HC Deb 10 March 1864 vol 173 cc1797-814

Order for Committee read.

(In the Committee.)

Clauses 1 to 21 agreed to.

Clause 22 (Power to inflict Corporal Punishment).


said, he had very little hope that anything he or any other Member could say would induce the House at present to do away with the brutal and de- moralizing punishment of flogging; but he was determined to invite attention to the matter, because out-of-doors a strong feeling existed on the subject. The favourite argument in favour of the system was, that it was necessary to the maintenance of discipline; but would Gentlemen undertake to say that the discipline of the English army was superior to that of the French and Austrian? Yet, in the armies of those two countries the system of corporal punishment was unknown. He would assert that the discipline of the Austrian army was equal, if not superior, to that of the British army. If it were necessary to retain this punishment, there ought always to be sufficient reason for inflicting it. Now, according to the wording of the clause, flogging might be inflicted for disgraceful conduct, for misbehaviour, or for neglect of duty. Now, what was "misbehaviour?" According to a Return in the course of the year 1862 nearly 35,000 lashes had been inflicted in the navy, and 5,999 in the army. Was it possible that the services could be in such a state of insubordination as to require the infliction of nearly 50,000 lashes in a single year? That in the captain's but a choleric word, Which in the soldier is flat blasphemy. And, accordingly, one man had been sentenced to receive forty lashes for "bad language." If the same severe justice were meted out to Members of the House of Commons, how many of them would 'scape whipping? Was it right to punish a civilian for theft by two or three months' imprisonment, and to give a soldier forty or fifty lashes for a similar offence? Was it consistent to sympathize with the Federal States, because they were free from the reproach of using the lash, and to raise our voice against the employment of the knout in Russia, while we perpetuated in our own services a system which was at once a disgrace to them and to civilization? He felt quite sure that, whatever might be the decision of the House now or next Session, public feeling eventually would make itself felt in a manner not to be mistaken. "Were the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs in his place, he could corroborate the statement that there was not a single meeting at the last election for the borough of Southwark at which disapprobation was not loudly manifested of this disgusting and degrading punishment. He would, therefore, more the omission of Clause 22.


seconded the Motion. He was unable to see why flogging should be necessary in the British service, when in some of the largest armies in the world, the French, the Austrian, and American, it had been abolished. His own belief was, that discipline might be maintained without it.


said, that nothing was more easy than to gain hustings popularity by declamations against flogging; but he could tell hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the officers of the army would be greatly obliged to them if they would suggest some effective mode of punishment in lieu of it. Nobody felt more repugnance to the use of the lash than the officers themselves. But the great difficulty was to punish a man effectually, and, at the same time, not to keep him too long from the performance of his duties. Many a lazy blackguard would as soon be in gaol as out of it; so that mere imprisonment would never do. Reference had been made to the usage in foreign armies. Why, in France, they shot where we flogged. Would the English public like their soldiers to be shot in that way? In Prussia they had a torture chamber, the floor of which was composed of angles, arranged in such a way that a prisoner could neither sit nor stand at ease, and the punishment was so severe that offenders could not be retained there for long at a time, but were taken out for a little while and then put back again. The non-commissioned officers carried sticks, and the officers could inflict a certain number of cuts upon the private soldiers at their own discretion. In our army, it should be remembered, that a flogging could be inflicted only on the sentence of a court-martial. British officers were always very sorry to have to enforce this punishment, and he was surprised to hear hon. Members talk as though they imagined it was a personal gratification to the officers to see a man under the lash.


said, that formerly corporal punishment was inflicted to the extent not of fifty, but of 500 and 1,000 lashes; and when complaint was made on the subject, the stereotyped answer was just what the hon. and gallant Member had given—that discipline must be maintained. In consequence, however, of repeated remonstrances in the House, the thousand lashes were reduced to fifty as a maximum, and it had not been found that the discipline of the army had suffered from the change. That was rather encouraging to those who now thought that that mode of punishment might be altogether dispensed with without inconvenience. He wished particularly to call the attention of the Under Secretary for War to the state of the case in India. There the Asiatics who composed the Native army, and who had for generations been governed by the lash, were exempted from all flogging; and the service had got on as well without it as with it, if not better. It was a remarkable fact that the regiments at Madras and Bombay, in which there was no flogging, behaved well during the mutiny. At the same time, the British soldier was still subject to the degrading punishment from which the Native had been relieved. He had been told that the result was most disastrous in regard to the relations between the two classes of soldiery, and that the Natives pointed the finger of scorn at the Englishman who was amenable to the lash. That was not a state of things which ought to be tolerated in India; and if flogging were abolished among all the troops there, it could not be retained elsewhere. It had better, therefore, be done away with at once and altogether.


