§ (1) The Army Council may, in accordance with and subject to the provisions of this Act, at any time, by written notice require any man who is for the time being- excepted from the operation of the Military Service Acts, 1916, as being—
- (a)a member of the Territorial Force who is, in the opinion of the Army Council, not suited for foreign service; and
- (b) a man (in this Act referred to as a disabled man). who has left or been discharged from the naval or military service of the Crown in consequence of disablement or ill-health (including an officer who has ceased to hold a commission in consequence of disablement or ill-health); and
- (c) a man who has been previously rejected on any ground, either after offering himself for enlistment or after becoming subject to the Military Service Acts, 1916,
§ (2) Any man to whom a notice is so sent shall, as from the date of the notice, 978 be deemed to come within the operation of Section one of the Military Service Act, 1016 (Session 2), and not to be excepted therefrom as being unsuited for foreign service, or as being a disabled man, or as having been previously rejected, as the case may be; and the Military Service Acts, 1916, shall apply accordingly.
§ (3) If a man fails to comply with a notice under this Section, he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five pounds or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months.
§ (4) Where a disabled man has had at least three months' service with the Colours or where his disablement has been caused or aggravated by naval or military service, no notice shall be given to him under this Section till after the expiration of a year from the time when he left or was discharged from the Service.
§ (5) Where a man has been required to present himself for examination in pursuance of this Section and is not accepted for service, no further notice shall be given to him under this Section until after the expiration of six months from the date of the previous notice.
§ (6) A notice calling up a man under this Section may be served by post at the last known address of the person on whom it is to be served.
§ Mr. KING: I beg to move, in Subsection (3), to leave out the word "five," and to insert instead thereof the word "two."
I have two Amendments on the Paper-designed to mitigate the severity of this Bill. I need not spend very much time upon them, because it is quite obvious what what their intention is, and I believe there is a general sympathy for them which I hope will extend as far as the Under-Secretary for War. If this Bill ever becomes an Act and is put into force there cannot be any doubt that there will be a great number of men who, owing to their peculiar position and having migrated to different places, will be under a misconception as to whether they have been summoned, and they may find themselves regarded as absentees and hauled before the Court. In view of the certainty that there must be a great number of such cases if the Act is put into force in every possible case, or in anything like 50 per cent. or 60 per cent of the cases 979 where men might be called upon for reexamination, I wish to reduce the severity of the punishment. I propose to make the maximum penalty £2 instead of £5, and where imprisonment is ordered instead of a fine—cases which I hope will be very rare indeed—I think one month would be quite sufficient punishment instead of three months.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Macpherson)
I am afraid that I cannot accept this Amendment.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. HOGGE
Why cannot the hon. Gentleman accept a simple Amendment of this kind? My hon. Friend, by his second Amendment, proposes to re duce the terms of imprisonment from three months to one month, and every Member knows that there are men in prison who would be much more serviceable if employed in some other occupation. Take, for example, the case of the conscientious objector, who has been discussed in this House, if you like, ad nauseam. There are conscientious objectors who at this moment are serving long periods of imprisonment when they might be doing equally good work on the land. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Macpherson) was once a candidate for Wigtownshire, and the other day the hon. Member for Somerset put questions to him with regard to some of his old electors who had previously voted for him in that constituency. These men, accustomed to dairy-farming or other forms of farm work, are now languishing in prison, because on conscientious grounds they refused to comply with certain Regulations of the State. When we are discussing the question of man-power it does seem ridiculous to lock up in prison men who might be working on the land—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
I have not been able up to the present to see the relevancy of the hon. Member's remarks.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I understood that my hon. Friend's speech covered both the fine of £5 and the term of imprisonment of three months, but if you rule that it only covered the fine of £5 I will stop my speech now and repeat it on the question of the term of imprisonment. I understood that we were getting rid of both Amendments at the same time. I do not suppose my hon. Friend would persist in reducing the period of imprisonment if 980 the fine were not reduced, and I therefore thought that it was saving time to take the two together. If you agree, I will continue my speech, but if you do not agree I will reserve it for repetition on the question of the three months' imprisonment. Silence giving consent, I wish to add that it seems to me a common-sense proposal that offenders under this Act, while obviously entitled to punishment, should not be given a punishment that is really detrimental to the nation. Instead of being sent to prison for three months, they should be put to some kind of man-power labour that would be useful to the State. That seems to me a reasonable proposition, and, although the object of my hon. Friend (Mr. Macpherson) may be somewhat different from my own, I hope that ho will see the utility of reducing those sentences. At any rate, he ought to be able to give some reason why he cannot accept the Amendment. We are continually having a Minister saying that he cannot accept an Amendment, but that is no use for the House of Commons. He really ought to give some tangible reasons to convince the minority that they ought to agree with his view. What object does the hon. Gentleman hope to achieve by locking up in prison all the men who offend against this Act? Does he think that they would be more use in prison picking oakum than digging the soil?
§ Mr. BILLING
Does this mean that a man who is proved to be medically fit for active service, if he. fails to come up at the time he is called, will be locked up as a defaulter, and that it will be three months before he is allowed to go to do the service for which the Leader of the House told us the other day there was such pressing need? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that quite recently—indeed, within the last-week—there have been many cases where able-bodied men have been given three months' hard labour as defaulters, and ordered to pay a subsequent fine of £5 out of their pay when they join up? I would ask the hon. Gentleman whether he does not think it advisable to increase the fine, if he likes, in the interests of the country, but at any rate to abolish the term of imprisonment? If nothing else can be done, the man should at least be put into a special training squadron so that the three months might be spent in making him ready for the fighting line, instead of coming out of prison useless for any military purpose.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
I think my hon. Friend is under a misapprehension. The fine of £5 and the period of three months are both maximum penalties. It is open to the Civil Court when the recruit comes up before them to decide on the facts whether they should give the maximum or the very lowest penalty. I do not think it is unreasonable, at a time of great national emergency, when you have a clear Act of Parliament, and when men are required, that those men should be asked to obey the law.
§ Sir J. D. REES
The contention of the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) would involve the abolition of imprisonment altogether. He argued that a man might be put to better use at this time than being sent to gaol, but that is true at any time. He also said that the Under-Secretary should not merely refuse to accept the Amendment, but should give satisfying and lucid reasons against it. Unless my hon. Friend appoints the Under-Secretary himself, I do not think that he will ever be able to get anyone to give him reasons which will satisfy him, and for the hon. Gentleman to attempt to do so would merely be to consume time without convincing the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
My hon. Friend the Member for Somerset (Mr. King) justified the Amendment on two grounds, one of which was that the penalty proposed was severe. I would like to have an explanation why the Government are much more moderate in the punishment that they desire to inflict in this particular case than operates at present in regard to men who are badged, or who have certificates of exemption, because under an Army Order issued some time ago any man who has a certificate of exemption can be called up for medical examination, and if he fails he is liable to penalties under the Defence of the Realm Act, namely, six months imprisonment or a fine of one hundred pounds, or six months imprisonment and a fine of one hundred pounds. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh that at a time like this it is important that the resources of the country should be utilised in the most economical manner, and it is absurd to put men in prison and employ them uselessly at an expense to the State when they might be doing very useful and necessary work.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
The fact that the-Clause as it stands has only elicited the support of the hon. Member for East Nottingham (Sir J. D. Rees) is the most damning thing against it. It is well known that when the hon. Member supports anything it must be intrinsically bad. Consequently, I hope that the Under-Secretary will modify his position and accept the very reasonable proposition put forward by the hon. Member for Somerset (Mr. King). It seems to me to be a very strange policy on the part of the Government to create as numerous offences as they can with a view of putting as many men into prison as possible when they require men for military purposes. If your maximum fine is low, the possibility is-that the offender will pay the fine and not go to prison. If, on the other hand, you have a heavy fine you encourage magistrates to inflict that fine, and the offender in many cases rather than pay the fine will go to prison, and the State will fee-deprived of his services during his period of incarceration. The hon. Member for East Nottingham naturally regards it as a matter of great importance to get as large a number of men in prison as possible, but I hope the Government will not be led away by him.
§ Sir J. D. REES
Would it not fee possible, as a matter of prison discipline, to turn these people to some useful purpose while undergoing imprisonment?
§ Mr. MARTIN
The hon. Gentleman has promised on Report to amend this Clause by exempting soldiers who have lost a limb. Might I ask him if the would go further and exempt from fine or imprisonment anyone who can show that he never really received the notice at all, even though it may have been sent to him by registered post?
