§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 4.7 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Air (Mr. Arthur Henderson)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
The purpose of this Bill is to give effect to the proposals made by the Prime Minister in his statement in the House on 29th January for accelerating our defence preparations. Our motive, in common with other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, is to strengthen the defences of the free world to a degree that will deter any potential aggressor.
As the House has already been informed, we are at present deficient in trained reserves of officers and men with up-to-date training who would be required to expand the existing formations in an emergency. It had been intended to build up these reserves through the system of National Service; but it will be some time before they can be built up from National Service men who have completed their Colour service. This Bill enables us to fill the gap by calling up numbers of selected reservists and giving them a period of training on the duties which would be required of them in the event of an emergency.
I should like to deal first with the officers and men who will be required for 15 days' training, who are by far the largest class. The persons concerned are to be selected mainly from the Z reservists and their officer counterparts. Apart from Regular reservists, to whom I shall refer in a moment, these persons have no training obligation; that is to say, they have not since the war joined any of the organised reserve or auxiliary forces. The liability therefore attaches, so far as the Army is concerned, to officers of the Regular Army Reserve of Officers other than officers of the Supplementary Reserve of Officers, to officers of the Territorial Army Reserve of Officers, to officers holding emergency commissions, and to those who have been released under Section 3 or Section 4 of the Armed Forces (Conditions of Service) 1762 Act, 1939, who have not again entered any of the Armed Forces of the Crown since the end of the war.
The corresponding members of the Royal Air Force are those officers of the Royal Air Force Reserve of Officers who have no liability to undergo periodic training; to officers of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve except those who have joined the Reserve since the war; again, as in the Army, to officers holding emergency commissions; and, again, to those who have been released under the 1939 Act and have not since the war entered any of the Armed Forces of the Crown. The date referred to in the Bill, 18th August, 1946, is introduced in Clause 1 because it was after that date that officers and men joined the post-war Royal Auxiliary Air Force and the R.A.F.V.R.
Men of the Army Reserves, other than the militiamen, may be called out for annual training for not more than 12 days in the year. Although it is many years since men of the Regular Army Reserve have been required to carry out annual training, it is desired this year, during 1951, to call out men of this Reserve for 15 days. Militiamen are excluded because they already have the obligation to do their 15 days training a year.
The Regular reservists of the Royal Air Force, with a liability again to perform their 12 days training, are also included in the Bill. Regular reservists who have received air crew training are not liable under the Bill for the 15 days' training, but, as the Bill indicates, they may be called up for a period of three months air crew duties or 18 months in the case of those we require to act as flying instructors. The selection has been made so as to ensure that reservists by reasons of their skill, rank, qualifications, and experience, are able to fill the gap which exists in the units taking part in this year's training. As many as possible of those recalled will be men called up after the war. There will be none over the age of 45 and few over the age of 40.
Where reservists can establish exceptional hardship I can assure the House they will receive every consideration by the Service Department concerned. Any reservist who claims exemption on conscientious grounds will be able to have his case considered by a civilian tribunal 1763 if he applies to a local office of the Ministry of Labour in person or in writing within 21 days after he has received his warning notice.
I shall first deal with the Army. As has been stated in this House, the total number required for the Army this year will not exceed 235,000. It may well fall short of this number since it is not intended to call up any man for whom full and profitable training cannot be provided. These men will be posted for duty with active Army formations in the United Kingdom and with Territorial units and formations including Anti-Aircraft Command. The value of the contribution which will be made by the training of these men has already been explained to the House. Briefly, the advantages are considered to be that the men will become acquainted with new equipment; training will be more realistic and effective in those units that are brought up to strength; officers and men will get to know one another and it will be possible for men to be fitted into their best places in the team. It will also prove a valuable exercise in mobilisation.
It is hoped that the Army programme will begin on 22nd April and last throughout the year. The flow of reservists will not be even, but will be increased during the summer months when conditions are obviously such that the best training can be done. The men called up will be mainly those who have been selected and earmarked to fill vacancies in the establishments of units which are to be trained at full strength under this year's training scheme. The Z reservists with the ranks and qualifications appropriate to these establishment vacancies have, therefore, to be selected. For this reason it has not been found possible to apply the principle "Last out, first back," to the Z reservists as a whole.
§ Mr. Harold Macmillan (Bromley)
May I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman what proportion will be in the Territorial Army call-up and what proportion in the Army?
§ Mr. Henderson
One hundred and fifteen thousand. It is expected that the great bulk of the warning notices will be sent out by the end of the first week in March, although, by reason of the numbers involved, it is a formidable task for the War Office.
As regards the Royal Air Force, we are calling up a maximum of 10,000 officers and men for 15 days' training. The number of officers will be very small, about 260, and they have been selected on account of their suitability for employment in the Fighter Control Branch. They will be trained on up-to-date equipment used in the control and reporting organisation. As regards the airmen, the men have been selected individually from those technical and operating tradesmen most recently released from the Service in the trade concerned. We have had to select a large number of those who were released in 1946, but only three who were released in 1945. The despatch of warning notices to airmen was completed on 7th February. Like the officers, they will be given a choice of periods of training between 2nd June and the 8th September and every effort will be made to meet their wishes, although this may not be possible in all cases.
As regards the Auxiliary Air Force Squadrons, we intend to call up 10 fighter squadrons on or about 16th April and the remaining 10 on or about 16th July. They will be trained for part of the three months alongside a Regular day squadron at a fighter station and will also complete a period of gunnery training. Where practicable, the residue of the three months will be spent at the squadron's local airfield. The intensive training we hope to give them will bring squadrons up to a fully operational state and it will be possible to keep them at this state by means of their normal camp and weekend training. We hope to issue warning notices for the Auxiliary squadrons this week through squadron commanding officers. I should like at this stage to express my gratitude to the Territorial Army and Air Force Associations for the help that they have promised to give us.
Officers of the R.A.F. Reserve and of the R.A.F.V.R., and men of the Air Force Reserve who have received refresher training in aircrew duties since the war are to be liable to be called up for three months' training, except in the case of the 1765 200 whom we desire to have as flying instructors, and who will be called up for 18 months' service. The total numbers affected will, as I think the House knows, be 1,000 for three months' training and 200 whom we require as flying instructors. The aircrew called up for three months will be pilots, and the object of their training will be to fit them for service as reinforcements in Fighter Command. We are making the selection on the basis of age and experience. Most of them will be under 29 years of age and none over 31.
The flying refresher course will last for 12 weeks, and it is hoped to commence the series of courses about the middle of April. Pilots will be asked to state the period during which it would be least inconvenient for them to come up for training, and we shall do what we can to meet their convenience. Reserve officers will be given the opportunity of applying for short service commissions, and Reserve non-commissioned officer pilots will be able to apply for Regular engagements. We hope, like the Navy, to meet our requirements as far as possible from volunteers, and we are sending out the first invitations this week.
§ Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison (Glasgow, Scotstoun)
What consideration has been given to making up Air Force or Army pay to the approximate equivalent of the civilian pay of the men during their period of service? Has that been considered?
§ Mr. Henderson
The question of relating civilian rates of pay in the way that was applied during the war, especially in the case of civil servants, is under consideration, but not in the wider field. As regards flying instructors those selected will be highly skilled pilots all of whom will be under 37 years of age.
As regards the Navy, the Admiralty do not at present intend to call up any of their equivalent of the Z reservists for 15 days' training. The Admiralty requirement is for experienced personnel to enable more ships to be put into full commission to improve the state of readiness of the Reserve Fleet and to increase the front line strength of Naval aviation. This requirement is being met by the retention of officers and men for a period of 18 months beyond their normal period of service, and by calling up for a similar period 600 officers and 6,000 Royal Fleet 1766 Reservists. It is hoped to get the required number of officers from volunteers from the Retired and Emergency Lists of the Royal Navy and from the Naval Reserves.
I should like to deal with the purpose and scope of the Clauses of the Bill. Clause 1 enables the Service authority, that is the Army Council or the Air Council, to call up in 1951 for one period of service in the United Kingdom members of the classes specified in the Table. The procedure for calling up persons contained in Clause 2 is modelled largely on the National Service Act, 1948. A minimum of 21 days' notice of call-up will be given. In fact most persons will receive considerably more than 21 days' notice, and in addition they will have received the preliminary warning notice.
§ Mr. Henderson
I do not know why the right hon. and gallant Gentleman objects to "persons." I do not see any-thing objectionable in its use.
§ Captain Crookshank
Generally speaking one talks about "men." I was wondering whether there was any question of calling up women. If that is not so, why not talk about men?
§ Mr. Henderson
In the context in which it was used the meaning of the word was quite clear. The hon. and gallant Gentleman knows that we are not calling up women. If objection is taken, however, to the use of the word "persons" I will try to substitute "men."
§ Mr. Henderson
I do not think that there is anything objectionable in referring to someone as a "person." [Interruption.] Very well, I will refer to "men."
If a man fails without reasonable excuse to present himself in compliance with the training notice he will be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £25 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one month, or to both fine and imprisonment. He will also be liable to be called up for a later date.
1767 It is necessary to make sure that the reservists who are recalled are fit for the training they will be required to undertake. It is proposed, in Clause 3, to arrange for the medical examination of the reservists recalled for 15 days' training to be undertaken, on behalf of the Air Ministry and the War Office, by the medical boards established by the Ministry of Labour and National Service under the National Service Acts. There are 93 of these boards covering the whole country.
This course is considered to have several advantages. It will ensure that reservists will not travel to their training stations only to be found unfit, with unnecessary waste of their time and unnecessary dislocation of industry. It will avoid taking up any part of the 15 days' training period for medical examination. Seven days' notice will be given to reservists before they are called before a medical board. These medical boards, which consist of a chairman and four other doctors, have been examining men on the functional basis used in the Services since June, 1948, known as "Pulheems." They are, therefore, fully familiar with Service medical standards. Where it is possible to say at once whether a man is fit or not he will be told after his medical examination.
§ Brigadier Head (Carshalton)
The right hon. and learned Gentleman used a word which I did not quite hear—it sounded like "Pulheems." I do not know what it means.
§ Mr. Henderson
I do not know whether the hon. and gallant Member is like a judge displaying judicial ignorance or whether he does not know. I shall be very glad to tell him. The old system consisted of the grading of physical capacity—A.1, A.2, etc. The system to which I have referred is more related to the man's ability to perform various functions rather than to his purely physical condition. For example, I might say that the letter "M," which comes into the term, refers to mental capacity, and "H" refers to hearing.
§ Mr. Frederick Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South)
Will my right hon. and learned Friend say what this word, which sounded like "Pulheems," is?
§ Mr. Henderson
I will spell it—P-U-L-H-E-E-M-S. It is a code word which is very well known to anyone who served in the Army or the Air Force. If the House is interested I will explain it in detail. "P" stands for physical capacity, "U" for upper limbs, "L" for locomotion, "H" for hearing, "E.E." for eyes, "M" for mental capacity and "S" for emotional stability. The right hon. Member for Epsom (Mr. McCorquodale) must have had something to do with the initiation of these arrangements in the days when he served at the Ministry of Labour.
§ Mr. Henderson
Under the arrangements I have described, where it is possible to say at once whether the man is fit or not he will be told after his medical examination. In the majority of cases, however, the medical boards will furnish a detailed report and the result of a medical examination to the Service Department, which will decide, in the light of the report, whether the reservist is fit for any particular kind of training for which it is proposed to call him and will notify him as soon as possible. In this case the penalty for failure without good cause to attend the medical examination is a fine not exceeding £25. The defaulting person may be called up unexamined, in which event he would be medically examined by the Service authorities when he presented himself for duty.
In order to meet this very heavy additional load concentrated in a few months, the Ministry of Labour will find it necessary to set up a number of additional medical boards. This will reduce the number of cases in which the reservists will have to travel any appreciable distance for examination. In fixing times for examination regard will be had to the local travelling facilities so that loss of working time will be kept to a minimum.
Compensation for loss of wages and reasonable travelling expenses will be paid in the same way as applies when National Service men are summoned for their medical examination. The additional expenditure will, it is estimated, not exceed £500,000, and will be incurred by the Ministry of Labour in respect of these medical boards and the travelling 1769 and other allowances payable to the persons—or the men I should say—undergoing medical examination. These sums will be reimbersed from the appropriate Service Votes.
If, without good cause, a man presents himself for training at a date later than that specified in his training notice, and is released within 24 hours, he may be called up again subsequently by another training notice. He will also be liable for proceedings in a county court of summary jurisdiction for not complying with his notice. Reasonable travelling time to and from the place of training has to be taken into account in calculating the period for which any person may be retained. The Service authorities are authorised to make regulations determining what may be regarded as reasonable travelling time, and those regulations will have to be laid before Parliament A man called up who absents himself without leave will be liable on summary conviction to the same penalty as if he had failed to comply with his training notice. Alternatively, he may be tried for the offence either under the Army Act or the Air Force Act.
I now turn to Clause 6. The main object of this Clause is to make it an offence to incite persons to disobey a call-up or other notices served under Part I of the Bill. The justification of the Clause is the need to prevent any attempt, whether concerted or otherwise, to sabotage the measures included in the Bill for raising the preparedness of the nation, by inciting men who are to be called up under the Bill not to perform or to evade their duties or liabilities. In order to facilitate the enforcement of this provision, paragraph (a) of the Clause follows the precedent of the Incitement to Disaffection Act, 1934, in making it also an offence to be in possession of documents inciting to disobedience, if there is an intent to commit an offence under subsection (1).
The Clause also follows the precedent of the 1934 Act in empowering a High Court judge to grant a search warrant if there is reasonable ground for suspecting that an offence under the Clause has been committed. The maximum penalty for an offence under the Act of 1934 is, on conviction on indictment, imprisonment for not more than two years or a fine not exceeding £200.
§ Mr. Frederick Elwyn Jones
Can my right hon. and learned Friend say why in subsection (1) of Clause 6 it has not been thought fit to follow the precedent of the Incitement to Disaffection Act, 1934, which included the words, "maliciously and advisedly" before "endeavours"? It is a matter which has caused a good deal of comment in the country, and it might be convenient to have an explanation of it now.
§ Mr. Henderson
We have tried to follow the 1934 Act in so far as we found it applicable to the problem with which we were dealing.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
May I ask my right hon. and learned Friend if in following this precedent he is aware that the people who now sit on the Government benches strongly opposed this Incitement to Disaffection Act, and why is he following as a precedent an Act which was so bitterly denounced by the Labour Party of those days?
§ Mr. Henderson
My hon. Friend asks why are we following the precedent of an Act of Parliament passed by another Government. We were dealing with an entirely different set of circumstances then. [Laughter.] Oh yes, hon. Members opposite seem to think this humorous. Do they suggest that the international situation in 1934 is comparable with the situation that exists at the moment? Of course, they would not argue that. This Clause is related to a situation, a dangerous international situation. We are determined we shall not allow the acceleration of the programme of the Government to be destroyed by any attempt to wean Z reservists, or any other class of reservists, from what we feel to be their duty and obligation. Regarding the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, South (Mr. F. Elwyn Jones), I think that could be dealt with on Committee stage.
§ Mr. Summers (Aylesbury)
Would the right hon. Gentleman explain—because I do not think the words he has just used do explain—why he thought fit to omit the words, "maliciously and advisedly"?
§ Mr. Henderson
I will see that the hon. Member gets an answer before the end of the Debate.
1771 As I say, the maximum penalty for an offence under the 1934 Act is, on conviction on indictment, imprisonment for not more than two years or a fine not exceeding £200 or, on summary conviction, imprisonment for not more than four months, or a fine not exceeding £20. Under this Clause the maximum penalty is, on conviction on indictment, imprisonment for not more than two years or a fine not exceeding £500 or, on summary conviction, imprisonment for not more than six months or a fine not exceeding £100. These penalties are the same as those imposed by Regulation 39A, except that under that regulation, on conviction on indictment, imprisonment for not more than 14 years could be imposed. Therefore I think we are being much milder in the provisions of this Bill than under the Defence Regulation 39A. Under the Act of 1934 prosecutions cannot take place without the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Under the Clause of the Bill prosecutions require the consent of the Attorney-General.
Clauses 7 and 8 deal with protection against loss of employment for holidays, re-instatement and allied matters. As regards persons liable to be called up under the Bill for 15 days' training, it provides that they shall have protection against dismissal on account of their liability for training and protection of annual holidays similar to those which National Service men enjoy during their period of part-time National Service.
This means that one of these men dismissed by his employer solely or mainly by reason of his liability for training under the Bill, will be entitled to recover up to five weeks' remuneration from his employer as compensation. Any dispute as to whether compensation is payable and, if so, how much, will be settled, as under the 1948 Act, by the reinstatement committees established under the National Service Acts. Employers will be required to allow any annual holidays to which a man is entitled to be taken outside the training period, unless the reservist requests otherwise.
Provision is also made for the adjustment of contracts or apprenticeships affected by annual training. The provisions are similar to those which apply to National Service men. This means that, during the period of training, the parties 1772 to such contracts will be relieved of all obligations which relate to such matters as the payment of remuneration and the performance of work except where an arrangement is made between the parties themselves which provides for dealing with any of these matters. Persons liable under this Bill to be called up for periods of three months' or 18 months' service, or those who volunteer for such training or duties, are brought within the Reinstatement in Civil Employment Act, 1950. We are also including Naval or Marine Reserve officers who volunteered, and may volunteer, for a period of 18 months' service on or after 29th January last, which was the date of the Prime Minister's announcement.
This makes it an offence for an employer to dismiss any of these men before they begin their service, by reason of their liability to be called up or because they have volunteered for service. It also gives the same reinstatement rights, with the same machinery for settling disputes, as applies to National Service men in respect of their whole-time service. Protection against dismissal because of liability to perform training is also extended to men who come under Clause 1 of this Bill until the end of 1954. This means that if one of these men is dismissed after the training period this year, whether in fact he has been called up for training or not, because he might be called up for training next year, he is given appropriate protection.
I wish to make a brief reference to a related matter. Apart from the protection afforded under the Bill to the Service man's employment, it is hoped to introduce shortly a Bill to protect his superannuation rights as well as those of reservists who have been recalled for service in Korea. Consideration is also being given to the inclusion within the Bill of protection on the lines of that conferred by the Courts (Emergency Powers) Act, 1939: for example, restriction on execution and other remedies for default in payment of money; powers to defer enforcement of remedies against the dependants of Service men.
Clause 11 provides that where a man has been discharged from his obligations as a Z or other similar reservist, for the purpose of entering or enlisting in any of the Armed Forces of the Crown, and is discharged from the force so entered, then 1773 the Z or other liability shall revive. The object of this provision is to prevent a man from evading his Z liabilities by joining the Territorial Army and then obtaining his discharge therefrom. Although it is unlikely that men would seek to evade their obligations in this way, it is as well to guard against the possibility, especially in view of certain newspaper articles which have drawn attention to what may appear to be a loophole.
Clause 12 provides for the extension by Order in Council of the power to call up men for training in any of the years 1952 to 1954. Such an Order in Council may only be made in pursuance of an Address presented by each House of Parliament. Whether an extension will be necessary in any subsequent year must be determined in the light of the conditions then prevailing. I repeat the assurance of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence that no Class Z or G or volunteer reservist called up for training this year will be called up for similar training in future years. Men who volunteer in future for the Royal Auxiliary Air Force will not be liable to be called up for the three months' training again.
§ Mr. Redmayne (Rushcliffe)
Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman say whether the men of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force who are called up this year are not to be called up again?
§ Mr. Henderson
No, Sir. They are not to be called up for three months' training, except in an emergency when anyone may be called up.
This Bill is not an act of provocation but a measure of prudence. Unhappily, it reflects the state of tension in the world today, but I feel sure that the burden it entails will be cheerfully borne, in the sure knowledge that it is a valuable and, indeed, essential contribution to the maintenance of the peace of the world and the security of our own country.
§ 4.46 p.m.
§ Mr. J. P. L. Thomas (Hereford)
The Minister referred to the measures outlined by the Prime Minister in his statement of 29th January, which were discussed during the two-day defence debate on 14th and 15th February, and the general views of my right hon. and hon. Friends will still be familiar to the House. Therefore, I do not propose to 1774 go over that ground again. It is the Bill, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, and the provisions in it which we have to consider this afternoon. We have pledged ourselves to support the general intention of this scheme. We shall abide by this pledge, but I wish to stress one point before turning to the Bill itself.
We feel now, as we felt at the time when the statement was made by the Prime Minister, that this plan should have been prepared earlier and all its details fixed so that, at least, it could have been ready to be published in the early autumn. After all, the difficulties which must be overcome are not new, and the problem for which a solution must be found is no fresh problem; nor does it differ materially from the problem with which this country was faced after the outbreak of hostilities in Korea. A plan of this nature affecting personally so many people should have been produced at the earliest possible moment.
Through the delay in the appearance of this Bill we find ourselves discussing its Second Reading when the call-up of certain members of His Majesty's Forces is already in the process of being carried out. As the Secretary of State for War informed us over a week ago, preliminary notices of the call-up were going out that night and, presumably, they have now been received by many of the people affected by this Bill, the Second Reading of which we are now discussing.
