HC Deb 22 November 1917 vol 99 cc1370-1W

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the fact that the Review of Exceptions Act was passed with the definite object of reviewing the cases of some 6,000 men, the cases of these men have now all been considered; and whether he can hold out a prospect of introducing a Bill with a view to either restricting or repealing the provisions of this Act?


My hon. Friend has asked me to reply.

I am not aware that the Review of Exceptions Act was passed with the object stated in the question. When the Bill was. introduced it was stated in this House that it would enable the military authorities to. deal with 1,000,000 men, and that it was. estimated that 100,000 recruits would be so. obtained. At a later stage in the Debate certain classes of men were withdrawn. from the operation of the Bill, and a substituted estimate was given that the men available for re-examination would. exceed 500,000, and the number to be obtained for military service would be-from 50,000 to 60,000.

The men liable for re-examination under the Act have not yet, in fact, all been reexamined. The operation of the Act has been restricted by the concession under which its provisions are not, in fact, enforced where a man to whom a notice has been sent shows that he is a man who has served overseas in the armed forces of the Crown and has been discharged on grounds of health. Moreover, there has: been organised refusal to furnish particulars or to attend for medical examination, as required by the Act, on the part of certain men to whom notices have been sent. I have been in communication with the Public Prosecutor on this question, and legal proceedings are about to be taken to deal with such resistance to the Act.

In other respects the Act remains a necessary part of the military service machinery, and it is not proposed to introduce a Bill to repeal it or to restrict its operation.