§ 3.15 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE MINISTER of DEFENCE FOR THE ROYAL AIR FORCE (LORD SHACKLETON)
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. Before I discuss the individual provisions of the Bill, I would draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that this Bill includes provisions relating to the Royal Navy as well as to the Army and the Royal Air Force. In the past Bills on naval discipline culminating in the Naval Discipline Act 1957 have come before your Lordships' House on their own and not as part of a tri-Service Bill, whereas legislation in this field affecting the Army has usually accompanied legislation on the R.A.F. Moreover, unlike the Army and Air Force Acts, the Naval Discipline Act is a permanent Statute which does not have to be renewed every five years.
In this Bill we are proposing a number of amendments to the Naval Discipline Act, as well as to the Army and Air Force Acts of 1955, which are designed to bring the Acts governing the three Services nearer together. We are also proposing to bring the Naval Enlistment Acts 1835–1884 up to date and into line so far as is possible with the law governing enlistment into the Army and the R.A.F. I stress the words "so far as is possible" because, however tidy-minded we may wish to be with regard to the three Services, I am sure your Lordships will all agree that they are different in certain respects.
This is a fairly complicated Bill and therefore I do not propose to deal with any of the broader issues affecting the Army and the Air Force and the Navy, but will take your Lordships through as much as possible of the changes that are being brought into force as a result of this Bill. Indeed, there are some more substantial changes than were made on 1187 the last occasion. Your Lordships will recall that until 1955 the Army and Air Force Acts were renewed annually. In 1955 Parliament decided that the Army and Air Force Acts 1955 could be renewed annually by Order in Council, subject to Affirmative Resolution, up to a maximum of five years and that then an Act of Parliament should be needed. This pattern was repeated in the Army and Air Force Act 1961.
Clause 1 of this Bill proposes that this procedure should continue for a further five years. As the Army and Air Force Acts are to be continued by Clause 1 until the end of 1967, your Lordships will not be asked this year to approve the draft of Orders in Council providing that the Army and Air Force Acts shall continue in force for a further year. In effect, the debate on the Act will provide sufficient Parliamentary control for this year, and it is in the renewal in subsequent years that we proceed by Order in Council. It may be of help to the House if I go in some depth into the purpose of the particular clauses, although I should ask your Lordships' indulgence because to some extent this will amount to a rehashing of a Committee stage, but in fact it may save the time of your Lordships if I do this on Second Reading.
Clause 2 has been called a somewhat radical proposal, but I hope your Lordships will find it none the less acceptable. It brings together in one clause provisions empowering the Defence Council to make regulations governing the terms of enlistment and certain conditions of service of regular soldiers, sailors and airmen; and I should like, if I may, to explain how these terms and conditions have been regulated up to now. Until 1955 the terms of enlistment and conditions of service in the Regular Army and Royal Air Force were laid down in some detail in Acts renewed annually by Parliament. This annual renewal meant that any change which might be desired could be proposed to Parliament within a year. When the quinquennial system of renewing the 1955 Acts was introduced it was found necessary, despite the revision in the 1955 Acts, to revise the terms of Army enlistment in the Army (Conditions of Enlistment) Act 1957. The Army and Air Force Act 1961 contains an almost complete revision of these terms 1188 and conditions of service. Although we saved a great deal of Parliamentary time, we missed a certain amount of flexibility as a result of this in regard to terms of enlistment. If we had not proposed Clause 2, we should have had to propose yet further, though relatively minor, amendments. If your Lordships would wish to consider these they are set out on page 3 of the Select Committee's Report.
The history of the Navy's terms of entry and conditions of service is very different. They are contained in outline—I stress, in outline—in the Naval Enlistment Acts, 1835 to 1884, though a great deal is laid down in regulations, a very great deal indeed. The powers of the Defence Council are more flexible but some types of engagement common in the Army and R.A.F. cannot under present powers be introduced into the Navy. When we came to consider how to bring the laws regulating entry into the Royal Navy up to date, and as far as possible into line with the other two Services, it became clear that if we were to attempt to apply to the Royal Navy even some of the very detailed provisions governing the Army or Air Force which are set out in Schedule 1 to the Bill we should be asking Parliament to run the risk of having to spend as much time revising these provisions as has been spent on the Army's provision over the last eleven years. In fact the risk would probably be greater, because the provisions of the 1955 Acts came at the end of a long line of Annual Acts and represented the outcome of a wholesale revision of those Acts whereas Parliament has not legislated on Naval enlistment since 1884.
We therefore thought that we should be justified in asking Parliament to empower the Defence Council to regulate the terms of enlistment and conditions of service for all three Services and with rather more freedom than the Army and R.A.F. have had up to now. In order to meet the needs of the day in a competitive market we need flexibility in laying down terms of enlistment and we need to be able to vary them at short notice. Otherwise we may well lose a good many recruiting opportunities. I would stress to your Lordships that recruitment is in many ways very much a market operation. There are times when the market is favourable. You cannot always foretell how the market will go and flexibility 1189 is what any good and effective employer seeks. At the same time, it is right that we should make proper provision for Parliament to oversee and have a say m what we do in this matter.
In asking for this greater freedom we have been careful not to ask for more than we need. I should emphasise that we are asking for freedom only in the field covered in Schedule 1 and described in subsection (1) of Clause 2. We are not asking for freedom in the fields covered by Clauses 4 to 11 of the Bill, nor in the Army and Air Force equivalents, which are in Part I of each of the 1955 Acts. For instance, parental consent to the enlistment of young soldiers and airmen will continue to be regulated by Statute—and I think your Lordships would wish this—as will the retention of Regulars in an emergency. These are matters over which clearly Parliament should have control.
Moreover, subsection (1) enables the Defence Council to regulate the terms of the engagements on offer but it gives no power to force anyone to accept them. When they have been accepted voluntarily, subsection (3) prevents any right given from being varied without the individual's consent, and this is obviously right and common sense. Subsection (2) gives power to repeal the provisions in Schedule 1 by regulation. The reason for this is that the timing of the repeal is important. We need to make sure that Parliament has accepted the regulations which will take the place of the provisions in Schedule 1 before the repeal takes effect. We have therefore specified in Schedule 1 the provisions to be dealt with by regulation.
Your Lordships may like to have an explanation of subsection (4) which deals with the method of making the regulations. I have explained that at present some of the field is covered by Statutes, but there are powers enabling the Defence Council to prescribe the more detailed provisions by regulations which are not made by Statutory Instrument at all and do not have to be laid before Parliament. We propose that in future all the regulations in this field shall be made by Statutory Instrument and be subject to annulment by Parliament. The difference between the categories in paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (4)—I apologise to your Lordships for being so technical, but important issues of Parliamentary 1190 control are involved—is that if the regulations amend or repeal an Act they will be laid in draft, but that if they do not they will be made before being laid before Parliament.
