(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £339,680, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1880, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Commissioners and other Officers appointed under the 6th and 7th Sections of the Prison Act, 1877, and the Expenses of the several Prisons in England and Wales to which that Act applies.
§ MR. DODSON
said, he wished to ask a few questions. He observed by the Estimates that his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary (Mr. Assheton Cross) had reduced the number of prisons by 43; his original estimate was that he would reduce them by 50, and that number was afterwards increased to 54. He should like to know to what further extent his right hon. Friend hoped to be able to reduce the prisons? Was any further reduction contemplated in the staffs of the prisons, which had been brought down from over 2,500 to 2,230? According to the Estimates, also, the right hon. Gentleman had reduced the cost of the prisons, compared with what it was in 1877, the last complete year of the old régime, by £52,000. The original reduction contemplated was £50,000, so that his right hon. Friend had been even more successful than he hoped for; but that, he was sure he would admit, was partly due to the great fall in the cost of fuel, food, and clothing. He should like to know if his right hon. Friend had any idea of how much of that reduction was due to the reduction in the number of the prisons and of the staff? At the time he introduced his Prisons Bill his right hon. Friend said he hoped to double the return from prison labour. Up to the present time, however, there was no advance in this respect. In the year 1877 the return from extra receipts was £65,000, which included some other items, prison labour amounting to £56,000; while the estimated receipts this year, with a somewhat larger number of prisoners, were only £60,000. Therefore, he thought he might presume that the net earnings from prisoners labour actually decreased, and he should like to ask why that was so? The result appeared to have been the same last year, for in the foot-note to the Estimates it said "estimated receipts £60,000" for last year. Could not his right hon. Friend tell them the actual receipts? He was putting these questions in no carping spirit, but merely to elicit information, and with the most sincere desire that the most sanguine expectations of his right hon. Friend might be realized. Of course, even if all these expectations were realized, the difference would only be a halfpenny or three-farthings in the pound on the rate, and even that could not be realized for some years till the pensions began to 1268 run out. The financial success of the Prisons Act would depend upon continued firmness on the part of the Government. Of course, a Central Department was very much handicapped in obtaining economy, because in such offices there was always a natural tendency to extravagance, not from carelessness or want of vigilance, but from this officer and that officer recommending this improvement or that improvement in the desire to make the system perfect. Unless, in fact, this tendency was repressed by a firm and vigorous hand, in a very few years the cost of the new system would be greater than that of the old.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
regretted that he was unable fully to answer the questions of his right hon. Friend, for the simple reason that the accounts were not sent in until after the close of the financial year; and, therefore, the Commissioners did not expect to be able to get them ready for presentation to Parliament before July. Still, he would answer to the best of his ability, and would promise that the different matters should be fully dealt with in the Report. They thought it right to take two years in which to decide what prisons should be closed. Very little more than a year had elapsed since the passing of the Act, and 43 had already been closed, and orders had since been given for closing one other. He and the Prison Commissioners had it in contemplation to close quite as many as was originally proposed; but on that subject he would not say more, except that in order that certain prisons might, to the public advantage, be closed, £29,000 had been taken for alterations, in order to make certain prisons larger. A reduction of the staff would naturally follow from this; but it was not his intention to reduce the present staff more than he had done. From what he had seen of the Estimates, he thought £10,000 of the £52,855 saved was due to the reduced cost of food, & c.; but he had no hesitation in saying, from what he had already experienced, that there would certainly be an eventual saving of £50,000 from the reduction in the number of prisons and of the staff. There had also been an increase of 1,000 in the number of prisoners; yet, in the face of that, the expenses had been thus largely decreased. This was, however, only an 1269 increase for a time. As to the prison labour, when the local authorities gave up the prisons they sold off all their materials; and, therefore, there was no great demand at the present time for such goods as they had to sell, for there was such a thing as glutting the market. A system like that, either, could not at once be put in order, and it was some time before they got into full swing. Therefore, he did not think the estimate for the first year would be reached, though he did hope and expect that the one for the second year, of £60,000, would be realized. Up to the present, also, he had not done very much in the matter of prison labour, for he thought it very desirable first to make inquiries as to its effect on trade outside. He accordingly appointed a Departmental Committee, who went into the matter very thoroughly. Their Report was again submitted to a very able person, who went most carefully and narrowly through it, and then presented a very able and elaborate Report on the matter, for his (Mr. Assheton Cross's) private inspection. Before, however, finally dealing with the matter, he thought it better also to have the opinion of two absolutely independent and impartial persons, who had nothing to do with the matter officially whatever, and, therefore, he submitted this Report to two gentlemen who had nothing whatever to do with prison labour in any shape or form. One of them was a most active county magistrate in the West of England, and the other was a medical gentleman. They had also reported, and he now hoped to be able to deal with the question. He had felt, however, that it was far more satisfactory that this question of prison labour should not be touched at all until there had been the most careful inquiry as to its effects. Therefore, it would still be some little time before this system got into working order, although he was sure the amount earned would reach the estimate in a year or two.
was sorry that the Home Secretary had not been able to give them more exact details as to the amount received from prison labour during the Government had had the prisons under their exclusive charge.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he had not been quite understood. The accounts had not yet been made up for 1270 the reasons he had stated. The Government did not get the system of prison labour in work for the first three months either.
could not understand why the labour should have been stopped when the Government took over the gaols. There was, undoubtedly, a strong feeling outside against prison labour, and it was said that certain industries were ruined by the competition. That might be true, perhaps, to some extent, as regarded mat-making; but, on the other hand, he had always been in favour of making a felon earn his own living by industrial labour. It was said that that would glut the labour market, but it was not at all the case, for the criminal was taken from his work outside, and it mattered very little whether he laboured inside a gaol or outside. He should be put to work at the same trade as he ordinarily worked, and if the man did not know a handicraft trade, which was often the case, he hoped the Home Secretary would do what he himself had always contended ought to be done—that was, to try and teach the prisoners some trade while they were in prison. In Devon-port gaol, of which he had had a large experience, the Governor actually built the whole of a large wing entirely by prison labour, and it was admitted on all hands that the work was far better than that in the old gaol. Why, then, should not these felons be taught various handicraft trades which would be of benefit to them when they came out. [Mr. ASSHETON CROSS: It is being done.] He (Mr. Cole) was very glad to hear it, because there was too great a tendency to teach only one or two trades, and to keep prisoners employed at those trades, and so the complaint as to the glutting the market arose. If they were employed in a great number of various industries no complaint could properly arise. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman did not mean to close Plymouth gaol, which was now very full in consequence of the closing of the gaol at Devonport.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
stated that he had recently told the Mayor that that prison was not going to be closed.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
wished his right hon. Friend could have given them a more clear and distinct account of the cost of every prison, naming 1271 each prison, throughout the country, now that they were under the Government, so that they might compare it with the cost under the magistracy. The present statement was a very vague one, and they ought to have all this information given them without having to go to the judicial statistics. The present was a very unfair way of making out the accounts, for it was his firm conviction if the accounts were analyzed, instead of there being a saving under the present system, that a loss would be shown. As a visiting magistrate of more than 30 years' experience, he was unhesitatingly of opinion that, as a majority of the sentences were for very short terms, it would be impossible to make any very large sum by the earnings of the prisoners. The old system was gone, and they had to deal with the new state of things; but he did think that the Government should give them the means of judging whether it was working fairly or not.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, he had never for a moment anticipated that the Prisons Act would be carried out in a manner satisfactory to the local authorities, and he had no sympathy with those magistrates who cringed to the Home Office and wore willing to sell their local rights and powers of administration in order to get relieved of responsibility which belonged to them. It was necessary, to some extent, to struggle against officialism, which certainly, in his opinion, had lessened the efficiency of prison discipline, and was very likely to lead to increased expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman, when he introduced the Prisons Act, made a promise to the House to which he (Mr. Rylands) thought he must be held. That promise, from which he was quite sure there was no wish to depart, was that—"While the local rates would be relieved to the extent of £92,000, there would only be an additional charge upon the Public Revenue of £285,000." The right hon. Gentleman, in stating what was perfectly clear from the Estimates, that this point had not been reached, had treated the matter with perfect candour. But the position of affairs at starting this year was this. In the first place, the Government had admitted that they were at a considerable distance from the goal at which they themselves wished to arrive, inasmuch 1272 as they had not been able to bring down the expenditure to anything like the amount anticipated; and, in the second place, they had also admitted that they were unable to bring up the earnings for prison labour to anything like the amount expected. He wished to point out to the Home Secretary that there had been already, owing to certain causes, such as the reduced cost of food and clothing, referred to by the right hon. Member for Chester (Mr. Dodson), a very considerable diminution in the prison expenditure since the year 1875, and that, therefore, economy might have been secured had the Government so willed it without this great revolution in prison management. But he had to complain that the account presented for the information of the House was delusive, inasmuch as it did not contain a number of charges which had come upon the Exchequer in consequence of the passing of the Prisons Act; for instance, there was a charge of £11,000 for printing and stationery, which was paid out of another Vote and which, therefore, did not appear in the present account. There was also a charge of £600 on account of prisons included in the Supplementary Estimates; in fact, the House would find various charges cropping up in the different Votes, which would not have been there but for the prisons having been taken over by the State; and although it would not be fair to make use of captious criticism, he thought that the House would be obliged to put the Government, so to speak, upon their trial with regard to the prisons which had been so unreasonably taken over, He thought that as soon as the Government were in a position to state the facts the House should receive a full account, not merely of the charges which appeared on the face of this Vote, but of all charges which had been brought upon the Exchequer in relation to prisons in consequence of their being taken over by the State, and that these items should be brought to a focus and appear in a tabulated form. He did not press this upon the Government because he had opposed the Bill, or with any wish to show that, under the new system, there would be less economy. On the contrary, he should be agreeably disappointed if the system proved to be an economical one, as would also be the case with several distinguished gentlemen in the 1273 Treasury who, he was quite certain, had not expected that the taking over of the prisons would be an economical operation. If, however, those expectations were agreeably disapppointed, he should be very glad; but it was to be feared, from their experience of Government administration—what with the increase of officials and their superannuation allowances, the building of new prisons and the pulling down or enlarging of old ones, as well as with the staff of architects and builders likely to be employed—that the volume of cost would continue to swell year by year. If such was found to be the case, many hon. Members would not fail to press the fact upon the attention of the Government.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, that according to a Return which he held in his hand, the cost of the county and borough prisons for the year 1873 was £585,000, from which amount had to be deducted the sum of £43,000 for interest on loans to local authorities for building purposes; in round numbers, therefore, the cost of the county and borough prisons for the year 1873 amounted to £542,000. According to the estimate presented by him to the House at the time, the probable reduced cost of the prisons was £484,500, which, he had proposed to meet by taxation to the extent of £371,000, prisoners' labour £106,000, and other contingent receipts of £7,500. Taking this sum of £484,500, and comparing it with the estimate of the year 1879–80, which amounted to £472,680, it would be seen that he was still within the sum stated to the House. Again, he had stated that the sum of £97,000 had already been paid out of the taxes in the year 1873; this sum would, therefore, have to be deducted from the £371,000, a circumstance which appeared to have slipped from the mind of the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands), when he reminded the House that he (Mr. Asshe-ton Cross) had promised that the extra burden upon the taxpayers should not exceed £285,000.
