§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
I wish, Sir, to make a short statement to the House of the general purport and objects of this Bill. The Bill is founded, in a great measure, on the Report of a Select Committee appointed by the other House of Parliament in the course of last Session, to consider and report upon the present state of discipline in gaols and houses of correction. That Committee stated at the outset of their Report—and no one can dispute their statement — that many and wide differences exist as regards construction, labour, diet, and general discipline in the various gaols and houses of correction in England and Wales; and the opinion of the Committee, as distinctly expressed in the second paragraph of their Report, was that it is desirable to establish without delay a system approaching as nearly as may be practicable to an uniformity of labour, diet, and treatment. Now, in that general object, I must express my entire assent, but I believe it is impossible to obtain absolute uniformity in these respects unless you subvert the existing system of local administration, which I, for one, should be sorry to see superseded in regard to borough and county prisons. If you are to retain the management of those gaols in the hands of local gentlemen not all agreeing in their views, but acting in accordance with certain general rules, with a certain margin for the exercise of their own opinion, you must be prepared to sacrifice something of that absolute uniformity which it may be desirable to attain. For instance, we should all doubtless be glad to see established a system of uniformity in respect to the punishments awarded to crimes of equal magnitude; but when you have your criminal law administered by fifteen Judges as well as by the Courts of Quarter Sessions and by Recorders, you must submit to some inequalities and anomalies, and some variety both in the punishments awarded and the mode in which they are carried into effect. At the same time it is desirable to do as much as you can, consistently with maintaining the present system 2047 of administration, to promote such a general uniformity in the labour, diet, and treatment of our gaols as the Lords Committee suggest. But with all respect for that Committee, I think that in stating the want of uniformity which exists, they overlook much of the progress made within, the last few years towards the attainment of uniformity. I hold in my hand; the copy of an official letter of the Inspectors of Prisons, which is contained in the, papers before the House; and in that document they state—It was no doubt one of the objects the Lords' Committee of 1835 had in view in advising the appointment of official Inspectors, to secure a general uniformity of discipline; and it is equally true that that object has not been attained to the fullest extent; but this partial failure of the views of the Lords' Committee has not been occasioned by any want of activity on the part of the Inspectors, but if is owing to the tardiness of the local authorities in adopting the recommendations made by them. The want of improvement; however, and the absence of uniformity of practice are not so great as might be inferred from the terms of the Report; on the contrary, the recommendations of the Inspectors have been acted upon in a great majority of instandes—witness the extensive adoption of separate confinement, which has been in a great measure brought about by their urgent and repeated representations. In the last twenty years the number of prisons in which the separate system has been either wholly or partially adopted has increased from two to seventy-nine in England, and in Scotland it has been more or less introduced into sixty-one prisons; and while the number of cells certified for the separate confinement of prisoners under the provisions of the 2 & 3 Vict., c. 56, has increased from 200 to 14,959 in England, 2,158 cells have also been certified as fit to be used for this form of discipline in Scotland. Further, there are in course of construction in the county prisons at Preston, Kirkdale, Cold-bath Fields, Lancaster, Salford, and Stafford, nearly 2,000 more cells on the improved principle. These facts show that there has been a progressive improvement in the structure as well as in the discipline of prisons in Great Britain, which is still going on, and which is due more or less to the recommendation of the Inspectors.I have thought it right to call the attention of the House to that statement, because it shows that at present, without any change in the law, great improvements are going on as to the attainment of uniformity in the construction of prisons, and in thereby rendering them capable of applying uniform punishment to the prisoners confined within them. But I fully admit that more may be done for the same object; and it is with that view, and in accordance with the suggestions, as well as with the general spirit, of the Lords' Committee of last Session that this Bill has been framed.
2048 I will deal with the subject very much in the order in which it is treated by that Committee. I take first the question of hard labour. The Committee say, and say truly, that great variety exists in the mode of enforcing hard labour in different prisons; and they observe that in one or more prisons, the means of putting prisoners to hard labour does not exist, and that although particular prisoners have been sentenced to undergo that punishment, the opinion of the magistrates has been that separate confinement was of itself sufficient for, them, and they have practically disregarded the law. Having touched on the differences which exist in the mode of enforcing hard labour, the Lords' Committee come to their own recommendation on the subject, to which I invite the attention of the House, for it bears directly on the point raised by the Resolution of which the right hon. Member for Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) has given notice—namely, as to the definition of hard labour. In their Report the Committee say—The first step towards a better and more uniform system throughput the country would, in the opinion of the Committee, be found in an authoritative definition by Act of Parliament of the term of hard labour. Nor does there seem to be in this any practical difficulty. Of the various forms which are in force in the several prisons, the treadwheel, crank, and shot drill alone appear to the, Committee properly to merit this designation of hard labour. Of these, the tread wheel and the crank form the principal elements of penal discipline, and might safely be described as such in any future Act of Parliament.And in a subsequent part of their Report they say—They further recommend that all gaols and houses of correction shall, as a condition to their receipt of the Treasury allowance, both be provided with a sufficient supply of hard labour machinery for the average number of male prisoners sentenced to and medically fit for hard labour, and be annually certified to the Secretary of State as giving the full daily minimum work on treadwheel or crank, as described above.I have had to consider these recommendations of the Committee. They first of all propose that there shall be an authoritative definition of hard labour, and they suggest that it should confined to three modes of enforcing it, the treadwheel, the crank and shot drill; and they further recommend that, as a condition to their receipt of the Treasury allowance, all gaols and houses of correction shall be required to possess an adequate hard labour machinery, and be annually certified to the Secretary of State as duly enforcing this form of pun- 2049 ishment. I have come to the conclusion that it would be impossible to adopt the first part of these recommendations, and enact an authoritative definition of the term "hard labour," but that it would be expedient to adopt the other part—namely, that proper means should be taken to ascertain that hard labour can be and is practically enforced in gaols and houses of correction. The right hon. Gentleman opposite, as I have mentioned, has placed on the paper the notice of a Resolution on this subject, and I may here say that, differing as he does with the conclusion to which I have come, and thinking that there should be this Parliamentary authoritative definition of hard labour, if he wilt in Committee on this Bill propose a clause giving effect to his view, I shall be happy to give it a candid consideration, trusting it may be found sufficient to answer its purpose. But the Committee of the House of Lords appear to have overlooked the difficulties connected with the application of their rule as to hard labour, and if the right hon. Gentleman concurs with that Committee, I would ask him, "Does he think that either the three forms of hard labour included in their definition could be strictly enforced upon women?" It is easy to say that the crank, for example, shall be the hard labour which Parliament requires; but the Committee say that the construction of the treadwheel and the crank differs so much in different gaols that they may be either made instruments of excessive punishment, or of punishment too light to be entitled to the name of hard labour. In page 4 of the Report the right hon. Gentleman will find what they say with regard to the crank, showing that it is a most unequal instrument of punishment. It is impossible for Parliament to define what the pressure on the axis of the crank shall be, or how it shall be applied, or what time a prisoner shall be kept at it. And if that be so, you must, as at present, give the local authorities a large discretion as to these points. I have, therefore, thought it better to leave it to the justices of the several prisons to devise those means of enforcing hard labour which, owing to the construction of their particular prisons, they may think are the only or the most available means of doing so, and then to leave it to the Secretary of State to see whether there has been such a substantial compliance with the requirements of the law as would warrant the payment of the Treasury allowance. I propose in 2050 this Bill to establish the same check upon the arbitrary exercise of the discretion vested in the Secretary of State which now exists in the case of the Constabulary Act, and to require that when the certificate is withheld the correspondence on the subject shall be laid before Parliament, that Parliament may have an opportunity of deciding whether that discretion has been satisfactorily exercised or not. The right hon. Gentleman will, I hope, excuse me for seeming to anticipate his Motion; but I repeat, that if, instead of proposing by a vague general resolution to impose on me a duty which I am unable satisfactorily to perform, he will submit a clause in Committee defining hard labour which can be safely and properly applied, I shall be happy to give it the best consideration.
