The British Defence Secretary has said he would “love” to bring back mandatory military conscription in the UK and emulate the model of reservists used by Finland and Sweden.
Wallace who is a former British Army officer told journalists in London with the Swedish Defence Minister Pal Jonson, said, “conscription and reserve(s) often go hand in hand.”
He added, “So I definitely think we’re all envious of how they use their reserves. And you know, I would like, love to have a model like that.”
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that the Defence Secretary is not calling for the return of national service, but he was talking about the “positive impact” that Finland and Sweden have with their reservists.
A MoD spokesperson said, “He praised the reservist models in those countries and did not in any way state he wanted to introduce conscription in the UK.”
Wallace said that reservists are important and noted that “a different cultural thing” is at play as both the Nordic countries have continued to with conscription since World War Two.
Wallace said, “I think we’ve got to recognise that again the lesson of Ukraine is how do we work on our resilience, and part of that is about reserves.”
Wallace previously said that the British Armed Forces has been “hollowed out” over the past 30-years and since the Russian invasion of Ukraine the war has “exposed our vulnerabilities.”
National Service came into force in January 1949 and all physically fit males between the ages of 17 and 21 had to serve in one of the armed forces for an 18-month period.
They then remained on the reserve list for another four years. During this time they were liable to be called to serve with their units but on no more than three occasions, for 20 days maximum.
Students and apprentices were allowed to defer their call-up until they completed their studies or training. Conscientious objectors had to undergo the same tribunal tests as in wartime.
After 1945, however, National Service did not extend to women.
In 1950 a further National Service Act lengthened the period of service to two years. During the 1950s national servicemen took part in various military operations in Malaya, Korea, Cyprus and Kenya.
National Service ended in 1960, though periods of deferred service still had to be completed. The last national servicemen were discharged in 1963.
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