asked the Secretary of State for the Home. Department whether his attention has been drawn to the case of John M. Mitchell, an ex-service man, who has been sentenced by the Hereford magistrates to one month's imprisonment with hard labour for refusing to perform his allotted task in the workhouse; whether he is aware that Mitchell was discharged from the service suffering from neurasthenia; and that he had walked from Scotland and was anxious to get out of the workhouse in order to register at the Employment Exchange, where he understood men were wanted; and whether he will consider the advisability of remitting the sentence, especially in view of the fact that the man's pension of 7s. 6d. a week will he forfeited?
I have seen a report of the case, and find no sufficient ground for intervention on my part. The man stated he was in search of work, but positively refused to do the work set him in the casual ward where he obtained a night's lodging, and no excuse for this refusal to do the work was alleged. I understand that army pensions forfeited by a conviction and imprisonment are usually restored when the man has served his imprisonment.
Is the hon. Baronet aware that this war-broken hero was sent to prison for a month for refusing to perform a hard labour task in a workhouse after a night's lodging, and after asking to be released in order to go to an Employment Exchange? Why should he be sent for a month's hard labour? Is that not a question that ought to be inquired into?
I have already said that my right hon. Friend has inquired into it and has seen a full report of the case. His conclusions are contained in the answer I have read.
Is the Under-Secretary prepared to send the magistrate to do the month instead of this war-broken pensioner?
Will the hon. Gentleman take the pains to ascertain whether the work which was offered to this man suffering from neurasthenia was open-air work or indoor work? Obviously it is a serious matter, what kind of work is offered to a man suffering from this disease.
The whole matter has been fully gone into by my right hon. Friend, who has seen the report. I will convey to him what the two hon. Gentlemen have said, but for the time being I cannot add anything to the answer I have given.