The next clause has reference to the power of the Secretary of State to make rules for the government of gaols. It was objected to by the right hon. Member for Staffordshire, and I am glad to have the opportunity of explaining it, because a most unaccountable misunderstanding appears to prevail on the subject. It has been supposed that it gives some extraordinary powers which were never acted upon before. Now, let me call the attention of the House to what the present law on the subject is. By the present law certain general rules have been enacted for the government of gaols, but the Legislature, thinking it absolutely essential that in addition to these stereotyped rules there should exist some means of making supplementary rules applicable to prisons generally or to particular prisons, gave a power to justices to make rules, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State. Now, just compare the present state of the law with what is proposed under this clause. By the 5 & 6 Will. IV. c. 28, s. 5, it is enacted—That on or before the 1st day of November in every year the clerks of the peace for every county, riding, or division of a county in England and Wales, the clerks of every gaol sessions, and the chief magistrates of every city, town, borough, port, or liberty within England and Wales, now having any prison, shall transmit copies of all rules and regulations in force on the 25th day of September in such year for the government of every prison for and belonging to their respective counties, ridings, or divisions of counties, cities, towns, boroughs, ports, and liberties, to one of His Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State, together with copies of such new or additional rules and regulations as may be proposed for the government thereof; and it shall be lawful for 2051 such Secretary of State to alter such rules or regulations, copies whereof shall be transmitted to him in pursuance of this Act, and to make additional rules or regulations thereto, and to subscribe a certificate or declaration that such rules and regulations as are transmitted to him, or altered or added to, are proper to be enforced, and the rules and regulations, alteration, and additions so certified shall be binding upon sheriffs and all other persons; and the clerks of the peace for every county, riding, or division of a county in England and Wales, the clerks of every gaol session, and the chief magistrates of every such city, town, borough, port, and liberty, are hereby required to lay before the Court of Quarter Sessions, held next after the 25th day of September in every year, for their respective counties, ridings, divisions of counties, cities, towns, boroughs, ports and liberties, on the 1st day of such Sessions, like copies of all rules and regulations in force on the 25th day of September in every year for the government of their respective prisons.That shows that it is in the power of the Secretary of State now, if he chooses, to alter the rules and regulations transmitted to him in pursuance of this Act, and to make additional rules, regulations, alterations, and additions which should be binding, &c. The word "annul" does not occur, although I do not know why it does not; but the word is really immaterial. This is not all, however. By another clause it is enacted—That in case of any clerk of the peace, clerk of gaol sessions, or chief magistrate of any city, town, borough, port or liberty, neglecting or omitting to transmit to one of His Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State copies of the rules or regulations in force for the government of any prison which he is required by this Act to transmit, it shall be lawful for one of His Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State after the 1st day of December in every year, to certify what rules and regulations he deems necessary for the government of such prison; and the rules and regulations so certified by such Secretary of State shall thence forth be binding upon sheriffs and all other persons, and shall be the only rules in force for the government of such prison.Now, what is the effect of this clause? That the Secretary of State has power to alter, annul, or add to all rules and regulations for the government of goals, not only when they have been sent up to him, but where such rules and regulations have not been transmitted to him, he has power absolutely, after the 1st of December in every year, to make rules which shall be binding without appeal on the authorities of the gaols. Now the simple effect of this clause is to enable the Secretary of State to do at any time what at present under the existing law he is now empowered to do between the 25th of September and the 1st of December in 2052 every year. I am therefore utterly unable to account for the petitions that have been presented against this clause of the Bill. They came chiefly from some very zealous persons who think they have discovered some hidden motive on my part under this clause of subverting the Protestant religion, and imposing on every prison in England the services of a Roman Catholic chaplain. These petitions came from the Protestant Reformation Society and similar institutions, and they express in very explicit terms that it is intended by this means to deprive the authorities of the prisons of the discretion vested in them by the Ministers Act of last Session to make rules incompatible with that Act. If those who signed these petitions were more conversant with our system of legislation they would know that no rules which the Secretary of State could make would supersede an Act of Parliament. But this only shows, when an idea once gets hold of very honest but ill-informed minds, how difficult it is to eradicate it. I will only add that, if I find after we go into Committee the explanation I have now offered is not entirely satisfactory, I shall have no objection to strike out the clause altogether — so little importance do I attach to it. The Committee further recommended that all rules should be included in one Act of Parliament, but I do not think that necessary or practicable, although I quite admit that it would be desirable some additional rules should be inserted in the Bill.
I come now to that part of the Bill which relates to the construction of prisons. Here again, I wish to advert to the Report of the Committee. With regard to separation, the Committee say—They have observed from the evidence submitted to them that in many of the best gaols a large proportion of the cells are below the precise standard of size, and consequently uncertified by the Inspector. Such cells, however, appear to be used under certain conditions, without prejudice to the administration of the prison or the health of the prisoners. While, for the future, the fullest development is given to the separate system, it will be for the Secretary of State to consider how far the practical object in view may be met, and the difficulties arising out of the expense of a reconstruction of many prisons obviated, by allowing a certain proportion of cells below the average standard to be certified and sanctioned, it being understood that the occupants of those cells shall consist of prisoners undergoing short sentences, who shall be chiefly employed during the day upon hard labour outside their cells.The sixth clause of the Bill gives effect to that recommendation—that cells may 2053 be certified for short periods of separate confinement. That will, no doubt, enable the system of separate imprisonment to be adopted in many prisons where it could not otherwise be so, owing to the cells not being large enough. The Committee go on to recommend—That legislative measures be taken as speedily as possible to render the adoption of separation obligatory upon all gaols and houses of correction in England and Wales, and that the payment of the proportion of the charge now issued from the public revenues in aid of the county and borough prisons be made contingent in each case on the adoption of the separate system.The fifth clause of the Bill gives effect to that recommendation. We can only effect the object which the Committee of the Lords had in view by requiring that the prisons should be so constructed as to be adapted to separate imprisonment; and the way in which we propose to do this is to enable the Secretary of State to require the authorities of any inadequate prison to remedy the defects, in order that the prison may be made capable of enforcing the discipline which it is desirable should be enforced; and on failure of the authority to whom such order may be addressed to comply with its requisitions, the Secretary of State may, by a further order addressed to the keeper of said gaol, desire him to remove the prisoners to any other gaol the authority of which may consent to receive them, and; may make any equitable agreement on behalf of the authority of the inadequate gaol with the consenting authority for the lodging and maintenance of the prisoners so transferred.
The Committee further recommended as amalgamation of small gaols with the larger prisons, in order to secure greater economy and efficiency of administration. It is no doubt desirable to give effect to that recommendation after due inquiry into the special circumstance of each case, and accordingly a number of small borough gaols have been scheduled in this Bill for abolition. Many small buildings in some town are, I believe, quite unfit for the reception of prisoners except for very short periods, and the Inspectors are quite agreed as to the propriety of that recommendation of the Committee. I applied to the Inspectors to report as to the prisons which they thought could be so dealt with, and they have furnished me with a list of prisons which I have included in the schedule for abolition. I may say, however, that since then I have received 2054 representations from various local authorities which are well entitled to consideration, and in some cases those representations have been accompanied by promises that the prisons should undergo the necessary alterations. These representations have been referred to the Inspectors. As to the particular gaols which shall be thus dealt with, that is a question which we can dispose of in Committee, when the House will have fuller information before it.
The only remaining question to which the Lords' Committee directed their attention was one of great importance, namely, diet. Upon that point they made no recommendation beyond suggesting that a Commission should be appointed to inquire into the subject, and laying down the general principles in which all of us will agree, that the dietary of prisoners, while it should be such as not to injure health, should not be of a nature to contrast favourably with, the ordinary diet of a labourer outside the prison. The House will see, from the papers before them, that a Committee of medical men was appointed, which made a Report proposing a new scale of dietaries with a maximum and a minimum. A copy of that Report was sent to each clerk of the peace and to other officers, in order that it might be brought under the notice of the local authorities, with a view to the adoption of the dietary suggested. Therefore, the question of diet forms no part of this Bill. There is only one other point, and that a minor one, to which I need refer. That is the questions as to the abolition of Abington Gaol, which was recommended by the Court of Quarter Sessions. I have, however, ascertained that considerable difference of opinion exists upon that subject; and as it is a purely local question, it cannot well be decided without further information being afforded to the House. I have inserted that gaol in the Bill, but when we go into Committee I shall be guided by what shall appear to be the feeling of the county of Berks; and if good reasons be assigned for the retention of the gaol, I shall not object. Having thus briefly referred to all the points connected with this Bill upon which I think it is necessary at present to touch, I venture to hope that the House will now read it a second time, and that, after the explanation I have given, the hon. Member for Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) will not press his Amendment.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir George Grey.)
