HC Deb 24 January 1918 vol 101 cc1160-265

(1) The Director-General of National Service may at any time by Order withdraw any certificate of exemption from military service to which this Section applies as from such date, not being less than fourteen days after the date of the Order, as may be specified in the Order, and as from that date any certificate to which the Order applies shall cease to be in force.

(2) This Section applies to any certificate of exemption from the provisions of the Military Service Acts, 1916 and 1917, whether granted before or after the passing of this Act, and whether granted by a tribunal or by or under the authority of a Government Department, where the certificate was granted on occupational grounds, and also applies to any certificate so granted on such grounds to a man who has voluntarily attested, notwithstanding that the certificate has not statutory force.

(3) An Order under this Section may be made applicable either to individual certificates granted by Government Departments or to certificates granted to any class or body of men specified in the Order (whether or not dependent on the obtaining by those men of individual certificates), or to certificates granted to men of any class or description specified in the Order. and as respects any class or body of men may be made applicable only to men falling within such limits of age or fulfilling such other conditions as may be specified in the Order, and may contain such exceptions and supplemental provisions as the Director-General thinks fit.

An Order under this Section may be revoked, extended, or varied, by a further Order of the Director-General, as occasion requires.

(4) Where and so long as an Order under this Section is in force, then

  1. (a) no application shall be entertained for the grant or renewal of a certificate, and no certificate shall be granted or renewed where the certificate, if it had been operative at the time at which the Order was made, would have come within the terms of the Order; and
  2. (b) no application shall be made by or in respect of a man whose certificate comes within the terms of the Order for the renewal of the certificate except on grounds which are not occupational. or fur the grant of any certificate on occupational grounds, and no such application if already made shall be proceeded with, and no certificate shall be granted on any such application.

(5) An Order under this Section (other than an Order applicable to an individual certificate) shall be laid on the Table of both Houses of Parliament as soon as may he after it is made, and if either of those Houses within fourteen days after the Order has been so laid presents an Address to His Majesty praying that the Order, or any part thereof, should be annulled, his Majesty in Council may annul the Order or such part thereof, and it shall thenceforth be void without prejudice to the validity of anything done in pursuance thereof: Provided that Section one of the Rules Publication Act, 1893, shall not apply to an Order made under this Section.

(6) For the purposes of this Section a certificate shall be deemed to have been granted on occupational grounds which was granted wholly or partly on any of the grounds specified in paragraph (a) of Sub-section (1) of Section' two of the Military Service Act, 1916, or (in the case of voluntarily attested men) on any similar grounds or which in either case was granted by or under the authority of any Government Department; and if any question arises whether a certificate was granted on occupational grounds, the question shall be referred to the Director General, whose decision thereon shall he final.


I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "applies" ["to which this Section applies as from such date"], to insert the words "except a certificate granted by a tribunal."

I move this Amendment in no unfriendly spirit to the general objects of the Bill. I am perfectly satisfied, and I think the House as a whole and the nation as a whole are satisfied, that it is necessary to have a measure of this kind, but a more careful study of the Bill than I had at first an opportunity to give has shown to me, and I believe to a large number of Members, that the scope of the Bill is very much larger than is generally understood by the House. Now, the foundation of the original Military Service Acts, as originally introduced by the right hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Asquith) when Prime Minister, was the right of every citizen who came within its Scope to have his case considered by a tribunal of his countrymen in the locality where he worked and lived. Now, the right to go before a tribunal was laid down on four grounds. Three of those still remain. A man still has a right, as I understand it—and I think the Minister of National Service will do a great service to the country if he makes the position perfectly clear—to go before a tribunal on family or persona grounds, on grounds of ill health and also on conscientious grounds. The first and primary ground laid down were for occupational reasons or that his work was of national importance. That, I understand, is now taken away by the Bill before the House. That is a very important matter affecting tens of thousands of individuals and hundreds and hundreds of businesses. It sweeps away, as I take it, the whole machinery of the tribunals in deciding whether a man is better employed at an industry or trade in preference to being taken into the Army.

The present system is a very elaborate one. It has been carefully built up by the devoted work of hundreds of men who have given their time to the State. As I take it, not only the work of the local tribunals is to be swept away. but that of the Appeal and Central Tribunals, and, I assume from the wording of the Act, that the system will be swept away not only in regard to future cases, but that the action will be retrospective. In other words, the decision of the tribunals in respect to a man and his exemption, on the ground of his occupation, from the Army is now swept right out of the way, and the decision is transferred to the National Service Department. If that is understood—and I think it is the fact that most cases that have gone through the tribunals are composite cases—that is to say, most appeals have been not only that the man is valuable to the particular business or trade, but that to take him would be a severe financial loss—if it is realised that that is the case—it will he seen that the vast majority of decisions—and I have taken the trouble to consult chairmen of tribunals before making this statement—will be cancelled and annulled if this Bill becomes an Act of Parliament in its present form.

I know there has been considerable criticism of the work of the tribunals. Some of them have undoubtedly been far from efficient. If, however, you take them as a whole, if you take their average work, especially their work in the big towns, I think the Minister of National Service, from his experience, will admit that they have been efficient. Certainly the members have given a large amount of time and a large amount of work to their duties. and after two years' experience they have become very much more efficient. In the early days they did not quite appreciate, or perhaps realise, the importance of their duties. They did not know how to give decisions, but with experience their efficiency has very largely increased, and at the present time, I think it will be admitted, that on the whole they are doing their work fairly and justly, and trying to administer justice without fear and without favour. It might be urged that this applies almost to any Court, that it can only aim at giving very rough and ready justice; but these Courts have had one great advantage over a centralised system like the National Service Department—they have local knowledge, they know the conditions of the trade in their district, and they are conversant with all the ramifications of the particular trades.

For instance, in the Leicester district they know all the peculiarities of the hosiery trade, the classes of men wanted in a particular factory, the class of men who are indispensable. In the potteries district you have men who are familiar with the pottery trade. So in the cotton trade. So in the steel industry. So in the hundred-and-one industries that make up our whole industrial system. They are, therefore, more likely to be right in their decision than any other Government Department, however efficient it may be, however much their information, or however willing they may be to do what is right. More than that, it must not be forgotten by the House that if a tribunal has proved to be too lenient the Government Department, first in the old days of the War Office and now in the National Service Department as it is represented there, can take action. Previously the military representative, and now the National Service Department, if it is not satisfied with the decision, can always appeal to the Appeal Tribunal. If it believes a decision has been arrived at by the Appeal Tribunal on wrong principles, it can take its case to the Central Tribunal. I am bound to say, and I do so without fear of contradiction, that the representatives of the War Office have never been bashful in appealing against a decision of the local tribunal. When a tribunal has given an exemption that they have thought ought not to have been given, they have never hesitated to take the case further. After all this excellent work of the tribunals, the whole machinery is to be destroyed. In view of that, one cannot help asking who is to have this power in future? That ought to be made clear by the Minister before we reach the Third Reading. Who is to have the power now in the hands of the various tribunals? I cannot but assume that the Department itself will not attempt to adjudicate in these cases at the Windsor Hotel. I must assume it will have to be decided before the local representatives. I think the Minister ought to make that quite clear, and, if it is not going to be the local military representative, to tell the House who is going to have the power to decide whether a man should remain in his present occupation or whether he should be transferred to the Army.

There is another point which, I think, the Minister ought to make clear. It is a very common thing to have appeals for men on business grounds. I think I am right in saying that a minority of the appeals on occupational or business grounds are made, not by the men affected, but by their employers. The employers appeal to the tribunals. It should be made clear to the nation, through this House, what remedy an employer has who finds himself deprived of a large number of his staff. As I came down to the House this afternoon I was talking to the head of a very large business firm at Lloyd's. This gentleman has given me full permission to use his name. I do not want to mention it in the House, but I shall be very glad to give the name of the firm and of the gentleman to the Minister, if he desires to have it. Before the War the staff of this business consisted of 239 men and no women. As a result of the War, 226 members of that original staff are in the Army, and the firm has had to employ 124 women. There are seven men of the original staff left. These seven men are either classed C3 or B3. They have been exempted before the local tribunal at the Guildhall, which is fully familiar with the capacities and difficulties of this particular business. The exemption certificates of these men expire at the end of January. They have received calling-up notices as from the beginning of February. Claims have been lodged with the local tribunal, and the firm is satisfied, if they come before the local tribunal, that these men will get exemption. The turnover of this particular business, which is of national importance, runs into millions. During the War, on purely war work, their business has doubled. What my friend pointed out to me was that a Government Department, say, the National Service Department, did not understand the complexities of their trade, and they are afraid, without the knowledge that only a business tribunal can have, they are not likely to get justice, their business will be seriously disorganised, and the trade of the country affected. That is one of the many examples. Doubtless Members of this House have had letters from firms and businesses in their constituencies, pointing out how likely all this is to jeopardise the carrying on of their trade?

Personally, I have great faith in the Minister who is in charge of this Department. I believe he is a man of tine intellectual training and sound judgment. I am quite certain the country could not have a better man to carry out the work of the Department. But, after all, it is impossible for any one man, however able or competent, however experienced he may be, to understand all the ramifications of an industrial system like that which has been built up by years of commercial prosperity in this country. Besides, I think the right hon. Gentleman will he the first to admit that he has very little business experience. From what I have heard of his assistants, all very capable and fair-minded men, none of them have had very much business experience or know much about trade or the industries of the country. It is a very serious thing for this House to hand over the whole industrial system of the country to one Minister, assisted by officials who, though they may be efficient officials, though they may be competent and capable officials, after all, have very little knowledge of business and trade, and do not understand the whole complex industrial system. So I would say to the right hon. Gentleman, and to the House, that we ought to have some safeguard, seeing that the tribunal system as a whole has, with all its faults, worked so well, that its work shall not be swept away and transferred to a Government Department. Besides, I am afraid it will convey a sense of injustice to the men who are affected. These tribunals have been regarded by the men who came before them as in the nature of a Court of Law. Many of the men have gone to the expense to be represented by counsel, after having strongly objected to go before these Courts. Now, having had their case fairly tried, for a Government Department to sweep aside the decision of the Court, will make them feel that they have not been fairly treated. Again, it will cause great uncertainty in the minds of men who have exemption certificates from the tribunals.

I believe the Minister intends to use his powers with discretion. I am satisfied that he will do everything in his power to prevent old-established trades and industries being destroyed, but the difficulty will be, in the minds of many business men, and thousands of working men, the uncertainty as to what their position is, when they will be called up, and whether or not they are liable to have their certificates annulled. Under this new machinery there will be no power to appeal to any independent tribunal, and the only right of appeal will be to a Government Department. The right of appeal on business grounds will be entirely taken away. I know the difficulties of the, task that the Minister of National Service has so bravely undertaken. I know that he is faced with difficulties, some of them of an almost insuperable character, and I should be the last person to try and embarrass him in a at task. I think, however, that it is unwise to add an additional cause to the prevailing unrest and to alienate business men and large employers of induetry by a measure drafted in this high-handed manner. Therefore I think before this Bill reaches its Third Reading the Minister ought by putting words into the Bill, and not simply by assurances, make it clear to all the men affected that they have some security that the exemptions given to them by tribunals will be be secured, because, unfortunately, the actions, not of the right hon. Gentleman's Department, but of other Departments, have caused a feeling throughout the country of distrust in the administrative machinery. The War Office, owing to the size of its task, had to take actions which caused great distrust and bad feeling against the decisions and machinery of Government Departments. Much of that feeling, unfortunately, will be transferred to the right hon. Gentleman's Department, and therefore I would say, if' he wants this Bill to be a success and to work smoothly, and if he wants to get the full quota of men required to keep up the necessary supplies for the Army, he should either accept the Amendment in my name or add words to the Bill that will achieve the same purpose.


I beg to second the Amendment.

I think we ought to receive some more explanation, and we ought to have a clear statement of what is really intended by this Bill, and what machinery is going to be put into force. I am not going to praise tribunals or attack Government Departments, but I want to know exactly where we are and what are the reasons for the change which is proposed, which I am sure will be very difficult to work with satisfaction and fairness. I can well understand that during an earlier period of the Military Service Acts, when a large number of the cases were essentially individual cases, it might well be argued that they could have been dealt with by a Government Department, and not by tribunals or Appeal Tribunals. As my right hon. Friend knows, and as lion Members realise, the bulk of those cases which have been decided on the grounds of occupation in the last few months have been dealt with by tribunals, both local and appeal, with a special view to the general needs of that particular occupation in the locality, and after a wide survey over a large area. If A. or B. applied within the last six months the chances are that the tribunals had to consider not only A. or B.'s category and efficiency, and what firm they were working for, but also whether there were or were not enough persons from that industry already in the Army. In other words, the problem of the trade as a trade has come up in nearly every case in the last few months.

It is alleged that local tribunals and even Appeal Tribunals have not dealt with particular trades in their district as a whole. We have done it in many cases after most prolonged and helpful conference with the. officials of the National Service Department, and the result has been that the decisions are decisions which have been arrived at after considering on the one side the question of National Service, and on the other side the needs of that particular trade, and again and again a man has been left in his trade only on condition that other men in that employment have gone into the Army. Some men have been kept back as substitutes in order that other men might go, and some men have been kept out of the Army because they have been considered of special importance for the whole of the industry in the neighbourhood. To deal with such cases requires a great deal of local knowledge and a good deal of care, and to deal with it fairly requires the judicial faculty which only the members of those tribunals possess. If this Bill means that the Director-General of National Service can come and take any man he likes at any moment. in any district, who has got exemption on occupational grounds, although I am sure there would be some risk, he is interfering in a very complex state of things, and a very difficult balance may be disturbed thereby, and there will be beliefs, if not convictions, of bad faith, and persons who have concurred in what has been done before will feel that they are now being left without any remedy, and public confidence runs a great risk of being impaired.

We hear about some section being told off to deal with particular trades, and I am sure that something of that sort will have to come. I would, however, point out to the Government that it is one thing to have Government officials ticking off how many men should be left in each trade, but there ought to be some proof that the ultimate decision taken is not arrived at by an official sent down for that purpose, but that the decision is really taken not at the instance of the local National Service representative, but by a judicial authority after weighing one side with the other. If my right hon. Friend is going to take this responsibility, is there to be nothing in the Bill to say that the tribunals responsible for keeping some men back should be consulted before their decisions are altered to any large extent? Even if my right hon. Friend conceives it to be imperative that the final word should rest with him and his Department, I would impress upon him the importance of not throwing away all the local knowledge and work which has been done in these matters, and not starting de novo from headquarters. I am not saying this in any spirit of hostility to the local representatives, but I am sure they will feel the appalling responsibility which will rest upon them if they have to alter many of the decisions which have been come to without the Department knowing why they were come to and how far they are interdependent on other decisions.

You have not only large organised trades in which there have been prolonged negotiations and very happy and friendly negotiations with the Ministry, but you have cases in small villages of two or three bakers and one or two butchers in each community. The Appeal Tribunal of which I am a member has decided many such cases. They say, "Very well, we will send two out of the three of these men to the Army on condition that the one we do not send does the work of the others, or part of it, and pays so much, or in some way helps the others." There are cases where men on the face of it had to go in the Army where an official, after looking round, had said that on the whole there were too many bakers or butchers. He might say, "Here is a healthy young man, let us take him into the Army." A man may have been kept back for some special reason on which others have been sent to the Army who would not otherwise. have been sent, and if you go behind all that I am sure that by getting men into the Army by those methods you are running the risk of fomenting public opinion which will injure recruiting. It may well happen that the War may require more men than the right hon. Gentleman is likely to get by these means, and it is important that we should keep public feeling in such a state that it will do everything that it can to encourage recruiting for the Army as long as more men are wanted.

