Clause 1. — (Power to impose military service on British subjects in foreign countries.)

– in the House of Commons on 29th July 1942.

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Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

I beg to move, in page 1, line 10, at the end, to insert: In the event of any person covered by this Act failing to respond to a summons to perform national service he shall be liable, in addition to any penalties under the National Service Acts, 1939 to 1941, to have his passport revoked, to be deprived of British nationality, to forfeit his assets in the United Kingdom to the Crown and to be treated as an enemy under the Trading with the Enemy Act. The Attorney-General was good enough to say yesterday that he would sleep on this subject and be prepared to go into the substance of the matter again to-day. I have also given it midnight consideration, and there are a few comments I should like to make in elaboration of the arguments I put forward yesterday. I should like to call attention first to the passage in the speech of the Minister of Labour in which he said: As far as our own country is concerned, as one of the biggest factors in the great United Nations effort, we feel that we should do all we can to utilise every man or woman who is a citizen to serve at this particular moment in this hour of great struggle. That is a very important statement. I believe that this Measure will be extremely popular abroad."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28th July, 1942; col. 442, Vol. 382.] No doubt it will be popular if it achieves the object and intentions of the Government, but if it is found by countries overseas that in fact persons are not being brought in and that there is no power to bring them in, its popularity is likely to be only among those British subjects who are reluctant to come back here and serve their country and whom we are taking no steps to bring back. It did not seem to me that the attitude of the Attorney-General was nearly so bold as that of the Minister of Labour, because when the right hon. and learned Gentleman came to the question of carrying out the objects of the Bill, he seemed to see nothing but difficulties. No doubt there are difficulties. We all meet difficulties every day and do our best to overcome them, and I feel sure that if it is considered worth while to carry out the provisions of this Measure means can be found of clearing out of the way those difficulties which present themselves.

I wish to refer first to the question of the deprivation of nationality. I imagine that not many citizens at present possessing British nationality are anxious to relinquish it. I think no nationality stands higher at the present time in the estimation of our own citizens and—apart from their own—of the citizens of other countries than. British nationality, and persons possessing the status of British subjects will think twice before taking any steps which would deprive them of it. Indeed I imagine that the only change of nationality which might appeal, in certain circumstances, to British subjects would be the change from British to United States citizenship, but that point does not arise in relation to the matter which we are considering. I should have thought therefore, that when a notice under this Measure was served on British citizens abroad, in some neutral country, they would either come back here in order to preserve their nationality, and for other reasons as well, or, if they had determined to remain for ever outside this country, that they would be prepared to lose their British nationality and accept that of the State in which they were living. Those two alternatives seem the most likely to be followed in the circumstances. There might, however, be a few who would have no nationality at all. The Attorney-General said yesterday that Stateless persons were a great nuisance and a great trouble to any country in which they found themselves. They are undoubtedly a trouble in that respect, but the trouble is much greater for the individual citizens themselves than for the great State which may be involved. We must not therefore exaggerate this point. It is one of far greater importance to the individual concerned than to the State. I think there would be few cases of persons who would remain Stateless and, as for those who did, I think the matter is one which could be dealt with.

I pass to the suggestion that the assets of a man who failed to respond to his country's call should be forfeited to the State. The Attorney-General showed, I was glad to see, great enthusiasm for the carrying out of Liberal principles in the administration of justice and I wholeheartedly agree with what he said. Nothing could be further from my intention than to suggest that a man should be deprived of any of his rights, except by due process of law. But I really think that in what he said the right hon. and learned Gentleman was conjuring up difficulties and obstacles in relation to this point. What I had in mind was something like this—that the British authority in the State concerned, whether the Ambassador or Consul, should take such steps as are usual in that country to send by registered post, or whatever the method might be, a notification to the individual concerned that he was being called up and that it should be made certain that the individual received the note. If after a certain passage of time he took no steps in the matter, a further legal notice should be sent to him, steps being taken once again, according to the usual practice of the country, to ensure that he received it, stating that if within the period of three months he took no action of any kind in the matter it was proposed to make an Order that his possessions would be forfeited to the State. If a man in those circumstances, knowing that he had been called to service over here, knowing that he would be deprived of his possessions if he did not respond, knowing that he had an opportunity of applying to the courts in opposition to the contemplated step, still did nothing at all, I should have thought that it was perfectly fair and reasonable to proceed with the Order forfeiting his assets to the State. Probably there is some much better method of procedure than that which I have outlined, but I think my right hon. and learned Friend will see that what I am comtemplating is that legal process, in the appropriate form, should be employed to see that the man involved retains his full legal rights and that nothing should be done to him without giving him the opportunity of going to court and proving his case.

