HC Deb 18 May 1939 vol 347 cc1751-69

9.48 p.m.

Mr. Maxton

I beg to move, in page V line 16, after "months," to insert: or such shorter period as may from time to time be considered desirable. It seems to me that this is an Amendment that the Minister might accept. As I read the Bill, I gather that the Minister and the Army Council will be compelled to keep these militiamen under training for a complete period of six months. There is no option of keeping them for a shorter period, even supposing it were found that a shorter period achieved all that was desired, and the Minister would not even be able to release the militiamen at the expiration of, say, five months and a couple of weeks. I will not attempt to teach the Secretary of State for War his work. Like my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), I will quote "Marmion" and say I do not propose to …beard the lion in his den, The Douglas in his hall. This is a matter more for the military expert than for me, but I do not think anyone can say that a six months' period of training is the necessary period and that experience might not show that three months, or four or five months, were adequate for the purpose. At least I would certainly like to see the Minister armed with the option to reduce the period of proper training below the six months, which, as I understand it, is made statutory and obligatory, not only on the militiaman, but on the Minister and the Army Council as well. I hope the Minister will see the reasonableness of the suggestion.

Mr. Stephen

I beg to second the Amendment.

9.50 p.m.

Mr. Hore-Belisha

The period of training has been fixed at six months, but the hon. Gentleman wishes to make it shorter by any period as may from time to time be considered desirable.

Mr. Maxton

By the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Hore-Belisha

By me. It is very kind of the hon. Gentleman to wish to confer discretion upon me, and as he said he was not inspired by any military motives or military knowledge, but simply that it would be a kindly and charitable thing if I had this discretion, I would prefer to leave it to be fixed by Parliament. Six months is the shortest period considered desirable. It compares very favourably, from the point of view of length of time, with all other countries, or at all events European countries, where compulsory military service prevails. There the period is very much longer than six months.

Mr. Maxton

In Switzerland?

Mr. Hore-Belisha

No, not in Switzerland, but there the obligation continues throughout a man's life, or at any rate till over the age of 60. We have adopted a very moderate scheme, which is in consonance with the national character for compromise, and we are only exacting six months' continuous service with a subsequent obligation of a minor character over a period of four years. I do not think you could train the soldier conveniently in less than six months, and as the hon. Gentleman has left it to my discretion, I would ask him to withdraw his Amendment.

9.53 p.m.

Mr. Lees-Smith

I do not regard the comparison which the Secretary of State has drawn with Continental armies as one which can be sustained, for although Continental armies are conscripted for two years, it is well know that their training is completed in a very much shorter period, and the conscripts are kept for the remaining period because that is the way in which those countries main-

tain their standing armies. The right hon. Gentleman has said that six months is accepted as the minimum period needed for training a militiaman, but that is not the universal view in his own Department. There is a large number of well-known officers now serving in the Army who hold that four months is quite sufficient under modern conditions, and some have put it as low as three months. Therefore, I can quite understand the prevailing military opinion coming to the conclusion that this period is longer than is necessary, and in these circumstances I see no reason why the right hon. Gentleman should tie his hands in order to commit himself to a period which is not even now accepted by everyone, or even, I should say, by more than barely a majority, as the necessary period. This Amendment would give him a free hand, and for that reason I think he ought to have accepted it.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 130; Noes, 237.

