HC Deb 14 March 1834 vol 22 cc220-1

On the Order of the Day for receiving the Report of the Mutiny Bill being read,

Sir Edward Knatchbull

wished to take that opportunity to put a question to the right hon. gentleman, the Secretary at War. It was well known, that great inconvenience was produced in the county gaols throughout the kingdom by the imprisonment of soldiers under sentence of Court-martial. From fifty to sixty men formed generally the average number of soldiers confined under such sentences in the county gaol of Kent, at Maidstone. It was unnecessary for him to dwell upon the inconveniences thereby produced. The imprisonment of such a number of men there put it out of the power of the Magistrates to introduce such improvements as they might wish to effect in the discipline and government of the gaol. The House, he was sure, would see, not only the inconvenience, but the impropriety of confining soldiers amongst felons in a county gaol. He hoped, therefore, that some measures would be taken by Government to remedy this evil.

Mr. Ellice

could assure the hon. Baronet, that he was fully aware of the great importance of this subject. It had been very lately under the consideration of Government, and within the last week measures had been suggested to him which he had no doubt, when they were matured, would put an end to the inconvenience complained of. He trusted that this statement would satisfy the hon. Baronet, that Government were sensible of the evils to which he had alluded, and that they had done, and were about to do, all in their power to stop them. The number of Courts-martial that had been lately held had very much increased the number of prisoners that had been sent to the gaols of the metropolis and of the county of Kent. It was quite true that soldiers, after their intercourse with the other prisoners in gaols, returned to their regiments in no improved state of mind, and the evil had arisen to such a height that Government had no choice left but that of considering measures for confining soldiers separately. He trusted that he should be shortly able to introduce a measure for that purpose.

Sir Edward Knatchbull

declared himself perfectly satisfied with the statement of the right hon. Gentleman.