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[Heavy Penalty for N.C.F.


[Heavy Penalty for N.C.F. I, MAXIMUM OF ?100 IMPOSED IN GOV- ? ERNMENT PROSECUTION. I COUN. MORGAN JONES ONE OF THE DE- I FENDANTS. I I THE "MANCHESTER GUARDIAN'S" I it COMMENT. • The charges against the Committee of the N.C.F. of making statements in the Repeal the Act Leaflet likely to prejudice recruiting, Which has aroused such widespread interest, tnd partioula.rly in South Wales, because of Councillor Morgan Jones' (Bargoed) inclusion In the list of defendants, was heard at the Mansion House on Wednesday last. Lord Derby one of the principal witnesses called. At | I the conclusion of a lengthy hearing the maxim- I Ilva penalty of £100, with £ 10 co'sts. was im- I Posed on each defendant. I The defendants were Edward Grubb (lion. ■ treasurer); Archibald Fenner Brockway (hon. secretary); William Joseph Chamberlain (orga- niser) Walter Henry Ayles; Alfred Barratt Brown; John Percy Fletcher and Morgan Jones (officers and members of the National Com- mittee of- the No-Conscription Fellowship, who ere summoned for making statements, in the orrn of a leaflet called "Repeal the Act," like- Y, to prejudice recruiting. The Rev. Ley ton Richards, a member of the National Committee t the time of the issue of the leaflet, was so summoned. Mr Bodkin, who. with Mr Muir. appeared for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said that the leaflet bore the imprint of the National La- bour Press (Limited), London and Manchester. hi the course of it it was stated: — We cannot assist in warfare. War, which to Us is wrong; war which the people do not seek, will only be made impossible when men who so believe remain steadfast to their convictions. We strongly con- demn the monstrous assumption by Parlia- ment that a man is deemed to be bound by an oath that be has never taken and forced § Under an authority he will never acknow- ledge r Admit the principle (of compulsion) and who can stay the march of militarism? Re- peal the Act. that is your only safeguard. AVbat shall it profit the nation if it shall WIIa the war and lose its own soul? There are times." said Mr Bodkin, "when bought and tongue are to be curbed, and at 3?° time is it more essential that there should n be wholesale restraint upon expression of views WIlie.11 are mischievous and against the interests of the country. Dealing with some of the statements in the ■leaflet, Mr. Bodkin said tribunais were not r Military. There was no military dictation nor Ipurbing of civil liberty of the public, because it | Was the highest form of freedom to allow peo- PIe, to fight for their country or to support their country in a war which, if unsuccessful, ?ght entail disastrous consequences to them. Th(,rf, was no militarism in the sinister sense in ?hich it was suggested. h Lord Derby said he had read the leaflet. and had had experience of the effect of literature to conscientious objectors. Mr Bodkin Is that a document that would bo to affect the recruiting and discipline His Majesty's forces?—I should certainly say M v I Brigadier General Childes, Director-General if Personal Service at the War Office, said that \j thought. the leaflet would have a subversive r: | Effect. Mi. Morris admitted that the defendants were esponsible for the leaflet. of which three- Quarters of a million had been printed. Mr Grubb. giving evidence, said that he had I t son in the Canadian Officers Training ^°'l>s. He did not see anything in the leaflet prejudicial to recruiting or discipline. The No- | ponscription Fellowship denied the Tight of the Government to say. You shall bear arms tnd would obey conscientious convictions ra- ttier than the commands of Governments, v Mr Bodkin Do you know that as late as fav 11 branches were proposed to be formed 111 the guardrooms. Look at this paper — your Ðrg:an "The Tribunal." Witness: I have not seen that. Mr Bnkdin: These are letters signed, "Yours "?t?rnaJlv on behalf of the Guardroom Branch the Xo-Cori-scriptiori Fellowship," and they Qay:- M y- ?' ?"? ? you Dear Chamberlain.—Hope to smuggle you iust a word. i L Then ther?arc the names of 12 or ISmem- of the No-Conscription Fellowship Guaad-  Branch. ¡ 0ounspj read further quotations, and asked, l/|'f Are those the men you support r l iy. cert,,i i n l v. Mr G"ubb: By our sympathy, certamly. k Archibald Fcnner Bmckw?-y said that he was f vcars of age and the editor of the Labour reader." The Fellowship from the beginning M refused to carry on any pronaganda the ob- ?ct of which would be to make men who did ?t already hold their views conscientious ob- teel.ors., Th<; only propaganda was to put "lei:- yjp?s before the Government and the ? ?tion; so that they might be aware of the reets of tll(' Conscription measure. They had ?00(.t members. Sir A lheel Newton: What would vou think of ?itarism imposed by an invading force? '"?i!d it be worse than that imposed by the government?:—Militarism T think bad in any T tb in l ?. bad i ii aii-v u, God of Battles. I -'he Rev. Levton Richard?, Congregational '^mister at Bow ton. Cheshire, said he could ? hnvp signed the kafl,t if ho thought it o fi-oiti o ii "o?id (hssuadc people from joining, Mr Bodkin (heated!Y): What do you want  happen t? this counn'y? Do you want her j° have men or not'? h Witness: If your !