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National Service Bill

Volume 437: debated on Wednesday 21 May 1947

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As amended, considered.

New Clause—(Candidates For Commissions)

Where persons are during their terms of whole-time or part-time service selected as candidates for commissions in his Majesty's Forces, it shall not be made a condition of their acceptance as such candidates that they shall perform additional whole-time service after the completion of their terms of whole-time service except in accordance with regulations made by the Service Authorities under this Act.—[ Mr. A. V. Alexander.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

3.42. p.m.

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

During the Committee stage of the Bill the Opposition moved the introduction of a new Clause to the effect that regulations should be introduced providing for the attainment of commissioned rank by selected men during or immediately after the expiry of their 12 months' service. I promised then to consider whether some suitable Amendment could be put on the Order Paper to meet the situation as it was submitted to me then and this new Clause is submitted in fulfilment of that promise. The reduction of the whole-time period of service to 12 months has naturally given rise to the question: Can officer training he completed in the time, or what other arrangement is proposed? Of course we should hope to get some candidates from among National Service men suitable for training as regular officers, but those selected for training for regular commissions will of course, make a fresh contract and thus be enabled to undergo the full course of military training which would be essential to prepare them for regular commissions; and they would be released from their engagements if they afterwards failed to gain such a commission. But in general, National Service men who wish to become officers will be thinking in the main of obtaining commissions in the Auxiliary and Reserve Forces. They will not want to do more full-time service therefore than is absolutely necessary, and will be anxious to get back to their civilian professions or trades. We are seeking to meet that situation as well as we can.

It is anticipated that in the case of the Army these cases will be very largely met. Nearly all the men will be selected from National Service men for training for commissions of that kind. We think we can complete their training within a year except in a few of the more technical cases. While we have not yet reached detailed and final decisions in the case of the Royal Air Force, they tell me that probably the great majority of the branches of that Service will be covered in the same way. Of course in the Royal Air Force there are specialist and technical commissions for which it would not be possible to complete training in that time and that is one of the reasons why we shall wish to lay regulations. The same applies, of course, very largely to the Royal Navy. I think we have met the situation by providing that a man shall not be required, as a condition of his obtaining a commission from among National Service candidates, to serve more than the standard whole time period as a condition of getting his commission unless regulations are laid. I quite understood the point which was pressed that in the case of a Bill of this kind which deals with National Service for a considerable period in peacetime, the House would need to be informed of the general conditions governing commissions under National Service, and therefore I propose to lay regulations for the selection of candidates for commissions of that kind before the House and they will be able to follow the normal Parliamentary procedure and raise in the House any points on which they are not satisfied. I think I have met the point of view that was put forward and I hope the Clause will be passed right away.

3.45 p.m.

I am not clear, from what the Minister of Defence said, how the Navy is to come into this. I think the whole Clause is for the benefit of the Army, although a few kind words were said about the Royal Air Force, and finally about the Navy, to assure the House that they have not been overlooked. But let the House understand that no person, after one year's service, with one possible exception which I will mention later, can be expected to get a commission in the regular Navy. A year's service will be of assistance towards that knowledge which every officer must have. It will be a great help in developing those officer-like qualities which he will need later on, but to say that he will get, or can be anywhere near, getting a commission in 12 months, is fooling the House.

I have not said anything of the kind. What I said was that the case of the Royal Navy was very much like that of the special and technical branches of the Royal Air Force, and therefore we should need special regulations.

I hope the Minister will tell the House more. I am a little bewildered. There are conditions in which, after a year's service, a man keen on officer rank can achieve it. He can join the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, and from the ranks of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve he may get a commission. That is one way of doing it, but to get it straight away is not possible.

The Minister shakes his head. I am glad he indicates that that will not be the case. There is a type of commission which might be given. We are talking here about a man or boy of 18 years of age, but many others will come in at a later stage in life who may have achieved great technical knowledge in radar, or something of that sort. They may be given a commission, not in the R.N., but in the Reserve, or as we called it during the war, the Special Reserve, distinguished by a green stripe. There is certain technical knowledge for which general naval service is not necessary, and a man possessing such knowledge might be given a commission. However, I will not press the point. The Minister is evidently doing his best, and no man can do more than that. But I think everybody is still very bewildered as to how any one in the Naval Service can imagine that he will get a commission, until some period of time has elapsed, and some experience has been gained after one year's service.

The hon. and gallant Member for Chertsey (Captain Marsden) should remember that a great number of naval officers who did great service in the last war, had much less than a year's service. In fact, I think I am right in saying that at one time, more than half, indeed, more than three-quarters, of the officers serving in His Majesty's Navy had been commissioned with less than a year's service. Therefore, I do not think that the hon. and gallant Member's remarks can be taken as wholly correct. On the other hand, I agree with him that a single year would not bring any one up to the tremendously high standard required of a regular R.N. officer. We must, however, remember that the whole object of this conscription Bill is to create a reserve, and that reserve cannot be expected to be quite up to the standard of the full-time regular Force. I wish to make this suggestion, which I believe is important, from the point of view not only of the Navy but of the other Services concerned. This reserve will not be of much use to us unless we also have a reserve of officers. A large reserve of privates is something, but it would not be entirely satisfactory. I suggest that full use should be made of the cadet organisations to bring people up to the standard where they can be trained as officers, and that a system should be instituted, whereby people can go through the voluntary cadet organisation, which will provide great encouragement for the recruitment of these cadet organisations. Provided that they get a proper recommendation, they can then go straight into O.C.T.U. and spend their year of training there. Officers' training corps have in the past brought lots of young men up to the standard at which they were fit to be trained for officers. I believe that if the cadet corps were expanded and used upon that basis, they would bring forward the officer material, the people who are keen—

This new Clause deals with the method of selection of candidates for commissions in the Forces under this Bill and not the general question of how commissions are granted.

As I am speaking after the hon. and now learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), I should like to take this opportunity of extending to him my congratulations, and those of some of my colleagues, on die event which took place this morning. I wish to ask the Minister whether he envisages that officers who are commissioned by regulations made under this new Clause will be commissioned in the auxiliary Forces and will later be allowed, if they so wish, to transfer to the regular Forces. If so, will regulations to provide for that be made in accordance with the last line of this new Clause?

The right hon. Gentleman intimated that some of the officers created under this new provision would probably desire to serve in what I might call the Territorial Force Would he indicate whether he intends that officers for the Territorials shall be provided in this way, or from what source does he anticipate that those officers shall be provided? I should have thought that perhaps the majority of officers for the Territorials in the future would come forward this way very satisfactorily.

Question, "That the Clause be read a Second time," put, and agreed to.

