HC Deb 26 March 1929 vol 226 cc2269-314

For the purpose of abolishing death as a penalty for cowardice the following amendments shall be made in the Army Act:

  1. (1) In section four, paragraph (7) shall be omitted:
  2. (2) In section five the following paragraph shall be inserted after paragraph (6):
or (7) misbehaves or induces others to misbehave before the enemy in such manner as to show cowardice.—[Mr. R. Morrison.]

Brought up, and read the First time.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

4.0 p.m.

This Clause, which stands on the Order Paper in the names of two of my hon. Friends and myself, has as its object the abolition of the death penalty for cowardice, and the removal of the crime of cowardice from the Section which brings it under the head of the death penalty, and will put it in the Section under which it will only be possible for a sentence of penal servitude to be passed. Another year has gone very quickly since we had the annual Debate on this subject in Committee, and, as each succeeding year passes, it becomes in one way more difficult to discuss this subject, because the War memories become dimmer. At the same time, perhaps, from another point of view, it becomes easier to have a calm, quiet and dispassionate discussion, and I hope that the Committee this afternoon will so discuss this subject, which, I am afraid, the newspapers to- morrow, if anyone takes the trouble to refer to the Debate at all, will probably describe it, quite truthfully as a hardy annual. It may be asked whether these Debates, which take place every year in this House, do any good. Let us look back and see. Eight years ago, on the annual occasion on which we discussed the Army Bill, the main Debate took place, not upon the death penalty at all, but upon the question of the abolition of what was known as Field Punishment No. 1 or, as the soldiers used to call it, "crucifixion." In that year, 1921, the then Under-Secretary of State for War, who is still a Member of the House, I am glad to say, although he no longer holds any office, said that a committee had been set up which was called the Army and Air Force Acts Revision Committee. He said that that Committee do not feel that they are in a position to recommend the abolition of Field Punishment No. 1. He went on to quote a statement of General Macready when Adjutant-General: The abolition of Field Punishment No. 1 would have disastrous and far-reaching consequences."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th April, 1921; col. 886, Vol. 140.] As a result of that, the Committee of this House on that occasion voted as follows: 49 in favour of abolishing Field Punishment No. 1, and 106 against. In the following year, 1922, a similar result was reached. In spite of that very definite statement made by the Under-Secretary of State for War, in spite of the fact that he had stated that a committee had gone into the whole question and had come to that decision with regard to Field Punishment No. 1, and in spite of the fact that he quoted General Macready, and might have quoted a large number of other military officers of almost equally high rank, that to abolish Field Punishment No. 1 would have disastrous and far-reaching consequences, we find in the following year, 1923, that the right hon. Gentleman the present Minister of Agriculture, who, at that time, held the position of Under-Secretary of State for War, said on the annual Debate: The position is this, that we believe that Field Punishment No. 1 is no longer necessary, and….may now be abolished."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th April, 1923; col. 1513, Vol. 162.] Since that time no one in this House, or, to my knowledge, anyone of importance outside, has made any attempt to re-impose Field Punishment No. 1, and it is, I think, generally accepted in this House, and in the country and the Army, that Field Punishment No. 1 has been abolished altogether. Following that, the House turned its attention to the death penalties which existed at that time for a great number of offences, many of which, in the opinion of many Members of the House, were not offences which merited the punishment of death. Debate after Debate took place, but with no further success from the point of view of those of us who are interested in this question, until 1925, when two offences were struck off the list. Passing over 1926 and 1927, in both of which years we had a Debate with nothing resulting, we got to last year, when we made a considerable advance, eight offences altogether being then abolished. Perhaps it will be of interest in this Debate if I recall exactly what concessions the Government made in this matter last year. I will quote from the OFFICIAL REPORT. The effect of this Clause (Clause 4) is to abolish the death penalty on active service for:

  1. (1) leaving a commanding officer to go in search of plunder;
  2. (2) forcing a safeguard;
  3. (3) forcing or striking a sentinel;
  4. (4) breaking into any house or other place in search of plunder;
  5. (5) when acting as a sentinel, sleeping or being drunk on a post;
  6. (6) striking or using or offering violence to a superior officer in the execution of his office;
  7. (7) disobeying in such manner as to show a wilful defiance of authority any lawful command given personally by a superior officer in the execution of his office;
  8. (8) altering or interfering with any air signal without authority.
The only military offences on active service which will remain punishable with death will be mutiny, treachery, cowardice, desertion and leaving a guard, etc., without orders, or in the case of a sentinel leaving a post without being regularly relieved."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th April, 1928; col. 34, Vol. 216.]

All these offences were abolished by the Government, and unanimously agreed to by the House, although there was in the House last year, and, indeed, there has been since these discussions have been initiated, a considerable number of Members, many of them with long and distinguished service in the Army, who have repeatedly got up and said, that if you have any further weakening of the rigid, cast-iron discipline of the Army, which is so necessary to the success of our arms in times of war, disaster will come upon the Army. In spite of that, we have gradually gone on, until last year the Government went out of their way to delete eight offences from the list. It is perfectly true that the hon. Gentleman, who is evidently going to reply on behalf of the Government to-day, said in the debate last year, for some inexplicable reason which I do not understand, that no one in the House or anywhere else could lay the flattering unction to his soul that, public opinion had had any effect upon the War Office, and that these things had been done because it was no further good keeping them there, as they represented crimes that never happened, crimes that could not well be defined. I understand that that was the argument he developed, although what the purpose of it was I have not yet been able to understand. Perhaps he will elaborate it when he replies this afternoon. In any case, here we are again, those of us who do not mind being put into the somewhat unenviable position of having to get up regularly each year trying to make some headway, and, like Oliver Twist, asking for more this year.

We are making what I am perfectly-sure everyone will agree is a very modest request, and one which we think the Government might accept. We have no desire to widen discussion, and I do not think it is necessary to say, as far as I am concerned at least, that we have no desire to make any party capital out of it. These debates have been distinguished in the last four or five years by the fact that from all parts of the House the discussion has taken place, and we have thrashed out the real merits of the question without any desire to score party points. I hope we shall follow that precedent this afternoon. Those associated with me desire to confine the discussion this afternoon to seeing whether we can achieve one step further. The Government last year abolished eight of the offences; we want them to abolish one more, and that is the offence which is described in the Act as cowardice.