[Division No. 140.] AYES. [9.55 p.m.
Adams, D. (Consett) Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Nathan, Colonel H. L.
Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford) Groves. T. E. Naylor, T. E.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Noel-Baker, P. J.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Hall, J. H. (Whiteshapel) Oliver, G. H.
Banfield, J. W. Hardie, Agnes Paling, W.
Barnes, A. J. Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.) Parker, J.
Barr, J. Hayday, A. Parkinson, J. A.
Batey, J. Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Pearson, A.
Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.
Banson, G. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Price, M. P.
Bevan, A. Hicks, E. G. Pritt, D. N.
Broad, F. A. Hills, A. (Pontefract) Quibell, D. J. K.
Bromfield, W. Hollins, A. Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Hopkin, D. Ridley, G.
Buchanan, G. Isaacs, G. A. Ritson, J.
Burke, W. A. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Cape, T. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Charleton, H. C. John, W. Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey)
Cluse, W. S. Jones, A. G. (Shipley) Sexton. T. M.
Cocks, F. S. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Silverman, S. S.
Collindridge, F. Kirby, B. V. Simpson, F. B.
Cove, W. G. Kirkwood, D. Sloan, A.
Daggar, G. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Dalton, H. Lawson, J. J. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Leach, W. Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Leonard, W. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Leslie, J. R. Stephen, C.
Dobbie, W. Lunn, W. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) Macdonald, G. (Ince) Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Ede, J. C. McEntee, V. La T. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) McGhee, H. G. Thurtle, E.
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) McGovern, J. Tinker, J. J.
Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales) Mainwaring, W. H. Tomlinson, G.
Foot, D. M. Marnier, G. le M. Viant, S. P.
Gallacher, W. Marshall, F. Walker, J.
Gardner, B. W. Mathers, G. Watkins, F. C.
Garro Jones, G. M. Maxton, J. Watson, W. McL.
George, Major G. Lleyd (Pembreke) Messer, F. Welsh, J. C.
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Milner, Major J. Westwood, J.
Grenfell, D. R. Montague, F. Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)
Wilkinson, Ellen Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe) Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Williams, E. J. (Ogmore) Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Williams, T. (Don Valley) Woods, G. S. (Finsbury) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Mr. Adamson and Mr. Anderson.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Glyn, Major Sir R. G. C. Nicolson, Hon. H. G.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Goldie, N. B. Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Peake, O.
Albery, Sir Irving Grant-Ferris, Flight-Lieutenant R. Peat, C. U.
Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead) Gridley, Sir A. B. Perkins, W. R. D.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh) Grimston, R. V. Peters, Dr. S. J.
Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Sc'h Univ's) Gritten, W. G. Howard Petherick, M.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Guest, Hon. I. (Brecon and Radnor) Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Apsley, Lord Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.) Pilkington, R.
Aske, Sir R. W. Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W. Procter, Major H. A.
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Hammersley, S. S. Radford, E. A.
Barrie, Sir C. C. Hannah, I. C. Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h) Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Ramsbotham, H.
Beechman, N. A. Harbord, A. Rankin, Sir R.
Blair, Sir R. Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Reed, A. C. (Exeter)
Bossom, A. C. Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Boyce, H. Leslie Hely-Hutchinson, M. R. Remer, J. R.
Braithwaite, J. Gurney (Holderness) Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Brass, Sir W. Hepworth, J. Ropner, Colonel L.
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Herbert, Lt.-Col. J. A. (Monmouth) Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)
Broadbridge, Sir G. T. Higgs, W. F. Rowlands, G.
Brocklebank, Sir Edmund Hogg, Hon. Q. McG. Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.
Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.) Holdsworth, H. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Holmes, J. S. Russell, Sir Alexander
Brown, Brig-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Hopkinson, A. Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)
Bull, B. B. Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L. Salmon, Sir I.
Burton, Col. H. W. Horsbrugh, Florence Salt, E. W.
Butcher, H. W. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.) Samuel, M. R. A.
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. Hulbert, Squadron-Leader N. J. Sandeman, Sir N. S.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Hunter, T. Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Cartland, J. R. H. Hurd, Sir P. A. Sandys, E. D.
Castlereagh, Viscount Hutchinson, G. C. Schuster, Sir G. E.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H. Selley, H. R.
Channon, H. Jarvis, Sir J. J. Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)
Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Jennings, R. Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.) Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n) Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.
Chorlton, A. E. L. Keeling, E. H. Smithers, Sir W.
Christie, J. A. Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose) Snadden, W. McN.
Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead) Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.) Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Kimball, L. Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Colman, N. C. D. Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F. Spens. W. P.
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Lamb, Sir J. O. Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Lancaster, Captain C. G. Storey, S.
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Leighton, Major B. E. P. Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Cox, H. B. Trevor Levy, T. Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Craven-Ellis, W. Lewis, O. Sutcliffe, H.
Critchley, A. Liddall, W. S. Tasker, Sir R. I.
Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page Lindsay, K. M. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Crooke, Sir J. Smedley Lipson, D. L. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Little, J. Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Cross, R. H. Llewellin, Colonel J. J. Thorneycroft, G. E. P.
Crowder, J. F. E. Loftus, P. C. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Cruddas, Col. B. Lyons, A. M. Titchfield, Marquess of
Davison, Sir W. H. Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Tree, A. R. L. F.
De Chair, S. S. MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G. Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.
Denman, Hon. R. D. McCorquodale, M. S. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Denville, Alfred Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Turton, R. H.
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F. Wakefield, W. W.
Dodd, J. S. Maclay, Hon. J. P. Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan
Doland, G. F. Macnamara, Lieut.-Colonel J. R. J. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Dower, Lieut.-Col. A. V. G. Macquisten, F. A. Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side) Magnay, T. Warrender, Sir V.
Duncan, J. A. L. Maitland, Sir Adam Waterhouse, Captain C.
Dunglass, Lord Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Watt, Lt.-Col. G. S. Harvie
Eckersley, P. T. Markham, S. F. Wayland, Sir W. A
Ellis, Sir G. Maxwell, Hon. S. A. Wells, Sir Sydney
Elliston, Capt. G. S. Medlicott, F. Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Emery, J. F. Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham) Williams, H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Entwistle, Sir C. F. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Errington, E. Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Erskine-Hill, A. G. Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Evans, Capt. A. (Cardiff, S.) Morgan, R. H. (Worcester, Stourbridge) Womersley, Sir W. J.
Everard, Sir William Lindsay Morris, O. T. (Cardiff, E.) Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Fildes, Sir H. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Fleming, E. L. Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.
Furness, S. N. Munro, P. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Fyfe, D. P. M. Nall, Sir J. Captain Dugdale and Major Sir James Edmondson.
Gledhill, G. Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.
Gluckstain, L. H. Nicholson, G. (Farnham)