§ Sir J. JARDINE
Hon. Gentlemen are doubtless aware that such influence as I have has always been exerted to prevent the increase of statutory offences, and especially to prevent the punishment being greater than the crime or offence 983 demands, but in this case I can hardly say that even the maximum fine and the maximum term of imprisonment are very high. You must have some means of making people come forward for military service if they refuse to do so. The magistrates both in England and Scotland are not in the habit of inflicting maximum penalties, except perhaps in the capital of the county which I have the honour to represent and where extremely severe fines have been imposed and collected.
|Division No. 21.]||AYES.||[4.15 p.m.|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Gibbs, Col. George Abraham||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir Jamas Tynte||Greenwood, Sir G. G. (Peterborough)||Partington, Oswald|
|Archdale, Lieut. E. M.||Greenwood, Sir Hamar (Sunderland)||Pearce, Sir Robert (Staffs, L[...]ek)|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Col. Martin||Greig, Colonel James William||Pearce, Sir William (Limehouse)|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Gulland, Rt. Hon. John William||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Astor, Hon. Waldorf||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Philipps, Maj.-Gen. Ivor (Southampton)|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Hanson, Charles Augustin||Philipps, Sir Owen (Chester)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Pratt, J. W.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir F. G.||Harris, Henry Percy (Paddington, S.)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E. H.|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Haslam, Lewis||Rawson, Colonel R. H.|
|Barnett, Captain R. W.||Henry, Sir Charles||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs)||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Rees, G. C. (Carnarvon, Arfon)|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, E.)|
|Bathurst, Capt. C. (Wilts, Wilton)||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Reid, Rt. Hon. Sir George H.|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Hills, John Waller||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Bellairs, Commander C. W.||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Robinson, Sidney|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Blair, Reginald||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Samuels, Arthur W.|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Illingworth, Rt. Hon. Albert H.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Bliss, Joseph||Jackson, Sir John (Devonport)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Jacobsen, Thomas Owen||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Seely, Lt.-Col. Sir C. H. (Mansfield)|
|Brace, Rt Hon. William||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Shaw, Hon. A.|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Joynson-Hicks. William||Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Walton)|
|Broughton, Urban Hanlon||Kellaway, Frederick George||Smith, Sir Swire (Keighley, Yorks)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Melton)||Stanley, Major Hen. G. F. (Preston)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Larmor, Sir J.||Stirling, Lieut.-Col. Archibald|
|Burdett-Coutts, William||Law, Rt. Hon A. Bonar (Bootle)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Swann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.|
|Butcher, J. G.||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Cator, John||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lieut. Colonel A. R.||Tickler, T. G.|
|Cautley, H. S.||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Walsh, Stephen (Lanes., Ince)|
|Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm. Edgbaston)||Wardle, George J.|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Macmaster, Donald||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||McMicking, Major Gilbert||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Coats, Sir Stuart A. (Wimbledon)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Whiteley, Herbert James|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Macpherson, James Ian||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N. W.)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Maden, Sir John Henry||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Cowan, W. H.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Wilson, Captain Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Marriott, John Arthur Ransome||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Craig, Col. James (Down, E.)||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Cralk, Sir Henry||Meux, Hon. Sir Hedworth||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Croft, Lieut.-Col. Henry Page||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Currie, George W.||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Money, Sir L. G. Chiozza||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Morison, Thomas B. (Inverness)||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Faber, George D. (Clapham)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Younger, Sir George|
|Fell, Arthur||Murray, Major Hon. Arthur C.||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. H. A. L. (Hallam)||Newman, John R. P.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Nield, Herbert||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Forster, Henry William||O'Grady, James||Lord Edmund Talbot and Mr.|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Primrose.|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Anderson, W. C.||Chancellor, H. G.||Goldstone, Frank|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Doris, William||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Glanville, H. J.||Holt, Richard Durning|
§ Generally speaking, after my experience of the benches of magistrates both in England and Scotland, I am willing to trust them in these matters. They will find out what the punishment should be, and in this respect the magistrates are often superior to those Courts presided over by professional men.
§ Question put, "That the word 'five' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 166; Noes, 26.
|Lamb, Sir Ernest Henry||Molteno, Percy Alport||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Snowden, Philip|
|Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Lynch, A. A.||Outhwaite, R. L.|
|Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.|
|Martin, Joseph||Pringle, William M. R.||King and Mr. Hogge.|
|Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
§ Mr. NIELD
I bog to move, at the and of Sub-section (3), to add the words "If upon such examination a man previously rejected shall be classified for service, whether or not he shall be a voluntarily attested man or subject to the Military Service Acts, 1916, he shall be entitled to present an appeal to a tribunal mentioned in such Acts."
It will be within the recollection of those hon. Members who were Members at the time the Military Service Acts were passed that if we had one pledge more distinct than another it was that given by the Prime Minister at the date of the introduction of the Bill and confirmed in the most solemn manner by the Colonial Secretary, then the President of the Local Government Board, that there should be no distinction whatever between an attested man and a man brought in under the Military Service Acts. There is one other point to which I would draw the attention of the Committee, namely, the appeals made during what was known as the Derby campaign, which culminated about the 12th December, 1915. It was put forward with the authority of the Secretary of State for War, through Lord Derby, that men who attested at that time should enjoy all the privileges that might be conceded thereafter to men who were brought in under any scheme of Conscription. What was the result? Abnormal numbers of men, relying upon that promise, enrolled themselves and attested during the weeks preceding 15th December, but notably during the last week. Many of those men were accepted without any medical examination at all. I say that emphatically. A very large number were examined because the doctors were working into the early hours of the morning. Such examinations necessarily Would be more or less superficial in cases where there were concealed diseases which a more careful examination would afterwards disclose. There have been cases where men have been examined no less than six times. I received a letter as late as Saturday in which a man stated that he had been called up for military service after being twelve times rejected by doctors.
986 Experience has shown us that these attested men have never been able to get what was promised—that is to say, they have never been able to raise before a tribunal the question of their health. Many of them have been obviously unfit; they have produced certificates from private practitioners and from Harley Street and Wimpole Street specialists, but the objection has been raised by the military representative that the tribunal had no right to [...]ntertain an appeal on health grounds because the man had attested, and therefore had precluded himself from raising the question. Many persons are most anxious to see the Military Service Acts worked as fully as they can be justly and fairly. There are few persons in this House who have done more than I have to aid recruiting. The manner in which that pledge was given admits of no other course, now that we are called upon to pass another Statute, than to deal with the question of medical examination. It is because I feel so strongly that these men are entitled to an equal position with those who have been conscripted that I move this Amendment, so that a man who has hitherto been rejected by the medical officer, and who may come up for reexamination under this Bill, shall be assured of that appeal to the tribunal, where he can put forward his plea of health, and may then be sent to a medical board with proper certificates, or to a special board in case of need. I would earnestly ask the Committee and the-Under-Secretary of State for War to remember that pledge of the late Prime Minister and the present Secretary of State for the Colonies. Do not let it be said that here is another case where there is a broken pledge, when the opportunity presents itself for making the thing square for this large class of men who have acted loyally, relying upon what they have been told. If it were not for the fact that for over twelve months I have personally been in almost daily attendance at these tribunals, I would not venture to raise the question. It is a point of substance. Unless the Government concede it, it will go out to the whole country that the Government are not treating these men fairly and that they are prepared, in 987 putting this Bill on the Statute Book, to ignore the just claims of these men to equitable treatment.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
The Committee knows very well the deep interest which the hon. and learned Gentleman has taken in this branch of the subject of recruiting. I can answer his contention very shortly. Under this Bill, referring as it does to men who have been rejected, the old distinction of attested and non-attested men no longer exists, and the attested man has got exactly the same rights under the Military Service Acts so far as the tribunals are concerned as any other man. I think that meets the hon. and learned Gentleman's point. I can assure him that the old distinction no longer exists between attested and unattested men.
§ Mr. NIELD
I am very glad to hear that announcement, but I wish it could have the authority of the Statute. Only the other day the War Office took a case to the Courts, where it was declared that a man who had attested became a military man from the moment of attestation and his rights were determined by military practice.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
That, of course, we had every right to do because that was under the old existing law. But in the case of men who have been rejected, and who no longer are in a sense attested or unattested, but are in a class by themselves, that law would not apply.
