§ MR. TOMKINSON (Cheshire, Crewe)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether his attention has been called to the fact that at the Manchester City Police Court on the 22nd April last, 135 men of all ages were charged with the offence of sleeping out at a brick croft near Moston, when about 125 of them were sent to gaol for seven days, notwithstanding that some of them stated they had work to go to if they were allowed to depart, while one or two who had means upon them were discharged;. and whether he will consider the advisability of proposing some change in the law to avoid the recurrence of similar action in the case of destitute persons.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. AKERS-DOUGLAS,) Kent, St. Augustine's
I have made inquiry from the magistrates, who dealt with these cases. They inform l me that the evidence against each defendant was duly considered, and due weight, given to their statements as to previous, and prospective employment. In their opinion, however, the defendants who. were convicted belonged to the class of: persons against whom the Vagrant Act is 1341 directed. The magistrates add that on further consideration of the circumstances, and with full knowledge of the character of the defendants, they are still of opinion that the defendants did not come within the category of working men, but were tramps and beggars who did not desire work. Considerable damage had been done at the brickfield where the men were arrested. I am not prepared to propose any change in the existing law.