§ I want to say a word or two about the Supplementary Reserve which was started by my predecessor last year. The Supplementary Reserve was started in order to attract skilled tradesmen who are becoming more and more necessary to the Army. The demand is greater than the supply coming in normally through the ordinary channels. Recruiting was commenced in October last, and it promised well. Hut there has been a most unfortunate obstacle, due to the completely erroneous impression that this Reserve was being recruited for the purpose of strike breaking. It may be well if I state quite definitely the present position. The Army Reserve may be called up under two different Sections of the Reserve Forces Act. It can be called up under Section 5 in aid of the civil power, or it can be called up under Section 12 by Proclamation in cases of imminent national danger or of grave emergency. My predecessor in office decided to give a definite and precise undertaking not to call up the Supplementary Reserve under the former Power, and that undertaking is embodied in the Army Order by which the Supplementary Reserve is created. Soon after I took office, both Mr. Reyna, of the Transport Workers' Union, and Mr. Cramp, of the National Union of Railwaymen, saw me. They complained that they had not been consulted, and they expressed the fear that their men would be called up for strike-breaking purposes. I renewed to them the undertaking which my predecessor had given, and I offered to go still further to remove any misapprehension. I told them that I would give each man who enlisted a paper containing an undertaking that he would not be called up under Section 5 of the Act in aid of the civil power.
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
No, I offered to give it to each man who enlisted, and not each man claiming it. As I have said, there is also the provision 1888 under Section 12 for the Reserve being called up by Proclamation on permanent service in case of imminent national danger or of great emergency, and it is under this provision alone that the Supplementary Reserve will be called up. But when the Reserve has been called up, reservists are soldiers and are in the same position as men of the Regular Forces, and can be used for all purposes for which the Regular Army may be used. I cannot too emphatically repeat that the object of the Supplementary Reserve is to complete the Regular Army on mobilisation with technical tradesmen, since our peace establishments combined with our existing Army Reserve do not suffice for the increased numbers of tradesmen required, and, in order to avoid what might be fatal delay on mobilisation, we want a cut-and-dried scheme developed in peace time.
I regret to say that two of the big unions, the National Union of Railwaymen and the Transport Workers' Union, to which many of the railwaymen and motor drivers belong, are not satisfied with the undertakings given by my predecessor and confirmed by myself, and have declined to help us in getting the number of men we require. We shall, of course, go on without their help, if necessary, and I have little doubt that we shall get the men, but I would far rather have the backing of the unions, so that the men who are willing to join the Supplementary Reserve may do so without any fear that their patriotic action will be misrepresented and resented by their fellow trade unionists. As I understand the position, the unions claim, in effect, that the men in the Supplementary Reserve should never be used, even in a national emergency, to do their duties as motor drivers or telegraphists or in railway work here at home. I do not think that these unions would object to their being used abroad, but I cannot divide the Army into two categories, some of whom can and some of whom cannot be used in a national emergency at home. My predecessor agreed that the Supplementary Reserve should not be called up for service in aid of the civil power, and I have endorsed his action, but neither he nor I can agree to limit—
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
if the hon. Gentleman would consult the Act he would see that Section 5, about which the right hon. Gentleman gave an undertaking which I endorsed, does not require a Proclamation at all; it is only Section 12 that requires the Proclamation. What he undertook—and what I would undertake—was that we will not call them up under Section 5.
§ Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS
There is no question of a Proclamation under Section 5. If the hon. Member will read the Act, he will see that neither the right hon. Gentleman nor I can agree to limit the liability of soldiers once they have been embodied in the Army. He never intended, and I never intended, to give any such undertaking. If I have correctly stated the intention of the two trade unions, our differences are, I am afraid, fundamental. If we were to give way to the demand of these two unions and exempt reserve specialists from service in this country, I should be met with the demand that what I had done for the specialists in the Reserve, should also apply to those in the Army. The trade unions could advance the same argument, and, if this exemption be granted to the specialists members of certain trade unions, how can it be refused to members of other trade unions? No doubt the Communists do claim that in no circumstances should the Army or the Reserve he used in support of the civil power, but hitherto trade union leaders have never argued that the State is not entitled, where the police force proves insufficient, to claim the assistance of the armed forces of the Crown. I have gone as far as I can to meet any reasonable fears, but I cannot deprive the Government of the day, whether it be a Conservative Government or a Labour Government, of its right, in a grave national emergency, to call up the Army Reserves. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Mr. J. H. Thomas) will try to co-operate with me and find a way out. of the present difficulty. I hope he will speak later in the Debate—I have given him notice that I intended to raise this question—and offer me that co-operation.