HC Deb 28 January 1918 vol 101 cc1350-3

(1) It shall be the duty of every male person who, by virtue of this Act, is liable to register himself under the principal Act, or who was liable to register himself under the principal Act but has failed so to do before the passing of this Act, to cause himself to be registered, and for that purpose before the appointed date to obtain, fill up, sign, and send or deliver to the local registration authority, by post or otherwise, a form containing the particulars mentioned in Section four of the principal Act or such of those particulars as may be prescribed.

The appointed date for the purposes of this Section shall, as respects persons who come within the operation of this Section on the date of the passing of this Act, or within fourteen days thereafter, be the twenty-eighth day after that date, and in the case of any other persons be the fourteenth day after the date on which they come within the operation of this Section.

(2) Sections five, six, and thirteen of the principal Act (which relate respectively to the completion and correction of forms, to the right to certificates of registration and to penalties) shall have effect as if references therein to forms included a reference to forms under this Act.

Amendment made: In Sub-section (1) leave out the word "passing" ["failed so to do before the passing"], and insert the word "commencement."—[Mr. Fisher.]


I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to insert the words,

"together with particulars as to whether he is or is not a person who has been discharged from His Majesty's Forces, and if lie is such a person as to the portion of the forces from which he was discharged, and as to such further matters (being matters with respect to which it is desirable that information should be given by persons on registration with a view to their obtaining advantageous employment) as may be prescribed."

It was pointed out at an earlier stage of the Debate that it is desirable that a discharged soldier or sailor should be able to make the local registration authorities aware that he was a discharged soldier or sailor with a view to his getting any benefits from the registration as such I think that that was quite a good suggestion. In the form in which the principal Act was passed there is nothing to reveal the fact that the man is a soldier or sailor or that he has any particular qualification, and the words which I propose to acid to this Sub-section will, I think, supply that omission. He will he able to state if he is discharged from the Army, whether he is accustomed to deal with horses, whether he has any mechanical skill, whether he knows anything about aeroplanes, whether he is a motor driver or transport driver, and whether he is possessed of any qualification making him particularly useful for certain employments, and when an employer applies to the local registration authorities for extra hands at certain times when there is a good deal of pressure in his business, he will be able to look over the local authorities' list and ascertain whether in that particular area there are men with special qualifications who may be exceedingly useful to him in carrying out his particular class of work. If the discharged soldier or sailor avails himself of the opportunity of giving information as to his special qualifications for certain work, then I shall have carried out my promise that this form of registration may be a very useful means of securing to the discharged soldier or sailor some preference, it may be, in the way of employment.


I want to make a suggestion to the President of the Local Government Board with regard to this Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman will remember what caused him to promise consideration of this point on the Committee stage. It was indicated to him that when you had registered a soldier under the Bill there was no legal power to ask him if he was a discharged soldier, and the forms would riot disclose whether he was or not. But the right hon. Gentleman has gone very much further and in a vague way, and I want him to consider a new proposal which, although it cannot be acted upon at this stage of the Bill, might be introduced in another place. The original Act defines the questions you may ask; you may inquire as to the man's name, residence and age, whether he is single or married, the number of his dependants, his occupation, the name and address of his employer, the nature of his employer's business, whether the work he is employed on is Government work whether he is skilled, if he is willing to perform any work other than the work he is doing at the time, and, if so, the nature of that other work. It was clearly necessary for the right hon. Gentleman to introduce an Amendment giving the power to ascertain whether the registered person was a discharged soldier, but he has gone further and indicated a number of questions to he put. I suggest to him that the powers contained in the original Act if applied here would supply all the information required, and therefore, instead of introducing this very vague form of words, "such further matters, being matters in respect to which it is desirable that information should be given by persons on registration"—words which might cause a great amount of friction—the nature of the questions proposed to be put to discharged soldiers should be set forth in this Bill precisely as they are stated in the original Act of Parliament. We know that this provision is going to affect some hundreds of thousands of persons, and it might well happen that questions put under this vague wording would be resented. If the right hon. Gentleman will accept my suggestion, I think it will make for the much smoother working of the Act in its practical application.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In Subsection (1), paragraph (2), leave out the word "passing" ["date of the passing of this Act"], and insert the word "commencement."