The last point to which I would refer is that which arises under the Trading with the Enemy Act. It is the case that British subjects abroad and British companies and corporations registered abroad are not prohibited from trading with the enemy, and British subjects can, and I have no doubt do, trade with the enemy. It does not seem a very sound state of affairs, and certainly in the circumstances arising out of this Bill I suggest that one possible sanction should be to see that activities of that kind are no longer open to the individual concerned. I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will give serious attention to these arguments. The whole object of my Amendment is to assist the Government in carrying out the purposes of the Measure. I am most anxious to see it not only passed but put into effect in every part of the world, and I hope the Government will take every step now and in the future to carry out the proposals which they are putting forward and do their best to overcome any obstacles which may exist at the present time.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

I hope that the Attorney-General will not listen to the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander). I know that my hon. Friend is much more of a libertarian than I have ever been, but, in regard to this matter, he could not have gone very much further in the way of interference with the liberty, perhaps the wrong-headed liberty, of his fellow human beings unless he had proposed to add the death penalty to the other penalties suggested by him. I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will maintain the present position so that the penalties applicable to a man in these circumstances will be those normally operated in the past by countries which have been in the habit of applying conscription over a period of years. Those penalties, I understand, are only applicable to a man if he returns to his own land and has an opportunity of appearing before his own courts.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

Do I understand the view of my hon. Friend to be that while he is willing that compulsion should be applied to people in this country to join the Army, he does not want to have the same compulsion applied to British subjects to join the British Army if they happen to be living abroad?

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

I hope the hon. Member is not under the impression that I wanted conscription applied in this country.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

I will give way to my hon. Friend if he can show me any sentence of mine in which I have said that I approve of conscription.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

My hon. Friend is saying that in applying conscription to those persons who are abroad, the ordinary processes of the law should be carried out, so surely the analogy is that he does approve of conscription when the persons are in this country.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

No. I am accepting the law of the land as it has been passed. There are penalties on people now, passed by Parliament—with my opposition, but passed, and now the law of the land. There are certain penalties that fall on British citizens who refuse to be conscripted, and I am quite satisfied that those penalties should also apply to persons abroad if they come within the jurisdiction of British courts. What I am not going to have is someone wandering round the Argentine, for example, and treating British citizens who have not come in response to a call as outcasts. That is what the hon. Member is asking for, that any such British citizen in a foreign land shall be put into the unenviable position of being neither a citizen of Great Britain nor a citizen of the country in which he resides. He wants to hold him up to every form of contempt and scorn and to make him a nationless person. In the course of the Debate on Second Reading I suggested that, having regard to the record of some nations, we might perhaps arrive at a time when a man without a nation would be the happiest of the whole lot, and I should have thought that anyone with libertarian ideas would have seen something in that. At the moment that is not the case, and all that I am standing for is that a man who refuses conscription abroad should be subject to the penalties of the British courts if he comes within their jurisdiction.

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

I have, as I promised, given consideration to the suggestions made by my hon. Friend the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander). I think that probably everybody feels the superficial attractiveness of his ideas, feels that if a British citizen will not come to the aid of his country in her hour of need it may be asked why he should retain the advantages of British nationality. But there are difficulties, both in, substance and procedure, in the way of accepting these suggestions. It may be noted in the first place that we do not apply these proposed penalties to anybody in this country who may be found, as some have been found, seeking deliberately to avoid military service. It has never been suggested that such persons should be deprived of their British nationality. Further, the proposal is impracticable because, under the constitutional arrangement which exists between us and the Dominions, the nationality law would have to be altered.

