§ MR. STANSFELD
, in rising to move—That this House disapproves of the compulsory examination of women under the Contagious Diseases Acts,said: Sir, The Committee to whose Reports upon the Contagious Diseases Acts I have now to ask the attention of the House, was appointed in June, 1879, and sat three years. It was directed to inquire into these Acts—1866–9—their administration, operation and effect, with power to receive evidence which might be tendered concerning similar systems in the British Colonies or in other countries, and to report whether the Acts should be maintained, extended, amended, or repealed. Now one word 750 as to the proceedings of that Committee, which has sat three years, and the action of the Representatives of the Government who took the initiative in presenting evidence to the Committee. They presented a great mass of evidence with regard to the statistics of disease in the Army; but I have to ask the attention of the House to this fact—that the Representatives of the Government, acting on their own discretion, elected not to put any evidence before the Committee in defence of these Acts as far as the Navy was concerned. I have already informed the House that their Instruction to the Committee was to take what evidence they chose that might be tendered to them concerning the operation of similar systems in the British Colonies and in other countries. But in the Report it will be seen that rather more than a year ago the Committee, by a majority of 6 to 5, determined to refuse all Foreign or Colonial evidence, although I had myself offered to the Committee such evidence, and although I had given to them all the assurances I could give that that evidence would be compressed within limits enabling the Committee to report during the course of that Session. Well, there were two Reports. There was, first of all, the Majority Report, and then there was what I shall venture to call the Minority Report. When I use the phrase "Minority Report," I take a certain liberty. It is not exactly a correct statement of the case. The Minority Report was a Report for which I am primarily responsible. It was drawn up by myself, and could not, of course, be voted on paragraph by paragraph; but I am quite sure that neither of the Members of the Committee who formed the minority and who opposed the majority will contradict me when I say that that Report carried with it the opinions and convictions, largely speaking, of the whole of the minority of that Committee. But, Sir, the Majority Report, though nominally it was passed clause by clause, really received no more discussion than the Minority Report. It consisted of 80 paragraphs, and they were passed in one short sitting; the minority dividing the Committee 70 times against these 80 paragraphs, against every paragraph that had any meaning. I believe I am correct in saying that the Members all voted in accordance with their previously re- 751 corded opinions and the votes that they had given; there was no Member of that Committee convinced by the evidence on one side or the other. Those who came on the Committee—I will not say pledged, except so far as their previous expressions of opinion had pledged them, but known and marked as supporters of the Acts—remained to support the Acts and to carry the Majority Report of 80 paragraphs in one short sitting without discussion; and not only without discussion, but when that Report was presented to the Committee, the marginal references to the evidence were not upon the Draft Report. It was taken upon faith by a majority prepared and determined to support this legislation, without looking too closely to the evidence which they had been receiving, or had been supposed to be receiving, for three years. I repeat that statement. The Chairman's Draft Report was submitted without marginal reference to the evidence, and was voted en bloc by Members who did not take the time necessary to read and understand the paragraphs. ["Oh, oh!"] That may seem ridiculous; but the hon. Member must know that it is so.
§ MR. TOTTENHAM
I beg to say that, as a Member of the Committee, I took the trouble to read the Report, and this is not a proper charge to be made, without grounds or foundation, against the Members who signed the Majority Report.
§ MR. STANSFELD
I did not say what I said without deliberation. ["Oh!"] What I said and maintain is this—that this Report of 80 paragraphs, founded upon an inquiry of upwards of three years, was passed, within one short sitting upon 70 divisions, and without any marginal references on the Draft Report, and the hon. Member cannot deny the accuracy of that statement. Now this is no ordinary case. Under ordinary circumstances you have an inquiry, you hear evidence, and you arrive at general conclusions upon the evidence by large, or, at any rate, clear majorities, and you have differences in detail. But that is not the case here. There are no general conclusions upon the evidence in this case in which both sides of the Committee, so to speak, are agreed. You have an absolute divergence of opinion on principle and in detail. On the one hand, you have an absolute approval of 752 this legislation; on the other hand, you have an absolute disapproval—and these facts are recorded in 70 divisions, in which the majority and the minority are identically composed in each individual case. The right hon. Member over there has expressed, perhaps, not an unnatural impatience that I have objected to what I call passing a Majority Report in a hasty manner.
§ Mr. CAVENDISH BENTINCK
Now, Sir, I beg my right hon. Friend's pardon. My objection was not to that; but I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that the majority had come to that conclusion without due consideration of the evidence.
