HC Deb 18 April 1864 vol 174 cc1250-69

Order for Committee read.

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


rose to move, as an Amendment— That this House is of opinion that the system of discharge of prisoners from Penal Servitude on licence, without police supervision, should no longer be continued. The right hon. Member said, that if he succeeded in inducing the House to adopt his Resolution, he thought it would effect the saving of much time and trouble to the Committee upon this most important question. The Resolution affirmed no more than what the House had already agreed to. If he collected the sense of the House rightly during the recent debates on this subject, it appeared to him that all shades of opinion were concentrated in the proposition he was about to submit. Those would agree in the proposition who took his view of the matter, that there ought to be no abbreviation of punishment, but that the sentence of the law, so far as its duration was concerned, should be carried out as pronounced by the Judge; and that all the advantages hoped for by the abbreviation of punishment were overbalanced by the indefniteness which it brought on the penal law. He would rather trust to other processes of treatment for the moral effects which were required and desired in prison and under penal servitude than to the system of abbreviation of punishment. He would rather trust to discipline and salutary influence maintained over prisoners, and above all to the hope held out to a prisoner suffering penal servitude, that if he conducted himself well he might hope at the expiration of his sentence for the highest boon which an Englishman under such circumstances could possibly desire—namely, transportation out of the country, partly at the cost of benevolent and private societies and partly out of the rates of the locality to which the prisoner belonged. Those also would agree in the proposition who were represented by the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread), in the Amendment of which he had given notice, in favour of a remission of punishment, for good conduct, to the maximum limit of one-fourth of the original term. The supporters of such a proposition, from some fanciful notion of their own, appeared to see an advantage in hanging over the head of the prisoner so liberated the remainder of his punishment like the sword of Damocles, as a warning to himself and a beacon to others. They, however, were against licences, and therefore agreed in his proposition. Lastly, there were those who approved of the system of liberating prisoners on licence. But they also agreed that such licence should not be without supervision. What was the object of this Bill? It was simply to reduce into an Act of Parliament those conditions attached to tickets-of-leave which were at present vested in the discretion of the Secretary of State; under which discretionary power the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had succeeded in realizing a successful police supervision in Ireland. In England these conditions were a dead letter; or the only effect was that greater facilities were given to ticket-of-leave men to commit crime than were possessed by any other class of offenders. The proposed Bill, if carried, would spoil the Irish system, and not benefit England, for it fell short of the conditions now actually enforced in Ireland, and did not impose such conditions as were required in England—yet both systems rested on the same bases—the Acts of 1853 and 1857. He thought it would be much better to assimilate the manner in which the system was carried out in the two countries by passing a Resolution by which the Secretary of State should be made to exercise the similar powers in England which had been exercised by the Lord Lieutenant in Ireland. A Resolution would do as well as an Act, for the power existed which only needed to be exerted, and if it could not be done by Resolution it would not be done by Act of Parliament. What were the conditions provided in this Bill? First, it was enacted that the licence should be ipso facto forfeited if the holder should be convicted of any indictable offence. That was not a very stringent condition, seeing that any one who committed an indictable offence was liable to a. punishment equal to such forfeiture. But then the unexpired term of his sentence was to be cumulative upon his new sentence. The same, however, might be done by larger punishments on second convictions. Then the holder of a licence who should fail or refuse to produce it when called upon by a magistrate or police officer, or shall break the conditions of his licence, was to be summarily punishable with three months imprisonment with or without hard labour. Then came a clause which empowered any police officer to apprehend without warrant any licence-holder whom he might suspect of having committed any offence, or of having broken any of the conditions of his licence. This was not so much a weak proposition, but rather a dangerous one, and yet one that, in efficiency for its purpose, fell short of the Irish system, where the ticket-holder must present himself once a month to the police, and if not, the police were authorized to apprehend him. There was something valid in that system, and anything that fell short of it would be wholly invalid. He protested against the provision in the Bill. A policeman might come up to him, and producing a photograph which he chose to think was something like him—and these photographs made all men alike villanous—ask him for his ticket; and though he might protest, the policeman might, on his not producing u ticket-of-leave, apprehend him and take him before a magistrate.