I must say frankly that we on this side of the House consider that this is yet another example of muddle and mismanagement which we have experienced at the hands of the Government in all questions of defence. I should have had no intention of introducing a controversial note had it not been for the broadcast on Saturday night by the Minister of Defence. Because my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition bas found it necessary to criticise this muddle and mismanagement, he is assailed by the Minister of Defence as a mischief-maker benefiting neither his party nor the country. The Minister of Defence also said in his broadcast about the Leader of the Opposition:He now says that Labour Ministers cannot be trusted to build up a strong defence organisation. But from 1940 to 1945 Mr. Churchill 1775 relied on his Labour colleagues to undertake those tasks for which he now says they are unfitted.I was in a Service Department during the war when the Leader of the Opposition was Prime Minister, and we who were then in Service Departments knew only too well that our work was under the constant guidance and vigilance of my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). I maintain that what we are now witnessing is the result of the deterioration which set in since that guiding hand was removed.
Let me now turn to the provisions of the Bill. I agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman that they fall under three main headings. First, there are the Clauses specifying the categories of men to be called up and the maximum period which they are to serve, and which also make provision for the procedure of calling up, for medical inspection and so on. Then, there is the second heading, dealing with provisions which make it an offence to incite disobedience of persons called up or liable to be called up; and, thirdly, there are provisions for protection against dismissal, for annual holidays in the case of those called up for 15 days, and the protection, about which the right hon. and learned Gentleman told us, against loss of employmen and reinstatement rights of certain categories called up for longer periods.
The main points which I should like to raise, and upon which, quite frankly, I think the House should receive more information than has been given, so far, concern matters arising under the first and third of the headings I have mentioned. There are four such points, and I shall deal with them first before turning to matters of a more detailed nature.
The first point arises from the provisions in Clause 2 for the machinery for dealing with objections to the call-up. The House has been assured by the Minister of Defence that there will be a minimum of hardship—I think those were his words—and these appeals or objections on the grounds of hardship, or on any other legitimate grounds, must be fully and properly considered. Particularly is this necessary in view of the substantial sentence of imprisonment, mentioned by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, which under Clause 2 (3), it is proposed to inflict on 1776 persons convicted of failure to obey the notice. The wording of this Cause, which is a very important one, is as follows, and I hope the House will not mind my reading it:(3) Where a notice has been served on a person under this section and has not been superseded under subsection (5) of this section or cancelled under the next following section, then if he fails, otherwise than by reason of such sickness, or other reasonable excuse as may be allowed in the prescribed manner, to present himself in compliance with the notice. he shall be liable—and so on. The difficulty seems to me to be what may be allowed as a reasonable excuse, so that, obviously, very careful consideration will have to be given to the matter in the Committee stage of this Bill.
Inevitably, there are many claims put forward against a call-up of this nature, which affects a number of people who have now been in civilian life for considerable periods, even a number of years, and who are in very different walks in civilian life. We on this side, and I am sure the House as a whole, set great store by the speedy settlement of these individual claims. The right hon. and learned Gentleman dealt with the medical boards, but in the settlement of these general appeals and claims, experience in the past has shown that it is no easy matter and that it often requires an immense amount of organisation in advance. The House has only to remember the very intricate machinery built up by the Service Departments to deal solely with individual applications for release on compassionate grounds during the war, and even more so during the period of the release scheme. and, indeed, in connection with the deferment of call-up during the war. Extensive though these schemes were, many hon. Members had doubts whether these arrangements were at all times adequate.
The Minister told us today a certain amount about the details of these arrangements, but, frankly, I do not think he told us enough, and I hope that we may have the answers to some of the questions, which I am going to ask, from the Financial Secretary to the War Office when he winds up the debate later. It is a key, or certainly one of the keys, to the whole Bill, a Bill which we have had very little time to consider. I therefore hope that we may have the fullest information from the Financial Secretary when he replies.
1777 May I now turn to the second point on which I am seeking information? This concerns the place to which the individual has to report, and is connected with the provisions regarding travelling time. I appreciate that in fixing the period of 15 days for which Army personnel are to be called up, the Government have been influenced to a large extent by the fact that 15 days is the normal period of the Territorial Army camps. If the arrangements are similar to those concerning the Territorial Army, then obviously it is logical to make provisions in Clause 4 which reduce the period by a reasonable allowance for travelling time. Any reduction of this short period in the case of reservists, on grounds that are purely administrative, is unfortunate. None the less, I am certain that, in all parts of the House, it is the hope that everything possible will be done to lessen the amount of time wasted in journeys.
We still have no clear picture of the reception arrangements concerning these reservists. Men of the Territorial Army, generally speaking, will be living in the region of their unit or sub-unit headquarters. In some cases, the camp will be quite near, although I know that, in some others, it may be in an entirely different part of the country. In the latter case, the men will go direct from their homes to the camp, fully equipped and ready to take part in their training as soon as they arrive, but what about the Class Z men? This is a selective, rather than a geographical call-up, and men of one county may not be joining a Territorial Army unit located in that county, or, even if they do, that unit may be assembling in a camp in a different and perhaps distant county.
Where will these reservists be ordered to report? Surely, they will not be asked to report to drill halls to be equipped and assembled, and then despatched to a distant camp? If so, their travelling time may run into many days. Can it be confirmed by the Financial Secretary that they will be ordered to join at the camp itself and proceed direct to that camp from their homes? Furthermore, in selecting the men for call-up and choosing the units in which they will serve, what further steps have been taken to reduce, so far as is practicable, the time taken in travelling?
Now I come to the third of my four main points—the undertaking given by the 1778 Minister of Defence that for these reservists this call-up is a "once for all." In connection with this assurance, there are two Clauses in the Bill which seem to me to be very far from clear. Clause 1 opens with the following words, which the right hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned in passing:Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Service Authority may in the year nineteen hundred and fifty-one call up persons of any of the descriptions specified in the first column of the following table for one period of service in the United Kingdom …Clause 12, which the right hon. and learned Gentleman also mentioned, confers power on His Majesty, by Order in Council, to extend the provisions of Clause 1 and of Part I of the Bill to all or any of the years 1952, 1953 and 1954. The operative word in Clause 1 seems to be "persons," and the use of this word within its context, and combined with the powers conferred by Clause 12, seems to mean that there is no restriction as to who shall be called up within the categories mentioned in any of the years stated, provided they are not called up more than once in any year.
The power is, in fact, given in the Bill to call up any man twice, three times or four times, if need be, in four consecutive years. How does this tally with the words of the Minister of Defence in the debate on 14th February, when he said:Moreover, I can give the House this assurance—that no Class Z or Class G or Volunteer reservist called up for training this year will he called up for similar training in future years.He went on to say:except in case of emergency or mobilisation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th February, 1951, Vol. 484, c. 418.]What was the sort of emergency that the Minister had in mind when he gave that assurance? 41 repeat again that I cannot see that the statement of the Minister of Defence can be made to tally with the provisions of the Bill, especially as far as Clause 12 is concerned. Indeed, this contradiction seems to me to produce some rather serious consequences.
In a debate in another place last week, the First Lord of the Admiralty said that reservists would be joining units to which they would be allocated in an emergency. This, presumably, means that the men to be selected are those who will be required to fill specific holes—if I may call them 1779 so—in the formations already in being or in birth, and more particularly in the administrative and specialist units required to weld those formations into an Army. In other words, they are men required, at least so far as the active Army is concerned, to make that Army ready to function as such on mobilisation.
If that is so, and as men with these technical and administrative qualifications are known to be scarce, it is also presumably true to say that practically every man with suitable qualifications, and who is not too old, has been selected for this year's call-up. Surely, there will not be many more, if any, suitably qualified men available for call up in 1952 and subsequent years? Would not a further call-up mean, in fact, the appearance of what in cricket would be a very much second or third eleven, or, in football parlance, a Second or Third Division side? It seems to me that the Government will be forced between Scylla and Charybdis. If next year more men are required to be called up by Order in Council, either they will be the same men again, in which case the Minister's pledge will be of no avail, or, as I said before, they will be those of second or third eleven quality.
The fourth and last of my general questions is about the protection of civilian jobs and holidays, and the further provisions regarding loss of employment and reinstatement rights. The right hon. and learned Gentleman dealt very fully with these matters in his speech, but I should like to call the attention of the Financial Secretary to the War Office to Clause 7 which provides that men liable to be called up for 15 days shall have protection against dismissal and in regard to annual holidays similar to that of National Service men who are serving their period of part-time National Service in the Auxiliary Forces.
Clause 8 provides that individuals liable to be called up for the longer periods, that is, the three-months men and the 18-months men including officers of the Naval and Marine Reserves, mentioned by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, shall have the same protection against loss of employment and the same reinstatement rights as National Service men enjoy during the period of whole-time service. But what about the 1780 Territorial Army itself and other Volunteer Reservists? The possibility of including some provisions in this Bill in order to give them a measure of protection in these matters must, I feel, have been considered before the Bill was drafted, but there are no such provisions in the Bill in its present form.
I know that this question has been under consideration for a long time, and I would have hoped that the publication of the long-delayed plan to call up these Reservists, which makes legal provision for such call-up, might have provided the opportunity for reaching a decision.
It seems to me that the present position, particularly the position in the Territorial Army, is certainly somewhat anomalous. Territorial Army units already consist of National Service men, who enjoy the full protection in regard to dismissal and to their annual holiday, and also of volunteer members who do not. By now, some of the first National Service men to be transferred to the Territorial Army will, I hope, have assumed—as we want them to assume—volunteer status, and incurred the additional training commitments which the change to that status brings. But, in doing what we wish them to do, they lose, I understand, the protection they had first enjoyed.
When these Reservists join their Territorial camps for these 15 days, they, too, are to be given full protection. Yet, if they voluntarily join the Territorial Army, either now or following their period of call-up, they will, under the terms of the Bill, no longer be protected. On the other hand, it is surely hoped that a number of these men may become voluntary members of Territorial Army units, but this situation hardly encourages them to do so.
I appreciate that there are arguments against giving volunteers similar protection to those serving compulsorily, and I understand that even some of the men now serving in the Territorial Army as volunteers are not anxious to receive it. But my point is that, by now, all the arguments, both for and against the extension of this protection to volunteers, must be fully known and considered, and I very much hope that it may be possible for the Financial Secretary to the War Office to tell us what that decision is, and also what policy the Government propose to adopt.
1781 Before I go further, may I summarise these points? These are my four main questions. First, may we have further details about the machinery for the appeal against call-up? Secondly, can we be assured that the men will go direct from their homes to the camps? Thirdly, can we have an explanation of how the Minister's assurance that the call-up is once-for-all tallies with the terms of the Bill? Fourthly, what is the Government's policy about protection of employment and reinstatement rights for men of the Volunteer Reserves.
There are two further points which I know the House will want to discuss, and which have already been fully referred to by the right hon. and learned Gentleman in the speech with which he opened the debate. The first of these is the punishment for absence without leave. I note from Clause 5 (1) that all those whom it is proposed to call up will, if members of His Majesty's Military Forces, be subject to Military Law, or if members of the Air Forces, to the Air Force Act during the period of their call-up. But Clause 5 (2) provides that if any of these men go absent without leave during this period, when they have been made soldiers or airmen for disciplinary purposes, they will be liable to what is an essentially civilian punishment, that is, imprisonment or a fine. It is not clear whether these punishments are to be inflicted by a Service authority or by the civil courts. This is no doubt a question of some legal complexity; but to the layman—and I am a layman in these matters—it seems a curious procedure to mix the Service and civil codes for dealing with offences.
My last point, which is also one of extreme legal complexity, concerns the provisions of Clause 6 which deal with the offence of encouraging Reservists to disobey their orders, a Clause with which the right hon. and learned Gentleman dealt very fully in his speech. But to me the two subsections read together, appear to make it an offence to have an intent to endeavour to incite, or, in more simple words, to try to try to make a man disobey orders. I presume the interpretation all hinges on the word "incite," but unlike the right hon. and learned Gentleman who opened the debate, I am a layman in these matters and I leave the interpretation and the implications thereof to hon. and learned 1782 Members behind me who have the legal qualifications which I lack.
There are many more points of a detailed character which hon. Members, and especially hon. and gallant Members from all three Services behind me, will wish to raise during the passage of this Bill and during the debate this afternoon; but I repeat what I said at the beginning, that we have given our pledge to support the Government in this Bill and, therefore, we shall not oppose the Second Reading at the end of today's debate.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees)
Apart from the introductory remarks of the, hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. J. P. L. Thomas), I do not think anyone can complain about the tone or manner of his speech. He has been constructive and has asked a number of questions which are worrying many of us on this side of the House and to which I hope we shall get answers later.
Personally, I have no quarrel with the principle of the recall of R.A.F. and Army Reservists for the period of 15 days' training. I think we accept that it is our duty to be as prepared as possible in present-day circumstances. The recall of the Reservists is another part of the effort the Government are making, not to prepare for war, but to prepare to make war impossible. But I think it is true, and also right, that the Service Departments should not be making excessive demands at this particular time. We are not yet upon a war economy and any measures more extensive than those intended in this Bill would be excessive and might, instead of bringing in strength, bring in a certain amount of weakness.
I want to deal for a few moments with the question of hardship, because with the best will in the world in operating the call-up there are certain to be individual cases of hardship and grievance. I hope they will be met as far as possible. I am convinced that the £4 bounty in addition to the pay men will get in the Forces will not be adequate, in every circumstance, to meet some of the dislocation which will arise in taking the breadwinner away from the family even for such a short period as a fort night. I should like to think that a system of National Service grants can operate in the case of these Reservists. 1783 If that were so, it might alleviate some of the worst cases of hardship.
There is another point regarding the vexed question of pensions. No one can tell what may happen to these Reservists. There may be cases where, through accident or otherwise, they may be invalided in these 15 days. Where the call-up is for such a short period, we ought to accept the principle that if a Z man is fit to be called up for 15 days and at the end of that time is unfit, he is obviously entitled to a pension. That, again, would go a long way to relieve some of the fears which may be felt with regard to this matter.
Another point which I hope my lion. Friend the Financial Secretary to the War Office will deal with is the position of a man who changes his job or receives promotion between the date when he is notified that he will be called up and the actual date of the call-up. As I understand it from the Quiz, there is no provision for a man to appeal on those grounds. I hope some provision can be made, because it is most likely that if this is not done a man will be sterilised in his present position and may be debarred from improving himself in the months that lie ahead.
The most important point I want to raise is the length of time of the call-up. There has been criticism that the 15-day period is not long enough for serious purposes. Various reasons have been given by the Minister why this period has been selected. Although there has been some criticism that the period is not long enough, I do not think I have heard anyone put forward an alternative.
I certainly do not propose a longer period, because I think that unless it were made very long, it would be no better than the present period. What I insist on is that full use shall be made of the time the men are in camp. Despite the protestations of Service Departments that they are using the men they have to the full, within the National Service Acts, I do not think any of us have been fully convinced that that is so. All the reasons we have put forward why those men are not being used to the full have been fobbed off with promises that the matter is always under review and that there is a Commission investigating it.
1784 I warn my right hon. Friend that if these Z men go with the best will in the world and when they get to camp find time wasted and find that they are having to hang about, they will not be contented, and I should not like to be the commanding officer of those men. I hope that plans have been worked out in detail beforehand as far as possible to make sure that the men use the full amount of time for the essential purposes for which they have been called.
As has been rightly said, this call-up goes against the principle of all other calls-up. In fact, it is selective. Any selective call-up must be arbitrary. It falls with unequal effect upon two people with the same qualifications and probably living in the same street. It is all the more essential, because of this inequality, for the Government to explain fully to everyone concerned the reasons for it and the details of its operation.
My complaint so far has been that, owing to the delay in publishing the details, many millions of people have felt affected and influenced whereas in actual fact the number concerned is really small, And we still have no guarantee that the 235,000 Army people said to be affected will, in actual fact, be more than 200,000 when allowances have been made for those who cannot be traced or are in reserved occupations, or who will not fulfil the medical conditions, and so on. I think my right hon. Friend indicated that it is not proposed to add to the number of men who have been warned that they will be called up to bring the number to 235,000. In fact, that is the number from which the group is to be selected and not the target itself.
This selection is arbitrary and affects people unequally. Therefore it is all the more important to know on what basis it has been arrived at. I read in the Quiz that the Service authorities have made their selection, then they have sent it to the Ministry of Labour who have vetted it to see if the men are in reserved occupations, and then it has gone back to the Service Departments who have picked out the trades and professions they require. In the end that obviously must be a very hit-or-miss affair, and therefore I should like to have more details of the machinery of this call-up.
1785 Once it was announced that the call-up was to be for a period of 15 days and the number was specified, there was a complete change in the atmosphere about this Z call-up. The kind of panic and hysteria which was prevalent in the Press before, has given way to something like good humour about it, and there is a danger that this period may be looked upon as a holiday. That would be quite wrong. It would be the wrong kind of emphasis to look upon it as a holiday at a training camp.
§ Mr. Chetwynd
I will not argue with the hon. Member about that. We all know that the whole purpose is to take Territorials away and give them a kind of holiday with serious training.
§ Mr. Chetwynd
No, and I do not think the hon. Member need have put that point when I am trying to make a helpful speech. It is quite unreasonable. There is some danger that the value of these 15 days might be depreciated by that kind of atmosphere. When these men go to camp, it must be remembered that they are only one degree removed from civilians. They may have been away from Service life for four or five years and may have forgotten everything they knew while in the Service. Obviously it would be expecting too much from them if they were treated in too régimental a manner. I hope that will not take place, but that they will be treated with every decency and that discipline will become secondary. I hope that they will be treated all the time in a common sense way.
§ Brigadier Peto (Devon, North)
Would not the hon. Gentleman suggest putting some words into the Bill to bring it into a sort of kindergarten state?
§ Mr. Chetwynd
The hon. and gallant Gentleman is deliberately misinterpreting what I am saying. If we want the best from these men—as we all do—it is no use treating them otherwise than as what they are—people who have been in civilian life for a considerable time, who are prepared to do their best and who, in return, want human, decent treatment. 1786 We all know there have been jokes about men leaving the service and stating what they were going to do to the sergeant-major when they met him in civilian life. We have to make certain that there is no paying off of old scores and no sort of antagonism between the Regular contingent and Z Reservists.
As I said earlier, there are nearly four million men in the Reserve. It is an amorphous kind of grouping and it must be a very complicated task for the Service Departments to get even these 235,000 men. I suggest that we need a better classification of this Reserve so that men can be called up more easily in the future. The age—service grouping worked for demobilisation. Could we not have the same age—service groupings in reverse to deal with the Reservists? For instance, all those who pass through the machine this year could be taken out of Class Z Reserve and placed in some other Reserve designated J or H, or some other letter of the alphabet, according to priority. Rather than bother to call up people next year, if it is not strictly necessary, could we not spend the coming months making a better classification of the Reservists and rearranging them into different sections, in order of priority? That would be worth while.
Finally, we have to be sure, as far as we can, that there is fairness of treatment between all people in the State. Because this is a selective call-up and because, by its 'nature, it must deal with trained men, it may leave in the minds of those called up a sense of injustice and a feeling that others who did not serve in the war or who were in reserved occupations—or who may now find themselves in reserved occupations—are not fulfilling their duty to the State. It is most important that we should give to those who are called up the feeling that they are being fairly treated by comparison with others. I am not sure what arrangement we can make to bring that about, but I have one suggestion to make which I think would go some way towards meeting the point.
All those who are given deferments for one reason or another ought to have some obligation to do some kind of Territorial service—and I hope hon. and gallant Members opposite will not think I am trying to put conscripted men into the Territorial Army—or some kind of Civil 1787 Defence service, or some work of that sort. It is most important that we should tackle this problem. We should then do away with all the talk which says, "I did it last time; let somebody else do it this time." Such talk is dangerous.
I want to reinforce what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, South (Mr. Frederick Elwyn Jones), about Clause 6. When we reach the Committee stage we must make this Clause far more definite than it is. At the moment, almost anyone criticising the conduct of foreign affairs or making a pacifist speech could come within the scope of the Clause. Obviously, that is what it is not intended to do. I hope that the Minister will be able to give us some assurance tonight that Clause 6 will not be the wide net which it is at the moment but will be designed for the specific cases of incitement which I think all of us deplore.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Strauss (Norwich, South)
I know there are a great number of hon. Members on both sides of the House who wish to speak in this debate, many of them from great knowledge of service matters, and for that reason I think it proper that I should confine myself entirely to the Clause last mentioned by the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd)—Clause 6. My remarks will concern solely that Clause.
I imagine that the Government, and probably the House generally, will agree with me when I say what I think the Government's problem was, or ought to have been, in drafting a Clause of this kind. There were two matters which they ought to keep in mind—both of importance. The first was, of course, to deal with a rather mean and contemptible form of crime. That is a legitimate and proper object for the Government. But another object which I think they ought also to have in mind is to preserve freedom of speech, freedom of writing and freedom of study. I have tried to state those objects fairly. Both of them are important and the Government and this House have to try to see that both are fulfilled.
