HC Deb 09 February 1846 vol 83 cc547-8

had a question to ask, and would in the first place remind the House that the noble Lord the late Member for Dorset had put a Notice on the book to call attention to the state of the juvenile population of London, Westminster, and Southwark. As that noble Lord had relinguished his important duties for a time (and for a time only he hoped), perhaps he (Mr. Liddell) might be permitted to read a few sentences delivered by a learned Judge to show how necessary it was to do something in the matter. ["Question!" "Order!"] He did not intend to exceed the limit usually granted in putting a question, and would merely explain his object, having already brought it under the notice of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Home Department. He would ask whether Government, after having read these remarks, were prepared to take any step towards the improvement and reformation of the juvenile population of the metropolis?


said, that the subject to which the hon. Gentleman had referred had not been neglected either by the present or by the late Government. Until the year 1838, there had been no institution in this country for the punishment of juvenile offenders, except the hulks in the Medway, on board of which there had been 320 boys. Experience, however, had proved that that discipline, so far from reforming the culprits, had been highly injurious to their morals; and the noble Lord the Member for the city of London (Lord J. Russell), had, in the year 1838, with the sanction of the House, founded the institution at Parkhurst, which had produced the most favourable results. When he had succeeded to the Home Office, in the year 1841, there were only about 280 juvenile offenders at Parkhurst. There were now 660 juvenile offenders there, who were subject to a discipline of a reforming character, and as good, he believed, as it was possible to devise. There were, in addition, 200 juvenile convicts in Millbank; so that at the present moment there were nearly 900 juvenile delinquents subject to a reforming discipline. If it should be the pleasure of the House to sanction the proposal of the Government, and to throw upon the public the charge of carrying into execution the sentences on offenders convicted by juries, he would endeavour to induce the magistrates in the various counties of England, to appropriate portions of prisons and of houses of correction for the special punishment of juvenile offenders; and it certainly was his confident hope, that when that improved discipline was established in each county for prisoners of tender years, public munificence and benevolence would also, in each county, establish asylums of refuge, in which, on their dismissal from prison, orphan and destitute children, on whom that discipline would have produced a favourable effect, would be received, and from which they might afterwards be restored to society.