said, there was nothing about a photograph in the Act. The policeman was empowered to apprehend a ticket-of-leave man on suspicion of having committed an offence, and demand his ticket.


said, he was aware there was nothing about photography in the Bill, but by police regulation that photographic resemblance was to be considered primâ facie ground for suspicion; he objected to the mischievous and dangerous principle that was about to be introduced, of summary arrest on such suspicion. Besides, it would not meet the object in view, because ticket-holders would take care not to get within the scope of the active operations of the police. No man would remain within reach of his photograph. He had, however, no hope of his Amendment being adopted by the Government and allowed to modify the Bill. He should therefore support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northampton. Sir Richard Mayne was the only person who at all recommended anything like supervision for England, and he doubted its possibility. Major General Cartwright had, however, offered to undertake to organize a supervision for England. He appeared to be a very sanguine man, and very much like one who would undertake at a moment's notice the conduct of the Channel fleet; but he (Mr. Adderley) did not consider the House was justified in legislating upon such assurance as that, Sir Walter Crofton told them that the Irish system might be introduced into England, but he (Mr. Adderley) thought there was a great difference between the circumstances of the two countries. They had a much smaller number of convicts to do with in Ireland than were in England, and the police of the two countries were very different in constitution. The Irish were far more French in their ideas than the English. They looked more to the Government. The ticket-of-leave system was taken from Australia; but there were two conditions attached to it in Australia that never would be submitted to in this country, namely, that a man should not leave a certain district, or be out after a certain hour of the night. It would be impossible to have a police force in this country that would be sufficiently strong for the efficient working of such a system. When the country was obliged to substitute penal servitude for transportation we adopted a most injudicious imitation of the terms of the old sentence. The Royal Commission reported last year that the increase of crime was to be attributed to two causes, the shortness of the terms of punishment and the inefficiency and inequality of the system. He thought they would much shorten their work if they were not to trouble themselves so much about the intricacies of punishment, and that they fell into a great error in constructing punishment to meet their own refined and philosophic views rather than the rough motives of the criminals with whom they had to deal. The main point should be to make the discipline more severe, more efficient for the deterrence from crime, and the punishment more strict and definite; by which means they would have the best chance of diminishing the number of criminals now crowding the gaols of this country.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House is of opinion that the system of discharge of prisoners from Penal Servitude on licence without police supervision should no longer be continued,"— (Mr. Adderley,)

—instead thereof.

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


expressed a hope that the right hon. Gentleman would not oppose any obstacle to their proceeding with the Bill that evening. He did not understand the object of the right hon. Gentleman's Resolution as it had been explained that evening. He had at first imagined that the right hon. Gentleman wished the House to express on opinion to the effect that there ought to be strict police supervision over convicts who had been discharged from penal servitude with tickets-of-leave. At present, however, he appeared to wish the House to discountenance altogether the principles of granting tickets-of-leave. There had been a decided feeling in the House in favour of the Bill being read a second time, and he therefore hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would not expect them to go into a long discussion upon the principles of the Bill. He had no desire to enter into a comparison between the effects of the Bill in England and Ireland. If he did so he should be involved in a long discussion which would probably be attended with no good result. The object of the Bill was to enable the Government lawfully to do what it had hitherto not been possible to do in a legal manner—namely, to authorize the police to apprehend the holder of a ticket of leave upon suspicion of having broken its conditions, and to take him before a magistrate for the purpose of having the question adjudicated upon. The right hon. Gentleman had given expression to his views upon the Bill, and any further discussion on what he had stated would, in his opinion, be better postponed to the Committee.


said, he would withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 (Length of Sentences of Penal Servitude).


