§ MR. HERBERT GARDNER (Essex, Saffron Walden)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention had been called to the case of a man named Joseph Clarke, who was lately sent to prison, with 14 days' hard labour, by the Bench of Magistrates at Newark Divisional Petty Sessions, for carrying a gun without a licence; whether Clarke's offence consisted in firing a gun loaded only with powder for the purpose of scaring birds off his employer's crops; and whether Clarke was subsequently released after three days' imprisonment, and by whose authority and for what reasons was his sentence remitted?
§ *MR. MATTHEWS,) Birmingham, E.
I am informed by the Justices that this man was convicted of the offence named and was sentenced to pay a fine, and in default of payment to 14 days' imprisonment without hard labour. I am informed by the Justices that the man pleaded guilty, but before passing sentence the Chairman inquired whether there was any excuse for him on the ground of his having used the gun for scaring birds, and was answered in the negative. On the facts being reported to the Board of Inland Revenue, they ascertained that the gun was loaded and used in the manner stated in the question, and that the employer was under the erroneous impression that he could authorize Clarke to use the gun in this manner without taking out a licence. The Board thereupon made an order for Clarke's release forthwith, after he had been in prison for three days.