Your Lordships who are familiar with the procedures in this matter will appreciate both the difference and the reason for this particular differentiation. When regulations are laid in draft either House of Parliament may resolve within forty days that the Instruments be not made, in which case no further proceedings may be taken on the drafts. This is without prejudice to the laying of new Instruments in draft. This procedure gives the maximum degree of Parliamentary control short of the Affirmative Resolution procedure. When Statutory Instruments which do not amend or repeal an Act of Parliament are made (for example, those described in subsection (4)(a)), either House may resolve that an Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the Instrument be annulled—in other words, the Negative Prayer procedure. If this is done no further proceedings may be taken under the Instrument and an Order in Council will have to be made revoking the Instrument. This is without prejudice to the validity of anything done under the Instrument or to the making and laying of a new Instrument.
I hope that your Lordships will agree that in asking for greater freedom in this field we have had careful regard to Parliament's rightful interest in these matters and that we have struck the right balance between taking up Parliament's time unnecessarily and ensuring that Parliament can intervene whenever it thinks fit. I realise this is a delicate field and Parliament is rightly always sensitive to proceedings under Statutory Instruments. But I think the degree of control—and in certain respects Parliamentary control is being increased—represents the right balance; and I can assure your Lordships from my own experience when I on one occasion wished to alter a relatively simple arrangement, with regard to the engagement terms of applicants to the Women's Royal Air Force, which we thought would help recruiting, I was prevented from doing so; indeed we have had to wait a couple of years to do it, and I think this is therefore desirable.
May I turn to some of the other provisions, Clauses 3 to 11 and Clause 13? These clauses will bring the terms of 1191 enlistment and conditions of service for ratings and marines up to date, and in general into line with those applying to soldiers and airmen in Part I of the 1955 Acts. There is, however, nothing in these clauses to confer on Naval recruits the right to purchase their discharge in their first three months of service. We told the Select Committee on this Bill and the Committee of the other place that we intend to make regulations under this Bill giving all new recruits to Royal Navy and Royal Marines the right to purchase their discharge for £20 during the last fourteen days of their third month of service. As the grant of this right is an entirely new departure for the Navy, we think that the regulations procedure which is more flexible than legislation is a reasonable one to adopt initially. I hope that your Lordships, too, will agree.
Clause 12 proposes a new clause to take the place of Section 10 of each of the 1955 Acts. It proposes that Her Majesty's powers to retain in the Service Regular soldiers and airmen when national danger is imminent or a great emergency has arisen should be exercised by order instead of the time consuming procedure of a Proclamation; the words about informing Parliament are in line with those recently approved by Parliament in Section 5 of the Reserve Forces Act. As the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, and others who took part in that debate will remember, we were concerned about the new arrangements for calling out the Reserves in an emergency, and in this context this is consistent with what applied on the previous occasion.
My Lords, I should like to turn now to Part III of the Bill, which is mainly concerned with disciplinary matters. Clause 15 provides a new power to take a person subject to Service law into Service custody as a preferred alternative to his being taken into custody by local authorities overseas. I am sure your Lordships will accept that we have a duty towards those we send abroad on military duties, to the civilians and dependants who accompany them, who may be subject to military law, wherever practicable to keep them out of custody in local gaols, possibly under unsuitable conditions. This is not, of course, to say that they should escape trial and punishment for offences against local law. They 1192 would be made available for investigations and trial in the local courts whenever this was appropriate. I will not go into this difficult question of jurisdiction, because this is confined to the question of custody.
We have, however, international agreements which entitle us to take pre-trial custody of our own personnel. Without the new power provided by this clause, such custody can only be taken lawfully with the consent of the person concerned except where it happens to be authorised under local law. This is obviously an unsatisfactory and slightly confusing situation, and Clause 15 will provide a statutory foundation which should assist our Service authorities to protect the Service personnel and at the same time help them in the responsible discharge of their obligations to the local courts. Since the person would be taken into custody in anticipation of process before the local courts, the duration of such custody depends upon the speed and activity of those courts. Control therefore presents difficulties, but the Defence Council will make regulations to ensure that they are kept fully informed of any case where the power is used and the Government would do all that is practicable to avoid a person from being held in custody for an undue time.
If I may quickly turn to Clauses 21, 32 and 17, this is the group of clauses designed to improve the disciplinary arrangements of all three Forces, to increase or introduce monetary punishments in a manner which will be recognised as consistent with developments in civil practice; and it brings the three Services closer together. In doing this, perhaps I may, with your Lordships' permission, take some clauses out of their numerical order, and, first of all, Clauses 21, 32 and 17. The punishment of a forfeiture of a sum from pay, to a maximum equivalent to fourteen days' pay, was introduced into the Army and Air Force in the 1961 Act and experience has shown it to be a most useful and satisfactory device, well designed to meet modern disciplinary needs. In many cases it has, for example, proved a valuable alternative to detention.
However, courts-martial have sometimes refrained from awarding this penalty, even where appropriate in form, because the maximum amount which could be forfeited did not seem sufficient 1193 in view of the gravity of the offence. In consequence, they have awarded other punishments which may in the event have had greater financial effects; for example, forfeiture of seniority or reduction in rank, and these punishments may have turned out unnecessarily damaging to a man's career. Clause 21 therefore proposes an increase in the sum awardable as a forfeiture by court-martial from 14 to 28 days' pay for Service offences, and that a court-martial should be given the same power as a civil court to award a fine for a civil offence. The summary powers of commanding officers would remain unchanged. The opportunity has also been taken in this clause to convert the punishment from that of a forfeiture of a sum from pay to what I think will be more naturally understood—namely, a "fine".
In Clause 22 we seek to introduce a new punishment in the Army and R.A.F. of dismissal from Her Majesty's service, which would be awardable only by courts-martial. This already exists for officers and warrant officers in those two Services and for all ranks in the Royal Navy, but N.C.O.s, soldiers and airmen can at present only be "discharged with ignominy" by courts-martial under the existing powers. Courts-martial may shrink from the stigma involved in awarding discharge with ignominy while agreeing that the accused should he dismissed. This has left the discharge of the accused to be dealt with by administrative means. We therefore propose that courts-martial in the Army and R.A.F. should be given the power to dismiss N.C.O.s, soldiers and airmen from Her Majesty's service.
§ LORD GLENDEVON
My Lords, may I just intervene to clear up something here. The wording of Clause 22(2) is:The punishment…shall henceforth be known as 'dismissal with disgrace'…It includes the word "disgrace". I was wondering what difference there is between "disgrace" and "ignominy".
