§ 3.40 p.m.
§ Mr. F. J. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 6, after "Minister," to insert:who shall be a member of the Defence Committee.It is quite obvious that the Bill deals only in a small way with the very important subject of Civil Defence, which we are precluded from discussing today, but I want to call attention to the position of the Home Secretary, who is the designated Minister. I suggest that his position ought to be much more clearly defined in relation to the important measures that he will have to undertake and in relation to which he will to a certain extent be dependent upon the good will of the Service Ministers.
Whether mobile columns or something else are required depends upon the part that Civil Defence is to play if we should again be involved in war. At present, the Home Secretary is called into consultation with his Service colleagues on the Defence Committee when that Committee is considering matters of defence. He is not a permanent member of the 604 Committee. There is no statutory authority for the setting up of the Committee or its members, but any right hon. Gentleman who has been a Member of a Government will know that the Defence Committee, which is one of our most important Cabinet Committees, consists of the Prime Minister, the Service Ministers and their chief advisers, and certain other Ministers. It does not include the Home Secretary.
The Service Ministers have a clearly defined rôle in the Committee. They are there to consider matters of defence. I suggest that Civil Defence now assumes just as important a rôle as do the Service Departments. In other words, Civil Defence is likely to be the fourth arm of defence in time of war. Under the Bill, the Home Secretary will have no authority to call up National Service reservists for the purposes for which he wants them, which he has already explained to the House in the Second Reading debate. That, presumably, will be done by the Service Ministers and, as we understood the debate that took place last week, the Service Minister in the most immediate case is to be the Secretary of State for Air. The Home Secretary will, therefore, be dependent to a large extent upon the good will of the Service Ministers, and especially the Secretary of State for Air.
At present, that Minister has quite a large number of National Service reservists for whom he has no further use after they have finished their two years' training. Under the Bill, he is able to lend these men to the Home Secretary if he wants them—as, indeed, he told us he did—to the extent of 15,000 in the first year and 30,000 in the second year. In this explanation of the matter during the Second Reading debate the Home Secretary told us that these Royal Air Force reservists would be available in the first year if war should break out, but he did not say what would happen after that.
If, in the event of war, the Secretary of State for Air decides after the first year that he wants these men back in the Royal Air Force, what will be the position of the Home Secretary, especially if he has not been in close integration with the Service Ministers? In peace-time the Defence Committee, which goes back for 605 some 50 years under the name of the Committee of Imperial Defence, decides and formulates plans which are to come into operation in the event of war. Twice within our time—in the 1914–18 and 1939–45 wars—that Committee has virtually become the inner War Cabinet, controlling all the operations and affairs of State, subject always to the approval of the Cabinet itself.
I want to refer to a book dealing with the functions of this Committee. It was written by Lord Hankey, who is an undoubted authority on matters of this kind. The book was published in 1946 and is called "Diplomacy by Conference." Lord Hankey explains what happened in the First World War, and goes on to say that in the Committee of Imperial Defence—as it then was,… there should be a corresponding close contact in peace between the fighting Services and the civilians and civil servants on whom responsibility for many vital services ancillary to operations of war falls.He went on:This can best be done by discussing these matters on equal terms round a table. In other words, the central organisation should be inter-Departmental.I maintain that the Defence Committee as at present constituted is not as fully inter-Departmental as it should be.
My Amendment, therefore, provides that the Home Secretary should be just as important and constant a member of the Defence Committee as any of the Service members. In time of war—and, certainly, in time of peace, which may cover a period of preparation for the unfortunate circumstances of war if they should occur—the Home Secretary, being responsible for Civil Defence, should be sitting regularly in the Committee, discussing matters of Civil Defence not only for its own sake but also in relation to the plans being made by the Service Departments, so that he can be thoroughly informed upon what the Service Ministers have in prospect.
In this connection, I was very much surprised to see that no representative of Civil Defence or the Home Office was present at the recent exercise "Battle Royal" carried out in Germany. That operation provided an opportunity not only of exercising the Air Force and the Army, but also of bringing in Civil Defence experts. As far as I can gather not one representative from the Home 606 Office was there to see what happened when the Air Force and the Army operated together.
It is true that Civil Defence is mainly a civilian matter, because civilians will be the principal sufferers if atom bombs are dropped, but if one is to alleviate the sufferings of the civilians and also keep the wheels of industry turning it is obvious that the Home Secretary will need something more than purely civilian organisations in order to maintain those services upon which the Armed Forces will depend.
Therefore, although it may be said that this is a matter of Government administration, and that the Home Secretary is frequently called to meetings of the Defence Committee, I think something more is required. If the Home Secretary is really serious about the purposes of the Bill he should agree to the Amendment. Otherwise, it will look as if we are only tampering with the subject and not coping with it as much as we should. My right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), who was Home Secretary, and who was, I believe, on a sub-committee on Civil Defence during the war, told us in his Second Reading speech how difficult a situation he found himself in at that time. I suggest that it may have been due to the fact that even then the Home Secretary, who was also responsible for Civil Defence, was only a subsidiary or ancillary member of the Defence Committee.
Matters discussed in the Defence Committee in time of peace may not be so important as those discussed there in time of war, and it may be said that in time of peace it is not as important as in time of war to discuss Civil Defence in the Defence Committee. Twice, however, we have been confronted with an emergency. It was due to the fact that complete plans had been arranged, largely through discussions in the Defence Committee, that we were able to enter upon the 1939 to 1945 war with fewer mishaps than befell us when we entered the 1914 to 1918 war.
I hope that the Committee will support my Amendment. It may not at the moment be so necessary as it would be in time of war, but I believe that something more is necessary than the liaison to which the Home Secretary referred in his Second Reading speech—the liaison 607 between himself and his Service colleagues. There should be close consultation and collaboration between the Service Chiefs and Sir Sidney Kirkman, the Civil Defence Chief of Staff, as he may now be called, who, under the Home Secretary, is in charge of Civil Defence matters. Sir Sidney Kirkman was a member of the Army Council some years ago; he is a prominent soldier, and may have excellent relations with his Service colleagues. No doubt he has, but more than that is required, and I think he should be brought into the Defence Committee just as much as the Service chiefs if we are to have the fullest possible benefit of the Bill.
§ Brigadier O. L. Prior-Palmer (Worthing)
I do not think the question is whether this suggested provision is more necessary in peace-time or in war-time. The question is whether it is a suitable arrangement. In my view, it is unnecessary for this reason. The Prime Minister is Chairman of the Defence Committee and has the power to invite, whenever he deems it wise to do so, any other Minister to attend the Committee. Therefore, whenever anything is to be discussed that relates to Civil Defence, or to the Armed Forces in relation to Civil Defence, surely the Home Secretary will be called in. It is not necessary for him to be there on other occasions when matters are discussed that are purely Army or Navy matters.
Furthermore, I believe that there has never been an instance of the House or a Committee of the House deciding by legislation who shall sit in the Defence Committee of the Cabinet. I do not think that we have here a strong reason for departing from precedent. The Amendment would fetter the Prime Minister in his choice of Ministers. So would this Committee or the House if it were to adopt the principle that it should decide who should sit in any Cabinet Committee.
I would rather put this plea to my right hon. and gallant Friend. I think the time is drawing near, as I said in the debate on Second Reading, when we need a commander-in-chief of the whole of Home Defence, which includes Civil Defence. If we were to appoint such an officer we should be taking the right way to get him through the door of the 608 Cabinet Committee. The right way to ensure getting a man into the Defence Committee is to appoint him as commander-in-chief of Home Defence, with Civil Defence under his command.
§ Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)
I want to add only a few words to the detailed consideration that my right hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) has adduced in moving the Amendment, and they are of a more general character. It seems to me that the essence of the thing is the purpose behind the Amendment, and that that meets the arguments advanced by the hon. and gallant Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer). The Amendment is one way in which we who are supporting it express our feeling, which we expressed so strongly on Second Reading, and which we wish to express again here, that nothing in the Bill yet allays our fear that Civil Defence still remains the Cinderella of our general defence arrangements.
Whether or not the Government are going to tell us that this way, by legislation, to which the hon. and gallant Member objected, is the way to do it, the fact remains that it seems to us that the admission of the designated Minister, the Home Secretary, to the Defence Committee would do as much as or more than anything else to place Civil Defence on the level of one of the other Defence Services in the general scheme of our defence arrangements. We put very strongly to the Committee that the time has come when that is becoming a national necessity.
All the arguments we hear about the appalling character of any future conflict, all those glimpses of a third world war we were given by the eminent Field Marshal the other day, all those speeches of that character seem to us exceedingly rash until and unless we take our Civil Defence seriously. It is, after all, a proverbial adage that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.
§ Mr. Strachey
Yes, certainly, they should not throw hydrogen bombs, and we feel that to do something to make our house a little bit less of glass is now of the highest importance.
609 Anything we can do by way of Amendment to the Bill may not take us very far in that direction, but, nevertheless, we would like to hear from the Government that they think the designated Minister who is in charge of this branch of our defence should sit on the Defence Committee just as much as the Secretary of State for War or the First Lord of the Admiralty or the Secretary of State for Air. It seems to us that the time has come when this is just as important.
With great respect to the hon. and gallant Member for Worthing, for a Minister to be called into a Cabinet committee really is not the same thing as his being a member of it. Everyone of us who has sat on those bodies knows that only too well. It makes the whole difference to the possibility of the Minister in question putting the point of view of the Service for which he is responsible whether he is a regular attender of the meetings. If he is only called in at intervals his position is incomparably weakened.
Whether or not the correct way to achieve this is by legislation is another matter, but, in any event, it seems to us in all seriousness that this apparently revolutionary step of ensuring that the Minister for Civil Defence shall be a member of the highest defence council is a point to which the Government ought to pay very careful attention. This is not a frivolous Amendment. We should like to hear what the Government have to say on the subject.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
My right hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) has done a most useful service in putting down this Amendment, although I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Worthing (Brig. Prior-Palmer) that legislation is probably not the way in which to deal with this problem. After all, if it crept on to the Statute Book it would still not be beyond the realm of the ingenuity of the Front Bench opposite to find a way round it. We could easily have Defence Committee A and Defence Committee B. The Home Secretary would be on Defence Committee A, which would not meet, and the Prime Minister would be on Defence Committee B, which would meet as often as he wished.
610 We are not concerned so much about machinery as about the organisation of Civil Defence. My instincts, like those of the hon. and gallant Member for Worthing, are in favour of militarising the organisation, but we must recognise that there would be great difficulties about it. I thought that during the war we were beginning to work towards a formula which secured military precision and military order and, at the same time, retained the essential democratic process. We must retain that democratic process. If the worst happened, and we had widespread breakdown, we should need all the help the Armed Forces could give. On the other hand, we must not allow to grow in this country the feeling that all we have to do is to call in the soldier, while the civilian need do nothing. This is, in essence, civil defence; it must be civil defence. The civilian population must feel that the military are coming in to help them to salvage their homes and their lives.
I, too, have seen the military machine at close quarters and I am a little frightened by the constant erosion into our civilian world of ex-military gentlemen. I am not sure that long service in, the Armed Forces is an essential part of the equipment of a democrat. After all, we can easily fall into the frame of mind—I myself am often guilty of it on occasions—which tends to expect too instantaneous obedience, perhaps in our own families. Sometimes one values discussion for oneself and burkes at it a little when others want it, too.
There are aspects of our national life which perhaps to an increasing extent are influenced by the military, and while I am saying nothing disrespectful of or discourteous to the distinguished officer now responsible for Civil Defence, I wonder whether, in the long run, we should not have been wiser to look for somebody who knew a great deal about local government organisation and who could easily carry local government administrators with him. I do not for a single moment suggest that the officer now holding the position is at cross-purposes with local authorities, but local government in this country is an intricate business and it would be valuable for him to have not only the knowledge of it which one can acquire from books 611 but also the instinctive feel for it which comes to many hon. Members on both sides of the Committee who have served their apprenticeship in local government. I am sure the Minister bears this point in mind.
I am sure that many hon. Members opposite share our view that we want the best sort of Civil Defence we can get within our capacity to pay. If any hon. Members are thinking in terms of large numbers of mobile columns and of thousands of men sitting round playing draughts and cards, waiting for the next war, they are baying for the moon. It would not work. However good the quality of the men recruited in the first place, their morale would certainly be sapped in that kind of existence. It just is not "on."
We sympathise with the Home Secretary, who is new to the office, but we must tell him that Civil Defence is being treated as a Cinderella. I do not think that the problem can be worked out merely by making the Home Secretary a member of the Defence Committee. We want an assurance from him, which I hope we shall be given before the Bill is on the Statute Book, that he will fight really hard. We know that he will have to fight. Even if there were a Labour Administration the Home Secretary would have to fight with the Service Departments in order to see that Civil Defence was not regarded as a Cinderella. It is certain that at the moment it is regarded as a Cinderella. If it were not, we should see the Brigade of Guards on the Horse Guards with a stirrup pump.
§ Mr. Wigg
The hon. Gentleman should remember that we recently had a most authoritative statement from a distinguished gentleman who expressed his doubts about the new rifle because it could not be handled for ceremonial purposes. I should be out of order if I pursued that point.
The Home Secretary's job is not to persuade but to fight in order to see that the Services regard Civil Defence as an essential part of defence. Just as the civilian population cannot expect the soldier to rush in and help them while they do nothing, equally the Armed Forces cannot expect the civilian services to come in and tackle their job for them. We are all in this together. If war breaks out, then unless this country can be kept going and life can carry on, we might as well hoist the white flag or suggest to my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) that he should form an Administration on the policy in which he so passionately believes.
Following the Government's White Paper, we know the kind of schemes needed to deal with the type of war which has been described to us. We must start thinking about it now. Not only must we think about it, but things must begin to happen now—and nothing is happening yet. There is probably not a single unit in the Army carrying out efficiently even the defence which will be necessary to protect its own installations in its own barracks in the case of air action of the kind which the previous Home Secretary described—the kind of air action which is clearly at the back of the mind of those who wrote the last Defence White Paper.
I wholeheartedly support my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) that we ought to be given by the Government a categorical assurance—even though this may be a small and perhaps not a very important Bill—that when he gets down to this job the Home Secretary will fight a continuous battle, with the support of hon. Members on both sides of the House, to see that this subject is given the importance which it deserves.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Major Gwilym Lloyd-George)
It might be useful if I intervene for a moment at this stage to deal with points 613 raised by hon. Members, to whose speeches I have listened with interest. I fully sympathise with the desire behind the Amendment, which is simply to make it certain that the Home Secretary is a member of the Defence Committee, thus practically ensuring that the fears expressed by the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey)—that Civil Defence will become a Cinderella—are not realised. I personally do not have any intention whatever of playing the rôle of Cinderella.
§ Major Lloyd-George
I do not suppose that I should look very well in the rôle. At any rate, I have no intention of playing that rôle.