We have this debate year after year, and this will be the last chance that this Government will have of dealing with the matter. If the present Government do not concede this small point, the next Government, whatever Government it may be, will certainly grant it. The reasons for our request have been given over and over again. In the first place, cowardice cannot be defined. In the Army Act there are two pages devoted to 41 definitions of all kinds of expressions which appear in the Act, but there is not a definition of cowardice. It is stated that The expression 'Court of Law' includes a court of summary jurisdiction. The expression 'constable' includes a high constable. The expression 'police authority' means a commissioner. The expression 'horse' includes a mule. One would have thought that there would be a definition of the crime of cowardice, but the Financial Secretary to the War Office (Mr. Duff Cooper) knows perfectly well, because he freely and frankly admitted it last year, if my memory serves me correctly, that it is impossible to give a definition. Nobody can define cowardice, the hon. Member said, but everybody knows it when they see it. In modern warfare, as was seen in the last War, and it will be seen more so, unhappily, if we are ever plunged into another war, you cannot draw a clear line of distinction between heroism and cowardice. The man who is a hero one day may be a coward the next day. I made a statement last year, which was generally accepted by the Committee, that a man was a coward at night and a hero in the morning. That is my own experience. Perhaps some hon. Member with medical knowledge may be able to explain to us why that should be so. During the time that I was on active service, I noticed that I was always frightened if I was cold and shivering with cold. Where it was cold and where there was no chance of getting warm, I was frightened, and I noticed that others became frightened; but when one could be warm, the surroundings did not seem to have the same frightening effect. As it is impossible to define cowardice, we urge that as one of the reasons why it is unwise to retain upon the Statute Book this particular crime, the penalty for which is death; a crime which is vague and which in the development of modern warfare will tend to become more vague and indefinite. Examples of cowardice have been quoted in the Debates over and over again and I will not give any, but will merely make my statement.

We say that there is no evidence that the fact of cowardice being regarded as a crime punishable with the death penalty, is a deterrent. We have asked on previous occasions that some hon. Members should give us evidence that because the death penalty exists for the crime of cowardice, which cannot be defined, that that penalty acts as a deterrent. So far as we can judge, some of us from our own experience and some from hearsay, we do not think that it is possible merely by putting a crime of this kind on the Statute Book in the Army Act, and saying that anyone who is a coward may be shot, that you are going to turn a man from being a coward into a hero. I have listened to all the Debates on this subject during the past six years and I have never heard anyone give evidence that this particular penalty is a deterrent of cowardice. There is not one reason that can be given for retaining cowardice as a crime punishable with death, that does not equally apply to retaining the other crimes that have been abolished in recent years, including field punishment No. 1, well known as "crucifixion."

Anything that may be said by right hon. Members from the Government Bench, who are expressing the official view of the Army Act, or by officers of high command, against the concession for which I am appealing this afternoon could be said with equal force against the other penalties which the Government have voluntarily abolished. If not, perhaps the Financial Secretary to the War Office would point out the distinction, perhaps he will tell us what is the distinction between the eight penalties which were abolished last year, and the one which they have not decided to abolish? Last year the Financial Secretary, in replying on behalf of the War Office, said that the difficulty was that cases of cowardice—I hope that I am not misinterpreting him—occurred in an emergency, and that when everything was going well, when the troops were in good heart and things were going with a swing, there was no trouble of this sort, and no likelihood of any cases of cowardice. He said that what we had to guard against in warfare was the emergency that arises when things are going wrong. Something may happen which may mean steps having to be taken to stop the rot. My interpretation of that argument—I know the Financial Secretary will not agree with it—is that Tommy Atkins is likely to be a brave fellow and a hero so long as we are winning the war, and we have the enemy on the run, but we have to be ready with a deterrent in case things go wrong. It means that the Army have to be ready for that kind of emergency, when somebody at the top has blundered and the men are losing their nerve, and when, in order to try and save the situation, they say, "Let us shoot a few privates."[Interruption.] I said that I did not expect the Financial Secretary would accept that interpretation. I am giving it as my interpretation of the argument about emergency. It means that at a time when, perhaps, men are being needlessly slaughtered and the troops are likely to lose their nerve, there is always a temptation, instead of trying to put things right at the top, to shoot a few privates and try to save the situation in that way. I am sorry to have introduced an acrimonious note, which I did not intend.

We are on the eve of the General Election. I do not expect that this question will be an issue at the General Election and certainly I have no desire or intention to make it an issue, but members of the Conservative party know perfectly well, although we cannot expect them to admit it, that complaints are being made amongst the supporters of the Government that the Government are out of touch with the people of the country. My suggestion to the Government is that by accepting this new Clause they would have an opportunity of doing something which would be highly popular in the country. It may be a small matter, people may say that there is not a war and that there are no signs of war, but this is a question which is intensely human. If the Government were to concede this small point and would transfer cowardice from the death penalty section to the penal servitude section, they would take a step which would be highly popular with members of their own party, who always seem to go very reluctantly into the Lobby at the request of the Whips on this particular question.

I am not urging this concession merely because it would be popular with the people of the country. If that were the only reason, I should not urge it. I urge it because I believe that just as two death penalty punishments were abolished in 1925 and eight offences were abolished last year, including Field Punishment No. 1, so I believe that if the Government were to go one step further and finish the job, their action would be welcomed by all classes. This concession would finish the matter so far as my party is concerned. We have stated publicly that, in regard to the crimes of treachery and mutiny, we do not desire to alter the existing law, but on this point of cowardice we do feel that we have a strong case, and I urge it not merely because it would be popular, but because I am convinced that it would not have the slightest injurious effect upon the discipline of the Army.

Viscount SANDON

I am reluctant to intervene in a Debate of this character, as I expect every hon. Member would be. As the hon. Member for North Tottenham (Mr. R. Morrison) has truly said, these points are made year after year, and, as far as I remember, they have been more or less answered, but, apparently, not to the satisfaction of hon. Members opposite. I entirely agree with what the hon. Member said about this not being a party issue. I cannot imagine anything less suitable for a party issue. His party deserve credit for the fact that they have not made it a party issue, and credit also rests with my own party on the same ground. I think the hon. Member and his supporters have entirely misunderstood the whole position. They have misconceived our ideas on the matter. They ask us to define cowardice. The hon. Member must have seen, as many of us have had many opportunities of seeing, what cowardice really does not mean. I think that is the best way of putting it. There are so many people who do things which may be serious, but which cannot be interpreted as cowardice. Cowardice in the Army Act is not used in the sense in which the hon. Member interprets it. It is quite out of the question to attempt to make a definition of that kind, and when the hon. Member brings up the question as to whether we, as individuals, have or have not been guilty of any moral crime, he is taking hold of the wrong end of the stick. It is not a question of the psychology of the individual, of which we heard a great deal both last year and the previous year. The individual aspect does not really count.

No one, I believe, pretends that this is a matter of punishment, or of threatening to punish, because it will make the individual a better man. I know very well that many people who have been involved in this crime have shown real personal courage of a standard to which I could not hope to aspire. They have had physical trials to go through which it would be almost impossible to stand up against, and no doubt if we had been placed in similar circumstances most of us would have failed, but that is not the issue. It is not a question of whether they deserve death, but it is a question of this penalty acting as a deterrent in the heat of a disaster or of appalling fire. The hon. Member opposite cannot ride off that question so easily as he attempted to do. I think he was unfair when he said, or I understood him to say, that cases of emergency that arose in the War were due to the people on top. They often were, but to say that when a crisis arose it was automatically the fault of those on top is not true. Occasionally it was the fault of the enemy?