If it is to be a question between this Amendment and the Bill as it stands, one may well endorse one's views by his vote. I am here to support the Government and do my best to help to get into the Army all the men which the country requires, and I ask my right hon. Friend whether he has no other method and no other device by which he can secure at any rate consultation with those who have had all the intricate network of decision, and who are responsible for these exemptions. I want to know whether there is no way of dealing with them in order to have some judicial decision brought to bear on these matters. I should listen in the most sympathetic spirit to the right hon. Gentleman if he is prepared to meet what I think is a substantial grievance in this matter. I recognise that in many individual cases swift and prompt action should be taken. I recognise that some tribunals have been too lax, but where you are dealing with trades as a whole the knowledge of those who have dealt with them before should be made available when you are dealing with such people as village tradesmen, and such decisions should not be lightly overruled. Finally, I would ask, is it in the public interest that the National Service local representatives should be able to override the local tribunal before which he has hitherto appeared as the representative of one side only? It is a very different thing for my right hon. Friend himself to intervene, but I ask him so to frame his Bill as to prevent the men being put into that invidious position who are doing most excellent work, and I ask him to try and conserve that knowledge and experience of the tribunals which it appears to me will be wasted if this Bill passes in its present form.


I was unable to be present in the earlier stages of this Bill, and I should, perhaps, apologise to my right hon. Friend for intervening now, but from the reports I have read of the previous proceedings I can hardly believe that the apprehensions expressed by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir Ryland Adkins), who last spoke, and who has done most valuable -work in connection with the existing tribunals in the country, are well founded. Surely there is not to be such a sweeping change of procedure as the Mover of the Amendment (Mr. Harris) has indicated! I understand the matter has been already dealt with to some extent during the Committee stage, and I am glad to have the assent of the Minister of National Service to that statement. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to make it clear early in the present Debate, so that we may quickly proceed to the realities of the Bill. If the decisions of the tribunals themselves were to be swept away, as seems to be indicated in the speeches we have just listened to, this House will be faced with a difficulty of the gravest character. I always understood that the Bill was aimed at large classes or bodies of men specially exempted, perhaps by some Government Department—at bodies of men like miners and members of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, of whom we have heard so much. Its object is to do away with Government Department exemptions and other exemptions which have protected large classes from military service, but there is no idea of sweeping away exemptions in individual cases, which have been already thoroughly examined into before a tribunal, and fought out, perhaps, before an Appeal Tribunal. The men in those cases have been recognised as essential to their particular business, which itself is essential for the business of the country to be carried on.

My hon. Friend seemed to fear that all these exemptions are to be swept away at one fell swoop. and that those who are anxious as to the conduct of the business of the country will in future be referred to an .adamantine Department which, so far as its procedure is concerned, appears to offer no facility for going into cases, and it is suggested that, on the ipse, dixit of a body like that, the work of the tribunals is to he swept away. I cannot believe that that is the correct interpretation of the Bill. A great deal of the work accomplished by these tribunals has been very well done. It cannot be said that their decisions have been in favour of the trades or classes which came before it. The complaints made on the Second Reading of the Bill, and on other occasions when this question has been discussed, were that the tribunals had been too exacting and had combed men out from small businesses too freely. There was always a military representative at their sittings who was prepared to appeal against an adverse decision. There is ono case many of us are familiar with, that of a business where thirty-three men of military age were employed at the beginning of the War. Of these thirty had been taken away and were serving the country in some way or other. Three only remained, and to these but three months' exemption was given. Their case had to be brought forward every three months, and considered in the light of the increasing needs of the country and the necessities of the business. My hon. Friend appears to think that, in the case of those men, an edict may be issued by the Board of National Service that these men must now be called up irrespective of what may happen to the business. I cannot believe that that is intended.


But the Bill says so.


No; I think it does not. The position set up by the Bill has not been quite accurately described either by the Amendment or by the speeches delivered in support of it and it would be a great pity that this Debate should go on on altogether wrong lines. The matter ought to be cleared up at once. If anything of the kind is intended it will be absolutely necessary for us to make every effort we can, in the interests of the business of the country, to secure proper treatment in these cases. But I repeat that I do not think that the Department to be set up will have power to overrule the decisions of statutory tribunals to this extent. I cannot believe the strong statements which have been made by the supporters of this Amendment are really necessary, or that they represent the intentions of the Government.


I fear there is a complete misunderstanding as to what are the provisions of this Bill. There is no suggestion in it of taking power for the cancellation of individual certificates of exemption granted by the tribunal on occupational grounds, so that the dreadful picture that was conjured up of a National Service representative finding himself placed in the position of a super-judge to consider the decisions of the Appeal Tribunal cannot in practice be realised at all. It is clear in the Bill as it stands at present that the Cancellation Order may be made either as to individual certificates granted by Government Departments or as to certificates granted to any class or body of men Therefore, if the Bill as it. stands passes into law, there will be no. such thing as an individual case where the exemption has been granted by a tribunal being considered either by the local National Service representatives, or by the Minister, or by an official of the Department. Let us get rid of that dreadful fear, then, that we are going to have individual cases reconsidered.


May I refer the right hon. Gentleman to Sub-section (2) of Clause 2. which defines the powers to be conferred under the Bill, and which says that this Section applies to any certificate of exemption

"whether granted by a tribunal by or under the authority of a Government Department where the certificate was granted on occupational grounds,"

and also

"to any certificate so granted on such: grounds to a man who has voluntarily attested"?


Yes; and Sub-section (3) of the same Clause defines those powers rather more closely. It says:

"An Order under this Section may be made applicable either to individual cer- tificates granted by Government Departments or to certificates granted to any class or body of men"

We have got, as every Member of this House must know, a perfect maze of exemptions at the present time covering men doing similar work. We have, perhaps, one man who is engaged in occupation A exempted by a tribunal, another man engaged in the same occupation exempted by a Government Department, and still another man in the same occupation exempted under seine local agreement, such, for example, as the chambers of commerce scheme which worked so successfully in the earlier stages of the War.


Will the right hon. Gentleman say what really the words of the Sub-section actually mean?

5.0 P.M.


There are a good many points on which hon. Members do not seem to be very clear, and perhaps we shall arrive at a clearer understanding if I am allowed to take them in the order I have them here. I am sorry not to answer the hon. and learned Gentleman at once. My next point is this. What certificates come under the purview of this Bill? What certificates will be affected by it if it becomes law? We have had certain hypothetical cases put forward by the Moyer of the Amendment. This Bill is directed to occupational certificates, and the definition of those certificates will be found in Clause 2, Sub-section (6), which gives us a reference to the first Military Service Act. The class of certificate of exemption which is affected by this proposal is very clearly laid down. It is the certificate granted on the ground that it is expedient in the national interests—not in the interests of the business—that the man should be employed in that work instead of being on military service, or if the man is being educated or trained for any particular work he may continue to be so educated or trained. That is the only class of certificate which is affected by this Bill. Certificates granted on the ground of serious hardship—business or domestic—are not affected. Nor are those granted on grounds of ill-health or infirmity or those issued to conscientious objectors. It is but one class of certificate of exemption that can be dealt with. It is the certificate granted on the ground that the holder is engaged in some work which it is in the national interest that he should be continued to be engaged in. Having got that clear and definite, let us consider how the power conferred by this Bill is going to be made effective. We have got as one of the duties of the Recruiting Department the task of reducing the inequalities of our present recruiting system. I hope that nothing I say will appear in any way to reflect upon the tribunal system, which, speaking almost without a single exception, has done its work in all its parts conscientiously and well; but simply because there are a large number of bodies, many of them representing comparatively small districts, many of them without very close contact with a centre, we have certain erratic grantings of exemption on the ground that the man is engaged in work of national importance. What is desired is that there should be power to level up the treatment of men throughout the country so far as is possible. We are now proposing in the great essential industries to effect clean-cuts of the men by age, by occupation, and we desire to have the power of limiting by age, by occupation, the holding of certificates of the one class to which I have referred, regardless of the authority which has granted them. Let us take, as an example, the fur trade. Suppose there is a trade which is essentially a luxury trade over the great part of its extent. It is true that for Army purposes there is a certain amount of fur sold, but let us ignore that for the moment, because it is dealt with in quite a different way. We will say we have a luxury trade. We desire to bring about a position that shall lay down as a broad, general rule that no man fit for military service in a case like that of military age should have exemption on occupational grounds—that is, in the national interest—because we believe it is not in the national interest that men—fit to fight should stay in such a trade. Supposing we take the jewellery trade, where men are still actually engaged. I do not refer to jewellers engaged on fuses, but those-engaged on ordinary trade work.. There, again, we are dealing with a luxury trade. It seems to me to be right and proper that the power should exist for the Government to lay down the broad, general proposition and say that no man who is fit for general service and is of military age shall be exempted on the ground of his occupation if he is a jeweller. We might take some other trades, but we should soon get into difficulties because we should be speaking without all the facts:before us. Let us take a trade which is, broadly speaking, non-essential but which it is partly essential should be kept going. There it might be right and proper to lay down a broad, general proposition that no man fit for general service under thirty-two years of age shall receive exemption on occupational grounds if he is engaged in that particular trade because it is not in the national interest that he should be so engaged. That is the proposal which is before us.

There are safeguards in the Bill which, so far as I was able to follow the speeches of the Mover and Seconder of this Amendment, they had overlooked. It is not competent for the Director-General of National Service under the provisions of this Bill simply to issue an Order saying that everybody in occupation so-and-so loses his exemption. He has to prepare an Order, and that Order has to be laid before this House and the other House. It has to lie here for a period of fourteen -days, during which time it is public property. During that time there would be ample opportunity for any Member of this House who is interested to bring forward suggestions, to make representations that the Order is ill-advised, or whatever it may be. It is not a hole-and corner action that is suggested. It is action in the full light of day, and with the full knowledge of this House. The Order has to lie here for fourteen days before it can become operative, and even then a man cannot be called upon at once to join for military service. Even then, -after the fourteen days, there will be a period of seven days at least before the man joins the Army or the Air Force, during which time he has his tribunal rights preserved to him under the Bill as it is. [AN HON. MEMBER: "The right of appeal!"] No; application for renewal on the ground that serious personal hardship would result. If, therefore, it is going to affect him as an individual he has still his rights of appeal. Far from there being this broad, sweeping power to take people without anybody being allowed to speak or apply for reconsideration, it will be quite the contrary. We have the safeguard of knowledge, and the safeguard for the individual man if he is going to suffer hardship, for he still has his tribunal rights. It does seem to me, therefore, that in the speeches of the Mover and Seconder of this Amendment we had these very important considerations rather overlooked. All that this Bill will give the Government Department concerned the power to do will be to lay down broad, general propositions that within certain age blocks, in certain occupations, and in certain physical categories within those blocks, men cannot be exempted on that one ground of occupation. That seems to me to be right and fair, because his exemption is in the national interest—not given in the man's interest, which is under a separate head altogether; and therefore I think we have a misunderstanding.

What is the present procedure? We are in this Bill trying to equalise treatment. Suppose you take the present state of affairs in connection with tribunal exemptions on the ground of occupation wider the Reserved Occupations List. If the Reserved Occupations Committee, which is simply another name for the Trade Exemptions Department of the Ministry of National Service—for it is composed of the same people, Mr. McLeod is Chief Commissioner and Mr. Graves Deputy Commissioner—raises the age in the Reserved Occupations List, it automatically cancels by that action the certificate of exemption held by every man under any class and head of that list within the age block which has been uncovered. If this were something quite new and something which did not exist under our working generally we might fear it, but it is part of the normal procedure which has been going on since the very beginning of the tribunal system. It is going to be worked by precisely the same body that has been working the Reserved Occupations List., but we are asking to make the power general so that there shall be equality of treatment between all classes. At the present time we have an extraordinary and really absurd position existing. The men in the most essential occupations, such as shipbuilding, aeroplane manufacture, and the engineering shops, have no protection at all. Really all they have is a decision of the Director-General of National Service that they shall not be called to the Colours, and they get a certificate stating that. That certificate is automatically cancelled on the receipt of a calling-up notice—the least form of protection that exists. In those industries which are intermediate, those which stand between the absolutely essential on the one hand and the luxury on the other, we have the Reserved Occupations List, where, again, every exemption granted on the ground of occupation can be cancelled by the action of the Reserved Occupations Committee, which, as I have explained, is another name for the Trade Exemptions Department of the Ministry of National Service. Now we are proposing that some similar treatment should be extended over the luxury trades, over absolutely nonessential trades, which are not, and never have been, covered by the Certified Occupations List or by the system of protected occupations which we work in the most essential trades. The whole policy embodied in this Bill is to get equality of treatment, equality and fairness. There is no new proposal being introduced with regard to these exemptions. It is a system which already applies to that block of more or less essential industries covered by the Reserved Occupations Committee, and all we want is to move on the power a further block than that, so that the powers we already have for the vital and, as we call them, essential industries, and for those industries which, while not being absolutely essential are not non-essential, may be extended over the luxury trades. It is an extremely anomalous position that we have less control over the luxury trades than over any others. That is really, when one looks at it, almost grotesque, and it is only to remove that inequality that this power is asked for with regard to the tribunal exemptions.


The right hon. Gentleman has put forward a very strong case for the general treatment of all these occupational exemptions on lines laid down by the Department, and for removing the authority of tribunals in all these cases, and I am sure the House has been strongly impressed by the arguments that he has advanced. On the other hand, there are elements in the case which I think he has overlooked, and which make it desirable that in certain trades at least the exemptions should not be dealt with on hard and fast lines all over the country, but that there is a necessity for allowing a discretion to tribunals in accordance with local conditions. Let us take, for example, the trade of a baker. The National Service Department might decide that bakers up to the age of thirty-one—I am taking an arbitrary age—should be liable to service. They might issue an order to that effect which would go through the procedure provided in this Bill and be laid on the Tables of both Houses. You may have, however, in many localities conditions like these: that the only baker remaining in the locality happens-to be a man under thirty-one years of age, and that it is altogether impossible to obtain a substitute for that man over the age which is fixed in the Order. If such a situation arose it would be obviously highly inconvenient, and surely in circumstances of that kind it is advisable that the discretion should still remain in the hands of the tribunals. You might have a somewhat different case. There might, for example, be a local industry which was necessary from the national point of view. I am not going into the interesting definition of what is a luxury trade and what is an essential trade, but it seems to me that the borderline between the two classes of trade is a rather shadowy one and changes from time to time in the progress of the War. This undertaking might be of national importance and still an Order might be issued affecting all the men employed in similar businesses throughout the country. In this particular business the one man essential to its continuance might be within the age fixed in the Order. Yet, if hard and fast lines arc pursued as suggested in the speech of the right lion. Gentleman, that particular locality would be robbed of this essential National Service. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to suggest a means of meeting this point. It may be advisable to issue a general Order, but at the same time I think he is going too far in taking away altogether the disoretion of the tribunals. I would also point this out: When you come to the later Clauses, you find a very wide definition of occupational certificates. In Subsection (6) of Clause 2 the definition of an occupational certificate is

"For the purposes of this Section a certificate shall be deemed to have been granted on occupational grounds which was granted wholly or partly on any of the grounds specified in paragraph (a) of Sub-section (1) of Section 2 of the Military Service Act, 1916."

Therefore an occupational certificate is not a certificate solely granted on the ground of the occupation of the man exempted, but is a certificate which has been granted partly on the ground of his occupation, and it may also be partly on the ground of his domestic or personal position. In these circumstances you are, by a general Order, not only sweeping away all the exemptions granted strictly on occupational grounds, but also exemp- tions granted on mixed grounds, partly occupational, partly personal, or partly medical. I hope my right lion. Friend, in view of the possibility of the inconveniences arising which I have endeavoured to describe, will suggest some means of meeting this case. There will still be an appeal to the tribunal, but it will be an appeal solely on the other grounds mentioned in Sub-section (1) of Section 2 of the Military Service Act. Would it not be possible to allow an appeal to the tribunal on mixed grounds, so that where there was an appeal, say, on domestic or on medical grounds, the business ground would also be taken into account? If such an appeal were allowed, it would do a great deal to remove the apprehension of inconvenience which at present exists. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman who assists the Minister as Parliamentary Secretary will be able to make any concession in the matter, but I am quite sure, if the Government could announce some concession, that it would do a great deal to accelerate the smooth working of the Bill and to remove apprehensions which are entertained in many quarters.


