HC Deb 28 November 1951 vol 494 cc1606-22

8.8 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for War (Mr. J. R. H. Hutchison)

I beg to move, in page 2, line 30, to leave out from "regulations," to the end of line 31.

Although the hon. Gentleman whose name is down to this Amendment has not arrived in the Chamber—perhaps owing to the trials of last night—I, too, have an interest in the Amendment which stands in his name, and, indeed, I think it is an Amendment to which nobody in the Committee will object. At this stage, may I interpolate, for the benefit of all the Members of the Committee that Government Amendments for the Report stage are available in the Vote Office. The Report stage is being taken tomorrow.

The Clause to which this Amendment refers is merely a defining Clause. It defines when duty begins and duty ends, but from the time we decided that duty encompassed training—

Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, North)

On a point of order. Are we discussing the Motion, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." or was an Amendment moved?

Mr. Hutchison

I am moving the Amendment in page 2, line 30.

The Chairman

This is a continuation of what we were doing in the early hours of this morning, when we reached Clause 3, page 2, line 30. This is a consequential Amendment on one already passed.

Mr. Hutchison

You have put it more concisely than I was able to do, Sir Charles. It is a consequential Amendment, because we are taking out the word "training" in the Bill, and this Amendment, therefore, becomes necessary.

Mr. James Callaghan (Cardiff, South-East)

I think that on this side of the Committee we are very ready to accept this Amendment, which stands in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Wandsworth, Central (Mr. Adams). As the Under-Secretary will see, my hon. Friend is here in the Chamber, and has been here, as I know, since 2.30. The rigours of last night have not upset him attending today, and I think that he can once more congratulate himself upon having put down an Amendment which has commended itself to the Government as a distinct improvement of the Bill. I think that I can say that we shall continue during the later stages of the Bill, which I hope will not be unduly prolonged, to play a constructive role.

Mr. Richard Adams (Wandsworth, Central)

I would like to apologise for not being in the Chamber when we started these proceedings. I thought the preceding business might have gone on a little longer, and I was busy elsewhere. As the Under-Secretary said, this is a formal Amendment following on the previous one, and I should not like to delay the Committee by discussing its implications now, as it may come up again later on the Report stage.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. F. H. Hayman (Falmouth and Camborne)

I beg to move, in page 2, line 37, after "attack," to insert "by a foreign power."

I move this Amendment because the Home Guard will be subject to military law when mustered, and it is this Clause which will be effective if the Home Guard is mustered Clause 1 (2) states that the Home Guard will be subject to military law when mustered, and Clause 1 (3) says that the Home Guard shall be liable to give whole-time service and to live away from home when it is mustered. Clause 3 defines the period of the mustering. This Clause says that mustering means mustered for the purpose of resisting an actual or apprehended attack or of taking part in measures for dealing with the effects of an attack. The insertion of the words by a foreign power would make it quite clear without any doubt at all when and from whom an attack is to be expected. The Amendment is designed to clarify this Clause. After all, the mustering of a Force like the Home Guard is a very serious affair and ought not to take place in peacetime.

During the Second Reading debate the Secretary of State for War said that this was a peace-time Measure and there was no arrangement for mustering the Home Guard in peace-time. But this Clause says that mustering is to resist an actual or apprehended attack. The Minister also remarked that if another war occurs there is quite likely to be no form of declaration of war, so that it seems to me that the operative words in this Clause are or apprehended attack. The reason why we feel that it should be made clear from whom attack is expected is because the Minister, in his Second Reading speech, said that there were likely to be some saboteurs inside the country. In my Second Reading speech I emphasised the fears I had in that respect. I recall a lecture which was given to the officers and N.C.O.s of the battalion in which I served and there was emphasis on the dangers of saboteurs within the country. The War Office through its representative said that there was a potential army of 500,000 saboteurs in the country because there was that number of unemployed.

My home is in what was called a distressed area. We had a great number of unemployed people in my town. There were no more loyal body of people during the war than those who were unfortunate enough to be unemployed in the interwar years. Therefore, I resent the implication that because a man might be unemployed be is a potential saboteur. The War Office is still suffering from that delusion. I acquit the right hon. Gentleman of any part in it, but there has been a great deal of confusion in the preparation of this Bill. The Secretary of State for War himself said that this was largely a repetition of the Defence Regulations, under which the Home Guard was formed in 1940 in very different circumstances. Therefore, I feel that there is every reason why now we should be more exact, because we really have the time.

