Clause 2. — (Whole-tine and part-time service.)

Orders of the Day — National Service Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th May 1947.

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Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Combined English Universities 12:00 am, 7th May 1947

I beg to move, in page 2, line 14, to leave out from "deemed," to the end of line 22, and to insert: (a) if his last service during that term was in the royal navy or the royal marines, to be entered for service in a royal naval special reserve which the Admiralty shall raise and maintain for the purposes of this Act; or(b) If such last service was in the regular army, to be enlisted for service in the territorial army or the army reserve, as the Army Council may direct; or(c) if such last service was in the regular air force, to be enlisted for service in the air force reserve. I have some hope that this Amendment will be accepted because, if I have rightly understood the intention of the Clause as it stands, my Amendment carries it out, whereas the language in the Clause as now drafted is, I think, rather illiterate and obscure. It will be noticed that the provision in the Clause as at present drafted, says that: On the next day after-that on which the term of a person's whole-time service is completed he shall, subject to the provisions of the next following section, be deemed, and then come these rather strange words: according as his last service during that term was in the royal navy or the royal marines, the regular army, or the regular air force. The Clause then proceeds to provide in (a), (b) and (c) for three alternatives which can happen to him. I believe that that is rather strange drafting and syntax in the use of these words, according as his last service during that term was, followed by these various alternatives. There is also some doubt as to which of the three things, (a), (b), or (c), shall apply to him in the various events. If members of the Committee will turn to the words on the Order Paper which I have suggested, I think they will find that they are perfectly clear. The words simply say Shall be deemed

  1. (a) if his last service during that term was in the royal navy or the royal marines, to be entered for service in a royal naval special reserve which the Admiralty shall raise and maintain for the purposes of this Act; or
  2. (b) if such last service was in the regular army, to be enlisted for service in the territorial army or the army reserve, as the Army Council may direct; or
  3. (c) if such last service was in the regular air force, to be enlisted for service in the air force reserve."
The meaning of those words is quite clear and obvious to everyone who reads them. If they convey the meaning which the Government desire, they have this advantage that every-one can turn to this Clause of the Bill and see at once what it means. I do not think that this part of the Bill is one in which the Government desire to conceal their meaning. It is of great advantage that the meaning should be clear at first sight to everyone, and it seems to be appropriate that a University member should put this Amendment forward so that the Clause may be written in good English.

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

I am sorry that I did not hear the whole of the arguments of the hon. and learned Member. The Amendment I know is intended in good faith, to be helpful and seeks to improve the Clause. But my advice from the draftsmen is that the Amendment is not necessary. Provision is already made. The governing words are in lines 14 to 15, and they are: According as … One may not like the words. But if it is the desire of the Committee I will look into this and see if the wording can be improved on the lines suggested in the Amendment.

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Combined English Universities

On that assurance I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

10.45 p.m.

Photo of Mr James Carmichael Mr James Carmichael , Glasgow Bridgeton

I beg to move, in page 2, line 24, to leave out "seventh", and to insert "third".

I do not move this Amendment on the ground of my opposition to conscription, but because I feel that the age question comes into this and that even if we accept the age of calling up as 18, a man is 25 years of age before he is completely free of the Services. I submit that in the ordinary development of citizenship, heavy responsibilities must fall on young men about the age of 25. There are two in my mind, the responsibility of marriage and home life. We have to face the fact that if we are establishing an association with the military machine, then to that extent there is a divorcement from ordinary family life. In the early period of life round 25, the biggest responsibility of young men is family responsibility. And I think sincerely in regard to the arguments submitted about discipline making for better citizenship, that, around that age, these persons should be taking a serious part in the civic responsiblities of their community.

When the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour gave some information about students and apprentices, he said the age could go up to 36. I say that is carrying the age beyond the need of the nation. I hope I shall be regarded as sincere in this, apart from my opposition to the Bill in principle. If, as admitted in the White Paper, it is the great desire of the Government and the community to avoid war at all costs, if we are working for peace, and if these young men are already trained and could easily fit into any emergency, there is no need to have them completely tied to the defence organisation until they reach the age of 36. I am not suggesting this is the ideal Amendment. From my reading of the Bill, with Amendments submitted earlier and taking cognisance of the position of apprentices and medical students and recognising the age when doctors and dentists qualify as stated in Clause 9, there might be reason for looking into this matter further. It may be that the suggested three-year period is too short but I submit, in all honesty, that seven years is far too long a period to have people tied to the defence organisation. Members on the Government Front Bench will admit that in planning the calling-up age at 18, they were thinking in terms of youth, without heavy community and domestic responsibilities. I submit the Amendment on those grounds, and if we could get some kind of appreciation of the point, I think we should be satisfied.

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

I have listened carefully to the case that has been put forward. I see clearly what the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael) wants, but I am sure he will appreciate what the result of this Amendment would be on the objective of the Government and of Parliament. Our objective is to build up a reserve. If we accepted the Amendment, we should be able to have a reserve of only 350,000 to 400,000 men. The Amendment would cut the actual reserve period from six to two years. I am afraid that I could not possibly accept the Amendment, much as I should like to meet the human and social aspects to which the hon. Member referred. Moreover, it is very essential that we should give the refresher training during the period of reserve It is not, in actual fact, going to be such a terrible disturbance of domestic life, if we can avoid war, because a man may be called up for only 14 days, or for no more than a maximum of 21 days, in any one year. For those reasons, I cannot accept the Amendment.

Photo of Mr Campbell Stephen Mr Campbell Stephen , Glasgow Camlachie

If this Amendment were accepted, it need not interfere with the building-up of a reserve, because the Government would have an opportunity to extend the period after the General Election. Acceptance of this Amendment would mean that the country would have an opportunity of taking some decision in regard to the introduction of this new feature into the life of the country in peacetime. The Amendment gives the Government an opportunity of continuing to build up a reserve until the General Election. If the Government are returned to the House of Commons they can then extend the period to seven years. They would be well advised to accept the Amendment, and to let the people have a say in the matter.

Photo of Mr Thomas Scollan Mr Thomas Scollan , Renfrewshire Western

As the Bill stands, there will obviously be a chance for the electorate, because, in the normal course of events, there will be a General Election in 1950, and another in 1955, whereas this Bill carries on until 1954. There is also an Amendment down for the purpose of seeing that there shall be a mandate granted at the next Election.

Amendment negatived.

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Combined English Universities

I beg to move, in page 2, line 27, to leave out "or might lawfully have been."

This is not merely a point of drafting, but is a point of substance. I say that with some hesitation, because I know how seldom the Parliamentary draftsmen make any mistakes. But I do not think it is easy to construe the words which the Government have put into the Bill. The Minister will observe that the Clause I am seeking to amend says, so, however, that the end of a person's part-time service shall be postponed by 'any period by which the term of his whole time service was"— and then we come to the questionable words, 'or might law-fully have been' extended by virtue of proviso (b) to paragraph 1 of the First Schedule to this Act. If the Minister will be good enough to look at page 14, to which we are referred by these words, he will find that in line 4 it says: The term of a person's whole-time service shall, for the purposes of this Act be completed on, or soon as is practicable after, the expiration of a period"— which is defined. Then we come to the proviso: Provided that(b) in reckoning that the end of the said period of eighteen months no account shall he taken … In other words, every direction as to the meaning of a person's whole-time service is mandatory. There is no alternative. The person's whole-time service is of that duration, and no account is to be taken of those periods. If my Amendment is accepted, I think it is conceivable that the draftsman may want a small further consequential Amendment. But I think that I am leaving out words which, it they were left in, would render the Clause obscure, and would be legally inaccurate.

Photo of Mr George Isaacs Mr George Isaacs , Southwark North

We propose to accept the Amendment. There were other words which were intended to go into the Schedule later, and which we found were unnecessary, and the hon. and learned Gentleman's point was overlooked.

Amendment agreed to.

Photo of Colonel Ralph Glyn Colonel Ralph Glyn , Abingdon

I beg to move, in page 2, line 33, to leave out "sixty," and to insert "seventy-five."

The Minister of Defence, earlier, emphasised the fact that he was anxious to increase the efficiency of the Reserve. As six months have been taken off the continuous period of service, this Amendment proposes that the original 60 days should be increased to 75, spread over no less a period than six years. I am sure everybody will agree that it is necessary to get an efficient Reserve. That being so, is it not necessary so to arrange the period of Reserve service that it will enable a man to serve with his own unit in such a way as to become an efficient member of his Service? Four hours constitutes a day's service, so a man does only 300 hours in six years. If anybody says that he can become effective in less than that time, I shall be surprised. A tremendous advance is being made in weapons, through research and development, and refresher courses will be necessary to ensure that a man becomes acquainted with the weapons he will have to use, in case of an emergency, in the unit in which he will have to serve.

11.0 p.m.

When the Minister of Labour made his statement today he said nothing about pre-Service training of cadets or about whether that would be of any assistance to a man who is called up. Nor was anything said about the facilities that will be available for men who are serving afloat, or in camps, or in the Royal Air Force. I would emphasise that the purpose of this Amendment is to suggest that if there is a cut of six months in the continuous service, it is not asking very much that for a period of 75 days a man should be in training, in his six years of Reserve service. It would also have the effect of helping men who are in industry, because by increasing the number of days to 75 they would get a continuous period of 21 days. This would mean that a man would be freed from industry for a period apart from the statutory holidays, whereas if the period is confined to 60 days it is impossible for a reservist to do individual drills of three weeks period in camp, afloat or with the Royal Air Force.

Photo of Sir Toby Low Sir Toby Low , Blackpool North

I should like to get some information from the Minister on the question of training which he failed to give us early in the evening. This Amendment, as my hon. Friend has said, is designed to give the Minister a real chance of getting adequate and efficiently trained men in the Reserve. It is worth noting that the Minister of Labour, whose statement in the House on 31st March on the Second Reading of the Bill has helped more than one speaker this afternoon, referred on that occasion to the possibility of men in certain branches of the Royal Air Force being detained for 12 months. He said that if a man were released earlier, he would be expected to make up that time, by a little extra time given to part-time service in a training programme. If there were three periods available for this man's part-time service he would have a chance of serving with his unit in camp, and it would also give him the opportunity on the periods between camps, to keep himself from getting rusty. I imagine that is why provision is made for hourly periods being reckoned as the equivalent of one day. If the number of days were only 60 it would afford little chance to a man to keep himself from getting rusty and from doing more than one period of 21 days in camp with his unit, whereas if the period were in excess of 60 days and were something like 75, as suggested in this Amendment, there would be a chance of doing two periods with his unit and not only one. At the same time it would give him a chance of keeping himself in fettle. Two periods of 21 days would give 42 days, which leaves only 18 days for splitting up over a period of three or four years. That is obviously not enough.

