HC Deb 25 June 1942 vol 380 cc2132-3
13. Mr. W. Brown

asked the Home Secretary whether, in order to discourage persons of military age from committing crimes in order to be imprisoned and thus escape military service, he will authorise magistrates to impose suspended sentences in appropriate cases, the persons concerned to be made available to the military authorities forthwith and the question of whether the sentences can subsequently be cancelled being decided at a later date in the light of reports from the military authorities as to the conduct of the men concerned?

Mr. Peake

While there may be isolated cases in which civilians have deliberately broken the law in the hope that they will thereby escape military service, I cannot find any evidence to support the suggestion that there are many such cases or that there is need for any alteration of the law

Mr. Brown

Will the Minister consult with the Prison Officers' Association, whose members come into very close contact with prisoners, and who may be able to give him very glaring instances of offences committed precisely with this object?

Mr. Peake

My hon. Friend's suggestion requires not that warders in the Prison Service but that magistrates should be able to discern the motives prompting individual crimes. Of course, if magistrates can in fact do that, there is nothing in the law which obliges them to commit offenders to prison, thereby enabling them to evade military service.