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National Service (Channel Islands) Bill Hl

Volume 116: debated on Thursday 30 May 1940

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Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.

4.11 p.m.

My Lords, I crave the indulgence which I believe is usually granted to a newcomer to your Lordships' House, more especially as during the short period since I was called to my present office we have been living under great strain. I have not been able therefore to give that time to a study of the procedure and forms of debate in your Lordships' House which I certainly would have been able to give at any other time. The purpose of the Bill to which I now ask your Lordships to give a Second Reading is to legalize the enlistment of men called up in the Channel Islands under the local national service laws for service in the armed forces of the Crown. Though compulsory service has always existed in the Islands in some form or another for the purposes of defence, the islanders have by ancient charter been immune from serving outside the Channel Islands, except for the purpose of rescuing the Sovereign. Shortly after the outbreak of war the States of the Islands waived this traditional right and decided to offer men who were fit for service abroad to serve in the armed forces of the Crown under the same conditions as men in this country.

The Jersey States have passed and the Guernsey States will shortly pass local laws similar to the National Service (Armed Forces) Act of 1939, but these local Acts cannot operate outside the insular jurisdiction, and in order to make enlistment under the insular jurisdiction valid for all purposes outside the Islands further legislation by Parliament at Westminster becomes necessary. Accordingly this measure provides that:
"Where a notice has been served under any law of any of the Channel Islands…calling upon any person for service outside the Channel Islands in one of His Majesty's armed forces, that person shall…be deemed to have been duly entered or enlisted for service in the force so specified,"
and the period of service will be from the date specified to the end of the present emergency. The Bill has been introduced in order to give effect to the wishes of the islanders as expressed through their own Legislatures, and if I may say so it will give further evidence of the passionate determination of all His Majesty's subjects to give the whole of their resources for victory. It is proposed to ask your Lordships to take the Bill through its remaining stages to-day, if the Second Reading is agreed to. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a .—( Lord Croft.)

4.15 p.m.

My Lords, I rise to offer a double welcome. The first welcome is to the Bill itself as evidence of the self-evident patriotism of the Channel Islands, whose inhabitants have supplied in the past so many splendid seamen for the Royal Navy and whose patriotism is known all over the world. My noble friends welcome the Bill for that reason. The other welcome is to my noble friend Lord Croft. I congratulate him on his appointment to important office, which, if I may be allowed to say so, is much belated, as those who knew his stature in debate in another place will agree. I suppose it should be taken as another support for Professor Einstein's very intricate theories that my noble friend Lord Croft and myself are supporting the same Government.

4.16 p.m.

My Lords, I do not think there ought to be a welcome only from one side of your Lordships' House, and on behalf of many friends of the noble Lord who has recently joined us I would like to say that we are glad to see him here and that we congratulate him upon his appointment. There is one thing about the noble Lord: he does make himself audible. That is not always the case, I am afraid, with some members of the Government Bench. I am getting somewhat deaf in my old age, and it is rather difficult to hear some of them. However, we have a champion voice in the person of the noble Lord and we welcome him here. I would also like to re-echo what my noble friend Lord Strabolgi said about the patriotism of the Channel Islands. It is a pity that my noble friend Lord Portsea is not here to say a few words about that. I heartily welcome this Bill and also the presence of my noble friend in this House.

4.17 p.m.

My Lords, perhaps I may be allowed to add on behalf of my noble friends on this Bench a word of welcome to the noble Lord. His presence here we all feel will add vivacity to our debates and also, I am sure, contributions of serious value. I must also state the pleasure which we feel in observing that the Channel Islands, that most interesting part of these Islands, join as they have always done in the past in making their contribution to the welfare and defence of the Empire.

On Question, Bill read 2a ; Committee negatived.

Then, Standing Order No. XXXIX having been suspended, Bill read 3a , and passed, and sent to the Commons.