I say at once that I sympathise with the desire of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundee, West, but I do not think that the Amendment is necessary. It would mean, technically, that there would have to be, in addition to the Home Secretary, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Minister of Health, who are also designated Ministers under the Civil Defence Act. Even if it were desirable that the Home Secretary should be a member of the Defence Committee, I am inclined to agree with the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) that it would be undesirable in principle, and contrary to precedent, to make this a subject of legislation.
The Defence Committee is concerned even today with a great many things outside Civil Defence or home defence, as I should call it. All I can say is that whenever anything remotely concerned with Civil Defence is discussed, the Home Secretary is there——
§ Major Lloyd-George
I am sorry. I was talking about the Committee and the hon. Gentleman apparently meant here. All I wanted to say was this. The Home Secretary is invariably invited—and I speak from personal experience—on any matter that is remotely concerned with Civil Defence.
614 I remember the debate in 1946, in which the present Leader of the Opposition, who was then Prime Minister, was dealing with this very point. It is not without interest to read what he said on that occasion. He said, referring to the Defence Committee:In the same way, there will be problems in which one will certainly need to have the Home Secretary, when the home defence angle comes up, …He went on to say, referring to the Committee:It sits with a nucleus of Ministers, and other Ministers are called in from time to time, but it would be a waste of time to have Ministers sitting on the Committee when they were not really concerned. They should always be there when they are needed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd November, 1946; Vol. 430, c. 1190–1.]I think that it worked perfectly well in that way. While, as I have said, I fully sympathise with what the right hon. Gentleman has in mind, I do not see that there is any need for the Amendment at all.
There are one or two points which I think may well arise in the course of our discussion with which I should like to deal. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. and gallant Member for Dudley repeated something that I said during the Second Reading of the Bill—that this is a small Bill. It was never intended to be anything else. I want the Committee to appreciate that fact. It arose out of the policy which was commenced by the right hon. Gentleman and which we went on with—the policy of mobile columns—and it is really a question of taking advantage of the offer of people available to man these mobile columns and to be trained. Section 1 of the Act of 1948 does not make it clear that the Home Secretary has the right to train these people, and that is the reason for this Bill being introduced.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Wigg
I am sure it will save time if we get this matter cleared up. On this side of the Committee, we cannot accept for a moment that the origin of the Bill is the 1948 Act. Its origin was in the statement in the House on 2nd March by the present Minister of Works, who foreshadowed this legislation because the R.A.F. was unable to provide training for all its reservists.
§ Major Lloyd-George
This is really the logical consequence of what has been happening. The policy of mobile columns was initiated by the previous Administration, and, whatever was said in March, the effect of this Bill is to make it possible for those men who are now available—as it happens from the R.A.F.—to be trained for this purpose.
The hon. Member for Dudley said that the Bill was small. Do not let us try and make it a big Bill. I repeat that the Government are now very actively looking into the whole question, which is a very different question from what it was a year ago. This is purely a step to allow a start to be made.
I agree with the hon. Gentleman about keeping this as Civil Defence. It is very important that this should be done. While, as he said, military aid would be very welcome at times—and that general question is being looked at—it is in the main a question of Civil Defence. I had experience in the last war of the Civil Defence mobile columns, in connection with food rather than with rescue work, and that work was done entirely by civilians. I think that anyone who has had experience of these columns would agree that it was one of the finest organisations; in the recent floods also it did excellent work. I suppose one of the most difficult times to hold a rehearsal is a Sunday afternoon after lunch, and the recent exercise was extraordinarily well done.
I know that the hon. Gentleman is worried about intrusion of military people into our affairs, but it may well be that there are more about than there used to be. The hon. Gentleman himself, if he looks round these benches, can see many hon. Members who could at one time be called "military." But the point is that this is essentially Civil Defence, and when we look to augmentation of that defence we shall have to go to the Services.
As I said earlier, do not let us pretend that this is a big Measure; it is a small Measure.
§ Mr. Ede (South Shields)
This is a small Measure in size, but its content is very big indeed. It is true that the only Service Minister we see here today is the Under-Secretary of State for Air, who comes offering gifts, but only gifts of 616 surplus. There are other Departments, military Departments, and this Bill applies to them as much as to the hon. and gallant Gentleman's Department. Let us be under no illusion about that.
As I said the other day, this brings every member of the Armed Forces into liability for Civil Defence and into liability for training, from the Chief of the Imperial General Staff down to the last boy to join the band. If the need arises, the Government will not have any doubt on that. They will not need a new Bill to bring in a sailor or soldier. Every member of the Armed Forces—National Service, Regular, Territorial, R.N.V.R. or of whatever description is now made liable for Civil Defence work and to undergo training. Let us keep that clearly in our minds in our discussion today.
Apart from the fact that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman still pleads that the Bill is only a little Bill, I welcome everything he has said. This is not a small Bill in its ultimate effects. Therefore, on that point, I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) rather understated the position. I am sure that the Home Secretary will not disagree that if needs be the Government, through co-operation between the various Departments concerned, can assign any member of the Armed Forces to any Civil Defence need that there may be, not confined to mobile columns. We might even have the Chief of the Imperial General Staff detailed out with one of the food columns dishing out extra sweet tea.
There used to be a saying in the Army when I was in it that if a soldier was good, the sergeant major would bring him a cup of tea in the morning. The Bill at last makes it possible for the sergeant-major to do it for the civilians of the country. In my experience, he never did it for the members of the Armed Forces. I merely say that to discount the idea that the Bill is something small. I could have foreseen circumstances in which it might have been said that in this unpretentious Measure the Government were here trying to sneak through the liabilities for everybody that I have just mentioned.
After having had some experience, I am not satisfied that the Home Secretary will be able to get all that he wants on the conditions that he has laid down as his 617 own personal contribution. After all, at a Cabinet meeting the Home Secretary is present throughout—he puts in a word on any subject that arises; but other Ministers come to the Cabinet. On occasion, one sees in the Press that the Minister of Transport, for example, was present. He comes in when his business is called and he leaves when it is over. That is not the same as being a member of the Cabinet.
That is what used to happen. Things may have improved. If there is any discussion on the Committee of Defence with the Prime Minister in the chair in present circumstances, it may be that somebody gets a word in edgeways. But the Home Secretary's picture of it was that if Civil Defence is coming up, he will be there. After waiting outside while the other people have been dealing with the earlier items on the agenda, he will go in when his part of the matter is being discussed and then he will leave. In view of what the Prime Minister said in the House in his interruption to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) in the Suez debate, the Home Secretary and the forces for which he will be responsible are as much a part of the defence of the country as any for which the Under-Secretary for State for Air or either of the other Service Ministers is responsible.
I hope that in the consideration of the defence of this country under the arrangements that, we understand, are now under consideration, the Home Secretary will be able to get that place which will enable him to be present when the general considerations of the resources available are under discussion. In my view—and this is shared, I think, by all my hon. and right hon. Friends—the developments of the last 12 months must lead to a considerable recasting of the whole of our ideas about the deployment of manpower.
That is one reason I am somewhat dubious about the arrangement by which the Home Secretary is to have airmen for about the first 12 months and then we are not told what will happen when those trained and disciplined airmen disappear. That kind of thing has to be thought out, and when the three Services are sharing the men out among themselves the right hon. and gallant Gentleman ought to be present to make quite sure that he gets his share.
618 I share my hon. Friend's misgivings about the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer), although I pay him the tribute that throughout he has always been very interested and insistent on the important part that Civil Defence would have to play. I hope that the Home Secretary will realise that the Amendment is put down in no unfriendly spirit to him but in an endeavour to ensure that he and the service for which he particularly stands must in future be regarded as at least the equal of the other three Services in all these considerations.
I agree with the constitutional point that has been taken that this would be the first time that the Committee of Defence has become known to the law. None the less, there are many things that are not known to the law that have a considerable influence on the disposition of this country in both civil and military affairs. We shall hope that the Home Secretary—let us hope, not unhelped by the discussion we have had this afternoon—will be in a stronger position than any previous Home Secretary in discussing the matters with which the Bill is concerned in the widest aspects that the Bill can be used to obtain.
We have had a useful discussion. After any further discussion that may take place, I would suggest to my right hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) that in all the circumstances it might not be necessary to press the Amendment to a Division. But we hope that the Home Secretary will realise that this does not mean that we do not feel very strongly on the position that the holder of his office ought to hold when general matters of defence are being considered.
§ Mr. Ian Harvey
I intervene briefly to express my support from this side of the Committee for the principle underlying the Amendment. It follows automatically that if we say—and it has been said from a very high quarter by my right hon. and gallant Friend's predecessor—that Civil Defence is the fourth arm of defence, it must be represented equally with the other three Services. I have not had the same experience as the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) of Cabinet procedure and of standing outside doors and not getting a word in edgeways——
§ Mr. Harvey
Obviously, it was wrong of me to assume that the right hon. Gentleman had occupied such a position. I hope, however, that in any future planning that might take place my right hon. and gallant Friend the Home Secretary will bear in mind this important principle. I very much support the view that the Bill contains a much bigger principle than the actual practical expression of legislation that it contains.
The hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) has once again returned to his favourite hare about the origin of this legislation. It is true that one of the problems—a problem arising partially from the legislation of his own party when in Government—has been to find ways and means of employing these airmen. It is also true that this particular need to find men to man the mobile columns was coincidental and, therefore, this Bill is the product of coincidence and its origin does not lie purely in the situation which the hon. and gallant Member for Dudley outlined and is, no doubt, about to outline again.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Wigg
It is important once again to return to this point. I will send the hon. Member a copy of HANSARD for 2nd March where, in column 1035, he will see that the legislation this afternoon was outlined in the defence debate, which is why I am so surprised to see it farmed out to the Home Office. The hon. Member himself was there at that time. He was also present at the Committee proceedings in Standing Committee A when this admission was reluctantly unearthed by the Under-Secretary of State for Air. I assure him I am not making any party points. He knows me too well for that. If we can get the hon. Member to recognise that this is a problem that had its origin with that admission of the Government, then we can join together in an all-party approach and try to find the solution today.
§ Mr. Harvey
The hon. Member, of course, did not disappoint me. I still maintain just as fervently that this has a dual origin and if we can agree on that 620 we can go forward together. But it is quite unfair to assume that my right hon. and gallant Friend is using what would be a very inadequate reason for this particular legislation.
I support the principle underlying this Amendment just as I support the practical objection which the right hon. Member for South Shields, who has very long experience, has expressed. But I hope my right hon. Friend will not accept this Amendment, but will consider very carefully the principle underlying it.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
I should like to support my right hon. Friend's Amendment. The Home Secretary expressed sympathy and said he had a general appreciation of the desire to help—or words to that effect. But, at the same time, he said that he was unable to do anything about it. He gave various reasons why, broadly, that if he was to be on the committee a number of other Ministers would have to be there, too. They are, no doubt, valid reasons which I can appreciate, but I would remind him of what I was told by the late Lord Addison. When he first came to office he called all his officials around him and told them, "When I ask if something is practical you can give me six perfectly good reasons why it should be done and six equally good reasons why it should not be done. Please give me the reasons why it should be done first."
If the Home Secretary does this he will see many good reasons why it should be done. We want to help him. We realise it is more difficult to work from outside a committee than it is from inside it. Whatever he may say, those of us who have had experience of waiting for defence committees, or for Cabinet meetings, know what it is like. I have sat outside a Cabinet for a very long time when no less a person than Lord Montgomery was also waiting. I have had to wait on various occasions but I imagine that it is not often that Lord Montgomery has to wait.
It is very difficult for Ministers to wait until they are called, and even if they have the right to be there, to be present only on special occasions. I think it would be very helpful if the Minister could accept the spirit of the Amendment; I see the difficulty of accepting an Amendment which will tie arrangements inside the Cabinet to this extent. But he 621 should give an assurance that if the Amendment be withdrawn he will do his utmost to see that he becomes a member of this committee. I agree that he cannot promise that, but if he can say that it is his intention to get on this committee and he will ask the Prime Minister, to make him a member of it, that would go a long way to meet what my right hon. Friend has in mind.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer) said that there was no need for him to sit there because he could be called in from time to time. I wonder whether it would be suggested that there was no need for the Secretary of State for Air to sit there, because he could go in when air matters were discussed, or that the Secretary of State for War be called only when war matters were being discussed. Obviously, those Departments would object very strongly and say they ought to be permanent members of the Defence Committee and I hope that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, who has responsibility for this particular branch of defence, will take just as strong a line as other members, and assure his place on it in future.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
I have not had the unfortunate experience of waiting outside the doors of the Cabinet to be consulted, but I find the reasons produced by the Home Secretary for rejecting this Amendment very inconclusive indeed.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman said if the Home Secretary is to be invited to a Defence Committee then the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Minister of Health must be invited, too, because they are the designated Ministers under the terms of the 1948 Bill. I want to see the Secretary of State for Scotland on this particular Committee. Indeed, I want to see him in the House when these things are discussed.
Surely that is a very modest request indeed, when the affairs of the civilian population are being discussed. Yet the designated Minister does not condescend to sit and listen to the debate. We have had the unfortunate experience in two debates on Civil Defence now that each has been opened by the Home Secretary and concluded by the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, and although these gentlemen have no powers 622 at all in Scotland and although the Secretary of State for Scotland is the designated Minister, none of the Ministers for Scotland has spoken at all. That is a complete neglect of the civilian population for Scotland, which is, of course, traditional.
§ Mr. Percy Morris (Swansea, West)
I hope that my hon. Friend will not press the point too much, as the Prime Minister will make the Home Secretary not only the Minister for Welsh Affairs but a Minister for Scotland as well.
§ Mr. Hughes
I know you too well, Sir Rhys, to think you would allow me to explore that particular avenue.
What are we asking in this Amendment? There is a committee which is supposed to be called together to consider defence of this country. I thought that defence of the country meant defence of its civilians. I think it is imperative, in view of the appalling state of civilian defence, that instead of Service Ministers being the sole Ministers concerned there should be somebody there putting the case on every possible occasion of the people in the front line, the people who are to be bombed.
I heard Lord Montgomery on television one night say that the safest place in the next war would be in the Army, but not all the civilian population can get into the Army. I do not know whether he will solve the problem by inviting all the women to go into the women's Services. The way the civilian population is being treated by defence Ministers is something which the House should rectify in this Amendment.
The Secretary of State for Air is in the Defence Committee and he is out to look after the interests of the Air Force. That is why he is there. That is why there is a sum of £500 million in the Air Estimates for the purpose of obtaining bombers with which to bomb the civilian populations of other countries. In the Air Ministry there is no question of priorities for the civil population. I want priorities for the civil population and not for the Services. Surely that is not an unreasonable request.
