HC Deb 02 April 1919 vol 114 cc1247-8

After Section forty-six of the Army Act the following Section shall be inserted— 46A. (1) Any of the following authorities shall have power to deal summarily with a charge against an officer below the rank of field officer referred for that purpose, or for trial by court-martial, under the foregoing Section of this Act, that is to say, any general officer authorised to convene a general court-martial, and also, on active service, the General Officer Commander-in-Chief in the field, and any officer (not under the rank of major-general) appointed for the purpose by him, or by the Army Council. (2) The authority having power to deal summarily with the case may dismiss the charge, if he in his discretion thinks that it ought not to be proceeded with, but where he thinks the charge ought to be proceeded with, he may take steps for bringing the offender to a court-martial, or may deal with the case summarily by awarding one or more of the following punishments—

  1. (a) Forfeiture of seniority of rank either in the Army or in the corps to which the offender belongs, or in both.
  2. (b) Severe reprimand or reprimand.
(3) Where the authority having power to deal summarily with the case, after hearing the evidence, considers that he may so deal with the case, he shall, unless he awards a severe reprimand, or a reprimand, in every case ask the officer charged whether he desires to be dealt with summarily or to be tried by a court-martial, and if the officer elects to be tried by a court-martial, take steps for bringing him to trial by a court-martial, but otherwise shall proceed to deal with the case summarily. (4) In every case where an authority has power to dispose of a case summarily, the accused officer may demand that the evidence against him should be taken on oath, and the same oath or solemn declaration as that required to be taken by witnesses before a court-martial shall be administered to each witness in such case. (5) An offender shall not be liable to be tried by court-martial for any offence which has been dealt with summarily under this Section, and shall not be liable to be punished by a general officer under this Section for any offence of which he has been acquitted or convicted by a competent civil Court or by a court-martial.


I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), after the word "may" ["case may dismiss"], to insert the words with or without hearing the evidence. This is the first of a series of small Amendments to make it quite plain that the general officer commanding, to whom we propose to give power under this Section, will be able to dismiss a case without having to wade through all the evidence. There is some doubt whether as the Clause has stood when the general officer has made up his mind to dismiss the case he would not have felt it incumbent upon him to hear all the evidence before so doing.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: Leave out the word "but" ["but where"], and insert instead thereof the word "or."

Leave out the words "he may" ["he may take steps"].

After the word "may" ["or may deal"], insert the words "after hearing the evidence"].

In Sub-section (3), leave out the words "after hearing the evidence."

In Sub-section (4), after the word "summarily," insert the words "and decides so to do."—[Mr. Forster.]

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.