The existence of this penalty does have a very definite effect, subconscious very often, in the men concerned knowing that they have something behind which at a moment of crisis, when there is grave danger, can be brought into action. Figures have been given by the Government that in fact this penalty is very seldom carried out, but you need just that legal authority of being able to carry it out when it is absolutely necessary, although there are many cases where it was given up entirely on the order of the Commander-in-Chief. To bring in the question of discipline is beside the issue. You have to think here of the safety of others—the man's own fellows—and of the needs of victory. Nothing counts in war except victory, and the question of a breach of discipline does not arise. There is no breach of discipline, in my view, which could deserve the penalty of death.

The hon. Member opposite said he had never heard anyone give any experience of the value of this penalty from the point of view of it being a deterrent. I thought they had. I do not think I am in the least unusual, but I have had a certain amount of experience in that line myself. There must be many Members of this House who remember the section of the front called the Steenbeeke. I do not think anyone who was there is ever likely to forget the experience. It was that area between the St. Julien Road and Military Bridge, and I remember once being summoned up there to take over because every officer there, and a good many men as well, had been killed only two or three hours before. It was a unit I was only with for a short time, and was one of the finest of the many with which I had the privilege of serving in the War, but hon. Members can imagine what the state of moral would be in any collection of human beings in circumstances of that character. When I arrived there, the first thing that happened was that the sergeant came and said, "I am not feeling very well. Can I go down to the wagon lines"? I let the man go, though there was only one other non-commissioned officer left, and shortly afterwards he too came up, with some other men, and they also said they were not feeling very well and that they wanted to go back to the lines. Then, of course, I realised what was going on. There was nothing wrong in it, and I am making no reflection on those men—indeed, I saw the same thing in the Great Advance. Probably every Member of this House would behave in the same way under similar conditions. It was because the conditions that prevailed in that section at that moment were worse than could be borne by any human being, unless there was some authority, of which they were aware, acting on their minds, in the state in which they were, dulled and overcome by the shelling and bombing and tragedy all round them, with their best pals and leaders in the battery lying dead, to keep them at their post. How could you expect them to be normal? They were not normal.


You would shoot them for not being normal.

Viscount SANDON

The hon. Member may not agree, but I do not think I am saying anything that it is not true. Hon. Members opposite may not agree with my way of putting it, but I am making no reflection on anyone, but those involved were, I am certain, as fine soldiers as could be found and had all the qualities of courage for which I have nothing but intense admiration and which are required of a soldier; but I say that that authority was needed to bring out the resistance power of those men, which is so necessary in decisive times. Therefore, I think all this discussion of justice, of equity and of the interests of the men themselves is beside the point. It seems to me that in war the sinking of the welfare of the individual in the common good, and the fact of a man being prepared to waive all personal claims, even to justice if you like—it is justice, in one sense—is one of the finest things that it brought out. I do not pretend to defend the justice of shooting a man for a crime of that kind. That is not the point. It is grossly unjust, but a man in a crisis, in war-time, is prepared for his country to waive all his rights, for the sake of the big thing.


You will not do it in peace time.

Viscount SANDON

If a man was not prepared to do that, I take it that he would not go into the Army, and would be a conscientious objector, but I think I am not putting it unfairly as the point of view of the average man, and even as the point of view of the vast majority of men who went into the Army. They were prepared to sink themselves in the greater good of winning the War, of standing by their comrades and gaining victory to their arms. I feel that there is a grave danger in making any concessions in this direction. As the hon. Member opposite said, we are now a long way from the War, and that is just the difficulty. These things will have to be put into practice in the atmosphere of war, and that is what they have to be judged by. It may be said that when a war comes we can always meet the situation as it arises, perhaps by a fresh Amendment being brought into the Act, but it is a question whether it is not wiser that our standards for the next war, should one unhappily arise, should be made now, when we can judge them more dispassionately, than that we should run the danger of being carried off our feet and of going too far in the opposite direction when the war was actually upon us. I do not think anyone would accuse me of being a blood and thunder man. That is not my line at all. I should be very sorry to have anyone think that I would want to say anything to disparage the finest set of men with whom I have ever been associated in my life, but I really believe that these men in the Army did find this provision a safeguard to themselves, and did find it to the benefit of the whole show; and, after all, it is the whole show that counts, and in war the individual is scrapped.


And after the war as well.


Hear, hear!

Viscount SANDON

In war the individual is proud not to count; he sinks himself in the good of the whole. The hon. Lady opposite seems distressed at that, but there is much to be said for the atmosphere of sacrifice so typical of the War, when the individual was merged into something finer than the question of just what he merited. Many people feel that that is one of the aspects of war we most miss to-day.


There are two points in the speech of the Noble Lord the Member for Shrewsbury (Viscount Sandon) that I find it utterly impossible to understand. One is that he says, quite bluntly, that the infliction of the death penalty is unjust, and then he proceeds to defend it. After all, this is a judicial act with which we are dealing, and if it cannot be defended on the ground of justice, it seems to me to be common sense that it cannot be defended at all. The other point is that the Noble Lord says, what is even more extraordinary, that this penalty is needed to bring out the resistance power of the men. What is it that destroyed the resistance power of the men at the time of which he was speaking? It was fear, the fear of death, obviously; and he proposes—a very homeopathic remedy—to impose the fear of death in another form in order to revive that resistance power. It seems to me a nonsensical proposition, and I congratulate the hon. Member for Tottenham North (Mr. R. Morrison), who moved this new Clause, on the interesting and common-sense way in which he attacked this point. If we can get rid of the death penalty for cowardice, we shall have got rid of the main evil that confronts us.

This is the point of attack, because, after all, the great point about the crime of cowardice, if we call it so, is that it is not a wilful act, it is not something that a man does upon reflection. Mutiny, desertion, leaving a post in the face of the enemy for some other reason than cowardice—these may be things which are thought out beforehand, and I can quite imagine that under those circumstances a knowledge that the death penalty might follow might have some deterrent effect; but when a man is in a panic of fear, which is a physical matter, something which paralyses his very limbs, the actual terror that is close upon him far outweighs the distant prospect of a court-martial which may or may not take place and a penalty which may or may not be imposed. Therefore, on the very ground of deterrence, which was the only ground the Noble Lord could really find, his whole case collapses. The case which the Noble Lord put forward is not one of deterrence at all. He told us a very interesting story about some people coming and asking him if they might go back from the line, but he produced no evidence to show that if there had been a death penalty there overhanging those men they would not have acted in that way. There was a death penalty hanging over them all the time. The men were trying it on, so to speak; they were in a panic; they would very much more gladly have been somewhere else, and I do not blame them.

