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National Service Bill

Volume 437: debated on Wednesday 21 May 1947

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As amended, again considered.

New Clause—(Deferment For Apprentices And Students)

If the Minister is satisfied in regard to any person liable to be called up for service under this Act that, on the date on which he becomes so liable, he is serving an apprenticeship or receiving full-time education in a university, school or other institution, or that he will within one year from the said date be so receiving education, the Minister shall, if so requested by that person, direct that he may be called up at a date not later than six months after the completion of such apprenticeship or education; and accordingly Section one of this Act shall, in relation to that person, have effect as if for the reference therein to the age of twenty-six years there were substituted a reference to an age being the sum of twenty-six years and the period after such person became liable to be called up under this Act and before he was so called up.—[ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

5.45 p.m.

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

The object of this Clause is to put into the Bill a statutory right for apprentices and students to be permitted to conclude their apprenticeship or period of education before doing their military service, if they so desire. The House will recollect that a number of Members on this side pressed this point so long ago as the Second Reading, and that on the Committee stage there was considerable discussion on an Amendment to the then Clause 16, which now stands in the Bill as Clause 17. I would remind hon. Members that the attempt made in the Opposition Amendment on the Committee stage to put this statutory provision into the Bill was not resisted on its merits, but solely upon certain technical aspects of the matter. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, who bore the major part of that particular battle, will recollect that, on a number of occasions, he attempted to convince hon. Members on this side of the House that, from the machinery point of view, the Amendment would not work.

I do not think that I shall be challenged when I say that the merits of the proposal were not seriously challenged from any quarter of the Committee. It would have been surprising had they been, since, as long ago as the Second Reading, the Minister of Labour—reported in the OFFICIAL REPORT of 31st March, col. 1684—made it abundantly clear that it was the intention of the Government that such persons should be entitled to apply for a delay in the doing of their service. The Debate on the Amendment on the Committee stage concluded with an undertaking from the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour—who will find that undertaking in col. 860—to look at the Clause in question to see whether something could be done. No Amendment has been tabled by the Government to deal with this point, and, as my right hon. Friends and hon. Members feel very strongly on this matter, we have now tabled the present new Clause which, in our submission, not only does what most hon. Members want to do—to put this provision into the Bill—but does so in a manner to which no objection could be taken, on the grounds of machinery.

The new Clause will contain a provision relating to deferment, subject to one important qualification. This was done to meet the Parliamentary Secretary's objection that the previous proposal for postponement could not work because it involved bringing in the hardship committees. Deferment involves administrative action by his Department and no more. Accepting the advice which the Parliamentary Secretary was good enough to tender to the Committee on the previous stage of the Bill, we have now put this proposal forward on the basis of deferment; but we have made one qualification. The Parliamentary Secretary made it clear that cases of deferment might involve not merely a delay in the doing of military service by the person deferred, but might involve a situation in which that person did not do his service at all, or, alternatively, did a shorter period than other people. It seems to us objectionable that persons who are to obtain the advantage of completing their education or apprenticeship without interruption should also gain the advantage—if it is an advantage—of doing less service than other people. Therefore, we have inserted in this new Clause a provision that, although these people will obtain deferment, it will be deferment shorn of that harmful aspect, and we have made it clear that the people so deferred will not, by reason of that deferment, do any less service than anyone else.

The House will recollect that the objection was made—I think under misapprehension—by hon. Members opposite to our proposals on the grounds that they would tend to establish a privileged class. It is very far from our intention to establish a privileged class, and that is why we have gone to the trouble of inserting the concluding three or four lines in the Clause, which will prevent any possibility of any person benefiting by being absolved from liability to any part of his service. So much for the technicalities. The new Clause surmounts the technical difficulties, and I would urge on the House the broad merits of the proposals

There is no dispute in any quarter of the House that it is desirable that the military service which we are asked to impose under this Bill shall cause as little interruption as possible to apprenticeship and education. If that is so, it is surely proper not to rely upon the discretion, however well exercised, of the Minister of Labour; it is surely essential to put it in the Bill It is essential for two reasons—one a practical reason and the other a psychological reason. The practical reason is that Ministerial discretion could be exercised in a variety of ways, and with perfectly genuine intentions, but could, nevertheless, be nibbled away by Ministerial action. By putting this in the Bill, there will be rights under Act of Parliament, which can be vindicated if necessary in the courts.

Then there is the psychological aspect. We are imposing a very serious sacrifice on an entire generation, and it is desirable that that burden should be as light as is consistent with the interests of national security. It would convince a great many of these young people that we were attempting to do that, if we put into the Bill this provision for their benefit. It would help also those who have to plan the careers and education of the young, in that they would know that, in planning those careers, they could rely on statutory provisions to whose benefit they were en-titled as a matter of absolute right. I therefore urge on the House that it is extremely desirable that some statutory provision should be made. If hon. Members accept that proposition, as I think a good many hon. Members do, then, in the absence of any other statutory provision being put forward on behalf of the Government, as in my opinion it should have been, ours is the only one for the consideration of the House.

I do not know what attitude the Government intend to take to this Clause. I do not know whether they will object to it on technicalities or on its merits, but if the objection is on technicalities then hon. Members have something of a grievance against the Government. The view of the majority of the hon. Members in Committee as to the desirability of some such provision was made abundantly clear. The Government obviously have technical resources of draftsmanship not available to hon. Members generally, and if the Government's only objection to the previous proposal was a purely technical one, they should not have opposed the obviously clear views of the House that they themselves should put forward an administratively workable proposal at this stage. The fact that they have not done so has compelled us to put this Clause on the Order Paper.

I ask the Government to face up to this matter as one which concerns the serious principle that education and apprenticeship are valuable things which people are entitled to have safeguarded by Parliament. I hope that if the Government are not prepared to accept this Clause or offer any explanation of their own failure to put forward a similar one, they will at least face the issue and attempt to put before the House their views as to why these vital interests of apprenticeship and education should be neglected.

6.0 p.m.

I beg to second the Motion.

In so doing, I feel that we should recall the Debate which we had on this matter during the Committee stage. The Parliamentary Secretary spoke at considerable length on the question of deferment and postponement as they affected the age limit of 26, and I regret to say that there were some of us who, even at the end of that lucid explanation, were still confused in our minds as to what was the real intention of the Government. I can assure the Minister that there are also many people outside this House—the very students who are affected—who are equally still confused. As my hon. Friend has said, this affects the future of a very large number of the young people, and we feel strongly that a matter of this sort should not be left to Ministerial assurances because, after all, Ministers come and go and they are apt to change. It would be grossly unfair that with a change of Ministry in a year or two's time those regulations or assurances might be altered.

The Minister said that he would look into this matter again, and we rather hoped that there would be a new Clause introduced by the Government to cover the point. That has not been done and we have therefore tabled this new Clause. As my hon. Friend said, we do not set ourselves up as expert Parliamentary draftsmen, but I think that hon. Members will find that the Clause covers all the points which were discussed in the Debate and is a reasonable provision which will lay a statutory obligation on whatever Minister is in office.

I have been wondering what possible objections the Minister could have to this new Clause, although I know that the Parliamentary Secretary is very prolific in his objections, whether they are valid or not. One of the objections he made on the last occasion was that such a provision would give an advantage to the bad student who, if I may so put it euphemistically, deferred passing his examinations for a number of years and would therefore be over the age of liability by the time he had finished his scholastic career. The last lines of this new Clause deal with that point and make it quite impossible for such a person to take advantage of the fact that he is a dull student. I am afraid I do not know whether there is such a thing as a bad apprentice; I know there is in literature, of course.

I hope the Minister will view this Clause not only with sympathy, but with acquiescence, because it is necessary that students, in particular, should have something very definite to look forward to. University Members have had the experience of receiving many letters from their constituents stating that one kind of student was treated in a different way from another under exactly the same circumstances. The way in which they were treated differed from college to college and from university to university. One of the very worst things that could happen is that a feeling should arise among students that some have received favours which others have been denied. For that reason I hope the Minister will adopt, if not this Clause, something which will have the same object in view.

I think it might be convenient if I intervened at this point, not with the intention of curtailing discussion, but in order to explain the Ministerial point of view. This matter has been discussed at very great length on two occasions when I think the ground was covered very fully and, I had hoped, to the general satisfaction of hon. Members. I think we were then all agreed as to the desirability of deferment for students and apprentices to enable them to complete either their studentship or their apprenticeship. The point is whether or not a person liable to National Service should have conferred upon him a statutory right of deferment. That is the question that is really involved in the argument that has been put forward.

I do not think that I should be doing justice to my case if I did not indicate to the House that the arrangement under which this has been done since 1939 has been on an administrative basis and nut a statutory basis. It has been done by the machinery of the Ministry of Labour and, by and large, there has been very little complaint. Paragraph 9 of the White Paper on the call-up of Forces for 1947–8 contained a complete statement et the arrangements for the deferment of apprentices and students. There has been no pressure at all to suggest that that should have been embodied in legislation. The House has been quite content with the White Paper statement covering the position for the next two years without any demand that it should be embodied in terms of legislation.

Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that there is a distinction between the kind of system which we have to operate in wartime and during the immediate aftermath of war, and one which is justifiable in a full-scale system of peacetime conscription?

There is some force in that argument, but I should have thought that in 1947–48 we were in a period where things were fairly well defined, and though I would agree immediately that the university position is extremely difficult, nevertheless it may well have eased considerably by 1949 as compared with today. I would ask the House to consider what the new Clause is intended to do. In the first place, the Minister must be satisfied that the person concerned is serving an apprenticeship or receiving full-time education in a university, school or other institution, or that he will within one year from the said date be so receiving education. It makes two definitions. One, with regard to the apprentice, is that the man must be serving an apprenticeship, but with regard to the student it says that he shall be a student or that he may be a student in 12 months' time. The same argument in connection with the student applies to the apprentice, and I was rather surprised that in a new Clause drafted with so much care there should have been this distinction.

Surely there is a difference, for, as far as I know, there is no rigid limit to the possible number of apprentices in any given year as there is to the possible number of entrants to the universities, crammed as they are now. Therefore, we did not wish to give a definite number when we were not sure that there would be room for the number which we would have specified. That is the difference.

I can quite appreciate the position of the hon. Member, and I can assure him that though it was not his intention to do that, that is, in fact, what he has done. I know that it is probably done against his will and probably he is quite unconscious of it. It should be remembered that persons undertaking an apprenticeship do not find a completely open field. There are firm limits to the numbers of apprentices taken into a particular industry. The proportion of apprentices to skilled workmen is laid down in rigid agreements and rigidly enforced, and it is impossible for any apprentice to anticipate 12 months beforehand that he will get into that particular trade. This new Clause does anticipate that apprentices can go freely into what is a very close corporation. That is the first point I want to make, and I expect the hon. Gentleman would say that he was unaware of that. If that is so and he was not trying to make the distinction, he will appreciate now that he is, in fact, making a distinction between the manual worker and the academic student. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I am trying to be fair to the new Clause as drafted.

The second point is with regard to the student who is obliged under the National Service Act to undergo 12 months' routine training. He can say, "I can have a place in the university in 12 months' time, and because of that I want to postpone my whole-time service for the 12 months." Is it really suggested that that statutory right ought to be given? If there is no place for him there is time for him to do his full-time training. We ought not in those circumstances to give the right either administratively or by Statute to postpone his whole-time service when he has enough time in which to do it before starting on an academic career. If he is called up when he is 18—and it is at 18 that we are looking—he has 12 months' service to do. If, however, in 11 months and three weeks he can get a place in the university, is it suggested that he should have a statutory right to postpone his whole-time service? I do not think that that is a position which can be justified.

With regard to the second arm of the new Clause, I think the hon. Gentleman destroyed the argument which was put up originally in connection with the previous Amendment on the Order Paper. I had better indicate to the House what machinery does exist in order that hon. Members can be satisfied, and in this I am reiterating what my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour said in a previous Debate. The intention is that the student of 18, for whom there is a place in the university, shall be able to get deferment provided he has achieved the necessary academic attainments which will entitle him to go to the university. As to advice on that, it is not a matter solely for Ministerial discretion, as hon. Gentlemen know. It is for the vice-chancellors of the universities and for the University Joint Recruiting Board who sit and examine every one of these cases, and who decide whether the educational attainment of the student is high enough to entitle him to a place in the university. In these matters of deferment of students we consult professional bodies that have been set up to give advice on the various forms of educational tuition.

6.15 p.m.

The point that worries me is when it ceases to be a right. I think the Parliamentary Secretary said just now that it is a right, and in the Second Reading Debate the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour said we were not considering so much the national interests as the individual interests. Clearly when there are the two together—and I do not think that I am in sympathy with the whole year—there is not this right. If it is a question of three months, six months or nine months, who is to make a decision? Surely it is not the University Joint Recruiting Board but the Manpower Board that has to make the decision.

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for making the point, but he should have let me finish. I have dealt with the University Joint Recruiting Board, which consists of the vice chancellors of the universities. They advise us and we accept their advice. When there is different treatment in different universities it is due to the fact that the vice chancellors have approached the exemptions in a different way. In those cases it would appear that the student in one place is having different treatment to the student in another, but in all these cases we accept the advice of the Joint University Recruiting Board. There are certain other departments of education where we have similar professional bodies of equal standing and they, as it were, adjudicate as between the claims of the student and the claims of the Ministry of Labour. In this connection the Manpower Board does not enter into the thing at all.

The Manpower Board deals with the cases of apprenticeships, and it seems to me that that Board is the right institution to deal with them. The Manpower Board will decide whether or not an apprenticeship is a genuine one. Hon. Members on both sides of the House will remember the Debate on this. The Board will examine each individual case to see if the apprentice has got the right technical education and the right opportunity, and is not just cheap labour in a factory or workshop. Also it will have regard to the fact whether there are not too many apprentices in a workshop to get proper tuition for them all. The Manpower Board will be able to grant deferment for the purpose of permitting a boy to conclude his apprenticeship. Thus, there are two different ways of dealing with these men who are called up. There is first the academic machinery to permit the student who is fully qualified to secure deferment if he is entering a university, and there is the Manpower Board which can defer the period of service in order to permit an apprentice to finish his apprenticeship in industry.

There is a second point which arises, and I would ask the House to bear this in mind. If this statutory right is to be conferred on every boy in this country reaching the age of 18 we fear that it would result in a very small intake into the Army in the first year or two, because many of those due for call-up would be undergoing an apprenticeship or would be entering a university. They would get deferment for a time, and if they were genuine apprentices they will get a deferment for a considerable time It is true that they would not eventually dodge their liability, but they would have it deferred and deferred in such a way as to give them a privilege over other boys of 18 who are in precisely the same position as themselves.

I do not want to keep interrupting, but the hon. Gentleman has just made a most important remark. If he will look at the new Clause he will see that this right is given if the Minister is satisfied with the various circumstances set out in the Clause. Surely he will agree with me that in the case of bogus apprenticeships the Minister would not be satisfied? If the Minister would be satisfied, there is something the matter with the machinery of his Department.

I quite agree, but if the volume of applications became so great as to overrun the machinery, there could not be that examination of each case which this House would expect us to make and we should have so many people going through the mesh as to cause criticism in this House and perhaps throw an undue burden upon the machine in trying to solve this problem.

There is a final matter. Normally the number of apprenticeships and studentships has a fairly even average. We can budget on that basis. The Forces budget on a basis of accepting 200,000 a year—that is round about the figure. If we create a situation in which 200,000 young men liable for service can make a claim that they are going to be students for 12 months or to be apprentices—that is intended in the Clause—it means that we should have a situation where there were so many claims that we could not examine them quickly and could do nothing with them, because once a claim had been put in, we could not call the young person up until we had sorted the whole thing out. This would cause very great administrative inconvenience and give rights where rights ought not to be given. The granting of a deferment should be on the basis that full advantage would be taken of it by the student or the apprentice, and it is important that we should have someone at the universities to tell us whether or not the student was really using his deferment for the purpose of his education and that the fellow who was playing the fool should not be allowed to have this advantage. The same thing should apply in industry. In those circumstances I regret that I must ask the House to reject the new Clause.

I do not think honestly that the hon. Gentleman has quite done himself justice on this occasion. He has debated this, I think, with great clarity and great fairness throughout all the stages, and we have been very grateful for that. It may be that I am misunderstanding him or not following properly, but I do not think he has quite lived up to his own standard. Perhaps I might, without excessive egotism, begin by saying that I am not personally at all excited over this thing. My belief is that in 99 cases out of 100, if a boy is going to a university he had better do his service first at the age of 18, like anybody else.

I do not wish to debate with the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. K. Lindsay) at the moment. As to my feeling, I have no sentiment in favour of making it easy for academic boys, so to speak, to put off this—no sentiment whatever of that kind. What we are asking for here is really the public interest. It was certainly in the public interest during the war, for instance, when trade union leaders were deferred. Under this Bill miners are going to be. Doctors and dentists are going to have the right to have their service as doctors and dentists and not to be called up until fully qualified. There are other things of that sort. Nobody throws it against them and says, "You are trying to shield the manual workers from the bullets," and so on. That is the last thing that would occur to us. Hon. Gentlemen opposite must do us the same justice.

What we are trying to consider is it the postwar world—which we were all promised would be so much better than the chaos before 1939—really is to he got going at all, the most important thing about it is that the boys most likely to he the leading boys of the next generation should be educated to the limit of their educability and should with the least interruption to their normal careers get into their civilian employment. That seems to me to be the overriding principle. We must do each-other the justice of supposing that we are not in pursuing that principle chasing any kind of privilege or minor advantage. If that is the guiding principle, is it a good thing? I speak of university boys because I know most about them technically, but so far as I understand the matter my arguments can in the main be transferred to apprentices.

In pursuit of that general principle, is it a good thing that there should be some class—I do not mean that in any social sense—some section of academic boys who should be able, and should know at the ages of 16 and 18 that they are going to be able, to do the thing in this order—in the order of time provided by this Clause? Is that a desirable thing? I think everybody agrees that it is a desirable thing. It is also a thing difficult to arrange administratively, and that two things have to be weighed against each other. With respect to the Minister, all his arguments really amounted to no more than to say there would be considerable administrative difficulty about this. He said that this was all very well in normal times. He thought that 1946–47 were properly describable as mainly normal times, but in 1946–47 and still to this moment His Majesty's Government are holding boys under the pretence that the emergency—that is, the war against Germany—is still continuing. As long as the Government's military arrangements repose on that legal fiction, they must not use the argument of, "We have already had two years' experience of the way these things work in normal times." They cannot use that argument so long as they are holding boys under emergency provisions of—I will not say fraudulent, but—a fictitious kind.

The hon. Gentleman's only other argument was administrative inconvenience. Very well, I will admit that where the argument of administrative inconvenience is overwhelming, it is decisive, but it is the business not only of the Opposition but of all Private Members to be very slow to be convinced that the administrative inconvenience argument is overwhelming. I do not yet feel convinced by that part of the hon. Gentleman's remarks. Half his speech nearly seemed to be directed to saying that already under what he describes as normal arrangements and what he describes as these normal two years, all we are asking for, is being got, but it is being got by friendly arrangements between the Ministry and the vice-chancellors instead of a statutory provision. The other half of his argument was that the thing was inconceivably difficult from the administrative point of view and therefore could not be got.

I ask the House to consider that. The two parts of the argument do not fit very well. I am quite prepared to believe that the drafting of this may be wrong. If it is true that the drafting would give a greater advantage to the academy boys than to the apprentice boys, I certainly would be in favour of altering the drafting although I would ask the hon. Gentleman to remember that the ceiling of the possible number of academic boys is very small anyway. The whole number of these boys is much smaller still because it cannot be more than 10 per cent. of an entry at a university—the universities take 90 per cent. from the Services. It has got to be out of the 10 per cent.

The hon. Gentleman said 10 per cent. and 90 per cent. from the Services. Is he envisaging the situation when this Bill comes into operation?

6.30 p.m.

I do not want that to become a permanent fixed level. If I was arguing unfairly, it was inadvertently. If it were the fixed level I do not think there can be the least doubt that the Minister would wish to take those who had done their service. I do not think this ratio of nine to one would vary very much in the four or five years this Bill contemplates. You have to remember that the universities have a time lag in this matter in the fact that boys called up in 1945 and 1946 are held longer than those called up in 1946 and 1947, and they are being held longer than those who will be called up under this Bill. For that reason the universities are now choked, and will be choked for the next few years. This Bill only contemplates five years, and therefore I do not think really there is any risk of making a very high ceiling for boys of this sort.

The second difference is that the university career really must begin in October. During recent years we have quite properly allowed it to start in other months, but, when that is avoidable, I beg hon. Gentlemen to take my word for it as a technician, so to speak, that it is a very great evil, even when it is unavoidable. That makes a difference from the apprentices and that weakens the hon. Gentleman's arguments about the 12 months. It would be 12 months only in the case of boys born in September. If he liked to cut it down to 10 months, I would be willing to accept it. Finally, I say this to him: He admits that in practice there is something almost amounting to a right of this kind, a kind of legitimate acceptance by way of agreement between his Department and the vice-chancellor's for a certain number of boys to get this sort of thing. That which is admitted to be tolerable, admitted to be useful, of which there is now some years of experience, is that something which his draftsmen could put into statutory form? If so, let us have it, and then we should all be contented that the right thing had been done. But I think it would be regrettable if we have to withdraw this Clause simply upon his argument, and I would suggest without disrespect, that there has been no other serious argument of administrative inconvenience.

