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Question

Volume 203: debated on Monday 8 August 1870

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said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, If his attention has been drawn to the cases of four Militiamen, by name John Collins, William Osgood, Philip Kearns, and Henry Ives, who were tried on Monday last at the Police Court, Chatham, for being deserters from the Kent Militia Artillery, and in conformity with the Militia Act (1859), 22 & 23 Vict., c. 38, s. 12, were fined forty shillings each and costs, with the option of two calendar months' imprisonment, the case being that the said four prisoners, being artizans, had accepted an engagement on board the Great Eastern Screw Steamer while that vessel was employed in laying a submarine cable, and did not return to England in time to serve with their regiment during the training; and, whether he will, early next Session, propose an Amendment to the Militia Act, giving a discretionary power to magistrates to deal with similar cases according to their merits?

said, in reply, that he did not see anything unusual in the case. The men were absent without leave, and when brought before the justices they were condemned to the smallest possible penalty under the statute.