The death penalty had nothing whatever to do with the story at all, one way or the other, and the Noble Lord has not produced any evidence in his speech in answer to the challenge of the hon. Member for North Tottenham that any instance should be produced in which the death penalty has really acted as a deterrent. On the other hand, there is the instance of a whole Corps, the Australian Forces, who had not got this deterrent, and no one here will say that, whatever other complaints may have been made—and they were very small ones, mainly taken from a stiff, British, dis- ciplinary point of view—they were not the bravest people it would be possible to come across. If they could preserve their morale without this incentive, why cannot we? Is it to be said that our troops, from these islands, are inferior in moral courage to those of any other land in the world? As a matter of fact, I should have thought it stood out as a matter of psychology and common sense that you cannot make a man brave by the impulse of fear.

It has been said that this is a difficult crime to define. I knew a court-martial of four soldiers who, in an advanced post, were suddenly surprised by the enemy and separated from their arms. They were tried for cowardice and condemned. It may have been improper to get that distance from their weapons, but clearly that does not come in the definition of cowardice, and the deduction is that they should have mot the enemy with their hands. I cannot say that I would have done it. In that case, owing to the clemency of the great Commander-in-Chief whom all soldiers revered so much, the sentence was not carried out. The fact remains, however, that the men were exposed to that risk, and the penalty ought not to exist when it is impossible to define it on any lines of justice, or to give any justification for it from the point of view of the good of the Army. This penalty is not necessary in order to make the troops do their best, and I hope that we shall, in the calm consideration of peace time make this great reform in our military system.


I agree with the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. Griffith) that the objections put forward by the Noble Lord the Member for Shrewsbury (Viscount Sandon) to the new clause do not meet the case. It is surely the business of those who defend shooting for the crime of cowardice to prove the one thing that justifies it, if anything can, and that is its effect as a deterrent. I am prepared to take the line, if that could be shown that there is a case for capital punishment for a crime of that kind. After all, war is a big atrocity, and I am prepared to accept minor atrocities inside the bigger one. So long as humanity is prepared to tolerate such an atrocity as war, humanity will have to recognise that war cannot be made with kid gloves or rose water. The Noble Lord should really endeavour to justify the one point he makes for the retention of this punishment, namely, that it is merely a deterrent. What does this punishment amount to? A man is tried by court martial, sentenced to be shot at dawn and set up behind a white sheet. I am not sure that that was the universal practice on the Western Front but it was the practice partially. The man is placed behind a white sheet, and a number of men are told to shoot at a certain part of the sheet. Only some of these men have active bullets; some of them have blank cartridges, so that no one knows who is responsible for the actual death of the man. That kind of thing is the last word, not merely in inhumanity, but in callousness in our treatment of a matter of this kind. The question of cowardice in front of the enemy is not a moral or intellectual question; it is not a question of psychology so much as a question of the actual physical effect of the circumstances of the moment.

I know of what I am speaking, because I remember my own baptism of fire. I remember being in the middle of Ploegsteert Wood when the Germans made a terrific attack. I remember that I was very calm, more calm than I usually am, and extraordinary cool from an intellectual point of view, but I was shaking all over physically, and I could not control my limbs. I was thinking about it as a most extraordinary thing which I had never experienced in my life before. Will anybody say that any subconscious feeling of the possibility of being shot at dawn would have made any difference to any act that I might have committed under those circumstances? Fortunately it was just an artillery attack, and it did not call at that moment for the exercise of physical courage, and I hesitate to form an opinion as to what my action would have been under these purely physical circumstances. I was not emotionally or intellectually affected, but I was physically affected. Bearing in mind the fact that there are, especially in times of war, hundreds of thousands of boys of 18 and 19, who, if they are not already in the Army, are forced into the Army in a time of emergency, is it seriously suggested that any intellectual consideration of the possibility, remote or otherwise, of being shot, really would affect that terrible physical condition which is the result of circumstances such as I have described.

I therefore, plead with the Government to give way upon this point. The great Australian Army was able to do without it, and I know from my contact with the Australian soldiers that they were quite as brave as British soldiers. In some cases they were often braver, if we regard bravery as that excess of action and going to a thing without consideration; they were more likely to do reckless things than our men. That was characteristic of the Australians, and I do not think that if the death penalty for cowardice had been imposed upon the Australian Army it would have made any but the worst difference to it. From my own knowledge and experience during the Great War, I urge the Government to look at this question in peace time not from the point of view of the old Army type of mind, and the old idea that you have a body of uneducated and illiterate people who have to be disciplined in the hardest possible way, but to realise the new circumstances and, by doing justice to the soldiers, trust to the results in the case of a possible future war.


Speaking as one who was not abroad but was kept in this country, it seems to me that there is a danger of mistaking cowardice for fear. When the hon. Member for West Islington (Mr. Montague) was trembling all over he may have been suffering from fear, but he was not suffering from cowardice. Fear, from my point of view, is a condition from which the very bravest suffer. We have heard over and over again that the very bravest men have confessed to fear. Cowardice is an entirely different thing. I do not think that it is physical at all, or that the fear of the death penalty is a deterrent. My impression of cowardice is that it is a question of moral control, and not a physical question. Over and over again I have had occasion in medical circumstances to come across crisis among patients, and I have found that very often women who, one would have thought, were delicate, have shown the highest type of courage owing to some moral force within them. On the other hand, I have seen great hefty men who, one would have thought, would have been full of animal courage and pluck, become children in a crisis.

When the hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the War Office replies I should be glad if he would try and convince the Committee and me that the death penalty for cowardice does really do any good. I would make no exception in the case where a man's cowardice risked the lives of his fellows, because the lives of the majority are more valuable than the life of one man. I feel strongly, however, that we are keeping in the Army and Air Force (Annual) Act a crime for which the individual is not responsible, and in committing which he does not mean to do any harm to anybody. Simply through his lack of training or lack of moral control, he does something in being a coward of which he is ashamed. No man who is a coward is proud of it. It may be a temporary or constitutional condition, and the man despises himself for it. Is the death penalty a deterrent from it? In saying that shooting a man for cowardice is not just, the noble Lord the Member for Shrewsbury (Viscount Sandon) destroyed the whole of his case. If it is not just to shoot a man for cowardice, the crime should not be in the Army and Air Force (Annual) Act. I am not quite certain that a man who shows cowardice, which is a moral effect and beyond the control of the individual should, of necessity, suffer the death penalty.

5.0 p.m.


