§ In Section forty-six of the Naval Discipline Act, which defines the cases in which offences are triable by court-martial, after the words "in any arsenal, 1346 barrack, or hospital belonging to Her Majesty" there shall be inserted the words "or in any other premises held by or on behalf of the Crown for naval or military purposes, or in any canteen or other place frequented by seamen which may be prescribed by the Admiralty."
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I should explain that Section 46 of the original Act sets out a large number of places other than the High Seas in which sailors of the Fleet may be assembled. It enacts that all offences therein committed, may be punished by naval law, whether they are offences against the ordinary law or naval law. Clause 3 adds to the list of such places. Both the Noble Lord the Member for Portsmouth (Lord C. Beresford) and the hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. T. M. Healy) called attention to the phrase, "or in any other premises held by or on behalf of the Crown for naval or military purposes, or in any canteen or other place frequented by seamen which may be prescribed by the Admiralty." They objected to these words on the ground that we were taking rather too wide power. I felt the force of the criticism, and I am quite sure that hon. Members who have followed the Debate share the general desire which was expressed by my hon. Friends yesterday. Nevertheless, in order that there may be no misunderstanding, I propose to make an Amendment on the Clause I moved to leave out the words, "or other place frequented by seamen," and to insert instead thereof the words "sailors' home or any place of recreation placed at the disposal of or used by officers and men of His Majesty's Navy." I understand that there may be cases where we may need jurisdiction in certain circumstances.
It is a remarkable thing that the teetotalers in the House, who are so angry about men in the trenches having to stand the horrors of war and the stench of shell, should object to a court-martial being held in a canteen. I am very glad that the right hon. Gentleman has seen his way to make the change which he has proposed. I would expect the poor men, who are nearly dead, would be glad to get a little glass of grog.
§ Lord C. BERESFORD
I think this addition to the Clause is a very great improvement. The real improvement in it will be that it will keep the jurisdiction in our own hands without having to go to the Civil Courts.
I think the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Healy) misunderstands the attitude of teetotalers in regard to these matters. We do not object to any soldier being given rum if he asks for it. What we object to is that those who are total abstainers should have intoxicants practically thrust upon them. We wish that they should be treated on an equality with others.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.