HC Deb 01 February 1945 vol 407 cc1609-10
23. Major Peto

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department under what conditions conscientious objectors were disqualified from registration as Parliamentary and local government electors after the last war; and whether it is proposed to adopt any similar procedure after this war in the case of those who have not only refused to fight but also to undertake alternative forms of national service.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

The Representation of the People Act of 1918 disqualified from being registered as Parliamentary or local government electors until five years after the official termination of the war conscientious objectors who had been exempted from all military service and members of the Forces who had been awarded detention or imprisonment for an offence against military law which they represented to be the result of a conscientious objection to military service, unless they could prove within one year of that date by means of a certificate from the Central Tribunal that they had been engaged in work of national importance. The arrangements for dealing with conscientious objection in this war under the National Service Acts have been rather different. Parliament has not provided for any such differentiation under the new electoral legislation.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Is it not true that many conscientious objectors, disfranchised after the last war, became Members of this House, some of them Cabinet Ministers, too?

Mr. McGovern

Is the Minister aware that a considerable number of Members who were elected to this House during the war, as soldiers, quickly had conscientious objections about remaining in the Army, and decided to stay in the House?

Mr. Speaker

That is an imputation which should not have been made about hon. Members.