10.5 p.m.

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I beg to move, in page 11, line 18, to leave out from "that," to the end of line 20, and to insert: the provisions of the said Section thirty limiting the places at which militiamen may be called out for such special courses of training to places within the United Kingdom, shall, in relation to persons deemed by virtue of this Sub-section to have been so called out, be construed as including references to the Channel Islands. The hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell) will remember the point here dealt with. For the purpose of calling up the man this Act applies only to the United Kingdom. We may desire to send him to Northern Ireland if his battalion happens to be there, and, similarly, as we have a battalion in Guernsey, he may desire to join his own battalion there rather than become affiliated to another, and we wish to allow him to go to the Channel Islands for that purpose. This will be a convenience both to the military administration, because we have only a limited number of battalions, and to the man. For instance, the Royal Irish Fusiliers are now in Guernsey, and if a man could not join the battalion of his choice he would have to be sent to some other battalion. Guernsey is not a far distant place, and therefore no inconvenience is done.

Amendment agreed to.

10.6 p.m.

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I beg to move, in page 12, line 21, to leave out "military."

The object of this Amendment is to remove an unnecessary word. The word "military" appears often throughout the Bill, but it does not happen to be necessary here, because Regular Forces are Regular Forces and it is not necessary to describe them as military.

Amendment agreed to.

10.8 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Macnamara

I beg to move, in page 13, line 22, after "time," to insert: unless, being a serving Territorial, he has twice in the two annual returns immediately previous to his militia service, been passed as efficient by his Territorial unit, in which case he shall retain, during his militia service, his Territorial status and rank and be consdered and described as a Territorial militiaman attached to the Regular Army. This is an Amendment which stands in the name of about 50 hon. Members, in- cluding myself, from all parties. Under the Bill as it stands Territorials who have joined the Territorial Army after 27th April will be conscripted in the same way as anybody else. Territorials have no objection to that, naturally; but, according to the Bill, when in future the Territorial is conscripted he will lose his Territorial status and his rank, and the effect of the Amendment will be that he will retain his Territorial status and rank. A Territorial can join at the age of 17, and it is quite possible in the Regular Army, and also in the Territorial Army, for a man in three years to earn a rank—lance-corporal, corporal, or in some cases even lance-sergeant or sergeant. Under the Bill as it stands if a corporal of Territorials is conscripted at the age of 20 no recognition whatsoever is to be paid to his previous Territorial service or to the rank which he holds in that Army. It is to be taken away from him and he has to start again at the bottom, possibly alongside recruits who are the very men whom he has been commanding before in his own unit, which is certainly going to make his position extremely difficult.