We shall never preserve freedom unless, we always bear in mind one very important principle when we create a new criminal offence. The late Professor 1788 Kenny, in a famous chapter of his "Outlines of Criminal Law," gave six criteria which ought to be satisfied before anything is made a crime, and I will quote the second:The criminal offence must admit of being defined with legal precision.I agree with the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees that the bulk of detailed criticism of this Clause will probably take place on the Committee stage. Nevertheless, there is one point which strikes me as of sufficient importance to bring to the Government's attention at once. The right hon. and learned Gentleman who moved the Second Reading said that Clause 6 was modelled to a considerable extent on the Incitement to Disaffection Act of 1934. I am bound to say I thought he was not so happy when he dealt with an interruption from his own benches on that subject. The Clause is admittedly partly based on that Statute, but there are important differences. That Statute, in its very first Clause, defined quite clearly the criminal offence there in question:If any person maliciously and advisedly endeavours to seduce any member of His Majesty's Forces from his duty or allegiance.…That is a perfectly clear statement of the offence. I am bound to say, in fairness to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, that in his speech he was equally clear in defining the offence which he thought ought to be dealt with. It is also defined with equal clarity in the long title. It is defined with the same clarity in the Explanatory Memorandum. In the speech, in the long Title, in the Explanatory Memorandum, in all three we are told that what is made an offence is inciting—but that is quite untrue.
Hon. Members will find in Clause 6 that the words defining the offence are "endeavours to incite." I find that a very vague and curious phrase. It is perfectly true that the Act of 1934 hasendeavours to seduce … from allegiance.but there the word "endeavours" was necessary. But "endeavours to incite" is a curious expression, because the word "incitement" itself embodies the conception of an attempt. The matter becomes a little more curious when we look at subsection (2) which describes what happens when any person has an intent to commit the crime that has just been 1789 described. Under that subsection he intends to endeavour to incite somebody. That language is not too clear, and when legislation by its nature must be keenly criticised by hon. Members in every party who, however eager to support proper provision of penalties for crimes, desire to avoid vague definition of offences with consequent unnecessary risks to liberty, we should construe those words very carefully.
I for my part should like to give the Government timely warning. I am raising this matter on the Second Reading because I know the Government wish to deal with the later stages in the latter part of this week. I think that one of the things which will have to be considered when we reach the Committee stage is whether this Clause as now drafted is outside the long title of the Bill. I think that is a matter on which, if neither the long Title nor the Clause is amended, the Chairman in Committee may be invited to give a ruling.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman would not wish to mislead the House.
§ Mr. Hughes
The hon. and learned Member purported to read subsection (2) of Clause 6. He said it read "If any person, with intent to endeavour to commit "and so on. The word "endeavour" is not there at all. The subsection reads:It any person, with intent to commit …
§ Mr. Strauss
The hon. and learned Gentleman has, I am afraid, missed the point. If he had read on, he would have found that subsection (2) says:If any person, with intent to commit or to aid, abet, counsel, or procure the commission of an offence under the preceding subsection.The words in the preceding subsection are "endeavours to incite." Therefore, I was completely right in saying that the intent referred to in subsection (2) was an intent to endeavour to incite. I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman has now got that clear.
I have dealt with the point relating to the long title. In fairness to the Government and to the draftsmen, I should like to state that the words "endeavours to incite" do not appear for the first time in this Measure. The words "endeavours to incite" are to be found in Section 1 1790 of the Incitement to Mutiny Act, 1797, which is still one of the principal Statutes of this branch of the law, and they are also to be found in Section 12 of the Naval Discipline Act, 1866. Of course, I shall listen with the greatest interest to the reply to this debate and to anything that may be said by the Law Officers, but, as far as I can see, those words are inappropriate in this Measure.
The point is strengthened by an omission, which I take to be a deliberate omission, of the words "maliciously and advisedly." There might have been a good reason for not putting those words in if they had never been in before, but all legal and, indeed, I think lay Members of the House know that it may be a matter to which the courts direct attention if they find words such as those in earlier Statutes dealing with this matter, and then find them apparently deliberately omitted in a later Statute. I think I have made the point clear to the House, and I thought that in fairness to the Government this point should be made clear even on the Second Reading.
I am not opposed to a Clause of this kind, but I think that, if liberty is to be properly preserved, the greatest care must be taken to examine the words which are set down, and I do not think that the words as they at present appear are satisfactory.
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
If I may say so to my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Air, I think that the fundamental offence which this Bill commits is to include, in what may have been a necessary piece of legislative machinery for the purpose of the Class Z Reserve temporarily recalled to the Colours, an unnecessary attack upon, or restriction of, the civil liberties of this country.
This Bill without Clause 6 would, I think, have been largely a non-controversial Measure. Whatever anyone's view may be about the general atmosphere of politics in these matters nowadays, about re-armament policy, about policy in international affairs and about all the surrounding facts which have led to this recall, and indeed whatever anyone may think about the policy of the recall, nevertheless no one would have thought of making the mere machinery—the policy 1791 having already been approved by the House—the occasion of serious controversy if it had not been for Clause 6.
The first thing I should like to know is why Clause 6 is there at all. It has always been a misdemeanour at common law for anyone to persuade or seek to persuade anyone else not to perform military service that he is liable to perform. I should like to know why the Government were not content to rely upon that. I would say this to them in all seriousness. If they are not content to rely upon that, but feel it necessary to include in this Bill a new offence altogether, to take special powers as part of this Bill to re-define an old law or to define a new one, and take additional powers by way of sanction and make all these additions to the criminal law, are they quite satisfied that people outside this country, who are watching our affairs with very close care and anxiety, will not misinterpret their intentions?
Will they not say, "This country must indeed be in a very bad way in these matters; the Government cannot rely very confidently upon the loyalty of their citizens or their willingness to perform these services, for look—in the very Bill which requires them to perform those services they have found it necessary to include a new and a very wide-ranged limitation of civil liberties "? In the enactment of laws, and particularly in the enactment of criminal laws, we have to have regard not merely to the logic of the business, not merely to the ethics of the business; but we have to have a sense of proportion, too. It is only where the mischief aimed at is thought to be a widespread and a serious mischief that any legislature needs, or feels that it needs, to take to itself new powers of this kind.
Some reference has been made on both sides of the House to the Incitement to Disaffection Act, 1934. Well, there was a lot of opposition to that Act. One does not want to take up the time of the House now, but when we come to consider this Clause in Committee we may find that many of my hon. and right hon. Friends who are now sitting on the Front Bench have had in the past words of the ripest wisdom upon these matters to address to the House. [Interruption.] I want to keep strictly in order, 1792 and certainly we shall be able, on this occasion, to rely with even greater confidence upon the quick intelligence of the Chair, on the point of whether we are in order or not.
§ Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, North)
On a point of order. Is it in order for hon. Members in the course of debate to discuss the competence of the Chair with regard to any speech a Chairman may have made in the past?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
I did not understand that the hon. Hember was making a reference in those terms at all.
§ Mr. Silverman
I was doing my utmost to avoid that very thing. But what I was about to say, with regard to the debates in a former House of Commons, in which many of my hon. and right hon. Friends played a distinguished part, was that it still has to be remember that at that time the evil, as I thought it was then—as many other thought it was then—nevertheless did arise out of an actual event and a certain amount, I would say of panic, and I suppose the Government of the day would havesaid of reasonable anxiety, that the thing might be repeated. When that Act was introduced, and when it ultimately found its way to the Statute Book, it was in relation to an existing situation; and the Government of the day could say it related to actual mutinous happenings and incitement to those happenings, and they could say, "This might occur again, and the law is not strong enough."
But is there anything of that kind today? Have the Government any reason to think that there is such a widespread opposition to this that, unless they include in the Bill heavy new sanctions of the criminal law, they are not likely to have their orders obeyed? If so, then I would say that in peace time we ought to look at the whole policy very seriously again. If not, then I would say that there is no justification for including such a Clause as this, and that the Government would be wiser to rely upon the common law, which would give them sufficient protection against any kind of attack on this kind of thing that we have any reason to expect.
Now, again, I do not want to make a speech which it may be necessary to 1793 repeat on the Committee stage. Although it may be well enough in order to do it, I think it would be wrong to do it if hon. Members are to have a debate on the Clause again when we come to the Committee stage. But it is not wrong, I think, to point out how very wide and how very vague this thing is.
First, as to its width. There is this difference between this Bill and the Incitement to Disaffection Act we have been talking about. One difference I have quoted already—that that Act was in relation to an existing danger; or, at any rate, to what was held out to be an existing danger. The other difference—and I think this is, perhaps, a more important difference—is that the number of persons in respect of whom the offence was defined in the 1934 Act, was very limited indeed. We had no Z Reserve in those days; we had no conscription Act in force in those days; the people who could be seduced from their duties were only those who were actually serving in the Regular Armed Forces of the day—a very limited number indeed. But the numbers who may be affected by this are almost as wide as the nation itself.
If the Clause is not limited to those who have been called upon to serve, it includes people who may be liable to be called upon, and there is nothing in the Clause that can protect the accused person, in so far as his knowledge is concerned. The prosecution, under this Clause, will not have to prove that the accused person knew that the person he was talking to, or some person within hearing of what he was saying to other people, was a person who had not been called up but who might be liable at some other date to be called up.
One can imagine a number of men having a discussion about military affairs in the Far East—shall we say, in a club?—or in the bar of a public house?—or better to say, perhaps, the second of those instances: somewhere to which the general public have access. Suppose a man said, "I cannot see that the Chinese have done anything wrong. I do not think we ought, whatever anybody else may think, to be involved in war with China about Korea. "Or, better still: "I do not think we ought to be involved in war with China about Formosa, and I think people ought not to be willing, in those circumstances, to join the Army. "That could 1794 very well be an offence under this Clause, even though the man who used the words had no reason to know that there was anybody in his audience who had been called up or who was liable to be called up at all.
In other words, this could be interpreted as a complete ban against the discussion of our policy in international relations and international affairs except in such terms as the Government would approve. I am not saying for a single moment that any such sinister design as that or intention as that is in the mind of the Government or of any member of the Government or of the draftsmen or the Law Officers, who, one presumes—and I am sorry I do not see one present—must have been consulted with regard to this Clause; but we all know it is not, in these matters, the intention in the minds of legislators to which the courts ultimately have regard; it is simply and solely the words of the Measure itself.
§ Mr. Wyatt (Birmingham, Aston)
Surely my hon. Friend would only be right if this hypothetical person about whom he is talking were to add, "And I recommend that anybody who is liable to be called up under this Act should refuse to serve when ordered to do so." It is very specific in the Clause.
§ Mr. Silverman
My hon. Friend says, "It is very specific in the Clause." I hope that he will do me the kindness sometime—now, if he likes—to show me where it is specific in the Clause, because I cannot find it there at all.
§ Mr. Silverman
Yes, and it refers also tofailure … to perform … to the best of their ability.So that if someone undermines a man's confidence in the justice of his cause so that he does not fight as hard as he otherwise might do, does my hon. Friend say that no offence is committed? I would rather have the Clause defined so that we can have these arguments about it here, because I assure my hon. Friend that, having some little experience in these 1795 matters, I would hesitate to argue his point before any other tribunal than this one.
I repeat that I have no reason whatever to believe that there are, and I readily acquit the Government of having, any sinister designs of this kind behind the Clause. But I also repeat that it is the wording of the Clause which one has to consider and not the intentions of the Minister by whom the Bill is introduced. On the present wording, it is absolutely clear that any kind of political discussion which might have the effect of implanting any kind of doubt about the justice, rightness or expediency of what we were doing, in the mind of any person who might thereafter become liable to serve, would be a criminal offence punishable on indictment with two years' imprisonment.
If it is true, as I believe it to be true, that the Government have no intention whatever of adding to the criminal law anything so atrocious as that, then they ought to hasten between now and the Committee stage to do something about it. The thing which I would recommend them to do about it is to consider very seriously whether they need to retain the Clause at all. I followed the argument of the hon. and learned Member for Norwich, South (Mr. H. Strauss). I thought that he made his point against my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes), but I agree with him that I do not understand this language. I do not know what an endeavour to incite really is, if it is intended to be something different from an incitement. If it means an incitement, what do the words "endeavours to" mean?
Further, I invite the House to look at some of the powers in the rest of the Clause—powers of search, and of search in the absence of the occupier; powers of search by forcing a way into the house in order to find any document which might be a document to be used by a person with an intent to commit an offence under subsection (1). One can imagine a great many such documents. Would a copy of the Ten Commandments be one, or the Sermon on the Mount, or some of the speeches made in 1934?
§ Mr. Silverman
They were excellent speeches—I agree with all of them. That is why I would hesitate very long before I should consent in this House to do anything that might make the repetition or dissemination of copies of them a criminal offence. I am glad that even after this length of time those speeches have left so strong an impression upon right hon. Gentlemen opposite that they remember them with such pleasure and pay such heed to them and that they are induced now, so long afterwards, to adopt those arguments so much more readily than they adopted them in 1934, when they had the opportunity and were on this side of the House.
I think that all sides of the House made this point last week in respect of another Measure. In these times we may be very ready to give to the Executive of the day powers with regard to many things which we would not normally give them, even though we are not at war. I have observed during all these five years great opposition on the other side of the House to allowing the Government to have such powers. I myself have always tried—I hope it is a reasonable thing to do—to draw a deep distinction between powers of this kind, which only affect a man's right over the disposal of his property, which give the Government power to control in the interests of the community rights about property which may lie at the root of the prosperity of the community taken as a whole. I try to draw a deep distinction between that kind of power delegated to the Executive and power over men's minds—power about what they are to know, to think, or to say; power over their liberty of thought, of speech, or of their persons in relation to any of these matters.
In these times, so far from there being any reason for laxity about that, I would have said that there was reason for extra care about it, because it is the defence of these liberties which is claimed as the only possible justification for all the other sacrifices that are made. I think it would be a very wrong thing, under some kind of pressure of some kind of an alleged urgency, to give the Government powers not only over matters of economics, where they can be used in any case for the great benefit of the community, but over matters of liberty, without which the community itself would not exist as we would all wish to preserve it.
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I support and underline what has been said about Clause 6 by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) and also by the hon. and learned Member for Norwich, South (Mr. H. Strauss). It seems to me that the Clause could be used to suppress, for instance, nearly all arguments from a pacifist point of view, and I should like particularly to support the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne when he pointed out that never has it been more necessary than today to make sure that the fundamental liberties of free speech in this country are defended.
I agree with the hon. Member also that the width of the powers given under the Clause seem to be quite unnnecessary. As the hon. Member pointed out, these powers give the right of search even in a case where it is alleged that an offence was committed three months prior to the laying of the information. To all that has been said I would add that there seems to be an clement of retrospective legislation in the Clause, because we know that on 22nd April of this year men are liable to be called up, and presumably words already being spoken might possibly be made the subject of an offence under the Bill.
Furthermore, the Bill continues what, I think, is the mistaken practice of giving jurisdiction in matters of the greatest importance, like these, to a magistrates' court. To the hon. and learned Member for Norwich, South, I say that one's imagination boggles at the possibility of endeavouring to incite people to fail to do something, and one can imagine a situation in which they fail to fail. Whether an offence is then created or not I do not know. This matter will no doubt be thoroughly considered in Committee. I would finish on that particular topic by saying that I believe that in relation to the 1934 Act, Sir William Holdsworth said that it was the greatest invasion of the liberty of the subject which the executive Government had yet attempted at a time which was not a time of emergency. I know that this is a time of emergency, but not a time of total war. I think that when we come to the Committee stage, we shall have to look at the whole of this Clause with the greatest care.
§ Mr. Henry Strauss
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman has the correct date 1798 of Professor Holdsworth's remarks. I think, speaking from memory, that Professor Holdsworth said that of the Bill in the form in which it was introduced and not of the Act as it passed this House.
§ Mr. Grimond
I could not be sure on that point.
To turn to other portions of the Bill, I hope that we shall have from whoever is to reply to the debate further information about Clauses 2 and 5; in particular the machinery for calling up the Z Reservists and about travelling arrangements. So far as my constituency is concerned, I can see that the result of this Bill may be simply a movement exercise. By the time a man reaches his unit and is issued with equipment, he may just have time to shake the sergeant major by the hand and ask for his return ticket. I feel that it is most important that the travelling arrangements and the whole machinery for call-up should be most carefully explained.
In this country, we have always aimed and always should aim at quality in our Forces. I do not think that we can attempt to equal the great Continental armies in number. It is on quality that our defence depends. Furthermore, we have to judge our defence effort not entirely by the number of people we put into uniform but by the total effort we are making, including our industrial and agricultural effort. Therefore, we have to take into account the amount of dislocation which this Bill, or a wider Bill, would cause us in the total war effort of the country.
I think that this Bill must be viewed as one part only of one aspect of the whole foreign policy of the country. We have to judge our re-armament as a whole, and to judge this Bill in particular, against the sort of eventualities which we are likely to meet. Personally, I think that one of the least satisfactory parts of the Government's case in the defence debate was the rather sketchy outline given of the kind of attack which they envisaged we might have to face. We know, and I think that it is generally agreed, that the Russians and their allies will take advantage of any opportunities to embroil us where they can; to fight wars by proxy and, if possible, outside Russian territory. We are already engaged in Korea and Malaya, and we may be involved in Indo-China, Persia, Turkey or Eastern Europe.
1799 One thing about this Bill in relation to that possibility is that it has very little relevance to it. Against that sort of attack, it would seem that the answer is highly-trained, highly-mobile Regular Forces. I think that is a point worth making, and that neither the Government nor the country should be diverted by this Bill from the overmastering need of building up Regular Forces of the very highest order. This Bill indeed aims at a different possibility—the possibility that wars of limited liability fought by the Russians at present by proxy may develop, as they well may, into general war.
This Bill is described in its heading as being primarily for the training of the Reservists to be called up. As the Minister of Defence said in the last debate, it is also an exercise in mobilisation. It gives us an opportunity to strengthen our existing divisions as they are available for field service today. Such a step as that is only justified if we at least visualise the possibility of something like total war. It seems that this Bill, along with other Measures for re-armament taken by this country, serves notice on the Russians, or anyone else prepared to play their game, that if they go on playing Tom Tiddler's ground on the marches between Communism and the free world and go too far, there will be no second Munich.
That is of the greatest importance when considering this Bill. It may have some effect on the Russians of impressing upon them that we in this country and our Allies mean to defend the whole structure of Western life against attack. I think that, in that way, it may be in itself a great factor for peace—a factor which I do not think will be reduced in value by the fact that it has been introduced by a Socialist Government with a pacific outlook.
Therefore, I suggest that, in relation to the world situation, the actual form of the call-up may be of comparatively little importance. The signal fact is that this easy-going, rather muddle-headed, isolationist, pacific nation has not only accepted two years of conscription but is prepared to have this call-up in time of peace. The situation may change so rapidly that the actual terms of the call-up may have to be altered. This brings me to my first point of detail concerning the provisions of the Bill.
1800 Are the Ministers really satisfied that it gives them sufficient scope? Goodness knows, no one would want them to take more powers than they need; but would it not be better if they had allowed themselves the power of calling up men for more than 15 days? This is going to be a selective call-up. Should they not have allowed for the possibility that some specialists would be needed for more than 15 days? If they had specified a longer period as the maximum they need not have made full use of their powers—they could have indeed called some men for much less than 15 days if they were required for a mobilisation test only. I cannot help thinking that the Ministers have given a rather dangerous hostage to fortune by pinning their faith to this rather short period of call-up and by issuing a promise that those called up this year will not be called up again in any situation short of war.
What training can be achieved in 15 days? And this is, by its heading, a training Bill. It may be argued that if we were immediately facing the possibility of war with 150 Russian divisions this year or next it would not matter whether we called on the men for 15 or 30 days, because in the event of an emergency like that we should be taking far more drastic measures than this Bill envisages. It may be argued, as I think the Minister of Defence did argue, that in nine months or so the situation will have changed, because we shall be greatly strengthened by the men who have been through a longer period of conscription.
I must say that neither of these answers seems completely convincing about the period. After all, we have to satisfy the men who are to be called up that their training will be of value to them, and that the period is related to our military needs and not merely a rather unsatisfactory compromise. Mention was made by an hon. Member of discipline. I do not believe that men called up under this Bill will mind reasonable discipline if they feel that their time is not being wasted. I believe that they would far rather that they were worked hard and effectively than that they were allowed to have a holiday at the country's expense—and at great personal inconvenience to themselves. By the time we have deducted Sundays and Saturday afternoons and the time taken by the issue and withdrawal 1801 of equipment and travelling from 15 days, there are only eight or nine days' effective training left.
According to the right hon. Gentleman, these days are to be taken up largely with an introduction to the units in which these men may be called upon to serve if war breaks out—they will have a whiff of the orderly room, so to speak, a taste of the army to refresh their memories. That does not conjure up any clear picture of what will happen, because they are not to go abroad. Eight or nine days in a unit is not a very long time. I confess that I am still rather puzzled as to what they will do during this period. It is of vital importance that these men should not come back to civilian life and say that the whole thing is a waste of time. We want more information about what will happen during this period. I feel that the time wll be wasted if they are not to have a considerable amount of technical and specialist training.
The time is admittedly very short, but surely one of our greatest needs is to build up a modern specialist Army. These men will expect to see something of the new equipment and to learn something of the new way on which the Army is being organised. Time is pitifully short, but I wonder if it is intended to set up, any system such as the Army schools that existed during the last war. Those schools were exceedingly efficiently run, and they got through an amazingly large amount of work in a very short time.