The criticisms of the lion. Member who moved and the hon. Member who seconded this Amendment were entirely well-founded as directed against the Bill as introduced; indeed, some of us made criticisms on precisely the same lines in the Committee stage, and in order to meet them the Minister in charge of the Bill made Amendments to which he has referred to-day, and which I think to a very great extent dispose of those objections. The Bill as introduced wave power to the Director-General of National Service to cancel individual certificates granted by the tribunal. An Amendment was inserted in Committee at our request omitting that power. Consequently, there is no authority to override individual exemptions granted by tribunals. but there is a general power retained to override all certificates of a particular class, whether granted by tribunals or by others. If there is to be any general authority in the Ministry of National Service at all, I submit that it is essential that it should apply to tribunal certificates as well as to certificates of Government Departments. I would like the Minister in charge of the Bill to answer this question: Is it intended that these general rules shall be quite rigid, and shall allow of no elasticity at all, or is it intended that exception shall be made in particular cases, and, if so, by what machinery and procedure? There is the case to which my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Pringle) has just referred. You may make a general Order applying to all men in a particular occupation up to a particular age, and you may find that by applying it in one small locality where the number of persons engaged in that occupation may be only two or three, or, indeed, only one, you deprive that locality of all persons in that occupation. That would not be intended or desired. There is, again, the case of a man whose employment is necessary because he is the pivot on which turns the employment of a very large number of others. You may have a factory with fifty or sixty persons, women or unskilled labourers, or persons over the military age, whose continued occupation depends entirely upon the retention in that employment of one or two skilled artisans, or, perhaps, of a manager whose presence is quite indispensable. It is desirable from the point of view of national importance that the factory should not be entirely stopped, and a large number of people thereby thrown out of employment If the pivotal employé is of the age of thirty-two the question will not arise, but if he is twenty-nine—and this rule is to be made rigid—he will be swept away under the right lion. Gentleman's Order, if that, for example, fixes the age as thirty. Does the right lion Gentleman intend to use the power conferred upon him to deal with cases such as that?

"The Order may contain such exceptions and supplemental provisions as the Director-General thinks fit."

If he does intend to use his powers conferred by those words in that direction, can he tell us by what method they will be made effective and how his general Order will work in cases of individual exemptions granted in such circumstances by the local tribunals?


I rose some time ago to oppose this Amendment, understanding the interpretation of the Bill in precisely the same way as the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment. I have listened with very great care to what the right lion. Gentleman in charge of the Bill has said as to what is intended, and I venture to suggest that, by every canon of construction, it is impossible to shut out from the Bill the appli- cation of its provisions to the individual certificate that may be granted by the tribunal. If he is going on with the scheme on the interpretation that he has placed on the Bill, then there will be confusion worse confounded in the Ministry of National Service. I certainly understood that the Ministry were seeking to take the power, absolutely and supremely above and beyond all question, from the tribunal, so far as the exemption had been granted on occupational grounds. Personally, I have no great alarm as to that power being vested in a composite body, the nature of the National Service Department, seeing that it has the responsibility not only to find men to recruit the Army, but also to find men for the maintenance of the industries of the country. It is because I understood that and because I had no misgiving as to that power being exercised, that I rose to oppose this Amendment, and still oppose it.

May I elaborate to show why I think the construction which has been placed upon this Bill by my hon. and learned Friend must be the right one. There is nothing to prevent the right hon. Gentleman under the Bill, making an Order under which he can review, say, all the cases of farmers' sons, and delegate that review to his local representative. Is there anything to prevent him taking power to himself to deal with the very cases that the hon. Member for Leicestershire (Mr. Harris) mentioned, the case of the clerks employed at Lloyd's, and delegating the power to his local representative? I have no alarm with regard to the question of carrying on Lloyd's, important though it may be. I do not regard the hosiery trade in Leicestershire, important though it may be, or a great number of the other trades enumerated by the hon. Member the Seconder, important though they all are, as of fractional importance compared with the imperative and clamant need to get men to fit the ranks in the Army. There have been very nice things said this afternoon by nearly every speaker as to the perfectly admirable work that has been done by the tribunals. I have no doubt that there have been, and that they rather thought that their function was to interpret the Act in the spirit of the cry early in the War, "Carry on as usual," but the fact remains that there have been a great many men exempted on mixed grounds, mainly occupational, who ought not to have been exempted by every single criterion of national necessity or of the importance of particular trades. If it is still to be left, as would be the case if this Amendment were carried, to the tribunal to say that these men can remain, and if it is still left to them, if the Amendment were carried, to say what is a matter of national necessity and what is the imperative occupational ground for exemption, I venture to say to the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill that he might as well leave the Bill alone. I have welcomed the Bill as a real, earnest, and definite effort to get men for the Army in spite of compacts with the Government, in spite of pledges to trade union delegates, and in spite of slack-nesses on the part of tribunals, and to supply the great and overwhelming need of recruits for the Army. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will stick to his guns and get the Bill through as a dead-straight measure for getting these men


I feel very grateful that the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just spoken is not the Director-General, for he would have swept everybody into the Army. I realise that it is essential that the Director-General should have certain powers, but there is suspicion in the country that under this Bill he is taking very wide powers to himself. The suggestion has been thrown out that he should take a straight-cut in regard to men of certain ages. That would apply to men who are of certain age who are the pivotal men of businesses. I hope that we shall have an elastic system by which these men might be left in the employment of a business employing perhaps only two or three men. The right hon. Gentleman said that the non-essential trades are at the present time less under his control than any other trades. With reference to the tribunals, he must remember that these men have gone through very searching inquiries before getting exemption. In my experience, these tribunals have all along been anxious to get men to go into the Army, because they felt it was essential to get them there. We all feel that it is essential that as many men as possible should become soldiers, but, on the other hand, we have to do justice. There are huge businesses making a large amount of money and paying a large amount of Income Tax and all that kind of thing, and it is essential to the success of the business that one or two men should be left with them, because they are doing work of national importance and maintaining business, even in non-essential trades.

So far as I can see, this Bill transfers the power with regard to men holding these certificates from the tribunals to the Director-General of National Service, without the tribunals having the power to cancel the certificates and without giving the man an opportunity of appealing against an Order. Perhaps at the present time there is only one man remaining, and the employer would want to appeal for that man for the sake of keeping the business intact. Under this Bill he has not the right to do so. The Minister of National Service alone has the power of freeing that man, whatever the business may be. I know very well that, according to his speech this afternoon and all his speeches, the right hon. Gentleman wants to act fairly and does not want to use any despotic methods in the matter, but he cannot go into all the individual cases. They will come under his staff. We want to lay down in this Bill something that is understood by the country, and that if a man has built up a business which it is essential to the country that it should be maintained, there should not be a drastic power to take away the one man who is the pivotal man for that business. We ought to allow some licence to tribunals or some body which actually has some evidence in order that all the work that has been done should not be destroyed. We are all prepared to support the Bill because we know that the one great thing at the present time is to carry on the War with all possible vigour, and that, in order to do so, we must get all the men possible into the Army. On the other hand, due consideration should be given to matters of this kind, so that businesses should not be closed down and destroyed after having taken a number of years to build up. I know of one business where at the present time there are fifty-eight young people employed. There is only one man in that business who is over twenty-eight years of age. That business will have to be closed down if that one man is taken. There are cases of that kind up and down the country. The right hon. Gentleman should give us some sort of assurance so that cases of that kind, whatever the man's category might be, will be considered before the business is injured to the extent it would be if he were taken.


More than once to-night hon. Members have quoted the cases dealt with by the National Service representative in the City of London Tribunal. I may perhaps be allowed to point out that under this Bill exactly the same procedure will be followed as has been followed in the past. The case of a firm at Lloyd's has been cited. Lloyd's have been dealt with from the beginning under arrangements made by the Certified Occupations Committee. Gradually the age limit has been raised, and upon the age limit being raised individuals working for Lloyd's have had to go into the Army, but in nearly every case after agreement. It was only when the firm of Lloyd's have not agreed with the Certified Occupations Committee that it has been necessary to take the matter before the tribunal, and in those cases the tribunal has backed up the decision. What is going to happen to this firm at Lloyd's? It is a firm which has a splendid record, because there are only three or four men left, who are in category A. Lloyd's is an essential industry and a certified occupation. At the present time arrangements have been made with the Certified Occupations Committee that all the employés of Lloyd's now working there shall remain until July next, with the exception of a certain percentage whom the chairman of Lloyd's himself has agreed should be released. That is the way the essential trades have been dealt with by means of the Trades-Protection Department of the Ministry of National Service through the local representative in a friendly manner, by giving a certain percentage of men to the Army and only bringing in the tribunals to force the men where the firm are unwilling to release them. To switch off from Lloyd's—which we all know is an essential occupation and where obviously these men will be left as long as any shipping comes to this country—and to take, say, a luxury occupation, such as commercial travellers, the City Tribunal has laid it down that the internal commercial traveller is a luxury at the present time that is travelling in this country and not abroad. A traveller who goes abroad does so in the national interest.


If he is in business here is it not in the national interest?


He is not exempted in this country, and is treated at the present time as a man who is not in an essential industry. The City, as a whole, has accepted that finding, but it has not been accepted by certain tribunals in the North of England and Scotland.


They have more sense.


Why should a firm which loyally accepts that dictum be put under a handicap because some other section of Englishmen or Scotsmen wish to protect their own trade?


It is a stupid dictum.


I ant simply showing the way in which it will be possible to keep together what is a luxury trade if everybody is treated fairly. That point could be elaborated. There is no doubt that the Reserved Occupations Committee, which has gone into all these questions and which has representatives of every section of the trade upon it., and which has made careful inquiry, will go into all these cases. In this way it will be possible to treat the whole country fairly and make no exceptions, but let all suffer alike.


This is a very large power to put upon officials. I would like to put this point to the Minister in charge: In a very large number of cases which have come within my personal knowledge the man and his employer have both applied for the exemption. The man frequently has applied for exemption on several grounds—hardship, ill-health, or conscientious objection, or a combination of those grounds. If the tribunal has found that a man by virtue of his occupation is on the Certified Occupations List they have extremely frequently decided the case upon that ground only. They have given him occupational exemption because he was on the List of Certified Occupations. The other cases of hardship, ill-health, and conscientious objection were never considered by the tribunals. That was because the tribunals, certainly for a large part of the time that they have been in existence, could not possibly get through the work which they had. The result has been that the papers have come up to the Central Tribunal, of which I am a member, the decision has been frequently upon one ground only, and Appeal Tribunals have never considered the other. What is to he the case if this Bill goes through? As I conceive it, the exemption being upon occupational grounds only, the man's other case will never have been heard. He is now out of time, and it does not seem to me that lie will have any chance whatever of getting the other grounds considered. I hope the Minister will take such cases into consideration, because it seems to me manifestly unfair that when a man has a very good case upon other than occupationa1 grounds it should not he considered.


When I heard the speech of the Mover of this Amendment I became rather suspicious of the effect of the and I thought I had quite misunderstood it, but I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman (Sir A. Geddes) say the intentions of the Bill were the same to-day as he said they were in introducing it, and it was quite clear to my mind that the Amendment wits not necessary if that was so. We have had a discussion with regard to the hardships which will be imposed on some of these men-who are in certified occupations, and we have heard the right lion. Gentleman say that though their certificates may be withdrawn on occupational grounds; they will still be exactly on the same basis as anyone else in appealing to tribunals on personal grounds. In introducing the Bill he said: The intention is to assimilate the position of all other men who have hell exemption certificates on occupational grounds to that of the men holding protection certificates. It is necessary that I should at this point make it plain that mere is no intention to ask fur powers to cancel certificates of exemption granted on personal grounds or on grounds of conscientious objection, or on any other ground except that of occupation. On that score I have supported the Bill right through, because I thought it was framed on a sound basis. Now I want to understand, if a man's certificate is withdrawn on occupational grounds, does he have fourteen days and seven days, and during those seven days can lie make an appeal on personal grounds or grounds of Hardship to the tribunal, as he would have done in any other case?


indicated assent.


I am perfectly satisfied. I feel quite confident, now that the point is cleared up, that this is the right way to go about getting more men for the Army. With regard to the limitation of age it is right that men of lower age should be taken first, provided they are in Grade A, because we are told that men between twenty-five and thirty are much more useful than men between thirty and forty. If I thought the Amendment was required I should support it, but I do not think it is required when we have the Ministerial assurance that men will be in the same position with regard to application on personal grounds as hitherto.


I think I have got it right. I have varied in my opinion from side to side as the Debate has gone along, but is it not something like this, that an Order will be issued to say which trades really are of national importance? One tribunal thinks one trade is and another tribunal thinks it is not, and things have got mixed up, so we want a central authority to say which really are trades of national importance. I cannot conceive of any Minister holding that a baker or a butcher or a shoemaker does not, belong to a trade of national importance, but there are borderline trades as to which opinions may differ, and in order to have all the tribunals working on the same lines a central authority will say which are the trades of national importance. If a man has exemption at present on the ground that he is working in a trade of national importance, and that exemption is taken away, he has a right to go to the tribunal on grounds of hardship to get exemption if he is entitled to it. Therefore I withdraw any opposition I may have felt when the Amendment was introduced.


The right hon. Gentleman said there was a misunderstanding, and he endeavoured to remove it. I have listened very carefully to all he has said, but I do not think there was any misunderstanding. As I understand it, the application for exemption is not to apply where it is expedient in the national interests that he should be engaged on work other than National Service, on which he is habitually engaged. The other qualifications, such as conscientious objection, ill-health, and so on, still remain, but that, I think, is the basis on which my hon. Friend moves his Amendment, because this qualification of occupation is in the main the great source of all applications for exemption, and it is because my hon. Friend believes that that power should still remain with the tribunals that he has moved his Amendment. The fact that the Director-General says that this question of occupation is to be eliminated is the very reason for my hon. Friend's Amendment. That is the most important of all qualifications for applications for exemption, and I do not think there is any reflection upon the Director-General made either by my hon. Friend or by the hon. and learned Gentleman who supported the Amendment, that he does not claim to be as impartial as he possibly can in deciding upon these occupations. His argument, a very reasonable one, was that it is impossible for any Director-General, however eminent, to know what is, after all, work of national importance, and the machinery of the tribunals, which he now proposes to override, was created for the purpose of helping him. It is true that the Order, if it is passed, has to lie upon the Table for fourteen days, but I doubt very much whether anyone will present an Address. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the fur trade, and said it was a luxury trade. While fur in itself may very properly be described as a luxury, many people are of opinion that it is very important to maintain our export trade. The figures for the last year show that we have £1,000,000,000 of imports, against £500,000,000 of exports, and if we allow £150,000,000 to £200,000,000 for munitions, that is in excess of £700,000,000. If certain trades in certain parts of the country are turning out what you might term luxuries, which, however, may enter into your export trade, and if it is explained before the local tribunals that certain men are necessary for the purposes of the trade, how is any Director-General to know what men are necessary for the maintenance of the trade? It is a physical impossibility. This Amendment will help the Director-General. I am sure he does not desire to handicap or to cripple the economic position of this country, which is as important as the supply of men for the Army, and for agriculture. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider the matter. The tribunals have kept minutes of their proceedings, and the most valuable information is available.


This Amendment is an illustration of the mischief of our Parliamentary system. In order to get a discussion early in the day hon. Members have run away to get the first place, whether it is an appropriate place or not, to raise this Amendment. The Clause which it is proposed to amend says

"The Director-General of National Service may at any time by Order withdraw any certificate of exemption from military service to which this Section applies."

They propose this Amendment instead of waiting for a later Clause to see what are the Orders to which the Bill is to apply, because the third Sub-section says

"An Order under this Section may be made applicable either to individual certificates," and so on.

