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Lord Judd moved Amendment No. 41:


After Clause 80, insert the following new clause--

Discharge on grounds of conscience

(".--(1) Applications by any person wishing on grounds of conscience to be discharged from all requirements to serve under the provisions of this Act will, in the first place, be handled by the force concerned.
(2) Applicants for discharge on grounds of conscience will be interviewed by a person or persons authorised by the Secretary of State and, if the case is accepted, will be discharged from all requirements to serve.
(3) If an application for discharge on grounds of conscience is not accepted under the provisions of subsection (2) the case may be referred to the Advisory Committee on Conscientious Objectors (ACCO) as appointed by the Lord Chancellor or, in the absence of such a referral, the applicant may directly appeal to the ACCO.
(4) In the case of a referral or appeal to the ACCO the decision of the ACCO will be communicated to the Secretary of State for approval; after approval the decision will be communicated to the applicant by the person or persons authorised under subsection (2).
(5) If the ACCO reject a referred application or appeal, the applicant must fulfil all obligations to serve and will be subject to all normal service discipline.
(6) An applicant whose application for discharge on grounds of conscience is rejected by the ACCO may re-submit an application if there is additional relevant evidence to be heard; any such resubmission will follow the procedures laid down in subsections (1) to (5).").

The noble Lord said: One area of our national life in which we can take great pride is the care and consideration with which we have for a long time treated genuine conscientious objection. All the amendment seeks to do is to make explicit in the context of the Bill what no doubt the noble Earl will tell us is implicit. In deciding to table the amendment, we had in mind the reality--I have encountered it not infrequently in life--that people can become genuine conscientious objectors having completed permanent military service. It is very important that people in that position should be treated in exactly the same way as those who registered their conscientious objection before they undertook any service whatever. It is in that sense that we look for reassurances from the noble Earl.

With the help of the department, the Library and others, we have sought to put into words what is the existing situation. There is, however, one point I should clarify. Subsection (4) refers to the fact that in the case of a referral or appeal to the Advisory Committee on Conscientious Objectors the decision of the advisory committee will be communicated to the Secretary of State for approval. That is perhaps a slight change in emphasis, but I hope that it is acceptable. At present, I understand, the decision is in theory the Secretary of State's but there is no case on record of the Secretary of State ever having rejected the advice of the advisory committee. We are simply seeking to accept the

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convention which has developed and put it into words. I look forward to hearing that the noble Earl accepts the amendment.

4.45 p.m.

Lord Redesdale: I support the amendment, especially in the case of those who have been recalled. As mentioned earlier, the time limit can be up to six years. It has been the experience of those organising Army exercises that when they have tried to contact people for recall many former soldiers showed little willingness to serve again and no longer felt the same as they did when they were actually serving. In six years, a person can change a great deal. It also seems that these people would be called up only as a very last resort and that after six years their military skills would be slightly rusty. If they have changed their views, this amendment would be helpful.

Earl Howe: Clearly, we are dealing with an important and sensitive area. However, we do not believe that it would be sensible to make specific provision in the Bill for conscientious objectors, if only for the reason that any new arrangements would also have to consider the regular forces. I do not believe that there is benefit in having statutory provision for conscientious objectors. We have long-standing arrangements for such situations which work well. A reservist has the right to appeal to the Advisory Committee on Conscientious Objectors. A member of the reserve forces who is called out and wishes to submit a plea of conscientious objection to his military service obligation has an established procedure which he can go through. He must submit a written statement of his reasons, supported by at least two statements from referees who know him well. These documents form the basis of an application for exemption from military service and are sent to the appropriate service authority. The applicant's case is then forwarded to the ACCO for consideration. Where the ACCO supports the application for conscientious objection, the application to resign or be discharged on the grounds of conscience will be granted and the individual, if a member of the regular forces, will cease to have any effective reserve liability. If the ACCO does not uphold the individual's application, then he will be informed that he must continue in service.

I believe that these arrangements, which are long-standing, work well. They are very similar to what is proposed in the noble Lord's amendment. Therefore, in the circumstances, I do not believe there is anything to be gained by seeking to put this kind of provision on the face of the Bill.

Lord Judd: I am grateful to the noble Earl. He has made very plain that he understands the procedures well and that he is determined that they shall operate in this context as in any other. With those assurances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 81 agreed to.

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Clause 82 [Payments to individuals in respect of call-out or recall]:

Lord Redesdale moved Amendment No. 42:


Page 48, line 18, leave out from first ("payments") to end of line 19.