In considering the effectiveness of part-time training one should compare the periods under this Bill and the periods which the Government considered necessary for the Territorial Army. I have worked out that under the present Territorial Army Regulations a man is ex- pected to do 132 days or thereabouts in the course of six years, and in fact he is required so to do. There is a very wide gap between 60 days and 132, and I should like some indication from the Minister of his view of the effect of this 60 days. Remember that now, at any rate, the Territorial Army and all the auxiliary forces will be dealing with trained men, so that the argument that the Territorial Army is not dealing with men who have had whole-time service or equipment will not hold water. Clearly this matter, like the larger issue which we discussed earlier, must depend on the answer to two questions which I have already put to the Minister, although unfortunately he was not in the Committee at the time. What is the object of training under this Bill, and what state of efficiency is expected to be attained? Secondly, what state of readiness is planned for the Forces. I do not understand how the Committee can come to a reasoned decision on the right part-time service under this Bill or, for that matter, on the whole-time service, unless we have answers to those questions.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

I hope that the Minister will have another look at this position I am very doubtful indeed whether 60 days, spread over six years, is long enough to enable people to maintain the full advantage which they have gained during their period of permanent service. I feel that the very well-justified concession of reducing permanent service from 18 months to 12 can be counterbalanced from an efficieincy point of view by some reconsideration of the periods which will be occupied by part-time service, but I believe that the two things must be considered together. If we have looked at one and have corrected it, we ought at the same time to have another look at the other. I do not feel that we ought to expect the Minister to give any decision tonight, but I would ask him to reconsider this matter in consultation with the Service chiefs.

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , Dorset Southern

So far from not expecting the Minister to make any change or decision tonight, one is rather surprised that the Government have not themselves put their names to the Amendment introduced by my hon. Friend, or put down one of their own. If I heard the right hon. Gentleman aright earlier today, he stressed the fact that the reduction of the period from 18 months to one year was accompanied by an increase in the period of part-time service from 5½ to six years. He said there was some offset to the disadvantage of reducing it in that fact. As there are to be six extra months of part-time service, surely it is reasonable to expect some increase in the total number of days which will be used in training. What exactly that should be, I do not know, but should have thought the Government ought to have some views upon it. If they are going to keep it at 60 days, they ought to justify their position and be prepared to give a reasonable explanation of it. Therefore, I hope they will look sympathetically at the Amendment which has been moved by my hon. and gallant Friend, and be prepared to accept it.

Photo of Mr Emrys Roberts Mr Emrys Roberts , Merionethshire

I hope the Minister will reject the Amendment. I consider 60 days, spread over the period of part-time service, sufficient of a burden for the ordinary citizen and even if it is not sufficient for efficient training, it is absurd to suggest that the addition of 15 days spread over seven years is going to make any difference. The attitude of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) is indeed difficult to understand. He said that six months added to the whole-time service would make no difference to a man's efficiency, but he now implies that 15 days added to the part-time service is going to make all the difference. I support what was said by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Blackpool (Brigadier Low) about the need for elucidation from the Minister of the conditions of this part-time service. Is it to be applied rigidly or flexibly? Will people be able to carry out visits abroad or go on educational courses? Subject to elucidation on those matters, I hope the Minister will reject the Amendment.

Photo of Captain Arthur Marsden Captain Arthur Marsden , Chertsey

I support the Amendment. It seems to me to be a very mild and reasonable Amendment. We are cutting out six months' whole-time service, and I hope that hon. Members opposite will not allow political pressure—it is no good the Attorney-General waving his hand—

Photo of Mr Hartley Shawcross Mr Hartley Shawcross , St Helens

I was not waving my hand to the hon. and gallant Member.

Photo of Captain Arthur Marsden Captain Arthur Marsden , Chertsey

I hope the Minister of Labour will stick to his guns, because he said in his Second Reading speech that while the period of 18 months might not be required for complete training, it was required for service, and therefore, he was saying that 18 months was not adequate for training. We are now getting only 12 months. I assure the Committee that one cannot train anybody to be an efficient sailor or soldier in 12 months. A great many people are not efficient in 12 years. Under the Amendment, we are asking for the equivalent of one week's training a year. It is not asking very much, in that long period, to ask for 15 more days. I have been put in this dilemma, as very many others have been. Eighteen months was not enough, 12 months is not so good, but at least it is better than nothing—

Photo of Mr Hubert Beaumont Mr Hubert Beaumont , Batley and Morley

The hon. and gallant Member must keep to the Amendment.

Photo of Captain Arthur Marsden Captain Arthur Marsden , Chertsey

I was only trying to point out why 75 days' training would be better than 60 days over a long period. I hope the Minister will consider this. I am asking very little and I think it should be supported on both sides of the Committee. Having taken off six months' fulltime training, the Government should apply themselves to seeing how they can make up a little extra time during the part-time training which the men will have to undergo.

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

I do not want to take long over this Amendment. We still have a lot of work to do and we have not a lot of time. I must say that, speaking for myself, I have a great deal of sympathy with the object of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved this Amendment. On the other hand, I would like to say to hon. Members opposite that the Government have already made up their mind on this matter. I indicated when I was moving the major Amendment this afternoon that the Government did not propose to increase the period of 60 days. The idea of having a little extra refresher training for each man is very nice, but we have to weigh up what is the actual loss economically in the matter, over the whole period, in relation to the extra advantage one would get. We hope by the end of the five years to have passed into the reserve very nearly a million men, and if the power under the Act were extended for another year, and ran over the full six years for the reserves, it would mean that you would have nearly 1,200,000 in that reserve. If you added another 15 days it would mean a loss in present economic circumstances, of 40,000 man-years over the six year period of reserve service. Looked at from that point of view, we feel that we cannot accept in the present economic circumstances that extra liability.

On the other hand, there are special cases like that, for example, of the air crews. In the case of the air crews it had never been intended, even under the Bill as it was originally drawn to keep them for more than 12 months with the colours, but to have a special arrangement for them afterwards for longer periods of refresher training. That was done definitely at the instigation of the Air Ministry because it would not have been possible to complete the course in 18 months. The suggestion now is that in cases like that they would not be accepted for air crew training. unless they were ready to volunteer for a longer period in reserve training for that special type of employment. That will be provided for in the regulations. I hope therefore, in the light of the economic charge on our industry which I have indicated, the Committee will see that we cannot accept the Amendment.

Photo of Sir Toby Low Sir Toby Low , Blackpool North

May I take it that the right hon. Gentleman says that an hour's period for what is known as drill in the Territorial Army at present deprives the country of so many man hours—that evening drills really deprive the country of a man's work?

Photo of Mr Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

The hon. and gallant Gentleman is mixing up two issues. In the Territorial Army it certainly does not, if it is done out of working hours but you are asking for a compulsory call-up of sixty days, and you want to make it 75 days for reserve training under the Bill. That is a different proposition which we cannot accept.

Photo of Hon. Oliver Stanley Hon. Oliver Stanley , Bristol West

What we are asking for is that the sixty days shall be increased to 75. The Minister says that a day can be reckoned in a number of hourly periods, and when he says that this addition will lose 40,000 man-years he knows that he is deceiving the Committee—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order."] Well, I will say then that the Committee is obviously not going to be deceived by the right hon. Gentleman. He knows that this is not a fact, because the greater part of the 15 days will not be taken in whole-time training, but will be taken in the evening training in the ordinary way of the Territorials. I am extremely surprised at the stand which the Minister has taken. I had assumed that when the Bill was introduced and the sixty days had been put in, it was based on some thought-out minimum period during which training could be useful. I thought that it had been worked out how these sixty days could best be used to keep the men up to date. If there was nothing behind the choice of sixty days, surely that period ought to be reconsidered when one has altered the period of part-time training

from 5½ years to six. We have had no explanation as to how the sixty days were originally arrived at, nor how that great benefit which the Minister says is going to accrue because people are going to spend six months longer in the Reserve will accrue without spending one single hour longer on training. I should have thought that the Minister would have exhibited that flexibility of mind on which he pride8 himself earlier this afternoon. He thought he would have considered that this is a minor matter compared with the great diminution which has already been passed this evening. In view of the wholly uncompromising nature of his reply, and in the absence of any statement, we shall have to press this Amendment.

Question put, "That 'sixty' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 245; Noes, 64.

Mitchison, G. R.Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)Tiffany, S
Monslow, W.Rogers, G. H. R.Timmons, J
Moody, A. S.Ross, William (Kilmarnock)Tolley, L.
Morgan, Dr. H. B.Sargood, R.Ungoed-Thomas, L.
Nally, W.Shackleton, E. A. AVernon, Maj. W. F.
Neal, H. (Claycross)Sharp, GranvilleWalkden, E.
Nicholls, H, R. (Stratford)Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)Walker, G. H.
Noel-Buxton, LadyShawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
O'Brien, T.Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.Warbey, W. N.
Oliver, G. H.Silverman, J. (Erdington)Watson, W. M.
Paget, R. T.Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)Weitzman, D.
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Simmons, C. J.Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Palmer, A. M. F.Skeffington, A. M.West, D. G.
Pargiter, G. A.Smith, C. (Colchester)Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
Parker, J.Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Parkin, B. T.Snow, Capt. J. W.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Paton, J. (Norwich)Solley, L. J.Wilkins, W. A.
Peart, Capt. T. F.Sorensen, R. W.Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Platts-Mills, J. F. FSoskice, Maj. Sir F.Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Popplewell, E.Sparks, J. A.Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Porter, E. (Warrington)Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)Williamson, T.
Price, M. PhilipsStrauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)Willis, E.
Pritt, D. N.Stross, Dr. B.Wilmot, Rt. Hon. J
Proctor, W. T.Stubbs, A. E.Wise, Major F. J.
Pryde, D. J.Swingler, S.Woodburn, A.
Pursey, Cmdr. HSylvester, G. O.Woods, G. S.
Randall, H. E.Symonds, A. L.Yates, V. F.
Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Ranger, J.Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)Zilliacus, K.
Reid, T. (Swindon)Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)
Richards, R.Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Robens, A.Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Ed'b'gh, E.)Mr. Pearson and
Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)Mr. Collindridge
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)Thurtle, Ernest
NOES.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. GHinchingbrooke, ViscountPickthorn, K.
Baldwin, A. E.Hollis, M. C.Prior-Palmer, Brig. O
Beechman, N. A.Hope, Lord J.Raikes, H. V.
Birch, NigelLambert, Hon. G.Ramsay, Maj. S
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.Rayner, Brig. R.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. WLloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)Ropner, Col. L.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Low, Brig. A. R. W.Smithers, Sir W
Butcher, H. W.Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. OStoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Clarke, Col. R. S.Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Maclay, Hon. J. S.Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)Studholme, H. G.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. EMaitland, Comdr. J. W.Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Davidson, ViscountessManningham-Buller, R. E.Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Digby, S. W.Marlowe, A. A. H.Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Donner, Sqn.-Ldr. P. W.Marsden, Capt. A.Touche, G. C.
Drayson, G. B.Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)Molson, A. H. E.Williams, C. (Torquay)
Duthie, W. SMorrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Gage, C.Nicholson, G.
Glyn, Sir R.Noble, Comdr. A. H. PTELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)Orr-Ewing, I. L.Mr. Drewe and Lieut.-Colonel
Head, Brig. A. H.Peto, Brig. C. H. MThorp.

