§ Motion made, and Question proposed: "That this be the Preamble to the Bill."
§ 4.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Lawson
I gather that I shall be in order now in raising the matter to which I have already referred. Considering the very large number of young men, quite unused to military life, who have been brought into the Forces for the first time, it is remarkable that we have heard so very little about misconduct. From the very few and insignificant complaints which I have received on matters of discipline, it would seem that the conduct of the troops has been of an extremely high nature. I am wondering whether the Financial Secretary has any information on the matter. An average civilian going into the Army does not know the Regulations, and even the wisest sometimes commit themselves without knowing it. Then there is also the conduct of courts-martial, where a man has committed himself. I do not know whether the Financial Secretary has had any complaints about them, but I have not had any complaints, and I think that at a time like this, when over a million young men have been taken into the Army, and in view of the high standard of conduct that has obtained, this Committee ought not to pass this Bill without taking note of the fact. I do not want to compare the present Army with other armies, but the fact is that modern education has 618 made a very great difference in matters of conduct and discipline. Perhaps the Financial Secretary can give some information to the Committee on the matter.
§ 4.39 p.m.
§ Sir E. Grigg
I am much obliged to the hon. Member for raising the point and giving me an opportunity of making a statement. I can say at once that the discipline in the Army at home and abroad is quite excellent. There have been no complaints or representations of any kind, and the hon. Member is quite justified in what he said about the conduct of courts-martial. There have not been any serious complaints in regard to them. What is remarkable is that in this tremendous influx of young men into the Army from an extremely wide sphere the standard of capacity and discipline and trustworthiness has been kept up. The standard of discipline is really what I would call the discipline of a rowing eight and not the discipline of the slave galley. It is a discipline which causes everybody to play the game. I was in France the other day and saw something of our Expeditionary Force. I have personal evidence of how excellent is the spirit of the troops. Another thing which has impressed me is this. In the last war there were difficulties at times with the civilian population, but they are very much less to-day, and that is an excellent tribute to the Army. The relations of the Army with the civilian population in France are excellent. I hope that what I have said will satisfy the request which the hon. Member has properly made.
Question, "That this be the Preamble to the Bill," put, and agreed to.
Bill reported, without amendment; read the Third time, and passed.