HC Deb 17 March 1919 vol 113 cc1716-7


46. Lieutenant-Colonel DALRYMPLE WHITE

asked the Prime Minister whether, with a view of meeting the views of those who consider it undesirable to retain so-called conscientious objectors in prison, he will afford to the latter after the signing of the Peace Treaty the option of joining the Non-Combatant Corps for road making and other essential work in the devasted areas abroad, and thus give the opportunity for the genuine conscientious objector to be distinguished from those who have no genuine conscientious scruples?

The SECRETARY Of STATE of WAR (Mr. Churchill)

I am informed that it has always been the practice to release any man of the class referred to who has given an undertaking to serve in any non-combatant unit, and my hon. and gallant Friend may rest assured that any conscientious objector who is prepared to give that undertaking will be afforded the opportunity. I understand, however, that many genuine conscientious objectors have persistently refused to do any work whatever under military control, and I am afraid, therefore, it is not possible to apply the test suggested in order to distinguish genuine from non-genuine cases.

Lieutenant-Colonel WHITE

Will the right hon. Gentleman bring the same to the notice of conscientious objectors and so knock the bottom out of this agitation which is going on?

51. Colonel WEDGWOOD

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that most conscientious objectors obtain by good conduct a remission of part of their sentences, an arrangement could be made whereby they would benefit by this remission and be allowed to see their families at home before being re-court-martialled and again imprisoned?


There is no advantage in considering this question piecemeal. It cannot in the opinion of His Majesty's Government be dealt with until demobilisation is further advanced.