HC Deb 15 May 1918 vol 106 cc340-1

asked the Minister of National Service whether he has received any representation from the Bradford Tribunal as to the effect of the recent Royal Proclamation depriving men born between 1895 and 1899, other than certain sons of widows,. of any right of claiming exemption on personal grounds and, in particular, of its excluding from this right a man who is the sole support of blind and crippled parents, and other cases where hardship will be caused to the family by the calling up of the man in question; and whether he is able to make any modification of the existing arrangements to meet the position?


The attention of my right hon. Friend has been drawn to the letter which was addressed to the Local Government Board by the Bradford Local Tribunal. As I stated, in reply to the hon. Member for Blackburn on Monday, the Minister of National Service fully recognises the great hardships which are involved in calling up for service in the Army young men who are members of a family which has already suffered losses. He has most carefully reconsidered the question of widening the personal grounds on which a man may appeal to the tribunal under the Proclamation of 20th April, but has come to the reluctant decision that it is necessary to abide by the present Regulations. My hon. Friend will appreciate the fact that the task of raising the essential reinforcements for the Army, while maintaining shipbuilding, food production, and the output of munitions, is one of intense difficulty, and that the difficulty would become an impossibility if any considerable number of men, otherwise available, were granted exemptions on personal grounds of hardship. I need hardly say that the Government deeply regrets that the present emergency forces them to exclude such cases as that referred to by my hon. Friend from the right to claim exemption on personal grounds.


Has any attempt been made to make our practice the same, or as nearly as possible the same, as the practice in France and Italy, so as to have unity between the Allies?


I am afraid I shall require notice of that question.


Could not this particular class of case be reconsidered? It; is not numerous, and comprises men who are the sole support of a blind parent or parents—peculiarly hard cases.


I admit fully, of course— anyone must—the peculiar hardship of such eases, but unfortunately there are a very considerable number of peculiarly hard cases—




Well, there are other cases of similar afflictions. We really have looked into the matter very carefully, with every desire to widen the law. There are a great number of cases involved.

Colonel Sir C. SEELY

Will the hon. Gentleman see that so far as it is possible proper compensation, allowances, and so forth, are provided for these cases, so that no hardship that can possibly be avoided results?


I shall certainly see to that.