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, if the noble Lord will allow me to go on, he will find that I am coming to that. I appreciate that this is a complicated measure. It is arguable which is worse, "disgrace" or "ignominy". I think that is the point that the noble Lord is on. What we are proposing is that it will be possible to dismiss, or to dismiss with 1194 disgrace; in other words, there is an option. We are proposing to change the name of the more serious punishment at present known in the Army and R.A.F. as "discharge with ignominy" to that of "dismissal with disgrace" which already exists in the Royal Navy. We feel that the latter term is less obscure and will bring the advantage of uniformity. Let me say to the noble Lord, that it will also be possible merely to punish with dismissal, without disgrace. If the noble Lord is unhappy about this we shall be able to go into it more fully on the Committee stage. It will, incidentally, leave the term "discharge" to signify the termination of service by administrative means.
Clause 32 introduces the punishment of fines for naval ratings, and in general brings the three Services into line as regards fines. Clause 17 increases the maximum fine awardable to a civilian. This latter change will be helpful in enabling more minor offences by civilians to be disposed of adequately without the formality, publicity and delay and expense of a trial by court-martial.
Clause 16 enables a foreigner to be placed in command over Her Majesty's Forces. It will be appreciated that such a situation may arise in joint forces in NATO, for example, and elsewhere. It may be suggested that foreigners have already been put in command of Her Majesty's Forces in the past under prerogative powers, but it was felt desirable to put the position beyond doubt by Statute. Clause 28 will ensure that Her Majesty's present power to put officers of Commonwealth Forces in command of Her United Kingdom Forces continues unaffected. I assure your Lordships that where members of our forces are placed to serve under foreign command the present practice will be continued whereby the powers of discipline over them will be reserved to British officers
I should like now to turn to a rather difficult legal point. Clauses 25, 26 and 35 relate to the barring of a second trial by either a civil court or by proceedings under the Service Acts in respect of the same or substantially the same offence which has already been dealt with by the other body. Briefly, their purpose is to apply fully to members of all the Services 1195 the Common Law principle that a person may not be put in jeopardy twice for the same offence. This principle, although enshrined in the 1957 Naval Discipline Act, has not yet been fully extended to the other two Services. I think your Lordships would agree that the time has come to bring them all into line on this point.
I ought to mention that there is one point in Clause 25 which we have subjected to examination legally. This deals with the application of the doctrine of autrefois acquit and convict in relation to trial by the civil courts after previous proceedings under the Service Acts. It is likely that the Government will wish to put down an Amendment in order to deal with a rather tricky legal point, but I will not go further into it at this stage, and when the time comes I shall no doubt need to ask my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor to help in this matter. I should also remark that the expression "substantially the same offence" which appears in Clauses 25 and 35 is that which, as noble and learned Lords will recognise, is based on the words used in judicial proceedings of this House in the case of Connelly v. The Director of Public Prosecutions to describe the Common Law principle of autrefois convict.
I must apologise to your Lordships for going into such detail, but, as I indicated, this Bill is essentially a package of important changes. It is difficult to single out, as one does on other Bills, a single main purpose. It is essentially concerned with improving and bringing up to date provisions for the conduct and control of Her Majesty's Armed Forces. Following the precedent of the last debate, I have not discussed general issues relating to the Forces, but if noble Lords have points of this nature which they wish to raise—and we are grateful to certain noble Lords for giving notice of these points—my noble friend will be prepared to deal with them in his winding-up speech. Indeed, for the noble Lord who is particularly concerned on the question of dismissal as opposed to dismissal with disgrace I will see whether my noble friend can give a clearer explanation; but I can assure him that the account I gave is correct.
I hope that your Lordships will agree that the present machinery for conducting 1196 legislation for the Armed Forces is now pretty satisfactory. We are at the start of a new quinquennial cycle, and the Bill permits the continuance of the Acts for five years; but provides for this only for the coming year, and each subsequent year is still subject to the wishes of Parliament. There is still the annual procedure of Order. As part of the quinquennial cycle, the Bill has been exhaustively examined with enormous thoroughness by a Select Committee of another place. This arrangement stems from a recommendation of a Select Committee sitting in 1952–54 which included in its membership my noble friend Lord Rowley. He is here seeing the products of some of the stalwart work done in the Select Committee. A major development this year has been the way in which the Royal Navy has been associated: entry and discharge into the Navy and discipline within the Navy are being brought closer towards the practice in the other two Services without, I am convinced, any detriment to the distinctive naval practice which has grown up over so many years out of their great wisdom and experience in these matters. This is indeed an "Armed Forces Bill", and as such I commend it to your Lordships. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Shackleton)
§ 3.47 p.m.
My Lords, I should like. to thank the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, for his very clear explanation of the Bill, which I must say takes a good deal of understanding for a mere amateur like myself. The Bill has taken quite a long time to reach this House, for I note that the Second Reading debate in the other place took place on December 13, 1965—before the Election. It was then, as the noble Lord said, very carefully considered by a Select Committee, and I should like to join with him in his tribute to the work which was done by that Committee.
It is not a controversial Bill, and on the whole we welcome it. We particularly welcome the fact that conditions of service for the Army, the Navy and the Air Force are being brought into line. Though I have always been opposed to integration for integration's sake—and indeed in the past I have felt that in 1197 some cases it has been overdone—I think that where it can be carried out without loss of efficiency it is a good thing. This Bill takes us a good step further in bringing into line the various rules and conditions for the three Services. When we next have a Defence debate in this House, I should like to discuss the detailed figures of economies which have been made in military and civilian personnel as a result of the reorganisations which have been carried out, particularly those in the Ministry of Defence. However, I feel that this Bill would not provide the right atmosphere for such a discussion. I intend only to select for mention one or two points which arise from the clauses of the Bill, and I shall be fairly brief. I should like to ask for certain enlargements on what the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said; and we shall of course, have a chance on Committee stage to go into more detail, if that becomes necessary.
Clause 2, which is a very important one, deals with enlistment and conditions of service; that is, recruiting. I noticed that almost every speech on this Bill in another place referred to recruiting, and almost every speech that we have had in Defence debates in your Lordships' House has also done so. I am quite sure that it will be a great improvement if the Ministry of Defence can alter conditions to suit the climate of the moment, and to take advantage of the climate of the moment for getting recruits.
Nevertheless, as the noble Lord has said, Parliament has always been very jealous of its powers, and we are a little alarmed that regulations should be brought in and acted on immediately, without Parliament having the opportunity to examine them, not necessarily on the Floor of either House, but in our Libraries. I think this Bill creates a precedent in that the new proposals become regulations on the day that they are submitted to Parliament. True, I understand that Parliament can annul them, but if such a thing were to happen a number of Servicemen would already have been admitted under conditions which were then vetoed by Parliament. I will not say any more about this, but I hope to examine the matter, and I also hope that some of your Lordships will speak about it, at Committee stage.
