HC Deb 11 June 1891 vol 354 cc153-4
MR. PICTON (Leicester)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the charge laid against Mr. John Burns, at Bow Street Police Court, on the 8th instant, and to the refusal of the learned Magistrate to entertain it, on the ground that the omnibus driver and conductor, whom Mr. Burns was said to have obstructed, were not legally employed, and that the existence of a strike was not such an emergency as to justify exemption from the ordinary regulations as to licences and badges; and if he can explain how it happened that this driver and conductor were, under these circumstances, protected by the police, and why they interfered to prevent Mr. Burns from demanding to see the badges?


I am informed by the learned Magistrate that in his opinion, as the driver and conductor were not licensed, and therefore were not lawfully employed as such, there was no such relation between them and the company as to render the conduct of Mr. Burns a statutory molestation within the meaning of the 34 and 35 Vic, c. 32. He was further of opinion that the assault complained of, Mr. Burns having mounted the omnibus and put his hands on the shoulders of the driver, was of a technical and trivial character, and did not require him to issue a summons for that act. The learned Magistrate observes that it was urged that the employment of these unlicensed persons was caused by "unavoidable necessity," and was made lawful for 24 hours by the proviso to Section 10 of 6 and 7 Vic, c. 86. He states that he has always understood those words to mean a "necessity" arising from sudden illness or from accident happening to the driver or conductor during his employment. The police did not prevent Mr. Burns from demanding to see the badges. He did make that demand, and was told that the men were not licensed. Even non-licensed persons are entitled to be protected against assault.