HC Deb 25 April 1879 vol 245 cc1101-2

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been called to a report of a case tried on Wednesday at the Chester Police Court and published in Thursday's daily papers, in the following terms:— Thomas Moran, labourer, was summoned for neglecting to contribute towards the support of his children in the workhouse. The relieving officer said the defendant's children—six in number—were admitted in September, Moran at the same time agreeing to pay 10s. weekly towards the cost of their maintenance. Up to the present time he had only paid 14s. His wife was in an asylum. Moran said, about a fortnight after the children entered the workhouse, he was laid up ten weeks through an accident. When he got better the frost set in, and he could obtain no work for thirteen weeks. Through his long illness he got into debt; but he had paid the guardians as much as he could. An entry in the police book showed that Moran was carried to the infirmary on a stretcher in September. Notwithstanding this, the magistrates sentenced the defendant to a month's hard labour. The defendant burst out crying, exclaiming 'For God's sake, gentlemen, give me a chance! I was never in prison; if you send me, I'll lose my work; if you give me time I'll pay all.' He was, however, removed below, still appealing bitterly for mercy; and, whether the report is substantially accurate; and, if so, whether taking into consideration the facts of the case, he will advise a remission of the sentence?


in reply, said, that he had made inquiries, but did not expect to receive any answer to them until to-morrow morning. He would trust, in the meantime, that the case had been exaggerated by the newspapers. If it were correct, he thought the case was one which demanded serious consideration; and he hoped the House felt that it could be left with safety in his hands.


wished to say that he had received intelligence from the Precentor of Chester Cathedral that subscriptions had been collected to defray the amount owed by Moran, and that he had been asked to apply to the Home Secretary for the release of the imprisoned man.


said, he really must appeal to the House whether anything more should have been said after the reply which he had given. He did not think the question should be brought forward now for decision. He intended to deal with the matter to the best of his ability, if the House would allow him, and he hoped he was fit to do so. If he should deal wrongly with it, the House would be able to call him to account.