observed, that the question was not now as to a reduction of the amount of punishment by flogging, but as to dispensing with it altogether; and he repeated that those who were in favour of such a course ought to suggest a substitute for flogging. He repeated that it was no pleasure for an officer to have a man flogged, for there was no truer affection to be found than that which existed between the British soldier and his officers.


said, he had several times brought this question before the House, and he now renewed his protest against a mode of punishment so degrading, so repugnant to common decency, so cruel, and un-Christian. The hon. and gallant Member (Colonel North) said it was only by flogging that discipline could be maintained. [Colonel NORTH: No!] Well, it was the belief of the gallant Colonel that the soldier could be deterred from certain crimes only by that means. That, however, was not the opinion of some distinguished military authorities. He was sorry his gallant Friend the Member for Westminster (Sir De Lacy Evans) was not in his place to speak for himself; but he might refer to him as having long been opposed to the use of the lash. [Colonel NORTH: Quite the contrary!] He could only say that his hon. and gallant Friend had him- self told him so, and that he gave evidence to that effect before a Committee of the House.


said, that some hon. Members had spoken as though it was the opinion of British officers that the army could only be governed by the lash; but a little reflection would show them that it was not so—the conclusion was contradicted by the smallness of the part which the lash played in the government of the army. What he understood to be the opinion of the most experienced officers was that there was a class of men in the army—and it must be remembered that we did not recruit our army from the most respectable classes, but took a good many of the most degraded—who were nearly insensible to every sort of punishment except that of the lash. When this subject was discussed in 1860, Lord Herbert, then Mr. Herbert, entered very fully into the reasons which, in his opinion, rendered it necessary to the discipline of the army that the punishment of flogging should be retained; and he was sure that hon. Gentlemen would agree with him that there must have been a very stern conviction of the necessity which made such a man as the late Lord Herbert speak so emphatically as he did of the necessity of retaining corporal punishment. Hon. Members who had taken part in this debate appeared to have forgotten a very salutary change which had been introduced during the last few years, according to which no man was liable to be flogged, except for grave offences of a mutinous nature, until he had for previous bad conduct been degraded into the second class. He was happy to say that the Returns showed that, of late years, the total number of floggings in the army had materially decreased. In 1858 the number was 218 in the army in Great Britain and Ireland, and 13 in the militia; he had not been able to find the Return for 1859; in 1860 the number of men flogged was 179; in 1861, 168; and in 1862, 126. If these Returns did not prove much, they at least showed that officers were not inclined to flog more than they could help. Hon. Members had referred to the discipline of other armies as being maintained without flogging; but he believed that in most of the European armies the punishments were more severe than our own, and that in many cases where we flogged they would shoot a man. Some hon. Members had mentioned the American army. He should be very much surprised if the House of Commons did not require our army to be kept under somewhat sterner discipline than that which existed in America; nor was he certain that if hon. Members inquired they would not find that in the American army it had been found necessary to resort to very severe punishments to check mutiny and desertion. He was certain that British officers would not advocate the retention of this punishment if they did not think that it was necessary, and he believed that it was the wish of all of them to inflict corporal punishment as seldom as possible. He did not think that it could be said that the liability to the lash was a degradation to the soldier. Hon. Members must recollect that by recent legislations civilians had been made liable to the same punishment; and, though he might be told that he paid the army a bad compliment by comparing soldiers with garotters, it must not be forgotten that no man in the army was liable to be flogged unless he had by repeated and serious offences proved himself to be a man of bad character.