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Clause, in line 1, to leave out from the beginning, to "it," in line 2, and to insert;

"The service authorities shall make provision for the attainment of commissioned rank either during or immediately upon the expiry of the term of whole time service by persons called up for service under this Act and selected as candidates for commissions in His Majesty's forces and."
I hope that, even at this late stage, the right hon. Gentleman will consider the propriety of asking himself whether this Amendment is not an improvement upon the Clause to which the House, at his suggestion, has just given a Second Reading. The main question seems to be quite clear, and without wishing to be controversial I think we may regret that we have not had any discussion upon it earlier. We had no discussion at all on the Second Reading. Although the topic was introduced by one or two speakers on this side of the House, Ministers were then apparently unprepared to deal with it. The question is surely this: We are now to have a semi-permanent conscript scheme. I take it that it is ministerially intended to be really permanent, because of what the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Defence told us about his courage in introducing a conscription scheme in what he described as a more or less normal peacetime. If such a system is to work, it will mainly—certainly largely—depend upon the question of whether the Force which is provided, is or is not properly officered. Therefore, it seems to me plain that from the first, the House and the country should have known how it was intended to get officers for that Force, and how it was intended that conscripts should reach officer rank.

I am not very much impressed by the difficulties which the right hon. Gentleman suggested just now—and also I agree an hon. and gallant Member on this side of the House—about the more technical branches in the Army, about the Navy and about the flying crews for the Royal Air Force. Of course, it is true that for those branches, it is not to be expected that a man shall learn everything and reach the level of a competent officer within 12 months. That does not necessarily mean that he is not fit to be commissioned at the end of 12 months, because hitherto, before the war, men have reached commissioned rank in all those departments without any previous whole-time service at all. That is what has happened in this country under the voluntary system—men got Territorial commissions, Reserve commissions and equivalent commissions in the Navy without having had any whole-time service.

Turning to foreign parts, it was certainly true in both France and Germany before 1939 that a man had a smaller whole-time service if he was going into the officer reserve than did those who were going into the reserve, as other ranks or ratings. Even in those cases I do not think that the difficulties are insurmountable. The main thing is that it should be made plain in the Statute, and not merely introduced afterwards by administrative action by the right hon. Gentleman and the Service Ministers. It should be made quite plain in the Statute that the normal method of getting a commission on the Reserve should be that one gets one's commission just at the end of one's conscript service.

If that is not done there will be two great disadvantages. The right hon. Gentleman told us, I think it was at an early part of the Committee stage, that one of the advantages of cutting down conscript service from 18 months to 12 months was the number of labour hours thus saved. I ask him to consider that in getting civilian life going again, in getting our productive capacity going, increasing it and so on, the most important class of people will be the best young men as they are now emerging or have been emerging in the last year or two from the schools. Therefore, any advantage there is in cutting down the interruption of the civilian careers of people who are not going to rise above the rank of private, is very much grater indeed in connection with those who are fit to be commissioned. It ought to be made plain in the Statute that such young men will not have their ordinary civilian professional careers interrupted for longer than would be the case if they remained in the ranks.

If not, there will be two disadvantages. One is that the Services will get fewer of the best young men in their reserve of officers than they ought to get; the other is that the officering of civilian life will be delayed and will, to some extent, get the best men coming to it a year or two later than they intended to, and more or less disgruntled. Those are the disadvantages we wish to avoid. We are grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for going some way to meet us, but we are still not clear that he has done all that he ought to have done. We still ask him to consider this Amendment. Along with it—I hope this is not out of Order—I ask him to consider the question of young men who, by a more or less formal pledge, have received, or are on the point of receiving, commissions, the more or less formal pledge being "If you have a commission in this regiment, you are expected to stay x years." I am quite sure that that system, if allowed to go on, will have very bad effects, especially very bad social effects. I am quite sure that something of that sort has been happening, and is still happening. We ought to have assurances about that.

I shall be very glad to meet the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) as far as possible, but I think that if he will read in print what I said just now in moving the Second Reading of the new Clause, he will see that most of the points he has made have been met except in those cases where candidates are selected for commissions in the more technical and specialist sides of the Services The statement I made was that in the case of the Army, the great majority of men selected from National Service candidates for commissioning in the reserve forces will be able to complete their training within 12 months. No question of extra time arises. I have said that probably it will not be possible to complete training for certain specialist and technical commissions, and that we will lay regulations governing the process under which selection will be made in those cases, so that the House will have an opportunity of considering them and raising any point which arises. Therefore, I think that the great majority of the cases which have been in the minds of the hon. Member and his hon. Friends who have been interested in this matter, have been met He says, of course, that the provision should be made plain in the Statute. On that point, I would say that the position is made plain in the Statute except in so far as the detailed regulations governing those who will be selected for the more technical and special commissions are concerned These will have to be covered by regulations and can be checked up on in the House. All the other part will be put into the Statute by the new Clause. Therefore, I think I have met his point.

If I may reply to the point made by the hon. and gallant Member for North Blackpool (Brigadier Low), and the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Stewart), I am certain that the very large proportion, especially in the Army, of the officers who will be required for the reserve forces of the future—and we shall be building up very large reserves—will have to he found from among those who will be selected from the National Service candidates in the course of their normal training. If there is any question with regard to ultimate transfer from, say, the auxiliary to the regular forces, I have no doubt it will be arranged that that can be covered by the regulations to be submitted to the House. I should very much prefer that, when we are dealing with the selection of candidates for regular commissions, we should try to arrange that they make a decision whether or not they are to be regular officers during their period of training in the ranks so that we can decide then whether they show the officer-like qualities and general ability that the authorities think will be necessary in giving what is a very great honour, the opportunity of a very great career as a regular professional officer in the Services. Nevertheless, if it is found necessary to arrange for transfer, I have no doubt that any such provision could be covered in the regulations. I hope that with this explanation, hon. Members will feel that in the main the spirit, at any rate, of what the hon. Member for Cambridge University had in mind, has been met.

None of us on this side of the House would like to appear ungracious to the right hon. Gentleman who, undoubtedly, has done his best since the Committee stage to meet us on what we consider to be a most important point. Some part, at any rate, of my disquiet as to the actual wording of the Amendment was removed by the right hon. Gentleman's speech. I should like the opportunity, which he suggested, of reading in detail the report of his remarks, but it seems to me that he laid down, much more clearly and definitely than we have had it up to now, the principle that, wherever possible, these people would get their commissions during their 12 months' service. The cases in which we all admit it would be impossible for them to do it, seem to me to be relegated by the right hon. Gentleman to the exception rather than, as appeared before, proving to be the rule. All that I think my hon. Friend desires now by his Amendment is to ensure that the emphasis which the right hon. Gentleman gave to this question in his speech, which is ephemeral in character, should appear in a permanent form in the legislation. I hope my hon. Friend will agree when I say that it has now come to a matter of wording. I think that there is no difference in spirit between the right hon. Gentleman and ourselves. If before this is discussed in another place, the right hon. Gentleman would see whether some other form of words could be introduced which, while not altering the substance in any way, would give greater emphasis to the fact that a year would be the normal method, and a longer period, by regulation, would be the exceptional method, I think that would go far to meet us. In those circumstances, I would advise my hon. Friend not to press his Amendment.

Perhaps I may, by leave, ask one question. I am sorry if this is confronting the right hon. Gentleman with a difficulty, but I do not think it is. May we take it that the Amendment is contrary to what the Secretary of State for War—I am not in the least making a point against him here—said at an earlier stage, when he was inclined to think that a high proportion of these young men getting commissions would have to be held, in order to deal with the next intake of conscripts? May we take it that the remarks which I attributed to the Secretary of State for War do not indicate what is now the official view?

