widespread evasion. However, the matter will be looked at to see that the position of the men is safeguarded.

I am sorry to persist in this matter, but I am encouraged to do so by the observations which have been made by the Parliamentary Secretary, because they are not entirely accurate, and I say that with all respect to the hon. Gentleman. I sympathise with him in having to deal with this question which to a great extent involves military law with which he may not be entirely familiar. I do not want to score points at his expense because of that, but if he will make inquiries from the proper military authorities, he will find that in the course of the war there were cases of trials by courts martial of men who were charged with being deserters or being absent without leave, who asserted that they had no liability for service under the 1939 National Service Act. I agree that under Subsection (3) of this Clause a notice served on a man is deemed to be enlistment in the Forces of the Crown. That is a further distinction from the Regular soldiers, but it would not be possible to charge a man with being a deserter unless he were called up for a particular date and failed to report. That is a further refinement and a distinction from the case of the Regular soldier. If he has been served wrongly with a notice for service, he cannot dispute it until it comes before a court martial. We have not put down this Amendment in order to provide machinery whereby people will evade their obligations. Indeed, I should like to see machinery for a speedy determination of the issue. I think some provision should be made other than trials by courts martial, which may involve a man in a long period of delay in finding the individual concerned, and perhaps he will lose his liberty and be under military arrest. I do hope that the hon. Gentleman will look into this matter again and I am sure if he can provide a simpler procedure he will do so.

We will certainly look at this point, and we appreciate the spirit and purpose of this Amendment, but surely there must be some mistake. Either a man is liable to serve under the Act or he is not. If he is brought before a court martial, charged with desertion and he should not be so charged, he can bring an action for false imprisonment or take such other remedies as are available to him in our courts. There is no power to arrest a man, take him into military custody and bring him before a court martial if he is not liable for military service, and if he is liable for military service then the point made does not arise.

I can suggest several ways. If he is not liable, there are various remedies on the Crown side of the High Courts of Justice which can be taken to prohibit a court martial. If those are not successful he can wait until the court martial is held, and then have the proceedings quashed by certoriari. There are ample remedies to meet the point made by hon. Members opposite.

I feel that the explanation given by the Attorney-General does ensure the necessity for the Government to look at this matter again. Apparently, if a man disputes his liability to call-up he must wait until a training notice is served upon him. Then, if he believes—we will assume, believes rightly—that he is not liable and refuses to obey that training notice, under Clause 6 (3), he is apprehended and court-martialled, and then, the Attorney-General says, it is perfectly simple—he can let himself be placed under close arrest for a considerable time, he can go through the court martial, and then he can have the proceedings quashed and go to the courts and get damages, and a good time will be had by all. Would it not be better to provide a rather simpler and more expeditious remedy than that, which would enable the man's contention to be decided in a court of summary jurisdiction before he had to undergo any of the trials which, according to the Attorney-General, are the only way in which he can eventually prove his exemption from this liability?

I should have mentioned one other remedy—the writ of habeas corpus. That had not occurred to me.

I want to repeat what I said before, that if the Amendment is withdrawn, we will undertake to look at it. We have no intention of putting the Service man at any great disadvantage in regard to his obligations to the State.

I was going to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment, but as some other hon. Members rose to speak, I will give way if they wish to address the Committee. If they do not wish to do so, then I will say that I welcome what the Parliamentary Secretary has said. It is· a change from the existing low under the 1939 Act, but I am quite sure that if he can devise some machinery of that sort, it will be welcomed not only by the persons who may be affected by the machinery, but by many who have to operate the present machinery.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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

I would like to put to the Service Ministers certain questions on Subsection (2). There are certain objections to this Subsection which, I think, should receive an answer from the Government Front Bench, and since Ministers are in a very amenable frame of mind, I have no doubt they may be able to meet the objections or promise to meet them. First, the Subsection deals with what shall be treated as equivalent terms of whole-time and part-time service, and the Committee will see that the definition of the equivalents may substantially affect the liabilities of persons called up under the Bill. If that is so, should not the definition be incorporated in the Bill? If the definition has the effect of increasing or decreasing the liability of someone under the Bill, should not the definition be included in the Bill? I submit that the definition should be included in the Bill because it has an effect upon the extent of service of the people who are liable under the Measure.

The second point is that the terms of service, surely, should be the same for all three Services. Surely that stands to reason, because a man may be serving in any of the three Services, and the effect of the Clause should be general, and should not make him serve longer or do more periods of service because he is called into the Army rather than into the Navy or the R.A.F. That being so should not the Minister of Defence rather than the Service authorities make these regulations?