Not only are there priorities in this question, but super-priorities, though those super-priorities are not for the civilian population. As the Prime Minister has told us, they are for the 623 heavy bombers. If the Home Secretary were a member of this Defence Committee he could say when the question of these bombers was being considered, "Oh, no, you are not going to get £500 million this year for heavy bombers until we get something for Civil Defence. You know very well that if this money is spent on heavy bombers they will go to some part of the world to carry out their mission, and the immediate response will be that heavy bombers from the bombed country will come over here and bomb our civil population."
A Minister who was interested in the civil population would also argue, "Every £1 million we give to you for heavy bombers, makes more dangerous and more difficult the position of the civil population after whom I am looking." That is why we on this side of the Committee are anxious to see the right hon. and gallant Gentleman a member of the Defence Committee.
Let us imagine what will happen when the Defence Committee is in session giving consideration to the amounts needed for the Service Estimates. The Admiralty will say, "We want £400 million to spend on the Navy." If this Amendment were passed the Home Secretary or the Secretary of State for Scotland would reply, "Oh, yes, but what do you want a Navy for if you cannot protect the civilian population against atom bombers?" The Admiralty would reply, "We go back to Trafalgar. We are an ancient institution and there would be an impossible precedent if we did not get the money we asked for." If there were a civilian in the Admiralty—[Laughter.] I did not mean in the Admiralty. I should be very glad if we had a spokesman for the ordinary man in the street among that collection of "brass hats." If the Home Secretary were a member of this Defence Committee, he would ask, "Why do you want £400 million for the Navy when we cannot get £20 million for Civil Defence?" The Admiralty would fall back again on Trafalgar.
Next, it would be the turn of the Secretary of State for War. He wants to get the biggest possible sum of money annually for the Army. That is his job. He would exclaim, "Civil Defence! Not at all, I want more tanks." He might then add, "I have a great scheme for 624 improving the communications at the front in the event of an atomic war."
That is the sort of thing the Secretary of State for War says. He has already told us that in the next war it will be dangerous to have lorries on the road because they will be bombed so that supplies must be taken to the front line—if there is one—by helicopters. If this Amendment passes, the Home Secretary will then be in a position to reply to the Secretary of State for War, "But what about the communications on the home front? They need to be protected, too. There will be lorries going up and down Great Britain. What about helicopters on the home front?"
We are up against this factor when considering the Defence Committee. There is this formidable traditional, vested interest, strongly entrenched, that wants money for its own particular purposes. The Home Secretary is quite content that he should be outside the door and called in for consultation, while the Secretary of State for Scotland is quite content to be consulted from a telephone kiosk somewhere in Edinburgh.
In the last three or four years we have been spending about £15,000 million on the Services and the allocation to the defence of the civil population has been almost negligible. Only 1 per cent. of the money we voted for the rearmament programme has gone for the defence of the people who are in the greatest danger. So I say that not only do we need a suppliant at this Defence Committee, but we require somebody who will be prepared to go to its meetings and insist on money being spent to defend the ordinary people in the event of the plans of the strategists culminating in a third world war.
Field Marshal Lord Montgomery put his finger on the point when he said, in drawing attention to the need for a more realistic approach to Civil Defence:If we visualised an atomic war, the importance of civil defence is apparent …When it is apparent to Lord Montgomery why is it not apparent to the Government? He went on to say:… yet the subject is grossly neglected today. There is no sound civil defence organisation in the national territory of any N.A.T.O. nation as far as I know.625 That is, indeed, an indictment of our defence arrangements, and if Field Marshal Lord Montgomery has said that, I do not understand why there should be any objection by the Government to supervising the military chiefs instead of being their obedient servants. I know it has been said—and probably rightly said—that in an atomic war a Field Marshal Montgomery will be as obsolete as Guy Fawkes.
The argument that the Home Secretary produces in answer to this Amendment is that such a step is not constitutional and not traditional. We have only achieved progress in this country by disturbing constitutional issues. I am surprised at the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, with a name like he has, being so respectful to traditions and the constitution. I knew a famous and celebrated Welshman, who, if he were here tonight, would be talking very much as we are in urging priorities for the civil population and to hell with the vested interests of the military people who are at the top at the present time.
§ Mr. Bellenger
I realised when I put this Amendment on the Order Paper that there would be difficulty in legislating for the purpose we are trying to achieve, but in view of the sympathetic speeches that have been made, not least by the Home Secretary himself, I hope it will be possible to accomplish by persuasion within the Government what evidently we are not able to achieve by legislation. In those circumstances, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. H. Hynd (Accrington)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 9, to leave out "serving their term of part-time service," and to insert "liable to service."
This is an Amendment of some importance which, I hope, will be helpful to the Government and I believe they may be disposed to accept it or something like it. I could, of course, start by being somewhat pedantic about the wording, but I see my hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Mr. Follick) in his place and I think he could argue that far better than I could. There seems at first glance to be some doubt whether the purpose of the Bill is to provide this training for those actually serving a term of part-time service or those who are liable to serve a period of part-time service.
626 But the purpose of the Amendment is not to be so pedantic about those words. There is something more important in it, and I suggest that the existing words are a complete misnomer. Incidentally, Sir Rhys, it might be for the convenience of the Committee to discuss with this Amendment the last Amendment on the Order Paper, to line 2 of the Title, namely, leave out "serving terms of part-time service," and insert "liable for service." They cover exactly the same point.
As the Bill stands, it is proposing to provide training for persons serving their term of part-time service. Why part-time service? As a matter of fact, in Clause 1 (2) we extend the duty of providing training in Civil Defence to members of all the Armed Forces of the Crown. Therefore, as it is to be extended to full-time members of the Armed Forces, I fail to see why we talk in the Title and in Clause 1 only of those serving their part-time service. Therefore, I suggest that the Bill ought to be described as applying to any members of the Armed Forces. That is one of the main reasons why I am interested in this Amendment——
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer
On a point of order, Sir Rhys. May I ask you whether your silence means consent, and that we are discussing the two Amendments together?
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris)
Yes, the Amendment to the Title is consequential upon this one.
§ Mr. Hynd
The Minister said that this is a small Bill and that we should not try to make it into a big one. I suggest, however, that in view of the difficulty of getting amending legislation, we ought to make it a complete measure which will serve the purpose for which it is intended. If we cannot do the job properly, we might as well do it as well as we can and if, by a small alteration in the wording, we achieve the purpose which the Minister has in mind, this is the time to do it.
The other reason I think this Amendment ought to be accepted is the one I gave during the Second Reading debate. It is that clearly we are still in an experimental period as regards Civil 627 Defence, and it may well be that, while the conception of the present Bill is connected with mobile columns, they will not be the last answer on Civil Defence, and there may be other things involved. It may be that other members of the Armed Forces will be called on to play a part.
More than that, it will be remembered that I suggested it might be felt desirable some time, if not now, to enable members of the Armed Forces who have completed their full-time training and are liable for part-time training, to fulfil those part-time obligations by doing Civil Defence work, not necessarily in the mobile columns but perhaps in the Civil Defence Corps in their localities. This Amendment, if accepted, would enable the Government to require that at a later date, even if they do not want to do it at the present time. In other words, we want elasticity in the Civil Defence arrangements as applied to members of the Armed Forces, and this is the opportunity for the Government to get it. For those reasons, among others, I believe that the Minister should welcome this Amendment.
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer
I am inclined to support this Amendment because, although this Bill is designed primarily to give the Government power to train part-time R.A.F. National Service men for Civil Defence, there is much wider power in subsection (5) of Clause 1. It seems rather a contradiction to retain that subsection or even to accept, if we do, the new Clause in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) and to leave this line reading as it does. No damage could be done by accepting this Amendment, and it might save amending legislation or an Order in Council at a later date, and therefore I feel, though not very strongly, that this Amendment ought to be accepted.
§ Mr. William Keenan (Liverpool, Kirkdale)
I am not sure whether I should support the Amendment or not. I cannot make up my mind because, whether the Amendment is accepted or not, it will not alter fundamentally the provisions of this Clause. However, what worries me is the fact that the Bill 628 enables the Government to use all Service personnel for purposes of Civil Defence. I might not object even to that so long as it applied to all, but, here again, we are selecting those who shall be used for Civil Defence because of the failure to get the civil population to come forward in sufficient numbers.
We cannot even get military service without compulsory measures and the logic of the position is to do the same as regards Civil Defence, so long as that can be proved to be necessary. In this Clause and in the Amendment we are roping in for Civil Defence those who are liable for National Service and the intention is to use certain men who have not hitherto been called up for the R.A.F. However, the Bill goes beyond that, because it can take over for Civil Defence purposes every member of the Armed Forces if necessary, and I am disturbed that we should put an extra burden on to the National Service youth of the country when we should be considering reducing the period of 24 months——
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Keenan
I have no intention of discussing the duration of the service. I am pointing out that during the time in which they have to serve 21 days in each year a section of the community are being told not only that they must be trained as soldiers, whether they like it or not, but must be trained in Civil Defence. I claim that too many are escaping Service liability and I do not think that we should be putting an additional obligation on existing National Service men.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
The hon. Member's present remarks would be more appropriate on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill" than on the Amendment.
§ Mr. Keenan
That may very well be but, with respect, I should probably get a similar Ruling from the Chair then as you, Sir Rhys, are giving me now.
I am dealing with the point that these men are having thrust upon them an additional obligation, that only about 100,000 are concerned and that we are calling upon them to serve in this additional way when we have a population of about 24 million adults to draw upon.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
The hon. Member is now discussing the Clause. He might make those remarks on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. Keenan
Is not the position that the Amendment merely provides a change of words for the better interpretation of the Clause? How can I discuss the Amendment if I do not discuss what is amended?
§ Mr. Keenan
With respect, I assert that I am in order. The Amendment is to leave out "serving their term of part-time service," and to insert "liable to service." That is what I am discussing, and the fact that these men are being called upon to do additional duty under the provisions of the Bill. Although it has been stated over and over again on Second Reading and today that this additional duty is confined very narrowly to R.A.F. personnel, the fact is that the Bill, which the Amendment seeks to alter, applies fully to all the Armed Forces of the Crown. Therefore, with respect, I do not see how I can be ruled out of Order.
I protest against the fact that only a limited number of men may be called upon to do this duty. I am not against Civil Defence. I should like to see more done in that respect. I know the value of it and I do not take the view of some authorities in the country that it is invalid. If it saves half-a-dozen out of a thousand lives or assists people when trouble comes it is well worth while to do all that we can for that service. I have no objection to using the Armed Forces for the purpose. I want the whole thing integrated, but I object, and will continue to object, to unfair discrimination and the calling upon one section of our youth to do this duty while others escape.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth)
It may be for the convenience of the Committee if I deal with the Amendment now. I do not believe that there is a real difference of opinion in the Committee about what we want to do in this connection, but I do not think that the Amendment has the effect which the hon. Member for Accrington (Mr. H. Hynd) thinks that it would have. The effect of the Amendment would be to extend the scope of the Civil Defence training arrangements which may be made by the designated Minister so to as to apply to all men having a service liability under the National Service Act, including those undergoing a period of whole-time National Service.
The Government fully realise that in future the Armed Forces will have to assume a much wider and more specific rôle in Civil Defence. We argued that matter, very rightly, on Second Reading. That point, in so far as it arises, is raised by the Amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) and others to leave out subsection (5) of the Clause, and also on the proposed new Clause in the name of the right hon. Gentleman. The Bill already gives power to train all those serving in the Armed Forces, and no question on that arises on the Amendment. The specific power of the Amendment would not give power to train those men at all.
The Amendment would extend the power of the designated Minister to provide for the training of those men. I am sure that the Committee will see that it would not be very appropriate if the Home Secretary were made the Minister responsible for giving training to men who are currently training with their units, it may be overseas. It might be that the nature of the training given would be a matter in which the designated Minister would have an interest, but he must not be the Minister personally responsible for giving the training. That Minister must be the head of the Service in question.
§ Mr. H. Hynd
As the proposal at the moment is to call up men for mobile columns and use them in disciplined units under R.A.F. officers, what is the difference in principle between that and what the hon. Gentleman has been saying?
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
That is exactly the point. Clause 1 (1) gives the designated Minister power to give the training in respect of those men who are specially called up for Civil Defence service. The Amendment would extend that responsibility to the case of all men who are in the Services, wherever they may be.
§ Mr. Ede
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but it would save time if we could clear this matter up now. Is not this the real effect? As drafted at present, Clause 1 (1) merely allows the training to be given to men during the fortnight for which they are called up, and we understood from what was said by the Home Secretary the other day that they would be called up in each of two successive years for a fortnight, that is, for the part-time service to which the phrase in the Clause alludes.
The object of the Amendment is to enable some of these men to be given two years' full-time training if necessary. That may not be the only effect, but that will be one of the effects of the Amendment. It would enable an extended period of full-time training to be given to such of the men as were selected for it.
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
The purpose of Clause 1 (1) is to deal with those men who have a part-time liability under the National Service Act and, as drafted, it affects those men only. The Bill is necessary and this is the whole raison d'étre because it would not be possible without the Bill to call up men for the purpose of doing Civil Defence and nothing else. There is already power to give Civil Defence training to men who are serving in the Forces. That power is reaffirmed in this Bill, but there is already that power in existence. Therefore we are now dealing only with this rather narrow class of individuals.
The Amendment would spread the particular scheme for which the Bill is designed to legislate and apply it generally to all members of the Armed Forces. I do not think anyone, in any part of the Committee, really wants to do that. I think we are all agreed that where men are serving their normal two-year period any arrangements for training them should be made through the 632 units in which they are serving. It seems to me that it would be difficult to argue that that is not the proper way to deal with it.
Here we are dealing only with a special and narrow class, and we put the responsibility for providing the training—which will be the whole training these men received when called up under this Bill—on the Home Secretary.
§ Mr. James Harrison (Nottingham, East)
Could we assume that, for this particular corps, this would be an additional duty as part-time serving National Servicemen? Most probably in the normal course these men would not be called up to the R.A.F., but under the provisions of this Clause they would be called up specifically for Civil Defence training?
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
The hon. Member said "this Clause," I think he means the subsection. The Clause, of course, deals with both classes of men. There are two classes of people with whom we are concerned generally in this Bill. One is the man who has the part-time liability which remains after he has done his full-time service, and the other is the man who is serving his normal period of two years.
I quite appreciate that the right hon. Member for South Shields has made a point previously with regard to the training of men doing their full-time service. What I am saying is that that point does not arise under subsection (1) of the Bill. Subsection (1) is limited in its effect to men doing part-time service. It is necessary because we could not call them up, without express provision, for the sole purpose of doing Civil Defence training.
The Clause, as drafted, provides that the Home Secretary—or the Minister of Health, if the men are called up for ambulance service—shall be the Minister responsible for training them during that period of part-time service only.
