HC Deb 26 March 1862 vol 166 cc123-4

Order for Committee read.

House in Committee.

Clause 1.


said, he would move the addition of the following words at the end of Clause 1:—"The instrument used to be only a birch rod."

Amendment agreed to.


said, that in the absence of his hon. Friend (Mr. Kinnaird) he wished to move to add, after the previous Amendment, the following words:— And further, that in Scotland no offender, for theft, or for crime committed against the person, or against property, exceeding sixteen years of age, shall be whipped; or if under that age, be whipped more than once for the same offence.


said, he did not think the clause necessary. He was not aware that any offender above fourteen years of age was liable to be whipped. Certainly, in practice, whipping was limited to offenders under that age.


observed, that the clause had been carefully drawn, and was approved by the Secretary for the Home Department.


said, the clause had been framed with the view of assimilating the law of Scotland to what had been done with reference to England last year.


said, he had no objection to the clause, but he rather apprehended the proposed limitation would imply the power to inflict this mode of punishment on offenders of the age of sixteen, whereas, in practice, it was restricted to those Under fourteen.

Clause agreed to.


said, he wished to take that opportunity of referring to what took place during the last discussion of that subject, when severe strictures were made on punishments said to be excessive, which were inflicted on juvenile offenders in Salford prison. The matter came under the notice of the prison authorities, and he had received communications on the subject. He was assured by the governor of the prison that the surgeon, who under the old law was responsible that no undue punishment was inflicted, had discharged the duties of his office for upwards of twenty years, was a most humane man, and possessed justly the full confidence of the visiting justices. The hon. Member for Manchester had also placed in his hand a letter from the visiting magistrates to the same effect. He had been present when the punishment was inflicted, to see that no undue severity was used, and the magistrates of Salford must be entirely absolved from any charge of cruelty that might be made against them. He might add that, in his opinion, there were many cases in which a good whipping would be attended with much more beneficial effect than if they were to send the wretched boy to prison at the expense of the ratepayers, and branding him as a gaol bird.


said, he would rather not go into the discussion again, but he hoped the occurrence to which allusion had been made would not take place again.


said, he proposed to add words at the end of the clause, providing that where the punishment of whipping was inflicted, the offender should not also be imprisoned for the same offence. His hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield thought whipping a cruel and degrading punishment; but it was certainly preferable to imprisoning juvenile delinquents, who came out of prison not only degraded but corrupted. After a sound whipping the offender felt the smart, and the chances were he would not get into the same mess again; but once in prison, among spirits more nicked than himself, a most serious moral injury was inflicted on him, which he might never be able to overcome. He did not understand why criminals should not be whipped when respectable boys had often to undergo the punishment. In the school where he was, not one of them escaped. Besides, the instrument to be used was only a birch rod. He had a notion that a birch rod was rather a harmless instrument. He had never come into contact with anything less formidable than "the tawse."


said, there were sixty-four crimes punishable with whipping, with or without imprisonment, and with or without hard labour, and the effect of the Amendment would be in a great measure to neutralize the Act of last Session in many of these cases.

Amendment withdrawn.

Clause agreed to; remaining Clauses agreed to.

House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow.