HC Deb 24 April 1850 vol 110 cc767-83

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."


, in rising to move the second reading of the Juvenile Offenders' Bill, begged to apologise to the House, as an individual Member, for taking up so important a subject. His connection with the Philanthropic Society had induced him to devote much attention to the dreadful state of the juvenile criminal population, the heavy cost and expense they entailed upon the country, while the means used for their reformation had proved inefficient. In 1847 a Committee of the House of Lords sat upon this subject, composed of the Lord Chancellor, Lord Brougham, Lord Denman, Lord Campbell, and other high legal authorities, together with the Duke of Richmond, the Earl of Chichester, and the Marquess of Lansdowne. That Committee reported during the same year; and, when he brought forward a Bill founded specially upon that report, he felt that such an authority entitled him to claim some attention from the House. [The hon. Member quoted several extracts from the report and the evidence taken before the Lords' Committee, in order to show that the principles embodied in his Bill had received the sanction of that Committee.] Two of the objects he proposed to attain were—first, an increased liability to be thrown upon the parents of these juvenile offenders; and, secondly, the establishment of a reformatory asylum. In 1847 the subject was repeatedly urged upon the attention of the Government; and about that time the magistrates and town council of Liverpool addressed the Government and presented petitions to both Houses of Parliament representing the fearful condition of juvenile crime, the enormous expenses it entailed upon the local rates, and intreating the Government to interfere and establish some more efficient and economical arrangement. Since that time he believed that frequent applications of the same kind had been made to the same quarter. Still, nothing had been done, and matters had come to this pass, that a memorial had only yesterday been presented to the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Home Office, signed by the chaplains of the principal jails in the country, imploring Government no longer to neglect the recommendation of the Lords' Committee of 1847, to deal with juvenile crime, at least on first convictions, by means of reformatory asylums, on the principle of parkhurst Prison, rather than by ordinary imprisonment. The memorialists stated, using the words of Baron Alderson— That such a judicious plan of reform for juvenile offenders would be the most economical as well as the most merciful arrangement which could be made; that the expenses now incurred by their repeated recommitals and trials greatly exceeded the probable cost of an attempt at an effectual reformation; and that to cure this class of offenders would be to cut off one of the most prolific sources of adult crime. That was the opinion of gaol chaplains, to the number of fifty, who had signed that memorial; and they were probably the persons best competent to form an opinion upon, and to deal with, the question. Fortified as he was by the report of the Lords' Committee, by the authority of the memorial from which he had just quoted, and by many other corroborative allegations which had been made to the Home Office from other quarters, he felt justified in appealing to the House to consider this as a most important subject. English law had been distinguished above that of other nations for severity towards the offences of children. By the civil or old Roman law, prevailing on the Continent, no child was punished for any offence up to the age of ten years and a half; and between that age and fourteen they were punishable only as a parent might chastise them, and in a less degree than adults. In England the law had never laid down a distinct rule as to the age under which a child could be convicted, except, as he had been informed, that no legal conviction could be had of an offender under seven or eight years. But how little that rule, if it existed, had been adhered to in practice, might be inferred from the fact that Lieutenant Tracy, the governor of Westminster Bridewell, had had under his charge one boy not much over five years old, and ten more under eight years. Cases had even occurred in which mere children had been put to death under circumstances of great cruelty. The gravity of the question rested principally upon the enormous number of these juvenile offenders. He had a return of the number of them at present in prison; and in the report of the Inspectors of Prisons, just laid on the table, the House would find ample details relating to juvenile crime. If the energy of the Government as to this question had been equal to the accuracy of their own inspectors, their attention would have been given to it long ago. He found by the returns that, in 1848, the number of these juvenile offenders sent to trial was 3,276, while the number of those summarily convicted was 10,747, making a total of 14,023 children brought under the operation of the law. The total number of adults imprisoned at that time was 152,253. In 1848 the number of summary convictions of offenders under twelve years of age was 1,389; between twelve and fourteen years, 627; and between fourteen and seventeen years, 6,710. And how many did the House suppose had been recommitted? If there had been good reason to believe that those punishments of which he had just read the numbers had been effectual, he should have found no more fault with this than any other part of the law. But what were the facts? He found that the recommittals were in several cases above one-third of the whole punishments, and he would read the numbers of them to the House. Of the recommittals in 1848 there had been—once, 2,080; twice, 954; thrice, 448; four times and oftener, 675; making a total of recommittals of juvenile offenders of 4,076. He would trouble the House with one special case by way of illustration. At the Middlesex April sessions—taking a large average of years, from 1838 to 1848—the recommittals numbered thus:—In 1838 the number was, 219 out of 586 cases; and in 1848–9 the recommittals were 400 out of 1,038 cases. The total of the intervening years was 3,504 out of 9,165, or about one-third. Mr. Clay, chaplain to the House of Correction at Preston, and Mr. Rushton, the able stipendiary magistrate of Liverpool, had given very important evidence on this subject. Mr. Rushton said, the proportion of recommittals in Liverpool was, of adults, 36; and of juveniles, 66 per cent. The average was 50 