§ Order of the Day for the second reading of the Bill read.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
Sir, it will not be necessary, in asking the House to read this Bill a second time, that I should repeat the statements and arguments which 137 I addressed to the House in February, when I moved for leave to introduce a similar Bill, but it is only respectful to the House that I should describe very briefly the provisions and objects of this measure. It is hardly necessary that I should recall to the recollection of the House the provisions of the Act which was passed in 1853 in consequence of the insuperable difficulties which were then experienced in carrying into effect sentences of transportation. By the provisions of that Act all sentences of transportation for periods less than fourteen years were abolished, and in lieu of such punishment there was substituted the punishment of penal servitude for periods of shorter duration than the corresponding sentences of transportation. The option was left to Judges of passing sentences of transportation or of penal servitude for periods exceeding fourteen years. The present Bill proposes to abolish altogether sentences of transportation, and to place the law relating to sentences of transportation for terms of fourteen years and upwards upon the same footing as sentences for less than that term. But, although the sentence of transportation would be abolished if this Bill passed into a law, I do not intend to forego the advantages, which were available under that system. On the contrary, my proposal will give facilities, which do not now exist, for sending out of the country convicts sentenced to penal servitude after they have undergone a preliminary portion of their punishment in separate imprisonment, and subsequently in associated labour in this country. The next provision, which is in accordance with the recommendation of the Committee which investigated this subject, is that the sentences of penal servitude substituted for sentences of transportation, instead of being of considerably shorter duration than the corresponding sentences of transportation, shall be made co-extensive in duration with those sentences; and that a discretion shall be given to the Court to pass sentences of penal servitude below the former minimum period of transportation—seven years,—but exceeding the ordinary period of imprisonment for two or three years, which might have been inflicted under the previous law; thus allowing the Court to pass sentences of penal servitude for four, five, six, or seven years in lieu of seven years' transportation. The object of this proposition, in short, is to fill up the gap, which now exists between penal servitude and imprisonment. The most 138 important provision, however, is that which removes the obstacle which prevents convicts sentenced to terms of penal servitude being transported to Colonies which may be willing to receive them, and in which are to be found the means of employing and absorbing them. Under the terms of the 6th clause of the Act of 1853 it is very doubtful whether Parliament did not intend to confer upon the Executive Government the power which I now ask it distinctly to create. So doubtful was it that, upon a question arising whether sentences of penal servitude could be carried out in Western Australia, the law officers took a very considerable time before they arrived at the conclusion that under the existing law it was not competent for the Government to send convicts under sentence of penal servitude to the colony of Western Australia. The particular clause of the Act of 1853 is the 6th, which runs as follows—Every Person who under this Act shall be sentenced or ordered to be kept in Penal Servitude may, during the Term of the Sentence or Order, be confined in any such Prison or Place of Confinement in any Part of the United Kingdom, or in any River, Port, or Harbour of the United Kingdom, in which Persons under Sentence or Order of Transportation may now by Law be confined, or in any other Prison in the United Kingdom, or in any part of Her Majesty's Dominions beyond the Seas, or in any Port or Harbour thereof, as one of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State may from time to time direct; and such Person may during such Term be kept to Hard Labour and otherwise dealt with in all respects as Persons sentenced to Transportation may now by Law be dealt with while so confined.After a lengthened and careful consideration, the law officers reported their opinion that, under that clause, it was not competent for the Government to carry sentences of penal servitude into effect in Western Australia subject to the same conditions as sentences of transportation, and, if those conditions were wanting, all advantage from sending out convicts would be lost. At present, under this clause convicts may be sent to Western Australia, or any other colony willing to receive them, but when there, those persons could only be treated as they would be at home, or when employed upon the public works at Chatham, Portsmouth, Portland, or at Gibraltar and Bermuda. As soon as the convict ceased to be actually confined or employed in Compulsory labour, he must be removed from the colony, and thus all the advantages of transportation would be altogether lost; the benefit to this coun- 139 try arising from the removal of offenders, the advantage to the colony from a supply of useful labour, and the advantage to the convicts of affording them a chance of re-commencing life in a new country, removed from the vicious associations of their former career, would be completely lost under the present law. There are at present abundant means in this country of employing convicts during that period of their sentence, when it is possible to employ them upon public works. The demands for Chatham, Portland, and Portsmouth, in addition to the convict settlements of Bermuda and Gibraltar, have been more than we can supply, and we have been unable to select such a number of convicts who, from age and physical ability, are capable of being employed upon public works as would meet the demands of the Admiralty and the Board of Ordnance. The difficulty is not how to deal with convicts during the earlier part of their punishment, while under strict confinement or employed upon public works; but it arises when the strictness of the discipline is to be relaxed, and opportunity is to be afforded to the criminal to re-enter upon life with a chance of becoming a better member of society. The object of a provision in the Bill which I now ask this House to read a second time, is to remove the obstacle which now exists to sending out convicts under sentences of penal servitude to Western Australia, or to any other Colony the inhabitants of which may be willing to receive them, and in which the proper means of employment for them are to be found. The Committee of the House of Lords specially recommended that we should revert to the former system of selection, with a view of sending to Western Australia a class of convicts whose removal would benefit this country, and at the same time confer an advantage upon the colony, which required their labour. It is impossible under the existing law to do so, as the convicts sentenced to transportation are sentenced to long terms in consequence of their heavy or repeated crimes, and the number sentenced to these long periods of transportation are very few in number. It will be recollected that when I introduced this Bill last Session I stated that such had been the effect of the Act of 1853. The number of convicts in the United Kingdom sentenced to transportation in 1852, the year before that Act was passed, was no less than 4,307, while in 1855 it 140 fell to 409. Of the latter number all have been sentenced to fourteen years' punishment or upwards, but many of them from age and other circumstances are physically unfit for transportation. The number of convicts sentenced to penal servitude in 1855 was 2,700, who must be discharged in this country upon the expiration of their sentences. The provision of this Bill will enable the Government, out of the convicts sentenced, to select those who, from their age, physical capacity, and other circumstances—such as the nature of the crimes of which they have been convicted, and the term of their sentence—are fit to be removed to Western Australia or any other colony which may be found willing to receive them, and to avail itself of any facilities that may from time to time exist for sending them, after a certain period of imprisonment here, to a penal colony, there to undergo the remainder of the sentence in compulsory labour, but with a prospect that after a time they may, by good conduct, obtain some relaxation of that sentence, and he afforded the opportunity, if they choose to avail themselves of it, of becoming useful members of society in the colony. There is one objection which I upon a former occasion said I expected would be made to this proposal, and it has been made. It is said you will produce uncertainty as to the execution of your sentences, and that if of the men sentenced to penal servitude, some work out their period of punishment at home, while others are sent abroad to a penal colony, there will arise uncertainty as to the effect of the sentence, which I admit it is desirable, if possible, to avoid. I cannot say there will be no uncertainty, but I do say that if we desire to have absolute certainty in our sentences we must absolutely forego any system of transportation—meaning thereby removal from this country. If we are to adhere to the system of transportation as a punishment we must adopt the principle of selection, such selection being determined not only by the age and physical condition of the convicts —but by a circumstance, which must vary from time to time—namely, the facility existing at any given time for the absorption of convicts in a colony. I said upon the former occasion this objection was not new. I admit it is an objection, and one which I should be glad to obviate, if I could do so without sacrificing the great advantages arising from the removal of convicts from this country. I say, however, that the objection applies quite as 141 much to the former system of transportation, as to that which will exist under this Bill if it becomes law. Upon the former occasion, when I brought forward this measure, I stated to the House that the practice formerly was not to send out of the country convicts who were sentenced only to seven years' transportation—those persons serving a certain portion, usually one-half, of their punishment in this country, and then, if well-behaved, receiving their discharge here. I was reminded by the right hon. Gentleman opposite that there was a Resolution of this House condemning that practice, in consequence of which the Government endeavoured to send out all convicts to Van Diemen's Land and New South Wales instead of retaining them in this country. The greatly-increased number of convicts thus sent from this country overwhelmed the colonies, and led to the total break-down of the system under an attempt to introduce the element of absolute certainty into our sentences. But even while the Government were endeavouring to carry out the Resolution of the House, the fact was that all convicts were not sent abroad. I find the total number of convicts in Great Britain sentenced to transportation during the ten years from 1843 to 1852 inclusive—I stop there, as 1852 was the last year previous to the alteration of the law—was 31,020, of whom only 22,322 were actually sent abroad, leaving a balance of 8,698, who, although sentenced to transportation, yet underwent their punishments in this country. In Ireland, during the same period, there were sentenced to transportation 12,631 men and 3,460 women, making a total of 16,091. Of these there were actually transported only 4,710 men, and 3,038, nearly the whole, of the women, leaving 8,243 convicts, of whom 7,921 were men who were retained in Ireland. There was, therefore, taking the United Kingdom altogether in the ten years I have mentioned, a difference of 17,041 between the numbers of those sentenced to transportation and of those who actually were sent abroad. I quote these figures to show that, practically, uncertainty characterized the former system quite as much as it is likely to do with reference to the proposed plan. Indeed, I think there was more uncertainty formerly, because the sentences then pronounced being sentences of transportation could not be fully carried into effect without the actual removal of the convicts from this country, while the sentences which I 142 propose to substitute, being sentences of penal servitude, can be carried into effect either here or abroad. I have thus gone over the provisions of the Bill, and trust that they will meet the approbation of the House. With regard to the manner of carrying the sentence into effect, it is manifest that the discretion must rest with the Executive Government, and not with the Judge. It is impossible the Judge can know, at the time when he passes the sentence, whether a man before him is a fit person to be sent to a distant colony; nor can he know what demand may exist at the time for such description of persons in any particular colony, or the various other circumstances which must aid in determining whether the convict ought to be sent abroad or detained at home. It is from no distrust of the Judges that I say this. The most ample discretion should be vested in them in determining what the length of the sentence should be, but it is the impossibility of investing them with the knowledge and information necessary to enable them to decide when transportation should take place, and when it should not, that renders it necessary to leave the decision with the Government. On this occasion I do not wish to enter into the question—which has been fully discussed at a former period—of tickets of leave. The Bill leaves the law exactly as it now is; but the number of convicts under sentence of transportation, and who can be dealt with as the system is now administered, is very much reduced. In lengthening sentences of penal servitude, so as to make them correspond with sentences of transportation, we have in view the adoption of the system recommended by the Committee of this House, which thought it desirable that a stimulus to good conduct should be held out to convicts under sentence, in the prospect of a remission of part of the term of punishment. I do not want to enter upon that question on the present occasion, though, perhaps, it may be raised in Committee, but to the principle I am prepared to give my concurrence, believing that the opinion of the Committee of this House is entitled to great weight. At the same time I think that, while the remission of the remainder of a sentence by means of a ticket of leave is a power that ought to be retained, the general rule ought to be an absolute remission, rather than a qualified one. Gentlemen may have observed in the Bill now on the table some alterations as compared with 143 the one which I introduced into the last Parliament. Those alterations are not material, and are intended to clear up certain points on which there existed some doubt—as, for example, in the second clause, in which reference is made to the power of the Court to sentence under the former law either to imprisonment or to a period of transportation. The clause has been framed so as to adapt this power to "penal servitude." And the fifth clause has been added, namely—Where in any enactment now in force the expression 'any crime punishable with transportation,' or 'any crime punishable by law with transportation,' or any expression of the like import, is used, the enactment shall be construed and take effect as applicable also to any crime punishable with penal servitude.There are Acts imposing certain penalties upon persons threatening others with crimes punishable with transportation which had been overlooked in the Act of 1853, and which it is necessary to extend to the punishment provided by this Bill; and there are also restrictions on sentences of transportation passed by certain courts, which ought to apply equally to corresponding sentences of penal servitude. With these exceptions, I may repeat that the main features of the Bill are identical with those of the measure which I formerly introduced. I trust the House is satisfied with the explanation which I have endeavoured to give, and I now move that the Bill be read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2°.