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, that after listening to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, he should not think it necessary to move the Amendment of which he had given notice, but he felt there was still an important point at issue between them. The right hon. Baronet proposed to confer upon the Secretary of State powers which he (Mr. Adderley) thought ought to be defined by Act of Parliament. There would be no difference of opinion on the title of the right hon. Baronet certainly to the thanks of the House for introducing the Bill, because some reform in prison discipline had become absolutely necessary, and was the more imperative now that they had been dealing with the higher branches of the secondary penal code. It would be monstrous to reform the system of penal servitude while prison discipline, which formed the base of the system, was left untouched. As the right hon. Gentleman had said—one great object of reforming the law relating to prison discipline was to arrive at something like an uniform system. Such was the object of the Acts of George IV. and William IV. So again the object of the Lords' Committee was, in the first place to make imprisonment more feared; and next, to make the system uniform. So important did he consider uniformity of system to be, that for himself he would prefer a worse system that was uniform to a better system which was of uncertain application throughout the country. The principal objection to the Bill was, that it did not provide sufficiently for insuring uniformity; and even the attempt that was made in it to gain that end was based upon a wrong principle, by leaving sentences to be carried out to the satisfaction of the Secretary of State instead of defining them by Act of Parliament. That was quite a new principle, which he believed would be productive of the worst species of centralization. Secretaries of State were changed, and they were not always men having the same views; besides which it was almost impossible for any Secretary of State to have sufficient knowledge of the circumstance of every case to enable him to judge accurately whether punishments were satisfactorily administered. But he would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman against himself. The 2056 right hon. Baronet had from first to last told the House that he proposed to carry out the recommendations of the Lords' Committee. Early in the present Session the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) asked what steps would be taken in consequence of the Report of the Lords' Committee, and the Home Secretary then said that as far as the recommendations of the Committee could be carried out without an Act of Parliament, he had given instructions that they should be at once carried out, and that in respect of those matters which required legislation he was preparing a Bill, but should postpone its introduction until he received certain further information which might enable him to fulfil the Committee's requirements. But now it appeared that a Bill based upon the Report of the Lords' Committee would not in reality carry out any of their recommendations, except one of minor importance referring to the suppression of certain small borough prisons. The recommendations in respect of increased severity were few, but upon the point of uniformity the recommendations were numerous, precise, and important. The Committee wanted to obtain uniformity in the construction of prisons, in the punishment and treatment of prisoners, in the rules of the gaols, and in the classifications of prisoners. The Bill did not deal with these points. First, as to the construction of prisons, upon which the recommendations of the Committee were precise. The right hon. Baronet excused the Bill for doing nothing, and said they had not borne in mind how much had been done already in this respect. It was true that much had been done, but a long time had been occupied in doing it, and much remained to be done. The Act of Parliament for the erection of Pentonville Prison was passed twenty-two years ago. That prison was to be an experiment which, if successful, was to be followed out in all other places. The experiment had been successful, but it had not been followed out. If any good result had attended the introduction of the system the country generally had not reaped full advantage from it, for there were still no less than thirty of the most important gaols in England where it had not yet been introduced. At present the system was extending slowly, and what he and the Lords' Committee proposed was that its introduction should be expedited and 2057 rendered compulsory. That proposition was not a very violent one, because it could be effected at a small expense, and by no means necessitated a reconstruction of the present gaols, as some imagined. The House ought not to listen to local objections against the separate system, because the object was a national one. The system was not efficient unless made uniform. Any gaol of any size which refused to carry out the system was injuring the prison discipline find the beneficial effects of confinement throughout the country, because such a refusal would only tend to foster in the minds of criminals that speculation on uncertainty and that gambling in crime which tended to paralyze the power of all law. The next recommendation of the Commissioners was that the term "hard labour" should be defined in the Acts of Parliament. The desirability of such definition would hardly, he believed, be contested by any one. At present the term was so vague that it might mean anything on earth. Any person reading the evidence of the Committee would see at once that the value attached to the term depended upon the locality where the sentence was carried out. In one gaol it meant severe labour at the tread-wheel, the crank, or shot-drill; in another it was defined as school instruction and the employment of moral influence; while in the county of Berkshire a prisoner confined in the Reading Gaol would find that it signified no labour at all. Such a statement appeared to be almost incredible, but according to the evidence of Mr. Merry, nothing in the opinion of the magistrates of Berkshire was so irksome to a prisoner as confinement without employment; and, therefore, they construed hard labour to mean doing nothing at all. That state of things he did not believe the House could wish to continue. The right hon. Gentleman sought a remedy in the third clause of the Bill, which provided for the withholding of the whole of the Government allowance from any prison which had not received a certificate showing that adequate means were provided for carrying out sentences of hard labour, and that such sentences had been carried out in accordance with what the Secretary of State regarded as fulfilling the requirements of the law. If the angel Gabriel were Secretary of State, and his two Inspectors were Arguses, the clause could not be properly enforced. It would be impossible for the Inspectors to travel 2058 about the country with such rapidity and examine the prisons with so narrow a scrutiny as to render the clause effective, and a most arbitrary distribution of the certificates would necessarily be the result. But, independent of that objection, there still existed the uncertainty as to the nature of hard labour. The definition would be in the discretion of the Secretary of State, and his view of the question might coincide with that of the Reading magistrates, who believed entire idleness to be the hardest labour; or with that of the Winchester bench, who regarded the treadwheel as the most irksome employment that could be given to a prisoner. Nothing would lead to a uniformity of hard labour short of its definition by Act of Parliament. The Lords' Committee had proposed as a definition—the tread-wheel, crank, or shot-drill, and he would suggest the addition of the words "and such like labour," an addition which would give some discretion, limited, it was true, but sufficient for the purpose of uniformity. He was quite aware that magistrates held their own theories as to the nature of hard labour, but he felt certain that they would be willing to abandon to this extent their own individual schemes if by so doing they could procure a great advance in uniformity. Another great object of the Committee was to secure a general scale of diet. The regulations on the subject of dietary at present varied in the different prisons in a most extraordinary degree. In the single article of bread, for instance, the variation ranged from 30 ounces to 234 ounces—a variation which reduced the whole system to an absurdity. He believed that a maximum and a minimum scale of dietary should be introduced into the Bill, because uniformity of diet and uniformity of hard labour, to be effective, should go hand in hand. Hard labour of any kind was hard or light in some degree according to the diet on which it was performed. Now, with regard to the exceptions. The right hon. Gentleman said that it would not be possible to lay down the same dietary for men and for women. That was a difficulty which he did not believe would be felt insuperable by any one, nor would it be desirable to include invalids in the general scale. There must always be a double system for the two sexes of convicts, and the regulation of the diet of invalids must always be discretionary, and all subject, of course, in a measure to the report of the 2059 surgeon in every case. There was also, at present, an entire want of conformity to rules; and although the 5&6 Will. IV. prescribed that the rules should undergo the revision of the Secretary of State, in a considerable number of goals there were no rules at all, and some rules contained every possible absurdity that could come into the head of the wildest theorist. In his own county, Major Fulford, one of the highest authorities upon the subject, drew up certain rules, based on the commissioners' Report, which, with some slight modifications, would probably do for all the goals in the kingdom. The classification recommended by the Lords' Committee, and since carried out in Winchester Gaol, consisted in successive stages of treatment, through which every prisoner sentenced to a long term was to progress. In the existing Acts there is another kind of classification specified — namely, classes of prisoners, rendered needless by individual separation. The classification now recommended was one of treatment. If the prisoners were guilty of prison offences, they were to be degraded and thrown back into a worse stage, and the system of marks was avoided. The mark system was very arbitrary and unsatisfactory, and depended upon conduct which might be assumed by the worst hypocrite in the goal. Even the greatest amount of work was a bad ground for alleviation of punishment as it attached the highest privilege to the strongest villain. It was a system, too, in respect of which they had to depend on the reports of inferior officers, who should not be under temptation to make favorites, or who might want the courage and the judgment to make a true report, or the power to know really what report to make in every case. The Winchester system might be easily extended if only, magistrates were willing to give up pet theories for the sake of uniformity; and if uniformity in classification of treatment could be arrived at the rest would be comparatively easy. The right hon. Gentleman had held out such a prospect of an amicable discussion of these points in Committee, and had expressed such readiness to adopt suggestions, that he thought they might consent to the second reading, and having made these criticisms he should offer no further opposition upon the stage of the Bill.
§ MR. ALDERMAN ROSE
said, it was felt throughout the country that the existing law provided amply for contingencies, and that the enactment of the fourth clause 2060 might cover very serious mischief. If however, it was understood that the arbitrary power sought to be exercised by the right hon. Gentleman were not to be insisted on, however, he was not indisposed to go into Committee on Bill.