But there are still deeper objections than that. The two cases which we have to consider are these: One where the man who has evaded service comes to this country and you can proceed against him, and the other where he does not. If he comes to this country and we can proceed against him there seems to be no ground for applying to him any code different from that which we apply to people who commit the same type of offence here. If he does not come to this country, a priori we cannot proceed against him, there can be nothing in the nature of a trial. Some report may be received from a consul that he has sent the man a letter by registered post, but we cannot try a man in his absence and inflict penalties under the procedure which we have in this country, and we really cannot impose a penalty, which might be a very serious penalty, by administrative action after an investigation which could not have the thoroughness or the impartiality of an investigation in a court of law. I think that when my hon. Friend appreciates this he will realise that there are difficulties about all his proposals. The difficulty applies just as much to the sequestration of assets as to the deprivation of citizenship.

With regard to trading with the enemy, it is open to me to suggest a further objection. The Trading with the Enemy Act has a certain definite purpose. It is to prevent trade and communication between persons in this country and persons in either enemy territory or in territory occupied by the enemy, and it really would not be fit to apply that Act to some particular individual in, say, a neutral or possibly an Allied country who was suspected of having committed a breach of the Order in Council made under this Measure. For those reasons the only way, so far as I can see, in which to proceed is the way which is embodied in the Bill, namely, that by Order in Council obligations will be imposed on these people, and if those obligations are disregarded, they will return to this country at their peril. If they return here they may have a warrant waiting for them on the quay, or may be proceeded against after they get here, and will find themselves subject to the same pains and penalties, if convicted, as people who have committed similar offences in this country.

As I said on the Second Reading, I admit that the sanction is not complete, but that applies to any provision of this kind. There may be people who never do intend to come back to this country. Well, then, nothing can be done. There might be some special arrangement with the particular country concerned, but all the suggestions made so far for extending the area of sanctions so as to have a possible sanction in every class of case are open to grave objections, and while sympathising with my hon. Friend's intentions and his desire to assist the enforcement of this Bill, I am afraid that the Government cannot recommend the Committee to accept suggestions on these lines.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

I am sorry that my right hon. and learned Friend has not been more sympathetic than he has. Will he go so far as to say that if in the course of the administration of this Measure it is found that grave difficulties are arising in any particular country, possibly scandal being created, by the fact that the Measure is not operative, as he admits himself that it may not be operative, he will then give further consideration to the matter and consider the advisability of bringing further proposals before Parliament?

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

Certainly, if difficulties, and still more so if scandals, arise and it is shown that there is some practical proposal which would enable them to be ended, the Government would, of course, reconsider the matter.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

On the assurance given by my right hon. and learned Friend, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Mr Thomas Harvey Mr Thomas Harvey , Combined English Universities

I beg to move, in page 1, line 14, to leave out from "Act," to "India," and to insert "of."

The object of the Amendment is to obtain a clearer explanation from the Government of the meaning of the somewhat mysterious words to which I call attention., I am aware that there is a colloquial use of the word "belonging," such as when one says, "I belong to Glasgow," but when the word is used as legal language, speaking of someone belonging to some Power, or person or State, it surely means a slave. In certain Axis countries the citizens might be said to belong to those countries. It is an unfortunate phrase, and I wish the Government could have found some other wording to convey what they have in mind. It would be a help to know who these persons are. Does the phrase refer to natives, who have a sort of subsidiary citizenship in the Dominions, or to persons in protected territories or to any other categories of persons who are not citizens or nationals? I believe that the Attorney-General was on the point of dealing with this matter yesterday, but, after giving a word or two about it, he was led on to another theme. I should like to hear a clear exposition from the Government of the meaning of these words.

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

The last, and I think, one or more of the earlier, of the Imperial Conferences, have considered the citizenship—if I may use a neutral term for the moment—of the different Dominions. South Africa has a Nationality Act. Canada has a Citizenship Act and I think also a Nationality Act. Australia and New Zealand have no such Acts. There is obviously, however, a sense in which a man is a citizen of Australia or of New Zealand, and circum- stances arise, and this is one of them, in which it is necessary to have a solution of these matters. If a man is a citizen of Australia, the High Commissioner deals with him. If he is not a citizen, different results may follow, if he is domiciled or resident in the United Kingdom. Obviously, someone who was born in, and has lived all his life in, the United Kingdom belongs—to use that expression for the moment—to the United Kingdom, and a person who was born and has lived all his life in Australia, belongs to Australia. In the absence of a special citizenship law applying to all the Dominions, but all the individuals concerned being British subjects, the problem that has been discussed is about what phraseology you are to use when you want to speak of a citizen of Australia, there being no citizen of Australia in law. The question is how you are to deal with problems that arise.

