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Tuesday, 14 May 1957

Sir WILFRED KENT HUGHES (Chisholm) . - 1 am sorry to detain the committee, but I have very definite feelings on this bill, and I do not want to incur the risk of being called to order by raising a matter when the committee has passed it. The amendment proposed is merely consequential, but will now read -

A person on whom a notice has been served under the last preceding section-

That refers to the call-up - shall, as from the time at which he presents himself for service, be deemed to have been enlisted for service in the Citizen Military Forces.

The one thing that worries me very much in the whole of this modified national service training scheme is that universality is no longer even an ideal. We are calling up only about one-fifth of those who might be called up for service. I, myself, have had experience of the position that existed in relation to volunteers and conscripts in the old days. Somebody will say, "Why pick on me? Why should I have to serve for six months while other people do not have to give that service, and therefore get an advantage over me in ordinary civilian life ? "

As I said, in speaking on the second reading of the bill, all those who returned from service overseas know what it means to start off in competition with those who, for one reason or another - and it may have been a good reason - were not overseas. Although the term of service is only six months, I feel that the Government should try to devise a method of giving some compensating allowance or rehabilitation benefit in order to make up for that definite disability. I ask the Government to consider that request. One person has to give six months' service and another does not. Probably, there is a variety of ways of compensating the former person. I bring this matter up under this clause because it provides that, after a person has been called up " under the preceding sub-section ", he is then enlisted for service in the Citizen Military Forces.

Whether or not a suggestion of the nature that I have made could be embodied in a new clause I do not know, but I presume that when a man is enlisted for service in the C.M.F. he comes under all the sections of the Defence Act that apply to the C.M.F., including those relating to pay and allowances. For some time past, discontent has been caused by the fact that volunteers in the C.M.F. have had to pay income tax on their military pay and allowances. Of course, volunteers will not be affected by this bill, but all the national service trainees who will be enlisted under this bill will become members of the C.M.F. I ask the Government to consider whether an amendment could not be inserted in the bill, either as a new clause or as part of clause 12, which would provide that a person -

Shall be deemed to have enlisted for service in the Citizen Military Forces and be entitled to such pay and allowances as are prescribed in the Defence Act but shall not be liable for assessment for such pay and allowances under the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Act 1936-56.

I put that suggestion forward very strongly for consideration by the Government. I think that every member in this House will agree that if one eligible person in five compulsorily has to serve for six months in the defence services of this country, a compensating allowance of some kind should be made to him to compensate for the fact that he serves while four-fifths of the number eligible do not. I suggest that one way of meeting that disability would be by providing that the military pay and allowances of these men should not be subject to assessment under the income tax legislation. If that is done, in fairness, the House should also proceed to amend the Defence Act so that the same provision may apply to volunteers in the C.M.F. In other words, it should apply to all members of the C.M.F., but, under this bil], we cannot deal with anybody but those who are enlisted in the C.M.F. as national service trainees.

As one who has been through it myself, I strongly suggest to the Minister that now we are abandoning the ideal of universality for various reasons which it would be improper for me to mention at this stage of the debate since they were discussed in the second-reading debate, we should provide in some way such as I have suggested for a compensating benefit for those who will be called up for service.

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