§ MR. SERJEANT SIMON
said, that, without intending to repeat the observations which he had felt it his duty to make on a previous occasion, he must refer to the difficulty of adjusting prison labour in such a way as would not bring it into undue competition with the work done outside. There were certain things 1274 connected with the system of prison labour to which he called attention. In the first place, he understood that it had been the custom for the prison authorities to issue tenders to, and also to receive them from, manufacturing firms outside the prison walls, thereby creating competition with the labour of the honest man. This procedure, if truly stated, he held to be extremely objectionable. One of the tenders referred to had been shown to him in the Lobby, and he was informed that tenders similar to that which he had seen were also issued from a prison in Cambridgeshire, and were by no means uncommon. Surely the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would see that such a course was inconsistent with what was due to the honest labourer, because, from the circumstance that prisoners were housed and fed at a comparatively small expense, their work could always be made to undersell his. Therefore, he desired to know whether the right hon. Gentleman was aware that such a practice as had been described existed in the prisons, and, if so, whether he would issue such instructions as would prevent its repetition? The subject, as he was quite aware, was difficult and delicate; at the same time, he knew that his right hon. Friend always desired to do what was just and right to the honest labourer. Again, when the Prisons Bill was before the House, great stress had been laid upon the fact that prison labour was confined to one or two industries, and that it was not generally distributed over the different industrial employments. One reason alleged for this was, as stated by his hon. and gallant Friend (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), that the prisoners sentenced for short terms of imprisonment could not be taught certain trades, and that mat and brush-making were much handier for them to learn. But he (Mr. Serjeant Simon) hoped that when the prison regulations wore issued, due regard would be paid to the promise given when the Prisons Bill was before the House, that industrial labour in prisons should be extended to the industries generally, and not be confined to, or put in competition with, one or two trades.
§ SIR BALDWYN LEIGHTON
complained that, although the Government were pressing the localities to provide extra accommodation for lunatics, the 1275 Commissioners had thrown many difficulties in the way of their obtaining the grants to which they were entitled.
§ MR. A. MOORE
hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would not be carried away by the observations which had been made by the hon. and learned Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Serjeant Simon) with respect to prison labour, and that he would also bear in mind that besides the honest labourer there was the honest taxpayer. He objected very strongly to the agitation with regard to this subject, because it was prejudicial to the public interest, and could never see why prison labour should not be made use of for public purposes, nor why prisoners upon whom large sums of money were spent should not be allowed to do something towards their own maintenance. That doctrine, in his opinion, was most objectionable, and he believed that by the proper use of prison labour very large contracts might be undertaken. It was, therefore, to be hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would not lose sight of the interest of the honest taxpayer by prohibiting remunerative labour in prisons. It was desirable that these institutions should be allowed to produce as much as they could, and that the Government should utilize the results of prison labour for the public benefit in any way they thought fit, always provided, of course, that they did not undersell ordinary labour.
§ SIR ANDREW LUSK
, although he disliked the Prisons Act, admitted that the Home Secretary had carried out its provisions fairly and efficiently, and that he had also shown a desire to turn prison labour to account from a business point of view. Speaking as one of many years' experience of the Central Criminal Court, he considered that a good deal of sentimentalism had been talked upon this matter of prison labour; and he begged to assure the House that the magistrates, in sentencing a man to a term of imprisonment, were only influenced by a desire to promote the ends of justice, and that they paid no regard whatever to the possibility of turning the labour imposed to profitable account. The public good would, in his opinion, be very much interfered with if they were to allow themselves to be influenced by any such considerations. Referring to the subject which he had brought to 1276 the notice of the Home Secretary when the previous Prison Vote was under the consideration of the Committee, he reminded the right hon. Gentleman that the magistrates considered it hard that they were unable to grant permission, under proper circumstances, to persons who wished to see their relations in prison. Some liberty should, in his opinion, be granted in this respect, to supersede the difficult and, in many cases, almost impossible application on the part of poor people to the Home Secretary. It was to be feared that by unnecessary deprivations of this kind prisoners, whose punishment was intended as an example to others, became hardened, and were sometimes in a worse state when they came out of prison than when they went in. He therefore trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would afford some facilities in the direction indicated.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he could not see how the managers of prisons were to put themselves in a different position to the managers of any other manufactories, because, after all, they must look out for orders for their manufactures, and, in doing so, they necessarily placed themselves in competition with the outside world, because consumers of manufactured goods would always try to buy in the cheapest market, and would probably give the preference to employers of labour like themselves. For these reasons, the managers of prisons were in considerable difficulty, and had to arrange for the sale of their goods as best they were able. But his object in rising was to call attention to the arrangement of the Order Book for that evening, with reference to Supply, and, for the purpose of putting himself in Order, he thought it would be necessary that he should conclude with a Motion. It appeared to him that the Government had adopted a course which was exceedingly inconvenient in placing upon the Paper a great number of Classes of Supply, and following that up by a demand for a Vote on Account. He had never known of an instance in which the other Classes of Estimates had been set down prior to a Vote on Account, while the course proposed by the Government was rendered all the more inconvenient at so late a period of the Session. He never objected to Votes being taken on account at an early period of the Session, because the system adopted by the 1277 Treasury and by the country necessitated the return to the Exchequer of all unexpended balances, the Government being, consequently, obliged, at the commencement of the Session, to ask the House for Votes on Account to meet the current expenditure of the various branches of the Public Service. But he thought that the position of the Government in the present Session was certainly one which should have prevented any appeal being made for a second Vote on Account. At the beginning of the Session, a very exceptional and stringent Rule was adopted by the House and the Government, who promised that the Estimates should in future be brought forward regularly, and Votes on Account avoided. That promise had not been fulfilled, inasmuch as the Government, having taken one very considerable Vote on Account, were now asking for a second Vote to meet the expenditure for another month. He therefore considered that, under such circumstances, it would have been reasonable for the Government to have placed the Vote on Account before the Votes classed in the Estimates, and that the hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury was ill-advised in adopting the opposite course, by which the Vote on Account would, in all probability, be reached very late in the evening, and at a time when hon. Members would get no explanations from the Government for this unusual and unsatisfactory procedure. He was not aware of any case where the Government had obtained a Vote on Account after Votes in Supply were granted; and, for this reason, it seemed to him that they should vindicate the course pursued on the present occasion. Again, he wished to point out to the hon. Baronet who had the arrangement of the Government Business that no single night during the Session had as yet been devoted to the consideration of the Irish Estimates. He was aware that upon one occasion, after the Easter Recess, these Estimates had been brought forward; but it would be remembered that the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Major Nolan), in view of the absence of the Irish Members, had felt it incumbent upon him to ask the Government for a postponement of the Votes until their return. To this the Government had very kindly consented; but as the Irish Estimates had 1278 only been brought forward once during the Session, he (Mr. Parnell) thought the Committee were entitled to ask for some explanation of the very unprecedented course which had been adopted. He believed, upon the occasion in question, the Irish Members were asked to vote for the Irish Constabulary and Board of Works, as well as for the Scotch Universities. Without going into these matters, he wished to remind the Committee that very important questions attached to them all. It was only on Friday evening last that the Irish Members came to the conclusion that they would oppose the Vote for the Scotch Universities. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that he would take Class IV., in which this Vote was included, that evening; but immediately the Government heard that it was to be opposed by the Irish Members, Class IV. was dropped. The hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson) said that Class IV. was not mentioned; but he would, perhaps, allow him to say that it was not mentioned by him. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, however, on rising to reply to a Question with regard to the Business on Monday, had mentioned Class IV. amongst those which were to be considered in Committee. At all events, Class IV. had been excluded, and it was found that no Vote was to be asked for on account of the Scotch Universities. But the Government had asked for a Vote on Account, the practical effect of that being to preclude all discussion with reference to the Vote. Under those circumstances, he thought he should be excused for asking the Government at what time of the evening they proposed to take the Vote on Account, and whether they would except from that the Votes for the Scotch Universities and the Irish Constabulary? Otherwise, the Irish Members would be prevented during the present Session from discussing the Votes in question, or, at all events, they would be driven on to so late a period as to render discussion impossible. Secondly, he wished to ask the hon. Baronet whether the Queen's Colleges in Ireland were getting any money, there having been no Vote on account of these institutions, and nothing being asked for that evening?
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he had not forgotten the Motion. He was simply asking the hon. Baronet how the Queen's Colleges were subsisting during the time that no money was voted to them? He was aware that they only derived a portion of their endowments from the Votes; but as it was well known that, as regarded the Army Estimates, money voted by the House for particular services was applied to services for which it was not intended, it had struck him that the same thing might, perhaps, be taking place with regard to the Queen's Colleges. If the hon. Baronet would like to postpone the Vote for the Scotch Universities, it would not be necessary to take any discussion upon it to-night; but, if not, discussion would be necessary. As far as he was concerned, the Vote for the Scotch Universities might pass as a matter of course; but as he felt it his duty to press that the Vote on Account should be brought forward at as early an hour as possible, he begged to move that the Chairman report Progress.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Parnell.)
§ SIR HENEY SELWIN-IBBETSON
confessed his regret that the interests of the Public Service had forced upon him the obligation of asking the House to take a second Vote on Account that evening. When he proposed the first Vote on Account, three months' Supply was asked for, and it was stated that notwithstanding the facilities given to the Government at the beginning of the year, the period of the Session was so much advanced that he could not see the possibility of getting a sufficient number of Votes passed to enable the Government to carry on the Public Service unless they had Votes on Account. To that proposal opposition was taken, and the amount cut down to two months' Supply. As he had foreseen, the state of Supply was such that the Public Service would be practically without sufficient money for the requirements—that was to say, that the sum at the disposal of the Government would be run out in the course of next week or so, unless another Vote on Account was obtained, because there was very little chance of getting money in Supply in 1280 time to meet the necessities of the Public Service. With regard to the question of the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell) concerning the Civil Service Votes, the same conditions did not apply to these as to the Votes for the Army and Navy, and there was no power of distributing public money over Votes not passed by the House. For that reason, he regretted to say that the Queen's Colleges and Queen's Universities in Ireland had not up to that time been able to get any of the money voted in the Estimates of the present year. With regard to the other point raised by the hon. Member, that by this time the Government ought to have had Supply much more forward, he thought the Committee, or, at all events, the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands), would bear him out when he said that he had strenuously endeavoured to keep Supply as much as possible before the Committee of the House whenever an opportunity had offered. Notwithstanding that the Session had been rather rife with Votes of Censure upon the Government, which had taken up many nights, he had never missed a single occasion of endeavouring to get Supply passed by the Committee. It was a remarkable fact, however, that he had only got into Supply on four occasions. On the 18th April, 21 Votes in Class I. and 9 Votes in Class II. were passed; on the 21st April, 10 Votes in Class II.; on the 12th May, 17 Votes in Class II.; and, on the 19th May, 15 Votes in Class III. were passed, making- a total of 72 Votes which he had been able to get in the Civil Service Estimates, and leaving 72 Votes still to be considered by the Committee. The Committee would see from that statement that the Government were not in a position to do without a further Vote on Account. The Vote asked for on account was for one month's more Supply; but it in no way precluded discussion on any single Vote embodied in the Estimates, for after this had been granted there would still remain a large sum to be voted. The Committee, therefore, would have fair and ample opportunities for discussion and consideration of any Vote to which hon. Members might take exception. Although the hon. Member for Meath thought that it was his intention to drive off the Votes to a period when hon. Members were likely to be worn out, or were want- 1281 ing to get away, he could assure him that such, at any rate as far as he was concerned, was not the desire of a Secretary to the Treasury, whose object was to make Supply his first care, and to keep it before the Committee of the House until the whole was passed. He ventured to think that in the course of the next few weeks the Government might be able to place Supply on the Minutes, and if hon. Members opposite would have confidence enough in Her Majesty's Government not to pass too many Votes of Censure, he believed an endeavour might be made to meet the views of the hon. Member for Meath, and give him an opportunity of criticizing the Votes in question. If the Irish Votes had been postponed, the fault was due to the good-nature of the Secretary to the Treasury rather than to any wish to obstruct Business, for he had more than once been asked to postpone their consideration in order to meet the convenience of the Irish Members. He could assure the hon. Member for Meath that he would not be long without the opportunity of discussing the Irish Votes, which should be brought forward on the first occasion when Irish Members were present in sufficient numbers properly to consider them. Every week's postponement of the Votes for the Queen's Colleges and Universities, in his opinion, rendered their discussion the more necessary. He repeated, that his anxiety was to meet the views of hon. Members, and to bring forward the Civil Service Estimates as early as possible during the Session, in order to complete Supply and to allow opportunities for fair discussion upon particular Votes.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, he must bear testimony to the anxiety of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury to meet the views of everyone in the House. Nothing could be more satisfactory than the endeavours of the hon. Gentleman to meet the convenience of all. Still, he thought there was some reason for objecting to the course now taken by the Government in placing Votes on Account in the Paper on the same day as Committee of Supply. The objection taken to that course was of this kind. It was understood that Votes on Account were within the terms of the Resolution with regard to the conduct of Public Business; so that if a Vote on 1282 Account were taken on any day but Monday, hon. Members would have a right to move a Resolution before going into Committee of Supply. He might say that he had the highest authority in the House—namely, the Speaker—upon that point, for Mr. Speaker had informed him that the rule would be that Votes on Account would be considered as ordinary Supply. Having robbed independent Members of some of their privileges—they had, unfortunately, been robbed by his hon. Friend who sat upon the Treasury Bench—they were now asked to restrict their privileges still more. The Government were asking them now to put down on Monday two Votes in Supply—one in regard to ordinary Supply, and one on Account. Notwithstanding his objection to the course taken, however, he did not intend to stop the progress of the Votes. This was the first occasion on which Votes on Account had been put down on the same evening as Votes in Supply, and he trusted it would not be made a precedent with regard to the Business of the House. He wished to give the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury Notice that when Votes were put down as Votes on Account on Monday, resistance would be made to their being taken. Considering, however, the explanation given by the Secretary to the Treasury, that he had only put down the Votes on that occasion with a view to the convenience of Members, and in order to push forward Supply, he did not think it would be unreasonable to take them on that occasion without construing their being so taken in any way into a precedent.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
wished to say, in explanation, that it was absolutely necessary to take these Votes on Account before Whitsuntide. Unless he had put them down for Monday, it would be necessary for him to have taken a portion of the Whitsuntide Holidays, and detained hon. Members till Thursday. As he did not wish to put hon. Members to that inconvenience, he had taken the course of putting down the Votes on Account on the same evening as Supply for the ordinary Civil Services. He fully agreed with what had been said as to its not being an ordinary course to take; but he only adopted it on the present occasion with a view to consulting the convenience of the House.