§ MR. STANSFELD
That is precisely what I stated, and the grounds for my saying so are these—that the Chairman presented his Draft Report consisting of 80 paragraphs; that we were told that there was not time to put marginal references to the evidence; and that the majority, in one short sitting, passed these 80 paragraphs, in spite of 70 hostile divisions, without calling for the references to the evidence by which these 80 paragraphs were to be supported. That is my case. The right hon. Member can reject my conclusions; but I do not recall a single word that I have said. Well, now I come to a comparison of the two Reports. I have said that they are completely antagonistic. The Majority Report goes beyond everything of which we have over heard before. It not only goes far beyond the Royal Commission of 1871—because that Royal Commission reported against the Act of I860, and this Majority Report reports in its favour—but it goes beyond even the official evidence adduced before this Committee in favour of the existing system. The majority propose no alteration whatsoever, either in the system of the registration of women, or their supervision by the police, or their examination in the examination-room, or their detention and their euro in hospitals. It approves of these proceedings under the existing Acts, and it recommends no alteration whatsoever. The only alterations recommended or suggested by the majority are in the sense and direction of strengthening and of extending these Acts. What they propound is the would-be apotheosis of this legislation, whose object has been defined to be the rendering of the 753 practice of prostitution, "if not innocuous, at least less dangerous;" and the Majority Report recommends the continuation without alteration of these Acts, and practically their extension to the country at large. Well, Sir, I turn to the Minority Report; and coming to that Report, for which I am more than any other man responsible, I will, with the leave of the House, speak at somewhat greater length, and divide my subject under various heads. I will begin with hygiene. To make myself as clear as possible, and to avoid the use of objectionable terms, I must first explain the "classification" in the Army Medical Reports of diseases which are the consequences of sexual vice. They classify these diseases under two heads—namely, first, affections which may or may not be constitutional, and which they treat as the more serious class; and, second, these which are local and not constitutional in character. As to the first class, one out of every three or four is supposed to be constitutional in character; and the weight of general medical opinion, proved in evidence before the Committee, was in favour of the view that these two sub-divisions of the first class are essentially different in character; two-thirds or three-fourths being local and non-constitutional; one-third or one-fourth—the "only" serious cases—being constitutional in their character; the test of the constitutional attack being that the primary affection is followed by secondary symptoms without fresh infection. Having made this explanation, I shall be able, I believe, to make myself clearly understood in what I have to say without having resort to technical phraseology of an objectionable character. With regard to the admissions to hospital and the average of constantly sick from primary affections, we of the minority say (p. lxxvi, par. 18)—That a reduction of non-constitutional primary affections has been effected in the stations under the Acts; but that such reduction, although greater than the contemporaneous decrease in the unprotected stations collectively, has not exceeded the average rate of decrease effected in the same now subjected stations before the application of the Acts thereto.I will endeavour to explain the meaning of this proposition to the House. I will give the figures first of all. In the subjected districts in 1867, the year after the introduction of the first of the exis- 754 ting Acts, you have a proportion of admissions for these which are called primary affections of 91 per 1,000 men. By the year 1877 that figure of 91 was reduced to 35; and that is a large reduction, and it is a reduction which has affected the imagination of men like the hon. Member whose voice I recognize on the other side. In the unsubjected stations, in 1867, we begin with the number of 101 per 1,000, and we go down to 68 per 1,000, instead of 35; and, therefore, it is perfectly true—and we recognize and admit it in the Minority Report—that with regard to the so called primary affections you have a greater proportionate reduction between the years 1867 and 1877 in the subjected than in the unsubjected districts. I leave out the year 1878—I ought to explain why—because we all united in the conclusion that the figures of 1878 were disturbed by the calling out of the Reserves, and that that year had, therefore, hotter be loft out of our calculations. I now go back to the years before the Acts, and what I find is this. In the subjected districts, in 1860, the admissions were 146 per 1,000; in 1867, before the Acts came into operation, they were reduced to 91 per 1,000. In the unsubjected districts, in 1860, the admissions were 132 per 1,000 (that is a smaller number than in the subjected districts); and in 1867 they had got down to 101 (a larger number than in the subjected districts). Well, now, what I want hon. Members to understand, if they will kindly endeavour to follow me, is this. These figures, at the first blush, impose upon many minds. You begin some years before the Acts with the higher figure in the subjected districts than in the free districts, and you come down in the