§ MR. HANDEL COSSHAM(for Mr. WINTERBOTHAM) (Gloucester, Cirencester)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been called to the following case:—Three boys, John Banning, aged 13 years, Clarence Jones, aged 12 years, and Edward Cape well, aged 12 years, were brought before Messrs. W. U. Ashwin and J. Averill, magistrates, sitting in Petty Sessions at Chipping Camden, East Gloucestershire, on the 17th August, charged with stealing two pennyworth of apples; there was no previous charge or conviction against either of the lads; Mr. T. S. Shekell, J.P., the prosecutor, appealed to his brother magistrates to be lenient, but the sentence they passed was 8s. each, fine and costs together 24s., and a birching on the two boys Banning and Capewell, who appeared before them, while Clarence Jones, not appearing to answer the summons, escaped the whipping, and was sentenced instead to merely 1s. additional for contempt of Court; that the flogging on Banning and Capewell was administered by Police Sergeant Meads so unmercifully that they had to be taken to an hotel and kept up by stimulants; that the backs of the boys showed the marks of cruel punishment, their skins cut, and their shirts smeared with blood; and, whether, in view of this double punishment for a trivial offence, he will direct the Bench of Magistrates who ordered it that, in all future cases where corporal punishment 29 is inflicted, a magistrate shall be present, as well as the parents of those so punished?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
I have received a Report from the Justices at Chipping Camden as to the flogging administered to Capewell and Banning. They say that the flogging was administered in the presence of Capewell's brother and four police officers, and that these officers positively deny that the punishment was unmerciful or unduly severe. If there were no previous convictions against the boys I think the double punishment was unnecessary. I have already stated in this House that I have no power to enforce the attendance of any person whose presence is not required by the Act (42 & 43 Vict. c. 49, s. 10). I have already issued a Circular to the Local Authorities with the view of preventing undue severity in the flogging of young boys; and I hope that in future all cause of complaint will be removed.