HC Deb 11 May 1916 vol 82 cc1071-2

Nothing in this or the principal Act shall operate so as to render liable to military service any person who has at any time since the beginning of the War been a prisoner of war captured or interned by the enemy and has been released or exchanged.

Clause brought up, and read the first time.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a second time."

This proposal is very limited in its application, but none the less is of considerable importance. It is a proposal that those citizens who have been interned or imprisoned in Germany, and who have been realsed by the enemy, on the ground, no doubt, that they are medically unfit, shall be declared to be outside the scope of this Bill. Obviously, it will only affect a very limited number of persons. There are two reasons why it should be adopted. First, we do not wish to provide the enemy with an argument that he cannot release a prisoner of war because, if he does, he will come under the compulsory powers of this Bill, and, secondly, we all desire to do all we can—I am afraid it is little enough—to give encouragement to those fellow subjects who are prisoners in Germany and to put no obstacles in the way of their release.


What is the enemy doing?


I have not the slightest idea. No one who has a relative interned or a prisoner of war in Germany, and who has reason to know that he is in bad health, would have any objection to this.


I was not making any objection, but only asking for information.


I am quite willing to accept this Clause, which was omitted by an oversight from the Bill. We did not intend to expose those who have been prisoners or interned in Germany and who have been released to the operation of the Bill.

Question put, and agreed to; Clause added to the Bill.


(who had given notice of a new Clause—Limitation of the Number of Married Men who may at any Time be Enlisted for Service with the Colours): At this time of night it is rather undesirable to press such an important subject upon the notice of the Committee, and I shall therefore take a more favourable opportunity of raising the whole question.


The discussion we have had covers the next four Amendments standing in the name of the hon. Member for West Leeds (Mr. E. Harvey). I do not know whether the hon. Member agrees?


I do not wish to press them now if the Government are not able to meet me on any point.