I am glad to hear that assurance, because otherwise we must divide the Committee. Going all over the country recently, speaking on National Service, I find the objection which is raised to National Service is that they want no more voluntaryism, after the way in which the Derby recruits have been treated. That has become such a serious question that unless we are assured—and of course we must accept the assurance of the hon Gentleman—that there will be no distinction between them and the conscripts we should be compelled to divide the Committee.
§ Sir G. BARING
I am sure the Committee has heard with great pleasure what the hon. Gentleman has said, and I hope he will take steps at the earliest possible moment to circularise military service and local tribunals as to the assurance he 988 has given. Only this morning I was taking the chair at an Appeal Tribunal in Hampshire, and that very objection was taken by the military representative as to the position of an attested as against an unattested man. If the hon. Gentleman could only appear at all these tribunals we should have none of these difficulties, but the words of the military representatives are continually at variance with what the hon. Gentleman says.
§ Mr. G. THORNE
I should like to support the appeal of my hon. Friend. We were all delighted to hear what the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Macpherson) said, and of course we accept his assurance, but I should like to be quite sure that the tribunals will accept the assurance, and if it is not put in the Bill, I trust he will respond to the appeal made to him that a communication shall be made to all the tribunals that they shall act upon it, and that we may be sure that there is no distinction whatever between a voluntary man and a man who has been conscripted. If that assurance can be given it will materially help matters in the future in the country.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I should like to endorse the statement that the military representatives at the tribunals do not always understand what the directions of the War Office are. I found, only the day before yesterday, a case in point where the military representative had requested the tribunal to re-examine the whole of the men employed in agriculture. That was disputed by the tribunal, but eventually the military representative made such a point of it that the tribunal divided, and the majority was in favour of the reexamination of the men. I do not believe for a moment that that was the wish of the War Office. It is quite impossible to carry on agriculture if the farmers and men have to spend hours in getting up cases and trying to convince tribunals and military representatives, who do not quite know what the War Office desires, that they are to be exempted. It is almost as bad as taking them. If the men are wanted, let them be taken. If they are not wanted, let them remain on the land and do the work. I have written a letter to the hon. Gentleman, and I hope he will see that this does not occur again, and that in this particular case he will put the matter right.
Mr. EDMUND HARVEY
I suggest that my hon. Friend should finally settle 989 any misunderstanding by undertaking to put some declaratory words in on the Report stage which will make this quite clear in the Act of Parliament itself. No one doubts the good faith of my hon. Friend or his advisers but we know that misunderstandings exist, and unless the thing is put into the Act of Parliament there is a possibility that in practice the intentions of the War Office will not always be carried out. If he can see his way to give an assurance that some declaratory words, merely explaining the law as he wishes it to be carried out, shall be put in on the Report stage that will entirely satisfy the whole Committee.
§ Brigadier-General HICKMAN
It is not quite clear to me from what the hon. Gentleman said just now whether both attested and conscripted men have a right to appeal, or whether neither have?
§ Mr. A. WILLIAMS
I sincerely hope my hon. Friend will consent to put this Clause into the Bill. I can say from experience in my own Constituency that the fact that attested men under Lord Derby's scheme have been put at a serious disadvantage as compared with conscripts is standing very much in the way of the voluntary scheme for National Service. If we had only my hon. Friend to deal with we should accept his word and not want it in black and white, but when a man has to go before tribunals and be dealt with by military representatives it is most important that the thing should be put into the Act and that we should try to get rid of this feeling in the country that men had better keep clear of a voluntary scheme, because they will in the long run be put at a disadvantage as compared with those who stand back and wait for compulsion.
§ Mr. ROWLANDS
I should like to join with the rest of the hon. Members who have spoken in pressing on my hon. Friend the need of putting this into the Bill itself. We at once accept his own statement, and we know that so far as he is concerned the whole matter will be carried out, but one cannot help remembering the mass of correspondence one has had on this point of the attitude which has been adopted by some of the military representatives. If this undertaking of my hon. Friend is embodied in the Act itself the members of tribunals will be 990 able to quote it, if the military representative goes outside what the War Office desires him to do. I most earnestly urge my hon. Friend to consent to put it in on the Report stage.
Mr. HUGH EDWARDS
I hope my hon. Friend, in response to the appeals which have been made to him, will consent, at any rate, to send out a special circular to the various tribunals. [Interruption.] These military representatives do not read Parliamentary Reports, but they do read special circulars. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I think they do. That is my experience. It would be all the better if we could embody it in the Bill, but if my hon. Friend is not prepared to do that, surely he can make some slight concession in the form of a special circular.
§ Mr. BILLING
I think most of the injustice which goes on with military tribunals is relative to the fact that the military representatives do not really know what their duties or their limitations are. They are all very anxious to get men, and they think they are justified in going a great deal further than the law as it leaves this House permits them. If ninety-nine out of a hundred of these representatives only read what they held in their hand, their case would be a great deal better. They do not read these things, and if it happens that no one on the tribunal has read it, and a man is not represented by counsel, or by some person who is used to handling papers, he perhaps gets unjustly called in. I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that he should call all the military representatives of tribunals to a mass meeting in London, one week-end if he likes, and address them on these and other points. He can give them their instructions as this House wishes them carried out through the Government as distinct from the instructions they have got from the military themselves. I do not think it is an impossible suggestion. They can be brought here to a mass meeting, and they might be addressed and told distinctly, because it is a matter of very great importance, and no military representative can say after that that he did not know what his powers were.
§ Mr. NIELD
Let the Committee thoroughly understand that the War Office accepts the position that, although a man has attested, when he is rejected medically 991 that cancels the attestation, and leaves him a free man. In other words, he passes under the Military Service Act as a voluntary conscript, if you like to put it that way. It is a contradiction in terms, but he is a voluntary conscript. Upon the assurance that a memorandum of instruction shall be forthwith issued, not only to military representatives but also to tribunals, pointing out the view of the War Office that all men who have been rejected have a right of appeal on grounds of health, I beg leave to withdraw. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO, no!"]
§ Mr. KING
I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman will not accuse me of discourtesy, but I have risen repeatedly during the discussion, and I wish particularly to meet the point that he has raised. Neither the public nor the tribunals, from the position of opinion and practice into which they have got, will be content with anything less than this assurance being put into the Act of Parliament. That is our position, and in view of the experience I wonder that the hon. and learned Gentleman does not take that view. He judges other tribunals much too much by himself. Where he is chairman I have no doubt it is a competent tribunal. Where he is chairman I have no doubt they observe the rules of law. But what are the tribunals? They are a collection of men, without any legal experience, set up to administer an Act with the object of getting as many men as possible into the Army. Their advisers are not legal men. The military representatives are not legal men. In many cases they have no experience whatever of judicial proceedings of any kind, and my hon. Friend's assurance, in view of the practice which has been going on for twelve months, will not do. We must have this in the Act, and I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman will not mind if we refuse to let him withdraw. I refuse to let him withdraw, because I do not think he is taking a right and wise course.
§ Mr. KING
On that I hoped I should not have to say anything, because the good faith of the Government is really not believed in by its warmest supporters. The exception proves the rule. When you come to a legal luminary who is far 992 above the passions and feelings of other people. [Laughter.] I was reading a paper only on Saturday distinguished for its most whole-hearted support of this Government and all its doings—the "Daily Chronicle." In speaking of the War Office it says, "Do not let us have anything more in the way of pledges from the War Office. Their exhibitions in this area have been nothing less than disastrous." We really must have this in the Bill. I do not believe there will be any difficulty in allowing it to be put in.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I take the same view as my hon. Friend opposite and I am much surprised that the hon. and learned Member for Ealing (Mr. Nield) should so readily have accepted the assurances of the Government. The whole difficulty to which his Amendment draws attention is due to the complete failure of the Government to observe its own undertakings. We had undertakings given by the present Secretary of State for War at the time that his scheme was being carried through, and we had equally solemn undertakings from the head of the late Government and the present Leader of the House, but every one of those assurances has been deliberately flouted by the Government. We are now told that the attestation is to be cancelled if a man can produce his rejection form. Is that a legal position? We must remember that the War Office have taken the trouble to obtain a legal decision in the Court of Appeal on this matter. They have arrested several men who were attested under the Derby scheme and who had been rejected on the grounds of health. These men were taken before different magistrates. In some cases the magistrate convicted, in others he set the man free. In one of the cases in which the magistrate did not convict the War Office took an appeal to the Divisional Court in order to have the law settled. The result of that appeal was that the Divisional Court held that a man who attested under the Derby scheme was still a soldier, even though he had been rejected on grounds of health subsequent to his attestation. The point I wish to put is this—can a simple statement from the War Office alter a decision of the Divisional Court in this matter? Obviously it cannot. We must have an expressed statement in the Statute to get over the decision of the Divisional Court. If the War Office had not pressed the matter to the Divisional 993 Court and got a binding legal decision, we might have been content with their assurance, but we have now the law made by judges, and, obviously, when you have a legal decision the only thing that can overcome that legal decision is an expressed Statutory provision. It is on that ground that I think my hon. and learned Friend is mistaken in agreeing to withdraw his Amendment. I hold that the only way in which this matter can be set right is to reverse the decision of the Divisional Court by an expressed enactment in this Bill.