said, that both the noble Marquess and the gallant Officer the Member for Oxfordshire (Colonel North), had maintained that the discipline of a large part of the army was independent of the lash. Why, then, should not the lash be done away with altogether? The noble Lord said that there was a class of offenders in the army who were so abandoned that they were insensible to any punishment but that which was only fit for brutes; and the gallant Colonel asked the House to suggest a remedy for that evil. He said, "Get rid of such men altogether." That was what had to be done with them at last. We heard every day of men being drummed out of regiments because they were so abandoned and worthless as to be no longer fit to associate with human kind, and he suggested that that should be done before flogging them, instead of afterwards. The army was mainly composed of men of high spirit and great bravery, and why should they be degraded by having to associate with men who could only be classed with felons. Men who could only be kept in order by the lash should be turned out of the army at once.


said, that the only means of avoiding the necessity for having this bad class of men in the army would be to double or treble the pay of the soldier; and he should like to see what the house would say if they were asked to tote the pay of the privates at the rate of 2s. 6d. a day. Was there no flogging in gaols? Why, if he was in command of a regiment in the City of Oxford he could not flog a man without holding a court-martial upon him; but if he took off his red coat and went into the gaol he could, as a visiting magistrate, order a man to be flogged without any trial.


said, that there was an ample substitute for flogging contained in the provision of the Bill, which enabled the Queen to commute that punishment into forty-two days' imprisonment, with or without hard labour, and with or without solitary confinement.


Who is to do his duty?


Who is to do his duty while his back is bleeding?


said, that the effect of the arrangement proposed by the hon. Member for Lambeth would be to make a good soldier perform forty-two days' duty for a blackguard.


pointed out that, after men were flogged, they were, in most cases, sent to the hospital, and some one must do their duty for them while they remained there. In consequence of some strong representations of the flogging at Woolwich last autumn, he believed that some less severe system of punishment had been adopted, and he had not heard that the discipline of the garrison had suffered in consequence. Even admitting that some flogging might be necessary, he thought that it was an unnecessary cruelty to the well-behaved men of a regiment to compel them to be the spectators of such an unpleasant and disgusting punishment.


asked whether the figures quoted by the noble Marquess included floggings in India, and, if not, whether he could furnish the House with Returns which would show the punishments inflicted there? He did not think that flogging could be entirely dispensed with in the army, but he thought it might be still further reduced. For violence to superiors, disgraceful conduct, and insubordination it was proper to flog; but that punishment ought hardly to be inflicted for such offences as making away with necessaries, or even desertion. What was most remarkable was that the greatest amount of flogging appeared to take place in a force which was recruited from the higher class than the rest of the army—namely, the Royal Artillery. An artilleryman possessed a considerable amount of education. Many of the Artillery were drawn from a class superior to the rest of the army. ["No!"] Did hon. Gentlemen mean to say that the Artillery, as a body, were not superior to common soldiers?


remarked that a private artilleryman was enlisted for his size, and passed the doctor in the same way as any other soldier.


maintained that the education he received after he joined rendered him superior to a common soldier, yet there were more punishments inflicted in proportion in the Artillery than in any other part of the army.


said, he could not regard making away with necessaries for the purpose of exchanging them for drink as a minor fault. It was, in fact, an offence on account of which it was necessary to continue the punishment. But in many cases flogging was the maximum of punishment to be allowed, and instead of it the minimum was in general inflicted. In fact, if hon. Members looked over the list of punishments inflicted, they would find that the punishment of flogging was inflicted in very few of the cases for which it could be inflicted. In his five years of embodied militia service he had never seen a soldier flogged, nor sat upon a court-martial which assigned that punishment; but there were instances in which no other punishment reached the aggravated nature of the crime. Then there were places in which there was no Government prison, or the prison was already full, and flogging was the only means left to inflict a proper punishment. There were instances of soldiers being sent to prison and coming back confirmed in crime and repeating the same offence; and, on the other hand, the first flogging had had the effect of bringing the soldier to a sense of duty. This showed that there were certain natures which could be best reached in this way. He hoped to see the time when the Return of men flogged in the army would give not 130, but twenty or thirty in the year. But this was not a change to be effected at once. Education would do it by degrees. With reference to what fell from the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Seymour), he (Lt.-Colonel Stuart) would say that the men in the Artillery were recruited in the ordinary way; and the question asked was, whether he had a good chest and a strong arm; not whether he was of quick head. It was when the man went into the Artillery that he received the education; and this in time had its proper effect. Men are not flogged for drunkenness, as for that there are other punishments. But drunkenness leads to crime of all sorts, particularly insubordination, which must be severely punished and that at once. In general, a man from drink becomes insubordinate in his corps; and unless he were flogged there would be an end of discipline, and the lives of the superior officers would not be safe. Any person who had seen the manner in which the men in foreign armies were punished would not wish to see our men treated so. The French soldier was stripped and exposed for several days and nights in a deep pit like a den, where he was fed from a pole like the bear in the Zoological Gardens. An officer who had been in the Crimea told him he had once seen a French soldier so treated in the Crimea. And there was not with the British soldier the running the gauntlet which was practised in the Austrian army.


