§ MR. WINTERBOTHAM (Gloucester, Cirencester)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been called to the follow-in case:—Summonses were applied for on June 16, at the Dalston Court, by the Home Secretary of the Shop Hours Regulation League, against certain shopkeepers in Mare Street, Hackney, for having infringed the provisions of the Shop Hours Regulation Act. The applicant pointed out that, from observations he had himself made, certain of the shop-assistants were kept at work 80, 90, and even 100 hours a-week by the persons against whom the summonses were asked for. The magistrate, Mr. Horace Smith, refused to grant the summonses, unless the 1138 young persons thus overworked (and whom it was proposed to subpœna to give evidence) themselves attended and supported the application for the summonses;whether any person has the power to institute prosecutions under the Factory Acts and under the Cruelty to Animals Acts; and, whether he will call the attention of the magistrate to the fact that summonses under the Shop Hours Act have been always granted by the Lambeth, Wandsworth, Marylebone, and other Metropolitan Courts?
§ THE SECRETARY or STATE (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E,)
I have been in communication with the magistrate on this matter. He did not refuse to grant the summonses because the young persons alleged to have been overworked did not attend to support the application; but because the applicant failed to give sufficient evidence. He had not communicated with the persons employed, and was not able to say whether any of them had been employed beyond the lawful time; but merely that certain shops were open at certain hours. Any person can institute prosecutions under the Factory or the Cruelty to Animals Acts. It is within the magistrate's discretion to decide whether or not a summons should be issued on the evidence brought before him; and I must decline to make any official representation to the magistrate on the matter.