Photo of Mr Niall Macpherson Mr Niall Macpherson , Dumfriesshire

I beg to move, in page 2, line 36, to leave out Subsection (4).

The object of the Amendment standing in the names of my hon. Friends and myself is to obtain some clarification on the convertibility of "a day's training" into particular periods of training. This is a fairly far-reaching Clause, if I understand it aright. I will direct the attention of the Committee first to line 20, on the same page, which provides that on leaving whole-time service a man may enlist in the territorial army or the army reserve, as the Army Council may direct. In other words, he may be directed into the Territorial Army. Then, if the Committee will look at Clause 3 they will find that a man can volunteer for service in the Territorial Army and similar forces. I want to find out to what extent it is to be permissible for those who do not take on voluntary service to be allowed to convert their part-time training in days into part-time training in hours.

If I understand the case correctly, the Territorial Army as we have known it is to be completely changed, and is to contain both voluntary and compulsory elements. If that is so, it will be necessary to arrange for the convertibility of part-time service in days into part-time service in hours. It will also completely wreck the Territorial Army. The effect of this Clause is to undermine the Territorial Army of the future. If one considers the continental systems one finds that a man, having finished his training, is liable to be called up for continuous periods of service, which vary from 21 days in two years, to 21 days in one year. Is this also the intention of the Government? Is this the way it is to be worked? Are these men to be called up for continuous service only, or is there to be convertibility? I suggest that this Clause is out of place. The powers that are required can be found in Clause 3 (2), so far as the voluntary forces are concerned. There may be odd exceptions. For example, it might be convenient for a scientist to do hourly periods of service, instead of long periods of continuous service. I should like to have an explanation of this from the right hon. Gentleman.

There is a further point. Under Clause 6, a man may have an order served on him when he is to carry out his service. Does this apply to hourly service as well as to continuous service, because if so, if will be pernicious? If a man has time voluntarily to join the Territorial Army, or some voluntary force, that is one thing, but if he has not the time to join, although he might like to do so, it will be a great hardship if he is to be directed to do a period of service at a particular time. Take the case of a commercial traveller. How can he be directed to do hourly periods of service at definite times, even with 30 days' notice? I move this Amendment because it is not clear to me whether or not sufficient powers are already contained in the Bill to cover voluntary service, and to ascertain whether it is intended that this should apply to those who do not undertake voluntary service, and whether there is to be convertibility.

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

This Subsection, as it stands, makes nonsense of the decision arrived at in the Division on the last Amendment. Under this Subsection it is provided that the Service Departments shall make regulations defining what is a day. The Committee will observe that it does not provide any limit to what that definition may be. By a strict reading of the Subsection it will be possible for a Department, which sympathised with the last Amendment, to define a day as being a period of 30 hours, and thereby getting precisely the result which a large majority of Members of the Committee thought fit to dispute a few moments ago. The whole Subsection is so wide that it calls for a good deal of clarification. Members opposite, from the attitude they have adopted on previous Amendments, should be equally vigilant with Members on this side in seeing what this means. I invite their attention to the fact that the whole of this Subsection lays an obligation on the Service Departments to make these regulations, but it is only permissive in its effect as to how they shall make these regulations. It gives them power to insert a provision as to the aggregation of the four hourly periods.

I do not possess those suspicions of the Service Departments which seem so easily to come to the minds of Members opposite, but as a Member of the House of Commons I dislike legislation of this kind, which hands over large quantities of legislative authority to outside bodies. Before we part with this Subsection we are entitled to two things, first, an explanation as to precisely what the Government understand the limitations of this broadly drafted Subsection to be; second, some binding undertaking as to how they will use it. The hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson) has done a service in bringing this matter forward tonight.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

I am much obliged to the hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) for suggesting that the Service Departments have sufficient ingenuity to be able to convert a day of 24 hours into one of 30 hours, but I should have thought that that was beyond their powers. I can tell the hon. Member that such is not the intention of the Service Departments.

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

The right hon. Gentleman disputes that it would be within the capacity of the Service Departments to define a day as being one of 30 hours. Does he appreciate that under the Subsection there is power given to them to define a day as being a period of four hours?

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

Yes, but in an entirely different connection.

Photo of Mr John Boyd-Carpenter Mr John Boyd-Carpenter , Kingston upon Thames

On a point of Order. Is it in Order for the Attorney-General, seated on the Front Bench, to interject more than usually audible comments without getting on to his feet, and making them properly?

Photo of Mr Hubert Beaumont Mr Hubert Beaumont , Batley and Morley

I cannot say whether the comments were audible, as I did not hear them.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

I will do my best to explain the exact purpose of this Subsection. If the Amendment were carried it would not be possible for the Service Departments, particularly the War Office, to be able to permit a man doing part-time service, to convert that statutory obligation into doing 60 days, spread over six years, and not more than 21 days in any one year, as full-time service, into week-end or evening drills, or camps.

11.45 p.m.

The principal Department which will enable the men to utilise this option will be the Department over which I preside, and it will be mainly used by those reservists who are engaged in the anti-aircraft defence of this country. It will be more convenient both for the Army and for the men themselves to do their evening drills with their own guns and other equipment, which will be in centres in proximity to their own homes rather than perhaps spending regularly every year a full period of camp training for which it will be necessary, of course, to serve a call-up notice. The arrangements for those weekend camps and evening drills will be friendly affairs between the commanding officers and the men. It will not be necessary to serve a call-up notice because all matters will be arranged amicably between the commander and the men. I think the Committee will agree that this is a very useful provision, at any rate as far as the Army is concerned. I do not think that either of the other two Service Departments will use it to the same extent as the Army.

Perhaps I might now say something about the computation of days in hours, or maybe it is the other way round. A four-hourly period will be acknowledged to be one full day under this Clause, and a weekend camp will consist of not less than eight hourly periods. Therefore, if a man arranges with his commanding officer to do four hourly drills, there will be marked off a day out of his 60-day period. A weekend camp will consist of eight hourly periods.

Photo of Mr Charles Byers Mr Charles Byers , Dorset Northern

This is a very important point. Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that if a man arrives for his training, shall we say, at 2 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon and leaves on a Sunday evening, he is still only able to count eight hours' training period?

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

Yes, that is the second part of the point raised by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson). Included under this Subsection is power for a Service Department to define what a day's service would consist of, and obviously, if a man arrives to do his duty late in the evening, it would not be fair to consider that a day's duty. This power will be used quite reasonably, but we shall have to see by experience what is really a fair day's duty in accordance with what the man is called up to do. The Service Departments will use this power of definition quite reasonably and it will probably have to be something over 12 hours to consist of a full day. That is the whole purpose of this Subsection and I think that it is a reasonable provision that we are inserting in the Bill. I do, therefore, ask the hon. Member for Dumfries to accept this as a satisfactory explanation and to withdraw his Amendment.

Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham

Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down, may I ask him whether it would not be a kindness to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) to point out to the depleted and diminished ranks on the benches opposite that under Clause 19 (3), the regulations will have to be laid before Parliament in any event?

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

With regard to that intelligent observation, I am quite certain that my hon. Friend must not only have read the Bill, but could possibly explain it to the hon. Gentleman opposite. I am a little disappointed by the Secretary of State's remarks with regard to this Subsection. I should like to ask him a few questions concerning it, and I hope he may be able to give me answers to them. First of all, he dealt with weekend camps and evening drills. Can he say whether it is the intention that those who are directed into the Territorial Army Reserve shall be called up for a weekly camp or fortnightly camp? Secondly, in view of the tact that the Minister of Defence can tell us with precision how many man-years will be wasted if the number of days is increased from 60 to 75, can he tell the Committee how many man-years would be wasted by leaving this in its present form? Surely he is capable of making that calculation if there is any reliance at all to be placed on the calculation made by the Minister of Defence, because the 75 days would again be subject to the interpretation contained in this Subsection. I hope he will be able to give us some information upon that point. Then the right hon. Gentleman made a statement to the effect that the call-up for these weekend camps and for these hourly periods would be an amicable, friendly arrangement. It may be that that will be so, and I hope that it will in the majority of cases, but can he say whether, in the absence of the service of a training notice under Clause 6, he has any power to compel the attendance of any man on any day during his part-time period? Surely, in the case of someone in the Territorial Army Reserve who is a volunteer there is a penalty for not appearing on a particular day for a particular drill? Is the national service man to be in a more favourable position in that respect with regard to his drills and his periods than the man who volunteers for service in the Territorial Army? Before we pass from this Subsection, which gives very wide powers to the Service chiefs, I do hope that the right hon. Gentleman can give us some more information on those points and so, perhaps, enable us to carry on more speedily with other parts of the Bill to which we shall be coming shortly.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

In reply to the hon. and learned Gentleman, we certainly do intend to call up men for annual camp training periods, but the arrangements would, of course, be different for the three Services. In particular, if the Navy wished to send their reservists to sea they would utilise the powers under this Bill to call men up periodically—not necessarily every year—for the full period provided under the Bill. In the Army, however, and the R.A.F., too, I imagine, it will be quite different in certain respects. We shall not necessarily want the men in the Army for annual camps, although we shall need those at certain periods, particularly when large-scale formation training is to be carried out. In the main, however, we want this to be flexible so that we can fit in as far as possible with industry and our own particular requirements—especially with regard to anti-aircraft defences—and so that we can get men who will, on the whole, be willing in many cases to do weekend and evening training rather than be called up for a full 15 or 21 days in the year. But, as I have said, it must be flexible and it must be left to the Service authorities to make these regulations. They are certainly not to be used in any onerous way. They will be used to suit the convenience of the reservists themselves in the main.

Photo of Mr Niall Macpherson Mr Niall Macpherson , Dumfriesshire

Could the Minister answer the question that I put to him about whether volunteers and people serving compulsorily will be mixed in the same units?

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

Certainly, they will be mixed in the same units. We are now engaged in recruiting the volunteers, the N.C.O's. and key men, to be there for the time when the reservists come along. We hope that many of these men who have this compulsory period of reserve service to do will volunteer, along with those who have volunteered for the Territorial Army, to do extra drills. I think many of them will wish to do so.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

There is one point I would like to bring to the attention of the Secretary of State for War. Nearly all the speeches that have been delivered on this issue have assumed that Saturday afternoon is a time of freedom from work. The right hon. Gentleman knows my view on this issue in general, but I want to call his attention to the fact that the largest industry in this country covers the shop workers, and that they are not always free on a Saturday afternoon.