This phrase, "belonging to" a Dominion, is not, I agree, a phrase of art, but it has been used in successive Imperial Conferences to express this conception. It occurs in the Bill in that way. We do not intend to seek to deal by our Orders in Council with individuals who properly belong to, say, Australia. The reason for that is obvious. Australia may desire to have its own conscription law and to apply that law to its citizens outside its jurisdiction. Therefore, so far as that is concerned, we say, "We do not wish to deal with your people"—if I may put it in that way. I agree that, in regard to a Dominion where there is no such Act to which you can refer, there are borderline cases where you can say one thing or the other, but in the happy relations which exist between the Dominions and ourselves I do not think that individual cases have ever given rise to this difficulty, no doubt because of the man's representations on his own behalf and of the attitude of the respective Governments of the Dominions and ourselves. Although successive Imperial Conferences have failed to find a completely cut-and-dried solution of this problem, the problem has to be solved in practice, and these are the words which have been adopted in the past and understood in administration for defining what my hon. Friend may think more aptly describes citizens of Australia or New Zealand.

Photo of Mr Thomas Harvey Mr Thomas Harvey , Combined English Universities

Is this the first time that this phrase has been used in British legislation?.

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

I would not like to be categorical about that, but I think it will be found in the Defence Regulations, and it may be in an Act.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

I have had an interest in this point in the past. Would it be appropriate to ask, and would it not be a good thing, for some international or Imperial committee of jurists to try to find a solution of this matter, which has given great difficulty in the past, of the designation of British Empire citizens and subjects? Could some undertaking be given on behalf of the Government that an attempt will be made to solve this question? It can never be solved by an Imperial Conference but only by a report by a body of experts.

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

I would not put myself forward as an expert, but there was a committee of legal advisers, before the last Imperial Conference, representing all the Dominion Governments, and over which I presided. It considered the question very carefully. There are certain difficulties, but we cannot go into them in detail now. It is a problem which continues to give difficulties and is not easy to solve.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Is this Committee to understand from the Attorney-General that no inquiry has been made to see whether these words have been used before in British legislation? His answer was a little indeterminate and vague. When dealing with legislation which is completely unprecedented and uses words which everybody regards as not in the highest degree clear, I should have thought that some care might have been taken to see whether the words had been used before.

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

I agree that I ought to have informed myself. I am now told that the words will be found in the Military Training Act, 1939.

Photo of Mr Thomas Harvey Mr Thomas Harvey , Combined English Universities

In view of the Attorney-General's explanation, for which I am sure the Committee will be indebted to him, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Mr Richard Law Mr Richard Law , Kingston upon Hull South West

I beg to move, in page 1, line 15, to leave out from "Rhodesia," to the end of the Subsection.

In his speech on the Second Reading my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour indicated that we would be asking the Committee for this Amendment, and he touched upon the reasons why we would do so. I will recapitulate and develop the argument of my right hon. Friend. He explained that, while the Bill was being drafted, this instance of Egypt loomed very largely in the minds of the draftsmen, and he went on to say that the conditions which were applicable in the case of Egypt would not necessarily be equally applicable in the case of other countries to which we might wish in the future to apply an Order in Council. I will try to explain to the Committee why this is so. Under the Bill as it stands, and if we leave in these words no such Order relating to any country shall apply to any person who is a national of that country, an Order in Council cannot apply to any British subject who is also a national of another country. So far as Egypt is concerned, this is an absolutely essential provision. Owing to our special relationship with Egypt under the Treaty, we are able to institute inside the country the actual physical machinery of compulsion. It would therefore be most improper for us to seek to bring under this machinery anyone who is an Egyptian national. Neither the Egyptian Government nor any other sovereign Government would tolerate such procedure for a moment, nor, I need hardly say, would His Majesty's Government seek to enforce it.