I think the explanation by the hon. Member is quite right, although I would not accept that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War gave that impression. It may have been somebody else.

Amendment to the proposed Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause added to the Bill.

New Clause—(Unconditional Registration Of Conscientious Objectors In Certain Circumstances)

The local tribunal, if satisfied by the application duly made under section five of the principal Act, or the appellate tribunal, if satisfied on appeal that the ground upon which application was made is established, shall by order direct that the applicant shall without condition be registered in the register of conscientious objectors.—[ Mr. Hopkin Morris.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

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

The present position in regard to this matter is established by Section 5 of the Act of 1939. Under that Section, conscientious objectors can be registered under three conditions, but I propose to deal only with Subsection (6). The object of this New Clause is to delete Subsection (6), which provides for the registration of conscientious objectors in two classes—the unconditionally exempt and the conditionally exempt. The object during wartime is perfectly clear. During wartime, all industry, as well as the Armed Forces, is necessarily directed to the winning of the war, but war conditions are not applicable in any sense to peacetime. If a person objects to military service and appears before the local tribunal, and that tribunal finds that he is a conscientious objector and should be registered, the question remains whether he shall be registered as unconditionally exempt or exempt upon conditional circumstances. The man may very well object to doing all forms of military service, both combatant and noncombatant, and he may, in wartime, object to doing any service which assists in the prosecution of the war. In a case which was accepted as a bona fide case, the objector was registered unconditionally where he objected to all forms of service, but, in some cases, where there was an objection to doing military service, both combatant and non-combatant, but no objection to engaging in some form of civilian national service under control, the objector was registered as conditionally exempt.

That is easily understandable in wartime, but it is perpetuated in this Bill, and what I am seeking to do is to retain the unconditional registration only. Where a man establishes that he has an objection to military service, both combatant and non-combatant, he should be registered unconditionally in the register, and the other classes, who would otherwise be registered in wartime as conditionally exempt, should adopt some other means. A young man of 18 makes an application to a tribunal, and, in wartime, it is found that he has no objection to doing agricultural work or becoming a miner, and he is setting out upon a university career. In wartime, agriculture is essential for the prosecution of the war and so is mining, and one can understand the State saying to a man "You object to military service in any form, but this is national service, and we will conditionally register you, subject to your carrying out this work." That case no longer holds in these times. Why should a man, once he has established his case as a conscientious objector, be directed to do agricultural work, mining or any other form of civilian occupation under Government control?

4.15 p.m.

Yes, and it is a great mistake, which arises because the Minister has the right to direct labour in wartime, and what is being done here is to direct conscientious objectors in peacetime to do certain work merely as a penal measure and as a form of punishment. Why should this one class be so treated? If we admit this policy in peacetime, we are then admitting the policy of the direction of labour for one specific object. If we are to have direction of labour, let it be universal. Why should this class, once the only case which they are permitted to make—the case of the conscientious objector—has been established, have a form of punishment brought to bear upon them? That seems be quite unfair to one class of the community, and is an assumption by the State, of rights which, quite clearly, it has no claim to adopt in peacetime. The consideration that justifies this action in wartime is that the State is concerned with its own preservation, but, in peacetime, it has no such right.

I beg to second the Motion.

I am not at present concerned to ensure that the "provisional" conscientious objector has justice done to him; I want to make a plea for the "out-and-outer" whom I must declare to have my complete sympathy. I am concerned with the man who objects to being placed under military law in any circumstances, and I do not understand the attitude of a man who will palter with his conscience and allow himself to be placed under military orders to do certain things and not other things. I wish to call attention to some of the hopeless confusion that took place under the old Acts. There were for instance cases where men were given exemption on condition that they did agricultural work. If the man was poor, he had to be an agricultural labourer, but if he was rich—and I have known cases of this kind happening—he would buy a farm, put in a bailiff to work the farm, and himself go on with his own work in his office or on the Stock Exchange or wherever he happened to be. That happened more than once, and I could give instances and names. It happened sometimes that a conscientious objector was allowed to evade military service if he carried on with the work which he was already doing. Some of them were teachers who were given exemption on condition that they remained in their profession. But a neighbouring education authority dismissed such men from their position as teachers because they were conscientious objectors. In future, I hope we shall not have one authority dismissing people for being conscientious objectors and another retaining them for the same reason. My last reason for seconding this Amendment is that the present Clause seems to me to go 75 per cent. towards perpetuating the very hated system of direction of labour in peacetime.

I think that the hon. Gentlemen opposite who have moved and seconded this new Clause, and who have so much sympathy with conscientious objectors, are doing conscientious objectors an injustice. They are attempting to narrow the limits under which they can be registered. I suppose that conscientious objectors are as difficult to define as any other category of persons. Take the Liberals, for instance. It is very difficult to define National Liberals, Liberal Nationals, Independent Liberals, and other Liberals.

Has not the Minister taken the trouble to read the announcement made during the last to days that the Liberal Nationals and the Conservatives are now to all intents and purposes combined?

I am afraid that is only adding to the confusion. 1n the case of conscientious objectors, the difficulty is equally great. One man may be a conscientious objector on religious grounds. According to the sect to which he belongs he might be intensely and vehemently opposed to any form of military service. Then, of course, there is the conscientious objector—

The Statute sets out clearly that a conscientious objector must object to being registered in the military register for the performance of military service and combatant duties. It says nothing about religion.

But that does not relieve a tribunal of the duty of deciding whether or not a man's conscientious objection is genuine. The tribunal decides that, in relation to the professions the man makes when he comes before it. Some men will argue on religious grounds; others will argue on political or humanitarian grounds as the basis of their objection. The tribunal has to decide, from the evidence before it, how deeply a man holds that view. With the best tribunal in the world, and with the best applicant in the world, there is always an element of doubt in these matters. It is a question of degrees. They are not all white, or all black; there are some grey in between, and what we are providing for in the Bill—

Does the Minister really claim that degrees of conscientious objection are provided for in the Bill?

I am surprised at the hon. Member for the University of Wales (Professor Gruffydd). It was he who raised this point when he said that he had no time for the man who was prepared to do some sort of service, and that all his sympathise were with the "out and outer." He admits that there are at least two kinds—the "out and outer" and the man prepared to be registered conditionally. In supporting this new Clause, the hon. Gentleman is putting the conditional man out completely.

I must correct the Minister there. What I said was that I did not regard the other person as a conscientious objector in the same sense at all.

That makes the position even worse. The man who seriously objects to going into the Armed Forces, but who is prepared to render some national service, should not, according to the hon. Gentleman, be registered as a conscientious objector. That is not the position which this House has taken up. It has taken the view that when a man claims that he has conscientious objection to combatant service, it should then be put to him whether he is prepared to render some other national service. The man might well say that though he is not prepared to go into the Army, he does not wish to dodge his contribution to the State, and is willing to render some national service. In the past, the House has held that such a man is no less a conscientious objector, and no less entitled to be registered as such. I think that the mover and seconder of this new Clause are really doing a disservice to a very respectable section of the conscientious objector category.