When in 1923 we debated this Bill in a long and protracted all-night sitting, I ventured to take part in the discussion on this subject, and we were helped by a large number of distinguished soldiers on all sides of the House who viewed the Debate from the point of view of their own war experience. If the Financial Secretary to the War Office is compelled to resist this new Clause, I frankly recognise that it is a difficult task for him, because no one likes to be put in the position of being accused, as it were, of being in favour of shooting anybody. No general or army officer giving a decision that involves the death penalty to one of his men can be in any but a very unhappy state. I can visualise what is in his mind, and I can quite understand his arguing in this way, "This power is given me by Parliament to use under circumstances of which I must be the judge." He is to be the judge of cowardice. We have just had a very sincere speech from an hon. Member who is a medical man and differentiates between what he calls fear and cowardice, but I would defy any general, with a war in being and in the atmosphere of a court martial, to say which is fear and which is cowardice. Who can possibly determine?

I remember during the War hearing the story of a young fellow, decent, clean-minded and brave, who volunteered at the age of 18, became an officer and won distinction. He told me something that impressed me more than anything else with the hell and horror of war and the difficulty of laying down by law any code of rules in war. He said he was once faced with a situation in which a lot of young fellows of 18 and 19 years of age, practically boys, got absolute fright at the first heavy bombardment they experienced. Was that cowardice or fear? This bombardment was something absolutely different from everything they had been brought up to, different from everything to which they had been trained, and they all lost their nerve. It was this officer's job to shoot a number of those young men to stop the stampede. His story created in my mind an impression which I have never forgotten. I would point out that in all future wars the defence of the country, of any country, will not rest with the professional soldiers; it will be a war where the great mass of the civilian population will have to be called to the defence of the country.

If that be the fact, what is the good of arguing that the death penalty is a deterrent? If it is to be argued that the death penalty is a deterrent to cowardice, or whatever is may be called, that presupposes that all these young fellows will be arguing to themselves "What is to be the penalty if I run away?" But they do not argue that. They have no time to argue about that; they have no time to think. The whole thing is so foreign to their nature, and to every environment to which they have been accustomed, that whatever they do is done in a panic, without fear of the consequences, without thought of the consequences. That being the case, I am convinced that the death penalty cannot be a deterrent.

I can give an extreme case to illustrate my point. It is the case of a man who came over with Casement. He was a regular soldier, he deserted, and he was a traitor of the worst degree. He was corrupted in Germany and took the risk of coming over with Casement. Casement was hanged, as we know, but by an unfortunate blunder on the part of somebody into which I need not go now, this man was not tried. How can you put a ease such as that, where there is a deliberate attempt to play the part of traitor to the country, in the same category with that of hundreds of young soldiers who become soldiers for the first time and in face of a bombardment lose their nerve? To shoot young soldiers under such circumstances is not only a crime, but it is not a deterrent. I do not think the existence of such a penalty influences them in the least. Therefore, I would ask those speaking for the War Office to keep in mind the remarks of my hon. Friend behind me and remember, whatever views the professional soldiers may have about discipline and the old methods of the past, that we shall in a future war find ourselves faced with an entirely new situation. I honestly say that the death penalty is a mistake; it is a blunder and is no deterrent; and for that reason I shall support the Amendment.


I think that the hon. Member for North Tottenham (Mr. R. Morrison), who introduced this Debate, will be satisfied that the subject has been discussed in an atmosphere of calm and quiet and with a lack of passion. It has been an interesting Debate. Before I deal with the general question, I would like to say that there is one very good reason why the Government should refuse to accept this new Clause, and that is that it entirely fails to carry out the intentions of those who framed it. While it would remove from the Army Act the offence of misbehaving or so inducing others to misbehave before the enemy in such a manner as to show cowardice. from the category of capital offences, it would leave as a capital offence the act of shamefully casting away his arms, ammunition and tools in the face of the enemy. Nobody would cast away his tools, arms or ammunition unless he were a coward, and so really the Clause which the hon. Member has introduced would not accomplish his own wishes, even if it were passed. But in any case the Government cannot accept this Clause, and although the hon. Member has prophesied that the next Government—or a Government which he would support—would accept the Clause, I do not believe that any Government ever will.

The only point in his speech in which he introduced a certain amount of passion was towards the close. He said that if troops are in a bad state—and, as I said last year, the moment when this penalty really becomes operative and important is in a great crisis—it is because someone at the top has blundered, and that then orders are given to shoot a few privates to improve discipline. Really, that is not quite, a fair way of putting things. To begin with, it is not always fair to assume that because things are bad someone must have blundered. It is rather the modern attitude that if anything goes wrong in the world, somebody has to be blamed for it, and that if one side wins a battle the winning side are not to be praised but that the losing side are to be told that a scapegoat must be round. But that really does not affect the argument as to why this sanction of capital punishment as a deterrent—and we still believe firmly that it is a deterrent against cowardice—should remain in this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas) asked, "What is the difference between cowardice and fear?" I think that is a very easy thing to prove. Cowardice is an act; fear is a state of mind. I have seen men quivering with fear, green with fear but going on and behaving like heroes. Cowardice is something you actually do. That is the difference between the two.


I am sorry to interrupt. I did not conceive that it was such an easy thing to answer; but in order that we may be quite clear, let us suppose that it was out of fear caused by a great bombardment that a soldier runs. That is cowardice, according to the hon. Gentleman, but it is brought about by fear. Fear was the original cause.


The definition of the right hon. Gentleman has made it even clearer that the cause is fear but the action is cowardice. You may say that hunger and stealing are the same things. Because a man is hungry he steals. That may be a justification for stealing or a palliation of the offence, but the two things are very different. One man because he is afraid may run away, but another man, more afraid, may go on. Cowardice and fear are not two states of mind; they are two words. I am surprised that this should puzzle the right hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member for Tottenham says that he has already accomplished a great deal, and I congratulate him upon the way in which he brings forward this proposal every year.


No, I did not say that. I was not referring to myself personally. I said we had.


Well, this and other proposals have been brought forward, and the hon. Member told us quite fairly how much has been achieved already in the matter of the abolition of field punishment and the abolition of the capital punishment for certain offences, and he himself can see no reason why cowardice should remain as a capital offence any more than why field punishment should have remained as one of the penalties. But there is a great difference, a vital difference, which hon. Members opposite are apt to overlook. It has all to do with this very point about the difficulty of definition, on which they lay so much stress. They ask: "How can you have the extreme penalty for an offence which it is so difficult to define?" Because an offence is difficult to define that does not prove that it does not exist. In these days of psycho-analysis and one thing and another we begin to regard all offences as mere states of mind which ought to be treated by doctors rather than by lawyers. I suggest to the Committee that that is a very dangerous state of mind to get into. Because there is such a thing as kleptomania, that does not prove that there is no such thing as stealing. Because there is such a thing as homicidal mania, that does not prove that there is no such thing as murder. Because there is such a thing as shell shock and breakdown of nerve, that does not prove that there is no such thing as cowardice. I believe that there is such a thing as cowardice; I believe it is a very horrible thing, and that it ought to be very severely punished, although I admit freely that it is very difficult to define. There are people who are cowards, as everybody knows who has any experience of the world.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby said that in the future wars would be fought by armies composed of the whole population. In those armies there will be every type of man; there will be the real criminal in those armies, and the man who, when he is brought into action, will think of nothing but saving his own skin; the man to whom imprisonment is no deterrent whatever, who regards imprisonment as ordinary people regard detention in the house with an attack of influenza; the man who does not feel the stigma of dishonour. For those people there must be some deterrent, and when the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. Griffith) says it is entirely illogical to try to increase the courage of a body of men who are afraid of death in front of them by putting the fear of death behind them, I would like him to suggest any other way by which you can increase their courage. If these people really are men who would prefer imprisonment and dishonour to death, then we must substitute death as the only alternative.


