HC Deb 26 October 1916 vol 86 cc1337-9W

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the case of the Rev. Sydney Key, the minister of the Otley and Wharfedale Mission, and therefore a regular minister of a religious denomination as defined by the Military Service Act, and as such exempted from its provisions; whether he is aware that Mr. Key was arrested after a meeting at his mission on the 5th September, brought before the magistrates on the 6th September, and fined 40s. and handed over to the military as an absentee; whether he is aware that Mr. Key was tried by court-martial at Clipstone Camp on the 22nd September for refusing to obey orders, and that he is still held in detention by the military authorities; and what action under these circumstances he proposes to take?


I am informed that Mr. Key applied for exemption to the tribunal on grounds of conscientious objection, but was not granted a certificate of exemption. He appealed to the Leeds Tribunal and his appeal was dismissed. On being summoned to the Colours Mr. Key failed to report, and on being brought before the magistrate claimed that he was exempted in view of his work. The case was decided by the Court, who held that Mr. Key was liable for service. As Mr. Key's liability for service has been decided by a magistrate, it is not open to the Secretary of State to take any action. I have no information at present on the last two parts of the question, but I have no doubt that Mr. Key's refusal to obey orders was dealt with in accordance with the prescribed procedure.


asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that a conscientious objector named Faulkner, resident in the Hyde Division of Cheshire, who is attached to the 1st Monmouth Reserve Battalion at Park Hall Camp, Oswestry, and who is a Primitive Methodist, was refused permission to see the Rev A. F. Slater, who wished to see him in his capacity of chaplain; whether he is aware that similar action was taken in the case of another conscientious objector named Hugh Dempster, who is attached to the Liverpool Scottish at the same camp, and who was refused permission to see the Rev. E. K. Jones, of Ruabon; and if he can see his way to issue permission for these men to be visited by responsible clergymen of their own faith?


A report on these matters has been called for, but has not yet been received.


asked the Home Secretary whether he has been informed that eleven conscientious objectors, resident at Risbridge House, Kedington, were locked out on the night between the 11th and 12th October and threatened with arrest if they repeated an orderly protest that they had made against a certain regulation ordering them to be in at nine o'clock, imposed by the Risbridge Board of Guardians and confirmed by the Committee on Employment of Conscientious Objectors; and if he will say under what Statute or Order in Council was such threat made, in view of the fact that by the ruling contained in his own letter of 6th October their sentences had run out at the time in question?


I am informed that one of the conditions on which Risbridge House was let to the Committee on Employment of Conscientious Objectors by the Risbridge guardians was that all men should be in, unless special leave had been granted, by 9 p.m., and that lights should be out by 9.30 p.m. The Committee did not consider this rule unreasonable, especially in view of the fact that the men breakfast at 6.15 a.m., and duly confirmed it. On the night in question eleven men left the building at 8.58 p.m. and returned at 9.30 p.m. They were not admitted. The Committee's agent at once reported the facts to the Committee, who approved the action taken, and instructed him to warn the men that should their conduct be repeated the men concerned would be treated as provided for in the conditions under which they were released from prison. It is the case that the sentences of the eleven men referred to above had expired on the date in question, and they were, therefore, not liable to be sent back to prison. They were, however, liable to be recalled from Army Reserve W to the Colours, should they cease to carry out any of the conditions on which they were released, and this action will be taken should any of these men be guilty of any further deliberate breach of the regulations for their conduct and well-being made by the Committee.