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New Clause—(Regular Engagements)

Volume 437: debated on Wednesday 21 May 1947

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If during his whole-time or part-time service under this Act any person is entered in the regular navy under the Naval Discipline Act or enlisted in the regular army or regular air force under the Army and Air Force Acts, then, for the purpose of any enactment, regulation or order relating to terms or conditions of service, his whole-time service under this Act shall be reckoned as being service after such entry or enlistment as aforesaid.—[ Brigadier Prior-Palmer.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

7.0 p.m.

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

It is fully realised on all sides of the House that we wish to give the maximum possible inducement to men to volunteer for the Regular Services. During the course of their full-time service, and even during the course of their part-time service, they may suddenly feel that there is an urge to enlist in the Regular Forces. It may be that they will be anxious in regard to pension, pay and so forth, respecting the service which they have already given under this Bill. We feel very strongly that in order to encourage people to enlist in the Regular Army, the service which they have already rendered, especially the whole-time service, should count as part of their Regular engagement and should be reckoned as service for purposes of pension and pay, etc. We make this suggestion purely with the idea of making this abundantly clear so that there will be no doubt in the minds of the men. It is not a very difficult point. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will see the force of it and will accept our new Clause.

I beg to second the Motion.

The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer) has made all the necessary points. I hope the Minister will consider our suggestion sympathetically. I am sure that he will agree that the one thing we want to do is to encourage voluntary recruitment to the Regular Forces.

I fully agree with the purpose behind this new Clause, but I do not think it will be necessary for the purpose which the hon. and gallant Members wish to achieve. Actually, the whole-time service will count towards pension, and it is covered under the Royal Warrant. There is only one thing which is not covered, and I do not think the mover and seconder wanted this, and that is that it will not count towards reducing the period of colour service under the regular engagement into which the National Service man might enter. I hope that, with this assurance that the object which the hon. and gallant Members had in mind will be achieved. they will withdraw the new Clause.

:I want to be absolutely clear. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if the service will count for pension?

Part of the reason for this new Clause was to encourage volunteering for the Army. It is well known that, if sufficient inducements are offered, there will be an adequate number of volunteers who will be available. In the past, the numbers have sometimes been four and five times more than was necessary, but, in the Navy today, it is regretted that, under the present conditions, it is necessary to bring in conscripts. It is unfortunate, but we accept the position. It will appear that the training the men will undergo will count for pension, but, at the same time, the men will have to do the full period, and I want to ask whether they are going to get added pension for the extra service. I think that is something which ought to be reconsidered.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman why, if the Royal Warrant covers the point which has been mentioned, it is not possible, and even advisable, to put it into the Bill? I am not clear what objection the Minister has to that course being adopted.

If I might answer that question, this new Clause, if accepted, would not only achieve that object—to ensure that colour service under the Bill would count for pension in a Regular engagement—hut would have the effect of reducing, for example, the period of five years' colour service in the Army, which would be uneconomical for the Army.

May I ask one further question? The Minister mentioned whole-time service, but if he looks at the new Clause, he will see that part-time service is included. Does it not include part-time service?

In view of the assurance given by the right hon. Gentleman, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.