§ Mr. TOMKINSON
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to a sentence recently passed by Mr. Montagu Sharpe, chairman of the Middlesex Sessions, of 12 months' hard labour and 12 strokes of the lash on John Baynes, aged 65 years, for begging and being an incorrigible rogue; and whether he will, at least, forbid the carrying out of the latter part of the sentence?
§ Mr. MacNEILL
asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that on Saturday last the chairman of the Middlesex sessions sentenced a man named Thomas A. Rayner, aged 65 years, who was then indicted as an incorrigible rogue, having been committed from the Acton Petty Sessions for begging, to imprisonment to 12 months with hard labour and to a flogging of 12 strokes; has the flogging part of this sentence been carried out; if so, what was the instrument with which the flogging was inflicted, and its weight, and by whom was the flogging administered; if the flogging has not been 218 carried out, will the Home Office advise the exercise of the prerogative for its remission; and whether, having regard to the age of the prisoner and the character of the punishment to which he has been sentenced, any, and, if so, what steps have been or will be taken in mitigation of its severity?
Mr. T. F. RICHARDS
also asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the case of Thomas Byrnes, aged 65, who was sentenced at the Middlesex Sessions to 12 months' hard labour and 12 strokes with the birch for begging; and whether, in these circumstances, he can see his way to abolish flogging.
§ Mr. GLADSTONE
No flogging has been inflicted in this case. The period within which the prisoner is entitled to apply to the Court of Criminal Appeal has not yet expired, and until it has done so, I can take no action. The hon. Members may, however, rest assured that, whether the prisoner appeals or not, the sentence, so far as the corporal punishment is concerned, will not be carried out.
§ Mr. W. P. BYLES
Having regard to the age of this offender, and to the fact that he is only a technical "rogue"— that is to say, a beggar—I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the sentence cannot be curtailed?
§ Mr. P. MORRELL
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the desirability of repealing the law which admits of such a sentence?
§ Mr. GLADSTONE
Under the Vagrancy Act I am not prepared to say that the punishment of flogging is undesirable for offences, for instance, of gross indecency; but if sentences such as that to which my attention has been directed become numerous I think that a case for legislation may arise.
§ Mr. SWIFT MacNEILL
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that 20 years ago this month, namely, in 1889, a Bill repealing this Act was carried on the second reading by an enormous majority—196 to 126?
§ Mr. GLADSTONE
Mr. Sharpe has not yet been informed that the sentence of corporal punishment will not be inflicted. No doubt Mr. Montagu Sharpe will read my answer.
§ Mr. LUPTON
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether flogging has the effect of diminishing the crime for which it is inflicted, or whether the reverse is not the case?
§ Mr. S. MacNEILL
Is not the right hon. Gentleman the Minister responsible for the conduct of the magistrates, and has he not the right to call the attention of the Lord Lieutenant to their conduct? Will he, as Home Secretary, represent to the Lord Chancellor the feeling of this House with reference to the enormity of the punishment in this case with the view to the removal from the bench of Mr. Montagu Sharpe?