The analogy drawn was that of the Australian Army, and will the hon. Gentleman deal with that point?


I am not dealing with the Australian Army, and I do not intend to go into that question. The man who has submitted to a sentence of capital punishment usually goes back to prison awaiting confirmation of the sentence. The hon. Member who raised the question of the Australian Army said that their great quality was their extreme recklessness, but it is not correct to regard recklessness as being the same thing as courage or even as an important military virtue.

There is such a thing as cowardice, and that ought to be severely punished. There are innocent people who are in great danger of being convicted, and that is the whole basis upon which this question rests from the point of view of the Opposition. They say that there is a danger of people being convicted of cowardice who are simply suffering from shell-shock and matters of that kind, and the argument is that it is terrible that they should be even in danger of suffering the death penalty.

I agree with the hon. Member for West Islington (Mr. Montague) by regarding capital punishment as an atrocious thing, but you cannot get rid of war by simply abolishing one atrocity. This is part of the hideous business of war, and if it were unjust—that is a word to which I would not subscribe or support—to execute people for this offence, it is only one of thousands of injustices which must necessarily take place in war. You are not going to abolish war by trying to improve it. I am not one of those who believe devotedly in capital punishment, and I am one of the few hon. Members on this side of the House who supported the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) when he asked leave to introduce a Bill for the abolition of capital punishment. I do not say that my views in regard to capital punishment are exactly the same as those of the hon. and gallant Member, but I do think the question is ripe for consideration. I contend that there is a very much stronger case for the retention of capital punishment in the Army than there is for its retention as a punishment for murder. In this matter I think we are all apt to be carried away by sentiment, but we have to think of the interests of the community. Which is the greater offence and danger to the community—a man who has spread a panic amongst an important number of troops which may lead to the loss of a battle, or, possibly, to the loss of the war, which may do great injury to the Empire, or the man who commits a horrible murder and deprives one man of his life?


The question is whether the death penalty is a deterrent.


It is a deterrent to the really bad type of criminal and it may be a deterrent even to the man whose nerves are failing or to the ordinary brave man who wishes to do his best and who enlisted from feelings of patriotism and afterwards finds that in the strain of battle his courage fails him. There is a time when such a man forgets and he is no longer master of himself. That man would far sooner go forward and die in battle than live under the stigma of cowardice, but at the moment so terrible is the fear of death that it may seem to that man that prison, dishonour and nothing else matters except to preserve his life. I do not know whether hon. Members will recollect the moving and passionate appeal made for life in the prison scene of "Measure for Measure," where Claudio says: Ay, but to die, and go we know not where; To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot; and ends up: The weariest and most loathed wordly life, That age, ache, penury and imprisonment Can lay on nature, is a paradise To what we fear of death. Those appeals did not come from a bad man, but from a normal man who was under sentence of death and to whom at that moment nothing mattered except life.

I suggest to hon. Members that there man, but from a normal man who was are breaking down, and that, when in that terrible position those men have in front of them death with honour and behind them death with dishonour, this penalty may provide that extra stimulus, and instead of breaking down, it might be the means of men doing what they really desire to do. That is my serious opinion, and that is the opinion of those in high places in the Army. Those people who have the greatest knowledge of warfare, great officers of high standing who have devoted their lives to the study of war, are unanimously in favour of this Bill. As long as we have an Army, as long as there is danger of that Army being engaged in war, we must retain the extreme penalty for times of great crisis and great danger, as affording the sole sanction for the preservation of military discipline.


The last part of the speech of the Financial Secretary shows that he has been defending the traditional position of the War Office, and it is the same defence which has always been set up when a more humanitarian outlook in the organisation of the Army has been urged. Members of this House protested year after year against flogging in the Army, and the same arguments about gallant officers being in favour of flogging to preserve discipline were put forward by the representatives of the War Office, but in the end the War Office gave way on this question. The same thing happened in regard to Field Punishment No. 1, and the same defence was set up in that respect. The real argument which has been put forward by the Financial Secretary is that the War Office is not yet prepared to advance with the times and accept the higher standards which we wish to press upon them.

Whether that is a good argument for voting against the Amendment is quite open to question. In the past it has been found necessary for public opinion to urge these reforms upon the War Office, and in cases where the War Office has been forced to go forward the result has been a success. Who would now venture to suggest the reimposition of flogging in the Army or the adoption of Field Punishment No. 1? If the Secretary of State for War was forming an army, as the Australians did during the War, nobody would think of introducing the death penalty for conduct arising from cowardice. It is quite an understandable point of view for our great Generals to say that they do not want to go forward, but I think we should be utterly wrong if we permitted military opinion, which may be excellent on technical matters, to decide what is really a question of standards of view.

The Noble Lord the Member for Shrewsbury (Viscount Sandon) said that this was not a question of justice, but the safety of all against the injustice of one. We heard something about villains exercising their villainy in a particularly dangerous way, but there is nothing in the Army Act which confines the death penalty to that offence. The Financial Secretary tried to meet the case put by the hon. Member for Royton (Dr. Davies) by saying that we are not dealing with a psychological state, but with action which results from psychology. That is tantamount to saying that you may shake at your knees, but you must not run with your legs. What is laid down in this Measure is that you must not behave in such a way as to show cowardice. Even if you substituted the word "fear" it would be exactly the same.

The Financial Secretary set up a defence on the ground that it was necessary to introduce a counter-terror. Once you have excluded the real villain who is trying to betray his country and who might deserve the death penalty, the argument of terror of terror becomes totally baseless. May I point out that in a large percentage of cases the death sentence is never carried out at all? That is a fact which is well known to those influenced by the counter-terror of the death sentence. There is no intellectual process going on in the mind of a man in those circumstances, and a good man faced with these difficulties is affected more by the knowledge that he may be court-martialled, and he has only a 11 per cent. chance of being shot. In these matters the whole standard of the public outlook is being raised. We are progressing, and certainly the type of man who would be likely to serve in a great war is the normal type of citizen. Consequently, you must adapt the standards of war to the standards that prevail amongst society at the time.


