HC Deb 23 July 1908 vol 193 cc339-40

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that a deputation of thirteen women proposing to visit the Prime Minister last March were arrested outside the Caxton Hall and sentenced to six weeks imprisonment, whereas on a more recent occasion a similar deputation with the same object were given a police escort to the Houses of Parliament, and what is the reason of the different treatment of the two deputations; whether the women agitating for votes for women arrested on 30th June were prosecuted before Mr. Francis under Section 2 of The Prevention of Crimes Amendment Act, 1885, the maximum penalty on conviction under which Act is a fine of £5, or imprisonment for two months in default; and will he say under what Act proceedings were taken against those persons who were imprisoned for three months in default of finding sureties.


The deputation of last February headed a procession from Caxton Hall to the Houses of Parliament, which was illegal and could not be permitted, and as they would not desist, the procession was broken up and arrests were made. On the second occasion there was no procession. All those present in Caxton Hall were asked to remain quietly, and the deputation proceeded alone, and were assisted in their progress by the police. The ladies who were arrested on the 30th June were charged under the statute mentioned by the hon. Member, but the learned magistrate, in his discretion, dealt with the defendants under the general powers vested in him by law in virtue of his commission, and required them to find sureties to be of good behaviour. I see no reason to doubt that the action taken was warranted by law, and was justified by the circumstances with which the magistrate had to deal.