These schools depended on three things. They depended on first-rate instructors, on good equipment and on suitable pupils. I should like to know whether these conditions exist today. Have we the instructors, and are they trained, because instructors have to be trained before anyone else? Does the equipment exist? There are few more disheartening things than being trained by out-of-date instructors on obsolete equipment. Do the records exist so that the right men can be given the right sort of training? Has the Secretary of State for War got the necessary records? I know the case of a man who served 10 years ago in the Navy as a carpenter. For the last five years he has been an electrician in civilian life. He has been recalled, but as far as the Navy is concerned he is still regarded as a carpenter in spite of his 1802 electrical training—and as far as I can see a carpenter to the Navy he will always be.
We have been told something about the "Pulheems" system. I hope that something more than this will be done in selection, otherwise this short training period will be almost completely wasted. We know from experience during the last war that it took weeks to find out what men could not be taught. If we have to go through that again it means an enormous increase in the administrative staff. It will result in just the sort of thing that the Minister said he was concerned to reduce, the increase in paper work at the expense of the fighting soldier.
There are two or three other points that I should like to make about training. I have always believed that the staff are over-rated compared with the regimental soldier. Why they should be paid more for doing more interesting jobs in greater comfort and safety I have never understood, but we must have a staff, so let us have a good one. Are there to be any refresher courses for staff officers? During the war some of the most useful training in the R.A.C. was provided by visits to factories making tanks. The men learned a lot about them and they enjoyed it. I am wondering whether it is not possible to do something on those lines. This might even be done voluntarily in addition to this period of service.
We are all unhappy because it is those who have served before who are to be called up again. I suggest to the Government that as a parallel measure to this they should press on with their plans for Civil Defence and the Home Guard, and training for a limited period should be compulsory for them also. We should then have a feeling that the whole nation is being taken into this re-armament drive.
I conclude by saying that we approve the Bill as an earnest of the nation's intention to defend our liberties and lives and those of our friends. We hope that it will deter aggression. We hope that it will enable this country to negotiate and work all the time to achieve some form of understanding with the Russians, and to do it from a position of strength. We hope that it will guarantee the safety of ourselves and our Allies, and we concur to these ends which we believe to be the 1803 ends of the Government. But we have considerable reservations. We should like to know more about the training that is envisaged, and we also have some doubts about the necessity for some of the penalties that can be imposed under the Bill.
§ 6.17 p.m.
§ Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, North)
The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) referred to the necessity for this Bill in its general terms by reference to the fact that the situation is so bad as far as the Russians are concerned that he thinks the strengthening of our Armed Forces will lead to some improvement in the attitude of our feared enemy. He went on to speak about negotiations through strength. I would only say on that, that the much longer period of service that was anticipated in some of our newspapers than the period now proposed under the Bill, did not seem to have very much influence on the way in which they were prepared to talk with us. Far from the Russians having been influenced to a better frame of mind, I would say that the position seems to have deteriorated.
I am not speaking from a party point of view when I say that if we are to insist on negotiating through strength, then other nations will come to the same point of view. It will mean that when we have the Armed Forces with which to negotiate, those with whom we are to negotiate may have taken the same view. We have no guarantee that the Russian tanks, aeroplanes and submarines will not also be increased as a result of the efforts we are making in order to be able to negotiate through strength.
I cannot complain at the actions of the Government, and I have not done so. My views are very well known to the House. I know that the country expects of this Government, or any other Government, that it will provide the minimum of what seems necessary for the safety of the nation for the purposes of defence. I am in no position to vote against the Government or to criticise them for the action they have taken.
But when I turn to Clause 6 I am bound, as so many other hon. Members have done, to feel rather differently about the Government. The Government have in that Clause, I think, indulged in a process which they cannot justify as they 1804 can justify the rest of the Bill. By that I mean that they cannot say that the public is asking for anything like the Clause; and they certainly cannot say that the members of the Labour movement have been expecting anything like it. The members of the Labour movement who agree that there must be adequate defences are still thinking in terms of the speeches that were made in 1934. I wonder very much why the terms of Clause 6 have been drafted in the way they have been.
I find an excuse for the Government even in this matter, although I shall have to dismiss the excuse. I know what they are up against in relation to the propaganda of the Communist Party, the quite open propaganda of disaffection, and of efforts to dissuade the troops, not through any kind of conviction such as my own conviction against the use of arms but in a purely revolutionary, rebellious, disaffecting sense. They have been arguing openly in their Press, and they have done so ever since the Z Reserve proposals were first made, that steps should be taken to persuade Z reservists to decline to take part in the call up of the Z Reserve; and they have done so not through any fundamental conviction, but for some purpose of the Communist Party.
I admit that faced with that position, the Government have been put in a great difficulty, but I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) that there was the common law to deal with offenders of this kind. But the strongest criticism which I advance against the Government on this point is that in this country, as in other countries, the Communists are already, in this matter, of service with the Colours, folding their tents and silently stealing away.
Whether it be fear of this legislation or whatever may be the cause of the process, there have been a number of announcements and withdrawals of both proposals and persons. In Italy, for example, men are departing from the Communist allegiance in favour, as they say, of the defence of their country against any attack that may be made by Russia. In this country also one observes a new and more cautious attitude on the part of the Communists with regard to preaching disaffection. If the excuse is, as I have suggested it was, that because of Com- 1805 munist action now the Government were bound to forget all those speeches made in 1934, I hope that before consideration of this Bill has been completed the Government will again face this threat, which, I say, is now of little importance so far as the Communists are concerned.
But another type of people outside the Communist Party are involved in this matter. I have for a long time been associated with them and have tried in this House to speak, perhaps to unwilling ears, of their aims—those who have quite honestly spoken about principles which make it difficult for men to carry arms. This is a very old pre-occupation of men. It goes back to the days when, Tertullian, one of the Christian fathers, writing 200 years after the birth of Christ, said that upon conversion many Christians in his day withdrew from military service. Indeed one reads, in the writings of critics of the early Christians, the words of a man like Celsus, a pagan critic, for example, referring to the Christians:If all men were to do the same as you, the empire would fall into the hands of the wildest and most lawless barbarians.We hear statements like that today. There is the same cleavage between those completely opposite views, but the view is still held by Christians, as it has been held through the centuries back to the days of Christ himself, that the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth made it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, for men to bear arms. Indeed, in the early call-up of Z men, far back in Tertullian's day, men refused to bear arms and were executed. The inscription on a stone monument to a certain young man, Maximillian, who was executed because he refused conscientiously to wear the soldier's badge, can still be deciphered.
I could give many other quotations of that period which have come down to us and have influenced Christian, not Communist, thought throughout the centuries. The religious community with which I am connected, and with which others in this House are connected and have in the past been connected, the Society of Friends, has been enormously influenced by that teaching. They laid it down in 1660 that to bear arms or to indulge in war for whatever purpose and under whatever auspices, was quite impossible from the point of view of those who accepted the Christian teaching.
1806 That truth still remains with them and today influences not merely the Society of Friends but a large number of members of the Christian community. I do not say that the whole community of the Methodists, or the Anglicans or the Baptists or of any other church agree, as a Christian community, as do the Society of Friends, that people should not bear arms and indulge in war; but a great many earnest people on whom we in this country and in the party on this side of the House rely for our support, hold those views very earnestly, and have on their bookshelves all manner of writings going back to Tertullian's day—yes. and further back than that, to the New Testament.
The New Testament, or parts of it, has been held by the law in the past to constitute an offence under the sort of legislation which we are now considering. I remember that in the First World War there was a prosecution about the showing of a poster which reproduced part of the Sermon on the Mount. The charge was brought against the display of a poster insisting that it was the peacemakers who were blessed. The prosecution led to a conviction. There were other cases where the Director of Public Prosecutions himself appeared in court and stated to the conscientious objectors who were involved, precisely what Celsus had said 200 years after Christ, that if everybody was like them there would be no war. Those statements were in turn reproduced as a leaflet and tens of thousands of them were published. That publication, too, became an offence and was so treated in the courts.
I submit that under the terms of Clause 6, if they remain unaltered, earnest men and women belonging to all sorts of religious organisations can be accused because they will have in their possession books, papers, leaflets and pamphlets, as I have today, with special markings showing how the teachings of Christ are fundamentally opposed to the bearing of arms and to the practice of violence. Under Clause 6, those people may receive a fine of £500 or imprisonment for two years. I do not need to continue this subject now, but it will be continued before we have finished with Clause 6. I beg the Government to have regard to many of us who are in the greatest difficulty about the use of arms, especially the way in which 1807 arms are now used, and who feel it impossible to vote against the Government or to make any sort of political obstacle for them.
Let the Government remember men like Lord Hugh Cecil, who once sat in this House. He proclaimed that there was the law which man made, but that there was a higher law. He said:I am most anxious that this country should maintain the proposition that there is a higher law, that we view with admiration any appeal to that higher law, and that we will not listen to the doctrine that the State's interest is to be supreme; but, on the contrary, that we will make its authority conform to the highest standard, keeping the State within its proper function and within its proper scope.I am quite sure that, just as there are many on these benches—and on the benches of the Liberals, as the hon. Member who spoke for them indicated—so there are even some on the Conservative benches who would feel about things as Lord Hugh Cecil felt. It is that we must, however difficult it may be, seek to make our laws conform to the higher law.
There was a great figure in this House whose speeches probably influenced it more than those of any other Member in the last century. I am referring to John Bright. We honour his memory still in the statue that we have of him in the Lobby and in the picture re-cleaned and placed during the last few years in the dining room. We all look at it—at least I hope we do—and remember the things for which John Bright stood. He wrote an introduction to a booklet on war, containing an essay by Jonathan Dymond, a man who influenced enormously the Society of Friends. John Bright said that it was the best book that he knew on the subject. I have taken the book from my shelves and I have marked it ready, I suppose, for the inspector of police who will be calling on me under Clause 6 to see what I have there in the way of influencing men to evade their military duty. Here is the advice with which the book concludes:It will perhaps be asked, What, then, are the duties of a subject who believes that all war is incompatible with his religion, but whose governors engage in a war and demand his service? We answer explicitly"—and my copy of the book prints in italics what is answered explicitly as well as carrying my marking to help the police inspector when under this Bill he comes to arrest me— 1808it is his duty mildly and temperately, yet firmly, to refuse to serve.We have our common law to deal with this matter. We had better leave it to the common law. I submit, of every effort that the Government are now making to call down the forces of the law and to call in the High Court, the judge, the fine, the imprisonment, and the search for documents, that the Labour Movement knows better than all that. It can leave that to the common law, and make the effort that Lord Hugh Cecil said ought to be made to make our laws conform to the higher law of God.
§ Mr. Gilbert Longden (Hertfordshire, South-West)
Why does the hon. Gentleman spoil a good speech—to use an expression which has now become very familiar to us but which I use sincerely—by saying that "even on the Conservative benches" there may be some who believe that there must be a higher law to which we should make our own laws conform? May I remind him that Lord Hugh Cecil was a Conservative? The hon. Member must know that practically everyone on these benches believes that.
§ Mr. Hudson
I accept the hon. Member's intervention. There was a time when many of the things which Lord Hugh Cecil said did not receive the support of other Members of his party. I would remind the hon. Member opposite that Lord Hugh Cecil was a Free Trader at the time when his party was dominated by the Protectionists. Lord Hugh Cecil stuck to his views. If the hon. Member wants me to believe that all Conservatives are of the view that Lord Hugh Cecil took, I stand corrected, and I am very glad to accept the correction.
§ 6.38 p.m.
§ Brigadier Thorp (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
I am sure that the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson), spoke from all the sincerity of his heart. I cannot agree with all that he said. I have spent the greater part of my life in the service of the Crown and the defence of this country. What he says may at some very far-distant date be a possibility, but just now we are up against a good many hard facts, and the facts have to be faced.
I agreed with much of what was said by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) from the. Liberal 1809 benches about the task of the Z Reservists when they are called up. I most sincerely support him in the statement that we have not been given enough detail of how much training is to take place, and how much training the men will get out of the number of days they will be in camp. I should like to make a few remarks about how I think things might happen in a Territorial camp. They may be denied by the Minister, and in some cases I hope they will be.
I agreed with much that the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) said, but unfortunately in the middle of his speech he descended to sloppiness and sentimentality, rather jeering about holidays for the Territorials when in camp and saying that the discipline for the poor Z men must not be too severe. The hon. Member seemed to want it both ways; no holiday for the Territorial Army and lots of holidays for the Z men.
The Territorial Army will have a very difficult task in carrying out their part of the training. We must realise that the annual training of the Territorial Army in camp is the culmination of a year's training in their drill halls. They have done their preliminary training and they go to camp as a unit to be trained as a unit or a higher formation. During that time they do not want to be held back by having to go into the details of training with new weapons, and so on.
Now they will have thrown on them a great number of Z Reservists who will require rather detailed training in order to bring them up to a certain standard. That will be very difficult to achieve in camp. There will not be the hutted accommodation where men can be instructed about mechanisms in the dry. There is also the difficulty of seniority. Some of the Z officers and other ranks will be senior to the men in the Territorial Army with whom they mix There used to be an old song which asked "who was taking care of the caretaker's daughter when the caretaker was busy taking care." Will Z men or Territorials be the instructors?
I understand that the travelling time is to come out of the 15-day period. One of my hon. Friends suggested that all men should report to the camp centre, which seems to be a good idea, although I am not sure how reasonable time for travelling would be allowed in that event. If 1810 the men were to arrive at the camp on the first day of the training period, they would probably have to carry on their training for two or three days in their civilian clothes unless they went earlier to their depots or unit centres to be fitted out with their uniform. During those few days—even if it were only two days—the Territorial unit might have to have a holding camp into which to put the Z men before they were sent to their platoons, sections or troops. That will be another problem.
There will also be the problem of guards to look after the extra stores for the men coming into camp. Have the War Office made preparations to call up the necessary cooks for the units? I have in mind a unit of 300 to 400 men which has been warned that it may have to take in 300 to 400 Z men. At the moment it has six cooks on its establishment. Have the War Office arranged for extra cooks, storemen, and so on, for the 300 to 400 Z Reservists who will be with the unit? Such points as this are most important.
Clause 2 refers to the calling up of the Z Reservists and mentions the recovery of expenses. Will the calling-up notices be accompanied by a railway or bus warrant so that the men can get to their units without having to pay anything out of their pockets, or will the men have to find the fare out of their pockets and afterwards struggle to get the money back? That ought to be made clear. I am not clear when the medical examination dealt with in Clause 3 will take place. Presumably it will be in plenty of time so that a man who is found unfit will be notified in time for him to cancel the arrangements he has made to report for the 15 days' training. I hope that the Financial Secretary will make this clear.
Provision is made for the notice of the medical examination to be sent by ordinary post, and if the man does not report in accordance with this instruction he will be liable to certain fines. Clause 2 (3) provides that the letter of call-up shall go by registered post. I should like to know if there is any provision in the Bill which instructs the Service Departments to send notices of medical examination by registered post.
I shall not speak about Clause 4 now because I believe it is mainly a question 1811 for the Committee stage, but in regard to Clause 5 I am a little unhappy. This Clause makes the men liable to the Army Act on being called up. If they are absent without leave, they can be charged under Section 15 of the Army Act and will be liable, on summary conviction, to certain penalties. What will be the position if a man reports to a Territorial camp and during the training goes absent for two days? What will the commanding officer and the adjutant do? Will they take a summary of evidence if the man comes back and apply to the brigade to see whether there should be a court-martial?
If they are to convene a court-martial, how is that to be done when the camp ends after 15 days, or are instructions to be given to them to hand the man over to the civil authorities? If that is the case, will the man miss the rest of his training in camp, or will he first complete his training and then appear before the magistrate? This is very muddled, and it ought to be made clear. Also I am not quite clear whether the £4 bounty is to be free of Income Tax in the case of both officers and men, and I should be grateful if the Financial Secretary would make that clear.
The Minister of Defence said that men who were called up in 1951 would not be called up again. I understand it to be a "once for all" call-up. I presume that we can rely on that just as much as we can rely on the statement of Sir Stafford Cripps about a "once for all" capital levy. I am sure that they are comparable and that the Government will not let us down on either of them.
I have a query to put on the Quiz issued by the Service Departments, namely, whether the employer can appeal. In that Quiz the question is asked, "May employers appeal against this recall for 15 days?" and the answer given is, "No." I suggest that is not quite fair, because certain small employers are the only people who can realise what it will mean to lose a man or two men. I refer to the small farmer and the fisherman. The man who is called up may not worry. He may say, "I have to leave my job for 15 days. If the cows do not get milked for 15 days, it is too bad." But he is the only person who can appeal against the call-up. Surely that ought to be widened 1812 to give the small farmer or the fisherman, who feels that production will be hard hit by this call-up, the right of appeal as well?
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman apply the argument he is making for the agricultural worker and fisherman to the building trade operator?
§ Brigadier Thorp
Yes, I am quite prepared to look at all those. I think the small employer can put the case rather better than the employee and I hope the Government will consider that.
In conclusion, I regret that this Bill is necessary. I feel that it is necessary only because the Government did not adopt early enough the suggestions made from this side of the House. They did not take the trouble to build up the Regular Army in time and they muddled the national conscription shamefully. The result is that our Forces are not as good as they should be. I have forgotten the actual figure, but something like £800 million has been spent in the last three years on defence and little has come out of it.
I would remind the House that one battalion of the 29th Brigade, the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, had to be taken from demonstration at Warminster. The battalion had been overseas for 30 years and, on returning, was sent to Warminster as a demonstration battalion. It was really wanted in this country, so that Z men could see a good battalion at full war strength. They had to be sent to Hong Kong however because we had no other troops. And then the Government say they have not muddled defence affairs. I maintain that when the country sees that this Bill is necessary, people will realise that not all the blame can be put on the situation in a far country and that it must also be laid on the muddles of this Government.
§ 6.54 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)
I deeply regret the introduction of this Bill on three grounds. First, I regret that in the view of the Government the international situation requires it. It is a tragedy that in 1951, six years after the war, men who volunteered in 1939 and 1940 and served throughout the war should again have to face calling-up notices. It is symbolical of the conditions of the world in which we are.
1813 I regret it in the second place because it again applies the principle of military conscription. In my view, although the State should have great power, it is outside the legitimate power of the State to say that a man or a woman shall undertake duties of life and death. I am sorry that a Labour Government should not merely have been responsible for continuing conscription at the end of the Second World War, but should now be introducing this Bill.
My third ground of regret is the nature of the conscription. There was one argument which could always be urged in favour of military compulsion, the argument that it was fair. But in this case there is not even that argument. It is the men who served first and the men who came out last who are now being called up under this proposal. Though it may be dismissed as a fortnight—which has sometimes been described as a holiday; indeed, it has been criticised as such—the men who are called up in that way know very well that if an emergency should arise they would be again the first required to serve. For all those three reasons I regret the introduction of this Bill into the House.
As some previous speakers have done, I want to refer particularly to Clause 6. I hope the Government will appreciate the strength of argument and of feeling which has been expressed on all sides of the House regarding this Clause. It was expressed by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. H. Strauss). I call him my hon. and learned Friend because I had the enjoyable experience many years ago of being a candidate against him in that constituency. I did not think an occasion would arise when, from this side of the House, I should endorse a speech such as the one he delivered today criticising Clause 6 on legal grounds. Then we had the speech of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) which, from a legal and logical point of view, was devastating. It is absolutely impossible, after the legal arguments advanced on both sides of the House, to maintain that Clause in its present state.
Not only do I hope that we shall have introduced into the Clause the words in the present Incitement to Disaffection Act—namely, "maliciously and advisedly"—but that we shall also have added to it words which will make it quite clear that 1814 political views, religious views and philosophic views shall not be brought within the terms of this Measure. Another old friend of mine who still sits on the benches opposite, the right hon. Member for Leeds, North (Mr. Peake) used words in 1943 which I should like to recommend to my own Front Bench tonight. The right hon. Gentleman said:It has been the wish of this House that there should be as little interference as possible with the expression of views and that the rejection of pacifist propaganda should be left to the free play of public opinion."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th October, 1943; Vol. 392, c. 892.]I strongly urge that in these matters the less limitation there is on freedom of speech the more clear is it that this is a society of liberty in contrast with the society of totalitarianism which is our opponent in ideology and it may be in arms.
I turn now to a reference made by the Secretary of State to provisions for conscientious objectors. I have searched this Measure but I find no Clause which refers to conscientious objectors, yet in presenting this Bill my right hon. and learned Friend referred to exemptions which are to be allowed to conscientious objectors.
§ Mr. A. Henderson
Perhaps I might clear up that point. I was not suggesting that there was a specific provision in the Bill, but I was, on behalf of the Government, giving an undertaking that by administrative action the step I indicated would be taken.
§ Mr. Brockway
I appreciated that, as I think I shall make clear. I am the Chairman of the Central Board for Conscientious Objectors. Not the Central Board "of" Conscientious Objectors, because I, most certainly, am not pacifist. I believe intensely in liberty, and I do not believe that the State has the right to impose military duties against the conscience of any man; and because I hold that view I am still chairman of that body, although I am not now a pacifist, as I was in the First World War. That is because of my belief in liberty.
