HC Deb 28 March 1873 vol 215 cc296-7

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, If his attention has been called to the Evidence delivered before the Prison Ministers Committee in 1870, and the Report made by it to the House; whether he is aware that considerable numbers of persons detained at the will of Her Majesty have no regular or certain means of obtaining religious instruction in accordance with the tenets of their several communities, in consequence of the non-appointment of salaried ministers of such communities by certain county and borough prison authorities; and, whether Government will in this Session bring in a Bill to cure such defect, or name an early day at the disposal of Government for the consideration of the Bill thereon, which came down last year from the House of Peers, and has lately been road a first time in this House?


Before the right hon. Gentleman rises to answer, I should also like to ask him, Whether, after the Resolution agreed to by the House of Commons last Session, with reference to the charges imposed upon the ratepayers for national objects, it is the intention of the Government to support any measure incurring the expenditure of rates for the administration of justice?


Sir, undoubtedly the attention of the Government has been called to the Report and evidence referred to, and the Government last year introduced a Bill dealing with the matter, but press of other business prevented its being proceeded with. I am aware that a considerable number of persons who are detained in prison are without any regular means of religious instruction supplied at the public expense. I hope that the grievance complained of may in time be overcome by the spontaneous action of the local authorities. As far as the Government are concerned, we are not, with the limited time at our disposal, in a position at present to deal with the subjects. Our sympathies are with the hon. Baronet; but we cannot give him up a Government evening for his purpose. I trust the hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read) will accept this as an answer also to his Question.