HC Deb 13 March 1913 vol 50 cc414-5

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the case of a man who, having been charged at Guildford Assizes with entering a house, was discharged by Mr. Justice Ridley, who said that where a window was left open so as to allow a person to enter a house without trouble there could be no housebreaking; and whether, if this be the law, he proposes to take any steps to alter it, in order that the campaign against consumption may not in any way be impeded?


My attention has not been previously called to the case. I understand that the learned judge decided that the facts would not justify a conviction for the particular offence of housebreaking. I see no reason for any amendment of the law.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the learned judge, in discharging the prisoner, said that people who leave windows open must take the consequences, and if that is the law, does it not require alteration?


I cannot say the judge's dictum constitutes the law of the land.


In order to allay public anxiety, especially on the part of those people who leave their windows open, can this case be taken to the Court of Criminal Appeal, or can the Law Officers of the Crown be asked for a definite opinion on this very interesting point?


No, the hon. Gentleman will see that the case turns upon the particular offence of housebreaking. A man who enters anyone else's house may be guilty of a crime, although not technically guilty of housebreaking. It only turns on the question of whether this was housebreaking or not.