said, he did not think any ground had been made out for the severer treatment of criminals which it was proposed by this Bill to carry out. He proposed to move the omission of the second clause. The clause proposed to increase the minimum sentence of penal servitude from three years to five years—a change of which no notice was given in the Preamble, and without the attention of the Commission, on whose Report the measure was founded, having been directed to the subject. His objections to the change were first that it was too important an alteration of the penal laws to be made without sufficient notice, and next, that there was no such increase of crime as to justify the measure, notwithstanding the distress in Lancashire and other circumstances. That the number of criminals had increased was true enough, but that increase was sufficiently accounted for by the growth of our population, and by other circumstances. One cause of the increase of crime was the harsh treatment extended to tramps and vagrants in our workhouses; and therefore if we were to review our penal system we ought at the same time to review the Poor Law. One effect of increasing the period of penal servitude would probably be that Judges would frequently, in consequence of the severity, rather sentence to imprisonment for two years; and thus there would be an augmentation in the number of those who came under the system which now prevailed in the county gaol. The system pursued in county gaols was generally one of great severity. Magistrates generally made the arrangements for the management of convicts, and the law which required the sanction of the Secretary of State had become a dead letter. In illustration of what he meant, he referred to the severe arrangements recently made by the magistrates of Hampshire. He might add that he recollected his right hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) saying, with respect to the system of excessive severity which prevailed in different parts of the country twenty or thirty years ago, that men who had been subjected to it went home from prison without any apparent ailment and died. The comfort and luxuries of penal servitude had been made matter of common conversation, but it was a most foolish principle that the measures necessary for those who used expressions of defiance in reference to the punishment to which they were subjected, should be adopted as the measures necessary in all cases. In his own opinion no sufficient case had been made out for coupling with increased intensity of punishment increased duration; but he did not propose to press his Motion to a division.


denied that it was in the power of magistrates to make what rules they pleased for the government of county gaols, without the sanction and approval of a superior authority. As to this clause, there was no point upon which the opinion of the Royal Commission was more decidedly expressed, or upon which those witnesses who were entitled to speak with authority on the subject, were more unanimous than that the minimum of penal servitude ought to be increased. He had stated, on a former occasion, to what extent the sentences of three and four years' penal servitude were passed, contrary to what was the intention of the Legislature when they sanctioned those short sentences. The Commission were fully justified in their recommendation that the term should be increased, upon the ground that there should be a substantial distinction between the sentence of penal servitude and the sentence of imprisonment; but the Bill did not go to the full length of the Report of the Commissioners, for their proposal was that the minimum should be seven years.


said, the arrangement to which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Adderley) referred had not yet been reported to the Quarter Sessions, but when they were, they would be reported to the Home Secretary, in accordance with the law. So far from their being of extraordinary severity, they were a compromise between those who held extreme and those who held moderate opinions.


said, that in the old times of low diet, reports had certainly been made to the magistrates of his county that men occasionally went home out of prison in a weak state not fit for work, though he never recollected anything so strong being said as that men went home and died.


said, he wished to know what the probable operation of the alteration of the minimum of imprisonment from three years to five would be upon the number of prisoners to be received into county gaols, and what security the Home Secretary had that this new scale of punishment would be carried out any better than the old scale. According to the Judicial Statistics of 1862–3, of the number of persons convicted of offences for which they were liable to penal servitude for life, one-half had been sentenced to imprisonment; and of those who were liable to penal servitude for fourteen years, three quarters had been sentenced to imprisonment. Of 1,493 persons liable to penal servitude for life, only twenty-three were sentenced to it; and for 218, six months' imprisonment was deemed sufficient. Sentences for terms exceeding ten years were passed only on seventeen out of 4,499, who were liable to fourteen years penal servitude. As a county magistrate, he looked with some apprehension on the working of this second clause. The effect would be that something like three-fourths of those now sentenced to three years' penal servitude, instead of being sentenced hereafter to five years, would be sentenced to imprisonment. The consequence would be that the additional gaol accommodation for long sentences of imprisonment would be required to the extent of at least three-fourths.


asked how soon they might expect to have a penal discipline Bill by which they might judge of the probable effect of imprisonment upon prisoners in county gaols. He felt objection to the abridging of the discretion of Judges and Justices in giving sentences, because he thought it would extravagantly increase the number of prisoners in the county gaols. From his experience of our criminal law he felt a very strong objection to long imprisonments, believing them to be endured with a sullen endurance, and calculated to render criminals still more vicious.