6.0 P.M.

As the result of an Amendment moved by the hon. Member (Mr. King) in Committee, the words "granted by a Government Department" have been introduced in the definition of the certificates which they may withdraw. What are the Orders to be made under this Bill as a necessary corollary to the first part of Clause 2? Part III. of Clause 2 defines an Order:

An Order under this Section may be made applicable either to individual certificates granted by Government Departments or to certificates granted to any class or body of men specified in the Order (whether or not dependent on the obtaining by those men of individual certificates), or to certificates granted to men of any class or description specified in the Order, and as respects any class or body of men.

That concession was made as a result of the words uttered by the Director-General of National Service on Monday night, when he said: I feel that there is a very great deal to be said for the question raised by the hon. Member for Somerset in this matter. There is no desire or intention, as has been pointed out on several occasions from this box this afternoon, to deal with this power in a harsh or discriminating manner; and if the hon. Member will be prepared to withdraw, his Amendment, I will be prepared to move the insertion, after the words individual certificates,' the following words, 'granted by Government Departments,' because I think we should retain the right of dealing with individual cases where a certificate has been granted by a Government Department."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st January, 1918, col. 773.] Therefore, the Bill as it stands is carrying out the pledge which was given by the Minister of National Service. Now certain hon. Members who were not here to deal with it on Monday have suddenly found an opportunity of raising this point on the first Sub-Clause, instead of waiting to see what the Order was, and what it was that he had the power to withdraw. When we come to Sub-Clause (3), we find that it deals with certificates which have been granted by Government Departments. This Amendment is wholly unnecessary. I am most jealous of the powers of tribunals, and if I thought that a Government Department by a stroke of the pen was going to interfere in the way suggested, I should support this Amendment. I have an Amendment on the Panes which makes it, clear that those who have had their certificates granted withdrawn by an Order shall have the right to go before the tribunals and put forward any grounds other than occupational. Under the circumstances, the Amendment is wholly unnecessary.


If the hon. Member is right and no certificate granted by a tribunal cornea under this Act, that will be quite satisfactory to the Mover of the Amendment and also to those who are interested. I would like to call attention to a question which I raised the other day as to a certain factory which employs 350 females, and which has two engineers responsible for the plant. One of the men exempted by the tribunal was a discharged soldier. He was in Grade 3, and he was engaged in work of national importance, and it was in the national interest that he should remain in his occupation as engineer in order to keep this business going. We granted a renewal of his certificate. When we granted the exemption the National Service representative was not satisfied and took it to the Appeal Court. That man has been before the local tribunal and the Appeal Court, although he is a discharged soldier of low category engaged in maintaining a plant at a factory employ-hag 350 females. The tribunal in the full knowledge, and the Appeal Tribunal in the full knowledge, of the circumstances have granted this man an exemption Aar three months. I want to know whether the Minister of National Service can cancel that man's certificate? We dismissed the grounds that he has already served this country and that he was of low medical category; therefore his only ground is that it is in the national interest that he should remain in his present employment. If the Minister of National Service can take that remaining ground away the man will have no right to come before us again, because we have refused his other grounds. If the Minister of National Service desires to have this man he can, by giving three days' notice, have the case brought before the tribunal for review. If it is essential on the ground that this man should go they can bring it before the tribunal, and, if necessary, take it to the Appeal Court. I would like to have the point cleared up.


I am a little embarrassed in speaking after the very full explanation of my right hon. Friend the Minister of National Service and the right hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. H. Samuel), but I had better try to the best of my ability to clear up this matter, though I think the majority of hon. Members are already possessed of the fact. As regard the cases mentioned by the hon. Member (Mr. Kiley), the only way in which we could touch the case of the engineer who has been exempted would be if he came within a class which we were calling up.


He is an engineer, twenty-five years of age, and a discharged soldier.


That is a different point. If we were calling up men engaged in this particular occupation up to the age of twenty-eight, then his tribunal certificate would not protect him. Unless he was within that class it would protect him. That is where I think, with due respect, the hon. and learned Member for Ealing stretched a little the concession which the Government gave on the Committee stage. Turning to the more general point, I think the most specific criticism was that of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Samuel), who wanted to know whether there was any elasticity in the working of these Orders over what we call the clean-cut. Take the case of an Order that all bakers under thirty-five years of age should not be protected on occupational grounds. My learned Friend the Member for Lanarkshire asked, supposing there was a village where there was only one baker left, and he was thirty-one, what would happen? In all these cases the Ministry of National Service has the absolute right to be elastic in its administration. In practice we are elastic. We work very largely in all these matters through the Trade Exemptions Department, which is in the closest contact with the traders of the country, and we have a statistical department which becomes more complete and elaborate each day. We have in our hands an entire catalogue of the occupations and trades of the country, and I can assure hon. Members that it is within this Bill and within our administrative powers to exercise the fullest power to exempt not only individuals, but even whole districts, if it is brought to our notice that in such dis- tricts extraordinary circumstances prevail which would cause dislocation of some vital sort.


Brought to your notice by whom?


I thought the hon. Member would have followed that point. The contention which my right hon. Friend gave was that before these clean-cuts could be made an Order should lie on the Table for fourteen days. That was purposely put in on the suggestion of my right hon. Friend (Mr. H. Samuel) in order to give trades, districts, and even individuals, and certainly Members of this House, the right to represent that great hardships would be caused by these Orders. There is no difficulty in a Government Department knowing when any particular hardship is being inflicted by the working of any particular Order.


The hon. Member referred to the case of a baker. Would not that baker, if he was the only baker in the district, have the right to appeal to the tribunal on the ground that he was essential to provide bread for the neigh-bourhood?


No. He would have the right to appeal on the ground that serious hardship would ensue if he were called up for Army service, owing to his exceptional financial or business occupation, or domestic position or on the ground of ill-health or infirmity, or on the ground of conscientious objection to combatant service.


Only the first part of that is relevant, and that only applies to the man himself. It would not apply to the case where the employer was put in a most appalling difficulty by the Ministry of National Service taking away perhaps the only employé he has got to enable him to carry on that business. Whatever the hardship be to the employer or to the public, the Clause does not cover it, and we are left to the mercy of the Minister of National Service.


It is difficult to argue with one learned in the law, but I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman. I do not know what business obligations a man has if it does not mean what I have said it would mean. I want to make this point clear, and it is a point which the Committee will face, that the most vital industries of this country, with hundreds of thousands of men, are protected by a mere stroke of the pen, which can be cancelled to-morrow by the Ministry of National Service, and I do, without presumption, say, that in view of the labour situation. and in view of the recruiting position for the Army, that the Ministry would put itself in a false position by suggesting that, while the men who are engaged in shipbuilding, agriculture, and other industries on which our very life depends, are only protected by a stroke of the pen, that men, who my right hon. Friend explains are necessary in industries, should have this additional right, which we are now trying to cancel, of exemption by tribunals on occupational grounds. My right hon. Friend has gone out of his way to try to meet, to the very fullest limit, every possible objection as regards individual hardships. He has done his best to remove individual tribunal exemptions altogether from his purview. But I do suggest that it is an impossible case that, while these men, in whose hands are the very essence of defeat or victory, have worked for three years under the protection of that age Schedule, which is merely composed by writing out the occupations, now, when this Bill, which is an attempt to do justice between man and man, and to bring order out of that chaos into which our various Military Service Acts have landed us, is brought forward, that this straining of the protection of individuals should be forced too far. I do not believe that the House desires to do it. I believe that the arguments put forward by my right hon. Friend and the explanation made by my right hon. Friend opposite, and others who have spoken, will satisfy all Members who desire to see fair dealing and a fair system of legislation, that every reasonable precaution is taken as regards the men taken, and that this Amendment, however well meaning it may be, does go much further than either the Mover or the Seconder really desires, that it would, in effect, destroy almost the entire purpose of the Bill and introduce that entanglement of exemption, differing extraordinarily in different parts of the country, which has caused such endless heartburnings in the administration of these Military Service Acts.

Amendment negatived

Amendment made: In Sub-section (3), after the word "men" ["body of men"], insert the words, "or men of any class or description."—[Mr. Beck.]


I beg to move, alter the word "fit," to insert the words "including giving the right of making application to a tribunal in exceptional cases."

All I ask is: that powers should be taken in these Orders, in which the right hon. Gentleman is making a category of a particular class or group of persons, to say that in exceptional cases, which I dare say will be defined in the Order, the individual may go to a tribunal on the merits. I would commend that to my right hon. Friend.


I beg formally to second the Amendment.

I did not press my Amendment to a Division as I was anxious that the House should not divide on these proposals at this very critical juncture in the labour problem, but I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will accept this very reasonable Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend.


I cannot see that these words add anything to the powers which the Clause would otherwise give, but if the hon. Members who moved and seconded it feel that they would be safer with such a provision I would be very willing to accept it.


It is not only a question of what is inserted in the Bill. It is also a question of the use that will be made of the power by the Department in the administration of the Bill, and I feel that we are not quite clear how the Director-General of National Service is going to deal with the particular cases to which reference has been made in the previous Debate. I put a question, which was quite specific, but did not receive a reply from the Secretary of the Department. With regard to these individual cases where on exceptional grounds tribunals give exemptions to individuals, and those individuals come within a class which is going to be subject to the clean cut, what is going to be done in those cases by the Department? Is the Department going to take them into consideration and make special provision or not? The Secretary to the Department said, first, that it was very unreasonable to raise points of the kind, and that when the protection of a great many men engaged in essential industry depended on a mere stroke of the pen why should others be so protected; and, second, that the Order would have to be laid on the Table in the House of Commons for fourteen days, which would be very small satisfaction to a population depending on a particular baker, from whom exemption was going to be withdrawn, and he said, third, that the baker might apply to the tribunal on grounds of hardship to himself, conscientious objection or ill health. This does not touch the point of men who are in this position that they cannot appeal on any of these grounds, where there is no special injury to them, but where the injury is to the public in the locality or to fellow-workmen employed in a particular factory or industry. What is the Director-General of National Service going to do in these cases? Is he going by this departmental machinery to review them all, to send down an inspector and go into each case? The vast majority of the people of military age who have been exempted by tribunals have been so exempted because those tribunals considered that there were very special circumstances in those individual cases. Now that exemptions are going to be swept away by the clean cut you will have applications made on behalf of a very considerable proportion of the men affected. What is it going to do with those applications? It is no answer merely to put into the Bill the words which my hon. and learned Friend has suggested, useful as those are, unless we understand that the acceptance of those words means that in his administration the Director-General of National Service will in fact bring in the tribunals in some way or another to judge once more these particular cases. Perhaps my right hon. Friend would, by leave of the House, which I am sure it would give him to speak a second time, tell us how these words would be applied in practice?


I think that the right hon. Gentleman forgets the powers which exist with respect to advancing the age. You have simply got to advance the age in the Reserved Trade Certified Occupations List and you have in effect the very thing desired, which can be done without any of the objection suggested by these words. If the Department has these powers it will not wantonly prevent cases of individual hardship being dealt with, because it will not wantonly increase the age to such an extent as to make it possible to take away the last baker from a district, but it must be remembered that time is of great consequence, and common sense will show that the Minister will not want to take men in such trades as the bakery and slaughtering businesses without being very careful as to what limits are put upon them so as to make it impossible to inflict upon the neighbourhood the hardship which my right hon. Friend suggested. I cannot believe this possible having regard to the powers which the right hon. Gentleman already possesses.


The hon. Member for Ealing has not covered the whole facts of the case. The whole purpose of the Bill is to cancel all certificates of exemption on occupational grounds. Up to the present moment there are, to my knowledge, many industries not primarily of national importance, but of enormous importance to this country when the War is over, in which the tribunals have considered the individual cases, and the military representative has gone into these cases and has practically said, "Here are two men, and you cannot carry on your business without them, but I am going to take those other seventeen." Under the present Bill, by the stroke of the pen to which the Parliamentary Secretary has referred, we shall, as I understand, lose all power practically of keeping any men who may be essential to retain a business, which is of very great national importance, but which, taken by itself, might not be so favourably considered by the right hon. Gentleman. I hope the right hon. Gentleman, if not in the actual wording of the Bill, at any ratewhen he comes to the administration c f it, will take care that there is some reasonable protection in cases where it would really be desirable to retain one or two particular men who, otherwise, would be taken for military service.


I believe the House would like me to make some statement on this question which has been raised by the Amendment, and with the permission of the House I will do so. We have to remember that the Army has to be maintained, and if the Army is to be maintained it will require category A men. In civil lifer at the present time there is left only a small fraction of the total number of menof military age in category A that can be taken. That is the first point for consideration in connection with this problem to be borne in mind. In the best of our industries, as they exist to-day, only one man in two is fit for category A or for general service. In the average of the industries which hold most of the young fit men there is only one man in three fit for general service. As you come to the less important trades you find a smaller and smaller proportion of men fit for general service. Therefore the clean-cut, which will, so far as one can foresee, apply only to the men of the highest physical capacity available, will in no case remove all the men who are of military age required from the occupation to which the clean-cut is applied. There are other trades in which the number of men will be as low as one in five fit for general service. Therefore, when we speak of all the men of military age being taken, that is not really what will happen. It will be the men who are fit to go and fight that will be taken.

The next point I would ask the House to remember is this: The Ministry of National Service has no greater interest in the Army, or in the Navy, or in the Air Force, than they have in the question of finance, the provision of revenue, or any other aspect of national work. Certainly it has no greater interest in the Army than it has in the keeping together of the country's industries, so that expansion may take place after the War. Therefore, I would ask you to approach this question from the point of view of the action of a Department which is strictly neutral. I do not think that is too strong an expression to apply to the definite attitude of the Ministry of National Service as it now exists. I know that the National Service representatives who appear before the tribunals are given a task which is only one branch of our administrative work. They are told to see how many men they can persuade the tribunal to give them for military service. We often find that the National Service representatives are too good, and that they over-persuade the tribunals. Then the Trade Exemption Department sets to work to restore the balance by saying that such-and-such men must not be called up. There is no other way really in-which you can work. If you have a man selected as an advocate to appear before a tribunal you cannot interfere with him, otherwise you would not get the men out that you might get; so that we put before the tribunals the representatives of the Ministry of National Service, whose func- tion is to advocate a man being freed and taken for the Army. But the balance machine is brought into work, not once a day, but I am not exaggerating when say a hundred times; it may be much more—I really do not know, but a tremendous number of cases go through every day. Sometimes it is a direct representation that is put forward by an Advisory Committee, and sometimes, more often now than in the past, it is a representation from some other Government Department. As the activities of the Government extend more and more into civil life, we get more and more representations from the Government Departments. More and more representations from the Ministry of Food, Ministry of Munitions, the Admiralty, and all sorts of Government Departments. That is another way in which the balancing of the machine comes in. Then we get direct representations from the citizens of various towns, where a discussion may be started with regard to such-and-such a man, and where it is said such-and-such a result would follow. The case of the baker is not a hypothetical case. It has occurred, and will occur, but you will find that the single baker case is dealt with by investigation.

When the right hon. Gentleman asks me what:particular methods will be adopted to determine what men are to be taken, I can only reply every method that is now used from day to day and from hour to hour. I am perfectly prepared, in certain cases of grave doubt, as I frequently do now, to refer a specially represented case to an Appeal Tribunal. We ask the Appeal Tribunal to rehear, we give permission to rehear, and that is what I precisely understood was meant by my hon. Friend when he suggested that these words should be put in. That is part of the machinery that is working from day to day throughout the country. Further, a number of cases are being dealt with by our regional headquartes, and the regional Directors of National Service are charged to watch single cases. We have special trade advisers in various districts to look after this very class of case and to see that we do not make these dreadful mistakes which we might easily make, and which we sometimes do make, but which we are trying to avoid by using the balance machine.