§ MR. BENTINCK moved as an Amendment that the Bill be read a second time that day six months. He could assure the right hon. Baronet that he brought forward his Amendment in no spirit of hostility to the Bill, and in common with the rest of the House he admitted the great attention which the right hon. Gentleman had paid to the subject, and the great ability with which he had dealt with it; but he took this method of introducing his own views to the notice of the House, being opposed in toto to the principle of transportation. There were three great objects to be attained in dealing with the question before them—first, to protect society by the prevention of crime; secondly, to effect as far as possible the reformation of offenders; and, thirdly, to deal with the subject with the utmost regard to economy. Now, with regard to the first of these objects—the protection of seciety—he believed it would be more likely to be attained if the punishment consequent on crime was car- 144 ried out nearer home, and brought more under the observation of those who were disposed to transgress against the laws. If he might so express himself, the deterring influence of punishment was now mystified by distance, and those who were disposed to transgress had a very vague and indistinct idea of the punishment to which they would be subjected, and this uncertainty diminished that salutary dread which all punishment ought to carry with it. This effect would be obviated if the punishment was carried out in their own neighbourhood. The next point was the reformation of offenders. It was unnecessary to refer to the horrid system of iniquity and disgusting depravity which existed in Norfolk Island and our other penal settlements abroad; and surely such places were not calculated to bring about a process of reformation. On the contrary, they must tend to demoralize the unhappy persons consigned to them. As to the third point, that of economy, he believed that if a different system were adopted the convicts might be made, if not remunerative, at least able to pay their own expenses. He should like to see transportation done away with, and a system of penal settlements established within the four seas of Great Britain. One, or two, or more places, might be selected admirably adapted for the purpose, and if established on a proper system, the labour of the men, women, and children confined in them would not only serve to defray the whole expense incurred, but would in many other ways be beneficial and useful to society. It would be premature in him to mention localities adapted to the purpose, but he did not think much difficulty need be experienced in making a selection. The great gain in the first place would be that the convicts would be under a proper supervision, and that the objection to penal settlements abroad—that they were such scenes of crime—would be avoided. With regard to the financial part of the question, he did not think he was too sanguine when he stated his belief that the whole expense now incurred would be saved; but, at all events, a part of the expenditure would most certainly be saved. At present convict labour was almost, or entirely thrown away. It was of no advantage to the community, and it would surely be a great gain if, by the compulsory labour of this class on useful works, a great pecuniary advantage was conferred upon the country. He admitted there was one objection to 145 the system he proposed, and he had stated it on a former occasion—namely, that there was an unfortunate tendency in this country, among a certain portion of the population, to entertain a feeling of maudlin humanity towards a man who had committed a crime; the moment a man became a malefactor one might almost imagine he was held entitled to become a martyr. Probably the right hon. Baronet was only too well aware how numerous were the applications for commutations of punishment in such instances. He was, therefore, quite ready to admit that that peculiar sympathetic feeling might render the carrying out of a system of home penal settlements somewhat difficult; still he thought the difficulty might be got over by the Government determining not to listen to applications for alterations of sentences. Surely a man who had brought himself within the ban of the laws of his country was bound to contribute to the resources of the country by any labour of which he was capable. But not only might a convict thus be made to pay his own expenses, but his labour might be turned to account in the construction of great public works—such as harbours of refuge, coast defences, and other works of great national value—which were so much needed, and which would never be carried out without some such assistance as this. Two-thirds of the expense of those works, it was said, consisted in the cost of labour, and if convict labour were employed the want of funds, which was always the argument advanced against the commencement of them, would be got over. It was needless to point out the great advantage which such works would confer on the country. There were several places in which the construction of harbours of refuge would be the saving of an immense amount of life and property annually, and without the aid of convict labour it was hopeless to expect that any such works would ever be undertaken. There was another question, which related to the disposal of the convicts at the termination of their sentences. There might be a system provided by which every man might at such termination, be provided with work by the Government, which would enable him to save money, and then to leave the country as a free emigrant. There was, again, the question whether the Government was to have the power of selecting who were to go out and who were to remain in the 146 country, which was connected with another difficulty raised by the Home Secretary, that of deciding what men were by their physical capacity fitted to be sent abroad and which ought to be kept at home, and it would have the further advantage also of abolishing the ticket-of-leave system, which he was glad to hear was falling into disuse. It was impossible to say that the Home Office should not have the power of remitting punishment in certain cases, but the power ought to be exercised with great reserve, and only in cases where there had been miscarriage of justice or where new facts had been discovered. One of the greatest evils in the present system was the uncertainty of punishment; and to make it perfectly certain that an offender, except in such cases as he had just named, would receive the full amount of the punishment to which he was sentenced on his conviction, would do more than anything else to deter from crime. His plan would have the effect of saving a large amount of expenditure; it would lead to a better state of things for the future, and it would also enable the counntry to undertake the construction of important public works which were much needed and which could not be hoped for without convict labour; and the objections, therefore, which he had urged to the Bill were, he submitted, worthy of consideration. The notice which he had put on the paper was not meant in a spirit of hostility to the Bill. He approved its principle, but it did not go far enough, nor did he think that it could be sufficiently amended in Committee to meet the views which he had laid down. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.