§ Sir J. SIMON
May I ask the Under-Secretary for War if he will consider this point. Can he tell us what possible harm is done by putting these words in the Bill? If there be any harm about it I would be anxious to reconsider my present feeling, but as I understand it the hon. Gentleman concedes the point, that that which this Amendment is desiring to put on record should be the position and, so far as he is concerned, is intended to be the position. If he told us that in the view of the War Office there was some difficulty in the way of adopting that position, it would be quite another matter because he speaks, as we all know, with great authority, and we all have had experience and gratefully bear testimony to the consideration and care which he always shows in answering questions. Therefore, we do not quarrel with him. The real question is that under the Military Service Act, things are a complicated tangle and there can be no doubt that the position of the attested man as contrasted with the position of his fellow has at different times been a little difficult for a layman to follow. I do not claim any authority to speak on the matter. I find it very confusing to understand. What harm is done, what injustice is done, what wrong is done to anybody or to any form of public service if these words, admitted to be right words, are put into the Bill? If they are put into the Bill, as I submit they ought to be, then the War Office will have secured that which they tell us they desire to secure, namely, that the class of person here referred to shall get his rights, whatever his rights may be. If this was an attempt to multiply difficulties or an attempt by a side-wind to overthrow the general object of this Bill it would be another matter, but it is not. I would ask my hon. Friend if he would consult 994 his advisers. I know very well from past experience how difficult it is at a moment's notice to give way when perhaps your advisers under the Gallery think you should not. The hon. Gentlemen now representing the War Office might consult their advisers on the point as to what harm is done to any kind of public interest if we put these words in the Bill.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
My right hon. and learned Friend has put a very definite question to me. He asks me what harm is done by inserting these words in the Bill? I can be quite frank with him. I do not think any harm would be done except that the Act, as I hope it will become soon, will be much more complicated-[HON. MEMBERS: "NO, No!"] I am assured, on the very best authority, that the attested man, whose case is the one with which the Committee is at present more immediately concerned, has got the same rights as an unattested man under the Bill as it stands. The moment an attested man who has been rejected on grounds of health—and this meets the point of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Pringle)—gets his notice to come up for re-examination, ipso facto any handicap which was placed upon him by the fact that he was an attested man befores goes by the board.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
Is it necessary for him to receive a notice under this Bill? He may receive a notice apart from this Bill.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
Under this Bill, if he is a man rejected upon medical grounds, and he receives a notice calling him up for re-examination, any handicap caused by the fact that he was an attested man in the past, will go by the board. That is the position as it has been explained to me by those best able to tell me what the position is. In view of that fact, and in view of the assurance I have given to the hon. and learned Member for Ealing, that we will apprise the tribunals and the military representatives on the point which I have elaborated, I hope the Committee will now come to a decision with dividing.
§ Sir d. SIMON
I understand what the hon. Gentleman says about his information, but I do not follow him on one point. He began by saying the insertion of these words would do no harm, but that it would make the working of the Bill much more complicated. Would he tell us how?
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
What I said was that it would make the Bill more complicated. I did not say it would make the working of the Bill more complicated.
§ Mr. ANDERSON
I think we ought to ask the Under-Secretary to put this undertaking into the Bill. I do not see in the least what harm can be done, and the argument that it is going to make the Bill more complicated does not appeal to me very much in view of the experience we have had. It is not merely a question of the good faith of the Government, though a good deal might be said as to that, because we have had a considerable amount of experience of the Government, probably in quite good faith, giving undertakings which afterwards were not carried out. Apart from that, I think this Amendment raises an important matter. We know from the past working of the Act that time and again local tribunals and the like have refused to be guided by mere directions or mere words given in this House. They say so. Any number of chairmen have said, "We have no time to read what is said in the House of Commons. We must be guided by the Act before us." Not one tribunal, but many tribunals have said, "If we are going to read all the different instructions that come down to us, we shall be doing nothing else but reading instructions." That has been said over and over again, and we come to this, that in the last resort you can hold a tribunal responsible for violating an Act of Parliament, but you cannot hold them responsible for getting round the various instructions that are sent to them from day to day. If the War Office does mean business, and that this understanding is going to be carried out, I think it ought to be carried out as part of an Act of Parliament, and I strongly urge the representative of the War Office to take that course.
Sir H. DALZIEL
I support the Government in this Bill, but I confess I am not a very hearty supporter. I hope for the progress of the Bill the Government will make as many concessions as possible, so long as they do not interfere with the real framework of the Bill. I could understand the Under-Secretary objecting to the Amendment if it is going to lose him 10,000 or 20,000 men, but this Amendment is not of that character. The Committee is agreed as to the purpose which the Government have in view in regard to the Amendment, but my hon. 996 Friend says that the insertion of these words will make the Bill more complicated. With great respect I submit that that is a matter for the House of Commons and not for any eminent military gentlemen who may sit at the War Office. It is a House of Commons matter, and I would plead with my hon. Friend, first of all for the sake of the progress of his Bill, and seeing that there are many important matters yet to be raised, that he should say, "We are agreed upon the purpose of this Amendment. I think it is not necessary, but I will see if I cannot bring in an Amendment on the Report stage to meet the view of the Committee." I deny absolutely that you cannot frame an Amendment to meet the wishes of the Committee which would not make the Bill more complicated. It is perfectly easy to do it, and I advise my hon. Friend in the interests of the measure to give effect to the opinions which have been expressed.
§ Sir G. BARING
I hope my hon. Friend is going to yield to the very persuasive words which have just been addressed to him by one of his heartiest Friends in this House. We had an experience last Friday of a long siege, which ended, I am glad to say, in my hon. Friend's complete surrender. This is not a procedure which is likely to shorten the deliberations of the Committee. He will see the almost unanimous opinion of the Committee that these words should be definitely inserted in the Bill. I endorse everything the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Anderson) said as to the natural desire of tribunals to see the explanations of the War Office in an Act of Parliament. There has been such an enormous mass of instructions and recommendations and exhortations issued that it is most difficult for an ordinary layman to follow the instructions, and the trained lawyer would find it difficult to follow thorn. If you have these words in the Act of Parliament it will simplify the proceedings of the tribunals enormously, and will not in any way complicate the working of the Act. The Under-Secretary says that it will complicate the Act itself. He has not explained how it is going to complicate the Act, and I do not think he knows.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am in a difficult position. I should like to support the Government, and if they had given any reason against the Amendment I would have done so, but as I understand it, what 997 they are going to do is to send out a circular embodying the Amendment. That, they say, will be less complicated than putting the words in the Act of Parliament. It seems to me that it will be much more expensive, and it will cause much more printing. It will be sent, I presume, to the military representatives and to the tribunals. It will have to be read and understood by the military representatives and the tribunals. Possibly the military representative may lose it; possibly the tribunal may lose it. At any rate, the cost will be a great deal more, and it will not have the same effect as the actual words in the Act of Parliament. If the words are put into the Act of Parliament there will be no trouble about sending circulars out, and the military representatives and the tribunals will have to read the Act of Parliament. It surely would be a relief to the War Office, which is very much occupied at the present time, if the words were put in the Act, as it would leave them more leisure to attend to other duties. Unless some better reason is given, I am afraid I shall have to vote against the Government.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
I think we are all glad to see the Solicitor-General in his place. Really it is a rather peculiar position Everyone is agreed as to what we want, and the only difference between us is that apparently the majority of the Committee wish to see this provision put into the Bill, while the representatives of the War Office prefer to embody it in the circular to be sent round. Speaking for myself, I should have thought it would have been better to put. the provision into the Bill, unless, indeed, there is some legal objection which is not open to the general public, but which, however, makes it more advisable to put it in a circular.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
It is not a question of embodying this special Amendment in the circular to the tribunals and military representatives, but a general circular is to be sent out, the object of which will be to show what the rights of the men are under this Act.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
That is not a very substantial reason. If I understand it aright, it comes to this: Even if no provision is put into the Bill, the true interpretation of the Bill, when it becomes an Act, will be exactly the same as if these words were put into the Bill. But to the lay 998 mind apparently it is difficult to understand that the effect would be the same. There are many laymen who are under the strong impression that, unless these words are put into the Bill, the real intentions of the Bill may be obscured, and it may be necessary to get a legal interpretation. If that is the real position, then I think the Solicitor General, or the Attoreny-General, who I am glad to see is also pre-sent, should tell us whether there is any real reason against putting this into the Bill. I hope it will be put in, if it will have the effect of making clear to the lay mind what may be already clear to the mind of the trained lawyer. It would be much better to put it into the Bill unless there is some special reason against it.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Frederick Smith)
My hon. and learned Friend has just spoken of the difficulties of the lay mind. But he at least has no excuse for suffering from those difficulties. If he will consider the terms of the Bill he will, I think, observe that by Section 1, Sub-section (2), thatAny man to whom a notice is so sent shall as from the date of the notice be deemed to come within the operation of Section 1 of the Military Service Act, 1916.—I leave out the intervening words—And the Military Service Act, 1916, shall apply accordingly.The lay mind may be aware quite as well as my hon. and learned Friend of the fact that under the Military Service Act there is an unrestricted and general right of appeal covering the facts suggested by this particular Amendment, and the only result of carrying this Amendment would be to afford ground for thinking there is some ambiguity on the point, and that there is some derogation from the general right of appeal which is not contested. It would be a derogation wholly superfluous and quite indefensible from a right which this House wishes to preserve.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
I am quite satisfied with what my right hon. and learned Friend has stated. I think he is right.