said, it was impossible for him to give an answer with confidence to the question of the hon. Gentleman opposite, because where the law, as it must necessarily do to a very great extent, left to the Judges a wide discretion as to the punishment to be awarded to particular crimes, it was impossible to say how the fifteen learned Judges would exercise it on the circuits. He believed the practical effect of the minimum term of punishment would not be of the character anticipated by the hon. Member. With regard to the question of prison discipline, that of course depended, in great measure, on the magistrates, to whom the superintendence of local prisons was intrusted. With respect to the reforms of gaol administration, he should shortly introduce a Bill on the subject; but, of course, he could not enter on that subject now.


thought, that by making the present minimum term of three years more severe—such as two years' imprisonment, and one year on public works—it would be a better introduction to liberty than a longer term of penal servitude.


said that, with the exception of the reduction in diet, he saw very little improvement in the present Bill over the old system.


said, that eighteen months' separate confinement was as much as most prisoners were able to bear, so that the proposal of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Adderley) was not practical. He did not think that the effect of the lengthened minimum would be to choke the county gaols in the way that was supposed.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 3 (Punishment of Offences in Convict Prisons).


suggested that, as the number of lashes which might be inflicted on a prisoner was not specified, the words "a number not exceeding fifty" should be introduced into the clause.


said, that there would be power included in the Bill to inflict the present maximum number, which, he believed, was thirty lashes.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 4 (Forfeiture of Licence).


said, that the schedule as it stood would prevent female convicts from being sent to refuges, as was now the custom in Ireland. A new clause, of which the right hon. Baronet had given notice, however, would meet that difficulty, and he would not press the Amendment which he had put upon the paper.


said, that the system referred to by his hon. Friend was found to work extremely well, and he had therefore drawn a clause to prevent any interference with it.

MR. J. J. POWELL (Gloucester)

pointed out the hardship that might arise under this clause, which declared that a ticket-of-leave holder, on being convicted either by the verdict of a jury or upon his own confession of an indictable offence, should be liable to have his licence revoked, and to undergo the unexpired portion of his term of penal servitude in addition to the penalty for the new offence. The clause did not speak of any offence for which the person should have been indicted, but merely of an indictable offence. Now, it was an indictable offence to strike a man, and not the less so because it might be done under the greatest possible provocation—as, for example, where a man struck another for wantonly insulting his wife or his sister in the street. For the offence committed under such circumstances, a magistrate would, perhaps, only inflict a fine of 1s.; yet, if the offender happened to be a ticket-of-leave holder, under this clause he would have his licence revoked and be sent back to prison for the residue of the sentence.


said that, no doubt, an extreme case might he put, however they might shape a Penal Servitude Act. The object was to make the law accord with what was the present practice, for a licence-holder on conviction for an indictable offence almost invariably had his licence revoked. If, however, the indictable offence committed was of so trivial a character as the hon. and learned Gentleman had described, the Judge might represent the facts to the Secretary of State, and there was nothing to prevent the prerogative of the Crown from being exercised so as to temper justice with mercy.


