HC Deb 24 November 1953 vol 521 cc177-8
23. Mr. G. Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for War who is authorised to sanction the preferment of a charge of cowardice against a soldier.

Mr. Head

The authority for this purpose is the superior officer, normally a general officer, who has power to convene a court martial.

Mr. Thomas

Is the Minister aware that the publicity which results from such a tribunal is offensive to a great many people? Does he think that to maintain the morale of the Army it is really necessary that such tribunals should be conducted, especially in public?

Mr. Head

This offence is one for which a court martial may legally be convened. If those on the spot judge that a court martial is demanded and the convening officer agrees, I think that if a military offence is involved the court martial should go ahead, however distasteful it may be.