HC Deb 08 July 1920 vol 131 cc1665-6
122. Mr. G. ROBERTS

asked the Secretary of State for War if he is now able to announce the decision reached in response to appeals made for the release of Private Matthew Lowe, who is undergoing imprisonment on a charge of desertion; whether all cases of soldiers imprisoned for offences against military law have been brought under review with a view to clemency being exercised; and, if so, with what result?


I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave on the 22nd June last to the hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Bromfield). In view of the gravity of the offence, which I fully disclosed in that answer, I do not find myself able to consider any further remission of the sentence. All cases such as those mentioned by the hon. Member have been reviewed with the following results:

Penal Servitude:

In 196 cases the remainder of the sentences has been completely remitted; 33 sentences have been commuted to imprisonment; and 88 to detention.


In 144 cases the remainder of the sentences has been completely remitted; 462 sentences of imprisonment have been commuted to detention.


1,875 soldiers have been released.

The hon. Member will, of course, realise that in some of the longer sentences of penal servitude the tangible effect of the review is not apparent at the present moment because, although very substantial remissions have already been made, the sentences so reduced will not expire until the various dates which have already been determined. As an indication of the situation which obtains, I might mention that between June, 1920, and June, 1921, 126 now undergoing penal servitude will be due for release, and that between June, 1921, and June, 1922, 23 will be due for release, and the number of soldiers under- going penal servitude after June, 1922, will be six. I might also mention that all cases are brought forward for consideration at stated periods, and there is therefore no possibility of a case being lost sight of.