Because of the character of the constituency which I have the privilege of representing in this House, I feel that I should like to say a word on this problem. It is not that I have the least authority to speak the mind of any soldier who lives or serves in my constituency, but I come into contact with many young soldiers, and have known them more or less intimately for nearly 40 years; and I know that they are very like any other aggregation of men. They do not differ in their qualities, in their physical and mental make-up, from other men, but the War Office attitude towards this problem is to assume that all men are alike—that, because they have certain physical qualities in common, therefore their mental make-up and their powers of resistance are exactly the same. That appears to me to be the problem which this Committee ought to face. All people are not alike, and people who can bear one temptation quite easily are not necessarily people who can judge how much others have to bear. It may happen, and I think it frequently does happen, that the man who fails is the man who has made the bravest fight, and that those who have gained victories have gained them very easily indeed.

The War Office attitude on this question is, as my hon. Friend the Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Benn) has remarked, the historic attitude of resisting new experiments. If the War Office could have had its way through the generations, we should have been back in the old period when men were brutally flogged for very small offences. Soldiers will, therefore, forgive us on this side of the House if we take their protest to-day as only a repetition of those historic protests which have not had very much weight. If this punishment were really a deterrent, there might be some argument for it, but if a man has fear come to him which overcomes everything else, it is positively certain that no possible punishment is going to steady him at that tme. I am not perfectly sure, but I believe I am right when I say that the real temptation for men to show what is called cowardice is not in the real crisis of battle, is not when men are going over the top, but it is rather when they are standing alone in the middle of the night, on sentry, perhaps, alone in the darkness, that this thing comes over them.

If we desire to encourage the highest type of people in our Army, we must make allowance for the humanity of these men. The War Office takes a mechanical judgment on this matter, and refuses to look at the humanity of the person concerned. If soldiers were selected for their mental qualities and their nervous strength, and if they were judged perfectly fitted for their task, there would be some argument if they failed in that task; but they are brought into the Army for all sorts of reasons, very frequently merely economic reasons, or, in time of war, they are conscripted without any sort of selection; and, because of that, some proportion of them fail. I cannot speak for other Members, but I hope that in some things in life I am as brave as the rest; but I do not know what I should do in a certain crisis, under certain conditions, and, therefore, I do not like to take the responsibility of judging other people. This, however, I do know, that, in proportion as we have humanised this Army, so in proportion have we got that voluntary loyalty, that fervour, even, for the service of the country, that we so much admire. If the War Office attitude is right, if it encourages bravery, if it encourages loyalty, then they ought to inflict more punishments to cover a wider ground; but the exact opposite is true, namely, that, in proportion as we trust the men, as we understand what they are and how they mean to serve, in that proportion do we get the very best from them. I am quite sure that this Committee would be wise if it made this further moral venture, in order to give to these men relief from a stigma which in any case is futile.


I cannot, of course, enter into the purely technical side of this proposition. All that I can say is that there were two armies fighting in the late War, the greatest war in history. There was, on the one hand, a professional army composed of a comparatively small number of men, the finest soldiers the world has yet produced. There was also another army, 85 per cent. of whom were ordinary citizens, the sons and the fathers of those who had never been soldiers. They took on the responsibility of fighting for what they were told was the object of the Great War—to free Europe from militarism, to prevent all the evils which we were told were part and parcel of the military system in other countries. A German officer would draw his sword and, for a mere technical offence, without any court-martial or trial, would chop off the fingers of a private in the German army. We were led to believe that all this spirit of militarism, this punishment for alleged or imagined offences, was going to be abolished when we won the Great War—shooting men at dawn, and what for? For cowardice. I remember people who took the first opportunity of getting away from London when the air raids were on—some of the biggest patriots we have in this country. They got as far away as they could from the German aeroplanes, because they could afford it, and some of them were Members of the Government. They were not cowards; they were not shot at dawn. No, they were given degrees, they were made titled members of the nation. Some of them have come into this House who went to the War, but they took very good care that they never got near the front line. They got the D.S.O. and all sorts of honours, but, when it came to actual fighting, we never read their names in the firing line; there were no casualties among them; they got over it all right.


The arms of 19 of them are displayed in this Chamber.


Yes, for those 19 I have every respect. I honour the people who did as they did, but I object to those who are always singing "God Save the King" through their teeth. Their patriotism means that they are going to preserve all the old traditions, and they take a man to be a coward because he does not accept their policy. I say that you have no right to call a man a coward merely because in a time of crisis his physical strength leaves him and he throws his tools away. I heard of one case in my own constituency. It was that of a navvy, who joined the Navvies' Battalion. He was not supposed to be a fighting man, but he went with his comrades to re-take a trench from which the ordinary soldiers had been driven. He found that his strength failed him—whether it was his physical or his mental strength I cannot say; I am not a psychologist. The consequence was that he was sent to penal servitude; he was a coward, although he went forward to take the place of a regular soldier.

We are told that we have to do these things in order to make men courageous. The greatest courage that I have is when I have a big lot of people in front of me who are against me. Mental courage does not depend upon mere condition; men have that naturally, whatever may happen. Moral courage is a gift; it cannot be made by gendarmeries. No general can make me a coward or a hero. He might try to make me a soldier, but he could not; all your militarism would not appeal to me. I took part, not as an individual, but as supporting the policy of the Allies, in the late War, because I believed that it was a war to end war. If we are going to end war, we must end that which creates it, and militarism is the cause of war; it is the beginning and the end of it. The Government are opposing this simple proposition that men shall no longer be treated as though they were felons because they happen to have a lapse either physically or morally, and as though nothing else would meet their position except to shoot them.

I hope that the workers of this country will take notice of that. When the next war takes place, it will not be a war between professional armies, but between the citizens of the various countries concerned. I hope it will never happen, but, supposing that it does, what becomes of your military law? I will undertake to say that the authors of that kind of law will find themselves submerged by the indignation and the vehement protests of all who come under it, and, there-lore, I support this Amendment. It asks for only a small concession. Men are called cowards by people who have never been near the firing line, people who sometimes write in the newspapers about the moral courage of the man who has not got any, the type of people who stay at home and write leading articles inciting other people to go to fight, and who take very good care they never go themselves. We protest emphatically against that, and we ask the Government at least to give this concession, that cowardice, so called, shall no longer be placed as a crime against a man who has done his very best in times of difficulty.


This question has caused me a considerable amount of anxiety. If a man deserts or falls back from the line, the feeling is that he ought to be shot, and in the heat of the moment there is no other feeling but that. I remember, during my period of service, the case of a man who deserted and fell back from the battle line. He was caught when he got down to the coast, and the commanding officer was keen on having him shot, but it turned out that he was a bit wrong in his head. I knew him intimately, and was aware that he was not normal, and I did what I could to bring home to the authorities the state of the man's mind. That man was tried by court-martial, and it was only owing to the fact that he was not mentally level that he escaped punishment.