I so thoroughly concur with my right hon. Friend the Member for North Staffordshire in all the objections he has stated against this Bill that I regret he has withdrawn his Resolution, because I agree with him when he says—That no legislation to amend the present law relating to goals can be satisfactory which does not include some definition of hard labour, and a schedule of rules for goals; and which does not provide that all gaols; shall be gradually adapted to the separate system, and for a uniform and classified treatment of all prisoners.But my objections to the Bill go far beyond those of my right hon. Friend; and I think the House must be of opinion, from the petitions which have been presented, that all the objections felt through the country to the Bill are not comprised in those which were stated in the Resolution of my right hon. Friend. I have myself to-day presented a petition from the bench of justices for Westminster and Middlesex, in which it is stated that the attempt made by this Bill entirely to supersede their discretion with regard to the rules for the regulation of the goals for which they are responsible is totally unprecedented. They say that it is altogether unprecedented that the Secretary of State or any other Officer of the Crown should be empowered to make contracts in the name of the justices, or that power so vast should be proposed by this Bill that he might do anything almost that may please him as to the enforcement of rules in reference to the goals; that he may declare any standard of adequacy, as it is called, necessary for his certificate of any goal, and thereby may entail an unknown amount of expense upon the ratepayers, using the justices as tools to levy this taxation without the slightest discretion on their part as to the amount to belevied or the mode in which the money when obtained is to be expended. And remember, Sir, this does not touch the country magistrates only. The country magistrates have the regulation of the gaols for the counties. They have power to frame regulations for the government of those gaols in accordance with the rules framed by themselves, which are submitted to the Secretary of state for his approval, 2061 It is quite true, as the right hon. Gentleman has stated, that the Secretary of State may proceed to alter or add to these rules. That is the state of the existing law; but the right hon. Gentleman has never told the House that which appears most distinctly in the evidence of Mr. Perry, the Inspector of Prisons for the northern half of England — namely, that there is no effectual power to enforce the alterations of the Prison Rules made by, no power to enforce the rules that may be suggested by, the Secretary of State, if the bench of magistrates be opposed to them. And, what is more, there is no case which came to the memory of either of the Inspectors of Prisons for England—and there are two, Mr. Perry and Mr. Vowles —in which an attempt has been made by any Secretary of State to force, by legal process upon an unwilling bench, rules of his own construction, or alteration of their rules which he may have suggested. It is perfectly true that the Secretary of State has consulted with different benches of magistrates, who have come to an agreement with him, and generally had the good sense to adopt his suggestions; but there is no power to compel them to adopt those suggestions. It is quite true that it would be possible for the Secretary of State to proceed by indictment, or by mandamus in the Court of Queen's Bench; but there is no proof of any Secretary of State having done so at any time. When, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman tells the House that he is about to take no additional powers by the Bill, I reply that he seeks large additional powers. But he does more, he also seeks the power of enforcing by penalty, on the justices, an enormous expenditure to be levied upon their responsibility from the ratepayers. Why, Sir, this is a direct means of taxation on one class of property at the will of the Secretary of State; and it is this consideration which has induced the Justices of the Peace of Westminster and of Middlesex to petition this House that the Bill may not pass into a law. Sir, I have never known an instance of a measure which bears examination so badly as this. Many hon. Members came to me and said that the Bill contains no additional power. Well, I did not like to act on my own opinion alone; so I prepared a case and submitted the following questions, not to one, but to three gentleman learned in the law, and with the permission of the House— for I do not think I can show what is the real character of the Bill better 2062 —I will read the questions put to and the answers received from one of these gentleman—Does not clause 2 make this Bill applicable to all gaols, except the thirty-one gaols specified in this Bill as to be discontinued, and the Government convict prisons?— Yes.Whereas the whole discretion vested in the justices under the Prison Ministers' Act of last Session, 26&27 Vict, c. 79, must if exercised, be brought into operation by rules. With respect to the appointment of Roman Catholic or other Dissenting ministers, or Roman Catholic or other Dissenting ministers, or their being permitted to visit prisoners in gaol, would it not be competent to the Home Secretary, if this Bill becomes law, to make rules for the appointment of such ministers, or for permitting them to visit in any of, or all, the gaols to which this Bill is intended to apply?—Yes.Would it not be competent to the Home Secretary, under Clause 5, to compel the construction of, or appropriation of, a Roman Catholic chapel in any goal now in existence or to be constructed, except the thirty-one gaols specified in this Bill, if he should think fit to declare such gaol inadequate without such chapel?—Yes.Might not the Home Secretary remove all the Roman Catholic or Nonconformist prisoners from any goal in which there is not a chapel or a minister of their denomination appointed, to some gaol in which there is a chapel and a minister or ministers of their denomination appointed?—Yes. and make the county pay the expense of removal and maintenance.The right hon. Gentleman felt the weakness of his own case when he offered to give up the 4th clause of Bill. I beg the House however, to observe that that clause is merely declaratory, the penalties are contained in the remainder of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that the whole of the powers which he proposes to take under this clause exist under the present law. The mere sweeping away of this declaratory clause would not remove the penalties or limit the discretionary power which the clause declares. But the right hon. Gentleman if this Bill were to pass, would be able to enforce the existing law by the penalties which the Bill would enact. I most heartily wish for some judiciously framed measure upon this subject. It is now twenty-two years since any code of rules was issued for the regulation of gaols, and those twenty-two years have been most eventful in the matter of secondary punishments. I am only repeating the testimony of the late lamented Sir Joshua Jebb, and the evidence of Mr. Perry and Mr. Vowles, when I state that a code of rules applicable to present circumstances such as were embodied in the Act of 1823 for the Regulation of Goals, should be comprised in a schedule appended to any Bill of this kind, for the 2063 purpose of producing some uniformity of punishment in the gaols throughout the kingdom which are under the control of the justices. But, Sir, I beg to call the attention of the House to the recommendations of the Committee of the House of Lords in this respect: the Lords' Committee have, in their Report, declared most emphatically that not only should rules be issued, but that rules should be enacted. I most cordially concur in the propriety of that recommendation. No hon. Member, I believe, will dispute the competency of the Lords' Committee. They state in page 14 of their Report on Prison Discipline—1. It is obvious that to secure an efficient discipline every gaol must have a definite code of rules under which it is governed.It is, indeed, clear that this was the intention of the Legislature, the 5 & 6 Will. IV. contemplates the existence of certain regulations in every prison, and with that view a code of rules has been issued by the Secretary of State for the information and adoption of the local authorities. But as their acceptance is left to the discretion of the local authorities, a comparatively small number of gaols in England and Wales have adopted the rules as framed by the Secretary of State. In some prisons neither the rules as laid down by the Secretary of State, nor any other rules framed by the governing body, and approved by him, are in existence; and in the remaining gaols the regulations vary indefinitely according to the views of the governing body. It is, indeed, quite true that it is within the competency of the Secretary of State, under 5 & 6 Will. IV. c. 38, s. 6, in default of the framing of the regulations by the local authorities, to certify such rules as he shall deem necessary for the government of any prison, which shall then become binding. It appears, however, that this power has never been exercised by the Secretary of State.2. The Committee are of opinion that such rules for gaols as may be thought advisable should be embodied as a schedule in an Act of Parliament, and that the Treasury allowance should be withheld from all gaols where those rules are not in force.My complaint against this Bill, and it would be the complaint of the House of Lords, is that whereas they recommend that rules should be enacted by Parliament, this Bill contains no rules. Now, the advantage of having definite rules is this: that the rules at once instruct the 2064 magistrates and bind the Home Secretary. But this Bill gives the right hon. Gentleman the power of making rules without the slightest previous knowledge on the part of this House, the justices, or the public, of what those rules will be. The Bill would also confer upon him a most effectual power to enforce these unknown rules. Surely there remains in the House of Commons some respect for the old form of government, in accordance with which the local affairs of the counties, cities, and boroughs have hitherto been managed; some respect for those who give their time, sometimes most valuable time, for the accomplishment of this important object. All that the justices seek in proposing the rejection of this Bill is, that the House will define the width of the discretion, and the extent of the power to be exercised; that they may be instructed specifically how they are to improve the discipline of the gaols over which they preside. They ask for instructions, but they deprecate the arming of any central authority with the power of overriding their discretion to any extent, and of compelling them to become the instruments of a taxation which they justly term "unconstitutional" in its nature, because it is not defined by Parliament either in its amount or objects, and is to be levied directly at the instance of an Officer of the Crown. It is for these reasons that I have given notice that I should move the rejection of the Bill. Far be it from me to suggest a code of rules of so stringent and narrow a character that they would be applicable only to gaols built upon the Pentonville model. Sir Joshua Jebb, and the two prison Inspectors for England, declare that there ought to be several classes of rules, and that each class of rules should be applicable to a certain class of prisons. Thus a process would be established of obtaining uniformity by means not so arbitrary as a narrow definition, applicable only to one class of gaols, but enabling the justices to feel that they have the sanction of law in conforming to the rules which the information at the command of the House and the Government ought to enable them to frame for their guidance. The question under consideration is no trifling matter. The right hon. Gentleman proposes that we should change the law. So far as he is concerned, the House might have confidence in him personally whilst he is in office; but he asks us to arm all his successors, every Secre- 2065 tary of State, we know not whom, with an indefinite power of overriding the discretion of the justices in counties, cities, and boroughs, and compelling the county justices and the town councils to levy any amount of money that the Secretary of State for the time being may think proper, and to enforce contract not made in his own name and upon their responsibility. Is it surprising that there should be a feeling prevalent throughout the country that such indefinite powers as these ought not to be given? I think I have shown, then, that there is one class of objectors to the Bill whose objections, however lightly they may have been treated by the right hon. Gentleman, ought not to be overlooked by the House—I mean those of the local authorities, the county justices, the borough magistrates, and the town councils. The right hon. Gentleman also spoke lightly of another class of objectors. He said that there were certain persons who, upon religious grounds, object to the existing Prison Ministers Act. Sir, those persons object to that Act, not only upon religious grounds, but upon the grounds of policy. For, remember, Rome is not merely the centre of a religious, but of a political organization, and I would that hon. Members of the House would open their eyes to the extent of this influence. The strong Government of France is resisting the Ultramontane organization. It has ruined Poland, and our ancestors had to eject it from this country, or it might hare ruined us. The agents of this politico-religions organization are making it very fashionable in this country. If any one says there is danger in this quarter, he is told, "there is nothing so unfashionable," or, "that it is an antiquated prejudice to entertain such apprehensions; that it is delightful to witness such an organization spreading throughout the country for purely charitable purposes." We hear of bazaars taking place supported by persons of the greatest weight and influence in society, and of all sorts of exertions to strengthen this organization. I wish hon. Members would turn back a little to the history of their own country, and not shut their eyes to the effects of this organization, not only upon the religion, but upon the peace, the social happiness, and the freedom of the nations of the world. I was inclined to doubt whether I was not carried away by prejudice in thinking that this Bill might be used to contravene the discretion vested in the justices by the Prison Ministers Act of 2066 last Session with respect to the appointment of Roman Catholic chaplains, and Roman Catholic priests being permitted to visit prisoners in the gaols of this country. But I am relieved from that apprehension when I find the Tablet, which is an Ultramontane paper, supporting the Bill, and that the Weekly Register, another Ultramontane paper, adopts the same course. If the House will permit me, I will read to it a few extracts from the Weekly Register of the 28th of May—Sir George Grey's Prison Bill is threatened with fierce opposition. The Government, seeing the futility of expecting that the Protestant magistracy of the country will surrender their prejudices and voluntarily appoint Catholic chaplains to administer spiritual instruction to Catholic prisoners in the gaols under their jurisdiction, have availed themselves of a Bill which they found it necessary to bring into Parliament for the abolition, of certain prisons and the re-organization of others, to introduce a clause giving the Secretary of State