HC Deb 17 April 1891 vol 352 cc788-9

I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether his attention has been called to the case of two men who were tried in the Sheriff Criminal Court, Glasgow, on the 30th of March, and found guilty of criminal conspiracy, on the ground that the accused, being members of a Trades Union, called out, or said they would call out, their fellow-members unless a non-unionist fellow-workman was dismissed; whether his attention has been called to the comments of the learned Sheriff on the novelty of the charge, and his statement that its legality had been ascertained by the trial; and also to the ruling that the exemption from the Common Law of Conspiracy contained in"The Conspiracy and Protection to Property Act, 1875," does not extend to trade disputes between workmen; and whether, having regard to the great importance of the issues involved, he will consent to lay upon the Table an authentic Report of the proceedings, including the Sheriff's charge to the jury?


These men were convicted by a jury on a Common Law charge of conspiracy to deprive a man of the means of earning his livelihood as a dock labourer by making threats to his employers that if he was retained in their employment the accused would withdraw from their employment all members of the Trade Union. The man who was thus persecuted was a member of the Union, who had a difference with some of the office bearers, and declined to pay some fines which they had imposed. The accused followed him about wherever he got employment and compassed his dismissal in each place. The statements in the second paragraph of the hon. and learned Member's question are inaccurate. The learned Sheriff, I believe, remarked that the case was, he was glad to say, unusual in Scotland, and that all concerned would be made aware through the trial of the illegality of such proceedings. He also directed the jury that there was no evidence that the illegal acts were done in furtherance of a trade dispute between employers and workmen, and that, therefore, the exemption in the 3rd section of the Act of 1875 did not apply. There is no official record of the learned Sheriff's Charge, and the official record of the proceedings is merely in the usual form. I do not propose to lay any Papers on the Table.

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