§ The Motion not being seconded,
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said that, as the Amendment did not appear to have found a seconder, he presumed that it had fallen to the ground, and he should therefore address himself entirely to the Speech of the Home Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman had not touched the real difficulty of the case. He had found a certain legal difficulty in dealing with convicts, and to avoid that he brought in the present Bill. With the convict we could deal in any way we chose, but when he censed to be a convict we threw him on the world, and he had to deal with what he found in that world. In England we had plenty of labour, but the great cause of crime was the difficulty of finding employment. If everybody could find employment who wanted it, the amount 147 of crime in this country would not be so great as it was, and the number of convicts would be far smaller. But though employment was not to be found, the labourer was; and the difficulty was increased by the circumstance that tainted labourers could not find employment. A man who had been convicted, who had gone through penal servitude, came out upon society a branded man. He was driven, therefore, in actual self-defence, to the very crime for which he had been convicted. He was shunned by everybody; if he lived in a town, he was followed from street to street by the policeman; if he lived in the country, everybody knew that he had been a convict. Nobody would use his labour, and he must either starve or steal, and with those two alternatives before him, there was little doubt which he would choose. The difficulty lay not with the convict, while he was a convict, but in dealing with him after he had ceased to be a convict. There were two sets of circumstances to be considered—those which affected the convict in this country, and those which affected the convict in the Colonies. He would first allude to the Colonies. All our Colonies, with the exception of West Australia, had determined to receive no more convicts; and some of them—Victoria and New South Wales for instance—had gone so far as to say that no man who had been a convict should come among them at all. Cases of great hardship had been laid before that House, where people who had been forty years in Van Diemen's Land, having gone there as convicts, had been excluded from Melbourne because they were convicts, though they had lived many years in the town. He would suppose a man sentenced to one of those penal settlements referred to by the hon. Gentleman opposite. What was he to do when liberated? Nobody would employ him. The man must steal in order to save himself from starvation. Well, he does steal; he comes back—he is re-convicted, and goes back to penal servitude again. Such a man was in fact condemned for life. Society would not bear him. You make him a convict—you brand him as a felon. Once a convict always a convict, and the man must continue a thief until the gallows ended his career. It had been said that we might make penal servitude in England for life. He appealed to every Gentleman if that were possible. Penal servitude for life was so shocking to our feelings that compassion would be excited immediately for any 148 man thus condemned, and we should have a criminal the object of all that morbid sentimentality which had been so severely and so justly censured by the hon. Gentleman opposite. But you had convicts who were practically convicts for life when once they had been convicted. You could not send them abroad—and you could not sentence them to imprisonment for life. What were you to do? Well, he (Mr. Roebuck) thought there was only one course which, under the circumstances, it would be wise to pursue—namely, to find out some uninhabited part of the globe which could receive our penal population. Let them take, for example, an island in the South Seas, which would be quite far enough to prevent the possibility of escape. He was now going to make a statement which he was afraid would shock the House. The circumstance which created our difficulties was to find employment for our convicts after they had undergone their term of imprisonment. He therefore said, let transportation in every case be transportation for life. When once a man was sent from this country, never let him return again. A man could not hope to come back with a character which would find him employment, and, therefore, when once he had committed a crime which brought upon him the punishment of transportation, let that transportation be for life. It was not necessary that the punishment should be the same in all cases. All transportation should be for life, but the term of penal servitude should vary. Thus, if a man committed a great crime he should be condemned to transportation for life, but to penal servitude for fifteen years. The man who committed a crime of less magnitude should be condemned to transportation for life, but to penal servitude for seven years. He would first of all send the convict to a penal servitude, and would then put him under the "surveillance" of a body of men who should control his labour. What was it that induced the House to give up the system of transportation? It was done, he believed, at the instance of the late Sir William Molesworth, who obtained a Committee to inquire into the subject, and the evidence produced before that Committee brought forth such an amount of horrible atrocities committed in our penal settlements as shocked the feelings of the people, loading to the belief that we were sowing broadcast crime in all its shapes. This was a thing which England ought not to do, and therefore the House, in the 149 hurry of the moment withdrew the system of transportation. All the crimes in question arose from one cause. In dealing with this question, he hoped the House would not think he was doing so without the gravest consideration. What was the cause of those crimes? It was the absence of women from the penal settlements, and, therefore, in order to prevent the recurrence of the horrors which were laid before the Committee, he would in every case of women being sentenced to transportation, transport them. Penal servitude in England, as had been remarked, was liable to the same abuse if men were congregated together as they were at Norfolk Island. The only way to prevent it was by mixing in equal, or very nearly equal, proportions the two sexes, and that object he would effect by transporting every woman condemned to transportation. Thus he provided for the punishment of the criminal by subjecting him to penal servitude for a certain time. Having undergone that penal servitude in England, he would be thrown upon society. We all knew what had been the consequence of such a system. Society had been horrified and frightened by the uncertainty of life and property created by the ticket-of-leave men throughout the country, and the terror had proceeded so far that people had been afraid during the late winter of walking through the streets of London. To avoid that he would take the criminal population entirely away from England; he would subject them, in the first instance, to a term of penal servitude, he would make them go through the whole of that servitude, and then he would take them, not to any of our existing colonies, but to some new spot yet untouched by human adventure, where they might prove, as the same classes had done before, the beginning of a great empire. It would he invidious to point out particular instances, but it had been our fate to spread the English race abroad by means of our convict population, and what had once been done could be done again. So far from dealing with the question as the Home Secretary proposed to deal with it, he would alter the whole law, and, instead of not having recourse to transportation, he would have recourse to it in a greater number of cases than before. He would transport in every case for life—in the first place, to a penal colony, and thence to a spot where the criminal could provide for himself. Such appeared to him to be a 150 course which the House might safely and beneficially pursue, and one far superior in statesmanlike character, to that peddling with difficulties which the right hon. Baronet had submitted for their consideration.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
I cannot agree, Sir, with the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Sheffield, that the want of work is the main cause of crime in England—on the contrary, I believe that the two great causes of crime are, firstly, ignorance, and secondly, drunkenness. Nor can I agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman that the principal point I we have to consider is how to deal with our criminals after their punishment ceases. No doubt that is a most important matter; and one to which we are bound to give attention; but the Bill before us is founded upon the avowed difficulty of treating our convicts during that period in which the interests of society require that they should in some manner be penally dealt with. My hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Bentinck) called this a dull subject. It doubtless is so, but it is also one of the highest social importance, as well as one of extreme difficulty, and it is our duty to help the Government in dealing with an evil of such magnitude. I am afraid that the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield will not help us much by his plan, which, as I understand it, deals with convicts by transporting them for life, and sending them all to some new spot in the world not yet discovered—[Mr. ROEBUCK: Not discovered?] Not yet settled, then; or, at any rate, on which the hon. and learned Gentleman had not yet determined. The hon. and learned Gentleman cannot mean seriously that every one of the large class of men whose interests were involved in the Bill before the House should be transported for life; nor could he mean to introduce something like the old Spartan law, which held that the smallest crimes deserved death, and that no other punishment could be inflicted for the greatest.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
I am sorry to say that, practically, that has been the case during the whole period for which we have carried out sentences of transportation. It is not to the credit of this country that, although our courts have sentenced criminals to be transported for periods of 151 only seven years, the Government has never brought home any transported convicts from the colonies to which they have been sent after their period of punishment had expired. The hon. and learned Gentleman, in arraigning this Bill, says that we ought to fix upon some new spot to which convicts may be transported. Will he go a step further and tell us where such spot is to be found? A short time since I entertained an opinion similar to that of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and I thought it most desirable that Her Majesty's Government should select some distant part of the Queen's dominions in which a new penal settlement might be founded; but I have gradually and inevitably been brought to the conclusion that the difficulty of finding any such place is so great that this scheme must be abandoned. Although I have for some years considered this subject, and a few years ago had my attention officially directed to it, I have only heard of four places in which it was supposed to be possible to establish a new penal colony. One is the northern coast of Australia, to which I myself at one time very much inclined; but the space intervening between the northern part of Australia and the settled portions of New South Wales is so small that, when that fact is considered in connection with the disadvantages arising from the tropical climate, I believe the Government are perfectly right in abandoning the idea of sending convicts there. The Falkland Islands are another place which is mentioned, but there there is so little means of employment, the soil is so bad and the climate so unfavourable, and the islands are so near to America, where great jealousy of a convict settlement would be entertained, that I think it would not be discreet to send convicts to that colony. Vancouver's Island, another place which has been suggested, is open to the same objection, in addition to that which arises from its neighbourhood to the gold fields of California. The fourth place mentioned is the Hudson's Bay territory. There again the climate constitutes a very great objection, and I think that both our own North American Colonies, the Canadas, and the United States would be greatly offended by the establishment of a penal settlement in that territory. I have mentioned these places, in order to remove from the minds of Gentlemen who may have been carried away by the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the idea that it is so easy as 152 he supposes to find in Her Majesty's dominions a place where it would be safe or prudent to establish such a colony as he proposes. These are the difficulties under which Her Majesty's Government have felt themselves compelled to deal with this subject; and it has given me much satisfaction to find them pressing forward this Bill as soon as possible after the meeting of the new Parliament. I certainly cannot support my hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Bentinck) in objecting to this measure. There is a great deal of truth in what he said, but I heard nothing from him which supported any objection to this particular Bill. It seems to me that his observations from first to last were founded very much upon the views which have been urged with great ability by Mr. Charles Pearson, the City Solicitor, who was some years ago a Member of this House, and who has with great labour and great ability suggested and arranged plans for large district prisons, which he thinks might with advantage be established. He urged these views upon the Prison Discipline Committee a few years ago. That committee reported very much in favour of his plans, and I think I may say that the existing establishments at Portland and Dartmoor were founded very much upon the principles recommended by Mr. Pearson. Therefore, while I concur very much with these views, I cannot agree with my hon. Friend that they constitute any objection to the plan proposed by the Government, which, in a great degree, seeks to deal with a different class of criminals from those who, would become inmates of such establishments as he recommends. The Bill corrects what I have frequently given my opinion was a great fault and defect in the Bill of the noble Lord opposite introduced in 1853—namely, that the sentences of penal servitude imposed by that Act were so short as not to be fair equivalents for the periods of transportation for which they were substituted. This Bill corrects that defect by enabling Judges to pass sentences of penal servitude identical as to the length of time with the periods of transportation which they are to supersede. This great improvement in criminal law is founded upon the report of the House of Commons Committee which sat last year, and so far from objecting to it, I accept it with thanks from the Government. Another great objection to the present state of the law is the want of an intermediate sentence between two years' imprisonment, which 153 was practically our maximum, and seven years' transportation or penal servitude. Here again the Bill adopts a recommendation of the Committee, and enables Judges to sentence prisoners to four years' penal servitude. I will only suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that the scale of punishment would be more complete if he would go a step lower, and make the minimum period of penal servitude three years instead of four. Perhaps the right hon. Baronet (Sir George Grey) will be kind enough to consider the point. So far I have spoken only in terms of approbation of this Bill; but I now come to a matter which seems to me unnecessarily to introduce an increased element of uncertainty into our punishments, and about which, therefore, I feel great and serious doubt. Construing the Bill with the spirit with which the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) originally introduced it, I infer from it that practically the Government contemplate a very considerable increase of the punishment of transportation. I apprehend that the intention of the Government is, acting, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, upon some principle of selection, that a much larger number of convicts should be sent abroad than has recently been the case; and simultaneously with this practical increase of transportation the right hon. Gentleman entirely does away with the sentence of transportation. One of the greatest evils there can be in a system of punishment for crime is uncertainty as to what the punishment means; but hereafter, under this law, when a Judge sentences a man to ten years' penal servitude, neither the Judge who pronounces the sentence, nor the public, nor the prisoner, will know whether the man is to remain close to his friends in England, or to be sent to Gibraltar, Bermuda, or Western Australia, from the latter of which it is probable he will never return. The right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey), in his speech to-night, said that this element of uncertainty always existed—that although sentence of transportation was passed it was not always carried out. Undoubtedly there were cases of illness, infirmity, or age, in which convicts were not sent abroad, but these were exceptions: the rule was transportation.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