percent, whilst 28½ per cent had been imprisoned four times. The testimony of the able Commissioner of the Morning Chronicle was confirmatory exactly of these results, though from very different authorities. A largo meeting of thieves by profession was held, at which that gentleman was present; and he stated that out of the number present two had been imprisoned 18 times; five, 20 times; six, 24 times; one, 25 times; and that one, who was only 19 years of ago, had been imprisoned no fewer than 29 times. And on examining some of those parties, the Commissioner of the Morning Chronicle found one, a young mendicant, about 13, who could not tell how often he had been in prison, but he thought it might be about a dozen times. The House would thus see the circumstances in which this class of beings were placed, and that the wonder was, not that they were in prison, but that they were ever out of it. Mr. Rushton mention- ed the case of a boy, fourteen years of age, who had been twenty-four times in custody, and five times discharged, twice imprisoned for fourteen days, once for one month, once for two months, six times for three months, and tried and convicted, and sentenced to four months' imprisonment, and to be twice whipped. Let the House consider for a moment what the penal education of that child cost the borough of Liverpool, and say whether, from the low motive of economy, it would not be wise to improve the system. A little consideration, he thought, would bring the House to the conclusion that these results were the natural consequence of the way in which young criminals were treated in this country. [The hon. Gentleman read the history of two children who had been driven from home by the cruelty of their parents, who forbade them to return unless they committed theft for their support.] In many instances, the parents actually told the child to steal property which they pointed out, and refused to give it food until the theft had been effected. In all such cases there was a perversion of the natural affections of the most frightful nature, for all the impulses which should be for the good of the child thus became impulses for evil. The child was stimulated to crime. How, under such circumstances, children could be treated as absolute criminals, and as enemies to society, he could not understand; for crime with them became a sort of enforced profession, whilst the chances of conviction were exactly those of a soldier receiving a wound, or of a medical man catching infection. This, indeed, was shown in the perverted adaptation of the words which these unfortunate beings used among themselves and in their habitations; for they called the receiving-house a "school," and designated theft by the name of "work." Now, he contended that the older prisons, such as Newgate, were totally incapable of promoting the reformation of juvenile offenders, whilst those established upon the new system provided such comparative comforts, that in many cases the prison became a real home to the criminal. This, indeed, had already become a great question with regard to adults; but it was of infinitely more consequence in relation to juveniles. Prison discipline had arrived at that stage that the polluted must be parted from those under reformatory discipline, or else children would be taken there again and again, thus exhausting local resources. It might be said, "Why not adapt separate confinement, the cellular system, to juveniles, and instruct them just as they are at Reading under the Rev. Mr. Field?" He had no doubt the cellular system would to some extent be beneficial, for Mr. Clay had shown that since its introduction at Preston, out of 110 persons committed in two years and a half, only three had returned; but other considerations must also be taken into view. It was a system attended with great expense, and, with all respect for the authority of Mr. Field, he thought it objectionable as applied to children. It might be an effective punishment for a very short time; but the notion of shutting up a child for twelve months in a separate cell could only be justified in the case of very active intelligence, and of spiritual instruction of the kind given in Reading gaol. He wished to speak with respect of prison chaplains; but he must say that he should not desire to trust the greater part of them with the cellular confinement of children for the space of time required to make it effective. Then, it was said that schools in the prisons were very effective; but he, on the contrary, had found them generally ineffective. The notion of a school in a prison, accompanied by prison discipline, destroyed all the energy and elasticity of mind which was the very foundation of education; and he had the authority of Mr. Shepherd, the governor of Wakefield House of Correction, for stating that the combination of school and prison discipline was extremely difficult, whilst the continued and forced silence so restrained the mind as to make instruction ineffectual. He would now make a few observations upon the Bill he had the honour of bringing under the consideration of the House. It was a Bill for the correction and reformation of juvenile offenders, and the prevention of juvenile offences. In the first clause he proposed that no male child above fourteen years of age (altered from sixteen) should receive corporal punishment, and that summary jurisdiction should rest with two magistrates, instead of one only as originally proposed. If the child was a female, she was to be reprimanded and discharged; if a male, the punishment would be inflicted in the most convenient police station, lock-up, or prison, and then the offender would be discharged, so as to avoid the taking of them to prison in a formal manner. In Edinburgh this power had been found to operate well. During the last three years the magistrates there had had the power of whipping instead of sending to prison for simple larceny; and juvenile crime had decreased in consequence. But he did not regard this first clause as in any degree involving the principle of the Bill, and he should be happy to receive any suggestions upon it; for all he wished was, that, for the first pilferage, the child of the poor man should, as in other cases, receive a child's punishment—above all, that it should not be sent to prison. The second clause of the Bill related to the responsibility of parents, and enabled magistrates, if they thought fit, to summon the parents of any child who, by neglect, ill-treatment, evil example, or direct instigation, had led such child into the commission of any offence. Such patent