Military Service Act (United Kingdom)
- For the 1917 Canadian Act of the same name, see Military Service Act (Canada)Military Service Act (Canada)In Canadian history, the Military Service Act was a 1917 Act passed by the Canadian government to effort needed more soldiers, so on April 20, 1918, an order-in-council was passed that removed exemptions from the Military Service Act. This left farming operations across Canada short of much-needed...
The Military Service Act 1916 was an Act
Act of Parliament
An Act of Parliament is a statute enacted as primary legislation by a national or sub-national parliament. In the Republic of Ireland the term Act of the Oireachtas is used, and in the United States the term Act of Congress is used.In Commonwealth countries, the term is used both in a narrow...
passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...
during the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...
. It was the first time that legislation had been passed in British military history introducing conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...
. However, due to political considerations the Act did not extend to Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...
(then part of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....
The Bill which became the Act was introduced by Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...
H. H. Asquith
H. H. Asquith
Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, KG, PC, KC served as the Liberal Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916...
in January 1916. It came into force on 2 March 1916. Previously the British Government had relied on voluntary enlistment, and latterly a kind of moral conscription called the Derby Scheme
The Derby Scheme was a voluntary recruitment policy in Britain created in 1915 by Edward Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby. The concept behind The Derby Scheme was that men who voluntarily registered their name would be called upon for service only when necessary...
The Act specified that men from 18 to 41 years old were liable to be called up for service in the army unless they were married, widowed with children, serving in the Royal Navy, a minister of religion, or working in one of a number of reserved occupations. A second Act in May 1916 extended liability for military service to married men, and a third Act in 1918 extended the upper age limit to 51.
Men or employers who objected to an individual's call-up could apply to a local Military Service Tribunal
Military Service Tribunals
Military Service Tribunals were bodies formed by borough, urban district and rural district councils to hear applications for exemption from conscription into the British Army during World War I. Although not strictly recruiting bodies, they played an important part in the process of conscription...
. These bodies could grant exemption from service, usually conditional or temporary. There was right of appeal to a County Appeal Tribunal.