Photo of Sir Toby Low Sir Toby Low , Blackpool North

I want to raise one point in connection with the remarks of the Secretary of State for War about arrangements between an amicable commanding officer and an amicable national service man. Is it the intention of the Service authorities that an amicable national service man, at the beginning of his year, shall be able to do so much training in these training periods that he then exempts himself in each one of his six years from doing 21 days in camp? Is that the intention? Or will there be a special prohibition of that in the regulations?

There is one other point I want to make. I was very glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that he hoped that a large number of national service men would join the auxiliary Services as volunteers, so that they would be able to do more drills and put in more hours service, and, therefore, more days' service. That seems to run counter to what his right hon. Friend said to us a little time ago, when he said that my Amendment was against the country's present economic position, because it lost so many man-hours. I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman takes my side in this interesting discussion.

Photo of Mr Ian Orr-Ewing Mr Ian Orr-Ewing , Weston-Super-Mare

It appears to me that not only have we been weighting against the military requirements in the rather more fundamental issues that have been raised, but that we are tending, for the second time, to weight against the military requirements in favour of the industrial requirements. I think we have to keep a fair balance. If we are to consider the thing only from the industrial and economic side, obviously the whole thing may be nonsense. I think we have been going just a little too far in what has been said. I do not know what has been meant, but what has been said would lead one to believe that the primary interest is what is being done in the factories, and so on, and that we cannot consider the military side, which does not matter very much. I do not think what was said was meant in that way, but I think we ought to be clear on the matter.

12 m.

Photo of Mr Charles Byers Mr Charles Byers , Dorset Northern

I ask the Secretary of State for War to look at this matter again more closely with a view to bringing forward something with a closer definition on the Report stage, because I understood him to say that four hours of evening drills would count as one day's training. If 36 hours, perhaps in a weekend camp, count any number of days which the Service authorities themselves are to define, it might conceivably be reckoned as one day or two days. We suggest that from the point of view of justice that will cause a great deal of difficulty, and I would be grateful if the Secretary of State for War would dispel that difficulty, which appears to me to be a very real one. He ought to look at this matter again. It is all very well saying these things will work out all right, but we have heard that sort of argument time and time again when a Bill is brought before this House. When it becomes an Act of Parliament no one bothers to look up the HANSARD reports and it is not the vast majority of people who will be caught by this but the one man in a thousand.

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

I would like the Committee to consider more exactly what this means because I do not think it has been sufficiently explained so far. What would be the position if we left out this Subsection? The Amendment now before the Committee is to leave out the Subsection. In this Subsection only 24 hours is a day. If we leave out even one second, it cannot be counted as a day. I take it no one wants that. I am against the Bill. I would take it that nobody would want a service of this kind to be gauged merely by the clock.

Photo of Mr Thomas Scollan Mr Thomas Scollan , Renfrewshire Western

Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that the Subsection be kept in and the Bill left out?

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

I should like to see this Bill left out, certainly, and then it would not much matter about the Subsection being left in, but I am also in favour of legislation passed by this House being understandable and reasonable. Although we are against the Bill, it had much better go through in a reasonable and comprehensible form.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

I hope the Committee will now be ready to proceed further. I have done my best to give an explanation of a Subsection which I think will benefit the majority of men who would prefer, and who are permitted, to commute weekend and evening drills into a day's service. I should say that it would be most convenient both for the employers and the men, when they are called up for 30 days' service, to do their annual training in camp, and if this Subsection enables the Army, at any rate—because we shall be the principal users of it—to get adequate training and the men to be least inconvenienced, then I think the House should give us this Subsection without any further discussion.

Photo of Sir Allan Noble Sir Allan Noble , Chelsea

I am sure that all sides of the Committee will agree that this is a most interesting Amendment. We have heard a great deal about the Army side of it. I want to ask for a little information for the naval point of view. We all know that there are such things as nautical miles. In this connection there may be nautical hours. Perhaps one of the Admiralty representatives in the Government could give Members some information?

Hon. Members:

Answer.

Photo of Mr Niall Macpherson Mr Niall Macpherson , Dumfriesshire

The primary object in moving this Amendment is that convertibility is being allowed for non-volunteer reserves. On the other hand, the Committee is not satisfied that the explanation which has been given of the position of volunteers and non-volunteers. The system cannot possibly work where volunteers have to do one period of service and non-volunteers have to do another.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

The hon. Member has forgotten that those who volunteer will have no obligation under this Bill. They will be free men, and I think that he is under a misapprehension.

Photo of Mr Niall Macpherson Mr Niall Macpherson , Dumfriesshire

They have two separate kinds of obligation's, and they cannot possibly work in the same unit.

Photo of Lord  Willoughby de Eresby Lord Willoughby de Eresby , Rutland and Stamford

Before this Amendment is disposed of, it should be said that the hon. Member who moved it has done a useful service, but the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) has done a disservice. We want a better explanation of what constitutes a day's service. I happen to have been in the Territorial Army before the war and there was always an argument about this point. There was always doubt as to what actually constituted a day's service, and perhaps I had better not say much about what we understood to constitute such a day. We want to know definitely what will go to make up this necessary time.

Amendment negatived.

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

I beg to move, in page 2, line 42, to leave out Subsection (5).

I hope that the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) will understand that this is an Amendment moved merely to get an understanding of this provision, which is a good example of legislation by special reference to other Statutes without showing what those Statutes are. I would be grateful if the Minister will confirm what is the position resulting from this Subsection. Under Subsection (2) the national service man may go to the Naval Reserve, or the Territorial Army, or the Army Reserve, or the Air Force Reserve as the Service authorities may choose, and it is important to remember that the national service man, however he may be able to arrange with his commanding officer for a weekend camp, will not be able to say to which reserve he will go. Under Subsection (5), the man having been directed to a particular reserve, the obligation falling on him now will differ according to the reserve. If he is directed to the Army Reserve he may be called out for active or permanent service or to the aid of the civil power. If he is drafted into the Auxiliary Air Force his only liability will be to be called out in defence of the British Isles. I would like to ask for a statement on what are the particular obligations which will fall upon the individual National Serviceman; what will be his liability to be called out to service, depending on which reserve he is in.

Photo of Mr Hartley Shawcross Mr Hartley Shawcross , St Helens

I would like, in the first place, to ask hon. Members opposite, when is a day not a day? That might be a more inspiring subject than the one with which we are dealing. The hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) has rightly apprehended the purpose and intention of this Clause. Under the existing law, which is, in general, unaffected by the provisions of this Bill, there are different statutory provisions in regard to the calling up of the various reserves and auxiliary services. One of the minor distinctions in this connection occurs in the Royal Navy, where the reserve may be called to active service on any occasion when His Majesty thinks fit, the occasion being the subject of prior notification of Parliament.

In the Army, the purposes for which the reserves may be called up are slightly more restricted. His Majesty may do it by Proclamation in the case of imminent national danger or great emergency, and the Secretary of State can do it where it is necessary to support the civil power in the preservation of public peace. In the Air Force Reserve, again, there is a liability to be called out to serve, to defend the British Isles, in advance of any proclamation which may effect the calling out of other reserves. If Subsection (5) were left out, there would be doubt as to the provisions under which men compulsorily enlisted in one or other of the reserve services can be called out to serve. It is essential that members of the same force, whether they be volunteers, or compulsorily enlisted men—as will be those affected by this Bill—shall be subject to the same machinery and obligations in regard to calling up. That is the effect of this Subsection; it brings the compulsorily enlisted man within the scope of the machinery relating to the particular service to which he has been called.

Amendment negatived.

12.15 a.m.

Photo of Mr Walter Ayles Mr Walter Ayles , Southall

I beg to move, in page 3, line 5, at the end, to add: Provided no persons subject to the National Service Act shall be required to take duty in aid of the civil power in connection with a trade dispute or to perform, in consequence of a trade dispute, any civil or industrial duty customarily performed by a civilian in the course of his employment. I approach this Amendment as a trade unionist of nearly 50 years' standing. It is 50 years ago this week since I first took part in an industrial dispute—the engineers' eight-hours lockout. The Committee will, therefore, easily understand the feelings I have when I notice in the Clause that powers are given to call out reservists in order that they may come to the aid of the civil power and that they are able to interfere in industrial disputes. I am moving this Amendment because I want to prevent that from being done. The right to withdraw their labour is one of the rights for which trades unions have fought for over a century and a half. It is, of course, always attended by a certain amount of discomfort and often privation for the workmen, and by some inconvenience to the public and the community, and also, probably, the Government. In such a case there is a great temptation for the Government to take the line of least resistance, and if they find that by calling up the reservists they can break a strike, the temptation is very great indeed. I am not prepared to say the present Government would be prepared to do such a thing. do not know. If I had been told two years ago at the General Election that within two years a Labour Government would be introducing a Bill to enact peacetime conscription, I would have told the man who said it to go to Colney Hatch. No one would have imagined for one moment that such a thing was possible, which just goes to show that even in a case like this you never can tell.' The excuse, of course, is that conditions have changed. That is the excuse for doing something that you have said in the past you would never do. Conditions may also change in regard to industrial disputes and trade union rights. That is why I want to have this statutory safeguard placed in the Bill.

Photo of Mr Robert Mellish Mr Robert Mellish , Bermondsey Rotherhithe

Does the hon. Member intend this Amendment to apply to unofficial strikes as well?

Photo of Mr Walter Ayles Mr Walter Ayles , Southall

It will apply to all industrial disputes. It will prevent the Government from taking action by calling up the reservists to take part in industrial disputes in order to break them, unofficial as well as official strikes. There are other means of dealing with such a situation of a civil character without calling up the reservists. Therefore, if the Government are prepared to say that circumstances changed and caused them to introduce this Bill, so circumstances can again change with regard to industrial disputes and trade union rights.

I am prepared to affirm that if this Bill had been on the Statute Book as it stands in 1926, it would probably have been used in the General Strike. We have to remember that we shall have, according to the information given to us tonight, something like a million men in reserve who will be working at their ordinary jobs. They will be engineers, carpenters, textile workers, transport men and so on. Suppose the transport men come out on strike, then, as the Bill stands, all reservists working in the industry can be called up in order to break the very strike they have started. This is not a figment of the imagination; it has been done in the past. It was done in the case of the posts and telegraphists in France in 1939; in the case of the transport industry in France in 1910, and in the transport industry in Spain in 1912. I remember, because I was there, the troops being called into Tonypandy in 1910, provoking the very disturbance they were called in to try and stop.

I hope there is not the possibility after the next General Election of a change of Government, but if there is, then it will have been a Labour Government that has given this power to the Tories, and have handed it to them on a cupro-nickel salver to do with what they like. They will be able to use the conscripts for those purposes for which today we are told they will never be used, because they cannot bind their successors, and this Bill is being prolonged after 1950. The rights of the workers to withdraw their labour has been established by Statute and accepted by all parties. The right is no longer in dispute in law or in theory. If there is any trouble, the maintenance of law and order can be left to the civil authorities, and there is, therefore, no need to have this power incorporated in this Bill. A Government can act in panic. I am convinced that the Government in 1926 would have acted in panic if this Bill had been on the Statute book. I want to make it impossible by having a safeguard inserted. Much damage has already been done. We may be faced with the alternative of being black-legged or going into the Army. Whatever favourable guarantees are given. The power to do ill deeds makes ill deeds done. I am satisfied that the great trade unions will realise the significance of the powers under this Bill, and will not be satisfied with anything less than the Amendment I have proposed.

