HL Deb 27 February 1962 vol 237 cc889-950

3.7 p.m.

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Carrington.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD MERTHYR in the Chair.]

LORD SHEPHERD moved, before Clause 1 to insert the following new clause

Option to extend service

".—(1) This section applies to

  1. (a) any person serving in the army under the National Service Act, 1948, and
  2. (b) regular soldiers whose service ends between 1st April and 31st December, 1962.

(2) The Secretary of State may offer to any person to whom this section applies the opportunity to volunteer for a further twelve months' service at regular soldiers' rates of pay and allowances, with a bounty of £150 free of tax on completion of his service."

The noble Lord said: This is the first of a series of Amendments which we on this side of the Committee shall be moving this afternoon. Each is a serious attempt to improve the Bill. May I say, before speaking to the Amendment, how much we regret that our noble Leader is not here this afternoon? We shall miss his pungent remarks.

Before dealing directly with the Amendment I feel that I should again cover some of the ground of the Second Reading debate. It may well be said that these remarks could equally well be made on the occasion of the debates on the Defence White Paper or the Army Estimates; but they are closely related to Army recruiting and manpower, and therefore are extremely relevant to my Amendment. On Second Reading the Government maintained that this Bill is necessary because of the Berlin crisis and the increased tension. The Berlin crisis may well have aggravated the manpower position of the Army. Certainly it drew our attention starkly to what I described, on Second Reading, as a desperate position. In my view, the manpower crisis started with the White Paper of 1957, when the Government decided to abolish National Service. They decided to abolish the regular flow of men into the Army before having achieved a satisfactory rate of Regular recruiting.

On Second Reading, I gave some details of the manpower position in B.A.O.R. I propose to repeat those details. I said that the peace-time establishment of B.A.O.R. was 56,800 men, that in 1961 the physical strength of the Army was in the region of 51,000 men, and that it was estimated by those in B.A.O.R. who know that the figure of manpower they were likely to have available to meet their commitment was in the region of 49,000. The noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, said that my figures were exaggerated. I am quite prepared to be told that I was misinformed, or that my figures had come from a wrong source, but I have never consciously in this House used exaggeration, particularly in regard to figures.

It may well be that both of us are right, because if you look at the White Paper on Defence you will get one figure of Army manpower strength, and when you then look at the figure issued by the Ministry of Defence in regard to the Army as at January, 1962, you find that there is a considerable discrepancy. But even if both of us are right, there is undoubtedly a manpower shortage in B.A.O.R. in the region of 5,800—that is after taking into account the number of men who are going to be retained in B.A.O.R. during 1962. I believe that the number of men likely to be retained under Clause 1 is going to be from 9,000 to 10,000. Therefore, if this Bill is not passed the Army in Germany under N.A.T.O. may well find itself short of 15,000 to 16,000 men. That is a very serious position.

We have had it from the Government from time to time that Army recruiting is progressing satisfactorily, and the Army Estimates tell us that the figures for 1961 showed an increase of 25.4 per cent. over 1960. The Army Estimates which have just been issued show that 31,832 men and boys were recruited for either short- or long-term service, but when you look again at the White Paper and take into account the figures as at April 1, 1961, and April, 1962, you find that there has been a net increase of only approximately 6,000 men. If the Army has recruited 31,000 in twelve months and is showing only a net increase of 6,000, I think we must ask the Government: where are the lost thousands? Is it that the men volunteer or enlist and then, for various reasons, decide to leave?

I would submit that the manpower problem of the B.A.O.R. is not a short-term one. I believe that it will be with us for the foreseeable future. Taking into account recruiting into the Regular Army between 1961 and 1962, there was, as I have said, a net increase of 6,000; but in regard to the National Service man, who has made a very large contribution, the number available during this period has declined by 38,000. Therefore there has been a net loss in the Regular Army and the National Service men together of 32,000.

We hear a great deal about the Territorial Army as our first line of reserve. During the last twelve months that force has declined by 86,000 men. If we take into account that figure and also the decline in the Regular Army, we find that the numbers available in our Regular Army and Reserve Forces have declined by in the region of 119,000 men. If this is the case I think it throws up a very serious situation. If the Army in 1961 found itself extremely strained with probably 210,000 to 217,000 men, what position will it find itself in during 1962 with a figure, as given by the White Paper, of some 182,000? And what will be the position in 1963 when, according to the White Paper, it is estimated that the number of men in the Regular Army will be 166,000, with no National Ser- vice contribution—unless, of course, the Government decide to use Clauses 2 and 3. One can only come to the conclusion that the Government either intend to use Clauses 2 and 3 rigorously, or are going to reduce their contributions to N.A.T.O. and to our other overseas commitments.

I have spoken at some length on the desperate manpower position of the Army. The Government have decided that something must be done, and done urgently. Therefore, under Clause 1 it is their intention to retain approximately 25,000 men in service—men whom, as I said on the Second Reading, have completed their contract with the country.


Fifteen thousand.


Well, that is one figure that we have had, and there are other figures that have been given, because as the noble Lord knows, there are 50,000 National Service men under arms, and those serving after April are the only ones who are being retained. But the noble Lord has said that the figure is 15,000, and I accept it. These 15,000 men have completed their contract and will undoubtedly suffer some hardship. We on this side of the House have given very careful thought, taking into account the Government's difficulty, as to how one could provide these men and reduce the hardship—and, let us face it, the bitterness—among the soldiers.

As I understand it, the National Service man to-day may continue service in the Regular Army if he signs on for 22 years. It is true that he does not have to serve the full 22 years, but need serve only three years, continuing in multiples of 3 years, but he can leave after serving a 3-year term. But this scheme has not proved particularly attractive. There is a further scheme, I understand, whereby a National Service man can volunteer for Regular Army service for 22 years and receive a £200 bounty. A National Service man may volunteer for 6 or 12 months. He receives Regular Army pay, but no bounty. The figures I have of the numbers of National Service men signing on are very disappointing. In 1958, 2,244 signed on; and slightly more in 1960. But in 1961 the figure had dropped to 608, and I think we shall want to know, particularly when we discuss the Army Estimates, why the National Service men suddenly in 12 months, ceased to sign on as Regular soldiers?

Coming back to the Amendment, we have tried to find some way of mitigating hardship. In our dislike of the principle the Government have adopted, we have tabled this Amendment, which would make it possible for a National Service man to sign on for a further 12 months, after completion of his National Service, and to receive the same rates of pay as a Regular soldier and, at the completion of his twelve months' extra service with the colours, for him to receive a bounty of £150 free of tax. I believe that the National Service man will respond to this offer. I believe he will respond, perhaps not because he wishes to volunteer for further military service, but because he will have the knowledge that if he does not volunteer, or if there are not sufficient volunteers, under Clauses 1 and 2 the Government will in fact have the power to retain or to recall him. I think that if by an inducement we could get these men to volunteer we should be able to judge more fairly who are those soldiers who will be completing their contracts and who will undoubtedly suffer hardship, financial hardship, with further time away from their families and the loss of freedom of civilian life, because you must find the 15,000 men that the Government require.

I do not think we are going very far away from the principle of the Government's Clause 3. The Government are setting up a reserve of men who will volunteer for the Territorial Army and they will serve and receive a bounty of £150—true, not free of tax, but if they are called up they will receive a £50 bonus. If the Government are prepared to offer these terms to the Clause 3 soldiers, is it not reasonable to expect that they could make a similar offer to those soldiers who are now serving in the Army? I think that there would be a good response to such an offer, if the Government were prepared to adopt it. It would be far better to have volunteers than to retain these soldiers, many of them against their will. In this country we have always believed that one volunteer is better than ten pressed men. I think my Amendment would give us an opportunity of making one last effort to find volunteers to provide the manpower for the British Army.

Amendment moved— Before Clause 1, insert the said new Clause,—(Lord Shepherd.)


I am not going to follow the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, in a slight repeat of his Second Reading speech, because I think everybody knows the situation with regard to shortages of manpower. At first sight, I must admit that this Amendment appealed to me because it might be a way to get volunteers. I was interested in one thing that the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, said, that our trouble started in 1957 when the Government decided to do away with National Service, and now he is coming back to saying that what we want is more volunteers, which seems to be somewhat contradictory. I am quite certain that Her Majesty's Government must have thought of this scheme, because it is one which strikes the eye straight away. I should be very much influenced by whether or not the Government said it could be done. I do not think that this can be done and I would keep to the Bill.

3.25 p.m.


I am going to follow my noble friend Lord Goschen by not following the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, in his rather wide remarks, at the beginning of his speech on this Amendment, dealing with manpower, the size of the Army, recruiting, and the latest version of the numbers game. We had a very good debate on all this on the Second Reading of this Bill, in which all these matters were discussed at considerable length. We are about to have a Defence debate in which the noble Lord can produce these arguments again, and we are going to have a debate on the Army Estimates in the not too distant future.

Your Lordships were good enough to give this Bill its Second Reading and now we are discussing a particular Amendment to it. In his Amendment the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, is not questioning the principle of the Bill; as I understand it, he seeks to give the Secretary of State statutory power to offer a voluntary twelve months' engagement to whole-time National Service men in the Army and to Regular soldiers whose current engagement finishes at certain dates; the engagement to carry Regular rates of pay and a tax-free bounty of £150 on completion.

The object of the Amendment, as I understand it, is to remove—or at least to reduce—the need to retain and recall men under Clause 1, by providing this short-service engagement with a financial inducement. I am very grateful to him for his suggestion, because of course if we could persuade all the men we need to stay on a little longer voluntarily, that would be the ideal way to overcome our problem. At first sight, like my noble friend Lord Goschen behind me, I thought that this was an attractive proposition and an attractive Amendment. But there is a dilemma here, which I am sure the noble Lord opposite will see at once when he compares the bounty of £150 tax free which he has proposed with the other inducements which are already offered to men to enter on or extend their Regular engagements.

In order to build up the long-term strength of the Army we must rely on a high rate of prolongation of service, and, in considering any scheme of the kind which the noble Lord has in mind for the purely short term, we must be very careful not to upset the inducements to serve for longer periods, nor indeed to be unfair to those who have already accepted those terms. These inducements normally take the form of rates of pay increasing with the length of the engagement.

The dilemma is that to induce men to stay on who would not otherwise think of making any career in the Regular Army would require a bounty out of all proportion to the inducements which we are able to offer to Regulars to prolong their engagements. That is what the noble Lord has proposed, and he has pitched his bounty very high. But I think he has overlooked the other horn of the dilemma which is the disturbance which this, if it were successful, would be bound to cause to the pattern of longer-term engagements. That, naturally, would be inimical to our long-term aims. The Secretary of State, on the other hand, in his efforts to build up the size of the all-Regular Army, has already tried three times to tackle this problem from the other angle—that is to say, by offering the largest possible inducement which is compatible with the rest of the Army's pay structure; and each time experience has tended to support the view that a practicable bounty for one year's engagement would not attract men in any worthwhile quantity.

The first of these schemes which my right honourable friend tried, introduced in March last year, offered National Service men enlisting in certain corps Regular three-year rates of pay, with effect from the date of joining or for twelve months, whichever was the shorter period. This was a 22-year engagement but, of course, with an option to leave at the end of three years and at three-year points thereafter. The second and third schemes that he tried offered National Service men and Regulars respectively a taxable bounty of £200 for enlistment on a 22-year engagement with three-year break points; or, in the case of Regulars, for extending their service by three years. I am sorry to say that none of these schemes has fulfilled the hopes that we had. I think it is clear, therefore, that any practicable bounty for one year's engagement—and if £200 (taxable) was the most that the pay structure would stand for a three-year engagement, it follows that it would have to be about one-third of this—just would not attract men in any significant numbers.