That is the position in Egypt, but when we come to other countries very different considerations arise. In countries where we do not have these relationships under Treaty there could be no question of applying, inside the country, the actual physical machinery of compulsion, and any sanction there might be under the Order in Council would be a sanction which would be applied in this country and not in the foreign country. Therefore, no question of a violation of sovereignty of a foreign country could arise through the application of the sanctions under the Order in Council. But in those countries we should find ourselves in this position if we kept these words in the Bill: we should be prohibited from calling up possibly very considerable numbers of British subjects who were purely British, born of British parents and possibly educated in this country, who regarded themselves in every way as being of purely British origin, but who, owing perhaps to a technicality of the law of the country in which they were living, would have the nationality of that country as well. If we kept those words in the Bill we should be prohibited from calling up such British subjects, and I think it is quite clear that that would not be the wish of the Committee.

I have tried to explain as clearly as I can this perhaps rather complicated point, and I would just like to add this: If we adopt this procedure, leaving out those words, so far as Egypt is concerned the point would be covered by the Order in Council, so that there would be no question of infringing Egyptian sovereignty. So far as other countries are concerned, we leave our hands free to deal with the matter when it arises, according to the conditions which exist in one country or another. That is one point I should like to make to the Committee. The other is this. I think the Committee is aware that there is nothing at all exceptional in this procedure under the conscription laws, and I think almost every country which has conscription adopts the same procedure in relation to people of double nationality. Therefore, I think we can anticipate that there will be no difficulty as far as foreign countries are concerned if we follow suit. In view of the argument which I have put forward, I hope the Committee will be able to accept my Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Wing Commander Archibald James Wing Commander Archibald James , Wellingborough

I beg to move, in page 1, line 22, after "exercised," to insert: or penalty for failure to perform any obligation imposed. As this and the following Amendment hang together, perhaps it will meet the wishes of the Committee if I deal with them simultaneously. As the Minister made plain when he produced it, this Bill was primarily designed to deal with the situation in Egypt, and my contention is that it must have been very hastily drawn, for it is quite inadequate for covering the ground which will subsequently have to be covered by the Order in Council in respect of Foreign countries. I seek to remedy some part of that effect by putting down these two Amendments. Their purpose is two-fold. The first is to supply in the Bill a sanction which at present is entirely lacking, and without which I do not see how the Bill can be made to operate in countries other than Egypt or, at all events, in some countries other than Egypt. The second purpose, quite frankly, is to seek to introduce a new principle, which I think it is very desirable to have. The Attorney-General told us that some countries and some Dominions have a definition of citizenship and that we have not. Personally I believe that the time is coming when, if our democracy is to Work, we shall have to have such a definition. The effect of these Amendments would be to provide a sanction against a very small number of people, very small because, as I emphasised yesterday, the overwhelming majority of British residents in foreign countries are the very cream of our people, and very few therefore would be affected.

A point which, however, has not been touched upon is this—What reliance is being placed upon the Consular lists to enable us to see what the extent of the problem is going to be? It is a subject with which I have some familiarity. In every European country there are persons who have obtained British nationality and British passports more or less accidentally. In most cases they are quite unknown to our authorities as British subjects until such time as they get into trouble and appeal for help. I therefore hope that one effect of the acceptance of my Amendments would be to hasten a reform which is very necessary, namely, a cleaning-up of our passport system. It is quite out of date, it has never been reformed, and it is open not only to serious abuses but to the greatest inconvenience. I very much hope that the Government will see their way to accept my Amendments, or, if not, that they will be able to introduce some analogous Amendment.

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

A certain amount of the arguments which my hon. and gallant Friend has put forward really arose and were dealt with under the first Amendment on the Paper to-day. With regard to his actual proposal, I quite appreciate his desire to raise, as a point, the question as to whether we should have some conception of citizenship, distinct, as I gather, from that of nationality. Certainly at present no such conception is known to the law, and one could not introduce it by implication in a Bill of this character. Therefore I think that my hon. and gallant Friend probably regards his Amendments, not as practicable alterations to the Bill, but rather as raising a point. So far as the main question of penalties is concerned, I will not repeat to the Committee what I said on the earlier Amendment, nor the reasons which I gave for thinking that, as at present advised, we must and can only rely on the sanctions that if a person who fails to comply comes back to this country, he will be liable to be prosecuted in the same way as persons here. While that may not affect everybody—it may not affect people who have no intention of coming back to this country—it is a formidable sanction so far as many of the people are concerned, particularly in the younger age groups, for it is unlikely that they will never want to return to this country. While appreciating my hon. and gallant Friend's reasons I cannot advise the Committee to accept this Amendment.