Some people have advanced the idea that the Officers Training Corps should come under the same category, but I would like to point out that the Officers Training Corps are a pre-military training body, whereas the Territorials are an Army with exactly the same status as the Regular Army, that is to say they take an obligation to serve the country in time of war. Those of us who are supporting this Amendment feel most strongly that if a Territorial corporal is good enough to go to war as a corporal there is no reason why he should not retain that rank during his six months' military service. I think that feeling is general on all sides of the House, and it is certainly very strong throughout the whole Territorial Army. We hope that my right hon. Friend, who probably above all War Ministers has recognised the status of the Territorial Army by promoting major-generals, and so on, will recognise it in the case of corporals, lance-corporals and, possibly, sergeants too, because what is the use of recognising Territorial major-generals if we do not also recognise Territorial corporals. The feeling is extremely strong about this matter, and I should very much like my right hon. Friend to make us a concession in this respect.

10.12 p.m.

Major Whiteley

I beg to second the Amendment.

I do not want to delay the House by further discussing the merits of this Amendment, which have been clearly put by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Lieut.-Colonel Macnamara), but I hope very much that the Secretary of State will be able to make some concession in this direction. There is a very strong feeling on the matter in all parts of the House. One recognises the necessity of making the administration of this Bill as easy as possible, and it is clear that the Clause which we are discussing is inserted in order to make the administration easy, but in pursuing that very desirable end it may be that, quite inadvertently, the claims of the Territorial Army have not been given their full weight. The Secretary of State said the other day that it is desirable that all militiamen should start level. That is an excellent proposal provided that, in fact, they are level, from a military point of view, but I would remind the House that some of these men when called up may have done two years' service, may have been at camp for a total period of a month, may have done courses for another month, may have done 100 drills a year—many Territorials do that. Is that training of so little account that they should be put on a level when called up with men who have done no training at all?

Some recognition, some encouragement, should be given to men who have put in such service. I suggest that it is to the advantage of the Territorial Army that this encouragement should be given, that this will-to-succeed should be recognised. Also, I think it is to the advantage of the Regular Army when they call up these militiamen to get men who are to some extent trained. It has been suggested that when men have been called up they will be quickly tested and those who have previous service will be put into special classes. That will take a couple of months, and it seems desirable that that time should be saved. Credit should be given to the Territorial Army for the training which they have already given to these men, who should be put straightaway into special formations where they can do more advanced training.

The other point concerns a man probably with three years' service, a sergeant. He has got his uniform, but he is called up. He hands in his kit and says goodbye to it, and Sergeant Jones of, shall we say, some famous county regiment, becomes Private Jones of a Regular battalion. He has no promise whatever, so far as I am aware, that he will have the opportunity of going back to his own unit on the conclusion of his six months' training. It is fair to say that the Army appears to be the only employment which is not to be compelled to reinstate its employés after they have done their six months' training. Would it not be an encouragement to these men if they knew that when they left they could go back to their units and to their own rank? I put very much stress on that point, and I hope that the Secretary of State will see his way to provide that service shall be continuous. I would remind him that the total compulsory service consists of four years, and that these men will already have started their four years, and that they will have completed two years of it. It appears to me only common sense that it should be counted all as one engagement.

The only other matter relates to the Territorial efficiency medal, which is very much valued by Territorials. At present a break in Territorial service means that service before the break cannot be counted as service for the medal. No doubt the Secretary of State will vary the Regulations so that that state of things will no longer hold good.

10.16 p.m.

Brigadier-General Clifton Brown

I rise to support the plea that has been made, and I hope that the Minister will consider the matter. I commanded a Territorial brigade during the War and I know how strong is their esprit de corps. It is as strong as in the Regular Army. I have lately seen some of the old Territorials in my county, and one of them said: "I have always promised you that as soon as my son is 17 I shall put him into the regiment, but if he has done service, is he going to lose during the six months when he is a militiaman whatever rank he may get, the benefit of his efficiency, his 30 days' training and his fortnight's camp?" As one of my hon. and gallant Friends has pointed out, these things are rightly the subject of strong feeling in the Territorial Army. When I was commanding my Regular regiment we often had Territorials, non-commissioned officers and men, attached to us for training. The Amendment asks that these yeomen or Territorials, when they do their six months' training, should be attached in their rank and with their uniform. In the old days N.C.O.'s and men of the Territorials were often attached to a Regular regiment for a three or four months' course. They served in their own uniform and rank. Why cannot it be done now? I ask the Secretary of State for War to accept this Amendment, whatever his regular advisers at the War Office may say. I was once a brass-hat myself, but I never had the respect for them that I had for the Service when I was with my own regiment and with my Territorial brigade.

10.19 p.m.