was to be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, a fine of not less than 5s. nor bore than 5l. inflicted, and sureties might be required for the better behaviour of the child for the next twelve months. This, he was aware, might be considered an innovation upon the existing law, but it had been suggested by high legal authority who had well considered the subject. Mr. M. D. Hill, the Recorder of Birmingham, had given conclusive evidence in its favour. Mr. Bullock, Judge of the Sheriff's Court; Mr. Russell, Prison Inspector; Mr. Rushton, the Liverpool magistrate, in their evidence before the Lords' Committee; and Lieutenant Tracy, governor of one of the largest houses of correction, in a letter to himself, expressed their opinion that the proposed alterations would have the most salutary operation. In Scotland, by Sir William Rae's Act, the magistrate had the power of inflicting sixty days' imprisonment, and taking recognisances from the parents for the good behaviour of their children, which was found to be attended with the best effects. By increasing the responsibility of the parents, and their Sense of parental obligation, he believed they would be conferring a great benefit on the country. There was another provision of the Bill which was merely permissive, empowering magistrates to establish industrial schools for juvenile offenders after the second conviction. Many magistrates had declared their conviction that such establishments would both be followed by the most beneficial effects in the reformation of offenders, and lead to a large saving in the county expenses. The first institution of this kind in England was founded in 1708, and there were now several in operation, both in this country and in France, Belgium, and Holland, especially the celebrated one of Mettraye, In proof of the benefits that might be expected from legislating in this direction, he might refer to the success which had attended the efforts of the Philanthropic Society, under the able management of Mr. Turner, the chaplain, and the officers of the institution, as well as of a similar institution at Stretton, near Warwick. Mr. Rushton and other witnesses before the Lords' Committee expressed the highest opinion in favour of houses of refuge. It was said that these houses of refuge which he proposed, by placing a juvenile offender in a better condition than the child of a poor man who had not broken the law, would offer a certain premium upon the commission of crime, and that it would offer a temptation to a parent to drive his children into the refuge, in order to relieve himself of the burden of their maintenance. He thought that this objection would hardly be made if hon. Gentlemen would consider that, under the present system, parents had only to encourage their children to commit crime and get them sent to prison in order to relieve themselves of the responsibility of their maintenance. He knew he might be told that there were some parents who, while they might not contemplate making their children criminals, in order to get them sent to gaol, would not scruple to do so to got them put into the refuge; but he believed that such cases would really be so exceptional that they were not worth consideration. As a practical evidence of the value of such a system, he might refer to an analogous system, namely, an educational reform establishment which bad been for some time in operation in Aberdeen, under the auspices of Sheriff Watson, for taking in juvenile vagrants as well as children left fatherless or unprotected on the streets. Mr. Watson had assured him, in answer to his inquiries, that he had never heard it objected that this institution offered any encouragement either to crime or vagrancy; and the last report of the prison inspector for Scotland stated a very large diminution of crime and vagrancy in the town of Aberdeen, which "as attributed to the establishment of this industrial school. He (Mr. Milnes) had provided that no child should be sent to an industrial school who had not previously undergone a term of penal confinement, with or without corporal punishment. He confessed he should have been glad to avoid the stigma of the prison at all previous to sending children to the refuge; but, after consulting police magistrates and other persons of weight on the matter, he had somewhat unwillingly consented to the provision. The Bill, therefore, made no infringement upon the penal character of the present law; he only added to the present law provisions of a reformatory character, the adoption of which he believed to be the only way to save us from the frightful consequences which would otherwise inevitably ensue. He proposed to give power to the governors of these industrial schools to detain prisoners after the expiry of their term of sentence, which he believed would be very useful. In this respect we might take a good lesson from the French law. The cost of maintaining the children was to be thrown on the parishes, with power to recover from the parents where practicable. Under the present system, the cost to the county of recommittals of juvenile offenders was enormous. Mr. Poynder calculated that in this city alone, there were not less than 500 criminal boys, who had cost the country 100l. each; whence it might be judged how enormous was the cost for the whole country. Taking the number and cost of juvenile offenders in the city gaol of Bath, as the basis of the calculation, the annual cost for the last six years might be set down at 545,000l. He would also urge upon the House that it became a Christian duty on their part, to take care of the religious and moral education of these unfortunate children. Let him remind them that this was not to be regarded as a county magistrate's case, as the number of juvenile offenders committed by them was comparatively trifling; and with regard to offences against the game laws, of which so much was said, it appeared that the whole number of juvenile offenders committed under the game laws, did not exceed 213. It was purely a question of police, and they could not overlook the fact that the number of juvenile offenders was gradually increasing. In 1847 the total number of this class of offenders imprisoned was 11,195, while in 1848 it was 11,763. In conclusion, he might say that the character of the Bill might be described by the inscription placed by Clement XI. over the entrance to the church of St. Michael, in Rome— Perditis adolescentibus corrigendis Instituendisque, Ut qui inertes oberant Instructi Reipublicæ serviant. Would that he could add the words "Victoria Regina!"


said, he could assure his hon. Friend that he was not at all disposed to disregard the subject that his hon. Friend brought before the House. He was sure also that the House was not indisposed to take into consideration any practical measure that would be brought forward on the subject; but the question to be considered was, whether this Bill was of a practical character. His hon. Friend had appealed to him as if he apprehended that the Government might think the Bill wholly impracticable, and he would endeavour to explain to the House whether it was so or not. The Bill consisted of four very distinct parts. The first part gave a very wide extension of the summary jurisdiction now possessed by magistrates with regard to juvenile offenders under the age of sixteen years. It also gave the power to a single magistrate, but he understood his hon. Friend to have stated that he was willing in Committee to limit this summary power to two magistrates, and to cases of offenders under fourteen years of age. The second part of the Bill related to the criminal responsibility of parents, that responsibility to be enforced by one magistrate, though he supposed that here also his hon. Friend would limit the power to two magistrates sitting together. There was also a provision which was not a new one, except in rendering it the subject of summary jurisdiction, namely, the criminal responsibility of all adults, including parents who directly incite children to crime. The other parts of the Bill related to the treatment of juvenile offenders committed for the first time, and to the establishment of industrial schools, and the treatment of more confirmed offenders. With regard to the first part of the Bill, it superseded the Act of the hon. Member for Droitwich, while this Bill altogether omitted the details which the other Act contained. There was no provision for compelling the attendance of the parties charged, or of witnesses, and no form of conviction, or provision for the costs of the proceedings. His hon. Friend seemed to attach great importance to the provision which enabled magis- trates to abstain from committing for the first offence; but this power was already possessed by them under the Juvenile Offenders Act, and was constantly exercised. The second clause gave the magistrates very extensive jurisdiction over adults. A magistrate might convict summarily the father or mother, even of an illegitimate child, for any offence committed by the child against the law, the neglect or bad example of the parent being construed into a misdemeanor. The third clause provided that any adult person, including the parent, who should induce a child under sixteen to commit an offence against the law, should be liable to the summary jurisdiction of two magistrates. Now he must object altogether to giving any two magistrates in all cases this power. A parent might, for instance, induce a child under sixteen to commit a murder, and the law made such an offence capital, whereas the present Bill would make the penalty a fine not less than 5s. or not exceeding 5l., or imprisonment till the fine was paid. The offender might thus escape with a fine or short imprisonment, unless his hon. Friend proposed that the party should be tried a second time on the capital charge, after being once convicted and punished for the offence. The 13th, 14th, 19th, and 22nd clauses, also gave greatly increased summary powers to the magistrates. On a second conviction, which might be for vagrancy, for instance, the juvenile offender might be sentenced to ten weeks' separate confinement, with corporal punishment, and be afterwards committed to an industrial school for a period of not less than one year, or not more than three years. After two years in the school, the visiting magistrates, not the committing magistrates, were to have power of giving up the offenders to their parents or relations, or sending them into the Army or Navy, or binding them to any trade in any part of Her Majesty's dominions. Now, it was altogether impossible that such a summary power could be exercised. [Mr. M. MILNES said, that the French code had it.] Whatever might be done in France, he was convinced that such a power could not be exercised in this country, and his belief was that it would be wholly impracticable thus to force persons into the Army or Navy. For a third offence, the juvenile offender might be committed to prison for seven years. The object of that provision was clearly that the boys might be sent to Parkhurst, but there was nothing in the Parkhurst Act which prevented boys under sentence of imprisonment from being sent there, though it was thought advisable practically to confine the admission to that prison to those under sentence of transportation. He objected altogether to giving a magistrate power to sentence a prisoner summarily for a third offence, which might be vagrancy for instance, to a punishment tantamount to transportation for seven years. With regard to the establishment of industrial schools, he was perfectly willing to admit, with his hon. Friend, that the principle was to a certain extent good; but what they had to consider was, not so much abstract principles as their practical application. He could not understand, if the principle was to be adopted, why it was to be limited to country industrial schools, as the far greater number of juvenile offenders were to be found in cities and boroughs. By this Bill, however, the schools were to be confined to counties, and the whole expense of them was to be thrown on the county rates. He doubted very much the expediency of establishing schools at the public expense, which would hold out great advantages to criminal children and their parents. He thought such schools would be much more useful if supported by private charities, such as the Philanthropic Institution, which acted on this principle, but without any ostentation. The Government sent juvenile offenders to it, on paying the expenses for which they would be chargeable if the prisoners had remained in gaol. But independent of that consideration, they had already a power, under the District Prisons Act, to establish these institutions if they thought proper. He received only that morning a pamphlet from Mr. W. Gladstone, the treasurer of the Philanthropic Institution, containing a translation of a report presented to the National Assembly of France. Mr. Gladstone differed to some extent from his views, but he concurred with him on this point to which he had last referred. Mr. Gladstone thought there should be two classes of these schools, one reformatory, and the other for the punishment of the wilfully criminal and vicious. The latter might be regarded as ordinary prisons, while with regard to the former, that gentleman thought they should be mainly founded by individual benevolence. With regard to the fourth object of the Bill, the pecuniary liability of parents, he had also to admit that the principle was an admirable one if it could be carried into practical effect. If they could find a parent who had stimulated a child to crime, and who could afford to pay a pecuniary penalty, it was right to compel the payment, but under this Bill there would be the difficulty of finding who the parent was, and to what parish he was liable, and this, he believed, would lead to endless litigation and costs. The cost of each inmate in the Philanthropic Institution was 15l; but it was now proposed that an agricultural labourer, for instance, should be liable to 16l. a year for the maintenance of his child in prison or in an industrial school, for which his goods were to be sold, and the rest of his family left to starve, the magistrate by whom the order would be made on the parish being entirely ignorant in many cases of the real circumstances of the family. He believed that in this as in other instances, the machinery of the Bill was perfectly impracticable, and would in many cases lead to great injustice and hardship. In addition to this, it should not be forgotten that there was at this moment a Committee sitting upstairs on prison discipline, of which his hon. Friend was himself a member, and he thought it would be wise to wait for the report of that Committee before proceeding to legislate on the subject.