first 10 years to lower figures in these districts than in the districts which are froe; and the primâ facie impression is, unless people look closely into it, that this reduction is a part and parcel of the consequences of the Acts. But if you will look a little more closely into these figures you will find that this is entirely absurd, and that the deductions which should be drawn are entirely different. There are two deductions which I draw. The first is, that in the subjected, or so-called protected, districts you have as great a reduction before the Acts as afterwards. I ask hon. Members to go back with me 755 to the figures. In the subjected districts, between 1860 and 1867, the figures dropped from 146 to 91, and in the next 10 years they dropped from 90 to 35. It is evident upon these figures that within a fraction the reduction of disease in the subjected or protected districts was as much before the Acts as it was afterwards. The second conclusion that I draw from these figures is this, that here is precisely the same amount of variation between the subjected and the free districts before and after the Acts, the Acts practically making no difference in the differentiation of these figures. I have shown that in the subjected districts you have a rapid fall, due, as I say, to other causes than the Acts, because existing before them; while in the free stations you begin with a lower ratio and end with a higher ratio; and these figures attract the unthoughtful eye; but these conditions obtained both before and after the Acts in the free stations. These figures, therefore, prove the entirely different character of the two groups of stations, subjected and unsubjected, which are, as we say, unfairly compared. They show that before and after the Acts the same conditions and the same rate of progress or of diminution of disease applies both to the one and to the other. Then I come to the question of the saving of efficiency. The House will remember that the main object of these Acts was to promote efficiency in the Army and Navy; and there was, I may say—and I do not think any one will doubt it—a very exaggerated notion of the amount of saving of efficiency which might be effected by legislation of this kind in 16 years. To come to the evidence put before us, we had first a Table submitted by Sir William Muir, who was then at the head of the Army Medical Department, and we say his conclusions are not verified by his Table. His Table extends from 1870 to 1878, and he shows in that Table of the inefficiency of the Army—which means the number in hospital instead of on parade—that the initial ratios in 1870 were as 1 to 2–18, comparing the subjected with 14 selected unsubjected stations; and in 1878 they were as 1 to 2'30, a scarcely appreciable gain. Here, again, we have precisely the same case of figures liable to attract the popular eye and deceive the mind of the superficial inquirer. You have here, at the 756 beginning and end of the series, an advantage in point of efficiency in favour of the subjected stations, and hon. Gentlemen not unnaturally jump to the conclusion that it is the result of the Acts. But it is not owing to anything of the kind. The true comparison in this case is not between the ratio of inefficiency in these two groups of stations in any one year, but between the ratio of efficiency in these two groups; first of all, at the beginning of the series of years when you bring to bear a certain legislation; and, secondly, at the end of the series, when you test the result. Part of my case is the essentially different character of the two groups. The figures show that in 1870, when the Acts were first brought to boar on these districts, so essentially different was their character that in the subjected districts you had an inefficiency represented by 1, and in the other stations you had an inefficiency represented by 2–18; whereas at the end of nine years' experience you had increased that inefficiency of 2–18 to 2'30. Now, that is a difference which hon. Members, at all familiar with calculations of this kind, will see to be a very minute and very unimportant difference. These are Sir William Muir's figures. But the majority made a calculation of their own. It was not submitted to the test of cross-examination, because no official witnesses propounded the theory which the majority have propounded in their Report, and, therefore, it was not discussed; but upon a method of calculation, which we of the minority entirely dispute and deny, the majority had arrived at this conclusion, that, taking all classes of disease together, the total saving of efficiency for the Army amounts to this—to 5•38 per 1,000 in the protected districts. Now, assuming that in the protected districts there were 50,000 men—until lately there were 50,000, but now there are only 38,000—under the supposed protection of these Acts, that proportion will amount to a saving of 269 out of 50,000. What I will ask the House is this—taking broadly and largely the figures of the Report of the majority, whether a maximum saving of efficiency of less than 5¼ men per 1,000 is a justification of these Acts? I would ask them, I would ask even the supporters of these Acts, speaking honourably between man and man, whether these are figures which correspond 757 to the expectations hold out and entertained when these Acts wore introduced? And I would further ask all men interested in this as a sanitary question, and especially medical men, whether such figures as these show the slightest approximation to the realization of the original idea of the stamping out, or at least the very great reduction, of these diseases? Well, Sir, I pass on. I must apologize to the House. I am