HC Deb 04 December 1950 vol 482 cc85-7

6.20 p.m.

Mr. McCorquodale (Epsom)

I beg to move, in page 1, line 17, to leave out from "commission," to the end of line 18.

In considering our Amendments in Committee I would say at once that we do not regard the Bill in any way as a party affair. Our object on this side is to improve it, if possible, and to make it an encouragement to those serving in the Forces at the present time.

I gather that the intention of paragraph (b) of the Clause—and I mentioned in my remarks on Second Reading that it was rather complicated—is to provide that reinstatement rights should apply to whole-time service which arises in consequence of an undertaking of an officer to come up for periodic training, such as a Territorial officer. I am advised also by some people—and I am not a legal pundit in this matter—that by including these last words in the paragraph the effect would be, because National Service officers will have a requirement to serve part-time for the Territorial service after they leave the Forces, that those National Service officers may for that purpose be excluded once again, although we are bringing them into this Bill, they having been excluded before owing to an oversight.

I may be wrong about this. I have endeavoured to make such inquiries as it was possible for me to do, but I may be wrong. However, I think it would be useful if the Minister would make a firm statement, if he is able, saying that if these words which I propose to leave out are left in, this will not in any way invalidate the rights of the National Service men who have become officers and are now being brought under the protection of this Clause.

I should have liked, of course, also to see the Territorial service of officers and ex-officers of the Regular Army covered by this provision, but I realise that that is a very wide matter. The men are not covered either at the present time, and I would not press that. Therefore, I merely move this Amendment at this stage to inquire of the Minister whether he is quite sure that, by leaving in these words, he is not again invalidating the position of the National Service man who becomes an officer owing to the skill he has shown.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Isaacs)

I can give the assurance for which the right hon. Gentleman asks on this point. I am not a legal pundit, or a pundit of any kind, but I am advised by those who thoroughly understand the law as it relates to the Services that this is quite satisfactory. No rights of reinstatement are given in relation to part-time service in the Territorials. There is no need to do it. Employers all over the country have co-operated very handsomely in encouraging their people to go into this Service, and there is not the slightest doubt about their reinstatement.

This means that commissioned officers are to have the same rights as other men so far as their call-up for their period of National Service is concerned. To the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Gentlemen associated with him in the Amendment, who may be under a misapprehension, I can give the definite assurance that those officers who have training liabilities have the benefits of the Bill if called up for National Service. It makes no difference to them at all, and they will be covered in exactly the same way as other ranks.

Mr. McCorquodale

On that assurance, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.