The only cases in which transportation was not carried out were those in which the sentence was only for seven years.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
I think 154 that the period at which these exceptions were made was that in which the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir J. Graham) presided at the Home Office. The right hon. Gentleman stated on a previous occasion that it was never the practice to send abroad persons sentenced only to seven years' transportation. He has this evening candidly admitted that that system was much complained of, and that after a Resolution passed by this House in 1841 that practice was corrected, and transportation went on until Van Diemen's Land was flooded with convicts. Transportation then ceased altogether for a time. After two years it was renewed. It was renewed for convicts sentenced to seven years' transportation quite as much as for convicts sentenced to a longer period, and again it became the general rule that all persons sentenced to transportation were transported. The cases in which they were not transported were exceptional, and therefore the right hon. Gentleman is not justified in founding any argument upon that exceptional practice. It is no justification for the great change which is now proposed of increasing transportation, while doing away with the name of transportation, whereby the public will not know what penal servitude means, or where that punishment is inflicted. I think the right hon. Gentleman would have done better if he had acted upon the 4th Resolution of the Committee last year, which says "the convict prisons beyond seas ought to be regarded as places I for carrying out the sentence of transportation." I have always considered as a very objectionable and a very absurd element of uncertainty the theory of the law that men who were sent to Bermuda or Gibraltar under sentences of penal servitude were punished at home. It is a distinction which the public do not understand. The public do not consider it the same thing whether a man is imprisoned at home or sent to Bermuda or Gibraltar; and I wish the Government had decided that Bermuda and Gibraltar should be devoted, like Western Australia, to the reception of convicts sentenced to transportation. I wish the Government would make more clear than they have yet done what is to be the system under which the punishment of penal servitude is carried out, what convicts are to be sent abroad, and how far the Judges will know the nature of the sentences which they pass. I should wish to see transportation carried 155 out as a punishment for the greater crimes, reserving penal servitude for other and lesser offences. Having thrown out these suggestions I can only hope that the Government will pursue the course indicated by this Bill, and that they will be successful. With the permission of the House, I will now turn to the observations of the hon. and learned Gentleman, who has dwelt upon what he justly called an important, though not the most important, part of the subject. It is perfectly clear that, whatever proportion of our criminals the right hon. Gentleman may intend hereafter to send either to Western Australia, Gibraltar, or Bermuda, the great majority will, at the end of their sentences, be turned loose in this country. A very difficult part of the subject then is involved in the question, what are we to do with our convicts when they are discharged? It is very important that the Government should address their thoughts to the best mode of rendering the great fact of a majority of them being released in this country as innocuous as possible. With this feeling I heard with regret the expressions used by the hon. and learned Gentleman this evening against the system of tickets of leave. Although I am happy to say the aggregate of crime diminished in 1856 as compared with the preceding year, it is perfectly true that certain classes of grave crime increased, and during last winter a panic prevailed, connected with a cry against the system of tickets of leave. But, in the first place, I ask, was that connection fair and just? and, in the second place, I ask, much more anxiously, ought there to be that danger in tickets of leave which the hon. and learned Gentleman seems to apprehend? My view of the question is this—that, assuming the prisoner is at the end of the punishment to be released in England, it is much better for him and much safer for society that he should be released with a well-regulated ticket of leave, than that he should be turned out perfectly free and unchecked. And here I would remind the House of the 5th Resolution of the Committee—That every punishment by penal servitude should include, first, a certain fixed period of imprisonment and hard labour on public works to be undergone at all events; and, second, a further period, which should be capable of being abridged by the good conduct of the convict himself.What does that mean? Is the abridgment of the period to be a complete and 156 absolute termination of punishment, or a release with some check upon him? I say the latter was meant, and I think it most desirable that the spirit of that Resolution should be carried out. I hope it is not intended by the right hon. Gentleman that all sentences shall be carried out to the letter. [Sir GEORGE GREY: I said it was not so intended.] I am glad to hear it, for I am convinced all experience and authority show that in dealing with prisoners under punishment you must not altogether shut out the element of hope. It is essential to the successful treatment of convicts that you should allow every man to hope that he may by good conduct shorten his punishment, and, on the other hand, it is due to the public that there should be some check against the misconduct of such persons when discharged. In my opinion the cry against the ticket-of-leave system was really founded upon inefficient regulations, and even these regulations being injudiciously carried out. In Ireland the ticket-of-leave system has not led to such alarming or bad consequences. I believe I am right in attributing the superior success of this system in Ireland to the fact that the regulations under which the tickets of leave are granted are strictly carried out. But in England, although I am sure from the best of motives, the right hon. Gentleman did not think it necessary to carry out the regulations and conditions under which the tickets of leave were granted with that strictness which, I believe, the interests of the public demanded. I will recall to the mind of the House a remarkable instance of this neglect. A man of the name of Wotton, who was residing in Birmingham under a ticket of leave, was noticed by the police, as associating there with thieves. Now, the right hon. Gentleman was warned of these facts. That warning was disregarded, and this man Wotton, while perpetrating a burglary, was shot by a clergyman, the owner of the house attacked. This might have been prevented had his ticket of leave been withdrawn upon the breach of the conditions, and the man sent back to gaol. This example is, I think, sufficient to show that the regulations carried out by the Home Office are not as strict as they ought to be. I do not hesitate to say that under proper precautions the system of tickets of leave ought not to be abandoned. I quite admit without any precautionary measures such a system would be highly dangerous. With them, 157 I believe it would prove a most valuable auxiliary to our criminal law. I am glad to find that the right hon. Gentleman subscribes to the opinion that the convict, though sentenced to a severe punishment, may yet be encouraged by the hope that by good conduct his punishment may be shortened. I have now only to thank the House for the patience with which it has listened to the observations I have felt it my duty to make on this important subject.
§ MR. COLLIER
said, the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary had to answer objections of a very different character. The hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) objected to transportation altogether, whilst the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) found fault with the Bill because he was for nothing but transportation. The hon. Member for West Norfolk had fallen into the error of not distinguishing between the two senses in which the word "transportation" was used—the successful sense and the unsuccessful sense. Transportation had been found successful, in the opinion of the best judges, and of every one competent to form an opinion on the subject, when a criminal was sent to a colony where a demand existed for convict labour, and where the colonists were desirous of receiving him. In that case he was separated from his criminal associates, and transferred to a country where he was not looked upon as tainted, but where he had a chance of becoming a respectable man. Transportation had failed in those cases where there was a mere deportation of the criminal to a penal settlement, which was, in other words, only a prison at the other end of the world. The hon. Member for West Norfolk objected to transportation on account of the horrors which had been witnessed at Norfolk Island and some other, penal settlements. Now, there was nothing in the Bill before the House tending to the establishment of anything like a Norfolk Island. It merely related to a species of transportation which had been found to operate beneficially. Its object was to enable the Government to send a certain number of criminals to Western Australia—the only country remaining to us where a demand existed for convict labour. Under the other provisions of the Bill, the employment of convicts in this country would be ensured at Portland, Dartmoor, and other places; and therefore a great part of the hon. Member's objections amounted to nothing. It would be 158 evidently necessary to make a selection of the criminals sent out, for there were many criminals who were too bad to be sent to any colony. In many cases men would be convicted of capital offences, but for the objections entertained by juries to the infliction of capital punishment. By this means such criminals escaped the gallows, but we had no right to send to a colony a determined murderer, or a man who had been convicted over and over again of desperate assaults or of burglaries with violence. Such persons ought to be confined for their lives, and, if so, it was better that they should be confined at home rather than abroad, for there would not only be a saving of the expense of sending them abroad, but they would be kept under better surveillance here than in another country. The arguments of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield were of a startling character. The hon. and learned Member contended that a man who had committed a crime was to be considered a tainted man; that he could get no employment in this country; that he must either starve or steal; that he would not starve, and that it was therefore desirable that all sentences of transportation should be for life. But that applied, not only to men sentenced to transportation, but to those under every term of sentence. The logical result of this was, therefore, that all criminals must be transported for life. The island which he proposed as the locality to which these persons were to be transported, and which, though not designated, might he referred to by the letter "L," would therefore soon have a very considerable population; and the more so, as the hon. Gentleman proposed to send out a considerable number of females. The hon. Member had not, however, stated what he would do with the children born there; nor had he pointed out where was the other island to which the criminals were finally to be sent for the rest of their lives. Only four places had been mentioned, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich had shown that none of those were suitable. On further consideration, he thought the hon. and learned Member would not press that view of the case. Now, with regard to the question of uncertainty. The case stood thus. It had boon said that the Judges were in the habit of sentencing persons to transportation, knowing that they would not be transported, but imprisoned. That certainly had an injurious effect, because 159 it was passing a sentence that was known to be false. But the sentence which was now passed—that of penal servitude—was not false. There was a certainty that the criminal would undergo penal servitude for a time. The uncertainty which prevailed respected the place of that servitude. Now, that was inseparable from the nature of things. The Judge was not in a proper position to decide whether a prisoner was a fit subject for transportation or not. A certain number only could be transported, and if the wrong ones were sent, the others must remain, for the colonists would not receive more than the prescribed number. Who then was the proper person to decide the question, the Judge or the Home Secretary? The Judge could not possess the information which the Home Secretary could procure, and the Home Secretary was the proper person to select the criminals to be sent out. The treatment of criminals on their discharge did not come within the scope of the Bill, and he would only observe that the ticket-of-leave system had not worked well in this country. A well-regulated ticket-of-leave system would place a man under the perpetual surveillance of the police—a system alien to the minds of the people of this country, and one which would rather have the effect of retarding than promoting the reformation of the criminal. He thought it desirable to reserve to the Crown the right of granting tickets of leave in some exceptional cases, but in every instance the criminal ought to be subjected to a certain term of imprisonment, accompanied with hard labour.
