HC Deb 20 March 1890 vol 342 cc1254-5
MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the following passage in the Charge to the Grand Jury delivered by Mr. Justice Mathew at the Liverpool Assizes on Tuesday last:— From the calendar before me I notice persons charged with small offences who have been sentenced to seven years' penal servitude for stealing a coat. Surely such sentences are barbarous and most cruel, and should be stopped. … The resources of the law, and its processes of imprisonment, seem to me abundant to deal with such cases, and there is no need for inflicting such terrible punishment; whether he is aware that such sentences as the learned Judge condemned are frequently imposed at Quarter Sessions, and whether sentences which seem primâ facie unduly severe will be carefully considered by him, with a view to their mitigation?


I have not seen the Charge in question, and I cannot say whether the learned Judge is accurately reported. I have already stated in this House that I have no facts before me to justify the suggestion that sentences passed at Quarter Sessions are more severe or vary more than sentences passed at the Assizes. I have always considered on its merits any case in which there was reason to think that the sentence was unduly severe.