HL Deb 25 July 1916 vol 22 cc908-10

VISCOUNT TEMPLETOWN rose to ask His Majesty's Government whether it is necessary for men to elect to serve either the Special Constabulary or the Volunteer Training Corps.

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, the object of this Question, which I admit I had some difficulty in knowing how to frame, is to bring before your Lordships an important point with reference to the Special Constabulary and the Volunteer Training Corps. What happened about those two bodies seemed to be this. First it was understood that if there was any clash in the duties, the Constabulary took precedence. Then it was announced that men could belong to both, it being understood that if military law was proclaimed military duties would have first place. Now it has been announced that men must choose to which they wish to belong, but must not belong to both. The result of this will be, so it is pointed out to me, that a number of the keenest men who now belong to both forces will give up the police, reducing that force in many districts to dimensions too small to provide proper patrol; and on days when there is no Volunteer Training Corps drill many of them will have nothing to do, although they are willing and anxious to be at the service of the country.


My Lords, the question whether a special constable might enrol in the Volunteer Force was discussed at a Conference on June 28, at which the Home and Scottish Offices, as well as the G.H.Q. Home Forces, were represented. There was a general consensus of opinion that special constables should be not only permitted but encouraged to enrol in Volunteer Corps, and this view has been officially accepted by the Army Council and notified to the Home Office, from which Department we now await official confirmation of the view expressed by their representative (Sir Edward Troup) at the Conference. As soon as the Home and Scottish Offices inform us of their acceptance of this policy, an announcement will be made. The question of the Metropolitan Special Constabulary was expressly reserved by the Conference for further consideration, and this is now proceeding. It is understood that Sir Edward Ward has informed special constables in the metropolitan areas that they must choose between the two forces, but we do not quite know what led him so to decide, and will take the matter up with him. It is contrary to the general view, which is that a man can perform very useful duties in both capacities, and that, provided there is some clear inter-Departmental arrangement designed to prevent clashing of duties and to obviate the counting twice over of persons available for duty on emergency, no difficulty should occur.