power to order absolutely the appointment of Catholic chaplains in those prisons where the circumstances shall appear to him to warrant such a step.Now, this may be said to be only anonymous writing but as a magistrate for Middlesex and-for Westminster, I happened to know that the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department has been urging the visiting magistrates of the gaols in Westminster and Middlesex to admit Roman Catholic priests to those gaols under the 3rd Section of the Prison Ministers Act, and to do this in direct violation of a resolution passed by the Court of Quarter Sessions. My brother magistrates, finding that the right hon. Gentleman was using his influence for this purpose, they began to look closely into the present Bill. If the right hon. Gentleman was evidently engaged in an attempt to raise our visiting justices, our committee, in revolt against the resolution of the Court of Quarter Session, under the terms of the Prison Ministers Act, which he thought would cover the operation; if the Secretary of State was to obtain such enormous powers as he asks by this Bill, those powers might be used to punish the court, by compelling us to levy additional taxation upon the ratepayers. What a position we should then be in! If we did not levy money to accomplish the purposes of the Secretary of State, we should be placed in a false position with the ratepayers; because the right hon. Gentleman might withhold the Government allowance for the maintenance of the prisoners, and then we should be in the position of having to tax the ratepayers 2067 of the county the more as a penance for not having complied with his demands. Supposing he were to say, "I insist upon a Roman Catholic Chapel being built in one of the prisons," and the justices were to refuse. He might at once declare that prison inadequate; and when he had done that, of course he would withhold the Government allowance, and we should have to levy the differences upon the ratepayers. Surely these are not unreasonable objections. Then this Ultramontane paper goes on to say—With these fanatics and hypocrites religious liberty means the right of going wrong in spiritual masters, and the power of tormenting those who repudiate such a right. Catholics hold to dogma in religious matters, and the Evangelical Protestantism would enforce its own principle of the right of every man to think as he pleases upon religious subjects.It then proceeds in the same strain, with respect to the Prison Minister Act—As Protestantism is based upon the right of private judgment in matters spiritual, the Government and the Parliament, consisting mostly of Protestants, concluded, naturally enough, that in this Protestant country the benefit of the great Protestant principle would be freely extended to non-Protestants, and that Protestant magistrates and guardians would cheerful take the requisite steps for the religious instruction of Catholics in prisons and workhouses, not withstanding the maintenance of the opposite principle by all members of the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, their confidence was lamentably misplaced.Now, that is not an unfair representation of the opinion of the House. I am happy to say, however we may be mistaken; and the Prison Ministers Act, to a certain extent, admits the principle of religious liberty, and that is the principle which this paper condemns. With the permission of the House, I will read a few more words from the same paper—The permissory character of the prison Minister Bill is traceable to a far different source. Sir George Grey was apprehensive of arousing Protestant bigotry and intolerance by a compulsory measure, and he tried to coax the 'great unpaid' into a liberal and generous course. He has failed egregiously, as we foresaw from the beginning, for the Parliament is far more liberal than the nation; and the deeper we descend into the substratum of English society, the more copiously do we discover the existence of intense bigotry and intolerance. The Clerkenwell magistrates and the Chelsea Guardians are animated by the like spirit—intense hatred of the Catholic Church; and as the same feeling, though, perhaps, less virulently, pervades the mass of English Protestantism, especially amongst the country squires and the middle and lower classes both Government and parliament must at once make up their minds either to leave gross and admitted injustice unredressed and unrectified, or to make their remedies compulsory as regards both prisons and workhouses.?2068 Such is the language that I find in this Ultramontane organ. It then gives an instance of how in Liverpool the guardians have declared that a Roman Catholic chaplain should attend the poor in the workhouse, and selected three priests for the purpose, but restricting them to the rule that one only should be allowed to attend at a time. But these priests declare that no such "Paltry admission" as this will satisfy them, and they say—thus writes the Weekly Register—Under the Act of Parliament, if there were sixty Catholic paupers in the Liverpool workhouse, and as many Catholic clergymen in the borough there is no authority in the poor law officials to prevent the visit of the whole of those sixty priests to the institution at the same time and at all hours of the day every day of the year.Sir, that only shows the extent of the demands which we may expect to see urged from that quarter. This demand was urged by the improperly styled (Roman) Catholic Bishop of Liverpool. And has further consideration altered the opinion which this Ultramontanist organ represents with respect to this Bill? Why, in the Weekly Register of the Saturday last, I find this statement—Sir George Grey has fixed Monday next for the second reading of the Gaols Bill, and as the evangelical bigots in London and throughout the country are straining every nerve to defeat the measure, merely because it empowers the Government to order provision to be made for the spiritual instruction of Catholic prisoners, it is of the last importance that the Irish Members—[let the House observe that it is an English Bill]—who represent Catholic constituencies, should be at their post to support the Home Secretary.We all know very well what is understood by the phrase "spiritual instruction." It means the supervision of priest exercised ever a prisoner in a separate cell, whether the prisoner desires that supervision or not. By the Prison Ministers Act the priest would not be admitted by the free request or by the voluntary act of the prisoner; but whether the prisoner will or not, he would be subjected to the direct control of a priest to be admitted to the cell in which the unhappy man is confined. Entertaining the deep love of religious freedom and the right of private judgment which this Ultramontane organ says pervades, not only this House, but the country, from the upper through the middle classes down to the lowest stratum of society, I deprecate the passing of any measure which might place the Home Secretary in the position of being temped to 2069 violate at once the spirit of our legislation and the religious feelings of the people, by enabling this Ultramontane faction to exercise the greatest moral tyranny through their priests over these helpless persons who, owing to their unfortunate position, could not escape from this spiritual thraldom, we have heard a great deal about the advantages to prison discipline which will be likely to accrue from the appointment of Roman Catholic Priests as gaol chaplains. Sir, I hold in my hand the copy of a letter written by a person of the name of Thwaites, in which he says it was his misfortune to have spent nearly ten years as first schoolmaster in the English convict prisons, and that whilst thus employed he had ample opportunities of testing the value of the services of the Roman Catholic chaplains among the convicts of that persuasion. He declares that he speaks from personal knowledge, for he has had to do with 17,000 convicts, and that those who were under the direct control of Roman Catholic chaplains, and were the best thought of by them, were in several instances implicated in those violences and outbreaks which, I am sorry to say, have marked the recent history of our convict prisons. He also declares emphatically that he believes it can be proved, by documents which are in the possession of the Home office, that the power exercised by these Roman Catholic chaplains has conduced neither to preserve order and discipline, nor to improve the prisoners; but that this one marked fact remains, that the most violent of those who have been concerned in these outbreaks were the very men who had accepted the most willingly the tuition of Roman Catholic chaplains. And this is only consistent with that which we have heard respecting the outbreaks at the Reformatory of Mount St. Bernard in Leicestershire. I am sorry to say that I have, moreover, heard that the Roman Catholic chaplain at Parkburst, having been informed that some of the assistants of the matron possessed Protestant books —these persons being Protestants themselves—immediately went to the Governor of the goal, by whom, on the representations of this priest, an order was issued that these books must be given up, although it could not be proved that they had been used among the prisoners. Thus you have a direct interference on the part of a Roman Catholic chaplain with the religious freedom of the gaol officials, And why? Because it seems that one of the 2070 attendants of the matron had been converted to Popery, and it was through her means that the priest came to the knowledge that these books were in the possession of her Protestant fellow-servants. I am sorry to hear these reports, but they seem to me to be a sufficient answer to those reflections which are sometimes cast upon my brother magistrates, because they have proceeded with great caution in carrying out the provisions of the Prison Ministers Act. Ample evidence might be adduced to show that the manner in which the Justices and borough magistrates have used the discretion which is vested in them by that Act affords no ground and no reason why this House should be induced to sanction any arbitrary interference with their discretion. The principle of this Bill is exactly the opposite of the prison Ministers Act. The prison Minister Act vested a discretion in the magistrates; the chief purpose of this Bill is to coerce that discretion. It is quite true that it is indirectly that the operation of this Bill upon the appointment of Roman Catholic priests or Nonconformist ministers would be brought to bear, but that operation would be none the less effectual. I was not fully aware of this intention until I read the correspondence which was carried on by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary with the visiting justices of Middlesex. The whole tenor of the Bill is to supersede, by the authority of the Secretary of State, the discretion which has been vested in the justices, in the magistrates, in the town councils, in the local authorities of this country, with respect to the prisons under their charge. I am very far from saying that all our prisons are what they ought to be. I am far from wishing the House for one moment to suppose that I overlook the fact that transportation has been practically abandoned, or reduced to so small a practice as not to be worth consideration. I do not wish to overlook that fact, but what does that fact entail? Why, an enormous expenditure, in order to provide for the accumulation of convicts in this country. If our prison discipline is to be what it ought to be, goals must be constructed to carry it out; and the construction of those goals will involve a vast expenditure if they are to be conducted upon the Pentonville system, and even a still greater expenditure if the separate system is to be enforced with due regard to the health and sanity of the prisoners; for the evidence is conclusive that there is 2071 great danger in that system if it be carelessly administered. This brings back to my mind the substance of a conversation which I had with the late Sir Benjamin Brodie on this subject. He said—It was through my intervention that the prison dietary of Pentonville was improved, that the prisoners now receive a dietary which seems to some persons to be so extraordinary. I did this," he went on to say, "by threatening to resign unless the dietary was improved; for I found that the minds of the prisoners were sinking under the debility of their bodies, and that the punishment practically inflicted was so severe that their sanity failed under the system.Whilst speaking upon this subject, let me recall the attention of the House to this particular danger. I have witnessed dreadful results from the abuse of the separate system in the United States of America. I saw such a scene in the prison of Philadelphia as I shall never forget to the latest hour of my existence. There I saw men in every stage of mental and physical decomposition under the operation of the separate system carried out in an exaggerated form, and the House will forgive me if I quote a passage from a letter written by the President of Bethlehem Hospital to Lord Westminster on this very question. The president says—My attention has been forced to the results of the system of separate imprisonment. As president of Bethlehem Hospital I have been compelled to hear the warrants of the Secretary of State read for the admission to that lunatic hospital of the victims of the separate system sent from the two Government prisons—the Millbank Penitentiary and the Pentonville prison. The noble Marquess is doubtless unaware that during the last ten years no fewer than forty lunatics have been sent from the Penitentiary to Bethlehem, while in the preceding ten years only fourteen were so sent; and are the public expected to believe that this fearful increase is not the direct result of the separate system?