Photo of Wing Commander Archibald James Wing Commander Archibald James , Wellingborough

May I ask how it is proposed to deal with those persons whose existence as British subjects is not known to the authorities and who may, at some subsequent date, come back without our knowing that they are there at all? How will that be dealt with?

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

If you do not know of somebody's existence, you cannot communicate with him. The intention to apply conscription to nationals abroad is, I quite agree, not one of those things which can be 100 per cent. efficient. To some extent there are bound to be gaps. There are fairly complete lists. The hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but I am told that there are fairly complete lists. We have to work on what we have got, and maybe we shall be able to get more information, if it is desired, as a result of applying an Order in Council here. But there will be gaps, and one perhaps will be that of a British subject living in the wilds somewhere who is not known to the authorities.

Photo of Wing Commander Archibald James Wing Commander Archibald James , Wellingborough

In view of the explanation, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Photo of Mr Malcolm McCorquodale Mr Malcolm McCorquodale , Sowerby

During the discussion on the Second Reading yesterday reference was made to Northern Ireland, and I am afraid I advised the Attorney-General incorrectly on the position of Northern Ireland. The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan); the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) and the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. McKinlay) were interested in this point, and I am glad to see them in their places now. I desire to make the necessary correction. The position under the National Service Acts is that Irishmen in Great Britain are not liable to be called up for military service unless ordinarily resident in Great Britain. This means, broadly speaking, that they must have been residing here for more than two years. This applies both to Northern and Southern Irish people. That is the point where I fell into error yesterday. This is because Section 11 of the National Service (Armed Forces) Act, 1939, as amended by Section 9 of the Act of 1941, exempts nationals or citizens of any part of His Majesty's dominions outside Great Britain and any person born or domiciled in any such part of His Majesty's dominions—that is dominion with a small "d." not a large" D."

Under the Bill we are now considering, Southern Irishmen in a foreign country will not be liable to be called up for service. That is because the proviso to Clause 1 (1) of the Bill excludes nationals or citizens of any Dominion—with a large "D"—and persons born or domiciled in any Dominion, and Eire is, of course, a Dominion. Northern Irishmen in a foreign country will be liable to be called up for military service under the Bill, because although Northern Ireland is a part of His Majesty's dominions outside Great Britain, it is not a Dominion. Actually, Northern Irishmen in a foreign country will only be made liable to be called up for military service if they are ordinarily resident in that country, that is, when they have been residing in the foreign country for more than two years.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I am sure the Committee is obliged to the hon. Gentleman for his explanation and correction. It does leave us in rather a difficulty, because the Committee stage of the Bill is to-day, and, acting on the advice which the Attorney-General gave to the House yesterday, it was not necessary to do anything, but as it has turned out, that advice was mistaken. We get a very anomalous position as a result—a rather curious result—because it would appear that a man belonging to Northern Ireland will be under greater liabilities if he lives in a foreign country than he would be if he lived in Northern Ireland, and under greater liabilities than he would be under if he lived here.

Photo of Mr Malcolm McCorquodale Mr Malcolm McCorquodale , Sowerby

No, that is not so. I said that a Northern Irishman in a foreign country will only be made liable if he is ordinarily resident in that country. That is the position of Northern Irish people who live here.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Then there is not really a greater liability in that respect, but they have a greater liability than if they stay at home. Therefore, though I was mistaken on one point, the position in fact does exist that under this Bill a man will be under greater liabilities if he lives in a foreign country than if he stays in Belfast. I do not know whether that ought to be so or not. I am not greatly interested in the matter, but I think the House might have had something to say about it and might have wished to consider, it had they known what was the result of the combined effect of the Military Service Acts and the Bill which we are now invited to pass, and might have wished to know whether the Government regard that position as satisfactory and whether they are proposing to consider it at a later stage.