1198 I now want to turn to Clause 9, which deals with the admission of young persons. I am not quite sure what the former regulations were, but we are in complete agreement that parents and guardians should have to give their consent before a young lad under 17½ can join up. Can the noble Lord tell me whether it is the case already with the Army and the R.A.F., and that this clause therefore brings the Navy into line?
At present permission has to be obtained for the Army and Air Force boys.
There is also the question of one of these young men changing his mind. I should like to say just a word on this point, because I think we are in difficulties. Certainly in my experience, boys in the Army and in the R.A.F. are given very expensive technical training at apprentice schools. They are first-class establishments, and I know one very well. It grew up under my command, and I know that the education provided there is more expensive than that at Eton—or even Borstal. Obviously, the Service must get a return for such public expenditure in at least a few years of service in the arm the boy has chosen. The Services must be protected from being used merely to give a technical education which, when completed, could command higher wages in industry. But, equally, a boy who is genuinely unhappy and a misfit in the career chosen by him in a fit of enthusiasm, should be allowed a chance of changing his mind. Can the Minister who is to wind up give us any yardstick, and tell us whether the regulations for the three Services are the same?
I turn now to Clause 15 which deals with comparatively junior officers putting senior officers under arrest. This clause appeals to me enormously. It conjures up in my mind an elderly General being pursued by a fierce foreign policeman dangling a pair of handcuffs, and, when almost exhausted, throwing himself in the arms of the first officernot below the rank of lieutenant-commander or a military or air-force officer of corresponding rankbegging to be put under arrest. It is a sort of modern variant of hide-and-seek, 1199 which your Lordships might well introduce to your children and grandchildren. I think that Mr. Giles of the Daily Express should not let the opportunity slip to depict such an interesting possibility. But it is a very sensible regulation, and I appreciate the causes behind it.
I notice in Clause 25 (I am having to jump about a little, because this is related slightly) that a civil court is debarred from trying an officer or man if he has already been tried under military law. How does this apply to offences committed in foreign and Commonwealth countries? I had experience of a case where an officer on my staff was involved in a traffic accident and was fined. The other party, a local driver, who in my opinion—and I was a witness to the accident—was solely to blame, got away with it. If that officer had asked me to arrest him, which I was quite prepared to do, would he not then have been able to be tried in the civil court of the country concerned? That country was then a Colony, and it is now a Commonwealth country. I should be very grateful if that point could be answered in due course.
Clause 16 deals with command over Her Majesty's forces by foreign officers. I know that my noble and gallant friend Lord Montgomery of Alamein is rather alarmed about this clause. As the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said, many of us, certainly I myself, have served under a foreign General in General Eisenhower. In fact, I should think there are very few of your Lordships who did not serve either under Marshal Foch or General Eisenhower in one or other of the last two wars. So that we have all done it. But I now understand from the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, that this clause makes the law rather tidier, and will meet cases which could easily crop up when British troops are operating under the United Nations. But I should like to be assured that there will always be safeguards whereunder a British officer can refer to his own national superior authority, as indeed frequently happened in the last war with Commonwealth contingents who were operating under British command.
Clause 21 deals with fines instead of stoppages of pay. I was amused at the suggestion of the honourable Member for Buckinghamshire, South, who thought 1200 that the Chancellor of the Exchequer prompted this innovation because when a rating's pay is stopped he does not pay income tax, but when he is fined the same amount he has to pay income tax on the fine as well. My only point here is to ask the Government whether they contemplate punishing by fines any offences which at present have other forms of punishment prescribed for them.
My Lords, those are some of the points I wanted to raise. We have not had long to study this Bill; we have had only five days' notice. We shall have to look at it again in the light of what noble Lords opposite have to say.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, with the greatest respect to the noble Lord, his interest is such that I assumed he followed all the proceedings in another place continuously at the time.
But we had our summer holidays, when the noble Lord and I were both fishing, and I am afraid that I forgot. But I recommend that your Lordships give this Bill a Second Reading.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, for explaining this Bill, which really consists of a series of Committee points, in such a lucid way. In fact, he was so lucid that he drew my attention to one or two points that I had missed and to which I propose to refer to-day. The Bill is made up of a large number of, to some extent, unrelated details, but there are one or two very important principles enshrined in it which I hope to bring to the notice of your Lordships.
In the first place, I am going to speak about the Royal Navy. I have a great admiration for the Royal Navy, but I have no knowledge of it. I had always understood, perhaps mistakenly, that the sailors regarded themselves as being different from the Royal Marines because the Royal Marines were sworn men and they were not. This difference has shown itself on several occasions during the history of the Royal Navy, one being that in 1201 the old days, I think, they did not salute but pulled their caps off. However that may be, perhaps the noble Lord who is to reply will be able to confirm that in future, at all events, there will be no distinction at all; they will be under exactly the same duties and responsibilities and the same regulations, the one as the other.
In the second place, I should like to ask the noble Lord what is an "enemy" nowadays. Your Lordships will note that in Clause 28 the word "enemy"is used. It is true that this is an amendment to the previous Act; nevertheless, it is rather interesting to know how a man in the Armed Forces can be quite sure that he is deserting to an "enemy". Take the U.2 incident, for example. In that incident, an aircraft was shot down, but not by an "enemy". In the cold war, presumably, soldiers may frequently be engaged with people who are not "enemies"; and perhaps we could have—not now, but perhaps at the Committee stage—a clear definition of what "enemy" means, and even what "desertion" means, in the circumstances of the cold war.
Then I should like to raise a question on Clause 25, which is possibly—historically, at any rate—the most important clause in this Bill. Historically, again, as a result of Cromwell and his Generals, it has always been the case that a conviction by a court-martial did not absolve an officer or a soldier from trial by a civil court. It was no excuse; and this was one of the ways, historically, in which the civil power was able to keep its hold over the military. Until to-day—or, at least, until the passing of this Bill, which may be in two or three weeks'time—it has always been regarded, so far as the Army is concerned, as a vital principle in our civil and military law that conviction, sentence and punishment by a civil court is a good plea in defence to a charge before a court-martial, but not the other way about. I think it should be stressed that if we pass this Bill we shall in fact be approving a principle which will go against everything that has been enshrined in this field in the past. I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, can deny that. At any rate, he does not seem to at the moment.