§ Mr. M. Turner-Samuels (Gloucester)
Do I understand the Joint Under-Secretary to say that it is unnecessary to put in those words "liable to service" because that is already provided for, but that it is necessary to put in:serving their term of part-time servicebecause that is not provided for?
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I am bound to say that I share the doubts of my hon. Friend as to what actually would be effected by the words proposed in this Amendment. May I say at once that I am in full sympathy with its object? Certainly I think men who are serving their full-time two years' service would be most usefully employed—better employed than now—by being properly equipped to deal with this type of catastrophe, if ever called upon to do so. If that is the purpose of the Amendment, as I understand it to be, I sympathise with it fully. What I do not follow is how it is proposed to achieve that object solely by the words in the Amendment.
The Clause as it stands is simple enough to understand. It gives power to call upon men, during the time when they remain liable for part-time service, to undergo this training. No one, on either side of the Committee, objects to that. What it is sought to do is something more, but the something more which would be effected by this Amendment seems to me to go far beyond not merely the intention of my right hon. and hon. Friends, but also the scope of the Bill altogether.
It seems to me that if this Amendment were carried everyone who was liable under the National Service Acts could be called upon by the designated Minister for this purpose and for training, but there is nothing in the Bill to that effect.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I agree that that may be a view of the Amendment, but it certainly would not be in order under the terms of this Bill to discuss people who may be liable to be called up under the military service Acts. That would be out of order.
§ Mr. Silverman
I am much obliged to you, Sir Rhys. That is precisely the point I am endeavouring to make. That is why I think it most important to clear up what the words actually do mean. That is precisely why I said it seemed to me that if the words mean what on the surface they appear to mean—what my hon. Friend thought they meant and what I think they mean—they would indeed be out of order because they would be outside the scope of the Bill. That is, because the obligation which these men will be called upon to accept under this 634 Bill, as it is proposed to amend it, if it could be done, would be an additional obligation.
There is nothing in this Bill, or in any other Measure, to say that any service the men perform will be in substitution for their liability for military service under the National Service Acts. Therefore, if my hon. Friends had their way what would be achieved would be not what they want: the result of the Amendment—if it were held to be in order and if it were incorporated in the Bill—would be to double the national service of people called up under this Bill.
Instead of two years under the National Service Acts they could—I do not say they would—be called upon to do two years' service under this Measure and still do their military service. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I am perfectly certain that is not the intention of my hon. Friends. I may be quite wrong about it and I do not want to be dogmatic, or to appear to lay down the law, but, reading the words as best I can, they seem to me to be capable of bearing that interpretation. If they are capable of bearing that interpretation and that is not what is desired, the Committee would be very ill-advised to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Ede
This Amendment was put down to raise the whole question as to whether part-time training can be regarded as a sufficient training for Civil Defence if it is limited to two periods of 14 days given at an interval of approximately 12 months. That is the liability that is imposed by subsection (1) on men who have completed their whole-time service. The subsection itself makes no provision at all for training them during their whole-time service. I think that so far we are in agreement, and I hope that that agreement accords with the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman).
We suggest that that cannot be regarded as looking on this matter with the seriousness suggested by the tone of the debates on Second Reading and today. I think that it is generally accepted that this matter ought to be regarded seriously. The object of the Amendment was to enable a man liable to full-time service to perform that service, not in addition to his military service, but in substitution for it.
635 When it is suggested that that can be done under subsection (5), I should have thought that again doubts might arise about the reading of the Bill, becauseother members of the armed forces of the Crown"—in the long Title obviously distinguishes them from the people who are performing terms of part-time service. The people performing terms of part-time service are one group and the members of the Armed Forces of the Crown are all the others.
Is it held that because that might include those others—the men who are performing whole-time service under the National Service Acts—therefore, for some reason or other, it makes this Amendment one which the Government cannot accept? After all, the hon. Gentleman said that the raison d'étre for this Bill was the need for training these part-time airmen. We wish to discuss this Bill, not on the basis of it being drafted merely to deal with the difficulties of the Under-Secretary of State for Air, but to deal with the problem of Civil Defence; and the liability of men in any Service under any conditions to undergo training in Civil Defence and to take part in it.
I think that it may be seriously contended that men who have spent only two fortnights in training at an interval of 12 months cannot be very efficient people, when regard is paid to the work which they may have to undertake in the event of hostilities. I was a volunteer—in the last century as well as in this—in an infantry regiment. It is true that we had a fortnight's training, but in between we had to put in a certain number of drills and the fortnight's training was really to put into practice, under as near Service conditions as one could get outside actual hostilities, what we had been learning during the intervening period.
I remember that there was one exercise called, "Prepare to receive cavalry," which we did on the concrete floor of a drill hall—one can only express sympathy with any horses which might have had to charge us in such circumstances. But when one went to Brighton, or Aldershot, one could then at any rate go through that movement with a greater sense of reality. On one occasion we actually saw a few cavalry soldiers. The trouble was 636 that while we were prepared to receive them they had no interest in being entertained.
The question is whether one can regard two fortnights as a sufficient period of training to justify the position. If it is felt that the words of the Amendment proposed by my hon. Friend would not raise that issue and that it might land us in the difficulty suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne, I think that the best thing my hon. Friend can do is to withdraw this Amendment and attempt to find, on Report, words which we could ask the House to consider on the narrow issue to which I have just referred.
I am quite sure that it is a serious issue which ought to be discussed, if not by the Committee then by the House, so that we may ascertain the views of the Government. I am quite certain that there are some people called up for military service who would probably be better employed, not merely during their training but during any hostilities in the future, in Civil Defence rather than in one of the Armed Forces.
§ Mr. Wigg
I understood the position until we heard the reply of the Joint Under-Secretary of State when he explained the purpose of the Bill in terms of the part-time training of these reservists. As I understand it, these men are called up for 14 days in any one year, and while they are called up their discipline is maintained, not under this Bill, but under the Royal Air Force Act—I asked this question a little unnecessarily during the Second Reading debate, and that is so——
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
With this difference, that the Bill would permit the whole 60 days that is legally possible. The hon. Member said 14 days, but it is 60 days, subject to limitations.
§ Mr. Wigg
I did not want to anticipate a later Amendment in my name.
I wish now to concentrate on this point, and I hope I shall be in order if I make a brief reference to the debate in another place. There the noble Lord, who was Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, said:This is a legal departure, but I do not think it is a practical departure."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 8th July, 1954; Vol. 188, c. 548.]637 That is to say, under the National Service Act, it would have been lawful to have called up any soldier or airman or naval reservist and to have given them the kind of training envisaged under this Bill. The difference now would be that whereas the responsibility for the training—for the drawing up of the syllabus and its supervision and the responsibility for rations and accommodation—would be exclusively with the Service in which the man was called up, when this Bill becomes law, the responsibility for discipline and for the attachment, and the circumstances surrounding it, will rest with the Secretary of State for Air.
The responsibility for the training, for the preparation of the syllabus and for the provision of the actual buildings and equipment, will rest with the designated Minister. I understood during the Second Reading debate and from the proceedings in another place that this Bill was drafted in order to clear up a legal doubt, although it does not affect the practical considerations. If the hon. Gentleman would be kind enough to say that I am wrong I shall be obliged, and it may be that it will help other hon. Members.
§ 5.30 p.m
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
The hon. Gentleman is partly right and partly wrong. The Bill has an effect of a practical and a novel kind, in that it enables men to be called back for part-time service for the purpose of Civil Defence. Under the National Service Act such men could be called back only for military service, using that term in the widest sense.
Subsection (1) enables such men to be called back for the purpose of Civil Defence. Under the law as it stands a man who is serving under the National Service Act can be given training in Civil Defence. That is why this is put in a declaratory form in the Bill. I do not want to anticipate a later Amendment. That is the difference between the two parts of the Bill.
I would say to the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) that I do not think that it will be necessary to wait until Report. I think that it will be possible, on his Amendment, to omit subsection (5), and, on the new Clause which stands in his name, to discuss the question of the training of men during 638 their whole-time service. The hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) is right about part-time service but he is not right about whole-time service.
§ Mr. Wigg
My right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), with his common sense and instinct about military affairs, said earlier that he knows what happens if a man disobeys an order given by a sergeant major when he draws up a roster.
The Joint Under-Secretary of State is saying that we require a Bill if one calls upon a National Service man to do Civil Defence. I should have thought that when he was called up an order could be given to him to do any of the things which a Regular soldier can be called upon to do. Provided that the command was a lawful one—and I suggest that a command to do Civil Defence would be—and that it was given by a superior officer in the execution of his duty, a breach of it would be an offence under the Army Act.
If there is any doubt perhaps the Home Secretary ought to consider the matter with his Service colleagues. It ought to be made clear in the Measures covering discipline in the Services. We do not want a situation in which a member of the Armed Forces, if given a command to undertake training for what can be regarded as Civil Defence, is able to say that it is a matter on which he can please himself.
Is there any legal definition of the words "Civil Defence"? Are we getting into the difficulty because nobody really knows what the words mean? Do they mean Civil Defence if the work is done by somebody in civilian clothes and something else if it is done by somebody in uniform? I hope that we shall not tamper with discipline in this way.
§ Mr. H. Hynd
I was hoping that there would be another reply from the Government Front Bench, because it is obvious from the discussion that there is some 639 confusion on both sides of the Committee. The interpretations put upon my Amendment have amazed me. I hope that the advice given to my by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) that we should redraft an Amendment for Report stage will not be necessary, because I believe that there has been sufficient discussion to persuade the Government that it is up to them to find some better form of words than that now in the Bill.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) asked, what is Civil Defence? Men are called up for National Service now and they are taught fire fighting in certain arms of the Service. Other men are called up for National Service and taught to use a pick and shovel and to do all the other things that a rescue party normally does. In certain arms of the Service men are taught first aid, and apparently that is all legal; but I gather now, from the Government Front Bench, that if these activities are called Civil Defence they would not be legal as part of National Service.
The Committee does not know where it is after the discussion which has taken place. I am sorry if I have been the cause of the confusion, but I claim that the moving of the Amendment has brought to light certain difficulties which have shown that there is confusion in the subsection and that the Government ought to provide a better form of words on Report.
I direct attention to another aspect. As the subsection is drafted, it gives the Government power to apply Civil Defence training only to men who have done their full-time service and are still liable for some part-time service. Is not it conceivable that the Government may at some time want to give Civil Defence training to some men who have not done National Service but are still liable for it? I am thinking of people who have been exempted or, to use the official word, "deferred," for one reason or another. I am thinking of farmers' sons, and so on. Why should not some of them do a little bit of Civil Defence training? The Amendment would enable the Government to order that sort of thing, and I believe that it would be useful.
640 However, if we are to have no further reply from the Government Front Bench, then in view of the discussion which we have had, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. Wigg
I beg to move, in page 1, line 13, at the end, to insert:Provided that all persons called up for reserve training for civil defence shall be called up for the same period as that for which National Servicemen are liable under the National Service Act, 1948.A man liable under the National Service Act completes his two years' training in the arm of the Service to which he has been called up, and at the end of that time he is liable for a period of 60 days of part-time service during three and a half years. The facts are established that men are called up for the Army and Navy and that they do their two years and are then required to complete 60 days.
All hon. Gentlemen know that constituents come along and complain about difficulties in connection with a man's education or his business. If the man happens to be a soldier the Secretary of State for War always gives the same answer, and the exigencies of the Service prevail. The man's personal needs do not matter.
When we consider the Royal Air Force the facts are established that in 1953, out of 100,000 men, only 8,000 were called up for the 60 days. The only difference this year is that on 1st July, 1954, from the 145,000 R.A.F. men with a liability for 60 days only 8,000 had done any training. Next year, under the Bill, we shall start with 15,000 men getting training, but the men who are called up will not do 60 days; they will not even do 21 days; they will be required to do only 14 days. Therefore, we are getting selective drafting by the back door.
This is utterly wrong. If an Act of Parliament requires a young man to do two years' service and 60 days part-time service, then Parliament intended that he should carry out the obligation. I go further. The National Service Act was put on the Statute Book by a Labour Administration. I do not believe that it would have been possible in the 1945 Parliament if the Ministers responsible had said that the law would work in such a way that only those in the Army and 641 Navy would complete the service and that those in the Royal Air Force would "get away with it."
This is not only a business of missing a certain number of days. There is a cash bonus to the Royal Air Force reservist. This is a burdensome obligation and it does not get less as time goes on. One is against the attitude of the Prime Minister who, when in opposition in September, 1950, said—I agreed with him then and I agree now with what he said—that the National Service Act was beginning to work in a rather cumbersome and expensive way. The right hon. Gentleman did not rule out the possibility of a revision. Since then, nothing has happened; the situation has become worse and more unfair.
Up to the passing of this Bill, we shall at least have had the situation that if a man was called up for the Royal Air Force it was 12 to one that he would ever do any training after the completion of his two years' service. Now inside the Air Force we shall have divisions consisting of those who are called up and do their two years' service and then the 14 days and those who do their two years' service and nothing else.
It will be argued that the men who are called up for this purpose are no worse off than the odd 8,000 called up for their part-time training, but I do not think they will think so. They will think that they are being picked upon. It will mean that we shall start off with a bad spirit among the men who are called up for part-time training, because they will read the newspapers and HANSARD and they will know that they have been picked upon by Parliament to undertake an awkward obligation which the majority of the Royal Air Force reservists will not be required to undertake. When the scheme is operating fully, in about two years' time, there will still be about 100,000 Royal Air Force reservists who will not be called up.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Air (Mr. George Ward)
I must correct that figure. Perhaps I can do so later on.
§ Mr. Wigg
I think I know the point which the hon. Gentleman has in mind. I am arguing on the basis of the figures that I have got. There has been some argument on the basis of other figures. The hon. Gentleman has the advantage of knowing that the call-up is going to 642 taper off, and that in two years' time it is likely that the figure of 142,000 given in the latest return by the Ministry of Defence, will fall; and, therefore, if 30,000 are called up under this scheme and 8,000 to 10,000 are called up under the other scheme, the number of those escaping will be not 100,000 but about 80,000.
§ Mr. Ward
No, Sir. I gave the figures in the debate on the Air Estimates last year. They are substantially the same, and I do not wish to alter them at all.
Very briefly, this is the position. In the financial year 1954–1955, the average strength of Class H reservists is 135,000, and we expect to give training to about 17,000 of them. In the financial year 1955–1956, the average strength comes down a little to 125,000, and we expect to give training to about 50,000. In 1956–1957, when the average strength comes down to about 115,000, we expect to give training to about 70,000.
§ Mr. Wigg
I readily accept the hon. Gentleman's figures, but, even at best, there will still be 50,000 young men in the Royal Air Force who will "get away with it."
Anybody who studies the problem knows very well that the situation is getting worse, and is liable to become worse still. So far, it has made no great impact on the public mind, but it will do so, because the knowledge will spread in a simple manner. When employers get to know about this, and three young men, one from the Army, one from the Royal Air Force and one from the Navy, come along for a job, the Royal Air Force man will get it because it will be two to one that he will not be called up for part-time training.
