HC Deb 03 May 1898 vol 57 cc162-3
MR. DAVITT (Mayo, S.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that a member of the Social Democratic Federation, named Thomas Partridge, has been sentenced to imprisonment for addressing a meeting at Oxford; that similar meetings have been held at the same place in Oxford by members of this body for a considerable time without any interference on the part of the local authorities; and that the disturbance on the occasion which led to Partridge's prosecution was mainly due to the opposition of a dissenting body of youths; whether he is aware that Partridge has been sentenced to a month's imprisonment as a result of this disorder arising out of the opposition to the meeting which he addressed; and that other meetings have been tolerated by the local police in the same place; and whether the Home Secretary will take into consideration the case of Mr. Partridge, and consider the expediency of his release?

MR. W. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that at the City Court of Oxford, on 22nd April last, T. Partridge was summoned for obstruction and fined the maximum, 40s. and costs 16s. 6d.; and that the accused elected to go to gaol for one calendar month, with hard labour; whether he will inquire whether the evidence showed that any obstruction was intended or took place; and whether he will consider the remission of the sentence?


I had already made inquiry into this case. The prisoner was convicted under the Highway Act, after a long and careful hearing, and was sentenced to pay the maximum fine of 40s., with costs, or in default a month's imprisonment. He elected to go to prison. It is the case that meetings have been previously held at the same place by this body, but, as I am informed, the annoyance and obstruction caused by them had grown to such an extent that the Watch Committee were compelled to take action. It was open to the prisoner to appeal, and if he was dissatisfied with his conviction or sentence, that would have been the right course for him to take. Whatever opinion I might form of the sentence passed, I do not see my way, in view of this right of appeal, and on a general consideration of the circumstances, to recommend any interference.