The noble Lord said: The purpose of this amendment is to take away what we believe is an onerous burden on members of the Territorial Army. Under the terms of the clause, the Secretary of State is given power to make payments for financial loss. I do not see why, if the claim is justified, the soldier is later asked to make a detailed analysis of what he spent the money on. That seems slightly harsh.

Earl Howe: The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, has expressed his concern about this part of Clause 82. In fact the wording of subsection (3)(c) is designed to be an important safeguard to ensure that payments made under the scheme are applied for the purposes for which they are awarded. The amendment--although I realise it is a probing amendment--were it to be accepted, would remove that safeguard. The requirement to say how the money has been used relates solely to payments towards the provision of pensions, allowances or gratuities.

I do believe that it is right and proper that the Ministry of Defence is able to satisfy itself that the money has been used for the purpose for which it was given. I am sure that reservists themselves will understand the need for that type of safeguard.

Lord Redesdale: I thank the noble Earl for his reply. As long as it is treated in the manner in which he describes, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 82 agreed to.

Clause 83 [Payments to employers etc. in respect of call-out or recall]:

On Question, Whether Clause 83 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Mottistone: I was approached over the weekend by a lieutenant-colonel from Scotland, who is a Territorial officer of 30 years' service, saying that he was not happy that Clause 83 gives sufficient encouragement to employers to release people for the purposes laid down in the clause. He proposed two additional subsections, which he has since put in the post to me. On reading them with my noble friend the Minister, they seem remarkably like subsections (1) and (2) of Clause 83. I am only speaking now because it is my intention to follow this up with the colonel before he disappears to Bosnia at the end of the week. I want to be quite certain that this is necessary. I have agreed with my noble friend that, depending on the outcome, I shall be writing to him for advice as to what might be done at Report stage, perhaps with a view to putting down an amendment to cover this particular point.

Earl Howe: I am grateful to my noble friend for flagging up this issue and naturally I shall do whatever I can to clarify our position on the suggestions that my

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noble friend's acquaintance has put forward. I should naturally be delighted to correspond with him between now and Report stage on that point.

Clause 83 agreed to.

Clauses 84 to 91 agreed to.

Clause 92 [General power to make rules]:

Lord Williams of Elvel moved Amendment No. 43:


Page 52, line 3, leave out ("Secretary of State") and insert ("Lord Chancellor and the Lord Advocate").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 43 standing in my name and that of my noble friends, and it may be for the convenience of the Committee if I also speak to Amendment No. 44. We are dealing here with reserve forces appeal tribunals, and in Clauses 90 and 91 we note the sudden appearance of the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Advocate. The appointment of a panel of ordinary members and the membership of tribunals will be decided by the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Advocate in their respective territorial jurisdictions, I imagine.

When it comes to making rules with respect to the practice and procedure to be followed on appeals to appeal tribunals, the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Advocate mysteriously disappear and the Secretary of State takes their role. I would have thought that the Committee would agree that, if those with the legal experience--the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Advocate--are to be involved in the appointment of members of the tribunal, at least they should be involved in the procedure of the tribunals, because it is the procedure of the tribunals that is going to determine a lot of what happens.

That is the point of Amendment No. 43 and I look forward to hearing from the noble Earl why the Government believe that it should be the Secretary of State and the Ministry of Defence that determine the procedure rather than those who perhaps are--dare I say it?--rather better equipped to do so than the Secretary of State.

Amendment No. 44 addresses the rather difficult question, which has indeed been addressed in public about various reports and inquiries that are in process, of whether the proceedings of the tribunals should be, could be or might be held in private as opposed to in public, and the representation of the parties. Your Lordships will be aware of inquiries which have taken place on a variety of matters, which have been governed by something known as the Salmon Rules as a result of the Salmon Commission. The recommendations of the Salmon Commission were that the parties should be represented, there should be cross-examination and the possibility of examination by one's own lawyer.

This clause as drafted allows the Secretary of State to determine that that should not be the case, and I would argue that that provision is undesirable.

I believe that these tribunals should, in general, be held in public, and I hope that the noble Earl will agree with that. I do not necessarily insist that they should always be held in public. I would, however, tend to insist that the parties should always be allowed to be represented and that there should be no conceivable

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loophole which would allow the Secretary of State, the Lord Chancellor or Lord Advocate, or whoever is to determine the procedure of such tribunals, to prevent those involved being represented. I beg to move.


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