Photo of Mr Leslie Solley Mr Leslie Solley , Thurrock

May I ask the hon. Member, arising out of the question put to him by the hon. Member for Rotherhithe (Mr. Mellish) in relation to official strikes, whether he does not agree that his Amendment is merely concerned with reserves, and that it is well within the province of a Government, if they thought fit, to bring out the non-reservists to deal with them?

Photo of Mr Walter Ayles Mr Walter Ayles , Southall

I am dealing with this Bill, and not with any other Bill. It is this Bill which for the first time establishes the right of the Government to draw reservists out to break their own strike.

Photo of Mr Ian Mikardo Mr Ian Mikardo , Reading

The Amendment raises a number of issues of extreme complexity, and the arguments are not all on one side. The first thing we have to do is to differentiate very carefully on the one hand between the general question of the use of the Armed Forces in trade disputes, and, on the other hand, to differentiate between voluntary long-term soldiers and conscripts called up under this Bill. A great deal can be said on both sides on the first point, but I do not think it is as germane as the second. There is a st10ng feeling, and for excellent reasons, that the military power should not be used to upset the balance as between employer and employee, which works throughout the whole concatenation of forces until, in the final issue, it reaches the last sanction—the strike called a lockout. That balance has been delicately worked out over a number of years, and we are now in a situation in which it works fairly well. The intervention of my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherhithe (Mr. Mellish) was very pertinent. If we could find a form of words to distinguish statutorily between what we have now come to call official and unofficial strikes, or a form of words which did not lay themselves open to abuse by a Minister as to what action in the national interest, should be taken. I think we should get over a considerable difficulty in this matter. But, as it is, I think that either of those definitions would be extremely difficult to arrive at at the moment. We are, therefore, faced with the necessity of considering the Amendment as it stands. It says: Provided that no persons subject to the National Service Act shall be required … That means persons who are serving 12 months' full-time, as well as those who are serving 5½ or 6 years on the reserve. The general question of intervention by the military is one which, naturally, arouses strong feelings, but it is not the most important question that we have to consider. The position of the man who enters the Army voluntarily for several years, who undertakes, freely, to do all that may be required of him during his service, and who—and this is the important point—severs his connection with industry deliberately, is very different from that of the man who is called up from, say, the electrical engineering industry, who knows that he will be away for only a year, and who keeps in contact with his branch secretary and former workmates. The point made by the mover of the Amendment is extremely valid. If we had a trade dispute in a highly technical branch of industry, and it was felt necessary to use the military to perform civil duties, one would naturally go to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers to find the most competent men in that particular line of work. If competent national service men were found, you might be asking the people who were working in the factory concerned, a few weeks before, who perhaps took part in the early stages of the dispute, to come in and break the strike which was the logical culmination of a dispute which they themselves started.

12.30 a.m.

Photo of Mr Ian Orr-Ewing Mr Ian Orr-Ewing , Weston-Super-Mare

That is a very interesting point, but is the hon. Gentleman not avoiding the issue? There is the difficulty of defining the type of dispute as to whether it affects the life of the community and it is not a question of the type of man involved in it.

Photo of Mr Ian Mikardo Mr Ian Mikardo , Reading

I have made some reference to that point and I am coming to it again if the hon. Gentleman will bear with me. The point I was endeavouring to make is that it is a bit rough on the man concerned to order him to take part in tipping the balance, in favour of employers in a dispute which he may have been a party to beginning before he was called up. Let us not overlook the danger we might be making by precipitating a mutiny in the case of such a man. That is a thing which I do not think any Member of this Committee would want to see encouraged and, therefore, one needs to be very careful with regard to a matter of this kind. As the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Orr-Ewing) showed he has in mind, it can be argued that there arc some occasions when it is necessary to use troops to wind up Tower Bridge or in Smithfield Market. In the great majority of such cases—certainly all those within my personal recollection—where it has been necessary to use military, the number of men has been very small indeed. I think a couple of hundred were sent into Smithfield Market, and I believe that some 40 sailors have been coping manfully in the best traditions of the Royal Navy with Tower Bridge.

Photo of Mr Ian Orr-Ewing Mr Ian Orr-Ewing , Weston-Super-Mare

But the principle is the same whether the number is large or small.

Photo of Mr Ian Mikardo Mr Ian Mikardo , Reading

So long as the numbers involved are small there can be no difficulty in finding these numbers from among the Regular soldiers. I understand that it will probably create some difficulty if the unit were lined up and conscripts told to fall out as only volunteers could be engaged on work in connection with a strike. I suggest that if the numbers are small it is not really an overwhelming difficulty; in any event, I do not think it would be too easy for anybody to use the military in any circumstances in a matter of this kind. If it is demonstratively difficult to do, people will think twice before using the military to intervene in a trade dispute.

It may be argued that there may be occasions on which very large numbers of men would be enrolled, that the numbers necessary could not be obtained solely from volunteers, and that it would cause a major upheaval if the volunteers were separated. If there were a stoppage of work as large as that, it would have got beyond the stage where the military should be called out. Whatever Members of the Committee think about the general question of the use of military in a trade dispute—and we can be free to differ about that—even when some Members take the view that it might be justifiable in some circumstances to use the military, I believe that we should confine that use to volunteers and not attempt to use the national service man.

Photo of Mr George Wigg Mr George Wigg , Dudley

I hope the Attorney-General, if he is going to accept this Amendment, will not agree to do what my hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo) suggests and have this differentiation between the Regular soldiers and the national service men. It would be a most invidious position if inside a unit a number of men were regarded as black legs by the other men. Apart from that, I think my hon. Friend's suggestion would be quite impossible, and administratively it would be fantastic, because in many units in this country a good proportion of the men would be national service men. Indeed, if there were an attempt to do any sorting out it would mean that the forces in this country would just become completely chaotic, because if only volunteers were to be called out for this type of work it would mean that all volunteers, irrespective of rank, would be called upon to do this duty.

Furthermore, the idea of encouraging volunteer soldiers to engage in black-leg activities—for that is what they are—would not be easy to carry out. I remember that at the end of 1919 there was a railway strike in this country and I was at the Royal Tanks Depot in Wareham. Suddenly I was posted with other members of my unit to Aldershot and there we spent several happy days playing pontoon as long as our money lasted. Then we were sent back to our billets at Wareham and the Prime Minister, who was Mr. Lloyd George, thanked us for our help as volunteers in coping with the railway strike. Volunteering in the Army often takes that form. There is another point. The second line of this Amendment says: … required to take duty in aid of the civil power … As I understand it, any citizen of this country can be called upon in a certain state of affairs to take duty under the civil power, and what the Committee is being asked to do is to relieve the national service man of an obligation which is placed on every other citizen in the community whether he is in the Army or not.

Photo of Mr Moss Turner-Samuels Mr Moss Turner-Samuels , Gloucester

So long as he or she is an individual and not a collective body.

Photo of Mr George Wigg Mr George Wigg , Dudley

As an individual, yes, but we propose to relieve the national service man of that duty, and that seems to me to present some difficulty. However, that can be dealt with by the Attorney-General when he replies. The main thing I want to do is to plead with him or the Secretary of State for War not to make the Regular soldier a pariah amongst his fellows. Most of them will go back to civil life decent members of their trade unions, and whether a man is serving for five years or one year he should not be made a sort of industrial outcast and used to break down the efforts of his fellow tradesmen. That is riot what the hon. Member for Reading meant, out that is certainly what will happen if he is successful in getting this fantastic idea through.

Photo of Mr Richard Sargood Mr Richard Sargood , Bermondsey West Bermondsey

The terms of this Amendment will have a very familiar ring in the ears of the Government. Whether it will be a welcome sound or not, remains to be seen. Clause 2 (5), which we seek to amend, clearly states that any person called up for the reserves will be liable, among other things, to be called to aid the civil forces. Those words are capable of a very wide interpretation. We seek to ensure that they will not be interpreted to mean that those persons will be used in industrial disputes. The Government do not need me to tell them the strength of feeling that will be roused in the minds of trade unionists if persons taking part in an industrial dispute are to be called up for service with the reserves and, in all probability, used to break the very dispute in which they are taking part, or to break a dispute in which some other members of their union or of another union are taking part. That might easily happen under the Bill.

I do not suggest the Government would lightly embark on such a course. The right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) said yesterday that he and his friends were anxious to get the principles of the Bill established. We are anxious to reassure the trade unionists that one of the principles of the Bill will not be strike breaking. We are legislating for a peacetime service. Arguments about the use of the reserves in industrial disputes which might have validity in conditions of war cannot have the same compelling force in peace-time legislation. I am certain that if these words remain in the Bill, they will simply have the effect of aggravating disputes in those cases where the reserves are used for strike breaking.

It may be urged that we are passing through a time of economic difficulties, and that this gives the situation the same urgency as in war time, and that that is an argument in favour of retaining the power to use the reserves in industrial disputes. Those who use that argument must remember that the Bill will not be operative until 1st January, 1949, and that by that time the Government will have gone a very long way to cure those economic difficulties. I have spent a good many years as a trade union officer working in close touch with the men and women in the factories and workshops, and I know that this Bill will be very much less repugnant if the Amendment is accepted, and that its acceptance would reassure the trade unions that their fears are unfounded.

12.45 a.m.

Photo of Brigadier Christopher Peto Brigadier Christopher Peto , Barnstaple

If there is a national emergency, if the food of the nation is at stake, or if there is a general strike, surely it must be right for the Government to have the power to use what forces they like in order to see that the nation does not suffer. I feel that the likelihood of the reserve being called out is a remote one. In my recollection it has never happened before. We have had the Territorial Army on a similar basis, but it has never been called out. [An HON. MEMBER: "They were not conscripts."] I feel it is a most unlikely contingency, but, at the same time, it is one which the Government have to view from a wide angle and retain this power in case it is necessary to use it. I dislike as much as any Member, the feeling that you are going to use one man against another in this country on an industrial question. But at the same time, I feel most strongly that should there be an emergency such as I have tried to depict, when one's country's food is at stake and people are likely to die unless action is taken, it is essential that the powers should be there to see that our ships are unloaded, our train services are running, our food is delivered and the people are not starved. Unless that power is taken under this Bill I do not think it would be at all sufficient. I entirely agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Dudley (Colonel Wigg), that it would be most invidious and repugnant to me, at any rate, as an ex-officer to differentiate between a conscript in a unit and the volunteer in the same unit. It could not work in practice and it is not a sensible suggestion, if I may say so with respect

Photo of Wing Commander Ernest Millington Wing Commander Ernest Millington , Chelmsford

Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman from his experience in the Army think that, should there be a dispute in the docks or in transport, which would jeopardise the delivery of food to the families of this country, there would be any lack of volunteers in the Services to carry out the very necessary task of shifting that food to prevent the starvation he speaks of?

