In the House of Commons on Tuesday, 13th November, Mr. E. Davies asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the feeling which exists in the country owing to the fact that mean who claimed exemption as conscientious objectors, but failed to satisfy the various standards of the tribunals in different parts of the country and who, refusing to obey military orders, have suffered punishment on more than one occasion for what is, in effet, the same offence,he is ina positions to say that the question of the method of dealing with these men is being reconsidered by the Government?
Sir George Cave: if the hon. member means by his question to suggest that the general feeling of the country is adverse to the continued enforcement of the law in the case of persons claiming to be conscientious objectors, I do not agree with him. It must be remembered that all conscientious objectors now in prison have been offered their release on condition of their undertaking non-military work under the Home Office scheme, and have either refused the offer or failed to carry out the conditions on which they were released. The question how these men should be dealt with has been recently considered by the Government, who have determined that the law must be enforced, and that they must serve their sentences in prison. But in the case of men of this class who have sentenced to a long term of imprisonment the Government have decided that some relaxation of the prison rules should be allowed to prisoners who have earned the marks representing a twelve-months’ sentence (whether such marks have been earned in one or more sentences), and I propose shortly to give directions to this effect under No. 243a of the Prison Rules.
In the House of Lords on Nov, 14th, Earl Curzon stated that he would consult with the Home Secretary and make a statement at a later date as to the possibility of a further relaxation of prison rules.
Information is to hand from one prison that an alteration has already been made there in the regulation regarding books. Under the new order a C.O. is allowed to have his own books sent to him at the prison. His name must be clearly written therein. These books are to be housed in the Library but kept for his use only and he is apparently to be allowed the usual number in his cell at a time. At the end of his sentence he will be able to take these books away with him. We await Lord Curzon’s further statement with interest.