That organisation has had conversations with the Ministry of Labour regarding the provision for conscientious objectors under this Bill, and I ask that the notes which we made following our interview with the Ministry shall be confirmed as to the method by which conscientious 1815 objections will be dealt with under this Bill. As I understand it,When a man has received a warning notice, if he wishes to appeal to a tribunal he should apply as soon as possible, but in any case within 21 days of receipt of the notice, either in writing or in person to any local office of the Ministry of Labour and National Service, producing the warning notice and giving full particulars of Service identification. He will then be given the appropriate form on which to state the grounds of his objection and make his application to a tribunal, and the Service Departments will not proceed with his recall while the application is pending. In due course he will he called before one of the seven local tribunals which deal with applications for registration as conscientious objectors under the National Service Acts.The tribunal will have a purely advisory function but the Service Departments will accept its advice. It will have no power to register him as a conscientious objector, either conditionally, unconditionally, or for noncombatant duties. It will simply advise the Service Department concerned that he has or has not substantiated his claim. If he has, the Department, acting on this advice, will not recall him. If an applicant is rejected by the local tribunal he can appeal to an appellate tribunal which will have a similar advisory function.I do not apologise for reading that note because, as there is in the Bill no provision which covers this matter, it is very desirable that it shall be on the record in HANSARD, and that today the Minister shall confirm that interview with the Ministry of Labour.
Even at this time I urge that there should be introduced into this Bill a Clause referring to conscientious objectors. If this is to be non-statutory, if it is to be purely administrative, it can be swept away at any moment. My suggestion therefore is that there should be inserted a Clause making provision for conscientious objectors, and for regulations to be issued defining the manner in which they are to be dealt with.
There is another point not covered by those notes which I have read. This House has now, I think, become converted to the view that a policy of "cat-and-mouse" treatment should not be followed with conscientious objectors. Mr. Creech Jones, when he was a Member of this House, made a speech in which he convinced every hon. Member that that policy should be rejected. During the First World War I myself was sentenced to three months, six months, 12 months and two years for what was essentially 1816 one offence. Tonight I ask that it should be made clear that under this Bill there will be no "cat-and-mouse" treatment.
For example, if under Clause 2 (3) a man who does not obey a recall notice is prosecuted, will he be liable to further prosecutions until the end of 1951? Under Clause 2 (3) and Clause 3 (4) will a man who neither submits to a medical examination nor complies with a call-up notice be liable on both counts, and can he be charged on both counts? I hope that satisfaction will be given on these matters, because there is only one offence. I hope the Government will clearly lay down the principle that there shall not be repeated punishments for what is essentially one offence.
I have dealt with merely technical matters, but I should like to say this in conclusion. In my view, if a country is preparing for war the State ought to rely upon the voluntary acceptance with enthusiasm of the purpose for which the Government are preparing. I recall that when the first conscription Measure was introduced the present Prime Minister used this phrase:the voluntary efforts of a free people are far more effective than any regimentation by dictatorships."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th April, 1939; Vol. 346, c. 1361.]I believe that to be profoundly true, and I say that if a Government do not find an enthusiasm for preparation for war—call it preparation for defence, if you will—if it finds an absolute absence of war mind in the country, then a democratic Government reflects that in its policy and, in its policy, seeks to find the basis of peace with other nations which will not make necessary the re-armament which is now proceeding.
I urge the Government to accept the principle of democracy that, if there is not the will among the people for voluntary arming, that is an indication that among that people there is a desire for peace, and it is therefore the duty of the Government in all its relations with other nations, to try to find a basis of peace upon which re-armament will be unnecessary.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian Harvey (Harrow, East)
I feel that the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) was quite right in raising the question of the conscientious objector under this Bill. The only point 1817 I want to take up is that this Bill is concerned primarily with people who have already served. Therefore I would assume that those objections which the hon. Member would ask the Government to make provision for, will be primarily objections on grounds of distaste for military service and not objections of conscience.
§ Mr. Brockway
Yes, I was going to make the point that even in the conscription Acts during the war it was recognised that men who had volunteered for Service might, under that experience, quite genuinely develop conscientious objections, and provision was made for that. The war has ended and during the period since the war equally it may have been possible for men to have developed genuine conscientious objections.
§ Mr. Harvey
I am very much obliged to the hon. Member for making the point, which I think relevant. I should like to take up very strongly the point made by the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd). I am sorry he is not here because I agreed with much that he said, but I violently disagreed with one point. He talked about the Territorial period of camp as if it were a holiday. We must reject that view, and reject it even more firmly now because the Territorial Army is going to be called upon to bear so much more responsibility in this scheme of training.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hereford (Mr. J. P. L. Thomas) this afternoon raised a point which we have raised on other occasions—the absolute necessity for guarding against the division of terms of service within this scheme. Under present conditions we shall have Territorials serving in camp whose holidays are not guaranteed and Z reservists whose holidays are guaranteed. I submit that, irrespective of whether the Territorial is there for voluntary reasons and the Z reservist because he has to be, there is no justification for this differentiation. I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that when he replies he should clear up the point because it is most important. As was mentioned the other day by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, North (Mr. Low), one of the things which may be achieved—and I hope will be achieved—from these men going into the Services is that they will wish to join the voluntary Services. If 1818 we make it distasteful to the volunteer to go on serving under a differentiation of service, we shall not encourage the Z reservists to come into the voluntary service.
When I was in "a state of gallantry," I was taught at the Staff College—concerning which I regret the remarks of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) on the subject of staff officers—that one of the most important things in writing an order was to make one's intention clear. Despite the various definitions that have been given us, there is still a certain vagueness as to the intention behind this Bill. In the last debate on defence the Secretary of State for War said:The teams come into existence and have a, little practice together. That is what really makes them into a team, and for the first time those teams will exist."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 14th February, 1951; Vol. 484, c. 549.]I do hope that the hon. Gentleman who replies will help me a little with my mathematics. It seems to me that under the new situation now existing this present system is to extend probably or possibly to 1952, 1953 and 1954. Assuming that we wanted a detachment of 10 men and already had four, we would call up six and then, according to the Secretary of State for War, the team would exist. Next year, according to this Bill, it may be necessary to call up three more men but we will not call up the original six whom we added to the four. Therefore, we would have three people in the next year's team who in the event of emergency are completely redundant, and the teams in fact would not exist and the whole system would break down. I suggest that the Secretary of State for War has defined the intention of the Bill in a way which is not achievable.
I suggest that the real intention of the Bill is to create a state of morale in the units of this Army—and I am referring to the Army because it would appear that the status of the Navy is now somewhat under discussion and I leave it to others more experienced to speak on the Royal Air Force. The object of this call-up is to create a state of morale and that state of morale will only be achieved if certain assurances are given.
I would seek of the hon. Gentleman who is to answer tonight four definite assurances with which we have been concerned during the course of this debate. The first assurance is that the administrative 1819 machine for receiving the Z reservists really works swiftly and efficiently. That means a great deal of preparation because we have already discussed whether Z reservists are to go to the drill hall or to the camp. That is to be decided and we are to be told that tonight. To whichever place they go, the permanent element behind the Territorial Army must be able to receive the units rapidly. During the War it fell to me as adjutant of a regiment to supervise the reception of several drafts from civilian life and I can tell the hon. Gentleman that the efficiency with which reception increased on each draft depended on the accurate training of the men who had to handle the reception.
Secondly, we have the question of instructors and who is to instruct whom. I am not so much concerned with the competence of instructors, but with the numbers because an instructor, however able, can only instruct a certain number of people at one time. I want an assurance that there are the right numbers of instructors for this intake. Thirdly, there is the question of equipment and I want an assurance that there is the right amount of equipment of modern type which can be used by all Z reservists called up. Fourthly, I want an assurance that this training time is not to be wasted and that these reservists are not to be used as reserve potato peelers.
On previous occasions the Secretary of State for Air has been most co-operative in probing into the question of air-cooperation training for the Anti-Aircraft Command. I would repeat to him that if the anti-aircraft troops are to be trained properly they must have adequate air co-operation. I hope that this matter is going to be settled at long last, because co-operation between the troops and Antiaircraft Command of the R.A.F. is still, to use a military slang expression, "ropy" and there is not enough time for the men to train properly. In that connection I hope we will also be assured that there will be enough ammunition to let all the men fire as much as is necessary.
Now there is this question of the 15-day call-up. There has been a certain amount of doubt in the minds of hon. Members on this side of the House and of many people outside as to what is the intention with regard to the troops who are to go 1820 to the Regular Army. We have been told that the intention of this call-up is to make up deficiences in the Regular Army and to build up Territorial units. As I see it, 15 days for the Regular Army in Germany is not a sound proposition, and I should like to know how it is proposed to build up a Regular Army in Germany, which is a very vital part of our Defence Forces. I suggest that the principle that has been applied to certain elements in the R.A.F. might be applied there, and that some of the specialists might be asked to serve a longer period in order to give to the Rhine Army the benefit of their experience. I hope attention will be given to that particular point.
The Government are facing their last challenge on this subject. They have come forward to this contest rather like a reluctant dragon. They have even bared their teeth, and as a result we have discovered that some of those teeth are false. The Government, however, are going to receive the support of my hon. Friends on this side of the House, and we want an assurance from them that the scheme which is to be put into operation will produce results. I would say, indeed, that it must produce results.
There is every danger in this situation as conditions stand at present, however, that the Regular Army will be so distended in order to find the training resources that it will become inefficient; that the Territorial Army will receive so many people at once that it will fail to get the fullest possible benefit out of its actual training; and, finally, that the Z reservist will click his heels and go back feeling he has wasted his time. If that happens then the whole basis of this Bill collapses, and the Government will be responsible for having wasted vast sums of national money and national time. In that event I suggest that there is no other course for the Ministers concerned but to hand in their portfolios and go.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Edward Davies (Stoke-on-Trent, North)
I will not follow in detail the speech of the hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Ian Harvey) except to say that we all agree with what he said about the period of time for which the men will be called up and their useful employment. He referred to such matters as having proper equipment for them, sufficient ammunition and the mundane 1821 but very necessary individuals, the cooks, and I hope that all those problems will be looked at very thoroughly.
Some of my hon. Friends on this side of the House have expressed regret at the necessity for this Bill today, and it is an unhappy commentary upon the condition of the world which requires us to take these steps. However, some of us on these benches as well as some hon. Gentlemen opposite take the view that in the present uncertainty and danger, having committed ourselves to a form of collective defence, we have to work out the safest and best means of strengthening our defences without crippling the whole of our economy, as well as the fairest possible to the community and to the men who are to be called up.
In my visits in my own area, I have heard criticism of the 15-day call-up. The men concerned have the impression that it would not be sufficient time to do much good, though they are not anxious to do any longer than is necessary. Drawing on their experience in the Army, they feel that the period is too short to he useful, and I hope that we shall see some of the things accomplished which were mentioned by my right hon. and learned Friend when he introduced this Measure. He said that the Bill would give an opportunity for the men to become acquainted with new equipment; it would make the present Defence Forces more effective; men would get to know one another; and it would be a valuable exercise in mobilisation. No doubt it will have its uses and advantages in this respect.
It will be lamentable if these men having been called up, they get the impression that they are wasting their time. Many of these men have rendered useful service to their country over a number of years. They thought they were going to settle down, and many of them got married and have small families to rear. They are most anxious to continue this process of building their homes and looking after their jobs with the minimum amount of interference. I hope the maximum amount of notice will be given to these men who are to be called up to do their service.
The Quiz which has been issued to explain what is intended is a very good document. It is pointed out that those who are likely to be in reserved occupa- 1822 tions will not be called up, but it does not propose, for purposes of security and for other reasons, to announce what the reserved occupations are. The Quiz does mention, however, that the miners will be a case in point. I hope the Government will make it clear to the men, who are anxious on the subject, on what their position will be. The Quiz also states that after a certain time, notices will be issued to say that no further warnings will be sent. I hope this will be done with expedition so that the men will know where they are in their domestic and holiday arrangements.
The hon. Member for Harrow, East, spoke about the anomalies which exist between the Z Reservists and the Territorials. Some representations have been made to me that the same protection as is given to the Z Reservists under this Bill should be available to the men in the Territorial Army. It is quite true that there will be discontent if men are not satisfied in that regard.
It is provided in the Bill, in the table set out on page 3, thatMembers of His Majesty's air forces of the classes specified in sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) of the last foregoing paragraph,shall be called up for flying instruction duties to do up to an extra 18 months. I wish to ask a question about this, because some representations have been made to me from one or two men who have been long in the Regular service of the R.N.A.S. and who feel they are not getting justice in this regard. Here is an instance. An airman joined the R.A.F. in July, 1935, on a six-year contract. He was transferred to the R.N. on 1st December, 1938. He signed to serve 12 years in the R.N. and he writes:My R.A.F. time was to count towards pension, but not towards the 12 years.He goes on to say that his age on joining the R.A.F. was 23, so we see that he has completed 15½ years' man's service. On 1st December, 1950, he was 38 years and 11 months old. He writes:I have no complaint about the foregoing as I signed contracts to this effect. The contracts I have signed have been for full-time Regular service with no obligation for Reserve service after 1st December, 1950.He reminds us that he holds the Royal Naval Long Service and Good Conduct 1823 Medals for 15 years' very good conduct. He continues:The Admiralty has now issued an A.G.M. 455A (Admiralty General Message) dealing with the retention of Regulars. I have received official notification that I am to he retained for this unspecified period. …There is now, since the writing of this letter, a specified period. We are told that it is not to be in excess of 18 months. But here is the burden of his complaint:On 15th January, 1951, I shall be 39 years."—He is a married man with two children—I am sure, therefore, you will appreciate that every day I am retained for this unspecified period will reduce my prospects in civilian life, as I do not intend to sign on to complete time for pension.Here is the main burden of what he has to say:There are men (most of whom have only served seven years' Regular) who are voluntary members of the Reserve, and paid 10s. 6d. a week, who are available for just such a situation, still in civilian life, while I am being retained to do their job.He says that in his view this is hardly a democratic policy. He thinks that he has done what he calls his "whack." He feels it is unfair to leave at home men with less amount of service while he has to continue, as we are told, for some 18 months of service.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. James Callaghan)
My hon. Friend will, of course, appreciate that since that letter was written there have been issued proposals to call up a large number of the Royal Fleet Reservistso to whom his correspondent refers.
§ Mr. Davies
I am indebted to my hon. Friend for that information. I hope that it will give some satisfaction to my correspondent and that it will have the effect—so far as it brings in additional men with, I should have thought, a lesser claim for their release—of allowing him to get home a bit earlier. If any pronouncement in that regard could be made soon, we should all be very glad.
I, with my hon. Friends, lament that at this time in the history of the world, we should find ourselves in the position of having to call men back into the Services. But I believe that if the nature of our difficulties is fully explained to 1824 the men in the country; if at the same time every endeavour is made to pursue by diplomatic negotiations, by following up in every positive way and by sustaining good will amongst the nations of the earth, men may be convinced that it is only in the last resort that we shall have to have recourse to war. If it can be shown that, in fact, we have no aggressive intention towards any nation, that this is on the grounds of defence, and defence alone, to protect our way of life and families, I think there will be a response.
I share the apprehensions of my colleagues on these benches and the apprehensions of hon. Members opposite in regard to Clause 6. As at present drafted, the words of the Bill are far too nebulous. Its terms are far too wide. That was adduced in the vigorous and striking language of my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson), who represents the pacifist point of view, and by some of us who are not pure pacifists but who take a compelling interest—as we must as Englishmen—in conserving liberty of speech. We must not do anything which leaves in any doubt what is the status of the citizen.
To say that there has been an endeavour to incite merely because a man may have a good library, or because he may, in the highly developed political society in which we find ourselves today, be fond of argument and discussion; to say that such a man may, in some circumstances, find himself subject to two years' imprisonment, or a fine of up to £500, is not good enough. Hon. Members in all parts of the House should take steps to seek some improvement in that regard and to get some assurance from the Government.
If the idea is that there are saboteurs or agents who are working against the safety of the Realm, that should not drive us to totalitarian methods which will undermine the very principles for which we are fighting. We all know what we want, but we must see that our statutes are couched in such language that they can be understood and interpreted; and that they certainly cannot be used against the inoffensive or the sincere citizen who has a duty to his conscience and a duty to his God.
§ 7.39 p.m.
§ Mr. A. R. W. Low (Blackpool, North)
With most of what has been said by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mr. Edward Davies), I am in entire agreement. In particular I agree that when we get into Committee we must spend as much time as is necessary, and certainly take a great deal of trouble, to see that Clause 6 does reflect the view of the House.
This is a time when we are calling upon many of our citizens to play a special and extra part in the life of our country, and it is a time when this House should be especially careful to see that the law is clear and fair to the individual. It was a very good thing that the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North reminded the House that the whole object of these defence measures, of which this is only one part, is to build up a deterrent front against aggression. There is no aggressive intention. I always like to say that when I speak about any matter connected with defence, because it is fundamental to the position of this House and the country at present, and it is important that that should be understood by the people on whom we shall call.
I want to deal especially with the way in which this Bill affects the Army. Tens of thousands more men are being called to the Army than to either of the other Services. Therefore, one may be pardoned for concentrating upon the Army. At the outset I say that I accept the decision already taken in favour of the period of 15 days. I shall not argue that question again; I can see that there are arguments both ways. For the purpose of this Bill, however, it is as well to start by accepting the length of the period of service as 15 days.
If we accept that period and if we accept the scheme of which this Bill is a part, we ought to be clear about what the scheme does and does not do. It is important to be clear about this, because of the confusion of public opinion largely owing to what I think can legitimately be described as the dithering of the Government in the weeks over Christmas, before they made any announcement at all. despite the fact that the Press were talking about it, and, as supporters of the Government are fond of saying, to a certain extent misleading public opinion about the scheme.
1826 I should like to mention a few of the things which this scheme does not do. The scheme does not in any way strengthen the divisions of the standing Army. It does not in any way find a permanent solution of the problem of strengthening the Territorial Army or the anti-aircraft defences of our country. It does not give the men in supporting arms and the administrative units destined to join the British Army of the Rhine in the event of an emergency, within a few days of mobilisation, any knowledge of the British Army of the Rhine at all. This scheme does not affect more than one-third of the Territorial Army, and only a part of the Anti-Aircraft Command. I base that point on my understanding of previous Government statements that the Territorial Army will have 12 divisions. Avowedly this scheme touches only four of them.
The scheme does not provide the degree of individual refresher training on modern equipment which all except very gifted Z men really need. But, despite all that, this scheme does something which is very valuable indeed. It makes a necessary preparation for mobilisation, should that be necessary. It is interesting to remember how many times since 1945 Ministers have stressed the obvious fact that the time available for mobilisation and the creation of reserve formations would be so much less in any future emergency than it had ever been before. Of course, that was obvious in 1945 and afterwards, because of scientific progress and the alteration in world conditions. That idea was embodied in the Defence White Paper of 1947 and in subsequent White Papers.
Many hon. Members on this side of the House have asked the Government from time to time how they proposed to achieve that highly desirable objective which they had set themselves before the National Service scheme filled the Territorial Army, which would not be until 1954. As the international situation got worse, many of us realised that, with a substantial standing Army on the Continent of Europe on a land frontier. standing there in peace-time for the first time in history, the need for speedy mobilisation became all the more urgent. It is that need which, I conceive, this modest scheme is designed to fill. It does play some part; but we should not overestimate its value. We should certainly 1827 not put it higher than a very modest attempt to fulfil that need.
There is something in what was said by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North, in the earlier part of his speech with which I fully agree. He said that, above all, we must see that the impression does not get about that this scheme will be a failure. It is important that, from the outset, all those who are called up should understand why they are called up and should believe that the reason is good and that their service will be of great value to the country.
Some of my hon. Friends have already mentioned certain conditions which must be fulfilled. I want to refer to two of them. First, there must be enough good equipment for training, and it must be known that there is enough behind it to issue to all these divisions if they are required to mobilise in the event of emergency. I should like to have an assurance that there will be enough equipment for training and that there will be sufficient to issue to all these divisions which are being got ready for mobilisation. Obviously, the two quantities are different. Over the summer there are about 10 periods of service, and equipment can be parcelled out.
The Secretary of State for Air, rather glibly I thought, said that there would he modern equipment available and that people would get a chance to train on modern equipment. We want to be clear on this question. The Under-Secretary of State for War, answered a Question of mine on 13th February in which, referring to the arms, equipment and vehicles to be available, said:These equipments may not be of the most modern type now in production, which must go first to re-equip the Regular Army …Of course, it must;… but will be of the type with which the units concerned would at present he equipped on mobilisation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th February, 1951; Vol. 484, c. 40–43.]I hope that the equipment will be the best of its type and that it will be in good condition.
On the question of administrative arrangements which are vital to the success of a scheme like this, I venture to sound a note of warning arising from the point made by some of my hon. Friends about the arrangements for 1828 travelling. I very much doubt whether it will be found that it is wisest in all cases to ask men to travel to camp alone. In some cases it may be best to get them to report at the local drill hall so that they can travel together to camp as they have done before. I mention that because it is a good example of the point I want to make. We shall only get this scheme to run smoothly if commanding officers can, through their own officers and N.C.Os., get into touch as early as possible with those Z men allotted to them so that they can make as many preliminary arrangements as possible on what might be described by some of my hon. and gallant Friends as the "old boy net." It is as well to get the wheels oiled outside the strict official channels. The more this close co-operation is established in the early days, the easier will be the problems of administration as they arise.
