HC Deb 20 July 1843 vol 70 cc1292-3
Sir James Graham

observed that it must be in the recollection of several hon. Members, that in consequence of a discussion which took place relative to prison discipline in the early part of the Session, he had been induced to state that it was impossible that the law on the subject should be allowed to remain as it was; and he added, that filling the office which he did, he should feel it to be his duty, before the end of the Session, to bring in a bill for the purpose of amending the law. He would at that late hour merely allude to one or two of the most important changes which he should propose. Representations had been made to him of the conduct of visiting magistrates and governors of gaols, and on these representations being made to him as Home Secretary, and being satisfied of their correctness, he had felt it necessary to express grounds of complaint, and to state that he entertained strong opinions on the subject of these complaints. He had therefore felt it to be his duty to represent to the various benches of magistrates that the Government thought that it was for the interest of the public that alteration should be made in the law in this respect. He should neglect his duty if he did not propose to give power to the Secretary of State to make or to rescind rules for the government of prisons. He believed, also, that it was desirable that power should be given to the Secretary of State for the Home Department to exercise control with the magistrates over the governor and the chief medical officer of each gaol. He regretted that he could not go at length into the grounds on which this rested, but Gentlemen he thought would find sufficient reason for this in reports of the inspectors of prisons. In addition to this, the House was aware that the Secretary of State, after every Hilary Sessions, had sent to him a copy of the rules drawn up by each bench of magistrates during the previous year, but if new rules were adopted they were not sent to him until the customary annual return; he should, therefore, propose, that if any rules relative to the prisons were adopted by the magistrates relative to the control or discipline of the prison, that they should be sent to the Secretary of State without delay. He also proposed that an officer who now was appointed to inspect the buildings of prisons, should be placed under the Secretary of State, as the inspectors of prisons were. The right hon. Baronet concluded with moving for leave to bring in a bill for the amendment of the law relative to prison discipline.

Leave given, bill brought in and read a first time.

House adjourned at half-past one o'clock.