Photo of Brigadier Christopher Peto Brigadier Christopher Peto , Barnstaple

I think it would be most obnoxious to leave it to volunteers to have to do so. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because a unit, or a whole regiment or battalion would go in circumstances like that. You cannot have men volunteering to go and break strikes.

Photo of Wing Commander Ernest Millington Wing Commander Ernest Millington , Chelmsford

Is it not a fact that in all units during the war men had special tasks to perform on the basis that men were asked to volunteer? Is there any reason why that basis, which was successful in war, should not be carried forward and employed in peace?

Photo of Brigadier Christopher Peto Brigadier Christopher Peto , Barnstaple

I think it would be a most unwise performance against the civil population. It may be quite all right to call for volunteers for action against the enemy, but I think it would be most unwise to call for action against civilians.

Photo of Mr Walter Ayles Mr Walter Ayles , Southall

Is the hon. Gentleman under the impression that, owing to the fact that it was an industrial dispute, he would get no volunteers?

Photo of Brigadier Christopher Peto Brigadier Christopher Peto , Barnstaple

No, that is not what my impression was. I am sure if it were an industrial dispute likely to jeopardise the soldiers' own families from getting food, there would be plenty of volunteers, but as an ex-Army officer I personally am against allowing individuals in a unit to volunteer to go off into the blue and try to break strikes. That would immediately undermine discipline in a unit.

Photo of Mr Leslie Solley Mr Leslie Solley , Thurrock

I support this Amendment which was so ably moved by the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Ayles). I venture to suggest that an artificial dichotomy has been made between the volunteer and the conscript If those who seek to make this division would study the Amendment carefully, they would see that all it seeks to do is to make it impossible for the Government to compel any person who is subject to the National Service Acts to take part in strike breaking activities. But, it is not so simple as it might appear. This Amendment does not prevent the Government from saying either to volunteers or to persons subject to the National Service Acts, "Will you volunteer for certain duties in respect of national industrial disputes?" It would then be the duty of the conscript or volunteer to do the duty for which the Government call, and the issue comes to this, whether or not—and it certainly would not happen in the case of this Government—in certain circumstances an occasion might arise where the Government were desirous of breaking an industrial dispute for purely political reasons, the Government would call up the reservists deliberately to break a strike. This Amendment makes such an action impossible while allowing the Government to ask for volunteers to prevent a strike from having deleterious consequences for the general public. If it is a dispute in which it would be proper to ask for volunteers to save the public from the serious consequences of such a strike, it would be reasonable for soldiers to undertake such a duty. But, if one has a strike of another character, it would be right for soldiers to refuse to undertake such a duty.

May I say a word as to whether or not the Army has any right in law to demand of a soldier that he should participate in any strike breaking? Here we have something which has never been settled in this country. The Army authorities, time and time again, have demanded of soldiers that they should participate in strike breaking, but the issue has never been tested in a court of law, and in my submission it is not a reasonable command to put to a soldier, be he volunteer or otherwise, that he should participate in the breaking of strikes. This Amendment clarifies the position, and, for this reason, I shall certainly support it.

Photo of Mr Ian Orr-Ewing Mr Ian Orr-Ewing , Weston-Super-Mare

I must say that I am surprised at the speech of the hon. Member for Thurrock (Mr. Solley). I thought that the legalistic opinions on these matters were more likely to be given from the Front Bench rather than from the benches behind it. But, if this Amendment is to be interpreted from the legalistic point of view from the back benches there may be a difference of opinion. It will be interesting to hear what the Attorney-General will say.

Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham

Is the hon. Member laying it down that it is an undesirable thing for an hon. Member on the back benches to talk of conscription from a legal point of view? I do not think that that is so, and if that be the case, how is it undesirable for a lawyer on the back benches to give the Committee the benefit of his experience and knowledge?

Photo of Mr Ian Orr-Ewing Mr Ian Orr-Ewing , Weston-Super-Mare

I cannot understand the point which the hon. Member raises. Obviously the Committee is only too ready to have the advice of anyone who knows anything about the subject. But when one comes to points of law, which, as a layman, I always understood were governed by very high principle indeed—[Interruption]—of course, I may be wrong, but I had always thought that this sort of thing might be better interpreted from the Front Government Bench by a Law Officer of the Crown. I do not mean that as an insult to the hon. Member who has just sat down, but a very delicate matter is dealt with in this Amendment. I am not going to deal with the legalistic aspect at all. Certainly not; I am a layman. I have never touched the law.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

The hon. Member must address himself to the Amendment.

Photo of Mr Ian Orr-Ewing Mr Ian Orr-Ewing , Weston-Super-Mare

I apologise, Major Milner. I am afraid I was tempted a little. I submit that the second part of this Amendment has been entirely omitted from the discussion so far. It is the second part which provides, to my mind, the greatest danger to the fair consideration of what should be the proper use of all members of His Majesty's Forces, or the unfair use of such members. It is in the second and third lines of the Amendment that, I think, real confusion of thought may reasonably arise. The words are: To perform, in consequence of a trade dispute, any civil or industrial duty customarily performed by a civilian in the course of his employment. It is quite easy to see that it is impossible to impose upon those who have been enforced by Act of Parliament into the service of His Majesty the duty of performing certain deeds which will be outside their military duties. Of course, that is quite easy. It is equally proper to say that all those who either under compulsion or by voluntary service, are enforced into or accept the service of His Majesty should see that His Majesty's subjects are protected against the evil deeds of those who are not His Majesty's friends. I would ask the Committee to consider this: if you are going to legislate, as the Amendment suggests you should, to differentiate between those who volunteer and those who are compelled by Act of Parliament to enter His Majesty's Forces, you are entering at once into a field of distinction which it is quite impossible for this Committee to consider.

We have only to think of some recent examples. Let us think of a very easy case, such as the traffic on the River Thames. How do we know whether those who are serving in the engine room of the Tower Bridge to raise and lower that Bridge to see that traffic passes beneath it, are or are not conscripted men? How can we define these matters? It may be that you can say on a broad issue that the supply and transport of the food of the people is endangered by the action of, it may be, one trade union leader and those who follow him. Where does the definition begin and end? It might be that someone who works a bridge across some canal in North-West or South-East England will say, "I am going to close the bridge and allow no traffic to cross it." Under this definition, nobody who comes under the terms of the Amendment is allowed to assist in opening or closing any bridge or canal or anything else.

1.0 a.m.

What is a trade dispute—one man, half-a-dozen men, twenty men? [Laughter.] Members may laugh, but these are very difficult and delicate points. I had the honour of being in this House just before the last war when matters just as delicate were being considered but under a different cloud. I ask the Committee to consider this matter in the present conditions. We cannot consider them only as trades disputes or non-trades disputes, lockouts or non-lockouts. We have to take them on the question whether the citizens of this country are going or are not going to be supplied with the necessities of life. It is really the duty of this House. If the Amendment were carried, it would, so far as I can see, be quite impossible, even under the gravest emergency, for anybody to be ordered to assist in supplying the necessities of life to the people. Is that what the mover of the Amendment really means? I cannot believe it.

Photo of Mr Ian Orr-Ewing Mr Ian Orr-Ewing , Weston-Super-Mare

I have the Order Paper in front of me. If the supporters really support the argument that under no consideration should any men called up under the Bill be ordered to assist in maintaining the necessities of life of the people they should stand up and say what they mean.

Photo of Mr Ian Mikardo Mr Ian Mikardo , Reading

They have said so.

Photo of Mr Ian Orr-Ewing Mr Ian Orr-Ewing , Weston-Super-Mare

They only pretended to say so. They have not come out into the open.

Photo of Mr Ian Mikardo Mr Ian Mikardo , Reading

Is it in Order for the hon. Gentleman to say that Members who spoke previously have deliberately misled the Committee by pretending to say something they did not propose?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

I did not gather the hon. Member to say that.

Photo of Mr Ian Orr-Ewing Mr Ian Orr-Ewing , Weston-Super-Mare

I ask the supporters to state their case in all seriousness and state what it means to the lives of the people. Are they prepared to say that in no circumstances any technicians or anybody else under the Bill can assist in maintaintaining the life of the people? That is the issue. If they go as far as that, the Amendment can only mean that they do not care two hoots about how the people of this country live.

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

The last speech has really shown that it is labour lost to endeavour to make hon. Members opposite understand what this Amendment is about. I do not propose, therefore, to waste any time on the speech to which we have just listened. I know that my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench understand very well what are the issues involved. I know that their sympathies are with the mover of the Amendment, and that insofar as they are able to do so, they are willing either to accept it or to explain their reasons for rejecting any part of it. I would say to my hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo) that perhaps by now he appreciates the vengeance of the House of Commons, at one o'clock in the morning, when trying to walk delicately, like Agag, they only introduce a large number of complications which really are not germane to the discussion. We are not discussing the troops as strike breakers—

Photo of Mr Ian Mikardo Mr Ian Mikardo , Reading

That is precisely what I said.

Photo of Sir Allan Noble Sir Allan Noble , Chelsea

On a point of Order. May we know what this is all about?

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

We are dealing with a perfectly simple point, namely, whether men conscripted under this Bill shall be used for purposes for which the Government do not claim the Bill is necessary. One of the important considerations in all these Debates is that this Bill is the only thing which the Government have done since they came into office, in which it can be claimed that they are making a fundamental change in the Constitution without any mandate from the people. They may be compelled to do that, and I am not regarding it as a conclusive point against the Bill, but it is a consideration which has to be taken into account when dealing with a point of this kind.

The two things which make the working classes deeply opposed to conscription are, firstly, the danger that military conscription may lead to industrial conscription, and, secondly, the danger with which this Amendment is concerned, that it might be used as a means to break strikes. It has been said that this Government may be under less temptation than any other Government to use this Bill in this way. I am afraid that I do not share that view. I think that the temptation for this Government to use the troops as strike breakers, particularly where an unofficial strike was involved, would be greater than for any other Government, because they feel—and I think they are entitled to feel—and the great majority of the people of this country feel, that a strike taking place in these circumstances is an evil thing in itself, and is hostile to the general purposes for which the Government were elected by an overwhelming majority. They might feel justified in stretching a point in this kind of issue, which no other Government would feel entitled to do.

It is in order to protect themselves against that kind of temptation that I urge the Government to accept this Amendment, or something like it. draw a distinction between official strikes and unofficial strikes in that matter. If we are conceding—and the overwhelming majority of this House has decided that we are—the rightness and necessity of this Measure, then it must be on the basis that the men who are to be subject to it are not used for a purpose outside the immediate necessity which leads us to give support to the Bill. That is why I thought that it was rather a mistake to drag into the discussion the question of the use of troops as strike breakers or in trade disputes. I would prefer the argument, on this occasion, to be limited to the narrow point which has been raised by the Amendment, and not to be confused by the general, although important, considerations which come into the question of the use of troops as strike breakers.