There is one point which has been brought to my notice in my constituency over the weekend. It was said quite truthfully by my hon. Friend who opened the debate from this side of the House that the Territorial Army was based on a territorial affiliation, but that the Class Z men would not always be called up to their local units. Of course, that may be true, but I believe that in some parts of the country men who might be called up to local units are being sent to units 50 miles away, and that seems to me to be very wasteful of just the sort of spirit which we ought to try to create in the Army.
For example, in Blackpool, we have an excellent anti-aircraft unit, but a man who has lived in Blackpool all his life, who is an anti-aircraft expert, came to me and told me that he was being called up, not to the Blackpool unit, but to a Manchester unit. Not only does that sort of thing split up local affiliations, but it causes difficulties in another direction. In many areas of this country, people can be spared more easily at certain times of the year than others, and I think the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour will understand what I mean. Particularly in regard to seaside resorts, it can be a real convenience if the men from these seasonal areas are taken into this scheme at the same time as their own Territorial units do their training. That is only a small point, but I hope it is one on which the Government can make some slight adjustment.
1829 I pass from that to one other important matter concerning the Territorial Army which affects its strength, and that is the position of volunteers. As I understand it, one of the fruits which the Territorial Army hopes to gather out of this scheme is a larger number of volunteers, once it has been placed in touch with the Class Z men. It is hoped to be able to persuade them to volunteer, and I think it is most important that that should be so, because I am told that the Territorial Army is deficient of about 60 per cent. of the senior N.C.O.s of its establishment. That is a terrible situation when we are thinking in terms of the possibility of mobilisation. How can we have an efficient mobilisation with less than half of the senior N.C.O.s required? It is absolutely vital that we should try to encourage some of these men, many of whom will become senior N.C.O.s, to join the Territorial Army but what are the obstacles in their way?
First, there is the curious position brought about by this Bill that the Class Z man, if he is a conscript and not a volunteer, will be given protection regarding paid holidays and dismissal from his employment. Immediately a man becomes a volunteer, he loses that protection. That really is a ridiculous situation. I can see the arguments—and they are quite strong ones—which are advanced in normal times against giving the volunteers security of employment and guaranteed paid holidays, but none of those arguments apply at a time when Territorial Army men are serving with non-volunteers. Class Z men who are recalled under this Bill are given exactly those rights of secured employment and paid holidays. Surely, we can insert something in this Bill which will, either in this year or any other year to which the Bill applies, give the volunteers in the Territorial Army the same rights of paid holidays and security against dismissal from their employment? I think we must do that if we are to get these men to volunteer.
The second obstacle is this. The present Territorial Army engagement is too long for the purposes for which the Government want these men; that is, during the next two or three years, while the Territorial Army is short of National Service men. We ought to have shorter-term Territorial Army engagements. I know 1830 that there are some, but they do not apply everywhere, and we ought to have a special scheme which places a lesser burden on the trained men. Such a suggestion will not devalue the voluntary spirit of the Territorial Army, and I am sure that the Territorials will accept the fact that, in these hard times, something like that has to be done, because it is quite clear that this scheme by itself is not going to make this country much stronger, except, in so far as these men are concerned, for a very short period.
If, as the Lord President indicated the other day in a speech in the country, this tense situation of half war, half peace is going on for many years, we cannot have a makeshift scheme like this every year; nor can we for the next three years rely upon makeshift schemes like this. It seems to me that the curious assurance which the Minister of Defence gave us in the recent defence debate—that none of these men would be called up again next year—was really proof positive that even the Government realise that a scheme such as this is nothing more than a make-shift scheme for one year. Even the Government realise that, otherwise they would not have given that curious assurance.
Why is it a curious assurance? Firstly, because these are the selected men, the first eleven; these are the men the Army wants. Is it to be supposed that, if this same situation is going on next year, the Army will have to be satisfied with a second eleven? It may be interposed at once that the Secretary of State for War has told us that we are to have another 120,000 National Service men next year, so that we shall not need these Class Z men after all. Well, this 120,000 is only just over half the 235,000 which was mentioned, so that there is still a very large gap; but, in any case, even when all these 120,000 National Service men come out of full-time service, will not they all go into those four divisions and the antiaircraft units? And even if they did, there would still be large gaps left in the administrative units and the supporting arms units of the active Army. These units presumably have to be filled in time of emergency, and arrangements have also to be made to keep together the teams in these units and give the men a modicum of refresher training.
1831 It seems to me that the combination of this scheme and the assurance given by the Minister of Defence, which was repeated today by the Secretary of State for Air, needs to be reconsidered as soon as possible. We do not want to find the Government coming here again with a scheme such as this, which has to be placed before the House immediately in the form of a Bill, without having given themselves sufficient time to consider it properly, and certainly without having given this House sufficient time to consider its full implications.
There really was no reason to rush this matter as it was rushed. I remember my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head), during the debate on the Army Estimates of 1949, bringing the Government's attention to this problem of the registration of Class Z reservists. Ever since that date, my right hon. Friends and myself have brought this matter constantly to the notice of the Government. All during last summer, every Tuesday and Wednesday, Questions were being asked from this side of the House about the registration of Class Z reservists, and it is clear, from the way in which this scheme has been brought forward, that the whole matter has been rushed. It is clear, from inquiries which I have made, and they do not by any means cover everything, that a number of Class Z reservists have not been included in any registration scheme. I should like to know, at some time or other, whether there is to be a further registration of Class Z reservists, or, if not, what is to happen.
There is one other matter I wish to mention, and that is in connection with the staff officer. At the moment, that class of person is not covered by the proposals in the Prime Minister's statement, but I understand that it might be covered by this Bill if thought desirable. In the event of an emergency mobilisation, to loose a lot of staff officers, without any refresher training since the war, upon divisions and corps trying to mobilise, would be like sending a very dangerous animal into their midst. I am fully conscious of that fact myself. Therefore, I suggest to the Government that they reconsider a proposal which, once again, I say, has been put forward many times from this side of the House, that some form of refresher training should be pro- 1832 vided for staff officers. I gather that even the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) is in agreement with me on that matter, but I should like to upset his balance for a moment by reminding him that the giving to staff officers of a little refresher training would add to the efficiency of the Army. Does he like that? I do not think he does.
As I started, so I shall end. I consider it absolutely vital at a time like this that Parliament should have regard to the need of the individual in this Bill, and I hope that we shall study Clause 6 and any others relating to the freedom of the individual very closely indeed. But it is also absolutely vital that this scheme should be made to work. I believe that if it fails, if there is too little equipment, or if the administration is not good enough, the damage that will do to morale might take years to remedy. It is also vital that the men being called up should realise that though they have been selected because of their prowess and value to the Army, the Government are taking all the steps they ought to take for the home defence of the nation.
I believe it right to end my speech on this Bill by saying, as was said in the defence debate by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) and by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe), that National Service ought not now to be merely National Service in the Armed Forces. The idea is much wider than that. If we are to have a feeling of fairness in the country, arrangements ought to be made for Civil Defence and for Home Guard duties generally—in short, for the home defence of the nation. When the Government have produced a scheme like that, then they will safeguard themselves for ever from the quite common feeling in the country at the moment that Mr. A, a Class Z reservist, has been unfairly treated by being called up.
§ 8.4 p.m.
§ Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)
Having read this Bill, I have come to the conclusion that, as with many other Bills, it takes a lawyer to understand some of its Clauses. At times, we find even the lawyers differing among themselves on certain points, which makes one wonder whether it would not be possible to make 1833 things dealt with in Bills more intelligible to everybody. However, I have listened to the whole of this debate, and I believe that to all intents and purposes I have learned what are the general purposes of this Bill.
I gather from the discussion so far that, while we may disagree on certain matters within the Bill itself, there seems to be general approval of its main principles. The fact that we are discussing such a Bill at this moment indicates clearly the serious times in which we are living. It is unique in so far as it proposes to do something which has never been done before in this country—to call up ex-Service men on such a large scale in a time of so-called peace.
There is one matter which I think I can legitimately bring into this debate because we are here dealing with the whole question of defence, the building up of our armaments and the building up of our manpower. I wish to ventilate the case of a constituent of mine who served for three and a half years in the Royal Air Force. Coming home on leave one night, he found another man living in his house, and arising out of that position a crime was committed. My constituent was sentenced to a term of imprisonment, though a large part of the sentence was remitted because of his good conduct. He recently applied to rejoin the Royal Air Force, but was refused. I mention this man's case in order to draw attention to the fact that because of this one unfortunate incident a man of otherwise good character cannot rejoin the Royal Air Force, even at a time like this when it wants men so badly.
In the course of this debate, the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) raised the question of the conscientious objector and the question of dependence upon volunteers. The matter of the conscientious objector has always seemed to me something peculiar and something which I could not logically and conscientiously back up. I have always found conscientious objectors to be fine men of good character in every respect; but in my experience of life, I have also found that to whatever organisation one may belong, one has to submit, in spite of one's possible conscientious objection to what is being done, to the decisions made by the majority.
1834 But when we come to the question of the nation itself, we find an entirely different attitude being adopted on one of the most vital subjects appertaining to the nation. No organisation, big or small, can be carried on unless the decisions of the majority are accepted. Yet when we come to the most vital thing of all so far as this nation is concerned, when the time arises when there is need to defend the country, we go out of our way to provide specially for the conscientious objector. That is the law, but it has always seemed illogical to me. I remember a time when people used to resist paying the rates because of their objections to some educational policy. They were conscientious objectors but nevertheless they had to pay the penalty and go to prison. I agree we have developed a great deal since those days and take a wider view, but I cannot see the logic of it.
I come now to the question of depending upon volunteers. In the past we have depended upon volunteers to save us from some international difficulty that has arisen. That has been accepted, but where we then needed thousands we now need millions. Perhaps it is that as we become more cultivated and civilised the work of defending the nation compels the doing of things to which 99 per cent. of the whole population object in principle when they have to go into the Army. I know of some of the finest men in the country who had as much objection to the character of the work they were called upon to do as any man living, but nevertheless, they recognised that the difficulty existed and somebody had to do the work.
What is wrong with the volunteer system? It will be found very often that the most innocent people will be guided by the actions of the rest of their fellow men. They will fall into line, but not because they have a conscientious objection. We all have conscientious objections to doing the work that has to be done in a time of international stress. Yet today we have men still talking about depending on volunteers when all experience points out that, whatever may have been the case in the past, one cannot find volunteers today in the numbers required when there is need to defend the country. I have mentioned that point only because it has been introduced in this debate.
1835 I now want to express my individual opinion upon another important matter. That is the question of civil liberty. I think all of us here believe in democracy. We pride ourselves upon it. What is the essence of the principles of the democracy of which we speak? If it is one thing above all else, it is freedom of speech, the opportunity to express one's views despite the overwhelming opinion to the contrary that may exist in the country. We understand by democracy that people who are in a small minority still have the right and the means to express their views and to try and convert others to their point of view.
Mr. Charles Ian On-Ewing (Hendon, North)
Whilst I agree with that very honourable sentiment, may I ask the hon. Gentleman whether that would apply to the closed shop and to those who conscientiously believe it is not in their faith to join a trade union? I am referring to Plymouth Brethren who lost their jobs in the London Fire Station on account of exactly the same principle of liberty that the hon. Gentleman mentioned.
I thought the hon. Gentleman said that democracy consists of freedom to do what one prefers and to speak in whatever way one likes.
§ Mr. McKay
I uphold that always. It is a general matter of principle within a nation. In the case of a society, however, when they have decided that certain general principles and policy must apply, then before one is allowed to join that society one is expected to accept those general principles and policy.
That brings me to Clause 6 of the Bill. I am not a lawyer, but I listened to hon. Members discussing the subject matter of Clause 6. When I examined the Clause I felt it was so formulated and was so wide that to all intents and purposes it was prohibiting expression of opinion on national policy today. We are bringing ex-Service men back into the Armed Forces to build a defence force because of the international situation, but many men and women today think that in many respects our international policy is not satisfactory. Some of those men and women may go into a public 1836 house, or a workmen's club, and in the ordinary way, talking to their fellow men and women, they may express opinions opposed to the policy of the country. There may be ex-Service men liable for call-up among those listening to them. If they said something which could be construed as detrimental to national policy, if there was any suggestion that they would not join the Army or would not agree with being called up, those words might come within the restrictions imposed in this Clause.
While I agree that the position must be safeguarded in relation to incitement, it appears from legal interpretations of the Clause offered in this debate today that this provision is far too wide. The Clause ought to be seriously considered so that it may be made quite clear that the citizens of this country, even in times like these, may be safeguarded when they express opinions on public policy. The Clause should be so worded that action could only be taken when there was clear and definite proof that there was an organised attempt to cause public disaffection. That is the point I want to emphasise. We must guard this principle to the utmost of our power. The Minister and his colleagues must look very closely into this Clause and try to amend it so that we can have confidence that proper safeguards have been provided.
§ 8.21 p.m.
Mr. Charles Ian On-Ewing (Hendon, North)
I think I can assure the hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. McKay) that we on this side of the House uphold with the greatest enthusiasm the principle of individual liberty. We hope very much, from what we have heard from hon. Members who sit around him, like the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway), that we may count on their support if it is found that there are any interferences with the liberty of the subject. If one could uphold the principle of conscientious objection even in a war, surely one must uphold it in a cold war and in an emergency such as that which exists today. I realise that the number of people who now conscientiously object and who are affected by this Bill must be comparatively small, but we would seek to defend liberty everywhere. They have changed their minds and we will defend them in that change of mind.
1837 I want to turn to a point which has caused me some concern. The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) said that the figure of 235,000 to be called up was a global figure and that wastage would be subtracted from it. He said that wastage would not be replaced. There seems to me to be some nine reasons why wastage, which may be quite serious, may occur. If it is necessary to call up 235,000 men, we must make sure that every one of them is really needed and if there is a wastage of, say, 35,000 and they are not replaced, why is it necessary to call them up in the first instance? If we can do without them. why are they being called up?
As an example, some men of the Z Reserve and equivalent Reserves may have emigrated. What is to happen in those cases? Some may have died. A case was mentioned in another place of a man who had died. Obviously there is room for mistakes and human errors in the record offices and there are, of course, errors in the records themselves. As my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, North (Mr. Low), has said, hon. Members on this side of the House, week after week and month after month have, for the past few years, asked that the records should be most carefully checked so that we could make certain that we knew the ages, the medical categories and the occupations of these Reservists.
It has been the Government's policy, presumably acting on the recommendations of their Service advisers, to run down our Services during the period after the war. Surely it is even more essential during such a period to make certain that the records of Reservists are in every way accurate. If the Government are gambling on small standing Forces, they must be able to put their finger on the trained reservists at a moment's notice. It is a sad reflection on the system in the record offices, which no doubt do their work conscientiously, that so many mistakes are being made.
Another reason why some people may not be reached is that they have changed their addresses. Someone suggested another and very quaint reason to me the other day. He knew a young person who, before the war, when being chased by the Inland Revenue, used to take the 1838 envelope and write across it, "Not known here," and put it back in the letter box. That seems an easy way out. I hope it will not be generally applied, but I can visualise some such thing happening to some of the notices for Z Reservists. Then, there is the quite genuine case of hardship, and we have been assured that it will be given careful consideration. There is, too, the reason of conscientious objection which I mentioned earlier, and there are those whose medical category would no longer qualify them for call up in their previous jobs.
Lastly, there are the reserved occupations. In some instances these reserved occupations are essential to industry, and I know that the Government are cooperating here. In a firm where I work some people have already received their call-up notices and we have explained that if they are taken away—they are design draughtsmen or project engineers—the whole of the re-armament programme will be set back, not by two weeks but possibly by an even longer period, because of the repercussions this will have throughout the project. I hope the Government will continue their very sensible policy of exempting at this juncture key personnel working on re-armament projects. If they do not, we shall not have the armaments we need to equip our Forces.
I wonder whether it is possible for some of the tradesmen who served in the last war, and who are only too enthusiastic to serve again, to be attached in some voluntary fashion for evening work to some of the Territorial, volunteer or auxiliary units in their neighbourhood. That suggestion has not been considered in any way and it seems that these men will be lost to the defence effort. I have suggested nine reasons why some of the 235,000 men may have to be exempted. Is this wastage to be replaced? If it is, the replacement should be made very quickly because those who will be called up to replace the wastage will want to know at the earliest possible opportunity.
I want to turn to what I think is the most vicious part of the Bill. We have been told that in calling up these Reservists the Government have made need the salient factor. Presumably they have made need the salient factor this 1839 year and in the Bill. But the whole situation will change next year when some of the National Service men are released. That being the case, why have the Government frozen the pattern of this Bill for the years 1952, 1953 and 1954? The pattern is laid down—15 days for this category, 15 days for that category, three months for a third category and even 18 months for flying instructors. Why is that inequality of sacrifice frozen on Reservists to be called up in 1952–54?
It might be argued that these are maximum periods of service, but I think it will be generally agreed that once a figure has been put into a Bill and comes to be accepted, then the maximum and the minimum come to the same thing. We have seen it in price control and I am sure we may see it here unless we safeguard the future. All sides of the House have agreed to support the Bill because it has been brought forward as an emergency Measure. It is an emergency Measure because the Government did not see fit to increase the pay and allowances of the Regular Forces and because they did not heed the warnings which were given to them time and again. As a result of that, they had to hold the National Service men back for an extra six months. By virtue of these mistakes they must call these people back to fill the bill. I cannot see why this pattern should be frozen on reservists called up in the future.
We have had some assurances that the auxiliary squadrons will not be called on again on the next occasion, but there has been some disquiet among the fighter control units and the single radar reporting unit because their opposite numbers in the squadrons have been called up for three months. Some feel that the writing is on the wall and that next summer it will be they who will be called up for three months. I hope that the Government will assure us. because it will make a difference to recruiting, that there is no such plan in view and that the fighter control units will not be called for three months as the auxiliary squadrons have been on this occasion.
This Bill does not seek to cover women, and we are glad that that is so. but the need to call up 10,000 G Reservists is an exact measure of the Government's incompetence in not forming a larger 1840 force of the W.R.A.F. in the meantime. It is most significant if we look at the figures of the jobs done by women in industry as against the jobs done by men. There are two men to every woman. During the war there were 670,000 R.A.F. serving at home and 178,000 W.R.A.F.—a ratio of 4 to 1. What is the ratio today? It is 20 to 1.
§ Mr. A. Henderson
I invite the hon. Member to examine what we have been trying to do in recruiting women for fighter control units. I visited one in Edinburgh yesterday. Out of a strength of 230 there were 180 women, of whom 160 have joined in the last 18 months.
I agree that the women have come forward, as they always do, in the most excellent manner. I know that is true. I would endorse it from evidence of other fighter control units, but it is in a voluntary capacity. I know the case of a man and his wife who are so anxious to serve that they do their duties on alternate evenings, the one staying at home looking after the baby. That is the spirit we have always seen with our womenfolk when a job needs to be done. But why is not the right hon. Gentleman seeking to enlarge the regular women's forces. The same applies in the case of the W.R.N.S. and the W.R.A.C.S. The W.R.A.F. is not now 178,000 but less than 10,000. It is surely agreed that there are lots of jobs that can be done more efficiently by women, which would release National Service men for more active duties nearer to the front line. There would also be no need to call up the 10,000 reservists.
There is one category that has still been completely omitted. What has happened to the men who were in reserved occupations on the last occasion and who are no longer in reserved occupations? Are they to be let off scot-free? If so, it would seem to be a considerable injustice, because we are calling up men of 45 under the present arrangement. What has happened to all the people in age groups below 45 who on the last occasion were reserved and are no longer reserved? Would it not be worthwhile to check up on (the names, addresses, occupations and medical categories of these people? I feel that whereas these present Reservists have with willingness accepted the sacrifice, which I hope will not be in vain, they would feel it more 1841 just if the Government raked over the records and gave attention to those who escaped the last time and may escape again and for ever unless some change is brought about.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South)
I am sure that the House will have listened with interest and with benefit to the many practical suggestions which have been made by the hon. Member for Hendon, North (Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing). I shall address myself in particular to the Clause which has already come under heavy fire from both sides of the House in the course of this debate. I refer to Clause 6. The Measure which this House is considering tonight is part of the re-armament programme. That rearmament programme makes sense, and only makes sense, if in the field of diplomacy it is accompanied by a policy of peace making, and if in the sphere of economic affairs it is accompanied by great care that the effort of re-armament does not involve us in bankruptcy, because that would mean easy victory for our potential enemies. We might be girded about with tanks and equipped with all manner of guns, and yet die of inward economic rottenness.
There is another factor which is not unimportant in this difficult period through which the people of our country are going, and that is morale. The one way not to get an Englishman to work and co-operate is to bully, threaten and intimidate him; in particular, to stifle his freedom to say what he thinks. A century and a half ago in this island there were great dangers to our community, and the Government of the day dealt with them principally by repression. It was the period of the six Acts; the period when "Lord Eldon and the Court of Chancery sat heavily upon mankind"; the period when Robert Burns said plaintively, "I imagine the time is not far distant when a man may freely blame Billy Pitt without being called an enemy of his country." That process of repression had a very ill effect upon the life of this community.
Equally it could have an ill effect today, and I confess that I have read with astonishment and certainly with alarm the contents of Clause 6 (1) as it now stands. I cannot believe that my right hon. Friends will permit it to go through in 1842 its present shape. It is indeed regrettable that it has been introduced as it now is, because if it is carefully analysed I believe it widens the scope of political offences, and it makes it easier in its present form to send people to prison because of the opinions that they hold. It also increases the power of the police to interfere actively with the domestic liberties of the British subject.
