Repeal the Act Source Guide

These prompt questions are intended as a starting point for studying the sources in this pack. The general question list is included in the main body of the task. The general questions will cover the study and comprehension of these sources, while the prompt questions are designed to encourage students to develop their interpretation and critical thinking abilities.

Source 1: Hansard Reports
The COs Hansard was a leaflet collecting everything that had been said about COs in Parliament the week before. This extract shows a discussion on whether or not it would be legal to campaign to repeal the Military Service Act.

Prompt Questions:
What does Herbert Samuel say in these extracts?
Does either extract contain a promise that campaigning to “Repeal the Act” would be legal?
What does the source say is, and is not, allowed?
Is it illegal to disagree with a law?

Source 2: Repeal the Act
This source is the “Repeal the Act” leaflet as it was at the time of the arrests in 1916.

Prompt Questions:
The leaflet is aimed at both religious and political Anti-War activists. How can you tell?
Is there anything obviously illegal about the leaflet?
Do you think it is effective?

How do you think you would feel if you read this leaflet as
A Soldier?
Someone about to be Conscripted?
A Politician who was pro-war?
Someone who was Anti-War?

Source 3: Mansion House Arrest record
This source shows the entry in the Mansion house courtroom for the writers of Repeal the Act. Everyone arrested and brought before this court has their own entry.

Prompt Questions:
What crime does the source say the NCF men committed?
What was the verdict and punishment they received?
Does the source tell you anything else about the men?

Source 4: DORA
This source is an extract from some of the Defence of the Realm Act legislation. It contains the regulation (Number 27) that the writers of Repeal the Act were arrested under.

Prompt Questions:
What does “prejudice the recruiting” of the Army mean?
Is the source clear on what kinds of activity break the law?
Do you think Repeal the Act broke this law?
What other kinds of action would have broken Regulation 27 in this source?

Source 5: The Tribunal
The Tribunal was a newspaper published by the NCF. This source is an extract from it written by the Chairman of the NCF, Clifford Allen. It explains the NCF view of their arrest and what it meant for law in Britain.

Prompt Questions:
Why did Clifford Allen see the arrests as dangerous for Britain?
What did he say the result of the arrests would be?
How do you think Clifford felt about the arrests?
Do you think this article broke the same law as “Repeal the Act”? Explain why.
This article did not lead to any arrests - why do you think that was?

Source 6: The Prosecution
This source is an extract from The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer on the trial of the NCF members who wrote Repeal the Act. This source shows the argument from the Government perspective.

Prompt Questions:
What are the key arguments the prosecution makes?
What do they rely on?
Is there any way to prove the prosecution’s arguments?
Do you think the prosecution is being fair?

Source 7: The Reply
This source contains the defence in the case of “Rex Vs Bertrand Russell”, a similar case where Russell, a philosopher and anti-war campaigner, was arrested after writing a similar leaflet to Repeal the Act. It contains the same argument as the NCF used to defend “Repeal the Act”.

Prompt Questions:
What is the main defence against censorship used in this source?
Look back at source one - did Herbert Samuel’s promise help during this trial?
The source argues that you shouldn’t censor the truth - do you agree?

Source 8: The Newspapers
This source is a collection of newspaper articles about the Repeal the Act trial.

Prompt Questions:
What is strange about these extracts? Why might they be this way?
Why do you think the extracts only very short?
Where do each of the extracts come from?
Do you think “Repeal the Act” would have been in the newspapers without the writers’ arrests?
Imagine you were reading this paper - would an article like this make you want to know more about the leaflet?