HC Deb 06 May 1887 vol 314 cc1115-7
MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been called to the circumstances attending the recent execution of a distress warrant on Edward Johnson, of Kettering, for non-payment of a fine under the Vaccination Acts; whether it is a fact, as reported, that the police in carrying out the distress removed a harmonium for which £8 had been paid, and which was valued at £5; whether, in reply to a question from Mrs. Johnson, the police stated that they were taking the harmonium to the police station; and, in reply to a question from Mrs. Johnson as to when and where the harmonium would be sold, the Inspector replied— I don't know when nor where, nor can I tell you any more about it. Here is the receipt for it; that is enough for you; whether the Inspector, after placing the harmonium in the conveyance he brought with him, at once drove away with it to an auction sale at Crasford, four miles off, where the harmonium was immediately sold for the sum of £2; whether the action of the police, in thus removing an article seized under a distress warrant, and refusing information as to time and place of sale, was within their powers under the existing law; and, whether, under these circumstances, he will make some representation to the Local Bench of Magistrates to prevent any similar occurrences?


(who replied) said: I have received a Report from the Chief Constable as to the circumstances of this distress. Johnson was unable to inform the police what he had paid for the harmonium, but said that he valued it at £4 or £5, and requested the police to take the harmonium rather than any other chattels. The Inspector did tell Mrs. Johnson that he could not inform her where the harmonium would be sold. He took it to the police-station, and from thence, in consequence of some excitement among the neighbours which led him to fear a disturbance, he took it to an auction sale at Crasford, where it was sold for £2. Assuming that the distress was otherwise regular—and I am assured that it was—I am not aware that the law requires the police to give information as to the time and place of sale. I will cause inquiry to be made of the magistrates to ascertain whether the statutory period of five days intervened between the making of the distress and the removal of the harmonium.