HC Deb 02 June 1847 vol 93 cc2-5

House in Committee on the Juvenile Offenders Bill.

On the first Clause,


observed, that certain changes of an important nature had been introduced into the Bill, partly in conformity with the opinion expressed by the House on a former occasion, and partly in consequence of suggestions made in the Select Committee to which the Bill had been referred. Generally, he did not object to these alterations; but there was one, of an important character, which he thought to be no improvement. As the Bill was first drawn, a power of imprisonment for six months was given to the magistrates. That maximum of imprisonment had been reduced by the Select Committee to three months; and, though this was an alteration not inconsistent with the principle of the Bill, yet he did not approve of it, as it was now desired by all to make imprisonment a means of reformation. However, if the sense of the House were in favour of the alteration, he was content to abide by it.


said, that this was one of the points connected with another subject, namely, the nature of the places of confinement to which the offenders were to be sent. He should be in favour of the longer term of imprisonment, provided these juvenile offenders were committed to a place of a purely reformatory character; but rather than commit these offenders for any lengthened period to the gaols as at present constituted, he should be disposed to concur in the view taken of the subject by the Select Committee. This, however, only confirmed him in the opinion that it would have been better to postpone the Bill until they could have taken up the large question of the reformatory system with respect to juvenile offenders.

The words in the clause limiting the term of imprisonment to three months, adopted.

The words authorizing the "public" whipping of male juvenile offenders were, at the suggestion of the Attorney General, omitted from the clause.


said, that the clause, as now amended, gave the power of inflicting "private" whipping twice on these juvenile offenders. He thought that one whipping was quite enough for boys.


suggested that all the words relating to whipping should be omitted from the clause.


(the Chairman) stated, that in point of form such an Amendment could not now be moved, as that part of the clause was already passed. It must be postponed until the report on the Bill.

MR. ESCOTT, as he could not now move an Amendment, would divide the Committee against the whole clause.


was convinced that whipping was a very bad punishment, and the sooner it was wholly discontinued the better. The magistrates of this country were not a very wise or discreet body of men, nor were they always selected on account of their love of justice; he had seen enough of their conduct to tremble at a proposal to place more power in their hands. Such a Bill as this ought not to have received any support from the Government.


thought the hon. Member ought not to blame the Government without first considering what was the present state of the law. A child might now be committed to gaol, stay there for weeks, and then be tried as a felon, and sentenced to be once, twice, or thrice whipped. The question was, whether, having a defective mode of punishment at present, Parliament ought, in altering the tribunal, to disarm it of the power of sentencing a child to be privately whipped instead of imprisoned, the whipping being under the control of the superintending justices, and regulated by the rules of the prison. It should be remembered, too, that the present Bill was not to apply to cases where the young person charged "objected to the case being summarily disposed of" under these provisions.


thought the power to sentence to a whipping was exceedingly important, even for the interests of the poor themselves. Why should a boy, taken up for stealing a few apples, be sent to prison for several weeks, to be then discharged, ruined in character? A good wholesome flogging would be infinitely better for him. It was useless to try reformatory discipline for less than several months; and how could any one stand up for a long sentence of imprisonment for boyish offences, which were often brought before a magistrate in too serious a manner?


wondered why, if the noble Lord thought the lash so good for boys, he did not propose it also as a punishment for men. Did not he believe that a boy felt a blow as much as a man? It was a thing that a boy never forgot. He (Mr. Wakley) would say,"Don't whip, but educate." Flogging was altogether an improper species of punishment, and the power of inflicting it ought not to be in the hands of the magistrates. Every time a boy was flogged, he became worse than he was before; it nourished in him a bad, revengeful disposition.


denied that the punishment of flogging was the same to boys as to men; by men it was felt to be a degradation—by boys it was not. How would the hon. Member propose to punish boys for trifling offences?


said, the question was not settled by saying, "Don't whip, but educate;" for whipping was a part of education.


remarked, that the hon. Member for Finsbury himself made out that whipping was an effective punishment; for he said a boy would recollect it as long as he lived.


did not see that any advantage came of the boys so recollecting the flogging; and as to whipping being a part of education, he preferred an education that dealt with head rather than tail. He know an instance lately where a poacher's son was subjected by a magistrate to great severity, in the opinion of the son, because his father was a poacher; and he (Mr. Wakley) could not consent to giving a large discretionary power to magistrates, however excellent they might be. He was not for long imprisonments; but, with the present system, he confessed he hardly knew what to propose. We wanted not merely good laws, but a better mode of administering them. In our courts of law, justice seemed to be denied under certain circumstances; and feelings were in operation there which, in his opinion, were most prejudicial to society.

