§ MR. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM (Lanark, N.W.)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, If his attention has been directed to the sentence of a month's hard labour inflicted by Mr. Partridge on two girls called Macdonald for sleeping on a doorstep in Westminster; and, what steps the Government propose to take in the matter?
§ MR. F. W. MACLEAN (Oxford, Woodstock)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether it is the fact that on Thursday last two young women, named respectively Clara and Annie Macdonold, described as governesses, and charged with sleeping in the open air, and having no visible means of subsistence, were sentenced on that charge by Mr. Partridge, the sitting magistrate at Westminster, to one month's hard labour; and, whether there are any, and, if so, what circumstances in the case not disclosed in the reports justifying the sentence; and, if there be no such circumstances, whether 1473 he is prepared to materially mitigate the sentence?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
I will answer this Question and that of the hon. Member for the Woodstock Division of Oxfordshire at the same time. I have received a Report from the magistrate on the case, from which it appears that these women had been several times convicted, both for breaking windows and under the Vagrant Act. The magistrate suggested that they should go to the workhouse. Both prisoners declined to avail themselves of this suggestion; and, under these circumstances, the magistrate thought it best, in the interests of the young women themselves, to give them a sentence sufficiently long to enable the chaplain of the gaol to use his influence upon them, and, if possible, get them into a suitable home. Should it be found possible to do this, I am prepared to advise the remission of the sentence.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
Does the right hon. Gentleman approve of the sentence of hard labour?
§ MR. MATTHEWS
It is really no part of my duty to express an opinion on the discretion exercised by the magistrate. I will only add that under two previous convictions—I am now speaking from memory—their sentences included hard labour.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
With a view of giving them more time to listen to the ministrations of the chaplain, will not the right hon. Gentleman order the hard labour to be remitted?