I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
This is a very short Bill, and I trust that it will be possible for me to explain its purpose without taking up very much time. The Bill is necessitated by a peculiarity of the Royal Naval Reserve Act, 1859, under which the Reserve can be mobilised by Proclamation for three years. At the end of that time their services can be extended for a further two years by means of a fresh Proclamation. The conditions of service which apply to the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve are governed by another Act, the Naval Forces Act, 1903. This Act contains no power to extend the period of active service beyond the initial period of three years. This being so, it follows that, as the law now stands, the members of the R.N.V.R. can claim release on the completion of three years' active service. The object of this Bill is to place the R.N.V.R. in exactly the same position as the other naval reserves during the present war. A similar Act was passed in 1917 during the last war. This Bill covers both officers and men. There is no alteration in conditions of service at all.
I know the Government want to get through some other business so, exercising some self-denial, I do not propose to ask too many questions about the Bill. The hon. Member has already answered one by his statement that the Bill applies to both officers and men. I presume that that means that they will be entitled to all the emoluments, compensation for risks and everything else, to which they would be entitled if they were in the ordinary Service. The only other point is that the Bill refers to an Act passed nearly 100 years ago. The hon. Member has mentioned three other Acts, and there are several others which come in between. I would suggest to the Admiralty that they might consider whether the time has not come to codify all this legislation and introduce a Measure to bring it up to date.