HL Deb 01 July 1908 vol 191 cc734-7

My Lords, I rise to ask the Lord Chancellor if, having regard to the following sections of the Militia Act of 1882, a Militiaman can during his term of service be appointed, transferred, or attached, without his consent, to any military body other than that to which he at present belongs, viz.: Section 4, subsection 3. Subject to the provisions of any such order, a Secretary of State may from time to time make, and when made revoke and vary, general or special regulations with respect to any matter with respect to which Her Majesty may make orders under this section. Subsection 4. Provided that the said orders or regulations shall not—(a) affect or extend the term for which or the area within which a Militiaman is liable under the Militia Acts to serve; or (b) authorise a Militiaman when belonging to one corps to be transferred without his consent to another corps; or (c) where the corps of a Militiaman includes any battalion or other body of the Regular Forces, authorise him to be posted without his consent to that battalion or body. Subsection 5. Where a Militiaman was enlisted or re-engaged before the date of any order or regulation under this Act, nothing in such order or regulation shall render him liable without his consent to be appointed, transferred, or attached to any military body to which he could not without his consent have been appointed, transferred, or attached, if the said order or regulation had not been made. By the whole of the Militia force the Act has always been read to mean that transfer without the men's consent was not possible. The question arises at the present moment in this way. As each Militia regiment completes its training the men have three alternatives—they may go to the Special Reserve, they may take a free discharge, or they may remain Militiamen until their period of service expires. In the last case they receive the non-training bounty but are not called out, though they remain subject to the Act of 1882 and to embodiment. The question, therefore, arises: If these men are called out after the Militia is abolished what are you going to do with them? It would appear necessary to attach them to some regiment of the Line, and I ask if that is possible without the men's consent.


My Lords, I am not an authority on military matters, but my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for War has desired that I should present the legal Answer to the noble Duke. The Question of the noble Duke raises the point as to what will be the position of a Militiaman who has not enlisted in the Special Reserve. Different considerations appear to apply in the case of a Militiaman belonging to a Militia unit which has been transferred to the Special Reserve by an Order in Council under Section 34 of the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act, 1907, and in the case of a Militiaman who belonged to one of the Militia units which have been disbanded. In the former case, by virtue of Section 34 (2) of the Act of 1907, the Militiaman becomes a Special Reservist for all purposes, except that the terms and conditions of service are those which were applicable to him whilst he was in the Militia, and not those applicable to Special Reservists. But the unit to which he belongs retains its identity and remains part of the same corps as that in which the Militia unit was previously included. In the latter case, the Militiaman ceased on the disbandment of the Militia unit to belong to any corps, but otherwise remains subject to the terms and conditions of his Militia service. Though, therefore, Section 4 of the Militia Act, 1882, continues to apply in each case, the result of its application will be different. In the case of the man belonging to the transferred unit he can be transferred or attached, without his consent, to any military body to which he could have been so transferred or attached whilst he was still in the Militia, and he could be called out for training or on permanent service with his unit, but the length of his training with the unit could not exceed that to which he was liable under the Militia Acts, and probably, in order to call him out on permanent service, it would be necessary to embody the Militia, as he would not be affected by a proclamation calling out the Army Reserve. With respect to the Militiaman belonging to the disbanded unit, it is clear that not belonging to any corps, he could not, unless the Militia were embodied at any rate, be transferred or attached to any military body without his consent. He could, however, be called up for annual training, and trained with a Special Reserve battalion, though not attached to that battalion. The only difference his not being attached to the battalion would make would be that he would not be bound by an order issued to the battalion unless specially named in the order. On embodiment of the Militia, however, the provisions in the Militia Regulations, which provide that the Militia when embodied shall be governed by the provisions contained in the various warrants relating to the Regular forces, and by the regulations and orders laid down for the Regular forces, so far as such warrants, regulations, and orders may be applicable to the Militia, would apply to him, and, consequently, without his consent, he could be attached to any military body to which, under the King's Regulations, a soldier of the Regular forces could be attached, though, of course, he could not be attached to a military body sent on service outside the United Kingdom. I am sorry the Question could not be answered more shortly than I have endeavoured to do.