HC Deb 24 June 1863 vol 171 cc1397-8

Order for Second Reading read.


said, that the object of this Bill was to ameliorate the law which adjudged it to be felony for a servant to take his master's corn for the purpose of feeding his master's horses. The Judges of Assize felt great repugnance to sentencing servants under the present law, and juries not unfrequently found them not guilty in the face of the clearest evidence. He proposed to reduce the character of the offence, so that it might cease to be a felony, and might be summarily dealt with by two magistrates in petty sessions. Offenders were to be imprisoned, either with or without hard labour, for any term not exceeding three months, or to be subject to a penalty not exceeding £5. Believing that the certainty of punishment would deter farm servants from the commission of this offence, while it would save their masters the expense and inconvenience of prosecuting at sessions and assizes, he moved the second reading of the Bill.


said, he had no objection to offer to the second reading. It would be necessary, however, to take care that the first clause should not apply to the case of servants who might take their masters' corn for the purpose of selling it.