§ "In Section 44 of the Army Act (which relates to scale of punishments by courts-martial) after the word "flogging" in Subsection (5) thereof there shall be inserted the words "and other than personal restraint by being kept in irons or other fetters," and the words "and such field punishment shall be of the character of personal restraint or of hard labour" in the same Sub-section shall be omitted, and the words "and such field punishment may be of the character of hard labour" shall be inserted in lieu thereof.—[Major Hayward.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Major HAYWARD
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
I feel I owe the Committee a similar apology to that tendered by the hon. and gallant Member in moving his new Clause, 1619 and my excuse must be the same, namely that it was impossible to get the Clause on the Paper owing to the Second Reading of the Bill only having taken place yesterday. This new Clause is really a repetition of one which I moved when the Army (Annual) Bill was in Committee last year, and its object is to abolish that detestable and degrading punishment known as Field Punishment No. 1. When I had the honour to move this Clause last year I entered at some length into the arguments which, I conceive, make the abolition of this form of punishment not only eminently desirable, but imperative in the best interests of the Army itself, and, that being so, I do not propose to detain the Committee by repeating those arguments to-night, and that for two reasons. I believe every Member of the Committee is fully versed in the pros and cons of this controversy, and also I am not without a confident hope that it is quite unnecessary to do so, because it may be within the remembrance of those hon. Members who were in Committee last year that the new Clause was withdrawn on that occasion in consequence, and really in pursuance, of a very specific and a very definite undertaking given by the Secretary of State on that occasion
I will read the words of my right hon. Friend in respect to the undertaking. They were:I will give an undertaking that we will institute forthwith a series of inquiries to obtain the opinion of the military authorities in France, here, and in other theatres, with a view to seeing if a substitute can be devised for this form of punishment without impairing the means by which discipline is maintained."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd April, 1919, Col. 1292, Vol. 114.]The right hon. Gentleman led us to believe that these inquiries would he pursued forthwith, and that we should have the result of the inquiries and his decision based upon them during last Session because he went on:I would suggest that there is no reason why there should be any delay. I will make these inquiries and see what Amendments can be made in the rules of procedure. Before the end of the present Session. …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd April, 1919, Col. 1922, Vol. 114.]That was last Session. I do not think that anyone would venture to dispute that, on the strength of that undertaking, the Committee had the right to expect that this matter would be dealt with last 1620 Session by the right hon. Gentleman. I called his attention to it on several subsequent occasions, both when the Army Estimates were before the House and by means of question and answer, but up to the present we have had no reply. I am not referring to this in order to charge the Secretary of War with breach of an undertaking or even to complain of delay, particularly if the reforming zeal of the War Office now is to be commensurate with that delay. But I do think that time has come when we have a right to expect that decision of the War Office upon this matter.
§ Sir A. WILLIAMSON
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has read to the Committee some words which fell from the Secretary of War in last year's Debate. I hasten to assure him that the Secretary of State has not failed in his promise. He instituted an inquiry amongst the commanding officers abroad, and the general consensus of opinion amongst those officers was that a field punishment which could be carried out in the face of the enemy without depriving the Army of the services of the man, and which was a deterrent, was essential. In its absence the alternative might be that there would be more sentences of death, or that a man might be tried and sent to a base prison, and, of course, the Committee will be aware that in the stress and strain of a great campaign there would be men who would rather like to be sent to the base prison than remain in the danger zone. Therefore it was essential, in the opinion of these commanding officers, to maintain some form of speedy punishment as being a deterrent, and it has been very difficult, I believe, to discover any other punishment which can be substituted for this one with advantage. The hon. and gallant Member is no doubt aware that changes have been made.
§ Sir A. WILLIAMSON
In the form of punishment. It is now given in accordance with a form which is in possession, of the commanding officer, and so designed that it shall not be unduly severe. I do not know but that the decision of these commanding officers may not again come under the purview of the Committee to 1621 which I have referred and which was appointed by the Secretary for War, and that they may not review the whole code. I am not in a position to say whether or not that may be so, but I think it possible. At any rate, the hon. and gallant Member asks what was the response made by the officers commanding abroad, and I beg to inform him that that was that the present punishment should be maintained. I regret, therefore, that the Government cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
Before this goes to a Division, and I hope my hon. and gallant Friend will carry it to that, I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman representing the War Office whether this field punishment is being carried out by sentence of court-martial in the Army of Occupation in Germany? Are our soldiers being tied to a gun-wheel or to a post in the streets of German towns and held up to the ridicule of the German inhabitants? The people of this country would like to know that. There is no punishment in the British Navy comparable to Field Punishment No. 1. A man may not be tied to a post or a stanchion, and we are not allowed to handcuff men for punishment, or put a man in irons as a punishment. All punishments which hold men up to ridicule have been abolished in the Navy for many years. I think every naval officer in the House would bear me out that the discipline has improved enormously. This Field Punishment No. 1 does not conduce to discipline, and it is contrary to the whole instinct of the British people.
§ Captain LOSEBY
My hon. and gallant Friend will probably be aware that one of the rules during the recent War was that the administration of this particular form of punishment should not take place in the full view of any civilian population.
§ Captain LOSEBY
Perhaps in isolated cases the rule may not have been followed, but hon. and gallant Members who can speak with full knowledge of these matters will bear me out that this rule of administration was and is observed. What we want, if we could get it, is some substitute for this particular form of punishment in 1622 time of war. Modern warfare is so awful that in some instances men quite naturally will do anything to escape from it; men to whom, I frankly acknowledge, imprisonment would come as a boon. It would be wrong and foolish to take away the power of administering some punishment, and thus allow a criminal or a coward to escape, and in cases of this kind some punishment is essential. I am sure, however, that all soldiers in this House will be pleased to hear that this particular form of field punishment has been modified. I most cordially agree with my hon. and gallant Friend that some speedy punishment on the spot must be left for the purpose of discipline in the Army.