Photo of Mr Hartley Shawcross Mr Hartley Shawcross , St Helens

I will come to the lucid and logical observations of my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) in a few moments, but, first, I must say that there seems to have been some misunderstanding about the effect of this Clause. No new principle is introduced by this Bill; nothing is proposed to be done, or could be done, in this Bill which could not be done under the existing law. I can well understand the anxiety which has been expressed with great force and sincerity—which we all share—as to the possible use of Armed Forces as blacklegs or strike breakers. No question of anything of that kind arises under this Bill. I do not think that any Government in these days—and these days are very different from those of 20 years ago—whatever their political complexion, would lightly bring about military intervention in a trade dispute for, clearly, such intervention, which was not justified by the circumstances in a legitimate and proper trade dispute, might not only cause grave exacerbation of the situation, but would be illegal under the existing law, and would remain illegal under the provisions of this Bill.

It remains true, however, that it is the responsibility of the Government to ensure the maintenance of supplies and services which are essential to the life of the community. Subject to the control of Parliament—and that is the over-riding and effective safeguard which exists at all times in regard to this matter—Governments must govern. This Government does not propose to abdicate their responsibility in that respect or diminish their existing powers. We are not asking for additional powers. These powers arise not from this Bill, but under the Defence Regulations, which continue in force until the end of this year, from the Emergency Powers Act, 1920, the operation of which have to be subject to a prior proclamation, and from the existing wide powers to which I drew attention when we were discussing the repeal of the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Act of 1927.

1.15 a.m.

In addition to the powers which arise in those ways where it is a question of maintaining supplies and services essential to the life of the community, it is, of course, the common law duty of soldiers like ordinary citizens to assist the civil power in suppressing violence or disorder, and it would be a most peculiar thing if a section of the community should be exempted from that duty which is imposed upon everyone of us merely because that section happens to be in the service of the Crown at the time. The purpose of these Emergency Powers, which I have stated can only be brought into operation, apart from the temporary period which comes to an end this year, by a Proclamation under the Act of 1920, is not in the least to break a strike, but simply to ensure that whilst the dispute between employers and employees pursues its course, the life of the community is not imperilled by it. The forces would never be employed in the sense of taking sides with one or other of the parties to a dispute, but they must remain available to take the country's side if the life of the country is endangered by what has occurred, because there is no other effective way in which the Government can discharge their responsibility in maintaining vital supplies and services.

One can perhaps maintain this position with greater confidence in these days when the machinery exists for the settlement of industrial disputes which makes lockouts and strikes unnecessary. I realise, of course, that the employees not infrequently have very real causes of grievance, which might tempt them to take the' remedy into their own hands. The fault is by no means always on the one side in these matters, but if it is thought that the negotiating machinery is inadequate or the trade union leaders are not giving the right advice, the remedy by constitutional means is to change the machinery or to throw out the trade union leaders. There is no need to take action which might endanger the life of the community, because of an unofficial dispute of that kind. Where it does happen because of irresponsible action on the part of an employer or irresponsible action on the part of an employee, we are faced with the trouble of an unnecessary stoppage by a handful of individuals, who by their action might be endangering the life of the community. The community cannot be disabled through the Government not taking whatever action may be necessary to protect it.

I come to the point which was raised—and very properly raised—by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne. This Bill is not intended to deal with the purposes for which the forces may be used, but only for their enlistment. Once they have been enlisted, as has been pointed out to the Committee earlier, a unit will consist in part of volunteers and in part of conscript men. It would be in the view of the Government—and the Committee will, I am sure, appreciate the difficulties of this matter—quite impossible for some members of a single unit to be liable to serve for a particular service and other members of the same unit not liable for that service. It would, I venture to think, be a most unfortunate thing if in any unit, which was composed partly of volunteers and partly of conscripts, an attempt were made to differentiate between them, and especially unfortunate if that attempt should be made at a time when any question arose of maintaining the life of the community, because that is the only purpose for which troops can be used under this Bill and under the existing law.

Not only would it be almost impossible to sort out the conscripts and the volunteers in order to deal with a matter in that way, but it would be suggested that what was being done was not serving the community, but blacklegging, which is exactly what cannot be done and what there will be no attempt to do under this Bill or under the existing law. I ask the Committee to accept from me that there is and there will be no power to use men in His Majesty's service to intervene in a trade dispute with the object of breaking a strike. In normal times, which will come again in a few months when the Emergency Powers come to an end, it is laid down that a state of emergency must be announced by Proclamation and such powers will not be used to break a strike but merely to maintain the life of the community. The Government must maintain that power.

Photo of Hon. Oliver Stanley Hon. Oliver Stanley , Bristol West

My Friends and I support the line that has been taken by the Attorney - General. He has very succinctly and fairly put what we believe and what, I think, most of the Members of the Committee will believe are the proper limitations to the use of troops in an industrial dispute. He has said that they can only be used when it is not a case of taking the side 'of the employers or the side of the workers, but that it is necessary to use them in order to take the side of the nation. We agree entirely with that point of view, and I cannot conceive of any Government of any political complexion coming into power in the future which would use the troops in any sense but that one.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

The right hon. Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) has touched on the real point of importance. Whilst it may be true that neither this Government nor any other Government would use troops for breaking a strike, there is nothing to prevent them doing so.

Photo of Hon. Oliver Stanley Hon. Oliver Stanley , Bristol West

The Attorney-General will correct me, but I think the Emergency Powers Act of 1920 would prevent the use of troops in any case unless in the interests of the country, and certainly it would prevent their use in the interest of one side or another in an industrial dispute. I feel that the Committee as a whole has agreed with that limitation. I want to emphasise the point made by the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Mikardo) when he said that that is not what we are discussing under this Amendment.

There may be other occasions when it would be proper to raise the whole question of the use of troops in industrial disputes. We are assuming tonight that there are times when it is proper to use them, and what we have to decide, that being so, is whether we are entitled to use all the troops available, or whether we have to make a distinction between two sets of people who, at every other period of their military life, are to be treated in exactly the same way. I cannot conceive it is either practicable or right to create what at one stage in this Debate it was fashionable to call a dichotomy, but what I would simply call a division between these two classes. I do not think it is practicable, because I do not think that, if you are sending formed bodies of troops, as you must send farmed bodies, to perform any of the sort of functions we have seen them perform even in the last two months, you can seriously expect to break up the platoon, or whatever it may be, by telling all those who come under this Measure to fall out. I do not think that is either practicable or desirable.

If it is right for the Government to have the power to use these troops, then there is nothing shameful about those powers being used, and it is quite wrong to behave as if there was something shameful, and because there was something shameful the conscripts have to be protected from it while the volunteers, the Regular Army, apparently are supposed to stand so much outside the ordinary life of the community that they can he used to do something which it would be dreadful to expect the conscripts to do. For those reasons, I entirely support the case made by the Solicitor-General[Interruption.] I beg the Attorney-General's pardon for the mistake, but the Solicitor-General, for once in a way, in his evening dress is even more like the lilies of the field than the Attorney-General.

Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham

The Attorney-General has said there is nothing new in this. The situation that is new tonight is that, for the first time, a Socialist Government is introducing a Measure of conscription in peacetime, and there are many of us on these Benches, and on the Government Front Bench, who have accepted that with the greatest reluctance. There has been no singing in the Division Lobby during the last two days. If the Government are going to ask us to accept a measure of industrial conscription in this Bill, I say definitely that, as far as I am concerned, I have gone as far as I can go. It is all very well to say that these powers will not be used in this way, but the duty of Parliament is to know what powers it is giving. I have heard nothing from the Attorney-General to say that these powers are not being given. [An HON. MEMBER: "Which powers?"] The power to call up the reserves to take part in an industrial dispute, or indeed to quell a riot by force of arms, if necessary. Let us face it. I understand that is the position.

I do not desire to follow the hon. and gallant Member for Dudley (Colonel Wigg) in his dissertation upon the Regular Forces, because this Bill does not deal with them, and it would be out of Order to discuss the matter, but if the hon. and gallant Member wants to raise the question on the Army Act, I will support him in that, too. In the meantime we are discussing young lads of 18 who are being taken from their homes and put into the Armed Forces, and we on these Benches, for some considerable time, have pressed for special conditions in their treatment, for education, for decent treatment for them, for some measure of supervision, and for a wholly better form of treatment than the Armed Forces have been in the habit of having in the past. I am very sorry to give a legal opinion after the rebukes from the Benches opposite. Whether my opinion is as good as that of the Attorney-General, I do not argue, because it is a matter on which there can be two opinions, and I doubt whether he and I would agree; but when he says that I can be used to quell a civil disturbance or a riot, he is completely wrong. I want to say that my son should not be so used either without his consent. This is a Bill to call up young men of 18 into the Armed Forces, and not into the docks, or any other form of labour.

1.30 a.m.

I want to say this because it is important. I do not know if the suggestion in the Amendment is that the Regular Army should be so used. The Regular soldier knows the existing law, and accepts it when he volunteers [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite really must not assume that the ignorance on those benches is common throughout this country. The Regular soldier knows that Regular forces are so used because he reads the ordinary morning newspapers. I want to point out that our Regular forces have a very great reputation, and a very great record in many spheres. They have a great record for tact. It is known to all hon. Members that they have shown, in the very difficult circumstances of the present time, the highest measure of tact and understanding, but one cannot expect that measure of understanding from young lads of 18.

Photo of Major Ernest Bramall Major Ernest Bramall , Bexley

Is my hon. Friend suggesting that all the troops used at the Smithfield strike, or all the sailors at work on the Tower Bridge, are members of the Regnlar services?

Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham

Of course I am not so maintaining, and I think that such an observation is quite irrelevant to the matter being discussed now. The learned Attorney- General has said that if there is an industrial dispute, it may be thought necessary to employ troops. But I would ask, what to do? When there is a lockout, to do the work of the men? Or are they to go on the board of directors and have the necessary increases of pay? Let us be serious about this.

Something has been said about the division of duties between conscripts and Regulars, but one knows the conditions under which they were called up, and there was no difficulty when I was in the Service in distinguishing on a Sunday morning between Roman Catholics or Presbyterians, or Church of England, or between those who cleaned the latrines and those who did not. If one needs volunteers and persons to help· on these occasions, there are 14 million people to be called on before we call on those who have been called up for the Services. I have listened to the learned Attorney-General, and I know that this question creates a seriously difficult situation. Nobody on the Front Bench desires to assume a new power in this matter, but it is important that we consider the full implications of this Clause, and I have heard nothing said which causes me to think that these young men are not to be used for strike breaking. There have been—I need hardly remind the Committee—strikes which have been described as "official" and strikes which we term "unofficial." It is a technical argument as to what is an "unofficial" strike and what is a strike of another type, and nobody seems able to say. But one cannot say what is an "essential service" and what can be termed as "non-essential" where there is a lockout. We have to consider what plans are to be used, but we should not say that we are going to use powers given on the statement of the Government that the defence situation was such that it necessitates this extremely important and controversial Measure, and then, at the same time, take these wide powers which we may in future have to use.