said, after the speech which they had just heard from the right hon. Baronet, it was unnecessary for him to occupy the House at any length. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract had presented a frightful picture of juvenile depravity, but this Bill would not remedy that state. One of the objects which the hon. Gentleman professed to have in view, was, to do away with the expense of imprisonment; and yet the Bill proposed to give the magistrates the power of imprisoning summarily for seven years. The hon. Member was said to be a great poet, and certainly this Bill contained a great of imagination, but it had neither rhyme nor reason. He was surprised to see the name of an hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne at the back of a Bill which proposed to abolish trial by jury in two-thirds of all the cases of larceny that were tried in the country. Had the hon. and learned Gentleman read any of the great law writers of the country, who one and all maintained that trial by jury was one of the dearest rights of Englishmen? Had he studied the writings of the law reformers of our own days—the writings of Sir Samuel Romilly, of Lord Brougham, or of a still higher authority—the most learned and constitutional Minister that this country had ever possessed, the noble Lord at the head of the Government? who said, that to trial by jury the people owed whatever share they possessed in the government of the country; that to trial by jury the Government mainly owed the attachment of the people to the laws—a consideration which ought to make legislators cautious how they took away the right of trial by jury, by new, trifling and vexatious enactments. This was a new, trifling, and vexations enactment, for it went to empower two magistrates to try prisoners in their own hack parlour, or it might be the servants' hall, in the midst of their own drunken servants, and there to sentence prisoners to be privately whipped. Nay, the Bill did not stop there, for it proposed that the parents should be punished as well as the children—in fact, the proposition was that the child should first be flogged, and then that the parent should be punished. He did not think that either the House or the country would have this legislation, and therefore he would move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months."