instanced a regiment in which the commanding officer had not used the lash for six years, and in which crime had decreased in a remarkable manner. He would be sorry for the present to say that the punishment of the lash should cease, because he feared the discipline of the army might be impaired, but he hoped the time would come when that change would be brought about.


said, he feared many would be led by the statement of the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Seymour) to suppose that there was more flogging in the Artillery than in the rest of the British army. He (Colonel North) found that out of fifty-nine instances of flogging there were eleven of men in the Artillery. It was supposed by many that all the flogging at Woolwich must be among men of the Artillery; but there were in that garrison 7,649 troops of the different branches of the service. Out of fifty-nine cases of corporal punishment no fewer than forty-four occurred in the Marines, one of the most meritorious corps in the service. The explanation was that men who received a lump sum on returning from long service abroad could not be expected to be so orderly as soldiers who had been steadily performing their duty at home.


reminded the gallant Colonel, who had asked what punishment could take the place of flogging, that he had taken no notice of what fell from the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton), who stated that the punishment of flogging had been abolished in the Native Indian army. The gallant Colonel ought to write to some of his friends in India, and from them get information how they maintained discipline in the Indian army without resorting to the lash. If the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) found a gratification in the diminution of the cases of flogging in the army, he would feel a much greater if he could say there was not an instance of flogging at all.


said, with respect to certain observations made by the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets, that the army would never forget the name of Lord William Bentinck, for they regarded the doing away with flogging in the Indian army, while it was retained in our own, as a great outrage. [Cheers.] He was happy to hear those cheers, but so the fact was. What was the result of the abolition of flogging in that case? Why, that the Indian army en masse mutinied. ["Oh! Hear, hear!"]


said, that the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets had told them that the abolition of flogging had nothing to do with the Indian mutiny.


said, he should be sorry to be thought to have said that our army was recruited from the very lowest part of our population. There were many exceedingly respectable persons in the humblest ranks of the army; but in its enlistment they could not be very particular as to the character of the men. Provided the recruit appeared fit to become a soldier, they took him; and, as there were many wild, reckless, and, he might almost say, criminal persons in the service, mere mild, ordinary punishment would not be sufficient for them; and the power, at least, of flogging ought to be retained.

Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 55; Noes 42: Majority 3.

Clause agreed to

Clauses 23 to 25 agreed to

Clause 26


said, he was utterly at a loss to know what possible reason could be given for retaining the still more brutal punishment of branding. If a man were so bad as not to be fit to remain in the army, they should at once get rid of him, and afford him the chance which privation might offer of retrieving his character. This clause was a disgrace to our statute-book. It enabled courts-martial, in addition to any other punishment, to order the letter "D" to be deeply marked on the left breast of a deserter, with ink or gunpowder, or other preparation, in such a manner as to "be clearly seen, and not liable to be obliterated." They might also recommend that the letters "B C" (bad character) should be branded indelibly upon his person. He knew one case of a man entering the army, who, as the noble Lord said, was rather "wild," and who was afterwards guilty of all sorts of military offences. After he had had his flogging, he at last came under the operation of Clause 26, and received both the brands of "D" and "BC." He turned out some few years later to be an honest, worthy, and hard-working labourer, and as such obtained the recommendation of several respectable persons as a candidate for the police force. He was rejected, but he would unquestionably have been successful in his application, but for the indelible marks showing that he had once been a bad man. He maintained that it was not a Christian mode of punishment to brand a man with infamy for life without leaving him a locus penitentiœ. Such a punishment could never conduce to the benefit of the army. He moved the omission of the clause.


