§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
§ MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid)
said, on a point of order he wished to show that this Bill dealt with a new Naval Volunteer force. By reference there was 224 introduced into the Bill all the provisions, of t e Naval Volunteer Act of 1859. The provisions of that Act entitled the Lords of the Admiralty to give pensions and certain remuneration to those who were in that reserve force. This Bill established a new Naval Volunteer force, which was to be paid in the same way as the existing Royal Naval Volunteers, and that, of course, involved a large payment out of the Imperial funds. His contention was that the clause in the Bill in that, respect was really an enabling clause to make a charge on the Consolidated Fund, and therefore should have first been introduced by resolution in Committee of Ways and Means. Take as an example the Lunacy Board (Scotland) Bill. That Bill was introduced in the ordinary way by the Lord Advocate, who, however, afterwards withdrew it, and then introduced it in Committee, on the ground that it was a Money Bill, and should be so introduced. He understood that Mr. Speaker had made some observation that, where the money was to be paid out under the sanction of Parliament afterwards, a resolution in Committee was not, necessary, but in the Lunacy Board (Scotland) Bill all the money was to be paid by Vote of Parliament. He might point out, also, that they were in a very different position from what they were a few years ago, because they had, by the new procedure, closure of Supply.
§ MR. CALDWELL
submitted, on a point of order, that where money was authorised by Act of Parliament to be paid, whether a Vote of Parliament subsequently was necessary or not, the practice and rule of the House was that the Act should be preceded by a money resolution in Committee.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
An objection of this, kind should have been taken before the Bill was read a second time. It is too late to take it now after the Bill has passed through Committee and been ordered for Third Reading. But I ought to add that Bills of this kind have always been brought in, not in Committee, but by leave. There was a series of Naval Reserve or Enlistment Bills of a similar character to this 225 Bill so introduced in 1859 and 1867; and in 1884 there was the Naval Discipline Bill. In all of these powers were given to the Admiralty to make regulations for the pay and pensions of new forces, and they were brought in by leave and not treated as subject to the rule to which the hon. Member refers as affecting the introduction of Money Bills. The hon. Member is mistaken in supposing that I have ever stated it as a general rule that where money is to be voted by Parliament afterwards, the preliminary Committee stage is not required.
§ MR. CALDWELL
said he had a few observations to make on the Third Reading of the Bill. This Bill, if passed, would make a new constitutional departure. Hitherto Parliament had acted on the footing that wherever a Reserve force was authorised by the country the number of the men should be put into the Act, and also the amount of payment and the conditions of service. Under the Volunteer Act of 1859, to which this Bill referred, the number of Volunteers was fixed at a number not exceeding 30,000. There was obviously a constitutional advantage in Parliament fixing the number of men forming the Reserve and the conditions of service, as a protection against the Executive of the day assuming the functions which should be reserved to Parliament as a whole. Now, by this Bill a new division of the Naval Reserve was to be created, but its numbers were not limited by any provision in the Bill; they might be 20,000 or 30,000, and that he held to be a constitutional departure. Another point was that by the Act of 1859 the period of service was fixed at five years, but by this Bill no period was fixed; it might be five or ten years. It all depended on the conditions of the pensions and the conditions of enlistment and employment. That was an altogether new departure on the part of a Government which claimed to be the constitutional party. It did not seem to him that that part of the Bill making it compulsory on all who received pensions to go into the Reserve for an indefinite number of years would have the effect of securing many men for this particular force. In his opinion it would be a great advantage if they spread out as much as possible, both in the Army and Navy, the men who were to serve. 226 Unless they did so they would weaken instead of strengthen the country. He looked upon the Bill as an entirely new departure, and no information had been given as to why powers of so important a character should be asked for. The House was entitled to complain of so important a measure being brought in at so late a period of the session, when it could not receive adequate discussion. Moving the rejection of the Bill would have no other result than a walk through the lobbies, and that being so, he should not move the motion standing in his name. The only object for putting it down was to protest against the Third Reading.