HC Deb 17 February 1955 vol 537 cc668-9
Mr. F. Maclean

I beg to move, in page 116, line 6, after "to" to insert "warrant."

The purpose of this Amendment is to correct what is really a misprint. Subsection (2) refers to warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the Army Reserve and the Territorial Army. It goes on to say that it applies to "officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the regular forces." That should be "warrant officers" and not "officers."

Amendment agreed to.

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

Mr. Ellis Smith

I shall not repeat what I said previously, but it arises again on this Clause where it states that the Act applies to the Reserve and auxiliary Forces. I raise this matter again for two reasons. First of all I should like the Secretary of State to give an undertaking that he will consider the specific case I have raised through his office, and secondly, he will consider whether proceedings should not be taken in public.

I do not want to go into the special case, so there is no need to be concerned about it, but what I am asking is that before the Report stage the specific case should be considered. The particulars are in his office. The second point is that when any civilians—and I am concerned with civilians here—are subject to proceedings by the military authorities, these proceedings should be heard in public. For example, if a man is finished with National Service and has settled down in his employment and is taking a great interest in his trade, in engineering, in mining or whatever it might be, he might take exception to being called up again at a special time.

What happens now is that he is first subject to the civil authorities and is then handed over to the military authorities. What I am suggesting is that any proceedings taken against him should be heard in public rather than behind closed doors, because the latter system means that the locality is left wondering what has happened and what is taking place. That undermines confidence in the proceedings. If the Secretary of State finds that there is anything in my allegation about our democratic rights being undermined, it should be considered on the Report stage.

9.15 p.m.

Mr. Head

I will certainly look into what the hon. Gentleman says, and if I think there is any injustice, I will bring it forward on the Report stage.

Question put and agreed to.

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

Clauses 212 and 213 ordered to stand part of the Bill.