observed, that branding was a protection to the public at large, and unless a deserter was branded he might possibly obtain admission into other regiments.


expressed his surprise, when so many remarkable improvements bad taken place in science and art, the army and navy should be selected for the exercise of the greatest brutality. The flogging of criminals had been abolished ["No, no!"] except in the case of garotters. When that punishment in the case of criminals tried in courts of justice had been abolished, it was most extraordinary that officers in the army and navy should desire to retain such a disgraceful system. But whatever might be said as to the necessity for flogging, not one word could be said in justification of the detestable torture of branding. The man, what- ever his offence, had suffered for it in the army, and when they branded him and turned him adrift, they closed against him every opportunity of regaining a position in society. Nothing could be more terrible. Suppose a man had deserted. [Colonel NORTH: HOW often?] Well, suppose him to have deserted six times. Why not, as was the practice in our gaols, employ the photograph, in order to identify deserters and prevent them again getting into the army? That would be much better than stripping a recruit to see whether he was branded or not? Flogging, so far as civilians were concerned, had been abolished. ["No, no!"] With regard to all offenders above the age of sixteen, that punishment had been abolished. ["No, no!"] It was very easy to say "No" when a man did not possess any knowledge on the subject.


rose to order, and begged to say that he had referred to documents which had been placed on the table of the House. ["Order, order!"]


was aware that the gallant Officer was referring to Mr. Adderley's Bill, against which he (Mr. Locke) had voted; and having voted against a Bill authorizing the flogging of garotters it was not likely he should support a clause authorizing the branding of the brave defenders of our country upon their backs, or breasts, or anywhere. Let an offender be photographed, and an end put to the brutal course which was now pursued.


said, that on referring to the papers on the table he found that two boys of the ages of fifteen and sixteen had received forty-eight lashes in some place in Lancashire. The lashes were not inflicted with a birch rod, but with a cat-o'-nine tails, for tearing leaves out of a Bible and Prayer Book. In many of the prisons there was flogging without end.


said, that few persons had had more dealings with the working men than himself, and he believed the working man and the soldier to be the same—they were very much what we made them. He should have no hesitation in following his hon. Colleague into the lobby and voting for the omission of this clause. If a man was unworthy of serving in the army let him be dismissed; but they ought not, by branding, to deprive him of all locus penitentiœ.


said, he sympathized very much with those who opposed flogging, and he should be very glad if they could dispense with flogging in the army; but he could not conscientiously say that discipline could be maintained without it. This, however, was a different matter. A great deal of zeal and humanity had been wasted in this discussion. In point of fact, there was no pain—not the slightest—in the operation of branding. He might say go personally from his recollections at school; many boys had their arms marked for the pleasure of the thing. Marking for dismissal from the army was comparatively of recent introduction. A. man of bad character was no sooner dismissed than he immediately enlisted in another regiment. Talk of leaving a man room for repentance, but marking did not in the slightest degree interfere with that; it only affected his power of getting into another regiment. He had had cases brought before him by hundreds; dismissed men would be continually getting into other regiments, unless some means were adopted of identifying deserters. Photography would not afford the desired means of ready identification. It would be rather difficult to place photographs of all deserters in the hands of every recruiting officer.