In the heat of battle the feeling is that in such a case the man should be shot, in order, as the hon. Gentleman said, to instil into others the need for going into the fighting line. Having given full consideration to this matter, I feel that that is not a right thing to do. If a man is imbued with the spirit of fighting for his country, there is no need to tell him that he will be shot if he does not go into the fighting line. I honestly believe that now, but I did not have it in mind when I was in the Army. If I thought any man, mentally equipped, had fallen back from the firing line I

should have been as keen on it as anyone else. Taking my own line, I am a coward in this way, that I would rather go forward and be shot than fall back for dishonour. That may be cowardice, but everyone has not the same outlook, and we have to consider it in that light. If we should ever be involved in war again I believe the spirit of patriotism would be quite sufficient to take men into the firing line without the thought that they will be shot if they retreat, I am going to support the Amendment and I think the effect of doing away with shooting for cowardice will be wholesome.

Question put, "That the Cause be read a Second time."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 108; Noes, 174.

Division No. 275.] AYES. [5.49 p.m.
Adamson, W. M. (Stall., Cannock) Harris, Percy A. Saklatvala, Shapurji
Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro') Hayes, John Henry Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Ammon, Charles George Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley) Shepherd, Arthur Lawis
Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield) Shield, G. W.
Batey, Joseph Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath) Shinwell, E.
Benn, Wedgwood Johnston, Thomas (Dundee) Sitch, Charles H.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silver-town) Smillie, Robert
Blindell, James Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Smith, Rennie (Petistone)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Kelly, W. T. Snell, Harry
Broad, F. A. Kennedy, T. Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip
Bromfield, William Lansbury, George Stamford, T. W.
Bromley, J. Lawrence, Susan Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Lawson, John James Strauss, E. A.
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel Lee, F. Sutton, J. E.
Charleton, H. C. Lee, Jennie (Lanark, N.) Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)
Clarke, A. B. Lindley, F. W. Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)
Cluse, W. S. Lowth, T. Thorns, W. (West Ham, Plalstow)
Compton, Joseph MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon) Thurtle, Ernest
Connolly, M. MacLaren, Andrew Tinker, John Joseph
Dalton, Ruth (Bishop Auckland) Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Tomlinson, R. P.
Day, Harry March, S. Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Dennison, R. Maxton, James Viant, S. P.
Dunnico, H. Montague, Frederick Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Fenby, T. D. Morris, R. H. Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah
Garro-Jones, Captain G. M. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Wellock, Wilfred
Gibbins, Joseph Naylor, T. E. Welsh, J. C.
Gillett, George M. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Westwood, J.
Gosling, Harry Oliver, George Harold Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Owen, Major G. Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne) Palin, John Henry Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Paling, W. Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)
Griffith, F. Kingsley Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Pethick- Lawrence, F. W. Windsor, Walter
Groves, T. Potts, John S. Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)
Grundy, T. W. Richardson, r. (Houghton-lo-Spring)
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Riley, Ben TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Hardle, George D. Ritson, J. Mr. Whiteley and Mr. B. Smith.
Aeland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Cautley, Sir Henry S.
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake) Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)
Alexander, E. E. (Leyton) Boothby, R. J. G. Cazalet, Captain Victor A.
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman Bowyer, Captain G. E. W. Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)
Applin, Colonel R. V. K. Brassey, Sir Leonard Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Briscoe, Richard George Charteris, Brigadier-General J.
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Brocklebank, C. E. R. Christie, J. A.
Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. C. W. Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I. Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Broun-Lindsay, Major H. Churchman, Sir Arthur C.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Bullock, Captain M. Cobb, Sir Cyril
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Campbell, E. T. Colfox, Major William Phillips
Cooper, A. Duff Hopkins, J. W. W. Rentoul, Sir Gervals
Cope, Major Sir William Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng, Universities) Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.
Courtauld, Major J. S. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Hume, Sir G. H Robinson, Sir T. (Lanes, Stretford)
Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe) Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend) Hurst, Sir Gerald Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Iliffe, Sir Edward M. Sandeman, N. Stewart
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H. Sanderson, Sir Frank
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l) Sandon, Lord
Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester) Kindersley, Major Guy M. Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.
Davies, Dr. Vernon King, Commodore Henry Douglas Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie
Edmondson, Major A. J. Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mcl. (Renfrew, W.)
Elliot, Major Walter E. Lamb, J. O. Sheffield, Sir Berkeley
Ellis, R. G. Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Shepperson, E. W.
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Lougher, Sir Lewis Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Falle, Sir Bertram G. MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C)
Fanshawe, Captain G. D. Maelntyre, Ian Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Fermoy, Lord McLean, Major A. Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. Q. P.
Flelden, E. B. Macmillan, Captain H. Storry-Deans, R.
Forestier-Walker, Sir L. MacRobert, Alexander M. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nair)
Foster, Sir Harry S. Makins, Brigadier-General E. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser
Fraser, Captain Ian Margesson, Captain D. Tasker, R. Inigo.
Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Marriott, Sir J. A. R. Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)
Ganzonl, Sir John Meller, R. J. Thomson, Sir Frederick
Gates, Percy Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Meyer, Sir Frank Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Glyn, Major R. G. C. Milne, J. S. Wardlaw. Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)
Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark) Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.
Grant, Sir J. A. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M. Warrender, Sir Victor
Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)
Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury) Watts, Sir Thomas
Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E. Neville, Sir Reginald J. White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple.
Gunston, Captain D. W. Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge) Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)
Hamilton, Sir George Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.) Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert Williams. Herbert G. (Reading)
Harrison, G. J. C. Nuttall, Ellis Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Hartington, Marquess of Oakley, T. Wolmer, Viscount
Haslam, Henry C. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Womersley, W. J.
Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M. Penny, Frederick George Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)
Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian Pilditch. Sir Philip Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.
Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P. Price, Major C. W. M. Wragg, Herbert
Henn, Sir Sydney H. Ralne, Sir Walter Wright, Brig.-General W. D.
Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Ramsden, E.
Hills, Major John Waller Rawson, Sir Cooper TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Remer, J. R. Major the Marquess of Titchfield
and Captain Wallace.

Mr. Montague.


I sum quite prepared to move the new Clause—(Amendment of s. 76 of Army Act)—in the names of the hon. Members for Caerphilly (Mr. Morgan Jones), Mile End (Mr. Scurr) and Darlington (Mr. Shepherd).


The hon. Member must move his own Clause—(Amendment of s. 138 of Army Act)—now, because that is the one I have called.


On a point of Order. We did not hear you call any Clause. You merely called Members. My hon. Friend was rising to move the former Clause about age.


The hon. Member is under a misapprehension. A name printed on the Order Paper takes precedence. I call the hon. Member, which gives his particular Clause precedence at this moment. I therefore ask him to move it.


So that it will be in order to move the other Clause, but not in the precedence in which it appears on the Paper.


That is so.