It is not only a question of dodging part-time training. We may have three young men of equal ability studying to be accountants or engineers and devoting their spare time to that end. The situation will be that the young man going into the Army has to undertake to give up a fortnight every year for training but the Royal Air Force man who has done his two years' service can go sailing on.
I have emphasised the problem. What are we going to do to solve it? I would say to the Government that this is not a 643 matter for one Administration on its own; it is a matter for right hon. and hon. Gentlemen sitting on both sides of the Committee. It is a national, all-party problem. All of us, irrespective of party, have an interest in finding a solution to the problem of the best use of our young men's time. The country has reluctantly but cheerfully accepted the principle of National Service, but it demands that the National Service scheme shall be fairly administered over the years. I do not want to make any party capital out of the matter. If things go wrong, we shall all be in it; we all have an interest in solving the problem.
I regard it as a privilege to have served on the Army and Air Force Bill Committee. That Committee was born of party strife, but from its first meeting there was no party approach at all. I believe that the Committee has done a good job. It points the way to us. There ought to be an inquiry into the workings of the National Service scheme. I do not say that National Service can or ought to be cut; what I am saying is that, beyond any shadow of doubt—no hon. Gentleman can deny it—the National Service Act is not working as Parliament intended, and the Bill is evidence of that fact. The National Service Act is bearing unfairly on young men who serve in the Navy and the Army.
I frankly admit that the Government would be very embarrassed if they accepted my Amendment, but I beg the Home Secretary to go back to his colleagues and tell them what the feeling in this Committee is. The Committee has noted the differences, but we are content to leave the matter to the Government. Perhaps we can persuade the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to have a word with the Prime Minister and get the Prime Minister to read his speeches of September, 1950. After all, that is not asking too much in view of the continuing obligation which we ask the youth of the country to bear.
§ Mr. Ian Harvey
I hope to follow the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) in the spirit in which he moved his Amendment. I sympathise very much with the sentiments which have impelled him to move the Amendment and have guided his speech. However, I want to put to him a point of view as a matter not so 644 much of principle but of practical administration in the situation which faces us today. Under the Bill fewer people will be "getting away with it" than are doing so now. Although I admit that that is not the solution to the main problem, it seems to be a slightly better situation than that which exists now.
Another considerable problem arises from the hon. Member's proposition, and I am sure that it has not escaped him. We ought to underline it. The men who are doing their period of part-time service are, for the most part, doing it with existing units of the Army and the Royal Air Force. I agree that the problem behind what we are discussing is that the Bill deals with a very small matter in relation to a very big principle.
In the Civil Defence set-up at the moment—I am not defending it entirely, because I think it will have to be adjusted—there are no organisations of that sort, or, at any rate, not sufficient organisations of that sort to take men during weekends. When this matter was raised before, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary did not back out of this difficulty, but pointed out that what he would have to do with these men would be to put them through solidly for three weeks, and that, in fact, is a week longer than anybody else has to do under the arrangements which exist with the other Services. Therefore, as a matter of interest, the people about whom we are now talking would, in fact, have the heaviest burden to bear.
§ Mr. Harvey
It cannot be worked out in such a way, because the arrangements for taking men for two days or a long week-end do not at the moment exist, and that is the whole point underlying this problem. That is what would have to happen.
§ Mr. Strachey
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me? If this is a question of fact, we ought to get it right. I should have thought that there were sufficient ordinary civilian organisations of Civil Defence in the localities throughout the country. It is a question of the equivalent of part-time drills spaced between the 14 days 645 and the 30 days, as I understand the position. Why should he not do them in a Civilian Defence organisation?
§ Mr. Harvey
I accept that point entirely, but I think that, when we call men up to create the mobile column type of organisation which we have in mind, it is extremely difficult to get this done by means of volunteer resources, which is the point to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. I should have thought that the type of training required for mobile columns is a different type of training to that immediately available within the local Civil Defence units. I would hesitate to say that these local Civilian Defence units would be prepared to undertake it.
§ Mr. Wigg
There is no earthly reason why local preparatory training should not be given, as it is in the Territorial Army, so that men can do their 15 days and become more efficient. I think this could be one of the ways of very rapidly increasing the efficiency of local training if something like that were done on a part-time basis.
§ Mr. Harvey
I beg leave to doubt that. I think it is an administrative problem that should be looked into in the light of the proposal contained in this Amendment.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
The hon. Gentleman will remember that, during the Second Reading debate, we were told that the purpose of this organisation was to obtain co-operation with local Civil Defence organisations. Surely, in that way the man concerned could work off the odd days?
§ Mr. Harvey
That point is rather wide of this Amendment. The proposal is open to serious military objection.
The Bill does not preclude the full call-up period, and I am among those who believe that this matter must be looked at in a broader context, so that more effective use is made of manpower, as has been clearly outlined in this debate. It is a far greater and broader issue, but I should be very much out of order if I tried to pursue it any further now. I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that he is trying to approach the matter in order to make a genuine point, but 646 I hardily think that my right hon. Friend could accept it as part of this Bill, and I therefore trust that he will not do so.
§ Mr. Ede
The compliment paid by the hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Ian Harvey) to my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) in the concluding sentence of his speech is one that I heartily endorse, and I am glad to see that he at last accepts that my hon. Friend approaches the matter in a non-party spirit.
The hon. Member for Harrow, East has himself done the Committee a great service by the analysis which he has made of the present position of Civil Defence units in the localities, because the effective portion of my hon. Friend's Amendment, which is to secure that the airmen called up shall in time get as much as the soldier called up, depends upon the ability of local Civil Defence units to give the men the intermediate drills between the two fortnights.
I hope we shall get from the right hon. and gallant Gentleman an assurance that steps will be taken to energise local Civil Defence so that this will be possible, because the extent to which it is possible at the moment varies very much from one part of the country to another. There are places where a substantial number of people have been recruited and where fairly active training is going on. In other places, recruiting has been comparatively poor, and where the actual training given is at the very minimum.
I saw an instance in my own constituency during last week-end, when I was able to compliment those concerned on the fact that the county borough shows a number of recruits per thousand of the population which is very high. I think they are third in the list, and at one time they led. In an area like that, the problem presented by the Amendment ought not to be very difficult to work out on the lines suggested by the hon. Member for Harrow, East, and whether my hon. Friend's suggestion can ultimately be carried out really does depend upon the Civil Defence units in these areas being brought up to the same state of readiness.
I do not see that there is any objection to his proposal on the grounds that these men are to be trained for mobile columns, and this is the one point on which I differ from the hon. Member 647 for Harrow, East. After all, when a mobile column gets to the point of disaster in the event of hostilities, they will not still be in column. They may not even be in line, and I do not imagine that much training will be given to them in the direction of "On the left (or on the right), form company." Of course, they march in threes now instead of fours, so that there will be no trouble if the even numbers do not mark time for two paces. When they get there, they will be employed on very many of the tasks that are being considered and for which they are trained when the local Civil Defence units go in for their weekly. fortnightly or monthly training.
Therefore, I think that the main problem about doing what I think everyone in the Committee wants to do, whatever may be their views regarding conscription as a matter of principle, which is to ensure that the men called up under the National Service Acts shall be subject to the same liabilities as regards time from the beginning.
I hope we shall have a reply from the Government indicating that, while they admit the difficulties put forward by the hon. Member for Harrow, East, they accept the Amendment in principle. If they are in the position to implement it, they will be able, without these words going into the Clause and compelling them to do something which they cannot do at the moment, to do so within a reasonably short time.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer
I would not have risen had it not been for one sentence in the speech of the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg). I wish to re-emphasise a point I made in my speech on the Second Reading. I gather that the hon. Member for Dudley suggested that a large number of R.A.F. men would not do any part-time service at all and that others would be in Civil Defence only after a fortnight's training. My point concerns the balance of the 21 days' call-up.
The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has said that on the scene of action the men would no longer be in column; under the present set-up they will not have a hope of getting there at all. Men just cannot get experience 648 in these matters without adequate training. It takes an immense amount of training. On the balance of their 21 days, when these men go back to their homes in their own areas and under their own officers, they should be in hired vehicles during the week-ends learning map reading and driving around the country in their own areas. Let us not talk about further training in firefighting. Although that is very valuable, it will be of no earthly use unless the men learn to drive to the scene of action. That is a vital element of their tasks. Another is that, if we are to operate mobile columns from a central office in atomic warfare in the dark and in a hurry, the men will have to work on wireless. Each one of them will have to be taught how to use it.
§ Mr. J. Harrison
I hope that the idea behind the Amendment is not to settle the vexed question of the disproportion of service between one Service and another by using the lever of Civil Defence. It would be inexcusable for us to increase the liability of a National Service man in Civil Defence purposely to settle the question of the disproportion of service which exists. Everyone knows that this question of R.A.F. part-time service being out of proportion with that of other Services is one of the most knotty questions that the defence organisation has to tackle.
We do not want to be parties to increasing the liability of service of any National Service man at this juncture in trying to solve that problem. The hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Ian Harvey) said he wanted to stop people "getting away with it," but we want more people to "get away with it." The circumstances indicate that more people should "get away with it." If the Amendment is to be used to increase the liability of the National Service man, I oppose that suggestion.
§ Mr. Strachey
Nothing in the Amendment, as I understand it, increases the statutory liability of the National Service man.
§ Mr. J. Harrison
I did not mean the statutory liability particularly. I meant the actual liability.
§ Mr. Strachey
This is a question of how much time the new category of 649 persons called up for part-time service for Civil Defence would be called up for. If my hon. Friend will think over this matter very carefully he will realise—and I call the attention of the Home Secretary to this point—that we should take seriously the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) about the importance of uniform liability which is fair for all.
Like other Civil Defence Acts, this Measure will be a heavy burden, but there will be a most dreadful disintegration of those Acts if we let off people from bits of it indiscriminately, without any legal provision. We shall get all sorts of categories of people, some having to be called up for the full period of two years and then for 60 days in the 3½ years following, others called up for shorter periods of part-time service, and some not called up at all for part-time service. That really will not do. My hon. and gallant Friend is right in drawing attention once more to this problem. The Home Secretary brought the problem to the fore when he moved the Second Reading of the Bill and said, clearly and without any explanation or defence of it, that he was going to call up these Royal Air Force young men for only 14 days in one year instead of 21 days.
That may be convenient at the present time, but it drives a coach-and-four through the National Service Acts by making yet, another category of discrimination in them. I warn the Government that they are going to disintegrate those Acts, and there will be a very heavy burden on the population if they do that. The way in which we should reduce the burden is not by letting off particular people from bits and bats of their service, but by reducing the period of the call-up. I believe that that can now be done. I strongly support the plea made from these benches that that possibility should be inquired into at once. As long as the obligation is there and falls on the immense majority it ought to fall on it fairly, or it becomes unworkable.
The hon. and gallant Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer) really made a most powerful plea for this Amendment, or something like it. He showed not only that it is fair and equitable to call up these men for the same 21 days as their comrades in the Army and Navy, but that it is highly desirable to do it in order to get any 650 adequate degree of Civil Defence planning. His point on mobility is very sound. We should increase the capacity of the men during that balance of seven days. We are keen on this Amendment, not merely to preserve equity among the Services but in order to make a good job of Civil Defence.
§ Mr. Ian Harvey
I intervene because, although I do not dissent from what my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer) said, the problem is that the mobile column has to operate a long distance from home, and men would have to be brought in to a central place to get their training. If they could be brought in for weekend training it would be the answer, but I do not believe that that is a practical possibility. Nor do I think that there is any point in teaching them mobility for local Civil Defence use. I agree, however, that they could be trained in the other aspect of their mobile column work, namely, the rescue work which they would have to do.
§ Mr. Strachey
I am sure that, with sufficient ingenuity, the Government could find useful employment for them in the drills which add up to the balance of seven days. As my right hon. Friend has said, it would be easier in some localities than in others—but it could be done.
I can anticipate the sort of objections that the Home Secretary will make to accepting this Amendment, but we ask him to withdraw from the position which he seemed to take up on Second Reading; that it was perfectly all right to call them up for 14 days—a different period from everyone else who was called up. He must think again on that. He must know that discrimination under the National Service Acts is getting worse and worse. Both the House and the Committee are really keen on Civil Defence training. I hope that whoever replies can assure us that the Government will really look at this so as to make real use of the men. We do not want anyone called up who is not to be used, or just for the sake of calling him up. The Government must look at this again, with a view to making the men far more effective Civil Defence recruits in that balance of seven days in the two-year period. That is the purpose of my hon. Friend's Amendment.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
The Government at this stage, should try to explain precisely what these men will do during their call-up. If some clear explanation is given of what they are to do, I do not object to the men being called up, but, as the former Secretary of State for War said, we do not want men to be called up just for the sake of calling them up. Why should a plumber or an electrician be taken away, probably at a critical stage in the completion of a housing scheme, to do some undefined work at a camp? Surely we are entitled to have some illustration of the training to be done at the depots or centres.
We know that there is to be a depot at Epsom. We do not know what there is to be in Scotland except that there will be something somewhere. The appropriate Minister is not here and no one has attempted to explain the position, but if men are to be taken from key work in such essential industries as engineering and the shipyards what will they do when they arrive at the depots? I remember the occasion when we asked the Secretary of State for War what was to be the rôle of the Army in the next war. He told us that a conference at Camberley of all the experts had come to the conclusion that the Army's rôle was summed up in the word "dispersal." And he left it at that.
Presumably, when these reservists are called to the mobile column, depot or centre, they are not just to disperse. What are they to do? If it is to be fire fighting, surely, as they will presumably be operating in their own area it is unanswerable that they would be better employed training with their local fire brigade.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Sir Leonard Ropner)
There has been a very wide discussion on this matter, but I think that, so far, the hon. Member is the only Member of the Committee who has not related his remarks to the Amendment before us. I should be glad if he would devote his further remarks to the Amendment.
§ Mr. Hughes
I know that the discussion has been very wide. That is why I seek to bring it into narrow limits. All I ask is that the Minister should give us some picture of the work these plumbers, plasterers and engineers are to do when they arrive at the mobile column centre.
§ The Temporary Chairman
If the Minister attempted to answer that question, I should call him to order.
§ Mr. Hughes
The words used in the Amendment are:… reserve training for Civil Defence. …An attempt should be made to define that phrase. If we do not know of what that reserve training is to consist, how are we to decide whether to vote for or against the Amendment? I am trying to dispel the fog. The Under-Secretary of State for Air is here and is quite capable of defining exactly what the Air Force would do, but before the Committee sanctions this call up we should have an explanation and not be expected just to indulge in metaphysics. If the men are to be trained in fire fighting they would be better employed at the local fire brigade.
