From The Tribunal December 6th 1917
From our Parliamentary Correspondent.
The problem of the conscientious objector still continues to exercise the minds of the House of Lords. On November 28th. Lord Charnwood moved that all conscientious objectors should be deported as a danger to the State and that teacher conscientious objectors should be debarred from the future training of the children. Among other things the noble lord described them as a hard, vicious lot of people, while lord Lambourne improved the occasion by imparting to his distinguished colleagues that: “My own firm belief is that out of a hundred so-called conscientious objectors – and I expressly exclude the Quaker sect – fifty are cowards, thirty are cranks , and the remaining twenty may be honest men. I believe that the indulgence shown to these men has not only encouraged them to what I believe to be unpatriotic conduct, but has encouraged others to follow their example.” Lord Lambourne as Colonel Lockwood represented Epping in the House of Commons for many years. He was famous in the world of sport for his decorative waistcoats and buttonholes and for sketches of dubious art with which he used to beguile the tedium of the House of Commons. Lord Charnwood has even less claim to distinction. As Mr. G.R. Benson he represented the Woodstock division in the House of Commons in the Liberal interest from 1892 to 1895. History has no other record.
The motion was opposed by Lord Crewe on behalf of the Government, who stated there was no intention “of extending the scope of the indulgence of exemption, now given to conscientious objectors.” Lord Parmoor, Lord Courtney, and Lord Gainford spoke against the motion, which was withdrawn.
By the time these lines appear in print it is hoped the House of Commons will have had an opportunity to reconsider its decision to disenfranchise conscientious objectors.
The atmosphere of the Commons is less oppressive than at any time during the last three years. Lord Hugh Cecil and Mr. Adamson’s speeches on disenfranchisement, Mr. Henderson’s open opposition to censorship of leaflets, and Lord Lansdowne’s letter have all contributed to clarify the air and to impart an untoward feeling of self-respect to Members of Parliament. The necromancy of the Welsh Wizard is being found out and the supply of hot air seems to evaporate much more quickly. I would advise the secret service to give eye and ear to the smoking room of the House of Commons; it is a very hotbed of seditious talk, and if not stopped someone might repeat some of the utterances withing the hearing of the common people who might be vulgar enough to give serious heed.
Talk of a Stockholm Conference has been revised, and it is rumoured that the Government will find itself in a much weaker position than when Count Czernin made his offer a few weeks back. The cards have now passed from the hands of the British statesmen.
On Monday last an influential conference representative of politics, literature and science was summoned under the signatures of Lord Parmoor, and Mr. R.D. Holt to consider ways and means of opposing D.O.R.A (27C), the censorship of leaflets, a powerful and significant combination.
The revised constitution of the Labour Party is being widely discussed and quite a number of Members of Parliament who are adherents to the Liberal Party are contemplating fighting their next electoral contest under the banner of Labour. I have met with one or two fairly prominent Nonconformist ministers who will join the Party while the “Medical World” announces that “among the Labour Party condidates at the next General Election there are likely to be ten or a dozen medical men pledged to support a programme of State Medical Service.