I feel that the Minister has answered the case put forward. I entirely agree with him that the law ought not to provide for a wider degree of exemption than the individual conscientious objector himself requires. I think that argument is quite sound. But I fancy that the hon. Gentlemen opposite had something else in mind and that the danger to be avoided here is that involved in some tribunals making a kind of bargain with the applicant. I think it is that kind of bargain which it is sought to avoid. A tribunal might say, "We are not sure that this man who applies for absolute exemption is as genuine as he makes out. On the other hand, we are not satisfied that there is not something genuine in his application. Let us strike a middle course, and give him something which he does not want anyhow. He claims absolute exemption. We cannot admit that, but we will not deprive him of everything. We will give him a conditional exemption." It is out of that sort of thing that one ultimately gets the majority of "cat-and-mouse" cases, with which I am hoping to deal in a later Clause, where some measure of exemption has been granted not satisfactory to the applicant.

It is not a case of a man who seeks to be registered as a conscientious objector and fails to establish his claim. The tribunal ought to make up its mind whether he is genuine or not, but many do not. The real issue is that in peacetime the State says that there are priorities in industry.

I do not think that that point is involved, but, of course, if the hon. and learned Gentleman wishes to make it, he should be allowed to do so. My point is that if the tribunal comes to a decision which is not satisfactory to the man concerned, it may result in his being imprisoned, released, further trials, further courts-martial, and further sentences. I do not think that this new Clause would meet that type of case.

4.30 p.m.

This House has a very great tradition of being extremely careful in its consideration of all cases of conscience. I think it right that that position should be upheld. Therefore, I should like to be clear about the issue raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman. At present, I am not at all clear. Whether we agree with the point of view or not, this House has always very wisely admitted the sincerity of conscientious objection in wartime. Therefore, very rightly and wisely, it has never compelled a conscientious objector to fight. There are some people who carry their objections so far that they cannot in time of war, do any form of national service because they consider that that would be contributing to the conduct of the war. Most of us would find it a little difficult to defend that position, but we all recognise the sincerity of that view as held by some people, and, therefore, the law has allowed for it. But I cannot quite follow the point of the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris) that it is worse to make people do this alternative service in time of peace than in time of war. The case seems to be exactly the opposite. One can understand a person who has such an extreme abhorrence of war that he objects to doing agricultural labour in time of war because, somehow or other, it contributes to the prosecution of the war, but I cannot see how anybody can object to doing any other form of national service on conscientious grounds in peacetime, when it merely contributes to the general welfare of the community and not to this wicked thing, the prosecution of war.

In the 1914–18 war there was a class of men who while perfectly willing and anxious, as an act of voluntary service, to do all kinds of things, whether or not these were useful to the war effort, were, nevertheless, not willing to bargain with the tribunal for exemption from military service. Therefore, they refused every kind of condition on that ground

I appreciate there were such people, but I was not passing judgment on anybody's point of view I was contrasting the situation in time of war and the situation in peacetime. It is not the same thing at all During the war one would be contributing to the prosecution of the war, and some people felt that sincerely. During peacetime, one would be contributing to the general welfare of the community, and I cannot understand how anybody can think that is very wicked. I appreciate the further point made by the hon. and learned Gentleman about direction of labour being undesirable. Of course, direction of labour is undesirable Conscription, in itself, is undesirable; we all agree on that. Unfortunately, we are dealing with a situation where we have reached the conclusion that we cannot avoid it, and the hon. and learned Gentleman cannot argue that these people are being put in an exceptionally unfavourable position. They are put in an exceptionally favourable position, if they are allowed to continue with their university studies, or whatever it is convenient for them to do, at a time when all their contemporaries are in the Army. It is to that point of conscience that I would like hon. Members to direct their minds, because I do not think the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen has established his point

I believe this new Clause, in support of which the Liberal Party have turned up in their massed battalions today—as opposed to their attitude on the Finance Bill when they indulged in absenteeism in a very high degree—provides another example of how this unfortunate remnant of a party is steadily dividing itself and Liberal opinion in the country. I think it is a very sorry thing that they should turn up in such force today to plead for a Clause such as this. As my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis) has just said, there is the greatest distinction between wartime and peacetime, and that was recognised by the mover and seconder of the new Clause

Like many hon. Members, I have a son who will be affected by the Bill by the time it becomes law. Incidentally, it might be of interest to hon. Members on the Government benches to know that my son practically insisted on the period of 18 months, and will be really disappointed if he has to do only 12 months' service, because he thinks that is not enough time in which to become a good soldier. It seems that we, as a House, have decided to take over the lives and activities of boys of 18 years of age, in preparation for the self-preservation of the country. If a young man is a conscientious objector and is absolutely honourable in that belief, surely he should insist that because his conscience will not allow him to train for the Army, he should make his sacrifice equal to that of the boys in uniform. If he did not, he would not be worth this mass movement of the Liberal Party. He should say, "Since I cannot even in peacetime, without taking blood"—be cause there is no bloodshed involved—"put on a uniform, I offer to go into any service which is of use to the country." The conscientious objector who would not do that would not be worth fighting for.

I do not know that it will be necessary for me to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mr. Baxter) on the subject of the mass movement, because that hardly seems to be a matter which requires any deep consideration by this House. However, I do express some surprise at the fact that hon. Members below the Gangway have moved this Clause. I understood that there was fairly common agreement in this House that if we are to support the United Nations organisation, it is necessary that we should be reasonably strong.

Yes, Mr. Speaker. I was endeavouring to make the point that even if one objects to war on the ground that it is wrong, surely it is not wrong to try to stop war by offering one's services to the country in time of peace, or by having one's services taken by the country in time of peace. That would seem to me to have something to do with the new Clause, and I am sorry if I did not put the point sufficiently clearly. It seems to me to be rather vital when dealing with this matter of conscientious objectors.

I am afraid the hon. Member has not read the new Clause. The main point is whether conscientious objectors should be registered for other duties, and not for service in the Armed Forces.

I have certainly read the new Clause. I wish to confine myself to the point concerning the performance of other duties which is vital to the Clause. I take this point of view, which seems to be very strong. For a very long time, there have been certain societies, such as the Quakers, who, although they are not strictly able to take up military service, do everything they can to help in the medical service and in that sort of way. That would seem to me to be a very strong argument in support of the Government if there were a Division upon this new Clause. There is also a point on which I agree with the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman). I should like it laid down clearly in this House—because I think there is almost universal consent upon it—that in a matter of this kind, we do not want anything in the nature of bargaining between the tribunal and the individual as to whether he should perform this or that service. That is something against which we all ought to stand. If only because that point has been raised, and has enabled some of us to express an opinion upon it, I think it has been worth while moving the Second Reading of this new Clause. Beyond that I am afraid I cannot find any particular reason why even hon. Members below the Gangway, should press it to a Division.

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

The following new Clause stood upon the Order Paper:

( Hourly, etc., drills)

(1) The Service Authority may cause to be served on any person during his term of part-time service a notice which shall state that he is required to present himself for hourly periods of instruction or a continuous period of less than six days at such place and time on such days (of which the earliest shall not be earlier than the fifteenth day after the service of the notice), as may be specified in the notice.