3.45 a.m.

My third point concerns the last four lines of the Subsection which lays down that not more than 15 days' training in any one year which have been carried out in an auxiliary force as a volunteer, shall count towards part-time service for which he is liable. Surely that inflicts a little hardship on a volunteer. If he is serving compulsorily he can count 21 days in any year. Why, if he volunteers, should he be allowed to count only 15 days? I might point out to the Government that in order to be efficient in the Territorial Army he has to do the equivalent of 22½ days in each year. Why should not he count 15 days towards his service? I do not understand that. Perhaps one of the Ministers will explain. It seems very odd that this Bill should penalise the volunteer, or rather, it seemed to be very odd until I heard the Minister of Defence earlier in the evening Then we had the Secretary of State for War to take my part. I wish he were here now to do so again, but since the Minister of Defence is not here either, we have some reason to be interested in the observations that will be made in due course from the Front Bench. I put these points and would like some explanation; otherwise it seems that Subsection (2) is open to serious objections.

I have a very small point which I think I can put very shortly. The point is the distinction between the words "will" and "shall." If the right hon. and learned Solicitor-General who, I think, has a copy of the Bill—the Attorney-General, I think, has not—will look at lines 38 and 45 of the Clause, he will see where the point arises. I do not ask him to give an immediate answer, because I am very sure he would be wrong if he did—it is the sort of thing that one always gets wrong at first blush—but I would ask him whether each of these "wills" ought not to be "shalls." If it were not out of Order, I would venture to make a bet on the second, and as regards the first, I am sure there is room for further consideration. The first "will" I think may be right, the second I am almost sure is wrong. I desire some assurance that this will be looked into before the Report stage.

There are several questions I would like to put before we leave this Clause. The first question is this. As I understand it, there are two circumstances under which this comes into operation. One is where the break in service is in the interests of the man, and the other is where the break is because of the action of one or other of the Service Departments. The Parliamentary Secretary has suggested that it is possible for somebody discharged from the R.A.F. to be required to finish his service in the Army. The Secretary of State for War has said that, if a man was not wanted, he would be discharged, and would be discharged finally. Who of the two Ministers has put the right interpretation on this Clause? Do they intend to move men about from one Service to another, or if a particular Service has finished with a man, is that the end of it? The second question is this. Is the Army to be the dumping ground for people who are not wanted in the Navy or the R.A.F.? I think that that point ought to be made quite clear. Is the Army to be the final resort for people not wanted by the other two Services?

There is a point on this Clause on which I seek some information. What is the position of a man who after 15 days goes sick and is ill for 18 or 20 days? How does this period count? The man is taken away from home, and I should like to know if that period of illness is counted toward service. I saw that recently there were representatives of all three Services in the Committee, but now there are representatives of only two. I mention that fact because this point is of interest to all of them. Do the regulations vary between the Services? We ought to get this clearly in our minds, I am doubtful about the position in each of the three Services, and I cannot see where this can be provided for in the Bill other than in this Clause if we are going to lay down a regulation about this 15 days. Let us suppose that a man is ill for more than that period. Does the man have to suffer the illness and lose the service as well? It would not be right for us to pass over this Clause until this matter is cleared up.

The hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) has put a question which should be answered. The hon. Gentleman is representative of a large number of people, and these are matters which concern our constituencies. If right hon. and hon. Members opposite are not interested, we are, because points such as those which have just been raised do affect our constituents.

The answer is that if a man is in a military hospital during the period of training, then that time must count in his favour. The second point was with regard to the Army being a dumping ground. I cannot answer that point. with regard to interrupted service; when it is obviously the man's fault he must not be allowed to creat a situation in which he escapes his liabilities. The Secretary for War gave an undertaking that the Forces would play fair in this matter, and said he would look at the Clause again. With that assurance I think we ought to get the Clause.

I have had only half an answer. I am sure the hon. Gentleman wished to be helpful on this but the Clause says:

"shall not permit more than 15 days' training in any year."
Supposing a man is admitted to hospital on the tenth day and remains there for ten days, that sees him through his 15th day and would bring him to the 20th day. Would that be counted for his service or not? That was the second part of my question.

What does the Parliamentary Secretary mean by that? Surely the Government—

I think that one point should be made clear. It is that the Army is not a dumping ground for men who cannot get into the other Services. We hope there will be as much keenness to get into the Army as into the other Services. Speaking on behalf of the Navy, I must say that we do not consider the Army to be a dumping ground.

Does that mean that it a man goes into the Navy, broadly speaking he stays there until he has finished his service? And is the same true of the Army and the Air Force? There is no suggestion, I hope, of passing on the unwanted man to the other services.