The hon. and gallant Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer) was the first to illumine this discussion when he suggested that one of the activities of the new mobile column would be to learn to drive in the dark—but where are they going to drive? There has been a suggestion that the mobile column will go into bombed areas to repair ruined buildings. I wonder if that is so. Is the mobile column to go into a city which has become radioactive as a result of the dropping of an atom bomb? Is it to go in and stay in, or is it to bring people out? In this discussion hon. Members are talking as if neither the atom bomb nor radioactivity existed. One of the problems now facing all Civil Defence authorities is what is to be done amongst radioactive buildings. What is to be done if an atom or H-bomb drops on a city and sends up a cloud of radioactive dust which may spread for 100 miles?
§ Mr. Hughes
My hon. Friend says "clear out," but the object of the mobile column is to "clear in."
There is such an air of unreality about this. The hon. and gallant Member has been the first to attempt to tell us exactly what those men ought to do during their 14 days. I have tried to clear the air. I do not think that there can be any smokescreen now. I hope that the Minister will give us some idea of what the mobile columns are to do.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Air (Mr. George Ward)
While I very much regret that the Government cannot accept this Amendment, for reasons which I shall try to make clear, I certainly accept the spirit in which it was moved by the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg). The effect of the Amendment would be that these men selected for training in Civil Defence would have to carry out the maximum amount of training which is allowed under the National Service Act.
The National Service Act, Section 4 (1), states:During his term of part-time service a person may"—I would draw attention to the permissive "may"—be required to undergo training for any periods not exceeding in the aggregate—(a) sixty days during the whole of his term of part-time service; (b) twenty-one days in any year of that serviceThe amount of training carried out by National Service men during their 3½ years training differs according to the different needs of the Services, or indeed of the individual branches of the Services. It is not a matter on which, in practice, one can possibly maintain any rigid uniformity. In the case of the Army units, for instance, organised on a territorial basis, 15 days training is given in one spell and then further training is given on a non-continuous basis by a number of local drills. Where units are not organised on a territorial basis and it is impossible or inconvenient for men to undertake non-continuous training, their training is confined to a continuous spell of 15 days.
In the case of the Royal Air Force, National Service reservists are not directed to units organised on a territorial basis, such as the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, because we have no power to do so. Therefore, they cannot do their part-time training on the same basis as those soldiers who are required to carry out their training with territorial units. At present all R.A.F. Class H reservists do only their continuous period of 15 days' training.
§ Mr. Ward
All those Class H reservists who are called up do a continuous period 654 of 15 days' training. These reservists who will be given Civil Defence training under this Bill, will be Royal Air Force Class H reservists, and, therefore, plans for their continuous training must be regulated by current R.A.F. practice. But I have the assurance of my right hon. and gallant Friend the Home Secretary that if it is possible also to do some non-continuous training in local Civil Defence organisations, full advantage will certainly be taken of that. That, I think, meets the point made by the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede).
The provisions of the National Service Act which I have quoted are permissive, and it is important that they should be permissive. I am quite sure, too, that it would be wrong to include in this Bill a provision making it obligatory for these men to do the maximum amount of service under the National Service Act, while leaving it permissive in the National Service Act itself for those called up in the ordinary way. In other words, we need flexibility both for those carrying out military training and for those carrying out Civil Defence training, and since this Amendment would destroy all flexibility, I am afraid we cannot accept it.
I should like to refer to the points made by the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) and for Dudley. On this matter I have argued before on the Air Estimates debates. The point to bear in mind about these Class H reservists in the Royal Air Force "getting away" without any training, is simply this. The R.A.F. at the moment depends on National Service men to meet its cold war commitments, to provide its deterrent power and also to provide an effective, immediately ready air defence in case of war. It is our carefully considered policy only to call up these Class H reservists provided they will be of use to us immediately on the outbreak of war. Clearly, if they have not been very long out of their regular service, they will not have forgotten what we taught them, and it would be often a pure waste of time to call them up.
Similarly, we do not need to refresh men if we do not immediately need them on the outbreak of war, because that would be extending our limited resources quite unnecessarily. There are various other factors which I have mentioned before, such as people doing in civil life what 655 they would have to do in the Service, and to take them from their jobs in civil life and make them do precisely the same thing in the Air Force would not be acceptable to either side of the House. For these reasons, we do not call them up.
I accept the fact that there is inequality in this system between ourselves and the Army, but there is some inequality in the whole of the National Service system. Some people do their full-time service in extremely comfortable home unit conditions. Others have had to do it in Korea and Malaya. Some people are fortunate enough to be trained in some trade which will be extremely useful to them when they have finished. Others are not so fortunate. Therefore, to attempt to achieve complete equality in this field would be futile. We are certain that our policy is efficient, economic and right.
§ Mr. Geoffrey de Freitas (Lincoln)
Would the Under-Secretary refer to his right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence the fact that he stated here frankly the inequality of the obligations under the National Service Act, and suggest that there is another argument in favour of the official request from the Opposition for a full inquiry into the working of the National Service Act?
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer
May I ask my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary a question, to which as yet I have not had an answer? I appreciate that it is not fair to ask him, as it is not his job, but has he any idea how, when or where these men are going to be taught to become mobile and drive lorries around the country?
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Ross
The Under-Secretary started by saying that the differing conditions of service were caused by the differing needs of the Services concerned. In this case we are creating a new organisation which we all regard as absolutely desirable, but instead of relating the period of training to the actual need of that service it is 656 being related to something quite outside, namely, the number of days on which men are engaged in ordinary Royal Air Force training. Surely that is contrary to all that he has said about efficiency and economy? We have only to consider the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer) in connection with the immense amount of training that is required for this work to appreciate that. Is the Under-Secretary really satisfied that we are going to get an efficient and mobile organisation?
§ Mr. Ross
I should like to know what it will do in Scotland, or where it will be trained in Scotland. As I understand it, the training of these men is not to be related to the need of this mobile service, nor to the amount of training which was given to the experimental mobile squads upon which this organisation has been based. We accepted those original squads as being useful for development, but the amount of training that went into them is far greater than the meagre training which these men will receive under present arrangements.
§ Mr. Ward
As an hon. Member pointed out earlier, there is no suggestion of increasing the 60 days' statutory liability in the 3½ years' part-time service. The only question is whether we should require a man to do 14 or 21 days a year Upon that question I have already put forward a plea for flexibility. We shall start with 14 days, and if it is possible to give non-continuous training for the additional week, it can be arranged.
§ Mr. Wigg
I find the hon. Member's reply both realistic and refreshing. I can only hope that his speech will be read by the Secretary of State for War and the Minister of Defence. If we apply the principle which has just been enunciated for the Royal Air Force to the Army, there will be some very far-reaching reforms. The Under-Secretary said that the paramount principle, to him, is the efficiency of the Fighting Service, which he represents in the House. He is calling up and training only those men who contribute, and only for so long as they contribute, to the efficiency of the Service. That is not the system which operates in the Army today and that is the gravamen of our charge against the 657 Government. We say that there ought to be an inquiry into the working of the National Service Act. I restate that request, but in view of the courteous and realistic reply of the hon. Member——
§ Mr. James H. Hoy (Leith)
Before my hon. Friend asks leave to withdraw the Amendment, the Under-Secretary may care to state where in Scotland the training centre will be, especially as we now have one of the Joint Under-Secretaries of State for Scotland here. We would like to know where the centre will be and what purpose it will serve. I have a great deal of sympathy for the suggestion made by the hon. and gallant Member for Worthing (Brigadier Prior-Palmer), as to traffic and communications, which are exceptionally important. It may be that the centre in Scotland is to be used for that purpose, but the Government may care to take this opportunity of stating their intentions in the matter.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Henderson Stewart)
It is intended to establish one of these training centres in Scotland next year. Broadly speaking, its purpose will be the same as that of the other centres. We hope that that will be not only for the convenience of Scottish men who are called up, but will give to our Scottish people a real feeling of taking part in this essential advance of Civil Defence.
§ Mr. Hoy
The Joint Under-Secretary has said that this centre in Scotland will do what the other centres are intended to do, but, with due respect, we do not know what any of them is intended to do, because nobody has told us. I should like to know what the centre is intended to do and, secondly, where it is likely to be.
§ Major Lloyd-George
I should have thought it was entirely out of order to refer to that, but I recommend the hon. Member to read the Second Reading debate, where we stated where each of the centres was to be, and what each centre would do.
§ Major Lloyd-George
I thought it applied to Scotland. I understand that we now have a proposed new Clause which makes it not applicable to Scotland.
§ Mr. Hughes
On a point of order. That has already been ruled out of order. The Joint Under-Secretary has said that a centre is to be organised somewhere in Scotland. Can he tell us where it is to be?
§ The Chairman (Sir Charles MacAndrew)
The hon. Member said that his new Clause was out of order. It is in order, but it is not selected.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
I beg to move, in page 1, line 22, at the end, to insert:(4) Any increase attributable to this section in the sums payable out of moneys provided by Parliament under section seven of the Civil Defence Act, 1948, shall be defrayed out of moneys so provided; and the said arrangements may provide for the reimbursement by the designated Minister, out of such moneys, of such amounts as the Treasury may determine in respect of the pay of, and other expenses incurred on account of, members of the naval, military or air forces receiving training under the arrangements referred to in subsection (1) of this section, being amounts which would otherwise fall to be met out of moneys provided by Parliament for navy, army or air force services.This is a Privilege Amendment, and it may be convenient if I state shortly the effect of the subsection. It provides, first, that the cost of the training—I emphasise the word "training"—shall be met by the designated Minister, that is to say, the Home Secretary or the Minister responsible for giving the Civil Defence training, out of moneys provided by Parliament under Section 7 of the Civil Defence Act, 1948, and, secondly, for the reimbursement by the appropriate Home or Health Department to the appropriate Service Department of expenditure initially incurred by the Service Department on such matters as the pay of the reservists while they are called up.
It may also be convenient if I say a few words about the two Amendments to the Amendment. I do not know whether it is your intention, Sir Charles, to call those Amendments.
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
If that is the case, I had better content myself with what I have said, and the hon. Members who are going to move Amendments to the Amendments can state their points on this Amendment as they arise.
§ Mr. Ede
I still think that line 22 is the last line that exists. I take it that the hon. Member is not moving to add subsection (4) at the end of a non-existent line 23, but at the end of the existing line 22.
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, to leave out from the second "provided," to the end of the proposed Amendment, and to add:but the said arrangements shall not provide for the reimbursement by the designated Minister, out of such moneys, of any amounts in respect of the pay of, and other expenses incurred on account of, members of the naval, military or air forces receiving training under the arrangements referred to in the foregoing subsections of this section, being amounts which fall to be met out of moneys provided by Parliament for navy, army or air force services.This is very helpful to the Home Secretary. It will be observed that the words I propose should be left out of the new subsection begin thus:And the said arrangements may provide for the reimbursement by the designated Minister, out of such moneys, of such amounts as the Treasury may determine in respect of the pay of"—of the men whom he gets for training. I notice that the Air Force has fled. The reason why will appear. This really means that this money for the pay of these men, who are still members of the Air Force, will have to be borne in the end on the Home Secretary's Vote. It is not as if these men were being transferred to Civil Defence and ceasing to be members of the Air Force. 660 [Interruption.] I tell the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland that even a Scotsman might have known that the Treasury is far worse than any Scotsman in the matter of getting money out of a Civil Department and handing it over to the military.
These men will not be members of the Civil Defence Corps. They will still be Air Force men. All that we are told about them is that it is not expected that the Air Force will want them for the first 12 months of the war. Presumably, however, at some time after the first 12 months they will be recalled to the Air Force. Moreover, all through their training they remain under the discipline of the Air Force. The Home Secretary provides the instructors but the Air Force retains the discipline, and these men at all times are members of the Air Force. It seems to me to be quite wrong that while they remain Air Force men they should be borne on the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's Vote. He is not responsible for their discipline; he is responsible only for their training.
We on this side of the Committee hope that this is a very small beginning of what may develop into a substantial training experiment and practice by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's Department. If it were proposed that these men should become members of the Civil Defence Corps I imagine that there would be something to be said for this arrangement. Indeed, it would obviously be the duty of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to pay for them out of his Vote. However, the order to a man to attend a course or an individual lecture or a single practice in Civil Defence training will not be given by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. It will be given by the officer commanding the Air Force unit which is undergoing training. While I have no doubt there will be amicable arrangements as to the time and circumstances of this training the order for disobedience to which a man can be charged will not be an order of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman; it will be an order of the Air Force officer commanding.
It is trouble enough to get money for Civil Defence. There were some pretty 661 sarcastic comments by the Public Accounts Committee on the failure to spend the money when it had been voted. I think that the comments would have been a great deal more sarcastic if the Public Accounts Committee had known the objects on which the Civil Defence money had been spent. We were asked, I think by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), what is Civil Defence? The Civil Defence Act, 1948, starts in a way most unusual for statutes by saying what Civil Defence does not include. It does not tell us what it does include; it tells us what it does not include.
Many of the things on which this money is spent would be thought by the ordinary citizens of the country not to be Civil Defence. I do not go quite as far as my hon. Friend, who sometimes talks as if Civil Defence included merely the protection of the ordinary civilian population from hostile attack. It covers a good deal more than that. However, I am quite sure that if we were to ask the ordinary man in the street, "What does Civil Defence mean?" he would say that it meant, "Pulling me out of a bombed house reasonably scientifically if it collapses on top of me, and getting me to hospital." He would say it meant personal assistance of that nature. It also includes a large amount of expenditure on the Post Office and other organisations and people that the ordinary man in the street would not regard as being a part of Civil Defence, as he understands the term colloquially.
The Committee should make it quite plain that Civil Defence grants are to be spent on Civil Defence in its widest aspect and for the training of people who will be Civil Defence personnel under the control of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman and the other designated Ministers. The Bill says in effect that he can have men for training, to give them a little spare time occupation. To use the words of the Joint Under-Secretary of State, the raison d'etre of the Bill and the Amendment is to provide that the Home Secretary can have them and that while he has them he can pay for them. That would be all very well if at the end of the training they were then to be under the control of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, but the minute the Air Force wants them they are to go back to the Air Force.
662 In these circumstances the Bill provides only a series of lectures for them such as are given by a great many bodies in the country. For instance, I have known members of the Royal Army Pay Corps sent to technical colleges for their training in the techniques of accountancy and the other things by which they manage to bring the private soldier into debt. It is a highly-skilled occupation. Anybody who has had charge of the pay and mess book knows the way in which the soldier's final account never appears to coincide with what went through the orderly room. When it gets into the hands of the accountants it is astounding how much has been expended on that soldier, half of which he has never heard about, and the way in which he has been held accountable for damages which occurred on occasions when he was not even present with the corps.
