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Round the Home Office Camps.

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Round the Home Office Camps. A REPLY TO PRESS LIBELS. I Sir C. Kinloch Cooke has recently been en- gaged in a raging, tearing propaganda against the men in the Home Office Camps. Sir C. Kinloch Cooke is an honourable gentle- man, but his honour and membership of the House of Commons is not deterring him from spreading broadcast quite unjustified calumnnies a-gainst the handful of men who are resisting militarism and suffering the penalty for possess- ing a conscience. A few facts and figures from Orte who has recently visited a number of these centres should help to expose the libellous na- ture of the attacks. During the last few weeks I have visited -camps at Llandeusant and Llannon in South Wales, and at Broxburn and Ballachulish in Scotland. In addition I have had access to re- ports which have just been received from Prince- town, and therefore, write with some special knowledge of the subject. "The Slacking Charge. I It is alleged that the conscientious objectors ouf the Home Office Camps habitdally slack at their work, and that while saving their miser- able skins they do not even attempt to per- form the task that is allotted to them. Not a tittle-tattle of evidence has been brought in support of this charge. It is perfect- ly true that a small number in some camps prac- tise ca'canny as a method of breaking down the scheme, but in all of the camps visited by me the majority of the men have emphatically de- nied that it is the practice, and have emphati- cally condemned such a policy. During my visit to Llandeusant, I accidentally Tame across the inspector of the work, and as he was quite ignorant of who I was, and why I was there, I asked him about the quality of the work done by the men working under him. He in- formed me that a large number of those who came were quite "soft" at the beginning, but that after a while their work was very satisfac- tory. He compared the work of ordinary nav- vies with that of the conscientious objectors, and thought the comparisonsnot at all unfavourable to the latter. Even if the accusation was true, the Home Office authorities would have no one to thank but themselves. In most of these set- tlements the work is of a distinctly penal char- acter, and is often futile in the extreme, and it is not to be wondered at that the men concerned do not show any enthusiasm. It is not to be looked for that men accustomed to perform use- ful social service should become willing slaves of the treadmill. Work for Work's Sake! I Dartmoor provides a good illustration of this. "The men are really keeping the place going until the convicts return, and they rightly regard this as an insult. They are willing and anxious to perform useful work, but to ask highly skilled men to toil simply for the sake of toiling is to invite disaster. Sir C. Kinloch Cooke, in attacking the men, puts his finger on the weakness of Dartmoor. He says: "And, would the House believe it, it takes four men to drag a hand barrow every day with the postal deliveries..Fancy, four men to drag a, hand-barrow so that they may read what is going on all over the world in their own and other people's families! We can add to this statement of Sir Kinloch Cooke's. We can inform him that sixteen men •are employed in rolling a field with two hand rollers, eight men harnessed to each roller. We can also present him with the information that the chaff cutter, an antideluvian implement scrapped by Noah many generations ago, takes eight men to turn and one to feed, that the machines for crushing oats employs sixteen men, -and that the total product of their joint labour works out at about 2/6 per day. We are also pleased to inform him that the coke party con- sists of ten men who trundle round a little cart that one, horse could easily pull, and that the boot-makers recently requested the purchase of a. machine that would have saved three men's work per day, which, of course, our efficient, x businesslike Government indignantly refused. He will, therefore, see that this system of four men dragging a hand barrow is an essential part of the Princetown experiment. It is not the fault of the men employed there, but the fault of the authorities who are simply punishing these men by putting them to such unfruitful work. Turnips at Ninepence Each! I At Dartmoor there are 200 acres attached to the Settlement, and 901 head of cattle. The "only crops produced are the turnips, etc., for the cattle, and those who know calculate that it costs 9d. to produce each turnip! The whole system is simply a waste of labour and money. If the community desires useful, productive :,and enthusiastic labour from these men in the camps they must put them to tasks that are not deliberately demoralising and insulting. Imagine the sensations of a man whose normal occupation is research work at the Royal College -of Science doing such work as that which I have described. Yet there is a man of that character and many other similar men at this and other -leamp,s performing equally foolish work. Doctors and Teachers. o I In my peregrinations I struck a, Chemical Manure Works at Broxburn where I actually found Dr. J.C. McCallum, previously the medi- cal officer of health for Argyllshire, making Manure out of carcases, bones and chemicals. Not, mind you, employed on the technical side °f the work, but doing what in normal times is <mly fit for tramps and casuals. Here is another Scottish illustration of the same kind of thing. Some time ago a school teacher was arrested as an absentee at Balla- chulish, handed over to the military, court- and sent back to Ballachulish to make roads. Of such is the wisdom of the tatuous Brace! Abandoned Acres. h_- I A, I --¿¿v¡,ner case is worth quoting at length, The folloWing letter is from the father of three lads at St at StoCkton. 