§ MR. DRUMMOND
said, that when he considered how many of the Members of that House belonged to clubs where they could have access to some map of the world—that on Mercator's projection would probably be the best for the purpose—he could not conceive the difficulty of their finding at least 100 places to which convicts might be sent. The ticket-of-leave system had done some good; it had frightened a few old ladies, but it had startled a number of gentlemen into employing their common sense in considering what had been going on year after year with regard to the treatment of criminals. His hon. and learned Friend beside him had truly said that the number of these Bills which had been brought in year after year by right hon. Gentlemen, and each of which was a satire upon the philosophy of its predecessors and those who had introduced 160 them, arose from this. We had a settlement to which we used to send our convicts, but it had been most grossly mismanaged; instead, however, of having amended that management, we had come to the absurd conclusion to give up the system altogether. From that day to the present we had been going on with all sorts of schemes, confounding things which were wholly dissimilar, talking about the reformation of criminals, when our object ought to have been to protect society. The House of Commons had nothing whatever to do with the reformation of criminals, which, like many other secondary matters, should be regarded as of a nature entirely collateral and subsidiary; as one of those social improvements, in short, which if it took place, so much the better, but which, whether it did or not, was a point with which it was not the business of statesmen to deal. The Government of a country transported people because they must protect society at home. They hanged people for the same reason, save when our pity was so great that it taught persons to perjure themselves, by declaring men to be innocent whom they knew to be guilty. All that now remained to us was to carry out the system of transportation to a greater extent than had been the case for some years past. There was no difficulty about finding a place to which to send our convicts. As to the question whether they were to have more or less punishment in one place than in another, that was a matter of detail which it was unnecessary to discuss on the second reading of the Bill, as they might be considered in Committee. In conclusion, he must express his surprise that any practical man could suppose that profitable labour could result from the employment of convicts in this country, and a hope that the Bill would be allowed to pass through its present stages.
§ MR. PHILIPPS
observed that he was prepared to support the Bill, as calculated to effect a decided improvement in the present state of things. The evidence which had been given upon the subject of secondary punishments by Mr. Justice Erle and Mr. Justice Cresswell had represented the effect produced by the sentence of transportation, not only upon the criminal himself, but upon all those who happened to hear it pronounced, as of a character the most deterring; and, so far as he himself had had an opportunity of forming a judgment upon the matter, he had been induced to arrive at a precisely similar conclusion. 161 He believed it produced a much stronger effect than a sentence of imprisonment; and it was impossible to calculate how many persons had been operated upon in that way. For these reasons—if a place could be found to which our criminals could be sent—he thought a return to the system of transportation must be regarded as to a certain extent desirable.
§ MR. BYNG
expressed his cordial concurrence in the general principles of the measure which was under discussion, and stated his object in rising to address the House was rather to point out some omissions in the proposition of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department than to comment upon the provisions which it actually contained. He bailed with gladness the prospect of a return to the old system of transportation in its limited, amended, and restricted sense; and he felt assured that the adoption of such a course would be as beneficial to the community as it would be generally popular with the various classes of which it was composed. He must, at the same time observe, that he thought it necessary that some reform should be effected in our ticket-of-leave system, that something like certainty should attach to the infliction of secondary punishments, which ought to graduate according to the character of the offences, but should be at the same time fixed and immutable, and that greater care should be taken with reference to the separation of criminals after their conviction than at present existed. With respect to the ticket-of-leave system—it was, in his opinion, impossible to deny that the evils which flowed from it had been much exaggerated in the public mind, inasmuch as the crimes which had created so much apprehension during the past autumn and winter might very fairly be looked upon as not so much the result of a vicious system as arising from the want of the due administration of that system in certain cases. Some line ought, therefore, he thought, to be drawn between those criminals who happened to have been several times convicted, or whose offences had been attended with gross violence, and those who were convicted for the first time, or whose transgressions were of a comparatively venial character. When a notorious criminal was convicted he would have the Judge say to him, "You are a great offender, and the law has determined that you shall for your crimes undergo a certain term of punish- 162 ment. No pretended reformation, no feigned submission to the rules which the chaplains of the gaol may lay down for your observance, shall enable you to forego that punishment." Means should be provided by which they might learn their duty towards God and man, but they should be given to understand that so long as they remained in prison they would have to accomplish their term of punishment. That was the course which he would wish to see adopted in the case of the graver class of offenders, while he was desirous that those who had been convicted for the first time or for trivial transgressions should not have the door of hope shut against them, but should be allowed to experience the advantages of a system which he could not help thinking was at the present moment more unpopular than it deserved to be. If the punishment inflicted upon criminals were of a more fixed and durable character, a great benefit to the country would, in his opinion, be the result. Those offenders who were at large would then know what they had to expect if they were brought to the bar of criminal justice. The Judges of the land would be guided in the discharge of their duties when they were aware that any punishment they might inflict would be rigorously put into execution, and might, as a consequence, be induced to pass a lighter sentence, and to take extenuating circumstances into their consideration. The question of the separation or classification of criminals, to which he had adverted, was not perhaps one which came within the scope of the measure before them; but it was nevertheless a subject of the highest importance, and if it could be effected upon a sound principle, while honest employment was provided for the thousands who annually left our gaols, much would have been done to solve one of the greatest social problems of our day. That was a state of things which perhaps must be brought about rather by the exertions of private philanthropy than by the efforts of any Administration; but it was nevertheless a question to which the attention of a Government ought, in his opinion, to be directed; and if any measure of that description could be framed by the Government, he believed it would meet with a consistent and conscientious support. It only remained for him to thank the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department for the promptitude with which 163 he had introduced the present Bill, and to state that it should have his most cordial support.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that he thanked the Government for having introduced the Bill, and that what the people of this country—the quiet people—the heads of families—demanded was, that their homes and households should be secured from those criminals who were so deeply steeped in vice that no reformation in their characters could reasonably be anticipated while they continued to dwell amid the scenes of their guilt. That it was which the people called for; but he regretted to say that the Blil at its very outset tended to deprive them to some extent of the security to which they were entitled, inasmuch as it provided that sentence of transportation, under certain modifications, should be commuted to penal servitude, while it left the point in complete uncertainty whether that term of "penal servitude" involved transportation or not. According to the testimony of the Judges, one great advantage which the system of transportation possessed was the certainty with which the punishment was carried into effect. It began with banishment, and it was the certainty of this which deterred the gravest offenders from subjecting themselves to its infliction. Why was it, then, that transportation was not again to be resorted to in compliance with the acknowledged requirements of the community? Simply because the Government had not applied themselves vigorously to the solution of the question, or because of the difficulty which is was said existed in discovering an available site for a penal settlement. He thought, as had been already stated by an hon. Member during the debate, that the Colonial Office had been lax in their endeavours to discover a site for a penal colony. That might have arisen in some degree from the arguments of the able staff of officials now engaged in carrying out the present penal system, who, naturally enough, did not like the idea of seeing themselves superseded by any change which it might undergo, and were consequently warm advocates for the retention of our criminals at home. Be that as it might, the House had, on the one hand, a disinclination on the part of the Colonial Office to discover a site for a penal colony, and, on the other, a number of most able advocates for the detention and treatment of our convict population at home. He 164 trusted the House and the country would continue to urge on the Government the necessity of finding and adopting some penal settlement wide enough to receive the whole of the worst of our criminals, but of continuing at the same time the merciful advantages of transportation, which afforded to men desirous of amending their lives the means eventually of founding a home and establishing a new character in a new field. Thanking the right hon. Baronet (Sir George Grey) for the introduction of the Bill before the House, he still trusted it was but a step towards the renewal of transportation under the sentence of the Judges, and of that certainty of punishment which was, or ought to be, the first object of all penal legislation, provided at the same time it opened up to the convict the prospect of a new home and a new field of honest industry, where the taint of his former crimes would not follow him.
§ MR. W. EWART
said, convinced of the soundness of the conclusions to which the Committee of Sir William Molesworth arrived, he was of opinion that transportation should rather be the supplement of a punishment than itself a punishment. If the plan of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire were carried into execution, he did not believe that a penal colony would long exist. He should prefer that punishment, whatever its character, should be carried out in this country, before the eyes, as it were, of the whole community, so that it might operate in deterring people from the commission of crime, and that in all cases the convict should clearly understand that his sentence, whatever it was, would certainly be carried into effect. He concurred with M. Salvandy, who died not long since, and with M. Leon Faucher, as also with the conclusion arrived at by the Committee of Sir W. Molesworth, that as respected the worst class of criminals the most desirable course to pursue was deportation following on a preparatory ordeal of reformation at home, as having a tendency in the end to afford a fair prospect of amendment to the convict at home and a new career of colonization abroad. This, also, he believed to be the tendency of the present Bill.