§ MAJOR O'BEIRNE
said, that he had the same objection as his hon. Friend the Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell) to Votes being taken on account of the Irish Constabulary. The state of affairs in that force was incompatible with discipline, and, speaking as an officer, he must say there was reason for grave objection. He did not, however, then intend to enter into that question; but he wished to protest against any Votes being taken on account of the Scotch Universities. He thought it was the duty of Irish Members to resist any Vote on that account, inasmuch as Scotch Members had taken considerable trouble to give the greatest possible Opposition to the Irish University Bill.
The hon. and gallant Member is not in Order in going into the question of a Bill not under discussion by the House.
§ MAJOR O'BEIRNE
observed, that the opposition of the Scotch Members to a Bill which had been introduced was very unreasonable; and so long as Scotch Members objected to the Imperial funds being applied in the same manner in Ireland as in Scotland, they must resist any Votes on Account of the Scotch Universities.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, that the Motion before the House was that of the hon. Member for Meath to report Progress. The subject they were debating before the Motion of the hon. Member was moved was that of prisons, and he wished to say a word or two on that subject when the present discussion was closed. He understood that the object of his hon. Friend the Member for Meath would be accomplished, if the Secretary to the Treasury assured them that this Vote on Account which he proposed to take would not include anything for the Scotch Universities. If the hon. Gentleman gave them that assurance, which he imagined he would be able to do, he apprehended that his hon. Friend the Member for Meath would withdraw his Motion. He considered that he was quite right in objecting to any Vote being taken on account which should include grants in aid of the Scotch Universities. With respect to this discussion on University Education, he wished to point out that their only practical way of objecting to a particular system of University Education was by moving to reduce the Votes, and the only effect 1284 of postponing the Vote on Scotch Universities now would be that that Vote would be taken definitely on another occasion; and so long as the Scotch Members objected to the institution in Ireland of a similar system to what they themselves enjoyed, so long must the Irish Members oppose any Vote for the Scotch Universities. He wished to call the attention of the House to what he thought were the ill effects of its abandoning its privileges on Monday. When that was proposed, he stated to the House his conviction that by discussing preliminary matters first they were enabled to have a more full and free discussion afterwards. They had been discussing the Prison Estimates, and the subject of prisons had caused considerable excitement in the country. By having a discussion before Committee, they would have obtained a full attendance of Members. But now anything they might say on the subject of prisons in Committee would not be reported, and they might as well address themselves to empty Benches as to the House in its present condition. These things were wrong, and were the result of the abandonment of the privileges of hon. Members for discussing questions before going into Committee. He protested at the time against Monday being taken from them, inasmuch as a Motion before Supply was almost the only opportunity they could get for discussions to be fully reported. It was well known that the discussions on the Estimates were not reported. But he hoped that when they had disposed of the Motion then before the House they would come to the question of prisons, and that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, who was responsible for them, would then be in his place. He did not grudge the right hon. Gentleman his necessary refreshment; but it would be more satisfactory that he should be in his place when the Prisons Vote was under discussion. He would not sit down without bearing testimony to the courtesy of the Secretary to the Treasury in postponing Irish Votes whenever requested to do so for the convenience of hon. Members. The hon. Gentleman was the most conciliatory Secretary to the Treasury that ever sat in that House, and he had always in the most obliging manner agreed to postpone Votes to suit the convenience of Members of all parts of 1285 the House. The hon. Baronet, he was I sure, was actuated by a sense of justice and a wish to discuss Votes fairly and fully, and, he trusted, for the benefit of the country. He therefore begged to tender to the hon. Gentleman his vote of thanks for the course he had taken with regard to Irish Votes.
§ MR. A. MOORE
thought it very unfair to place amongst the Votes on Account, which were otherwise unobjectionable, one to which considerable objection was raised. They did not object to give money for denominational purposes; but it was a great injustice to ask them to vote this money for the Scotch Universities so long as all parts of the country did not equally share in an expenditure from the public funds for the same purposes. If the hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury would consent to postpone the Vote for the Scotch University Education till another occasion, when it could be brought on at an early hour, he thought the hon. Member for Meath would be justified in withdrawing his Motion; but it was unfair to ask them to vote this money while they had no chance of protesting against it.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
was not quite sure that they were in Order in discussing a Vote when there was a Motion to report Progress before the House. As, however, there had been a strong expression of opinion against taking a Vote on Account for the Scotch Universities that evening, he would certainly omit that item from the Votes on Account. He must remind hon. Members that, because Votes on Account were taken, it in no way prevented the Vote itself being discussed. The particular sums voted were only for three months, and they had still nine months to vote on account of the Supply required; and there would, therefore, then be an ample opportunity for discussing the principles of the grants. But as the Votes were required for carrying on the different Services, he must press for a Vote on Account that night, with the exception of the item that he had mentioned. He would remind the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) that it was not absolutely the fault of the Government that the Prisons Vote had come on to be discussed in a thin House. Various Members had raised a somewhat un- 1286 expected discussion; but had the Prisons Vote been taken in the manner proposed by the Government, it would have been considered in a full House. Therefore, he thought the Government must be acquitted of not bringing the Prison Vote on for discussion in a full House.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
was of the same opinion as other hon. Members as to the manner in which the hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury always treated the representations of hon. Members on that side of the House. He must, however, say that he felt that the discussions during that Session had very strongly corroborated the view he took, that Public Business was not facilitated by taking away the right of discussion before going into Committee of Supply. He could not but think that hon. Members were desirous to discuss items in the Estimates, so as to bring in general considerations which would have been very much better treated by means of the regular Resolution on going into Committee of Supply. The result was not only that the time of the House was quite as much occupied as before, but that they had a discussion which did not go directly to the point. It had been very fairly pointed out that they could not make the discussions upon the Estimates as generally interesting as they would be if brought on before going into Committee of Supply. He hoped he should not be in any way considered ungrateful in alluding to the conduct of the Secretary to the Treasury in postponing Irish Votes when requested to do so on account of the scant attendance of Irish Members, when he stated his opinion that that system was very injurious. Irish Members were to blame, and were fully responsible for deranging the regular progress of proceedings in the House, by requiring matters to stand over to meet their convenience. The practice of postponing matters in which Ireland was interested in consequence of the small attendance of Irish Members must injure the influence of Ireland in that House. If Ireland got anything like her proper value from the representation of 105 Members, there would not be a single Irish grievance, from tenant right to Home Rule, that would not be remedied in the space of three Sessions; therefore, he was heartily opposed to every attention being shown to Irish Members which encouraged them to ab- 1287 stain from doing their duty to their constituents in that House.
§ MR. PARNELL
asked leave to withdraw his Motion, as he thought that the hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury had made a very reasonable arrangement. He thought that the Vote on account of the Irish Constabulary should also be postponed.