(2) The Service Authority shall have power at any time to cancel such a notice and to vary it by issuing a supplementary notice provided that the earliest day for attendance under the supplementary notice shall be not earlier than the fifteenth day after the service of the notice.

(3) No hourly period of instruction nor day's training shall be reckoned towards the completion of any person's part-time service under Section two of this Act unless it has been detailed in a notice under this Section or in a training notice or carried out as part of part-time service with the consent of the Service Authority.

(4) The Service Authority may, if any person without leave lawfully granted or sickness or

other reasonable cause fails to present himself as required by a notice or supplementary notice under this Section declare some or all of the hourly periods of instruction which such person has previously undergone under that notice or supplementary notice void and such hourly periods of instruction shall not be reckoned towards the completion of that previous part-time service under Section two of this Act.—[ Brigadier Low.]

The proposed Clause (Hourly, etc., drills) in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for North Blackpool (Brigadier Low) can be discussed together with the new Clause (Drills) which I am now about to call.

New Clause—(Drills)

(1) The Service Authority may cause to be served on any person during his term of part-time service a notice which shall state that he is required to present himself for periods of instruction at such place and time on such days (of which the earliest shall not be earlier than the fifteenth day after the service of the notice), as may be specified in the notice.

(2) A person who without leave lawfully granted, or sickness or other reasonable excuse, fails to present himself as required by a notice served under this Section shall be liable to forfeit to His Majesty a sum of money not exceeding five pounds recoverable on complaint to a court of summary jurisdiction.—[ Brigadier Head.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

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

This new Clause seeks to make good two omissions from the Bill and I should like to deal with the two relevant Subsections in turn. Subsection (1) seeks to make good the omission of any regulation for the notices being served for periods of not less than six days. Clause 6 of the Bill contains the whole machinery for serving these notices, which is defined as a period of not less than six days for the camps, but there is no reference to periods for what were normally called, before the war, the territorial drills. We feel it is essential that some machinery should be included in the Bill, so that notices can be served, and so that the machinery for their serving is contained in the Bill.

In our opinion Subsection (2) of the new Clause is more important, and constitutes a matter which my hon. Friends and myself think will have the strongest effect on the success or failure of the whole of this scheme. It concerns the omission from the Bill of any sanction which can be put upon men who do not attend these drills. I do not think there will be any strong argument against the assertion that that omission occurs. It will be within the recollection of many hon. Members who sat up very late one night, how we watched the frenzied searchings of the right hon. Gentleman and the learned Attorney-General to see where this sanction could be found. I think I should also be right in saying that none of my hon. Friends is wedded to the proposal contained in the new Clause. Obviously, it is difficult to arrive at an entirely satisfactory form of sanction.

It seems obvious that the temptations for absenteeism will be very strong, and that the inconvenience of a lot of absenteeism will be very considerable and might, if it reached serious proportions, almost serve to wreck the scheme. Although a really firm sanction is required it does not, of course, want to be a very savage one. It may be that the right hon. Gentleman has come to the House with some solution of this problem, and it may be that his solution is superior to the method suggested in Subsection (2) of our new Clause. The one thing we wish to get at is, that a definite sanction should exist; that it should be a practical one, and that it should discourage men from continued and frequent absence, which will stultify so much of the part-time training which will depend, to a very large extent, on good attendance and on maintaining continuity in performing these drills.

4.45 p.m.

I beg to second the Motion.

I very much hope we shall have a Service Minister speaking on this, perhaps in addition to the Attorney-General, because it is not simply a legal question; it raises a matter of the very greatest importance to the success of the whole of this scheme. In the past we have not had any experience of what might be described as compulsory volunteers. The men about whom we are now thinking are men who are made to serve in a volunteer organisation. In the Territorial Army before the war there were sanctions; men were under military law when they were at camp, and there was always the question of a possible fine if they did not perform their minimum number of drills. Of course, in fact in any decent Territorial unit—indeed, in almost all territorial units—these sanctions were never applied, and it would have been fatal to a unit to have applied them. I know from my own experience, as a Territorial officer before the war, we never had any trouble of this sort.

At the beginning of the war, in the company I commanded, we had no conscripts serving with us for the first four months, and not a single man came up on a charge; they were all volunteers, they worked very hard and their behaviour was perfect. When we got the conscripts coming in, they were perfectly good soldiers—probably just as good as the Territorials—but they were not volunteers, and they did the things which soldiers are apt to do, such as overstaying their leave, which could not be overlooked. In a mixed unit there are bound to be people who will not turn up, because they are conscripts and not volunteers. There will have to be some form of sanction, and unless that sanction is clear, and unless that sanction is applied reasonably, the whole scheme will break down. That is the reason I was worried when this was discussed in the small hours of the morning the other day. It did not appear that the Minister had really thought seriously on this particular point. Like my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head), I am not particularly enamoured of this new Clause. It is excessively difficult to know what is the right thing. I hope we shall get, not a purely legal answer but one from the point of view of the Minister who is trying to make the scheme work.

It might be for the convenience of the House if I said a few words before the Attorney-General replies, because the new Clause standing in the name of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chelsea (Commander Noble) and myself (Hourly, etc., drills), is also being discussed. I should like to take up a little time in explaining a little more fully than has been done so far what is at the backs of our minds. I say at once, that I agree with what the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Birch) has just said about volunteers and conscripts, and about his experience when they mingled at the beginning of the war. Anyone who was in the same position of my hon. Friend and myself, will confirm that that was the general experience.

Whereas before the war we were satisfied—I think wrongly satisfied—with allowing Territorials, to take them as an example of volunteers in the Auxiliary Forces, to choose the days on which they should do their drills, they were doing drills over a much longer period than that which these conscripts, the National Service men, will be required to put in. In fact they were doing over twice as long per year. Before the war they put in that long time, but we were not satisfied with the efficiency produced. I think my hon. and gallant Friend and myself, in our various Amendments, both have at the backs of our minds the thought that if training is to be of any use for part-time service it should be planned and not unplanned training. Surely, that argument should appeal to hon. and right hon. Members opposite, who are so wedded to planning in other matters? One matter on which we on this side of the House do require planning, at any rate in this Bill, is that of training.

During the dark watches of the night, some time back, the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) told us of the dangers of happy-go-lucky methods of training, and, besides drawing some laughter from the House, he did impress even right hon. Members opposite, sleepy and bewildered though they may have been. The scheme we have in mind consists of a notice procedure and a sanction. The point of principle in which the House is interested is really the sanction, but before I come to that I should like to say one word about the notice procedure. Under the new Clause which we are considering at the moment, the notice procedure is designed to cover periods of instruction. I think we have elsewhere in the Bill, or will have when we come to complete our consideration of it, provision for training notices covering periods in excess of six days. If the Government are going to accept the principle that we put forward, a notice under this new Clause, or whatever Clause is put in substitution of it, must cover anything under six days, and in my new Clause, which I will move if it is necessary, provision is made to cover all periods of less than six days, as well as hourly periods of instruction. I also think it necessary, and I hope the House will agree, that provision should be made to enable the Service authority to vary the notice; and I think that the notice procedure which is adopted for longer periods of service should apply to this notice procedure, too.