May I have an answer to the questions which I put? The Secretary of State for War is here now, and I am sure that one of the right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench can answer me. I think I had better repeat the questions so that the right hon. Gentleman can answer them. My first point was that in Subsection (2) at the beginning, there is talk of equivalent terms of service. But there is no definition of "equivalent" and such definition might substantially affect the liabilities of a person under the Act. My second question is this. Since there are three Services, the terms of service which are made by the three Service authorities may differ. Therefore there may be created a different liability under this Subsection for someone who is called, say, into the Navy, from the liability for someone who is called into the Army or Air Force. Ought not the Minister of Defence, rather than the Service authorities, to study the terms? The third question was put specifically to the Secretary of State for War. Why is it that a volunteer is only allowed to count 15 days when a man who is serving compulsorily, part-time service under Subsection (3) of this Bill, is allowed to count 21 days? I suggest to the Committee that it is a pity, when the right hon. Gentleman is trying to encourage the enrolment of volunteers, that this Bill should, at various points, treat the volunteer more harshly than the man who is serving compulsorily.

4 a.m.

It is somewhat difficult for me to be fully seized, coming in at the last moment, of the detailed points which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has made, but I will try to give him some satisfaction. The question about assessing service in Subsection (2) will be the subject of regulations. These have to be laid before Parliament. I take it, therefore, that opportunity will arise later on for discussions of these points in detail and I hope the hon. and gallant Gentleman will excuse me if I do not give him a fuller answer tonight.

I am not being discourteous. The Minister's right hon. Friend the Under-Secretary was here and the two right hon. Gentlemen met, without discussing the points I have put. It would have been more courteous to me if they had discussed the points I put.

The hon. and gallant Gentleman knows I am not discourteous and do not withhold information.

The second question raised is about regulations being different in the three Services. It is quite possible they would be, as each Service department will make its own regulations. They have to be worked out after the Bill is passed and will be subject to the scrutiny of Parliament at a later date. The third question was on 15 days service. I think there is a good deal of misconception about the term, "volunteer." Under the Bill, individuals liable for compulsory service can volunteer in certain reserves in order to escape a certain amount of full-time service. In doing that, they volunteer to undertake more liabilities than the reservist who having done his 12 months' service is put into one of the service reserves. It does not happen in the Army because in the main a man does 12 months and then goes into the Territorial 'Army. In the other two Services he can volunteer to go into the Naval Reserve or into the equivalent Reserve of the R.A.F. and undertake as a volunteer somewhat more onerous obligations than a reservist who goes into the Territorial Army. The reservist has 60 days' training normally spread over six years and cannot volunteer to do more than 15 days of that training in any one year. Otherwise, it is obvious he may easily do 30 days in the first year, and 30 days in the second, and do all his reserve training in two years. We want to spread it over six years and therefore limit the amount of annual training he can do in any one year. I cannot go any further tonight but will undertake to furnish further details to the hon. and gallant Gentleman at a later date.

How can a Territorial, who does no more than 15 days' service in one year, qualify for proficiency pay?

I cannot answer that question at the moment. I must have notice of it. It is impossible for a Minister, even for the Secretary of State for War, to carry the answer to every technical question in his head. That is obviously a suitable subject for a Question to be put down.

We are told that the different Service authorities have to make regulations. Does that mean that the treatment in the various Services is going to differ?

The hon. Member is under a misapprehension. The treatment in the Services must obviously be equivalent, otherwise one Service would be getting an advantage as against the others.

May I return to the point to which I nearly got an answer just now? The right hon. Gentleman told us that the service is to be spread over six years, and that the number of days is limited to 15 in any one year. We have been told that if a man is admitted to a military hospital during his training that that time counts. I want to know what is the position if a man is in a military hospital for a longer period than the 15 days. Will the time spent in the hospital over that limit count, or how will the man stand? We should know the answer to this question before we pass this Clause, or we should at least have some assurance that it will be dealt with at a later stage of the Bill. We should be told that a man who is sick and who, as a result, is away longer from his employment, will not be penalised.

I shall be only too happy to look into the point. I think that if a man falls sick—and here I am speaking without notes—we should not want to keep him on indefinitely. After all, he may be sick for 12 months, and we should not want to keep him on full pay. I think that there will have to be some limit, otherwise a man might run over the whole of the 60 days. All these points have to be settled. It is unfair to throw out conundrums like this, because conundrums are not capable of quick answers. I will certainly look into this question and all the other complex matters.

Question put, and agreed to.

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