It may be said by my right hon. Friend that of course they will use this provision with discretion and care—that they would not think of using it as an instrument of tyranny. I am quite sure that that is so. But once this Bill becomes an Act it becomes part of the Statute Book—part of the law of the land, and it will be the duty of the police to enforce that law. The day may then well come when the police will go to those responsible for enforcing the law and say, "Here is the evidence of an offence under this Section," and there is difficulty in refusing to act in such a situation and in picking and choosing when and where to prosecute.
We have had assurances from the Government, but this Government will not last for ever. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Those cheers from the opposite benches underline the very thing I am saying, because to give these powers to a Labour Government is bad enough, but Heaven forbid that they should be handed over to the representatives of the Tory Party. However, I do not want to introduce any party issue about this, because many hon. Members on the other side have happily shown that there is still a spark of liberalism in their reactionary bosoms. Clause 6 is based upon the provision of the Incitement to Disaffection Act, 1934. When that Measure was discussed in this House, it came under the fierce fire of my right hon. Friends. It came under the fire, in particular, of the present Prime Minister, because of the same kind of phraseology that is used in Clause 6 (1). Oddly enough, the Incitement to Disaffection Act, 1934, protected the liberty of honest expression more generously than does this Bill. At least it included before the words "endeavouring to incite" the words "maliciously and advisedly," about which I shall say a word or two in a moment.
1843 Indeed, this Bill puts our citizens in a worse position than they were in 1797, when the Mutiny Act was passed. The 1797 Act also contained the words "maliciously and advisedly." There was a useful judgment in the case Rex v. Fuller, in 1797, where the word "advisedly" was interpreted by the learned judge as meaning "knowingly," and that certainly helped the endangered subject. I was saying that the 1934 Act provisions went a little further in defending the individual seeking to say honestly that which he believes. Presumably we want to ensure for our citizens the right to do that. Admittedly we must suppress any obvious incitement to disaffection or preventing our troops from doing their duty. In the course of the debate on the 1934 Act, my right hon. Friend the present Prime Minister compared the provisions of that Act with some of the Nazi legislation, and he said:People in Berlin who have had Mill on 'Liberty' have been arrested because of the danger that the hook might overthrow the State. It will very soon come to that if we have this kind of legislation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th April, 1934; Vol. 288, c. 850.]It will soon come to that in this country if we have this kind of legislation in Clause 6 (1). It is remarkable that this should be so when we have a Government associated with a movement famous for its fights for civil liberty.
Clause 6, as it now stands, endangers free expression of honest criticism of political polices pursued by the Government, whatever the Government may be. It may, of course, be. said by some lawyers that the addition of the words "maliciously or advisedly" do not mean very much. I do not think they do add very much, but they do add something. It has been held by one of our judges that the word "maliciously" does not mean much more than "deliberately." Furthermore, in any event the prosecution must prove guilty intention. All the same I would rather defend a man with those words in the Clause than defend him with the words out of the Clause.
The words clearly underline the duty of the prosecution to prove guilty intention and, as an hon. Member opposite has said, the significance of the omission of the words is great, when there is another Act in existence dealing with a similar kind of mischief but including the 1844 words "maliciously and advisedly." The court, looking at the two provisions, must say to itself: "In the 1934 Act the burden upon the prosecution is graver and more stringent, and we can take a less strict view of what must be proved against whoever comes before us under the provisions of the 1951 Act." That criticism is of very great importance.
I submit that the Clause, in its present form, must go. I know it cannot be beyond the capacity of those responsible for this legislation to distinguish between a malicious and advised attempt to incite and the bona fide expression of social, religious and political opinion. Before the Bill goes further this must be looked at again. It is not a point of small importance. After all, the 1934 Act dealt only with incitement of soldiers then serving in the Army, whereas this Bill covers four million or so civilians, as they are at present. If this becomes law it will threaten to corrode much of our democratic life. I do not want to exaggerate, but it will really put people. in fear of saying what they think.
I have often spoken on this theme in the House, and I do not want to over-labour it, but I do not think it can be over-laboured. It has often been said that if faced with the challenge of totalitarianism we cannot combat it by turning totalitarian. The right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) was eloquent on that theme before the war. It is very important today. It would be grotesque if in the course of defending democracy we were to descend into the pit of repression in the way the Clause might very well enable governments to lead our people.
Subsection (1) in its present form is very closely linked with the provisions of subsection (2) which says that if any person with intent to commit an offence under subsection (1):… has in his possession or under his control any document of such a nature that the dissemination of copies thereof among such persons as aforesaid would constitute an offence, he shall be guilty of an offence.…Therefore, mere possession of a document by a person with intent to commit this vastly wide offence is itself an offence. It is, indeed, an alarming situation, and the illustration which the Prime Minister used about Mill on "Liberty" is a very pertinent one.
§ Mr. Elwyn Jones
We have already had a reference to the Sermon on the Mount. I can think of many other teachings and writings which we on this side of the House—I do not claim a monopoly in Christianity for us on this—have come to regard as part of our very being.
There is also to be considered the importance of subsection (3) which, again, is linked with subsection (1). Subsection (3) provides for a general search warrant in the circumstances and subject to the conditions which are set out, and it is alarmingly wide in its present form. It enables a police inspector, who has "reasonable ground for suspecting" that a person has "endeavoured to incite a person" who may be liable to be called up to "discharge his duties otherwise than to the best of his ability," to go to the judge of the High Court and get a search warrant. Once he has obtained his warrant, he can make a general search, and, if he finds an offending document on the entered premises, or, indeed, finds any other document there which enables him to found a prosecution, he can start the ball rolling.
The limitations on right of search of private premises is an important section of our law. It has often been the subject of great debate in this Parliament, and it has always been limited most carefully by the House of Commons. When that important right is linked with this dangerously wide definition of the offence which is aimed at, we are imperilling a basic principle of our freedom to do as we like in our own homes. For these reason, the Government must think again about Clause 6 (1). As it stands, it is contrary to much that I understand by "the liberty of the subject."
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Heathcoat Amory (Tiverton)
I shall make only one or two brief remarks, and the House will be relieved to know that I shall give Clause 6 a miss altogether. We all agree that it is a terrible thought that within six or seven years of the end of the greatest war the world has ever known, a measure such as this should have to come before us, but no one in his sane senses can doubt 1846 the need for something of the kind. A short time ago I had a formidable letter from the War Office. My knees knocked together and I shook in my shoes. I said, "Here it is, my Z call up." But it was not. It announced to me—and I think, as it was not "top secret," to the world also—that I was retired from the Territorial Army Reserve on the grounds of senility. I make no complaint of that. It may be that I am a product of the mysterious process about which we were told today which is known as "Pulheems." Anyhow, as a result of that letter, I have no interest to declare in this matter today.
I want to refer for a moment or two to the 15 days. When I first read of that, I was deeply perplexed, as I think were many people. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, North (Mr. Low), that it is in the Bill, and that at this stage we must accept it and concentrate all our efforts on making sure that one way or another it is made to work and to yield results. There is one thing which I hope both the Minister of Defence and the Secretary of State will realise, that the mood of these Z reservists is not a light-hearted one of being called up for a fortnight's holiday. They want it to be treated as serious, as indeed it is. They realise that times are serious, and as long as they know that this is part of a comprehensive and efficient plan for the defence of the country, I am sure they will play their part. But if it is to work, a terrific effort will be required.
Now I want to refer to the four objects which the Secretary of State for War gave us in his speech the other day. First he said the call-up was to bring units up to strength. Those of us who served in the old Territorial Army when many units were under strength, realise what an exciting thing it is to find one's unit at full strength. However, I ask him to remember that it will throw a tremendous burden on Territorial Army C.Os. during the coming training season. Most of them feel that they have just about as much as they can do to train the men they already have this year, and a big inrush into units makes it extraordinarily difficult to reap the benefits of being brought up to strength quickly.
The second object was for a unit to get to work as a team which again is 1847 most important. The right hon. Gentleman today said it was hoped that this would be an opportunity for officers and men to get to know one another. But I suppose that unless an emergency occurs within the succeeding 12 months, most of the men called up for units this year are unlikely ever to see those particular units again. If that is not so, perhaps the Under-Secretary will tell us. It seems to me that the building up of teams will be more difficult and less valuable than it would otherwise be because of this plan by which men are unlikely to go back to the same units again as the units become filled with National Service men joining the Territorial Army.
The third object was a practice mobilisation. We can all see the advantages, within limits, of that. The fourth object was a period of refresher training. That is the one where I think most of us feel that difficulties will arise, in view of the shortage of instructors and officers not knowing, when they get these men, how much knowledge they have. It is not impossible to make it work, but it will mean that every single moment of that fortnight must be usefully used. My memory of when a unit receives a big influx of new men is that for some days for those new men there is a sort of "inevitability of gradualness"; everything goes very, very slowly indeed.
My recollection of a fortnight's training is that it takes an awfully long time to start and, oddly enough, an awfully long time to stop at the other end. One of my invariable recollections is that, however short a distance a man has to go home, on the last day reveille is always at 1.30 a.m. An instance of the sort of thing that wants looking at is whether time could not be saved over pay. Pay used to be regarded as a sort of religious rite which had to occupy a certain period, and nothing could be done to persuade warrant officers to cut down that period. There I think a lesson could be learned from industry.
I should like to reinforce with all the strength I can what has been said about the necessity of seeing that the Territorial Army volunteer is not worse off in respect of having his holidays safeguarded than the man who is ordered to undergo training. I am sure that for the future that is terribly important. My hon. 1848 Friends have already pointed out that there is certain evidence that the register of Z reservists is not yet complete. I should like to know whether or not that is so, because I have had some evidence which seems to indicate that registration has gone so far and then somehow has stopped without being completed. For the future that register is obviously very important. I was glad to hear the Secretary of State say that exemptions would be made in cases of exceptional hardship, but we should like to know a little more about that, and about what kind of hardships will be provided for.
I support most strongly what has been said about the desirability of having some training for staff officers. The untrained staff officer has been described as a very dangerous animal. I was one of those dangerous animals, and looking back I know what a menace I was to my colleagues. In the old Territorial Army there was always a certain amount of tactical training but very little on administration, and my experience is that of the two administration is the more important.
When this recall was first announced there was a certain amount of dismay on the part of people who said, "Is it fair that those who have already done their hit should have to do a second bit? What about those who have done nothing at all?" We know that need must be the first requirement here, and calling up people who have never had any Service experience does not meet this problem, but if the men concerned are to play their part with good heart it is essential that they should know as clearly as possible now how this scheme will be fitted into the general scheme of defence, and what the principles of selection will be. There have been one or two funny instances already. One of my constituents who was a butcher in the Army tells me he has been called up. I was a little surprised.
I was surprised that a butcher should be regarded as a key man, although in a sense I was glad to hear it. I was not sure whether he was being called up as a key man in the Services or whether he was regarded as redundant in civil life. Those who are called up 1849 must be fully and sensibly employed for every minute of the period for which they are called up and go home feeling they have made a useful contribution to the defence of our country. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not underestimate the difficulties of this operation. It must be an efficient show; it must go well. If it does it will be of some good, but if it is a fiasco and a flop it will damage morale and make things far more difficult for the future.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Macmillan (Bromley)
As was stated by my hon. Friend the Member for Hereford (Mr. J. P. L. Thomas) in an admirable speech, we shall not oppose the Second Reading of this Bill, in spite of the rather peevish outbreak of the Minister of Defence over the weekend. We support this Measure, but we have no confidence at all in the men who are responsible for implementing it, or our other defence preparations, for never before have our defences been so much expense with so little result as during the last six years.
We have no confidence, I am afraid I must say, in the Service Ministers now charged with these great affairs. All we can say is that we think that their immediate predecessors—most of whom are ennobled, and some of whom have become very eccentric—were even worse. The trouble is that some of them are so very agreeable; like the right hon. and learned Gentleman who introduced the Second Reading of this Bill. He always looks at us with a sort of injured innocence and an expression of pained surprise which is very disarming. But all the same we have to do our duty, as he has to do his. He has given us one particular pleasure, when he introduced us to the new word "Pulheems" and the interpretation thereof. What it means is still very obscure, but that, I suppose, is just a sign of the times.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North (Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing), reminded us, this is an emergency Measure and it is necessary because of the Government's own delays and mistakes over these years; because they have not listened to warnings and have failed to raise sufficient forces to be an effective defence of our country at the present time. It is an emergency Measure and must be judged as such. How effective will it be? 1850 As regards the Air Force, I feel sure that the call-up of the auxiliary squadrons for three months' training will have very excellent results. We have a very fine body of men there. It will be a heavy burden for many of them, but I am sure the results will be good. The full result will depend on what equipment can be given to them. That is as important as anything else.
The 15 days for others called up will certainly be a valuable period for the Territorial Army which, in an excellent speech, my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Brigadier Thorp) reminded us—and many hon. Friends speak with great knowledge of the Territorial Army—is based on the system of 15 days' camp. Therefore 15 days is the natural period in which to fit the reservists when they are called up. Yet, as my hon. and gallant Friend reminded us, those 15 days in the case of the Territorial are the culmination of a long period of training during the winter, drills and so forth. Therefore it is not quite the same thing in the case of the Z reservist.
In the case of the gaps in the Army at home, in anti-aircraft and so on, there will certainly be some valuable training. We must see that, as I think every Member of the House who has spoken has put in a plea should be done, the maximum of training should be done in the time available. But I think every one must admit that it will not be more than rather cursory training. We were told at an earlier stage that one of the main purposes is that it is to be partly a mobilisation test, which of course is valuable, and partly a kind of opportunity for the men to shake down—I think that was the phrase that was used—and get to know their comrades.
When first I heard that argument it struck me as a very forcible one; but when the Minister of Defence gave the pledge which he gave in the debate the other day it meant, if I understood it aright, that these men, having shaken down with their comrades, will never see them again this side of the grave unless there is general mobilisation for war. In the ordinary course of events, except in case of war, they will not see their comrades again. It will be ave atque vale, hail and farewell, good morning and goodbye. It seems a very odd way of shaking down with one's comrades.
1851 It may be that that explanation is not quite valid because I observe that Lord Alexander of Hillsborough used quite a different expression for the pledge when speaking in another place. He said that it would be the specific intentionnot to call up the same individuals again, if it can possibly be avoided.When he was challenged by another noble Lord to the effect that a specific assurance had been given, he repeated:we shall not, so far as can be avoided, recall people who have been selected previously …
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
On a point of order. Is it in order to quote from speeches which have been delivered in another place?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)
It is in order to refer to Government statements of policy made in another place.
§ Mr. Macmillan
Further to that point of order. Has it not always been the rule that a Minister speaking in another place can be quoted? Lord Alexander, although it may easily have escaped the hon. Member's attention, is still a Minister. I do not know whether that was a pledge or whether it was in a way trying to cut into the pledge. Perhaps we can have a statement, or perhaps that is just "piffle and poppycock." I do not know.
That is to happen this year. What is to happen next year, because the House will not fail to observe that under Clause 12 the powers are taken for this year and for three more years? Next year there will be some National Service men added—120,000: that is about half this call-up. What about the other half? A different set of men are to be called up. Clearly, they will not be the men whom the Government now think are the most useful and desirable. They will, as has been said, be a kind of second eleven. What will happen in the third year? Perhaps the number of National Service men will be greater but there will still be a residue of men required.
It seems to be a very unwise pledge to have given in all the circumstances. At the same time, I see why it was given, because the selective system is contrary to any absolute consideration of fairness; it errs against that. Alas, I have, like other Members, lived through two wars, 1852 and I have never seen anything fair in war. The most terrible disasters have fallen on some families—two, three and four sons have been killed; some people have given freely and voluntarily of everything—life, blood and all, while others have not, for one reason or another, had to make anything like that equality of sacrifice. That we shall never get, but I say that there is a sense of unfairness in the scheme.
I hope that, as has been pressed so often, it will be possible, when something other than a hastily got up scheme of this kind—some more permanent scheme—is made, to achieve a system by which some substitutes of equal technical skill can be found; and a review of the whole system of reserved occupations with, as many Members on both sides of the House have urged, corresponding obligations for Civil Defence and similar duties placed upon those who are not called up to serve in the Armed Forces.
All this refers, as I understand it—and the hon. Gentleman will correct me, because I do not claim to follow all these details with as much intimacy as many of my hon. Friends—to the Army at home; the Territorial Army and the Air Force at home. But what about the Army on the Rhine. What is its establishment today? How far is it under strength? How far is it sustained with German service troops? Will this scheme do anything at all to give it strength and life; to bring it up to strength; to give it those necessary Corps and Army troops without which it is merely a number of divisions and not a tactical or strategic force?
That is the problem which presses so hard on many of us. Surely it is the case that at the present time this scheme makes no contribution, since indeed it is put into the Bill itself that no man shall serve except in the United Kingdom. If that is so this year, what about next year? In 1952, in 1953, in 1954? We hope, if all goes well and we escape the worst calamities, to have much larger forces in Europe as a contribution to the defence of Europe. Are not those forces to be sustained all that time with the necessary Reserves to make them effective and able to protect themselves in case of need? Those are the comments and criticisms we have to make, while we support the Bill in its general form.
1853 There is another point, to which attention has been directed, and that is the problem of giving to the Territorial Army volunteers something of the system of legal defence and protection which is given to the other groups of men in the Bill. The Territorial Army volunteer seems to be the one person who does not get this legal protection. I know there is an argument as to whether it is desirable or not. But when we are having in all this great series of men who are called up by law a comparatively small number who will volunteer, it does seem rather anomalous that the volunteer who assumes additional responsibility should receive less protection than anybody else, so far as his civil position is concerned. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will look into that and let us have some news about it, or perhaps meet this point in Committee.
Then I come to the vexed question of Clause 6. As the hon. Member for West Ham, South (Mr. F. Elwyn Jones) reminded us, there is quite a history about Clause 6. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) whom I do not see in his place, asked what was the reason for it at all? It is not for me to give the reason, but it seems clear that if it were not inserted, while there would be an existing law against a man who tried to incite a reservist to desert after he had joined his unit, there would be no law against inciting him not to join his unit at all. This Clause merely takes the law affecting men who are in His Majesty's Service, and makes it quite clear that it applies to other people who may be called to His Majesty's Service. This Clause therefore is extending the existing law which, as many hon. Members have reminded the House, is based on the incitement to Disaffection Act, 1934.
Some hon. Members have gone a little astray about what that Act did or what this Clause does. It has nothing to do with conscientious objectors. In two wars in our country we have, by general approval, given very generous treatment to conscientious objectors. We have given it even when we were most hard pressed and fighting and struggling for our lives. I do not think anyone on either side of the House can really claim that everything was not done on both those occasions to meet the genuine conscientious objector by every possible means.
1854 This Clause has nothing to do with that. It has nothing to do with the liberty to hold any opinion that one wishes or to read or, much more important, to buy any book that one likes. But liberty must not degenerate into licence. This deals with the right to commit—if it is a right—one of the most miserable and dastardly of crimes, which is to try to persuade some other chap to break his oath and to break the law. That is about the meanest thing one can do, and it has been the meanest thing that one could do throughout history.
There is quite a history to this Act of 1934. I must not press the point too far, but I recall that we had a number of debates on the Second Reading, the Third Reading and in a lengthy Committee stage. I have no doubt that some of those debates will be referred to in more detail when we reach the Committee stage of this Bill. The whole of the party now in office opposed the 1934 Bill most violently at every stage. On the Second Reading, it was opposed by Mr. Lawson, as he then was, who was afterwards Secretary of State for War. I am bound to say that the hon. Gentleman who is now our Deputy-Speaker used some very intemperate language. [An HON. MEMBER: "Order."] We have had a ruling on that before. I think that we can refer to the past—to the back of the Chair.
In the course of the Committee stage a great number of Amendments were accepted by the Law Officers. Some were refused. Of those which were refused during the Report stage one contained the words which are now part of this Clause and on it the present Minister of Labour said that the Government had made no case at all for a change of the law. But then, of course, circumstances alter cases. The Prime Minister said the Bill—and this Clause taken from the Bill—was a device of every tyrannical Government. At least, that Government had a majority of 400, and not of eight.
As the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne reminded us, today, he thought that the circumstances were very different. It is true that the immediate cause of the Act of 1934 was some very great difficulty that had arisen through certain disaffected people trying to interfere with the troops. I must say in favour of the Government that the amount of disaffection, the danger of Communists, fellow-travellers 1855 and generally dangerous people of all kinds, is far greater today than it was then. Therefore, I sympathise with them and I hope that my hon. Friends will be careful if there are Amendments to be made. Do not let us make the mistake of finding ourselves handicapped, if we have great external dangers to face and perhaps increased difficulties at home beyond those which we have ever known in our country before.
Nevertheless, the Government of the day were very amenable, as they always were, and they accepted a great number of Amendments; but on this question 65—including Attlee, Lawson, Strauss, Greenwood, Bevan and several Jones, of course—all went into the Lobby on Third Reading in favour of that civil liberty which, according to their supporters they are now about to destroy. All I can say is that, after these 17 years, there is a certain irony in this which gives me some malicious pleasure.Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small.Nevertheless, I hope that on the Second Reading of the Bill we shall not let the debate upon this Clause, which is really incidental to the Bill and which was brought in merely to complete what would otherwise have been a gap, outweigh what is the main purpose of this Measure.