We have covered a lot of ground in discussing this subject, both this evening and in Committee. I agree with my hon. Friend the senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) that in dealing with this Clause, both tonight and in Committee, the Parliamentary Secretary dropped from the high level that he otherwise maintained throughout the Debate. The reason for it is not far to seek because he really is in difficulties in dealing with the substance of this new Clause. On the first occasion he got the Committee into a bog of deferment and subtle differences between the technicalities of deferment and postponement, and we tried to bring him back to deal with the broad issue as to whether the right of deferment should be a matter for the individual to claim in his own interest or whether, as in wartime, what was conceived, by the Ministry to be the national interest could override the interest of the individual. That is the fundamental issue raised by this new Clause.

This afternoon the Parliamentary Secretary has again sought to answer this new Clause by dealing primarily with technicalities. He discovered an unintended distinction between the treatment of apprentices and that of university students. The reason for this has been made quite clear, and I would point out to him that he was incorrect in saying that in the case of the university student who was wanting to go up within a year of the date of his call-up, it would be impossible for him to complete his year's full-time service in order to do that. That point really does not bear examination at all. His second point was as to the possible number of deferments, and the students in 12 months, or people who might become apprentices, would upset the whole planning of the intake for the Forces. I would concede straight away that in the second point there is much more substance, and it seemed to me that ultimately, towards the end of the Debate, we got the real ground for the opposition to this new Clause emerging.

I would suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that his fears with regard to that are unfounded. If young people know that they have to do their whole-time service some time, and that they cannot avoid the liability under this Clause, I do not believe there will be a mass application for deferment; I think a great many young people will prefer to do their whole-time service before starting on their apprenticeship or their university education. Therefore, I think that the fears of the Parliamentary Secretary as to the effect of adopting the principle of this Clause are completely unfounded. It comes back to this: the Minister of Labour is nervous of giving up some of the power he has held throughout the war, the power of being able to say to a young man, "You must go into the Forces now." I would have liked to see a recognition by the Ministry of Labour now that the young man, on the advice of his parents, might say, "Well, having regard to this, that, and the other cause, it is in the interests of my future career"—whether he be a rich man or a poor man—"that I should defer my service for a year." In those circumstances, and only when the Minister is satisfied—as provided by this Clause at the beginning, which leaves the final decision with the Minister—I suggest that there should be a right to claim deferment.

The Minister of Labour on the Committee stage said that he would look at this again and consider it carefully. We have heard no word from him on it, and I hope he will say something. I hope he will be able to say that, on further reflection, he will accept the principle of allowing deferment where he is satisfied that it will not involve any avoidance of liability on the part of the person affected. If he can say that, I am sure my hon. Friends will be glad to withdraw this Clause and leave it to him to put down words to carry that principle into effect in another place. If he cannot go that far, I fear that we shall have no alternative but to show that we believe this principle should be adopted now that the war is over.

I am not happy about this wording, and, at the same time, I would like to get something a little more definite if possible. I remember clearly that in the previous Debate the Minister said he would look at it again. The reason why I interrupted my hon. Friend the senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) was this: I have taken a lot of trouble to find out what the students, as far as the schools are concerned, feel about this. My own feeling was that a boy would prefer to go off and do his service first, and I said so, but I am told from the schools that there is great division. It is all very well to consult vice-chancellors of universities where the boys go at 17½, but the schools look at this in a rather different way. I was told by the headmaster of one big grammar school in the North of England this weekend that he was doubtful whether he would advise his boys to go off to the Services first. I am talking of those with open scholarships to the universities. So it is not quite clear yet, and nobody in this House knows precisely what the position will be. I think it is the right of the boy to know quite clearly when he is 16 or 17 what is his position.

The Parliamentary Secretary said that the whole thing rested with the University Board and they were the people to decide, that they have decided in the past and that, therefore, it is completely outside the scope of the Manpower Board as far as the universities are concerned. This Clause seeks to give a person a right for 11 months hence. Suppose the university says it has a place four months ahead, would the right be conceded to the student to defer? He may have won his scholarship, and be waiting to go up in March, April or May. Would he have the right to defer? At the moment it seems to be left completely vague, and if the Parliamentary Secretary can find a happier form of words to give effect to his own phrase that it is in the interests of the student and not so much the national interest, I shall be completely satisfied.

I think there is sufficient machinery to get deferment for those who are entitled to it. There seems to be a desire in this House, not so much to secure reasonable terms of National Service, but means of deferring, postponing, and getting out of service. At the best there have only been approximately 200,000 liable to be called up each year. What I am concerned about is that for nearly two years this House has been expressing a great deal of dissatisfaction at the length of time men are remaining in the Forces, and there has been growling about demobilisation, but now we have come to a time when we have to do something about it. We have to introduce National Service primarily to keep up the strength of the Services, and to get out those who are in. Yet, here we are trying most of the time to get deferment for one class or the other, so that they can escape National Service.

I hate National Service. I never was a militarist, although I agree that the last war disclosed factors of which we did not know before. But if it is to be National Service, let it be National Service. We have the machinery for the student and apprentice to get deferment But the Opposition want to make it a statutory right; what for? The effect of it will be, as the Minister rightly stated, if not today, certainly a week ago, that the opportunity would be given for a very large number of people to get out of service—

I take the responsibility of saying that there are some who will get out of it, if they can. This Clause would give a great deal of encouragement and help to them. I hope the Minister will resist this Clause, because I believe the Bill is good enough as it is

6 45 p.m

We have heard a lot about the educational side of the question, but I would like to come back to the question of apprentices. I am rather concerned at the feeling of uncertainty which seems to have crept into this matter I make no complaint about what has happened in the past in regard to the Manpower Board, but we are facing this question in cold blood. We have no heat of war, and are not concerned with any rush I was very sorry to hear the Parliamentary Secretary suggest that there was something wrong with the apprentice having a statutory right, and that he must be quite prepared for administrative action to take care of his future. As a boy approaches this period, he and his parents will be considering what his future is to be I would like an assurance that the matter will be clear and certain without any peradventure.

To suggest that this will mean that large numbers will conspire together to avoid service or to postpone it, is quite a mistake. The idea of the youth will be to get on with it, and get it over. He looks forward to it with a certain amount of excitement, and does not want to postpone it. There will be no sort of conspiracy with the object of dodging it altogether. He and his parents would like to be quite certain, so that they can form their plans for the future. I am thinking of the ordinary apprentice, and I would like to hear the Minister say that he can take steps to make the future absolutely clear, without any suggestion that at a later date it will be settled by some administrative action and that the boy will not know until the last minute what is to happen.

It has been mentioned that in the previous Debate I gave an undertaking. I gave an undertaking, and I will read the words:

"We want to see that nobody escapes their military service. That is the first thing. We will certainly look at the Clause, and, if we are satisfied that anything more can be done

Division No. 219.



Adams, Richard (Balham)Cunningham, P.Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. VDavies, Edward (Burslem)Hannan, W (Maryhill)
Allen, A. C (Bosworth)Davies, Harold (Leek)Hardy, E. A
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)Harrison, J.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)Deer, G.Hastings, Dr. Somerville
Attewell, H. Cde Freitas, GeoffreyHicks, G.
Austin, H. LewisDelargy, H. JHobson, C. R
Awbery, S. S.Diamond, JHolman, P.
Ayrton Gould, Mrs B.Dodds, N. NHolmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)
Bacon, Miss ADonovan, T.House, G
Balfour, A.Driberg, T. E NHoy, J.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. JDugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)Hubbard, T.
Barton, CDurbin, E. F. MHudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)
Bechervaise, A. E.Dye, S.Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F JEdelman, M.Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)
Berry, H.Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)Irving, W. J.
Beswick, F.Evans, E. (Lowestoft)Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A
Bevan, Rt. Hon A. (Ebbw Vale)Evans, John (Ogmore)Janner, B.
Bing, G. H. C.Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)Jay, D. P. T
Binns, J.Ewart, R.Jeger, G. (Winchester)
Blackburn, A. RFairhurst, F.Jager, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)
Blenkinsop, A.Farthing, W JJohn, W.
Blyton, W. RFollick, M.Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)
Boardman, H.Foot, M. MJones, Elwyn (Plaistow)
Brook, D. (Halifax)Forman, J. C.Jones, P. Aslerley (Hitchin)
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Foster, W. (Wigan)Keenan, W
Brown, George (Belper)Fraser, T. (Hamilton)Kenyon, C.
Bruce, Maj. D. W. TFreeman, Maj. J. (Watford)Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr E
Burke, W. A.Freeman, Peter (Newport)Kinley, J.
Castle, Mrs B. A.Gibbins, J.Kirby, B. V
Chamberlain, R. AGibson, C. WLavers, S.
Champion, A. J.Gilzean, A.Lee, F. (Hulme)
Chater, D.Glanville, J. E. (Consett)Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)
Chetwynd, G. R.Gooch, E. G.Leonard, W.
Clitherow, Dr. RGordon-Walker, P. C.Leslie, J. R.
Coldrick, W.Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)Levy, B. W.
Collindridge, F.Grey, C. F.Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)
Collins, V. JGriffiths, D. (Rother Valley)Lindgren, G. S.
Colman, Miss G. MGriffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)Lindsay, K. M. (Comb'd Eng Univ.)
Comyns, Dr. LGuest, Dr. L. HadenLipton, Lt.-Col. M.
Cook, T. F.Gunter, R. J.Logan, D. G.
Corvedale, ViscountGuy, W. HMcAdam, W.
Cove, W. G.Haire, John E. (Wycombe)McAllister, G.
Crawley, AHall, W GMcEntee, V La T

with it, we will try to do it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th May, 1947; Vol. 437, c. 860.]

We are satisfied that nothing more can be done. We are-satisfied that if we start statutory deferments for one section as against another we shall only land ourselves into further difficulties. It is quite true there will not always be the same Minister at the head of the Department, but the Minister has to lay it down that we shall follow the intention of the House. This has worked with the greatest smoothness in the period just passed, and we feel that to make a change now, to swop horses while crossing the stream, would lead to a great deal of confusion. We cannot accept the Clause, nor undertake to make any further proposals.

rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The House divided: Ayes, 239; Noes, 128.

McGhee, H. GProctor, W. T.Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Mack, J. D.Pursey, Cmdr. HThomas, D. E. (Aberdare)
McKay, J. (Wallsend)Randall, H. E.Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)Ranger, J.Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
McKinlay, A. S.Rees-Williams, D. R.Thurtle, Ernest
Maclean, N. (Govan)Reid, T. (Swindon)Timmons, J.
McLeavy, F.Richards, R.Titterington, M. F.
Macpherson, T. (Romford)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)Tolley, L.
Mallalieu, J. P. WRogers, G. H. R.Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
Marquand, H. A.Ross, William (Kilmarnock)Turner-Samuels, M.
Medland, H. M.Royle, C.Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Mellish, R. J.Sargood, R.Viant, S. P.
Messer, F.Scott-Elliot, W.Walkden, E.
Mitchison, G. R.Segal, Dr. S.Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Montague, F.Shackleton, E. A. A.Warbey, W. N.
Moody, A. S.Sharp, GranvilleWatson, W. M.
Morgan, Dr. H. B.Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
Morris, P (Swansea, W.)Shurmer, P.Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Mort, D. LSilverman, J. (Erdington)Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W
Moyle, A.Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)Wigg, Col. G. E.
Mulvey, A.Simmons, C. J.Wilkes, L.
Murray, J. DSkeffington-Lodge, T. C.Wilkins, W. A.
Nally, W.Skinnard, F. W.Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Naylor, T. E.Smith, Ellis (Stoke)Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Neal, H. (Claycross)Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)Snow, Capt. J. W.Williamson, T.
Noel-Baker, Capt. F E. (Brentford)Sorensen, R. W.Willis, E.
Noel-Buxton, LadySoskice, Maj. Sir FWoodburn, A.
Oldfield, W. H.Sparks, J. A.Woods, G. S.
Orbach, M.Steele, T.Yates, V. F.
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E)Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Pargiter, G. A.Stross, Dr. B.Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Paton, J. (Norwich)Stubbs, A. E.Zilliacus, K.
Pearson, A.Summerskill, Dr. Edith
Peart, Capt. T. F.Swingler, S.TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Porter, E. (Warrington)Sylvester, G. O.Mr. Joseph Henderson and
Porter, G. (Leeds)Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)Mr. Popplewell.


Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Armagh)Harris, A. WilsonPickthorn, K.
Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.)Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.Pitman, I. J.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.Head, Brig. A. H.Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Baldwin, A. E.Headlam, Lieut.-Col Rt. Hon. Sir C.Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)
Beamish, Maj. T. V. HHerbert, Sir A. P.Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.
Beechman, N. A.Hollis, M. C.Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
Bennett, Sir P.Howard, Hon. A.Raikes, H. V.
Birch, NigelHurd, A.Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'gh, W.)Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Bowen, R.Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Jennings, R.Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)
Bracken, Rt. Hon. BrendanLambert, Hon. G.Ropner, Col. L.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. TLangford-Holt, J.Ross, Sir R. O (Londonderry)
Butcher, H. W.Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.Sanderson, Sir F.
Byers, FrankLegge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.Savory, Prof. D. L.
Challen, C.Lindsay, M. (Solihull)Scott, Lord W.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.Linstead, H. N.Shepherd, S. (Newark)
Clarke, Col. R. S.Lipson, D. L.Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Low, Brig. A. R. W.Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W
Crowder, Capt. John E.Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.Snadden, W. M.
Cuthbert, W. N.Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. OSpearman, A. C. M.
Darling, Sir W. Y.McCallum, Maj. D.Spence, H. R.
Davidson, ViscountessMacdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.
Davies, Clement (Montgomery)Mackeson, Brig. H. R.Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
De la Bère, R.Maclay, Hon. J. S.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Dodds-Parker, A. D.MacLeod, J.Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W.Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness)Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)Studholme, H. G.
Eden, Rt. Hon. A.Maitland, Comdr. J. W.Sutcliffe, H.
Elliot, Rt. Hon. WalterManningham-Buller, R. E.Teeling, William
Fletcher, W. (Bury)Marlowe, A. A. H.Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.
Fraser, Sir I (Lonsdale)Marples, A. E.Touche, G. C.
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.Marsden, Capt. A.Wadsworth, G.
Gage, C.Marshall, D (Bodmin)Walker-Smith, D.
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)Ward, Hon. G. R
Gammans, L. D.Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Gates, Maj. E. E.Morris-Jones, Sir H.White, J. B. (Canterbury)
George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)Neill, W. F (Belfast, N.)Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Glyn, Sir R.Nicholson, G.Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Grant, LadyNield, B. (Chester)York, C.
Gridley, Sir A.Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.
Grimston, R. V.Nutting, AnthonyTELLERS FOR THE NOES
Gruffydd, Prof. W. J.O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.Mr. Drewe and
Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)Peto, Brig. C. H. M.Commander Agnew.

Question put accordingly, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

Division No. 220.]


[6.58 p.m

Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Armagh)Gruffydd, Prof. W. J.Nield, B. (Chester)
Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.)Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)Noble, Comdr. A. H. P
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.Harris, H. WilsonNutting, Anthony
Baldwin, A. E.Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.Head, Brig. A. H.Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
Beechman, N. A.Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon Sir C.Pickthorn, K.
Bennett, Sir P.Herbert, Sir A. P.Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Birch, NigelHollis, M. CPoole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)Howard, Hon. A.Price-White, Lt.-Col. D.
Bowen, R.Hudson, Rt. Hon R. S. (Southport)Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. AHurd, A.Raikes, H. V.
Bracken, Rt. Hon. BrendanHutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Butcher, H. W.Lambert, Hon. G.Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Byers, FrankLangford-Holt, J.Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)
Challen, C.Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A H.Sanderson, Sir F.
Clarke, Col. R. S.Lindsay, M. (Solihull)Savory, Prof. D. L.
Crowder, Capt. John E.Linstead, H. N.Scott, Lord W.
Cuthbert, W. N.Lipson, D. L.Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W
Darling, Sir W. YLow, Brig. A. R. WSnadden, W. M.
Davidson, ViscountessLucas-Tooth, Sir H.Spearman, A. C. M.
Davies, Clement (Montgomery)Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. OStanley, Rt. Hon. O.
De la Bère, R.McCallum, Maj. D.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Dodds-Parker, A. D.Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W.Mackeson, Brig. H. RStuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness)Maclay, Hon. J. S.Studholme, H. G.
Drewe, C.MacLeod, J.Sutcliffe, H.
Eden, Rt. Hon. A.Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)Teeling, William
Elliot, Rt. Hon. WalterMacpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)Thorp, Lt.-Col. R A. F.
Fletcher, W. (Bury)Maitland, Comdr. J. W.Touche, G. C.
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)Manningham-Buller, R. E.Wadsworth, G.
Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. MMarlowe, A. A. H.Walker-Smith, D.
Gage, C.Marples, A. E.Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.Marsden, Capt. A.White, J. B. (Canterbury)
Gammans, L. D.Marshall, D. (Bodmin)Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Gates, Maj. E. E.Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)York, C.
Glyn, Sir R.Morris-Jones, Sir H.
Gridley, Sir A.Neill, W F (Belfast, N.)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Grimston, R. V.Nicholson, G.Commander Agnew and
Major Conant.


Adams, Richard (Balham)Chater, D.Foot, M. M.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.Chetwynd, G. R.Foster, W. (Wigan)
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)Clitherow, Dr. R.Fraser, T. (Hamilton)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Coldrick, W.Freeman, Maj. J. (Walford)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)Collindridge, F.Freeman, Peter (Newport)
Attewell, H. C.Collins, V. J.Gibbins, J.
Austin, H. LewisColman, Miss G. M.Gibson, C. W.
Awbery, S. S.Comyns, Dr. L.Gilzean, A.
Ayrton Gould, Mrs B.Cook, T. F.Glanville, J. E. (Consett)
Bacon, Miss A.Corvedale, ViscountGooch, E. G
Baird J.Crawley, A.Goodrich, H. E.
Balfour, A.Cunningham, P.Gordon-Walker, P. C.
Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.Davies, Edward (Burslem)Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Wakefield)
Barton, C.Davies, Harold (Leek)Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)
Bechervaise, A. E.Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)Grey, C. F.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.Deer, G.Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)
Berry, Freitas, GeoffreyGriffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)
Beswick, F.Delargy, H. J.Guest, Dr. L. Haden
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Diamond, J.Gunter, R. J.
Bing, G. H. C.Dodds, N. N.Guy, W. H.
Binns, J.Donovan, T.Haire, John E. (Wycombe)
Blackburn, A. R.Driberg, T. E. N.Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.
Blenkinsop, A.Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)Hannan, W. (Maryhill)
Blyton, W. R.Durbin, E. F. MHardy, E. A.
Boardman, H.Dye, S.Harrison, J.
Brook, D. (Halifax)Edelman, M.Hastings, Dr. Somerville
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)Hicks, G.
Brown, George (Belper)Evans, E. (Lowestoft)Hobson, C. R.
Brown, T. J. (Ince)Evans, John (Ogmore)Holman, P.
Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)
Burke, W. A.Ewart, R.House, G.
Castle, Mrs. B. A.Fairhurst, F.Hoy, J
Chamberlain, R. A.Farthing, W. J.Hubbard, T.
Champion, A. J.Follick, M.Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)

The House divided: Ayes, 120; Noes, 234.

Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Morgan, Dr. H. BSoskice, Maj Sir F
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)Mort, D LSparks, J. A.
Irving, W. J.Moyle, ASteele, T.
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. AMulvey, AStewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Janner, BNally, WStross, Dr. B.
Jay, D. P. T.Naylor, T. EStubbs, A. E.
Jeger, G. (Winchester)Neal, H. (Claycross)Summerskill, Dr. Edit
Jeger, Dr. S. W (St Pancras, S.E.)Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)Swingler, S
John, W.Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E (Brentford)Sylvester, G. O.
Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)Noel-Buxton, LadyTaylor, R. J (Morpeth)
Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)Oldfield, W. H.Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Jones, P. Asterley (HitchinOrbach, M.Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Keenan, WPaling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Kenyon, CPargiter, G. AThurtle, Ernest
Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr E.Parkin, B TTitterington, M. F
Kinley, J.Paton, J. (Norwich)Tolley, L.
Kirby, B. VPearson, A.Tomlinson, Rt Hon G
Lavers, S.Peart, Capt. T. F.Turner-Samuels, M
Lee, F. (Hulme)Porter, E. (Warrington)Ungoed-Thomas, L
Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)Porter, G. (Leeds)Vernon, Maj. W. F
Leonard, W.Proctor, W. TViant, S. P
Leslie, J. RPursey, Cmdr. HWalkden, E.
Levy, B WRandall, H. EWallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)Ranger, JWarbey, W. N.
Lindgren, G. SRees-Williams, D RWatson, W M.
Lindsay, K. M. (Comb'd Eng Univ.)Reid, T (Swindon)Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
Lipton, Lt.-Col MRichards, RWells, W. T. (Walsall)
Logan, D. G.Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)Whiteley, Rt. Hon W
McAdam, WRogers, G. H. R.Wigg, Col. G. E
McAllister, G.Ross, William (Kilmarnock)Wilkes, L.
McEntee, V La TRoyle, C.Wilkins, W A.
Mack, J. DSargood, RWilley, F T. (Sunderland)
McKay, J. (Wallsend)Scott-Elliot, WWilliams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)Segal, Dr. SWilliams, W. R (Heston)
McKinley, A. S.Shackleton, E. A. AWilliamson, T
Maclean, N. (GovSharp, GranvilleWillis, E.
McLeavy, FShawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St Helens)Woodburn, A
Macpherson, T. (Romford)Silverman, J. (Erdington)Woods, G. S.
Mallalieu, J. P. WSilverman, S. S. (Nelson)Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Marquand, H. ASimmons, C J.Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Modland, H. MSkeffington, A M.Zilliacus, K
Mellish, R. JSkeffington-Lodge,
Messer, FSkinnard, F. W.TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Mitchison, G. RSmith, Ellis (Stoke)Mr. Joseph Henderson and
Montague, F.Smith, S. H. (Hull, S W)Mr. Popplewell
Moody, A SSnow, Capt J W

New Clause—(Regular Engagements)

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.