§ Mr. GOURLEY
considered that there was a great difference between the Vote for the Scotch Universities and the Irish University Question. Whatever happened, the money must be granted by Parliament for the Scotch Universities, and he thought the Government were not acting rightly in consenting to the request for the postponement of the Vote on Account for them. It was very well known why their Irish Friends were asking for a postponement of this Vote; it was from the opposition of the Scotch Members to the Bill with reference to the Irish University. But the difference between a Bill for the Irish University, and voting money required for Scotch Universities, was very great. The payments on account of the Scotch Universities had been incurred, but the Irish University was yet in embryo; and, therefore, it was unfair to require the postponement of a Vote on Account for the Scotch Universities. He did not think that the Government were acting with a due desire to push forward the Business of the House in consenting to the postponement of the Vote.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. PARNELL
wished to make some observations with reference to the disproportion between the salaries of the prison officials in England and Ireland. His hon. Friends were obliged, by the Forms of the House, to move to reduce the salaries of the English prison officials in order to give effect to their view that Irish prison officials should be paid larger salaries. He did not wish to go at length into this question, because he hoped that satisfactory assurance would be given either that the salaries of the English prison officials would be reduced, or that the salaries of the Irish officials would be raised to the same level. He had in his hand a long list, showing the disproportion in the salaries of the officials in the two countries. To 1288 take the ease first of the higher officials. An English Chairman was paid £1,000 a-year out of the Prisons Vote under discussion, and another £1,000 a-year as Chairman of the Convict Prisons Board; whereas an Irish Chairman only got £1,200 a-year altogether. If the Irish Chairman could manage to exist on £1,200 a-year, he did not see any reason why the Englishman should not do so; he could not see any reason why the English Chairman should be paid an additional £1,000, whereas the Irish Chairman only obtained an additional £200 from the Prisons Vote. When they came to the seven Inspectors who were maintained in England, they would find that they had £700 a-year each, whereas the three Irish Inspectors only got £500 a-year each. The number of Inspectors in Ireland being less than in England they might assume that they had the same amount of work to do as those in England, and if £500 a-year was sufficient for an Irish Inspector it ought also to be sufficient for an English Inspector. He found, on looking into the Estimates, page 216, that the Governors of English prisons got an average salary in England of £710 a-year—he was speaking of the minimum salary, because they went from £710 to £2,000. On page 278 of the Estimates, he found that in Ireland the Governors of prisons were only paid from £100 to £350 a-year—an enormous disproportion, which he thought required some explanation of the Government. He found that the Deputy Governors in England received an average salary of £200 a-year; whereas the Deputy Governors in Ireland were paid from £60 to £130 a-year. Then the chaplains in England got an average salary of from £100 to £200 a-year, while the chaplains in Ireland were paid from £30 to £75 a-year in the case of Protestant chaplains; the Roman Catholic chaplains, however, in Ireland, were paid salaries averaging from £100 to £200 a-year. The same disproportion was seen in the salaries of the medical officers; and he might say that the same thing was observable in the whole list of officers from the Governors down to the lowest hewer of wood and drawer of water. He considered that if men could exist upon those salaries in Ireland they ought to do the same in England. There was a less number of officers in Ireland, because, probably, there was a less num- 1289 ber of prisons. He wished to know why the English officers received so much higher salaries than those in Ireland? And unless a reasonable explanation was given, he must move to reduce the Vote.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
quite admitted, that at first sight, without going into figures, it might seem necessary that some explanation should be given with regard to the disproportion between the salaries paid to the English and Irish prison officials. But the Committee should not lose sight of all the circumstances connected with this matter. In the first place, the question was very much, and very properly, influenced by the amount of work that was to be done in the different countries—by the amount of inspection, and the amount of charge which was thrown upon each individual Inspector. One very important element was the number of prisons under the eye of each Inspector, and another was the number of prisoners in each prison. The number of prisoners in England was much in excess of the number in Ireland. In the 72 prisons in England the average number of prisoners was 284, and those prisons were, for the most part, very large ones. In fact, a very much larger proportion of work was required in England, and it would seem that an Inspector had much harder work in England than in Scotland or Ireland. Then, again, the number of prisoners was 20,500 in England, as against 2,300 in Scotland, and 2,940 in Ireland. What was the case with regard to the Irish Inspectors of prisons? The first proposal made for the salaries of the Irish Inspectors of prisons was that they should receive salaries of not less than £400 a-year. That amount was the first recommendation of the Irish Government, and on their asking for an increase of that amount for the three Inspectors, the demand was at once complied with, and they now received from £500 to £600 a-year. That was the only application which had been made with regard to the salaries of those Inspectors, and it was assented to at once, and there was no reason to think that it was not very fair remuneration for the services performed. From all that he had heard, he would venture to say that the salaries that had been paid had not been objected to by the officers who had been 1290 appointed; but, on the contrary, no complaints had been raised by any of them. When they looked to the relative remuneration of the different classes of the community in Ireland they would see that the salaries paid to the prison officials bore a very fair relation to that remuneration. He did not for a moment dispute that the remuneration that was given to the same officials in this country was greater. A medical man, however, in one country received very much greater remuneration than a medical man in the other, and the payments amongst all classes were greater in England than in Scotland and Ireland. The salaries paid were in relative proportion to the ordinary remuneration in the country; and, with regard to the amount of work done, they were fair salaries. He was sure that if the population and the number of prisoners in England, as compared with the number of prisoners in Ireland, and also the number of prisons were looked at, and the relative scale of professional remuneration in the different countries was considered, it would be found that the officials in Ireland were fairly and adequately paid.
§ MAJOR NOLAN
said, the case was really much worse than had been stated. The Secretary to the Treasury seemed to say that, because there had been no complaint, there was no grievance; but, as a matter of fact, there were many complaints. The simple argument seemed to be that because all trades and professions in Ireland were worse paid in Ireland than they were in England, that, therefore, the servants of the Crown should also be worse paid. That was not a fair way of putting the question. If it was maintained that the Government officials in Ireland did less work than the Government officials in England, that might be a reason for paying less; but no such contention had been stated. Except in the case of the Inspectors, the Secretary to the Treasury made out no such case whatever. The true test was the cost of living, and though that certainly was cheaper at one time in Ireland than in England it was not the case now. With the exception of milk and eggs, he believed all sorts of food were quite as cheap in London as in any Irish town. Bread was probably cheaper, for they had to import a great deal of corn in Ireland, while many of the necessaries and all 1291 the luxuries of life were much cheaper here than there. As a consequence of their smaller pay, the minor Government officials in Ireland had, without doubt, to content themselves with lower positions than their English brethren enjoyed. Amongst the higher officials, he believed, many unnecessary offices existed. The speech of the Secretary to the Treasury did not give them much hope of any improvement, for he said that, as all other classes were accustomed to receive less remuneration in Ireland than England, the rule must hold good with Government officials also. That might be an argument with some little force, if there was a notable difference between the taxation of the two countries; but, as a matter of fact, he believed Ireland was more heavily taxed than England. The Irish were a whisky-drinking people, and spirits were taxed far more heavily than beer, which was what the English people drank; while, on the other hand, the Income Tax and the tobacco duty, for instance, were the same in both countries. Under such circumstances, he certainly thought it was most unfair to treat the Irish officials worse than the English.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
thought his argument had been misrepresented. What he said was that the State, as an employer of labour, in the interests of the taxpayer, ought not to pay more for labour than its proper value, and that value depended upon the general remuneration of the different professions and statuses. Would any hon. Member, for instance, say that the leading medical men and barristers in Dublin made as large incomes as the leading men of those professions in London? For some reason or other there was a larger amount of service to be obtained in Ireland, and the State, therefore, need not pay so much for it as in England. No complaint, also, had been made by these officials. Not one single complaint had reached the Treasury, except that made by hon. Members that night. The argument as to the Inspectors applied also to all other cases. Where there was not the same amount of labour to perform, the salaries ought not to be so high as they were where work was heavier. He ventured to say, in no one case had there been any complaint to the Prison Commissioners.
§ MR. CALLAN
thought the hon. Gentleman could not have read the evidence before the Commission which inquired into the salaries of Civil servants three years ago.
§ MR. CALLAN
replied, that the principles laid down then governed the Treasury now, and the objection was a technical and a puerile one. The principle then laid down was that the cost of living should regulate salaries. [Sir HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON dissented.] That was so, notwithstanding the oracular shake of the head of the hon. Baronet. He believed that the cost of living in Ireland was quite as great as it was in England, and if they did pay a little more for their milk in London they got a superior quality. The logical sequence of the argument of the hon. Baronet was that the English officials were superior in every shape and form to the Irish officials.
§ MR. O'SHAUGHNESSY
admitted the principle laid down by the hon. Baronet that the State ought not to pay more for its work than the market value; but he complained that a totally erroneous standard of value had been chosen. The officers and warders, on whose behalf complaint was made, were in a totally different position from medical men and barristers. Their position should have been compared with that of merchants, shopkeepers, artizans, and labourers. He would find that those classes earned little, if anything, less than men of the same class earned in England; and, therefore, the enormous difference of salary which had been pointed out certainly was not warranted. The general staff of the prisons, also, had had their duties largely increased by the consolidation of the prisons; but their salaries remained the same. These men had onerous, almost slavish, duties to perform, which made them prisoners very nearly to the same extent as those they had in charge, and they certainly were not properly remunerated for the work they had to do. He knew, in one case, that both the Governor and the doctor, when they undertook increased duties under the new Act, did so on the understanding that they would receive increased remuneration. There was much feeling on this subject in Ireland, and the House 1293 must expect to hear of it until the salaries in the two countries were to some extent equalized.
§ SIR ANDREW LUSK
hoped this discussion would now close, and that the Vote would be taken. For his part, he thought the Government ought to be careful how they spent the money of the country. Whenever there was a vacancy for one of these offices there were always 50 applicants, and as long as that was the case what was the good of saying any more about it? He did not want to draw invidious comparisons, or he might say something about Ireland—the police, for instance. The Government had borne a great deal of contention and contradiction, and now he thought it would be reasonable to give them the Vote.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
never listened with greater pleasure to the hon. Baronet (Sir Andrew Lusk) than when he appeared in the character of the "heavy father," and advised them all as to what they should and should not do. He did hope, however, that the hon. Baronet would institute some of these invidious comparisons, and would call attention, for instance, to some of the Government Departments in Ireland. This question of the discrepancy in salaries was a most important one, and there could not be a more fallacious argument urged against the contention of himself and his Friends than that of the Secretary to the Treasury. They could, no doubt, get gentlemen to be Prime Minister, or Home Secretary, or even Chief Secretary for Ireland, at half the salaries paid to the present holders of those Offices. The fact was, that the salaries of the smaller officials were intentionally and designedly fixed at a lower rate than they were in England. It was especially the case in regard to lunatic asylums, as he had himself pointed out, and he was very glad that the Irish Members were at last learning to discuss the Votes systematically. For a great deal of the discussion that evening the Treasury Bench was responsible. For instance, a very interesting discussion on the incomes of professional men in Dublin and London had been started; but as he did not think that question was germane to the topic now before thorn he should not deal with it. It was said that these officials did not complain. No wonder; they were Conservatives, appointed by a Conservative 1294 Government—which always managed to secure a great deal of patronage—and not one of the Irish Conservative Members was in the House to speak for them. The Irish Liberal Members were equally to blame; but, notwithstanding the small attendance, he hoped his hon. Friend would not allow the subject to drop, but would bring it forward on every one of the Estimates. The only way in which they could get justice for Ireland was by making it inconvenient for the House to do injustice to Ireland. It appeared that there were 3,000 prisoners in Ireland, some 200 or 300 less in Scotland, and about 20,000 in England. Thus Scotland, with a population only two-thirds that of Ireland, had nearly as many prisoners as Ireland, while the the disproportion was still greater in the case of England. If that were so, what justification was there for the complaints constantly made of the lawlessness and disorder of the Irish people, and what excuse was there for changing their system? The Irish prisons and the Irish lunatic asylums were managed on a totally different system from the English ones; as a result, they had far less crimes and far more cures of lunatics than in England. Under such circumstances, he was justified in asking why this change had been made, and why their whole system had been altered, and why systems of torture which never existed before were now introduced? This system of paying smaller salaries in Ireland than in England was so unjust that if a compact body of Irish Members only made it inconvenient to continue it, the Government would soon discharge their consciences by doing what was right.
§ MR. PARNELL
would certainly take a Division after the statement they had heard from the hon. Baronet. He did not think it was political economy to take the cheapest labour they could get, nor, until he heard the statement of the hon. Baronet, did he think it was English economy. He should move to reduce Item D of the Vote by £75,000, which, was about the disproportion between the English and Irish salaries.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Item for Pay and Allowances of Officers, including Uniform, be reduced by the sum of £75,000."—(Mr. Parnell.)
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
hoped his hon. Friend would not divide. At the 1295 same time, he must entirely disagree from the proposal to treat Irish and English officials differently on the score that they were to regard the scale as dependent on the labour market. The whole question was, whether the work was the same? If it was, it ought to be paid for at the same rate. There was no such thing as a labour market in regard to Public Offices. What would be said if, in the Army, the Irish soldier was paid 1s. and his English comrade 1s. 1d. a-day? If this discussion were taken to heart by the Government, he had great hopes that good would result from it; but he did not think it should lead to a Division on this occasion.
§ MAJOR NOLAN
wished to point out that officers in the Army and the Navy were not paid any less when they were serving in Ireland. The argument that the Government should only pay what they could get people to do the work for was utterly fallacious. As for any appointment over £40 or £50 a-year, they would always have plenty of applicants. The Government must settle what was a fair rate of pay, and they should make no distinctions.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, this Amendment was moved to Item D. As a point of Order, he wished to know whether he could now move a reduction of Item A, on which Vote he wished to bring forward the question of the management of prisons and the conduct of the Chief Commissioner?
said, when this Motion had been disposed of, the whole Vote would be again before the Committee; but it would not be competent to the hon. Member to move a reduction of any Item previous to Item D.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 24; Noes 120: Majority 96.—(Div. List, No. 111.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
thought the present a proper occasion for asking the Home Secretary, or his Representative, for some information as to the number of Catholic chaplains appointed to the prisons in this country. At an early part of the Session he had moved for a Return of the number of prisons in which there was an average of 50 Catholic prisoners and upwards during the year. He was 1296 now very anxious to know what had I been done in this matter, and felt confident that he should receive a satisfactory reply from the Government.
