My information is that this man is not blind, but his eyesight is defective. His proper course was to register in accordance with the requirement of the law, and it would then have been open to him to apply to a hardship tribunal for exemption from fire prevention duties on the ground of defective eyesight. He admitted that he was fully aware of his legal obligations and said he had a conscientious objection to complying with the law—which, as my hon. Friend knows, is designed to secure an equitable distribution of fire prevention duties.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this man was, with 30 others, sent to France in 1916 and sentenced to death, at the same time that the right hon. Gentleman himself was a conscientious objector? Are other men, who are obviously incapable of doing fire-watching, being prosecuted?
With regard to my hon. Friend's kindly personal allusion, I com- plied with the law, and if I had not complied with the law, I should have expected to face the consequences. This matter was carefully considered when the Order was made, and while the Government thought it proper to provide in the law for conscientious objection to military service, we could not see our way to provide for conscientious objection to fire-prevention duties, which are eminently civilian in character.