HC Deb 16 March 1938 vol 333 cc411-2
47 and 48. Captain Macnamara

asked the Prime Minister (1) whether, in view of the indications in several quarters of the House that there is a growing feeling that some such measures may be desirable, he will consider consulting representatives of all parties with a view to agreeing upon a non-party measure to introduce some form of national military training for the better defence of this country and its better organisation in case of attack;

(2) whether he will consider introducing some form of national military training, as opposed to conscription, which might take people away for long from their jobs, on some such lines as the Swiss model, so as to include all who must nowadays be included for the elementary functions of defence, leaving the Regular and Territorial Armies for those to enter who wish to take a more active part, either overseas or at home; and whether, in view of our common interests, he will appeal to Eire and the other Dominions to do the same?

The Prime Minister

I have already given an assurance that conscription will not be introduced in peace-time so far as the present Government is concerned. Although my hon. and gallant Friend has in mind some form of national military training as opposed to conscription, it is, I think, evident that his proposal could only effectively be carried out by compulsion.

Captain Macnamara

Is it not a fact that the majority of this House and the whole of the country are behind the Government's rearmament programme, but is it enough to pay only for armaments and to rely on the efforts of a few, and would not a really united and national effort on the part of all of us do more for the nation?

Mr. Mander

Will the Prime Minister bear in mind that under the present Government and with its present policy no form of compulsory service will ever be tolerated by the country?

Mr. De la Bère

What contribution has the hon. Member ever made to national unity?