I hope that in what I have said I have shown that this Amendment, attractive though it is on the face of it—and I absolutely accept what the noble Lord has said—would in fact be most undesirable in the context of our longer-term aims for an all-Regular Army. It only remains for me to say that this Amendment is, in point of fact, unnecessary, because there is already power under the Army Act to offer Regular engagements for any period which is likely to be acceptable to these men—and bounties, if they were thought desirable, may be paid under the Pay Warrant, which is a Prerogative instrument. I hope that the noble Lord opposite and his friends will think that what I have said needs some thought, and that, in view of what I believe to be the very serious objections to his Amendment, he will not press it but will withdraw it.


The noble Lord has certainly made a powerful case against this Amendment, and I really rise only to defend my noble friend from the charge that, in his speech, his part in the "numbers game" was not relevant to this matter. It is largely because we do not trust the Government's figuring in this matter, and the general confusion that seems to exist, practically every time we discuss this subject, with regard to the numbers that the Government require, which made it seem to my noble friend, as it does to me, that this is the basic problem to deploy. The basic problem, as I see it, is that in none of these schemes are we really going to get the men we need; and even if it were necessary to proceed with the full rigour allowed for in this Bill, and we were to call up everybody that there is power to call up under it, the question would still remain: what is going to be done if we should need still more men than we are likely to get? I think it is a little late in the day for the noble Lord to talk about fairness. This is certainly an extremely unfair Bill, as was said in the other place. In fact, I think the noble Lord would himself admit that it is not fair. It is a specialised form of selective service, as he himself called it, forced upon us by the situation in which we now find ourselves.

I would say to the noble Viscount, Lord Goschen, that, once National Service has been abolished, there is no in-consistency in trying to make the voluntary principle extend further. I will not go into the question of the wisdom of the 1957 decision, or whether we ought now to go back on it. As the noble Lord made clear, this is an attempt to try to avoid some of the difficulties, and perhaps reduce not only the number who would be called up under Clause 1 but possibly even the number who would be called up under Clause 2; because this would provide for twelve months, and would therefore extend into the second period, and might reduce the number of those who were going to suffer (the most—namely, those people who would be called hack from civilian life.

I should like to ask this of the First Lord. As I understand it, a £200 bounty is payable to somebody who effectively serves for only three years on a Regular engagement. If that is so, I think it makes it clear that this money may not be enough, and that it may be impossible to arrive at any figure that can be sustained. I hope that I have understood him correctly on that point. In that connection, I wonder how far these attempts by the Secretary of State for War were given the publicity that was necessary, and whether, should we proceed with this particular Amendment or not, a new effort ought not to be made on that particular line. That, I think, would go a long way towards achieving what we have been trying to achieve in this Amendment.

I admit that, inevitably, there must be confusion about all these different schemes. Some of these proposals may not have been drawn to the attention of the National Service men as fully as they might have been; and I wonder whether, in the light of the obligations which some of them will now have, or the liability that some of them might now have, they may be more attracted by a voluntary scheme, whether it is the one which my noble friend has proposed or the one which the Secretary of State for War has proposed and which, we understand, has failed. I do not doubt that that scheme still exists, but perhaps the noble Lord will consider whether, in the light of this new situation in which we find ourselves, where there is to be this liability on National Service men, attention could not be drawn to that scheme in the same way as attention will be drawn to the "Ever-readies" scheme.


I did not in the least want to appear to be rebuking the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, for talking rather widely on his Amendment I was just making the point that I was not going to follow him; that I was going to talk about the Amendment. I should be happy to join with him in the next instalment of the "numbers game" in the debate on Defence, which should take place in a month or so.

The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, has asked me about the voluntary scheme for three years with a bounty of £200 (taxable). This was given very great publicity, and continues to be given very great publicity, within the Army. I think I am right in saying that it runs until April of this year, because after that it will not be worth while: there will not be enough National Service men able to stay on. However, it has been given a great deal of publicity. It started off rather slowly, and few people did take on, but just recently there have been one or two more. But I should be misleading the noble Lord if I led him to think that any great number will be joining the Army as a result of that voluntary scheme. And, of course, the higher you make the bounty which is proposed in the noble Lord's Amendment, the more objectionable does his Amendment become, for the reasons I gave in my original answer. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord will see his way clear to withdrawing his Amendment.


I thank the noble Lord for his reply to my Amendment I do not think I will take him up on his offer to play the "numbers game" during the Defence debate. In fact, I think the last time I played Bingo was as a soldier on my way to the Middle East during the war. The noble Lord's main criticism of the Amendment, as I understood it, was that the bounty was set rather high, and that it would cause ill-feeling among those Regular soldiers who have signed on However, I would say to him that the bounty is no higher than that which is in fact being offered to those persons who are prepared to volunteer under Clause 3. As the Minister said in the other place, if I recall his words aright, a soldier enlisting might be in a position to give his wife and family a very nice present for very little effort. I do not know whether that is going to be the case, but the Minister obviously believes that these persons will be joining up voluntarily under Clause 3, that they will do a certain amount of training with the Regular Army, and that they may not be called up: but they are going to receive £150 for joining up.

I should not have thought, therefore, that my suggested bounty to National Service men who have already completed their obligations under the National Service Act, 1948, was too high; and I think that, in the circumstances, they should have the opportunity of volunteering for a further twelve months—not six months, but for a further twelve months—with a bounty of £150. I will not argue with him whether that £150 should be free of tax or whether it should be taxable; but I should have thought that, in the circumstances, with the possibility of Clauses 1 and 2 affecting the soldier, you would get a good response.

I do not propose to divide the House on this Amendment. However, I would ask the Minister whether he would consider this matter once again. You have the short-term problem of getting 15,000 men. It would be better to get them from volunteers. I do not think the country would object to finding an extra sum of money to provide some inducement for those men to volunteer; far better that way than having to use Clauses 1 and 2. I beg leave to withdraw this Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1 [Retention of National Servicemen in Army service]:


I need speak only briefly on this Amendment. On page 4, line 15, of the Bill the Secretary of State has obligated himself from time to time to report to Parliament with respect to his powers to recall persons under Clause 2 and Clause 3 of the Bill. We feel that as the Minister is taking special powers in regard to these soldiers who are now serving, he should make a report to Parliament on the use of these very special powers. Later on I shall be moving, probably in more words, an Amendment on the need for a report on a three-monthly basis on the use of Clauses 2 and 3; but at the present moment I rest my case merely on the facts that the Minister has undertaken to inform Parliament of the use of Clauses 2 and 3, and that I feel he should make a similar report to Parliament in regard to Clause 1. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 1, line 21, at end insert— (" ( ) The Secretary of State shall every three months lay before Parliament a report showing how many persons he has retained under each of the last two foregoing subsections.")—(Lord Shepherd.)


I always listen to the noble Lord with the greatest of care, whether he speaks briefly or whether he speaks at greater length. In reply to a remark he made earlier, I should hate him to think that, when I called the figures in his Second Reading Speech exaggerated, I intended to suggest that they were exaggerated after they came into his hands. Indeed, I was suggesting they were exaggerated before they came into his hands. As to the noble Lord's present Amendment, I fully understand, and sympathise with, his desire to ensure proper Parliamentary control over the operation of the powers conferred on the Secretary of State by this Bill in order to safeguard, so far as possible, the rights of the individuals who may be affected by them. I will again make two points which I made on Second Reading. The Government have no desire to retain more men than is absolutely and militarily necessary. I also emphasised that the powers under Clause 1 would be very short-lived. They will, in fact, expire when the last National Service men have completed their whole-time service in October or November next.

The need for these powers and the extent to which they would be used during this very short period have, of course, been fully explained in Parliament and are appreciated by the noble Lord. It has been made quite clear that the powers would have to be invoked immediately after the Bill is passed, allowing for due notice to be given to the men concerned. I really do not think that, having regard to this and to the very short period during which the powers under Clause 1 will be in operation, any additional Parliamentary safeguards are called for. A distinction is made in the case of Clauses 2 and 3, which will be in operation for a longer period; and provision, in subsection (3) of Clause 4, for the Secretary of State to keep Parliament informed about the exercise of the powers in Clauses 2 and 3, to recall part-time National Service men, and to call out the Territorial Army Emergency Reserve, is written into the Bill. He may make a report either before or after the powers are exercised.

Having drawn the attention of the noble Lord to the fact that we do in fact appreciate, as he does, the importance of such provisions in the longer-term clauses—the terms with the longer life—I hope he will agree with me that in this first clause, which has a very short life and which is to be invoked so soon after the passing of the Bill, they become both needless and impracticable.


I must confess I think the noble Lord has made a very good case for adopting this Amendment. I simply cannot understand the argument that what is good for a longer period is not good for a shorter period. If in fact the Government think it desirable to keep Parliament informed in regard to Clause 2 and Clause 3—although one might argue that Clause 3 was a special case—I cannot see why you ought not to do it with Clause 1. If it is arguable that it is not worth the trouble or is not worth doing, then is it worth doing for Clause 2 and Clause 3? This is a short period, and the men are about to be called up. This is going to run effectively now for another year or eighteen months, and for another year people may be called up, as late as next October.


That does not make it eighteen months.


But it certainly will be the case for the next nine months. Why should we not have a progress report? I do not know; it may be it is not worth doing at all; but in this connection I cannot see the difference between six months and nine months and two years.


There are two points here, surely. First of all, my right honourable friend has already announced that he proposes to call up 15,000 men during the first period. The call-up affects men only up to the moment they are called up. After they have been called up it no longer affects them. So the period is certainly not eighteen months but, as I have said, until October or November of this year, when no more men can be called up under Clause 1. Certainly we think this is impracticable and unnecessary.


I would not want to make a debating point, but it is not a question of call-up but of retaining.


Yes, it is a question of retaining.


I still do not see why the Government cannot at least give us some crumbs of comfort. We believe that the Minister has taken special powers in regard to 15,000 soldiers. We feel there should be some accountability to Parliament. He recognises that duty in regard to Clauses 2 and 3. The period is immaterial. If he has taken the view that there should be accountability in regard to Clauses 2 and 3, then I believe he should accept it so far as Clause 1 is concerned.


If I may join in this debate, may I say that Clauses 2 and 3 last very much longer than Clause 1, which, as the noble Lord himself said, lasts only as long as October or November of this year. The difference between the two is this. The Secretary of State in another place, and myself in this House, have explained at great length what the proposals are, what we intend to do, and how many men we intend to retain under Clause 1. This operates for only nine months. The noble Lord is quite entitled to put down Parliamentary Questions at any moment when the House is sitting to find out how this is going; there is nothing to stop him from doing that. But for a very short time, to put a statutory obligation in a Bill of this kind is thought by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State and the War Office to be unnecessary. There is no intention or desire whatever to deny the noble Lord or other noble Lords opposite any information or knowledge about how things are going. We are only too happy at any time to provide as much information as we have at our disposal. But the Secretary of State has explained at great length what he proposes to do under Clause 1, and on the whole I think it would be unnecessary to make a statutory provision here.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

3.50 p.m.

LORD SHACKLETON moved to add to Clause 1: ( ) Any notice served under subsections (1) and (2) of this section shall be accompanied by a statement informing the recipient of his rights to appeal on the grounds that his retention will inflict unusual hardship either upon himself or his dependants, and the manner in which such an appeal should be made.

The noble Lord said: Perhaps we could discuss Amendments Nos. 3 and 4 is concerned with this difficult question of appeal and is designed to establish clearly that any National Service man together. I beg to move No. 3, which who wishes to appeal against his retention is made aware of the rights that he has, the extent of redress he can seek and the channels through which the matter will go. The later Amendment widens the right of appeal. The purpose of the Amendment is, as much as anything else, to elucidate precisely what the position is with regard to the right of appeal. I am well aware that in another place the Government gave a full account of the system, but it is so important that there should be no slip that affects any individual that I should like to hear again from the Government a statement of the methods which they propose.