moved, at the end of the clause, to add the words— If any holder of a licence granted under the said Penal Servitude Acts, or any of them, who shall he at large in the United Kingdom, shall fail to report himself to the chief police station of the borough or district where he shall be on his arrival therein, and subsequently on the first day of each month, or shall change his locality without having previously notified the same to the police station to which he last reported himself, he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanour, and may be summarily convicted thereof, and his licence shall be forthwith forfeited by virtue of such conviction. The words which he proposed to add embodied the rules laid down for the regulation of the police supervision in Ireland, where they had been in operation seven years. The question which he sought to raise, and on which he meant to take the sense of the Committee, was whether the Irish system should be adopted in England. Two objections were urged against his proposition—the one that it was impracticable, and the other that it would prevent convicts from getting employment. Now, those two objections were incompatible with each other. If the proposal were really impracticable it could not prevent the convicts from getting employment, and even if it might prove a dead letter there could be no harm in trying it. Now, all those who said it was impracticable were merely theorists, whereas all those who said it was practicable based their opinion on actual experience. He would refer the Committee to the evidence given before the Royal Commission on the subject by Sir Walter Crofton, the head of the Irish Convict Prisons. Sir Walter stated that the public in Ireland generally approved of the system; that employers were ready to engage these persons; that he never heard of any complaints on the part of the public; that the men obtained sufficient general employment, and that they went to the colonies if they had any difficulty in doing so. His own belief was that prisoners discharged on ticket-of-leave were not a class of persons who were exceedingly anxious to work hard for an honest livelihood, and that they would be induced to do so only by the adoption of such a system of supervision as his Amendment contemplated. Captain Whitty, Director of Convict Prisons in Ireland, stated in a memorandum that no instances had come to his knowledge of any evil or abuse having arisen from the supervision exercised in that country by the police, although the system had been six years in existence. He added that several discharged prisoners who left Ireland had returned there and registered themselves again for supervision. That showed that the well-disposed found the system beneficial rather than otherwise to their interests. It was said that, although the plan might work in the rural districts of Ireland, it could not be carried out in Dublin; but experience did not support that objection. Mr. Organ voluntarily undertook to aid discharged licence-holders in obtaining work in Dublin, and where he had reason to fear that the men were relapsing into a dissolute life, he put himself in communication with the police in regard to them. His reports were made fortnightly, and were checked by the police, so that in Dublin a double system of supervision had been practised. It was said this system, though suited to Ireland, would not do for England; but he did not see such a difference in the circumstances of the two countries as to warrant that conclusion. As regarded protection to ticket-of-leave men, he believed the police in Ireland assisted them in getting work; and in one instance, when a ticket-of-leave man was accused of a crime, the officer of the station where he was registered was enabled to prove an alibi. Mr. Waddington had made an admission on this point very much against his own views, for he said if the supervision was carried out in London and not in the rest of the country they would drive the licence men out of London into the country. But it was said the system had been tried in France, where it was obliged to be relaxed. The French system, however, was very different from the Irish. When a convict was released in France he was not allowed to choose the locality where he was going—the place was chosen for him; even the villages and towns he should pass through to get to it were named, and after he got work a letter was written to his employer warning him that the man was a convict. That was a very different system from what prevailed in Ireland. There it was no part of the duty of the police to go to the employer and tell him that he had a ticket-of-leave man in his employ, or to tell the fact to his fellow-workmen. The Inspector General of the Midland district in his last report urged strongly the introduction of the Irish system into this country, and said that in one month he could organize the machinery necessary to carry it out.

Amendment proposed, At the end of the Clause, to add the words "if any holder of a licence granted under the said Penal Servitude Acts, or any of them, who shall be at large in the United Kingdom, shall fail to report himself to the chief police station of the borough or district where he shall be on his arrival therein, and subsequently on the first day of each month, or shall change his locality without having previously notified the same to the police station to which he last reported himself, he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanour, and may be summarily convicted thereof, and his licence shall be forthwith forfeited by virtue of such conviction."—(Mr. Hunt.)


said, he did not think it would be expedient for the Committee to adopt the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman, which would establish a continuing supervision over all licence-holders from month to month. The hon. Gentleman had not adverted to the essential difference between the police force in Ireland and in this country. In Ireland there was an armed police of 13,000 men, who occupied barracks all over the country within a short distance of each other, while here the stations were much scattered, and policemen few, even in a large district. The Royal Commission had reported against the proposal of the hon. Gentleman. Substantially the same proposition had been made in the Royal Commission by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Walpole), and only two of the Royal Commissioners voted for it—namely the right hon. Gentleman himself, and the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), eight other members of the Commission voting against it. What was already required? That every licence-holder should in the first instance report himself to the chief of the police in the town or district where he should go on his discharge. It had been found that it was the practice of convicts to return to the districts where they originally resided, and when once they had reported themselves on their arrival, the police would be able to keep an eye on them, especially as the gratuities would be paid through their hands. If they attempted to do more than that, and to require that throughout the whole of the country every convict shall periodically report himself at the chief police-station of the borough or county in which he had taken up his residence, they would place an insuperable bar in the way of such men procuring honest employment. Under such a system a convict's previous character would be published to all his associates; and moreover, the very fact that he was obliged at certain intervals to leave home and visit a distant police-station, would in itself interfere with his chances of getting regular work. He did not know whether the hon. Member who proposed the Amendment was favourable to the emigration of convicts. [Mr. HUNT: I think emigration should be encouraged.] As the licence did not authorize emigration, the police would be bound to warn a convict who announced to them an intention of leaving the country that he would be committing an illegal act. On these grounds he could not agree to the Amendment.


