§ MR. COBB (Warwick, S.E., Rugby)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make inquiries as to the case of Jane Law, the wife of an agricultural labourer, who was, on the 29th of May, sentenced by the Saffron Walden Bench to a fine and costs, amounting in the whole to £12 9s., or in default to three months' hard labour, for having in her possession 94 partridges' eggs which it was alleged that she had obtained unlawfully; and whether, in this case, he will take steps to mitigate the severity of the sentence?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. ASQUITH, Fife, E.)
Upon the evidence the Justices came to the conclusion that the eggs were collected and stolen for the purpose of being sent to market and sold. The trade carried on in this way leads 407 to widespread dishonesty and pilfering among the men and boys employed on the land, and I cannot say that I think the pecuniary penalty, under the circumstances, so much in excess of the merits as to necessitate my interference. Fourteen days was given to the defendant to pay, and the alternative period of imprisonment is stated to me by the clerk to be two and not three months. I think one month would be sufficient.