The main purpose of this Bill is that it should be a temporary Measure to meet our very great difficulties. We claim that these difficulties have arisen very largely from the mismanagement of our defences over these six years. We believe that this Bill may be reasonably efficacious in the sense that, if there is what is euphemistically called an emergency—if there is a general mobilisation this summer—this Measure will facilitate it. It will give some training to a number of men who will never be called upon except on mobilisation, but it will make no help at all towards the real problem—which sometimes rather frightens me and must frighten Ministers—of having four divisions in Germany not up to strength, not properly armed, without a tactical Air Force—not a very strong position at the present time.
§ Mr. A. Henderson
I do not think that is a very wise statement. It is not true to say that there is no tactical Air Force. 1856 Only the other day the statement was made that it has been increased.
§ Mr. Macmillan
I do not wish to say anything that is not correct, but one would have thought that, of all the Forces we have, those nearest to the battle line should be the first concern.
§ Mr. Macmillan
Not in this Measure, because the right hon. Gentleman has no power in this Bill to send a single man overseas.
Therefore, I say that this Measure makes some contribution to a problem which has been brought upon us by the situation, by the lack of recruiting and the long decay of the Services, but that it makes no contribution at all to what I claim is still our biggest problem. I believe that it is the duty of the House to pass this Bill, and I trust That the controversy over a particular Clause will not unduly delay it. I understand that it is of great importance to the Ministers concerned to get the Bill passed as quickly as possible, and, therefore, at this stage, although we fortunately bear no responsibility for the situation which produced it, it is certainly not our intention to raise any opposition to its Second Reading.
§ 9.23 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for War (Mr. Michael Stewart)
We have had a debate going into a great deal of detail, and the House will appreciate that I cannot reply to all the many points that have been raised, with some of which we shall be concerned when we come to the Committee stage of the Bill, though I shall hope in what I have to say to clear up a number of doubts and uncertainties which were voiced in the questions asked by hon. Members in all quarters of the House.
First of all, let me say this. We have had from the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) and from his hon. Friends a good deal of what I may term the common form of these debates, in which they indicate their support for necessary defence measures, while looking round for any electoral advantages which they might gain. Then they go on to say that, of course, all this would never have been necessary if only they had been in power.
§ Mr. Stewart
They have said that, if we had followed the advice given to us by hon. Gentlemen opposite, this Measure would not have been necessary. I would advise those hon. Members who say that to compile an anthology of the advice given to us on military matters by hon. Gentlemen opposite. They will find that it has immense variety and rapidity of change, and is so flexible that—[Interruption.] For example, we were told that, if we had spent sufficient money on raising the pay, there would have been many more Regular soldiers and this Bill would not have been necessary.
Yet what, in fact, were the proposals made by hon. Members opposite with regard to pay? It was suggested that by an expenditure of £6 million the problem could be solved. It was true that one hon. Member said £6 million and another said £12 million, and that meanwhile the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was assuring us that all the proposals in the last Election Manifesto of the Conservative Party, which included a great deal of civilian expenditure as well as increases in Service pay, could be met by £10 million. So on one estimate it was £6 million, on another £12 million and on yet another it was the small change out of £10 million.
§ Brigadier Head
As the hon. Gentleman is talking about the last Election Manifesto, may I tell him quite clearly that we said then what we have said consistently since 1945, that if the Government had put up the pay earlier, the drift from the Forces would not have taken place, and there would have been more Regulars. That would have been much cheaper in the long run, and we could have cut down on National Service, which might well have saved the country money as well.
§ Mr. Stewart
I am well acquainted with that argument, but what the hon. and gallant Gentleman forgets is that while one might argue—and it can only be a theoretical and hypothetical argument—that if we spent more money on pay for Regulars we would get more, and 1858 would ultimately be able to dispense, in some degree, with National Service and thus save money in the long run, it is, as he will no doubt agree, in a very marked degree a theoretical and hypothetical argument. It depends on whether his suppositions work out correctly. But, in any case, there would be no saving after it occurred until a later period.
Such a policy would be bound to mean a considerably increased expenditure to begin with. That is not necessarily an argument against it, and we have, of course, spent in raising pay sums much greater than those thought necessary by hon. Members opposite. But what was quite impossible was to suggest at the outset of such a policy that we could promise higher pay to the Regular Forces and, at the same time, make a series of promises of more money to almost every group in the community, military and civilian, and of lower taxation. It is quite useless hon. Members opposite trying to stand as the champions of this, that, or the other improvement in the Services when the total nature of the policy which they put forward simply will not add up as a matter of arithmetic or of economics.
We must further take note that all measures taken by a country in time of peace against the danger of war run the risk of facing this dilemma. One can always make an indefinitely long list of measures that might be taken in time of peace in order to make the country safe against the danger of war, but if one does not go far enough down in that list with regard to the proposals actually put into practice, there is the risk of leaving the country inadequately defended. On the other hand, if one goes too far down that list in time of peace, one runs the risk of injuring the civilian economy.
Therefore, it is always possible when any Measure like this is brought forward for hon. Members on any side to suggest this, that or the other direction in which we might have done more but do hon. Members opposite realise that if their policy with regard to the Regular Forces had, in fact, been more workable and consistent than it was, and had been possible of success, it would, as I understood it, have given us in the whole-time Forces no larger a number of persons than we have at present? There would have been more Regulars and fewer 1859 National Service men, but the total number serving whole-time would have been the same.
What I am contending is that, even had that been so, it would still have been necessary, in order to meet the present situation, to build up that figure in the whole-time Forces by calling up these men for reserve training. The process of calling up the Reserves would have been necessary even if the great bulk of our full-time Forces today were Regular and volunteer rather than National Service.
Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing
Surely it is true to say that the Government would have released some National Service men some six months ago if they had recruited more Regulars. They' then would have been in the position, with a bigger Regular force and with an increased Territorial Army, of not needing to call up the Z Reserve.
§ Mr. Stewart
Yes, but the six months difference that would have made would not have covered the gap this Bill is intended to bridge. If the earlier Measure of peace-time conscription had contained a provision for Territorial service, that would have put as in a different position today and this Bill might never have been necessary, but that, alas, was not among the measures urged upon us by hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ Squadron Leader A. E. Cooper (Ilford, South)
Do we understand that because the Opposition do not put forward anything at all, the Government have no ideas of their own?
§ Mr. Stewart
By no means. I only make these comments in reply. They are outside the main purpose of what I have to say. I have only made these comments because of attempts by hon. Gentlemen opposite at one time to claim to be supporting the Bill and, at another time, to be saying, with an eye on the country at large, that the Bill is really the fault of the Government. I am making it clear, therefore, that the policy advocated by hon. Gentlemen opposite, such as it was, would have had no bearing one way or the other on the necessity for this Bill.
§ Mr. Stewart
I think I have given way enough already on this point. Let us turn now to the purpose for which this Bill is introduced. If I begin by saying a few words on that subject, it will be easier to fit into a general framework replies to various points made in the debate. Quite clearly, one of the main reasons, if not the main reason, is to bring together the units and formations that, in fact, would be acting together if a very grave international emergency came upon us in the very near future. This is fielding the team, if that is not too homely an expression, and seeing when we have the team together whether the members of it are, in fact, capable of performing the functions assigned to them, what further pieces of knowledge they have to acquire, and what weaknesses in the team are revealed.
I do not think there is anything inconsistent between that and the pledge given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence that men called up this year would not be called up in subsequent years under a scheme of this kind. While I am on that point I might mention that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hereford (Mr. J. P. L. Thomas) thought there was a contradiction between that pledge and what is in the Bill. I think he will agree that the contradiction is not with the reading of the Bill. The Bill does not say, in contradiction to my right hon. Friend, that men called up this year will be called up in a subsequent year. The Bill does not expressly, in statute, make effective the pledge given by my right hon. Friend, but that pledge is quite definitely the policy of the Government on this matter.
That does have the result, as suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley that men who meet this year would not meet again in units, unless of course a very grave international emergency arises. But I do not think that fact is an objection to the scheme. The point of calling them up is to guard against that very contingency of a serious international emergency in the very near future. If that emergency does not occur, we are in the simple position of the man who has insured his house against burglary and whom no burglar has visited. He is not aggrieved—
§ Brigadier Head
I think this is an important point. What my right hon. Friend 1861 the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) said was that these men who are going to form specialist units like the Royal Corps of Signals are not going to be called again. If there were continued tension next year or the year after, is there an inexhaustible supply of adequately trained men, like the Royal Corps of Signals, available to avoid a recall of the Z reservists? That is our anxiety.
§ Mr. Stewart
There is not an inexhaustible supply, but there is a sufficient supply to last us until the working of the National Service scheme provides us with what is, in the end, the long-term substitute for the Z Reserve—namely, the National Service men flowing into the Territorial Army. I want to make it clear that, should it be necessary to do something of this kind next year in subsequent years, it will not be a question, as has been suggested, of putting the second eleven into the field. There will be other formations to be dealt with which are not covered in this year's scheme. The exact numbers and character of the scheme in subsequent years is something one obviously would not want to prophesy at this point but, apart from what is being done this year, there is still much that could usefully be done in subsequent years if, at the time, it should seem necessary and desirable to do it.
Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing
If the hon. Gentleman cannot prophesy for future years, why have the Government frozen the time for which these various categories are to be called up? Why have they frozen the maximum periods? Is this wise?
§ Mr. Stewart
I think the hon. Gentleman answered his own question when he said that these are maximum periods. As hon. Members will have noticed from the table, broadly it is a short period of time for a large number of men and a longer period of time for very much smaller groups. That is to say, the whole scheme is one which can be carried out without causing a major impact upon or dislocation of the civilian economy. That is the reason for not increasing the period. If it may seem useful to do so, it is perfectly possible to call up men for periods shorter than some of the periods mentioned in the Act.
§ Mr. Stewart
I do not think less than that. I had in mind the other maximum 1862 periods. The hon. Member for Hendon. North (Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing) had in mind the thought that there was too wide a gap between 15 days and three months.
§ Mr. Stewart
No. I do not think the right hon. Member followed the point I was making, but I think it is clear to his hon. Friend. This fielding of the team is one of the main purposes for which the scheme exists. A subsidiary purpose, but still an important one, is not the collective training, not the fielding of the team but the individual training and the benefits which individual men will receive from it. A third subsidiary, but still important, purpose is the testing out of the machinery of mobilisation.
With those reasons in mind we can, I think, judge the actual working of the scheme. A number of questions have been asked about the way in which the men have been selected. My hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-onTees (Mr. Chetwynd) implied that if it were not on an age and service principle or if it were not universal—in fact, if it were selective—it would necessarily be arbitrary, but I do not think that is so. If we select on principles which have a definite regard to public need and, subsequent to that, if we are as fair as we can be between man and man, we are not being arbitrary; and that is what we are doing.
In the first place, in this business of selection, there is the task by the Services themselves of determining to what units and formations they think it desirable to apply this scheme and how many men, and men of what skills, crafts and, trades, are required to bring those units up to the necessary establishment. I think that deals with the point raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Brigadier Thorp), who asked, as one example, whether we had seen that there were enough cooks. That is the very beginning of the process—to decide, in order to bring the selected units up to strength, how many men we shall need and how many of each different type of trade or arm, or whatever it may be.
When you have done that, you have to check your choice with the Ministry of Labour with regard to the civil occupa- 1863 tons that the men are pursuing. When you have established this it is then the task of the record officers, who are told in effect, "We require so many men for filling this particular set of qualifications." They start at the end of the age-and-service group and work backwards until they have enough men in this kind of category.
§ Brigadier Thorp
Has that anything to do with the Territorial association? Are cooks coming from Cornwall to Northumberland?
§ Mr. Chetwynd
Could I have an assurance from my hon. Friend that there is sufficient documentation in the different record offices to pursue that very scientific task? My information is that there is not.
§ Mr. Stewart
I shall be glad if my hon. Friend will let me have any information which conflicts with what I have said. My experience—I have visited a record office quite recently with this matter in mind—is that we are quite capable of carrying out this job. It means that the principle which has been given some publicity, of "Last out. first back," although it operates, will operate in the second degree, subsequent to our having got sufficient numbers of men of the right types of qualification.
Now I want to mention that the figure of 235.000. which is the Army's concern, is of course a ceiling figure, and that in fixing a figure of that kind we had in mind the fact that there would be wastage, for the reasons mentioned already in the debate. We must fix some sort of ceiling to make the problem graspable. Many hon. Members in all parts of the House have referred to the fact that we are calling upon men who have done their duty once to do the same thing again. There are some who did their duty but often in less unpleasant circumstances than the men who served in the Armed Forces during the war.
Is it possible to reach any degree of fairness as between the reserved occupations and the men on the Z Reserve? It would be idle to do it by calling up for a thing like that men who had no experience of military training. It is one of the errors in dealing with this kind of problem to go about it in a kind of way which means that, in our search for exact 1864 equality and fairness, we make such inroads into efficiency that in the end everybody has to pay a much higher sacrifice than otherwise would have been necessary. Hon. Members opposite have suggested that the Government ought to consider the use of men who have so far been in reserved occupations, in, for example, the projected Home Guard or Civil Defence. I would assure the House that the suggestions which have been made in the debate will receive the very careful attention of my right hon. Friends.
As to the process of calling them up, the warning notices have no legal effect, of course. They are going out now and they really tell the men about something for which they will become legally liable when Parliament has passed this Bill. The advantage of the warning notice is that we shall before very long be able to say to every man on the Z Reserve and equivalent forces: "The fact that you have not received the warning notice means that you will not be affected this year." We shall be able in a short time to say that. The warning notice will be followed by the call-up notice. In reply to the question asked by one hon. Member, I would say that it will be accompanied by a railway warrant.
When the man receives this notice, he becomes aware that it is open to him to make objection on grounds of hardship, which might be based upon severe domestic hardship; or he might genuinely say that a small one-man business would come to an end if he had to perform the duty required of him. The mere fact that it is a one-man business does not necessarily demonstrate that his having to be away for 15 days' training will be the ruin of it. It is not absolutely impossible in such cases to make other arrangements. A critical question would be whether it could be shown that his business was in real danger of collapse. That is one example of how we would regard his hardship.
In the War Office we shall have a branch, which we shall create for the purpose of dealing with these applications. It will reduce the delay in such cases to the minimum. Might I, without intruding upon the rights of hon. Members, suggest that if they find themselves approached in the matter of individual cases of this kind, the best advice that they could give 1865 to such a person would be that they should fully use the machinery, about which they will have the necessary information. We are all agreed that we do not want to get the machinery dealing with this necessary job clogged up with unnecessary correspondence.
Although this is not mentioned in the Bill, a man would be able to voice objections on conscientious grounds, and I should like to give an assurance to my hon. Friends and indeed to hon. Members in other parts of the House who were concerned with the liberty and the rights of the conscientious objector, that the procedure which was, in fact, described by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) is the procedure that will be followed. If a man's objection has not been upheld, he will report to the place described in the call-up notice, and the place where he goes will be the place where he is trained. Of course, in the very early stages in preparing this scheme we thought about the task of deciding where those places would be.
I must confess, speaking offhand without any particular knowledge, that I cannot see how we are going to deal with the constituents of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). He can be assured that neither his constituents nor anybody else will be required to make unnecessary journeys. If we find in certain instances that we cannot use a man properly or that for any good reason we cannot get him there without causing waste in travelling time, or if for any other reason it would not be worth while, we shall not call him up. It would be better to fall below the ceiling number rather than call up men of whom for some reason or another we cannot make use.
§ Mr. Fenner Brockway
Would my hon. Friend say whether what he has said about conscientious objectors would apply to repeated charges? What I mean is, if a man refuses to go and is charged, will he be called up again and charged again?
§ Mr. Stewart
If a man is called up and makes his objection in the prescribed manner, and the tribunal upholds that objection, that is the end of it.
§ Mr. Stewart
I follow the hon. Member, but I cannot make a guarantee of that sort. What the hon. Member is now suggesting is that somebody who has claimed to be a conscientious objector and whose claim has not been upheld, should be given a guarantee if he is subsequently charged with breaking the law.
§ Mr. Stewart
I do not think it is my place to give guarantees as to what would happen in those circumstances.
Another point was raised in regard to the medical examination. It will be the practice in fact that if a man receives a letter telling him to report for a medical examination and he does not reply to it, he will then receive a letter by registered post. The practice in the Bill follows the practice for the medical examination for the National Service man, and that is why it does what it does, although it differs with what is laid down for another purpose in another part of the Bill.
When the man has been chosen, and called up there is then the problem of making use of his time when he is there. This was a point which was very properly and effectively urged by my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees. Many Members opposite stressed the importance of seeing that vehicles, equipment and the necessary civilian staff to make the scheme work smoothly should be provided. I can confidently assure the House that all that is properly in hand. One cannot absolutely foresee the future—unforeseen accidents may create a gap here and there in the administrative arrangements—but if we have any reason to suppose that the training of a particular unit will be seriously vitiated through something over which we have no control, then we shall not call up the men for that particular unit. It will be of first importance that men shall not be called up to have' their time wasted through administrative breakdowns.
There is some misconception as to what was said about discipline. I agree that if we make full use of the time of these men the problem of discipline hardly arises—it really solves itself. We have found it necessary to make it clear that the men will be subject to the Army or Air Force Acts during their period of training.
The question was raised earlier in the debate why we provided the procedure 1867 of civilian courts and penalties. If a man should go absent without leave during the period of training, and succeed in remaining undetected until three months after his period of training was due to be over, he would not be legally liable to be tried before a military tribunal or subject to military punishment. It would be undesirable if through his skill in escaping he should avoid punishment. It may be very often more convenient administratively to proceed in the civilian courts than to have to take on in these 15 days' training a miserable remnant of summary of evidence and preparation of courts-martial. That is the reason for this double provision in the Bill, although a man cannot be caught by both procedures for the same offence.
When the period of training is over, when the man returns to civilian life, he of course enjoys the protection laid down in Clauses 7 and 8. As I understand the debate, the House is well satisfied with the protection as it applies to the men called up under the Bill, but wants to know, although it is not altogether germane to the Bill, about the position of volunteers in the Territorial Army. As the House knows, volunteer members of the Territorial Army for very many years before the war enjoyed no guarantee of reinstatement.
The question has arisen now that because of the existence in the Territorial Army of National Service men and volunteers there is apparently an anomalous position whereby if the National Service man is keen enough to become a volunteer, he loses certain statutory rights which he now enjoys. That does appear to be anomalous, but I think that the Members who raised this point realise that there were arguments on both sides. The Government's view is, on the evidence we have at present, that it would not on balance be desirable to give the statutory reinstatement rights to volunteers which the National Service men now enjoy.
I do not think the House will want me to rehearse the whole of the argument, but the chief concern of those who raised this matter was that I should express the Government's view. We feel that there is a difficulty about imposing on an employer a duty which arises out of a 'voluntary act of his employee. Furthermore, a number of employers, both public 1868 and private, have acted very generously in this matter at the present time, and it would be putting them in difficulty if we imposed upon them a statutory liability. Nor is there by any means unanimity among the men in the Territorial Army. Indeed, I should think it is probable that the majority opinion among them is that they do not want to jeopardise the very good relations which usually exist between them and their employers and possibly end up in a position which, although legally stronger, would in practice not be so satisfactory.
§ Mr. Stewart
I hope that the hon. Member will forgive me if I do not give way. I do not want to pursue an argument on this but merely to state, as I was asked to do, the Government's view.
I should like, finally, to say a word about Clause 6. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] My hon. Friends, whose approbation I hear, will understand that, although I have left only a limited time for it, it is not because I minimise its importance in any way, but because, clearly, anything I could say about it now is bound to be limited. The main discussion on this matter must come during the Committee stage, but these remarks I wish to make.
The right hon. Member for Bromley, if I understood him rightly, was suggesting that if one was opposed to the Incitement to Disaffection Bill, one must, therefore, necessarily be opposed to Clause 6 of this Bill. I wonder if he employs that argument in reverse and assumes that the party which supported the Incitement to Disaffection Bill and those who made speeches in favour of the disobedience Clauses must necessarily approve Clause 6 as it now stands. We should notice that this Clause has not been put in out of a vague or undefined fear. We know that there is being prepared a definite campaign to incite people not to perform their duties under the Bill. To that extent the reason for the Bill is sharper and more definite than it was for the 1934 Act. Nor would it be right to have penalties for the man who does not do what the Bill requires him to do but to leave the man who incites him to that disobedience and runs him into that risk untouched and able to go free.
Therefore, I think the House will agree that there is certainly a case for a Clause 1869 prescribing penalties, and fairly heavy penalties, for deliberate incitement to people to break the law and not to carry out the duties that the Bill requires of them. But I am bound to notice the very grave suspicion which hon. Members in all parts of the House had of the drafting of the Bill. Broadly the position is, I think, that what we want is a provision to prevent deliberate attempts to incite people to disobedience, but what we also want is to reconsider the drafting of the Clause so as to secure that objective and not to make an attack on civil liberty or to bring innocent people into danger; and the Government will look at the Clause with that intention.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a Second time.
§ Committed to a Committee of the whole House for Tomorrow.