HC Deb 09 July 1857 vol 146 cc1155-66

Order for Committee read.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


said that, on the second reading of this Bill there was no opportunity given of discussing the principle of it, and after a few words on that occasion the Bill passed that stage. He would take this opportunity of stating his opinion upon the provisions of the measure. His great objection to the principle of the Bill was, that it was compulsory, and he felt strongly that from the moment the House created compulsory powers, they would destroy voluntary efforts in favour of education. He was surprised the supporters of the Bill did not study the effects of a similar measure in the county of Middlesex. Three years ago an Act had been passed, enabling the magistrates of Middlesex to do that which was now sought to be effected throughout the country; but not a single step had been taken to put that Act into operation. The reason was, that the magistrates could not agree as to what should be done, and no persons were as yet agreed as to what should be done, with their criminals. It was evident that this question was in a state of transition as was apparent from what took place on the discussion of the matter in the other House. Lord Brougham, Lord Carnarvon, and others, who discussed the question a few days ago in the other House, admitted the difficulties of the subject; and, therefore, they very wisely came to no decision with regard to it. The plan proposed would impose a great burden, on the country. In the case of the county of Surrey, what would be the effect on the rates? The number of criminals in the year would be about 600, or 1,800 in three years, not calculating the recommittals. The average expense of maintaining the children in the establishment at Redhill, and for repairs was last year £27 6s. 5d. per head, and he might therefore fairly assume, that the average expense of maintaining the juvenile criminals now detained in the prisons of the county of Surrey would be £25 per head at the least, or £45,000 on the whole, which was as much as the whole of the county rates of Surrey. Thus, by this single Bill, they ran the risk of doubling the rates in the county of Surrey. Then the building would cost at least £100,000 for the whole number of criminals, in addition to the £45,000 a year, which would be a permanent charge on the county. If such was the expense in Surrey, what would be the expense for the whole country? Now, the population of Surrey was 700,000, and of the United Kingdom 28,000,000. So that Surrey being one-fortieth part of the United Kingdom, the entire cost for the maintenance of all the reformatory schools throughout the kingdom—supposing the measure were eventually extended to Ireland—swould be not less than £1,800,000 per annum. It was said that the maintenance and repairs would be paid from the Consolidated Fund. But what matter was it to the counties, whether they paid this in the shape of an indirect tax through the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or directly, by means of a county rate? In either ease, the expense would have to come out of the pockets of the ratepayers? He would also ask, if the measure were good for England, why it should not also be applied to Ireland and Scotland. He believed what he stated was perfectly true, and hoped the House would pause before they passed the Bill. He now moved that the Bill, be committed that day three months.


said, he would second the Motion, believing that the Bill was quite unnecessary, and therefore inexpedient. Since the passing of the Juvenile Offenders Act of 1854, thirty-six reformatories had been certified, and twenty-eight founded by voluntary efforts, with the assistance of the State, and the sum given to these institutions rose to a very large amount. In fact, the State had already given ample encouragement to private promoters to come forward and establish these schools. He further objected to the measure, that in the event of its becoming law, it would place those institutions under four different kinds of control. First, the Home Office would send an inspector to see that the money granted by the State was properly applied. Nest, the Council of Education would send their inspector to see that their money was properly applied. Then the justices of the peace who had the control of the money raised by county rate, would, of course, have some voice in the matter. And when all this had taken place, he should like to know what amount of control would be left to the private promoters and supporters of these institutions. He believed that the measure would discourage all voluntary effort, and that in consequence a great blow would be inflicted on the cause of reformatory schools in this country. On the whole, he was disposed to think that, though the State should have the power of punishing criminals, their reformation had better be placed in the hands of private individuals than of public departments. He did not believe that the ragged schools would have been so well attended, if the expense was borne by the rates. He was afraid that, if the reformation of their criminals was thrown entirely on the State, these institutions would become mere off-shoots of the gaols. As regarded the county rates, he could appeal to all the country Members to justify him in asserting that they were high enough, already. Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House will, upon this day three months, resolve itself into the said Committee," instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, that he was anxious to clear the ground for discussing this Bill before the debate proceeded any further. Most of the observations of his hon. Friend (Mr. Alcock) really had no reference to the Bill on the table, but rather to the Bill of last year; and in fact, after having listened to them most attentively, he apprehended that his hon. Friend could not have read the Bill before him. The Bill of last Session had been withdrawn in deference to representations which had been made to him by the friends of reformatory schools. The present Bill was introduced instead, and was not a compulsory Bill at all. It would not compel the magistrates to impose one farthing upon the rates for these reformatories, nor would it compel the managers of them to receive aid from county or borough rates. His hon. Friend was also mistaken in the version he had given of the proceedings in the House of Lords in reference to Lord Carnarvon's Bill. That Bill was opposed by his noble Friend Lord Granville, and its consideration was only adjourned at the instance of Lord Brougham, and other Members of that House, who expressed themselves favourable to its provisions, because they knew that the present Bill was to be discussed here, and would, in all probability, go tip to them in a few days. If, then, his hon. Friend carried his Amendment, the result would be to defeat the intentions of those noble Lords who pressed the adjournment of Lord Carnarvon's Bill, in order to wait until this Bill came before them. The observations which his hon. Friend had made proved that he had not much faith in the discretion of his brother magistrates for the county of Surrey. The alarm also, which he expressed respecting the matter of expense was, in his opinion, entirely unfounded. The magistrates were already intrusted with very extensive powers with regard to gaols and lunatic asylums, and there was no reason for supposing that they would not exercise the powers to be given to them by this Bill as discreetly as they exercised their present powers. The object was to have less criminals in the country in future, and when it was said that the Bill was not necessary, he had only to say that there were several districts which had no institutions for the reformation of young criminals. He had received earnest representations from populous districts, requesting him to provide for the extension of these institutions. And he thought that no vain fear of interfering with voluntary efforts should prevent them from doing so. At the suggestion of the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) and with the view of rendering it unnecessary in all eases to establish separate institutions for every county or borough, he had given notice of a clause for enabling the magistrates of a county or borough to make arrangements with any reformatory institution to receive from their county or borough a certain number of children to be agreed on in consideration of periodical payments. Thus, the necessity of entailing a large expense on the ratepayers for the establishment of separate institutions would be avoided. As the Bill had been read a second time, and the morning sitting was limited, he hoped the House would allow it to go into Committee, when his hon. Friends would have full opportunity of discussing and considering the clauses one by one.