§ Colonel PENRY WILLIAMS
I would like to ask whether the right hon. Baronet has consulted the opinion of the regimental officer, not the officer commanding the battalion, but the officer actually in command of the company or platoon of men liable to this form of punishment. The question was put to the Secretary for War last year, who undertook that the regimental officer should be consulted, and that his opinion should have due consideration. I should like to know whether that has been done. I would also like to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the opinion expressed by the Secretary of State for War when he said his own feeling was that the fact of making a man turn out with his arms and accoutrements under the orders of the drill sergeant once or twice a day would be more desirable and more of a deterrent than this degrading punishment. That is my opinion, and it is the opinion of a great many officers in the Army. This form of punishment not only degrades the man who is punished, but it has a very bad effect upon the other men in the company or battalion, because they see it, and it degrades everybody who comes in contact with it. I appeal to the War Office to move forward with the times a little bit, and now that they have got rid of flogging and other degrading punishments, I think it is time that this punishment should disappear as well.
§ Sir A. WILLIAMSON
With regard to the points that have been raised since I last addressed the Committee, it must be remembered that this form of punishment is only inflicted under conditions of active service. With regard to the soldiers being tied up for exhibition to the German 1623 populace, I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) and the Committee that no commanding officer in France would dream of doing that.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I asked whether this punishment was being carried out in Germany in the case of the Army of Occupation. If so, the German population would know it was going on. I think from what happened in France it is difficult to keep this sort of punishment private, because part of the punishment itself is that it is a public punishment. A man has made a beast of himself or some other offence, and the punishment is made a public function. That is my point, and may I have an answer as to whether it is being done in Germany to-day or not?
§ Sir A. WILLIAMSON
The hon. and gallant Gentleman rose to make an explanation, but he has really modified his statement which was whether this punishment was carried out in view of the German populace. I am sure anything of that sort would be most reprehensible, and no British officer would indulge in such a thing for one moment. As to whether regimental officers were consulted by the Secretary of State other than commanding officers, I am able to say not
§ only were commanding officers of regiments consulted, but also majors, captains and lieutenants, and beyond that the private soldiers themselves. The inquiry was a very full one, and I think the Committee will be well satisfied that the Secretary of State has carried out the pledge which he gave to the Committee.
§ Colonel P. WILLIAMS
Do I understand that the opinion of the regimental officers coincided with the opinion of the commanding officers?
§ Sir A. WILLIAMSON
The general consensus of opinion was in favour of the proposal, but I cannot distinguish as to what the percentages were in each case. I am in a position to say that the Committee appointed by the Secretary of State will review the punishments, including this one, so that the Committee have the further assurance that not only has the Secretary of State consulted the officers and carried out his promise, but the decision will be considered by the Committee which has under consideration the whole question. With that assurance I ask the hon. and gallant Member to withdraw this Motion.
§ Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 45; Noes, 105.1625
|Division No. 81.]||AYES.||[9.59 p.m.|
|Barnes, Major H. (Newcastle, E.)||Hogge, James Myles||O'Connor, Thomas P.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||O'Grady, Captain James|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Irving, Dan||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Jones, William Kennedy (Hornsey)||Sexton, James|
|Cairns, John||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Davies, A. (Lancaster, Clitheroe)||Kenyon, Barnet||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Davison, J. E. (Smethwick)||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Swan, J. E.|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Malone, Lieut.-Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Finney, Samuel||Martin, Captain A. E.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Mills, J. E.||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness and Ross)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Myers, Thomas|
|Hayday, Arthur||Newbould, Alfred Ernest||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hirst, G. H.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Major Hayward and Colonel Penry Williams.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Bruton, Sir James||Forestier-Walker, L.|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Gange, E. Stanley|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Cayzer, Major Herbert Robin||Gardiner, James|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Chadwick, R. Burton||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Goff, Sir R. Park|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Gould, James C.|
|Barlow, Sir Montague||Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Gregory, Holman|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.|
|Bell, Lieut Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Dawes, James Arthur||Hailwood, Augustine|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Hancock, John George|
|Brackenbury, Captain H. L.||Edge, Captain William||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Hood, Joseph|
|Brittain, Sir Harry||Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Hurd, Percy A.||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Neal, Arthur||Simm, M. T.|
|James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||O'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H.||Stanier, Captain Sir Beville|
|Jameson, J. Gordon||Parker, James||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. G. F.|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Pearce, Sir William||Stanton, Charles B.|
|Johnson, L. S.||Perkins, Walter Frank||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Perring, William George||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Pinkham, Lieut.-Colonel Charles||Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)|
|Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.||Taylor, J.|
|King, Commander Henry Douglas||Prescott, Major W. H.||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Purchase, H. G.||Waddington, R.|
|Lloyd, George Butler||Rae, H. Norman||Wallace, J.|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Rankin, Captain James S.||Waring, Major Walter|
|Loseby, Captain C. E.||Remer, J. R.||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|M'Lean, Lieut.-Col. Charles W. W.||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald|
|Maddocks, Henry||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Molson, Major John Elsdale||Rodger, A. K.||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Morison, Thomas Brash||Royden, Sir Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Morris, Richard||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Dudley Ward.|
|Mosley, Oswald||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.|
|Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Seager, Sir William|
|Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Seddon, J. A.|
§ The CHAIRMAN
The next new Clause in the names of the hon. Member for the Seaham Division (Major Hayward) raises, I think, the same point.