HC Deb 31 October 1916 vol 86 cc1513-4

asked the total number of conscientious objectors to military service who have been sent to France; in what circumstances are conscientious objectors being sent to Ireland; and whether some have been tried, or threatened with trial, by field general court-martial, a procedure depriving them of legal assistance?


I have no information as to the total number of conscientious objectors who have gone to France. I understand that some 300 have gone to Ireland on the request of the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief for employment on some military work. The last part of the question is inaccurate in its suggestion that trial by field general court-martial deprives the person tried of legal assistance.


Will the hon. Gentleman say how it is that the accused are to be allowed legal assistance in these other cases, and the accused in Ireland were denied legal assistance before the same tribunal?


asked the Secretary for Scotland if he is taking any action upon the illegal decision of the Glasgow Appeal Tribunal which recently dismissed the applications of two men of eighteen years of age, members of the International Bible Students' Association, who claimed exemption on conscientious grounds, the tribunal dismissing the claim on the ground that persons of such immature years could not have definite convictions on such matters; and, if he has not already taken action in the matter, will he do so at once on the ground that this is a distinct violation of the Military Service Act, which gives to all men of military age the right to claim exemption on grounds of conscience?

The SECRETARY for SCOTLAND (Mr. Tennant)

The information furnished by my hon. Friend is not sufficient for the identification of the cases to which he refers. Perhaps he will give me the names of the men and the dates of the hearings.

118. Mr. SNOWDEN

asked the Secretary for Scotland if he has given instructions to the Governor of Barlinnie Prison to release William W. Findlay, a conscientious objector, serving a second term of imprisonment as a conscientious objector, who has now agreed to accept the Home Office scheme; and, if not, will he do so at once?


My right hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this question. This man was not found by the Central Tribunal to be a genuine conscientious objector to military service, and he will therefore remain in prison until the expiration of his sentence, and will then be returned to his unit.