felt great regret in opposing any measure brought in. by the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary, but as he had for many years of his life paid great attention to this subject, he felt bound to oppose this Bill, on the ground that it would throw a heavy burden on the ratepayers of counties who were already sufficiently taxed. He believed that a compulsory rate would destroy the efforts now made in support of reformatory schools, and that these schools would never be so efficient when under the charge of the State as when conducted by those whose hearts were enlisted in the cause. The best friends of these schools remonstrated against the Bill—[Sir G. GREY: The last Bill.] No doubt the former Bill was of a more objectionable character, but this was not a good Bill. He had attended a great many meetings in West Surrey, by all of which he was requested to oppose this Bill. There were fifty-five certified reformatory schools in existence, thirty-five in England and twenty in Scotland. He believed the result of the Bill would be to destroy the voluntary efforts of individuals. The Government already contributed 7s. per head towards the support of these schools, and had acted with great wisdom in so doing. That ought to be nearly enough in itself to support these schools. If they went on in this way to burden the counties, the country would be soon saddled with a new national debt. He believed these schools could be properly conducted only by those who had their hearts in the business, and not by magistrates or the representatives of magistrates, and that if the Bill passed, the schools would be converted into juvenile prisons.


said, he should support the Bill. A system of reformation should, in his opinion, form part of the treatment of juvenile criminals, under the guidance of persons who felt an interest in the matter. The time had arrived, indeed, when the reformatory system should be made of general application throughout the country. It should not, however, be left entirely in the discretion of the managers of reformatory schools to receive or reject children, but it should he in the power of any chairman of quarter sessions, or any Judge, without reference to the managers, to send boys committed by them to these schools. Unless a measure were passed, empowering justices to provide fit and proper places as reformatories, they would continue to have small schools in different parts of the country, but they would be altogether inadequate to the wants of the country; and he thought this Bill would have the effect of providing proper buildings on eligible sites for the purposes of these schools. The hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Alcock) had greatly exaggerated the expense the Bill would occasion, when he stated the probable cost of maintaining a reformatory in that county would amount to £45,000 a year. He (Sir E. Kerrison) lived in a county, the population of which was about half that of Surrey; and he believed that for an annual expenditure of £2,000, they would he able to maintain a reformatory amply sufficient for the accommodation of the juvenile criminals of that county. It was not reasonable to rely upon voluntary effort alone for the support of these establishments. The offences being committed against the ratepayers, the ratepayers should maintain them. He wanted to see voluntary contributions given in aid of emigration, and the placing boys out—to such schools, for example, as those which the hon. Member for Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) proposed to establish—the preventive schools and ragged schools. So far as the power to be vested in the justices was concerned, he did not agree with those who thought that they would abuse that power.


said, he could not support the Motion for the rejection of the Bill. He would admit that the financial objection was formidable, but there were higher considerations than money involved in the present question. He had been present at meetings in the county of Surrey, at which resolutions were passed in favour of the present measure, and he was entirely in support of it himself, and begged to tender his best thanks to the Government for bringing it forward.