New Clause—(Service Of Notices)

(1) Any notice required or authorised by or under this Act or the National Service Acts, 1939 to 1946, to be served on any person may be served either—

  • (a) by delivering it to that person; or
  • (b) by leaving it at his proper address; or
  • (c) by post;
  • so, however, that where a notice is served by post otherwise than in a registered letter service shall not be deemed to have been effected if it is proved that the notice was not received by the person to whom it was addressed.

    (2) The proper address 01 any person on whom such a notice as aforesaid is to be served shall he the last known address of the person to be served.—[ Brigadier Prior-Palmer.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

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

    As the Bill stands, the service of notices is still governed by Section 18 of the old Act. We consider that, in the past, this provision has given rise to opportunities for hardship, and there have been cases of hardship. We had a certain amount of discussion on this matter during the Committee stage in the early hours of the morning, when I do not think any of us were really very clear about it, and we now wish to advance arguments in favour of the inclusion of the new Clause in the Bill so as to give added security to the person on whom notice for service is served.

    In the past, all that has been necessary has been proof of posting of the letter or notice of service. We suggest that the non-receipt of that notice, in many cases, has been through no fault whatever of the individual concerned, but it has led to military and civil lapses, and we think that is wrong. We are not asking the Government to do anything out of the way or anything which has not been done before, because, if the right hon. Gentleman will look at the Government's own Bill—the Statistics of Trade Bill—he will see that, in Clause II, these very conditions for the serving of notices, as we have tabled them in this new Clause, are there included.

    I beg to second the Motion.

    It seems both a rational and a helpful new Clause, and I cannot see that there is any objection to it.

    I appreciate the way in which the hon. and gallant Gentlemen have put their case, but we cannot accept this new Clause as it stands, and I will give the reasons. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the new Clause said it would give added security, but we are afraid that it would give added opportunities of evasion. I will give the reasons for that. The Clause provides that

    "where notice is served by post otherwise than in a registered letter service shall not be deemed to have been effected if it is proved that the notice was not received by the person to whom it was addressed."
    There is a lovely opportunity there for chasing this thing around. Somebody has to prove that it was not received. It is clear that the obligation is not upon the Post Office to prove that it was received. There are lots of ways in which it can be done. It would be possible, and I could give as an example, knowing of similar things that have happened in the past, the case of serving a summons for a breach of the peace. The person concerned might be out in the backyard when he sees the policeman coming and he does not want the notice served upon him. In this case, however, there has to be evidence that it was not received by the person concerned. The person expecting to receive the call-up notice might be one of the small minority that we have in this country and might want to evade being called up. All that he has to do is to keep out of the way.

    There are certain alternatives here—by delivering it to that person, or by leaving it at his proper address.

    I know. The hon. and gallant Member says "by leaving it at his proper address." We should then have to decide his proper address. Is it a permanent address?

    I know, and that is why I do not want to anticipate the discussion on it. I believe myself that, if we were to accept this proposal, we should run into any amount of trouble. Let us suppose that the man is a lodger, and that he is out when the notice arrives, and that the landlady does not give it to him, but, instead, puts it behind one of the ornaments on the mantelpiece, and forgets. The notice has been delivered, and, therefore, in ordinary circumstances, the evidence of posting is considered as evidence of delivery. There might be another case where the boy's mother wants him to be tied to her apron strings. The notice may arrive, and she may destroy it. I can assure the House that millions of notices have been sent out under the existing Act with very little disagreement at all. Each of those notices goes through the hands of two persons. They are checked twice, first in the checking department and then in the issuing enlistment notice department. In each case there are two officials whose only job is to do that, and to see that everything is properly done. In the very small number of cases where there has been any difficulty, it has been traced, in the main, to the fact that the person has not registered his change of address as required by the Act. We feel that a great deal of trouble might be caused and evasions made possible if this method was adopted. I have no legal knowledge, but I am sure that anybody with such knowledge would agree that a person to whom a notice was addressed could come along and say he had not received it Therefore, we ask the House not to tie us down to such a system.

    I have listened with interest to the right hon. Gentleman's arguments, although I am sorry that I did not hear the speeches of those who moved the new Clause. I shall also read the right hon. Gentleman's argument with great interest, because it seems to me that I may be able to use it against his right hon. and learned Friend the President of the Board of Trade. Indeed, I am a little surprised to find the right hon. Gentleman attacking so vigorously a new Clause which is almost precisely similar to a Clause contained in a Bill which bears his own name. I refer to Clause II of the Statistics of Trade Bill, which provides this excellent code for service of notice upon business men, firms and everyone carrying on undertakings throughout the country. In that Bill, the right hon. Gentleman thinks this the right way of serving notice. He has backed the proposal. I must say that it occurred to me that it was an extremely good way, and it was, therefore, with some interest that I heard his speech attacking and trying to make holes in a similar Clause to that which the Government themselves have put forward. If this particular code with regard to the service of notices is right in the case of business men, firms, undertakings and shops—notices calling upon them to furnish all kinds of information, for failing to do which heavy penalties can be imposed—why is not the same provision right in the case of the enlistment of men who are going to be called up for a period of 12 months' whole-time service? That is a question which has not been answered. I do not believe that there is any substance in the right hon. Gentleman's case against this new Clause. What happens now is that a letter is sent through the ordinary post and the man is deemed to be enlisted when that letter is received. I agree that an ordinary letter might be put anywhere. It might be put behind the ornament on the mantelpiece, but if the right hon. Gentleman and his Ministry send a registered letter, which, surely, they can do quite simply, it is not likely that a landlady will put that behind the ornament on the mantelpiece and forget all about it.

    As the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) says, it will not really matter if she does. Surely, what is right in respect of notices under the Statistics of Trade Bill is also right under this Bill. I agree that, in wartime, there is something to be said for service through the ordinary post, but there is nothing to be said in peacetime against the serving of enlistment notices by registered post, in order to ensure, as far as possible, that the recipient gets it and to avoid, as far as possible, the disputes that have occurred and may occur again when a man says, on being charged with being a deserter, "I never received the notice," and when, on the other side, there is the evidence that the notice was sent by the ordinary post. It is not really very satisfactory, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to bear in mind the good precedent he has set in the Statistics of Trade Bill, and to look at this matter again.

    I hope that we shall have the benefit of the right hon. and learned Attorney-General's opinion on this matter. It seems rather strange that in two Bills, one of them being considered by the House today, and the other to be considered by the House tomorrow, there should be two different codes regarding service, and that the Minister of Labour should back both Bills, and say tomorrow that the thing is sense and today that it is nonsense. I should have thought that on general lines of propriety one would not want, in two different Bills brought before the House in the same week, two quite different codes governing service.

    As my hon. and learned Friend has just pointed out, the arguments, such as they were, in the right hon. Gentleman's speech, in which he savagely attacked the actual proposal of the Board of Trade in the Statistics of Trade Bill, are all arguments directed to the difficulties which would be caused under this Clause by sending the document by ordinary post, and not in a registered letter. All the difficulties could be avoided by a registered letter. It is really useless for the Government to assert that this new Clause, which is in the very terms of the Clause included in another Bill, is unworkable or nonsense. It is perfectly workable, and perfectly good sense. I think that, unless the right hon. and learned Attorney-General can give some good reasons against it, it should be accepted. In any event, we are, surely, entitled to some further explanation from the Government.

    I am at a loss to understand why the Minister is not able to accept this new Clause. If an ordinary letter is posted, which is to carry liability against a person, and that person does not know anything about it, it would appear that he is liable to be brought before the court, but if a letter is sent to a person and he has to attend at court, unless it can be proved that that letter has been delivered to the individual by a policeman, or some accredited person, it will not be considered as having been delivered. To obviate the difficulty, the registered letter should be used, since that, to my mind, carries with it something tantamount to delivery. As we are going to ask the men to go into the Forces, I do not see what is wrong in sending them registered letters. It would obviate a lot of difficulty, and I should have thought that a new Clause of this description would have been acceptable.

    7.30 p.m.

    I desire to say a few words in the same sense as my hon. Friend the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. Logan). I cannot see why this new Clause should not be accepted. It is all very well to say that the old system has worked well, and to talk about the majority of cases, but it is not always the majority of cases that count. Obviously, there are cases where things go wrong. I myself have been professionally concerned more than once during the war in cases where the military police have arrived at a man's house, arrested him in bed, carted him off to the other end of the country, put him in the guardroom and court-martialled him, only to find that the arrest was wrong, because no proper notice had been served on the man. If this kind of service is to be permanent or semi-permanent in peacetime, it would not put a great burden upon the Executive to require them to send notices by registered post instead of by ordinary post. As I understand it, this new Clause requires no more than that. Every one of the dangers and iniquities which my right hon. Friend put forward as reasonable grounds for resisting the new Clause would be obviated completely by the simple device of sending the notices by registered post, and that is what the new Clause provides for. Why the right hon. Gentleman should resist so convenient and sensible a course, I cannot imagine.

    I rise because I observe no inclination on the part of the Attorney-General to do so. I hope we may hear again from the Government Front Bench on this matter, and that hon. Members on this side of the House will continue to press this point until the Attorney-General has given a fuller explanation. Attention has already been drawn to the fact that in two Bills, the Government are taking two diametrically opposed courses of action. I would remind the Government that in the Agriculture Bill the same sort of question arose. In fact, in a large number of Bills questions very similar to this have arisen and will arise in the future. The Government should make up their minds on what is the right course to pursue and, having made up their minds, that course should be followed in successive Bills in future. I hope the right hon. and learned Gentleman will tell us what distinction he draws between this and other Bills.

    I must admit that I am very much shaken by the arguments that have been adduced. I know I am on a sticky wicket, and that a fast ball has been bowled at me. I cannot promise to accept this new Clause as it stands, but I do promise that we will look at it, and at the next opportunity bring in something to put that point right. I was very much swayed in my own mind at the beginning by the fact that it would mean 400,000 notices a year in respect of the summonses for medical examination and he enlistment notices alone. It would make a great deal more work; it would not be a question of cost, because the Chancellor of the Exchequer would get nothing out of it as the notices would be sent "On His Majesty's Service." To be quite frank, when speaking earlier, I omitted to mention the point of the extra work, but it is a very important point. On the other hand, we are dealing with the liberty of the individual, and I admit the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman). Time and again, as a magistrate, I have had to insist on a policeman going into the witness box to prove that he delivered the summons. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. Therefore, if the hon. and gallant Member will withdraw the proposed Clause, I will undertake to do something to cover the point.

    In view of that assurance, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

    Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

    New Clause—(Relief Of Conscientious Objectors From Certain Penalties And Obligations)

    Where any person who has claimed exemption under this Act or under the principal Act on conscientious grounds has served one or more sentences of imprisonment amounting in all to three months for failing to fulfil any obligation arising out of this Act, including any obligation to be medically examined, he shall be exempted from further penalty and from any further liability under this Act.—[ Mr. S. Silverman.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

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

    The course taken by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service just now encourages me to hope that he will take a similar course in regard to this new Clause. The undertaking which he has just given, and which I am sure he will honour when the time comes, has already been given in the Committee stage in regard to the new Clause the Second Reading of which I am now moving. I would like to call his attention to two statements which he made during the Committee stage. On 8th May he said:
    "I want to deal with the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne We are very anxious not to get conscientious objectors into the position of being brought up, dealt with, put in prison, taken out of prison, dealt with, brought up again, and so on. We want to get away from all that. That is the point which will be raised when we reach the proposed new Clause in the name of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne."
    That point was not dealt with on the occasion to which my right hon. Friend referred, because I was not called, but there was another opportunity in the Committee stage when reference was again made to the point, and that was in connection with the new Clause moved by my hon. Friend the Member for West Ealing (Mr. J. Hudson). On that occasion, dealing with a similar point, my right hon. Friend said:
    "We are very much appalled by the idea that it is possible for a man to be constantly going in and out of prison for the same offence. But, the trouble with this Amendment is that it refers to 'any person…who declares himself to be a conscientious objector.' There must be some satisfaction that he is a conscientious objector. I cannot accept the Amendment for that, and other reasons, which I will not go into now. But I would like to know what the Committee feels about this matter. I am not very skilled in dealing with these matters in Committee, but I would like to know, as we cannot accept this Amendment, whether it would be possible for me"—
    I gather he is speaking for himself—
    "to have a look at this before the Report stage, and bring forward an Amendment then on which the House could say something."
    I hope I am not being unfair about this, but that looks to me like a promise by my right hon. Friend to put something down on the Report stage, and I confess that I am a little disappointed to rind nothing put down by my right hon. Friend or by the Government on this matter. I was not in a hurry, because I hoped that the Government would put something down, and I thought it would be wise for the rest of us to see what form of words they put down, or what opinion they formed, before rushing in with proposals of our own.

    But it was intimated then and there in the Committee that it might be well if some of us tried our hands at drafting a suitable Clause, and, in order to give my right hon. Friend as long notice as possible, I did then and there attempt to draft one. Later I suggested this as a possible form of words:
    "Where any person who has claimed exemption under this Act, or the principal Act, on conscientious grounds, and who has either had his claim rejected, or granted subject to conditions which he refuses to accept, has served a sentence of — for failing to fulfil any obligation under this Act, he shall be exempted from further penalty, or further liability to serve."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th May 1947; Vol. 437, cc. 835, 867, 868.]
    I do not want to bore the House with further quotations. I went on to say that it seemed to me that that form of wards met the difficulty in which my right hon. Friend found himself in regard to the new Clause which my hon. Friend had moved, that difficulty being that under the new Clause a simple declaration by the man that he was a conscientious objector would have been sufficient. My right hon. Friend felt—and I confess I agreed with him—that that would not quite do Therefore, I put forward the proposal where he had, in fact, made his application to a tribunal and the tribunal had considered it.

    It then seemed to me that the new Clause which my hon. Friend had moved had another defect, in that it did not say what penalty should be served. It did provide the principle that since this was, in effect, only one offence there should be only one penalty; but it did not define the penalty. That might have meant that, in different cases, there would be different penalties for the same offence, which would be an undesirable thing. The Clause ought to define the penalties as well as defining the beneficences, as it were, and I attempted to do both those things, although I am afraid I shirked the task of saying what the penalty ought to be. However, since my right hon. Friend has himself put nothing down on the Order Paper, I have put down this new Clause which I am now moving. The only difference in principle between the new Clause I am moving and the one I suggested in Committee—I do not think the wording is exactly the same—is that for convenience I have included the point about the medical examination, so covering both points in the one Clause. Under the one law a man who claimed to have a conscientious objection could be fined repeatedly, and imprisoned repeatedly for repeated refusals to attend for medical examination. It is not necessary for me to labour the argument. In the opinion of everybody that would be either absurd or tyrannous, and whether absurd or tyrannous ought to be stopped, and my right hon. Friend said so in Committee. I tried to meet that by putting it in as one of the liabilities under the Bill.

    What is the position? Those who are enthusiastic supporters of the principle of compulsion, those who are reluctant supporters of the principle of compulsion, and those who are opponents of the principle of compulsion, are all agreed that when a conscientious objection has been established to be genuine there should be no penalty and no liability, and the man's conviction should be suspended. There is no difference between us on that point, in any quarter of the House. I make no complaint of the machinery set up. I do not think tribunals have always worked perfectly, but then I cannot think of any machine doing such a job as this which could possibly work perfectly. Of course it does not work perfectly but they have done very well, and I think the proportion of errors made is surprisingly small in view of the difficulty of the task involved, especially in view of the temper in which such a task is necessarily performed in wartime. I suppose there might be even fewer mistakes in the judicious and calm temper in which a tribunal would approach such a question in peacetime.

    7.45 p.m.

    However, there still would be the risk of mistakes, and the question that arises is: what is to happen when subsequent events prove that the tribunal, with the best will in the world and acting with the most perfect fairness, was, nevertheless, mistaken? When a man appeared before the tribunal to answer their questions he may have been shy or awkward, he may have had something for breakfast which disagreed with him; anything might put a man into such a mood that his answers do not satisfy the tribunal; indeed, the members of the tribunal may have had something which disagreed with them. People are human beings and not mere machines. All that this new Clause seeks to do is to provide that where mistakes of that kind have been made, and where the man's devotion to his conscientious belief has been demonstrated by his readiness to bear burdens, to make sacrifices and suffer an element of persecution—because it is that if the objection is really conscientious—then the State must cry a halt at some stage. I know that they do administratively, but under the old procedure after certain sentences had been served a man came before a central tribunal, and the central tribunal considered the matter again. They might examine him or they might not, because even in those circumstances a central tribunal, after all that, might still be obstinate, or might still be mistaken.

    Therefore, it seems to many of us—I hope to all of us—that there should be some statutory curtailment of the perpetual in and out of gaol and penalties. I do not want to labour it further. I think the Parliamentary Secretary ought to help me on this. He represents Caerphilly. I know we have our disagreements from time to time, but we have been Members of and colleagues in this House for a long time, and I do not want to do or say anything to imply any kind of disrespect. On the contrary, I have the utmost affection for him. I remember his predecessor, as I am sure he does, in the representation of Caerphilly, the late Mr. Morgan Jones, of whom I was proud to be a colleague in this House for a short time. He was a conscientious objector during the last war, and he was in and out of gaol several times because he failed to satisfy the tribunal that his conscientious objection was a genuine objection. I think I am right in saying, that, am I not?

    No. Mr. Morgan Jones absolutely refused to go before a tribunal, which is an entirely different point.

    No, my hon. Friend will forgive me, it is not an entirely different point. I know all about the absolutist conscientious objector: I was one myself. I was very young, and I am not ashamed of having taken that view. I do not think that the world today is quite the world it was in 1914, and the view that it was possible to take in 1914 it was not possible to take in 1939—at any rate, I did not think it was. I know it is easier to take a different view when one is older, when one does not have to do it oneself. I appreciate what can be said about that. However, I think I was perfectly sincere on both occasions, and know Mr. Morgan Jones was perfectly sincere. The absolutist conscientious objector merely said: "I am not going to bargain about this thing at all." He used the analogy of the criminal law, and so on. He regarded the thing as wrong. If a person does that he does not bargain; he does nothing except insist that his scruples shall be respected. Nobody doubts now that Mr. Morgan Jones was perfectly sincere and genuine in what he did, or that his attitude represented the man's religious convictions; the man's whole personality was involved in the attitude he took up. He spent a long time in prison for it. I think that my hon. Friend in the constituency of Caerphilly was well known as a loyal lieutenant of Mr. Morgan Jones for many years, and that he owes his position in this House to that. He ought to have sympathy with me in this new Clause.

    I see one great difficulty. People will say; "Oh, yes, this is all very well, but under this new Clause a man can buy himself out of his liabilities by serving a sentence of three months' imprisonment. A great many will do so." I do not believe a great many will do it. If there are a few people who dishonestly do it. I would rather take that risk, than take the risk involved in having no limit by statute in peacetime. I think that the risk is a small risk, and that such risk as there is ought to be taken.

    I beg to second the Motion.

    Like my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), I can speak in terms of disappointment that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, who, I thought, dealt with the matter very generously and understandingly when it was first raised, has not found it possible to present a new Clause which I, owing to my technical ignorance of the law, was not able to do. I said at the time that I was not really excusing myself, but that I understood the Minister or his Department would get us out of the difficulty. But here we are, as the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne says, without the promised new Clause. I have a further complaint of a more serious character to make unless I can get the Government to agree with me, as I sincerely hope they will. It is that the Parliamentary Secretary himself went all the way, at any rate in theory, to the acceptance of the ideas embodied in the new Clause now before the House. I will read from what the Parliamentary Secretary said with regard to the continuing imprisonments. He said:
    "After each imprisonment the man's case is reviewed, and is sent back to the tribunal for the tribunal to review again in the light of the test of the man's sincerity to see what the position is. I am advised that"—
    I hope my hon. Friend takes responsibility for the statement—
    "very careful rules have been drawn up under which no man is prosecuted after he has served a sentence or sentences amounting to three months or more. I am advised that, furthermore, a man is not prosecuted more than twice even if such prosecutions result in prison sentences of less than three months."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th May, 1947; Vol. 437, c. 1875.]
    Well, the terms of this new Clause correspond fairly exactly with that promise. I hope, therefore, that both the Minister and his Parliamentary Secretary, on behalf of the Government, will now be able to say that, in view of the uncertainty in the past—and, certainly, the Parliamentary Secretary will agree with me that it is a very long past where conscientious objectors are concerned—not merely the administrative rules, but the law itself should be put beyond all shadow of doubt, in the terms regarding conscientious objectors. When I first introduced the matter—and I have every excuse for quoting this, because I should like to get not only the support of the Government but the support of the Opposition—when the first and principal Measure in connection with national service was introduced, the Prime Minister of the day, Mr. Neville Chamberlain, said, quite frankly, that he hoped we should drop the whole idea of persecuting men who stood for conscience. He agreed it was a nuisance to attempt to go on trying to make them do things which, conscientiously, they would decline to do, and that it was bad business on the part of the State to try to adopt any other attitude than that of recognising these men's consciences.