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."


seconded the Amendment.


explained, that he was desirous to adapt this measure to the Summary Jurisdiction Bill, in conformity with such decisions as the House might come to upon that measure.


considered that the House and the country were under great obligation to the hon. Member for Pontefract for having applied his attention to this important subject. The hon. Baronet the Member for Preston had said that this measure would be administered in the back parlours or servants' halls of magistrates; but, whatever might be the case in Yorkshire, he could assure the hon. Baronet that in no part of the country with which he was acquainted, did magistrates hold their sittings in such places. The principle of this Bill must meet the approbation of every man who had given close and deliberate attention to the subject. The hon. Member for Pontefract had satisfactorily proved that the treatment of juvenile offenders under the existing law was ineffectual in a reformatory point of view; and that the poet's description might be justly applied to them:— Their infant years owe nothing to our care—Their minds neglected, and their bodies bare. He fully concurred in the principle of the Bill, and would give it his most cordial support. The prison arrangements at Parkhurst were most admirably conducted, but he thought the system adopted there was perfectly inadequate to meet the evils with which this Bill was intended to grapple. The only remedy was, in his opinion, to combine an educational discipline with the necessary penalty of crime. He considered that even this Bill was incomplete, fur he would be glad to see introduced into it a provision similar to the 6th article of the French penal code, which gave power to courts of justice trying juvenile offenders to assert the irresponsibility of such offenders up to the age of 14 years, and also authorised the courts to commit such per sons to a place of education and reform, instead of to a prison. The condition of the inmates of the establishment at Mettraye, in France, might be most favourably contrasted with that of the prisoners at Parkhust. Mettraye was an agricultural and reformatory colony, while offenders sent to Parkhurst went at once to a prison, with the penalty of guilt attaching to them. Mettraye was surrounded merely by a simple thorn hedge, and yet, from the formation of the establishment an attempt at escape on the part of the inmates had never occurred; while, although Parkhurst was encompassed by apparently impassable walls, the escape of prisoners had been so frequent as to excite indignant complaints from the inhabitants of the district. It was by no means uncommon for persons who, having been inmates of Mettraye, afterwards became shopkeepers, to put over their shops the notification "Elêve de Mettraye;" while our colonies, tainted and vitiated as they had been by a felon population, had in many oases refused a consignment of Parkhurst boys.