The Secretary of State for War may plead that there is not a lot of time. Last night when we were discussing an Amendment on Clause 3, which dealt with the question of the Isle of Man, the right hon. Gentleman said that it might be years before there would be a need to form a Home Guard in the Isle of Man. If there is that time in the Isle of Man there is plenty of time now. Those of us on this side of the House were alarmed at the reluctance of the Government to write into the Bill the need for consultation with the N.J.A.C. We feel that the Home Guard should be used only in the case of a very serious emergency. The Bill says that the Home Guard will only be mustered in the case of an actual attack or an apprehended attack.

This Amendment seeks to insure that the attack would be only from a foreign Power. The present Minister may not always be in his office, and someone else may succeed him in whom we have not the same confidence. Therefore, we ought to make it perfectly clear that the Home Guard will never be mustered to deal with civil disorder in this country. The Amendment is simple, it is self-evident, it can give rise to no misunderstanding, and I hope, therefore, that the Government will be prepared to accept it.

Mr. C. W. Gibson (Clapham)

I should like to support this Amendment. It is very simple, it deals with a simple point and I am sure the whole country will agree with the principle behind it. Surely it is not in the mind of the Government or of anybody else that the Home Guard should be mustered except for an attack by a foreign Power. If that is so, it ought to be made crystal clear in the Bill itself. The Government should, therefore, accept this Amendment.

On the Order Paper which is now available in the Vote Office there appears an Amendment dealing with industrial disputes, and making it quite clear that the Home Guard are not to be used for industrial disputes. I am glad to see that. It will remove a lot of apprehension in the country, and especially among keen trade unionists. I am no lawyer, but it seems to me that this Clause allows the Home Guard to be mustered during the time of an industrial dispute, and I do not see, in view of all that has been said about the reasons for the setting up of this Force, why it should not be made quite clear that the intention of this Committee is that the Home Guard should be mustered only when their is a fear or an apprehended fear of an attack by a foreign Power.

I also noticed that the Minister referred to sabotage in his Second Reading speech. Surely the police are able to deal with sabotage in peace-time. If an attack is to be feared from a foreign Power in war, the Home Guard can be mustered and they can do their bit in helping to prevent serious sabotage. For all the reasons I have given we believe that it ought to be put into the Bill that the Home Guard will not be mustered except when an attack is feared by a foreign Power, and I hope that the Committee and the Government will accept the Amendment.

8.15 p.m.

Mr. Julian Snow (Lichfield and Tamworth)

I support my hon. Friend's very sensible Amendment. A few days ago there appeared in the "Daily Telegraph"—rather strangely, I thought—a letter from a correspondent who drew attention to the sort of people who had held senior posts in the Home Guard during the last war. If my memory is correct, he said that, by and large, those people were drawn in the rural areas from the squirearchy, and that it might be a very good thing if, when the Home Guard was established, the senior officers were drawn more from people who knew something about modern soldiering.

Bearing in mind that this sort of appointment often goes to occupiers of the big houses of the countryside, who are frightened at the mere word "Communism," and feeling that must might be attributed to Communism which is the result of perfectly constitutional industrial action, I think we must be very much on our guard against the penetration into this country of what I believe is known in America as "MacCarthyism." It means a condition in which anybody who challenges the existing position, even though he takes perfectly legitimate industrial action, is accused of being a Communist.

Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)

Before the name "MacCarthy" was ever known in this country we had MacArthyism here.

Mr. Snow

I suggest to the Government that they should seriously consider the acceptance of the Amendment. We do not want the industrial situation in this country jeopardised by people who may be perfectly well-meaning but who see Communism where perfectly legitimate action is being taken.

Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

I support the Amendment, and I put forward what I think is a reasonable request to the Secretary of State for War that we should have the guidance and advice today of the Minister of Defence. I raised this question at Question time, and that right hon. Gentleman said that yesterday he was engaged in research into the Welsh language. I am prepared to assist the Minister of Defence in his research at an appropriate time, but in view of the fact that industrial disputes are under consideration, and that Tonypandy is a subject on which the Minister of Defence is an authority, I suggest that it is very reasonable to make this moderate request that for a few minutes we should have the guidance of the Minister of Defence and Prime Minister, who is primarily responsible in this matter.

That request should be conveyed to the Prime Minister. If he wishes to carry on his research into the Welsh language I am prepared to spend the whole Recess with him in that way and to do it on the spot at Tonypandy. We are now entitled to have him here, because he is responsible for the Home Guard and is essentially responsible for the co-ordination of defence policy.