I should like very much to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman if he could tell us what number of men in a year are branded. I dare say the number is very small. ["No, no!"] Any hon. Gentleman opposite connected with the army would do great good to this discussion if he would give us the number. I dare say my hon. Friend behind me can do it. But this matter reminds me of the answer which some people make when capital punishment is objected to—namely, what will you do with ten or a dozen men if you keep them alive instead of hanging them. I have no doubt it would be found that this—punishment I am not allowed to call it now, but this practice—arises from a superstition. The number of men branded in all probability is very small—probably not more than one in every thousand in the army. The hon. and learned Gentleman further says it is not a punishment, for it does not give torture when inflicted. But it may be that it is intended to be a great punishment. It is to prevent a man being re-enlisted, and that costs so much for bounty. You do not give so much for bounty; and even if a re-enlistment cost this country £5, that does not seem to me to be a sufficient reason for keeping up what I must say is an ignominy and a barbarity which ought not to be heard of in a civilized country. The only place in which, as far as I know, branding is practised, and now it is dying out there, is in the slave States of America, where it is not an uncommon thing for the owners of negroes to brand them with the initials of the owners' names. The object is that if those slaves run away they may be discovered and known wherever they can be laid hold of. There is one view which I would recommend to Gentlemen connected with the army. This country at this moment is approaching a period that I will not hesitate to call a period of revolution in regard to labour. You see enormous emigration to the United States and to the Colonies. Every man in the manufacturing districts who knows anything knows that the demand for labour is overrunning the supply, and wages in all probability will rise very much; and I should not be at all surprised if ten years hence we should find labour, even in the agricultural districts, 25 or 50 per cent higher than at this moment. Well, if that be so, you will find much greater difficulty in recruiting for the army than you have in time past. You have enormous forces in the West and East Indies. Including the depots here, I think you have nearly 80,000 men; and you require to raise 10,000 a year to keep up that army. If I was one of those who thought it necessary to maintain these great forces, and was anxious that we should always be able to obtain a full supply from the population, I should be disposed to make the army as little distasteful to the people as possible, and so far as it can be made to appear to them an honourable service. It is not to your advantage merely to pick up the most reckless and most unworthy of the population. I should think that every officer of a regiment would wish to have under his command respectable and honourable men. Well, that being so, would it not be worth your while to try whether the army of this great empire could not be enlisted and could not be maintained in sufficient order without having recourse to that which on the face of it strikes every man and woman in England, and every man and woman in the world, as a punishment degrading, barbarous, and wholly unsuited to our time. I think the noble Lord said that a great many of these soldiers were fast and wild. But I have heard of a great many cases in which officers are very fast. You have a great number of men in the army, stationed in different parts of the country, with very little to do. You have taken them from all the comforts and from all the inducements to good which men have who live at home. It is not to be wondered at that there are many cases—I am only surprised that there are not more—in which men give trouble to their officers and to those superior to them. But if I were one of those officers I should like to try the plan of mercy and kindness and fairness and sympathy with the men under my command. You find that when officers of regiments practise these qualities the men conduct themselves properly without flogging; and you find that the men in some of your ships of war will go off for a year or two years, and traverse the ocean, and come back without the punishment of flogging having been once inflicted. You may-rely upon it that this depends almost as much upon the character of the officers as it does upon the character of the men. When this House tries the principles of humanity on any portion of the population it never fails to succeed, and I believe that to-morrow, if the people of this country should read that the Government had consented to omit this clause, all classes in the United Kingdom would rejoice. I shall have great pleasure in supporting the Motion of my hon. Friend.


said, he had heard the speech of the Judge Advocate with the greatest pleasure, because the right hon. Gentleman was the best informed person in the House on the subject. If this clause were struck out, desertion would go on ad infinitum, and the country would thereby be put to an enormous useless expense by the blackguards deserting and re-enlisting, and receiving the bounty.


reminded the Committee that these Acts of Parliament were prepared and passed by civilians; the officers of the army had only to carry out the Acts which Parliament had passed. He would also remind them of the distinction between punishments at home and in the presence of the enemy. When a force was in the presence of the enemy officers were bound to protect the honest men by seeing that cowardly scoundrels did not shirk their duty; and the choice of punishment in that case was only between shooting and flogging. In the Continental armies shooting was the rule, and in the English army flogging. The Committee could decide which was the most humane. At home it was a question of economy, and that was the work of civilians. No officer in the army would not rather see a man discharged than flogged. This was nothing more nor less than a question of money. In the Life Guards the men were never flogged, because their officers had the option of discharging them, and of replacing them by well-behaved men; and, if the House of Commons would only go to the same expense in other cases, commanding officers would hail the abolition of flogging with the greatest pleasure, drawing the distinction he had already mentioned between service at home and service in the face of the enemy. Nor had commanding officers any wish to brand a single man; on the contrary, they would be only too glad to get rid of such characters. But when soldiers deserted, it was the officer commanding the company who was responsible for their kit; and the public purse also suffered in the loss of the bounty. If, however, hon. Members opposite, who begrudged every shilling that was necessary for the army, would only vote the money necessary to replace these deserters, this clause might be omitted as soon as they pleased. Branding was adopted by the late Lord Herbert because desertion and re-enlistment had gone on to a great extent in the army. It had been said that we did not flog any portion of the civil population, but the fact was that flogging was inflicted in every gaol in the country.