§ Sir J. SIMON
This is really not a question to be determined by some niceties of legal construction. It is practically a question which is raised at this time by a-great number of people who volunteered in the early stages of the War and have been 999 rejected on medical grounds. They want to know what their position is if this Bill is made to apply to them, and if they are called up for re-examination? I recognise what the Attorney-General has said, that one does not want to use words in the Bill calculated to cast doubt on the right of appeal, but no one knows better than my right hon. and learned Friend how that is constantly secured in Amendments made in Committee. It is done by using words which show there is no derogation of the right. It is done, for example, by introducing at the beginning of the Amendment the words, "It is hereby declared that." In order to make this Amendment perfectly plain we could, in a very few moments, secure that end by adding these words, and it will then be clear that if persons who previously voluntarily attested and have been rejected on medical grounds do come under this Act, they will have the same rights as are given to others. The question is whether or not it is desired to make it plain on the face of this Bill to the hundreds and thousands of people who, at the beginning of the War, offered voluntarily to serve the country and were then rejected on medical grounds, that they will be treated just as well as Conscripts are to be treated. I should have thought that a circular to the tribunals and military representatives would hardly have been an effective means of making this clear.
§ Sir J. SIMON
Will my hon. Friend consider whether it is not possible to put into the Bill, even in slightly modified terms, a provision which will show on the face of the measure that these voluntary men are going to get as considerate treatment as other men coming under the Bill? If that is done, the Army will not lose a single soldier, and the only result will be that you would make it quite certain that no man, however ignorant he may be, shall lose his right in regard to appeal.
§ Sir F. SMITH
My right hon. and learned Friend (Sir J. Simon) has put his views in artistic phrases, but I would like to submit what is the plain issue, and to get rid of all ambiguity on the point. Here we have a proposal to issue a circular. Does that tend to show that there may be some ambiguity in the terms of the Bill? After listening to the argument 1000 of the hon. and learned Member for York (Mr. Butcher) and of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, I replied on the legal point which had been made, and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for York admitted that he was convinced by my argument. But the right hon. and learned Gentleman does not assent to the view I put forward. He seemed to suggest that technically I was right, but he went on to state that men who are affected, when they read the Act of Parliament, will, if the Amendment be adopted, know exactly where they stand. I gravely doubt whether these men have the slightest intention of ever reading the Act of Parliament. If the tribunals are in doubt, they will be in a position, I am sure, to get competent legal advice. I think no one will be able to say there is the slightest ambiguity in the Bill as it stands—
§ Mr. BILLING
I should like to say, on behalf of the majority of the people of this country, that if in your Acts of Parliament you will call a spade a spade, instead of using high falutin talk you will get your work done better and the Act more justly administered.
§ Sir F. SMITH
I do not know much about the claim of the hon. Member to speak on behalf of the majority of the people. I think everyone in the House is agreed as to what is desired, and nobody will dispute that the language we have used in the Act carries out that which is-desired and which is the object of the whole House. But I will undertake to consider between the Committee stage and Report stage, if there is one vestige of doubt on the point, if it can be made more clear in the terms of this Bill, and I hope, in view of that assurance, we shall be-allowed to proceed to the next Amendment.
§ Mr. HOGGE
Does he also realise that the average Member of this House is labouring under a very great disadvantage in so far that already four or five Amendments accepted in Committee are to be 1001 proposed by the Government on the Report stage. I think the right hon. and learned Gentleman, without stretching a point, can admit it is a very unfortunate position that we should be asked to consider manuscript Amendments read over by Ministers and also from the Table dealing with points which, as stated last Friday by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundee (Mr. Churchill), involve the lives of 1,000,000 men together with their wives and families. I think we are entitled to protest at this stage of our proceedings against going on to the Report stage to-day, and in the second place there is no Cabinet Minister—
§ Mr. HOGGE
If that is out of order I can continue in order easily. We ought not, as a House of Commons, to be expected to deal with the matter in this way. I have got four Amendments by the Under-Secretary for the War Office put into my hands, and just now on this question of disabled men the Attorney-General is about to propose a fifth. We are going on for several hours yet on the Committee stage. I submit, respectfully, that this is not business. It is not fair of the Attorney-General, and it is equally unfair of the Under-Secretary of State for War, to deal with this question in this way. Obviously the House of Commons is quite decided as to what ought to go into the Bill. The Attorney-General and the Under-Secretary say that it makes no difference if it goes into the Bill because it is carrying out the wishes of the majority. Why not, therefore, accept those words'? If my hon. and right hon. Friends are unanimous that they want to get on with the Committee stage of the Bill, and the whole House of Commons is agreed that they would prefer those words in, then why haggle about the matter, and why suggest that on Report we should consider words which might be more fitting? We want to make progress and we cannot make it by heaping up five Amendments before we have Clause 2 of the Bill and while there are many other Clauses to be considered.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I gather from the concluding words of my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General that the Government intend, unless there is some serious reason to the contrary, to meet the general wish of the Committee 1002 on this matter. I welcome very much that assurance, and, so far as I am concerned, I am confident that when the Report stage is reached we shall find that the Government will be ready to meet the general views which have been expressed unless they have some altogether new argument to put against it.
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
We see suggestions in the papers that some of us in criticising this Bill and proposing Amendments are obstructing. But I would suggest that it is not we, but the methods adopted by the representatives of the Government which are responsible. On Friday we had an Amendment relating to agriculture which had the support virtually of the whole House—
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
May I say that it is the intention of the Government to meet the wishes of the Committee as far as possible; but in reference to the statement made by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh that we are accepting four Amendments, might I say that these Amendments are being put down at the express wish of the Committee?
§ Sir J. SIMON
Might I point out to my right hon. Friend the Attorney-General that in Sub-section (2) of Clause 1 of the Bill there is a provision that a man to whom notice is sent shall, as from the date of the notice, be deemed to come within the operation of Section 1 of the Military Service Act, 1916 (Session 2)1 That is not the Military Service Act which gives the right of appeal. It is the earlier Military Service Act which gives the right of appeal, and I would suggest to my right hon. Friend whether he sees any objection to amending the words "and the Military Service Acts, 1916, shall apply accordingly" by inserting after the words "Acts" on the Report stage the words "including the rights of appeal given thereunder?"