supported the Amendment. It was notorious that at present the conditions of the ticket-of-leave were not enforced. Convicts were left to the general superintendence which the police bestowed on all notorious criminal characters; but the difficulty was to know what man fell within that category. At present the police had no means of ascertaining the character of the convicts who entered their districts. It was all left to chance, and chance had been the bane of our criminal system. There was no communication between the police of different counties, or between the police of the counties and London. The police might perhaps, recognize a man who returned to his original haunts; but criminals did not often return to the places from which they came—they sought a new district in which to carry on their depredations. How was their character to be known? There was an instance of a criminal mentioned by Mr. Recorder Hill, at Birmingham, who had been convicted eleven times. In March, 1850, he was sentenced at Maid-stone to fifteen years' transportation for stealing a watch; but in January, 1857, or about six years and nine months after his previous sentence, he was sentenced to six years' penal servitude for stealing 15lb. of cheese; and when Mr. Hill was calling the attention of the grand jury to the case he was again under an indictment for felony. Mr. Hill felt that this was not right, for if the man had been discharged on the ground of merit, and had enjoyed the benefit of a well superintended supervision, he might have been saved from the commission of his subsequent crimes. Supervision was, in fact, the root and branch of the system, and it was a privilege due to the criminal population, each of whom must be guarded against himself lest he be led back into crimes which in his calmer moments he might wish to avoid. It was stated as an objection that it was difficult for such a class to obtain employment. But in Ireland, after the first time, employers were content to take them, and were even anxious to have them. One employer of labour in Dublin gave it as his opinion that, after an experiment of five years, they had given satisfaction, and the Inspector of the police in Dublin gave the same opinion. There was one instance of a man who, before he came under the instruction of Mr. Organ, was the terror of the neighbourhood in which he resided, and always slept with a blunderbuss under his head. He was sentenced for receiving stolen goods. This man was now leading a sober and settled life, and had a pig and some fowls. Mr. Smith also gave it as his opinion that men under licence found it difficult to get employment, and that the great want of will to do well was the principal impediment, and that if the police were judicious their superintendence would not increase the difficulty of the well disposed to get employment. It was very right that there should be a sympathy with those who, having departed from the path of right, wore discharged from prison; but this sympathy must not interfere with the well being of society. He cordially supported the Amendment.


said, that in Australia ticket-of-leave holders were preferred by employers because of the stringent supervision that was exercised over them. In those colonies convicts again offending were remitted to prison to complete their original sentence. That was no hardship, because, when a man was sentenced to four years' penal servitude, he ought to undergo the whole of the punishment, and any remission was a favour to him. The hon. Member who spoke last had referred to the sympathy that was felt for liberated thieves. He, also, felt some sympathy for them, but he felt more for those who were robbed. Unfortunately, the current of public sympathy had of late years run in favour of the thieves, and he was glad to think that the humbug was coming to an end.


