HC Deb 31 March 1939 vol 345 cc2364-5

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

11.56 a.m.

Mr. Lawson

I understand that this Clause makes a slight Amendment with regard to the powers of courts-martial. I gather that its general effect is to bring about some uniformity of courts-martial. I shall be glad if the right hon. Gentleman could give an explanation of this change and the reason for it.

11.57 a.m.

Mr. Hore-Belisha

The present law is that forfeiture of service accompanied by a reprimand is a punishment that can be given by a superior authority, but a court-martial cannot order an officer a forfeiture of any part of his service as part of their penal code. This Clause is to bring the practice into line and to remove an anomaly. It becomes more important to institute this Amendment now because the officers are automatically entitled to promotion by time. Therefore, it would be an omission of a common-sense provision if a court-martial, in lieu of dismissing an officer completely, could not order him a forfeiture of service instead. The object of the Clause is to redress an anomaly and an oversight when the previous provision was made.

Mr. Ede

May I take it that this applies only to the commissioned ranks and makes no difference in regard to the procedure of courts-martial of warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

Yes, Sir.

Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.