It all sounds good and easy. There is the Advisory Committee, the Denning Committee, which I take it will actually sit in judgment on difficult cases. As I understand the procedure at the moment, an appeal is made to the commanding officer, who may turn it down or forward it to the War Office. Presumably the War Office may accept that there is hardship and grant release. If it is a difficult case they may send it to the Advisory Committee. I am not clear, however, about whether, when they think that there is no case, they still have an obligation to consult the Advisory Committee. It is about this machinery that we are particularly concerned.

It is also important that the soldier himself should know what the machinery is. People may feel that he has not had a fair crack of the whip. It is extraordinarily difficult to put this across and for this reason we are proposing to write into the Bill an obligation to meet this need. I do not doubt that the Government's reply is that this is a matter which is better taken care of by ordinary administrative practice. If we are to judge this, it would be helpful to know the terms in which notification will be made to the individual soldier. I do not doubt that the matter will be carefully considered by the War Office. But it is this sort of thing on which acceptance of the scheme will depend and though it may be argued that we are hair-splitting on a matter which is the War Office's own affair, this is something that arouses public concern and may give anxiety about the operation of the scheme.

Undoubtedly, there is anxiety that an appeal may be blocked by a commanding officer. I am not suggesting that commanding officers are irresponsible or indifferent to the feelings of men who find themselves in such a situation. On occasion they may be irritated, if they themselves happen to think that the reason is frivolous, but a commanding officer may not always be the best person to judge whether an appeal is frivolous or not. For example, in a later Amendment, to Clause 2, it is proposed to exempt men who are undergoing full-time education. I should like to know whether a reasonable ground for appeal would be that a National Service man had deliberately offered to do his National Service before he went to university. There are many who had a strong urge to do what they believed to be their duty even though they knew that National Service was coming to an end. I know of one man, who is to be released in April and he has a place in a university next October.

The purpose of Amendment No. 4 is obvious. It is to make clear that an appeal should go higher up in the first instance than appears at the moment to be contemplated. I do not propose to press this point very hard because I realise that in the last resort it should come to the Secretary of State, but I should like to know whether, if a commanding officer is inclined to reject an appeal, it will go through either to the Denning Committee or to the Secretary of State.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 21, at end insert the said sub section.—(Lord Shackleton.)


I think that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, has hit the nail on the head, not by means of his Amendment but by one of the points in his speech. He brings out truly that the most important thing is that men who are being kept on by this Bill should have every bit of information in order that they may be satisfied that they have or have not any right of appeal. This is the sort of thing which we have discussed many times in your Lordships' House regarding other military matters—the question of getting the whole chain working on any scheme.

It is important for the men that the platoon commander should know about the scheme so that he may explain it to his men. The platoon commander is the beginning of the chain and the most important part of it. He is the father and mother of his platoon and knows his men and their jobs and all about them. He is the beginning of the organisation that is needed to get this thing over. I think that the safeguards in the Bill, with the Advisory Committee, are sufficient and that the War Office Department which has dealt with cases like this for some time is perfectly adequate, but I think that the noble Lord brought out the need for everyone to know all about it.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for being prepared to take these two Amendments together. That seems to us the simpler and more satisfactory way of doing it. I also appreciate the object embodied in both Amendments. The Government's main objection to them is that they seek to make statutory, with all the difficulties of definition and possible litigation which this would involve, a process which can and will be much more simply catered for administratively. The Secretary of State has already given the categorical assurance in another place, and I did so on Second Reading (OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 237 (No. 37), cols. 638–9), but I will repeat it to-day: men who are warned or notified that they are due to be retained under Clause 1 of the Bill will be informed that they can appeal on compassionate grounds or on grounds of exceptional hardship. In fact, those likely to be retained under Clause 1 have already received a warning of that. I have in front of me the form in which that warning is given, and although I said the other day that it was incorporated the call-up or retention papers, the fact is that they receive it before then in the form of a warning consisting of two paragraphs. The first paragraph states: This is to warn you that it is probable that you will be required to remain in Army service for a period of six months after your current release date. And paragraph 2 says: If you consider that on compassionate grounds, or on grounds of exceptional hardship, you should not be required to remain in Army service after your present release date, or should not be required to serve for the full further period of six months, you must apply in writing immediately to the War Office through your Commanding Officer to be excused. Every man who is liable to be retained in the context of the present Amendment has received or will receive that notification, including advice on how to appeal against it. Beyond that, my right honourable friend has given instructions that no appeal is to be held up by a commanding officer so long as it is supported by the proper evidence; and even where an appeal is not supported by evidence of hardship a soldier still has a statutory right under the Army Act to make representations first to his commanding officer and then, if no satisfaction is obtained, to an officer not below the rank of brigadier. I hope this covers most of the anxieties of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton.

This right of appeal to his commanding officer in the first place is interpreted, and always has been in practice, as a right of appeal in person if the man so desires. There is no reason to fear, therefore, that men will be left in ignorance of their right of appeal; or that they will not be given every facility to present their case fully; or that their appeal, if it is supported by proper evidence, will not be dealt with by the War Office under the special machinery which the Secretary of State has set up for the purpose, and which I explained to your Lordships when the Bill was moved a second time in this House a week or two ago. I did not then explain it very fully, but I can do so in response to the noble Lord's request to-day.

The line of communication is this. The man who thinks he has grounds for appeal enters his appeal through his commanding officer. His commanding officer, as I have already explained, is bound to forward that appeal if this is supported by evidence. It is sent to the Adjutant-General's department of the War Office. If the Adjutant-General's department consider that the evidence is sound—and they are very practised in these matters—they will accept the appeal and instruct the man's commanding officer accordingly. If they are in doubt as to whether it can be accepted or as to whether it should be dismissed, they will in all cases send it on to this new Hardship Advisory Committee. Your Lordships, I am sure, know the constitution of this Committee, but I have the names here if any noble Lord should wish to know them. When they have considered this particular individual case they refer their advice to my right honourable friend, who has the final say in the matter.

I very much agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, that what is vitally important is that the soldier should have confidence in the way his case will be considered. I hope that in view of what I have said your Lordships will find that these two Amendments are no longer necessary now that the position is more fully explained.


I am glad I arrived in time to hear the explanation of the noble Lord. I must say that, while it sounds much better than in the previous stages of the consideration of the Bill, it does not meet the point that that is the sort of thing which should be made perfectly clear in the Bill. It seems extraordinary to me, having read the debates in the other place and heard speeches here, that we have only now begun to understand that there would always be an appeal to the War Office in any case where an appeal was lodged. That was never the impression given to Parliament. The impression given was that if a commanding officer considered that there was some justification for the appeal, then it could be submitted. I think it is abundantly necessary, as things get more and more difficult in getting these things done, and wherever it is possible, that the actual procedure which is to be followed should be in the Bill.

I am quite in sympathy with the idea, whoever else is against it, that when you have trained men available immediately to meet an emergency the proper thing to do is to use them; but when it comes to dealing with questions of individual hardship and so on, then I think it should be made perfectly plain in the statute itself. I do not propose, in the circumstances, to suggest that we should vote against the Government on these particular Amendments, because I am not sure that they would exactly match what it is we want to achieve, in view of the explanation made. What we want to secure is that this clause is amended by the Government in a suitable way to make sure that the facts required by the citizen are in the Bill. Therefore, while, as I say, we will not vote against the Government on this Amendment, we shall certainly vote against the clause standing part of the Bill.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for his explanation, which I think has taken us a long way further, and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD SHEPHERD moved to add the following, subsection to the clause: ( ) Any person retained under this section shall be deemed to be a member of the Territorial Army for the purposes of section eleven of the Auxiliary Forces Act, 1953, and shall be paid a bounty of a sum equivalent to one hundred days' pay authorised by an order made under the said section eleven.

The noble Lord said: We are still dealing with 15,000 soldiers who are being retained by the Government for a further six months. We have spoken of hardship. It is difficult to assess over 15,000 men what exactly is hardship. For the married man undoubtedly it is further separation from his wife and his home. That is a hardship. He may also have undertaken a special job or educational training which will have to be put off for a further six months. That is a hardship. But he will also suffer some hardship, in my view, on financial grounds. It is true that the soldier who is being retained will receive, during his further six months, Regular Army pay Scale A. I was looking up these scales in the Army Estimates. In the case of a National Service man, after completing 18 months' service he will receive 8s. 6d. per day, or £155 per annum. For his Regular Army period his pay will be uplifted by 4s. a day to 12s. 6d.; that is, to £288 per annum. Therefore, he would be in the same grade. I suppose, on average, the age of the person being retained will be in the region of 20 or 21. I should not have thought it unreasonable to expect, with to-day's wage levels, that if he were a civilian he would be receiving in the region of £10 to £12 a week.

It is true that while he is in the Services he is receiving free accommodation, such as it is—and, as my noble friend Lord Goschen knows, accommodation varies from unit to unit, and some of it is not particularly pleasant. He would regard this provision of accommodation and food as part of the service. Therefore, when one takes into account that as a civilian he would probably be earning in the region of £600 a year, and as a Regular soldier he will be receiving only £288 a year, one can estimate that over a period of six months he will be losing the opportunity of earning, at a rough figure, at least £50 to £100. This is quite a hardship. As soon as there is any question of a person's losing something by Act of Parliament, your Lordships' House is the first to rise to seek some compensation for him.

I would submit that, as the Government are keeping these soldiers back, there should be some form of compensation to the soldier for his being retained, certainly to cover part of what he would lose through not being a civilian. My suggestion is that he should receive the equivalent to 100 days' pay, which would be in the region of a bounty of approximately £45. It would vary according to grade, but for the man whose pay I quoted that bounty would be in the region of £45. I do not think it is unreasonable to say to the Government that they are retaining these people. It may well be for us on this side of the House to say they are retaining them because of a gross miscalculation in 1959, when they said that they would not call up the 60,000 men who had already been deferred from National Service. They did not think they needed them. Now they find they do need them, and they are placing this special burden on these 15,000 soldiers. I therefore feel that the Government should make a gesture to these soldiers and permit them to have the bounty as outlined in our Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 21, at the end insert the said subsection.(Lord Shepherd.)


I find some favour in this Amendment. I think that National Service men who are retained under this new arrangement should get some compensation. I quite agree that they will get the rates of pay applicable to Regulars under the engagement. I think it would be well received if Her Majesty's Government could pay this bounty for National Service men. It is really a very small sum, and I am sure it would create a good deal of good will.

4.15 p.m.


I have listened very carefully to the cogent reasoning of the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, for this Amendment, and I am in rather the same position as I was in the first Amendment that he moved. At the outset, I thought this Amendment had a great deal to be said for it. May I say at once that the Government, of course, accept the principle on which the noble Lord has argued; that is, that this period of further service will cause inconvenience to those concerned, and that on this account there should be some financial concession to those who are affected by it. All that is between us is the extent of the concession and the form it should take.

Of course, inconvenience is a difficult term; it is purely relative. Some men will be affected much more than others, and, of course, inconvenience is quite a different thing from hardship. We are not talking about hardship. When a man is liable to suffer real hardship through retention under Clause 1, he can appeal under the procedure which we have just been discussing under the previous Amendment. If his appeal is successful he will, of course, not be retained. It is extremely difficult to measure in purely financial terms the inconvenience of others whose cases do not justify exemption from this clause. I know that all will have formed an expectation of returning to civilian employment, and I quite agree with the noble Lord that some may have to forgo jobs which have been offered to them. I recognise, too, that for the most part, as it so happens, the men concerned will be the rather older National Service men who have had to have their call up deferred.

