HC Deb 07 June 1917 vol 94 cc306-7

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if he is aware that men who passed fit for general service several months ago, but who are now certified by their doctors to be unfit, are being called up and consequently compelled to give up their situations or close their businesses without further medical examination; and will he give instructions that in such cases medical re-examination shall take place before the men have to give up their situations or close their businesses in order to join their units?


I am not aware of this being the case, but if my hon. Friend will give me some specific instances I will cause inquiries to be made.

148. Mr. JOWETT

asked whether Ernest Parker, of Springwood Cottage, Esholt, near Bradford, who was discharged from the Army medically unfit on 19th April, 1904, and was arrested as a deserter at 5 p.m. on 29th March last, and was handed over the following morning to the military authorities, was at the date of his arrest an excepted person under the Military Service Act, 1916, and the Military Service Act, 1916 (Session 2); and, if so, what action he has taken against the person or persons responsible for his arrest?


I made inquiries in this case, and communicated the result to the hon. Member in a letter which I wrote to him on the 16th May. I pointed out that the recruiting officer at Keighley on four occasions sent notice to Parker that he must produce evidence in support of his claim to be exempted from military service. That evidence he did not produce, and he was accordingly brought before the magistrates as an absentee a fortnight after the date on which he should have reported for service. The Military Service Act, 1916, provides that if a question is raised whether a man is an exception to the Act or not, such question is to be decided on proceedings before a civil Court. The magistrates accordingly held that Parker was not an exception, to the Acts, and they handed him over as an absentee to await military escort. In these circumstances, no action has been taken against the persons responsible for Parker's having been brought before the magistrates for his case to be decided in the manner required under the Acts.


Is it the case or is it not that this man was illegally arrested; and is it not also the fact that he repeatedly went to the recruiting office and reported the circumstances of the case?


I cannot add anything to the very lengthy answer I have given to-day and the letter that I have written.


In view of the large number of cases which I have submitted of illegal acts on the part of recruiting officers, will the hon. Gentleman have a special inquiry made into the way the Act is being carried out?