    We have made some sort of a compromise on the difficulties that this issue has always presented. I referred to these difficulties previously, when I said that a supposed conscientious objector might be masquerading as such, that he might be a lunatic, that he might be a criminal, that he might be a social saboteur doing his best to injure the Act of Parliament under which he was being treated. I admit all that. But they are very exceptional instances. After the long experience we have had of conscientious objectors, it has come to be generally recognised that a man who will face the social ostracism that always accompanies the imprisonment and in some cases is worse than the actual imprisonment and the long period of unpopularity afterwards, must be genuine. A man who will face that for the sake of his convictions begins to earn respect, even from his opponents, for the opinions he holds. Indeed, people think that that man should not be sent to any imprisonment at all. This Clause recognises the difficulties, and the efforts to find out whether a man is genuine. It may be that he will get a month's imprisonment. This Clause lays it down, as the regulations will, according to the Parliamentary Secretary, that when three months have been served in continuous sentences, or in one sentence of three months, that ought to be sufficient for the State. I shall be bitterly grieved—I am quite sure the Parliamentary Secretary will not think I am extravagant in making this statement—and there will be many people in Caerphilly who will be bitterly grieved, if, after all the developments of public opinion that have taken place since the heroic days of Morgan Jones, this Labour Government cannot see its way to put this provision into law, so that there will be no more mistakes by tribunals, and no more mistakes by Government Departments. I beg of the Government not to let this opportunity pass of accepting the new Clause.

    8.0 p.m.

    We have listened to two speeches the sentiments of which, I am sure, have appealed to hon. Members on both sides of the House. I will deal first with the undertaking which my right hon. Friend gave in Committee. Anybody who knows my right hon. Friend will agree that there is no duplicity in his make-up, and that when he gives an undertaking he gives it in good faith and has the intention to give effect to his promise. We have examined this matter very closely. We have tried to provide in the Bill for the kind of treatment that is now meted out administratively I hope my hon. Friends to whom this undertaking was given will realise that my right hon. Friend is not playing false to them, or doing anything deliberately to mislead them That has not been suggested, and I do not think it would be suggested against my right hon. Friend from any part of the House

    I must thank my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) for the very kind references he made to my predecessor and to me. If my hon. Friend the Member for West Ealing (Mr. J. Hudson) thinks that by this new Clause we would prevent mistakes in the future, he is himself mistaken. What is the procedure? The tribunals are set up with the authority of the House. There is an appellate tribunal. If a man fails at the local tribunal, he can go to the appellate tribunal That is the distinction I was trying to draw. We have all agreed that men who want to claim the rights of conscientious objection should go before a tribunal. Even with the best will in the world, and with the best machinery, the tribunals will sometimes make mistakes. The new Clause seeks to protect a man who has failed to convince the tribunal that he is a bona fide conscientious objector. Whatever we may do, there will always be cases of that kind, and with all due deference to my hon. Friend the Member for West Ealing, whatever may be the feelings of my constituents in Caerphilly, there is nothing I or the House can do to prevent these mistakes from occurring. Therefore, we are concerned about those cases of men who are bona fide conscientious objectors, where, as a result of an error on the part of the tribunal, or a failure on the part of the man in putting his case—which very frequently happens, with the result that frequently the tribunals are blamed, although it is neither their fault nor, indeed, that of the man, but simply the result of his inability to put his case—there are wrong results. In those cases we do not want a man to be running into and out of prison.

    The new Clause says that, if the man has served three months' imprisonment, we should let him go. In many cases the punishment that would be provided under the new Clause would be greater than the punishment that is allowed today. We do not want a bona fide conscientious objector who has not been registered to have to serve three months' imprisonment before the case against him is dropped. What we want to do is to maintain the present practice. Undertakings that were given in Committee by my right hon. Friend and by me have been quoted. I would like to repeat them. The position is that this is, in fact, prevented by administrative rules under which no man is prosecuted after he has served a prison sentence or sentences amounting to three months or more, and which provide, furthermore, that a man is not prosecuted more than twice even if these two prosecutions have resulted in prison sentences of less than three months, except where the sentences are derisory, for instance, small fines. The man goes before the tribunal, he fails to convince the tribunal, and his failure to convince it cannot be blamed upon anybody. [Interruption.] I thought I had covered that ground. I am taking a case where there is no fault on the part of the man or the tribunal—

    Yes. The man is refused registration, and he is called for medical examination preliminary to his being called up to the Forces. He refuses to appear for medical examination. He is then taken before the local magistrates and is sentenced to, say, one month's imprisonment. As soon as that man is out of prison, we send his case back to the tribunal for re-examination. The House has decided that the tribunal, and not the Minister, must decide, and the Minister cannot usurp the position of the tribunal. The man goes back to the tribunal with a statement from the Ministry of Labour that he has been in prison for one month, and the tribunal is asked to review his case, taking into consideration that he has shown what he is made of, and what his intentions are, by serving the sentence. After having examined the man, the local tribunal may refuse to register him, but in that case he automatically goes to the appellate tribunal. Here is a case in which the Ministry of Labour directs that the man should go from the local tribunal to the appellate tribunal. The appellate tribunal may turn him down again, and he may again be called up for medical examination, and refuse to appear. He then goes before the magistrates again, and is sentenced to another month's imprisonment. At the end of that month, we are satisfied that we ought not to proceed any further against him.

    I suggest to the Parliamentary Secretary that he must make up his mind between two positions—either an end is to be put to the cat-and-mouse business by Act of Parliament, or an end must be put to it administratively. Unless he provides a limit in the Statute, then administratively he has no power at all, because while a man remains in defiance of his obligation under the Bill and fails to persuade a tribunal to put it right, no Minister, no civil servant, and not even this House itself has the right to authorise that he shall not be prosecuted. If it is desired to stop the prosecutions and imprisonments when a term has been served, it must be put in the Bill, because otherwise there is no legal power to do it.

    That is very interesting, because it means, if it means anything at all, that in the past we ought to have continued to prosecute these men.

    I do not accept that position. This House does not accept that position and never has accepted it. The situation has been reported repeatedly to this House. The present Foreign Secretary reported during the war on what the procedure was, and it was accepted by this House. To suggest that all that has been done illegally, at this stage, in order to impose a greater penalty than that which is now imposed, is really carrying things too far.

    I beg the hon. Gentleman to believe that however stupid we are, we are perfectly serious in what we are saying. In so far as people were exempted by administrative action from obligations under the Act otherwise than in accordance with a decision of a tribunal, we were all deliberately and rightly closing our eyes to an illegal thing and allowing it to be done in order that a moral thing should be done. What we are saying now is that we cannot tolerate that in peace time, and that we must establish the law.

    That is a wholly wrong statement of law. The situation is that the right to prosecute or not to prosecute is always—

    The hon. and learned Gentleman seems to be about to make a speech; I thought he rose to ask a question.

    The Parliamentary Secretary may have given way, but I cannot allow the hon. and learned Member to make a speech. If he wants to put a question, he may do so.

    This is an interesting legal argument, but I am concerned about the facts—about what we have done, and what we undertake to do in these cases. The Amendment goes further than that. It says that the Minister of Labour cannot act until a man has done three months. If this goes into the Statute it is a direct instruction to the Minister. A man may have had two convictions against him, convictions perhaps of less consequence than three months imprisonment but this says that he must allow him to have three months' imprisonment first. That, it seems to me, is making the position worse for the mistaken case of a conscientious objector who is unable to get registered. [An HON. MEMBER: "You can reduce the period if you like."] That is what I cannot understand. First we are told that we have no legal right to do what we are now doing; and after having laid down a period, we are told that we can exercise that right. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I do not want to be unfair, I have given way repeatedly—

    The hon. Gentleman is misrepresenting the interjection that was made. No one is suggesting that if three months is put into the Bill he can make it two; what we are suggesting is that if he thinks this proposed period of three months is too long, we will allow him to amend it, either here or in another place, and put in two, or one, or nothing.

    8.15 p.m.

    Then we shall get into this fine state, that a man will know beforehand—and I say this in the interests of conscientious objectors—that if he does a month in prison he will get off. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That is the danger we shall get into, and it will bring discredit upon conscientious objectors. [An HON. MEMBER: "Two months."] If you make it two months or any fixed period, that will happen. Conscientious objection is a purely personal matter, and each case must be considered upon its merits. It is a personal question. You cannot legislate in a very general way about it and, whatever has been said, even the mover of the Amendment admits that the administration in regard to conscientious objectors in the late war has been, especially in the later stages, fair by and large.

    There have been mistakes; we willingly admit that. We have tried to mitigate the effect of those mistakes. We have tried to correct every reasonable case. We have sought the assistance of the tribunals time after time where errors have taken place. We have referred cases to appellant tribunals and have got their assistance, and the Minister has the right to do that. We have given a guarantee that there will be no "cat and mouse" business in connection with this, and I think the House would be well advised to leave the matter with the Minister of Labour to carry on with those principles. We have rules for dealing with these cases, and I think my right hon. Friend would agree with me in being prepared to put a copy of those rules in the Library, so that hon. Members can see for themselves how it is being done. Then, if they feel that adequate protection is not given to the case that has slipped through the tribunal, they will be able to make their representations to us. In view of these undertakings, in the interests of the conscientious objectors themselves I hope my hon. Friend will not press this new Clause.

    I think the stronger case on this question has been made by the Parliamentary Secretary, but although he desires to aid the conscientious objector, it has been impossible to find, words that could be embodied in the Bill. I submit that there has been a very great change in this country during the last 30 years towards conscientious objectors. Those who were involved during the 1914–18 war are bound to admit that the treatment they received then was very harsh indeed, whereas, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that during the recent war conscientious objectors, in the main, were fairly dealt with. Surely now we are entitled to go a stage further. During a war feeling develops and men hate each other on the least pretext, and as a result of that it is impossible to reason calmly or sanely in dealing with those people who are opposed to war. I speak with some little experience of the tribunals during the first and second world wars.

    The Minister has made provision in the new Bill that the tribunals must be impartial, but with the best will in the world the Minister is bound to select people who, in the main, accept the policy laid down by His Majesty's Government, and accept the idea that the young men of the country should engage in compulsory military service. That is the first handicap that a young person meets when he goes to the tribunal, and therefore it is extremely difficult for the tribunal properly to understand the approach of the young man who is opposed to war. Let me put the point about the young man who comes before the tribunal. Only those who have appeared in the courts know how a young person can be completely tongue-tied and unable to express himself. Those of us who have appeared at the tribunals on their behalf have recognised on many occasions that we have lost cases because, in the first place, the tribunal set out to prove to the young man that he was taking a wrong step.

    I do not want to be unfair and say that trick questions are put, but questions of an amazing kind are sometimes put to young men who are turned down because they are unable to prove that they have a conscientious objection to war. They appear before the appellate tribunal. If the atmosphere at the local tribunal is difficult for these young men, it is much more so before the appellate tribunal, and they are again turned down. If, after that failure, they refuse to submit themselves for medical examination, they get three months' imprisonment, or more. I have known a young man serve his entire 12 months, subject to the usual remission, which means that he serves nine months. In the latter stages of the war there was a very considerable reduction in that kind of treatment.

    It may be said that if we put into the Bill a period of one month, or even three months, a young man will say, "I will do a month, or three months, in prison, and when I come out I will be free"; but I do not think it works in that way at all. When a young man makes up his mind to appeal as a conscientious objector he faces the opposition and hostility of the people in his own area whose sons are going into the Army. He may well jeopardise his prospect of a career in a trade or profession, and no young man does that lightly. He may also have to submit to pressure from his parents. I know it may be argued that parents give their sons liberty to make up their own minds in these cases, but that is not always the whole of the story. Environment counts.

    If the young man appears before the court, there is nothing in the Bill to prevent the sheriff sending him to prison for 12 months. It is possible for the young man to serve the entire sentence. He comes out, and again has the right to appear before the local tribunal. The local tribunal turns him down again. I have appeared at tribunals when it has been made quite clear to the young man that because he served nine months in prison was no evidence that he had a conscientious objection to military service. The young man has been rejected again, and then has gone before the appellate tribunal, only to be turned down again. That is the cat-and-mouse procedure.

    I plead with the Parliamentary Secretary. What he said would not be accepted by everybody in the House. As a comparatively new Member I hope I may say that I know of no Minister who is more frank and open, and from whom we can more expect that his word is his bond, when he makes a statement. I ask him to look at the proposed new Clause again. Those who have proposed it are not rigid in saying that we should send thee men to prison for three months and then let them go. Surely, with all the talent on the Front Bench, capable of piloting very intricate Measures through the House such as the Town and Country Planning Bill—I would say that people who can formulate a Bill of that kind—

    I am extremely pleased, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that you call me only slightly out of Order after my last experience on this Bill. My only

    Division No. 221.]


    [8.28 p.m.

    Ayles, W. H.Gruffydd, Prof. W Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
    Bowen, R.Harris, H. WilsonShurmer, P
    Byers, FrankJohn, W.Stephen, C.
    Carmichael, JamesKendall, W DTimmons, J
    Collins, V. JMcGhee, H. G.Yates, V F
    Cove, W. GMorris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)
    Cunningham, P.Rankin, J.TELLERS FOR THE AYES
    Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)Mr. Sidney Silverman and
    Granville E (Eye)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)Mr. J. Hudson


    Adams, Richard (Balham)Chater, DFraser, H. C. P. (Stone)
    Adams, W T. (Hammersmith, South)Chetwynd, G. R.Fraser, T. (Hamilton)
    Agnew, Cmdr P. G.Clarke, Col. R. SFreeman, Maj. J. (Watford)
    Aitken, Hon. MaxClitherow, Dr. R.Freeman, Peter (Newport)
    Alexander, Rt. Hon. A V.Coldrick, W.Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P M
    Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)Colman, Miss G. MGage, C.
    Attewell, H. C.Comyns, Dr. L.Gammans, L. D.
    Austin, H. LewisCook, T. F.Gibbins, J.
    Awbery, S. S.Corvedale, ViscountGibson, C. W.
    Ayrton Gould, Mrs BCrawley, A.Gilzean, A.
    Bacon, Miss ADavies, Edward (Burslem)Glanville, J. E. (Consett)
    Baird J.Davies, Hadyn (St Pancras, S.W.)Gooch, E. G.
    Balfour, ADe la Bère, R.Gordon-Walker, P C.
    Barton, CDelargy, H. JGreenwood, Rt. Hon A. (Wakefield)
    Beamish, Maj. T. V. HDiamond, J.Greenwood, A. W J (Heywood)
    Bechervaise, A. EDobbie, WGrey, C. F.
    Bellenger, Rt Hon. F JDodds, N. N.Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)
    Berry, H.Dodds-Parker, A DGriffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)
    Bing, G. H. CDonovan, T.Guest, Dr. L. Haden
    Binns, J.Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness)Gunter, R. J.
    Blackburn, A. RDrewe, C.Guy, W. H.
    Blyton, W. RDugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)Haire, John E (Wycombe)
    Boardman, H.Durbin, E. F MHall, W. G.
    Boles, Lt.-Col. D C. (Wells)Dye, SHamilton, Lieut.-Col. R
    Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H WEdwards, N. (Caerphilly)Hannan, W. (Maryhill)
    Bower, N.Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)Hardy, E. A.
    Boyd-Carpenter, J AEvans, E. (Lowestoft)Harrison, J.
    Bramall, E. A.Evans, John (Ogmore)Harvey, Air-Comdre. A V
    Brook, D. (Halifax)Evans, S N. (Wednesbury)Hastings, Dr. Somerville
    Brooks, T. J (Rothwell)Ewart, R.Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C
    Brown, George (Belper)Fairhurst, F.Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)
    Buchan-Hepburn, P G T.Farthing, W. J.Hicks, G.
    Burke, W. A.Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E)Holman, P.
    Challen, CFoot, M. M.Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)
    Champion, A. JFoster, W. (Wigan)House, G.

    point was that if Members on the Government Front Bench are capable of piloting Bills of that character, surely it is not beyond the Minister of Labour and his legal advisers to find a form of words that will be satisfactory to the entire House in this matter.

    I make that plea. Let us give the young person the benefit of the doubt, if we have put him before two tribunals and before the sheriff. It that is appreciated, it might be possible tonight to find a form of words that will save the situation. If we cannot do so, perhaps it, the later stages tomorrow it might be possible for us to give satisfaction to these young men, who are entitled to get the benefit, if they have shown a conscientious objection to military service.

    Question put, "That the Clause be read d Second time."

    The House divided: Ayes, 23; Noes, 253.

    Hubbard, T.Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
    Hudson, Rt Hon. R. S. (Southport)Mayhew, C. P.Smith, S. H. (Hull, S W.)
    Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Medland, H. MSnadden, W. M.
    Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)Mellish, R. J.Soskice, Maj. Sir
    Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Messer, F.Sparks, J. A.
    Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)Mitchison, G. R.Stanley, Rt. Hon. O
    Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Moody, A. S.Steele, T.
    Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Morgan, Dr H. BStewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
    Jay, D. P. T.Mort, D. L.Stuart, Rt. Hon. J (Moray)
    Jager, G. (Winchester)Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C. EStudholme, H. G.
    Jones, D. T (Hartlepools)Moyle, ASummerskill, Dr Edit)
    Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)Naylor, T E.Sutcliffe, H.
    Jones, J. H. (Bolton)Neal, H. (Claycross)Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
    Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Nicholls, H R. (Stratford)Teeling, William
    Keenan, WNicholson, G.Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
    Kenyon, C.Nield, B. (Chester)Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
    Kerr, Sir J GrahamNoble, Comdr. A. H PThorp, Lt.-Col R A F
    Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr ENoel-Buxton LadyThurtle, Ernest
    Kinley, J.Oldfield, W. H.Titterington, M
    Kirby, B. V.O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir HTolley, L.
    Langford-Holt, JPaget, R. T.Tomlinson, Rt Hon G
    Lavers, S.Paling, Rt. Hon Wilfred (Wentworth)Touche, G. C.
    Lee, F. (Hulme)Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Turner-Samuels, M.
    Legge-Bourke, Maj E A. HPargiter, G. AUngoed-Thomas, L.
    Leonard, WParkin, B. TVernon, Maj. W F
    Leslie, J. R.Pearson, A.Walkden, E.
    Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)Peart, Capt T. F.Walker-Smith, D.
    Lewis, T (Southampton)Popplewell, E.Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
    Lindgren, G. S.Porter, E. (Warrington)Warbey, W N.
    Lindsay, M (Solihull)Porter, G. (Leeds)Ward, Hon G. R
    Linstead, H. N.Proctor, W T.Watson, W M.
    Lipson, D L.Pursey, Cmdr H.Webb, M. (Bradford, C)
    Logan, D. G.Randall, H. EWells, W. T. (Walsall)
    Low, Brig. A. R. WRanger, J.Westwood, Rt. Hon. J
    Lucas-Tooth, Sir HRees-Williams, D. H.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W
    Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. OReid, Rt Hon. J. S. C (Hillhead)Wigg, Col. G. E.
    McAdam, W.Reid, T (Swindon)Wilkes, L.
    Macdonald, Sir P (I. of Wight)Rhodes, H.Wilkins, W. A.
    McEntee, V. La T.Rogers, G. H. RWilley, F. T. (Sunderland)
    McKay, J. (Wallsend)Ropner, Col. L.Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
    Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)Ross, William (Kilmarnock)Williams, W R. (Heston)
    McKinlay, A S.Savory, Prof D. LWilliamson, T
    McLeavy, FScott-Elliot W.Willis, E.
    Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)Segal, Dr. SWoodburn, A
    MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Shackleton, E. A. AWoods, G. S
    Macpherson, T. (Romford)Sharp, GranvilleWyatt, W.
    Mallalieu, J. P. W.Shawcross, Rt Hn Sir H. (St. Helens)Young, Sir R. (Newton)
    Marlowe, A. A. H.Simmons, C J.Younger, Hon Kenneth
    Marquand, H. A.Skeffington, A. MTELLERS FOR THE NOES
    Marsden, Capt. ASkinnard, F WMr. Collindridge and Mr. S

    Clause 1—(Liability To Be Called Up For Service)

    Before calling upon the right hon. Baronet the Member for Antrim (Sir H. O'Neill) to move the Amendment, after "Britain," to insert "or Northern Ireland," I have been instructed by Mr. Speaker to say that this Amendment has been selected, in spite of the long discussion in Committee, solely on the ground that hon. Members, by mischance, failed to record their votes in the Lobby, and it is, therefore, called for a Division only.

    Division No. 222.]


    [8.40 p.m.