But let us remember all the time that the urgent need is to get category A men for the Army, and let us keep that steadily in view. The other urgent need is to get the men who have been wounded, and who have suffered in health in the Army, back into civil life, and you cannot do that until you get the category A men out. In the early part of last year this machinery of the Ministry of National Service was blocked, because the tribunals were holding men who could be replaced—young men fit for general service. What we require is to get a circulation of men back from the Army, and of men out from civil life, in which some of them are firmly rooted. I would ask the House to realise that at the present moment all these things which they fear might happen, would happen, if we had not built a machine which, with all its imperfections, is steadily improving, and is removing the difficulties to which reference has been made. These difficulties are being met, and I am sure, if Members of the House will take cases within their own knowledge, they will see that they are being met every day satisfactorily.


I think the House must have listened with great satisfaction to the right hon. Gentleman's explanation of the machinery by which his Department proposes to deal with the exceptional cases which have been under discussion for some nights during this past week. Had the House been aware at an earlier stage that this machinery was in existence, I think a large part of the discussion which has taken place would have been avoided. The only thing that need now be said is that it is desirable, where these exceptional cases occur, that the Ministry should make it clear to the locality what machinery is available, and that it may call attention to these exceptional eases, and know that there is a remedy provided. The number of these cases is comparatively small, and they only arise in very isolated cases; but though they are small in number, the amount of public inconvenience that may be caused through rashly dealing with them is far out of proportion to their number.

Amendment agreed to.

The following Amendment stood on the Paper in the name of Sir H. NIELD:

In Sub-section (2), after the word "fit" ["Director-General thinks fit"], to insert the words, "A notice of any Order made under this Section and intended to affect individual certificates shall be forthwith sent by the Director-General to every man whose certificate is intended to be withdrawn by such Order."


Notice of an Amendment dealing with the point of my Amendment has been given by the Government, and although I prefer my own I am willing to withdraw mine on the understanding that the Government proceed with theirs.

Amendment made: In Sub-section (4), after the word "then" ["is in forced. then"], insert the words "except as otherwise expressly provided by the Order."—[Mr. Beck.]


I beg to move, after Sub section (4, b), to insert the words,

"Any man, whether he has or has not attested, whose certificate of exemption is withdrawn by an Order under this Section shall be entitled to make an application to the appropriate tribunal for exemption on any of the grounds mentioned in Section 2, Sub-section (1), of the Military Service Act, 1916, other than an occupational ground, provided that the application is lodged with the tribunal within fourteen days of the date of the notice withdrawing his certificate or within such extended time as the tribunal may allow, and the Regulations or instructions relating to procedure of tribunals in force for the time being shall, so far as circumstances permit, apply to any such application, but except as aforesaid."

This is an Amendment to which I attach much importance. I think it is necessary to have an affirmative statement on the point. The Lord Advocate said in Committee that I desire to have both negative and affirmative statements. What I want is to get justice for the attested man. The attested man has suffered great injustice all the way through since the passing of this Act. When he was invited in December, 1915, by Lord Derby in the celebrated campaign he was told, "Do not wait to ask questions, attest now, and any objection you may have will be fully heard, and you shall be in no worse position than the conscript if we do happen to pass Conscription." Upon the faith of that the attested man came forward and voluntarily attested, and he has found in practice ever since that he has been at a disadvantage. I grant that here and there the Ministry of National Service since it acquired power has endeavoured to mitigate the hardships, but they are not removed, and on the Third Reading I hope to have something to say on this subject, as I do not wish to prolong the discussion now. I do assure the House that it is necessary specifically to mention the attested man as I have done. May I further point out that the instructions are purely permissive which are issued to tribunals for dealing with attested men. They are not really effectual, and I want to make them so. The conscript has power to enforce Regulations which are issued by Order in Council, and I submit that the attested man should be given in the same way power to enforce the instructions. My Amendment states:

"Any man, whether he has or has not attested, whose certificate of exemption is withdrawn by an Order under this Section shall be entitled to make an application to the appropriate tribunal for exemption on any of the grounds mentioned in Section 2, Sub-section (1), of the Military Service Act, 1916, other than occupational ground, provided that the application is lodged with the tribunal within fourteen days of the date of the notice withdrawing his certificate."

This last provision as to a period is important, because otherwise the man might be told that he was out of time. My Amendment continues, "or within such extended time as the tribunal may allow and the Regulations or instructions relating to procedure of tribunals in force for the time being shall so far as circumstances permit apply to any such application but except as aforesaid." Those words are pretty clear and are absolutely necessary to preserve the rights of attested men, and I beg that the Government may accept them. The perfunctory words which they propose subsequently are likely to give rise -to all sorts of difficulties.


I beg to second the Amendment.

I think it is very important that the rights and position of attested men should be set out as specifically as possible, because in the very best interests of recruiting grievances, real or imagined, and I think real in many instances, are very unfortunate circumstances, and the more they can be assuaged by making the position clear the better.


In Committee a promise was given by the Lord Advocate to consider this matter as to the need for putting in some words. After mature consideration it has appeared to those responsible for the Bill that the case is fully met and more conveniently met by a subsequent Amendment which stands in the name of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary. That seems to me to cover fully the case of attested and unattested men and in a better and possibly clearer form than this.

Amendment negatived.

Further Amendment made: In Subsection (4, b), after the word "be" ["shall be granted"], insert the words "renewed or."—[Mr. Beck.]


I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (4), to insert the words and any certificate granted or renewed in contravention of the foregoing provisions shall be invalid, but save as aforesaid nothing in this Section shall affect any right of a man, whether unattested or attested, whose certificate has been withdrawr. under this Act to apply for a renewal of his certificate which he would have Fad if this Act had not been passed."


I suggest that words should. be inserted giving a time during which application should be made, as otherwise objection might be made that the application not being a new one that the man was out of time unless the Regulations deal with it. This is a point of substance which I think ought to be met.


The point mentioned by the hon. Member is one of some importance.


It is a point which can be dealt with in the Regulations, and I will undertake to see that the Regulations deal with it.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: At the end of Sub-section (3), insert the following new Sub-section:—

"(6) Where an Order under this Section applicable to an individual certificate is made notice thereof shall be served on the man affected thereby and may be served by sending it to him by registered post to his last known address."

In Sub-section (6), after the word "granted" ["granted on occupational grounds"], insert the words "or renewed."

After the word "granted" ["granted wholly"], insert the words "or renewed."

After the word "granted" ["case was granted"] insert the words "or renewed."

After the word "granted" ["a certificate was granted"], insert the words "or renewed."—[Mr. Beck.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."


I should like to assure the Minister of National Service that I most heartily support him in this very necessary Bill, and that any remarks I have to make now are intended merely to be suggestions to help him in his work rather than criticism. If I have any criticism to make on the Bill as a whole it is that the estimate of figures which the right hon. Gentleman gave in his opening speech seem to me to be very much on the low side, because the right hon. Gentleman then caused a considerable amount of anxiety in every quarter of the House by telling us very frankly the estimates of what we possibly had to face in the field. He mentioned to us the possibility of having something like 1,600,000 men brought from one front to the other. But the right hon. Gentleman did not mention the question of the number of prisoners who, in the event of peace being definitely signed between the Central Powers and Russia, might be released also for service in the field. That question of the release of prisoners has, unfortunately, been exaggerated in the public mind, and I think if he can say anything to reassure us on the subject it is certainly desirable that that should be done. I do not wish to say anything further on the general Bill because the point I wish to make is confined entirely to the question of the Bill as it affects agriculture and agricultural labour. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman realises as much as anyone does the necessity of helping to the greatest possible degree in seeing that agriculture will have the labour that it requires in the very difficult and important task that lies before it. I am not one of those who has thought that agriculture has been so very hardly treated as a good many of my friends have thought. I myself am an agriculturist to a certain extent, and I find and still believe that agriculture can do a great deal to help itself if it will face a certain amount of alteration in method. I think we have as agriculturists been enormously helped and most successfully helped by the assistance of soldiers. I have considerable experience of the soldier labour, and I must say that, personally and in all cases where I have known it, I found that it has been most satisfactory.

7.0 P.M.

Unfortunately, I think, there is a feeling of some uncertainty about the supply of soldiers. Of course, agriculture is one of those industries which is seasonal, and at certain moments a very considerable amount of extra labour is required. Of course, a soldier's first duties are military, and military exigencies must always stand in front of everything else; but is it possible for the right hon. Gentleman to make some arrangement with the military authorities, by which some assurance can be given that, subject to military exigencies, a sufficient supply of labour will be forthcoming at the critical time of the harvest? For myself, I am acting on the belief that sufficient labour will be forthcoming. I am ploughing up every acre of grass I can, and I feel perfectly satisfied that when the critical time comes I shall be able to get soldier labour or a certain amount of other labour to meet the difficulty. But of course I am, admittedly, running a certain amount of risk of not being able to get the labour I require, and I think there is a. little nervousness on the part of farmers, that when they want this labour it will not be forthcoming. If an assurance can be given that, subject to military exigencies, a further amount of labour can be found, a very great deal will be done to allay an anxiety which, after all, is reasonable. I must say I think this system of employing the soldiers in the Home Army for work of this kind is a most reasonable and a most excellent way out of a very difficult position, because, after all, the soldier has been through his training, and, so long as he is not required for active military service, it is far better to keep him employed in this way than that we should rely on a large number of men in purely civil employment. occupying their spare time in trying to make themselves volunteer soldiers.

There is one other way in which, I think, the right hon. Gentleman might do a great deal to assist us in agriculture. At the beginning of the War there was a rivalry between the agriculturist and the recruiting sergeant. The agricultural labour was taken away by the Army, but, after all, it was confined entirely to the young men of a certain physical standard. But now, unfortunately, the difficulty has arisen, not between agriculture and the Army, but between agriculture and various Govern- ment Departments who are carrying on work throughout the country and who not only allow the contractors who are working for them to take the young and fit men, but to take men of all ages and all fitness, and in some cases to create a very undesirable sweep of the labour off the land. One of my hon. and gallant Friends the other evening called attention to this particular grievance, and I think he had a very vivid experience in the matter. Apparently he lived between two aerodromes which were being erected, one on each side of him, which apparently left him very little labour when they had had their pull. I think in the case of work of that kind, and also in the case of timber-cutting, the right hon. Gentleman might be able to do something to ensure, not that the War Offico and the other Government Department should forbid the drawing away of agricultural labour, because I think they probably do that, but that they should take some precaution against the contractors doing it against their orders, which I think is what is actually happening. But even now, if to a great extent the damage cannot be repaired, I think it might still be possible to ensure that work of that nature should be either stopped, or very largely diminished, during the very important time such as harvest. There is no doubt whatever that in the case of timber-cutting nothing would be lost if wholly, or a great deal, stopped during the harvest. Of course, so far as it is done by -special men who are not agriculturists, there is no reason why it should not be continued. But I think the agricultural part of the labour employed in that way might very well be released for that particular time.

Another question on which I think it would be of interest to have information is as to those agricultural men who are taken away on work of that kind, and who have hitherto been protected, and not taken for the Army—I am speaking now of the young and fit men—on the ground that they are agriculturists, when really they are doing work of a different kind and not of an agricultural nature. I think if the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to make arrangements with these Government Departments in the directions I have indicated, a great deal might be done to assist agriculture in meeting a difficult position, because, in the interest of the supply of food, what is commonly called the plough policy must be supported with the greatest energy and with all our strength, if we are to get through the very difficult period which lies before us.


It is with great diffidence that I rise to make my first speech in this House. I am a plain, blunt soldier, more accustomed to the ways of war than the eloquence of Parliament. But from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaketli, and the question of man-power, with which this Bill is concerned, is of such vital importance to us who are fighting your battles at the front that, as a serving soldier at present commanding an Army Corps in Flanders, I cannot refrain from giving you the thoughts and feelings of my comrades of all ranks at the front. I speak not as a general only. Among the many true friends and trusty comrades I have among those who are risking their lives, and more than their lives, none are truer or more valued by me than my friends and comrades in the ranks. And it is as one who has Lad the privilege of sharing with his men danger, sickness, and privation that I verture to speak haltingly and feebly, but from a full heart, in their name to-night.

Ow Army, your Army, the flower of the manhood of these Islands and of the great self-governing Dominions across the seas, is in magnificent fettle, full of courage and confidence and unconquerable cheeriness, imbued with a magnificent spirit of selfsacrifice and devotion to duty, determined to "stick it out" doggedly when it is a, question of defence, and ready to strike, and strike hard, when the time comes for attack or counter-attack. But we need men, and, above all, we need the confidence and co-operation of the nation. We need that every man and woman at home, and everyone in the Army abroad, should have confidence in each other, and that each and all should exert all their strength, physical, mental, and moral, to help to win the War.

Let there be no mistake. We are fighting for our national existence; we are fighting for our lives, and for the lives and honour of our women and children. If we do not now beat Germany and make her people feel that militarism does not pay, she will attack us again when we have not so many Allies, and if she does, and if she wins, she will do to us all and more than Hall that site has done to Serbia, to Belgium, and to Northern France—she will destroy us utterly. She has chastised the small nations with whips. If she were to succeed in a second campaign against us she would chastise us with scorpions.

Germany is waging war not for military supremacy only, but also for commercial supremacy, and to attain this commercial supremacy she undoubtedly desires to destroy the productivity of the working classes of the United Kingdom. I am 110 believer in distinction of classes. We as a nation stand or fall together, and what affects one part of the nation affects all; but undoubtedly those who would suffer most by a German victory would be the workers, the producers in this country. See how Germany has removed all machinery from Belgium and Northern France. See how she has forced the workmen of Belgium to work as quasi-slaves for German taskmasters. See how she has torn the young women of Northern France from their homes and sent them to a fate their parents know not what. It is the working men and women of the conquered territories that have suffered most at German hands. I hope that hon. Members will make this great fact known to the people of this country. If she got the chance she would do the same by us. She would destroy our factories and shipbuilding yards, remove our machinery, injure our wharves and harbours, and, by thus destroying our means of production, would leave our people to starve. To realise what a fate you would lay up for your children and for your old age, if you leave Germany free to attack us at her pleasure, come and see the reconquered territory: that land of desolation, of destruction, and of death.

Of German atrocities you have incontrovertible evidence in the Report of Lord Bryce's Commission,but as the spoken word is worth a wilderness of paper, I will ask you to pardon me if I give you an example from my own experience. My advanced troops had entered a certain town in Northern France, from which they had driven the Germans. The women of the town came to us scattering flowers and greeting us with cries of "Nous sommes sauvées:" A sturdy peasant woman of France cried to me, as commander of the advanced guard, to press on my already quickly-moving troops to "Kill, Kill, Kill!" the retreating fiends who had raped haf,r daughter publicly before her very eyes. Can you wonder, then, that I appeal, through you, to the men and women of Great Britain and Ireland to support the Government in their determination to give the Army the young men it needs to carry this War through to victory?

Objection has been taken that there are still many men capable of being combed out in France. If steps were not being taken to comb out in France at the same time as in England I think this would be a fair and valid criticism. From my own experience and knowledge, however—and I speak, I may say, from the standpoint of one who is sufficiently high in the scale to be able to get a general view, while not so high up that I am in any way responsible either for policy or for strategy—I know that within recent times the harrow has been passed over the men behind the line in France, and with very considerable success. Now again the process of combing out is being gone through, not with a harrow but with a small -tooth comb. But when every man has been combed out in France, and when as many as possible have been replaced by women of the -Women's Army Auxiliary Corps—and in this connection I may say that the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps are doing a most admirable work, and we soldiers owe and pay a great tribute of admiration and gratitude to these women for what they are doing—I say that when every man has been combed out, and when every man has been replaced who can be replaced by a woman, there will still be need, and urgent need, for young men from this country.

Objection has furthermore been made that sufficient use has not been made of the best brains, and that there is a prejudice against the Territorials and the New Army men. Nothing could be further from the truth. When men are fighting for their lives and honour, as we are out there, they do their utmost to get hold of the men who will help them best. They do not ask whether an officer was a Territorial, a Regular, or a New Army man in the past when choosing an assistant for the present. They ask who is the best man to be got now. We want to get the best assistance to help us to win the War. A man at the front is taken for what he is, and not for what he was.

