HC Deb 07 March 1917 vol 91 cc371-3
22. Mr. R. LAMBERT

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War, whether he is aware that Mr. Clifford Allen, a conscientious objector, was arrested on 31st July, 1916, as an absentee under the Military Service Acts, was handed over to the military authorities on 31st August, tried by court-martial on 18th August for refusing to obey a military order, sentenced to two years' imprisonment with hard labour, and sent to Wormwood Scrubs prison; that while there he was medically examined on 22nd September, and that the examining doctor reported that he was then only fit for light work, and that he would never be physically fit for military service; that nevertheless Mr. Allen was returned to his regiment on 25th November and, in consequence of his again refusing to obey a military order, sentenced by court-martial to a second term of one year's imprisonment, which sentence he is now serving in Maidstone Prison; and whether, seeing that he is totally unfit for military service, he can now be discharged from the Army and released from prison?


This man has consistently refused to be examined by the Army medical authorities. He is of poor physique, but at the time of his medical examination by the prison doctor had no actual illness of consequence. He is apparently in need of physical training, and though it might take months under the best possible conditions to work up a man of comparable physical condition to be fit for category A, there is no reason to suppose that Allen is not fit now for one of the lower categories. If he would allow himself to be examined by a medical board it would be possible to decide the point.

63. Mr. R. LAMBERT

asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he will state the number of conscientious objectors who have been retained in prison or in detention after they have been medically examined and declared physically unfit for military service down to 1st March, 1917?


As far as I am aware, no conscientious objectors have been so retained.


asked the President of the Board of Education whether the city council of Cardiff have passed a resolution to the effect that it considers it undesirable that any conscientious objector to military service should continue in the service or pay of the council of the city of Cardiff, and have this week issued to every teacher, male and female, under the council a questionnaire headed "Have you conscientious objections to military service"; and whether such inquisition into the private views of these teachers has received the sanction of the Board of Education?

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Fisher)

I have no knowledge of the matter other than that derived from statements in the newspapers. The answer to the last part of the question is in the negative.


asked the Home Secretary whether Mr. Clifford Allen, a conscientious objector at present in Maid-stone Prison, is serving his twenty-third week of imprisonment under the Military Service Acts and that he has been allowed to receive only one visit from his friends during that period; whether he was entitled, according to prison regulations, to receive a visit from three persons on 10th February; why the issue of an order for his friends to visit Him was delayed until 24th February; and why the order eventually issued was made available for only two persons instead of three as allowed by the regulations?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir George Cave)

During Allen's first sentence of 112 days from 26th August he received one visit and was released before he became entitled to another. He was again sentenced on 12th December and became entitled to a visit on 10th February. He then applied for orders for two persons who could not be allowed to visit him. I am informed that he has made another application, which has been granted, and that the visit will take place this week.


asked the Home Secretary whether Mr. Clifford Allen, a prisoner in Maidstone Gaol, under the Military Service Act, has been refused permission for his personal friend, Mr. Bertrand Russell, to be one of three visitors whom he is allowed by prison regulations to receive at stated intervals; and, if so, on what ground such permission was refused?


No visiting order could be issued in this case to Mr. Bertrand Russell because Maidstone Prison is situated within the area from which he has been excluded by order of the military authorities made under the Defence of the Realm Regulations.


asked the Home Secretary the number of conscientious objectors who have been offered and have accepted work under the Home Office scheme down to 1st March, 1917, but who have been detained in prison or in detention because such work was not ready for them?


In all cases there is necessarily an interval, usually a short one, between the decision of the Central Tribunal and the completion of the arrangements for sending the men out to work. At the present moment 250 are waiting to be released, but I hope that all of them will be sent out to work by the 16th instant.

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