said, he should support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. Hunt). He admitted that the subject was surrounded with difficulties; and, so long as transportation was kept in its present suspended state of animation, those difficulties must continue. The only way to meet the matter was to look it in the face. So long as the home-made criminals were turned out upon the country, they must make use of police supervision, for without it neither property would be safe, nor would there be a chance of reclamation for the convicts themselves. The supervision was recommended in the Report of the Royal Commissioners of last year, and he (Mr. Moor) regretted that the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary did not read this paragraph instead of the one immediately succeeding it. The paragraph said that there would be much difficulty in securing efficient supervision on the part of the police, but that this object had now become of such extreme importance that it ought to be attempted. Again, Colonel Henderson, in writing to Mr. Waddington, in September, 1863, recommended that strict police supervision should be exercised over the convicts on tickets-of-leave. There was no doubt that, to a certain extent, or for a certain time, the susceptibilities of the English people would be opposed to the strict supervision of the police. The right hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) said the case might occur in which a person having a resemblance to a notorious offender might be taken to a lock-up. Such little inconveniences might occasionally occur. In New South Wales the story was told of the Chief Justice being out late one evening, and not being well known to a new member of the police, was asked for his pass, and, not having it, was walked off to the station, and locked up until his friends could come and identify him. Such things the country must put up with. In France there was a regular supervision, which, according to the evidence laid before the Royal Commission, had led to a diminution in the number of crimes. He hoped the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire would be successful, as it would be worth a trial; and if the experiment did not succeed it could be abandoned afterwards. At any rate, it was a duty to make the experiment.


remarked that the Irish system depended upon Mr. Organ, who was a man such as was seldom to be met with. He was sorry that he could not support the Amendment.


said, he believed it to be quite possible to establish in England the system adopted in Ireland, and Mr. Organ had stated that he would undertake to establish it if the Secretary of State would allow him to try. He hoped the Amendment would be carried, for he thought it would bring about an improvement in the police force. It was disgraceful that every reform had to be dragged from the Government through the aid of those who sat on the Opposition benches.


said, the Home Secretary had referred to a division which had taken place in the Commission upon a Motion of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Walpole). Had he (Sir John Pakington) been present upon that occasion he should certainly have supported that Motion. Speaking of the discharge of convicts under licence, the Commission said— We believe, on the contrary, that this system, coupled with a general prolongation of sentences of penal servitude, and arrangements for placing convicts when so discharged under effective control and supervision, would afford the best prospect of giving to society a real protection against criminals without subjecting them to undue severity. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman of this passage, and also of the fifth recommendation at the close of the Report— That those who may be unfit to go (to Western Australia), but may earn an abridgment of their punishment, and who may consequently be discharged at home under licence, should be placed under strict supervision till the expiration of the terms for which they were sentenced, and that the necessary powers should be given by law for rendering this supervision effectual. The Commission distinctly laid down the principle that every man discharged under licence should be placed under supervision. It was very true that, by a division, a majority of the Commission recommended that, as in Dublin, licence-holders should be placed under the supervision of an officer in the Convict Department, assisted by the police. He dissented from that recommendation, believing that supervision exercised by the Convict Department would be very difficult and inconvenient. Nor could he assent to the proposal that discharged prisoners should be placed under the control of the Prisoners' Aid Society, for though he thought highly of that society as a voluntary institution, he thought it would be unwise to trust to it as an auxiliary of the State. The only safe mode of giving effect to the recommendation of the Royal Commission was by placing these men under the supervision of the police on the plan recommended by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Walpole), and now repeated in the Motion before the Committee. He earnestly hoped that the Committee would not allow the Home Secretary to fritter away the great principle now at stake. We had had enough of men discharged under licence without supervision. This system had caused well-founded dissatisfaction from one end of the kingdom to the other. He believed the best plan was to give men the chance of amendment by discharging them under licence, but he could only assent to that principle on condition that they were discharged under supervision. There should be either one thing or another. The Lord Chief Justice and his right hon. Friend (Mr. Henley) said, "Let us have fixed sentences entirely worked out, and no remission." His own feeling was that there should be remission accompanied by strict supervision, but that if no supervision was introduced there should be no remission.


