HC Deb 13 September 1886 vol 309 cc165-6
MR. SHIRLEY (Yorkshire, W.R., Doncaster)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been called to another severe sentence awarded by the Dartford magistrates in the case of a cripple named Phillips who, on Saturday September 4th, was awarded a month's hard labour for destroying his clothes; whether he is aware that one of the Dartford magistrates, who is of Her Majesty's counsel, has frequently pro- tested against the severity of his colleagues in dealing with the cases which come before them; and, whether the Government propose to take any steps in the matter?


I have obtained a Report from the Dartford Justices with regard to this case. I am told that the Justices added "hard labour" to the sentence with the intention and belief that the Prison Authorities, acting on the advice of the medical officer, would put the prisoner to such labour only as was compatible with his physical state. I think the medical officer's discretion can well be trusted in such a matter. I am informed by the learned Queen's Counsel referred to that it is not the case that he has frequently protested against the severity of his colleagues, though he has had occasion to differ from them on questions of costs and points of law. The question of reconstituting the Bench rests with the Lord Chancellor; but I am aware of no reason for calling his attention to the matter.