Let me pass to the sanction. I was very glad to hear my hon. and gallant Friend say he was not wedded to the principle of the £5 fine. I think that in thinking over this matter of the sanction—and most of us agree that a sanction would be desirable, if we could find one against which there were not too many disadvantages—all hon. and gallant Gentlemen will realise the difficulty in reaching a satisfactory solution. Speaking for myself and, I believe, for my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chelsea, I would say that we feel that the £5 penalty procedure has too many disadvantages. We do not like the idea that men could be allowed, as it were, to buy themselves out of the results of having missed a period for which they were summoned. We do not think that young soldiers, sailors or airmen should be allowed to get any advantage so to make good their absence by merely paying a penalty. Therefore, we have looked round to see what other sanction we could find; and, bearing in mind that the object of part-time service is to train a man as efficiently as he can be trained, we think that, if a sanction is required, that sanction should be to deprive him of being able to count a number—perhaps, not many—of the hourly periods of instruction which have formed part of the training programme, with which he has been summoned, in the notice which he has disobeyed For that reason we have put forward the fourth Subsection in the Clause standing in my name

I have no doubt the Government, too, have given full attention to this matter, and all I would ask is that, if they cannot accept my sanction, or the sanction proposed by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head) they will indicate to us what sanction they are going to put in its place. 1 do ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, or the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General, to give the House this time what they did not last time—some account of the scheme by which the national service men are to be allowed to satisfy part of their liability part-time service by hourly drills or periods of less than six days.

We have given the most careful and, in many ways, sympathetic consideration to the two new Clauses that have been put down by hon. and gallant Gentlemen opposite, as, indeed, to any Amendment which is put down from either side of the House; but we are satisfied that these proposals are neither necessary nor practicable. As the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Blackpool (Brigadier Low) has observed, we have already put on the Paper an Amendment which will define what is meant by a training notice for the purposes of Clause 6 of the Bill, and that definition will, as I promised when we were discussing the matter in Committee, make it clear, if, indeed, it is not clear already in the Bill as at present framed, that a training notice will relate only to periods of service of some duration—periods longer than hourly drills, namely, periods of six days or more.

A training notice will normally relate to the annual camp, will be served only once in the course of the year; and it will only be in the case where a man fails to comply with the training notice calling him up for a period of some duration of that kind that he will be liable to the penalties imposed under the existing law in the case of the particular Force to which the man has been allocated who fails to obey a call up or embodiment notice. It will be seen by hon. Members from that, that the training notice will not be issued at all in respect either of the hourly drills or in respect of the weekend camps, and, consequently, that absence from an hourly drill or from a weekend camp would not constitute desertion, and would not be punishable in the way that failure to comply with a training notice would be punishable. The position in regard to these short periods of service, which was, I think, fully explained to the Committee on the previous occasion—

No doubt, owing to the comatose condition of hon. Members opposite on that occasion it was not sufficiently apparent to the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I make quite clear now the position in regard to the short periods of service. Under Clause 2 of the Bill there is, as hon. Members know, a limit of 21 days on the amount of training which may be required from a National Service man in the course of any one year of his part-time obligation. A substantial part of the 21 days will, of course, be required to be served in continuous training in the annual camp, or training of that kind, training which he undergoes pursuant to a training notice; and if the liability had not already been partially discharged—I mean the liability to do the complete 21 days had not been partially discharged—by doing hourly drills, or by training at a weekend camp, a training notice for the full period of 21 days could, of course, be served.

It is intended, however, to make regulations under Clause 2 (4) providing that an individual may, by carrying out a specified number of hourly drills, or by attending a weekend camp—weekend camps will count as eight hourly drills—count those drills against his liability to serve for the 21 days; and it is intended that four training periods—four hourly drills—shall count as one day against a total liability to serve for 21 days. In our view, it is undesirable, and certainly impracticable, to observe any very strict or formal rules in regard to the length of notice which has to be given to a man in respect of the hourly drills These things will be matters of arrangement in each unit. The intention is to arrange this part of the part-time training for the National Service men in exactly the same way as it is done for other men in the Reserve and Auxiliary Forces. In the Territorial Army the volunteers and the conscripted personnel will be trained side by side. Matters will be arranged in regard to the dates, the times, and so on, of the hourly drills in each unit to meet, as far as may be, the convenience of all concerned. It would be manifestly impracticable and unfair that a man who had been asked, perhaps at comparatively short notice, to attend for an evening drill in order, perhaps, to make up a gun team or a searchlight team and who had turned up and performed his drill, should not be allowed to count that against his 21 days, but under the new Clause in the name of the hon and gallant Member for North Blackpool (Brigadier Low), because that was a period which had not been served pursuant to a 15 days' notice, the man would not be allowed to count it to his credit.

5.0 p.m.

There is a provision that h shall count if it is done with the consent of the Service authority as part-time service. The example which the Attorney-General gave would be covered.

I am very much obliged to the hon. and gallant Gentleman for that explanation, but it does not in any way alter our view that it would be impracticable, where one was providing for hourly drills, which might take place on a Thursday in one week and, because of some local holiday—a football match or some other thing—an arrangement might be made the following week for it to take place on a Wednesday, to provide for 15 days' notice always to be given in writing to each individual in advance of the drill being held. Regulations will be made with regard to these periods of hourly drill, and adequate and proper notice will certainly be given, but we cannot tie ourselves down by Statute to give 15 days' notice in every case.

I come now to the question of the sanction by which attendance at the drills and the weekend camps, as opposed to attendance pursuant to a training notice, will be secured. The real sanction—and when I say "real sanction" I mean what we anticipate will be the effective sanction—is very much that which the hon. and gallant Member for North Blackpool has in mind, as opposed to the quite different sanction which the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head) and the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Birch) would like to see. It is a sanction which, in fact, exists. I hope that in this matter we shall be able to satisfy all hon. Members. There is the penalty to which I referred in Committee. There is also the penalty which we think in practice will be, as it has been in the past, much the more effective penalty, that if a man fails, without reasonable excuse, to complete the full course of hourly drills, where for instance he has been given the opportunity of commuting six days of whole-time service by attending 24 evening drills, and where, without reasonable excuse, he fails to complete the whole course of hourly drills in that way, he will not be entitled to exemption from the liability to serve the six days' period. If, on the other hand, he has a good excuse, that he was ill on the night in question or that something unexpected prevented him from turning up, he will be allowed credit for the drills he has actually performed.

