HC Deb 22 December 1916 vol 88 cc1811-2

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if members of the 5th Northern Company, Non-Combatant Corps, Newhaven, have been ordered to do work in connection with the handling of munitions; if on the 30th November seventeen men refused to do this work and were placed under arrest; and, in view of the promise made that men attached to the Non-Combatant Corps would not be called upon to do this kind of work, if instructions will be given immediately to that effect in this particular case?


I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given on the 18th to the hon. Member for West Leeds.


asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if he will make inquiry into the allegations of serious illness among the members of the 2nd Northern Company, Non-Combatant Corps, France, due to the men having been taken out of huts and put under canvas; and if he will see if something can-be done to improve the conditions under which they are serving?


I assume that these men are the same as those referred to in the question put by the hon. Member for North-West Lanark on 29th November. These men are living in tents with boarded floors, and I may remind the hon. Member that there are many thousands of men on the lines of communication who have been similarly accommodated for the last two years, summer and winter, and that the men in the trenches have neither huts nor canvas. I would also add that illness amongst those under canvas is not greater than in the case of those in billets.


Is it not the case that these men were removed from huts in order to make room for coloured men?


asked the Under-Secretary of State for War if in June and July last, at Avancourt and Fricourt, 200 conscientious objectors in the Non-Combatant Corps were sent to work between the British and German lines; if forty of them were killed; if the remainder were then asked to volunteer for combatant service and all agreed; if 200 more conscientious objectors were brought up to do the same work; if these refused to do combatant work but volunteered for hospital work; if they were sent to the Canadian hospital at Etaples; and, if so, what action is to be taken in regard to these violations of the conditions of the non-combatant service?


So far only three deaths have been reported in the Non-Combatant Corps, only one of which occurred abroad, and that not in the fighting line. I cannot help thinking my hon. Friend has been the victim of false information.