The noble Lord will, I know, admit that it is impossible to legislate for every case. But all these men who are retained for a further period of six months will receive the financial concessions referred to by my noble friend behind me. Although they are not Regular soldiers, and will not be committed to service for more than two and a half years in all, they will receive the same rates of pay and marriage allowance as Regulars who are committed to serve for three years, or six months longer in all. I thought the noble Lord opposite rather made light of the difference in the amount of money which these men would get. It is, of course, perfectly true that the rates of pay are as he said. But he must take into account—as I think he did, though rather as an aside—that not only are they housed, but they are also fed and clothed. It is a fair reward for somebody who has no expenses, and, in addition, if he is married he gets the not ungenerous marriage allowance of the Regular soldier.

Now I should like to make this quite plain, as I think there is some confusion about the Army system of pay. As I said in reply to an earlier Amendment, the system is based on the principle that the longer a man is prepared to commit himself to serve, the higher rate of pay he receives, rank for rank. The object of the system is to encourage men to prolong their engagements; so a corporal committed for nine years to the Army receives more than one who is prepared to serve for only six years, even though the men may have joined the Army on the same day and may be serving in the same company. The six-year man gets more than the three-year man. What we are doing is to put the two-and-a-half-year National Service man on terms with the three-year Regular, and this conforms exactly to the principle on which the whole system of Army pay is based.

It is, I think, generally recognised that since 1958, when the Grigg Committee reported, the pay for the Regular services, taking into account the allowances and other benefits, such as free board and lodging, about which I have spoken, is not out of line with that of comparable civilian employment. That is the whole object of Grigg. What we propose, therefore, does, in the Government's view, provide a reasonably broad measure of compensation for such financial hardships as a man may suffer by being retained for a further period. However much one may sympathise with men who are retained, I really do not believe that I can find any justification for paying them more, by way of either bounties or a higher rate of pay, than is paid to the Regular soldiers committed for the same period of service. If it is argued that men who are compelled by Statute to serve in the Forces are suffering a hardship, entitling them to some special compensation which is not called for in the case of a man who has voluntarily contracted to do so, I can only say that that principle has never been accepted by any of the Governments concerned with the operation of the National Service Acts—


May I interrupt the noble Lord for a moment? Does not the three-year man, if he has signed on, nevertheless get a bounty?


Unless the noble Lord is talking about the bounty scheme he spoke about on the previous Amendment, the man has to sign on for another three years; so it is not a comparable case. No Government has ever accepted the principle that a man who compulsorily serves is rewarded more than a man who volunteers to do so. In fact, the Acts have generally provided that National Service rates of pay are lower than Regular rates—which is, of course, what the noble Lord is worried about.

This does, I think, put into proper perspective the financial concession which we are going to provide for men whose National Service is prolonged. And I would remind your Lordships that this is not the first occasion on which a period of National Service has been extended. It was done in 1950, when, I believe, there was no suggestion that those men who were then affected, in exactly the same way as this latest generation of National Service men will be, suffered a breach of contract which justified the payment of a special bounty. Nor do I think that bounties which will be paid to the Territorial Army Emergency Reserve are in any way analogous. These men will be undertaking a voluntary obligation in return for money, and that is the basis on which all bounties have been paid for many years. They would be quite inappropriate for men answering a statutory liability laid on them by Parliament. For this reason I am afraid that I am unable to accept this Amendment.

4.23 p.m.


I should not have intervened in this debate but for the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. I try, in so far as I am able, to keep my speeches within fields in which I have some experience. But the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, seems to forget entirely that here we have a group of men who, had they signed on for three years, would have received the normal rate of pay as Regular soldiers for the three years. Let us be quite plain about it; the three-year engagement which men have accepted over the period of the last few years has been very largely on the basis of men who have gone in, weighing up the pros and cons, saying: "We have got to do two years, so, if we are going to get the enhanced rate of pay right the way through, we shall put up with it for three years". That has been the basis of most three-year engagements. These men, weighing all the facts, have said: "Because of my position in relation to civilian life I am prepared to sacrifice what would be quite a sum of money over the period of the three years in order to take the normal National Service engagement".

Equally, because of that, the man has had to make other sacrifices. I think, with justification, the Armed Forces have said that, unless a man has had a three-year engagement, promotion, apart from exceptional circumstances, is not there. The result has been that the man has to serve in the ranks all the time. Therefore, he has not only been deprived of the additional rate of pay, because in fact he was limited to the period of time and because his own circumstances made that limitation necessary, but he has been deprived of the right of enhanced payment through possible promotion.

The noble Lord will admit that many of these men, because of their general standing, status and qualifications, were good enough for promotion, but that, because they were there only for National Service of a short period, it was not worthwhile promoting them. So they made very considerable sacrifices. The noble Lord says, "Oh, but we have had an extension of National Service before". That is perfectly true. As he said, we had it in 1950, but at the time we had an extension of National Service we did not have an abolition of National Service. These fellows have been unlucky all the way round. Of course there must always be some folk on the demarcation line and these chaps were brought in while others were being by-passed. I think it was just foolish of the Government to abolish National Service, and they might just as well admit that they were foolish in doing so. We have never had a real Army in the true sense of the word. In pre-war days a man usually went into the Army because he was out of work and he wanted food, clothing and shelter. In a period of full employment you will never get what is termed a voluntary army.

Here we have a group of people who face a very difficult situation. Without very much warning, entirely outside the circumstances in which they enlisted, they have had this hardship put on to them. Let us put it another way. Surely, had these fellows known when they went in that they would have to do 2½ years they would undoubtedly have taken—or many of them would—the three-year term; and so they have already been deprived during the period of their two-year service of the enhanced pay during that time. Therefore, in the light of all the circumstances, not only have they been deprived of pay during the period of service, but their conditions of service have been changed without consultation with them, and have been forced on to them. Equally, they have lost during their period of service the opportunities of promotion; very often, too, opportunities for foreign service, because of their short engagement. In the light of those circumstances, surely the Government ought to look at a bounty for what it is; that is, if not individual personal hardship on the basis of what requires compassionate treatment, certainly hardship and a break in the contract which they made when they—


May I interrupt? I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, is inaccurate in one of his points, because I think there are a great many cases where National Service men have been made non-commissioned officers.


Of course. But, as I said, only in exceptional circumstances—perhaps when there was a shortage of N.C.Os—have they been promoted. In normal circumstances promotion has not been theirs, and that has been one of the hardships of the short-term individual.


I do not believe that it is only in exceptional circumstances. I believe that there are very many National Service men who are promoted to non-commissioned officers; and in a great many other cases they could have been promoted if they liked but refused to take the stripes.


I have listened to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and do not think he really appreciates the distinction that when a Regular soldier goes into the Services he knows what he is going in for; but in the case of these National Service men who are being retained they are being retained after the service of their contract, which was placed upon them by Parliament and which they have honoured. As ordinary persons, they should be treated with some justice. Obviously the Government are not prepared to concede a gesture of justice to these people, and therefore I ask my noble friends to support me in the Division Lobby.

4.30 p.m.


Before we do that—we shall go in all right—I should like to correct the impression which may have formed in your Lordships' minds by what the First Lord of the Admiralty said about 1950. I think he overlooked one or two points. I had just given up the Minister of Defence position in the February, but already we were facing up to very difficult circumstances, which ultimately merged into a first-class conflict in Korea. We had already passed the Act of 1947 and it was not possible, in the light of an actual war breaking out, to get the fully trained people available for that campaign and to meet all our other commitments without doing what we did. So I do not think what the noble Lord, the First Lord of the Admiralty said, took sufficient notice of the fact that there was a war on, and therefore I do not accept that point of view.

The whole position of remuneration in industry and all the way through—the general level of payments—has altered very much since 1950, worsened from the point of view of the taxpayer, by the general policy of the Government. That has meant, too, that as a result of the 1957 White Paper the enlistment of Regulars has come to be in open and growing competition with rising wages in the labour market. The general situation, therefore, reacts upon those who are in National Service and who are now told, quite unexpectedly, they must serve for another six months. For these reasons I fully support what my noble friend Lord Shepherd says, and unless there is a better answer I think we should support my noble friend in the Division Lobby.


I hesitate to quarrel with the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition, but in point of fact in 1950 men who had finished their National Service were retained. Admittedly there was a war. Now there is an emergency, over Berlin, which is the reason why we are bringing in this Bill; that is the whole object of this Bill. It is no good the noble Viscount shaking his head. This has been explained all through the passage of the Bill in another place and also on Second

Reading in this House. If there was a war then, there is an emergency now; and the noble Viscount in 1950 treated the National Service men in exactly the same way as we are treating them now.


There is no comparison between the emergencies. What is the reason for the call-up now? It is because the policies of the Government of 1957 and 1959 have failed to raise the number of men required for the minimum commitments, including that of Berlin. The fact is that you have not been able to get even the reduced number of 51,000 men available in Germany without this call-up. You cannot see the men coming in in time. This is due to the complete failure of the Government's policy, with the result that retention is taking place. To compare that situation with the circumstances of 1950 is quite nonsensical.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 32; Not-Contents, 57.

Addison, V. Killearn, L. Shackleton, L.
Alexander of Hillsborough, V. Latham, L. Shepherd, L.
Amulree, L. Lawson, L. Silkin, L.
Baldwin of Bewdley, E. Lindgren, L. Stonham, L.
Burden, L. [Teller.] Listowel, E. Summerskill, B.
Chorley, L. Lucan, E. [Teller.] Walston, L.
Citrine, L. Meston, L. Williams, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Middleton, L. Williams of Barnburgh, L.
Douglas of Barloch, L. Morrison of Lambeth, L. Wilmot of Selmeston, L.
Hughes, L. Ogmore, L. Wise, L.
Kenswood, L. Rea, L.
Ailwyn, L. Freyberg, L. Milverton, L.
Allerton, L. Goschen, V. Molson, L.
Ampthill, L. Haddington, E. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Atholl, D. Hastings. L. [Teller.] Newall, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Hawke, L. Newton, L. [Teller.]
Buckinghamshire, E. Hereford, V. Northesk, E.
Carrington, L. Horsbrugh, B. Radnor, E.
Chesham, L. Howard of Glossop, L. Raglan, L.
Cholmondeley, M. Jellicoe, E. Rathcavan, L.
Cottesloe, L. Jessel, L. St. Oswald, L.
Craigton, L. Kilmuir, V. (L. Chancellor.) Sinclair, L.
Davidson, V. Lansdowne, M. Strathcarron, L.
Denham, L. Long, V. Stratheden and Campbell, L.
Derwent, L. Lothian, M. Swinton, E.
Devonshire, D. MacAndrew, L. Teviot, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. McCorquodale of Newton, L. Teynham, L.
Exeter, M. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Thurlow, L.
Forster of Harraby, L. Merrivale, L. Waldegrave, E.
Fortescue, E. Mersey, V. Wolverton, L.
Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.

4.44 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 1 shall stand part of the Bill?

Resolved in the affirmative, and Motion agreed to accordingly.

Clause 2:

Recall of national servicemen into army service


(3) Subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to any person—

4.53 p.m.

LORD SHACKLETON moved to add to subsection (3): or (d) if he is undergoing or has been accepted for:—

  1. (i) a full time educational course at University, College or comparable institution in the United Kingdom;
  2. (ii) a full time apprenticeship or articled clerkship or full time instruction in a skilled trade or calling;
  3. (iii) a course of training comparable to any of the foregoing to fit him to join a profession or undertake a skilled occupation."

The noble Lord said: We have now come to what is undoubtedly the most objectional part of the Bill, Clause 2. Whereas I will certainly not again deploy

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 56; Not-Contents, 26.