§ SIR MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY
said, although he was unable to give their number, Roman Catholic chaplains would be appointed whenever there was a sufficient number of Roman Catholic prisoners, and would be paid upon the scale recommended by the Committee which sat upon this subject four or five years ago, and every endeavour would be made to bring all the Catholic prisoners to the same gaol where practicable.
expressed his satisfaction at the reply of the hon. Baronet, and inquired whether the number of 50 prisoners or upwards had been taken by Government as a minimum, or what number of prisoners would be held to justify the appointment of Catholic chaplains to the prisons?
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, that the appointment of chaplains had not been restricted to cases in which the Catholic prisoners numbered 50 and upwards. In his own county, Lancashire, the gaols had always had Roman Catholic chaplains, although the county was considered to be Protestant.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
trusted to be excused if he failed to address the Committee effectively upon a subject which was originally intended to be laid before the House by the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell), who was at that moment suffering from loss of voice. He was anxious to pass over a great many topics connected with prison management which he had expected English Members to refer to in the course of the evening. But having been connected for many years with the prisons of this country, he felt bound to take notice of some points in their management. He desired to make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, to which he trusted a satisfactory response would be given. Now, great pains had been taken by Government with regard to prison diet, and he was bound to say that, in his opinion, the ordinary diet of the prisoners—if the food was properly cooked and of good quality, of which there sometimes appeared to be a doubt—was better than it used to be. At any rate, he did not think it would be fair to try 1297 conclusions either for or against the present dietary until further experience had been gained upon the subject, although he confessed to some suspicion that it was not perfectly satisfactory. His object in rising was to bring to the notice of the Committee the scandal and shame of using starvation as a means of punishment in prisons; and, in so doing, he was compelled to call the attention of hon. Members to the case of a prisoner whose death, in his (Mr. Mitchell Henry's) opinion, was attributable to this system of punishment to which he was exposed. He was aware that, in making this statement, a portion of the Committee would be against him. At the close of last year a prisoner died in Clerkenwell Prison. He was a young man of 18 years of age, and upon whom, in accordance with the rules of the prison, an inquest was held; it was shown by the evidence that he had been for many days in solitary confinement on a diet of bread and water; the jury, which seemed to have been an inquisitive one, and not satisfied to perform their duties in a perfunctory manner, required an adjournment of the inquest, which was resumed on the 20th of November. A great deal of evidence was then taken, and the inquest was again adjourned to the 4th of December, when the Chairman of the Visiting Committee was examined, and gave a very unfavourable account of the working of the prison rules. The jury eventually returned a verdict to the effect that—John Nolan was found dead, or had died, in the infirmary of Coldbath Fields Prison, from the mortal effects of inflammation of the lungs: and, further, that his death was accelerated by the bread and water diet sanctioned by the Governor; the jury are of opinion that it is impossible for a medical officer properly or effectually to attend to his duties in prison without being resident; and the jury are also of opinion that the punishment of bread and water should only be administered under the supervision of the Visiting Committee.That verdict caused a great deal of dissatisfaction in the public mind, and the Home Secretary felt it his duty to appoint a small Medical Commission to take evidence, and to ascertain whether there were any grounds for instituting further proceedings against the prison officials in whose charge the young man was during the time of his imprisonment. The Home Secretary appointed the Commission, against the construction of which no 1298 complaint could rightly be made. This Commission came to nine separate conclusions, all of which were totally opposed to the verdict of the Coroner's jury. They found that the punishments inflicted were not excessive, whether measured by the power of the Governor to inflict them, or by the nature of the punishments themselves; that death was neither induced nor accelerated by the bread and water punishment to which the deceased was subjected; that he did not suffer injury from the plank bed; and that his death was attributable to the weather, which was quite cold enough to account for it. The Commissioners also added to their Report that they could not endorse the opinion of the Coroner's jury, that the duties of the medical officer could not be properly performed unless by a resident. He (Mr. Mitchell Henry) said, with great regret, however, that, in his opinion, it was impossible for anybody to read the evidence and come to the conclusion that this Report was supported by the evidence adduced. The circumstances of the case to which he asked the attention of the House were these. The young man in question was sentenced to three months' imprisonment with hard labour, as being a rogue and a vagabond; he had been a glass-blower, and was said to be of a sturdy and robust constitution; he was, during the course of his imprisonment, repeatedly punished by starvation. After he had been in prison for a few days he did not perform his allotted task of oakum picking, and was, accordingly, put on a diet of bread and water on the 21st and 22nd of August; after that he again failed in doing what he ought to have done, and was sentenced to further solitary confinement and bread and water diet on the 28th, 30th, and 31st August and on the 1st September. One reason for his punishment was that he had wetted his bed, and a small blister was put upon his back, as the Commissioners said, for medical purposes; but that statement he (Mr. Mitchell Henry) begged leave to doubt. The young man, who evidently in his starved condition had no power over his organs, again incurred punishment; he was taken ill and sent to the infirmary on the 3rd of September; on the 5th of that month he was discharged, and on the 7th September he again fell under the dis- 1299 pleasure of the Governor, and was sentenced to bread and water on the 8th and 9th September. Here were seven days within the space between the 21st August and the 8th September inclusive, during which he was upon broad and water diet; he was then found to have lost 6 1bs. in weight—that was to say, one pound for every day of bread and water diet, or one-nineteenth of his whole weight. Again, on the 19th and 25th September, and on the 1st, 5th, 7th, and 10th of October, he was placed on bread and water diet, so that out of 50 days' imprisonment 13 days were passed by him on bread and water in solitary confinement. Bread and water diet meant one pound of broad and some water to support a man for 24 hours. A pound of bread was in quantity about half of a very moderate-sized loaf, and this was given to prisoners sometimes altogether, when it was greedily devoured, and sometimes in two portions. Inquiries had been made into the effects of this dreadful discipline, and some knowledge had been gained respecting it. The following accounts had been given by one of the prisoners who appeared before the Commission of 1871, and who described the effects of starvation in this way:—The first time you are put into a dark cell, and have nothing but this piece of bread with some water to drink; the sense of hunger is overpowering; a man presses upon his stomach, and does anything to remove the sensation of the absence of food; but after a time he tries to sleep, and then he gets sick and can hardly eat the bread given him next day, after which time he finds himself quite unable to eat it.That was literally and truly, and was intended to be, starvation. He did not -wish to go into medical details; but everyone had some knowledge of physiology, and would remember that the food was digested by means of the gastric juice; the gastric juice being poured into the stomach by the organs, if there was no food, then would act upon the stomach and cause great inconvenience. He had shown that the young man had spent 13 days out of 50 days upon this starvation diet. Besides this, he was also put upon a plank bed, on which he slept for 16 days until the 25th October. Upon one occasion, when he came in from exercise, the warder noticed that he looked exceedingly ill, besides seeing something else which the Commissioners had not noticed—the man's trousers were 1300 wet, or, in other words, he was not able to retain his urine. If that was not evidence of a debilitated constitution he (Mr. Mitchell Henry) did not know what was. The young man was there and then taken to the infirmary, and in five days he died of inflammation of the lungs. All those facts had been laid before the Coroner's jury, who had delivered their verdict in the terms which had been read to the Committee; but the Commissioners, who had before them the same evidence, arrived at a conclusion entirely different. They said that the debilitated tone of the deceased had had nothing to do with the inflammation of the lungs. He maintained that nobody would believe that statement. Everybody must feel that if you put a young man for 13 days upon a diet of bread and water his constitution must become debilitated; and he, therefore, challenged the Report of the Commissioners, when they said that the disease of this man's lungs was in no way accelerated or induced by the repeated punishments of bread and water which he underwent. He appealed to the Home Secretary; this system of starving prisoners was not a right one, and it was a system which, if the people of England knew it to be practised, would not be tolerated. Some other punishment must be found. If a man could not pick a certain quantity of oakum, and had besides the misfortune to soil his bed, he certainly ought not to punished by starvation. He was bound to say that the Home Secretary had, in his opinion, supported the contention of the Governor of the prison upon the powers which he had to inflict bread and water punishment in a way not intended by the Act of Parliament. The House would recollect that when the Prisons Bill was under discussion it was determined that proper rules should be laid down for punishment, and it was enacted that the Governor of a prison should have no right to put a prisoner into the punishment cell for more than 24 hours, the intention being that no person should be placed on bread and water diet for a longer period than that named. But how did the Governors of prisons interpret that rule? They no longer put prisoners into what was called a punishment cell, but converted into a punishment cell the ordinary cell of the prisoner; they put him on bread and water for 24 hours, and, after an 1301 interval, they gave him another 24 hours. I In this way it came about that John Nolan was, in his opinion, debilitated by being placed upon bread and water diet for 13 out of 50 days. The Chairman of the Visiting Committee had contested the reading of the rule set up by the Governor, and they both applied to the Home Secretary, who, it was to be regretted, had giving his decision against the Chairman of the Visiting Committee, saying that the Governor of this prison was quite right in acting as he had done. It was, therefore, to be concluded that Governors of prisons might convert the cells of prisoners into punishment cells, lock up their prisoners therein, and place them upon bread and water diet, until the House of Commons laid down strict rules against the practice by Act of Parliament. In another case, that of a man 26 years of age, who had been sentenced to two years' imprisonment with hard labour, was charged with committing an assault upon awarder. He was tried before Lord Coleridge, and found guilty, and the comment made by the Government organ, The Daily Telegraph, upon the case was, that the learned Judge and jury evidently did not believe the evidence of the warder, and that, notwithstanding the serious charges brought forward by the warder, the Judge merely sentenced the prisoner to six weeks' imprisonment; thus not adding a single day to his punishment. There had also been other cases, and he had received from one prisoner a complaint with regard to the very same warder, who was described as a most tyrannical person. This warder was concerned in the imprisonment of Nolan, and there could be little doubt that his conduct had throughout been most tyrannical. In conclusion, he would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary once and for ever to put a stop to this system of starving prisoners, as it was one which the people of England would not submit to, if they were conscious of the fact that it was being pursued.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
wished, in the first place, to assure the hon. Gentleman that, so far as he was concerned, he was no advocate of starvation. He did not wish it to go forth to the public that any system of that character was carried on with his approbation; and he would deny in the most positive terms that in 1302 regard to the matter to which the hon. Gentleman had drawn attention any alteration had been effected by the Act of 1877. Prisoners were now treated exactly as they formerly were, and he could not for one moment allow it to be supposed that there had been the slightest change made as regarded the treatment and discipline of prisoners since the passing of that Act. A good deal had been said about the confinement of men in the punishment cell. Under the Act of 1865, the Governors of prisons had the power to confine a man for 36 hours; whereas now, by the measure of 1877, the period of punishment was limited to 24 hours, which he considered to be quite long enough.
