§ MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)
asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether his attention has been called to the arrest of William Burch, Patsy Breen, and William Naish, Militiamen on the Island of Jersey, and reported in The Jersey Advertiser for the 16th March, 1887; whether the law provides that judgment may be given by default; and, if so, whether such arrests were legal; whether information has reached him that strong opposition prevails amongst the working men upon the Island to compulsory military service, and that a great number of the inhabitants are fined and imprisoned for refusing to attend drill; and, whether he will consider the advisability of appointing a Civil Commissioner to inquire into the working of the Militia Law on the Island?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
(who replied) said: No, Sir; I have no information as to the particular cases quoted, and cannot express an opinion as to the legality of the arrests. Under the Militia Law of 1881 persons who failed to attend when summoned are liable to a fine; and on the third default, if the fine is not paid, they may be imprisoned for four days. The law provides for exemption from drill in special cases. Although some complaints have been received at the Home Office, I have no reason to believe that the feeling against compulsory service is general in the Island; or that a great number of persons are fined or imprisoned for declining to serve. The present Militia Law was passed on the Report of a Committee sent by the War Office to the Channel Islands in 1879; and I do not think any further inquiry necessary.