Ailwyn, L. Haddington, E. Molson, L.
Albemarle, E. Hastings, L. [Teller.] Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Allerton, L. Hawke, L. Newall, L.
Ampthill, L. Hereford, V. Newton, L. [Teller.]
Atholl, D. Horsbrugh, B. Northesk, E.
Buckinghamshire, E. Howard of Glossop, L. Radnor, E.
Carrington, L. Jellicoe, E. Raglan, L.
Chesham, L. Jessel, L. Rathcavan, L.
Cottesloe, L. Kilmuir, V. (L. Chancellor) St. Oswald, L.
Craigton, L. Lambert, V. Sinclair, L.
Davidson, V. Lansdowne, M. Strathcarron, L.
Denham, L. Long, V. Stratheden and Campbell, L.
Derwent, L. Lothian, M. Swinton, E.
Devonshire, D. MacAndrew, L. Teviot, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. McCorquodale of Newton, L. Teynham, L.
Forster of Harraby, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Thurlow, L.
Fortescue, E. Merrivale, L. Waldegrave, E.
Freyberg, L. Mersey, V. Wolverton, L.
Goschen, V. Milverton, L.
Addison, V. Lawson, L. Silkin, L.
Airedale, L. Lindgren, L. Stonham, L.
Alexander of Hillsborough, V. Listowel, E. Summerskill, B.
Amulree, L. Lucan, E. [Teller.] Walston, L.
Burden, L. [Teller.] Meston, L. Williams, L.
Citrine, L. Ogmore, L. Williams of Barnburgh, L.
Hughes, L. Rea, L. Wilmot of Selmeston, L.
Kenswood, L. Shackleton, L. Wise, L.
Latham, L. Shepherd, L.

the arguments that have been advanced against it, I emphasise that this is because we think that the Amendments we have put down to Clause 2 are even more important than those we put down to Clause 1. I am sure your Lordships will agree that, whatever one may feel about extending somebody's period of National Service while they are in the Services, it is much more disturbing to call them back at an undefined date when they think they have said "Goodbye" to the Army. Admittedly, they have only said "Goodbye" to permanent, continuous service, because they have a reserve liability; but this is not comparable to a reserve liability. We are not confronted by the sort of situation which existed in 1950, and the thoroughly misleading—and I would even go so far as to say dishonest—analogy of 1950 does not apply to Clause 2, because there was no calling back of National Service men, although there was some calling out of the Reserves.

The Amendment which I am moving is concerned with laying down, at least for some people, the conditions under which they can expect exemption, and the argument that has been advanced against these special exemptions on grounds of education or whatever it may be is that it is impossible in the Bill to lay down all the examples of cases where it may be desirable to give exemption either for retention or for call-up. This seems to me to be a completely invalid argument. We are urging that at least those who are continuing with their education, or who are in full-time apprenticeship or articled clerkship, should be guaranteed freedom from disturbance in the course of their studies and their work. This is a matter of real importance to those who enter into such a course; it may even be a matter which will affect their whole attitude as to whether they will continue in it.

On the figures that we have, it seems to me extremely probable that these men, or some of them, are going to have to be called up. I think the Government are being optimistic in saying that the clause applies to only a fraction—although a fraction is a broad enough term. Under Clause 3, they are reckoning to get 15,000 "Ever-readies". Yet this year we are going to retain 15,000 men. It would seem to me that in the following years, if the Government proceed with this scheme, we are certainly going to need to call back a proportion of those who have already completed their National Service. It seems to us to be highly desirable that, while preserving the machinery of appeal on grounds of hardship, we should specify by Statute those who are to be exempted; we feel that this is in the public interest.

I should like at this point to go back to the question of the appeal procedure. We discussed at some length, on Clause 1, whether the appeal procedure was satisfactory, and I think that the Government broadly satisfied the House on that aspect. The noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, gave us a full account of the procedure to be followed, and the fact remains that most serving soldiers have a commanding officer who will be interested in them. But there is the exception—the man who, for some reason, just floats around and his commanding officer has no connection with him.

But the people affected here will not have the protection of being in the Service; there will not be the established machinery; there will not be a commanding officer to whom they can go and explain their circumstances. An individual may be about to sit an important examination; it may be his finals at university; it may be a matter on which he needs to concentrate. Then, like a bombshell, comes the call-up notice—and the notice may not be as long as two months. Indeed, as the noble Earl said on Second Reading, it may be necessary to call him up at short notice. This seems to me to be a case for laying down in advance, so far as possible, certain categories to whom exemption should be granted. I fully accept that there must be others whose cases will have to be considered on the grounds of hardship and the usual special circumstances, but here is a relatively simple category; those engaged in a full-time educational course at university, a full-time apprenticeship, or a course of training.

The actual wording of the Amendment may not be satisfactory: it may be too broad; it may be necessary to specify more exactly what particular types of qualifying education are to be exempted. Certainly, so far as the universities are concerned, we have excluded those who are not doing a full-time educational course. On the other hand, there may be others undertaking an apprenticeship, or perhaps part of a sandwich course, and it may not be possible to give the same exemption, although our Amendment urges this. I should like to know whether, in fact, it is the Government's intention that exemption shall be given in such cases. This is something which I think the Government should tell us clearly now, not after the Bill is on the Statute Book. If they can give us some assurance on this matter, it may not be necessary to press the Amendment.


Would the noble Lord just give me again the precise case to which he is referring?


I am referring to the case of a young man who is possibly in his third year at a university. We will suppose that in February he gets a fortnight's notice, or it may be even two months' notice, of liability to call-up, when he is due to take his Finals in May or June, depending on the university at which he is studying. Clearly, it would be disastrous to him if his academic career were interrupted in this way. If that is conceded, then I think the case for part of the Amendment is conceded. Certainly the position should be made clear.

I have given the extreme example, but, of course, there will be others; and in such circumstances the loss of six months may be equivalent to the loss of a year, because it will interrupt the academic year. Indeed, it may spread between one academic year and another, although it depends on the university and on the length of the long summer vacation. I am quite sure that these people—certainly those at a university; and, I should have thought, most of those who are engaged in training—ought to be exempted, provided that we can find the right terms. I do not press the drafting of my Amendment, but I hope that, since the Government accept the principle, they may be prepared to help us or to put forward an Amendment at the Report stage. I am quite sure that the principle is one that ought firmly to be accepted now. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 36, at end insert the said paragraph.—(Lord Shackleton.)


I think your Lordships will agree that there are very strong grounds for exempting some of these types of people, but I am not at all sure that this is the right way of doing it. There is a right of appeal, and if we once start putting in one or two isolated, special reasons for appeal—which is what it comes to—we may be weakening the whole basis of all appeals. That is why I am not happy about this type of provision. I feel that the Amendment itself is drawn much too widely. The third category of people who would be eligible under the Amendment includes far too wide a list of people to be acceptable. As I said, there is something to be said for this view, but I do not think this is the right way to do it.

5.4 p.m.


This Amendment, like two others we have considered earlier this afternoon, seeks to write into the Bill and give statutory authority to certain provisions which, in so far as it would be right and proper to allow them, can quite adequately be dealt with by the administrative machinery already set up by the Secretary of State. Indeed, as I shall attempt to persuade the noble Lord, we think they can be more effectively dealt with in this manner.

I recognise that in certain circumstances there will be men of the kind described in the Amendment and by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton—men who, once they have completed their period of full-time National Service, ought to be exempted from the provisions of Clause 2. Such exemption, I fully agree, will accord with the interests of the man himself, and with the broader national interests. There is absolutely no dispute between us about that. But, as I have said, the appeals machinery which the Secretary of State has set up will be able to deal with them. There need be no fear that, where a proper case is made out, the man will not be exempted.

Noble Lords may well ask why, if this is the Government's intention, as I have stated it, we do not accept the Amendment. The operative phrase used by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, in his speech was: "where it is possible to define a category". The difficulty—and it is a very real one—is mainly one of definition. It is easy enough to talk about a college, a trade or a profession; and noble Lords have a good idea of what is meant if we use those phrases in private conversation or across the Floor of the House. But for statutory purposes this is not good enough. I wonder whether the noble Lord, who has argued with his usual eloquence in favour of this Amendment, would care to define precisely what these words mean; so precisely, that is, that every man who might regard himself as being covered by this description would know for certain whether or not he was covered. I do not believe that it is possible to do this without giving such a broad interpretation that the whole purpose of Clause 2 would be frustrated.

Certainly, in the past no statutory definition of hardship categories qualifying for exemption from military service has ever been attempted by any Government or by any Secretary of State. There has been no such definition in connection with deferment of call-up for National Service, and this is precisely analogous to the situation which the Amendment is designed to cover. Nor is there any statutory exemption from liability to recall of men covered by the Army Reserve and Auxiliary Acts. For example, a narrow field of exemptions would, if it were rigidly applied, tend to be quite unfair. There would be cases falling within the stated category where the hardship suffered by recall might be much less than that of others coming outside the definition. This could lead only to great pressure to widen the field, so that it would be impossible to draw a line which would bear equally on all. There is a point at which the Government's hands, any Government's hands, might be hopelessly tied, and it is not possible to estimate, in terms of numbers, the effect of exempting particular categories.

In the Second Reading debate, I gave a fairly wide, a fairly loose, assurance to my noble friend Lord Goschen, and I can now give a rather more precise assurance to the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, both as to the question he asked me on the previous clause and as to this. In both cases, a National Service man accepted for whole-time study in a university or similar school of higher education will, on appeal, be granted an exemption from service in sufficient time for him to start the term. It goes without saying that, if he has already taken up that course of study, he will be given at least equal consideration, and I am myself assured—having asked this question—that, under the terms of the machinery set up, he would, in any but the most exceptional cases, be granted an exemption.


I am sorry, but I do not quite know what that means. The noble Lord mentioned starting the term. Does he mean that the man would be exempt until he had completed, say, his degree course?


What I am saying, and I think this is as precise as I can be, is that he would be given treatment which would enable him to enjoy to the fullest effect the course of education that he was undergoing, or had entered into.


He would be exempt?


He would be exempted for the course, or he would receive every sort of priority for exemption, to enable him either to join or to complete the educational course in which he was about to engage or had engaged.

As I have said, the Government, when dealing administratively with the cases that come up, will take full account of the points made by the noble Lords who have urged this Amendment. But I believe that if the system of necessary exemption is to work fairly—indeed, if it is to work at all—it must be left to the administrative machine. This, I am sure, is the only practicable way of meeting the underlying purpose of the proposed Amendment—and with this purpose the Government, as I have said before, are in no dispute at all.

I would add only that under Clause 2, I can give the same assurance—that appeals will be given every facility and consideration—as I gave in reply to the two Amendments proposed to Clause 1, with which we have just dealt; and the Secretary of State has already said that he is making arrangements for the grant of up to 56 days' postponement to men who find themselves in real difficulty, so as to give time for proper investigations to be made. I am convinced that the system which the Government have in mind will work perfectly fairly and will safeguard the sort of cases which the noble Lords have in mind, just as I am sure that any statutory definition of exempt categories, such as the Amendment contains, would be unworkable in practice. I hope that, with those words and with those assurances, I have persuaded the noble Lord, and that he will withdraw his Amendment.


I am most grateful to the noble Lord for his explanation. May I ask him just two questions? If a man has undertaken to be, say, a doctor, with a five-year or six-year period in front of him, does it mean that, under this clause, he will be exempt for the whole period of his university and post-university training? Or, did the noble Lord mean, when he used the word "course", that the man will be exempt up to the time he has completed a certain stage in his university training, but will then have to do his National Service, this recall for six months, and will then be able to go back to his university? Is that what the noble Lord means? Or does he mean that there is complete exemption for the person for the whole period of his university training, or whatever training he may have undertaken?