thanked the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight for the moral courage he had shown in supporting the Bill, notwithstanding the decided expression of opposition on the part of the House at large. For himself, though he was not pledged to all its details, yet to the principle of the Bill he gave a hearty support. He thought his hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract had not been fairly treated in this matter; and he particularly regretted that the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary, after agreeing with so many of his hon. Friend's principles and propositions, should have withheld his support from the measure, on account of his objection to trifling details. He had in his hands the report made to the National Assembly by several eminent men who had inquired into the system at Mettraye, who reported decidedly in its favour, and who recommended the Legislature to establish other similar institutions. It would be found that all persons who had anything to do with the present system of punishment in this country, concurred in the opinion that it was ineffectual. He should conclude by asking the House to support this measure, on the ground that it was based on the same principle with the system in Prance, which some of the greatest men in that country had declared worked well.


thought it right to state, as the Juvenile Offenders' Act of 1847 had been frequently referred to in the course of the discussion, that he was no party to this Bill, and that as the measure now stood he could not give it his support. The object of the hon. Member for Pontefract was most benevolent and praiseworthy; but he (Sir J. Fakington) could not agree in the mode in which the hon. Gentleman proposed to carry it out. If industrial schools of reform were established in every county of England, he feared there was great danger that they might prove to be a premium upon vice; and he thought such a task ought to be undertaken—if at all—with the greatest caution, and with all the weight, authority, and investigation the Government could bring to hear upon the subject.


said, he held in his hand the report of the Special Committee appointed by the National Assembly of France, which had been alluded to by the hon. and learned Member for New-castle-on-Tyne, whose name was on the back of the Bill, and which had been put into his hands since he came to the House. He had read that report with as much attention as the time admitted, and particularly the extracts from the Code Napoleon attached to it; and in all these he found no mention of corporal punishment. It was matter of grief to him, that when corporal punishment was quitting its hold of the Army, it should be found migrating into the civil service. He verily believed Napoleon would have had no more idea of subjecting a young Frenchman, however erring, to such a discipline, than of directing him to be fitted for service in the Seraglio. He saw hon. Gentlemen acknowledged the force of the analogy; and the truth was, that in corporal inflictions of one kind as of the other, there was so much of the degrading and the repulsive as to cause civilised nations to be anxious to eject them from their codes. He believed if hon. Gentlemen succeeded in establishing this kind of law, they would be likely to give rise to some of the prettiest novelettes ever issued from the unstamped press. No more favourable subject could be invented, than that of a well-meaning but high-spirited peasant, obnoxious it might be to some of the wealthy in his neighbourhood for part taken in politics or otherwise, receiving his child home, suffering under the infliction of law like this. Wat Tyler rose upon an insult to his child; and he remembered a good and brave man, a captain in His Majesty's Guards, saying that Wat Tyler was our earliest English reformer. And so he was, after a very rough sort. He had hoped the time was gone by, either for Wat Tylers or for temptation to follow him. But if a principle of law like this was persisted in, there would be an end of that union between the peasantry and aristocracy which now existed with so much benefit to both.


supported the principle, but not the details, of the Bill.


said, it was his intention to withdraw the Bill.

Question, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question," put, and negatived.

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Bill put off for six months.

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