Captain Sir Derrick Gunston

With a certain amount of diffidence I rise to oppose the Amendment. I hope that my hon. and gallant Friend will not think that in doing so I wish to disparage the Territorial Army, but I do not think that this Amendment would, if accepted, benefit the Territorials. I am sure that it would strike at the whole basis of this militia scheme. It would be fatal if at this hour we were to allow any system of differentiation to creep in. I appreciate, as we all do, the great work done by the Territorials, and one of my hon. Friends has just said that it is a pity that a Territorial who is efficient, should, when called up for the militia, take his first six months' training from the very beginning. I have met many Territorials who have told me that they would like to go back and get again a thorough grounding. I believe that the foundation of a soldier is the thorough elementary grounding that he gets on the barrack square. If he were to retain his rank, he would never get quite the feeling of the private in the militia. What would be his position with regard to other non-commissioned officers, Regulars who are training? I think it would be found that he would be neither Regular nor militiaman, and you might lose the whole spirit of what the Bill intends. It must be remembered that during the last few years some Territorial units have been very full and efficient, and it has been very difficult for anyone in them to get a stripe. In other branches of the Territorials, on the other hand, which have not been so full, stripes have been easier to obtain. If a man who, although an efficient Territorial, had not been promoted because his regiment was full came into the militia and had not a stripe, the other militiamen would wonder why he had not got it, and there would be a differentiation against him.

Surely, if previous military training is worth while, and I believe it is, you could not give special treatment to a young Territorial and withhold it from a senior member of an O.T.C. I am not pleading, and I will never plead, that the O.T.C. should have any preference, nor do I think that the Territorials should have any preference, I believe that their previous military training will make them stand out, and that they will get promotion as time goes on. They may be selected for officer-producing companies because of their previous training. If their previous training is worth while, they will come to the front; if it were not worth while there would be no object in their going on in the Territorials.

When it is found that those who have been in the Territorials tend to rise rapidly in the new militia, that will be a great encouragement to men to join the Territorials before they do their militia service. As time goes on, the Territorials, no doubt, will be filled in many cases by those who have gone through the militia, and these will be the non-commissioned officers of the future. Even if this concession were granted, it would only apply to a very small number. I think it is important, if this Measure is to be what we hope it will be, that there should be no differentiation at all, but that all the men should start equal. I believe so much in the efficiency of the training of the Territorials that I am sure that those who have gone through that training first will rapidly rise. For these reasons I hope the Secretary of State will not accept the Amendment.

10.25 p.m.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I have a very high regard for the training of the Territorial soldier, having been attached to a Territorial regiment at the beginning of the last War. The point has been raised that the reinstatment which is implied in this Amendment is not promised to the Territorial soldier in the same way as it is to the civilian employé. I think that when that is examined, it will be found to be a rather unfair way of putting it. The non-commissioned officer is not, in fact, employed by his commanding officer, but is regarded by his commanding officer in a very different way. It has been said that it is better that a Territorial should maintain his rank, in order to have something to show for the service he has done, but a rather awkward situation may occur if he retains his rank and uniform while serving in the militia and finds himself, as a sergeant, under the command of a corporal. I believe that supporters of the Amendment have an entirely false conception of what this six months' training means. I look upon it as being like the courses of training that some of us had when we went through Hythe. It is a specialised course, and if it is looked at in that light the feeling that there is unfairness will be removed.

Lieut.-Colonel Macnamara

One does not have one's rank taken away when one goes to Hythe.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I think that that again is putting a false interpretation on this matter. Officers of different ranks who are lumped together are often under the command of officers who are their juniors in rank. It is that position that will be maintained in regard to the militia. Although, with all the admiration that I have for the Territorial Army, I cannot see that this Amendment would enhance their status by one jot, I would like to see some recognition given to these men. Would it not be possible to evolve some method, by giving a small badge or mark to be worn on the arm of the Territorial who has done 12 months service, so that the distinction will not be great? He would be able to carry the mark of the Territorial regiment of which he was proud, during his period of training with the militia, which he would also be proud to undergo.

Lieut.-Colonel Dower rose

Mr. Davidson

On a point of Order. Is it in accordance with the traditions of the House that, when the Guillotine is operating, so much time should be devoted to arguments from one side of the House, and the Opposition should not have an opportunity of having their Amendments dealt with?

Mr. Speaker

I am certainly not conscious that that is the case.