§ Sir F. SMITH
Though, artistically, to accept these words is a deep blow to any lawyer, yet to avoid any discussion I shall be glad to accept them.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I have been endeavouring to put a point to which I have received no answer. It is a matter which deserves some attention. We know that by legal decision the Government are entitled to call up these attested men apart 1003 altogether from this Bill. If they are called up apart from this Bill these men have no rights of appeal. I would like the Government to make clear that whether these men are called up apart from this Bill or under this Bill, they shall have the rights of appeal.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I desire to enforce the point which has been made by the hon. Member. As I construe the argument of the learned Attorney-General it is this, that the sending of a notice under this Act to an attested man who had been rejected on medical grounds would remove that man's attestation and hold him under the provisions of the Military Service Acts. It seemed to me that the speech delivered by the Under-Secretary for War confused the discharged attested man and the rejected attested man. The rejected attested man is still a soldier. The point was very definitely settled by a decision of the High Court two or three weeks ago. It is a most important point, and we are entitled to have it made a little clearer. What I want to know is whether in the case of attested men who have not been discharged, who have simply been rejected, and who therefore under that High Court decision are in the Army Reserve now, will the sending of notice under this Bill revoke their attestation and make them into conscript soldiers? That is a point which I want to make clear beyond all possibility of doubt.
§ Sir F. SMITH
I do not recall the case in the High Court which has been mentioned, but the position from the point of view of this Bill, as I understand it, is that the moment men come within the purview of this Bill, attested and unattested men are in the same position. Therefore every attested man. when once the scope of the Bill is extended to his case, is entitled to every and all the rights of the Bill.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
My point is this: He is an attested man. He has no rights at all. Under the Military Service Acts he was given the right of appeal, but that was restricted under Regulations issued by the Local Government Board. He could not appeal, for example, on the ground of conscientious objection or on medical grounds. What I want to know is this: Will that man cease to be in the Army Reserve the moment he gets his, notice under this Act calling him up for further re-examination? At the present 1004 time he is in the Army Reserve, and I could quite understand the argument of the learned Attorney-General that if he comes under this Bill he will be entitled to all the rights that are given to those who are conscripted under the Military Service Acts. But what I want to know is whether his attestation will be revoked—whether he is to be in the Army Reserve? Of course, so long as he is in the Army Reserve he can have no rights of appeal under the Military Service Acts.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I think that this is a sufficiently important matter to deserve a reply from the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General. This Amendment deals with the position of the attested men. We have the authority of a legal decision, stating that an attested man rejected on medical grounds is in the Army, and consequently we have the right to consider the effect on his position of a Bill if it is to put him into the Army while he is in the Army already, and the fact that the Attorney-General tells the Committee that he does not know anything about the case to which reference has been made leads us to inquire further as to whether the Government has been properly advised in framing this Clause. The case is public property. It was reported more than a fortnight ago in the "Times," being apparently regarded as of sufficient public interest to require a report in that paper. That decision was taken on the question whether a magistrate was right in refusing to convict a man who was an attested man under the Derby scheme, and had been rejected on medical grounds. The Crown put forward the case that the rejection on medical grounds did not take him out of the Reserve, and that attestation made him a soldier until he was discharged. That contention was upheld by the Court. Consequently until the men who are attested are discharged it is difficult to see how the Sub-section of the Bill will operate in their case. How can a man who is already a soldier in the eye of the law be made a soldier again by Sub-section (2)?
§ Mr. PRINGLE
The point is roughly this: Apart from this Bill altogether, these men can receive notices, and have been receiving notices for months past. They have been re-examined and put into the Army without any appeal. Apart from this Bill altogether, it will be pos- 1005 sible in these cases to go on sending notices, and to get these men into the Army without any appeal. What I want from the Government is an understanding between now and the Report stage that they will make it clear that a man attested under the Derby scheme will only receive notice under this Bill, and that any right to call up a man for examination apart from this Bill will cease. I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend if he had had his attention called to the point specifically would have dealt with it already.
§ Sir F. SMITH
I am distinctly grateful to the hon. Gentleman for making such allowances for me. I listened very carefully to my hon. Friend on the various points which he has communicated to the Committee. As I understand the specific Amendment which we are discussing is that which stands in the name of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Nield). I think that the Government has fairly met every point in regard to any grievance which has been raised, and I dealt with those
|Division No. 22.]||AYES.||[5.33 P.m.|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Hudson, Walter||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Bliss, Joseph||John, Edward Thomas||Radford, Sir George Heynes|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Kilbride, Denis||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||King, Joseph||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Lamb, Sir Ernest Henry||Rowlands, James|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John (St. Ives)||Lambert, Richard (Wilts., Cricklade)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Lynch Arthur Alfred||Smith, H. B. L. (Northampton)|
|Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Snowden, Philip|
|Doris, William||McMicking, Major Gilbert||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Flavin, M. J.||Maden, Sir John Henry||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Martin, Joseph||Wedgwood, Commander Josiah C.|
|Gilbert, J. D.||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Glanville, Haroid James||Molteno, Percy Alport||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Goldstone, Frank||Morison, Hector (Hackney, S.)||Wiles, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Harris, Percy A. (Leicester, S.)||Nolan, Joseph||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Yeo, Alfred William|
|Haslam, Lewis||O'Connor. John (Kildare, N.)|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Outhwaite, R. L.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hogge, James Myles||Pearce, Sir Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Mr. Anderson and Mr. Pringle|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis [...]yke||Bridgeman, William Clive||Craig, Ernest (Crewe)|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Broughton, Urban Hanlon||Craig, Col. James (Down, E.)|
|Archdale, Lieut. E. M.||Brunner, J. F. L.||Craik, Sir Henry|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Col. Martin||Bryce, J. Annan||Currie, George W.|
|Ashley, W. W.||Burdett-Coutts, W.||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas|
|Astor, Hon. Waldorf||Burn, Colonel C. R.||Denniss, E. R. B.|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Butcher, J. G.||Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir James B.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Carew, Charles R. S. (Tiverton)||Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Carnegie, Lieut. Col. Douglas G.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Cator, John||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Barnett, Captain R. W.||Cautley, Henry Strother||Faber, George Denison (Clapham)|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George||Fell, Arthur|
|Bathurst, Capt. Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Cawley, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Forster, Henry William|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Foster, Philip Staveley|
|Bellairs, Commander C. W.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Gardner, Ernest|
|Blake, Sir Francis Douglas||Collins, Sir W. (Derby)||Gibbs, Col. George Abraham|
|Bescawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Greenwood, Sir Hamar (Sunderland)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Greig, Colonel J. W.|
|Boyton, James||Cory, James H. (Cardiff)||Gretton, John|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Cowan, W. H.||Griffith, Rt. Hon. Ellis Jones|
§ points in my argument, but as to the point raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Pringle) it is a new one.
§ Mr. HOGGE
What I wanted to point out, when I rose before, was that the Attorney-General was not present when my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Pringle) raised his point earlier in the Debate, and before the right hon. Gentleman entered the House, and he did not hear what was said. I do not blame the right hon. Gentleman for that, because he has other business to attend to; but it is only fair to my right hon. and learned Friend to say that he raised the point this afternoon, and it is one which has not been dealt with by anybody on the Front Bench. I should Be very glad if the Attorney-General has any specific knowledge on the point which would enable him to clear it up.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 57; Noes, 159.
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Rutherford, Sir J. (Lanes, Darwen)|
|Haddock, George Bahr||Lonsdale, Sir John Brown lee||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Hanson, Charles Augustin||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Samuels, Arthur W.|
|Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Calthness-shire)||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Seely, Lt.-Col, Sir C. H. (Mansfield)|
|Henry, Sir Charles||Macpherson, James Ian||Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir F. E. (Walton)|
|Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Smith, Sir Swire (Keighley, Yorks)|
|Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Stanley, Major Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Hewart, Sir Gordon||Meux, Hon. Sir Hedworth||Stirling, Lieut.-Col. Archibald|
|Hewins, William||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Money, Sir L. G. Chiozza||Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Hills, John Waller||Morgan, George Hay||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E. H.||Morison, Thomas B. (Inverness)||Thome, William (West Ham)|
|Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Tickier, T. G.|
|Hohler, G. F.||Newman, John R. P.||Wardle, George J.|
|Holmes, Daniel Turner||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Wheler, Major Granville C. H.|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Palmer, Godrey Mark||Whiteiey, Herbert J.|
|Hunt, Major Rowland||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wilson, Lt.-Cl. Sir M. (Beth'I Green, S. W.)|
|Illingworth, Rt. Hon. Albert H.||Partington, Oswald||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Jacobsen, Thomas Owen||Pearce, Sir William (Limehouse)||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Philipps, Maj.-Gen. Ivor (Southampton)||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Philipps, Sir Owen (Chester)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Pratt, J. W.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, E.)||Younger, Sir George|
|Larmor, Sir J.||Reid, Rt. Hon. Sir George H.||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Robertson, Rt. Hon. John M.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Robinson, Sidney||Lord Edmund Talbot and Mr.|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Rothschild, Lionel de||Primrose.|
§ Sir F. SMITH
In regard to the words suggested by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Walthamstow (Sir J. Simon), I undertake that they shall be proposed by the Government on the Report stage.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (3), to insert the words "unless owing to the loss of a limb, he is permanently disabled for any military service."
