HC Deb 20 July 1916 vol 84 cc1215-6W

asked the Secretary of State for War what sentences were passed at the second court-martial on the following conscientious objectors now at Gos-port: G. B. Robert (court-martialled 26th June), of 6, York Gardens, Bristol; Dan Huxstep (court-martialled 5th July), of 130, City Road, Bristol; Stanley Oxley (court-martialled 5th July), of 65, Ashley Road, Bristol; whether Stanley Ashman, of 11, Chester Park Road, Fishponds, Bristol, Ormond Pink, of 9, Dewkerry Road, Victoria Park, Bristol, and E. W. Roe, of 123, North Street, Bedminster, Bristol, who were severally court-martialled on 23rd, 27th, and 8th May, are now awaiting their second court-martial at Gosport; when these will take place; whether the following four men were court-martialled at Horfield Barracks and sent to military detention barracks lately, namely, Henry Coker, of 107, St. George Street, Bristol, sent on 8th or 9th July to Hereford, T. S. Peckover, of Gloucester, sent 11th or 12th July to Hereford, and W. Harding and W. Pope, sent to Devizes; will these men be transferred to a civil prison; and when or will some work of national importance be assigned to them outside the military administration, to which they object?


I think the best thing I can do in answer to this question is to restate briefly the position in regard to conscientious objectors. The case of every conscientious objector who has been sentenced to imprisonment will be submitted to the Central Appeal Tribunal. The conscientious objectors at the present moment undergoing detention fall into two categories, those who, while under detention, are obeying the military commands given to them, and those who refuse to obey the military commands. The latter are being brought to trial by court-martial, and they will, if convicted, be transferred to civil custody, and their case will be dealt with by the Central Appeal Tribunal. Conscientious objectors who, whilst undergoing detention, obey military orders will not be placed in a worse position than those who are disobeying orders, and their cases also will go to the tribunal. I hope that the hon. Member will excuse me from going into the position of all the men mentioned in the question severally. They will be dealt with on the general lines I have stated, but the War Office is not in possession of information as to how each and all of them stand to-day. General instructions having been issued, it is not the duty of commands to report as to how individual cases are dealt with from day to day under these general instructions.