There is also the question of the Court of Criminal Appeal. A few years ago 1202 we brought into being this new, final appeal—I think very properly, if I may say so. Both in this House and in another place we had discussions about giving the right to an officer or a soldier convicted by court-martial to come before a very high court of appeal—to all intents and purposes, the Court of Criminal Appeal in this country, headed by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Parker of Waddington. It would be interesting to me and perhaps to other noble Lords to know whether that innovation has been a successful one, how many appeals have been heard by the noble Lord, Lord Parker of Waddington, and his colleagues, and what has been the effect of this new system on the Army.
Going a little wider—because, after all, the Army Acts, which nowadays this Bill supersedes, were the historic vehicles on which the Houses of Parliament could debate Army matters—I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to one or two other points of a more general nature, but still of a domestic nature, affecting the conditions of service of the Forces. For the first time in, perhaps, a hundred years, the majority of the British Army will very shortly be stationed in this country. As your Lordships know, under the Cardwell system half the Army was stationed in India and half here. Now, with the gradual drawing back of the legions from overseas to this country, the thinning out of the garrisons and the dwindling of commitments, in a few years' time most of the Army will be here; and that raises considerable problems on which I think we should spend a moment or two.
In the first place, this Bill is an example of integration, in a sense, and I should like to know what other examples of integration are being carried out by the Ministry of Defence. It seems to me that most of the services of the Army, as distinct from the operational units, could very largely be integrated. The medical, legal, dental, transport, educational, signals, stores and ordnance services, as well as the chaplains and perhaps many more, could be integrated. I do not see that in many cases it matters very much, except in detail, whether in most of these jobs a man is doing them as a member of the Army, the Navy or the Air Force. I should have thought that there was great scope for integration. 1203 It is possible even in the operational services. I do not want to repeat a lot of old soldiers' tales, although I could, regarding the last war, about operations going from one force to another. I myself was suddenly confronted with a battery of naval guns and told to seat them, get them ready for action and fire them. I had never seen naval guns before in my life. I think that, very often, a great deal too much is made of the fact that one wears a blue tunic, a khaki tunic, a sky-blue tunic or whatever it may be. There is a great deal that can be done, even in operational matters, in the way of integration. Then there is the Defence College. We have heard that there is a new Defence College planned, to be called the Royal Defence Academy; and this, to a large extent, is to supersede the existing Navy, Army and Air Force Colleges. Perhaps we could hear a word on that, and what the situation is.
But my main and last point, and the one I want to urge upon Her Majesty's Government and the Ministers here present, is the question of accommodation. I have already mentioned that in the very near future considerable numbers of troops will be coming hack to this country. From the Mediterranean, in particular, I understand, the movement of troops has been greatly intensified, and they may be back even a year ahead of the time originally planned; so there will be a great need for permanent camps and married quarters. As we know, the position of married families is a very different one to-day from what it was in the days when most of us served in the Forces; and in fact in most units to-day there is on the strength an officer whose duty it is to look after the married families. Very soon the troops, and Air Force personnel as well, will be returning from Aden, Cyprus, Libya, Malta, Borneo and even, maybe, if the Government can persuade the Germans to cooperate, from West Germany. In all these cases, except that of Borneo, their families will accompany them. The position of Hong Kong is rather curious, because there, it seems, the flow is the other way. The Government are anxious to have Hong Kong take more troops than it has or wants. This I believe is because they hope that Hong Kong will pay for the troops it gets.
1204 In the past the strategic reserve in this country was concentrated largely in the Home Counties and in Southern England—sensibly enough, I suppose, when one thinks that they might be wanted quickly, and that the likely enemy was to the East. It does not say very much for our air transport; but it may be that this scheme was drawn up in the days of sea transport and has not been adjusted since. However, it need not apply any longer. When most of the Army will be at home, there is no need for all the units to be in the Home Counties or Southern England. Indeed, it would be very unfortunate if they were. In my view, it would be a very good thing, and much cheaper in other ways, if the troops stationed here were not concentrated in one area but went to their natural habitat, in the Midlands, in the North, in Scotland, in Northern Ireland or in Wales, as the case may be.
There is another aspect. Now that the Government have practically decimated the Territorial Army, there will no longer be any Army presence in many places in the country; for the drill halls are to be sold and will become bingo halls, or whatever it may be. Many of the small towns in this country, and most of the larger ones, have a drill hall on which is the symbol of the regiment and, underneath it, the legend, "Such-and-such a battalion, Territorial Army". The emblem of the regiment, both Regular and Territorial is there; and the Army presence is effected all over the country by these Territorial drill halls. But in future the drill halls will not be there and the Army presence as such will cease to be.
Therefore it is very important in the future that the Regular Army should have their permanent camps in many different parts of the country. May I say that here I have a fish to fry of my own. My own brigade, the Welsh Brigade, rarely has a battalion in this country at all. We should wish to see one battalion in Wales; and this fits in with what I have been saying. My brigade headquarters in Cwrt-y-Gollen, would make an excellent site at which to station a battalion. A permanent camp could be built in addition to the existing buildings. The fact that it is not situated in Southern England does not matter now that the Severn Bridge has been built. Cwrt-y-Gollen is within 25 minutes of Bristol, and the 1205 alleged isolation of South Wales, including Monmouthshire, no longer applies. I think that permanent camps like this will have a most important effect not only on the distribution of troops but on recruiting. So far as recruiting is concerned, I am glad to say the Welsh Brigade has one of the best records and my own regiment, the Welch Regiment, is, I believe, the top regiment in the Army. I must say, incidentally, that I got these facts on the Armistice Day parade last week. I cannot vouch for their accuracy, because that is not necessarily an occasion on which one could get strictly literal accuracy about one's own unit. But, in any case, I believe they are very well up in the table.
My Lords, that is all I have to say. There are a number of questions which I shall want to refer to on Committee stage of the Bill; but if the noble Lord who is to reply could give me an answer to those I have posed now I should be very much obliged. I end by wishing the Army, as always, every possible success in its ardous duties in the future.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ LORD ROWLEY
My Lords, I hope the noble Lord who has just spoken will forgive me if I do not follow him in some of the remarks he made, except to express my agreement to his reference to the possibility of further integration in the three Services. Some of us on this side of the House, like noble Lords on the other side, and those of us who were formerly in another place, strongly advocated the desirability of extending integration certainly to the administrative services of the Army, Navy and Air Force. We held those views a considerable time before the 1964 Act was passed which, as we all know, provided for further development of the Central Organisation of Defence. However, I certainly would gravely doubt whether I understood the noble Lord correctly when he, possibly by way of illustration, referred to his own experience in being asked to take charge of a battery of naval guns when I imagine he was presumably trained as an artillery officer of field artillery or garrison artillery. I may of course be mistaken, if the noble Lord was an infantry officer, but my experience would be such as to make me believe—and there are noble Lords who are sitting 1206 on the other side of the House who would agree with me—that it would be a very undesirable thing to place in command of an artillery unit an officer who knew nothing at all of the guns for which the unit was responsible.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, as I said, I do not want to go into old soldiers' tales, but it was the case; it is true. It occurred in 1940, when all sorts of odd things were happening and my battery—it was rather a scratch battery at that—was suddenly called upon to take over Naval guns, to install them, to put them up, and fire them on the East Coast. This is what happened.
