HC Deb 05 July 1880 vol 253 cc1631-3

I rise to a point of Order. I gave Notice of a Question publicly in my place in the House the other night, and I find that in the form in which it appears upon the Paper there is an omission in it. If what is omitted was irregular, I bow at once to the decision of the Chair; but I wish, Sir, to know if the omission has been made by your authority, or by the Clerk at the Table? If it has been done by the Clerk at the Table I think it is wrong, because no hon. Member ought to be at the mercy of the Clerks at the Table, and to have their Question altered without notice to the hon. Member. When I gave Notice of the Question the name of a right hon. Gentleman was upon it, and I want to know whether it is competent or not for an hon. Member to include in a Notice of a Question the name of an individual Member? I may point out that in the Votes for to-night the name of Mr. Fitzwilliam Dick is inserted in Question No. 10, and in No. 14 the names of Mr. Justice Denman and Mr. Justice Lopes are included. I wish to ask you, Sir, if it is competent for an hon. Member in this House to insert in a Question the name of any Member of this House or of any individual outside this House, or whether the omission in this instance was done by your authority, or only on the authority of one of the Clerks at the Table?


The alteration referred to in the Question has been made by the Clerk at the Table under my general authority, according to the uniform practice of the House when the names of individuals are introduced into Questions. Those names do not appear upon the Paper, unless they are necessary to make the Question plain. That has been the practice hitherto pursued. No doubt, in this case, the name was omitted because it was thought unnecessary. The introduction of a name appeared to be of an invidious character, and, on that ground, the correction was made.


after that explanation, begged to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, If his attention has been called to a conviction by the Flintshire Magistrates, at the Mold Petty Sessions on Monday last, of three men named Richard Williams, Joseph Taylor, and Robert Pierce, residing in the parish of Hawarden, for poaching in Hawarden Park; and to the evidence given by three keepers, Herbert Hirst, Henry Hirst, and Joseph Fennah, which showed that the only game found in the possession of the prisoners was 10 rabbits; and, if he considers the penalty of two months' imprisonment with hard labour excessive; and, if so, whether he will take steps to mitigate the sentence?


My attention has been called to this case by the Question of the hon. Member. I had not heard of it before. I presume the hon. Member was not aware that this was a case of night poaching, accompanied with violence, or, no doubt, he would have stated it in his Question. The three prisoners were taken after 1 o'clock in the morning. They resisted, and struck the keepers on the head. They were all old offenders, and had been previously convicted. The first man, Richard Williams, was convicted in 1873, under the Poaching Prevention Act, and fined 20s.; in 1874 he was sentenced to one month's imprisonment for rescuing a Militiaman at Mold; and in the same year he received 14 days' imprisonment for larceny. Again, in 1877, he was convicted under the Poaching Prevention Act, and fined 20s.,and 10s. for assaulting the police; in 1878 he had three months' hard labour for night poaching. Joseph Taylor was convicted in 1877, under the Poaching Prevention Act, and fined 20s. for that offence, and 20s. for assaulting the police. In 1878 he was again convicted several times for poaching. That is the history of Joseph Taylor; but as to Robert Pierce, he was convicted in 1877, and fined 40s. for poaching, there being several previous convictions for poaching against him; and, in addition, he has received a sentence of three months' imprisonment for felony. The magistrates say that they had some doubt whether it was not their duty to have dealt with the prisoners more severely, as their characters were so bad; but, as the conviction was under a different Act, they preferred to deal with the case as a first offence, and to inflict the mitigated penalty, which is, for a first offence, three months' hard labour; for a second, six months' hard labour; and for night poaching, with violence, which was the case here, two years' hard labour. I need hardly say that, under these circumstances, I have no intention of interfering with the judgment of the magistrates.