HC Deb 10 May 1916 vol 82 cc873-4

Notices served for the purposes of the principal Act or this Act shall not be deemed to be invalid on the ground only that they were served before the Act came into operation or before the man in respect of whom they are served became a member of the reserve.


There are two Amendments to this Clause in the name of the hon. Member for North Somerset, but I think they are quite unnecessary, as they do not make any difference to the proposal.

Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."


This looks an innocent little Clause, and I recognise that it is urgent. The necessity for it arises, of course, because under the first Military Service Act the War Office—no doubt through failing to take the advice of the Law Officers—issued the bellow Form before the proper date. That was noticed by some of us. It is perfectly right that mistakes should be cured, and I am glad to think that nobody has ever taken? objection prominently to what happened. That the mistake should be rectified is, as I say, quite right, but it is a very different thing that the War Office should commit the same irregularity again under the new Bill. 'To say that notices served for the purposes of the principal Act shall not be deemed to be invalid on the ground that they were served before the Act came into operation is simply saying that what has been done should be accepted as right, but it is, I submit, a very strong reason why it should not be done in reference to the new Act, because it is not until the appointed day comes that a man knows whether he is going to be included in the new compulsory levy. A great many people misunderstood the terms of notice on the last occasion, and thought that because they had received such a notice they had lost any right of appeal. I do not see that we can refuse the desire of the Government to put the Clause in now, but I would ask the Solicitor-General to consider whether it is desirable that, so far as the present Bill is concerned, power should be given to serve notices at an illegally early date, when nothing results from it but confusion and misunderstanding.


What we desire is to give the man as long a notice as possible.


May I point out, with regard to that, that notices are now given in a very unsatisfactory way. So badly are they given that I had a case brought to my notice in which the man received a notice requiring him to join the Colours after he had been already arrested, and sent to gaol. I think, therefore, that it is very desirable that we should not give these additional powers.