§ MR. SEARS (Cheltenhan)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, considering that the petition in the Leckhampton Hill case has been in his hands for eighteen days, and the evidence for over three weeks, that the men, one of whom took no part in the riot, have already suffered four weeks imprisonment, and are condemned to four and six months hard labour, whether he can give his decision thereon, or will he do so before the House rises for the Recess, or when will the decision lie made known, and will he say what is the cause for the delay which is taking place; is he aware that it is intended to test the question of the public right to this Hill in a higher court.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. GLADSTONE,) Leeds, W.
There has been no avoidable delay in dealing with this petition. The case is an important one presenting many features of difficulty, and it has involved correspondence with the learned Judge and the police, besides the examination of voluminous documents. I am now, however, in a position to make the statement my hon. friend desires. While I agree with the learned Judge in regarding the offence or offences of most of the prisoners as serious, and in considering that substantial punishment was required to safeguard the proper observance of the law, on a full review of all the circumstances I am of opinion that the requirements of the case will be met by less severe sentences than those which were given. I have therefore advised His Majesty that Barrett should be released on this day week, when he will have served six weeks in prison, and that the other men should be released as follows:—Sparrow after two months imprisonment, Williams, Young, Luce, and Wallace after three months, and Ballinger and Heaven after four months.