The Committee divided on the question that the words "privately whipped" stand part of the clause:—Ayes 55; Noes 7: Majority 48.

List of the AYES.
Adderley, C. B. Frewen, C. H.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Fuller, A. E.
Bell, M. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Berkeley, hon. C. Hamilton, G. A.
Bodkin, W. H. Harcourt, G. G.
Bowles, Adm. Harris, hon. Capt.
Broadley, H. Heathcote, Sir W.
Carew, W. H. P. Heneage, G. H. W.
Carnegie, hon. Capt. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Christie, W. D. Hodgson, R.
Christopher, R. A. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Clive, hon. R. H. Jervis, Sir J.
Compton, H. C. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Dickinson, F. H. Langston, J. H.
Divett, E. Lygon, hon. Gen.
Drummond, H. H. Marshall, W.
Duncan, G. Martin, C. W.
East, Sir J. B. Monahan, J. H.
Egerton, W. T. Mundy, E. M.
Estcourt, T. G. B. Palmer, R.
Forbes, W. Prime, R.
French, F. Rendlesham, Lord
Sandon, Visct. Tufnell, H.
Scrope, G. P. Verner, Sir W.
Smollett, A. Vivian, J. H.
Somerville, Sir W. M. Waddington, H. S.
Spooner, R. TELLERS.
Stanton, W. H. Dugdale, W. S.
Trevor, hon. G. R. Pakington, Sir J.
List of the NOES.
Butler, P. S. Wawn, J. T.
Curteis, H. B. Williams, W.
Fielden, J. TELLERS.
Morris, D. Escott, B.
Trelawny, J. S. Wakley, T.

was understood to object to the power given by the same clause of substituting, at the discretion of the magistrates, a fine for whipping, and proposed an Amendment to take away that power.


approved of assimilating the powers given under the Bill to those already possessed by the magistrates. He had seen cases in which no responsibility could be laid on the parents, however well merited, from the want of power to inflict a fine.


thought the rich ought not to have an opportunity of escaping by a pecuniary fine; but if there was to be flogging, then rich and poor alike ought to have the same chance of suffering the punishment.


stated that the penalty was upon the offender, whether it was fine or whipping. A child had no goods on which a distress could be levied, but might be subjected to imprisonment on non-payment; so that, virtually, the clause affected the parents.

The ATTORNEY GENERAL, while he acknowledged that there were apparent difficulties and objections to the clause, maintained that the means by which it was proposed to reach the parents seemed the most effectual for the purpose.

The Committee divided on the question, that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—Ayes 30; Noes 27: Majority 3.

List of the AYES.
Adderley, C. B. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Austen, Col. Hodgson, R.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Berkeley, hon. C. Langston, J.H.
Carew, W. H. P. Lygon, hon. Gen.
Christopher, R. A. Martin, C. W.
Clive, hon. R. H. Mundy, E. M,
Curteis, H. B. Palmer, R.
East, Sir J. B. Prime, R.
Forbes, W. Rendlesham, Lord
Frewen, C. H. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Hamilton, G. A. Stanton, W. H.
Heneage, G. H. W. Tancred, H. W.
Trevor, hon. G, R. TELLERS.
Verner, Sir W. Pakington, Sir J.
Vivian, J. H. Heathcote, Sir W.
Waddington, H. S.
List of the NOES.
Bailey, J. Marshall, W.
Broadley, H. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Monahan, J. H.
Dalmeny, Lord Morris, D.
Dickinson, F. H. Scrope, G. P.
Duncan, G. Somers, J. P.
Escott, B. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Fielden, J. Spooner, R.
Fuller, A. E. Trelawny, J. S.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Tufnell, H.
Harcourt, G. G. Wakley. T.
Harris, hon. Capt. Wawn, J. T.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. TELLERS.
Jervis, Sir J. Bodkin, W. H.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Egerton, T.

Clause agreed to.

Bill passed through Committee, and to he reported.

House resumed.

The report was then ordered to he brought up to-morrow.