HC Deb 08 December 1893 vol 19 cc817-8
MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to a protest signed by the Bishop of Liverpool and many other of the leading citizens against the sentence passed by the Recorder of Liverpool on the manager of the infamous Trocadero Club, wherein they deplore the imposition of a mere fine in this case; whether he is aware of the feeling of indignation which has been aroused in Liverpool with regard to the leniency of this sentence; and whether the Government can do anything, by legislation or otherwise, to secure the infliction of more severe sentences for such offences?

MR. HANBURY (Preston)

Before the right hon. Gentleman answers the question, I should like to ask whether it is a fact that this sentence was one of a series of very light punishments for grave offences passed by the same Judge; and whether the Government intend to take any steps to remedy a scandal to the administration of justice generally caused by the disparities in the sentences passed in different Courts for similar offences?


Have not the short sentences passed by the Recorder of Liverpool been attended by a diminution of crime?

MR. REES DAVIES (Pembrokeshire)

At the same time, may I ask whether it is not the case that short sentences have been very strongly recommended by some Judges of the High Court?


The supplementary questions which I am asked refer to a matter of great delicacy and gravity, and they ought, therefore, to be put down on the Paper. With reference to the question on the Paper, my attention has been called to the protest referred to by my hon. Friend, and I gather from its terms and from the number and character of the signatures appended to it that there is a widespread feeling in Liverpool that this sentence was inadequate. I have no jurisdiction to interfere where the only complaint against a sentence is that it is too lenient, and as I have no title to take action in such a case I think it better not to express any opinion of my own upon it. The law, in my opinion, does not need strengthening, and its enforcement must of necessity be left largely to the discretion of those whose duty it is to administer it.


I beg to give notice that I will repeat this question tomorrow.


I should like to further ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that the evidence given against the Trocadero Club was of so abominable a character as to be unfit for publication; whether the manager of the club, a foreigner called Grossi, has been convicted before of similar offences—


Did the hon. Gentleman give notice of this question?


Well, the Home Secretary is quite aware of the facts of the case.