That is, in a sense, an administrative sanction, but in practice we think it is likely to be the more effective sanction, and we do not contemplate that there will be a constant necessity to issue summonses, go to the police courts and to get men fined £5; but if it is a matter of any consolation to the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton and the hon. Member for Flint, there is still a legal sanction in the background. I informed hon. Members in Committee, speaking, I confess, "off the book," that when a man does not turn up for a drill in circumstances of this kind when he has been ordered to attend, there was a small penalty, which I thought was £5. This seemed to create some despondency or amusement—I was not quite sure which—on the part of hon. Members opposite, and, consequently, I used a good deal of midnight oil to find out whether or not the information I had given was correct, and I found to my relief that the position was exactly as I had said. In the case of the Territorial Army, the Auxiliary Air Force and the Air Force Reserve, the penalty is a maximum fine of £5 The Army Reserve, the Naval Reserve and the Naval Special Reserve apparently think in rather higher figures and there the maximum penalty is £25 Therefore, in these cases where a man is required to perform hourly drills and fails to comply with this requirement, there is a legal sanction in the background.

It is not under Regulations. If hon. Members will look at Section 21 of the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act, 1907, Section 15 of the Reserve Forces Act, 1882, and at the Auxiliary Air Force Order, 1924, they will find the relevant statutory provisions in this regard.

Does the imposition of the sanction and the fine wipe out the offence?

In no way. That is why we think the really effective sanction will be that a man who fails to complete his course of drills will fail to be relieved from his obligation to do the full-time service. We think that is likely to be the effective sanction in all these cases.

No; there is no question of that. As the hon. Member for Flint said, it has been found in practice in the Territorial Army that it is neither desirable nor really practicable to pursue the legal sanction in the court and recover these penalties. In bad cases it might have to be done, but in the ordinary way the administrative sanction is the one that will ensure that men do, in general, comply with the requirement to perform their weekly drills. Having regard to the fact that both the sanction which the hon. and gallant Member for North Blackpool and the hon. and gallant Member for Chelsea (Commander Noble) desire, and the sanction desired by the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton and the hon. Member for Flint, will be provided, and in view of the explanation I have given of the arrangements that will be made for this commutation of the fulltime liability by part-time hourly service, I hope hon. Members opposite will feel able to withdraw the new Clause.

The Attorney-General said that hon. Members on this side were in a comatose condition when this point was discussed in Committee. I can assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that he is quite wrong. It is true that, during some short period in the many hours we sat on the Committee stage, some of us no doubt felt drowsy, but none of us felt drowsy for one moment while we were discussing this particular Amendment. Many of us are deprived by the hours of work of this House from anything like the constant visas to see the Crazy Gang which we should like, and the performance of right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite was the nearest thing to the Crazy Gang that any of us have been able to see for some months. On the other hand, I do plead guilty to the charge made against us that the Debate on this Amendment filled us with despondency. We were not so despondent at the learned Attorney-General's statement with regard to the £5 sanction; we did not question whether he was right or wrong, though we are now happy that for once he should have got the thing looked up by somebody else and found that he was right. What we were despondent about was the fact that, whoever was right or wrong, the Secretary of State for War and the Attorney-General, speaking within a few minutes of each other, have made entirely contradictory statements, and our gratification at the proved correctness of the Attorney-General is slightly tempered by disappointment about the statement of the Secretary of State for War.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman, in dealing with these new Clauses, has, T think, rather missed the point which was in the minds of my hon. and gallant Friends who have put them down, and which has been expressed in the speeches of the hon. and gallant Members. What we are above all anxious about is whether there is any method possible under this Bill whereby people can be made not only to do the actual number of days' or hours' training which the Bill lays clown, but can be made to do it more or less at the times required, so that they will have a planned training. I was left in doubt by the Attorney-General's statement as to whether the regulations to which he referred would in fact be adequate to secure the purpose we have in mind, and with which I am sure the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Defence has no quarrel, because it is quite clear that part time training will be valuable or useless not merely in accordance with the number of hours served but in accordance with some plan of training and education which is laid down from the start. As far as I could follow the Attorney-General's argument, it was that under Subsection (4) of Clause 2, the regulations which permit of converting the days into hourly periods would lay down certain rules which would have to be observed if the change from days into hours was to count. From my point of view, however, I am afraid he did not give sufficient details of the way these regulations would work to convince me that in fact they would meet our point. I can quite see that if the regulations are to lay down that a man can only count his hourly training to make up the days if he does so many hours in January, so many in February, so many in March—so that there is a planned, forced attendance and a plan of instruction leading up to the yearly camp—and that if he does not carry out these precise instructions under the regulations he is not able to count these drills towards making up his training—

I had intended to make that absolutely plain, and I thought I had done so. The position will certainly be that if a man does not do the drills as and when required, to commute the particular number of days he seeks or is permitted to commute, he will be liable to the double sanction that he will not escape liability to do the full period of 21 days whole time training and the more remote sanction that a monetary penalty may he imposed upon him.

5.15 p.m.

I thank the Attorney-General, and I would like to ask him one more question. He said "as and when required." How will he be required? Will the regulations lay down the drills he will have to attend, spread over the whole five years?

I apprehend that the regulations will not lay that down. The regulations will necessarily differ in the case of each Service and each unit, but they will give a power to each Service to require particular men in particular units to turn up at a regular and organised course of drills. It may be every day in a particular week or every day in a particular month, whatever seems to be practicable for the unit concerned. They will not leave a man with a choke of saying, "I will not turn up in May or June but I will put in all my drills in July." There will be some provision to secure regular attendance, so that the training given at the drills may be systematic.

That explanation from the Attorney-General relieves a good deal of my fears. My fear was that a man would be able to choose, that the regulations would lay down of course the number of drills he had to do to make up the days, but would leave him at complete liberty to choose when he did them. That is what appeared from the previous discussions. Of course that left it open to a man to do the whole of the drills, say, in the last year, and would have made complete nonsense of any form of training programme. I understand now, however, that without laying down complete details the regulations made under Subsection (4) will in fact specify that the hourly drills will not count towards making up the day unless they are carried out at times—not perhaps exact times, but in periods laid down and required of the soldier.

Then, if he does not carry out the drills at the required time he does not get the benefit of this Subsection at all, and even the hours he has already served will not count towards making up the necessary number of days?

Presumably, then, he can get a training notice to make him serve a number of days' training and the ordinary, normal sanctions would apply to that. No doubt some of my hon. Friends will want to ask more questions to get this absolutely precise, but personally I feel that that statement as to the sort of thing the regulations under Subsection (4) will contain removes a good deal of my apprehension. I can comprehend that if the regulations are full enough, that will to a large extent meet the point of view I have held.

Who is responsible for the efficiency of the training? Are we to assume that the departmental Service Ministers accept responsibility, or does it devolve on the Minister of Defence? I put that question for two reasons. I think everybody will appreciate what the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General said, that it is far better not to exercise any sanctions at all, but that surely involves a responsibility on the Service Departments to provide adequate training facilities. At the present moment they are not there, and there does not seem to be much chance of these training camps being set up.

