§ Mr. SWIFT MacNEILL
asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that, although the acceptance of a new or other commission by a Member of the House of Commons who is in the Army or Navy is excepted from the operation of the Succession to the Crown Act, 1707 (6 Anne, c. 41, s. 27), by which it is specially provided that such acceptance does not affect Parliamentary status, yet by the practice or regulations of the military and naval services military and naval commands are held to be incompatible with the retention of a seat in the House of Commons; whether he is aware that General Sir Hugh M'Calmont, on his appointment in 1899 to the military command of Cork District, was compelled by the practice and regulations of the War Office to vacate his seat in the House of Commons for North Antrim by the acceptance of the Chiltern Hundreds, and that the Noble Lord, now one of the Members for Portsmouth, on his appointment in 1903 to the command of the Channel Squadron was compelled by the practice and regulations of the Board of Admiralty to vacate his seat for Woolwich by the acceptance of the Chiltern Hundreds; what is the reason for the enforced retirement from the House of Commons of military and naval officers Members of that House on appointment to military or naval commands, notwithstanding the provisions of the Succession to the Crown Act, 1707, exempting Members on acceptance of such appointments from the operation of that Act; on what grounds, regard being had to the fact that Sir John Moore, Sir Arthur Wellesley (Duke of Wellington), 1333W and Sir Ralph Abercromby were all Members of this House when in military commands, the exclusion from this House of military and naval commanders has been enforced notwithstanding the provisions of the Succession to the Crown Act, 1707, by Army and Navy departments; whether the regulations and practice of the War Office and the Board of Admiralty, which are contrary to the provisions of the said Act, and calculated to sever the union in the same individual of the position of Member of the House of Commons and the holder of a military or naval command, have been temporarily or permanently suspended; and whether the propriety of their abolition is under consideration?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The practice under which a Member vacates his seat on appointment to a naval or military command appears to rest not on Statute law, but on the supposed incompatibility of the two sets of duties. If there has been any divergence from the practice, it is due to special exigencies of the present War, and its permanent abolition is not in contemplation.