§ MR. LIDDELL
contended that, on entering on the consideration of this difficult problem, the House should, in the first instance, make up its mind as to the precise light in which it ought to regard transport- 165 tation—whether as a punishment or as a reward to criminals who had passed the period of penal probation satisfactorily and honourably to themselves. While disposed to assent to the measure of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department, he would still say if transportation was to be regarded in the light of a punishment, it could not be considered as a severe one, if a punishment at all, to send criminals to a favoured land such as Western Australia, for it was a smiling country with a luxuriant soil, and the condition of the settlers there, according to the last accounts, was in the highest degree comfortable and creditable. At the same time, he was willing to admit that if the powers proposed to be given by the Bill under consideration were judiciously exercised, the result might fairly be expected to be the riddance to the country of many of the more dangerous class of criminals, whose lives here were supposed to operate as a bad example to others, and who often relapsed into crime from disappointment at not obtaining employment on their discharge. It would also be a boon to the criminal himself, because by opening up to him eventually the opportunity of pursuing a course of honest industry in, to him, a new part of the world, he would be given to understand he had still a chance left of well-doing, while to the colony to which he might be expatriated his labour, where labour was in great requisition, would be an advantage. He must, however, protest against the most favoured spots of our colonial dominions being selected as the places of destination for that class of convicts. The hon. Member for Haverfordwest (Mr. Philipps) rested his arguments as to the effect of transportation in deterring from the commission of crime on the opinion of the Judges, but he (Mr. Liddell) thought he could show that criminals themselves regarded transportation in an opposite light. Colonel Jebb, in his evidence given last year in his Report on transportation, pointed out that the result of the probation system adopted a few years ago in this country—namely, imprisonment here for certain periods proportionate to the sentence, followed by employment on public works—was, as respected its effect on the convicts subjected to it, that transportation was looked upon by them in the; light of a reward for good conduct. In confirmation of this view Colonel Jebb related a remarkable fact in connection with 166 the proceedings which took place at Brest, Toulon, and Rochefort, when the abolition of the Bagnes was resolved upon by the Emperor of the French by a decree in March, 1852. Differing from the view of the old Chamber of Peers, which was that the existing places of confinement should be suppressed, and that prisons on shore should be substituted for them, the French Government then resolved that Cayenne should be taken as a place of transportation for a certain category of offenders. The men, however, then at Brest, Toulon, and Rochefort, were under sentence of imprisonment, and not under sentence of transportation; and they were given the choice of completing their sentences in prison or of being sent to Cayenne. The terms of their transportation to that place were explained to them, and in the first few hours after the registers were opened for their accepting this offer or rejecting it, 3,000 men came forward to give in their adhesion and to express their wish to go to Cayenne. Not one hundred yards from that House was an establishment where men willingly submitted to one year's hard probation that they might afterwards obtain a passage as emigrants to a colony. These facts, he submitted, showed that the deterrent effects of transportation were not quite so strong on the minds of criminals as some hon. Gentlemen had represented during this debate. The punishment of criminals of the worst class could be conducted more effectually and cheaply at home under our own eyes; and it was quite a mistake to suppose that their labour could not be made available. Colonel Jebb's Report had shown that in the four chief prisons where men were employed on public works, the value of the labour of each convict was £24 per year. In those prisons where the work performed was purely agricultural its value was only £5 per annum. He would only, in conclusion, hope that the whole of this important subject would be well considered, and that, at all events, the effeminate system pursued at Millbank, Pentonville, and other kindred institutions would undergo a change, the result of which would be greater economy in the treatment of our convict population and a more wholesome effect upon the convicts themselves.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, there could be no doubt that their legislation in respect of criminal punishment had been unfortunate, when within the short space of three years the House was asked to make "ducks and 167 drakes" of the penal system of this country. Let them consider for a moment what they had already done and what it was they were now asked to do. Three or four years ago they came to the conclusion that four years of penal servitude were equivalent to seven years of transportation, and six or eight years of the former also equal to about ten or fifteen years of the latter. But now it was also of a sudden proposed that they should entirely reverse this decision, and go back to the original periods of punishment. This course they were asked to take without any information as to the proposed change in the nature of penal servitude; yet the Government which recommended the conclusion adopted three or four years ago was composed of nearly the same Members as the present one, the noble Lord the First Minister then being Home Secretary! The country had shown itself so dissatisfied with the effect of their late legislation on this subject that it had become imperative on the Government to do something to amend it. There was a universal outcry against the working of the system. Tickets of leave were introduced because it was held that seven years of transportation were equivalent to four years of penal servitude, and that therefore it was unjust to keep a man who had received the former sentence for an equal number of years under the severer form of imprisonment. Accordingly large numbers of criminals were let loose, and what was the result? A general distrust of Government pardons was excited in the public mind, and the prisoners who were pardoned and those who had worked out their full sentence and the ticket-of-leave men were looked upon with equal jealousy, and found equal difficulty in obtaining employment. They had also, by altering sentences, made their secondary punishment insufficient in severity for the crimes which they were intended to punish. There had been of late years—and no one rejoiced at it more than he did—a considerable diminution in the number of capital sentences, and also in the number of such sentences carried into execution; but this made the system of secondary punishment more important. What did this Bill provide for? Why for altering altogether the number of years for which convicted persons were to undergo punishment—in fact, going back again to the system of transportation. This was undeniably the fact, yet by some strange shuffle of words, 168 which he could not understand, the Government got rid in the Bill of the word "transportation." What would be the effect of that upon the public mind? Say what they would, transportation held out greater terrors to the criminal class than penal servitude. This is asserted without fear of contradiction from any one who magisterially or otherwise came in contact with that class. It more completely cut them off from their wives and their other connexions, because when the sea did not lie between them and their friends they never would give up the hope of communicating with them. Every person in this country, from the highest to the lowest, felt that it was in the power of the Crown, at its discretion, to extend its mercy to any criminal and mitigate his sentence. But they were about to do this:—A Judge sentenced a man, it might be for a light or a heavy offence, to penal servitude. Then, without any reason assigned, without any cause that the public could know or the friends of the prisoner could conceive, this man was to be suddenly transported. This could be viewed in no other light than as an aggravation of the sentence, and an aggravation, too, produced by an arbitrary and capricious exercise of the power of the Crown, though no doubt sanctioned by Act of Parliament, and the effect could not but be mischievous. They could feel it no other way, and, therefore, the proposed alteration would not have a good effect. It was certainly difficult to find a foreign settlement to which to send our criminals; but, unless we meant to give up the system of transportation, we ought to retain its name, and he hoped when the measure got into Committee the right hon. Gentleman would allow the word to stand. The hon. Member for Dumfries recommended them to confine their criminals for a time here, and then to deport them. If they were not let loose in this country the system might prove satisfactory; but it might be better that as long as they were kept within four walls they should remain at home, where a more efficient surveillance could be maintained over them than was practicable at a remote distance. For the sake not only of the people at home, but also for the interest of the criminals themselves, it was highly desirable that as many of them as possible should be sent abroad. When turned out of prison, not, as formerly, with pardons, but with tickets of leave, and in a country where the labour-market was pretty well stocked, these unfortunate men 169 were looked upon as something even worse than criminals. An ugly name was attached to them, and what with the policeman and what with other people, they were hunted about until they had no other resource but to return to their old associates, when they soon found their way to prison again. With so much difficulty in finding-work in a field where they had many competitors of untainted character, it was not likely, even if reformed—which must always be questionable—that they would have strength enough to resist the temptations to which they might be exposed. In a new country, on the other hand, they would be removed alike from their vicious companions and from the reach of temptations, while the means of obtaining an honest livelihood would be easily open to them. They had abundant evidence that a very large proportion of the convicts sent to the colonies conducted themselves in a manner which at least did not render them obnoxious to the law, and when that was the case charity required us to believe that they were leading proper lives there. He hoped, therefore, they should have the assurance of the Government that they would not by this measure narrow down, more than they had already done, the means of sending those persons abroad; but, as the Bill stood, it certainly had an ugly look. Though such might not be their real intention, the omission of the word "transportation" would, in the eyes of the public, bear the appearance of a wish to put an end to that system. He hoped, however, that in Committee this and other parts of the measure would be made less objectionable.