The Prime Minister should come into the Chamber instead of hovering around the fringes of the Speaker's Chair and just putting his nose in and seeing that the debate has something to do with the Public Works Loans Bill. The matter on which we are now engaged is vital to the defence of the country, but the Prime Minister completely ignores the whole question of the Home Guard in industrial disputes. Out of respect to the hon. Gentleman who has moved the Amendment, we should have higher guidance, and the Secretary of State should have the valuable assistance, experience and knowledge of the Minister of Defence.

The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Antony Head)

The mover and supporter of the Amendment were evidently apprehensive about the definition of this word "attack." I can assure both of them that the Bill was drafted and the word was inserted entirely to mean attack by a foreign Power. The object, in the drafting of the Bill, was to make its intention plain. I think hon. Gentlemen will acquit me of showing any great reluctance to insert anything into the Bill which might remove doubts which hon. Gentlemen opposite have about our intentions. I have not shown any pride in that respect.

I am perfectly willing to yield if I can put in a few words which will reassure hon. Gentlemen opposite and accelerate the passage of the Bill. There is no real difference between us about what we are trying to get at; I can assure hon. Gentlemen that the word "attack" means attack by a foreign Power and nothing else. If there really is genuine apprehension on the other side of the Committee that this word might be taken to mean something else, it is only a question of two extra words in the Bill which in no way change the meaning of the Bill. The words may be redundant for all I know from the legal point of view, but I am perfectly willing to accept them. I hope that we can now get on.

Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)

In view of the right hon. Gentleman's statement, for which we are very grateful, we shall not ask that the debate should be continued. If the right hon. Gentleman is willing to make a concession of this kind I see no reason why we should not express our gratitude.

Dr. Barnett Stross (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)

We are greatly relieved to hear the right hon. Gentleman's assurances. I had in mind something else which the assurances given now remove from all possible doubt. It was that if we had not the term "foreign Power" in the Bill it would not only be industrial strife which might enter the picture, but some- thing else. Suppose—and this is not beyond the bounds of possibility or hypothesis—that at some time in the future we had difficulty as a result of an argument between Scotland and England, or, shall we say, with Wales and Scotland? Wales might be marching forward in a two-pronged attack, one to hold the Border to keep the Scots out while they settled with the English.

Although I am saying this light-heartedly, I think it would be possible for the mustering of the Home Guard to take place as a result of the marching down from the north towards the south. That would throw us into such confusion that we should have no peace in this Chamber ever again. For those reasons, if for no other, we are all grateful that the Minister has given way on this point.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. J. R. H. Hutchison

I beg to move, in page 2, line 40, to leave out: the expression 'orders or regulations' in. It might be for the convenience of the Committee if this Amendment and the two subsequent Amendments were taken together. They are entirely drafting Amendments and result from the elimination of the word "orders" at an earlier stage in our discussions on Clause 3. Since Orders and Regulations have been separated, and at that stage they were taken together as inseparable we had to find a definition for each separately, and these Amendments do that.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 2, line 41, leave out from beginning, to "of," and insert: references to orders are references to orders. In line 42, leave out from "and," to second "to," in line 1, page 3, and insert: references to regulations are references."—[Mr. J. R. H. Hutchison.]

Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham, East)

I beg to move, in page 3, line 3, at the end to insert: (4) If either House of Parliament within the next forty days on which that House has sat after any such order or regulation has been laid before it, resolves that the order or regulation be annulled the order or regulation shall thereupon cease to have effect, except as respects things previously done or omitted to be done, without prejudice, however, to the making of a new order or regulation. I should explain fully for the benefit of new Members that I am not the hon. Member for Croydon, East (Sir H. Williams) who was called by you, Mr. McLeavy. A number of my right hon. and hon. Friends had subscribed their names to this Amendment, and in the absence or the unwillingness to move of the hon. Members whose names are, on the second day, still included on the Order Paper above this Amendment, I am glad to have caught your eye Mr. McLeavy and to be able to move the Amendment.

The matters we have been dealing with immediately prior to this Amendment, although necessary to improve the Bill were not matters of great importance. We come now to matters of greater substance. The effect of the Amendment is to make Orders and Regulations under the Bill subject to Prayer procedure in the House and to annulment. There is no doubt that if one wanted to bring about that effect it would be difficult to improve the wording of this Amendment. Presumably it was devised by the hon. Member for Croydon, East, who is an expert in matters of this kind. We all know he has great knowledge and experience of these matters because he has told us so on a great many occasions.

