HC Deb 16 November 1916 vol 87 cc1017-8W

asked the Secretary of State for War whether conscientious objectors could be employed to carry out work on the roads in France by the Road Board, instead of still further depleting the country districts of labour?


All men of the Non-Combatant Corps are already fully employed on essential duties and the total number of conscientious objectors is not equal to the number of men required for labour in France.


asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware of the feeling aroused in the Borough of Warwick, which is a considerable military centre, at the liberties and privileges granted to the large number of conscientious objectors now housed in Warwick Gaol; and whether he will state what work they are employed upon and for what number of hours per day they are engaged upon it?


I have received no representations in this matter. I understand that the men employed by the Committee on Employment of Conscientious Objectors at Warwick are engaged in vegetable gardening, building, tailoring, boot-making and repairing, and the manufacture of mats and mailbags. A certain number of men are also employed on the necessary cooking, cleaning and clerical work. The hours worked are eight hours a day in addition to periodical fatigue and orderly duty. I understand from the Committee that the work centre at Warwick is used only for such men as are not fit for hard outdoor labour, and as a depot to which men fit for all classes of labour can be sent, while arrangements are being made for their employment elsewhere, or between periods of employment.


asked the President of the Local Government Board whether he is aware that a conscientious objector, named Sydney Robjohns, No. 324 in the Military Register, class No. 43, with the medical report, Class C 1, who appeared before the Battersea local tribunal both in July and October, although admittedly a man holding conscientious convictions with regard to war, was only granted non-combatant service; that the London Appeal Tribunal on 3rd November confirmed this decision and refused to refer him to the Pelham Committee, although he expressed his willingness to do any work of national importance which was offered him; whether he is aware that many other men have been referred to that Committee by other tribunals; and whether, under the circumstances, he can see his way to request the tribunals in all cases where the genuineness of the applicant has been admitted to allow these men to do work of national importance provided by the Pelham Committee instead of compelling them to a term of imprisonment?


I have no information of this case beyond what appears in the hon. Member's question. Tribunals have received full directions respecting these cases. The fact that a man is willing to do work of national importance is not itself sufficient reason why he should be referred to the Committee in question. The Committee only deals with men whom the tribunals have exempted altogether for military service on condition that they undertake work of national importance. In the case referred to, the tribunal decided that the man should be exempted' from combatant service only.