    Aitken, Hon. MaxDower, E. L G. (Caithness)Maitland, Comdr. J W
    Baldwin, A. E.Gage, C.Marlowe, A. A H
    Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C (Wells)Harvey, Air-Comdre, A. VMarsden, Capt A
    Bowen, R.Headlam, Lieut.-Col Rt. Hon. Sir C.Maude, J. C.
    Boyd-Carpenter, J AHutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'gh, W.)Neill, W F (Belfast, N.)
    Cuthbert, W. N.Hutchison, Col. J. R (Glasgow, C.)O'Neill, Rt. Hon Sir H
    De la Bère, R.McCallum, Maj. DPickthorn, K
    Donner, Sqn.-Ldr P WMacley, Hon J SPonsonby, Col. C E

    I beg to move, in page r, line II, after "Britain," to insert "or Northern Ireland."

    May I ask hon. Members to leave this to the Chair? In this case I happen to be right.

    Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

    The House divided: Ayes, 33; Noes, 230.

    Price-White, Lt.-Col. DSavory, Prof. D. LWheatley, Colonel M. J.
    Raikes, H. V.Shepherd, W S. (Bucklow)
    Ropner, Col. L.Sutcliffe, H.


    Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)Touche, G. C.Lieut.-Colonel Sir William Allen
    and Sir Walter Smiles


    Adams, Richard (Balham)Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)Paget, R. T.
    Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)Guest, Dr. L. HadenPaling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)
    Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.Gunter, R. J.Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
    Alexander, Rt. Hon A. V.Guy, W. H.Pargiter, G. A.
    Allen, A. C (Bosworth)Hall, W. G.Parkin, B. T.
    Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.Paton, J. (Norwich)
    Anderson, P. (Whitehaven)Hannan, W. (Maryhill)Pearson, A.
    Attewell, H. C.Hardy, E. A.Peart, Capt. T. F.
    Austin, H. LewisHarrison, J.Porter, E (Warrington)
    Awbery, S. SHastings, Dr. SomervillePorter, G. (Leeds)
    Ayles, W H.Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Pritt, D. N.
    Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.Hicks, G.Proctor, W. T.
    Bacon, Miss A.Holman, P.Pursey, Cmdr. H
    Baird, J.Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)Randall, H. E.
    Balfour, AHouse, G.Ranger, J.
    Barton, CHoy, J.Rankin, J.
    Bechervaise, A. E.Hubbard, T.Rees-Williams, D. R.
    Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)Reid, T. (Swindon)
    Berry, H.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Rhodes, H.
    Bing, G. H. C.Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton. W.)Richards, R.
    Binns, J.Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
    Blackburn, A. R.Jay, D. P. T.Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
    Blyton, W. R.Jeger, G. (Winchester)Scott-Elliot, W.
    Boardman, H.Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)Segal, Dr. S.
    Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.John, W.Shackleton, E. A. A.
    Bramall, E. A.Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)Sharp, Granville
    Brook, D. (Halifax)Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)
    Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Jones, J. H. (Bolton)Shurmer, P.
    Brown, George (Belper)Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Silverman, J. (Erdington)
    Buchanan, G.Keenan, WSilverman, S. S. (Nelson)
    Burke, W. A.Kendall, W. D.Simmons, C. J.
    Carmichael, JamesKenyon, C.Skeffington, A. M.
    Champion, A. J.Kerr, Sir J. GrahamSkeffington-Lodge, T. C
    Chetwynd, G. R.Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.Skinnard, F. W
    Clitherow, Dr. R.Kinley, J.Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
    Coldrick, W.Kirby, B. V.Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)
    Collindridge, F.Lavers, S.Soskice, Maj. Sir F.
    Colman, Miss G. MLee, F. (Hulme)Sparks, J. A.
    Comyns, Dr. L.Leonard, W.Steele, T.
    Cook, T. F.Leslie, J. R.Stephen, C.
    Corvedale, ViscountLevy, B. WStewart, Michael (Fulham, E)
    Cove, W. G.Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)Summerskill, Dr. Edith
    Cunningham, P.Lewis, T. (Southampton)Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
    Davies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)Lindgren, G. S.Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
    Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)Lipson, D. L.Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
    Delargy, H. J.Logan, D. G.Thurtle, Ernest
    Diamond, J.McAdam, W.Titterington, M. F.
    Dobbie, W.McEntee, V La TTolley, L.
    Dodds, N. N.McGhee, H. GTomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
    Donovan, T.McKay, J. (Wallsend)Turner-Samuels, M.
    Driherg, T. E. N.Mackay, R. W. C (Hull, N.W.)Ungoed-Thomas, L.
    Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)McKinlay, A. SVernon, Maj. W. F.
    Durbin, E. F. M.McLeavy, F.Viant, S. P.
    Dye, S.MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Walkden, E.
    Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)Macpherson, T. (Romford)Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
    Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)Mallalieu, J. P. W.Warbey, W. N.
    Evans, E. (Lowestoft)Marples, A. E.Watson, W. M.
    Evans, John (Ogmore)Marquand, H. A.Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
    Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)Mayhew, C. P.Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
    Ewart, R.Medland, H. MWestwood, Rt. Hon. J.
    Fairhurst, F.Mellish, R. J.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
    Farthing, W. J.Messer, F.Wigg, Col. G. E.
    Fletcher, E. G. M (Islington, E.)Mitchison, G R.Wilkes, L.
    Foot, M. M.Monslow, W.Wilkins, W. A.
    Forman, J. C.Moody, A. S.Willey, P T. (Sunderland)
    Foster, W. (Wigan)Morgan, Dr. H. BWilliams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
    Fraser, T. (Hamilton)Morley, R.Williamson, T.
    Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)Willis, E.
    Freeman, Peter (Newport)Mort, D. L.Woodburn, A
    Gibbins, J.Mulvey, A.Woods, G. S.
    Gilzean, A.Nally, W.Wyatt, W.
    Glanville, J. E. (Consett)Naylor, T. E.Yates, V. F.
    Gooch, E. G.Neal, H. (Claycross)Young, Sir R. (Newton)
    Gordon-Walker, P. C.Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)Younger, Hon. Kenneth
    Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)Noel-Buxton, LadyZilliacus, K.
    Grey, C. F.Oldfield, W. H.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
    Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)Orbach, M.Mr. Snow and Mr. Popplewell.

    Clause 2—(Whole-Time And Part-Time Service)

    8.45 p.m.

    I beg to move, in page 2, line 14, to leave out from "deemed," to the end of line 22, and to insert:

  • "(a) if his last service during that term was in the Royal Navy or the Royal Marines, to be entered for service in a Royal Naval Special Reserve which the Admiralty shall raise and maintain for the purposes of this Act; or
  • (b) if that last service was in the Regular Army, to be enlisted for service in the Territorial Army or the Army Reserve, as the Army Council may direct; or
  • (c) if that last service was in the Regular Air Force, to be enlisted for service in the Air Force Reserve."
  • The hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) will remember that he submitted a case, especially about the words "according as." I promised to look into the matter. I have considered it carefully, and as the hon. and learned Member was perhaps a little upset with me earlier in this evening, I hope that he will now be gratified that I have adopted the entire wording which he put upon the Order Paper.

    I thank the right hon. Gentleman for accepting this Amendment, which was designed, like all my Amendments, to improve the Bill. The other Amendment which I moved on the same occasion was accepted at once by the right hon. Gentleman, and in those circumstances I was the more astonished that he moved the Closure earlier this evening in order to stop me from making a two minutes' speech.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 5—(Liability To Complete Interrupted Service)

    I beg to move, in page 3, line 41, to leave out Subsection (2).

    This Amendment is being moved again with a view to trying to obtain a satisfactory explanation. It was moved in Committee by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Blackpool (Brigadier Low), and I do not think that on that occasion we received a very satisfactory answer to the points which were raised. The Government have now had time to reflect upon the issues raised, and I hope that we shall get more satisfaction. This Subsection covers two points. The first is, as I understand it, that it is to be left to each Service authority to define by regulations what term of service in an auxiliary Force shall be deemed to be equivalent to whole-time service or part-time service under this Bill. It is desirable that there should be some co-ordination between the Service authorities on this issue, and also that people who volunteer for service in the auxiliary Forces in lieu of part-time service should be informed, and be able to inform themselves, at the time they volunteer, of the extent to which such service in the auxiliary Services will count in lieu of part-time service. That covers the first point on which we should like some information. We should much prefer if, instead of leaving this to the Service authorities, the definition were incorporated in the Bill.

    Under the second part of the Clause, anyone who has served in an auxiliary Force and is then transferred back to complete part-time service, is only allowed to count a maximum of 15 days of his auxiliary service in any one year towards his part-time service. I should like to know what justification there is for that. It seems to me in one way to impose a penalty upon those who volunteer for service in the auxiliary Forces, though I recognise the difficulty with which one has to contend. It is that of avoiding the possibility of someone in the auxiliary Forces doing so much service in one year, and then leaving those Forces and saying, "I have done enough. I need not do any more in the next five years for which I should otherwise have been liable for part-time service." It ought to be possible to make a fairer adjustment between service in the auxiliary Forces, and service under this Measure.

    I beg to second the Amendment.

    I wish to make a few remarks on the number of days' training which a volunteer is allowed to count. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War may think he need not listen to me because, for a reason which he may remember, I have had to make my argument twice already. It was in the middle of the night when I first made my point on This matter, and then for some reason the right hon. Gentleman was not present. I would like him now to explain why it is that he appears to injure the volunteer under this Subsection. As my hon. and learned Friend has said, he is allowing the volunteer to count only 15 days in each year, whereas the National Service man is allowed to count 21 days. If the volunteer is in the Territorial Army, and is to be considered efficient and earn his bounty in any one year, he has to do the equivalent of 22½ days' training. The right hon. Gentleman agreed with me when I last put that point and I think he will agree again. If the right hon. Gentleman really wants to encourage volunteers, why allow them to count only 15 days? The House is entitled to an explanation.

    I understand that the right hon. Gentleman does not want to be put in the position, from the point of view of the Army, whereby men who volunteer can get rid of their 60 days' training liability, in the course of the first two years. Surely, there has been time, between the Committee stage, when the same arguments were put forward, and now, in which to think out some Amendment to this Subsection, or a new Clause if necessary, which would have the effect of allowing them to count at least that period which is required by the Territorial Army Regulations? The right hon. Gentleman may say that he wants men who are volunteering for the Territorial Army to stay in it for four years, and he may go on to say that 60 days divided by four comes to 15. That seems to be good mathematics, and it may be the explanation of the choice of 15 days for this Subsection, but I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is a good argument for distinguishing between the volunteer and the National Service man to the detriment of the volunteer, as in this Subsection. I think that, on the points made by my hon. and learned Friend and the point which I have put now, the right hon. Gentleman has a certain case to answer.

    The real reason why we want Subsection (2) is to avoid the possibility of those men who do not complete their full-time service under this Bill, but who for various reasons go on to one of the reserves—particularly in the Royal Air Force—being able, as it were, to compress their reserve liability, which is now spread over six years under this Bill, into two years, thereby escaping their obliga- tion to serve in the reserve for six years. The point made by the hon. and gallant Member about the association between the voluntary Territorial Force and those who have to give their services under this Bill, does not arise, because volunteers are not covered by this Bill at all. It is only those called up under this Bill, who have to do this 60 days' period of reserve service spread over six years.

    Surely, we are dealing here with a man who, for some reason or other, has accepted the obligation of a volunteer in an auxiliary Force; and, surely, that man has accepted greater obligations than those imposed by this Subsection.

    9.0 p.m.

    I think that Subsection (2) has to be read in conjunction with the whole of Clause 5, which deals with liability to complete interrupted service. It may well be that a National Service man, with a liability under this Bill for 12 months whole-time service, will go on reserve, for one reason or another, and escape a certain amount of whole-time and part-time service, for various reasons. For instance, in the R.A.F., it may not be necessary to keep a man for the full 12 months, and we may let him go to the Air Force Reserve, when he will volunteer to do more than he would ordinarily be liable for under this Bill. We do not want him to be able to claim that part-time service in the first year or two. The whole purpose of this Bill is to make sure that the National Service man after his full-time service shall be kept up to date for six years with the reserve training. There is also the question of the bounty for those who volunteer. It might be that not only would the National Service man be volunteering for the Reserve, but he would be able to get the whole of the 60 days concentrated into the first two years. That might make him eligible for the bounty which is given to the volunteer Territorials who complete more than the number of drills which the National Service reservist will be obliged to do. For that reason we cannot accept the Amendment to omit Subsection (2). There was another Amendment advanced in Committee relating to the "cat and mouse" suggestion that it would be possible to call a man back if he had been discharged. That is governed by the next Amendment to be moved by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour. I hope that explanation will satisfy hon. Members opposite, and will enable them to withdraw the Amendment.

    May 1, with the leave of the House, put a question to the right hon. Gentleman which might crystallise the position and enable us to be satisfied on the point? Supposing a man, having volunteered for the auxiliary service, does 21 days' service in the year, why should he not be allowed to count more than 15 of those days against his liability of 21 days' service in a year under Clause 2?

    The reason why a person who has taken alternative part-time service on that basis is not to be allowed to reckon more than 15 days' training in one year towards the 60 days is because, on a volunteer footing, he can earn a bounty for attending hourly training periods and week-end camps outside the annual camp periods. That would make a distinction between the member of the Territorial Army who volunteers to do that, and a National Service man who has an obligation under this Bill.

    Amendment negatived.

    I beg to move, in page 4, line 7, to leave out Subsection (3), and to insert:

    "(3) The Minister may cause to be served on any person liable under this Section to be called upon to undertake part-time service a written notice specifying the term of part-time service which he is liable to perform, and, subject as hereinafter provided, that person shall after the expiration of the period of fourteen days after the service of the notice be deemed to be entered or enlisted for service in such force as may be specified in the notice:
    Provided that if within the said period of fourteen days that person disputes his liability to be called upon to undertake part-time service, or the term of part-time service which he is shown by the notice to be liable to perform, and requires the Minister to refer the question in dispute to a referee, the notice shall not become operative to enter or enlist that person unless a referee selected by the Minister from a panel of persons nominated by the Lord Chancellor, after inquiring into and determining the question in dispute, directs that the notice shall become operative so to do on such date and for such term of part-time service as may be specified in the direction."
    In the Committee stage we undertook to examine this matter and we put this Amendment down in the belief that it would meet all the points which hon. Gentlemen on both sides asked us to consider. At this stage in dealing with this Amendment I think it would be for the convenience of the House if I also referred to the four Amendments to this Amendment which are down on the Order Paper. This proposed new Subsection has two points in it. The first is that the Minister of Labour and not the Service authority will issue the written notice. This means that if a man disputes his liability he can raise the matter with the Ministry, and in any event that is considered more appropriate since he is not in the Forces and he will be treated as a civilian and not as a man in the Forces.

    The second point is that the written notice will not take effect until after a period of 14 days. If a man disputes his liability, and, what is more likely, disputes the amount of part-time service he is called upon to do within the 14 days, he may require the Minister to refer the question to arbitration. If he goes to arbitration the notice will not take effect until the referee has determined the question and the notice then shall specify the period of service and the date.

    One of the Amendments provides that the matter shall automatically go to the referee if the man concerned raises any objection. We ask the House not to accept that proposal, because there will be many cases where the man will say, "I object to this"; he will have to fill up a form if he is going to appeal, we will look at it and say, "A mistake has been made here, there is no need for the matter to go any further," and we shall cancel the notice. But if, under the regulation, because a man raises an objection the case is automatically referred to a referee, it will waste the time of the man concerned and of everybody else. We want to leave an open course to the man, so that if we cannot settle the matter he can go to the referee if he wishes. It is obvious that if the Minister settles the case to the man's satisfaction, he will not want to go to the referee. It is only where we think we cannot settle it to the man's satisfaction that he will want to take the matter there.

    It was suggested last time that the ordinary courts should be used. We are advised that we can hardly send these cases to a court of summary jurisdiction. because at that point neither an offence nor a civil claim is involved summary courts usually deal with complaints or offences of some kind. We have provided here for another method. We suggest that there shall be a referee who will be selected by the Minister from a panel of persons nominated by the Lord Chancellor. That will take the matter out of any influence of the Ministry of Labour. All the Ministry will do will be to select somebody appropriate. by which I mean somebody appropriate in the locality. and so on. Therefore, disputed cases will be settled by an impartial referee, which is what was pressed for by hon. Members who raised this matter in Committee. I submit that this proposed new Subsection meets the points which have been raised. It would not be an advantage to accept the proposed Amendments to this Subsection, because we think a great deal of confusion and trouble would be created, and the new form of reference for settling these cases takes the matter out of the realm of any kind of suspicion

    I would like to thank the right hon. Gentleman, who has met our arguments which we adduced on the Committee stage with regard to this point. We then put forward the argument that a man who disputed his liability to service under this Measure should have the matter determined not by a court-martial but by some other civil tribunal. We did not attach any particular importance to the adjudication being by a court of summary jurisdiction. We accept, and welcome, the two main points that the notice shall be served by the Minister, and that in the event of dispute the matter shall be adjudicated upon by the referee. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not think that we are in any way unappreciative of the manner in which he has met our main argument, by reason of the fact that we have put down Amendments to the right hon. Gentleman's proposal. Although I do not want to press them, I would like the right hon. Gentleman to bear these arguments in mind. Under the proviso as it now stands if a person "disputes his liability"—those are the actual words in the proviso—the dispute may be oral or in writing. There is nothing in the proviso to say in what form it should be. Therefore, it appears to me that by leaving the words in this particular form, there might arise the difficulty that when trying to call up a man, the Ministry would say "We have served you with a notice and you have not disputed it." The man would say, "I went to the Ministry of Labour Exchange, I found a clerk there and disputed it." He would find great difficulty in disproving that fact. Therefore I suggest there is some force in saying it should be a written notice, and probably stating the grounds for disputing that written notice. I think the right hon. Gentleman meant that when he said they would be required to fill up a form, but in fact that is not provided in the proviso, and strictly and legally the man affected could comply with this Clause by merely going along to the employment exchange and saying, "I dispute my liability."

    When any person goes into an employment exchange it is the practice, when he goes to the counter, for a note to be made immediately of his name, address and the purpose of his visit. A note would be made, and quite definitely he would be asked for his particulars, so the matter would be recorded.

    That may well be a matter of good administration in the Ministry's employment exchanges, but I ask the Minister to look at it from the purely legal point of view. He will find, whether or not the form is filled in, that under the proviso as it now stands a man can bring himself within its terms by merely saying, "I dispute my liability." I do not press that, but I do ask him to consider it. I think it will improve the Bill, which is what we are all out for.

    With regard to the other Amendments, the Minister will appreciate that the Clause as now drafted puts the burden upon the person disputing his liability to do two things. First of all, he must say, "I dispute my liability," either to serve or to serve to the extent required. He has then to fulfil the requirements of saying to the Minister "Refer it to the referee," and strictly, and in law, a man would not bring himself within this Clause, as amended, by merely saying, "I dispute my liability." Under the Clause as now drawn, with this new Subsection, it would be possible to have the case adjudicated upon and for his claim not to be regarded as liable for service to be rejected on the ground that he had not coupled with that claim a requirement that the matter should be referred to the referee. That is the point of our Amendment. I quite agree that the Minister should have power, where he is satisfied that the man who is disputing liability is right, to admit that he is right without the matter going to a referee. I should have thought it was open to him to do that at any time without a statutory provision. As the proviso now stands, I emphasise that it puts the burden on the man disputing liability to say to the Minister, "Refer this to the referee," and if he does not say that to the Minister he does not bring himself within this Clause. They are two minor points. I merely ask the Minister to look at them and consider them, because I think they have some substance. I conclude by repeating my thanks to him for the way in which he has met us on these most important points.

    Amendment agreed to.

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

    I beg to move, in page 4, line 25, to leave out from "himself," to "cause," in line 26.

    During the Committee stage my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) moved an Amendment which would have limited to a minimum of 14 days the period in which a notice could be cancelled with regard to the full-time Reserve training for which a man was called up. There was a very long and interesting Debate, and there was considerable support from all sides of the House for the general principle put forward by my hon. Friend, and I promised to look into the whole matter. The purpose of this Amendment and the following Amendment—in page 4, line 28, after "which," to insert "but not the date on which"—is to implement the decision of the Government after considering the Debate in Committee; that is to say, we shall not take power to cancel a notice as regards the day on which a man is called up for training, but we shall retain the power to vary the notice with regard to the place or time of day. In is argued that we shall be required to retain this—

    9.15 p.m.

    On a point of Order. Are we taking the two Amendments together, this and the next in the name of the right hon. Gentleman—in page 4, line 28, after "which," to insert "but not the date on which"?

    I have no objection, if the House wishes to take the two together.

    I am moving the first, as I said, but this and the other are both designed to meet the points put from all sides of the Committee during the Committee stage of the Bill.

    The right hon. Gentleman seems to be addressing himself to the second Amendment. I do want the House to be clear whether we are taking the Amendments together or not Could the Chair tell us?

