HC Deb 15 March 1917 vol 91 cc1275-6
77. Mr. HANSON

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware of the number of soldiers appearing before the Metropolitan magistrates charged with the offence of being absentees without leave; whether he is aware that these men are first arrested by the military police, then handed over to the civil police and brought before a civil magistrate and immediately, on proof of being an absentee, are handed back to a military escort to be further tried by courtmartial; and whether, in view of the expense, delay, and inconvenience involved in this procedure and the interference caused to the ordinary business of the Metropolitan and City Courts, and the apparently unnecessary indignity put upon the soldier of appearing as a prisoner in a civil Court without being charged with a civil offence, he will introduce legislation amending the Army Act, 1881/154, so as to save the expense, time, and inconvenience now incurred?


I am aware that a number of soldiers have been brought before Metropolitan magistrates under Section 154 of the Army Act, charged with the offence of being absentees without leave, and have been then handed over to a military escort. It appears to me that when an alleged absentee is in uniform and no doubt arises as to his being subject to military law, he might well be dealt with by the military authorities alone, subject to an amendment for that purpose being made in the King's Regulations. I have been in communication with the Army Council on the subject, and will bring it to their notice again.