1?? it, and then cease to wonder that "l'- Pringle asked his friend Brace in the House Of Commons if this kind of thing is an ex'mple  8c^en^^c Organisation" cc. My farm is only 31 acres, but we cut R a?Q;  ?creation land three times a year: that m.e.a__ ns T1? 8 a?es to mow with the scythe, and we have a market garden in which we can grow 60,000 cabbages cauliflowers, sprouts, etc., when our sons are h?e. Mv wife and I picked 640 pounds of sprouts last week. We, have 37 head or cattle, including 13 milk cows; 47 sheep, most of them in lamb; 30 pigs. But I intend to reduce my stock as we have more to do than we can manage from 4.30 a.m. to bed time. I am in my sixty-third year this month, and I have 52 years. When cat- sons were at home, we had 3, tail milk round of 40 gallons a day, which took me 34 years to work up, and that was lost the day after they took the boys ss I could not milk for rheumatism, but I can iiiii,, a little now. I am selling 13 gallons a day wholesale. I cut thousands of cabbages with uhe scythe last year that got lost with weeds. We grow potatoes, onions, beans, rhubarb, lettuce, celery, etc. I have rented this land since 188 i; and I have put the best part of my life into it; it is in very good heart now, and very fat, I mostly grow two crops a year. I should think 1 produce more food than any place in the North for its size, as we are all workers, total ab- stainers, non-smokers; the boys have known nothing but work aJl their lives ;they never had a week's holiday in their lives. I have a son on a 96 acre farm three miles from ours and his brothers help him all they can when they are at home. He has four horses, and we have four, and he has over 30 head of cattle, and about 30 ewes to lamb this spring. God only knows how we manage. zC200 would not cover my loss last year." The Employers Answer to the Charge. I Perhaps the best reply to the lioels is to put the onus of reply on to the employer of the conscientious objectors. What is the result? Twenty-four men are employed at Broxburn under most disgusting conditions. Here is an extract from the letter of the parents of one of the men concerned: Just the last few days a batch of 25 have been sent to Broxburn from -Wakefield. They are hired out to a chemical manure manufac- turer. They have to work ten hours a day, and he continually stands over them like a nigger- driver, hurrying them on continually. The, busi- ness is unhealthy. One of them, who is a doc- tor, says no one can stand it long without fre- quent breaks for fresh air. But worst of all, they are lodged in the common lodging house, which is exceedingly dirty and is frequented by tramps, thieves and men of the lowest class. They have to buy their own food and cook it themselves, and they need to watch it all the time or it would be stolen and they are in con- stant danger of losing clothing and other be- longings. They are making a protest to the Home. Office." Messrs. Rough and Sons have to pay to the Home Office the full standard wage for these men and of the 24 only one has been discharged and sent home. Surely that is sufficient in itself. A business firm would not employ con- scientious objectors unless it was getting its full pound of flesh. The same argument also concerns the men employed directly by the Home Office. The Home Office has the power and uses it to send men back to prison or their units if they do not perform the work with diligence and fidelity. Why is it then that so few of them have been sent back by the Home Office? The Pampered Pets of Princetown. .I I Another of the charges is that they are extra- vagantly fed. coddled, pampered and generally given a. fine time. The plain, simple fact is that the food is poorer and the hours of labour longer than under the old regime when the convicts filled the prison. The following is the diet at Dartmoor: Breakfast—1 pint porridge (containing 3 ozs. oatmeal); 3 ozs. bread; oz. margarine; and 1 pint cocoa. Dinner—3 ozs. bread 3 ozs. vegetables 3 £ ozs. cooked meat; 8 ozs. suet pudding. Tea—3 ozs. bread; 1. oz. margarine; 2 ozs. jam 1 pint tea. The man who develops gout on this diet should surely be hailed as the eighth wonder of the world! Why is it that these charges have been so widely spread, with such a unanimity in the London and provincial papers ? It is rumoured that there is a deep-laid scheme on foot to dis- franchise conscientious objectors and that there is to be an attempt to make the punishment of such men much more severe. How much truth these rumours contain the writer does not know, but that something is at the back of these at- tacks there can be no doubt. Anyhow, the best-laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley," and the authorities may still under- stand that they will not undermine the courage and determination of those who in prison, guard- room, and Home Office Camps are standing for peace and righteousness and that regardless of falsehood and calumny the conscientious objector will carry on until the battle is won, and the rights of conscience placed upon an enduring and unassailable foundation. ERNEST E. HUNTER.

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