HC Deb 25 July 1940 vol 363 cc951-4
2. Major Sir Jocelyn Lucas

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the heavy cost to the State of the conscientious objectors' tribunals, he will see that those objectors, who are in a position to do so, shall be made to pay a fee for the examination, since under the present law the State loses both man and money in the event of a successful appeal?

Mr. Bevin

No, Sir.

3. Sir J. Lucas

asked the Minister of Labour the number of copies of N.S. 14 that have to be made by a conscientious objector; the number of times that the continuation form has to be filled up; and why it is necessary to have eight copies of the appeal result made and seven filed?

Mr. Bevin

Only one copy of the Application Form N.S. 14 has to be filled up by a conscientious objector. The continuation form is used when necessary for the recording by the chairman of the evidence obtained at the hearing and the findings of the tribunal. Any additional copies required for the use of the members of the tribunal and of others concerned, including the applicant and his representative, are made by the Department. With regard to the last part of the Question, three copies are prepared of the result of an appeal to the Appellate Tribunal, one for the applicant, one for the tribunal records and the third for Departmental record.

9. Mr. Thurtle

asked the Minister of Labour at whose instance his Department recently appealed for the complete exemption of two young men who had refused to recognise the Military Service Act; and whether, before this action was taken, due consideration was given to the possible repercussions of this official support for ignoring the law relating to military service as laid down by Parliament?

8. Colonel Burton

asked the Minister of Labour upon what grounds Harold Mayo, of Greenhill Grove, Manor Park, E., and A. S. Porcas, of Dunbar Avenue, Norbury, were excused from military service; what are their ages; are they married; what is their present occupation and remuneration; and whether they will be drafted into some service of national benefit?

Mr. Bevin

These men were registered unconditionally as conscientious objectors by the Appellate Tribunal. The appeal to the Tribunal was made by my Department in accordance with the powers conferred by Section 5 (4) of the Armed Forces Act. Whether or not the decision from which the appeal is made is in favour of the applicant, it is the practice of the Department to exercise these rights of appeal in order to secure a decision from the Appellate Tribunal whenever it appears to them that a case contains features which requires authoritative determination by the Tribunal. I cannot agree that the Department gave any official support for the ignoring of the law; on the contrary, the action of the Department was in accordance with the procedure clearly intended by the Armed Forces Act and afforded the only means of determining authoritatively the effect of that Act in these particular cases. I understand that both men are between the ages of 21 and 23 and that Mr. Mayo, but not Mr. Porcas, is married. I have no information as to their present occupation or remuneration.

Mr. Thurtle

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that both these men said they refused to recognise the Military Service Act, and is he aware that his Department, by deliberately supporting them in that attitude, was in fact supporting contempt for the law?

Mr. Bevin

I do not accept the interpretation placed upon the action of the Department. The Department took the case to the only place to which they could take it to get a decision when the men themselves had refused to go.

Mr. Thurtle

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that by this action he is pointing a way whereby other people can ignore the Act and get away with it?

Mr. Bevin

I do not accept that.

Mr. Thurtle

Will the right hon. Gentleman ask those responsible for taking this action to display a little less concern for young men who ignore the Military Service Act and more concern for the sons of widows?

Major-General Sir Alfred Knox

Why was an official decision taken in the case of these two young men? Why was a special course of action taken?

Mr. Bevin

No special course of action was taken. It would have to be taken in any such case having regard to the Act of Parliament passed by this House and the Section of it which I have quoted.

Mr. Radford

Arising from this Question—

Mr. Speaker

There is a very large number of Questions on the Order Paper.

15. Mr. Stephen

asked the Minister of Labour the number of cases of conscientious objection to military service considered by the Glasgow tribunal during the months of May and June, respectively; the number of cases in which total exemption was granted; the number of conditional exemptions; and the number of refusals?

Mr. Bevin

During May, the number of cases considered by the Glasgow local tribunal was 191; 45 of the applicants were registered unconditionally as conscientious objectors, 20 were registered as conscientious objectors on condition that they undertook work of a civil character specified by the tribunal, 15 were registered for non-combatant duties in the Forces, and 111 were removed without qualification from the register of conscientious objectors. During the month of June, the tribunal considered 152 cases, and the numbers placed in the four categories mentioned above were 9, 40, 13 and 90 respectively.

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