remarked that he had studied the Bill closely, and it struck him with much force that the measure was utterly needless. He had himself some connection with a reformatory, and he must say that he saw no reason why persons who took an interest in such institutions should not be called upon to subscribe for their support. He was glad to have some assistance from the Government; but it appeared to him that it was unnecessary to supersede voluntary effort altogether, and that Government, instead of superseding, should only supplement the exertions of private individuals. He was persuaded that the reformatory movement was advancing with sufficient rapidity, and that if they had the patience to wait a few years, the demand for those institutions would be abundantly supplied. If this Bill passed, there would be meetings in town halls, attended by the lord lieutenant of the county and the bishop of the diocese, at which resolutions would be passed in favour of large reformatories to be established under it, but the effect would be to transfer the management of reformatories from those whose hearts and heads were enlisted in the work to those who felt no interest at all in the matter. No doubt the measure would do a great deal of good, but it would work one certain evil, for it would be the death of all private enterprise. Besides, he did not like adding to the burdens already borne by the ratepayers; he shrank, indeed, from searching out more burdens than those which at present rested upon their unlucky shoulders. And his objection to the measure was the greater when he recollected the ratepayers would have no voice whatever in the expenditure of the money, for the magistrates were to meet together, and were to tax the ratepayers. The Bill was opposed to the principle that the people should tax themselves.


said, that be regretted that the debate had been continued so long, as he believed that the observations which bad been made might very well have been withheld until the Bill was in Committee, and he should not have risen but for the determined spirit in which the two knights for the county of Surrey had buckled on their armour against the Bill. They had said that the Bill would impose a great additional burden on the ratepayers; but if it were true that the effect of this measure was to increase expenditure, then they were totally wrong in what they were doing, and had been doing for some time past. He believed, however, the effect of the measure would be to diminish crime, and therefore ultimately to diminish expense. It was true that they were in a transition state, but he trusted they were on the way towards a better state of things. It was not, however, by leaving the present state of things in existence that they could ever arrive at a more perfect condition of things. On the contrary, the longer the remedy was delayed, the greater would be the extent of the evil they would have to contend with. With regard to the objection that the Bill would destroy voluntary exertions, he denied that experience justified that objection. The institution of Redhill, which was a model institution, had been referred to as an institution supported by voluntary efforts. Redhill received something like £6,000 or £7,000 from the State, and only £800 a year from voluntary exertions. Some of the most ardent friends of the reformatory movement were in favour of the measure, which he thought would give an impulse to, but by no means destroy, voluntary exertions. He thought that the magistrates, composing as they did the practical upper classes of the country, would start these institutions efficiently, and voluntary aid would flow in freely and naturally. Thus they would combine two most desirable objects—namely, a fair assistance from the Government, and at the same time all the zeal and interest which could be supplied by voluntary effort.


said, he belonged to a county in which, as yet, no reformatory had been established, but he should prefer to remain in their present state than have an institution which was entirely in the hands of the State, because he believed it would fail, and, by so doing, check the efforts of those who might be disposed voluntarily to devote themselves to the reformation of children. The reformatory movement was one of the most important and interesting which bad taken place in this country for many years. But as the value of reformatory institutions very much depended on the mode in which they were conducted, he should oppose the present Bill. He did not think the time was yet come for proposing such a Bill. He was not disposed to take Redhill as a model. In Redhill there were forty criminals placed under one superintendent. That was too large a number. The best reformatory he ever saw was in Hamburg, and there were only thirteen criminals under the superintendent there. Time should be given to the friends of the reformatory schools to carry out the system to greater perfection.


said, he gave the Bill his most cordial support. He had studied the subject for many years, and he was quite sure that, if well handled, this would be one of the most important and valuable measures that Parliament had ever passed. He therefore hoped that the House, without further discussion, would proceed to the consideration of its clauses in Committee.


said, he would admit that the Bill was very different from the one introduced last Session, but there was this vital question involved in it—namely, whether it was wise to leave the beaten track which the reformatory system had hitherto taken, that of combining voluntary contributions with Government aid, or whether they should adopt the system of establishing schools by means of county rates. That, and that only, was the real question at issue. Referring to the history of reformatories, he was satisfied that the system had worked well upon the whole, and that it was unnecessary to disturb it and adopt another. It had neither failed, nor had it disappointed the expectations of its friends; so far from that, he believed it had exceeded those expectations in every instance.


