HC Deb 06 May 1864 vol 175 cc150-1

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether he is aware that the practice still prevails of transporting Convicts and Vagrants from the Channel Islands to Southampton and other southern seaports. For a long series of years a custom had prevailed of deporting the criminal population of the Channel Islands to the southern ports of England, the peace and security of the inhabitants of which were thereby endangered. A memorial forwarded to the Government from the Mayor and corporation of Southampton stated that, within the last ten years, upwards of 1,000 persons convicted of housebreaking, robbery, and other felonies had been banished from Jersey and Guernsey and landed on the shore of Southampton and permitted to go at large, and that vagrants had also been landed there in like manner, by which proceeding the amount for the casual poor was increased. In a book written by one of the witnesses examined before the Royal Commission of 1847 on the criminal law of Jersey and Guernsey, it was stated that burglary was punished by deportation to England for a term of years, and the offenders were shipped off one or two at a time, lest the landing of many convicts at once among the peaceable inhabitants of the neighbouring ports should give rise to complaint. Convicts, who had been sentenced to three, five, and seven years' imprisonment, were sent to any part of England which they might choose, while persons charged with minor offences were often induced to quit the Islands before trial, their travelling expenses being paid, and they ordinarily went to Southampton, Practically, that brought the evil of transportation home to our very doors, Within the last two or three years there had been more than thirty cases of persons who had left the Channel Islands either in conse- quence of their poverty, or from being suspected of crimes, and become chargeable on the poor rates of Southampton. He trusted the Government would take some step to put down such a monstrous state of things?


said, that not long ago he received a memorial, which had been addressed by the corporation of Southampton to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, in reference to the practice which they said extensively existed of sending persons convicted of crime from Jersey and Guernsey to this country. There was, however, only one case mentioned in the memorial—namely, that of David Brooke, who was said to have been banished from Guernsey ten years ago for threatening violence to those who had refused to relieve him, and for assaulting the officer who took him into custody. He transmitted the memorial to Guernsey and Jersey, with a request for information as to the practice which prevailed. He had not yet received an answer from Jersey, but he had from Guernsey, and so far as that island was concerned, it afforded a most complete answer. The Governor referred the matter to the bailiff, and he found that the register of criminal proceedings in the island did not contain the name of David Brooke, except as far back as the 26th of December, 1839, when a person of that name, who no doubt was the same individual, was brought before the court. It also appeared that in 1840 the corporation of Southampton sent a memorial nearly similar to the present one to Lord Normanby, the then Secretary of State, and that the ten years spoken of in the last memorial preceded 1840, and went back to the reign of William IV. He was also informed that no native of Guernsey had been transported from the island since 1840. He, therefore, thought that the hon. and learned Member had been wholly misinformed. If, however, he desired further information on the subject, the most satisfactory way of obtaining it would be to move for the production of the memorial and the correspondence which had taken place.