HC Deb 05 August 1879 vol 249 cc183-4

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, If it be true, as is reported, that boys on board training ships for the Navy are, for trifling offences, tied up and flogged so severely with a birch or cane that they not un-frequently faint away under the operation; and, if this be not so, if he will state the nature and extent of any corporal punishment inflicted upon such boys, and for what offences, and by whose authority corporal punishment is inflicted?


I am not aware that there has been a single case of any boy having fainted or suffered severely during the caning or birching inflicted on him; no case has been reported to me, and I believe none has taken place. The maximum punishment which can be inflicted is 24 strokes with the birch and 12 with the cane, and this punishment is only inflicted for very serious offences, and then only with care that the result should not be too severe. The offences for which corporal punishment is inflicted are desertion, aggravated cases of theft, drunkenness, filthy language and gross insubordination, and then only on the authority of the commanding officer. The second officer, however, has the power to inflict punishment to the extent of six strokes with the cane, reporting his action to his superior officer. All punishments are reported to the Commander-in-Chief and the Admiralty, and all birchings are ordered by warrant. From my own observation, I can say that the boys on these training ships are exceedingly happy, and any hon. Member who visited them would derive great satisfaction from his visit.