May I now put my second question? The noble Lord will appreciate that a very large number of persons are involved under this clause—possibly 100,000, or 120,000. I have no idea at the present moment what the exact number is, but it is certainly a very large number; and at the present moment it is possible for these persons to be called up over a period of two and a half years. May I ask the noble Lord this question? Is it possible to give an indication to these people when they are likely to be called up? This, I think, would be very useful to the persons concerned. May I also ask the noble Lord: what are the channels through which these men will be informed, and through which channels can a man make his appeal, particularly having regard to this educational point? Through what sources does he make it? Under Clause 1 we know the way: a man does it through his commanding officer. Do these men apply through the commanding officer of their Territorial unit? I do not know. But certainly I think a person is entitled to know whether he is likely to be called up, to set his mind at rest on the matter and to enable him to put his house in order. And he should certainly know, probably more so than the soldier under Clause 1, the proper channels through which to make his appeal.


On the first of the supplementary questions put to me by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, I can assure him, as I tried to assure the noble Lord. Lord Shackleton, that there is absolutely no question of taking a man from a university for this form of reserve.


Is it possible to indicate to these men when they are likely to be called up?


As to that, I fear it is not in any way possible, because it is not possible to inform them whether or not they are likely to be called up. The whole point is that this Bill is intended to meet an emergency and any lack of manpower there may be with which to confront that emergency, which we think and hope may never occur. As for when it may occur, that question is even more impossible of answer. As for the channels through which the man will be informed of his call-up, and through which he may appeal, I think it will be his regimental depot; but the case will be passed to the War Office through whatever is the appropriate channel. I should like to write to the noble Lord and inform him precisely and authoritatively on that point, and I ask his forgiveness for not being able to answer him at the moment.


I thank the noble Lord for his reply. Personally, I do not anticipate being involved in a recall, and therefore I am not particularly interested for myself. But I think the noble Lord should take the opportunity, either on Report Stage or on Third Reading, to come to this House and give us that information. That will make it public. I would ask him to give an undertaking that he will come to the House on Report Stage and tell us what is to be done.


I quite appreciate the noble Lord's selflessness in this matter, and I will certainly see that what he requests is done, either on Report Stage or on Third Reading.

5.17 p.m.


May I make one very small point on this matter? The noble Lord said just now (I think I wrote down his words correctly) that there was absolutely no intention of taking a man away from a university. That seems to me to go a very long way towards meeting the point which my noble friend has been trying to make in his Amendment. In fact, there is some definition there, and it was one of the main criticisms of this Amendment that the definition was inaccurately and too widely drawn. So it appears possible to give at least one definition—namely, that of a university.

I gladly accept the noble Lord's assurance that there is absolutely no intention of taking a man away from a university. But, from the point of view of the student himself, while it is nice to have that said here and read by a certain number of people, the fact remains that the call-up papers, or whatever it is, will still go out to the student. He may be—and many students are, shortly before their final examinations—in a rather worked-up mental state; and even though he is told by his tutor, his director of studies, or whatever it may be, that there is no intention of interrupting his studies, it will still be a disturbing factor in this very crucial period of the young man's life. How much better it would be if, When it is absolutely certain he will not be called up, those papers were never sent to him! In other words, cannot this Amendment, at any rate in principle, be accepted, so that mental distress at this rather difficult time can be avoided? There would be no difference whatever in the final result of the call-up, except that there would be the saving of an appeal and the saving of a certain amount of administrative effort after the call-up papers have gone. And, as I say, there would also be the saving of distress to the student at a rather vulnerable and important time of his life.


What I have done is to give an example; what I have not done is to define a university; and although, as I quite agree with the noble Lord, he and I think we know what we are talking about when we discuss a university across the Floor, that is not good enough for the law. It is not good enough to lay down a statutory definition. I am assured of that. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said that his actual wording might not be satisfactory, and that he was prepared to see it changed, but the fact is that we have looked into this and it has not been possible to find any wording that is satisfactory. Of That, I must give him absolute assurance. Had we been able to find a satisfactory wording, my reply from this Dispatch Box to-day might have been very different.

As to how a young man can be saved from anxiety when, for instance, he is taking exams, answering "off the cuff" I would say it might be possible for the university authorities themselves, when they see from his entry papers that he is on this Reserve and liable for call-up, to give him the assurance that, within the meaning of the Act, the university was of sufficient standing to earn him exemption. But that is very much "off the cuff". I feel certain that in most cases the young man himself, and particularly the authorities, will know whether or not his place of education counts or does not count, and they will be able to tell him.


I am sorry again to delay the House, but we have been talking so much this afternoon that one now starts thinking of other points as the debate goes along. May I ask the noble Lord this? Would he, in between now and the Report stage, again consider whether the type of exemption which will be granted can be put, either in the Bill or clearly in front of the persons who are liable to call? The noble Lord has made our minds perfectly clear on the university point, and I am pleased to hear what he said; but there is certainly a wider type of education which may be just as important. For instance, there is the youngster who has joined a firm of chartered accountants to become an articled clerk. He may know that he is exempt. But what makes me rather nervous at the moment is that you may find a firm of chartered accountants saying, "This man is liable for recall under Section 2 of the Act; therefore, frankly, we do not think it is worth our while taking him on now as an articled clerk, so let us wait till his period of liability has expired."

I think—and I am sure the Government and the whole House are with me on this—that these persons who have already done their service and are going to be recalled are entitled to some consideration. Therefore, the Government should say quite clearly, either at Report stage or at Third Reading, which will be their last opportunity, what persons will be exempt by the provisions of this clause. I think they should do that not only for the good will they will earn, but for the prevention of what may be a great deal of bitterness if they do not.


I will certainly look into what the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, has requested, and if there is any possibility of giving him satisfaction on it I will do so. I do not hold out a great deal of hope, because, as I explained, a good deal of thought has been given to the possibility of defining places of education which would earn exemption and those which might not, and no satisfactory definition has been found. If some satisfactory definition can be found between now and Third Reading I will certainly see to it that the matter is clarified; but, as I say, in the circumstances I cannot hold out a great deal of hope.


The noble Lord is trying terribly hard, and we are grateful to him. But really, it is absolute nonsense to say that it is not possible to arrive at definitions in a Statute. This is precisely what legislation is so troublesome about; we do occasionally have to make up our minds what we are talking about. I just do not accept that it is not possible to define a university or a place of education which would be suitable under the Act. He says that it has never been done in the past. But we have never called back people in these circumstances in the past. This is a completely new departure in National Service legislation. It is for this reason that we ought not just to sit back comfortably on the excuse that we did not do it previously with ordinary National Service, when there was an overall liability for people to do their National Service at some stage or other. Of course, they might get deferment, but there was never any question of their avoiding it entirely, and it was a matter of choice as to when they were called up.

This is a completely different set or circumstances. This is a sudden interruption in somebody's life, and possibly at a very crucial stage. I would hope that these people would not be called up at all. I would hope that it would not be a question of notice coming to them and their having to appeal, though here again we should like to know more clearly what is the appeal machinery. We are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord St. Oswald, for trying to give us the answer, but I am staggered that, at this stage of the Bill, its having gone right through another place, we should now be told by the Government spokesman that he will write to a noble Lord. Surely the Government now know what the drill is. If we caught the noble Lord on the hop, I apologise, because I know how hard he works at covering the vast number of subjects which fall within his purview; but I should have thought that this procedure ought to be completely clear. I should have thought that the case had now been made for something to go into the Statute.

The case is simply that I think the Government have not yet really thought this out, and have given up the attempt, saying that it is too difficult to define. We have to know what institutions rank for grant for a student to go to university. The local authorities, acting under Statute or under Order, are able to make up their minds. Obviously, there will be certain points on the margin which will be anomalous, and when discretion must exist. We do not want a long schedule of every type of institution attached to the Bill, but we should have liked a broad indication of the kind we have put into this Amendment.

I should like to suggest that the Government really have to try either to amend the Bill, or to produce, before we are finished with the Bill, a list, or some indication in much clearer terms than we have had, of the type of institution and the type of education which will be exempted. It is not just a question of the wretched chap going to university and being told, "You will be all right, Jack, on the day, although we are not certain." They want a clear statement with regard to that. I am sure the Government are sympathetic to the view we are putting forward on this matter. I do not know whether my noble friends wish to divide on this, but in order to hasten the Business, and in order to encourage the Government to be more helpful in relation to our appeals on this matter at a later stage, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5.28 p.m.

LORD SHEPHERD moved to add to the clause: ( ) This section shall expire at the end of twelve months from the date of its coming into force unless continued in the manner laid down in section one of the Army and Air Force Act, 1961, for the continuance of the Army Act, 1955, and the Air Force Act, 1955.

The noble Lord said: This is the last Amendment to Clause 2. It seeks to make it necessary by Statute for the Secretary of State to obtain the approval of Parliament for the continuation of this clause. As I have said earlier, approximately 100,000 men are involved. The Government have said that the number of persons who may be recalled will depend upon the response to Clause 3—that is, the "Ever-readies". I suspect (to use a phrase of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury) that the Government are being "a bit too clever by half". I strongly suspect, when I look at the recruiting figures and the strengths of the Regular Army, particularly the strength for 1963, that the Government will have no option but to find 15,000 to 20,000 men from these new Reserves they are creating—that is, the National Service Reserve, under Clauses 2 and 3. If they are to find 20,000 to 25,000 men to bring up their Army strength to 185,000, which I believe is about the figure the Army have planned for all along, obviously they will have to find them by calling up the Clause 3 "Ever-readies", which we understand will be limited to 20,000 or 30,000. (We do not know this, because the Government have not yet said what the figure will be.)

I believe that it is quite wrong to give the Minister carte blanche under Clause 2 to call up these men, who, we have repeatedly said, have done their service, without any report to, or any approval of, Parliament. Therefore we suggest in our Amendment that the Government should come to Parliament and obtain approval. There will be a large number of men involved in the call-up, and I think it is right that Parliament should have some say in the operation of this clause. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 36, at end insert the said subsection.—(Lord Shepherd.)

5.31 p.m.


I hesitate to make a speech on this occasion, because I noticed that on the last occasion when we had a Division and nobody had made a speech, there were ten more votes for the Government than on the previous occasion, when I had made a speech. Perhaps it would be just as well if I sat down and said nothing. But the noble Lord has made a persuasive speech on this Amendment, and perhaps I owe him a few words.

The Bill, alas!, does not legislate for a situation to which we can see any end at present, apart from the run-out of National Service men and the termination of their part-time liability, which in any case will bring the powers under Clause 2 of the Bill, which we are discussing, to a close in 1966 or thereabouts. As I said in the debate on the Bill itself a fortnight ago, it is—at any rate so far as Clauses 2 and 3 are concerned—an insurance against sudden bouts of international tension; and in the uncertain world in which we live these can seldom be foreseen very far in advance. I do not think that any of us could confidently predict such a general détente throughout the world as would make this insurance unnecessary in the next three or four years—and certainly not within twelve months from now.

I quite understand the anxiety of noble Lords opposite to keep a proper control over the Secretary of State's power to raise and maintain the Army—it is right and proper that they should be anxious—particularly this power which affects so much the liberty of the subject. But I really cannot see that Parliament will be in any better position to judge the need for these powers at the beginning of 1963 than it can at the present moment. And, of course, the whole abject of the clause is to enable the Government to call up, with the least possible delay and without recourse to a Proclamation, those extra troops which, if they are to have a proper deterrent effect, must be immediately available. If, therefore, the clause is to serve any useful purpose, we must know in advance that we can call on these reservists if tension were to rise.