quite conscious that I have wearied the House already, and I must do so still more. It has been a long inquiry, and the burden has fallen chiefly upon mo, and I am bound to go into these hygienic and statistical details, and they are no more agreeable to me than to other Members. With regard to the secondary affections, which are constitutional and which are the test and measure of the amount and proportion of primary constitutional affections, because there is no constitutional primary affection which is not followed by a secondary attack, what do I find? First, that until this Committee sat, the Army Medical Department never gave these figures at all as between the different groups of stations. In the Annual Report of the Army Medical Department, what they said was this—We decline to compare individual stations protected with free stations with reference to these secondary cases, because we do not know where the primary affections arose:and that seems to me to be a very sound and very honest process of reasoning. But they did give figures for the whole Army partly in the Annual Reports and partly in evidence before the Committee. Later on, further Returns were put in by the officials which were to support these Acts, and there is a marked and a most remarkable difference—and not the only difference in the official statistics submitted to this Committee—between these later Returns and the evidence of the Army medical officials and the former Reports of the Army Medical Department. According to the former figures, given in evidence by Sir William Muir, the proportion of admissions to hospital per 1,000 of these secondary attacks in 1866—the year of the first existing Contagious Diseases Act—was 24–77; and in the year 1878, the last year submitted to the Committee, the proportion was 26•64—a positive increase throughout the whole Army, at the end of 12 758 years of these Contagious Diseases Acts, of the only constitutional disease which is the consequence of sexual vice. But, then, these later Returns were put before the Committee, and they, to a certain extent, gave a different complexion to the matter. According to these Returns, the figure in 1866, instead of 24•77 per 1,000, ought to have been 27•66; and the figure in 1878, instead of 26•64, ought to have been 26•61. These later figures, if correct, would have converted the rise in the amount of constitutional disease throughout the whole Army into a very slight fall. Well, Sir, I have no difficulty whatever in explaining to the House this difference, because it was explained to the Committee, and there is no secret about it. Under the older system, the figures of troops who had returned from foreign stations within 12 months were excluded, on the theory that these troops would probably have incurred their primary infection at a foreign station. The later figures, produced for the first time for the use of the Committee, included these foreign troops, which might have been only a week before on foreign stations. It is, therefore, absolutely and indisputably clear that, but for the inclusion, which the Army Medical Department year after year had previously repudiated as unsound, of troops coming back within 12 months from foreign stations, the whole result of these Acts during a period of 12 years is a distinct, though I do not say a large, increase in the only constitutional disease for which the House or the public cares, or which could be any argument in any case for legislation of this kind. But certain further figures were produced for the purposes of this inquiry. Sir William Muir, the late head of the Army Medical Department, did not satisfy the enthusiasts who conducted this inquiry in the interests of these Acts upon this Committee, and they called into court, ex-Surgeon Major Lawson, a very hard-headed man, a man of considerable ability and with views of his own, and they rested their conclusions mainly upon the evidence of ex-Surgeon Major Law-son. What are his figures with regard to this constitutional disease? They are contained in a Table called 6 B, which is to be found in the Appendix No. 3, in the Report of the year 1881. And what he said is this. He took a period 759 of six years from 1867, the beginning of the Acts, to 1872, and said that the average in the subjected districts of these constitutional cases of admissions to hospital is 24.6 per 1,000. He then takes the six years from 1873 to 1878, and he says the average is 22 per 1,000. Then he takes the free stations, and he says that in the former period the average was 29.2 per 1,000, and in the latter the average is 30.2 per 1,000. Now, I ask again the attention of the House to the light which these figures throw on the dissimilar and incomparable character of the two sets of stations. These figures are founded upon that Return which I have said was unsound, because it included in the comparison soldiers home from foreign stations within the year. But now, take these figures as they are, I appeal to the common sense of the House if, when we entered upon this scheme of legislation, we had not some kind of notion that we were going to produce greater results? I do not believe that there is any individual Member on either side of the House who will not say that nothing but great and undeniable results can justify legislation of this sort. Supposing these figures to be accurate—I do not say they are—but taking them as absolutely accurate on the evidence of an export, I ask confidently whether these figures suggest the idea to the mind of any hon. Member present of anything approaching the stamping out, or even a large reduction of, constitutional disease? These figures show another thing. They show a great increase of the