§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Captain FitzRoy)
I have been handed some manuscript Amendments. It is rather irregular to hand in Amendments at the last moment without giving notice. The first two Amendments are out of order, because they would impose a charge. The third Amendment is in order. Mr. Stephen.
§ Mr. STEPHEN
On a point of Order. I was not aware that this business was to be taken to-night, and consequently I did not put in my Amendments earlier. I did not know that a Motion had been put down for the suspension of the Eleven O'clock Rule. With regard to the first Amendment, I submit that it does not impose a charge.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The Clause puts a limitation on the amount of the charge and the hon. Member proposes to remove it. In effect, the Amendment would obviously impose a charge over and above what is mentioned in the Bill. The second Amendment would have the same effect. I call upon the hon. Member to move his third Amendment.
§ Mr. STEPHEN
In regard to the second Amendment., I would submit that it is not imposing a new charge upon the Treasury, but simply retaining the charge that there is now.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The Bill repeals a certain charge that is at present imposed. The hon. Member suggests putting it back again, which would obviously increase the charge. I call upon the hon. Member to move his third Amendment.
§ Mr. STEPHEN
I beg to move, in page 2, line 4, to leave out Sub-section (3).
The Sub-section states:In section three of the principal Act, for the words twenty-eight days' there shall be substituted the words ninety-two days' as the maximum period of instruction, training and exercise in any one year.Under the Act of 1859; by which the Reserve was set up, certain conditions were laid down for those entering the Reserve. This Bill proposes to make the position of members of the Reserve less favourable than it has been in the past. It imposes a reduction of pay and more onerous conditions of service. They may be called up for 92 days' training instead of 28. That proposal requires a great deal of explanation, and the Minister has a "hefty" task before him, if he is going to persuade the House to reduce the pay of the Reserve and increase the period of training. What is the purpose of the proposal? We have just had a Debate, in which the need for disarmament has been spoken of on all sides. We are now proposing to extend the period of training to which these people may have to submit at any time without the consent of Parliament. Under Section 4 of the Act of 1859 an order may be made without the consent of Parliament, if Parliament is not sitting. The position should be allowed to remain as it is. If the period of 28 days' training is not regarded as sufficient under modern conditions, it is the business of the Government to draw up a new scheme which will give these men a proper understanding of where they are, instead of fiddling about in this way with an old Act of 1859. I hope as a result of the raising of the matter in the House, the reservists will be informed as to their position and the meaning of the conditions imposed on them.
§ Mr. HARDIE
I beg to second the Amendment. I should like to know if the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty looks upon the 28 days' training as a sort of holiday which he is trying to extend. What is the point of view of the Admiralty, and why do they, in this matter, distinguish between one section and another? There must be a reason for departing from the 28 days arrangement. Is it because of health considerations and because these men come from overcrowded slum areas or badly ventilated 1906 workshops? Or is it because the Admiralty regard war as being nearer than most people think? If you want to make a start in letting loose the hounds of war, one way of doing so is to—
§ Mr. HARDIE
No, the hounds of war—"the hounds of hell hunting over the rocks of damnation." I am sorry to have to correct the quotations of the hon. Gentleman opposite, who belongs to a country to which I do not belong. Are we to understand from the increase in the number of these days that it is necessary in order to make the men more fit in training? Is it meant that you find their physical condition is such that you must increase the time to enable them to carry out the drill, or is malnutrition so rampant among these recruits that you have to extend the days to bring them up to the strength of carrying what they have to carry on their drill? When you extend the days in this way, you are also, I presume, extending the expense. What is the amount that is going to be involved as an extra?
§ Mr. ERNEST BROWN
I do not agree with the hon. Member for Springburn (Mr. Hardie) when he spoke about malnutrition. This Bill will affect one of the finest bodies of men in the British Isles, who do not generally live in great cities like Glasgow, but are mostly found round small fishing villages and towns on the coast, and I take it that this Clause is to increase their period of training, in which case I dare say many of them will be glad to see it, because unemployment is rampant in the fishing industry, and the closing of the Russian market has made a great deal of difference on the East Coast. I could not see my way to vote against this Clause, but I think this body of men are entitled to an explanation from the Minister as to what the Clause means.
