HC Deb 12 March 1875 vol 222 c1694

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, If his attention has been called to a decision alleged to have been given at St. Martin's, Stamford, Petty Sessions, by which a number of indigent women were sentenced to a fine of 30s. each, with the alternative of a month's imprisonment, with hard labour, for gathering sticks in Cliffe Forest, the damage amounting to 6d.; and, if he has seen cause for interference to prevent the carrying out of the Sentance?


, in reply, said, that his attention had been called to the matter by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Rodwell), and upon making inquiries he found that nine women, some of them old offenders, were not taken up for gathering sticks, but practically for breaking down the underwood and selling it. He considered that the justices were quite right in the principle of their decision, for it was quite necessary to put a stop to such a practice; but, at the same time, in his opinion, the punishment inflicted was decidedly too severe, and therefore he had ordered the greater portion of the penalty to be remitted, and the persons to be discharged from custody.