Photo of Mr William Whiteley Mr William Whiteley , Blaydon

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. William Whiteley) rose, in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 187; Noes, 61.

Division No. 191.]AYES[1.35 a.m
Adams, Richard (Balham)Gilzean, A.Platts-Mills, J. F. F.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)Gordon-Walker, P. C.Popplewell, E.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.Greenwood, A. W. J (Heywood)Porter, E. (Warrington)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Grey, C. FPrice, M. Philips
Anderson, A. (Motherwell)Grierson, E.Pryde, D. J.
Austin, H. LewisGriffiths, D (Rother Valley)Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Awbery, S. S.Griffiths, W D. (Moss Side)Randall, H. E.
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. BGuest, Dr. L. HadenRanger, J.
Bacon, Miss A.Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.Reid, T. (Swindon)
Baird, J.Hannan, W (Maryhill)Rhodes, H.
Barton, C.Hardy, E. A.Robens, A.
Bechervaise, A. E.Hastings, Dr. SomervilleRoberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Ballenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Bing, G. H. C.Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Rogers, G. H. R.
Binns, J.Herbison, Miss M.Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
Blenkinsop, AHewitson, Captain M.Scollan, T.
Blyton, W R.Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)Shackleton, E. A. A.
Boardman, H.House, G.Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)Hoy, J.Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (St. Helens)
Bramall, E. A.Hubbard, T.Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.
Brook, D. (Halifax)Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Silverman, J. (Erdington)
Brown, George (Belper)Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)Skeffington, A. M.
Bruce, Maj. D. W. THutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)
Burden, T. W.Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Snow, Capt. J. W.
Burke, W. A.Jeger, G. (Winchester)Solley, L. J.
Callaghan, JamesJeger, Dr. S W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)Soskice, Maj. Sir F
Champion, A. J.Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)Stross, Dr. B.
Chetwynd, G. R.Jones, J. H. (Bolton)Stubbs, A. E.
Clitherow, Dr. R.Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Swingler, S.
Coldrick, W.Keenan, W.Sylvester, G. O
Collindridge, FKing, E. M.Symonds, A. L.
Collins, V. J.Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. ETaylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Colman, Miss G. MKinley, J.Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Comyns, Dr. L.Lang, GThomas, Ivor (Keighley)
Corbet, Mrs. F. K (Camb'well, N.W.)Lee, F. (Hulme)Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Corlett, Dr. J.Leonard, W.Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Corvedale, ViscountLewis, A. W. J. (Upton)Tiffany, S.
Crawley, A.Lindgren, G. S.Tolley, L.
Crossman, R. H. S.Lipton, Lt.-Col. MWalkden, E
Daines, P.Logan, D. G.Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Davies, Edward (Burslem)Longden, F.Warbey W. N
Davies, Harold (Leek)McAllister, G.Watson, W. M
Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)McKay, J. (Wallsend)Weitzman, D.
de Freitas, GeoffreyMackay, R. W. G (Hull, N.W.)Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Delargy, H. J.McKinlay, A. S.West, D. G.
Diamond, J.McLeavy, F.White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Dodds, N. N.Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W
Driberg, T. E. N.Marshall, F. (Brightside)Wigg, Col. G. E.
Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)Mikardo, IanWilkins, W. A.
Dumpleton, C. W.Mitchison, G. RWilley, F. T. (Sunderland)
Dye, S.Monslow, W.Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Morgan, Dr. H. BWilliamson, T
Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)Neal, H. (Claycross)Willis, E.
Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)Wise, Major F. J
Evans, John (Ogmore)Noel-Buxton, LadyWoodburn, A.
Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)O'Brien, T.Woods, G. S.
Field, Capt. W. J.Paget, R. T.Wyatt, W.
Foot, M. M.Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Forman, J. C.Palmer, A. M. F.Zilliacus, K.
Fraser, T. (Hamilton)Pargiter, G. A.
Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)Parker, J.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Freeman, Peter (Newport)Parkin, B. T.Mr. Henderson Stewart
Gibbins, J.Pearson, A.and Mr. Simmons.
Gibson, C. WPeart, Capt. T. F.
NOES
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.Gage, C.Maitland, Comdr. J. W.
Ayles, W. H.Hale, LeslieManningham-Buller, R. E
Birch, NigelHare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)Marsden, Capt. A.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. TMaude, J. C.
Butcher, H. W.Head, Brig. A. H.Millington, Wing-Comdr. E. R.
Byers, FrankHollis, M. C.Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)
Carmichael, JamesHope, Lord J.Nally, W.
Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Lambert, Hon. G.Orr-Ewing, I. L.
Davidson, ViscountessLegge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. HPeto, Brig, C. H. M.
Davies, Clement (Montgomery)Linstead, H. N.Pickthorn, K.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)Low, Brig. A. R. WPrior-Palmer, Brig. O
Drewe, C.Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.Rankin, J.
Eden, Rt. Hon. A.Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. ORayner, Brig. R.
Foster, J. G. (Northwich)McGovern, J.Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)Ropner, Col. L.
Sargood, R.Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)Studholme, H. G.Yates, V. F.
Stanley, Rt. Hon O.Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Stephen, C.Touche, G. C.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.Wheatley, Colonel M. J.Lieut.-Colonel Thorp and
Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)Williams, C. (Torquay)Major Ramsay.

Question put accordingly, "That those words be there added."

Division 192.AYES.[1.44 a.m.
Ayles, W. H.Longden, F. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)McGovern, J.Sargood, R.
Byers, FrankMellish, R. J.Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)
Carmichael, JamesMikardo, IanSorensen, R. W.
Davies, Clement (Montgomery)Millington, Wing-Comdr E. RStephen, C.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)Nally, W.
Delargy, H. J.Rankin, J.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hale, LeslieRoberts, Emrys (Merioneth)Mr. Kinley and Mr. Yates
Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)
NOES:
Adams, Richard (Balham)Field, Capt. W. JMarsden, Capt. A.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)Foot, M. M.Marshall, F. (Brightside)
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.Foster, J. G. (Northwich)Maude, J. C.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.Fraser, T. (Hamilton)Mitchison, G. R.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Anderson, A. (Motherwell)Freeman, Peter (Newport)Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)
Awbery, S. S.Gage, C.Neal, H. (Claycross)
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. BGibbins, J.Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)
Bacon, Miss A.Gilzean, A.Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.
Baird, J.Gordon-Walker, P. C.Noel-Buxton, Lady
Barton, C.Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)O'Brien, T.
Bechervaise, A. E.Grey, C. F.Orr-Ewing, I. L
Ballenger, Rt. Hon. F J.Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)Paget, R. T.
Bing, G. H CGriffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Binns, J.Guest, Dr. L. HadenPalmer, A. M. F.
Birch, NigelHamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.Pargiter, G. A
Blenkinsop, AHannan, W. (Maryhill)Parker, J.
Blyton, W. R.Hardy, E. A.Parkin, B. [...]
Bramall, E. AHare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)Pearson, A
Brook, D. (Halifax)Hastings, Dr. SomervillePeart, Capt. T. [...]
Brown, George (Belper)Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)Pete, Brig. C. H. M
Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)Platts-Mills, J. F. F
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.Hewitson, Captain M.Popplewell, E.
Burden, T. W.Hollis, M. C.Porter, E. (Warrington)
Burke, W. A.Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)Price, M. Philips
Butcher, H. W.Hope, Lord J.Prior-Palmer, Brig. O
Callaghan, JamesHouse, G.Pryde, D. J.
Champion, A. J.Hoy, J.Pursey, Cmdr. H
Chetwynd, G. R.Hubbard, T.Ramsay, Maj. S
Clitherow, Dr. R.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Randall, H. E.
Coldrick, W.Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)Ranger, J.
Collindridge, F.Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)Rayner, Brig. R.
Colman, Miss G. M.Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. AReid, T. (Swindon)
Comyns, Dr. L.Jeger, G. (Winchester)Rhodes, H.
Conant, Maj. R. J. E.Jones, D. T. (Hartlepools)Robens, A.
Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.)Jones, J. H. (Bolton)Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Corvedale, ViscountJones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)Rogers, G. H. R.
Crawley, A.Keenan, W.Ropner, Col. L.
Crossman, R. H. S.King, E. M.Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. EKinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. EShackleton, E. A. A.
Daines, P.Lambert, Hon. GShawcross, C. N. (Widnes)
Davidson, ViscountessLang, G.Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (St. Helens)
Davies, Edward (Burslem)Lee, F. (Hulme)Silkin, Rt. Hon. L
Davies, Harold (Leek)Leonard, W.Skeffington, A. M.
Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras S.W.)Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)
de Freitas, GeoffreyLindgren, G. S.Snow, Capt. J. W.
Diamond, J.Linstead, H. N.Soskice, Maj. Sir F.
Dodds, N. N.Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.
Drewe, C.Logan, D. G.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Driberg, T. E. N.Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.Stross, Dr. B.
Dumpleton, C. W.McAllister, G.Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Dye, S.Mackay, R. W. G (Hull, N.W.)Studholme, H. G.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.McKinlay, A. S.Swingler, S.
Eden, Rt. Hon. A.McLeavy, F.Sylvester, G. O.
Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)Symonds, A. L.
Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)Maitland, Comdr. J. W.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Evans, John (Ogmore)Manning, C (Camberwell, N.)Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)
Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)Manningham-Buller, R. EThomas, Ivor (Keighley)

The Committee divided: Ayes, 22; Noes, 208.

Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)Wells, W. T. (Walsall)Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)West, D. G.Wise, Major F. J.
Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)Wheatley, Colonel M. J.Woodburn, A.
Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)Woods, G. S.
Tiffany, S.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.Wyatt, W.
Tolley, L.Wigg, Col. G. E.Younger, Hon. Kenneth
Touche, G. C.Wilkins, W. A.Zilliacus, K.
Walkden, E.Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)
Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)Williams, C. (Torquay)TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Warbey, W. N.Williams, W. R. (Heston)Captain Michael Stewart
Watson, W. M.Williamson, T.and Mr. Simmons.
Weitzman, D.Willis, E.

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

Photo of Sir Allan Noble Sir Allan Noble , Chelsea

There is one point on which I am not quite clear, and that is the position of the conscript serving in the Cadet Force, or one of the voluntary services, before he is called up. It might be that someone who is called up has been deferred while at the university, and that during the deferment he had joined one of these voluntary services. Will there be any guarantee that that man will be called up for the service in which he was serving, if he so wished?

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

I should think that an endeavour would be made to meet such a case where a man has had pre-service training. I believe that they get that guarantee in the case of cadets in the R.A.F. I cannot give the absolute guarantee in the case of the Army.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.