There is, currently, a proposal going through Parliament. It’s the National Service Bill (HC Bill 32) and, if certain articles within it are kept to – which they should be by law, as this will also be law – I honestly can’t see a problem with it.
It basically states that, when made law, people between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six will be expected to do one year’s National Service. Now, I can see some people reacting in horror as they envision the (male) youth of our nation being forced into the army. I can also see others loving the idea of our youth being forced into the army. But that’s not the whole story. It’s the one that the naysayers are concentrating on, as well as the fact that some of the time spent will be residential. Yes, they get sent away from home.
What caught my eye however, was what it offered. Under what would become law, those on the scheme would be offered all of the following. My notes are in [these square thingies];
(1) Regulations shall provide that the scheme must extend the scope of the
National Citizen Service and include the following elements—
(a) educational assistance for those participants who have yet to attain basic educational requirements of reading and writing in English and mathematics;
[All those that have slipped through the net at school will be assisted in getting the qualifications that they didn’t at school. Whilst being paid.]
(b) coaching and instruction to attain basic levels of physical fitness, personal discipline, smart appearance, self respect and respect for others;
[Citizenship skills and fitness. Literally how to be a good person. The fitness will be explained further below, but it’s not WAR, WAR, WAR fitness. Unless, of course, the young person decides to join the army. More of that below too.]
(c) instruction in personal financial budgeting, household bills, nutrition, cooking, time keeping, life skills, tolerance towards others, treating elderly and disabled people with dignity and respect; and
[Life skills. Everything that people have been banging on about. No more can people say, “If I was taught at school that debt is bad, I wouldn’t have got those credits cards.” And I’m being serious when this is actually what people were saying. Nutrition and cooking skills as well. Let’s hope that Jamie gets involved in this. And another dose of plain decency on top too.]
(d) instruction in basic aspects of the law in relation to the most common offences involving young people.
[I laughed when I saw this one, because I immediately thought of “Class 101, how not to get nicked.” But, it does have its positives. It will explain to the young their rights, the laws that they might be breaking, and the consequences of what happens when someone does break the law. I can see some members of the Police Force sighing as they read this, as sometimes a little legal knowledge can make an officer’s life a bloody nightmare.]
I can hear you asking, “But what ninja death skills will they be taught? We don’t want whole swathes of the youth taught to kill and sent off to war!”
Well have no fear. Read the below. My comments are again in [these].
(2)Regulations shall also provide that the scheme shall include—
(a) a residential element, requiring that participants live away from home;
[The people opposing the Bill, also oppose the fact that the participants will be sent away from home. Why? Many people never leave the place they live in. Ever. People are also leaving home later and later. Having residential courses will a) Assist them in broadening their horizons and seeing new places (see the overseas bit below) b) Have them living and working away with people from a great swathe of society, something that would never have otherwise happened c) Free up a bedroom for their father’s train set.
Naturally I’m joking about c); I have toy soldiers instead.]
(b) an element of public service, comprising one or more of the following o be chosen by the individual—
[Wait, a minute. They get to choose? But I thought they were going to be sent off to kill jonny foreigner? No, by law, they are doing one year of public service, and they can choose what they want to do.]
(i) charitable work,
[Excellent. Those working in this will gain an understanding of what it feels like to need help from charities, to be homeless/disabled/terminally ill. Hopefully this understanding will change into empathy and greater tolerance. For most I believe it will. There will always be those it won’t work for.]
[The Government definition of Social Action is;
Social action can broadly be defined as practical action in the service of others, which is:
- carried out by individuals or groups of people working together
- not mandated and not for profit
- done for the good of others – individuals, communities and/or society
- bringing about social change and/or value
So, all good again. And my points from the (i) paragraph still stand.]
(iii) care for the elderly or disabled,
[Again, this is great with my points under (i). Naturally it will have to be carefully managed and monitored. This is one of the reasons that fitness is required. And cooking etc. In fact those skills will stand for everything above and below, thinking about it.
(iv)overseas development activity, or
[Wow. They get to go abroad and will truly expand their horizons. I have visions of disaster aid etc, but it’s more likely community building exercise such as schools, wells, toilets etc. in areas that really need help. Again, (i) stands, fitness and residential a must for this.]
(v) work connected with the National Health Service, the emergency services or the Armed Forces.
[And, finally, the Armed Forces are mention. Last. But, people can still choose to work in the NHS. Now this could be anything as the NHS employs roughly 1.2 million people, was the third largest employer after the Chinese Army and the Indian Railway (in that order), and has a list of possible positions as long as your arm.
The Emergency Services one is also interesting. I can’t see anyone being a paramedic in a year, but they do require mechanics, call handlers, dispatchers, chefs etc, etc. Again (i) stands for all of these.]
What this means is that all of those young people who, for example, have been studying Law or medicine or something similar, don’t necessarily have to find themselves fixing bayonets and going over the top. Nor do they have to find themselves doing something that they might otherwise considered beneath them.
There is no reason that someone who has recently studied law, or who is planning to study law, can’t choose an area that will let them participate in matters legal.
I can see nothing inherently wrong with this Bill unless it is used to force people into the military. Specifically the branches where education development is limited to knowing how to strip a GPMG in under a minute.
From what I can see, the Bill can’t do that. The people going on these schemes will be able to choose what they do, and I expect that the choosing and skill matching will also be far more in-depth that this initial paper outlines.
And, on top of being developed culturally, socially, physically and educationally, they get an additional 10% off tax. And a certificate.
which shall entitle them to a lifetime income tax rate personal allowance 10 per cent above the personal allowance that would otherwise apply.
Naturally, I expect that there will be some people who take exception to my thoughts and that’s cool. There will also be debate around how the hell all of this is paid for. Because it doesn’t mention that and I think that will be key to this actually working.