    As I was saying, we should leave out the power we had proposed to take to issue a notice cancelling the call-up. This was clearly desired by the Committee. But we must retain the power to vary the notice with regard to the time of the day and the place. Our intention is to meet the kind of emergency referred to in the Committee stage—as, for instance, a flood at the camp, or an outbreak of an infectious disease. In such an emergency, we think that the Service authority should make every possible endeavour to find an alternative place and, if necessary, should be able to vary the hour at which the man should join. In view of the consequences brought to the notice of the Committee, the upset of domestic life, possible repercussions upon industry, upon a works where special arrangements had been made because of the man's impending absence, and so on, we feel that we should do our best, not to cancel the call-up, but to vary the call-up; to call up the man to a different camp; or, if no other camp is available, to give the maximum amount of training we can under any emergency arrangements we might be able to make We feel we should do that rather than risk the domestic and industrial upsets to which so much attention was drawn on the Committee stage. I hope the House will agree that we have met the point.

    On the material point, so far as I understand it, I think I am in agreement with the right hon. Gentleman. On the matter of the language, at the risk of appearing pedantic and in some slight fear of seeming facetious, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider the word "date." I do not think the word "date" really means—certainly it does not mean on historical documents, and so on, and I should not think it legally means—what it is desired to mean here, that is to say the day—Wednesday, or Thursday, or whatever it may be. The day is everything. "Given by Our hand at the Royal Palace of Westminster on Friday, being 16th day of May." I suggest that the word here ought really to be "day," or "hour," but not "date." I think what the right hon. Gentleman wants to do is to change the hour. Although I admit it is a very small point, I think, perhaps, it might be met.

    We on this side are very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for meeting the point, but it was not in fact quite the point that we put. As a result of the discussion I think most of us had been impressed by the argument of the right hon. Gentleman that, in view of the possibility of an emergency, cancellation might be necessary, and we are also very grateful to him for the promise he gave then, which he has redeemed either perfectly or imperfectly—I must leave that to people more expert in the English language than I am—as to the meaning of deferment. I should, however, like some reassurance from the right hon. Gentleman with regard to dropping this power of cancellation. I think we accepted that there must be a power of cancellation in the case of a sudden flood or epidemic in the neighbourhood, or something else which made it impossible to hold the camp, and what we were pressing for was consideration of the possibility of compensation for the considerable domestic upset involved in such a cancellation.

    I quite see that if it is possible for the right hon. Gentleman to dispense altogether with the power of cancellation, the question of compensation is settled, but I must confess that I am not quite clear how he can do without that power. Suppose that at the very last moment the camp is flooded or there is an epidemic. At any rate the battalion which has been called up for training cannot go to that particular place. Unless he can send them somewhere else on exactly the same date as the notice already bears, it seems that he is bound to want to cancel the notice. Will it really be very efficient, if something of this kind happens, to search hurriedly round for some other camp where equivalent training can be given or, if some other camp cannot be found, some other method of giving the 15 days' longterm training for which the men have been called up? Is the Minister really satisfied that in the event of an emergency occurring at the last moment he really can dispense with the notice of cancellation? Would it not be better at some further stage to think again in the direction of retaining the power of cancellation, which naturally is only used in the most exceptional circumstances, and considering the possibility of giving some compensation in case of hardship?

    As I moved the original Amendment on this, I would like to thank my right hon. Friend for meeting us. In fact he has gone beyond what we asked for. He has taken away all power to issue cancellations and we ought to be very grateful to him on that account. It is clear that if a situation should arise in which it is necessary to alter the date, place and time at which the men should be present, cancellation would be impossible because the men would already be on their way. His solution, therefore, seems to be to divert them to other training grounds or make other extempore arrangements to meet the case. I think we should leave the matter there for the Army authorities to do their best.

    I was not present when this matter was discussed in Committee and I understand the right hon. Gentleman has gone rather further than was suggested by those who moved the Amendment. I am rather at a loss to understand the position in which the right hon. Gentleman has now landed himself. If I understand the Subsection as it will read after this Amendment has been made, the Service authority concerned will have no power to cancel any notice which may have been issued, and moreover cannot postpone the date. I ask the hon. Gentleman what the position would be if the Service authorities made a genuine mistake, for example, if they called up somebody who was very much too young, say a boy ten or eleven years old? In a case of that sort the Service authorities would probably have no chance of putting the mistake right.

    I should say that that position would be covered by the provisions relating to the young man in question. In that case we should certainly have to pay. There is no question of that. The case which was put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) has to be answered frankly. Naturally I would very much desire, as would my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War, to keep the original power that we had for cancellation, if no other considerations had to be taken into account. Those considerations were put before us by hon. Members from all sides during the Committee stage, and they had to be taken note of. There was the possibility of keeping the full power of cancellation, and of some unknown commitment and unknown machinery being set up to cover a whole range of compensation.

    If such powers were given in the Statute, it might arise that the Service Departments would not be quite so careful in their use of the power of cancellation as they otherwise might be, particularly if they were covered by Parliamentary authority to pay compensation. We thought of that. We consulted people experienced in these matters. We thought that, in all the circumstances and in view of the likely economic position of this country in the next two or three, or even four, years, we should interfere as little as possible by way of dislocating industrial arrangements. We thought it was as well to take the whole plunge and to say we preferred not to cancel so that there would be no fear of industrial dislocation. It must be laid absolutely upon the Service authorities to make the best possible arrangements they can, if an emergency arises of the kind mentioned by various Members of the Committee.

    If we were to go the other way, we would have to meet an unknown volume of compensation, although we might be sure that the Service authorities would want at all times to get the maximum benefit from the period of call-up, and that they would not use cancellation except in the case of extremity. Let me therefore say that we have looked into the matter from every angle, and that this is the best we can do.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendment made: In page 4, line 28, after "which," insert:

    "but not the date on which."—[Mr. Alexander.]

    9.30 p.m.

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

    The Amendment relates to the Subsection which prescribes the sanction for failure to comply with a training notice. The House will recollect that there was some confusion at an earlier stage as to what the training notices were, in respect which the Subsection provides the sanction. I trust that if for the sake of clarity I refer to a later Amendment on the Order Paper, I shall not incur your displeasure, Mr. Speaker, because it will be the case, if the House accepts a later Government Amendment, that a training notice will be a notice calling up persons for not less than six days' training. Therefore this Subsection provides the sanction for a failure in fact to go to camp for a period of six days or more, and it is thus a somewhat more serious question than that which the House debated earlier this afternoon, concerning sanctions for failure to do drills.

    The House had at an earlier stage a wealth of advice from the Front Bench opposite on what this Subsection meant. That advice would have been more impressive had it been consistent. But we have now been informed by the Attorney-General, at, I think, his third attempt, that what it means is that persons who fail to comply with a training notice, will be dealt with as absentees or deserters and tried by court martial. The difficulty has arisen from the fact that this Subsection does not say that in terms. It merely provides that such persons shall be dealt with in the same manner a certain other persons specified in the Subection. That of course has been the cause of the difficulty which has taxed even the ingenuity of the Attorney-General but which apparently every conscript in this country is expected to understand at the first time of asking. I do not say they will not, but it is perhaps a little harsh and oppressive to expect every male 18-year-old in the country to be slightly better informed on the law of England than the principal legal adviser of the Crown.

    I suggest that it is objectionable to provide for penalties of this sort in legislation by reference. If it is desired, as I understand it is, to lay it down that people who fail to comply with these training notices shall be tried by court martial on the serious charges of desertion or absence, it would be much fairer to say so, in order that people can know exactly where they are. It is surely a platitude to say that penal legislation should make the penalties quite clear. After all, the object of such legislation is to deter people from the commission of offences, and people are much more likely to be deterred if they know precisely what the deterrent penalty is. The object of this Amendment is not to deprive training notices of any sanction. On the contrary, it is to press the point that this Subsection should state in itself what the penalties are, and should not merely invite attention, to a wealth of previous legislation. The major point of the Amendment is that it is desirable that the penalties for breaches of this Bill should be in the Bill. When that point was put at a previous stage I understood that it received the approval of the Minister of Defence, because he said:
    "I have since said that I would see if the Clause could be put in order."
    He went on to say:
    "I said that I would consider the Clause, and examine it so that it might be made to work properly."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 7th May, 1947; Vol. 437 c. 675–6.]
    So far as I can see on the Order Paper, the right hon. Gentleman has not implemented that promise. He has certainly put nothing on the Order Paper to make work properly a Clause which as he himself recognises in the sentence I have quoted, does not work properly. Therefore my hon. Friends and I have thought it necessary to put this Amendment on the Order Paper with a view to eliciting from the Government, first, a clear statement of what these penalties are, and, secondly, what reasons there are for the Government's failure to make this Clause work properly, if I may adopt the right hon. Gentleman's phrase. We ask them to put in this Bill for all concerned to see, the penalties for those who break this provision.

    I beg to second the Amendment.

    I do not wish to paint the lily. The point has been put very brilliantly by my hon. Friend and I hope the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General will give us some satisfaction.

    The hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) has on this occasion adopted his favourite, and I venture to think perhaps his most successful form of argument, that of putting up his own particular nine-pin and then proceeding to his own satisfaction, if not to the satisfaction of anybody else, to knock it down. It is true that I have on two, and possibly on three, previous occasions in Committee advised on the effect of this Subsection. On each of those occasions I advised the Committee in. exactly the same sense, and I shall so advise the House now, for the fourth time. If hon. Members opposite were unable to understand my advice that is, of course, a matter for which I cannot hold myself personally responsible. The doubt which arose in regard to this matter during previous discussions on this Clause was not in regard to the penalties arising under this Subsection at all, but in regard to the training notice. That was the matter in regard to which there was some discussion, and that was the matter in regard to which my right hon. Friend and I undertook to look at the Clause again and clear it up. That is the purpose of the Amendment to which the hon. Member has referred which is put down on the Order Paper to a later Clause in the Bill—the Amendment which will define what a training notice is. The effect of the Subsection as it stands is that a man who fails to comply with a notice calling him up for annual camp, or for a period of continuous training which will be six days or more, will be liable to the penalties imposed under the existing law on men who fail to comply with a calling-up notice, or fail to comply with an embodiment notice—that is a penalty not exceeding two years' penal servitude after trial by a court-martial. That is the purpose of this Clause and, in those circumstances. I am afraid we cannot accept the Amendment.

    I am surprised at the attitude the right hon. and learned Gentleman has taken on this matter, when he says that he was not asked the very question that my hon. Friend put just now—

    It he says it was not raised, and that the whole point was with regard to the question of the training notice, then his recollection is really inaccurate, as he will discover if he looks at HANSARD and finds the relevant passage—

    Column 685. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has really not met the point which has been put here. If the punishment for an offence of failing to comply with a training notice is a maximum of two years' penal servitude awarded by court martial, would it not he far better to put it in this Bill where everyone could read it, rather than to say:

    "A person who fails to comply with a training notice shall be liable to be apprehended and unless he has some reasonable excuse 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."
    When one looks at the definition of "auxiliary force" later in the Bill one sees that it covers the Royal Naval Special Reserve, the Royal Naval Reserve, the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, the Territorial Army, the Army Reserve, the Air Force Reserve, the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve or the Auxiliary Air Force. I dare say the right hon. and learned Gentleman could tell us how many law books the individual affected would have to consult to determine what penalty he might be incurring if he failed to comply with a training notice. I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to incorporate his own words in this Measure, and to put in "two years' penal servitude," so that it shall be quite clear.

    I wish again to raise the point which I raised on a previous occasion, but which the right hon. and learned Gentleman may have overlooked. That is whether a training notice within the meaning of Subsection (3) is quite certain to mean a training notice as varied by any supplementary notice. I do not think it is quite obvious that that is the case, but if it is not, the Attorney-General will see that his penalty Clause fails in its object. in those cases where a supplementary notice has been given varying the original training notice. I do not know whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman has got my point?

    It would be quite fantastic to prosecute a man for failing to comply with a training notice if, in fact, a supplementary notice had been served on him varying the notice and making it clear that he was not supposed to comply with it in those terms. On the other hand, if the words "a training notice" in Subsection (3) do not mean a training notice as varied by the supplementary notice, that, I think, will be the effect. I do not know if the right hon. and learned Gentleman can satisfy me straight away on this matter. I do not want to be in the least dogmatic. Whether it does or does not mean a notice as varied, I am certain he will agree that unless it does, some further amendment will be necessary.

    I support this Amendment. I think this Clause is a bad Clause whichever way we look at it. It starts off by saying that if a person fails he

    "shall be liable to be apprehended."
    I am not versed in legal language, but why not say, "shall be apprehended"? If the notice is served, he is liable to serve, and there is no particular reason why he should not be apprehended. Then, unless he has a reasonable excuse, he will be punished. Is there any court in the land which would punish him if he had a reasonable excuse? What is the object of putting in all that sort of stuff? It would be far more effective, and would produce a better result on the brain of the ordinary conscript, if he knew what he might get for trying to evade a calling-up notice. In many parts of King's Regulations and Admiralty Instructions various types of offences are quoted and it is stated in the case of some offences that the punishment will be at the maximum, death, and at the minimum, some such punishment as an afternoon's drill. If the ordinary conscript sees it stated in black and white that if he gets a notice and tries to get away with it, he is liable to two years penal servitude, far fewer people will fail to turn up on the date when they are due.

    9.45 p.m.

    The hon. and learned Member for Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) raised this point during the discussion in Committee. I felt then, and still feel, that the variation will not really affect the decision, and that the training notice will remain the training notice, as varied by any subsequent provision. I feel confident that the Clause is all right in that respect. So far as the other aspect of the matter raised by the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) is concerned, I see that he himself set out with great clarity, in the course of one of his many addresses to the Committee, what the various penalties arising out of this Clause would be. I followed by saying:

    "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 to the House then…was correct. The hon. Member correctly apprehended the effect.…"
    I went on to repeat what he had said. Then the hon. and learned Member was good enough to say:
    "I am grateful to the Attorney-General for his explanation.…It was clear and lucid."
    He has raised the point in regard to making clear in this Bill what the actual penalties are.

    If the Attorney-General will forgive me, since he has quoted those words, I think that in decency and fairness to my hon. and learned Friend he should quote the next ones, in which he said:

    "…I hope it will be possible to put the penalty in the Clause."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th May, 1947; Vol. 437. C. 685–6.]

    If the senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) had not been so eager to make his own voice heard, and had waited until I finished my sentence, he would have heard me say that. It is not a very convenient method of legislation to have to set out in the body of this Bill all the different Statutes—and unfortunately there are quite a number of them—which deal with this matter. On the other hand, I take the point of the hon. and learned Member that it is not very convenient for those who may be affected by the Bill to have to refer, as he successfully referred, to the various Statutes under which the penalty arises. We will certainly look at this. If we can find a convenient way of embodying the different penalties, we will do so. I will not give a specific undertaking, but we will certainly look at it with considerable sympathy.

    In view of what the Attorney-General has now said as to consideration being given once again, I hope more successfully, to the possibility of incorporating in the Clause the precise penalties it imposes, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    I beg to move, in page 4, line 38, to leave out "provided by," and to insert "notified to him under."

    This is a simple Amendment. The words in this particular Subsection to which we object are as follow:
    "If at any time during a person's term of part-time service any change occurs in his name or address, he shall forthwith notify the change to such person and in such mariner as may be provided by regulations of the Service Authority."
    It is imposing an undue obligation on the person concerned that it should be put upon him to discover what is in a Service regulation. He is, after all, a civilian, or is following a civilian occupation, and it will be extremely difficult for him at the time to discover what is in Service regulations. I suggest that the onus should be placed on the Service of notifying him what those regulations are with regard to the change of address. I am greatly encouraged by seeing nodding going on on the opposite benches. In that optimistic mood, I propose my Amendment.

    I beg to second the Amendment.

    I do so for the reasons so lucidly expressed by my hon. and gallant Friend. Being not unaffected by the vigorous movements on the opposite side of the House to which he has referred, I content myself with formally seconding the Amendment.

    I am much obliged for the brevity and lucidity with which the case has been presented. I accept the Amendment.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 8—(Transitional Provisions)

    I beg to move, in page 5, line 45, after "if," to insert:

    "he has not attained the age of thirty-six years and is."
    This is really a drafting Amendment. We moved an Amendment on the Committee stage to put this limit in an earlier Clause. I think it is desirable that it should appear also in this Clause to make it absolutely clear that the liability to be called up shall not continue to exist until a man reaches his century and perhaps beyond.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move, in page 6, line 2, to leave out "and paragraphs 2 and 3."

    This and the following Amendment are drafting Amendments which I promised to introduce on the Committee stage. They are designed to make the Bill fit the concessions we made to the House.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendment made: In page 6, line 4, leave out "they apply," and insert "it applies."—[ Mr. Alexander.]

    I beg to move, in page 6, line 7, to leave out Subsection (2), and to insert:

    "(2) No person who has been entered or enlisted under the National Service Acts before the first day of January, nineteen hundred and forty-seven, and is serving in the armed forces of the Crown under those Acts at the commencement of this Act shall be required to continue to serve therein after the commencement of this Act."
    After the success with which our last two Amendments have met, I should like to think that in this respect, with this more important Amendment, we might score a "hat trick." I say that, because all we are seeking to do here is to put into statutory form a pledge which the Government have given already. That pledge is contained in Paragraph of the White Paper "Call Up To The Forces in 1947 and 1948" Cmd. 6831. A White Paper has not the sanctity of the Statute Book and, although it may appear unusual in these days, Ministers do come and go—[Interruption]—and will go. We think it desirable that this pledge should be recorded in the most formal manner possible, that is, in an Act of Parliament. If the right hon. Gentleman, having made the pledge, wishes to adhere to it, as I am sure he does, I cannot see what possible convincing arguments he can put forward for resisting the incorporation of that pledge in an Act of Parliament. Therefore, I hope that he will now accept this Amendment, which we discussed at some length when it was moved on the Committee stage.

    I wonder if we might have your guidance, Mr. Speaker. Are we to discuss at the same time the Amendment in page 6, line 12, to insert:

    "(3) No person who has been entered or enlisted for service in the Armed Forces of the Crown under the National Service Acts after the thirty-first day of December, nineteen hundred and forty-six, and before the commencement of this Act shall be required to serve therein under those Acts for a period longer than the appropriate period in accordance with the Schedule to this Act (Periods of service for men called up in 1947 and 1948).
    This Subsection shall come into force on the passing of this Act."
    If so, may I refer very shortly to the Amendment on the Paper—page 10, line 38, at the end, to insert:
    "(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in the principal Act male British subjects called up for service in the year nineteen hundred and forty-five or the year nineteen hundred and forty-six shall be released after a period not exceeding two-and-a-half years.
    This Subsection shall come into force on the passing of this Act."

    If the hon. Member is seconding the Amendment, it might be for the convenience of the House to take the two together.

    On a point of Order. I did not refer to the Amendment in page 6, line 12. If it is convenient to discuss that Amendment at the same time, I should like to say a few words about it. I understood that I was dealing only with the Amendment in page 6, line 7.

    I thought the hon. and learned Member had connected his Amendment with the Amendment to line 12. If not, we had better deal with them separately. Perhaps some hon. Member will second the first Amendment.

    I did not wish to disturb the learned Attorney-General any more than I could possibly avoid. I beg formally to second the Amendment.

    I should like to add a point or two to what my hon. and learned Friend has said. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman is aware of the arguments used on another occasion when this Amendment was pressed. On that occasion his only defence for his action in refusing it was that he thought it was undesirable to give statutory effect in the Bill to a pledge given by the Government. I can imagine that the reason why he thinks it is undesirable is because the Government would like to treat the age and length of service principle on an administrative basis. I cannot however understand why he should like to treat like that the amount of service which has to be put in by the man now in the Forces, when he was so very careful, right at the beginning of the Committee stage, to treat the length of service of those who were to be called up under this Bill on a statutory basis, even when he had the power to treat it on an administrative basis. It seems to me that the Government have used this argument entirely to suit their own ends. Here is a pledge which one would imagine the Government would honour. Why, then, cannot it be put in statutory form?

    I would say, with regard to both these Amendments—the one which has been moved and the other which has been referred to—that I regret very much that I feel unable to accept them. I am sorry that all the arguments adduced in the course of the Committee stage, resisting the suggestion which was then made, did not carry sufficient weight, and I will try to repeat the main points now. In the first place, with regard to the Amendment to secure the insertion of these words in the Bill, it is really irrelevant to the purpose of the Bill. This is a Bill to set up powers for national service in peacetime of men who will not be called to the colours until after 1st January, 1949, and this is an attempt to bring into the Bill certain specific provisions, with regard both to the men who are already being dealt with under the age and service groups release scheme, that is those who were enlisted before 1947, and also with regard to personnel enlisted in 1947 and 1948, special conditions in respect of whom have already been considered and accepted nemine contradicente by the House in the White Paper which has been quoted.

    With regard to the Amendment which refers to men called up in 1947 and 1948, the actual terms fixed for their service were two years, tapering down to 18 months, and the conditions are clearly set out in the Command Paper. In respect of those personnel, I have given a specific pledge than no one called up in 1947 and 1948, shall be retained to serve a period which will continue after the end of the first period of service of men called up on 1st January, 1949, under this Bill. I am unable, I am sorry to say, to accept what would be the logical outcome of the Amendment moved by the hon. and learned Member and which would be put into a Schedule for that would impose fixed dates as set out in the Schedule.

    10.0 p.m.

