HC Deb 30 April 1888 vol 325 cc879-80
MR. COBB (Warwick, S.E., Rugby)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether he will inquire into the case of an agricultural labourer, named James Southam, aged 23, who was, on the 16th of April, charged by his employer, Henry Horton, a farmer, before the Cirencester Bench of Magistrates, with absenting himself from his work for one day, and was fined 5s.; whether his attention has been called to the evidence in this case, which showed that Southam's wages were only 8s. a-week, and that he had not had a day's holiday for 18 months; whether he is aware that, in addition to the fine of 5s., his employer deducted 2s. 8d. from his wages for the time he was absent and for the time which was taken up in hearing the summons, making altogether only 4d. short of one week's wages; whether the employer stated that his object in taking proceedings was to show Southam that he could not go away without leave; and the Chairman of the Bench (Colonel Chester-Master) said that he might thank his master for letting him off so easily; and, whether he will make any recommendation to the magistrates as to the case?


I have received a Report from the Justices of Cirencester as to this case, from which I learn that the defendant's work was to attend to the dairy and cattle, and owing to his absence for two days his master had to employ other persons. The defendant made no defence. He was not fined at all; but the magistrates assessed the damages at 2s., and gave judgment for that sum with 3s. costs. I have no information as to the amount of this man's weekly wages, nor what, if any, deduction was made from them. The facts are as stated in the fourth paragraph. No proceedings have been taken to enforce payment of the magistrates' order; and I see no reason to interfere with their action in the matter.