thought it would be fatal to the prospects of convicts in this country obtaining honest employment on their discharge if they were bound to report themselves periodically to the police. Sir Richard Mayne, who said he was ready to undertake the supervision of these convicts, added that in doing so he could not prevent employers from knowing who they were. Whatever might be the case in Ireland, in this country, though employers were sometimes willing to employ licence-holders, workmen would turn them out if they knew the men were convicts. Moreover, he did not believe that the fact of a man's reporting himself once a month was any guarantee that, for the remainder of the month, he did not maintain himself by robbery, A man might report himself in London and be operating for the remainder of the month in Glasgow. Such reports offered no real security to society, while they would have the effect of driving these men out of honest employment.


said, he was against all licences at all, and thought that when you had got a thief the best way was to keep him to work out the full sentence passed upon him. Whether the sentence was one of six months' imprisonment or of six years' penal servitude, he saw no reason why there should be any remission. Being of opinion that the whole system of remission was a mistake, he was also of opinion that the mistake was not mended one bit by supervision, which was mere moonshine. Upon what was it founded? The hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Marsh) said, that in Australia employers of labour would sooner engage a thief than an honest man. Did he think that that was the case in England? Hardly. Mr. Organ, the great authority on this subject in Ireland, said he had great difficulty in getting employers of labour there to engage these men, and that, when this difficulty was overcome, it was necessary to keep the thing a secret from the workmen, who would otherwise have made the place too hot to hold them. With our police organization, what chance was there that this could be kept a secret in England? Our workmen did not mind working with a man who had been transported, and who had served his term, for they had a strong sense of natural justice, and said, "The man broke the law, but he has suffered the consequences, and there is an end of it;" but the case would be quite different with ticket-of-leave men. In this country nobody liked tickets. The Nonconformists did not like to be ticketed, and if these unfortunate men were ticketed, no one would work with them, and the poor fellows would thus probably be driven into crime again. The compelling a man, to report himself to the police would have a tendency to keep him out of honest employment, and make him a thief for the rest of his life; because a convicted man—and it was good that it was so—had enormous difficulties to contend with, and if those difficulties were increased, so were the chances of that man again becoming amenable to the law. The hon. Gentleman had given the House a lecture as to the course which public opinion had run in respect to this matter. There had been a good deal of getting rid of the gallows, and a good deal of getting rid of the "cat;" and for the last twelve years, during the period that the milder system had been at work, crime had, on the whole, decreased relatively to the population. As he was against licences and all supervision, he would vote with the Government on the present occasion. When he voted in the Commission he had merely voted against certain words standing part of the Question; that was to say, he voted against a stricter supervision than his right hon. Friend desired to have. He declined to sign the Report of the Commission, because the principle of "ticket-of-leave" ran through it, and he was dead against that system, for he thought that when a prisoner had served his term of punishment he should be let out a free man.

Question put, "That those words be there added."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 148; Noes 120: Majority 28.


trusted that an addition would be made to the clause enabling the chief of the police to dispense with the periodical visits of the licence-holders if he were satisfied they were doing well. If no other Member did so, he would give notice of an Amendment to this effect on the Report.


said, that there was nothing in his Amendment which need prevent the noble Lord's suggestion from being adopted. He imagined that the chief constable would depute some constable to discharge the duty of receiving these reports.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining Clauses agreed to.

Schedule A.


moved to leave out after "large" the words "in the United Kingdom." One of the greatest services that could be rendered to licence-holders was to assist them in emigrating to the colonies. The Discharged Prisoners' Aid Society was willing to assist in this good work, and his object in proposing this Amendment was to enable the licence holders to emigrate legally.


said, the proposed Amendment, if agreed to, would be inconsistent with the power taken to revoke a licence, which could only be done within the United Kingdom, and he feared that it would give rise to great dissatisfaction in the colonies.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule agreed to.


wished for some explanation as to the course the right hon. Baronet proposed to take with regard to the Amendment which he had induced the Committee to adopt.


said, it was his intention to assist the hon. Gentleman in giving effect to the decision of the Committee.


then moved the addition of a clause (Licences may be granted in Form differing from that in Schedule A).

Clause agreed to, and added to the Bill.

House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered on Monday next, and to be printed[Bill 71.]