    In the current interim period it is impossible with the rapid run down of the Forces and especially of the Army to put these things down month by month. I gave the pledge and I repeat it that with few exceptions all these men will be so treated that their service will be tapered off so as not to require any of them to serve after the end of 1949. In the tapering process, which we ask the House to leave to the Government in the interests of the needs of the Services, men called up in 1947 and 1948 will benefit to some extent by a shorter period of service than they expected to be called up to perform. If they are still not satisfied about that I would remind the House in addition that none of these men will be called up for compulsory part-time training in the following six years as those who are called up after 1st January, 1949, will be. As regards the men referred to in the first Amendment—

    I have called only the first Amendment, and I have decided to take the second Amendment separately.

    I give the assurance to the House that the pledge will be carried out, and I also want to assure the House that it is absolutely essential in the interests of the Services that the matter be left to those performing the administration who will arrange for the tapering off of the service of these men. I feel certain that hon. Members will accept that decision and will withdraw the Amendment.

    I am at a loss to understand the right hon. Gentleman's argument when he says he is unable to accept this Amendment. I cannot see how the word "unable" can be used in this context. The right hon. Gentleman has argued that this Amendment is irrelevant to the purpose of the Bill, but with all respect, if you, Mr. Speaker, saw fit to call this Amendment I cannot see how the right hon. Gentleman can argue that it is irrelevant to the purpose of the Bill. As for his further argument about the fixed periods and the Government being unable to commit themselves to the release of people in the present state of the world, I cannot see what bearing that has upon the Amendment. The Amendment does not lay down the precise amount. It lays down that no man

    "shall be required to continue to serve after the commencement of this Act,"
    which is precisely the time for which the right hon. Gentleman has given his pledge that the men will not be required to serve. With all respect to the right hon. Gentleman, he seems to be ignorant of the meaning of the word "unable." He did not attempt to mislead the House, but when he said he was "unable" to do this, it is simply something which is untrue.

    Like my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis), I am astonished at the right hon. Gentleman's argument. I do not think I misrepresent him when I say that he said he accepted the purpose of the Amendment, and indeed that the Government would carry it out, but that it was irrelevant to the purpose of this Bill, to put in this provision. He supported that view by saying that this Bill dealt with people called up after 1st January, 1949. If the right hon. Gentleman had the most rudimentary knowledge of this Bill he would know that it is full of detailed provisions affecting the people at present serving, and people who will be called up between now and 1st January, 1949. The right hon. Gentleman can look at Clause 15 which, as the Bill provides,

    "shall come into force on the passing of this Act."
    That is the provision dealing with people called up at the age of 17½. Or he might look at the detailed and elaborate amendments to existing legislation contained in Clause 17, all of which
    "shall come into force on the passing of this Act"
    When, by this very Bill, the right hon. Gentleman is amending the existing law under which people are being held and called up at this moment, he cannot get away from this Amendment by saying that it is irrelevant to the purpose of the Bill because it affects people called up before 1st January, 1949. The right hon. Gentleman is doing a rather dangerous thing. If he resists, as he is apparently doing, the attempt to put his Government's own pledge into statutory form, on grounds which I would describe as "piffle" and "poppycock"—I understand those are Parliamentary expressions—he will inevitably give rise in certain quarters to doubts as to the good faith of the Government in carrying out their pledge.

    I would like to clarify two points made by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Defence, because I am not sure that I understood him correctly. I understood him to say that he had given a pledge, but that, for various reasons, it was not possible to include it in statutory form. As I understood him, the pledge was that the service of certain people would be tapered off so that nobody who is now serving or is going to be called up under the present provisions will be serving after the end of 1949. That is very interesting, but it is an entirely different situation from what is considered in this Amendment.

    As I understand it, this Amendment deals with those people who entered or enlisted before 1st January, 1947, and seeks to relieve them of national service from 1st January, 1949, and not from the last day of January, 1949. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman meant to mislead the House, but he has not answered this Amendment in any way. He is considering an entirely different class of people. I think I know the class of people whom he is considering. He is considering those who are going to be called up in January, 1948, which is dealt with in the next Amendment. Therefore, he has not answered this Amendment. If he is prepared to give a pledge that people who entered or enlisted before 1947 should be demobilised before 1st January, 1949, he ought to give that pledge in addition to the one which he has given in relation to the next Amendment, and if he is prepared to give that pledge he ought to put it into statutory form.

    I think it is only right that I should reply to that last point, with the permission of the House. I was going on to deal with the second matter, when you, Mr. Speaker, pointed out that I was dealing, perhaps, with the wrong pledge, and perhaps I had got the two Amendments inverted. I would only say with regard to the people who were enlisted before the beginning of 1947, that they are covered by the age and service group procedure laid down in a White Paper which was presented to the House and which has been faithfully observed. I am unable to accept the Amendment proposed on their behalf, because it would not be to the benefit, but to the detriment, of the Services themselves. I have already explained that the run-down of the Forces already is so rapid that if we are to avoid completely unbalancing the organisation, we must adhere to the age and service groups scheme as it is now operating. Every one of the men covered by this Amendment knows which age and service group he is in. In the best interests of the Services themselves, I must ask the House to accept my advice, and not to accept this Amendment. I hope the House will accept my assurance that I am doing this in the best interests of the Services.

    Division No. 223.]


    [10.13 p.m

    Adams, Richard (Balham)Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pt, Exch'ge)Delargy, H. J
    Adams, W T (Hammersmith, South)Bramall, E. A.Diamond, J.
    Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.Brook, D. (Halifax)Debbie, W.
    Allen, A. C (Bosworth)Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)Dodds, N. N
    Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Brown, George (Belper)Donovan, T.
    Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)Bruce, Maj. D. W. TDriberg, T. E. N.
    Attewell, H. C.Buchanan, G.Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)
    Austin, H. LewisBurke, W. A.Durbin, E. F. M.
    Awbery, S. S.Champion, A. JDye, S.
    Ayrton Gould, Mrs BChater, DEde, Rt Hon. J. C.
    Bacon, Miss AChetwynd, G. R.Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)
    Baird J.Coldrick, W.Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)
    Balfour, A.Collindridge, F.Evans, John (Ogmore)
    Barton, CCollins, V JEvans, S. N. (Wednesbury)
    Bechervaise, A. EColman, Miss G. MEwart, R.
    Bellenger, Rt Hon. F. JComyns, Dr. L.Fairhurst, F.
    Berry, H.Cook, T. F.Farthing, W J.
    Bing, G. H. CCorvedale, ViscountField, Capt. W. J.
    Binns, J.Crawley, AFletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)
    Blackburn, A RDavies, Edward (Burslem)Foster, W. (Wigan)
    Blenkinsop, ADavies, Harold (Leek)Fraser, T. (Hamilton)
    Blyton, W. RDavies, Hadyn (St. Pancras, S.W.)Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)
    Boardman, H.Deer, G.Gibbins, J.
    Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. Wde Freitas, GeoffreyGibson, C W.

    a slight difficulty. I think we have got confused between the Amendment we are now discussing and an Amendment which Mr. Speaker will call subsequently, because not only the first argument of the right hon. Gentleman but even his second argument seemed to be devoted to the Amendment we shall discuss later. This Amendment simply lays down what I understood, and what I thought the whole House had understood, was a pledge which the right hon. Gentleman had given. It asks for no change. It is not a question of tapering off or running down too quickly. It simply says that everybody who was in the Services before 1st January, 1947, will be out before 1st January, 1949. That, I understand, was the pledge given by the right hon. Gentleman. That being so, I do not see the relevance of his last argument, that he could not accept this Amendment because it would be against the interests of the Services. How can it be against the interests of the Services to accept an Amendment on the exact lines of the pledge he has already given? Even if he cannot accept this Amendment—and we propose to divide on it—will he at any rate make quite plain that nothing he has said tonight in any way detracts from the pledge, in the terms of this Amendment, which he has already given?

    Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

    The House divided: Ayes, 206; Noes, 92.

    Gilzean, ALipton, Lt.-Cot. MShackleton, E. A. A
    Glanville, J. E. (Consett)Logan, D. G.Sharp, Granville
    Gooch, E. GLongden, F.Shawcross Rt Hn Sir H (St Helens)
    Gordon-Walker, P CMcEntee, V La TShurmer, P
    Greenwood, A. W J (Heywood)McKay, J. (Wallsend)Silverman, J. (Erdington)
    Grey, C. F.Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)
    Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)McKinley, A. S.Simmons, C. J.
    Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)Maclean, N. (Govan)Skeffington, A. M.
    Guest, Dr. L. HadenMcLeavy, F.Smith, Ellis (Stoke)
    Gunter, R. JMacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Smith, S. H (Hull, S W)
    Guy, W. HMcNeil, Rt. Hon. HSnow, Capt. J. W.
    Haire, John E (Wycombe)Mallalieu, J. P. W.Soskice, Maj. Sir F
    Hall, W. G.Marquand, H. ASparks, J. A
    Hamilton, Lieut.-Col RMedland, H. MSteele, T.
    Hardy, E. AMesser, F.Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
    Harrison, J.Mitchison, G. RStrauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
    Hastings, Dr. SomervilleMoody, A. S.Stross, Dr. B.
    Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Morgan, Dr. H. BSwingler, S.
    Holman, P.Morley, R.Sylvester, G. O.
    Holmes, H. E (Hemsworth)Mort, D. LTaylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
    House, GNally, W.Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
    Hoy, JNeal, H. (Claycross)Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
    Hubbard, T.Nicholls, H. R (Stratford)Thurtle, Ernest
    Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E (Brantford)Titterington, M. F
    Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Noel-Buxton, LadyTolley, L
    Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)Oldfield, W. HTomlinson, Rt. Hon G.
    Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)Oliver, G. HVernon, Maj. W F
    Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Orbach, M.Walkden, E
    Jay, D. P. T.Paget, R. T.Wallace, G. D (Chislehurst)
    Jeger, G. (Winchester)Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)Watson, W. M.
    Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St Pancras, S.E.)Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)
    John, W.Pargiter, G. AWhiteley, Rt. Hon W
    Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)Pearson, AWigg, Col. G. E
    Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)Peart, Capt. T. FWilkins, W. A
    Jones, J. H. (Bolton)Porter, G. (Leeds)Williams, J. L (Kelvingrove)
    Keenan, WPrice, M. PhilipsWilliamson, T
    Kenyon, CPritt, D N.Willis, E.
    Kinley, J.Proctor, W TWoodburn, A
    Kirby, B. VRandall, H. EWoods, G. S
    Lavers, S.Ranger, J.Wyatt, W.
    Lee, F. (Hulme)Reid, T. (Swindon)Young, Sir R (Newton)
    Leonard, W.Rhodes, HZilliacus, K
    Leslie, J R.Richards, R
    Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)TELLERS FOR THE AYES
    Lewis, T. (Southampton)Ross, William (Kilmarnock)Mr Hannan and Mr. Popplew
    Lindgren, G. SSegal, Dr. S


    Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Armagh)Gridley, Sir A.Peto, Brig. C. H M
    Baldwin, A. E.Gruffydd, Prof. W. J.Pickthorn, K.
    Beamish, Maj. T. V HHarvey, Air-Comdre A VPonsonby, Col. C. E
    Beechman, N. AHead, Brig. A. H.Price-White, Lt.-Col. D
    Bennett, Sir P.Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir CPrior-Palmer, Brig. O
    Birch, NigelHollis, M. C.Raikes, H. V.
    Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C (Wells)Howard, Hon. A.Ramsay, Maj. S
    Bossom, A. CHudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C (Hillhead)
    Bowen, R.Hurd, A.Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
    Bower, N.Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
    Boyd-Carpenter, J. AHutchison, Col. J R. (Glasgow, C.)Ropner, Col. L
    Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. GJennings, R.Scott, Lord W.
    Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. WKendall, W. D.Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.
    Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. TLangford-Holt, J.Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
    Byers, FrankLegge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. HStuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
    Channor, H.Lindsay, M. (Solihull)Studholme, H. G
    Clarke, Col. R S.Lipson, D. L.Sutcliffe, H
    Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. GLow, Brig. A. R. WTeeling, William
    Conant, Maj. R. J. ELucas-Tooth, Sir H.Thomas, J. P. L (Hereford)
    Cuthbert, W. N.Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. OThorp, Lt.-Col. R A F
    Darling, Sir W YMaclay, Hon. J. S.Touche, G. C.
    Digby, S. W.Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries)Wadsworth, G
    Dodds-Parker, A. D.Manningham-Buller, R. EWalker-Smith, D.
    Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. WMarlowe, A A. HWard, Hon. G. R
    Elliot, Rt. Hon. WalterMarsden, Capt. AWheatley, Colonel M J
    Fox, Sir G.Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)White, J. B (Canterbury)
    Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)Maude, J. C.Willoughby de Eresby Lords
    Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen)York, C
    Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P MMott-Radclyffe, Maj. C E
    Gage, C.Nicholson, GTELLERS FOR THE NOES
    George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)Nield, B. (Chester)Mr. Drewe and
    Granville, E. (Eye)Noble, Comdr A. H PCommander Agnew

    I beg to move, in page 6, line 12, at the end, to insert:

    "(3) No person who has been entered or enlisted for service in the armed forces of the Crown under the National Service Acts after the thirty-first day of December, nineteen hundred and forty-six, and before the commencement of this Act shall be required to serve therein under those Acts for a period longer than the appropriate period in accordance with the Schedule to this Act (Periods of service for men called up in 1947 and 1948).
    This Subsection shall come into force on the passing of this Act."
    This is an Amendment to which the right hon. Gentleman has already directed a great many of his observations, and I am not at all optimistic about the effect that my arguments will have on this occasion. I do not think it is necessary to take up very much time in elaborating our arguments, but I want to put this point to the right hon. Gentleman. In the White Paper on call-up to the Forces, paragraph 5, there is set out a schedule showing the way in which service was going to be tapered down from two years to 18 months. It is quite clear, and the right hon. Gentleman has already said that he recognises the fact, that the alteration in this Bill of 18 months whole-time service to 12 months must affect that tapering down. We have put on the Order Paper a new Schedule which goes with this Amendment. In it we have sought to effect that tapering down. I am rather at a loss as to the precise difference in value between a pledge of this Government in a White Paper and a pledge contained in a Statute, but I do say that if the right hon. Gentleman is not prepared to accept this Amendment, and the Schedule in which we have tried to put the tapering down in the right way, as we see it, at least he ought to give an undertaking that at the earliest possible moment he will publish a paragraph which will replace paragraph 5 of the White Paper, and will show to the public and to the men affected what the tapering down is to be. If he was able to do it in the White Paper when compulsory service was to be 18 months, surely there is no valid argument, unless those in the Forces are to be penalised as a result of his decision, for not doing the same thing now that the period of service has been reduced to 12 months.

    I beg to second the Amendment.

    In the last few posts I have had letters asking exactly what terms the writers' sons or apprentices may have to serve during the coming two years. Whether they are called up in June or in March, the public have no idea whether they will be called up when they are exactly 18 years old or what terms of service they will have to perform. As the hon. and learned Gentleman has just said, it is high time this information was published in the Press so that every one may know what their obligations are and what will be the terms of service. I suggest that this Amendment should be agreed to as it sets out, month by month, exactly what shall be the terms of service.

    I very much regret I cannot accept the Amendment in the terms in which it has been moved. As I have said already, I have given a very specific pledge that, with a few individual exceptions, none of the men affected by the Schedule in paragraph 5 of the White Paper will be required, whatever the term laid down, to serve after December, 1949. That pledge has been given. Some of them might go in to the Service for a year and a half if they were called up in 1948, and they might under the White Paper go on well into 1950. We shall not now ask them to serve in any period which lasts beyond 1949.

    Is not the right hon. Gentleman speaking on the wrong Amendment? Surely he only gives that date for the call-up after 1949?

    No. I have turned up the actual pledge. I will read out the words of the pledge. It is as follows, and these are my own words:

    "It will be the aim of the Government to ensure that so far as practicable all men called up before the new Bill comes into force on 1st January, 1949"—
    and it certainly, therefore, includes the two classes, 1947 arid 1948—
    "will be released from whole-time service with the Forces before the first of the men called up under the Bill. But I should make it clear that it may not be possible to avoid exceptions to this aim in individual cases and for short periods:"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th May, 1947; Vol. 437. c. 447.]
    I went on to give the details of what the possible exceptions might be. That pledge we stick to absolutely. The Amendment would take us beyond that. It seeks to make us begin at once to lay down reductions of service for men called up after December, 1946. The Service authorities do not feel that they are in a position to lay down a detailed schedule of that kind at the moment, because of the needs of the Services. For the same reason, I am unable to accept the Amendment. I assure the House that the paragraphs in the White Paper are relevant to what we are now discussing and cover this matter; they cover the men called up in 1947 and 1948. The pledge will be strictly observed.

    Paragraph 5 of the White Paper sets out a schedule tapering down the period of service to 18 months. I asked the right hon. Gentleman whether, now that the period of whole-time service is reduced to 12 months, he will promise a new edition of that paragraph. We have had no answer, and no reason.

    I have said that, at the moment, the Service authorities do not feel themselves able to produce such a tapering-off, because of the needs of the Services in this transitional period. We are doing our best to try to release the men of longer service. On the other hand, we are trying to ensure that in carrying out the age and service group release scheme, men are called up in 1947 and 1948 for specific periods, to assist us in the carry over. Therefore, I cannot undertake to reduce substantially the periods of service of those who are called up in the early part of 1947. We will endeavour by a tapering off process to do something to help them. But I cannot at the present moment produce a schedule of the kind referred to.

    10.30 p.m.

    I would like to put two points to the right hon. Gentleman. One is a very large point and one is rather small, and both can be put shortly. The large point—a point can be large even in mathematics—is that the right hon. Gentleman much too often this evening has said something to the effect that the Service authorities could not have this or that, and are unwilling to do something or other. That kind of observation cannot possibly be an answer in this House. We quite understand that the Minister must be much influenced by what the Service authorities say, but Ministers must give the arguments to the House. They cannot merely say, "The Service authorities cannot do this." That is not the way they treated us about the question of eighteen versus twelve months. The liner point I would like to put is this. In regard to both these Amendments the Minister has given us more than one assurance that there shall be a tapering off But the word "tapering" is not appropriate unless there is some continuity. By rejecting these two Amendments, the right hon. Gentleman is really making the thing into a series of bulges or steps rather than something which tapers. In particular, he refers to what he calls possible exceptions. He has asked us more than once to believe that the age and service group system would be worked equitably. I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman to ask the Service Ministers to give special attention at a later stage in the Bill to this small point. In calculating age and service groups, I am informed that in the Services, the six months which many of these young men spend as cadets in university towns, although not doing university business, is not counted as service. I very much doubt whether it is legally competent for the Service authorities to take that line, but no one would be likely to challenge them on the point. I should like an assurance that this will be looked into carefully by the Service Ministers to see whether it is proper, in a system of age and service groups, that months spent in that way should be omitted from the calculation. There is no doubt that it is felt to be grossly inequitable. We ought to have some assurance—and it is best to have it from the right hon. Gentleman, because all three Service Ministers are concerned—that that will be looked into, with a real intention to arrive at equity, and not merely to do what the Service Departments want.

    I think the House, before it leaves this Amendment, should be clear that there is a difference between this Amendment and the pledge which the Minister has given. The Minister read out that pledge, and I think it was a good idea to refresh the memory of the House. By putting this Amendment in the Bill, as I see it, we put a statutory obligation on the Service authorities to release certain people at a certain time. The Minister said he would do his best, and would give also a guarantee that these people would be released, except for certain individuals. There is a big difference between that pledge and the Amendment on the Order Paper. I feel that from the point of view of the individual—and after all the Debate on these two Amendments has been a battle of the individual against the Service Departments—it is right and proper to have this Amendment included in the Bill. I was a little surprised that the Minister, in answering the arguments for this Amendment, dealt only with what I might call the straight cases, those about whom there is no query and who are called up on a certain date, and who do their service. But I have had a number of inquiries recently about the case of a person called up in 1947 or 1948, whose service is then postponed for two years. Is is not necessary to clarify in this Clause the point as to whether a person called up registered under existing legislation, has to do his military service under the Bill we are now considering. This is an opportunity for clarifying that issue. This Clause is going to affect a number of people whose service is postponed for a year or eighteen months and I should be glad if the Minister could say a word or two about that matter.

    There is one other question arising out of what the right hon. Gentleman said, when he quoted his own guarantee to those who are called up before this Bill comes into operation. That is the matter of Service requirements. Some weeks ago I put a Question to the Secretary of State for War, and got an assurance, certainly in the case of the particular trades about which I asked him, on this subject. It is obvious that the Minister's decision to reduce from eighteen months to twelve months the period of call-up has put the Service authorities in an extremely difficult position. He comes down to the House tonight and says that the Service authorities simply cannot produce the tapering-off scale—the exact dates at which men will be released between 1947 and 1949. It seems to me that the Minister is directly responsible for that and being directly responsible, he owes it not only to the House but to all men who are going to be called up in that grade to give them some indication of two things. The first is whether they are going to be retained for a period which will carry them into the period after the first year of National Service under this Bill. The second is—and I think he should give an assurance of this as soon as possible—that he will produce a schedule on the lines indicated by this Amendment, giving the exact dates. The least the Minister ought to do tonight is to give some idea to the House that he can produce figures which will put these people's minds at rest. The hon. and gallant Member for Barnstaple (Brigadier Peto) raised the matter of correspondence which he had received. I can assure him that I have had more worries expressed about this particular aspect of the Bill than about any other issue arising out of the Bill. I warn the Minister that if he does not do this, he is going to cause a great deal of uncertainty throughout the country and a great deal of unnecessary discontent. It is up to him tonight if he cannot accept a plan in the Schedule consequential on this amendment, at least to give us some indication that he will be able to release the date.

