I have had an opportunity since our last meeting of considering the objections raised to this section and of consulting our legal advisers. I may say that I still feel that, in connection with the more prevalent military offences, there should be specific provision in this Bill as distinct from the provisions of civil law ; and, having heard the relative portions of the Larceny Act, I also think that a simplified provision would be of the utmost assistance to all who have to deal with military crime. However, I do appreciate the force of the arguments which have been made against the section, and particularly the point that too great a departure from the terms of the Larceny Act might be objectionable. I hope, therefore, that it will meet the viewpoint of the Deputies who have spoken against the section and that they, on their part, will realise the desirability of some specific provisions in military law, if I say that at the Report Stage I am prepared to withdraw Sections 154 and 155 and to replace them by new sections somewhat on the following lines. First, I propose a section similar to Section 47 of the Act of 1923, which, incidentally, contained the word " stealing." This section would provide that every person subject to military law who, being charged with or concerned in the care and distribution of any public or service property steals, fraudulently converts or misapplies or embezzles that property, or is concerned in or connives at any such offence, shall be guilty of an offence against military law and be liable to penal servitude or a lesser punishment. I am advised that such a section, which deals with persons guilty of these offences in an official capacity, is absolutely necessary, particularly in relation to embezzlement.
I would then add a further section to the effect that any person subject to military law who steals, embezzles or receives, knowing it to have been stolen, any property belonging to a person subject to military law or any public or service property shall be guilty of an offence against military law, punishable by imprisonment or a lesser penalty. This will enable us to deal under military law with the more prevalent types of stealing and pilfering which are met with in Army life. For the purposes of both the sections I have mentioned, the word " stealing " would be defined as having the same meaning as it has for the purposes of the Larceny Act. I hope that Deputies will find this compromise satisfactory. It does not succeed in getting our Army officers altogether away from the intricacies of the Larceny Act but it does make the position somewhat easier. At the same time, it does, I think, substantially meet the objections which were advanced in the course of the debate.