10.29 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Dower

I cannot see why these men should have a special mark. I have found in my own experience that some of the finest soldiers are the young soldiers. We feel very strongly on this point, and to say that these men are bound to win their spurs again is not enough? Why should they have to? These men have given a great deal more than 100 drills a year. They have won their spurs, and they deserve to have them. I agree that my right hon. Friend has done more for the Territorial Army than any previous Secretary of State for War has done. Let him show that he supports the voluntary system by seeing that these fellows are recognised and made instructors or put in a specialised class, so that the voluntary system will survive when the compulsory system is long dead.

10.31 p.m.

Sir J. Nall

I want to support the proposal on grounds which have not been mentioned by my hon. Friends. It is obvious that when several hundred men begin their training at a depot, the Army to-day is not in a position to provide a full complement of non-commissioned officers. Therefore, whoever is in charge of the training centre or depot and is faced with an influx of 100 or 200 men whom he does not know will have to find some means of selecting at least a proportion of those men for some sort of noncommissioned rank. The obvious thing in these circumstances is that those who have already non-commissioned rank should be those to whom that rank should be allotted during the period of training. It is only common sense that when maybe 100 or 200 men attend the depot to begin their six months' training, those who already have had experience and have been promoted to lance-corporal, corporal, sergeant or lance-sergeant should be selected for that rank in order to assist in that training. It is not only common sense from the military point of view that they should assist in the training at the depots, but common justice that those who volunteered in advance of their liability to be called up under the Act should be given the advantage of whatever rank they may have obtained before they were so called up. I hope that my right hon. Friend, even if he cannot insert the actual terms of the Amendment, will be able to give the House some assurance that the spirit of it will be observed, and that those who have for a year or more before their calling up devoted their time to training in military matters shall have the advantage of that initial training.

10.34 p.m.

Lieut.-Commander Agnew

The position of the men in the Territorial Army is that they are not asking to hold rank above those who are for the time being their fellow militiamen while they are doing their militia service, neither are they asking to receive extra pay on account of any rank which they may have achieved during their time in the Territorial Army, but they are asking from the Secretary of State for War, in appreciation and as a mark of the regard he has for the Territorials, that, when they come out of the militia, they shall be restored to the position and rank which they formerly held when in the Territorial Army.

10.35 p.m.

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I have listened with great attention to what has been said by hon. Friends who have such close acquaintance with the Territorial Army, and having listened, I am not sure that the statement with which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Lieut.-Colonel Macnamara) opened the Debate, namely, that this proposal has a widespread support in this House, is substantiated, nor am I satisfied that it has universal support in the Territorial Army. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Newbury (Brig.-General Brown) said that he hoped that I would not listen to my Regular advisers. I do not know why I should not listen to them, because no body of men has been more sympathetic to the Territorial Army, to which they have given a great deal of attention. But I have also Territorial advisers. One of the reforms to which my hon. and gallant Friend called attention was exactly the reform of introducing into the War Office a number of Territorial advisers, and, naturally, I have consulted them.

I wish to be as sympathetic and as understanding as I can be towards the point of view of my hon. and gallant Friends who moved and seconded the Amendment. Let us see what the Amendment means and whether they really desire that it should be carried hi this form. Here is a Bill which imposes upon every citizen in Great Britain between the ages of 20 and 21 a period of six months' service. That applies to rich and poor, skilled and unskilled. There are men who will come into this service who have a trade and have been trained, and who have a profession. They will not be distinguished from their fellows, as they might well claim to be. They are not going to be given any special rank or rate of pay. Similarly, there are men who have served in officers' training corps, and have given a considerable period of their lives to military training, and there are those who will join the Territorial Army. What we have to settle is a principle. Is there going to be equality or not?

Mr. Gallacher

There is not.

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I do not know what there would be if the hon. Member had his way, but it is the desire of the Government to secure complete equality of conditions during this period of service. What is the hardship of which my hon. and gallant Friend is complaining? Every one is exempt from this service who has previously served or is serving in the Regular Army. Any one who has done six months service in the Regular Army is exempt. Every one who was in the Territorial Army before the 27th April is completely exempt. Therefore, the men whom my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Cockermouth (Lieut.-Colonel Dower) described as having worked hard at Christmas, at Easter, and who have attended camp, are not these people who are affected. They are in the Territorial Army. His Amendment can apply only to persons who joined the Territorial Army after the 27th April last. He then says that if these people for whom he pleads have in the two annual returns immediately previous to their militia service, been passed as efficient, they shall retain throughout their militia service their Territorial status and rank, and be described as Territorial militiamen. Therefore, this limited class of persons, who in two years' time will be qualified, are, two years from now, to be described not as militiamen but as Territorial militiamen. In the course of the next two years we shall have ample occasion to consider their case, if it be a case. I agree with what was said by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Thornbury (Sir D. Gunston), that if in two years' time they have acquired this great efficiency, they will be able to demonstrate it and will be advanced in their training with all due speed.