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
It was written in 1847, and my attention was first directed to it by the late Duke of Richmond, one of the Commissioners for the management of the Pentonville experiment. The right hon. Gentleman was himself one of the Commissioners, and, highly to his honour, concurred with Sir Benjamin Brodie and the other Commissioners in the necessity for raising the prison dietary up to a high scale, because it was found that the prisoners could not bear separate confinement on a low dietary. The right hon. Gentleman deserves all honour for the part he 2072 took in effecting that improvement; but it is as well to mention this now, because it is proposed by the Bill before us that we should enforce this system — greatly improved I admit, and certainly better understood now than formerly, but still this very system—in all the gaols of England. I pray the House not to give the power to whomsoever may be the Home Secretary hereafter to enforce this system without laying down rules that shall limit its application and guard it from the cruelty with which it might be applied through ignorance, through want of information, or through insufficient attendance. If the House resolves to arm the Secretary of State with this power to enforce the separate system of prison discipline throughout the county and borough gaols, the House is bound to enforce on the magistrates the duty of providing an adequate staff of officials, and to make provision for the expenses that may be necessarily incurred by direct and specific enactment. I trust the House will forgive me for having trespassed so long upon its attention. I have watched these experiments now for more than twenty years, and I rejoice to say that experience has mitigated the dangers of the application of the separate system; but if you are about to enforce that system upon unwilling and reluctant authorities, let me pray the House to define what shall be enforced, and to make the justices really responsible. Under this Bill, as it stands, there will be no real, direct, tangible responsibility. The Secretary of State will issue some unknown orders to the magistrates; the magistrates will comply; the ratepayers will complain, something will go wrong. Then the question will arise, "Whose fault is it?" Under such a vague power as is here created, you will have nothing, in fact, but the responsibility of the Secretary of State for the Home Department; and the House knows that so various are the functions of the Secretary of State, that he is practically exempted from that direct responsibility which ought to attach to those who have in their keeping the bodies, the minds, the health, the sanity of the prisoners who are placed under their control. You will have no direct responsibility under this Bill; and it is for that reason, amongst others which I have enumerated, that I venture now to move that the Bill be read a second time on this day three months, not because I do not desire that a Bill for the regulation of our gaols should pass, 2073 but because this Bill violates the great principle of local self-government, because it violates the principles of the Constitution as to taxation, and fails in this — that it affords no specific directions, prescribes no adequate limitations, because it provides no adequate security, and entails no adequate responsibility to guard the application of the power it would bring into operation; because, in short, the Bill is too vague to become a safe instrument for securing the advantages, which I am confident it is the desire of the House to confer upon the country.
§ MR. BARROW
said, he rose to second the Amendment. At the same time, he rested his opposition to the Bill on different grounds from those which characterized the arguments of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire. He (Mr. Barrow) objected to the Bill because he was opposed to the principle of centralization of authority in this country. He considered there was already quite enough of departmental despotism. The Bill would place the local authorities, as far as regarded the gaols, in a different position altogether to what they stood in at present. If the visiting justices, for example, made an inadequate provision as regarded the dietary of the gaol, the prisoners would have some chances of obtaining a remedy for their grievances by appealing in counties to the justices. The provisions of the existing Act clearly showed that this remedy was intended to be given them by the Legislature. The right hon. Gentleman, it was true, had proposed to make improvements in the prison rules, but the existing law already authorizes him to do so by enabling him to revise and alter any rules submitted to him by the visiting justices, and the failure to exercise this power hitherto does not furnish a sufficient reason for depriving the visiting justices of all voice in the matter. It was the duty of the Secretary of State, as part of the executive Government, to see that the law was enforced; but the visiting justices also were a material part of the executive Government; and what he desired was that these two authorities should act in harmony with each other. He was most anxious that the discipline of the prisons should be enforced; and it was with regret that he noticed, upon examining the records of the gaols and the blue-books upon the subject, that re-commitments were greatly increasing. He was anxious that punishment should be both deterrent and reformatory, 2074 and he was convinced that a certain amount of hard labour was essential, both for the benefit of the prisoner and of society. With respect to the separate system, he wished to say that he was not in favour of extreme separation. In any prisons to be erected it was desirable so to construct them that a prisoner might be sent to his separate cell for the greater part of the day, and then let him have open-air exercise, with hard labour, for two hours. All medical men with whom he had conversed upon the subject declared that the most sanitary employment in a prison was open-air exercise. It tended to keep the prisoner in a better state of health as regarded the body, and put him in a fitter state of mind for receiving instruction and advice. He was anxious that an amount of hard labour more than was ordinarily inflicted in the prisons should be adopted. He entirely objected to those clauses of the Bill which gave despotic power to the Secretary of State, at whose mercy it would place the money of the ratepayers. At present the plans for additional buildings were considered by the local authorities, and submitted to the Secretary of State, who had a veto; but it was not often that any difference arose between the two. In the Bill, however, by a fiction of law (and he hated all fictions of law), a power had been introduced which would enable the Secretary of State to contract in the names of other parties, and make other parties liable to an indefinite extent. He could not imagine that either magistrates, ratepayers, or town councils would be willing to submit to such arbitrary provisions. If there was a difference of opinion between the local authorities and the Government, the question ought at least to be submitted to a judicial decision—as, for instance, that of a Judge of Assize. He was surprised to see that the Inspectors said that an Act of Parliament was necessary to enable any alteration to be made in the size of the cells and for separate confinement. The fact was, that the size of those cells was fixed by the authority of the Secretary of State, who might, if he pleased, alter it to-morrow. He believed that the percentage of improvement as to separate confinement was fully equal to what was stated by the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary, and he was convinced that it might be still further extended by concert between the local authorities and the Secretary of State, without any such Bill as that before the House.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now" and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months," —(Mr. Newdegate.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he was quite unable to support the Amendment which had been moved; and he confessed that the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down rather impressed upon his mind the idea that he ought to be very desirous for the passing of a Bill of the character of that before them. The speech of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire seemed to him to be founded entirely upon the apprehension which he entertained with regard to the fourth clause, which the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had already intimated his readiness to withdraw. He (Sir John Pakington) confessed that he had never been able to understand the strong objections which had been expressed by some hon. Members to that fourth clause; because, as he read it, it only enabled the Secretary of State to do at any time of the year that which he could now do only at a particular period. At any rate it appeared to him to be a matter not worth half-an-hour's discussion. He-must say that he regarded the Bill as a most important one in the interests of this country; and he hoped the House would regard the question as one rather between honest men and rogues than as between Protestants and Roman Catholics. The Prison Ministers Bill appeared to him to have nothing at all to do with the subject before them. The fact was that many serious evils in the gaols had long existed and long been known; and they had been forced into unusual prominence by the very able Report presented by a Committee of the House of Lords upon the state of our prison discipline. A most dangerous and objectionable want of uniformity in the practice in various gaols had been found to exist. In not a few gaols, especially in the smaller towns and boroughs, a degree of laxity and negligence had prevailed which, combined with that want of uniformity, had seriously interfered with and impeded the administration of the criminal law. Under these circumstances, and in presence of that able Report to which he had referred, he thought the right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Grey) would have neglected his duty if he had not, during 2076 the Session, introduced a measure with the view of obviating these dangers and difficulties. He must also say, that it was a little hard upon the right hon. Gentleman that when he undertook to deal with the subject he was met with the cry of centralization. Nobody was less disposed than he (Sir John Pakington) to question the general efficiency and discretion with which the duties of the magistracy were exercised and the advantage which resulted to the country; but it was possible that the magistrates might be intrusted with too extensive powers. Experience had shown that in regard to our gaols there was a greater amount of negligence and laxity of actions than was consistent with the interests of the country. Entertaining these opinions, and considering that the question before the House that night was not as to the details of the Bill, but its principle, he could have no hesitation, in declaring his intention to vote for the second reading. As regarded the purpose of the discussion that night, it turned upon the third, fourth and fifth clauses. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Grey) had already stated that he was prepared to withdraw the fourth. The third clause was one which he thought in its principle was extremely necessary. He would not pledge himself to all its provisions; but he thought the provisions introduced at the end went very far to disarm any objections or apprehensions which might be made or entertained. He would suggest that there was something rather inconvenient and unusual in the extraordinary length of the fifth clause, which was the longest he ever remembered to have seen in a Bill. It was indeed a small Bill of itself. From the tone in which the right hon. Gentleman had addressed the House, he was convinced that he would fairly consider any suggestions which might be made, and he took the liberty accordingly of pointing out with what advantage this clause might be divided into two, three, or even more. With regard to the observations of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Adderley), he thought there was a great deal in them that was worthy of the consideration of the House. Regretting as he did that, having regard to the magnitude of the evils which the Bill was designed to correct, it was necessary to give larger powers to the Secretary of State than he had hitherto exercised; at the same time he quite agreed 2077 with his right, hon. Friend that, so far as it was possible and safe to embody in an Act of Parliament the principle upon which our gaols were to be governed, it was desirable to do so. He confessed his disappointment with the statement of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Grey) when he introduced the Bill, that he had not attempted any definition of hard labour, and still more that the right hon. Gentleman after reflection should have told them that evening, that although he had no objection to introduce any satisfactory definition that could be adopted, he believed it to be impossible. Now, he (Sir John Pakington) did not think that it was so impossible to define hard labour as was represented; and certainly the reasons given were not conclusive in favour of the right hon. Gentleman's opinion. It was quite true that it would be more difficult to deal upon this question with the cases of women than of men; but even supposing it were found impossible with regard to women, it by no means followed that they could not define hard labour for men whose sentences were mere frequent, and for longer periods. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman, in the interval from the discussion to going into Committee, would take this point into his serious consideration, because it would be much safer to have hard labour defined than to have it in its present condition, the practice in no two cases being alike. In Worcester, what was called "hard labour" consisted in making mats in a comfortable cell. In his opinion that was not hard labour, and words ought to be introduced which would prevent any body of justices from putting such an interpretation on the sentence. The questions of diet and hard labour were very closely connected, and he put it to the right hon. Gentlemen whether the passing of the measure would not be facilitated if he were to lay down a maximum and a minimum system of dietary, which might be apportioned to the hard labour. It might also be well if some leading rules for the governance of gaols could be laid down, but on that point he felt graver doubts than upon the others.
