§ 79. Mr. W. R. SMITH
asked the Home Secretary how many conscientious objectors are now serving sentences of hard labour; how many are undergoing ordinary hard labour and how many under the modified form of hard labour; and how many served in the aggregate over twelve months' hard labour?
§ Mr. SHORTT
Nine hundred and forty-seven conscientious objectors are now serving sentences of imprisonment with hard labour, and of these 663 are receiving the special privileges under Rule 243 A. Seven hundred and thirty-two have served in the aggregate more than twelve months' imprisonment with hard labour, including time served under the present and any previous sentence either in a detention barrack or a civil or military prison. I may explain that the term "hard labor's a survival from old times. There is only a slight difference between simple imprisonment and imprisonment with hard labour, and then only during the first twenty-eight days of the sentence.
Has the Department of the right hon. Gentleman been considering the advisability of giving complete freedom to those men when peace is signed?
§ Sir C. KINLOCH-COOKE
Is it not a fact that if they undertake work of national importance that they can get their release?
§ 82. Mr. DUNCAN GRAHAM
asked the Home Secretary whether Ernest Faulkner, a conscientious objector, who was only nineteen when arrested, and has been in prison ever since May, 1916, is now very ill in Leeds Prison, and has lost four pounds in weight during the last month; and whether he will make inquiries with a view to this man's release on health grounds?
§ Mr. SHORTT
This prisoner has suffered occasionally from indigestion, but says he is better now than for some time past. He gives no indication of disease, and has gained three pounds in weight since the end of January.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
May I draw attention to the fact that the man has been in prison since May, 1916; is it intended to keep him there till he dies?
§ 83. Mr. D. GRAHAM
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that Alexander Bain, a conscientious objector, who was arrested in July, 1916, and is now in Durham Prison, has been suffering terribly from eye trouble for a consider able time; whether he is aware that unless this man is given skilled treatment and suitable conditions his eyesight will be permanently ruined; and will he call for a special report?
§ Mr. SHORTT
This man has frequently complained of his eyesight; he has some astigmatism and has been examined by an optician in Durham and a specialist at the Durham and Sunderland Eye Infirmary who have prescribed for him, as well as by the prison medical staff. There is no reason to think his sight is worse than it was before he went to prison or that it will be injured by imprisonment, but arrangements are being made to have him examined at the eye infirmary.