HC Deb 22 March 1819 vol 39 cc1117-8

In the Committee of Supply, Mr. Arbuthnot moved, "That 60,000l. be granted to his majesty, towards defraying the expense of the building of a Penitentiary-house at Millbank, for the year 1819."

Mr. Alderman Wood

expressed his surprise at the expense which this building had cost, and condemned the erection in it of a steam engine.

Mr. Long

replied, that that plan had been adopted which seemed, in all respects, to be the most eligible for the attainment of health, security, separation, and inspection. The object of the steam engine was to grind corn, and raise water for the convicts, they being employed in such a way as would enable them to be useful to themselves and to the public on their liberation.

Mr. Alderman Wood

, while he admitted the propriety of the mode of employment adverted to by the right hon. gentleman, observed, that the water might have been raised, and the corn ground (as he had seen in a prison in Paris), by the labour of a very small portion of the prisoners.

Mr. Bennet

observed, that a prison capable of containing the same number of felons might have been built at one-half the expense, he might almost say one-third. There were carpenters, shoemakers, and other trades at work in the Penitentiary. Indeed, no one could go there without seeing persons hard at work.

Lord Nugent

stated, that a vertical wheel had been constructed in the prison at Aylesbury, for raising water to supply the prison and the town. The height to which the water was raised was 70 feet; eight men were employed at a time, and they were relieved every hour.

Mr. Hume

objected to the voting money for a steam engine. If they were to credit the newspapers, disturbances of a serious nature sometimes took place in the Penitentiary, and in his opinion, pumping water, grinding corn, and other severe labour, would be a proper punishment for the refractory.

Mr. Holford

observed, that the statement of disturbances in the Penitentiary was greatly exaggerated. There would be an end to the plan of separating the prisoners, if they were to be employed in raising water, for that would necessarily bring a number of them together.

Mr. Alderman Wood moved as an amendment, that 40,000l. only be granted. After some farther observations the amendment was withdrawn, and the re-solution granting 60,000l. agreed to.