The Army does not resent criticism. It welcomes it. It welcomes constructive and well-informed criticism, but destructive and ill-informed criticism is good for no portion of the nation at any time, It is especially bad in war, for it tends to reduce the morale and confidence, not only of the Army but of the nation. There are many points which may justly be criticised. Thera are faults. But I may say, from what I have seen out there, that every man in authority is honestly, constantly, and earnestly doing his best to minimise those faults and to overcome them.

Let us have co-operation and mutual confidence — soldiers and politicians, civilian and military, trusting each other and working hand-in-hand. Both are needed. We at the front feel that the Army is but the point of the spear, of which the shaft is shipbuilding and the many other industries necessary for the successful prosecution of the War; the driving power being the determination of the nation as a whole to co-operate with us, to stick it out, and to drive the spear home to victory. What most strikes an observant but at the present time a somewhat infrequent visitor to England and Scotland is the immense amount of courage, resolution, and self-sacrifice of the majority of the nation. But there is a minority whose selfishness, ignorance, and self-complacency are but too apparent. And there are a noisy and vociferous few—some of whom are honest, though mistaken—who do infinite harm to our cause.

May I, as a representative of those at the front, appeal to those who are selfish from ignorance of the facts of the situation, and to the honest, though vociferous few, to do what they can to help us—by helping the cause of Victory by every means in their power?

Among the soldiers serving at the front there is a very strong feeling of resentment against the young able-bodied men who are staying at home in comfort and safety, and drawing large pay while better men than they are doing not only their own share in the mud, discomfort and danger of the trenches, but also the share that should be borne by these young "stay-at-homes," who claim privileges denied to the rest of the nation. This feeling of resentment is so strong that it will, I fear, last beyond the War. It may also—this, I think, is an important point—cause a line of cleavage in the nation which will be very deplorable. But I defy any man with ordinary human feelings not to feel in sympathy with a gallant soldier when, speaking of these young "stay-at-homes," be says, with ill-concealed resentment and heat in his tone, that he and his mates who have "done their bit" "will take good care to get even with those blessed skulkers"—as he calls them, using another adjective!

Those of us who have had the privilege of serving with Irishmen and Irish regiments know the charm of that most lovable race, so unaccountable and difficult if badly led, so glorious in heroism, so easily led to almost unbelievable flights of heroism, loyalty and devotion to duty—if only they are led by a strong, just, fearless iman, who has great courage, not only physical but moral,. and who adds to that courage human sympathy allied with well-balanced judgment and iron inflexibility of will. Are we men of action at the front guilty of too great idealism, too great optimism, if we still hope that among the great men of Ireland there will arise such a leader, be he known or unknown now, who will cause Ireland to join Amorica, France, and the great Dominions across the seas in fighting this great fight for liberty, justice, and right? Through the poor agency, therefore, of the voice of one who has borne the burden of the War from the beginning, fighting alongside Irishmen and Irish regiments, may I say that your brother Irishmen and their true comrades in the Allied Armies, who are fighting with them on the other side of the water, appeal to their comrades in Ireland who are young and who are still in Ireland, both North and South, to be true to the glorious traditions and history of Ireland, and to come in full strength to take their rightful place alongside us.

The future of these Islands, of the Empire, and of the world lies in the hands of the men who have fought and who are fighting. It is they who will undoubtedly mould and shape the world. The great majority out there have given up all voluntarily at the call of duty and have been fighting with the greatest devotion, gallantry, and self-sacrifice. It is those qualities, that self-sacrifice, devotion and resolution which, applied hereafter, will have the effect, as I believe, in making these Islands better and brighter places than ever they have been before. May I, through this House, appeal to every man who is under twenty-five, and who is, therefore, more indispensable in the front line than anywhere else, to come willingly to join the men in whose hands the future of this country lies, and with them safeguard the noble heritage which our forefathers have bequeathed to us.

Above all, let the men of England realise that they are directly and personally responsible for the lives of their fellow countrymen at the front, if by any action of theirs or their friends they restrict or retard in any way the necessary output of munitions of war, ships, aeroplanes, guns, ammunition—munitions of every kind. These are the necessities of the situation out there. Guns, aeroplanes, munitions, are our lifesavers. Without them our men suffer heavy casualties. With them, we can so deal with the enemy that our losses are reduced to a minimum. Therefore, I would beg them to remember that any interruption or cessation of work means wounds and death to the brave lads who are fighting for you. A local defeat by the enemy has often much less serious military consequences than the stoppage of work by our fellow workers at home. It is only by the whole-hearted co-operation of the men and women at home with us who are fighting at the front that we can carry our cause to victory. In this, as in everything else, we require solidarity in the nation—between the nation which is the Army at home, and the Army which is the nation at the front. We need men. We specially need young men. We need men to hold and work and fight on our front Lee. We need men to continue working on our many defensive lines. We need men to continue to improve the communications, on which so enormous an amount of work has been done during this past year. Above all, we need men to train for offensive and counter-offensive action, so that we may have strong, well-trained divisions with which to meet and defeat the enemy.

In this connection it is necessary for us all to face the facts and to preserve our sense of perspective and proportion. From a review of the general military situation, we know that whatever the available force the enemy may bring against us on the Western Front, there is no cause for despondency. The military situation is good, and when America comes in, it will be overwhelming. But until America is able to make her full strength felt we must expect heavy fighting if the enemy choose to attack. We hope they will attack, for if they do attack we shall undoubtedly defeat them, and they will suffer very heavy losses. In the sway of battle, however, we are sure to suffer local and temporary reverses, and it would be well for the British public to face this fact.

I say, therefore, to all: Have Oourage, Confidence, and Resolution ! Do not fear to face facts. We are sure to have difficulties both at home and at the front, but the difficulties of the future are as nothing to the difficulties we have surmounted in the past. Our position and resources are such that, if only the nation will stick it out, we are certain to win through. Germany is hard pressed. Her men are hungry and in distress. Her allies are in even a worse plight. We are in every respect better off than she is. But her Army is still intact. Her leaders understand the merit and necessity of resolution. It is on our resolution, our determination, and our grit that the immense issues of the future now depend.

A great flood of liberty and justice has been surging against the great dam, formed by the Prussian desire to attain a world domination, based on might and long-prepared military force. To the superficial observer that dam still seems to stand fast. But under the dam a steady, if unseen, process of disintegration has been going on, and some day the dam of might will burst, and the great flood of right will carry all before it.

If only the Empire will but to herself be true; if all individuals and classes in the nation, which is the Army at home, will co-operate loyally with each other and with the Army, which is the nation at the front, standing resolutely shoulder to shoulder, calmly, confidently, and courageously, we are certain of ultimate victory and of the only peace which would be a lasting peace—the only peace which would not be treason to the heroes, your sons and brothers, who have passed before us over the Great Divide to safeguard our honour and the prosperity of our people, and to ensure the triumph of right, liberty, and justice.


The House in every quarter will desire to express to the hon. and gallant Gentleman its cordial congratulations upon the admirable speech which he has just delivered, and its thanks for the observations he has made. Forcible, eloquent, and vivid, the hon. and gallant Gentleman has admirably fulfilled the function which I may describe as liaison officer between the Army and Parliament. We can assure him that the same spirit of resolute determination which he breathed throughout his speech animates this House. Let him and those from whom he comes not attach too much importance to the declarations of a minority, who perhaps attract an amount of attention which is out of proportion to their arguments or their importance. I am sure the House now is as resolute in the prosecution of this War as it has ever been during the long history of the conflict. We all realise, as the hon. and gallant Member does, that the whole of this country is nothing more nor less than a base for the Army and Fleet, but I trust we shall not forget that the economic strength of this country is also part of its fighting strength, and in dealing with questions of manpower a proper balance must always be preserved between the two.

I think this House has shown how fully it sympathises with the main ideas that have been expressed by the hon. and gallant Gentleman in his speech by its handling of this Bill now before us. The Government has asked Parliament for large and unprecedented powers. They have been readily granted, and this Bill has reached its final stage without a single Division having taken place on any occasion. This Bill, although it may pass without controversy, has not passed without Amendments. There have been important Amendments made with the full consent of the Government in regard to some of its provisions. The ultimate control of Parliament has been safeguarded by the provision that all Orders to be made under this measure are to be laid before Parliament and subjected to its deliberation in necessary cases, and to its ultimate control. We have also safeguarded the authority of the local and Appeal Tribunals so far as individual certificates of exemption granted by them are concerned. The smooth passage of the Bill and the adoption of these Amendments without controversy have been largely due to the methods adopted in its conduct by the right hon. Gentleman the DirectorGeneral of National Service, and it is only right at this last stage that the House should express its appreciation of the conciliatory method which the right hon. Gentleman has adopted of conducting his first Bill through Parliament, methods which I can assure him have been responsible in a large degree for the smooth and speedy passage of this measure on to the Statute Book.

Colonel C. LOWTHER

It is not my intention to move theAmendment standing in my name, as I do not wish to prolong the Debate and I know other hon. Members wish to speak. I hope, however, that the Government will pay serious consideration to the scheme which my Amendment embodies, because I think it is one which might be of great value to our standing Army. What I mean is to add a Clause to this Bill making it possible to raise an Army of veterans who are past military age, but who are still fit for military service. I know that it is almost an incontrovertible fact that the vast majority of men above forty-one deteriorate very quickly, but there are very many abnormal exceptions to the rule. There are many cases where age is no index whatever of a man's adaptability, energy, or strength.

I do not care in what town or village you may go, you will find men by the score who are generally recruited from old athletes, ex-cricketers, football players, policemen and blacksmiths, who can lift a bigger weight and do a harder day's work than the average conscript soldier of to-day. The fact that the great majority of these men are above military age and that they are unable to fight for their country is to them the tragedy of their lives. They know their own powers and energy, adaptability and strength and endurance; they are imbued with patriotism, and they are anxious only for one thing and that is to fight for their country, but they are prevented from the fulfilment of what. I think the House will agree are praiseworthy aspirations merely by the asininity and small-mindedness of shortsighted officials. I do not advocate the raising of the age limit, but what I do advocate is the destruction of the barrier which prevents men who are capable of military service from serving their coun try.


There is no barrier.


I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman fails to understand my point. I recognise that a man of fifty six or forty-six might, by disguising his age, slip into the Army, or might go into a Labour battalion, hut that is not what I advocate. I have made very careful researches into this question, and I urge the employing as a unit of an army of veterans. I calculate that there are certainly half a million men past military age fit for military service, and I think a quarter of them, or at any rate, at least 100,000, would be anxious to serve their country if you gave them certain privileges. I know that it will immediately be objected that a man past military age is of very little use in the field. It may be said by doctors that he is an encumbrance rather than of any service for trench warfare. But why use them for trench warfare? I do not want these men to be used in the trenches. I would suggest that they should be raised and kept as a distinct unit outside the front line, that they should be held in the vicinity of the divisions in reserve, and that they should be held in readiness to hurl themselves at any moment upon a threatened point, or take part in any Infantry operations requiring special dash and daring.

If, as I suggested, you allocate these men to certain distinct duties, it is only fair to give them certain privileges and certain distinctions in the way of pay as well as certain advantages. I would suggest that this force should serve together, and train and fight together. I would also suggest that you should give them a higher rate of pay than the ordinary soldier, and I do not think the younger men would grumble, because the British Tommy is a sportsman and he knows what is meant by weight for age. When we are scorning the highways and the byeways to discover the whitelivered creatures with camouflaged consciences, when a blind officialism is endeavouring to do this and to rope such men in, I think it is little short of criminal not to take advantage of a body of 100,000 men whom you could get for the asking. I know certain officials at the War Office would be inclined to call this irregular, and that is a word which officials on the Treasury Bench always use when they are on the horns of a dilemma. I think it would be little short of criminal if we did not endeavour to rope these men in, especially when we remember the seven divisions of that glorious army of "contemptibles" who saved France, and through France the world. I sincerely hope the right hon. Gentleman and the Government will seriously consider this proposition which is not proposed in any spirit of obstruction, but with the very best intintion of serving my country.


I should like to avail myself of this opportunity to draw attention to some matters which are of vital moment, and which at the present time are creating a great amount `of dissatisfaction outside this House. There are, of course, rules of Parliament which necessarily curtail Amendments on Debate, and I can well understand that at this moment, with their past experience, the Government were very anxious to limit discussion on this Bill, and consequently the wording is so arranged as to make it almost impossible for any Amendment to be made outside the four corners of Section 3, Sub-section (2), of the original Act. I take the opportunity, while thanking the Government for the consideration that they have shown on this matter in relation to Amendments which are certainly valuable, to point out to the Minister of National Service that there are still serious anomalies needing to be dealt with—anomalies which are breaches of the undertakings given by the Government in the country and sometimes in this House with regard to the position of the men who attested.

One of the most glaring I will proceed to deal with at once. On the Second Reading of the Bill I made observations on the administration of the War Office, and called attention to specific instances to show how absurd is the official mind at Whitehall. The Minister for National Service has nothing to do with the attested man, and it is in that connection that these hardships arise. In regard to them, complaints have been made again and again without obtaining redress. A man comes forward and says, "I attested because I was invited to attest under the promise that I should have all the advantages which might be given to the conscripted men, but now I find that because I am in the Army by virtue of having attested I have no right to the consideration which is extended to the conscript." I appeal to the War Office to be more reasonable in dealing with these men, and to let the National Service Ministry deal with all men, whether attested or not, until they actually enter the ranks of the Army and are absolutely enrolled as soldiers. If that were done I would be content to leave matters as they are.. It has been decided that, on the grounds of ill-health, an attested man has no right to ask for a re-examination; he must put up with the most perfunctory examination which takes place at the time of his attestation. He has to go into the Army. He has to relinquish his civil employment. He has to give up his home and to make many sacrifices, and then, peradventure, when he gets into the Army the medical officer attached to his battalion may turn him down on the ground of illhealth. But then the mischief has been done. He has given up his situation in civil employment, and probably it has been filled by someone else. He may have broken up his home. But if he had had an opportunity of re-examination all that might have been avoided. It is said he could have appealed, but how often has it been urged before the Court by the military representative that the man who has attested has gone into the Army and has no such right. There is in fact no legal right except under the Review of Exceptions Act which applies to only a limited number of men. The vast majority of the men who attested went on with their civil employment and waited until their class were called up. They were never turned down; they were never subject to the Review of Exceptions Act, and could not take advantage of that Act which was literally wrung from the Government. It is what I call a cruel scandal, and I sincerely hope it may be promptly remedied.

It is impossible to prevent tribunals from acting captiously. It is not at all infrequent for a tribunal to take it into its head to refuse a hearing to a man who makes an unfortunate beginning, or says something which inspires the tribunal with a certain amount of suspicion. What happens? The conscript may forthwith go to the Court of Appeal and obtain a rule nisi on an affidavit that his case has not been heard, and the tribunal is called upon to show cause why it should not hear his application. The attested man may have been treated in precisely the same way as the conscript, but he has no remedy, and although it is said that the law of England is just and equitable to all persons, the fact remains that the attested man is refused the right of appeal on the ground that he is in the Army. Although instructions which were issued by the Local Government Board for the guidance of the tribunals in relation to attested men are substantially the same as those Regulations which have been embodied in the Order in Council and become part of the law of the land as regards conscripts, although they are identical, yet in the one case it is permissive, in the other case compulsory. In the case of the conscript it is compulsory to grant him a rule absolute; in the case of the attested man it is not. And what is the most scandalous point about it is this, that the Local Government Board has power in this matter, as is shown by a question put in this House in the month of July last, which called attention to this state of things. The reply was that there was no desire on the part of the War Office to differentiate the cases to the disadvantage of the attested man. The Minister who answered made the farther statement that cases had been investigated and that the Board, in cases where the man had not been properly heard, had approached the War Office and secured a rehearing. That is, of course, one Of those official perfunctory answers to which we are accustomed. I happen to know that one of the objections put forward in these cases is that the attested man has no right of audience in the Court of King's Bench, and that has been urged through the mouth of the Treasury Council on the instructions of the Local Government Board, without reference to the merits of the case, and the unfortunate applicant has further been let in for the heavy bill of costs taxed against him by the authorities, while, at the same time he has been unable to get his case before the tribunal and has not obtained a hearing. That state of things ought to be remedied, and the rule which the conscript is able to obtain ought to be equally obtainable by the attested man, if he is prepared to take upon himself to make an affidavit to the effect that the tribunal has not properly heard his case. Until that hardship has been removed there will be a considerable amount of dissatisfaction in the country, because one man is treated on one basis and another man on an entirely different basis.

