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VOTE OF CONDEMNATION CARRIED
In the House of Lords on July 4, Earl Russell called attention to the operation of the Military Service Act with regard to Conscientious Objectors who had not been found by the Tribunals to be Conscientious Objectors and were sent into the Army. He said that most of those persons seemed to have come under the control of military officers who did not believe in Conscientious Objectors or thought they could be removed by the administration of pain. He mentioned the case of C. H. Norman, who made complaints of brutal treatment at Wandsworth Detention Barracks against the Commandant, Lieutenant-Colonel Reginald Brooke, and moved – That in the opinion of the House it is undesirable to subject military prisoners to punishments not authorised by law.
Lord Sandhurst (replying for the War Office) said in regard to the case of Norman, he did not know where that person was sentenced, but he believed it was correct that no man could serve more than 112 days in a detention centre.
REFERRING TO THE PRIME MINISTER’S STATEMENT, HE SAID THAT IN FUTURE ALL CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORSWHO REFUSE TO OBEY ANY ORDERS WOULD BE SENT TO COURT-MARTIAL. SUCH MEN WOULD BE PLACES IN CIVIL PRISONS, AND WOULD SUBSEQUENTLY BE RELEASED FROM CIVIL PRISON ON UNDERTAKING TO DO WORK OF NATIONAL IMPORTANCE UNDER CIVIL CONTROL, ETC. IF THEY DID NOT BEHAVE PROPERLY AND GIVESATISFACTION WHEN DOING SUCH WORK, OR IF THEY REFUSE TO DO CIVIL WORK, THEY WILL BE SENT BACKTO PRISON TO COMPLETE THE TERM OF THEIR SENTENCES, AFTER WHICH THEY WILL BE DISCHARGED FROMTHE ARMY.
“THE FINAL DECISION AS TO THE GENUINENESS OF A CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION WILL REST ONLY ANDSOLELY WITH THE CENTRAL TRIBUNAL. THE ONLY PART THE ARMY COUNCIL WILL PAY IS TO BE THEINSTRUMENT FOR RELEASING HIM FROM CIVIL PRISON.”
The Marquis of Crewe said arrangements were being made whereby in every case a Conscientious Objector would be tried by Court-Martial, and if convicted would be handed over to the civil authority. The punishment would therefore be civilly inflicted. There would no longer be the pretence of treating these men as soldiers when they were not soldiers, and he feared were not worthy to be soldiers…