§ MR. WHALLEY
said, the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, instead of answering the arguments of the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment, had endeavoured to distract the attention of the House from the real point raised by that Amendment. The Bill professed to be 2078 founded on the Report emanating from the House of Lords. But what was the fact? Instead of embodying, as that Report recommended, such rules as were thought admissible in the schedule to an Act of Parliament, the right hon. Gentleman sought to obtain from Parliament power to make those rules himself. The Bill was not what it pretended to be, and was, therefore, a surprise upon Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman treated, with great indifference and contempt, what he was pleased to call religious objections, and pledged his personal assurance that there was nothing whatever to justify the apprehensions entertained. The right hon. Gentleman must know that the objections were not religious, but political in their character. These objections were levelled not at the Roman Catholic religion, but at a political organization in this country—an organization not of the laity but of the Roman Catholic priesthood which, in gaols, in workhouses, or in other institutions, and whether in England or in Ireland, was alike fatal to the independence and true interests of the country, and, moreover, opposed to all the warnings of history, and to the plain enactments on our own statute-book. In spite of the personal assurances of the right hon. Gentleman, apprehensions must continue whilst that active political enemy not only existed, but was subsidized in this country to an extent greater than appeared by the Estimates was patronized and petted by the present Government, and in an especial manner by the right hon. Gentleman himself. As had been shown by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, wherever the Roman Catholic priests went there were to be found the source of all sedition and difficulty. It was quite clear that the 5th clause was objectionable, and that to be properly understood it should be simplified; but as it stood it was perfectly clear that it was the desire of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary to obtain the power of transferring prisoners of the Roman Catholic religion from prisons where the magistrates had refused to provide funds to other prisons where adequate provision had been made for their religious instruction; and no doubt it was intended to have in one or more prisons a regular Roman Catholic church service. He had before the introduction of the Bill come to the conclusion that it would be better to abstain from alluding to these religious questions in that House, and he should be content to abide by what he 2079 understood the wisdom of their ancestors had provided against such Acts as those to which the right hon. Gentleman desired to obtain the sanction of Parliament. The Act of 1829 provided that not one single Jesuit should remain in this country unregistered under the penalty of £20 a day, and yet by a Return presented to the House it appeared that there were now fifty-six monasteries and one hundred and thirty convents in this country. In the year 1862 the House, on his Motion, rejected a Bill somewhat similar to that passed last Session. As soon as Parliament was prorogued, however, the Home Secretary issued an order by which he had literally supplied the Roman Catholic priests with keys to the cells of the Roman Catholic prisoners, and had enabled those priests to thrust on them their ministrations; and that was done although the Return clearly showed that not 5 per cent of the prisoners desired the interposition of the priests. By the admirable provision of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, the opinion of three eminent counsel had been obtained, from which it appeared that the Home Secretary could send priests into the gaols whether required or not. The question was one of surprise and good faith. Why, then, was the clause so carelessly drawn as to admit of the doubt and justify the legal opinion in question? Would the House allow him to call attention to the action of the Home Secretary in the convict prison of Perth? [Sir GEORGE GREY: Perth is a Government prison.] A Roman Catholic female prisoner desired to be revisited by a Scripture reader. The priest complained, and the right hon. Gentleman not merely prohibited her from seeing the Scripture reader again, but issued a general order that no Scripture reader should be in future permitted to visit a Roman Catholic prisoner even at his or her own request. The danger as pointed out by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire was, that under the 5th clause of the Bill the right hon. Gentleman could act in pretty much the same manner.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, the hon. Member had misunderstood him. The questions he had put turned on the effect of the whole Bill, and not on one particular portion of it.
§ MR. WHALLEY
One of the questions of the hon. Member was, whether the right hon. Gentleman under the Bill would not be enabled to transfer Roman Catholic pri- 2080 soners who were denied ministration of the Roman Catholic priests to gaols where the magistrates had no such scruples? Taking the context of the clauses he feared the right hon. Baronet desired to take powers of which he did not now disclose the purport. But he appealed from the Bill to the protection which he had under the Act of Settlement of 1688. He for one rejoiced that the Protestants of this country had a protection under that Act beyond the reach of the Bill, even although it might be passed into a law. They knew that Her Majesty held her position as Sovereign on condition not only of not being a Papist, but of not being reconciled to or recognizing the Pope of Rome. But what had the right hon. Gentleman done by the Bill of last Session, and what was he doing now? Why, he was making the Queen take upon herself through her nominees, the magistrates, to raise taxes from the counties for the payment of these Roman Catholic priests. If that construction were right the objectors to the Bill were not all of them those fanatics or "religious persons" they had been described. The Bill ought to be regarded with circumspection, for although the necessary abatement could be made in the case of statements of Roman Catholics who made the means subservient to the end, it behoved them to be cautious in receiving the statements of the right hon. Gentleman as to the real scope and ultimate object of the measure.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
said, the question raised by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire was the awful consequences which would result to Roman Catholic prisoners if the priests of their faith should be allowed to see them in prison. Now, he maintained that, as it was a right and proper thing that the Protestant chaplain should visit the Protestant prisoners, though they made no application to have him to see them, so it was equally right that the Catholic priest should see those prisoners who belonged to his communion, even though they might have expressed no wish to that effect. It was a fatal thing both to society and the prisoner himself to turn him out of prison unreformed, and he believed that if the religious influence were not brought to bear on prisoners, whether Protestant or Catholic, there was little chance of their conversion from crime. But was it or was it not a greater violation of the principles of religious liberty to force a Protestant chaplain 2081 upon a Protestant prisoner than to force the ministration of a Catholic priest upon a Catholic prisoner? The hon. Member for North Warwickshire had never denounced the former as a violation of such principles. Was not the religious influence exercised by the Catholic priest upon a prisoner the same as that exercised by a Protestant chaplain? [Mr. NEWDEGATE: No!] He had not spoken with reference to doctrinal differences, nor was he going to enter into religious controversy in that House, but none but a fanatic could say that it was not for the benefit of the poor ignorant vicious Catholic prisoner that he should receive the ministrations of his priest. He would ask the right hon. Baronet to answer this question—whether the relaxation of the rule by which the ministration of the Catholic priest was limited to those Catholics who asked for them had not been attended with the best possible consequences? [Mr. WHALLEY: That's a leading question.] From the information which had reached him he asserted that it had. Not very long since, he believed in the Millbank Prison, an unfortunate Irish Catholic prisoner became particularly hardened, and no one could control him. He attacked the governor and warders, and made such a savage onslaught upon one of the latter that he almost tore the warder's thumb off. That furious demon was taken in hand by the Rev. Mr. Oakley, the Catholic priest who was then visiting the prison, and the result was that in a short time he became under his ministration one of the most docile of the prisoners. What danger could attend the visits of the Roman Catholic priest in England more than Ireland? In Ireland, if there were only five Protestants in prison they would have a Protestant chaplain, and Catholics did not object. On the contrary, they said it was quite right and just. But one hon. Gentleman in that House imagined that it was a regular Popish plot, and another that there was a combination of Jesuits and the Lord knows what, if the Catholic priest was allowed to visit, not Protestants or Presbyterians, but those of his own communion. If the Government found that any magistrates were so foolish as not to adopt the very best means of reforming the Roman Catholic prisoners under their jurisdiction, they ought to have the courage to bring in a Bill by which they might themselves have the power in every such case of neglect to appoint a Roman Catholic 2082 chaplain; and they ought also to take the sense of the House of Commons on the point.