There is another matter I want to draw attention to. When the Military Service Act was before this House there was a great outcry in various parts of the House, and especially among hon. Members below the Gangway, in favour of having questions in connection with Conscription for the Army dealt with by the civil rather than by the military power.. There was a great prejudice against courts-martial. Here we have another instance of legislation by reference, that most unsatisfactory way of legislating which has grown up in modern times. The result of it has been that a certain Section of the Act lays it down that if any offence or crime is committed under the Army Act it should be dealt with by a civil Court and that the civil Court should be a Court of Summary Jurisdiction. You thus have the extraordinary result that the question, whether or not men or bodies of men are within the purview of the Military Service Acts, and whether or not they are entitled to the benefit of the exceptions in the First Schedule of that Act, has to be decided either by a Petty sessional Bench or by a stipendiary. A more unsatisfactory body to try such questions could not be imagined. The learned gentlemen who administer the law in Courts of Summary Jurisdiction, who exercise their judicial capacity in such things as questions arising under the Food and Drugs Act, and similar matters, are also to deal with matters which have puzzled the judicature from time to time. They may be called upon to deal with questions of constitutional and international law in relation, for instance, to the Convention passed recently to bring the subjects of Russia into our Army. This House never intended for a moment that the Courts of Summary Jurisdiction should be the only persons to investigate such matters. But that effect has been produced. It was never intended that questions such as those affecting these attested men should be considered by the same tribunal as deals with "drunks" and other street offences, and matters of that sort. I am not for a moment belittling the functions of the stipendiary, but I do suggest that this is not the way to get matters of difficult construction dealt with.

8.0 P.M.

There is another point in connection with this. In ordinary cases which come before him the magistrate in the event of an appeal not infrequently admits the accused person to bail—or releases him on his own recognisances. But that is not the case of the unfortunate man under the Military Service Act, because he has to be handed over to the military authorities to be held by them until his case is settled, whatever may be the result of his appeal. Again, there is some doubt as to whether he has the full rights of appeal, because cases as a rule from the stipendiary have to stop at the first stage in the High Court. There are constitutional questions involved in this with regard to the subjects of Russia which are as important as any questions that can be raised, involving, as they do, matters of international law of the highest importance, and. which ought certainly to be allowed to go before the highest tribunals in the realm; yet, because of the clumsy way in which the original Act was introduced and passed—because of the adoption of the plan of legislation by reference, that is not possible. I do say it constitutes a very serious thing that whereas in every other form of litigation a man may obtain an arrest of judgment until the matter is finally disposed of, yet any man who comes within the purview of this Act is to be handed over to the military; in other words, he is to be sentenced, although it may be proved afterwards—when his business is wrecked, his home destroyed, and everything has gone from him—that he was perfectly right in his construction of the matter, but that inasmuch as the magistrates had no power to admit him to bail the mischief has been done in the meantime. I think these are matters which cannot be dealt with now but which ought to engage, and I hope will engage, the serious consideration of my right hon. Friend. It is most desirable that we should promote among every section of the people of this country an impression that they are being fairly dealt with. Let us continue to be able to say, as we have hitherto been able to say, that English justice is impartial and that the same justice is meted out to every class of person. That is the most valuable thing that could be said of England in the past, and do not let us even in this moment for the sake of getting this or that man or class of men jeopardise that claim which has been the proud boast of our people now certainly for a couple of centuries past. I do not suppose that since the latter part of the seventeenth century there has been any justifiable reason to complain of that which is in jeopardy now, and I do invite the right hon. Gentleman, if he ever has a moment of leisure, to turn this over in his mind and to ask himself whether or not the condition of things is such that it ought to be made so that any body of persons should be entitled to put forward a grievance in relation to the matter. I hope the earliest possible opportunity may be taken by administrative action, because I cannot imagine that the Government can view with any satisfaction the introduction of further Bills—they have ample powers—to see that the attested man shall not suffer as he has done in the past, and that his access to the Courts should not rest on the Local Government Board, but shall be open to him, if he takes the responsibility, of Making an affidavit that he has not been heard by the tribunal.


I do not wish to detain the House, but there is one aspect of the question raised by an hon. Gentleman opposite who spoke just now which is well worthy of the consideration of the Government. During -the Debate on the Second Reading some apprehension was felt by several speakers as to whether the best use was being made of the men already in the Army. That problem can be looked at from one or two points of view, but there was a feeling that there were a great many men of military age, of military capacity, in the Army who are engaged on non-combatant work. The Minister told us that there had been a great combing-out in France. I know a great deal has been done, and that was confirmed again by the hon. and gallant Mamber who made his maiden speech tonight, but, so far as I gather, the combingout in France is limited to combing-out behind the lines, and the Minister did not say in his speech whether a similar process had taken place in this country.

The point to which I want to direct the attention of the Government and of this House for the moment is the position of the employed men in the fighting units themselves. In the fighting units every man is a man passed for combatant service. He is a fit man—Grade 1—and yet in every unit there are a large number of men, a very considerable number indeed, who are what might be called permanently employed men, men engaged on sanitary services, as grooms, police, and on all kinds of services connected with the interior economy of the unit. These services are of the utmost importance for the comfort and the health of the battalion. It is of the first importance that these. ser-vices should be efficienly and properly carried out, and it is infinitely preferable that they should be performed by fit—Grade 1—men than that they should not be performed properly and adequately. I think, however, that the time may come when the problem will have to be considered as to whether these men may nct be substituted by men of another category. I do not think that these duties could be adequately and properly performed by men of a much lower category, because the men who perform them must be physically fit. It would not do to have men who would crack up under the rigours of the campaign, but I do think that the question of using older and fit men above military age might have the consideration of the Government, and I believe that if that were done it would release for service in the trenches, for combatant service, a very large number of men who are at present in the Army doing splendid work, but who are fit for combatant work, and are at present only engaged on those other services which might be just as well performed by older men who are fit.

Mr. KILEY (indistinctly heard)

I think that after these powers have been granted it will be necessary to watch whether they are being wisely used, and in that respect I would like to ask for an assurance from the Director-General of National Service that when attention is called, by Members of this House especially, to various matters that will not be taken by him as an attack by Members on himself and staff, which is what has hitherto been the idea possessed by the War Office. I looked to the right hon. Gentleman's statement with a good deal of interest, especially to that part which refers to medical examination. Some months ago attention was called to the procedure of some medical boards, and the Under-Secretary of State for War came down with a number of figures and proved, to his own satisfaction at any rate, that a percentage of the medical boards were doing wonderful work. Not many weeks later a storm arose that swept those medical boards out of existence. I want to give one or two instances of the system under which recruits are now examined. A case came under my notice a few days ago where a man was sent to the Stratford Medical Board to be examined. He was in possession of four certificates, including one from the Medical Officer of Health, stating that he was suffering from tuberculosis. The first doctor who examined him was satisfied. He said, "Tuberculosis; no use." The man was then taken to the president of the board, who had two of the four medical papers before him, and who said, "That will do." The man was told to'dress, and on leaving the building was given a card marked "Grade 3." The man came immediately from the medical board to my office and presented himself and his certificates. I gave him a note to take to the president of the board, and said that if he had read only two out of the four certificates he had evidently overlooked the chief One. I told the man to go back to the board with this letter from myself. He went back, and after some difficulty saw the president, who looked at the paper and said, "I think you are graded in your proper grade." I cannot understand a thing of that kind. If a, man is certified by the medical officer of his district as tuberculous, why should lie be passed and classified for Grade 3? I can understand that the president of the board might not have been satisfied, might have desired to make further investigations, to test the man, or to postpone the case; but when without practically any examination himself, without sending the man for any test, he passes him as fit for the Army, I am sure the Director-General of National Service will forgive me if I say that I fail to see any considerable improvement in the examinations now on what they were before, if this case represents any number.

I would in this matter call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to a number of complaints which come before me of men who, having been passed by one medical board find, when they come up again, that they are brought before the same men. Only this very day I have received a case of a man twice rejected. He was then put into C3, then in C1, and on going up to be graded under these new powers a few days ago was confronted by the same doctor. I think in a case where the same doctors have to be retained it is advisable that they should be transferred to some other district where they would not be called upon to condemn their own examinations of a few weeks back. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to make effective the improvements in the system of medical examination which he assured us was taking place, I trust he will consider my suggestion that where these medical officers are retained they should not be kept in the same district, but taken to others. That would remove a certain amount of discontent in the minds of the men who after a previous examination have now to pass the same medical man again. There are one or two other matters to which I should like to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention, and in regard to one I should like to inquire as to the supervision which is exercised over the local National Service representatives. I have a case before me of a man who made an application to a local tribunal. After fully considering his case it gave him exemption. The National Service repre- sentative was dissatisfied, took him to the Appeal Tribunal, and the appeal was dismissed. The man came up again a few weeks later. There had been no alteration, in the circumstances, and the man was again granted three months' exemption. The National Service representative took it again to the Appeal Court, where it was confirmed. A few weeks later the man came back to the local Court. He again went into the circumstances, and after he had been given three months the National Service representative took it for the third time to the Appeal Court. This man, at the head of a business and with all his obligations, was taken every three months to the Appeal Court. Ever since he got his exemption from the local tribunal he has been persecuted. Everyone would have expected that the National Service representative would have been satisfied, or at any rate that he would have allowed a reasonable interval to elapse if he could not show some new circumstances. There was no new circumstance, and only a few weeks were allowed to elapse.

There is another very similar case which. I think would interest the DirectorGeneral. I called his attention to it previous to the third appeal, and I told him that it had been heard three times locally and twice on appeal. There was a third appeal pending, and my conversation with him was hardly at an end before it had been decided. This particular man got exemption from the local tribunal, and he was taken to the Appeal Court. The Appeal Court dismissed the application of the National Service representative, and two days afterwards an individual waited upon him and wanted to see his pass-book and his balance-sheet. He naturally resented this, asked where theindividual came from, and said that he would not give him any information. The individual said he came from the National Service representative. The man, because he did not answer these questions, was served with notice of application to have his case re-heard. Naturally, he wasaggravated, and he went to see the representative. He was refused an audience, but, being persistent, he eventually got through. He persuaded the representative to go with him—he had a taxi outside—to the factory to see his balancesheet, and the representative expressed himself satisfied and withdrew his application for the re-hearing of the case. If the representative had known his business he would have made his investigations first. He would not have persecuted this man by taking him to the Appeal Court and challenging him to have his case reviewed, and then afterwards investigating and finding everything satisfactory and withdrawing the application. These cases are occurring at the present time. I know it is not the desire of the Director-General that this sort of thing should go on. I have absolute confidence in him personally but it is a question of his staff. It is in their interest just as much as it is in the interest of those who call attention to these cases that good will should prevail amongst all concerned.


Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will let me know the dates of these cases. He speaks of the National Service representative, but they seem to resemble cases of which I heard last July, when they were under the War Office.


They were in last July, and I called the attention of the War Office to them. I called the DirectorGeneral's attention to the case a few weeks back, and the appeal was eventually dealt with a few days ago. That is the case in which there were three local appeals and three applications to the Appeal Court, with all the attendant expenses. We were told that the National Service representatives as far as possible would be men of tact, discretion, and above all humane, and that in industrial districts they would preferably be discharged soldiers with experience. A few days ago a man of forty-one or forty-two, the father of six children, in category C 2, which is almost the last stage, came before the tribunal and wanted exemption, first, on the ground that he was no use for health reasons, and, secondly, on the ground that he had a very delicate wife and six children, the eldest of whom had just come of age and was serving in the Army. After careful investigation the tribunal came to the conclusion that although he might be suitable for sedentary work he had better remain at home and look after the other five children. The National Service representative took the case to the Appeal Court. We get more appeals in that part of London than in any other. They may be justified or they may not, but I want to know what supervision, if any, is exercised over these individual appeals. Is it left entirely to the discretion of the individual, whether he is in a good or a bad temper, as to how many appeals he shall make? If he has unlimited powers, has not the time arrived when there should be some supervision exercised over him? Otherwise, I fail to see the good of having a tribunal. I would press that no appeals should be lodged a second time by any National Service representative without some authority from headquarters. The DirectorGeneral this afternoon asked the Committee to place confidence in him, and I am sure that we are all anxious to do so.

We all realise, especially those who have had anything to do with these matters, what a painful and harassing task it is to be called upon to say whether a man shall serve in the Army or not. It is a small matter to me, serving on the tribunal, whether the man who comes before me goes into the Army or not. I know that I am going home to a comfortable lunch and am going to have a comfortable chair, but if I have to send a man into the Army and to break up his family and business, I want to feel that I am doing what is right and just. Therefore, when the right hon. Gentleman asks me to place greater powers in his hands I want him to give me an assurance that he is going to see that his staff carries out his intentions, and that he will exercise a proper amount of supervision to see that his intentions are carried out. I would like to ask whether it would not be possible for him to set up at his own office a complaints committee to arbitrate between some of his overzealous staff and the appellants, whose circumstances are often of a most painful character If he could consider a proposition of that kind it would do a great deal to reassure many, like myself, who, after two years' experience of some of his staff, feel constrained to ask that we should have some measure of security against actions of this very drastic nature. I do urge the Director-General to follow out the spirit with which he took up his office, and in which the other day he announced his desire to work in friendliness and harmony with all possible sections of the community in this very difficult task, and to do everything that he possibly can to prevent friction arising.


The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Cleveland Division (Mr. H. Samuel) was not quite correct when he said a little while ago that this Pill had passed through the House without a Division. We did have a Division last Monday night on the subject of the exclusion of Ireland. I agree with him, however, that we are all indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for the tact and consideration which he has shown to all those who have raised points against the Bill or have offered criticisms. I understand that the fundamental task of the right hon. Gentleman is to provide schemes under which the man-power and the woman-power of this country can be used in the most advantageous manner—on the one hand for the provision of men for the Army, Navy, and the Air Services, and, on the other, for our industries and economic services at home, which are equally vital to the carrying on of the War. I want to say a word or two on what was said a little while ago by the hon. and gallant Member for North Cumberland (Colonel C. Lowther). I do not myself believe that this Bill yet exhausts the resources of man-power, particularly for the Army. I know from experience that it is true that. if the Government will seriously take in hand from the War Office the creation of a real, live, and serious Volunteer Force in this country, trained with the special object of being available in case of invasion, a very large number of fit, fully-trained men now maintained in this country in case of invasion could be freed for service overseas. It is difficult to know what will be the situation when the right hon. Gentleman has had an opportunity of putting this Bill into operation. Quite apart from the fact that there are available to-day men who would gladly go into a really serious Volunteer Force, created not to act as special constables, but created and well trained to serve for the purposes of defence, besides those men over military age woo would be fit and suitable for that work there is a number of men who have been exempted up to the present by tribunals, I believe on good ground—I know individual cases where men have been vital to the carrying on of an industry—and if some of those men were exempted on the condition that they gave their morning to the business, because of their special intimate knowledge, they might very well give up four, five, or six hours every day to what I would call an improved Volunteer Force, which could be made of great service to the country and free men for the Army abroad. I only throw out that suggestion because I believe there is something in it. Whilst naturally any one associated with the Government would be in duty bound to defend the Volunteer Corps throughout the country which arc composed mainly of men who are very earnest, who want to do the utmost them can and who make their ten miles' route marches on Sunday, although in many cases they are sixtyfive years of age, the Volunteer Corps arc not, in my opinion, as effective and efficient as they might be made, because they are not and never have been taken seriously by the authorities at the War Office or by the Government.

