The Tribunal system
Provenance, characteristics and issues
in British Military Service Tribunals, 1916–1918
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This chapter discusses the provenance, characteristics and issues in the Tribunal system. The Derby Scheme proved to be the failure that Lord Derby had anticipated. Despite its promoters' decisive parliamentary victory, Herbert Henry Asquith and his government remained extremely sensitive to the political pitfalls of a compulsory system. The Military Service Act introduced compulsion, but also a statutory right to avoid that compulsion. Derby voluntarism had not been explained adequately to those it sought to mobilize. The Tribunals were armed with an option that government had omitted to stress should not, barring truly exceptional circumstances, be used. The manpower crises of late 1916 further impacted upon the Tribunals' business. The charges that Tribunals were too ‘lenient’ with applicants, or that they represented the civilian face of an unpitying war machine, are equally unsatisfactory.

British Military Service Tribunals, 1916–1918

‘A very much abused body of men’


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