The Secretary of State for War will agree that if one wants to make Orders and Regulations subject to Prayer procedure a straightforward and obvious course would be to accept this Amendment. Why is it that we urge that it would be a good thing to make these Orders and Regulations subject to Prayer procedure? Let us first look at some of the things these Orders and Regulations will do. Subject to certain provisions which the right hon. Gentleman prudently arranged to put in the Bill, these Orders and Regulations will govern the conditions of acceptance into the Home Guard and conditions of service in the Home Guard.

8.30 p.m.

At an earlier stage in the debate my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Aston (Mr. Wyatt), put forward a number of difficulties that might arise from the present terms of acceptance and service. There was the problem of a man engaged for a two-year term who resigns and rejoins. When he rejoins, is he still on his first two-year term or is a new two-year term beginning? One could raise quite a number of awkward problems, the answers to which it is necessary for us to know and which this Committee ought to have some opportunity of considering.

Further, and more important, the Orders and Regulations will deal with payment of pensions, grants in respect of disablement, and certain other payments. I am quite certain that that ought to be made the subject of discussion and possible annulment in the House. May I remind hon. Members, without, I trust, taxing their patience, of some of the new problems that arose during the war in this connection in the Home Guard?

During the war members of the Home Guard were members of the Armed Forces and, therefore, were subject to military law at all times. One might have thought from that that if they suffered injury no one would be very particular about the time and occasion on which the injury was suffered. I find on consulting HANSARD for 18th December, 1941, that the then Member for the New Forest and Christchurch quoted in the House the case of a platoon commander who had gone on a round of visits in the course of his duty and on the way home had a cycling accident and broke his leg. He received no compensation because he was not on duty. HANSARD does not reveal whether that injustice, as I am sure we should all think it to be, was ever put right.

On 7th July, 1942, Sir James Grigg, then Secretary of State for War, replying to an hon. Member, explained that disablement allowances were only payable if the disablement were attributable to Home Guard service. Injuries received on the way to or from duty were not held to be attributable except in special circumstances. I think we would agree, and the right hon. Gentleman would agree, that there could arise serious difficulties, and it would be as well if these matters had to be submitted to the House and could be the subject of discussion by the machinery of praying against them.

I think it might be argued—indeed on Second Reading it was suggested—that there was no precedent for making Regulations of this kind subject to an affirmative or negative Resolution in the House. Comparison was made with Regulations made under the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act. But I submit to the Committee, and particularly to the Secretary of State for War and his Under-Secretary, that we cannot press this parallel too far for two reasons. The raising of the Home Guard in time of peace is something without precedent and without parallel.

The Committee is being asked to do something it has never done before and I think the Committee, therefore, may reasonably say that a Government who ask us to do this ought to go a little out of their way to make sure we can look closely at what is being done. I do not think it is asking too much to suggest that the Orders and Regulations to be made under the Bill should be subject to the Prayer procedure in Parliament.

We have also to notice that as a result of the conciliatory attitude of the Government an Amendment moved on this side of the Committee has been accepted, which means that this Force will be a mixed Force. Here again we have something new—a mixed force of civilians. A mixed force is not something new, but a mixed force of civilians under military law in time of peace is quite new. The innovation which we made at an earlier stage in admitting women, and causing it to be a mixed Force, will undoubtedly create certain headaches for those who have to draft the Orders and Regulations, and I think that again is a reason why Parliament should have a chance of discussing the results of their labours.

I know it may be said when we raise all these points that perhaps we are being too finicky or that we are seeing dangers and difficulties which may never arise, but I submit to the Committee that in a matter like this it is the duty of Parliament to be particular and even to be pernickety, because a little more time spent by us now in being pernickety may save the springing up of a great many unforeseen injustices at some future time. For those reasons, therefore, I urge the Government to accept this Amendment so that Orders and Regulations made under this Bill shall be subject to Prayer procedure and so open to discussion in the House.

Mr, George Wigg (Dudley)

I think that in substance my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart) has made out a case for this Amendment, but I hope he will forgive me if I say that I think he has gone a little too far in asking that such matters as pensions, for example, should be the subject of a Prayer. All the way through the Committee stage of this Bill I have pressed for what I call the development of a Home Guard doctrine based on past experience, and the experience on which I want to draw is the experience of the administration of the Territorial Army.

