asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether he is prepared to announce the intentions of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the abolition of Corporal Punishment in the Navy?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Sir, since the abolition of corporal punishment in the Army the attention of the Admiralty has been anxiously directed to the question of flogging in the Navy. The practice has already been brought within very narrow limits, and, on a review of the whole circumstances, I am now prepared to state the extent to which we intend to abolish flogging in the Navy. Corporal punishment has been abolished in the Army in time of peace. It has been retained in time of war. It has been abandoned where other punishments are possible. It has been retained when, in time of war, or on the march, or on board ship, other punishments are practically impossible. We propose to follow the same principle as regards the Navy. We propose to abolish corporal punishment everywhere and on all occasions except in the single case of mutiny, where the offender can, within a reasonable period, probably within seven days, be sent to a suitable prison. We propose 393 to abolish corporal punishment altogether for all offences which do not require prompt and immediate punishment, not being contagious in their character, and to limit it to the fewest possible offences. These offences will be mutiny, using or offering violence to his superior officer, and desertion of post under aggravated circumstances; in fact, offences which may imperil the safety of the ship on the high seas. I should add that, except in the case of mutiny, men in the first class will, as at present, continue exempt. The main outline of our plan is contained in the following Memorandum, which I will read:—1. No petty officer, or seaman, or marine in the first class belonging to one of Her Majesty's ships, shall be liable to corporal punishment except for mutiny. 2. No seaman or marine, in the second class belonging to one of Her Majesty's ships shall be liable to corporal punishment in time of peace, except for one of the following offences:—Muting, using or offering violence to a superior officer, desertion of post under aggravated circumstances. 3. A Court Martial shall not in time of peace award corporal punishment for any offence except mutiny, if in their opinion the offender can be sent within a reasonable time to a sufficient prison under a sentence of imprisonment. 4. A commanding officer shall not in time of peace summarily award corporal punishment for any offence except mutiny, if within seven days the offender can be brought before an authority competent to order a Court Martial, or can be sent to a sufficient prison under a summary sentence of imprisonment.I should add that most of these changes can be carried out by the Admiralty without legislation. As regards Courts Martials, however, they have no power to prevent them from imposing corporal punishment under the provisions of the statute; but the Admiralty will recommend the course which I have indicated. Special regulations will be necessary for a time of war. In conclusion, I may say that we have great confidence that the higher education of our seamen, and the general condition of the Navy, will enable us to make these changes without detriment to the efficiency of our Fleets and with much advantage to the popularity of the service.
SIR JOHN HAY
observed that the right hon. Gentleman had not stated what changes were made with regard to boys in training ships and boys at sea.
said, that as it required a little time to consider the effect of these regulations, he should, reserving for 394 future consideration the question of the total abolition of corporal punishment, refrain during the present Session from persevering with the Motion he had given notice of respecting flogging in the Navy.