§ MR PARNELL
said, that Governors never made use of the power conferred upon them by the Act of 1865.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
replied, that the hon. Gentleman was quite wrong. He had greater opportunities than the hon. Member of knowing what took place on this subject, and he could assure him that representations had been made to him over and over again, by persons who had been employed in the management of gaols, to the effect that if there was a mistake in the Act of 1877, it was in the clause limiting the hours of solitary confinement which a Governor was enabled to impose. The representations made to him upon this point were that the alteration made had practically destroyed the punishment; but, notwithstanding that, he still entertained the opinion that the alteration made by the Act of 1877 was beneficial. He wished to point out that locking a man up in his ordinary cell was a very different thing from sending him to a punishment cell. In many prisons the punishment cells were dark, and some were in perfect darkness. He had done all he could to abolish the cell system entirely. But even ordinary punishment cells were very dark, and when a man was confined to them he was entirely removed from the general life of the prison. Therefore, confining a man in a punishment cell was, on account of the extreme isolation, a very severe punishment. Isolation in the dark often acted injuriously; and he had, therefore, practically prohibited the use of completely dark cells. But, still, confinement in a punishment cell, being severe from its isolation, he had objected to a 1303 man being confined there for more than 24 hours. That had nothing, however, to do with a man being locked up in his ordinary cell for a longer period. When this question was raised, he took the best possible advice upon the subject, and he was informed that punishment cells were very different from the ordinary cells. He was satisfied upon that point, and was sure that everyone who knew anything about prisons would agree that locking a man up in his ordinary cell was very different from confining him in the separate punishment cells. The next question that had been raised was with regard to the diet of bread and water. He must again speak in the most positive terms, for he did not wish the House to be under a wrong impression in this matter. He must, in the most emphatic terms, state that, in the management of prisons from one end of England or Scotland to the other, there had not been, for a single moment, starvation, or anything like it. Nor had there been anything clone which in the least degree tended to lessen the health of prisoners. No officer in any gaol in the United Kingdom would do anything which would be likely to produce starvation or diminish the health of the prisoners. The strongest regulations had been issued for the purpose of rendering it impossible for a prisoner to suffer in health from gaol discipline. First of all, by Rule 36, no punishment was to be inflicted upon any prisoner unless the surgeon should certify that such a prisoner was in a fit condition of health to undergo such punishment. They could not have a much more stringent regulation than that. Then, again, by Rule 104, the surgeon was bound to report to the Governor the case of any prisoner in bad health which he might think necessary. And if he thought the health of any prisoner was in danger from confinement, he was to inform the Governor, and the Governor was to report to the Commissioner. By Rule 106, the surgeon was to report to the Governor any case in which the discipline or treatment seemed likely to injure the health of any prisoner, and the Governor might issue such directions as the circumstances should require. He hoped that the Committee would think that nothing could be more stringent and calculated to preserve the health of prisoners than a regulation of that sort. 1304 He would now come to the particular case to which the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) had referred—that of John Nolan. That case happened some time ago, and he was bound to state that steps were taken to inquire into it, and from the result of the investigations nothing more had been done. The unfortunate man, no doubt, died, and the coroner's jury found the verdict to which the hon. Gentleman had referred. If anyone would read the Paper containing the evidence taken before the coroner's jury, and the verdict, and the Correspondence between the Visiting Committee and the Home Office, they would see that it was the evidence given by Sir William White that led the jury to believe that the Visiting Committee had not so much power as they ought to have; and the jury went on to say that they thought something ought to be done. That verdict having been found, what was the course he was bound to pursue? The sole object he had in view was that the matter should be as fully investigated as possible, and the hon. Gentleman had admitted that more independent men than those who were appointed to form the Committee could not be found. They were men of the highest experience, and his instructions to them were to find out whether anything wrong had been done, and, if so, to report upon it. He might mention that the surgeon of the gaol had been about 26 or 27 years in the service, and had enjoyed the entire confidence of the Visiting Justices during all that time. What stronger guarantee could they have that no injustice should be done to any prisoner? Then, as to the Governor. He, no doubt, had been changed; but the Governor in charge at the time spoken of had been the Governor of a county gaol in the South for a long time, and was a man bearing the highest possible character. The Commissioners were appointed to inquire carefully into the whole case, and they had no possible interest but to report fully and accurately. He expressly instructed them that if they found out anything wrong they were to report it. Well, what result had the Commissioners come to in the matter? They said—1. That John Nolan died from inflammation of the lungs. 2. That though we have formed this opinion without the assistance which a post- 1305 mortem examination would have rendered us, we believe it to be fully borne out by the evidence laid before us. 3. That the punishments inflicted upon Nolan were not excessive, whether measured by the power of the Governor to inflict them or of the prisoner himself to sustain them.He did not think they could have stronger testimony than that of the Commissioners—That the punishments inflicted upon Nolan were not excessive, whether measured by the power of the Governor to inflict them or of the prisoner himself to sustain them.They went on to say—4. That Nolan's death was neither induced nor accelerated by the repeated bread and water punishments to which he was subjected, 5. That he did not suffer any injury from the plank bed. 6. That the prisoner was treated during his fatal illness with skill, attention, and indulgence. 7. That the commencement of Nolan's fatal illness coincided in point and time with a marked fall of temperature, high winds, and extreme dampness of atmosphere, and his death with an increased general mortality from the diseases of the organs of respiration, which diseases had been progressive for several weeks. 8. That we cannot endorse the opinion of the coroner's jury that the duties of the medical officers cannot be properly performed without residence.So far as the officers of the gaol were concerned, could they have higher testimony than was contained in that Report. He would refrain from going into further detail in the matter; but he was bound to read that part of the Report which referred to the matter in question. On page 8 of the Report, the Commissioners said—We will now inquire what happened to the prisoner under those two diets respectively. Nolan entered the prison 8th August, under the predecessor of the present Governor, Captain Helby, and on the 21st August was sentenced by him to two days' consecutive bread and water. On the 24th August Captain Helby took charge of the prison, and on the 2Sth sentenced Nolan to one day, and on the 31st to two days' broad and water. On the 3rd September Nolan was admitted to the convalescent ward for a slight cold, and discharged on the 5th. On the 7th September, two days after his discharge from the convalescent ward, Nolan again incurred two consecutive days' bread and water, and when weighed on the 14th September was found to have lost 6 lbs. in the 113 1bs., which was his weight on entering the prison. This is nearly 1–19th of his weight.If now we start afresh from the day of the second weighing, when Nolan was found to have lost 6 1bs., and bear in mind that he had now been for some days on the more nutritious diet to which his standing as a prisoner entitled him, and bear in mind, also, the fact that his task of work was to pick only 2 1bs, of oakum per diem, 1306 and to keep his cell and person clean, we shall be in a condition to appreciate the following statement of facts:—On the 19th and 25th of September, and on the 1st, 5th, 7th, and 10th of October, Nolan was sentenced to one day's bread and water. Nolan, therefore, having, in accordance with prison rules, come into the enjoyment of the diet No. 3, with hard labour, and never doing any harder work than picking 2 lbs of oakum a-day; having made this change on or about the 8th September (five days before his second weighing), he is submitted to bread and water, for one day at a time, six times in the space of 21 days. If we distribute these six days' bread and water over the entire interval from the 14th September, when Nolan was weighed the second time, to 25th October, when he was taken into the infirmary, we have six days of abstinence out of 40 days in which he was upon a diet which must be pronounced extremely liberal for a lad of 18, doing no harder work (if it pleased him to do any work at all) than picking 2 lbs. of oakum per diem. If we take what may be called the effective dietary at 2½ lbs. per diem, the 1½ lbs. of food sacrificed on six occasions being 9 lbs. in all, will still leave the average daily food at the high level of more than 2¼ lbs. a-day. And under this dietary Nolan regains the weight he had when he entered the prison, or, at the least, 5 lbs. out of the 6 lbs. which he was found to have lost when he was weighed on the 14th September, the beginning of the period now under consideration.But even this statement of facts and figures scarcely places the matter in the clearest light which can be thrown upon it; for we find that from the 10th October, when the last dietary punishment was inflicted, to 23rd October, or nearly a fortnight, Nolan was not submitted to forfeiture of his food even for a single day; and during this term he is reported to have done the easy task allotted to him, of picking 2 lbs. of oakum per diem. We are quite at a loss, then, to understand how, with so liberal a dietary and so light a labour and deductions so few and slight, the dietary punishments to which Nolan was sentenced could have accelerated his death, whether this term 'accelerated' is taken to mean the setting up of some predisposition to the disease of which Nolan died, or so impairing his strength as to render him a more easy victim to it.He was bound to say, speaking for the officers of the gaol, they were old servants, and, according to the Report, they did nothing to injure the prisoner, but they did only their duty. Under these circumstances, what was he to do? He thought that it was a serious thing that in these gaols—although there was not under the old system—there was not a resident surgeon or assistant surgeon. He thought there ought to be, and he, accordingly, issued the necessary directions. Further, he gave instructions that whenever bread and water punishments were inflicted, in the current form, 1307 the more nutritious stir about diet should be introduced at intervals of not less than three days. He also thought it was right that there should be a separate medical Inspector of all the gaols in England. Having appointed a certain number of medical Inspectors, he appointed a separate medical Inspector whose sole duty it was to go from gaol to gaol in order to inspect the surgeons, and see that they did their duty, and to ascertain whether the punishments or diet injured the prisoners. He might say that the reports made by that gentleman had been of the greatest possible value. With regard to the question of diet, he agreed that the result of the new system must be tested by experience. When the diet was introduced he bad a report drawn up from the different prisons, and the effect was found so good that he left off having those reports made. The last report, he was happy to say, stated that, taking all the prisons together, the death-rate during the last 12 months had lessened by 2 per 1,000 from what it was before. That was most satisfactory. Taking that fact in connection with the reports which he had received, not only from the ordinary officials, but from the medical Inspector, and bearing in mind that the death-rate had so materially decreased, he thought it must be said that the result of the diet now in use was most satisfactory. Under those circumstances, he hoped that the Committee would be satisfied that there was no system of starvation going on in the gaols of this country, either in the general management of prisoners, or when they had been unfortunately condemned to punishment.
