§ MR. J. WARD
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to a case tried at Halesowen police court on 27th November last, in which a man was charged with flogging and ill-treating a little girl named Emma Turner, who was under his care; whether he is aware that the evidence showed a long list of extremely cruel acts committed on a defenceless infant; and whether, in view of the fine of £4 inflicted by the magistrate, he proposes to take any action to enable more severe penalties to be inflicted in such cases.
§ *MR. GLADSTONE
My attention having been called to this case by the hon. Member's Question, I have obtained a copy of the notes of evidence, and I find that the child was subjected to what seems to me cruel and excessive punishment; but the justices inform me that in inflicting only a fine of £4 on the defendant they took into consideration the fact that the child whom he had taken into his family out of kindness, had committed repeated acts of dishonesty, that the defendant held a good character, and had a wife and family dependent upon his weekly earnings, who would 134 have no means of support if he had been committed to prison. The maximum penalty for the offence is six months imprisonment or a fine of £25; but, subject to that maximum, it is for the justices to determine in their discretion what penalty should be inflicted in each individual case, having regard to the circumstances. I have no power to interfere in the direction of increasing penalties with the discretion of the justices.