I think that is a sound beginning, and I think that we on this side of the Committee can congratulate ourselves on having converted the Secretary of State to that point of view. But obviously he and his advisers will be in some difficulty if they have to put forward draft Regulations for, let us say, the Territorial Army, or even for the Regular Army, which would be administered in the normal way and which could not be prayed against, and if they then had to take the same set of Regulations and draft them in such a way that they could be prayed against. There are bound to be difficulties there.

On the other hand, it is perfectly true that the kind of provision which my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, East, mentioned is to be found in the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act. That Act contained this kind of provision. It provided for Prayers in the case of a Regulation which was of a far-reaching character. The Secretary of State, as a result of his rapid conversion since the Second Reading, has become very willing to meet almost every legitimate demand made on this side of the Committee. He has gone out of his way to meet our point of view, and of course he will get a much better Bill as a consequence.

But if, between now and the Report stage—although the time is short; perhaps when the Bill reaches another place—the Secretary of State would meet my hon. Friend's point in the spirit in which it was proposed he might be able to strengthen the Bill even from his own point of view.

I do not think we have learned all the lessons that have to be learned in the course of this debate, and it is quite likely that when the right hon. Gentleman gets down to the job he will find it an advantage to have debates on Prayers. I am sure that Governments do benefit from the ventilation and discussion of Regulations by means of a Prayer.

It is difficult to see at the moment exactly the kind of Measure that could be brought within the scope of the words used by my hon. Friend. I say that because the Clause of the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act about Prayers dealt primarily with training. What the drafters of the 1907 Act wanted to do was to limit the power of the Executive to alter the period of annual training after a man had undertaken a contract. They were looking as it were to prevent any back-door method of breaking the contract into which a man had entered. It is for that reason that I think it was quite right to put on the Order Paper the actual conditions under which a man may serve and under which he may get his discharge.

Quite clearly provided he did certain things, certain other things would happen. If, for example, he did not return his equipment he would not get his discharge. That is quite right because it is a contract between the State and the man. We should not allow the use of Army Council instructions or any other administrative act for breaking a contract entered into in good faith. The variation of the period of annual training could grievously affect the individual, and if he has no redress open to him by means of a prayer in the House he may find himself in great difficulty.

Frankly, I cannot at the moment see how that kind of thing comes into this Bill. I think that the case for pressing what my hon. Friend is asking would be stronger if it had not been for the fact that the Secretary of State has seen the light. Now that he has seen the light and he knows what we are after, I am prepared to accept his conversion as permanent and to believe that he and his advisers will have a look at this matter. As I say, not necessarily on the Report stage but when this Bill reaches another place, I think we can trust him to introduce the necessary form of words to meet our point.

Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)

May I put to the right hon. Gentleman a point which, if he gives it consideration, as I hope he will, might assist us in shortening the debate? The position, as I understand it, is that the right hon. Gentleman agreed, after hearing the submissions from this side, to consult outside bodies on the subject of the Regulations. Presumably "consultation" or, for that matter, "keeping in touch with outside bodies" means that if they offer comments which are of practical value the right hon. Gentleman will take them into consideration, and to that extent modify the Regulations before they are presented to Parliament.

That is all very well; but notice the difference so far as this House is concerned. Whereas in the case of outside bodies the right hon. Gentleman consults in order to ascertain the views of outside bodies—that is, on making the necessary modifications in the Regulations—so far as both Houses of Parliament are concerned all he does is to go as far as laying the Regulations on the Table of both Houses of Parliament so that questions may be asked about the Regulations or the matter may be raised on the Adjournment.

As everybody knows, raising this matter on the Adjournment, once the right hon. Gentleman had decided about the Regulations, would not permit of any amendment or modification. I cannot understand why the right hon. Gentleman makes a concession to outside bodies—and we agree there should be such a concession and we argued that throughout—while at the same time he refuses to make a concession to hon. Members and those in another place. I hope he has gathered the point I have put to him.

Mr. Head indicated assent.

Mr. Shinwell

He has; I am grateful to him for having done so. If he understands the point I have made I do beg of him to clear up this confusion and, if he can, perhaps he, will agree, not necessarily to this form of words—which he might find objectionable—but to some other form of words which will enable hon. Members, when considering the Regulations, to express views, which may or may not lead to modification of the Regulations.

8.45 p.m.

Mr. Head

I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I have taken the point he has made and will refer to it in my remarks. I am glad to see the right hon. Gentleman back safe and sound, having had his morning shave without any undue accident.