§ Mr. WOMERSLEY
I represent, I should think, as large a body of Naval Reserve men as any hon. Member in this House, and I should like to point out to the hon. Member for Springburn (Mr. Hardie) and to supplement the remarks of the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown), that there is no such thing as malnutrition, at any rate, among the Grimsby Naval Reserve men. We know 1907 how to feed our men, and they do not go up for training either to have a holiday or to get fed. I should Iike to express the hope to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty that he will deal fully with the point raised by the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) as to the question of reduced pay. When this Bill was before the House on Second Reading, it was fully discussed, and we were assured, to the best of my recollection, that this extension of the period of 28 days was only in the case of certain engine-room ratings who had to have special technical instruction. As far as the ordinary seamen, skippers and mates were concerned, they were to be called up for 28 days as before, there was to be no alteration as regards them. It was on that assurance that I and other Members interested voted for the Second Reading. We did not hear anything at that time as to any reduction of pay, and if there is to be a reduction of pay for these men I cannot vote for the Third Reading, because, speaking from my own knowledge, they certainly deserve every penny they get. If there is to be a change they ought to have an increase rather than a decrease.
With regard to the raising of the period from 28 days to 92 days, we were assured in the Committee that this referred only to a certain selected class, a very highly-trained class, of skilled engineers. That assurance we naturally accept, but at the same time I think it is a pity it could not have been made clearer in the Bill that it was intended to affect only one particular section, because it is going to be a handicap in getting reserves if a maximum of 92 days' service is provided for. A man who is in regular employment may be able to get away for the shorter period, but could not possibly obtain leave for the longer period. The man may be quite competent, quite skilled and merely want a technical training at sea under discipline. I would like to make it quite clear that many of us view this particular Sub-section as a little distant. We fully accept the assurance which was given to us by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but we would like him to go a little farther than he went on the last occasion, and tell us exactly what it does, because in affecting naval reserves it affects the 1908 most important part of the reserves of the Navy, a part which in the past has proved to be of immense value.
§ Mr. R. RICHARDSON
The hon. and gallant Member for Torquay (Commander Williams) has practically covered the points that I was proposing to put to the House. The hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Brown) can see only one side to this question, but there is another side. Many of these men, by dint of hard work, have raised themselves into good positions, and their chances of getting still better positions will be prejudiced if they are to be liable to serve 92 days. Employers will not be ready to engage a man with that liability attaching to him if they can secure another man. The hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Womersley) claimed to represent more of these men than any other hon. Member. I do not know that I represent very many, but I do represent some, and I am told they feel they will be prejudiced by this provision.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Lieut.-Colonel Headlam)
I feel that the hon. Member who brought forward this Amendment at the last possible moment would have saved himself a good deal of trouble and us a considerable amount of time had he taken a little more interest in this Bill in its earlier stages, because it is perfectly new to me to be told that there is the slightest intention of reducing the pay of these particular men. Such a proposal does not come into the purview of the Bill.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HEADLAM
Sub-section (2) only refers to the bounty. It is merely an alteration in the terms of the bounty in certain eventualities.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HEADLAM
It might be a reduction or it might not, but it most certainly does not affect the pay of the men in any respect whatsoever. I make that statement to the House, and I hope it will satisfy the hon. Member. With regard to the actual number of days' training laid down, as I said on the Second Reading, the Bill merely nuts into legal form the existing practice. The number of days' service laid down 1909 is already in existence, and there have been no complaints. The Admiralty think it is necessary to introduce this legislation in order to legalise the existing practice. I repeat that there is no intention whatever of extending the length of training except for certain classes of men, such as Acting Engine Room Artificers who cannot possibly learn their duties properly in 28 days. It is not our intention that this Bill should be considered as a preparation for war, and I cannot understand why such an absurd suggestion should have been made. This Measure merely provides that the men who are being trained as volunteers for the Navy shall have sufficient time to learn their duties. There has been no difficulty, so far as I know, in getting recruits, and I am satisfied that if the Bill passes, it can only do good, and cannot possibly do any harm to a single individual.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I know that subject was mentioned by the hon. Member for Camlachie, but it was out of order.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
We have been told that the intention of this Bill is merely to legalise the existing practice. The inference from that is that for a long period it has been the custom to train these men for a certain number of days in an illegal manner, and now the Admiralty consider it to be wise to legalise that particular number of days. I wonder how long it will be before the Admiralty will decide again to increase the number of days. They have doubled the number of days' training in the past without legal authority, and there is no earthly reason why they should not double the number of days in the future. I should like to know if there is the slightest intention of a further extension of the number of days. It may be true that no complaints 1910 have been received officially, but unofficially there have been many complaints against the number of days which the Reserves are called upon to serve. I travelled in the train not many weeks ago with a man who had completed his period of service. He had been at home just a month, when he was called back to serve again. The man had to travel from Liverpool to Devonshire, and consequently his hopes will be destroyed by a long time. The Noble Lord seems to regard this as a rather humorous incident. It may be humorous to a person like himself who has never had to work for his living, but it is not humorous to one who has to work for his livelihood. It is a very serious matter to a man to be called away from his work after finding suitable work. Is it the intention of the Admiralty at any future date to further extend the number of days that reserve men are likely to be called upon to serve?
