HC Deb 14 December 1916 vol 88 cc899-900W

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that David J. Williams was sentenced, under the Defence of the Realm Act, for having in his possession an early minute of the yearly meeting of the Society of Friends and a circular stating that harsh treatment had been meted out to men in the Army because of their conscientious objections; and whether he will remit the sentence?


If the question relates to David J. Williams's conviction at Swansea on 8th November the hon. Member has been misinformed. I find, on inquiry, that Williams was then found guilty of having in his possession a number of different pamphlets and leaflets which have been held by the Courts to contravene the Defence of the Realm Regulations. I see no reason for recommending any remission of the fine imposed. The fine has been paid.

Commander WEDGWOOD

asked the Home Secretary whether he will reconsider the case of Edward Fuller, now imprisoned for having in his possession posters containing an extract from a speech delivered by Mr. Bodkin in the course of a Government prosecution, and which he suggested should be sent to the Censor before it was posted; and whether, in view of this desire to do only what was proper and legal, he will consider whether the technical fault of this man has been punished with undue severity?


I refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply given by my predecessor to the hon. Member for the Elland Division on 31 st October last, from which he will see that he has been misinformed as to the nature of Edward Fuller's offence. As to the statement that Fuller suggested that the placard in question should be sent to the Censor before it was posted, I am informed that the facts are as follows:—The bill-poster to whom Fuller first sent the placard very properly refused to publish it without the consent of the authorities, and Fuller expressed his willingness that consent should be applied for. On application being made for this consent, the Director of the Official Press Bureau informed the bill-poster that publication of the placard would constitute an offence against the Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act, and the billposter accordingly took no further action. Fuller shortly afterwards published the placard through another bill-poster. I cannot accept the view that the offence was a technical one. The prisoner has now served the greater part of his sentence, and in view of all the circumstances I propose to advise his release before Christmas.