HC Deb 26 February 1827 vol 16 cc679-80

The House having gone into a committee on this bill,

Mr. Hume

proposed, as a clause to be added to the bill, that it should be unlawful to inflict corporal punishment, by stripes or lashes, upon any soldier or noncommissioned officer.

Sir J. Sebright

opposed the clause, convinced, as he was, that the power to inflict corporal punishment ought not to be discontinued in the army.

Mr. Hobhouse

supported the clause.

Lord Barnard

was averse to the infliction of corporal punishments; but, from an experience of eleven years in the army, he felt bound to declare, that, in his opinion, it would be unsafe to try the experiment suggested.

Mr. Bernal

wished a committee to be appointed, for the purpose of inquiring into the practicability of dispensing with the infliction of corporal punishment in the army.

Sir H. Vivian

trusted, if a committee were appointed, that it would be a committee of practical men, and expressed his opinion of the necessity of corporal punishment to maintain a proper degree of discipline among our troops.

Mr. R. Gordon

said, that these punishments were admitted by their advocates to be evils, though they contended that they were necessary evils. He should be glad to see the necessity removed, and some better system substituted for the present defective one.

Mr. R. Martin

denied that the infliction of flogging in the army was not a revolting cruelty.

Lord Palmerston

defended the system of corporal punishment in the army, and contended that, from the classes from amongst which the British army was composed, it was impossible to preserve discipline but by some coercive measures. He denied that any abuses of the power could be proved.

General Duff

said, that it was as easy to chain the north wind as to manage British soldiers without the aid of corporal punishment. It was no degradation. He had known men die at the head of their regiments, who had at one time been subjected to the punishment of flogging.

Mr. G. Lamb

declared himself a convert to the opinion of the hon. member for Aberdeen, not from the arguments used on his side of the House, but from those urged by the gallant officers who opposed the abolition of flogging. Nobody could persuade him, that the tying a man up to the halberds, and flogging him in the presence of his fellows, was not a degradation.

Colonel Wood

contended, that this punishment was indispensable in the militia.

Mr. W. Smith

said, that as he had used his best endeavours to save criminals from this degrading punishment, he could never give his consent to have it inflicted on British soldiers.

The committee divided: for the clause 16; against it 57: majority 41.