HC Deb 03 May 1916 vol 82 cc10-2
10. Mr. KING

asked the Under-Secretary for War whether he is aware that certain conscientious objectors have refused to accept the pay offered to them or to sign papers in connection therewith; whether such refusal is a military offence; if not, why have such men been punished or court-martialled for so doing; and whether, in the interests of economy and in order to encourage men who desire to save the national revenue at this time, he will give instructions that the refusal to receive military pay shall entail no disciplinary censure?


I have no information that conscientious objectors have refused to accept the pay offered to them, and, if they did so, it would not be a military offence, and consequently there cannot have been courts-martial on a charge of refusing to accept pay. The instructions suggested in the last part of the question are not, I think, necessary.


In the event of these men refusing the pay will there be a separation allowance?


That will have to be considered.

36. Major NEWMAN

asked the President of the Local Government Board whether he is aware that the Association of Local Government Board Officers has sent a letter to the Government Committee appointed to aid those desirous of escaping military service for conscientious reasons, protesting against their proposal that those avoiding military service should have positions found for them on the staffs of our local authorities; and whether he will himself communicate to the Government Department responsible for the setting up of this Committee the indignation felt throughout the local government service at this proposal?


My right hon. Friend has seen the letter, and does not think any action on his part is necessary.


(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the fact that Rendal Wyatt, a graduate of Cambridge University, along with other conscientious objectors to military service, is being punished by daily confinement for a period of time in a dark cell, in irons, and fed upon a diet of bread and water, in the military prison at Harwich Circular Redoubt; and whether he will take steps at once to stop this form of punishment?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)

I only got notice of this question this morning. Inquiries are being made by the War Office into the matter to see what the facts really are.


If the facts are as alleged in the question, will the right hon. Gentleman promise that some action will be taken?


I must first hear what the War Office have to say.


(by Private Notice) asked the Home Secretary whether it is a breach of the law to advocate resistance to the execution of the law by persons who claim to be conscientious objectors?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Herbert Samuel)

Yes, Sir. The law provides means by which persons who can show that they have conscientious objections to combatant service may obtain exemption. I am advised that it is illegal to advocate by means of speeches, posters, pamphlets, or otherwise any resistance to the law or refusal to serve on the part of persons who have not been granted such exemption.