§ Lieut.-Colonel HEADLAM
No, it is not the intention to extend the period any further. Possibly the gentleman with whom the hon. Member travelled for so long a distance was a new recruit. It was probably his first year, and the first year is always a rather longer period for everybody. They all serve more in the first year. The hon. Member need be under no fear that we would propose a further extension of the period.
§ Mr. HARDIE
As you said these men were all efficient as engineers, how is it that you propose to extend the number of days for them?
§ Lieut.-Colonel HEADLAM
I did not say that. I said that the longer period of training was needed to make them efficient.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House proceeded to a Division.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker stated that he thought the Ayes had it; and, on his decision being challenged, it appeared to him that the Division was unnecessarily claimed, and he accordingly called upon the Members who supported and who challenged his decision successively to rise in their places, and he declared the Ayes had it, eleven Members only who challenged his decision having stood up.1911
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ Mr. STEPHEN
I am very much disappointed at the position taken up by the hon. and gallant Gentleman in charge of this Bill to-night. I am very sorry he thought I treated him with discourtesy or lack of care in not putting down my Amendments earlier, but I thought I explained that I did not know that the Eleven o'Clock Rule was to be suspended, and he considered it a very small Measure. I consider it a very important Measure, and I certainly do not intend to let the Third Reading go without making some points. In the first place, I want to say that I think it is a very mean, pettifogging business that the Admiralty, in dealing with these men, have put in this £5 limit as to the amount of money that should be paid. I have been long enough in this House to find that the Admiralty, when they have been asked to treat, possibly, the widow of a sailor in a generous fashion, plead that they have not the power under the Statutes and Regulations, and I do not see why these men, who have been referred to as such a fine body of men, should have this £5 limit put upon what the Admiralty may give them for their services. I think it is a great shame that men in this position, who may be called upon to serve in the defence of their country, should be dealt with in this mean, pettifogging way.
I want also to say a word with regard to Sub-section (2) of Clause 1. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has repeated that there is no reduction in the wages of these men. It is quite true that, while these men are in training for 28 days, Sub-section (2) of Clause 1 will not affect them but if we have another great war, and if the war extends to more than three years—and to my mind these two hypothesis are not altogether unlikely, with the present people in control of the government of the country—those men may be called upon to serve for more than three years, and, when they are so called upon, this Sub-section does certainly mean a reduction in the rate of pay that they will obtain. I do not think the hon. and gallant Gentleman can question that the position is as I have stated it, and that in such an event their pay would be reduced owing to the repeat of these words in the Act of 1859. It 1912 may seem a small thing for hon. Members of this House to put these men into this position. I noticed that there was a disposition to treat as a matter of no importance the Amendment that was moved. We have had an assurance from the Minister that only a very small section will be affected by it, but you are putting the whole of the Naval Reserve into this position, and though the hon. Gentleman may say it is only going to be applied to this small section, the statutory power is here being given to the Government to apply it to every member of the Reserve. While this Government may say they are not going to apply it without any more legislation, a future Government may have all these men undergoing a training service of 92 days.
I should like to ask if the Bill is going to be retrospective in its action. We are told this is simply legalising a practice that takes place at present, but I should like the hon. and gallant Gentleman to tell us more about this practice. Unless there is a statute, I take it men cannot be compelled to give 92 days' service and I should like to ask if that is the case. If the Bill passes, are the men now in the Naval Reserve to have the option of leaving it if they do not wish to under this new statutory obligation? It is intolerable at this late hour of the night that we should allow a thing like this to pass without being perfectly clear with regard to the rights of the men. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman's answer is satisfactory, I may not think it necessary to divide the House, but, if it is unsatisfactory, I shall divide against the Third Reading.