§ MR. BAINES
said, there was one point on which he should be glad to say a word, especially as, by the forms of the House, his right hon. Friend (Sir G. Grey) was precluded from again addressing the House, owing to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) failing to find a seconder. He (Mr. Baines) might also ask to be heard, because he had had the honour to act as Chairman of the Committee which conducted a long, patient, and very diligent investigation into the whole of this question. The right hon. Gentleman who spoke last had been guilty, no doubt through inadvertence, of considerable injustice towards the Government, having accused them of dealing in a wanton and careless manner with a subject of first-rate importance. The right hon. Gentleman had charged them with making 170 "ducks and drakes" of this question. He was correct in his quotation of the terms used by the right hon. Gentleman; and from those terms it was certainly to be inferred that the Government were not acting according to any well-settled or matured plan, but in a wanton, crude, and unjustifiable manner. That he thought was an unjust accusation. The House should bear in mind the circumstances under which the 16th and 17th of Victoria was passed for the amendment of the law with regard to transportation. That Act was passed suddenly and at the end of a Session, by way of an experiment, the Government having been compelled to resort to that expedient by the refusal of the Colonies to receive any more convicts. That experiment was fairly tried for three years, and then there arose a demand in both Houses of Parliament for an investigation as to the manner in which it worked, in order that it might be seen whether any change was desirable. Committees were consequently appointed to inquire into the operation of the Act, and of the House of Commons' Committee he had the honour to be Chairman. The entire subject was carefully investigated, and at last certain resolutions were adopted, as the result of a great body of evidence, and laid before the House, and a similar course was adopted by the House of Lords' Committee, who investigated another branch of the subject also in a careful and diligent manner. The Government having considered these resolutions, deemed it to be their duty to found upon them the present measure. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) had, therefore, no ground for saying that the Government had introduced this measure wantonly, and without any greater reason for legislation than existed when the Bill of 1853 was proposed. He (Mr. Baines) did not now propose to enter upon a discussion of the various points connected with this important subject, as there would be an opportunity of discussing them bye-and-bye; but there was one on which he wished to say a few words. The hon. Member for Sheffield had said that it would be a very easy thing for the Government to discover some place to which convicts might be sent, and by this means they might get rid of the practical difficulty which had arisen from the Australian and Cape Colonists refusing to receive convicts; but the hon. Gentleman must permit him to say that in that which he thought so easy, the Committee found involved difficulties which were utterly in- 171 superable. And so with regard to the Committee of the House of Lords: they inquired particularly into this part of the case, and suggested particular places which had been alluded to by the right hon. Member for Droitwich. The result was that both Committees came to the conclusion that it was a matter of regret that the country should forego the advantages of sending convicts out of the country, and yet that they were unable to point out any place, except Western Australia (which would receive them for the present), to which convicts might in future be sent. The hon. Member for Warwickshire said the sending them out was a very simple matter, but the right hon. Member for Droitwich told them that, though he originally had an opinion that they might find places to which convicts might be sent, and had that opinion when he went into the Committee, yet that after going through the whole of the investigation he came to the conclusion that it was difficult, if not impossible, to find out a place of that kind. The right hon. Gentleman had been Secretary for the Colonies, and so had unusual facilities for forming a correct opinion, besides those which he derived from a very assiduous attendance upon his Committee, and the evidence of such a witness was worth a host of suggestions from those who had had no such opportunity of forming correct opinions. The House of Lords' Committee suggested to Her Majesty's Government the names of one or two places which it was thought might possibly be selected in lieu of Van Diemen 's Land for the purpose of punishing convicts; and on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, the Colonial Secretary, he took the liberty of saying that he had spared no effort to discover the truth upon that subject. For the present, however, it was the strong opinion of the Government that it would be almost impossible to discover any new place that could be used for the purposes of a penal colony.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
thought his right hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire was quite right in saying that it was unfortunate that the criminal law of England should consist of a series of experiments. That was the statement of his right hon. Friend. He was of opinion that it was contrary to all principles of law to allow the Judge to pass a sentence, and allow the Executive to carry out a different and a severer one—to allow the Judge to pass a sentence of penal servitude, and au- 172 thorize the Executive to—without having heard one word of the evidence—inflict a punishment heavier than that directed by the Judge. He quite concurred with his right hon. Friend that transportation was by the people considered to be the severer punishment. At least, in Ireland it was so, as he could bear witness, after twenty years' experience at the bar in that country. It was so considered both by the criminals and their relatives and friends.
§ MR. KEATING
said, that, admitting that the Act of 16 & 17 Vict, was to a certain extent an experiment, yet it must be remembered that the necessity for that experiment arose from circumstances over which the Government of the day had no control whatever. That necessity arose from the refusal of the colonies to receive our convicts, and that necessitated a different legislation, and imposed an obligation upon the Government of seeking some remedy or other for a state of things that had unexpectedly arisen. That experiment was embodied in the 16 & 17 Vict., and he regarded it with considerable doubt. He was one of those who ventured, when the Bill passed the third reading, in a thin House, to question the propriety of the experiment of granting tickets of leave, and he suggested to the noble Lord now at the head of the Government, but who was then Secretary for the Home Department, that the three clauses which embodied that principle had not been sufficiently considered, and that they had better be withdrawn from the Bill, and reintroduced if found upon consideration to be necessary. However, the Session had arrived at that period that it became necessary, he presumed, for the Government to pass a Bill in that shape. He entirely agreed with the present Bill, in the principle of restoring transportation in effect; and he was somewhat disappointed in finding that the Secretary of State for the Home Department had not thought it right to follow what he could not help thinking, when he introduced this Bill in the last Session of Parliament, to be really his opinion, that those clauses were introduced for a mere temporary purpose, which, perhaps, had been answered; and he thought that these clauses, repugnant as they were to the public feeling, had better be withdrawn; from the Bill. The Bill, at first sight, appeared to introduce additional uncertainty with regard to the nature of the punishment that was really awarded by the sentence of the Judge; but accepting, as he 173 did, the explanation of the Home Secretary, that, upon this Bill passing, the sentence of penal servitude would involve the penal consequence of liability to transportation, and presuming it to be the intention of Government that actual transportation should be persisted in, as far as the colonies would allow of its being carried into execution, then he did think that the principle of the Bill was a decided improvement upon the Act of 16 & 17 Vict., and he rejoiced that so much unanimity prevailed in the House as to allow the Bill to be read a second time without opposition.
said, although he would give his support to the Bill, he believed there could not be a question in the mind of any one who ever witnessed the trial of a prisoner that the sentence of transportation had far greater effect in deterring from crime than what he could not help calling the "milk and water" sentence of penal servitude. The friends and companions of the convict felt that banishment from their native country was one of the most serious sentences that could be passed upon them. And what was the object of all punishment? To deter from crime those who were badly disposed, and nothing could have more influence in this respect than the knowledge that the severe sentence pronounced would be carried into effect. At the last winter sessions, at which he presided as chairman, a numerous bench of magistrates agreed to a memorial to the Secretary of State upon this subject, which set forth that the substitution of a comparative short period of penal servitude for transportation was the main ground of the great increase of crime which had taken place; and that it had entirely failed, both as a means of reformation of offenders and as an example to deter from crime. The great benefit of passing the sentence of transportation was, as he had already observed, in its being publicly known at the time it was passed that the criminal would be banished from the country; but as the Bill stood, the Judge would not be able to hold out in terrorem that banishment would follow the sentence, and the convict would be secretly informed afterwards, without the public knowing anything about the matter, that he was to suffer the actual penalty of transportation. Upon this point he agreed with his right hon. Friend, and hoped the Government would, before the Bill went into Committee, reconsider whether it might not be advisable, if transpor- 174 tation was to be allowed by the Bill, that it should form a part of the sentence pronounced in open court.
did not intend to discuss the details of the measure, and but for some remarks made that night he should not have risen at all. There was one point intimately connected with this question, upon which opinions in this House and among the public at large appeared to be greatly divided; and it seemed I to him that it was the duty of those who upon that subject had formed a clear and decided opinion, to express such opinion in a manner that might leave no doubt in the public mind. The real dispute, and it lay at the bottom of the whole subject, was, whether it would be possible permanently to continue the practice of transportation beyond the seas, or whether the time had arrived when that practice must necessarily cease altogether? He did not think it was fair or satisfactory to limit their arguments to the mere question of transportation being desirable. The point really at issue was not whether transportation was desirable, but whether it was possible or not. He had read every report that had been published upon the subject; he had conversed with many persons who were acquainted with all its bearings; and he confessed that the impression left on his mind was that any attempt to found a new penal settlement in any part of the globe would be an experiment necessarily ending in disappointment and failure. It was not for him to supply proof of so general a proposition; such proof, from the nature of the case, could not be given; but he thought it was easy to show, if any particular spot or specific locality were chosen for a new penal settlement, that to that locality, wherever it might be, there would be found grave and even insuperable objections. If they tried the Falkland Islands, which had often been proposed, they had an area which was far too limited in extent to supply the main advantage of such a colony, namely, a wide space with a scanty population, and a climate in which it would be impossible to raise so much as a crop of grain. If they went to Vancouver's Island, the Americans would naturally and reasonably complain of arrangements, the practical effect of which would be, that the convicts, so soon as they became free, would at once flock to the neighbouring gold fields of California, lying within the United States territory. Passing from Vancouver's Island, if they established a 175 settlement in the northern parts of the Hudson's Bay territory, they would have to deal with a climate in which all attempts at agriculture were totally out of the question; where, at a few inches depth, the ground was permanently frozen throughout the year; whilst if they went to the southern part of that territory they must select those localities which bordered upon the colony of Canada, and he need not say that to establish a penal settlement upon the borders of Canada was practically to establish a settlement in Canada itself. Let them turn now from America to what he believed was the only other locality of which mention had been made—he meant the northern coast of Australia. Of that part of the Australian continent little was known; but what we did know was not much in its favour. It lay far within the torrid zone. It was a low-lying land, with a tropical climate; and the experience of every other part of the globe showed that under those circumstances, and in such a climate, Europeans had not been able to labour successfully, or even to preserve life. Look, again, at the latest map of Australia, and hon. Gentlemen would see how rapidly the colony of Western Australia was extending upwards to the northern coast. However, therefore, they might for a while isolate those convicts whom they planted on the north coast, still in time, and that time not distant, a way would be made from