The pay on these occasions is not reimbursed by the Ministry of Education to the Service concerned. These people are their pupils for the time being, just as they will be the Home Secretary's pupils, and the Army pays for their instruction. It therefore seems to me that the arrangement proposed here cannot be defended. In as much as these men and all the other men who will be called up in the future under this Bill will remain, during their training and after it, members of the Armed Forces, we suggest that their pay should be provided out of the Service Estimates and not out of the miserable sums which so far have been available for Civil Defence. If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman succeeds in getting sufficient men to do the job well, the Bill will make a very considerable hole in the sums of money which have so far been devoted to Civil Defence.
This seems to me to be quite indefensible as a proposition on the way in which moneys voted by Parliament should be spent. I think that the Service to which the men belongs, to which they will return and which throughout their training will be the body which gives them orders, should be the body to pay.
§ Mr. Bellenger
It would be useful if the Joint Under-Secretary of State would tell us why the Government have changed their mind on this issue, because they now propose something entirely different from 663 that contained in the original subsection (4). Is it because something has happened which I suggested, in speaking on an earlier Amendment, might happen? Is it the case that the Defence Committee or the Joint Chiefs of Staff have put their heads together and said to the Home Office, "You are to have these men, our reservists, and you will have to pay for them"?
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
I am not quite clear what the right hon. Gentleman means when he says the Government have changed their mind.
§ Mr. Bellenger
They must have changed their mind because they are now proposing something which is different from the proposition in the Bill originally presented. There must have been at any rate a change in emphasis. The Government now propose that the Home Office shall provide the money for the pay and other expenses of these National Service men who are to be called up.
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
That was in the original Bill but, having come from another place, it was taken out purely as a matter of Privilege. The proposal is now being restored.
§ Mr. Bellenger
Thank you. I now understand that the proposition is exactly the same as that which the Government originally had in mind, but the fact remains that the Services have together insisted on the Home Office paying for the men. There are certain services which should be paid for by the Home Office when they use National Service men. What precisely they are I do not know, and perhaps the hon. Gentleman will explain how these services will be paid for if his proposal is accepted.
There are three designated Ministers, and presumably the three Departments will be chargeable. How will the services be allocated to the Home Office or the Ministry of Health or the Secretary of State for Scotland? Will the decision be based on the type of duties which the men perform? We have been told that they will be trained in fire fighting and ambulance services. Is the time spent in training for the ambulance services to be paid for by the Ministry of Health? Are the fire-fighting services to be paid for by the Home Office?
664 This is one more example of the confusion reigning in the Government which has caused them to introduce the Bill in advance of the comprehensive review of our Defence Services. Had we had that review before us, I believe we should have been better able to judge who should pay for these services—the Home Office or the Service Departments. In any event, the Air Ministry must be holding a lot of money in hand for the men they have not called up, and at some time they will have to explain to the House why they have asked for certain monies which they have no intention of spending.
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
The Amendment merely raises the question, out of which pocket is the money to be taken? It is not a question of whether more or less money is to be spent.
The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) says that the men will remain R.A.F. men and subject to R.A.F. discipline, and that is perfectly true. But I do not think that is the test, which is whether the men are to do these services for R.A.F. purposes or for Civil Defence purposes. The fact that they are subject to R.A.F. discipline is simply a matter of administration.
The right hon. Gentleman then argued that Civil Defence grants should be spent only on those who will be under the control of the Home Secretary or other Civil Defence designated Ministers. The Reservists who are called up under this scheme will be under my right hon. and gallant Friend's control. It is true that they will be subject to R.A.F. discipline as a matter of machinery, but while they are doing their training they will be under my right hon. and gallant Friend's control, and if they are used in the event of an emergency—that is to say, if they have to be used in operations—they will again be under the control of my right hon. and gallant Friend. They will remain in the R.A.F. but will be under Home Office or Ministry of Health or Scottish Office control as the case may be.
The right hon. Gentleman said that the moment the R.A.F. wanted them back they would have to go back. That is not the intention. The intention is that these men shall be a reserve against an emergency and that, if there is an emergency, they will be immediately available for Civil Defence purposes. The intention is that they will be so available for at least 665 a year. They will therefore be genuinely Civil Defence men, although the discipline will be provided by serving men.
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
That is so, as a matter of machinery. The alternative would be to pass a whole rigmarole of legislation in order to provide the same machinery as that which is already to our hand. I think that everyone will agree that this is a simple way of dealing with the matter, but the important point is that the men will be available. It is true that it will be for a year only. But I think that the Committee will agree that to try to envisage anything beyond a year in these circumstances would be totally unrealistic.
This service is a Civil Defence service, and we believe that, therefore, the right pocket from which to take the expenses is the Civil Defence pocket. The right hon. Gentleman cited the case of the Army paying for soldiers who were doing a course at some civilian institution. It is exactly on that principle that we are working here. Soldiers who are doing a course in a civilian institution are doing that course for the purpose of the Army and to improve themselves as soldiers. In these cases, they will be R.A.F. men doing a course for the purposes of Civil Defence to equip themselves as civil defenders; therefore the right pocket is the Civil Defence pocket.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) asked how the cost of this Service would be paid. It will be paid by the appropriate Minister. That is to say those men who are trained in Home Office services, such as fire-fighting, will be paid for from Home Office funds, those on ambulance services will be paid for through the Ministry of Health, and those who are trained in Scotland will be paid for by the Scottish Office Departments. That will be the method of accounting. It is a simple and straightforward one, and I commend it to the Committee.
§ Mr. Bellenger
How will the Government distinguish between these three different Departments in a mobile column?
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
For purposes of training, they will not be in a mobile 666 column, and when they are in a mobile column it will be perfectly simple. We shall not mix the columns: there will be fire-fighting columns and ambulance columns, which will be used for the appropriate purposes, and accounted for by the appropriate Minister.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I have been getting more puzzled as the debate proceeds, and I did not find it very clear at the beginning, so now I am in the state of utmost mental confusion. I do not know what the Joint Under-Secretary means—he may be quite right—when he says that the mobile column will not be a mixed column. If not, why do we want it mobile? I know nothing about these matters, but I should have thought that the whole idea of having a mobile column, which can be taken from an area not affected to an area that has been affected, is so that the column can take into the affected area every kind of service likely to be required or useful in that area. I know that is not the principal point in the present discussion, and I do not want to develop it, but it is one more indication, so it seems to me, that the Government are, if possible, more confused about this than even I am.
With regard to the financial point, the Joint Under-Secretary stated that this is really only a question of which pocket the money comes out of. I notice that there is no doubt in his mind about whose pocket the money comes out of. We all know that. But the question is which pocket. He appeared to treat that as a matter of no importance at all. I am afraid that I do not agree with him.
If my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has his way, the money will come out of the amounts voted by the House of Commons as part of their armament expenditure. If the Government have their way, it will come out of the Civil Estimates, so what the Government are really proposing is to transfer part of the cost of the armament programme from the Defence Services from the Civil Estimates. I would not regard that as an unimportant matter.
Quite clearly, whatever services these men are to be called upon to perform, they are people who are on the R.A.F. Reserve. The Joint Under-Secretary said that that was a matter of machinery. I know what he meant, but it is rather a misleading word to use, because if they 667 were not on the R.A.F. Reserve, as the Bill at present stands, their services would not be called upon at all.
They are people who are liable to do some service in any case, whether this Bill is passed or not, and they remain subject to disciplinary control, as indeed they must, of the R.A.F. I should have thought that this was very far from being a mere accounting point. On the contrary, I should have thought, although this is a small question of public finance, that it was important to make certain that these men were paid for out of the Armed Forces Estimates and not out of the Civil Estimates, whether Home Office, Ministry of Health or any other Civil Department.
§ Mr. Ede
I have listened to what the Joint Under-Secretary had to say. He did not convince me that the Home Office ought to pay. He said that it did not matter very much from which pocket the money comes. I am concerned with the problem of getting money into pockets, and it is a great deal easier to get money into the Service pocket than into the Home Office pocket. I should very much regret to see any money that had got into the Home Office pocket going for the pay of men who will remain Service men. I ask the hon. Gentleman to remember in his arguments that there
§ is nothing in the Bill which says that in a case of emergency these men shall be with the Home Office and the mobile column for one year. There is nothing that says that they shall be there for a day.
§ When it comes to a contest between the Armed Services and Civil Defence in the event of an emergency, I would not put very much money on the Civil Defence Department coming out on top. These men are Service men. The Joint Under-Secretary says that they come under the control of the Home Secretary. Let us suppose, human nature being what it is, that there comes a day when there is a dispute between an R.A.F. officer in charge of the discipline and the head of the defence school as to the appropriate time for the lectures and practices to begin. The effective order is not the one given by the Home Office official. The effective order is the one given by the R.A.F. officer.
§ In view of the nature of the reply, I recommend my right hon. and hon. Friends to divide in support of the Amendment.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the word 'subsection,' stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 210; Noes, 187.671
|Division No. 225.]||AYES||[7.10 p.m|
|Aitken, W. T.||Carr, Robert||Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Cary, Sir Robert||Garner-Evans, E. H.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Channon, H.||George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Glover, D.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Cole, Norman||Gough, C. F. H.|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Colegate, W. A.||Gower, H. R.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Gridley, Sir Arnold|
|Barber, Anthony||Crosrthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Grimond, J.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Crouch, R. F.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Davidson, Viscountess||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Deedes, W. F.||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Deedes, W. F.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Digby, S. Wingfield||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Donner, Sir P. W.||Harvie-Watt, Sir George|
|Black, C. W.||Doughty, G. J. A.||Hay, John|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Duncan, Capt J. A. L.||Heath, Edward|
|Braine, B. R.||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Higgs, J. M. C.|
|Braithwaite Sir Gurney||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Errington, Sir Eric||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Fell, A.||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Finlay, Graeme||Holland-Martin, C. J.|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Fisher, Nigel||Hollis, M. C.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F||Hope, Lord John|
|Bullard, D. G.||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Fester, John||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.|
|Campbell, Sir David||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Mellor, Sir John||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Moore, Sir Thomas||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Hughes-Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.||Neave, Airey||Storey, S.|
|Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S)|
|Hutchison, James (Scetstoun)||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Summers, G. S.|
|Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Iremonger T. L.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Teeling, W.|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Nugent, G. R. H.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Oakshott, H. D.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Jones, A. (Hall Green)||O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W)|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|Kaberry, D.||Osborne, C.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Page, R. G.||Tilney, John|
|Kerr, H. W.||Perkins, Sir Robert||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Lambton, Viscount||Peto, Brig. C. H. M||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Pitman, I. J.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Lindsay, Martin||Powell, J. Enoch||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L||Vosper, D. F.|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Raikes, Sir Victor||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Ramsden, J. E.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W.||Remnant, Hon. P.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcestor)|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Ronton, D. L. M.||Ward, Miss I (Tynemouth)|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Robertson, Sir David||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Watkinson, H. A.|
|MaoCallum, Major D.||Russell, R. S.||Wellwood, W.|
|McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Scott, R. Donald||Wills, G.|
|Macleod, Rt. Hon. lain (Enfield, W.)||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Shepherd, William||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W)|
|Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Marlowe, A. A. H.||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C||Spearman, A. C. M.||Mr. Studholme and Mr. Redmayne.|
|Medlicott, Brig. F.||Spens, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S.)|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Ede, Rt Hon. J. C.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Jeger, Mrs. Lena|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J||Fernyhough, E.||Jones, David (Hartlepool)|
|Bence, C. R.||Fienburgh, W.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Benn, Hon, Wedgwood||Finch, H. J.||Keenan, W.|
|Benson, G.||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Kenyon, C.|
|Beswick, F.||Follick, M.||Key, Rt. Hon. C W|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Foot, M. M.||King, Dr. H. M|
|Blackburn, F.||Forman, J. C||Lawson, G. M.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Boardman, H.||Freeman, John (Watford)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Bowden, H. W.||Gibson, C. W.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Gooch, E. G.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||MacColl, J. E.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Grey, C. F.||Mclnnes, J.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Burke, W. A.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||McLeavy, F.|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Carmichael, J.||Hamilton, W. W.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Champion, A. J.||Hannan, W.||Mann, Mrs. Jean|
|Chapman, W. D.||Hardy, E. A.||Manuel, A. C.|
|Chetwynd, G. R||Hargreaves, A.||Marquand, Rt. Hon H A|
|Clunie, J.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Mayhew, C. P.|
|Colliek, P. H.||Hastings, S.||Mellish, R. J.|
|Collins, V. J||Hayman, F. H.||Messer, Sir F|
|Corbel. Mrs. Freda||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Mitchison, G. R|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Herbison, Miss M.||Monslow, W.|
|Daines, P.||Hobson, C. R.||Moody, A. S.|
|Dalton. Rt. Hon. H||Holman, P.||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Houghton, Douglas||Morley, R|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hoy, J. H.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Mulley, F. W.|
|Deer, G.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Delargy, H. J.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Dodds, N. N||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Oswald, T.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Padley, W. E.|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Weitzman, D.|
|Palmer, A. M. F.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Pannell, Charles||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||West, D. G.|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Parker, J.||Skeffington, A. M.||While, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Paton, J.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Peart, T. F.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)||Wigg, George|
|Popplewell, E||Snow, J. W.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Porter, G.||Sorensen, R. W.||Willey, F. T.|
|Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Sparks, J. A.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Proctor, W. T.||Steele, T.||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)|
|Rankin, John||Stross, Dr. Barnett||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Re[...]ves, J.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.||Willis, E. G.|
|Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Sylvester, G. O.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Robinson, Kenneth (St. Paneras, N.)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Ross, William||Timmons, J.||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Shackleton, E. A. A.||Turner-Samuels, M.||Yates, V. F.|
|Shaweross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley||Viant, S. p.|
|Short, E. W.||Warbey, W. N.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Holmes and Mr. Wallace.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Proposed words there inserted.
§ Mr. de Freitas
I beg to move, in page 2, line 11, to leave out subsection (5).
Would it be convenient, Sir Charles, if we discussed at the same time the second new Clause, which has the rubric "Duties of armed forces to include civil defence and training therefor."
§ Mr. de Freitas
Hon. Members will see that the words of subsection (5) are repeated in the proposed new Clause. The effect of the Amendment to delete subsection (5) and the bringing in of the new Clause would be to indicate the greater importance of these words and the fact that we regard them as so important that they should be in a Clause by themselves.
My right hon. Friend gave notice on Second Reading that he intended to move that should be so. It is an indication of the Government's failure to perceive the importance of what they were doing here—the importance of Civil Defence. If there were any doubt, why on earth did they not remove it earlier? This is said to be for the clearing up of the doubt, but why was not the doubt removed earlier?
Since there is a doubt, let us consider the importance of this subject. Parliament is making it clear that Civil Defence is part of the duties of the Armed Forces and not only of the old and infirm; making it clear that Civil Defence is more important than the mere making of tea, important as that is in the neighbourly nature of, let us call it traditional, Civil Defence; making it clear that in modern 672 war the Armed Forces have a part to play, not only overseas but here at home.