§ Mr. WOMERSLEY
I have had quite a number of letters from Naval Reservists in my constituency who are very anxious to have an explanation as to what Clause 1 (1) means. It says that if a man is brought up for actual service he shall, if medically fit, he entitled to receive such sum, not exceeding £5 as the Admiralty may appoint, unless he was liable to be called into actual service in pursuance of that Order at the time of his enlistment. It is on the latter portion that I want an explanation, as to what type of man that really applies to.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HEADLAM
I will give an answer to my hon. Friend's question 1913 first. It is a very simple point. The last two lines in the Sub-section which my hon. Friend quotes, refer to men who enter the Reserve after mobilisation as opposed to men who enter before mobilisation. If men join the Reserve after mobilisation, they are not entitled to the bounty. It only applies to men who actually belong to the Reserve on mobilisation. I do not know whether I have made it clear to my hon. Friend. With regard to the other matters raised by the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen), I think he is again labouring under a delusion in regard to this question of finance. In the first place, this Bill gives a bounty to a class of Reservists who never received it before. In that respect it is a great deal better than the present practice. It is only a matter of calculation. I would not pit my mathematical ability against that of the hon. Member opposite, but it strikes me that in nine cases out of ten the Reservist would have a distinct advantage
§ by getting this bounty of £5 on mobilisation rather than waiting for three years before he drew twopence a day. From the views that have been expressed this afternoon, it looks as if the next war would be shorter than the last, and they might not get their twopence a day at all. Finally, with regard to the question as to the position of men in the Reserve. They are all engaged under the existing Regulations, which extend back to 1921. These Regulations bind them for terms of five years. They must do the training laid down in the Regulations which I have already mentioned. After the five years are over they need not re-engage. I do not expect the men will view their position in quite so lugubrious a light as the hon. Member opposite.
§ Question put, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 129; Noes, 14.1915
|Division No. 258.]
|[12. 10 a.m.
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry
|Raine, Sir Walter
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.
|Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)
|Harrison, G. J. C.
|Rawson, Sir Cooper
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.
|Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)
|Remer, J. R.
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)
|Headlam, Lieut-Colonel C. M.
|Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.
|Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
|Betterton, Henry B.
|Henn, Sir Sydney H.
|Sandeman, N. Stewart
|Boothby, R. J. G.
|Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.
|Sanders, Sir Robert A.
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft
|Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.
|Hopkins, J. W. W.
|Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.
|Brass, Captain W.
|Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
|Briscoe, Richard George
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.
|Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
|Brittain, Sir Harry
|Jacob, A. E.
|Sprot, Sir Alexander
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.
|Jephcott, A. R.
|Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)
|Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)
|Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)
|Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)
|Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)
|King, Commodore Henry Douglas
|Streatfeild, Captain S. R.
|Bullock, Captain M.
|Lamb, J. Q.
|Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)
|Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.
|Stuart, Crichton-,Lord C.
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton
|Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)
|Styles, Captain H. Walter
|Christie, J. A.
|Loder, J. de V.
|Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)
|Cobb, Sir Cyril
|Long, Major Eric
|Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.
|Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman
|Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-
|Cope, Major William
|Lumley, L. R.
|Tinne, J. A.
|Courtauld, Major J. S.
|MacAndrew Major Charles Glen
|Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)
|Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
|Craig, Sir Ernest(Chester, Crewe)
|Waterhouse, Captain Charles
|Crawford, H. E.
|McLean, Major A.
|Watts, Dr. T.
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Derltend)
|McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John
|Wells, S. R.
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)
|MacRobert, Alexander M.
|Williams. Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
|Curzon, Captain Viscount
|Margesson, Captain D.
|Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)
|Dawson, Sir Philip
|Marriott, Sir J. A. R.
|Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)
|Ellis, R. G.
|Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.
|Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)
|Fanshawe, Captain G. D.
|Milne, J. S. Wardlaw-
|Windsor-Clive, Lieut. -Colonel George
|Foxcroft, Captain C, T.
|Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.
|Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
|Fraser, Captain Ian
|Moore, Sir Newton J.
|Wise, Sir Fredric
|Galbraith, J. F. W.
|Nail, Colonel Sir Joseph
|Ganzonl, Sir John
|Nelson, Sir Frank
|Womersley, W. J.
|Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham
|Neville, Sir Reginald J.
|Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)
|Goff, Sir Park
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
|Gower, Sir Robert
|Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
|Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (Norwich)
|Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)
|Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)
|TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
|Grotrian, H. Brent
|Power, Sir John Cecil
|Captain Bowyer and Mr. Penny.
|Gunston, Captain D. W.
|Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)
|Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)
|Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)
|Garro-Jones M. Captain G. M.
|Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)
|Potts, John S.
|TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
|Hayes, John Henry
|Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
|Mr. Stephen and Mr. Kirkwood.
|Henderson, T. (Glasgow)
|Tinker, John Joseph
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.