HL Deb 19 January 1916 vol 20 cc957-8


Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this is a small Bill the necessity for which has arisen in consequence of experience gained during the war. As your Lordships are aware, there are a large number of men borne on ships' books now who are serving on shore. At present these men come under the Naval Discipline Act, and that entails a great deal of delay and inconvenience in dealing with cases. Naval Courts-Martial have to be held either at a port or on board ship, and there have to be at least two ships present for a Court-Martial. A great deal of difficulty has been experienced in arranging to have men taken clown to the base to undergo the Court-Martial, and there is also the inconvenience in getting witnesses there. All that this Bill provides is that men borne on ships' books can, if the Admiralty so choose, be placed under Military Law while they are serving on land. This will bring the two Services into line while on shore. It is left to the discretion of the Admiralty whether the Bill shall be put into operation or not, but it would be of great assistance if we had this power. As the Bill now stands, it is proposed to make this a permanent change in the law; but in consequence of representations which were made when the Bill was under discussion in another place my right hon. friend the Financial Secretary to the Admiralty undertook to have an Amendment inserted in the Bill to limit its operation to the course of the war and six months thereafter. If your Lordships allow the Bill to be read a second time this afternoon I shall have that Amendment placed on the Paper for Committee, and I hope that your Lordships will see your way to incorporate it in the Bill. The Bill will then be purely a temporary measure.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Duke of Devonshire.)

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House To-morrow.

House adjourned at Five o'clock, till To-morrow, half-past Ten o'clock.