§ LORD ROWLEY
My Lords, in an emergency many things happen. I remember in 1918, during the retreat of the Fifth Army, that we had to bring up the cooks, the batmen and everyone else, in order to put them into the front line to stem the German advance. What we do in emergencies is perhaps different. But, as regards integration, I share to some extent the doubts of the noble Lord who spoke for the Conservative Opposition. I supported the 1964 Bill because, like others, I believed there was a strong case for central organisation of defence. But I do not believe that you can destroy the traditions of the three Services by an Act of Parliament.
We see what is happening in Canada at the present time. I was over there a few weeks ago in connection with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference. An extraordinary position was arising because it has been decided that Admirals should in future be called Generals. The noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, is not in his seat to comment, but I cannot imagine a Field Marshal being happy at being given the rank of Admiral. Throughout the history of our country our Field Marshals have carried us to victory. They have attained a prestige of which they and all of us can be proud; the same applies to the Navy. Whatever may happen in the years ahead, if and when we get greater unification to the extent of having one integrated defence force, I hope we are not going to fiddle around and start to interfere with the three operational Services, whatever we do with regard to the administrative services. That does not mean that I am old fashioned enough to say that there is no possibility of a further 1207 degree of integration in the operation forces of our three Services.
I like this Bill because it is an attempt, and a very good attempt, if I may say so—it was very clearly and explicitly explained to the House by my noble friend Lord Shackleton—to deal with a very difficult situation which has arisen because we are in the middle of a changing situation affecting the Armed Forces of our country. The then Deputy Secretary of State for Defence and Minister for the Army, in his speech in another place, referred to what he called the harmonised integration of the three Services. He gave as an illustration the fact that, whereas this Bill does not in any way seek to have a code of discipline for the three Services, it has taken the different Service codes and tried to relate them to one another, so as to have, so far as possible, a common basic standard of disciplinary rules. That is perhaps not going very far but I believe it is the way in which we are going to advance.
The then Minister of Defence for the Royal Navy, in his speech, described what I think he called the functional approach. He pointed out that his responsibility as regards personnel covered the three Services and therefore there was, to an extent, integration in dealing with the personnel of the three Services, although at that time he was Minister for the Navy. That seems to me the way we have to advance along this road towards the possible integration of our Armed Services.
In my view, this Bill has the merit that, although it looks a bit scrappy, it deals with a great number of problems. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, called it a package, which it is. It seems to me that we are now in a very much better position than we would have been but for the changes that took place subsequent to 1952.
My noble friend Lord Shackleton referred to the fact that I was one who sat on the Select Committee, appointed in 1952, which had eighty sittings and finally reported in 1954. What was the great advantage about the appointment of that Select Committee? The noble Viscount, Lord Monsell, who sits opposite, and I were in the House of Commons thirty years ago or more, and he will remember as well as I do that once a 1208 year there was always an all-night sitting to debate the Army Act 1881. I doubt very much whether anything constructive came out of the twelve or fourteen hours of deliberation. I never did think that much came out of all-night sittings, anyway. It was because many of us—Members on both sides of the House, for this was not a Party approach at all—took the view that some attempt should be made to put the law relating to the Armed Services on a sound basis that Her Majesty's Government appointed this Select Committee in 1952. As a result, the recommendation was made that there should be this quinquennial Act of Parliament and that we should seek to get away from the annual argie-bargie on Party lines which was certainly not to the advantage of those in the three Armed Services. To-day this Bill is possible because of the change that was made as a result of the acceptance of the Report of that Select Committee. Now we do not have an Army Act or an Air Force Act to renew each year and the quinquennial Act which we are discussing to-day obviously must spread itself over problems affecting the three Services.
I would say only this, my Lords. I believe it is a considerable step forward, and while there may be differences of opinion on how far we should go along the path of integrating the Armed Forces, I believe, with the noble Lord who preceded me, that a great deal more could be done, although I should certainly be very shy of any change which would arouse bitterness and disputation in the Services, such as characterised the changes which are being put through in another Commonwealth country. My Lords, I should again like to associate myself with the congratulations offered to the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, for his excellent introduction of the Bill. I am quite sure that he has done a great deal to clarify some of the problems with which it deals.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ LORD GLENDEVON
My Lords, may I detain your Lordships just for one minute? I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, for the courtesy with which he took the point I made, when I interrupted him regarding the terms of Clause 22, but I am still a little worried. I do not think that I explained my point very clearly. What I am worried about 1209 is the reason for changing the word "ignominy" to "disgrace". I did not think there was very much difference between them, but a few minutes ago I took the liberty of slipping out from the Chamber to visit your Lordships' Library, and there I looked at the dictionary. I found that "ignominy" is defined as "dishonour", and "disgrace" as "downfall from a position of honour". That being so, I wondered why the trouble has been taken to change these two words. I do not feel any more strongly about it than that.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, may I say one thing about the choice of words? I know of a certain professional man who was called before his professional disciplinary council on a charge of infamous and disgraceful conduct. In the event, they found him guilty of infamous but not of disgraceful conduct. I did not understand the significance, but the effect was that he was not struck off. The distinction may be of that order, but my noble friend Lord Winterbottom may be able to go into it further.
§ 4.27 p.m.
§ LORD WINTERBOTTOM
My Lords, the Bill before us is, among other things, a measure of consolidation and as a result it covers a very wide field. Many questions have been asked during this debate and I cannot claim to have stored every answer in my memory. Therefore I hope that your Lordships will forgive me if from time to time there is something of a paper-chase in my attempts to answer points made. Since the noble Lord, Lord Glendevon, has raised the point about "ignominy" or "disgrace". I might give him an immediate answer before I come to other points.