In addition, I do not think it right to take up Parliamentary time, which is crowded enough already, with this sort of annual legislation, unless it is really necessary. And in this case surely there are other checks on the power of the Secretary of State which are equally effective. Parliament has the opportunity annually to vote or withhold money for the Army—and indeed for these reservists, of whom we are speaking. At any time when Parliament is sitting, there will be an opportunity to debate any emergency requiring the exercise of these powers; and if the emergency arises in a Recess and Parliament wishes to come back, that also can be arranged in the usual way.

In so far as there is anxiety about the way in which the Secretary of State may carry out the pledges which he has given to the individuals who may be affected by Clause 2, there is a perfectly good way of bringing him to book at any time by means of questions in Parliament, not only questions in the House of Commons, but also Unstarred Questions in your Lordships' House, and a debate can be arranged at very short notice. I would remind your Lordships that at the beginning of 1963, when the first annual review provided in the Amendment would take place, this clause will hardly have had time to take effect. As I have already said, it is most unlikely that any men will be recalled while the retained National Service men are with us. In any case, subsection (3) of Clause 4 requires the Secretary of State to keep Parliament informed about the exercise of the powers in both Clauses 2 and 3.


Do I understand from these two or three sentences that the First Lord of the Admiralty considers that he is going to get enough volunteers to join the Regular Forces in the next twelve months to meet the point he makes?


I think the noble Viscount has misunderstood me. What I was saying was that, until the retained National Service men go, there will be no cause to call up the National Service men reservists under Clause 2, and I hope very much that there will never be any need to call up the reservists under Clause 2 because the "Ever-readies" will be recruited in such sufficient numbers that it will be unnecessary to do so. But I was not talking about Regular recruiting, and I think that is where the noble Viscount misunderstood me.


May I put this in?—perhaps it is a little irrelevant but it is rather important. The First Lord of the Admiralty told us on the television last night that we have a wonderful prospect of recruiting to the Royal Navy. Cannot he meet our commitments by having more men in the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines and the movable Forces?


I am very gratified that the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition was watching me on television last night, and I am tempted to give him a long disquisition on the importance of the Royal Navy, how good recruiting is and how excellent the Royal Marines are; but though there are no Rules in your Lordships' House, I think that I might be trespassing on your Lordships' patience a little too far. In any event, the time will come in the Defence debate, when perhaps I shall have an opportunity of doing so.

I suggest, therefore, that this clause does not give unlimited power to the Secretary of State for an indefinite period. The period is self-limiting and it will not last for more than four years. And the checks, as I have said, are there in any case. The National Service Act does not have to be brought up for review every year; neither does the Secretary of State's power to call men up under the Army Reserve Act. There is nothing essentially new in this Bill which would make it necessary that this particular piece of legislation should be dealt with any differently. So, I am afraid that I cannot accept this Amendment, but I would repeat what I said in the debate on the Bill itself and have just said to the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition: if the new Territorial Army Emergency Reserve is a success, and the international situation does not deteriorate still further in the meantime, we should not require to make use of the powers under Clause 2 at all; and I very much hope that this will be the case.


Once again the noble Lord has made a good case for the Amendment. If he is hoping not to use this power, then surely we might put some sort of limit on it and ask him to come to Parliament whenever it is necessary and ask for it. If an emergency arises, I do not think that this would be a serious abuse of Parliamentary time. We used to have much more annual legislation, and I am inclined to agree with the noble Lord that some of it might well be dispensed with; but the Government refused to accept Amendments moved in another place that this should be done by Order. Now the noble Lord hopes not to have to use this power, but still he wants it. What we are saying is that this power should expire, and, if he needs it, he should come and renew it.


I am afraid that the noble Lord has listened to only the last half of my speech and not the first half. I explained at considerable length why we needed these powers and only said at the end, if it was any consolation to noble Lords opposite, that I hoped we should not need to use them. We should all be pleased if that were so, not least the noble Lords opposite.


I am still unimpressed. Like all the Services, the Army produces its annual report, a fairly large one, for Army Estimates. The Army and the Air Force Act is brought before Parliament every year. Surely it would not be asking too much that the Government should include in this Bill a provision, similar to the one we propose, and obtain Parliamentary approval. If the Government cannot concede this, there is little point in pressing it. I am disappointed at the noble Lord's general attitude that Clause 2 is not likely to be required, and that it is hoped that under Clause 3 we shall not have to use the persons—


I did not say that Clause 2 is not likely to be required. I said that I hoped it would not be.


I accept that; I am in error. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 [Territorial Army Emergency Reserve]:

On Question: whether Clause 3 shall stand part of the Bill?

5.41 p.m.


I wonder whether the Government can give us a little more explanation as to the number of men who are going to be involved under Clause 3. On Second Reading the First Lord said that the Government were thinking in terms of 15,000 men or thereabouts. These 15,000 men are going to have to cover a pretty wide gap and, anxious though the Government may be to achieve miracles, they so demonstrably have failed to do so in terms of recruiting in other directions, that this particular gap (I do not want to go into the numbers again) is likely to be perhaps of the order of 15,000 at any one time. If that is 15,000 they are calling up this year, and they want another 15,000 next year, is that the number they have in mind? If so, how many "Ever-readies" do they need in order to achieve 15,000 men at any time in the Services over the next three years? There must be some estimate on this matter.

This clause is introduced against the background, as my noble friend Lord Shepherd made clear, of a decline in numbers. I should have thought that, if anything, more would be needed. But perhaps the Government hope that Regular recruiting will have improved. However, if their hopes—I put it no higher than that now though I think that at times there has been a certain rosy optimism—that they will not have to call on the Class Z National Service men are realised, they will need a great many "Ever-readies." We should like to know how many "Ever-readies" they reckon they will get; and how many, say, next year, after they have exhausted this year's retained National Servicemen, they hope to have serving in the course of the year and at any one time.


I do not know that I can satisfy the noble Lord very much on that point, because it is anybody's guess how many people will join the Territorial Army Emergency Reserve. The idea is that we should recruit about 15,000 of them. This does not mean that we expect there will always be a shortage of 15,000 in the Regular Army. I hope that will not be so; indeed, on the way the recruiting figures are going I do not see any reason why it should be so. What these men will be is a very useful emergency reserve in case something goes wrong. I hope very much that National Servicemen who are doing their Reserve obligation will feel that this is a necessary and useful Reserve, and something they can join with the feeling that they are doing something to help their country. I am unable to forecast how many men would be prepared to join, but I hope that a good deal of publicity will be given to this scheme and that the noble Lord opposite will do what he can to encourage people to join this Reserve.


There is one question I should like to ask, but before doing so, I must say that I am not at all happy about the noble Lord's statement regarding the recruiting campaign. As I indicated on my first Amendment, the Defence White Paper shows that the Government anticipate that they will have 166,000 Regulars by April 1, 1963; that the net increase of Regulars (and the net increase, of course, is the real figure) from 1961 to 1962 was 6,000, and that the anticipated net increase from 1962 to 1963 will be about 8,000. I understand that the Army is based on 185,000 men. My arithmetic, quickly done, shows that, on the 166,000 Regulars anticipated to be available on April 1, 1963, there will be a short-fall of 19,000 men. That, roughly, represents that the 185,000 Regulars will not be obtained until 1965–66. I should have thought, therefore, that it would be obvious to anybody that the Government will have to call up these men under Clause 3. And I strongly suspect that 15,000 will not be sufficient.

However, the question I want to put to the noble Lord is this. In subsection (2) of this clause the Minister is taking power to call up the "Ever-readies" for a period of six months within twelve months. Which twelve months is that? Is that a calendar twelve months, in the sense that a man can be called up for six months, and if he is going to be recalled he will be a civilian for six months? Or are we likely to face the case where the definition of a year is the calendar year, and that he may be called up from June to December, and then from January to June would become another year and he could he used during that period? I do not know whether the noble Lord can help us on that point.


The noble Lord has a very suspicious mind. Of course that is not the intention. The intention is that he signs on for a year, and of that year he can serve six months. But he would not be called up again to do another six months in the same year. He volunteers for one year only and can be called up only for six months of that year. The noble Lord has issued another invitation to join with him in playing the numbers game, but I really do not think I want to do it this evening. We had a good go at this a fortnight ago, and we shall have another opportunity at the beginning of next month. I would just say this. Will the noble Lord go into the Printed Paper Office and look at the Memorandum just produced by the Secretary of State for War, a very well-produced document with a nice shiny red cover? There he will see how well the recruiting figures are going.


I have that figure, and I also have the figures I have given; and the figures do not tally.


I am sorry to continue with this discussion, but I honestly believe the Government are "dodging out" on this one. The figures do not add up. So far as I can see, the most they would hope for, spread throughout the year, would be to have 7,500 "Ever-readies". Assuming that they were confronted with the sort of situation that exists now, and they would not need all the 15,000, they are unlikely to be able to use more than 7,500 at any one time. It is to this that the Government attach their main hopes about not invoking the powers under Clause 2.


Does the noble Lord realise that when we talk about retaining 15,000 National Service men that is 15,000 in two lots? So it is only 7,500 for six months at a time. I think he will find, in point of fact, that the figures do tally.


If they tally in that respect, at least we shall catch up the present-day shortages, which is something. In that case, it means an absolute certainty—and this is the other point I want to make—that anybody who undertakes this "Ever-ready" liability, certainly for next year, accepts the certainty that he will do his six months' service.


Not at all. The noble Lord is not right. Such a man would be called up only if there were an emergency of the sort we have been enduring for the last six months over Berlin, and if there were a shortage in the Regular Army—though I hope that Regular recruiting will cure that.


I agree that we cannot go on pursuing this matter. But one comes back to the point that we are going to default on our obligations under N.A.T.O., and leave the British Army of the Rhine at a level far below that at which we are in honour bound to maintain it.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 [Provisions supplemental to ss. 2 and 3]:


We have asked for accountability on the various clauses that we have discussed. In subsection (3) of this clause the Secretary of State has obligated himself to report from time to time regarding Clauses 2 and 3. I wish to ask the noble Lord what is meant by "from time to time". I suggest that he reports at three-monthly intervals. I will not press it, but I should like to know what "from time to time" means. Does it mean annually, when the Army Estimates come out, or what? Can he help me? I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 15, leave out ("from time to time") and insert ("every three months").(Lord Shepherd.)


If this requires a direct translation, I am unable to help the noble Lord. If I tell him it means, "now and then", he is unlikely to be satisfied. Strictly speaking, what it will mean is "when required". I think that what the noble Lord is after in this Amendment is to make it consistent with Amendment No. 2 which he moved, which would have provided for three-monthly reports on the numbers of men retained, and I cannot advise the House to accept this Amendment either. There is no need for any statutory provision for a report to Parliament, as it is certain that such reports would have to be made, whether the Act said so or not. It is worth looking at the way this is provided for in the Army Reserve Act, 1950, where it says that in respect of the call-out of pre-proclamation reserves—that is, the Army Emergency Reserve and the Regular Reserve—report to Parliament may be made as soon as may be. This gives discretion to the Secretary of State as to when Parliament should be informed, and certainly implies no recall of Parliament.

I do not want to go through the reasons. Since the noble Lord has moved his Amendment very briefly, I do not think I ought to be any less brief. There are mainly three reasons for resisting the Amendment: first, it is unnecessary; secondly, a rigid requirement for reports at three-monthly intervals (I know the noble Lord does not accept this) would produce, we hope, a series of nil reports being given ad infinitum if the powers under Clause 3 were not invoked, and for a shorter time if the powers under Clause 2 were not invoked. There is no precedent for such quarterly returns in Army Reserve legislation. I have already referred to the method and phrase, "as soon as may be", written into the Army Reserve Act, 1950, which satisfied the then Labour Government, and I hope this may make it easier for the noble Lord to withdraw his Amendment.


