HC Deb 08 June 1964 vol 696 cc24-6
19. Sir T. Moore

asked the Minister of Labour whether, to counteract the current hooliganism, he will consider legislation to continue or restore National Service.

21. Sir W. Teeling

asked the Minister of Labour if he will introduce legislation to revive the form of direction which was used under the National Service Act to send boys to work in the mines, and which could be used for other forms of national non-military service, for those youths arrested at seaside and other resorts who are causing inconvenience to other holidaymakers and residents, as an alternative to sentencing them to terms of imprisonment or fines.

Mr. Godber

No. Sir.

Sir T. Moore

While rather expecting that reply, may I ask my right hon. Friend to consider an alternative suggestion, such as establishing a sort of training unit staffed by Regular officers, with a good sergeant-major and N.C.O.s, so that these young people can be sent to that unit instead of to prison so that they may possibly learn some much needed discipline?

Mr. Godber

I am not quite clear whether my hon. Friend means a unit of the Armed Forces. If that is his thought, I must say to him that I could not hold out any hopes of that kind. I would have thought that the statement which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made on this whole question last week sums up the Government's attitude to this matter.

Sir W. Teeling

Does my right hon. Friend not think it is a great pity that a lot of these young people who are not inherently bad should have to go to prison and possibly waste their time there? Could not something be found for them to do? For instance, in my constituency we have self-help house building associations, which badly need support. Has my right hon. Friend thought of asking our labour attachés in our embassies abroad to find out what is being done about this problem in other countries, because it is an international problem?

Mr. Godber

As to the last part of my hon. Friend's question, I will consider that, but I do not think I should take this matter further. As I have said, my right hon. Friend gave great thought to the statement he made last week, and that does really sum up the Government's attitude to this whole matter. But I would certainly hold out no hopes of doing anything in relation to the Armed Forces, which provide an honourable career, and should continue to do so.

Mr. Prentice

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one of the scare stories used by Conservative speakers in recent by-elections has been that Labour policy might involve the reintroduction of conscription? Will he confirm that the only suggestion that he has received to that effect has come on the Floor of the House from his own side of the House?

Mr. Godber

I am very interested in this statement, but I am a little puzzled why it was not made last week, when the invitation was given. Presumably, the hon. Member has been now briefed. What I would say to him is that if, in fact, it is not the policy of the party opposite to introduce conscription, perhaps he will explain how it proposes to increase our conventional Forces in the way it has said.

Mr. Speaker

But not on this Question.

Mr. Shinwell

Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that, instead of giving a short, simple, negative reply to hon. Members who have asked these Questions, he ought to have declared it to be a shocking suggestion—that the Forces of this country should be created out of alleged hooligans? Does not he regard that as a discreditable suggestion? Would he not make it perfectly clear that it is the policy of the Government to reject any proposal either for military conscription or for any other form of conscription?

Mr. Godber

I can only assume that the right hon. Gentleman did not hear my reply. I said, and said quite categorically, that I thought that service in the Armed Forces was an honourable profession. Having been Secretary of State for War until quite recently, I feel that very strongly.