HL Deb 18 July 1927 vol 68 cc639-42

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this is a short Bill with two operative clauses, and its object is merely to regularise a position already in existence. I rejoice to think that the present Government is proceeding to set straight a situation which had arisen long before it came into power, and to legalise Regulations made by its predecessors. Subsections (1) and (2) of Clause 1 are to alter a situation which exists under the Royal Naval Reserve (Volunteer) Act, 1859. Under that Act reservists used to get 2d. a day in addition to their pay after completing three years service on mobilisation. Obviously that was disadvantageous in many ways and created anomalies, and it was arranged by Regulations in 1921 that men joining the Reserve should be paid a bounty on mobilisation. The effect of this Bill will be that this additional payment after three years will be abolished, and the reservist will receive in lieu thereof a lump sum not exceeding £5 when called up. It also extends the £5 bounty to the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, who did not get the additional 2d. a day given to other parts of the reserve.

Under subsection (3) of Clause 1 the time during which reservists may be called up for training is extended from 28 days to 92 days. This has already been in existence for a number of years, and I believe in regard to some parts of the Reserve has been in existence since 1905. It is not proposed to extend the training now being given, and I understand that no objection is being raised by men belonging to the Reserve. The intention is merely to legalise the present practice. In point of fact when spread over five years enrolment the average time comes to less than 28 days a year, although it has been more than 28 days in a particular year.

As regards Clause 2, this arises owing to the Naval Reserve Act of 1900. There are two classes of the Royal Fleet Reserve, composed entirely of men who have been in the Regular part of the Navy—Class A, or those who are receiving a pension, and Class B, those who are not. Under that Act men who joined the Service before 1901 were allowed to join Class A of the Reserve voluntarily. Those who joined after that date were compelled to do so as part of the terms of service, in order to draw pension. Since that date some men who receive disability pensions have been allowed to join Class A of the Reserve voluntarily, although as part of the law that was—I will not say illegal, but not provided for in the Act of 1906. Now, it is proposed also that enrolment in Class A shall be voluntary for all pensioners, and this clause is to legalise the position. The reason for it is that with a reduced Fleet we find a smaller reserve of this class is required, and therefore it is no longer necessary to make it compulsory for men to join the Reserve in order to draw pension. I do not know that there is anything further to tell the House, but if any questions are asked I will do my best to answer them. I beg to move the Second Reading of the Bill.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Earl Stanhope.)

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

House adjourned at a quarter past seven o'clock.