    I do not want to appear discourteous in any way. I think that I can confine what I have to say to a very few words which will really cover the point which the hon. and gallant Member has just made. It is this: that every one of the men to be called up in the years 1947, 1948 that is, men covered by this Amendment knows specifically, at present, that his total service will not be more than the figures set out in the White Paper. It is a period of fixed service. I have given a pledge to the House and therefore to the men concerned that in view of the introduction of this new Bill to deal with new classes of men to be called up after January, 1949, none of them shall be called upon to serve after the period covered by the first twelve months service under the new Act. Therefore, I have already made them a substantial concession. In the interest of the Service I have already said that we cannot at the present time do more than promise to taper their service down so as to give them the advantage of the pledge in the best possible way we cap to fit needs of the Services. I would say further that we will endeavour, with regard to particulars, next time we issue a White Paper, to bring the position up-to-date, and to give the firmest information we can of the position of these specific classes of men.

    Could the Minister promise at least that some consideration be given to my point about the Y scheme, and other similar cadets, and their age and service group, which I gather is not fairly considered at present?

    I thought that point was out of Order on this Amendment. But I promise that the record in HANSARD will be examined specially from that point of view.

    Amendment negatived.

    Clause 10—(Further Education During Whole-Time Service 7 & 8 Geo 6 C 31)

    I beg to move, in page 7, line 9, at the end, to insert:

    "(3) In making arrangements for such further education as aforesaid the Service Authorities shall have regard to any representations made to them by or on behalf of bodies of persons concerned with education."
    The House will remember that in Committee my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Dudley (Colonel Wigg) moved an Amendment which received some support on both side of the Committee in relation to this matter. I he purpose of my Amendment is to meet if not in the letter certainly in substance the point advanced by him. Although I understand, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, you are not calling the Amendment to the Amendment that stands in the name of the hon. and learned Member for the English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss), may I point out that my Amendment being the greater, covers his Amendment which is the lesser. I hope that without going into details tonight, the House will agree to my Amendment I have attempted honestly and fairly to meet the points put from both sides in Committee. I do not think the House will want me to explain in detail and go into all the various points which have been put already.

    I understand that the Amendment to the Amendment in my name and in the names of my hon. Friends—in line 2, to leave out from "by" to the end, and to add:

    "the Minister of Education of forwarded to them by the Minister of Education from a university or from a body of persons recognised by the Minister of Education as concerned with education."
    —will not be called, and therefore it is convenient that I should speak at this stage. I understand that the reason for not calling the Amendment that it can conveniently be discussed on the right hon. Gentleman's new Subsection. Though I think the intention of his Subsection is admirable, it is unsatisfactory in the form in which it has been moved and something on the lines of my Amendment is really required. Let me give the reasons in outline. In the Debate in Committee, to which the right hon. Gentleman has alluded, it was agreed by Members who spoke from all sides that, whatever other differences there might be between us, the Minister of Education was very much concerned in this. In the right hon. Gentleman's Subsection there is no mention at all of the Minister of Education. If he is really to carry out his purpose efficiently, he must mention the Minister of Education. It may or may not be necessary to mention the Minister of Education as a Minister whom the Service authorities have to consult because, whether he is mentioned in that connection or not, the Minister of Education can of course make his wishes and his views known to his colleagues in charge of the fighting Services.

    10.45 p.m.

    There is, however, another respect in which I suggest that the Minister of Education must be mentioned, if the purpose of the new Subsection is to be fulfilled. I agree, and I expect it is common ground in all quarters of the House, that there are bodies concerned with education that can give valuable advice and make useful representations on this topic, but those words "bodies of persons concerned with education" are extremely wide and extremely vague. Let me put to the right hon. Gentleman some points which I think might command general assent. The first is this: A great many people whose views may not be very well worth hearing and who may not have any great claim to say that they are concerned with education, may trouble the Service authorities and give them a great deal of unnecessary work. What is more, some may worry one Service authority and some another, and there will be no guarantee of any uniform estimation of the value of these outside bodies by the different Service authorities. There is one member of the Government who is, by his very functions, enabled to judge the value of these out- side bodies and that is the Minister of Education. I should have thought it would be very convenient to the Service authorities that all representations from these outside bodies should reach them via the Minister of Education in order that the Minister of Education may, if he thinks fit, comment on these representations. Anyhow, he can say whether or not the body making them is one that he recognises, with all his expert knowledge and experience, as a body concerned with education.

    In order to carry out the purpose common, I believe, to all quarters of the House, and for the purpose of obtaining some uniformity in the conduct of the various Service authorities in dealing with education, and for the convenience of administration both by the Ministry of Education and by the Service authorities, I believe that something on the lines of the Amendment in my name should be incorporated in the Minister's Subsection. I agree that the right hon. Gentleman has endeavoured to improve his Bill by providing that these outside bodies can make representations, but he has done so in language which is much too wide and too vague, and I ask him to consider the points I have made. If on looking into the matter, he realises the force of what I have said, I hope he will make the appropriate Amendment.

    I hardly think it is necessary to amend this new Subsection in this way. I have read carefully the Debate which took place previously and it seems to me that the essence of it was that there should be consultation with civilian authorities, and that this connection should be retained through this very precious Service year. The Army at any rate has an advisory board and therefore, I think, will be able to deal with the situation in its own way and modify the old Central Advisory Committee, which was very useful during the war but which may not be the right machinery now. I see the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty and the Secretary of State for Air are here. I think it is high time both of them set up comparable bodies in their respective Departments because, at the moment, we are 3,000 persons short as regards officers for those services.

    Whatever the machinery is to be, there is one difficulty which I beg the Secretary of State for War to consider. So far as consultation in this country is concerned, it is allowed for in Clause 10, out when it comes to troops overseas some machinery will be necessary. I believe that too heavy weather has been made of this. There is only a year and there is not much that can be done. It has been impressed on me from all over the country that this Service year, is being regarded by some people in the education world as a year of deterioration. Therefore it is important that, in some way or other, we make it a Service year which will retain a connection with civilian education that we give the maximum physical and mental development during the short year in which these lads are going to serve, between school life and adult life. This new Subsection pretty well provides for his, and I think it is not necessary for any provision to be made for going to the Ministry of Education on everything

    I find that I cannot agree with the senior hon. Member for the English Universities (Mr. Lindsay). I think we all agree on the general desirability of the Subsection, but the hon. Member thinks that no Amendment of it is necessary. As things stand, at present without some Amendment as to who is responsible for judging, and who is the person concerned with education, the Service authorities are placed in an impossible position; and certainly so if they merely dismiss the representations of bodies of which they do not approve. They are acting contrary to the spirit of the Act in so doing. There is no need to be legalistic about it. "Bodies concerned with education" is obviously a phrase about people closely concerned with education, and no body which has no connection with education has a right to express views, but somebody must be a judge of which bodies are to be recognised. I submit that the logical person to make the judgment is the Minister of Education, and I cannot see now the argument that certain bodies within the Service Departments should concern themselves with education, if the whole idea is to continue with civilian education, can apply. Surely the more that subject is under the civilian and professional Ministry, and the less it is under the control of these bodies which, from their very nature, are unsuitable, the better. I think that the Minister should meet the point in some way because, at present, the scheme is unworkable and will throw the whole educational machinery of the Services into chaos.

    I feel that I am compelled to join in argument with those who ask the Minister to accept the Amendment. Long ago, it was said that "Education is the only serious business of the Republic." It was an American who said so, but I think that it would be a universally accepted belief. The fact that these young men are being removed from civilian education is an important fact, and something which may affect them. I would ask the Minister, Are we to be indifferent of the future of these young men? I found my period of service in the Armed Forces a fruitful and profitable one, but had it been supplemented by a period of civilian education, I might have made better use of my circumstances. Nothing is more deplorable than this apparent jealousy among Ministers. The Secretary of State for War may say that these men are protected by the Manual of Military Law and various Acts, and that they are his and his alone. I would say that his right hon. Friend the Minister for Education too has a right in regard to their welfare.

    Reference has been made to bodies of educational experts whom the Minister has recognised, but there are many others. I should like to see the Ministry of Labour as well as the Ministry of Education consulted. I foresee a young man embarked upon a compulsory military career who does not seek to carry a field-marshal's baton in his knapsack but intends to follow very definitely a civilian career. Is he, during those years of service in the Army, to be denied any horizon whatever, except that of being a field-marshal or a Secretary of State for War? I would prefer it if the Secretary of State for War and the Minister of Defence widened his horizon for him and suggested to him that the months of service were but the prelude to a better day. The industrialists want to know that the men carrying out this military service have certain ambitions to enter industry afterwards. The commercial men look forward to attracting promising recruits from this field. There must be many opportunities which should not be passed by.

    The suggestion that the man who is to be a soldier by compulsion is to be sterilised, isolated and limited in the cold embraces of the Secretary of State for War alone seems to open up a singularly uncomfortable and unpalatable prospect. I beg His Majesty's Government to show here that vision they have shown in other directions and to accept the enlightened suggestion contained in the Amendment to the Amendment. They must be prepared to look on the military career as a prelude to a greater and very useful career. The hotel-keepers of this country see, in the men we train in the arts of war, probable recruits to the art and science of hotel-keeping and would like to direct these men while they are serving in the canteen or the officers' mess, to the potentialities which arise under those circumstances. If that is true of the noble prospect of hotel-keeping surely many other possibilities arise. There is the art of journalism.

    I appreciate that there are a great many possibilities, but I hope the hon. Gentleman will not explore them all.

    I thought that in this great America which I am unfolding, I might indicate one or two of the lesser States. I thought hotel-keeping was one, and journalism another, but in deference to your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I merely add the headings which I have written down here so carefully. Farming, for example. What admirable training—

    I accept your Ruling that I should not elaborate this matter, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I thought a mere monosyllabic recitation of the headings would be sufficient. I conclude by saying that this is a very narrow proposal of the Secretary of State. It is agreed to consult

    "…by or on behalf of bodies of persons concerned with education"
    I submit there can be no limitation of
    "…bodies of persons concerned with education."
    We are all concerned with education—profoundly and deeply—and more concerned possibly with the education of these men, whose ordinary career has been restricted by compulsory military service, than other men. To narrow it down, as this somewhat bald and to me very difficult Subsection seems to suggest, to
    "…by or on behalf of bodies of persons concerned with education"
    —is to invite a rebuff. I can come before the Secretary of State for War and say, "I am such a body." But the Secretary of State for War looks at me with a glinting and very disapproving look and says, "I do not recognise you as such a body." I am like all the common people of this country, deeply and profoundly concerned with education, and this lack of definition will deny me the opportunity of offering to serving men a wider experience than their military service gives them.

    11.0 p.m.

    I did not rise before, because I was waiting for an intervention by the hon. and gallant Member who is most interested in this Amendment, the hon. and gallant Member for Dudley (Colonel Wigg). In the Committee he moved an Amendment on which the Secretary of State for War gave a pledge, which has been redeemed by the Amendment now before us. I should be interested to know whether the hon. and gallant Member is satisfied with the new Amendment which has been substituted by the Secretary of State for War for the Amendment which he moved in Committee. I should be extremely surprised if he was satisfied. In fact several times I have seen him almost lift himself to his feet, and glance rather nervously half left; then, apparently he is met by some basilisk stare which forces him to resume his seat. I supported the hon. and gallant Member's Amendment because I thought it meant something. I must confess that the Amendment put down by the Secretary of State for War means nothing at all. He made it quite clear during the discussion in Committee that he thought the whole thing was nonsense and he has succeeded in producing an Amendment which makes nonsense of it. He assured us that it was his practice to consult the Minister of Education—and he has left all mention of that out of the Amendment. He told us that he worked in conjunction with bodies interested in education—and has left that out. All he has to do now is to

    "have regard to any representations made."
    As I said, I thought the original Amendment had some, though not much, sub- stance, I think the Amendment as it now appears on the Order Paper has no substance whatever.

    I owe the fact that the Amendment is on the Order Paper at all, not to my own powers of persuasion, but to the fact that the right hon. Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley), having had a good breakfast, came into the Committee at 8 o'clock in the morning, showing as much interest in the proceedings as he had shown at night. As a sensible person, if I cannot have the whole of my case conceded I am grateful for a bit of it. If my Amendment had been accepted in the first place, it would depend on the good will of the Secretary of State for War and the other Ministers and on hon. Members to see that it was carried out. The fact that the present Amendment is included in the Bill is a considerable step forward and it encourages me to believe that in the years to come something will be done for these young men and that they will be given an opportunity to turn their year of service to advantage and to prepare for a job when they come out of the Services. I am grateful to the Secretary of State for having put this Amendment down and I am very grateful to the right hon. Member for West Bristol, without whose help I could have made little progress.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 11—(Information To Be Furnished By Education Authorities)

    I beg to move, in page 7, line 18, to leave out "purposes of," and to insert:

    "purpose of assisting his consideration of questions connected with their being called up for service under"
    This Amendment has been put down as a result of the points raised by the senior Burgess of Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) limiting the information we can get from educational institutions It is now confined to the purposes of the Measure.

    I am still rather sorry that it is felt necessary to have this statutory power. I cannot believe that in the absence of statutory power there would be any difficulty in getting the information required for purposes of this kind. However, I think that the Clause is slightly improved by this Amendment, and I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for coming so far to meet me.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 14—(Adjustments Of Contracts Of Service And Apprenticeship Affected By Annual Training)

    I beg to move, in page 9, line 39, at the beginning, to insert:

    "(1) Where by virtue of any contract of service or apprenticeship or of any order made or direction given under any enactment an employer is required to allow annual holidays to any person liable to be called up for training in pursuance of a training notice, the annual holidays shall not, except at his request, be allowed at times comprised within the period of training.
    In this Section the expression 'annual holidays' does not include any hank holidays or other customary holidays on dates not fixed by the employers."
    This is another Amendment which arises out of a previous discussion, when a promise was given that the matter would be examined. We hope that this Amendment will meet, the wishes of the House. It covers both the point of holidays that are taken with pay, and holidays taken without. It provides that where a man is called up for full-time reserve training any annual holidays which he is entitled to receive must not be given in the period he is under training unless he so wishes. There are probably cases in which the men concerned will wish to take the period as part of their holiday. This now applies to a holiday given under contract of service or apprenticeship, or a holiday given under statutory direction. Bank holidays are excluded, because they are not under the control of the employer. I hope that this Amendment will meet with the approval of the House. I have every reason to believe that it will meet with the approval of employers generally.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 15—(Early Registration And Calling Up)

    I beg to move, in page 10, line 10, to leave out "be allowed to," and to insert "if he so desires."

    This is a fairly straightforward Amendment. It will be recalled that during the Committee stage an Amendment was tabled, and to some extent was acceded to, to make it obligatory on the Minister to permit call-up under the age of 18 when desired. The right hon. Gentleman went so far to meet us as to substitute the word "shall" for the word "may." This Amendment is merely to cross the "t's" and to ensure that we substitute the words "so desires" for the words at present in the Clause. It is not a matter of great substance, but it ensures that it is obligatory on the Minister to meet the wishes of the individual to be called up whenever he desires.

    I do not wish violently to resist this Amendment. As the Clause now stands it is clear that—

    "The Minister shall, by regulations, make provision whereby, for sufficient cause.…"
    and so long as those are the governing words we do not object to the substitution of the words proposed in the Amendment. In those circumstances. I am prepared to accept the Amendment.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 23—(Interpretation)

    I beg to move, in page 12, line 26, at the end, to insert:

    "'Training notice' means a notice served or to be served on a person during his term of part-time service whereby he is called up for training for a period of not less than six days."
    This is an Amendment which results from those we have discussed on other. Clauses of the Bill. Unless any hon. Member desires me to repeat the information already given, I propose formally to move it. It is self-explanatory.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 24—(Application To Scotland)

    I beg to move, in page 13, line 34, at the end, to insert:

    "(c) for any reference to the Lord Chancel for there shall, except where the context otherwise requires, be substituted a reference to the Lord President of the Court of Session"
    This Amendment must be clear to everybody in the House. It simply means that, so far as the Bill relates to Scotland, the Lord Chancellor should be the Lord President of the Court of Session. It is a consequential Amendment

    Amendment agreed to

    Clause 26—(Duration Of National Service Acts)

    I beg to move, in page 14, line 9, to leave out "date", and insert "day."

    I requested the Minister to consider whether in page 4, line 24, he ought not to have the word "day" instead of the word "date." I think that in the hurry any reply on that matter was overlooked. Here I am inclined to think that "day" is the right word. It seems to me quite certain that the two words ought to be the same. It should either be
    "…for the said day such later day…"
    "…for the said date such later date…"
    I do not give, what I think it is in Parliamentary Order to call a damn, but I think it is preferable to insert one or the other.

    If this was the last Amendment on the Order Paper we might "call it a day" We propose to accept the hon. Gentleman's Amendment. We will consider whether the word "day" or "date" should be used elsewhere if necessary.

    Amendment agreed to.

    First Schedule—(Length Of Whole-Time Service)

    I beg to move, in page 15, line 5, after "practicable," to insert:

    "but in no case later than twenty eight days."
    We had a certain amount of discussion on this matter during the Committee stage, and still we are not at all happy about it. The right hon. Gentleman must realise that there is in the minds of serving soldiers a suspicion about the word "deferment." There has been a great deal of deferment in releases from the Forces and so long as the words:
    "…or as soon as is practicable after, the expiration of a period of twelve months beginning with his entry or enlistment for service…"
    remain, the suspicion will continue. We are well aware that in the course of the Debate, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War put up the case of the man who was either in hospital or undergoing treatment, and said it would be unfair to him that he should be discharged when he should be kept on full pay during that time. We entirely agree with that. I suggest that some protection, some other words it necessary, should be inserted to cover that position. There must be a definition of the word "practicable." It is too vague, and it arouses suspicion in the minds of soldiers who have known of cases being deferred for month after month. We feel that this should be put in the Bill in some way. In col. 1039 of HANSARD it will be seen that the Minister did undertake to look into this matter again. I imagine from the attention that I am getting from the Attorney-General that it is he who is going to reply, and I hope he will give an assurance that some words will be inserted to put a limit on the word "practicable." If it is only a case of covering and safeguarding those people who are under medical treatment or in hospital, and so on, words to that effect could quite easily be inserted.

    11.15 p.m.

    We have given most careful and, I think, sympathetic consideration to this Amendment, which, as the hon. and gallant Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer) has said, was the subject of a good deal of discussion in Committee, but I am afraid, if I may use the word, that it would not be practicable to accept it. The Clause as framed does not in any way give a licence to the Service authorities to prolong a man's service because it might be convenient to them to do so. What is "practicable" is, of course, a question of fact, and it would be by no means settled by the ipse dixit of the particular Service authority. In the last resort, if the soldier felt that he had been kept in the Service for longer than was necessary or practicable, it would be for the courts to decide whether it had been practicable or not to release him at an earlier date. I do not think the courts would regard themselves as being in any way bound by the view of the Service authorities on the matter—in fact, in my experience of them, they would view the opinion of those authorities, if it were expressed, with great jealousy. If in the event the court found that it had been practicable to release the man at an earlier date, they would no doubt award substantial damages against the Service Department which had improperly detained the man.

    The object of this Clause, which is really much stricter as against the Service Departments than the phrase which is used in the existing Statutes, which is "with all convenient speed," is really to protect the serving man rather than to give the Service Departments any licence to detain him for longer than is necessary. It has been found in all previous Statutes dealing with this kind of matter that one must provide somehow for some sort of margin after the terminal date in order to meet the unexpected and exceptional case. It covers the kind of case which the hon. and gallant Member for Worthing had in mind, where a man is perhaps on his way back to be discharged, possibly from the Far East; he falls ill and has to be put into hospital en route, and the date passes. Unless one had some provision for a margin of this kind, it would no longer be legal to pay him his proper Service pay, or to pay allowances to his family, or, later on, to give him Service facilities for getting him home. Again, there is the case where he is on his way and the ship breaks down, or something of that kind occurs quite unexpectedly, and there is a delay, so that he cannot be got back to this country within the time of his service. That is the kind of exceptional or unlikely case one has to provide for by a suitable form of words when fixing a time limit of this kind. One can see at once that this Amendment would really be quite inapt if one reads it into the Clause itself. The Clause would then read:
    "The term of whole-time service shall be completed on or as soon as practicable but in no case later than 28 days after the expiration of the period of 12 months."
    In other words, the service would in law be completed, although in fact and in law it was impracticable to complete it. That would make absolute nonsense of the Clause. If we could have found another form of words—if hon. Members opposite could suggest a practicable form of words—we should be very ready to consider it, but we have thought about this matter and have tried various alternative phrases, but we have not found one which is really apt to meet this purpose. We think these words are better, from the point of view of the serving man, than the words used in the existing Statutes, and for these reasons we hope that the Opposition will not press this Amendment.

    Mr. Manningham-Buller