Lieut.-Colonel Macnamara

The point is that these men are working for their status and efficiency now, and will be working during the next two years, and it is not much inducement for them to work for it if they are to have it taken away on being conscripted.

Mr. Hore-Belisha

I am dealing with the point fairly. These men cannot be affected for two years. They will have one year and eleven months in two years; very few will have done two years, because they would have to join at least before they are 18 years of age, and anyone who joins the Territorial Army at 18 years of age will not get this distinction, will not retain his rank, under the Amendment. Therefore, the very anomaly which the hon. and gallant Member desires to avoid will be created, and two men in the same battalion will not have the same treatment when they are called up for their compulsory military service.

Lieut.-Colonel Macnamara

The Amendment refers to two annual returns; and it is possible to get two annual returns in 18 months.

Mr. Hore-Belisha

It really does not matter what period you take. The fact is that either you have to say that anyone who has served in the Territorial Army shall retain his status or not. You do not want to add to distinctions in the Territorial Army itself. If a man does his best to get himself efficient before he joins he will have this advantage, but why should he retain during the period of his service any rank which he may have enjoyed, if these men are going to be on an equality? Suppose he is a non-commissioned officer. If a man is going to wear a sergeant's stripes during his period of training he must exercise the functions of a sergeant;

Hon. Members


Mr. Anstruther-Gray

An officer or a non-commissioned officer attending a course at Hythe or Netheravon wears his stripes and rank all the time, but he does not exercise any official command.

Mr. Hore-Belisha

This is not a course. This man will be joining his regiment and he will pass through exactly the same gradations as anybody else. If he is efficient and distinguishes himself from his fellows, he will get rapid advancement and will go to a special course. What I can understand is a desire that in his subsequent period of service he should gain some advantage from his Territorial service. I can understand that, and, indeed, the Bill provides that he gets an advantage because he is allowed to count that previous service towards his subsequent service. I answered in the affirmative a question to-day as to whether any Territorial non-commissioned officer being called up for service could normally expect, provided his commanding officer was satisfied with him, to return to his place in the Territorial Army with the same rank that he had attained. During the hiatus the man will have the advantage of this additional training, and if he is efficient he will be pushed on to a special course and then return to his previous rank, and he may indeed have an advantage because we intend to select officers of the future from these militiamen, and providing a man can justify himself upon his merits he may return as an officer, which I think is much better. It has been suggested that if these men cannot retain their rank they should be given a special badge during their militia service. I am advised that this, instead of rendering them popular, would render them unpopular, but I am quite ready to consider any suggestion. We have to remember that there is such a thing as public opinion and to consider whether if we allow them this distinguishing mark, they may not be rendered unpopular.

Nevertheless, if that really be the view of the Territorial Army, I am prepared to consider that proposal; but we have two years in which to consider it, since the proposal could not in any event operate for two years. I hope that my hon. and gallant Friends who have moved the Amendment will not consider that I am dealing unsympathetically with it. I have taken what advice I could. It is true that representations have been made to me by my hon. Friends in the House on behalf of this Amendment, but equally representations have been made against the proposal. In the circumstances, I think it would be wiser to give this scheme a chance of getting on its feet on the basis of equality. We are not tied to this particular scheme and I should be quite ready to consider during the next two years—or if not me, then my successor will be able to do so—what adjustments it may be necessary to make. I do not think my hon. and gallant Friends wish necessarily to press the Amendment to a Division; it could not in event be accepted now, because a man cannot serve in His Majesty's Forces on two engagements at the same time. He could not be described as a Territorial militiaman; he could be described as one or the other, but he must definitely be in one force or the other.

Amendment negatived.

10.47 p.m.

Mr. E. Brown

I beg to move, in page 13, line 30, to leave out from "himself," to the end of the Sub-section.

This is a drafting Amendment. The words which it is proposed to leave out are unnecessary.

Amendment agreed to.