HC Deb 23 February 1916 vol 80 cc679-81

asked the President of the Local Government Board whether he is aware that the central tribunal states that it is against their practice to allow appellants to appear before them either personally or by counsel in regard to cases that come before them; whether local tribunals and appeal tribunals are compelled (Clause 8 of R. 36, and Clause 18 of Section 2, Part I., and Clause 1 of Section 2, Part II, of R. 48) to hear solicitors, counsel, or any person appointed by the applicant; whether, seeing that the right hon. Gentleman and the Attorney General gave assurances when the Military Service Act, 1916, was under discussion that such assistance should be at the disposal of the applicant in all the tribunals before which his case came, why no rules complying with these promises and governing the procedure of the central tribunal have been made; and will he at once carry out the pledges made, and so secure the proper presentment of their case before the central tribunal by numbers of men who are not skilled in setting forth facts and arguments before a judicial tribunal?


The Central Appeal Tribunal have hitherto been dealing only with claims and applications under the instructions previously issued to local tribunals. It was not deemed necessary to hear parties, though opportunity is given to make written representations, and this is freely exercised. It will be considered whether any change in procedure is desirable in view of the regulations and new instructions which have been issued. It must be remembered that, under these regulations and instructions, a case will have already been heard twice—by the local tribunal and by the appeal tribunal—before it comes before the central tribunal.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a number of us had Amendments on the Paper during the passing of the Military Service Act, and that we withdrew them on receiving the assurance that this right would be granted absolutely under the instructions?


No, no; the hon. Member is mistaken. There is really no controversy between us as to the procedure. In regard to this point, I have examined carefully the whole of the Debate—I am sorry to say to my personal regret—that we had on this subject, and in regard to the tribunals. I am only waiting in order to see how the proceedings are conducted. At first sight what is asked would appear undesirable, but if necessary I shall take steps to have it done.


Did not the Attorney-General especially state to the House that probably there would be points of legal importance on which counsel ought to be heard?



75. Mr. WATT

asked the President of the Local Government Board if he will state how it is proposed to deal with the case of a man under the Military Service Act, 1916, who has appealed to one tribunal on the point of domestic conditions, namely, to the tribunal of the district where he lives, and to a second tribunal on the point of commercial conditions, namely, to the tribunal of the district in which his work or business is situated; is each of these tribunals to hear only half his case, or is some arrangement to be made so that all the points may be stated to one Court; and, if the latter, will he say what the arrangement is?


It would obviously lead to confusion if applications in respect of the same man were made to more than one local tribunal at the same time. If an employé finds that his employer wishes to make an application in respect of him on grounds connected with his employment, while the employés desires to put forward personal grounds for exemption, he should arrange with his employer. If the personal grounds are subsidiary—that is to say, if the main grounds of the application relate to the employment of the man—the application should be sent to the tribunal for the area in which the place of employment is situated. On the other hand, where the question of the man's employment is the less important, and where the man relies mainly on some personal, domestic, or financial question, the application should be sent to the tribunal for the area where the man resides.


Are we to understand that the initiation is to be taken by the man who is admitted to be a soldier?


Where it is a question of a man desiring to escape from fighting on domestic grounds he will do that for himself in his own home; further, if it is a question of his employment where he Works, and he considers that the more important, that will be put forward by him.


Assuming that the claim of the employer is negatived, will the applicant have the right to make his appeal on domestic grounds within the area where he resides?


No, of course he cannot have two shots.


It is not a question of two shots. It may be the employer wants to get the man off or it may be that the man himself desires to get off.


What I have said is that the man will try first what he considers the most important. I am sure no one wishes to multiply cases before the local tribunals.


Why should not the man have the right to put forth both grounds?


Both points can be put forward, but it is that which is considered the more important to be put forward first.


The man can himself choose which to put forward first?


Yes, Sir.