§ MR. HOPWOOD
thought this was a matter of very grave importance, and trusted the Committee would pardon him if he said a word or two upon it. He thought that poor Nolan had not died in vain, inasmuch as his case, according to the right hon. Gentleman, had led to an improved dietary in eases of punishment—such as Nolan was subjected to—and to a more thorough inspection of prisons. He might say that he believed that Nolan's death was accelerated by the diet upon which he was put. Every now and again the public were seized with a fit of fury against criminals, and sometimes against the Poor Law, and whenever that hap- 1308 pened, for some years, what he did not hesitate to say were the most cruel punishments, were inflicted. That system was persisted in for years, when once adopted; but the right hon. Gentleman had told them that, from the strength of his own good-heartedness, he had made alterations in it. That, certainly, showed that it was wrong; in fact, there was a danger that the limits would be reached in the experiment of whether a man could live upon a straw a-day. He had recently received a letter from a gentleman, unknown to him, who had been a surgeon in a gaol, who wrote to him strongly upon this subject; and he stated, as an official, that he felt there was a responsibility upon him, although the dietary was prescribed by the rules, and that it was, in his opinion, too meagre, especially when accompanied by severe punishments. It was perfectly dreadful, to his mind, to know that such things occurred as had been mentioned in the course of the discussion; and he must, as a Member of that House, insist on being allowed to use his own discretion in commenting upon them. Was it possible, he would ask, that anyone could seriously argue that, in the case of a man who had died of consumption, the putting him on a diet of bread and water was not likely to accelerate, and did not, as a matter of fact, accelerate his death? Who was there, among the Members of that House, who had not seen someone suffering under that dreadful disease, but seen him, at the same time, in all probability, surrounded by friends anxious to comfort him in every way, and to pour nourishment into his sinking frame, as well as by medical men, solicitous to prescribe for him some remedy, by means of which the dreadful malady might be cured or modified? But poor Nolan, on his death-bed, had had none of these advantages. Let hon. Members think for a moment of his condition, with warders, the Governor of the gaol, and the surgeon of 27 years' standing, and then ask themselves whether those men must not have seen that he had the signs that he was soon about to make his exit from this world plainly impressed upon his brow? He could not, for the life of him, understand how men could be so brutal, so deadened to every feeling of humanity, as to subject the unfortunate man in these circumstances to such treat- 1309 ment as that which it was shown he had received. Who could wonder that the Coroner's jury had come to the mild conclusion that his death had been hastened by that treatment? And yet the officers of the gaol were to be whitewashed, as if no blame were to be attributed to them! He remembered the ease of a man who, in connection with some bankruptcy proceedings of a protracted nature, committed an offence, for which he was sentenced to a punisment which, he dared say, he merited. He found himself, after enjoying a position of luxury, confined within the walls of a prison, where he was visited by some of the friends of the days of his prosperity. Speaking of his condition, he said to them—"Oh, I can get on, but I want bread. The prison portion is regulated in accordance with each particular constitution, and I am dying for want of bread." Thus, a man who was once possessed of great wealth, and who had been accustomed to live in luxury, had actually been reduced to a state of starvation. He mentioned that case, because it served to illustrate the way in which the whole system of the management of our gaols was carried out. All the prison rules were framed on the Procrustean notion that the constitution of every man and woman was the same at the same or different ages, and that the quantity of food supplied to them ought to be regulated by an inflexible standard. That such had been the state of things, at all events in the past, had been admitted by the Secretary of State for the Home Department himself, because he had, in the kindness of his heart, been endeavouring to provide a remedy for it in some degree. But experience showed that cases were still again and again recurring, in which both men and women received their first mittimus to the grave within the walls of a prison. He would, therefore, appeal to the intelligence of the public and the compassion and good feeling of Members of that House not to rely too much upon the officialism which framed rules adapted only to the case of a person of average health and strength, and which made no allowance for the weak and the unhealthy. A man who was sentenced to undergo imprisonment for seven days and under got for breakfast daily only 8 oz. of bread. That was all—just half, he believed, of a 4 lb. loaf—[A laugh]— 1310 he meant to say half of a 1 lb. loaf, and he could not help thinking that hon. Members would scarcely be so ready to laugh if they were confined to that quantity of food for their morning meal. Then came dinner—and it was a mockery to call it dinner—consisting, as it did, of only a pint and a-half of "stirabout," containing 3 oz. of Indian meal and 3 oz. of oatmeal. For supper the allowance was 8 oz. of bread; and that was the scale of diet laid down for men and women, and boys of 16 years of age, with and without hard labour. The diet was the same, no matter what amount of labour a man had to go through; and that reminded him of another point on which he wished to say a few words. This poor man, who was in an advanced stage of consumption, was set to pick 3 lbs. of oakum, although it was, he believed, a pretty stiff dose for a sound man of that age to pick 1½lbs. at a time. At all events, he had had the punishment inflicted upon him five or six times, and he was reduced to a state of great exhaustion, as anyone might perceive whose faculty of perception had not been blunted by the routine of officialism. He was not, however, disposed to make an attack on the prison authorities, while he must implore of the Committee to divest their minds of the notion that everything went on right in our gaols. The notion was a mistaken one; and to be constantly on the watch on those matters ought to be the motto of the House of Commons. He had referred to the dietary fixed for prisoners who had to undergo sentences of seven days' imprisonment and under; but when the period of imprisonment extended to one month the scale of food supplied was, daily, 6 oz. of bread and 1 pint of gruel for breakfast; for dinner on Sundays and Wednesdays, bread 6oz., suet pudding 6 oz.; on Mondays and Fridays, bread 6 oz., potatoes 8 oz.; and on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, 6 oz. of bread and half-a-pint of soup. The supper consisted daily of 6 oz. of bread and 1 pint of gruel. He must say that the way in which the system was worked appeared to him to approach very much to the nature of torture, and he must congratulate the Secretary of State for the Home Department on having made alterations which would serve to make it a little more bearable. The time of the Committee could not, at all events, he 1311 thought, be said to have been wasted in discussing the subject, and drawing the attention to it not only of the right hon. Gentleman, but of the public.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he could not permit some of the observations which had just been made by the hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood) to pass unchallenged. He could not help feeling indignant, when he heard it publicly stated in that House that all prisoners were treated alike, and that one inflexible rule was applied to every case without the slightest discrimination. He was anxious that such a statement should not remain uncontradicted for a single moment.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he would read an extract from the rules which had been laid down—The Secretary of State wishes especially to draw the attention of the Prison Commissioners and the medical Inspector to certain points connected with prison management, on which he entertains a very strong opinion. While, upon the one hand, he deems it, of course, essential that prison punishment should he uniform and certain, and that no imposition should he permitted to be practised by those who are in custody, yet it seems to be, on the other hand, equally clear that prison punishments and imprisonment bear unequally on particular persons. Many persons are continually coming into our gaols whose entire nervous system has been prostrated by the evil life which they have led, and are, therefore, more apt to suffer from their incarceration, and more ready to sink gradually under some form of disease or another. Some, again, who have been convicts for the first time, are more likely to feel their situation and to sink under the hardships of a prison from a feeling of shame and degradation. The Secretary of State is very anxious that all such cases should be watched at their various stages, so that the necessity of hospital treatment might, as far as possible, be prevented. As it has been said that it is better that 99 guilty persons should escape conviction rather than that one innocent person should be unjustly condemned to suffer, so it is better that almost any number of prisoners should be treated better than they deserve rather than that any one of them should die through harsh treatment.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
They are contained in a letter which I gave to the medical Inspector when I appointed him, after Nolan's case; but I am not speaking for myself, but for the body of Visiting Justices who were animated by the same feelings. I will only add that 1312 all these stories of cruelty are absolutely untrue.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
was quite sure that every hon. Member would be prepared to agree with the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) that it was extremely hard that a man who had been sentenced to imprisonment should have his death hastened by the treatment to which he was subjected while in goal. But, having had a great deal to do with prisons, and having had occasion to study the subject carefully, he must say that he was very strongly of opinion that, if imprisonment was to be of any use as a deterrent from crime, such an amount of severity must be exercised as to make it disagreeable to a prisoner. That being so, some hon. Members, he thought, went too far when they argued, as he had heard them argue in that House, as if the treatment should be such as to make the position of a prisoner comfortable. He admitted that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood) was justified in contending that the Committee must not assume that whatever was done by the officials was, as a matter of course, right; but, on the other hand, he was disposed to think that the hon. and learned Gentleman was much too apt to arrive at the conclusion that everything which was done by officials was wrong. The case of Nolan was, no doubt, a very unhappy and unfortunate case, and the circumstances connected with it demanded careful inquiry. But, seeing that the Government had instituted such an inquiry; when men, impartial and competent, had acquitted the officials of Clerkenwell Prison of serious blame in the matter; and when the Secretary of State, as the result of the investigation, issued a warning to the officials of gaols, so as to prevent the risk of such things in the treatment of prisoners in future, the Committee would, in his opinion, scarcely be justified in any longer delaying the passing of the Vote, because of the particular case in question.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had spoken with respect to officials in a manner which was, no doubt, becoming in him as a former Governor of Bengal. But the hon. Gentleman was not in the House when he had referred to the case 1313 of John Nolan, and he, for one, entirely objected to the doctrine that the representations made by officials were to be accepted as correct without due inquiry. He had risen, principally, however, for the purpose of pointing out to the Committee that he had made no attack on the Government, or on the prison officials. It was the system of which he complained, and to which he desired to direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Under the rules which the right hon. Gentleman had made, such a case as that of Nolan's might, he contended, over and over again occur. The right hon. Gentleman was very indignant because he had said that starvation was part of our prison discipline. But what else, he would ask, did confining a man to such a diet as a few ounces of bread and a certain quantity of water a day mean? For his own part, he could call such a system nothing else but starvation. It was all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to read long extracts; but he had shown the Committee what had happened, and what might occur again, under the very rules with which the right hon. Gentleman seemed to be so well satisfied. A man, such as Nolan, might be subjected to a diet of bread and water for 13 days out of 50. That he maintained was not right, and completely justified him in saying that starvation was still a part of our prison system. That the right hon. Gentleman had no fault to find with the officials of a particular prison in connection with a particular case was no answer to the charge which he brought against the system. He objected to a man's being starved at all; and he would urge upon the right hon. Gentleman the propriety of issuing orders that no prisoner should be put upon a diet of bread and water for longer than one day in seven. The right hon. Gentleman had read a paragraph from the Report of the Commissioners, and, as every hon. Member was aware, it was very difficult to follow accurately the precise statements contained in a paragraph when read in that way. But the Commissioners referred to the history of a man who, having been subjected to a bread and water diet for six days, lost 6 lbs. in weight, and the Commissioners found that he died, but not as the result of starving him. In the next paragraph they showed that 1314 with better food and a greater quantity of it he had, though subjected to hard, labour, in a few clays recovered 5 lbs. of the 6 lbs. he had lost. The right hon. Gentleman had issued a Circular which did him great honour; but it had only been issued within the last six weeks or two months, and why had it been issued? Because the right hon. Gentleman knew perfectly well that the statements which had been made by himself and other hon. Members had produced a strong feeling of excitement in the country, and that there was too much truth in them to admit of their being passed over in silence. He hoped that now the state of things would be better. Prisoners, he contended, ought to be allowed to have a chance of recovering if they got an attack of illness, such as inflammation of the lungs. Our prison system, as it had hitherto been carried out, was indefensible. The right hon. Gentleman knew that it was so, and he hoped, therefore, that he would charge the prison officials to be more careful in future. He could have dwelt on other points connected with the subject at greater length; but he should confine himself for the present to urging upon the right hon. Gentleman the necessity of malting some alteration in the system, so far as putting prisoners on a diet of bread and water was concerned.