Basically, the terms "ignominy" and "disgrace" are, in terms of the present Bill, interchangeable. In some Forces people are discharged with "ignominy". In the Navy men are discharged with disgrace. The term "disgrace" is something which we all understand, but not everyone understands exactly what ignominy means, or the force of it. I suppose that slipping on a banana skin is ignominious but not disgraceful. For this reason, "disgrace" was selected to apply to the three Services. There is also a legal point behind it. Dismissal with disgrace means the same as discharged with ignominy, but we want to use the 1210 same term in all three Services. We are, however, introducing a new power for courts-martial to dismiss N.C.O.s, soldiers and airmen in conjunction with a period of detention or imprisonment. What happened in many cases in the past was that when one of these other ranks was court-martialled and imprisoned he was subsequently discharged administratively from the Services. Now, however, in addition to the punishment of imprisonment we wish also to discharge him formally. There is a difference. That is the reason for the changes in the Bill.
Before launching into answers to the interesting points raised by noble Lords in the course of the debate, I should like to make a small debating point—wearing now my naval cap. It may be thought that since Part II, Clauses 2 to 14, deals almost exclusively with the Royal Navy, the Royal Navy is catching up with the other Armed Forces. I maintain that whereas it has been felt by both Houses that we have to watch the Army and the Air Force year by year, the Navy has been trusted to get on with its affairs without interference since 1884, and now it is necessary for the other two Services to catch up with the Navy. That is a partisan point, which I hope will not be taken too seriously.
May I thank the noble Lord, Lord Thurlow, for giving me advance notice of the points he was going to raise? I should like to answer in broad outline at this stage. Perhaps we can go into the various points in Committee stage, when we get down to the details of this complicated and, I find, interesting measure. Clause 2 we must debate in detail. My noble friend has indicated its importance in terms of the control by Parliament of the actions of the Executive, and we must go into this with some care.
The second point raised by the noble Lord was the right of young men, who had decided on a Service career but after a comparatively short time felt that it was not for them, to leave the Services. The Army and Air Force have made arrangements for this in the past by allowing a man to buy himself out for £20 during the last 14 days of his third month of service. Until now the Royal Navy has not followed this procedure, but it is the intention of the Royal Navy to fall in line with the Army and the Air 1211 Force. The information about this can be found an page 21, paragraph 5, of the Select Committee's Report. But it is no good looking in the Bill for this intention. What will happen is that the Royal Navy will use powers conferred upon it by this Bill to bring its arrangements into line by administrative action, as was stated in another place. Any young man who finds that the Navy is not for him can get out towards the end of his third month of service.
Clause 15 (and the happy picture of a junior officer placing his senior officer under arrest!) is designed for the protection of senior officers. As the military situation becomes curiouser and curiouser, it is necessary to pass rather curious regulations. There has been the case, which your Lordships may have noticed, of a member of our Armed Forces in Cyprus being involved in some illegal transaction with the Turkish element and spending a substantial time in a Cypriot gaol—an experience which I do not believe he particularly enjoyed. This is something which can happen to almost anyone, and this clause is designed to protect British Servicemen serving abroad who come into conflict with the local civil power. While a man is waiting trial, in whatever circumstances, we wish him to be under the control of his own commanding officer. And if we have to do something rather peculiar in arranging for a junior officer to put a senior officer under open arrest, this is something that we have to do for the sake of the senior officer.
Clause 25 binds only civil courts within the jurisdiction of Parliament. If there is a question of a charge before a foreign court or before a Service court-martial abroad, the matter will be decided by our status of forces agreement with the country concerned, if there is one, and there nearly always is. Most of such agreements contain provisions for avoiding double trials. We live in an odd world, and this is one way of getting round its problems.
Then comes the interesting point raised by the noble Lord on the problems that arise when British officers and other ranks serve under foreign commanders. My noble friend mentioned one case, but there is a series of interesting cases. There is the instance of the mixed- 1212 manned ship, the "Claude V. Ricketts", on which nationals of five nations were serving under an American commanding officer and commanding Admiral. The drill there was that every national group had its own senior officer and minor breaches of discipline were dealt with by him, any major breaches resulting in the man concerned being sent back to his base in the home country and replaced by someone else. There is the other and more important example of the Second Tactical Air Force serving under a Belgian commanding officer, who was responsible for technical deployment of the Air Force while discipline remained a purely British responsibility. This problem is one which we are facing now to an increasing degree and we hope that this Bill makes suitable arrangements for the situations as they arise.
My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves that point, may I ask whether an officer serving under a foreign officer is entitled to refer to his own national senior officer, wherever he may be? I do not think it would occur in the case of the "Claude V. Ricketts", but if the senior British officer had a complete disagreement with the captain would he have any right of appeal to their Lordships of the Admiralty?
§ LORD WINTERBOTTOM
My Lords, this is a complex question and I should be grateful if we could consider that at a later date. In point of fact this question has not arisen, but I agree that it might arise and a definition from these Benches might be helpful. Can we leave it at that? I am interested in this point, too, and should like to know the answer.
The final point raised by the noble Lord was whether a new series of offences are going to be punished by fines rather than by any other form of punishment. I think it is true to say that fines will not be used as a new form of punishment. They will appear in what I may call the descending scale of punishments available under the Army Act. What has been happening in the past is that courts-martial have been faced with serious charges for which until now they have been able to punish the offender only with the forfeiture of 14 days' pay, and in many cases it was the court's opinion that this was not an adequate punishment. As a result, instead of men being fined 1213 they have been punished by detention or imprisonment or loss of seniority. The point was made by my noble friend in his opening speech that if courts-martial can inflict heavier punishments by fine, then we can avoid a number of cases where men have been punished by detention or imprisonment, when of course we lose their services, or where men have suffered supplementary and unforeseeable penalties because of loss of seniority. With the introduction of Clause 21 more men will be fined in future for offences for which in the past they suffered detention. I hope I have answered all the points which the noble Lord raised.
I should now like to turn to the interesting points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore—and again may I thank him for his courtesy in giving advance notice? First of all, he asked how the Royal Marines were to be treated under the Bill. If my recollection is right, Royal Marines were originally soldiers. I shudder to say this in your Lordships' House, but I understand they were carried on board Her Majesty's ships and were to protect the officers from outraged conscripted men. They were originally soldiers but are now a magnificent part of the Royal Navy. They have always been treated under the same terms as those of the Army Act, and Schedule 3, which amends Part I of Schedule 7 to the Army Act 1955, lays down how they will be treated in the future when this Bill comes into force. In fact, Schedule 3 lays down an almost exactly parallel arrangement of disciplinary measures between the Royal Marines and the Army.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, but the question I asked was not about the Royal Marines. I asked about the sailors, members of the Royal Navy, and whether they would in future be treated in the same way as the Royal Marines. I knew about the Royal Marines, but I was not sure about the sailors of the Royal Navy.
§ LORD WINTERBOTTOM
I should be grateful if this point could be raised at a later stage. The Bill deals with the Royal Marines as a separate entity. Perhaps I might give the noble Lord an answer at a later date.
