HC Deb 22 December 1915 vol 77 cc481-2

asked the Home Secretary if he has considered the evidence in the case of T. H. Ferris, who has been sentenced to six months' imprisonment at Leeds for the publication of a leaflet sett- ing forth the Christian doctrine of war from the text, "Blessed are the peacemakers"; is he aware that Ferris has for the last twenty years been an apostle of Christian pacifism; and, in view of the facts that no evidence was given at the trial that the leaflet had caused, or was likely to cause, disaffection, will he advise a reduction or remission of the sentence?


asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the case at Leeds, on 10th December, when Messrs. Thomas Howard Ferris and T Sydney Overbury were charged on the evidence of a clergyman with causing disaffection by distributing certain leaflets; whether he has read those leaflets; and whether he will consider the desirability of reducing the sentence of six months' imprisonment as being unduly severe?


I will answer this question and that of my hon. Friend the Member for the Elland Division of Yorkshire together. Ferris and Overbury were convicted under the Defence of the Realm Act of attempting to cause disaffection. Further charges of publishing statements likely to prejudice recruiting were, therefore, not proceeded with. I have considered the evidence given at the trial and read the several leaflets published by the accused. The leaflets do not by any means correspond to the description given in the questions, and in my opinion the magistrate was justified in convicting. I regret that I am unable to advise any remission of their sentences.