§ MR. BRADLAUGH(for Mr. LABOUCHERE) (Northampton)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether he is aware that four boys, aged respectively 12, 10, 10, and 8 years, pleaded guilty to a charge of larceny at the Hereford Quarter Sessions, and were sentenced by the Recorder to be imprisoned for 10 days, with hard labour, then to be whipped, and then to be confined in a 169 reformatory for five years, two of them having already been in prison for 28 days previous to the Quarter Sessions; and, whether, in view of the fact that the prosecutors have signed a Petition for a mitigation of this sentence, stating that the offences were, in reality, trivial, and that the members of the Grand Jury have also signed a like Petition, stating that they would not have found a true bill had they known that such a severe sentence would have been passed, and that not one of the boys has ever been charged with any previous offence, he can see his way, now that they have served their term of imprisonment and been whipped, to remit the remainder of their sentence?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
Yes, Sir; the facts are as stated, except that the offence cannot be deemed trivial, being nothing less than an artfully contrived robbery effected by breaking into a shop and stealing from the till. Two of the prisoners had also been previously fined for small offences. I have, however, ordered the discharge of one of the boys (Morgan), he being, in my opinion, on account of his tender years, an unfit subject for a reformatory. I have ordered that the cases of the other three boys shall be brought up for my consideration in July next.