The next point raised by the noble Lord concerned Clause 28 of the Bill, which contains definitions of "desertion" 1214 and "enemy". Again, in this rather odd world in which we live, it is rather difficult to decide who is your enemy. The situation in Cyprus provides a classical situation. You find a situation in Cyprus where Her Majesty's forces, either British or Canadian, are conducting a police operation. The Canadian forces may be involved in a clash with some Turkish paramilitary forces, and the British are not. Does this automatically make the Turkish populace of Cyprus enemies of Her Majesty's British forces? This is again a very complicated subject, and we hope by this clause to avoid any confusions that might arise from situations such as this.
The next point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, was about the effectiveness of the Appeal Court from court-martial proceedings, which I believe started operations in 1952. The figures I have here are that since 1952 there have been 330 appeals from courts-martial to the Court of Appeal, and of those 330 appeals, 16 were allowed. That is the measure of importance of that particular decision.
I was also asked about integration. This is an important and interesting subject, but it is also a very wide one. I hope your Lordships will forgive me if I do not go into it at great length. I could make a complete speech on this subject, because, of course, integration has been the objective of Governments of both Parties since the creation of the Ministry of Defence. The creation of the Ministry of Defence by a Conservative Administration was the first step towards obtaining economies that arise from integration. But this is a long and difficult operation, as my noble friend has pointed out. Deep loyalties are concerned, and the work is not easy. It is not easy, for instance, to give one simple reason, in that in the past the various Services have called the same article by different names. One of the first and important jobs to do in getting economies from integration is to find out what one is talking about. A common vocabulary for the three Services is almost the first step towards achieving integration.
The work has, however, started. In the last Defence Review the first steps were announced: unification of defence plans; the taking over by the R.A.F. 1215 of responsibility for accommodation stores; responsibility of the Navy for victualling all three Services; and the responsibility of the Army for providing the transport for the three Services. Something has started in three important fields. And this is not the end of the road. The noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, mentioned a series of functions which to any outsider and any rational human being would seem to be more suitable for common treatment than for single-Service treatment. I think this is a view shared by the Ministry of Defence. But we are the people who have to do the job, and we have to carry through this complicated operation.
Medicine is one thing that strikes all of us as something capable of integration. Some careful studies have been done in this field, and action is, I think, about to be taken. The review of the Services' long-term hospital requirements is now almost completed. This has been a long and exhaustive study. As a result, a substantial reduction in the number of beds to be retained in the remaining Service hospitals is planned. Detailed plans are now being prepared for the modernisation on a reduced scale of the naval hospitals at Plymouth and Haslar, and the military hospitals at Colchester, Millbank and Woolwich, as well as for the complete reprovision of the old military hospitals at Tidworth and Cattery. The R.A.F. hospitals at Halton and Ely will be progressively modernised, and those at Cosford and Nocton Hall will in due course be reprovided as part of a joint hospital campus with the National Health Service. In all cases our plans have been fully discussed with the Ministry of Health and are designed to ensure the greatest practicable measure of co-operation between ourselves and Regional Hospital Boards. This is a welcome development. These hospitals are not purely naval hospitals, but are also serving the civilian community surrounding the particular areas concerned.
The noble Lord then raised another interesting question, that of tertiary education for Regular officers. This is, I think, one of the most interesting developments that I have met during my brief period in the Ministry of Defence. The position is that an independent inquiry into tertiary education for Regular officers has now 1216 been completed. This inquiry was carried out by Professor Michael Howard, of London University, and Mr. Cyril English, Senior Chief Inspector of Schools, and the Ministry of Defence are grateful for the thorough and confident way in which they have carried out their study. The results of this study are now being examined by the Defence Council, and I expect that it will not be long before a statement on the decisions of the Council, based on this report, will be made to your Lordships' House.
The noble Lord then turned to what is one of the great problems facing us—namely, the accommodation to be provided for troops and their families being brought back to this country. He used a phrase which I thought had a rather unhappy ring. He talked about "the return of the unhappy legions". I do not think we can be compared with the City of Rome at a late stage of degeneration. The legions are not returning home because the centres are collapsing.
§ LORD WINTERBOTTOM
It is for economic and strategic reasons that some of these troops are returning. The problem of housing these men is one that we have to face. There is a substantial housing shortage, and the Ministry are well aware of the size of this problem. It has been tackled with energy, and in particular the resources of industrialised building are being employed, and will be employed to a greater degree, to provide houses for these men and their families when they return to this country.
I should like to make some mild complaint against the application of the word "decimation" to the Territorial Army. We had an interesting debate in this House when I thought we managed to convince noble Lords opposite, and indeed noble Lords on this side of the House, that these Reserve Forces were not being decimated but re-equipped and redesigned to perform their function in a world war. The old form of war has disappeared for ever.
§ LORD WINTERBOTTOM
I regret that fact. Lastly, the noble Lord made a plea that, if and when the Welsh Brigade 1217 came back to this country, accommodation might be found for them in their native land—I do not know whether I can call Wales the native land ! The noble Lord also made what was a very important point in terms of mobility, when he pointed out that the Severn Bridge brought Wales, from being a remote peninsular, directly in contact with the mainland, if I may call it so. This, I am certain, will be noted by my noble friend who is responsible for these problems, and I think the suggestion is one that merits careful consideration.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, before the noble Lord leaves my points, I do not expect an answer to my question on Clause 25 because I did not give him notice of it (in fact it was the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, who drew my attention to it); but I think the change of the jurisdiction of civil courts over a soldier ought to be explained more fully than we have had it explained to-day.
§ LORD WINTERBOTTOM
My Lords, I think the whole House is agreed—and certainly my noble friend and I are agreed—thatClause 25, as is Clause 2, is one of the most important and controversial clauses in the Bill. As my noble friend suggested, we hope that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor may intervene at this point to clarify the clause for the benefit of the House.
My noble friend Lord Rowley—and here I support him completely—issued a warning against the too-rapid integration and disregard of deep-seated, deep-rooted loyalties of the Services in which various members of the Armed Forces served. I think that Canada has given us an interesting laboratory experiment which we should study with benefit. Lastly, I understand very well the satisfaction that my noble friend must feel when he sees at long last the results of the marathon sittings of 1952 to 1954, when some of the first steps to get a common policy to the three Services were hammered out, which led, I presume, to the creation of a Ministry of Defence—a process of integration and a process towards achieving economies which successful integration movements within the three Services can bring about.
My Lords, this is a complex Bill, which covers a wide field. There are many points in it which we have not as yet 1218 had an opportunity of discussing but which I presume we shall discuss on Committee stage. I am grateful for the constructive approach of noble Lords towards our proposals which have been made during the course of this stage of the Bill.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.