- For the 1917 Canadian Act of the same name, see Military Service Act (Canada).
Military Service Act, 1916 [[File:|frameless]] An Act to make provision with respect to Military Service in connexion with the present War. Date of Royal Assent 27 January 1916 Statute Law Revision Act 1927 Status: Repealed
The Military Service Act 1916 was an Act passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom during the First World War. It was the first time that legislation had been passed in British military history introducing conscription.
The Bill which became the Act was introduced by Prime Minister H. H. Asquith 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 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. These bodies could grant exemption from service, usually conditional or temporary. There was right of appeal to a County Appeal Tribunal.
Due to political considerations the Act did not extend to Ireland, which was then part of the United Kingdom. The Conscription Crisis of 1918 when the British Government tried to impose conscription on Ireland led to a conscription crisis and to increased support for Sinn Féin.
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