HC Deb 26 April 1917 vol 92 cc2572-3
55. Major HUNT

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that a Committee of the late Government has been engaged in getting conscientious objectors into Government offices; and whether, in view of the numbers of wounded soldiers requiring employment, he can see his way to prevent any men of military age who refuse to fight for their country or their womenkind from being employed in Government offices and put in their places men who have done their duty in the War?

Mr. BALDWIN (Lord of the Treasury)

My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer this question. I am not aware that any Committee has been engaged in the manner described in the question. The Government are in accord with the principle that conscientious objectors should not be admitted to work in Government Departments, but it has been found desirable in one special instance to utilise the services of a few of them with special qualifications in connection with work under the National Health Insurance Acts.

62. Major HUNT

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that the passive resisters refuse to do a fair day's work and cannot at present be compelled to do so, he can say what steps he proposes to take to compel them to do their fair share of work during the War?


My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer this question. Any conscientious objector employed under the Committee on the Employment of Conscientious Objectors who refuses to do a fair day's work can be arrested and returned to prison, or, if his sentence has expired, can be recalled to the Army. This power has been exercised in a good many cases.

Major HUNT

Is it not very well known that these men will not do a fair day's work, and will not the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of offering them to the Germans in return for British wounded soldiers?


The only power I have to deal with men who refuse to do work is to recall them to the Army or to return them to prison, and that we are doing.

Colonel FABER

Could not these men be sent to France to make roads?


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he will issue an Order forbidding the tradesmen in Princetown to supply the so-called conscientious objectors with articles of food, including chocolate and sweets, except by special permit?


The custody and control of the conscientious objectors at Princetown are matters for the Home Secretary. I am in consultation with my right hon. Friend upon this point.