HC Deb 15 August 1843 vol 71 cc760-2
Lord John Manners

begged to ask the Attorney-General a question on a subject of considerable importance with respect to the recreations of the working-classes. It appeared that some young men were on a Sunday evening recently, after the hours of divine service, about five or six o'clock, amusing themselves playing at cricket on a common, called Burley Common, in the country of Berks, and were taken up, brought before a magistrate, and condemned to pay a penalty which, with the costs, amounted to fifteen shillings each. They asked for time to raise the money, but were told they must go to gaol immediately unless the money was paid forthwith. They were earning only seven or eight shillings a week, and were unable to pay the fines, but some charitable persons advanced the money for * These two names were not in the minority on the first division. Mr. M. Forster voted in that minority. them and they were set at large. The question which he wished to ask his hon. and learned Friend was whether it was illegal for poor people to play at cricket or any other manly game on Sunday after the hours of divine service, and if that were the case, whether it was legal for the rich to have their horses and carriages, and other enjoyments at the same time?

The Attorney-General

said he would answer that part of the question which referred to the state of the law. Certainly at present it was by statute provided that persons should not go out of their own parish for the purpose mentioned. His noble Friend had not stated whether in this instance the parties had been in their own parish or not. If they were in their own parish he apprehended they were not violating the law, but otherwise he believed they came within the meaning of the statute relating to persons assembling out of their own parish for purposes not justified by the law. The rest of the question it was unnecessary for him to answer.