HC Deb 31 July 1894 vol 27 cc1398-9
MR. POWELL WILLIAMS (Birmingham, S.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the case of Elizabeth Saunders, convicted on the 23rd instant at Westminster Police Court of cruelty to three children, and sentenced by Mr. de Rutzen to a term of three months' imprisonment for each offence, or nine months in all; whether he is aware that Provincial Justices, sitting in Petty Sessions, are advised by the Magistrates' clerks that under the Summary Jurisdiction Acts they cannot sentence any prisoner to a punishment exceeding a term of six months with hard labour, except in cases of failure to find security for good behaviour at the end of that term; and whether the London Police Magistrates have larger powers of punishment than Provincial Magistrates sitting in Petty Sessions possess; or whether it is to be understood that Courts of Summary Jurisdiction both in the Metropolis and in the Provinces have powers to inflict cumulative sentences which may extend beyond six months' hard labour?


I am advised by the Chief Magistrate that the only restriction in any statute to the passing by Justices of consecutive sentences is contained in the 18th section of the Summary Jurisdiction Act, 1879, which only restricts the power in respect of several assaults committed on the same occasion. The London Police Magistrates have no larger powers than Provincial Magistrates, and the sentence passed on Elizabeth Saunders was perfectly legal, and might have been properly passed by Provincial Magistrates sitting in Petty Sessions.


Then if there had been six children instead of three the Magistrate would have had power to inflict 18 months' imprisonment? Is that a proper power for him to possess? I will call attention to this matter on the Estimates.