I wish to say at the outset of my remarks that I am obliged to the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) for the speech he made, I have been aware in the course of the Committee stage of this Bill that the hon. Member for Dudley has no very great admiration for myself as Secretary of State for War, but I am equally aware that he has a very deep admiration for Lord Haldane, about whom I understand he is writing a book. I feel that his support in this Committee is more due to Lord Haldane than it is to myself.

I am well aware of the anxiety throughout the whole Committee concerning the question of delegated legislation. It is a matter which has often been discussed in the House and there is a natural and, I think, inevitable anxiety in the House about any extension of this form of legislation. But I put it to the Committee that, as the hon. Member for Dudley said, where this particular kind of Bill is concerned all the precedents are with us. I know one may say that if one has a lot of precedents it is time to start doing things in a different way, but when dealing with the Armed Forces of the Crown careful thought is needed before establishing a new precedent which might have retrospective effects on the other Forces of the Crown.

Being aware of anxiety in this matter, I thought it right and proper to insert in the Bill certain of the most important matters which would be laid down by Regulation so that they would be in the Bill and could not be altered. They are there in the Bill. I assure the Committee on the remainder of these matters that none of them are concerned with more than the normal contents of Army Council Instructions or Army orders designed for administrative or other reasons. I do not think there is anything in them about which hon. Members need have anxiety that the liberty of the subject will be affected or any undue action can be taken. Indeed, I would remind them in passing that some way of allaying their doubts is found in the fact that the Force we are creating is an entirely voluntary one with the ability to leave at one month's notice given in writing.

I realise the anxiety, but supposing we were to alter all this and say. "We will make this a subject for negative or affirmative Resolution," I think there would be probably quite a few hon. Members—not today, but in future years when some of us may or may not be here—saying that it was established when the most recent piece of legislation concerning administration of the Armed Forces of the Crown was passed that the Regulations consequent on that form of legislation should be subject to negative or affirmative Resolution, so why should it not be the same for the Territorial Army and the Regular Army?

That is a perfectly logical consequence of establishing this precedent. If that were so I can assure hon. Members—I believe that the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey), would agree with me, I am not at all sure about the hon. Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart)—that if that precedent were followed, and it applied both to the Regular and the Territorial Army, it would embarrass the War Office in its general administration.

I do not think there is anything to fear now that we have put the main points of these Regulations into the body of the Bill. We must remember that this is a small, peace-time Force and a voluntary Force. For those reasons I hope that hon. Members will feel assured in this respect, and will agree not to press the Amendment in view of the concession made to put the more important Regulations into the body of the Bill.

Mr. M. Stewart

In view of what the right hon. Gentleman has said I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment, after saying I trust that I, or one of my hon. Friends interested in this matter, will be lucky in the ballot for the Adjournment soon after the Regulations are produced.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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

Mr. Adams

I wish to put a point to the Secretary of State for War and to the learned Solicitor-General. It is a point on which I have had consultation elsewhere, and one with which I think that on reflection they will agree.

This is a limited Clause. Paragraph (a) defines "duty"; paragraph (c) defines "mustered" and paragraph (b) is really a qualification, or a sub-division, following paragraph (c). What I would suggest—and it is the point of my two Amendments which were not called—is that the logical arrangement of this Clause should be paragraph (a) and paragraph (c), and then paragraph (b). If they would undertake to alter that round it would improve the drafting of the Bill.

The Solicitor-General (Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller)

The views of hon. Members on the arrangement of Clauses can very easily differ. I appreciate the view of the hon. Member for Wandsworth, Central (Mr. Adams), as to the order of these paragraphs (a), (b) and (c). When I came to study the Amendments which he put down on the Order Paper I was extremely puzzled to determine the reason for them, and I am glad that at last he has resolved that doubt.

I am sure the hon. Member will agree that the really important thing is to have the words in the Bill correct. That we have tried to do during these long hours, and we have gone through the wording very carefully indeed. Our view is that the order in which the paragraphs appear in the Bill at the present time is the correct one. The hon. Member does not think that it is. But at least he can be sure that the order will not affect the interpretation of the statute when it reaches the Statute Book. Effect will be given to (a), to (b), and to (c). It will not matter, so far as the interpretation of the statute is concerned, whether (b) comes before the present (c) or the present (c) comes before the present (b). With that assurance, I hope the hon. Gentleman will be content, even though on this occasion he does not get his way about the actual arrangement of the paragraphs.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.