‘Masters of their own souls’

Arnold S Rowntree, Quaker and Liberal MP, supported the conscience clause that he and T Edmund Harvey had persuaded Herbert Asquith, the prime minister, to include in the Military Service Act. This is an edited version of his speech in the House of Commons

Arnold S Rowntree. | Photo: Copyright the Library of the Religious Society of Friends.

Severe things are said by some about the conscientious objector. He is often called a slacker. I want to suggest to honourable members that it is not quite fair to speak in these terms… Let me put the difficulty which the conscientious objector feels. May I just say what the Quakers feel.

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