§ 6. Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
asked the Secretary to the Board of Trade whether he will give the House the opportunity of acquainting themselves with the Regulations governing the employment of so-called conscientious objectors, and of expressing their approval or non-approval of the same?
§ 44. Mr. BUTCHER
asked the Home Secretary whether he will lay upon the 2010 Table a copy of the Regulations by which the pay, food, allowances, and leave of conscientious objectors are regulated?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Brace)
My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer these questions. I will answer at the same time question No. 44, standing in the name of the hon. and learned Member for York. I shall be glad to lay upon the Table a copy of the Regulations made by the Committee on Employment of Conscientious Objectors for the men employed at their work centres and camps. The Regulations do not deal with food, but instructions were issued in March that the rations suggested by the Food Controller for the civilian population were not to be exceeded.
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
Will the hon. Gentleman say whether those Rules and Regulations permit of the commandeering of football fields for these conscientious objectors?
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
Owing to the limited reply given by the hon. Gentleman, I propose to call attention to this matter on the Motion for the Adjournment to-night.
§ 68. Mr. BUTCHER
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether complaints have reached him as to the want of discipline shown by conscientious objectors employed at Dartmoor and elsewhere; whether difficulties have been experienced in enforcing discipline; and whether adequate means exist of insisting that these men who refuse to serve their country shall engage in work of national importance and submit to proper discipline?
§ Mr. BRACE
Difficulties have occurred and some complaints have been received. As regards Princetown, this may not be very surprising when a new institution employing more than 800 men was being opened. Discipline is improving, and I hope all difficulties will shortly be overcome. The men employed by the Committee have been conditionally released from imprisonment, and the enforcement of discipline depends, in the last resort, on the power to recall to prison or to the Army those who disregard the Regulations.
Mr. SHIRLEY BENN
May I ask the hon. Gentlemen if the men referred to in this question and referred to by the Home Secretary as conscientious objectors are not the men who went before their own local tribunals claiming to be conscientious objectors and were found by those tribunals to be only fake conscientious objectors and were not exempted from military service?
§ 70. Mr. BUTCHER
asked the Home Secretary whether, until recently, conscientious objectors employed at Dartmoor and elsewhere were receiving substantially the same rations as soldiers employed on active service at the front; whether he will state the date on which these rations were reduced; and whether any complaints have reached him as to the amount of supplies, in addition to their rations, which are bought by conscientious objectors at Princetown to the detriment of the local residents?
§ Mr. BRACE
The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative. The rations of conscientious objectors are not laid down by Regulation in all cases, but vary according to the locality and the nature of the work to be done. The cost has always been strictly limited and I do not think that in any instance the amounts can have been equal to those given to soldiers on active service: and on the 20th March instructions were given that the rations suggested by the Food Controller for civilians were not to be exceeded. Complaints of the kind referred to in the last part of the question have been received. The Committee on the Employment of Conscientious Objectors are in consultation with the Food Controller on this matter.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
Will the Committee consider this: that if these men are allowed to buy an unlimited amount of food it is no use rationing them?
§ Mr. BRACE
I take quite the same view as my hon. and learned Friend on that point, and I have already called the attention of the Food Controller to the fact that the Home Office consider they have only power to deal by regulation with the amount of food given. As to whether conscientious objectors should be at liberty to buy from the local shopkeepers that is a matter for the Food Controller.