In the very year that we may be formally recognising that our military frontiers are on the Continent, we are acknowledging here the importance of a front line which is not on the Continent but right down the middle of every street in every city. We believe this recognition of the rôle of the Armed Forces is so important that it should be dignified by being made into a separate Clause.
There is a point on the wording about which I wonder if the Home Secretary would comment. Some of my hon. Friends and I do not understand exactly the significance of saying "those forces include civil defence" when the definition of Civil Defence in the Civil Defence Act, 1948, is'civil defence' does not include the provision or maintenance of a shelter which is used or intended to be used wholly or mainly by naval, military or air forces … etcetera.What is the point about that when we are referring here to the Armed Forces?
§ Major Lloyd-George
We are prepared to accept the deletion of subsection (5) and the insertion of the new Clause but I could not allow it to be Clause 1 in the Bill because it is a purely declaratory Clause. If the hon. Member will make it Clause 2 we shall be happy to accept it.
I will have a look at the point he made about Civil Defence. I know that in that definition there may be confusion.
§ Mr. Ede
I should like to thank the right hon. and gallant Gentleman for accepting this Amendment. Although this is a provision for the removal of doubt, it is so important as establishing 673 a new principle so far as Civil Defence is concerned that it should have a new Clause and not be tucked away as subsection (5) of another Clause in the Bill. I do not mind whether this is Clause 1 or Clause 2. I very much doubt whether anything we have said here will have much effect on those marvellous people the draftsmen when they get hold of a Clause and decide where they are going to tuck it into the Bill.
Hon. Members will have noticed that if another place puts a new Clause into one of our Bills it always appears as "new Clause A" to be inserted after Clause so and so. This is a Lords Bill and we raise no objection to any influence which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman can bring to bear on another place. A distinguished ancestor of his 45 years ago was very unsuccessful at first in persuading the noble Lords to do as he wanted, but it may be they will recollect the fate that overtook them when they resisted him, and they may believe some virtues may be hereditary. I wish that all the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's father's virtues had been hereditary.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
I beg to move, in page 2, line 16, at the end, to insert:(6) Members of the armed forces of the Crown shall not be subject to military or air force law during training in civil defence in pursuance of subsection (1) of this section.This is an Amendment which I am sure the Government will accept as it is consequential to a provision they have carried in which they have laid it down that the R.A.F. personnel will be under the Home Office and paid by the Home Office. If they are paid by the Home Office surely they should cease to be under military law.
Take for example the fire service; there will be a civilian fire service but if men are inefficient they can presumably be discharged from the service. R.A.F. men, however, may presumably be court martialled and sentenced. If a man in the civilian fire brigade does not like some of the things he may be asked to do he will resign and go into some more useful occupation. But the poor R.A.F. man has to obey every order, however ridiculous it may be and however useless he may think it, and if he does not obey he is liable to military discipline. So I suggest that if people are to be trained 674 as fire fighters in the same way as civilians it should not be under military law but under civil law, as other members of the Civil Defence organisation are trained. I thank the Government in advance for accepting the Amendment.
§ Mr. Ward
This Amendment would remove Royal Air Force reservists from the jurisdiction of the Royal Air Force law while carrying out Civil Defence training. But as the Committee knows, it is the intention that these men should be administered during their Civil Defence training by Royal Air Force officers and non-commissioned officers, and if this Amendment were passed administration and discipline by these officers and N.C.Os. would become quite impossible. For this reason, much as I dislike, as always, disappointing the hon. Member for South Ayshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), I am afraid that we cannot accept this Amendment.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I think my hon. Friend will be very disappointed with that answer, and I share his disappointment. I did not intervene before partly because my hon. Friend needs no assistance when he is presenting a case to the Committee and partly because I wanted to hear what possible answer there could be. Having heard what the hon. Gentleman said, I am still left wondering what possible answer there could be.
What the hon. Gentleman has told us is that, having called these men up under the National Service Act into the R.A.F. as Reserve members of that Force, it would be anomalous if they were not then subject to military discipline during the period of training. But the anomaly arises out of the Bill, because it is anomalous to some extent for men in the Royal Air Force to work under the control of a civilian department, be paid by a civilian department and be trained by a civilian department.
I am not arguing whether that is a bad thing, because the Committee has already decided that issue. The Committee having decided it, my hon. Friend seems to be quite right in saying that his Amendment is consequential on what has already been decided. Having decided that these men shall no longer be on the pay-roll of the Royal Air Force but on the pay-roll of the Home 675 Office, and that they shall be trained side by side with civilian trainees in work that will be done, if unfortunately it has to be done at all, partly by men so trained and partly by civilian members of the Civil Defence Service, why then should they be subject to a different kind of discipline, a different kind of control and a different kind of sanction as will follow if this Amendment of my hon. Friend is not accepted?
It would not, of course, be the only anomaly. There is a similar anomaly in subsection (3). I refer to it only for the purposes of comparison and not to propose to do anything about it or to make any amendment in it. But if the hon. Gentleman will look at subsection (3) he will find that there is an express provision that a Section of the Crown Proceedings Act shall not apply to these men. What is that section? The Crown Proceedings Act was passed by Parliament with the intention of removing a gap in our law which prevented a subject, who had been injured by the negligence of a Government Department, from getting the damages from that Government Department that a civilian would have got if the same damage had been caused by a civilian. I think that was a very good thing. It was one of the many good things done by my right hon. Friends when they were the Government.
There was, however, a Section which exempted from the benefits of those provisions members of the Armed Forces whose injuries were caused, however negligently, in the performance of their duties. It is proposed to continue that in the case of these men. That is a very anomalous situation, because these men will be working under civilian control in the same job as civilians, who are within the scope of provisions which protect them, but if similar injuries are suffered by Service personnel they are not protected. I think my hon. Friend's Amendment, if accepted, would cure that anomaly as well as the one with which he has dealt by taking these men out of the scope of military law altogether. Nothing would be lost by that.
I concede that there would be some anomalies and if there were any method of dealing with all the anomalies I would be in favour of it. But the only way to cure the anomalies is to withdraw the Bill altogether. I am in favour of that 676 course, as is my hon. Friend, and if the Government do it they will receive our support. I do not think the Government will do it, and so there will be anomalies. The choice before the Committee is to accept the smaller and less inconvenient anomaly. I am sure that my hon. Friend's suggestion is less anomalous than the Government's.
§ Mr. Ward
Because it would be quite impossible for officers to maintain any sort of discipline over these men unless they were under the Air Force Act.
§ Mr. Silverman
I wonder if the hon. Gentleman would explain that a little more.
I do not think that my hon. Friend moved this Amendment for wrecking purposes, and I am not supporting it for wrecking purposes. It is a perfectly sincere Amendment to make a perfectly sincere point. These men having been called up under the National Service Act, and having been set to work side by side with civilians, what would be the difficulty in maintaining discipline over them in exactly the same way discipline is maintained over the civilians with whom they are working on a common job under the same direction?
§ Mr. H. Hynd
I would point out to the Joint Under-Secretary of State that for the fire brigade, including the auxiliary firemen, there is a code of discipline which can be enforced without military discipline.
§ Mr. Silverman
I was dealing with the hon. Gentleman's point that it would be impossible to maintain any discipline over them at all unless it was military discipline under the Air Force Act. I was pointing out that they are working side by side with, and under the same direction as, civilians who are not under the Air Force code and over whom it is admitted there is no difficulty in maintaining discipline. Why should there not be the same discipline for these Air Force men?
§ Mr. Ward
I am not concerned with the administration of the civilian element. I am concerned with the administration and the discipline of the Royal Air Force element. In many establishments in the R.A.F. it will be found that officers and men are being taught and trained by civilian instructors. Many of them are highly respected and very experienced people. They work very happily side by side with R.A.F. personnel, and there is never any anomaly or difficulty.
At the same time in these training establishments it is always accepted that the Air Force element should be dealt with under the Air Force Act, and the civilian instructors are under a different sort of arrangement. That is all that is proposed here. There is no difficulty which will arise out of this Bill about which we did not know and about which we have not known for many years. We are perfectly capable of dealing with it, but I assure the Committee that it would be quite impossible in the matter of jurisdiction over our Air Force element, under this Civil Defence training scheme, if the Air Force element were removed from our control, as is proposed by this Amendment.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
As the Government consistently refuse to accept any help in improving this Bill, and as I take up the position of "Blessed is he that expecteth nothing and he shall not be disappointed," it will come as no surprise to the Committee if I say I do not propose to press the Amendment. I therefore beg to ask leave to withdraw it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."678
§ Mr. de Freitas
Earlier, I gave notice to the hon. Gentleman that my hon. Friends and myself wanted explanation of an apparent difficulty in regard to the definition of Civil Defence in the 1948 Act—'civil defence' does not include the provision or maintenance of a shelter which is used or intended to be used wholly or mainly by naval, military or air forces ….That seems to me to be inconsistent with our discussions and quite inconsistent with the intention of this Bill.
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
This is a technical point, but think I can explain it. Under Clause 1 (1), if these reservists undertake the making of shelters, they will only do so by way of training, because that subsection is concerned only with training. Therefore, they will be making shelters within the meaning of subsection (1) of Section 9 of the Civil Defence Act. Under subsection (5), or the new Clause as it now is, if members of the Armed Forces make shelters they will be making shelters for themselves, and it does not need a declaration to say that it is part of the duty of the Armed Forces to make shelters for themselves.
§ Mr. de Freitas
I only wish the hon. Gentleman had been with me last night when I was doing my homework, because at first sight this appeared most extraordinary. I wonder if he will look at the definitions in the 1948 Act to see if they are in accordance with modern conditions and the type of Civil Defence which we visualise today?
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary will look at this again seriously between now and the Report stage. I congratulate him on his ingenious explanation, which was offered to us with such a charming air of sincerity, upon which he is to be separately congratulated. One could almost think that the hon. Gentleman himself thought it was a satisfactory explanation, but I hardly think he could have done so. The new Clause is quite clear. It says, "It is hereby declared—", so that the first point one has to make is that this does not purport to be making any new law or any Amendment in the law, it is purely declaratory. The purpose of a 679 declaratory Clause is not to change the law but to declare it again for the removal of any doubt which might have crept in. It goes on:that the duties which members of the armed forces of the Crown may be called upon to undertake as members of those forces include civil defence. …As has been abundantly clear from our discussions, Civil Defence is capable of definition, but the attempt to define it for the purposes of this Bill has not satisfied many members of the Committee. However, there is a definition of Civil Defence on the Statute Book in the very Act of which this Clause is declared to be declaratory. The inference seems to me to be irresistible, therefore, that Civil Defence in the new Clause must have the same definition as it has in the 1948 Act.
§ Mr. Silverman
Yes, so that what is abundantly clear as a matter of inference is that it is expressly enacted by this very subsection (6):… the expressions 'civil defence' and 'designated Minister' have the same meanings as in the Civil Defence Act, 1948.7.45 p.m.
So that makes it clear that the one thing under this Bill which a Royal Air Force man cannot do is to build a shelter for the R.A.F. What the hon. Gentleman seeks to do is to say that somebody else will build a shelter for the R.A.F. and that these men, when called on, may work with them, and although the others will be building a shelter, these men will not be building a shelter, they will be training in the building of something. This is too fine-drawn. It cannot possibly bear examination, and if the hon. Gentleman wishes to remove the inhibition quite clearly contained in the 1948 Act, and expressly repeated in this Bill, he must have a new definition Clause which changes the definition, at any rate for the purposes of this Bill.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
I think we should have a further statement as to whether or not it will be possible for these R.A.F. men to proceed in the work of building deep shelters; because the American Air Force has taken the precaution of having 680 a deep shelter 60 miles from Washington for the benefit of the organisation of the military defence of the United States. So apparently there are not to be any deep shelters for the civilian population, but there is to be the deepest possible protection for the people who will organise the war in which the civilian population will be obliterated.
Supposing the Air Ministry in this country decides that a special deep shelter needs to be built for the Air Ministry or the War Office? Supposing it decides to modernise a deep coal mine for the purpose of giving security and protection to the War Office and the Cabinet and the Headquarters of the R.A.F.? Will it be legal then for the R.A.F. men, who are presumably to be called upon to carry out this Civil Defence work, to build a shelter for the chiefs of the R.A.F.?
§ Mr. Wigg
The Minister ought not to leave us where he has tried to leave us, because we are relying upon a definition of Civil Defence according to subsection (6) which is difficult to understand when one refers to the Civil Defence Act, 1948. That definition in Section 9 (1) reads:'civil defence' does not include the provision or maintenance of a shelter which is used or intended to be used wholly or mainly by naval, military or air forces …Later on in that subsection there is a definition of a Civil Defence shelter——any shelter other than a shelter which is used or intended to be used wholly or mainly by naval, military or air forces;If there was one thought at the back of the minds of those who laid down that policy it was to keep the Armed Forces as far away from civil defence as possible. Civil Defence means the defence of civilians by civilians and it has nothing to do with the Armed Forces. Now we are asked to agree to a Bill which is going back on that policy, which is trying to bring the Armed Forces into Civil Defence. In order to do that, the Minister is relying upon utterly bewildering definitions, if not inadequate ones.
It certainly adds nothing to clarity to rely on the definition in the Civil Defence Act, 1948, which was never intended to deal with this matter. As a distinguished lawyer, the Joint Under-Secretary may well know what all this is about, but to one who, like myself, is scared of lawyers 681 this procedure does not add much light to the darkness in which I am surrounded. I should be obliged if the hon. Gentleman could help me.
§ Mr. Ian Harvey
Although I am one who is also scared of lawyers, particularly in the presence of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), I do not share the difficulties of the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), who appears to have this matter the wrong way round. Under the original Act it was intended to be ensured that civilians ought not to be employed on building shelters for military personnel, who ought to be able to defend themselves in that respect. The Bill in no way contradicts that. It merely says that military personnel shall be called to the defence of civilians. I see nothing incompatible there, though I agree that a little clarification would be in order. In view of the undertaking given by my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary to look at the matter, I think that we might leave it there.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I hope that the hon. Member's terror of lawyers will not be increased by me. I assure him that I am the most harmless of lawyers.
§ Mr. Silverman
No. All this is a matter of definition by Act of Parliament. If one has in an Act of Parliament a definition of Civil Defence which states that people shall not be employed to build a R.A.F. shelter and then one has another Act of Parliament which uses the words "Civil Defence" in the same sense, it must inevitably follow, whatever one's terror of lawyers may be, that men called up under the new Act will be no more liable to build R.A.F. shelters than they were under the old Act.
§ Mr. de Freitas
I take it that the Joint Under-Secretary did give an undertaking earlier that he would look at the question of definition.
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.