Women’s Labour Party Rally – M.P. Answers Questions

April 1940

Mexborough & Swinton Times, April 06, 1940

Dismissal of C.O.

Question at Conisborough Labour Rally

Don Valley M.P. on Pensions Act

The recent action of the Conisborough Urban District Council in dismissing a temporary member of their Finance Department staff who had been registered as a conscientious objector, was the subject of a question to Mr. Tom Williams, M.P. for the Don Valley, who was the principal speaker at the annual rally of the women´s section of the Conisborough Labour Party at the Welfare Pavilion, Conisborough, on Saturday.

The questioner, a prominent member of the local Labour Party, told Mr. Williams that he had referred in his address to the fact that the British people had not lost any of their liberties as a result of the war. The questioner, quoted the action of the Urban Council and asked Mr. Williams if he would bring the matter to the notice of the authorities.

Mr. Williams replied that he could only express his own personal view. If a local council, or any body of workers took up a stand which they felt entitled to take they were perfectly justified in doing so. He deprecated it in this case. If a person had the courage and the sincerity to win his way to the Register through the judge and other members of the Tribunal he thought that person was entitled to enjoy the freedom from combatant service granted to him.

Coun.D.Sheldon, who presided over the rally, expressed regret at the small attendance and explained the reasons. They had present, however, he said the real backbone of the Labour Party in Conisborough, those people who had not only built the party but maintained its growth.

Mr. Williams, who mentioned that in the past nine or ten years he had only missed one of their annual gatherings, and that miss had been unavoidable, declared that if ever the Labour Party had been right throughout their very short history he was sure they were right when they retained their separate identity when hostilities began. The Party had proved beyond peradventure that whatever might be done in Germany, Italy, or Russia, where dictatorships existed, “this old-fashioned democracy” in this country could work, and work speedily.

Mr. Williams quoted two examples, one from Conisborough and the other from Dunscroft, of how bereaved soldiers, one in the Middle East and the other with the British Expeditionary Force, had been quickly informed of the news through his intervention with the Government department, and of how within two days the second soldier had left France and was back home in time for the funeral.

Mr Williams proceeded to give details of various concessions obtained for the people since the outbreak of war through Labour Party pressure on the Government, and mentioned that in the field of legislation, they had secured an improvement in the old age pensions although it was not the pension´s scheme they themselves had sought to obtain. He was terrified when the Bill first came out that the men at the Denaby and Cadeby and Rossington collieries where they had pensions schemes would not get a penny out of the scheme, but the Labour Party had a series of amendments to the Bill and they discussed it for eight days. The men and women in their own district who were made up from the colliery scheme to 30s. a week would be able tog get a further 7s. 6d. a week.

There were people in the country who said they should strive for peace, and he was one of them, but who would suggest, he asked, that they should negotiate with Hitler, after what he had done in Austria, Czecho-Slovakia, Mernel and Poland.

Thanks were expressed by Coun. Sheldon, and a number of questions were answered by Mr. Williams. Subsequently social evening was held, and there was a satisfactory attendance composed principally of young people.

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