HC Deb 14 March 1864 vol 173 cc1907-8

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether it is the case that a notice is put up in every Convict prison to the effect, that Convicts under sentences for life may be eligible to have their cases considered, with a view to a remission of their sentences, after a period of from eight to twelve years; whether persons who, having been sentenced to death, have had that sentence commuted into a sentence of transportation or penal servitude for life, are held to be entitled to the same consideration as Convicts originally sentenced to punishment for life; and whether he will have any objection to lay upon the table a Return of the cases in which Convicts whose sentences have been so commuted have subsequently been liberated?


said, in reply, that no notice such as that to which the hon. Baronet referred in the first part of his Question, was now put up in the convict Prisons. The notice now used was merely an explanation that all convicts under long sentences were exempted from the General rules as to remission. Each case was to be considered on its own merits, and no time was fixed when a convict would be entitled to claim remission. The practice under the old system had probably led the hon. Baronet into a misapprehension as to what was now done. There was a rule that no convict under a long sentence should be sent abroad, until he had undergone eight years of his sentence in this country. As to the second Question, it was very difficult to reply to it within the limits of an ordinary answer, and he hoped he might have an opportunity of explaining the matter more fully on some other occasion. He could only say briefly that no difference was made in the regulations between the two classes of convicts referred to—those who, having been sentenced to death, had had that sentence commuted to penal servitude for life, and those on whom the latter sentence had been passed in the first instance. Practically, however, a distinction was made between them. As to the Return asked for, there would be no objection to granting it, if it were limited as to time; and, if the hon. Baronet would communicate with him privately, that could be arranged.