the new to the older settlements. So that, however they might keep the letter of their promise to the colonists of Australia that transportation should cease, they would be breaking it in spirit, because, as soon as their term of punishment had expired, the convicts would be sure to find their way to the older settlements. If then it were, as he thought, impossible to find another spot where, with any fair prospect of success, we could establish a new penal colony, we were thrown upon the only colony which at present did still consent to receive our convicts—he meant Western Australia. Up to the present time the inhabitants of Western Australia had shown no objection to receive convict emigrants; he was glad to see that willingness on their part, and he hoped it would continue. But he could not forget that in Van Diemen's Land and those other colonies to which transportation was formerly carried on, a very short time before that outbreak of popular feeling which compelled the Government at home 176 to abandon the practice of transportation, there was apparently the same willingness to receive convicts which was now to be found in Western Australia. In Van Diemen's Land, the opponents of transportation were a small minority, only a few months before their final triumph. Public opinion had there shifted very rapidly, and we must be prepared for its doing the same in Western Australia. The only precautions which were in the power of the Government to take, in order to secure a continuance for as long a term as possible of transportation to that only colony with reference to which it now existed, were—first, to avoid sending out at any one time an excessive number of convicts; secondly, to take care that they sent out none but those who might reasonably be supposed capable of being reclaimed; and lastly, which was the most important point of all, it was necessary that the inhabitants should clearly understand that transportation to their colony would continue only during their pleasure, and that upon a hostile expression of feeling on their part it would cease at once. It was, he believed, quite as much a feeling on the part of the inhabitants of the other colonies that compulsion was practised towards them—that they were allowed no choice in a matter deeply affecting their destinies—that they were used for the purposes of Government at home, without reference to their interests or their likings—it was quite as much this feeling as it was their actual aversion to the system of transportation which had caused so strong a revulsion of sentiment upon the subject. But admitting that the disposition of the colonists of Western Australia continued favourable, still it was clear that that was not a state of things upon the permanent continuance of which we could reckon; and at best it only afforded an outlet for a very limited number of convicts. The question before the House now, and the question which would a few years hence be still more plainly before the House and the country was, what would they do with the great majority of those who were sentenced for long periods? There was no part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary to which he had listened with more pleasure than that in which the right hon. Gentleman had for the first time in that House distinctly admitted the existence of a class of criminals to whom it was necessary to apply a distinct mode of treatment—the 177 class which must be considered as incorrigible. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would carry that admission into practical effect, and found upon it the only measure which it necessarily led to—namely, that as, after the strictly penal term of imprisonment had expired, there would always be some criminals whom it would be impossible to let loose upon society, these should be in some measure and by some means kept in seclusion, and detained apart from the rest of the community during the term of their lives. When he said this he did not mean to propose that they should be imprisoned for life, permanently shut in within the walls of the gaol; public opinion would not sanction, ought not to sanction, any such proposal; what he meant was, that there were many places having the advantages of an isolated situation, within or near those islands, in which it might be possible to detain, seclude, and employ, in remunerative labour, with some measure of Indulgence to themselves, but with no permission to go forth beyond the limits of the settlement, criminals, whom, from their habits of crime and the gravity of their offences, it was not safe again to turn loose upon society. Turning from this class—that of the more aggravated offenders—to those who might be regarded as corrigible, the question was, could they continue or modify the ticket-of-leave system so as to make it really a benefit. Upon that subject he knew there was a good deal of hostile feeling—under the circumstances he could not term it prejudice—in the public mind. His answer to the objections which had been raised against the system of tickets of leave was, that it had never, in reality, had a fair trial. The theory had been one thing, the practice had been altogether another. In theory the only thing which distinguished the holder of a ticket of leave from a man who had undergone his term of imprisonment, and been discharged at the end of it, was (he apprehended) the liability of the former, at any time when it might seem necessary to the proper authorities, to be called upon to show in what manner he got his living. He knew that it might be said of a system of police surveillance that it was alien to our feelings as Englishmen and citizens of a free country. But the question arose, whether criminals, convicted of grave offences, might not be considered as having permanently forfeited some of the privileges of free men. It was argued again, that any supervision over these 178 men by the police was necessarily an obstacle to their finding employment. But he would remind the House that there was another side to the question, which deserved at least an equal amount of consideration. They had heard a great deal about the hardship inflicted on a ticket-of-leave man, who had obtained honest employment, by causing his character to be made known to his employer. But suppose no such information were given with regard to his former pursuits; suppose his employer had taken him into service with a false—possibly a forged—character, or at any rate totally ignorant of his antecedents; and suppose the man, after this, to have abused the confidence so placed in him. Assume these facts, and they were not at all improbable, and then let it be known that the police, being aware of the character of the man, had nevertheless out of tenderness towards him forborne to give the information, he thought the sympathy of the public would change sides, and it would be said that, however desirable it might be that a man who was discharged from prison should find employment, yet that that employment ought not to be given to him under colour of what was nothing less than a deception, and by an arrangement which would make it be believed that he was a man of unblemished character, whereas really he had come out of a gaol. It was most desirable, no doubt; it was even necessary that occupation should be found for these men; but if it were done under false pretences, if there were any attempt to hide from their employers their characters or antecedents, the inevitable result would be to create a feeling against the class even stronger than what existed now. No doubt, when there was a considerable number of ticket-of-leave men in the country, under the operation of the system, there would be a difficulty in finding them work. He thought, therefore, it was a fair question for the Government to consider, whether it might not be possible to put them upon public works when their terms of imprisonment had expired, avoiding at the same time the feeling of envy which would naturally be created amongst the honest labouring classes, by fixing the remuneration for their labour somewhat lower than the ordinary rate of wages in the country. Again, the present ticket-of-leave system was defective in that the tickets were granted almost indiscriminately, their refusal being the rare exception, and the granting of 179 them the rule. He did not think that any ticket of leave ought to be granted until the prisoner had passed through something like a probational stage—a state of partial and incomplete freedom, arrangements for which could be made, and had been made, in more than one prison. By such machinery they might ascertain, not merely his good conduct when he was absolutely under restraint, but his continued good conduct when a certain degree of freedom was given him. It was a great mistake to suppose that those prisoners whose conduct was best whilst in confinement were necessarily those who would do the best upon recovering their liberty. The prisoner who conducted himself best in gaol was, generally speaking, the man of most docile character, the man who was most amenable to any influence, whether good or bad, that was brought to bear upon him. Such a man, therefore, when he found himself upon his discharge once more amongst his old associates, was most liable to relapse into crime. Another point in connection with this subject was of some moment and deserved attention. It was stated, when the question was last discussed, that out of 1,140 tickets of leave which had been revoked, all except forty-one had been revoked in consequence of fresh convictions. The revocation of the ticket of leave, therefore, became altogether nominal; because, where a man was so convicted after his previous sentence arid imprisonment, it was almost certain that the subsequent sentence passed upon him would of itself include a longer term of imprisonment than if his original sentence had been carried into effect. If it was laid down that tickets of leave were not to be revoked, except upon an actual sentence of a court of justice, then the granting of them was merely nominal, and they might as well not be granted at all, but the criminal be sent out of prison without one. The measures which he would recommend were—one, that they should require a probational course of good conduct before the ticket of leave was granted—the other, that the ticket-of-leave holder be subjected to a closer system of supervision. These were the principles which should be looked to for safety in dealing with the criminal population of this country; he believed if they were adopted that the country would pass safely through the dangerous period which must follow on; but whether we were to pass safely through that crisis or not, of 180 one thing he was assured—that to return to transportation on a large scale was impossible.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, that he considered the discussion to be altogether misplaced, and that the view which had been taken of this subject might be looked upon as a sort of prospective retrospect of what the system would be some three years hence. What was the state of the case? The old system had been found ineffective, and the criminal population was now brought to such a state as to frighten the timid, and to make the wise pause. The country was now reduced to utter helplessness as to what system should be adopted with regard to the criminal population. The result was the Bill before the House, the great merit of which was its brevity and vagueness. It contained but one general principle—viz., that the criminal, upon conviction, forfeited his time and his labour to the service of the state, in whatever place or manner the state should determine to avail itself of it. There at least they had attained something tangible—they had reached something like common sense—let them be satisfied with that. The noble Lord (Lord Stanley) had availed himself of the ambiguous meaning of the word "transportation." He had treated the Motion in terms peculiarly appropriate to the case of a penal colony, whereas the word signified in this case nothing more than a few penal gangs scattered throughout the colonies, which might be kept under the same control as similar gangs at home. Hence all that magnificent array of apprehensions was but the phantasm of an over-heated imagination. The great principle of the measure was, as he (Mr. B. Hope) had stated, that the time and labour of the criminal became forfeited to the state upon his conviction. How to apply that principle was the problem of the age.
§ MR. MARSH
having had many years' experience in a penal colony, hoped the House would bear with him for a few moments. The three objections to transportation were, that it had no terror for the criminal; that it did not reform him; and its cost. As regarded the first of these objections, it was well known that the common people of this country had a great objection to transportation; while, with respect to reformation, he (Mr. Marsh) knew several convicts who had become really reformed men, and many others who had discovered that honesty was the best policy, and had acted on it, The cost was 181 scarcely a question to be argued in such a case. He agreed in many things that had fallen from hon. Members in favour of the Bill; but he thought the noble Lord was quite right in saying that the question was not if there should be transportation, but to find out a place to transport to. The only point, in fact, was North Australia; but that he considered to be a highly eligible spot for the purpose, as in many parts the land was 2,000 or 3,000 feet above the level of the sea; and it was next to an impossibility that the convicts, unarmed and unprovided for, could work their way through 12 degrees of latitude down to the older colonies. He wished to say a word upon the subject of penal discipline before the convict went to the colonies, and that was to tell the House that the gaol was a very bad place to prepare the convict for a colony. Indeed, it was of all places the very worst. The colonist was obliged to "rough it," to cook his own dinner, to make his own bed, and to make himself useful generally; but in the gaol the prisoner's wants were all supplied—he had no occasion for—he was not even allowed—to exercise his skill, and the consequence was, that when such a person found himself in a colony he was helpless—more helpless than he was before he was put in gaol.