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Conscientious Objectors

Volume 436: debated on Thursday 24 April 1947

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asked the Minister of Labour the number of young men and women, respectively, who claimed exemption from military service as conscientious objectors since the passage of the National Service Acts to the nearest available date, the number who were granted exemption unconditionally, the number on conditions and the number who were prosecuted and sentenced for refusing to accept the conditions imposed by tribunals.

Up to the end of 1946, the latest date for which figures are available, 67,876 men and 2,555 women had provisionally registered as conscientious objectors. 3,849 men and 105 women were registered unconditionally by the Tribunals and 29,118 men and 776 women were registered on condition that they took up specified civilian work. 331 men and 88 women were prosecuted and convicted for failing to comply with their conditions of registration.

Is the Minister aware that the tribunals sometimes impose conditions on certain applicants in a vindictive way, and would he, in any case which is brought to his notice, take action to stop this kind of thing?

That is another Question, but, if any such action has been taken. I shall be glad to look into it.

Do not conscientious objectors get fairer consideration in this country than in any other country in the world?

Would my right hon. Friend intimate to these tribunals that they should take a proper and judicial view of these matters, and not a personal view, which very often is a very bitter one?

From all the information which I have had, I would resent the suggestion that they do not, generally, take a judicial view.