\d!ow citizens heHeve that i|l he best thing for Great Britain is to enbst Knd .fig?it a,? carry the war to victory, I mve conscientious objections to persuading i,Oham to do otherwise. But, on the -?ame prin- iple. I do -not beHeve in coercing those.who Mavf'fonscMontious objections to warfare. I and lor the liberty of conscience. ■ The Magistrate: Render unto Caesar those flj (lings which are Caesar's. « W itness And to God those things which are ■ rod's, and when tne two things clash' God U Wiles first. Witness later referred to the "Prince of ff eace." and Mr Bodkin retorted that he had IHeard of the God of Battles. Witness Never in the New Testament, on hioh I found IllY belief. 8ii, A. Newton: I have come to the condu- Sion without hesitation that the pamphlet ould. prejudice recruiting. I cannot under- ?a.nd anyone having any doubt in that respect. I Must innict the maximum penalty of ?100 on ('h defendant, with £ 10 cost- or 61 days' im- prisonment in default of distress. Defendants were given 14 davs to pay, and lH. Morris intimated that there would probab- be an appeal. "Manchester Guardian" on the Case. I The most responsible of British journals, I "The Manchester Guardian," in a leader on the case on Thursday, said — "Repeal the Act." A number of people, members of the No- Conscription .Fellowship, were fined heavily at the London-Mansion House for advocating the repeal of the Military Service Act in a manner that was held to be offensive. Lord Derby gave evidence and said that in his opinion their pamphlet would prejudice re- cruiting. Seeing that everyone of militawy age is liable under the Act, this evidence seems to us quite meaningless, but if what is meant is voluntary recruiting, that has been killed not by pamphlets but by the Government's own bills. The charge that discipline might be affected is more serious, and it may readily be conceded that advocacy of the repeal of the Military Service. Act might be carried on in' such a manner as to undermine discipline in the army. We confess that we cannot bring the passages cited in court yesterday under suck a charge. Nor, if advocacy of the repeal of the Act is to be permitted at all-and Mr Samuel said that it should be—is it easy to imagine a form of words in which it could be done, without incurring Mr Bodkin's censures. But as the conviction is to be appealed against, it is perhaps unfair to discuss the merits or demerits of the pamphlets. What we do feel— and this is quite independent of the justice of the sentence in this particular case— is that the public importance of prosecutions of this kind is ridiculously exaggerater. The idea that our successes or failures in the war have been, or will be, affected by anvthng that is written in a pamphlet seems to us merely eccentric. When we read of peace men in Germany being prosecuted we are rather encouraged than discouraged. It has been said several times that the prosecution of Herr Liebkneclit in Germany is the most convincing proof that the Government, is alarmed. We are not in that case. We are strong enough to do without genuine con- scientious objectors in the army providing that they are doing some work of national service, and strong enough to heed the dan- ger of making martyrs. And its London Correspondent also thought the matter worthy of passing remark, for, in the same issue, he said:— I Conscientious Objectors in Court. The police court in the Mansion House, one of the smallest and least accessible of courts of justice, a sort of annexe to the Lord Mayor's apartments, was oddly chosen to-day as the scene of on examination of conscience. The alderman on his seat underneath the Lord Mayor's sword of state had before him, instead of the normal petty thefts, domestic squabbles, and morning-after-the-revels business, one of the most' abstruse, delicate and insoluble of problems—the position of the conscientious objector. In the little crowd behind the barrier in place of the normal adherents of people mainly in trouble one saw idealists and friends of unpopular causes and militants of the minority. At last the Government had decided to come to serious grips with the movement, which, as everyone knows, is supported by people who cannot for a moment be dis- missed by the facile label of anti-patriotism, and which gains its momentum from a con- viction that safeguards deliberately placed in an Act of Parliament are proving insufficient to protect a sentiment which is as old as the history of English liberty. The No-Conscriptionist leaders were con- victed and heavily fined for their leaflet, in which they carry on their warfare against the Military Service Act. No other issue could have been expected, but one felt, after the case, that the whole controversy has only been forced into a new and more painful phase. One could not but feel the futility of the discussions in which counsel, magis- trate and No-Oonscriptionists were fumbling for a formula which would explain an intan- gible reality. The most astonishing thing said during the day was the remark of a highly-placed War Office official, when asked if he knew any Quakers He replied, I am happy to sav J do not."

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