The Attorney-General has talked about weekend camps and six-day camps. If he went to any Territorial Association he would discover that there are no facilities at all for such training. If the Minister of Defence will give the House the assurance that he will see to it that there is, in every county, a standing camp to which men can go and do training, where they will have proper accommodation and proper catering, I believe that not only would the men welcome it, but, quite apart from any sanctions, they would want to make themselves efficient and would go to such camps. At the present moment, however, they do not exist. If in every county there could be for instance an existing airfield set aside as a standing camp, not only for the men called up for the Army but for the Air Force, where permanent staff instructors could be accommodated, with cover where training could be carried out in inclement weather, and where the weapons with which the men have to train could be provided, it would be very useful. At present it is impossible for a Territorial Association to know whether there is transportation for the men to the camps to train for the units to which they are attached. It makes sheer nonsense of training for a gunner, for instance, to do drill for an infantry unit.

The hon. Member is going far beyond the terms of the proposed Clause.

If we are to have a discussion on whether drills are to be converted into days surely it is important to know whether there are camps into which the men may go for their training.

There will be plenty of scope within the regulations for training to say that if a man does not take the system of training, he should not have any of his time excused. That would appear to be a better sanction than has been proposed by the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head). A further point is that a bench of magistrates may consist of two conscientious objectors and two old women, and that definitely would not be a suitable instrument for enforcing these provisions. There is still another point as to which I am in a good deal of doubt. What is the power to enforce order during these periods of training? I am not too happy about it. What is to happen to the man who goes along and plays the giddy goat?

With very great respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I suggest that it does. When we are considering the sanctions which are applicable, it is important that that matter should be considered.

The sanctions that the House is considering are those arising in the event of a man failing to present himself, and not of a man misbehaving himself.

Is it not important when we are requiring a man to attend for training and bringing him under military law to say that if he does not turn up, he is absent without leave and can be punished for it? I understand that that is not the position. If the man is not brought under military law, what is the position when he is there? Can he turn up and put in an hour "blowing raspberries" at the sergeant instructor?

I can assure the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) that if he were to follow the instructions of his right hon. and learned Friend and refer to the "Manual of Military Law" he would find there the answers to his questions. The hon. Member was a little unfair to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head). The suggestion of a £5 penalty did not come from my hon. and gallant Friend at all in the first place, but from the Attorney-General, who said, in the course of the Committee stage, that there was a £5 penalty for nonattendance at drill. In repeating that statement today he was basing it upon Section 21 of the Act of 1907. The Attorney-General was wrong in one respect. Under that Section, there can be a fine of £5 for not doing the required number of drills but not for nonattendance at a particular drill. I think that if the right hon. and learned Gentleman will read the proposed new Clause again, he will have to concede the point.

I agree that the point which has been put is thoroughly bad. The proposed Clause raises points of great importance. I am very glad that we have had a clearer statement from the benches opposite than we were able to get in the early hours of the morning recently. The Minister of Defence said that there should be sanctions. We agree, but in that he differs from his colleague the Secretary of State for War, who spoke about an amicable arrangement for turning up at the drill.

My statement has been taken out of its context. What I wanted to say was that there was no real penalty. The £5 sanction mentioned by the hon. Mem- ber was utilised before the war, but I do not think it will be used in the future.

I have read through HANSARD and I thought that the words of the right hon. Gentleman were quite clear. I do not want to go into the question at length or to enter into any dispute which may exist among Members of the Front Bench opposite. If a man does not present himself for parades where required to make up the 21 days in each year, he will be liable to be called up under a training notice to complete his service. How is this to work out in practice? We do not know what camps there are going to be. Suppose it should be decided that there is to be a six months' camp for each individual. That takes 42 days out of his 60, leaving a balance of 18, which, presumably, will be spread evenly over the other period. If a man fails in the first year to do the required number of days' training, or if he fails in the second year to do so, and he has to be called up in the third year for his training, how are we to work that out? We could serve upon him a training notice for a period less than six days, but as he will not be liable to do more than 4½ days I am puzzled how the regulation will be operated. I hope that I have got it right. It was a little hard to follow when the Attorney-General was dealing with it, because of his continual reference to the £5 penalty. I am inclined to agree that the question of the £5 is of small moment. What we want to see is an efficient system whereby men come to the right place at the right time to get the full benefit of their training, and unless we can provide some machinery, part-time training is not likely to prove of much value.

The hon. and learned Member referred me to the "Manual of Military Law." I wonder to which section he was referring. I can find nothing which provides power to discipline a man when he is not embodied.

The hon. and learned Member is quite wrong in thinking that the Territorial is subject to military law only when embodied. He is subject to military law when serving with any military forces. The hon. and learned Member will find the matter dealt with in the Territorial Army regulations, but I do not undertake to advise him on law.

What we are all trying to get is planned training for the Territorial conscript. Whether sanctions are or are not in existence, it is quite obvious that some form of sanction must be included in the Bill, if everyone is to understand what we are trying to do and how we are trying to do it. I should like to hear a word from one of the Service Ministers, and preferably from the Secretary of State for War, who has said very little so far, who has been defended gallantly by the Attorney-General. I should like to hear what he proposes to do about planned training for these conscripts. I suggest that if there are sanctions, as I fully appreciate there are, they should appear in the Bill so that we shall all understand them.

I speak again by leave of the House. Regulations will not in themselves provide the exact extent to which the 60 days' total liability may be commuted by hourly drills. That will vary in different units and with different personnel. What the regulations will do is to provide, in the case of different units and, possibly, in the case of different personnel, that provision may be made, by orders, for liability to 15 days' camp in every year, with the remaining six days commuted to 24-hour drills; in another unit there might be 10 days' camp with the remainder of the time being devoted to weekend drills. It must be left to the discretion of those in command of particular units.

The Attorney-General speaks of the "remaining six days," but suppose five days remain—a training notice could not be served in that case?

In the event of that unlikely situation arising, one would fall back on the legal penalty. It is not likely to arise, because the regulations will provide in advance for a period of annual camp and for a period of hourly part-time training. The hourly training will commence earlier in the year than the camp, and if a man fails to comply with his obligations without reasonable excuse, he will get a new training notice. The hon. and learned Member's point concerned the end of the six-year period, when there might be an outstanding liability of five days. In that case one would have to fall back, if it were thought worth while—and it would be one case in hundreds of thousands—on the legal sanction. Section 21 provides that for the case of a man who fails to appear at the time and at the place appointed for preliminary training or for annual training, or who fails to attend the number of drills and to fulfil the other conditions. "Annual training" is the annual camp, and "preliminary training" is the hourly training. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] In my view it is. It is perfectly clear that it includes hourly training, and it cannot contemplate anything else. In other words, it means: "You must turn up at 6 o'clock at Carshalton Drill Hall on Thursday, and if you do not, there is this penalty." In any case, it is not likely to operate, because, as the hon. and learned Member has said, the real penalty is the administrative one.

I add my plea to that of my hon. and gallant Friends, that some words of the kind proposed should be incorporated in the Bill. As one who has spent many hours going through the "Manual of Military Law," as amended at various stages, I can say that it will make the lot of a commanding officer exceedingly unhappy unless definite standards are set down in the Bill. It seems to me that Clause 2 (4), which the Attorney-General has quoted in reply to these two Amendments, is extremely tightly worded. I hope that it will be stated categorically and in a convenient form for commanding officers who have to administer the regulations to which the Attorney-General has referred.

I thank the Attorney-General for his assurance, and in the circumstances, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.