HL Deb 29 May 1906 vol 158 cc240-2


Order of the day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, the object of this Bill is to amend the law relating to the Reserve Forces. Lender the Reserve Forces Act of 1882, the Army Reserve is a force authorised to be kept up in the United Kingdom only. Many Reservists are anxious to reside in India and the Colonies, and it is extremely undesirable that they should be prevented from doing so. At present the services of Reservists so residing are practically lost, as there are no means of enforcing their liability to come up for annual training or when called out on active service. Clause 1 of this Bill allows Reservists to reside in India and the Colonies, and it also provides the necessary machinery for enforcing the liability for service of Reservists allowed to reside abroad.

This matter is one of some practical importance, as is shown by the fact that the number of Reservists residing at present in India is 322, and in the Colonies 3,619, and the number living abroad constantly tends to increase. Clause 1 also authorises the enlistment into the Army Reserve of men residing in India and the Colonies. The Colonial Office objected to the application of this provision to the self-governing Colonies on the ground that it would tend to diminish the incentive in those Colonies to provide an adequate force for Colonial defence. The self-governing Colonies have, therefore, been exempted from the provisions of the Bill so far as they relate to enlistment. As regards Clause 2, Section 14 of the Reserve Forces Act, 1882, prohibits the appointment and transfer of a Reservist to a corps which is not in the arm or branch in which he previously served, but gives him no right to insist on joining his former regiment. It is found that this limitation hampers the authorities in their mobilisation arrangements by the inelasticity which it imposes on the system, whilst, on the other hand, it does not secure to a Reservist any right of serving with his former comrades.

As an instance of the disadvantages of the present system I might cite the case of the Remount Department. This Department on a peace footing requires comparatively few men, but in time of war has to be enormously increased. The Department forms part of the Army Service Corps, but the Reservists belonging to the Army Service Corps are all required for transport service. On the other hand, there may be a considerable number of Cavalry Reservists who are not wanted for Cavalry service. Under the existing law these Reservists could not be required to serve in the Remount Department. The pay warrant can make the necessary provision to prevent the Reservist suffering in the matter of pay by reason of his being transferred to a branch of the service in which the pay is lower than that in which he served. This Bill is very much wanted, and I hope your Lordships will consent to give it a Second Reading.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Earl of Portsmouth.)


My Lords, this Bill is, I think, word for word a duplicate of the Bill which I was privileged to submit to your Lordships last year. I entirely agree that it is a Bill which is very much wanted, and I support the appeal of my noble friend that your Lordships should allow it to pass.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and Committed to a Committee of the whole House on Thursday the 14th June next.