I move this Amendment for the purpose of making a disabled soldier, who has been discharged safe from being called up to the Court, only to be immediately released, and sent back to the place whence he came. It is quite clear that there are several kinds of disablement which might prevent a man from being called up under this Bill, but being aware that the Government have a further Amendment which they intend to propose on the Report stage I do not feel it necessary to present my arguments in support of my proposal, and all I will do at the present moment is to formally move my Amendment as it stands on the Paper for the purpose of obtaining from my hon. Friend opposite a statement as to the amended words he proposes to submit at a later stage of the Bill.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to withdraw this Amendment. I have given 1008 an assurance that on the Report stage I will introduce an Amendment covering the case of the soldier who is disabled by battle wounds. I can assure my right hon. Friend that the case of the man who has lost a limb will be covered by that Amendment.
§ Mr. HOGGE
If my right hon. Friend had persisted in the Amendment as it stands I would have objected because there are many other physical functions which are more to a man's detriment even than the loss of a limb. For instance, there is the case of men rendered speechless by shell shock and men who are deaf. I have read the Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to move in Report and which deals mostly with wounds received in battle or in an engagement with the enemy and injuries from poisonous gases. There is another class of case which ought to be considered very specifically. I refer to the neurasthenic cases. Every Member knows of young officers and men who have come home suffering from some functional disease due to the shock and strain of this awful War. Those are the worst kind of cases, and it is most difficult for a doctor to say whether a man of that kind has recovered or not, and, even if he has, to say whether he will stand the shock for another week or month. I want to enter my caveat at this stage and to ask the hon. Gentleman between now and Report to take very special care that 1009 the neurasthenic and functional disease-cases will be specifically looked to on -account of the danger to the man himself and the danger to the fit men with whom he may be associated on his return to the firing line.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I am surprised that the Government accept this Amendment in this form in view of the statement of the Attorney-General that if you expressly mention one case you abrogate the rights of others. We mentioned the loss of a limb and in other cases it may be held that the man is not entitled to any discretionary treatment. I think the Government should, between now and Report, bear in mind the words of the Attorney-General and not prejudice other cases quite as much deserving of sympathy as the loss of a limb. A blind man is far more deserving of sympathy, and yet may be liable to a penalty under this provision. This will lead to the absurd position of giving relief to the people who least require it.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
I think my hon. Friend must be under a misapprehension, because I have not accepted this Amendment at all.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
That is quite true, but he has told us he is going to accept an Amendment on Report which is the same Amendment in slightly altered form.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
No. I have not accepted this Amendment. I will propose an Amendment on Report applying to officers and men who have been discharged on account of wounds received in battle.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I think that makes the position even worse. His Amendment is one, as I understand, which is exclusively for the benefit of men discharged from the Service. The Amendment before us includes men whether they are discharged from the Service or not, who may be disabled on account of the loss of a limb. The Sub-section with which we are dealing is a general provision imposing a penalty upon any man of whatever class who fails to respond to notice for reexamination. I would suggest to the right hon. Baronet the Member for Bristol that he should not withdraw his Amendment, because the Government Amendment will leave the people who are permanently disabled liable to penalty unless they have been discharged from the Army. I hope in the light of that my right hon. 1010 Friend will reconsider the position. It is surely absurd that men who are totally and obviously incapable, such as blind men and deaf and dumb men, should be liable to a penalty for failure in this respect. I think in every such case there should be an express exemption that men in such circumstances should under no conditions be liable to a penalty.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is no doubt referring to a Paper which he has handed to me, but that deals with quite a different subject which will arise on the next Amendment on the paper.
§ Mr. MARTIN
It is the same subject. I want to add other persons to the exempted classes. This Sub-section provides for penalties, and the right hon. Gentleman proposes to exempt from those penalties certain people. I desire to go further, and to exempt another class, and to provide that they shall not be penalised if they are able to show that they did not receive the notice.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That is a separate subject, and will be dealt with on the next Amendment, which will be called after this is disposed of.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Sir WILLIAM COLLINS
The Under-Secretary told us that he proposed to move an Amendment at a later stage, covering a larger ground than that proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol (Sir C. Hobhouse). I venture to think that there are many other categories of exemptions that ought to be free from penalty, who by reason of discharge from the Army, not merely because of the loss of a limb but through other disabilities, should not be put to all the trouble of being called up again for examination. A case discharged from the Army as the result of a battle wound represents a certain class of case which ought not again to be brought up. I have another kind of case in mind, and it is that of a man who attested under the Derby scheme. He is a man in well-to-do circumstances, was passed for general service, and subsequently found that he was unable to see at night; he was afflicted with night blindness. He was repeatedly before medical officers, who failed to discover the nature of the defect. The man was accused of malingering, and was held up to obloquy as a slacker or a drinker, and the blindness 1011 at night was attributed to one or other of those causes. The man was examined repeatedly by a medical board and produced certificates from well-known occulists to the effect that he was so suffering. Those certificates were disregarded. The man in the last resort appealed to me. I found him to be suffering from a well-known degeneration of the back of the eye, of which the characteristic symptom is night blindness. I wrote direct to Sir Alfred Keogh myself, and told him it was a rather flagrant case, and he replied thanking me, and in two days he informed me that the man had been discharged from the Army. A case of that kind, I venture to think, ought not again to be called up for examination. Indeed, I have had a letter from this gentleman during the last day or two, saying that he sees in the papers that all discharged men are to be re-examined, and going on:I have little doubt, from my past experience of Army medical boards, that I shall be passed fit for general service again. Will you let me know what course I ought to adopt? As you know, I am perfectly willing to do what I can. The fact that I enlisted before I was called and did not appeal proves that, but rather than go through a second experience like I did before, I would deliberately take my own life and put an end to my troubles once for all. The jeers, the threats. and the cruelty are more than I can bear again.Many unkind things have sometimes been said in regard to medical examinations, many of them unjust and unfair criticisms, but I fully admit that there have been unfortunate mistakes in the past, and I hope the assurance of the Leader of the House that some improvements will be made in medical boards in the future will be carried out, that opportunity will be given to resort to specialists and experts, and that the certificates produced by the individual's own doctor will not be disregarded, as they were in this case. I hope the hon. Member when he brings forward his Amendment on the Report stage will make it somewhat wider than he intimated, and certainly wider than the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman now before the House, in order to meet some of these rather serious cases, which are causing a very painful feeling throughout the country.
§ Sir C. HOBHOUSE
Under the circumstances, I will ask leave to withdraw my Amendment, but I wish to guard myself against saying that I accept in its entirety the Amendment which my hon. Friend 1012 (Mr. Macpherson) is going to put on the Paper. With regard to what fell from the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge), I would like to say to him that any limitation which appears in the words of my Amendment is the result of consulting an expert, and it may therefore be necessary to look very carefully at the Amendment of the Under-Secretary when it appears on the Paper.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I have a manuscript Amendment in my hand given in by the hon. Member for York (Mr. Butcher), but I think that it deals with a point which we have been discussing for the last hour and a half.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
My hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Colonel Sir Charles Seely) and I had intended to support an Amendment dealing with this question of exempting men who had been wounded or otherwise rendered incapable in war but as I understand the Under-Secretary will move an Amendment in large terms on Report, I do not now desire to move, while reserving to ourselves the right to criticise the Government Amendment if it is not wide enough.