§ MR. HIBBERT
hoped that, although the Committee had been engaged in discussing the Vote for nearly five hours, they would permit him to make a few observations upon it before it was passed. The points to which he wished especially to direct his remarks was the powers to be given to the Visiting Justices. A short time ago, a conference of Visitors of gaols was held in London, and, after considerable discussion, they arrived almost unanimously at the conclusion that the powers which they possessed might with advantage be increased. His right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department seemed inclined to consider the representations which had been made to him on the subject favourably. As things now stood, the Visitors had no power beyond that of being able to protect prisoners from injury, or of reporting the misconduct of warders, or any other matter connected with the gaols to which, in their opinion, the attention of the Secretary of State ought to be drawn. He would suggest that their 1315 powers might be increased without interfering with their position as Visitors under the existing law. At present, for instance, all prison contracts were, he believed, made in London by the Commissioners. Now, great assistance might, he thought, be obtained from the Visiting Committee, if they were asked to give their opinion upon those contracts, each for the gaol with which it was connected. He did not mean to contend that they ought to have the power of deciding what contracts should be accepted; but he could not help thinking that, on questions relating to the supply of food and clothing, their experience might be turned to account with great advantage to the public. Contracts might be sent down to them for their consideration, or they might be asked to enter into eon-tracts, with the provision that those contracts should be sent up to the Central Office in London for confirmation. A change of that kind would, he believed, tend to promote economy. He would also suggest that the £6,000, which were given in the shape of gratuities to prisoners, should be left to be divided by the Visitors, instead of by the Commissioners in London, as was now the case. On that point, the assistance of the Visitors might have been sought with the greatest advantage. Formerly, the Visitors had control of the prison labour; but now the materials were bought in London, the whole of the arrangements were carried on by the Central Office in London, and the Visitors had really nothing at all to do with the whole matter. They might give help there, also. Lastly, he believed his right hon. Friend did in his original Bill intend that the Visitors should have some power in the appointment of prison warders. He thought the Visitors were likely to know far better than the central officials the character of the people of the district in which the prison was situated; and, therefore, he thought the Estimates might easily be altered so as to give the Visiting Committee the power of obtaining warders, and of sending up recommendations for certain appointments to London, to be confirmed there. He did not see, indeed, why they should not have the full power given them to make these appointments, under conditions to be laid down by the Home Secretary. Unless some change were made, he was sure the Home Secretary would find 1316 the gentlemen composing the Visiting Committees dropping off, and that they would not long consent to act as mere dummies. Then, as to prison labour, nothing was said in the Vote of the purchase of materials, and all the information given was that the receipts were expected to reach £60,000. They ought to have some statement of the amount expended in materials, and they ought also to know the actual amount received and expended last year. He hoped, also, that his right hon. Friend, in coming years, would have this Vote greatly amplified. The information as to the number of officials in each class was very meagre, and the Vote ought also to be brought forward in the usual form for England, Ireland, and Scotland. At present, it was impossible to ascertain what the system in each country cost, because the Irish prisons were mixed up with the convict system, and the Scotch with the General Prison at Perth. As far as he could make out, every prisoner in England cost about £22, in Scotland £28, and in Ireland £30; but it was impossible to make any accurate estimate of the amount.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, the estimate as to the amount to be earned by prison labour was prepared in December and January, when it was impossible to give the exact figures; but these were now in preparation, and would appear in the Report of the Prison Commissioners. He would endeavour before another year, also, to communicate with the Irish and Scotch Departments, and see if some common form of keeping the accounts could not be adopted. This year it was not possible to do it. As to the expenses, as that depended upon the number of persons in a gaol, and the distance they were apart, he was afraid that the expenses would always be exactly the same. The cost of the raw material was not given, because they had followed the practice in all the convict establishments, which was to give the figures in the present way. Then, as to the Visiting Committee. Of course, as the prisons had been transferred from the local authorities to the Secretary of State, the authority must be transferred also; but there was the greatest desire on his part, and on the part of the Prison Commissioners, to retain the services of the Visiting Committee. For his part, 1317 he could not conceive a more honourable duty than that which they would perform, of stepping in between the prison officials and the prisoners, on the part of the public, to see that no injustice was done. As regarded the question of contracts, if his hon. Friend could show any point in which the Government were wrong it should be rectified; but it must be remembered that all articles could be bought much cheaper on a large scale than on a small one. At the same time, he might add, that in this respect, as in all others, the hints of the Visitors had been considered most carefully. In regard to clothing, he hoped before another 37ear that they would be able to make every single article they would require in the prisons for themselves. As to gratuities, that was the only means the Commissioners had at their disposal of inducing prisoners to behave well; but he quite agreed that the money earned should be given in such a way that when the prisoner came out he could not go off at once and spend it in drink. He was quite aware that they had not yet got a perfect plan; but, after going over the whole matter very carefully, the Treasury consented to give a Supplementary Vote, in order that he might assist, as far as he could, the Discharged Prisoners' Aid Society. The Government would give them a certain sum, but would have nothing to do with the distribution of the money. That would be left entirely to the Society, aided, he hoped, by the Visiting Committee. The officials of the prisons would be entirely at their service in making reports on particular prisoners, & c.; and all that the Government required would be that, at least, an equal sum to that granted by it should be raised by local subscriptions, and that the Society should be able, if called upon, to show that the money had been properly expended. As to the appointment of warders, he offered not to give the Visiting Committee the appointment of these men, but to allow them to nominate men for the prison service, not, of course, for particular and individual prisons. It must be remembered that the prison service was now a whole, and the result of that was to give a warder much greater chances of promotion than if he were stationed in one prison, and had there to wait his turn for promotion. He thought he had now 1318 dealt with all the points raised by his right hon. Friend.
§ MR. DODSON
said, he was very glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman attached so much importance to the office of the Visiting Committee. It must be remembered that the position of these gentlemen was very much changed. Formerly, the Visiting Committee was, practically, the governing body of the prison, and they were persons of weight and authority. Now they had no authority over the prison officials whatever, and the officials knew it. Further, the officials had the ear of the Prison Commissioners, and, through them, of the Home Secretary, while the Visiting Committee knew they had not the same ready means of access to the right hon. Gentleman. Not unnaturally, therefore, the Visiting Justices felt that instead of being persons with authority they were now looked upon as prying busy-bodies, and in any conflict between them and the officials or the Commissioners they would probably go to the wall. It all depended upon the light in which the Home Secretary regarded the Visiting Justices. If they found their reports readily listened to, their suggestions carried out, themselves treated as representatives of the public, and the Home Secretary ready to avail himself of their services as a check upon the prison officials, then, he had no doubt, gentlemen would be found willing and ready, as heretofore, to discharge the duty of Visiting Justices. Unless, however, the greatest care was taken by the Home Secretary to make the position of the Visiting Justices one, if not of direct authority, at any rate, one of indirect weight and importance, he would find a difficulty in discovering gentlemen to take the post.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, that there was one great safeguard given to the Visiting Justices. They had the absolute power, if they thought it necessary, or if they were not treated properly, of suspending the Governor of the gaol, which was a very great power to give any body of persons. He might add, that he had received a great many communications and representations from various gentlemen on Visiting Committees, and they had invariably ended by tendering him their warmest thanks for the way in which their suggestions had been received and considered. 1319 That was what he hoped and wished always to be the case.
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
was very glad that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oldham (Mr. Hibbert) had brought forward this question about contracts, because the question was very closely allied to a subject which occupied the attention of the Committee at an earlier period of the evening. The contracts for the supply of food were most important branches of the prison arrangements, for some of the complaints against the present system were founded on the allegation that collusion existed between those who supplied the food to the prison and those who had to distribute it. So far from Nolan's case having been exaggerated, his experience of prisons led him to believe that it was not an exceptional case by any means. He well remembered when it was once his duty to visit an English prison how the Governor attempted to capture him, in a metaphorical sense, at the outset. He was marched to the kitchen—there the Governor pointed to some dishes, and stated that each of them contained a prisoner's food for the day. To that he replied that the dishes threw no light on the subject he had come to investigate. He knew what the supply of food should be; the question with him was whether the prisoner got it. "Oh!" replied the Governor, "here is the chief warder, whose business it is to see that each prisoner gets his proper amount of food." He suggested, in reply to that, that the best test of the system was a rigid inspection of the cells without any notice, and he suggested that he should be allowed to go at once into the cells where the prisoners were eating. The suggestion took the Governor rather by surprise; but he could not help himself, and a visit was paid to the cells. In the first one visited it was evident that the man had a much smaller supply of food than he had seen in the kitchen. On asking the reason, the chief warder replied that that particular prisoner belonged to a light-labour party. If a man complained of being sick, in fact, he was put on a light-labour party, and his food was reduced. What was the chance of the man getting better under such circumstances? The lessened work was set against the lessened food, and the man was left with the same chance of getting well as before. Against this Procrus- 1320 tean system of management there was no remedy, except independent inspection. He was, therefore, very glad to hear the assurance just given by the Home Secretary to the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hibbert) with reference to the Visiting Justices. He was not by any means satisfied with the way in which the Visiting Justices did their work under the old system; but they were, at all events, the only independent body of Inspectors and Overseers cognizant of what was going on. He should, therefore, be very sorry that their powers should be weakened or destroyed. The Home Secretary had read a rule which he had ordered to be circulated, which there could be no doubt was a very good rule. But, in connection therewith, he wished to mention the case of certain men whose previous life affected neither their physical nor their moral condition—he meant the Irish political prisoners, who were admitted by the Judges who tried them to be men of high moral character. These men, after being in prison, found themselves, after a few months or years, entirely broken down in their constitution. They had a right to punish a man within certain limits; but they had no right whatever to substract in the slightest degree from the fee simple of his constitution. The State had no right to rob any man of the fee simple of his constitution; it was a great mistake to say that their prison system was now perfect. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department had said that he had issued instructions calculated in every way to protect the health of the prisoners; but still there was a feeling that all was not as it should be. They objected to the right hon. Gentleman allowing himself to be influenced by those who were interested in the conduct of the prisons. It must strike everyone as being odd that, in the case of Nolan, all the officials came forward and said that although there was not a case against anyone, yet they must acknowledge that something very wrong had been done. This was a very important subject—it was a question of detail of the whole treatment of these prisoners, and he thought that they ought to be satisfied with the discussion that they had had that night and resume the consideration of the Vote the next day, or after the Whitsuntide Recess. He must protest against passing that Vote 1321 bafore they had had further discussion; and, therefore, he begged to move to report Progress.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. O'Connor Power.)
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
really hoped that the hon. Member was not in earnest in making his Motion. They had now had what everyone must admit to be a most unprecedented discussion, lasting nearly six hours, on a single Vote of the Civil Service Estimates. Although he quite admitted the importance of the Vote, and the extreme importance of the subject that had been brought under consideration, he did hope that the Committee, having considered the matter at length, would now pass the Vote. He appealed to the hon. Member to be satisfied with the ampleness of the discussion, and to withdraw his Motion.
§ MR. RYLANDS
observed, that this Vote had been very carefully and fully discussed, and he thought that next year they would be able to discuss the subject still more fully and carefully. He thought, also, that the exhaustive discussion that they had had would supply some very valuable hints to the Home Secretary in dealing with these questions; and, under the circumstances, he trusted that the hon. Member for Mayo would allow the Vote to pass, on the understanding that Progress would be immediately reported afterwards.
§ MR. PARNELL
remarked, that he had studied the case of Nolan very carefully, and but for having lost his voice would like to make some further observations with regard to it. Did he understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that there would be a Supplemental Estimate introduced for the Prisons that Session?
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, that it would be necessary to introduce a Supplemental Estimate for some purposes. As they had to provide compensation to some local gaols, it would be necessary to force the matter on in order to provide the requisite funds.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, that in that case, as there would be an opportunity for raising further discussion on a very important point—namely, the repeated infliction of the punishment of solitary confinement by gaolers, when the Sup- 1322 plementary Estimates came on, he should, therefore, recommend his hon. Friend the Member for Mayo to withdraw his Motion.
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
said, that, under the circumstances, he would beg leave to withdraw his Motion. He would, however, first ask the Chairman of Ways and Means, whether they would be in Order in raising the point suggested upon the Supplemental Estimates?
said, that, not having the Supplemental Estimates before him, he could not inform the hon. Member what questions could be raised upon them.
§ Motion by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a further sum, not exceeding £1,101,400, be granted to Her Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the Charge for the following Civil Services and Revenue Departments for the year ending on the 31st day of March 1880, viz.:—
|CLASS I.—PUBLIC WORKS AND BUILDINGS.|
|CLASS II.—SALARIES AND EXPENSES OF PUBLIC DEPARTMENTS.|
|Chief Secretary's Office, &c.||2,500|
|Charitable Donations and Bequests Office||150|
|Local Government Board||10,500|
|Public Works Office||2,500|
|CLASS III.—LAW AND JUSTICE.|
|Reformatory and Industrial Schools, Great Britain||65,000|
|Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum||2,300|
|Lord Advocate and Criminal Proceedings||5,600|
|Courts of Law and Justice||5,100|
|Register House Departments||3,000|
|Law Charges and Criminal Prosecutions||7,000|
|Chancery Division, High Court of Justice||3,300|
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
said, that he had understood the Secretary to the Treasury to accede to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands), that if they allowed Vote 16 to be passed he would immediately consent to report Progress. It was asking rather too much to expect them to vote away a million of money in a breath. He begged leave to move that the Chairman do leave the Chair.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. O'Connor Power.)
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
thought that the course he had taken had been assented to by hon. Members generally. It was arranged that they should be allowed to take a Vote on Account, in order to meet certain demands which it was absolutely necessary to satisfy before they separated for the Holidays. He pointed out that their only opportunity to get this Vote on Account was that evening, although he admitted that it was an unusual course to take a Vote on Account on the same night as the Civil Service Estimates. Had he not taken the Vote that evening, he should have had to prolong the Sitting till Thursday—thus shortening the Holiday. With that difficulty before him, he ventured on that occasion to take 1325 the unusual course of asking for a Vote on Account of the Civil Service that day before they separated. He had agreed to leave out of the Vote an Item which was objected to by several hon. Members below the Gangway opposite—namely, the University Vote for Scotland. That had been struck out of the sum demanded, and was not, therefore, included in the Vote just put from the Chair.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow, at Two of the clock;
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.