§ 16. Mr. HALL-CAINE
asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the arrest on Boxing Day of Sidney Alfred Baker, an Ilford baker's roundsman, for non-payment of rates amounting to £3 15s., and his detention in the holiday week, although his two young children were dying, and in fact did die during his detention; whether warrants for arrest are executed on public holidays; and whether he proposes to investigate the facts of the case to stop in future any similar hardship to private citizens?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I have already made inquiries into this case. I am informed that the commitment warrant was received by the police on the 23rd November, and the police officer charged with its execution visited Mr. Baker's address on more than 10 occasions during the following month, but was unable to see him. The purpose of the visit was explained to Mrs. Baker soon after the receipt of the warrant, but no communication from Mr. Baker was received by the police, and it was not until the 26th December that the officer succeeded in finding him at home. The officer bad no knowledge that the children were ill, and I am assured that if these circumstances had been brought to his notice he would have taken further instructions before executing the warrant. In view of the difficulties sometimes experienced in tracing persons who may seek to evade arrest, it would be impracticable to lay down any general rule against executing such warrants on public holidays; but I am satisfied that the police do their best to avoid inflicting undue hardship in cases of this kind.
§ Mr. HALL-CAINE
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider amending the law with regard to the imprisonment of these small debtors?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
As the House knows, a Parliamentary Committee is sitting to consider the whole of this problem.