said, that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Judge Advocate was repugnant to his feelings. He saw no reason why this peculiarly barbarous punishment should be kept up in the army. If it was good for the army, it ought to be made a part of the ticket-of-leave system, and civilians ought to have a perpetual mark upon them, to remain to the end of their lives. But was it right to brand any man with the disgrace of an irremediable offence which would never be forgiven or forgotten? The hon. and gallant Member for Harwich (Captain Jervis) said that the officers were obliged to protect themselves, because they had to pay for the kit of deserters. But why had they this detestable system in the army?


said, that the extension of the practice of branding of soldiers dismissed with ignominy, was due to one of the most tender-hearted and humane of men, the late Lord Herbert, one who, of all civilians who ever had to do with the army, devoted himself with the most untiring application to the amelioration of its condition. He did not think it would be satisfactory to introduce an important change in the discipline of the army at a moment when this subject was not expected to be under consideration, and when, consequently, a great number of Members were absent, who would otherwise have been in their places. There was something very painful in the discussion of these personal punishments, and it was necessary to steel one's self by conditions of rigid prudence in opposition to first feelings and inclinations. But the punishment was not a cruel one in the ordinary sense of cruelty, and in this respect it differed from flogging; nor was there the painful exhibition before a soldier's comrades which took place when the punishment of flogging was administered. In declaring that it was a mere question of money, the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Captain Jervis) had defended branding on too narrow a ground. If this were so, even the most ardent economists would be bound to substitute other arrangements on the part of the public. But other considerations than those of money were involved. Desertion was an offence which it was very difficult to check. When a man deserted from one regiment, almost his first thought, as soon as he fell short of money, was to re-enlist in another; and it was not unnatural that some effectual means should be resorted to for establishing his personal identity. In the case of men dismissed with ignominy, Lord Herbert's proposal stood on strong grounds. The Committee would remember that the vast majority of our soldiers had nothing to do with flogging; and among the minority there were many who, though subject to flogging, yet ought not to be placed in the category of hopelessly bad subjects. Some, however, of this class there were, and when these were dismissed with ignominy, was it not desirable to prevent re-enlistment upon other grounds than those relating to the bounty—that is, upon high moral grounds and grounds of discipline? When these bad and hardened characters went into another regiment, they did not merely obtain a certain bounty; they carried a poison with them and made other men as bad as themselves. And seeing that re-enlistment was the object and resort of these men, it seemed right that some special provision should be taken against it. The comparison made by his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) between branding the deserting soldier and branding slaves in the Slave States of America, did not apply. In America the brand was put on a part of the body visible to the world but as regards the soldier, the law clearly pointed out that it was to be put where it could not be seen. It was only seen by the commanding officer and the surgeon. Under these circumstances, he hoped the Committee would not take upon itself the responsibility of introducing the proposed alteration.


said, that branding stamped a man for life, whatever position he might look for; and the hon. Member for Finsbury had shown that the brand would prevent a man from being admitted into the police. Why not use photography instead of branding, as was done with regard to the ticket-of-leave men? In former times it was thought necessary to brand civilians, but they had to give up the practice. Notwithstanding his respect for the high character of the late Lord Herbert, he (Mr. Ewart) would vote against the system of branding.

Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 80; Noes 50: Majority 30.

Clause agreed to.

Remaining Clauses and the Preamble agred to


said, with regard to the course of business for to-morrow, it was uncertain how long the discussions on going into Committee of Supply were likely to last, but it was the intention of the Government to go on with the Army Estimates, not, however, including Vote 6.

House resumed

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