I suppose the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, realises that every three months Parliament might not be not be sitting, and in fact there might not be a Parliament at all.


I thank the noble Lord for his intervention. This is the first time I have known there is a similarity in the meaning of "from time to time", and "when required",


I said it would in fact come to mean, "when required"


I do not propose to press this Amendment. I hope this is the last time I shall be speaking on this Committee stage, and may I personally thank the two noble Lords for their kindness and courtesy. I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 4 agreed to.

5.55 p.m.


moved after Clause 4 to insert the following new clause

Conscientious objectors

".—(1) If any person retained in army service under section one of this Act is undergoing a sentence of imprisonment or detention for a term of three months or more imposed on him by a Court Martial, then if he claims that the offence for which he was sentenced was committed by reason of his conscientiously objecting to performing military service or to obeying any order in respect of which the offence was committed, he may apply in the manner prescribed under section seventeen of the National Service Act, 1948, to have his case considered by the Appellate Tribunal constituted under the Fourth Schedule to that Act, and subsections (2), (3) and (4) of section twenty-one of that Act shall apply.

(2) If any person who is recalled into army service under section two of this Act claims that he conscientiously objects to performing military service or to performing combatant duties he may apply in the manner prescribed in the last foregoing subsection to have his case considered by the Appellate Tribunal, and the same provisions shall apply."

The noble Lord said: With this Amendment I return to the problem which I have brought before your Lordships on a number of occasions in the past: the problem of the man who, having started on his military service, or possibly having concluded his service and gone into the Reserve, becomes a conscientious objector, whose views in relation to military service change. There have been quite a number of this type of case which have given rise to a good deal of difficulty. Indeed, some five or six years ago I introduced a Bill to deal with the matter, because cases which had occurred showed that the situation was a very unfair one. As your Lordships know, a man who is a conscientious objector when called up can take the point on registration and go before a local tribunal which will decide whether his conscientious objection is a genuine one. If it is, then he is excused military service.

That has been the law in this country ever since we started compulsory military service during the First World War, and I think we can pride ourselves that this is a very liberal attitude. Unfortunately, in relation to the equally sincere man who develops his conscientious objection afterwards, the law does nothing to protect him. He will disobey a military order if he is still serving, or disobey the order to return to the Colours if he is in Reserve. He is then, of course, guilty of an offence and is brought before a court martial and sent to prison. At that stage administrative arrangements have been made (rather by the military authorities, as I understand it, than by the politicians) to enable him to have his conscientious scruples tested by a tribunal. If that tribunal finds that he is genuine, he will then be released and not required to serve out the period of his detention as ordered by the Army tribunal.

This new Bill, obviously, will have the effect either of retaining men in this situation or of recalling men in this situation, and it has given rise to a good deal of anxiety among conscientious objectors and among those who feel that here is a civil liberty which is threatened by the present arrangements. It is for that reason that I have tabled this Amendment. As your Lordships see, the proposed new clause falls into two parts. The first part covers those who are retained in the Army for further service, and this part of the clause retains the court martial procedure to which I have referred. The second part of the clause deals with those who are being recalled for service. The man would be allowed to go to a tribunal on application on the ground that this is, in fact, an additional liability which is being imposed upon him, and is to some extent similar to that which was imposed by the 1950 Act. So it seems not unreasonable that a rather different procedure should be adopted in this type of case.

Naturally, we should prefer to have this right established in the Bill, and if the Government could see their way to accept it we should be very gratified. Judging from my past experience, I do not imagine that they would be ready to give way, having taken a very firm line in the past. In these circumstances I hope they will be able to give us an assurance that the administrative method which, while certainly not altogether fair to the men, is at any rate rather better than the original arrangements which existed before it was brought into force, will be continued and applied in this type of case. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— After Clause 4 insert the said new clause.—(Lord Chorley.)


I think I can do rather better than that. I think I can say to the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, that what I am proposing to him is better than what he himself proposes. Before I do so perhaps we ought to be quite clear what, in point of fact, are the existing statutory provisions for the National Service man. Under the National Service Act a man may apply to register as a conscientious objector before—and this "before" is important—he is called up for whole-time service If he does this, but not otherwise, and if his application is rejected, he is entitled, once he has been called up, to appear before an appellate tribunal if he is sentenced by a court martial to three months' or more imprisonment or detention for an offence against military law which he claims was committed on the grounds of conscience. But there is a further limitation here. He has a statutory right of appeal in this way only if his offence is committed in the United Kingdom.

The statutory rights of conscientious objectors under the National Service Act, 1948, are therefore fairly closely circumscribed: they apply only to men who register as conscientious objectors before call-up; and to such men who commit offences against military law in this country. These statutory rights are, however, supplemented by certain non-statutory provisions. In the first place, the right of appeal to the appellate tribunal following three months' detention or imprisonment has been extended administratively to men who did not register as conscientious objectors before they were called up; that is to say, to men who developed conscientious scruples after they joined the Army for whole-time National Service. And last year this non-statutory right of appeal was further extended to National Service men serving abroad. The same administrative arrangements are also applied to Regular soldiers (including, reservists called up) who develop conscientious objections during their term of service, wherever they may be serving. Now the Secretary of State has given an assurance that the existing administrative—that is to say, non-statutory—practice and arrangements for conscientious objectors will continue to hold good for all those who are involved in the Bill. This means that both retained and recalled men will be allowed access, under administrative arrangements, to the appellate tribunal set up under the National Service Act, 1948, if they commit an offence and are sentenced by court-martial to three months' or more imprisonment or detention and claim that the offence was committed on grounds of conscience.

My Lords, I think that this assurance meets the substance of the Amendment. Indeed it goes further if the noble Lord's intention is to give the same statutory protection as applies to National Service men; because, as I have said, the statutory rights conferred by the National Service Act, which he mentions in his Amendment, apply only to offences committed by men while in Great Britain and only to those who applied for registration before call-up. If the noble Lord wants to safeguard the position of men serving in B.A.O.R., which will be the majority of these men under this Bill, he would do far better to rely on the administrative arrangements which the Secretary of State has promised to apply to these men.

If, however, the noble Lord seeks to go further than the National Service Act or the administrative arrangements—for example, by providing recalled men with a statutory right of appeal to a tribunal without the necessity of having to commit an offence—then I am bound to reject his proposal. The administrative arrangements have worked well in practice. If recalled men had an un-restricted right to appeal to a tribunal there might well be a rush of conscientious objectors in the event of a call-up and the powers in Clause 2 might be frustrated. There is no provision for conscientious objectors anywhere else in any legislation dealing with Reserves or the Regular Army, and it is undesirable to make special provision in this Bill which concerns only a small part of the Reserve field. I think, however, that in what I have said earlier, in my answer to the noble Lord, I have met the point he has in mind, and I hope he will be satisfied and will withdraw his Amendment.


I am very grateful to the noble Lord. I was aware, of course, that the administrative arrangements had been extended to cover B.A.O.R., which was a very useful concession, although I must say that I think it is involved in the principle of the thing and that it was right and proper that it should be done. I am sorry that the noble Lord, towards the end of his speech, repeated the argument which was advanced on the last occasion; that large numbers of these conscientious objectors are just scrimshankers (I think that was the phrase used by his predecessor to me on the last occasion), because I think most of those who have had anything to do with this problem know quite well that the number of scrimshankers involved represents only a very small minority. However, I did not expect that the noble Lord would be prepared to agree to putting this matter into the Statute. The administrative arrangements certainly have worked, up to a point, although the number of these cases shows that what actually happens is that a man has to serve a sentence as a result of the court martial and that seems to us to be very unfair to him. However, in all the circumstances of the case I am glad to have the assurances which the noble Lord has given, and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Remaining clauses and Schedule agreed to.

LORD SHACKLETON moved to add to the Title of the Bill: to extend periods of service under the National Service Act, 1948, and to make further provision with respect to the Territorial Army Special Reserve.

The noble Lord said: This is not perhaps the weightiest of topics to end our, I hope, on the whole, congenial debate, and I give notice that I do not intend to divide the House and, therefore, those devoted Members of your Lordships' House who have been staying here to save the Government are free to leave at this moment. I should not have moved this Amendment except that I thought it would be interesting to know what the Government's reply to this would be. It is an attempt to make an honest woman of—I will not call it a dishonest Bill, but a Bill which has, I should have thought, a slightly misleading Long Title.

Are National Service men, I ask the noble Lord, reservists when they are doing their National Service? If that is so, then, quite clearly, the Bill is properly entitled; if they are not, then the Bill is not properly entitled because, of course, it is not just a question of calling up reserves but a question of extending the period of service of those who are already doing full-time service. I have searched the definitions and found in the definitions book that "reserve forces" were "reserve forces". Perhaps, however, the noble Lord's Department have done more research and can give us an answer on this. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— In the Title, after ("army") insert the said words.—(Lord Shackleton.)


I am rather surprised to see the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, moving this Amendment. He was rather more restrained than the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, on the Second Reading, when the noble Lord had no compunction whatever in describing the Bill as dishonest.


I said the Title was dishonest, not the Bill.


I think the noble Lord said both the Title and the Bill. I am very glad if he does not think the Bill is dishonest. Whatever may be thought of the Bill and the Title—your Lordships were at any rate prepared to give it a Second Reading, and that is of course the main thing—the existing Long Title, which is: An Act to make further provision with respect to reserves for the Regular Army", does appropriately cover the provisions of the Bill. Clause 3—that is, Territorial army emergency reserve—is certainly concerned with reserves for the Regular Army. Clause 2 provides additional permissive powers to recall part-time National Service men from the Army Emergency Reserve or the Territorial Army for whole-time Army service. These men already form part of the reserves for the Regular Army and are liable to be called out in time of war. It is therefore correct to say in respect of them that the Bill makes further provision in respect of reserves for the Regular Army". The case for regarding men retained under Clause 1 as "reserves for the Regular Army" is perhaps not quite so obvious, because they do not actually join the Reserves as part-time National Service men before being retained in Army service. They do, however, cease to perform service under the National Service Acts at the end of their statutory two years' whole-time service. They would normally then pass to the Reserves to fulfil their part-time liability. Instead they are retained for whole-time service under the provisions of the Bill (not under the National Service Acts). Their 3½ years part-time National Service Reserve liability is reduced by any period of retention. It is therefore not inappropriate to regard them for the purposes of the Title of the Bill as having the status of reserves required to perform service with the Regular Army. At any rate their reserve service is affected.

If the noble Lord opposite does not like the Government's Title of the Bill I must tell him that I like his even less, because the terms of his Amendment are completely inaccurate. As I have explained, the Bill does not "extend periods of service under the National Service Act, 1948". Nor does it "make further provision with respect to the Territorial Army Special Reserve". No such Reserve exists. Perhaps noble Lords intended to refer to the Territorial Army Emergency Reserve; but this does not exist either, and cannot until the Bill is passed, so one cannot make "further provision" for it. The Territorial Army Emergency Reserve is not directly mentioned as such in the Bill—only in the rubric of Clause 3—and so I believe it would not be correct to refer to it in the Title in any case. So, on balance, I think the noble Lord has come worse out of the debate on the Title than the Government, and I hope he will withdraw his Amendment.


I do not think there has been much debate. I do not really like my Amendment at all. We were just trying to help the Government in the way that the Opposition do try to help. I think we have done our best, with notable lack of success; but we know the Government are in difficulties, so certainly we should wish to expedite the Bill. As the noble Lord said, we hope that those sections of it that are genuinely concerned with the Reserves, namely, the "Ever-readies", prosper. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Title agreed to.

House resumed.