Photo of Mr George Buchanan Mr George Buchanan , Glasgow Gorbals

I think I was the first to raise this matter. My Division is largely populated by people who come from that country, and I make no apology for representing them as citizens. May I say frankly to the Parliamentary Secretary that he has made a first-class explanation? He does not need to be worried about the mistake. He will make many more serious mistakes than the one he made last night before he has finished in his job. The position now, as I understand it, is that a person who is domiciled in Northern Ireland would, if he went to Egypt, need to reside there for two years before he became liable, which puts him exactly on a par with his position if he was in Great Britain. That being so, I accept the position. My own view at the start was that he would be in a worse position than he would be if he came to Britain. I accept the Parliamentary Secretary's correction.

Photo of Mr Adam M'Kinlay Mr Adam M'Kinlay , Dunbartonshire

I intervened because I had the impression that there was a discrimination between labourers coming from Southern Ireland and labourers coming from the North. I still believe that a shuttle service can be created which will break the two years' continuity. I have never been able to understand how such a fighting race were ever excluded. It seems strange that there has to be special legislation to keep these men out of the fight. [An HON. MEMBER: "They do not want to be in this one!"] I myself had some difficulty in dealing with a fairly large section of the building industry because of the position not being understood by the men. I am satisfied from the Parliamentary Secretary's explanation that they must at lease have two years' residence in the country before they will be liable to be called up. I do not want to prolong the discussion, though I could quote one case where a man was called up who was found to be medically unfit, but I will not pursue that.

Photo of Major William Allen Major William Allen , County Armagh

We in Northern Ireland fail to understand the logic of making British subjects in foreign countries liable for a calling up while British subjects in Northern Ireland are still outside the scope of conscription. Perhaps somebody will explain that on behalf of the Government. It is well known that the Prime Minister refuses to apply conscription to Northern Ireland, with the consent and agreement of the majority of Members of this House, although, of course, those Members who represent Northern Ireland here are anxious that Northern Ireland should be subject to conscription. I do not want to press the subject, but it is illogical from start to finish—

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I am afraid I could not allow the hon. and gallant Member to press the subject. Possibly his speech might have been in Order on the Second Reading, although I am not quite sure about that. However, I have allowed him to ask the question, and I might allow a Minister to reply to it shortly.

Photo of Major William Allen Major William Allen , County Armagh

I am obliged to you, Sir Dennis, for allowing me to ask the question.

Photo of Hon. Oliver Stanley Hon. Oliver Stanley , Westmorland

I raised a small drafting point on the Second Reading, in connection with Clause 1, Sub-section (2, c). Could I have a reply?

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

The point made by my right hon. and gallant Friend was that under Clause 1, Sub-section (2, c), an Order in Council made under the Bill may provide for the enlistment or enrolment of such persons in any of His Majesty's forces which may for the time being be present in that country. He asked whether, as there was an express reference to such a position, it might not lead some courts to hold that an Order in Council could not be made under this Bill unless there was, in the country to which you were seeking to apply it, a force of ours in which men could be enrolled. I think that if my right hon. and gallant Friend and the Committee will follow the drafting of this Sub-section, they will see that that is not so. The Sub-section provides that the Order in Council shall make provision for the manner in which any obligation thereby imposed, or any privilege or right exercisable in relation to any such obligation, is to be performed or exercised. We put in the particular provisions specified because, if we impose an obligation and provide for a penalty, we must do so in specific terms. We were faced with the question of Egypt, where, under arrangement with the Egyptian Government, we were able to carry this procedure further than we might have been able to do in the absence of such arrangements. It was, therefore, thought right to provide that the Order may include, in addition, the detailed matters set out in paragraphs (a), (b), and (c), for which we can provide in Egypt, in the exceptional circumstances, but for which we might not be able to provide elsewhere.

Photo of Sir Stafford Cripps Sir Stafford Cripps , Bristol East

I only want to say that I do not think it right to trespass on your guidance and your generosity, Sir Dennis, in order to reply to the question put by the hon. and gallant Member for Armagh (Sir W. Allen).

Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

Clauses 2 and 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill reported, with an Amendment; as amended, considered; read the Third time, and passed.