HC Deb 09 June 1857 vol 145 cc1486-8

then moved for leave to introduce a Bill to promote the establishment and extension of Reformatory Schools in England. He said, when he introduced a Bill for this object in the last Session, he was sorry to find that it excited very great apprehension on the part of many hon. Gentlemen for whom he entertained considerable respect, in consequence of the benevolent exertions which they had made for the promotion of reformatory institutions. Those hon. Gentlemen feared that the powers which he proposed to give to counties and boroughs to levy rates for that purpose would have the effect of withdrawing from such institutions the voluntary support on which they had previously depended. His object was to provide for the more rapid extension of institutions which had become part of the criminal establishments of the country, many magistrates having represented that they were unable to find any reformatories in their own neighbourhood, and nothing could be further from his intention than to interfere with the arrangement of such institutions as were supported by voluntary contributions, or to set up rival ones at the public expense. He had since had some communications with a number of gentlemen who took great interest in this matter, and he hoped that the Bill which he now proposed to introduce would remove the apprehensions which he had mentioned. What he proposed was, not to authorize counties and boroughs, without reference to any existing institutions, to establish reformatories, but to authorize them to assist voluntary efforts by granting aid in the erection of the requisite buildings, whether in the case of existing or of intended reformatories. Although this proposition did not go the length of his former one, he trusted it would give a stimulus to the work and lead to the establishment of reformatories in many of the largest counties of England, where there was a strong desire expressed for institutions in which criminal children might be placed. The Bill, which was a very short one, would leave the management of the institutions to be settled between the originators who contributed to their support, and the magistrates, who made grants out of the funds at their disposals; but in cases in which new buildings had to be erected, the plans would have to be approved by the Secretary of State, before aid was afforded from the public rates. He should be very glad if he could promote the object to this limited extent without encountering the opposition of Gentlemen with whom he was most anxious to co-operate in this matter.


said, that the House were not aware what an enormous outlay of public money this reformatory system would involve. At present the average number of juvenile delinquents under seven years of age in Surrey alone was 1,050, who were committed for about forty days, one with another. Their imprisonment cost the county £2 each, or £2,100 in the aggregate. But if 600 of these criminals—making a deduction of 450 for recommittals—were sent to reformatories, and such would constitute the class which would be sent under this Act, the cost would amount to £45,000 a year. It was true that, for the first year, the cost would be only £15,000, but for the second it would be £30,000, and for the third or any subsequent year—and the Act empowered them to be kept there for five—it would be £45,000 instead of £2,100. This calculation he had made upon the basis of the Redhill expenditure, that being the best establishment of the kind in the kingdom.


said, he thought it desirable that the House should proceed cautiously. The weak point in the reformatory system was, that more money and pains were bestowed on bad boys than on good ones. In the borough which he represented (Lancaster) there was the greatest objection to the payment of rates for the maintenance of criminals in reformatory institutions.


said, he did not propose to give magistrates power to levy rates for the maintenance of the inmates; they would only be able to contribute towards the original establishment of reformatories, and could not consider that unreasonable, inasmuch as reformatories were in part substitutes for prisons. As regarded the objections made by the hon. Member for Surrey (Mr. Alcock), he would observe that the amount which the Treasury were authorised to contribute would cover the expense of maintenance. The magistrates would only have power to charge the rates for the erection of the buildings.

Leave given. Bill "to promote the establishment and extension of Reformatory Schools in England," ordered to be brought in by Sir GEORGE GREY, Mr. BAINES, and Mr. MASSEY.

Bill presented, and read 1°.