HC Deb 02 June 1919 vol 116 cc1701-2W

asked the Secretary of State for War (1) whether he is aware that H. Edees, No. 118016, Sherwood Foresters, a miner and member of the Derbyshire Miners' Association, who was arrested in June, 1918, is now in Durham Prison serving his second sentence of two years' imprisonment as a conscientious objector; and whether he will now remit this man's sentence;

(2)whether he is aware that E. Townley, No. 36361, Gloucestershire Regiment, a Primitive Methodist conscientious objector of forty-two years of age, was arrested in January, 1918, court-martialled for the third time on 23rd April last, and sentenced to twelve months' hard labour, which he is now serving at Horfield Prison; and whether he will now remit this man's sentence?

Captain GUEST

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the statement which I made on the 3rd April in reply to a question by the hon. and gallant Member for Plaistow and to the reply given on the 1st May to a question by the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland, which explained the policy with regard to the release of conscientious objectors and others who are serving terms of imprisonment.


asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is now in a position to state the result of his inquiries into the case of Cuthbert Morson, who voluntarily enlisted in 1915 in the 2/3rd East Anglian Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps, who was transferred to Egypt in 1917, and in October, 1918, was transferred, against his wishes, to the 1/4th Northampton Regiment, his number being 205603; and whether this man is still in prison?

Captain GUEST

I have already gives my hon. Friend full information regarding this case in a letter dated 12th May. It was there explained that the urgent demand for men of Category A for service in the fighting units necessitated the transfer to the Infantry, under the Army Transfers Act, 1915, of a considerable number of men who originally enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps. The men could claim exemption from transfer if they held conscientious objection to combatant service, all such claims being carefully investigated before the transfer took place by a special tribunal which was set up by the General Officer Commanding in Chief of the Expeditionary Force with which they were serving, and no man who could show sufficient proof of conscientious objection was transferred. Morson was transferred from the Royal Army Medical Corps to the 1/4th Northampton Regiment, after appearing before the special tribunal in Egypt, which, however, he was unable to satisfy. After the transfer he was tried by court martial for disobedience to orders, and sentenced to five years' penal servitude, afterwards commuted to two years' imprisonment with hard labour. He is being sent to England to undergo the remainder of his sentence.