I must make a reference to that other source from which hundreds of thousands of the finest, strongest and healthiest fighting men in the whole of the United Kingdom could be obtained, but which is not to be tapped to assist this country and her Allies in this great conflict. My friends and I have not put down a Motion to reject the Bill on Third Reading because we had a Division on Monday night on that question, and we are just as anxious as is the right hon. Gentleman first, not to stand in the way of the Government getting at least all they can have, even if they do not get as much as we think they ought to, and, secondly, we do not desire to create any possible misunderstanding outside the House as to why there should be a Division on the Third Reading. The point I want to make on this subject is this: We have heard from the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon in unmistakable words that the available resources in this country of fit A men for the Army are, when all is said and done, fairly limited. Anybody who w as not sympathetic to this country and her Allies, listening to what has taken place in this House this afternoon, might, with fair justice, go away and say that Great Britain was getting close to the end of her tether for the carrying on of the War. That being more or less true, I cannot help thinking that in spite of all the difficulties which I know the right hon. Gentleman or any other member of the Government would have to stand up at that box and put before us, I feel that the Government has got to tackle Ireland sooner or later. They are only putting off the evil day. When I have discussed the matter with those associated with the administration, I have been told quite frankly and privately, "The mistake was in the early days. They did not tackle Ireland seriously originally, and the Government have got into such a mess that now it dare not do it." The right hon. Gentleman himself told us on Monday What is perfectly true, that the Govern- ment have excluded Ireland from this Bill because to their knowledge or in their judgment it is not expedient to try to bring her in. In Ireland we have got the King's enemies. We have hundreds of thousands or rather I would say a very large number—I do not know the exact number—several divisions of fit A trained men, the finest men to send over to France, to keep us in that country at present.


Oh, no!


May I put it this way to the right hon. Gentleman, because he knows the exact number. I will put it on more moderate lines—it really does not alter my argument. We are maintaining in Ireland at the present moment a considerable force of Regular troops which are badly wanted on the Western Front. Our enemies in Ireland to-day I do not believe are very numerous when all told. Even after the War ends you will have them there. Whatever the finding of the Convention is, you will have them there. They are out for the destruction of Britain, and the time will come when you will have to deal with them. To put it in its very worst phase, if it means shooting, if it means fighting, you will have to fight, unless you give Ireland bodily over to the King's enemies. Therefore, on these grounds I feel very strongly with regard to the assurance which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Cleveland Division gave to the hon. and gallant Member for North Ayrshire (General Sir A. Hunter-Weston) in reply to his very admirable maiden speech, when he assured him that the Government and this House is full of resolution and determination and grit to win this War. I say that this House is nothing of the sort so long as it leaves Ireland in its present. unsatisfactory condition. This matter is being felt very strongly outside the House. The right hon. Gentleman when he first spoke this afternoon on the Report stage of the Bill, said The whole object of this Bill is to get equality of treatment. Later he said that it was to remove inequalities. That is admirable so far as it goes, but it is grossly inequitable to the masses of the people of this country, whom you admit you are draining down to the very bottom in order to get your men for the Army, that there should be these hundreds of thousands of burly Irishmen who are the best of the fighting strength of this country, somc of whom would give us a lot of trouble, some of whom are determined enemies of the King and the country, but the vast majority of whom, I believe, if tackled with sympathy, with firmness and with purpose, are really with us, would be all right, and would be extremely valuable. This matter is felt verystrongly outside the House by the public at large. I should like to mention a small fact which justifies my making this remark. As the House probably knows, my friends and I recently put an advertisemen; in two London papers asking people to sign a petition to the Government to bring in another Bill after this to include Ireland. From these two advertisements alone appearing on one day we had close on 20,000 applications for petition forms for people to sign—a very small matter in itself, but does it or does it not indicate what. the strength of the feeling outside is? Far be it from me to take any action or to say more than I feel bound to say at present, when we have to be thankful that we can get at any rate what this Bill gives us. Those who feel strongly on the subject of Ireland would do anything in their power to help the right hon. Gentleman in his very difficult task. I have served in his Department, and have some knowledge of the enormous difficulty of the task that he is coping with. I can only hope that the Bill will provide all that he is hoping from it, and that it will carry him through victoriously in the very difficult task which he has undertaken.


I would remind the hon. Baronet that the right hon.Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) was a member of the War Cabinet when this Bill was introduced into Parliament, and he must assume that there was good reason for not including Ireland. However, I do not intend to discuss that question, but to reply to some remarks which he made about the Volunteer Force. I am glad he referred to it, and suggested that it should form part of a scheme of national mobilisation, but I take exception to his suggestion that the military authorities are not taking this force seriously, and that it is not effective. The exact contrary is the ease. Both Field-Marshal Lord French and his training staff, and also all the district commands and the Department at the War Office which. is directly concerned, have given a tremendous amount of attention to the force, and are showing every sympathy with its organisation, with a view to making it efficient, so that if ever it is called upon to defend these shores it would be equal to any battalions that it would have to face. I can say, without fear of contradiction from any man who has seen these battalions in the field, that they are really far more efficient, far more effective, and better trained than the Territorials were before the outbreak of hostilities. I remember the hon. and gallant Gentleman (General Croft) raising the whole question some months ago. In those days the force was not clothed, was not equipped and was trained almost entirely by amateurs. All that is changed now. Every Volunteer who has accepted the definite obligation under the Volunteer Act, 1916, has a modern service rifle and complete equipment, and as soon as he becomes efficient is provided with proper uniform, overcoat, and everything necessary to enable him to take the field. Every battalion, too, has now been provided with machine guns, and opportunities are given by means of free railway travelling for the battalions to be trained in field work and to have experience in bomb throwing, trench digging, and trench warfare. They also have the advantage of the facilities at the disposal of the various commands for training schools. Every Volunteer Officer can go to the training schools in the various commands, and extra officers are sent down by the generals to inspect the battalions and to see the training, which is now under paid adjutants, and to give advice.

I am very glad the lion. Baronet raised this question, because I hope the Minister of National Service will make some reference to the force. Many of the battalions are still under strength, and a recruiting campaign is going on in different parts of the country to get every able-bodied man who is physically fit and has reached the required standard for enlistment to join, so that all the battalions shall be fully up to bayonet strength and shall meet the requirements for Home defence. There is an impression among the outside public, and also, I believe, among many of the Volunteers, that the Government does not appreciate their service. There is an idea that it is not of very great practical value and does not do much to solve the manpower problem. Everyone at present is very busy and mcst men are working overtime. The pressure of the War for three years has been a great strain on the working classes and they are not inclined to give up their leisure and their amusements to go out on a Sunday, very often on a wet day, unless they are quite certain they are doing something serious to help the country. If the Minister of National Service will say it is helping to ease his problem if men join the Volunteers and train in their spare time, he will make our task easier in getting the necessary recruits. I have always contended that the Volunteer Force provides one of the very practical methods of easing the pressure on the manhood of the nation, because, after all, every Volunteer remains both a producer and a wage earner. He remains part of the economic machinery of the country. At the same time, as he is trained as an efficient soldier, he helps to free a whole-time soldier to go to the front. Every efficient. Volunteer Battalion will help the Minister of National Service to provide a full-time battalion for service overseas or a Labour battalion for agricultural or other industry. If he made that clear he would be not only making his own task easier, but would be doing much to help to make the Volunteer Force really efficient and bring it up to strength.


I should like to express my thanks to the House for the very kind way in which everyone has helped to get this Bill through. It has really been a pleasure to have anything to do with a Bill of this nature, where one has felt throughout that there was nothing, even most remotely, resembling obstruction. The criticisms were real criticisms, and as a result of them we have improved the measure very much. I should like to place on record my thanks for the way in which the House has dealt with the Bill from the First Reading right through to this moment. There are one or two points to which I might refer which have been raised, and I should like to group certain of them together. There is, first, the general question of the use which could be made of soldiers in connection with civil work. Of course, the employment of soldiers as such lies outside the scope of the Department for which I am responsible, but the general principle on which they are employed is a matter in which my Department is profoundly interested. As the House is aware, there is very considerable reorganisation of the forces at home either completed or in process of completion, and there is a very definite intention to make the fullest possible use of the men who are in the Home forces, for such important work as agriculture, and so on. If I may put it in this way, they will reverse the Territorial type of training which the members of the Territorial force had before the War. Now, these Home defence soldiers should be soldiers for the major part of their time and do a certain amount of civil work for a smaller part of their time, just as in pre-war days the reverse was true in regard to the Territorial soldiers. That is being developed, and we hope to get a very great amount of assistance in that way from the Army which it is necessary to keep at home for Home defence. We want assistance in connection with agriculture, and possibly in connection with some of those very difficult transport problems that are such a great difficulty at the present time. There were a few other points raised in connection with the Home forces as regards the Volunteers. That again is a matter which is outside the jurisdiction of the Ministry of National Service, but I personally have not the slightest doubt that when the reorganisation and readjustment of the Home forces to which I have just referred is completed, the Volunteers will play a very much larger and very much more important rôle than has fallen to their lot in the past. It was necessary in their earlier days to see what was going to become of them and to what degree of efficiency they would attain. Now they have become settled down upon their foundations, and it is possible to appreciate their real value. The other point was raised by the hon. Member for the Eskdale Division (Colonel C. Lowther) in regard to taking older men for service overseas. There seems to be some impression that there is at the present moment some insuperable barrier to such men being enlisted. Far from it. We are enlisting, and have been enlisting for many months, thousands of these older men, and we are employing them in all sorts of ways where men who are organically sound, but who are older than the average soldier, are most useful—in transport work, in the Army Service Corps, on railways, and in other ways as attendants and workers for the fighting battalions. With reference to certain remarks made by the hon. Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Kiley), I may say that, so far as I have been able to gather since he spoke, one of the cases to which he referred was dealt with in April of last year, and therefore did not belong to the Ministry of National Service. Another was dealt with in July, and that had nothing to do with the Ministry of National Service.


One of the cases related to the 12th January this year.


The dates of the other cases I will discover shortly. I am extremely sorry the hon. Member should think that there has been animus, as he described it, directed against his tribunal. I can assure him that that is not the case so far as the Ministry of National Service is concerned. With respect to the individual who is said to have tuberculosis, if he will let me have the name of the individual, so that the case may be traced, I will have full investigations made. I can hardly believe that the hon. Member has not been in some way misled, because the method of dealing with these cases is generally very fair, and I do not think that a case such as he has described could have occurred recently. With regard to the remarks of the hon. and learned Member for Ealing (Sir H. Nie1d), I am afraid that I cannot agree with him that attested men are worse off than unattested men with regard to medical examination and the right of being re-examined. There is absolutely no difference in the administrative procedure with regard to the treatment of these two classes of men. They have exactly the same rights in regard to application for re-examination and exactly the same rights as to application for re-examination by the medical assessors who are attached to the Appeal Tribunal. So far as I am aware, there is neither jot nor tittle of difference in the Regulation affecting one or the other class of men. The hon. Gentleman raised rather difficult legal points, which I will have fully considered, and I will see if any steps can be taken to meet any difficulties which he has indicated.

In conclusion, may I say to the House, and perhaps to some people outside, that it is very easy at the present moment to say that men are not forthhcoming in sufficient numbers for this, that, or the other Service. Our real difficulty at the present time is to maintain a straight, well-thought-out, well-reasoned course, through all the difficulties and amid all the various pools and currents that are directed against us in regard to this question of man-power distribution. It is not a thing that it is easy to explain to the public. One could only wish that it was much more easy. It is not that a good deal of it is secret and that it should be secret, but because it is so frightfully intricate and takes such a long time to do and is subject to such rapid changes. There is at the present time a very carefully considered line of policy being followed, and when one sees, as one so often does at the present time, criticism as to why this supply of men does not suddenly decrease or that supply suddenly increase, the answer is because in accordance with the carefully determined policy arrived at after the fullest consideration of all the known facts that would not be the best way to distribute the men. At the present time our most anxious man-power problems are not in connection with the supply of men for the Army. They are in connection with the production of tonnage, with transport, with the distribution of rood, and with agriculture, and after these we have the extraordinary difficult problem of supplying men for the armed forces of the Crown. Various figures have been made out which are alleged to represent the position of our forces. I can only say that I have seen no set of figures published that is correct. There are many very misleading sets of figures that. have been published. In the long statement in which I introduced the First. Heading of this Bill I gave, as fully as Possible, a fair, I hope a balanced, I hope a sane statement. of what I believe to be the position, and, on reading over what I then said, I do not think that on that. particular point, as to the question of the balance of man-power between the nations, it would be possible, without entering into an enormous mass of figures, to give a fairer general indication of the relative position in reference to man-power.


I do not rise to complain of anything which the right hon. Gentleman has said or to disagree with any part of his statements, but to draw attention to an omission which I would have done earlier, but that I did not think he was going to reply quite so early. I desire to put briefly two or three points for the serious consideration of the Department, although perhaps his Department is not primarily so much concerned with them as are others. I refer to the use of the manpower when he has got it, which is involved in the medical side of the question. When we have enlisted in the military service the force which this Bill asks for, men who can be transferred from those other essential protected trades to which he has just referred, and when finally we send them trained overseas, vast numbers, running into many thousands, for one cause alone, are inefficient members of the Army. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman wants to stop this if he can. There is nothing standing in the way except certain conceptions of morality on the part of our population, that may apply to peace times and conditions. I refer to the question of preventive measures in the early stages of venereal poisoning that disable thousands of our troops, and I say that we can leave all these controversies on these moral questions aside at the present moment as far as our Army is concerned, when we realise that there have not been given to these higher officers in the medical service those definite instructions on questions of such vital importance as the proper utilisation of the men when the right hon. Gentleman secures them. God knows they are hard enough to find at the present moment, without squandering these young fellows when they do get out to France and are ready to fight.

9.0 P. M.

Another aspect of the same question is that there have been thousands of men—I cannot give an authoritative figure—discharged from the Army owing to wrong diagnosis of kidney disease and other things of that. kind, which, it has been found out ultimately, they have not got. And I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has taken any step to see that he is not in that direction deprived of the man-power for which he is asking the House. The third question, which is only connected through this question of supply of man-power with the right hon. Gentleman's Department, is the refusal of the medical profession to render available for specific forms of injuries to the joints the services of what are known as bonesetters, although civilians, Members of this House. members of the medical profession themselves, and their families, are constantly availing themselves of these services. I do not want to go into this matter. It has been thrashed out in the medical press. But I can show that a mere driblet of the men conic into the hands of these skilled manipulative surgeons, from medical men who are now Army medical officers, who, acting from a sense of their great duty to the men who are put into their charge, send here and there appropriate cases to. the manipulative surgeons for prompt and quick treatment, because they know that that is the way to get them cured quickly. I could give the right hon. Gentleman here the buff form with this brief note: Dear Mr. Barker, — Would you mind having klook at Private E.'s knee? The last trvo cases were quite successful. This soldier is not quite so impecunious as the others, but treat him kindly Wild horses would not induce me to give the name of that enlightened medical officer. I do not want him to be treated as some other medical men have been in this matter. Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that he will not allow the prejudice of any profession or any school of morality in this country to stand in the way of the utilisation of the. known discoveries of science or to allow prejudices and preconceived notions of what is orthodox stand in the. way of the efficient utilisation of the man-power which he is asking us to entrust to him? I am certain he can do a great deal. He has great scientific knowledge himself. He is perfectly familiar with those questions, and I am quite sure that if he were to say to the General Medical Council, on the one hand, and the Army Council on the other, "What you are doing—"

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir D. Maclean)

The Minister in charge of this Bill does not sit on the Army Council. All these questions are for the Army Council.


All I desire is to enlist his sympathies for the proper utilisation of the man-power for which he is responsible. I have put my points before him as briefly as I can, and I only hope that he will do his best to carry them into effect.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read the third time, and passed.