§ MR. WALTER
said, that it was not his intention to follow the hon. Gentleman who had last spoken into that particular part of the subject, which, in his opinion, had been somewhat needlessly imported into the discussion; but he rose to say a few words in reference to a gaol which had been twice prominently alluded to—he meant the principal gaol in the county which he had the honour to represent. He trusted he might be excused for saying that the case was not so bad as had been represented. The right hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley), and the hon. Member for South Nottinghamshire (Mr. Barrow), had stated that in Reading Gaol there was no work at all—that the principle of that gaol was that the prisoners should not work. That was not exactly the case. There was a crank there, and within the last twelve months considerable money had been spent in laying in a store of stones for the prisoners to break, though he believed that breaking stones was not called hard labour. Reading Gaol was one of the first model gaols in this country, and was built about twenty years ago, on the separate system. From all that he had seen, he was not disposed to give an unqualified adherence to the working of that system. Not only were the cells separate, but the chapel was so constructed that no prisoner in it could see another, as it was assumed that there would be great danger in prisoners knowing each other in gaol, lest they might meet again in after life. He thought that was rather riding the hobby too hard. Of course he was in favour of separate cells for sleeping and for occupation during the greater part of the day; but when the prisoners were at hard labour he did not see why they should not work in common, as at Portland and other Government prisons. He was, therefore, by no means disposed to recommend the system at Reading in an unqualified manner. He had noticed that the chaplains of that gaol had always urged on the magistrates the expediency of passing long sentences, for the mere purpose of reformation, which he considered unwise and contrary to the principles of criminal justice. The theory which those gentlemen wish to carry out was that of an exclusively reformatory plan. Now, he had very great doubts whether they could 2083 carry reformation to any very great extent in gaols, though, of course, they were bound to give the prisoners a chance, but to base the whole system of prison discipline on that theory was, he thought, mischievous, and likely to be unsuccessful. Therefore, he considered that prison discipline should be accompanied with a considerable amount of hard work. He quite agreed with his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, that it would not be wise to lay down any very strict definition of hard labour. The Select Committee found that it was much more easy to define what hard labour was not than what it was, and, if he recollected aright, they defined what it was not by saying that nothing should be considered as hard labour but what tended to raise the pulse and promote perspiration. He remembered reading of an Italian physician who cured a patient of the gout by setting him to dance on a hot floor, and, perhaps, if a prisoner at the treadmill had to step upon a hot metal plate, such an arrangement might be considered as coming within the definition of hard labour he had just referred to. These were matters, indeed, which ought to be left in the first instance to the magistrates themselves, subject to the control of the Home Secretary. He had not any fear of centralization, for if the Home Secretary abused his powers he would very soon hear of it in that House. That was a great security against abuse. With regard to the treatment of the prisoners, it would not do to deprive the magistrates of all discretion; but if Parliament laid down general rules founded on the experience of men who had studied the subject, then the matter should be left in the hands of the magistrates, subject to those general rules and to the control of the Home Office. He did not see that the Bill did more than that, and he was ready to give his vote in favour of the second reading.
§ MR. MITFORD
said, he thought that a consolidation of the various statutes relating to prison discipline was desirable, and he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would direct his attention to that subject. He admitted that there was a good deal in the argument that the Bill was a step towards centralization, yet when he knew that there were numerous prisons deficient in the means of giving hard labour to prisoners and in carrying out the punishments awarded, he must acknowledge that 2084 there was a case for further legislation. It was of the greatest importance, in his mind, to secure a uniformity of punishment, and to prevent two similar sentences from being carried out in two very dissimilar ways. It seemed to him to be quite impossible to frame any Act of Parliament which would meet all difficulties with respect to the details of diet and discipline. Therefore, it was necessary in respect to those matters to leave power in the hands of some authority, and he could not see in what safer hands it could be left than in those of the Home Secretary, having the aid of competent advisers, and subject to the control of that House. He should therefore support the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR. HIBBERT
said, he did not wish to discuss the Bill from a religious point of view, because he thought the right hon. Gentleman, had satisfied the House that he did not intend to give any power under the third clause of the Bill to appoint ministers. He strongly objected to the power which the Secretary of State for the Home Department proposed to take under the Bill of removing prisoners from local gaols, under certain circumstances, and placing them in county gaols. That was a most unusual, and unwarrantable power, and quite beyond the necessity of the case, which would have been satisfied by taking a power to refuse expenses in prisons where the separate system was not carried, out. He should oppose the clause in Committee. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the petitions against the Bill came only from Protestants, but he (Mr. Hibbert) had that day presented a petition from the visiting justices of Salford, objecting to the power taken by the Home Secretary to direct how punishments should be carried put. Whilst they admitted that there should be a certain definition of hard labour, they held that the powers of the Secretary of State were already sufficient, and that any extension of them would involve an unnecessary and injudicious interference with the duties of the visiting justices. He agreed in the observations of the right hon. Member for South Staffordshire, with one exception. He doubted whether it would be wise to insert the rules for gaols in an Act of Parliament, because that might prevent future amendment in details. The great improvement which had already been effected in county gaols was due not to the Home Secretary, but to the visiting 2085 justices throughout the country. It was most desirable that these gentlemen should continue to devote attention to so important a matter, but there was reason to fear that if the rules were laid down positively by an Act of Parliament they would not give the same consideration to the subject, as their suggestions would then be of no avail. He would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman, that instead of defining the rules in a schedule to an Act of Parliament the better plan would be to lay the rules when drawn up on the table of the House, as was done in the case of the Minutes of the Privy Council, that they might be considered before they were carried into operation. He could not adopt the right hon. Member for North Staffordshire's definition of hard labour. Mat-making, cotton-picking, and so on, really constituted hard labour if a prisoner was bound to do a certain amount of such work each day. If the principle of the right hon. Gentleman were established, only a small proportion of the prisoners in Salford Gaol would be regarded as subject to hard labour. In addition to the tread-wheel and cranks, the employment in that establishment included mat-making, weaving, picking oakum, wool, and cotton, smith and carpenters' work, shoemaking, tailoring, &c. During the year ending May 24th the work done by the prisoners yielded a clear profit of £2,245, and that Was a relief for which the taxpayers were grateful. Comparing the average net cost of prisoners indifferent gaols, he found that the highest rate was at Oakham, owing no doubt, to the small number of inmates. The lowest rate was at Salford, £11 4s. 5½d. per head. At Stafford the rate was £18 10s. 7¾ d.; at Wakefield, £14 6s. 5¼ d.; and at Manchester, £14 17s. 9d. The average cost of the inmates of the Government convict prisons was £37 per head per annum; and, comparing that with the other figures, he saw no inducement to extend the authority of the Secretary of State in this direction. As to the separation he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not press the 5th clause, but would be satisfied with the improvements which, were gradually taking place. On the subject of dietary he had received communications from the governors of Lancaster Gaol and Liverpool Borough Gaol approving some of the alterations in the dietary, but pointing out that they would give considerable trouble and require the engagement of additional officers.
§ MR. SOTHERON ESTCOURT
said, he believed that the Bill would be much more acceptable if the apprehension had not been entertained that some of its provisions would have the effect of very much interfering with the liberty of action which had hitherto been allowed to the magistrates. A good deal of disappointment had been occasioned also by the fact, that the Bill did not give full effect to the recommendations generally approved by the Lords' Committee of last year. The three cardinal points were the enforcement of the separate system, hard labour, and uniformity of diet, and in his opinion any amendment of the law relating to the management of the gaols would be inadequate which did not contain provisions on these points. As to the apprehended interference with the magistrates, the Home Secretary had stated that he set no value on Clause 4, as it gave no new power, and that he was prepared to abandon it. After such an announcement, he thought that they need not look at that provision with the apprehension entertained by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire. Indeed there existed no necessity for their entering into a discussion upon the subject. With respect to the great question of the religious teaching of prisoners, and of children in workhouses, he had to observe that he should be ready to discuss it at the proper time and in the proper place, but he did not believe that they had such time or place before them at that moment. The question they had to consider was whether they should not allow the Bill to go into Committee in order that they might be enabled to consider the amendments which the right hon. Baronet himself announced that he was prepared to introduce into its clauses, in accordance with the suggestions which had fallen from both sides of the House. If they were all agreed as to a uniform system of gaol management, there would be no difficulty in embodying the requisite powers in an Act of Parliament. He ventured to ask whether the time had not come when Members ought to lay aside their individual crotchets. He could not say that he had himself disapproved of the separate system when it had first been introduced; and his objections to it, as it was carried out at Pentonville, had not quite disappeared; but it had been adopted in almost all the great gaols thoughout the country, and he believed they might take it for granted that it ought to be generally 2087 enforced for the purpose of ensuring uniformity in our system of prison discipline. It had been said that there would be a difficulty in inserting the rules in an Act of parliament; but in the statute which was the model for legislation on such a matter he found that the rules were inserted. He hoped great alterations would be made in the Bill. He was anxious to obtain a definition of hard labour, and the insertion in the clauses or schedules of a series of rules; but he was quite prepared to support the motion for the second reading, so that they might be able to consider those details in Committee.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
, in reply, said, the 4th clause gave no additional powers to the Secretary of State, but he had no objection to withdraw it, though he did not admit there was any foundation for the apprehensions entertained by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire. If he had intended to give the slightest additional power to the Home Secretary with respect to the teaching of religion in prisons, he should have proposed the change in an open way by introducing a clause for the purpose, and he could only regret that he should have been thought capable of acting otherwise. He was also sorry that the hon. Member for North Warwickshire had alluded to a correspondence between the Home Office and the visiting justices of three gaols in Middlesex, because if the hon. Gentleman had waited till the documents were produced he would have seen that the course he had taken was not unworthy the office he had the honour to fill, and that, in fact, the visiting justices of one of the prisons entirely concurred in his opinions. The right hon. Member for Wilts (Mr. S. Estcourt) had expressed his regret that the Bill did not give effect to three of the recommendations of the Lords' Committee—those relating to hard labour, rules, and dietaries. It would be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to frame such a definition of hard labour as would be sufficiently comprehensive to include all kinds of labour deserving to be called hard; but he would be ready to accept in Committee any definitions likely to answer all the requisite conditions. The leading rules with respect to prisons were laid down in existing Acts of Parliament, but the proposal of the Lords' Committee to embody in a Bill every rule relating to every prison, while it would produce 2088 uniformity, would prove in many cases quite impracticable. As for dietaries, the recommendation of the Lords' Committee was, not that there should be any absolute rule laid down in the Bill, but that the subject should be inquired into; and he acted according both to the letter and to the spirit of that recommendation, in appointing a Commission of Inquiry, and afterwards sending to the local authorities in each district the dietary tables suggested by the Commissioners, recommending it to them, but not absolutely enforcing its adoption. On the whole, he believed the principle of the Bill met with the general approval of the House, and he should be ready in Committee to give the best consideration to any suggestion that might be made for the amendment of the clauses.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Questions."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 116; Noes 49: Majority 67.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read 2o, and committed for Monday next.