observed, that he thought the House should remember that the question before them was not upon any clause of the Bill, but whether the House should go into Committee. He apprehended the discussion had gone upon the first clause of the Bill, upon which he should be prepared to give an opinion at the proper time. He would beg the House to observe the clauses at the end of the Bill. The effect of them would be to give greater power over the parents of offending children. The law at present was not strong enough. There was another useful clause in the Bill to give county justices the power of entering into contracts with the proprietors of these institutions for the purpose of accommodating a certain number of children. If the Amendment were carried, it would extinguish the Bill altogether. And, as to many of the clauses no objection whatever could be entertained, he trusted the hon. Member for Surrey would withdraw his Amendment, and limit himself to an opposition in Committee to such of the clauses as he objected to.


said, the Bill was introduced with the express object of establishing reformatory schools by means of a compulsory contribution from the county rates; and he had the greatest possible objection to attaching that character to these institutions. But Strongly as he felt upon the financial part of the question, he felt still more strongly upon this—that it would interfere in an injurious manner with existing institutions, which he believed would prove most beneficial by being left in the hands of those whose hearts and souls were so much enlisted in the matter as to induce them to put their hands into their own pockets, and not into the pockets of other people. He was sorry, however, that the exertions of those parties had been greatly retarded in. many districts by the expectation of some compulsory measure of this sort. He should be glad to hear from the Government, therefore, that the compulsory portion of the Bill was to be abandoned.


said, that he Considered it a privilege to assist in the reformation of domestic institutions. He considered, however, that none but voluntary efforts would succeed in reforming the criminal portion of the population; and therefore, as an humble aliquot part of the representation of Great Britain, and no rider of hobbies, or associate of hon. Gentlemen who were, he should vote for the Amendment, because he believed the Bill was not calculated to promote the social good of the community.


said, where voluntaryism was pure voluntaryism, there was no principle so efficacious in promoting its object, whether social or religious. But the question of pure voluntaryism in this matter had been settled long since by the fact, that the reformatories already established generally received support from the Government. He held that it was necessary to draw a distinction between the reformation of juvenile offenders and the education of those who were not offenders, or who, from the circumstances in which they were placed, were almost certain to become offenders against the laws. As to the expenses likely to be incurred, it appeared to him that in the end there would be a balance in favour of the ratepayers. That this was a good Bill he did not believe; but that it could be amended he did believe, and therefore he should vote for going into Committee.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 168; Noes 37: Majority 131.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

House in Committee.

Clause 1 (Justices of a County or Council of Borough Sessions may grant money in aid of Reformatory Schools).


said, he thought that the Bill would interfere with the internal arrangements of the reformatory schools. He was also of opinion that the ratepayers would not submit to a compulsory rate of 7s. or 8s. for each inmate of a reformatory.


was so much opposed to throwing on the magistrates the odium of imposing this rate on the ratepayers of the counties, that he should oppose the clause altogether. He had no objection to reformatories, and to their receiving aid from the State; but this Bill imposed a tax on a particular class of property.


observed, that, some time ago the Prime Minister made something as like a promise as ever he did in his life—that he would bring in a Bill for the establishment of financial boards. When that measure was passed, he would not object, perhaps, to this Bill; but at present he would support the Motion for the rejection of the clause, as it would tend to increase the burden of the ratepayers which was already too heavy, and thus bring reformatories into bad odour.


said, he hoped the Committee would not reject the clause on the ground mentioned by the hon. Gentleman behind him; for if the object were really one of public importance, and that it was so was generally admitted, they ought not to negative the measure simply because county financial boards were not established, and the ratepayers were not represented under the system by which the county rate was at present administered. He also begged to remind the Committee that it was at the instance of the friends of the reformatory schools that the Government increased the allowance to them from 5s. to 7s. per head.


entreated the Committee not to reject the Bill, which he considered to be absolutely indispensable in the present circumstances of the country.


said, he admired the exertions of individuals, and approved of reformatory schools supported by voluntary contributions. He could not consent to allow his constituents to have the county rates (at present very burthensome) charged with additional rate for the purpose.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 149; Noes 51; Majority 98.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3.


wished to know if the justices were to have power to grant money without limit?


No limit was fixed by the Bill; of course the amount must vary according to the size of the institution, and would be wholly in the discretion of the magistrates.

Clause agreed to; as were also Clauses 4 and 5.

Clause 6.


proposed to substitute 2s. 6d. for 5s. as the amount which a parent should be compelled to contribute towards the maintenance of his child in a reformatory.


said, that this was not a new enactment. It was taken from other Acts which were now in existence.


denied the right of society to compel a father, who had no complicity in the crime of his child, to pay for the support of his child in one of these reformatories.


observed that the magistrates had a discretionary power in the matter.

Clause agreed to; as were also the remaining clauses.

The House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered on Tuesday next, and to be printed.