§ The CHAIRMAN
With regard to the next Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden), to insert the words "Where a man has been discharged from the Army or Navy as unfit," it seems to me that that Amendment, if carried, would make Sub-section (4) quite contradictory to Sub-section (1), and it is not possible to accept an Amendment which contradicts a decision at which the Committee has already arrived.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
On a point of Order, Sir. I admit that the phraseology is rather complicated, but the purpose of it is this: You will see that Sub-section (4) exempts from its operation men who have been discharged from the Army with less than three months' service. The point of my Amendment is to give to every man discharged from the Army, no matter how short his length of service may have been, 1013 the benefit of this provision, and I do not think that that contradicts anything that has gone before.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member will, perhaps, recollect that on Friday we amended Sub-section (I) by providing that nobody should receive a notice after discharge, except after an interval of at least six months, and, therefore, if we put in the present Amendment, it would contradict that Amendment.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I think I have not made my point clear, because will not this Sub-section, as it stands now, be a contradiction of the Clause as amended? At the present time, as the Clause stands, a disabled man must have at least three months' service to be entitled to exemption for twelve months against being called up, and the point of my Amendment is to extend that exemption to men who have been discharged as disabled after, say, a week's or month's service.
§ Mr. HOGGE
In regard to the pensions of those men, this deals with disabled men who have been discharged from the Army diseased, caused or aggravated by naval or military service. The natural result of that kind of discharge is that those men are in receipt of a pension which cannot be revised except on terms of six months.
§ Mr. KING
I beg to move, in Subsection (4), to leave out the words "three months'," and to insert instead thereof the words "one month's."
In this Sub-section the point is that where a man has had at least three months in the Army or Navy, or where his disablement has been caused or aggravated by his service, no notice is to be given to I him till after a year from the time when 1014 he left the Army or Navy. I endeavour to give a man who has been in the Army only a month the benefit of this Subsection. There are to my knowledge-several cases of men who have been brought into the Army for the shortest possible time. I know the case of a hopeless epileptic who was taken by his father for medical examination. Apparently the doctor refused to believe what was told him, and after two days he had to join up. He had a very bad fit that night, was in hospital the next day, and within three weeks he was discharged from the Army. I say that that man ought to have the benefit of a year's free play as much as if he had stayed in the Army for three-months in hospital instead of for only three weeks. I cannot see why the-Government cannot give way on this point, because it would mitigate, in very severe and obvious cases of necessity, the very-great and admitted hardship of this Bill.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ The CHAIRMAN
With regard to the-next three Amendments on the Notice Paper, to insert the words "or has been discharged since the 31st December, 1916," that subject was dealt with on Friday by an Amendment of the hon. Baronet the Member for Loughborough (Sir M. Levy). We inserted a proviso at the end of Subsection (1) which, I think, covers all those points, as follows:Provided that no man shall be required to submit himself for re-examination within six months of his previous; and last rejection or discharge.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
With regard to that point, Sir, my promise then to my Hon. Friend the Member for Lough-borough was that on the Report stage I would move an Amendment myself, embodying what I felt was the general wish of the House.
§ Sir M. LEVY
I think this is a mistake, because I particularly put the point, "Do you accept the Amendment as it stands now?" The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol (Sir C. Hobhouse) asked if it would be brought up again on Report, and I rose and said, "Will you accept my Amendment definitely, here and now?" My Amendment was then, I think, accepted.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not think it is necessary to discuss this further, because 1015 here is the Bill, and in my own handwriting those words are there inserted. That deals with the next three Amendments. Then as regards the following two, to leave out from the word "him" to the end of Sub-section (5), that, I think, is equivalent to a negative of Sub-section (1). It would destroy Sub-section (1).
§ Sir E. LAMB
I should like to put a question in view of my Amendments. I do not quite understand from the Under-Secretary whether he is going to accept the actual words which were taken on Friday during the Committee stage from the Member for Loughborough? They are not mentioned on the present White Paper. If the hon. Gentleman is going to vary them then this Amendment of mine will be in order.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Yes, but not at this stage. If the Government propose to vary the words already inserted objection can be taken at the time. As the Clause stands, and so far as the Committee stage is concerned, the hon. Member has gained his point. The Amendment, however, to which I was referring would only contradict what we have already done.
§ Sir E. LAMB
I submit that it goes much further than that. I do not want to press the matter unduly, but if the Government are going to stick to the Amendment of Friday this goes much further.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I would point out that this Amendment would destroy Subsection (1) altogether. That is the reason I cannot accept it here.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
I beg to move, at end of Sub-section (5), to insert the words,Provided that a man who is not accepted on the ground that he is suffering from a permanent disability shall receive a final discharge.I think it is extremely important that men who are obviously permanently disabled from military service should be released from this harrowing process. All of us know from our own personal experience large numbers of cases of men who never by any possibility can become fit for military service being called up not once, or twice, but three or four times for re-examination. In this Bill we are giving a power to the Government, or to the Army Council, to call up these men again after six months. It seems to me 1016 that when a medical board sees that a man is suffering from permanent disability which will render him always incapable of military service that that board should give him a final discharge, and so free him from the anxiety and uncertainty as to his being called up in the future. As a matter of fact we understood that that was at the present time the policy of the Army Council. We know that when the last Military Service Act was passed provision was made that men as to whose condition there was any doubt should be called up before 1st September, and many of these men were called up. They received what is known as the "pink form." On that pink form it was expressly stated, "If you are found to be suffering from permanent disability you will receive a final discharge." Why should not the Government put into this Clause an expression similar to what they put into that pink form so as to relieve these men of anxiety? It is also a useless process to re-examine them. It is a waste of time—of their time, and of the time of the doctors. It causes unnecessary trouble, and a great deal of expenditure and waste. Why should not the Government clearly say that such a provision is necessary and accept the Amendment which I now propose? Why should they not say that men obviously and permanently unfitted on their next medical reexamination shall receive a final discharge?
§ Sir RYLAND ADKINS
I hope the Government will give not only a sympathetic attention to this, but that really in this, or an alternative form of words, they will embody this view. There are no doubt a number of cases in which the medical men may have doubt as to whether or not the injury is a permanent disqualification. Very well, in those cases this would not apply. But there are all kinds of cases, like total blindness, organic heart disease, different kinds of maiming, malformation, etc., as to which there can be no reasonable doubt whatever. In cases of this sort I submit it is in the public interest that the men who are positively and permanently disabled should be set free to do service for the State in other ways without any anxiety or any uncertainty that they will be taken away from it for another examination which would only have the same result. I have resisted all temptations up till now to vote against the Government. I do, however, urge upon the Government to accept this Amend- 1017 ment. I am sure it will very much facilitate the carrying out of the Act by the tribunals.
§ Sir S. COLLINS
I hope the Government will see their way to insert this Amendment. If the hon. Gentleman is going to accept it I shall say no more.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Mr. Forster)
There seems to be only one feeling in the House, and that is, where a man is permanently and totally disabled he ought not to be called upon to go up for re-examination. I am afraid I cannot accept the words of my hon. Friend. To put in "permanently disabled" would, I think, open the door too widely.
§ Mr. FORSTER
If my hon. Friend will accept the substance of his Amendment and make it men who are "permanently and totally disabled." we will accept it. These are the cases, I think, that my hon. Friend has in mind.
§ Mr. HOGGE
On behalf of my hon. Friend and myself, whose names are down to this Amendment, I think we can accept what the hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary offers. [HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed!"] I want to remind my hon. Friend of the fact that Brigadier-General Geddes, who presides over the recruiting destinies of the nation at the present time, is a Scotsman.
§ Mr. HOGGE
On 1st January he made a resolution which I hold in my hand. It reads as follows:There is no intention of calling up again for military service or for medical re-examination a man who, on offering himself for attestation was rejected as unfit, and who, after 25th May was again re-examined by a medical board and rejected.That was given on 1st January, 1917, so it is very fresh. In fact, it is one of the freshest pledges that we have in our possession. Apart altogether from that it also answers the challenge which my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary gave to me the other day, I think on Thursday, when he defied me to produce a single pledge which this Government has broken or 1018 proposed to break. I hand this one to him with my compliments. I hope he will be able to deal with it. It has come from an old university friend both of himself and of myself who presides over and directs the recruiting of this country. At the same time. I am very glad my hon. Friend has put in these words, and we shall accept them.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Further Amendment made: At the end of Sub-section (5), add the words "provided that a man who is not accepted on the ground of permanent and total disability for service shall receive a final discharge."—[Mr. Pringle.]
§ Mr. KING
I understand that several Amendments which I have on the Paper will be accepted by the Government.
Further Amendments made: In Sub-section (6), after the word "man"["notice calling up a man"], insert the words "to-present himself for examination."
After the word "by"["served by post"], insert the word "registered."—[Mr. king.]
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.