HC Deb 17 May 1916 vol 82 cc1509-10

asked how many conscientious objectors have now had sentences passed upon them by courts-martial; and how many have had a sentence of two years' imprisonment with hard labour inflicted upon them?


To answer my hon. Friend's question would involve obtaining returns from the various Commands which I am not prepared to ask for specially, but it will no doubt be rendered in the ordinary course.

80. Mr. JOWETT

asked if a conscientious objector who has net applied for exemption and has been sentenced for failing to join the Army when he was called up and who has lodged an application for exemption under Section 2, of the Military Service Act, is amenable to military law, having regard to the provisions of Subsection (5) of Section 3 of the same Act?


Applications for exemption had to be made under the Military Service Act, 1916, before the 2nd March. If a man did not apply for exemption, he would pass to the Reserve, and would be liable to be called up for service, and as from the time he joins or is handed over to the military authorities by the sentence of a Civil Court he is under military law.


asked the President of the Local Government Board if he is aware of the chaos into which the decisions of the Manchester Appeal Tribunal have been put by the action of the chairman in referring appellants on the ground of conscientious objection to the Pelham Committee; that in some cases he has omitted to make any reference to the Pelham Committee on the form handed to the appellant, although he has marked the forms retained by the tribunal to that effect, and that he has endorsed both forms as though the appellant had been passed for non-combatant service instead of certifying that they were exempted on condition of being employed in some work of national importance; that this practice has naturally led to confusion and injustice, and that a number of men who have been referred to the Pelham Committee by Judge Mellor have been arrested and fined as deserters, though the military representative admitted at the Police Court that the chairman of the Appeal Tribunal had by word of mouth referred the men to the Pelham Committee; that the Pelham Committee refuse to assist men referred to them by the tribunals; and, in view of the misunderstanding by the tribunals, appellants, and the military, will he at once issue instructions on the matter, pointing out that men given non-combatant service and willing to undertake work of national importance are exempt from military service?


My right hon. Friend is in correspondence with the chairman of the Appeal Tribunal on this subject.


asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to the sentences passed on David John Evans and Thomas M. Thomas at Cefn on 4th May, imposing a fine of £10 and a month's imprisonment in each case for the distribution of leaflets against the severe treatment of conscientious objectors; whether it is to be understood that facts in regard to the treatment of conscientious objectors may not be made public in speech and print; and whether, seeing that it is not possible to urge the repeal of the Military Service Act without showing the alleged evils of its operation, the conviction of these men will be quashed, in view of his answer to the hon. Member for Elland on 17th January?


To advocate the repeal of an Act of Parliament is one thing, to advocate refusal to obey its requirements is another. It is because the leaflet in question appears to me to have the latter purpose in view that I am not disposed to interfere in the case mentioned by the hon. Member.

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