proportion of constitutional to non-constitutional disease, and indicate that the operation of the Acts has been to reduce superficially the non-constitutional primary affections, and not to reduce constitutional affections; and the figures I am going to quote will, I think, prove my proposition. According to that very Table of Surgeon Major Lawson, taking the subjected districts from 1867 to 1872, you will find that secondary cases were 37 per cent of the total of primary cases where as in the six years—1873 to 1878—you will find that these secondary cases mounted from 37 to 56 per cent of the primary cases. In the free stations they are in the former period 31 per cent, and rise to 12 in the latter. Now I ask the House—I ask every Member of the House who has followed me through these dreary figures 760 —whether I have not conclusively proved that the operation of the Acts is upon primary non-constitutional affections; because where the Acts operate the proportion of constitutional to non-constitutional cases has risen from 37 to 56 per cent, and whore the Acts do not operate that proportion has risen only from 31 to 42 per cent? Surgeon Major Lawson's evidence was precisely to the same effect. He said, in his evidence, that in the subjected stations there was a greater proportionate danger of incurring risk of constitutional affection than in the free stations; and that in these stations there is a greater proportion of constitutional disease amongst the women who are protected by the law and the Government than in those stations where they are free. Our contention upon these figures is this. We say it is proved in evidence that the result of the operation of the Acts is a greater proportion of constitutional to non-constitutional cases; a very doubtful positive decrease in the amount of constitutional disease; and taking all the figures, which we are not prepared to admit, of the advocates of the Acts, the diminution of constitutional disease amounted at most to -15 per 1,000, or 7½, out of 50,000 men. (Minority Rep. p. lxv.) I will now turn to the second class of affections in the Army Medical Reports, which I call the exclusively local, non-constitutional, and less serious affections; and here my task is very light. The Army Medical Report of 1872 says that—The average ratio of admissions for the eight years from 1860 to 1872 was higher at the protected than at the" 14 selected and "unprotected stations.Surgeon Major Lawson's Returns, including all the stations, show practically no difference; and I maintain that these Acts have produced no effect upon the second, and practically unimportant, class of diseases consequent upon sexual vice. Well, I come lastly to the case of the women under the Acts—the prostitutes. I find that there has been a marked increase of disease under the Acts. Taking the years 1875 to 1880, I find that disease among these women in the subjected districts has increased from 127 to 176 per cent. Those figures mean that, on an average, every woman in these protected districts and upon the register was in the hospital If times in the year; and, reducing that calculation 761 by the average duration of stay of the women in the hospital, what it means is this—that every prostitute in those protected districts has spent, on an average, 52 days per year, or one-seventh of her life, in these hospitals at the public expense. I have another word to say on the looseness of the calculations and conclusions of the Majority Report. The majority said in their Report that the Acts have had but an inadequate trial—they have had 16 years; but they add that the benefit conferred since 1866 is great, but that it is only an earnest of what the Acts may be expected to do hereafter for the health and efficiency of the Army. I have never met in the whole of the Army Medical Reports—with which I am well acquainted—such enthusiasm as in the Majority Report. Well, what about the trial which is so inadequate? The Army Medical Report for 1880 was in the hands of the authorities before the Chairman put before us his Draft Report, and it shows a very great increase in the amount of disease in the year 1880 over the year 1879, in spite of the 16 years of these Acts, and a far greater increase of disease in the protected than in the unprotected stations; for though in the unprotected stations there was an increase of 45 per cent, in the protected stations, comparing 1880 with 1879, the increase was no less than 57 per cent. So much for the calculations and inferences drawn from these figures. I have only one more thing to say on the question of hygiene. I have endeavoured to show how slight, how doubtful, are the conclusions which can statistically be deduced from the operation of these Acts. If I have not exhausted the patience of the House, I wish further to suggest to their minds some general considerations tending to invalidate all such conclusions, whatever the figures. But, before I pass to those general conclusions, I will deal with another branch of the subject. I pass now, Mr. Speaker, to what are called the moral influences of the Acts—not a very well-known factor when these Acts were founded, and about which people did not trouble their heads. But when these Acts were attacked they began to discover moral influences with a wonderful instinct, and they went through whole lists of them in the Committee, and the majority in their Report enumerated, with the greatest naïveté, all the moral 762 consequences which any supporter of these Acts has ever claimed for them, and they endorsed them; and I am now about to enumerate them and to expose the imposture of these pretences, these afterthoughts, that have imposed on the majority of this Committee. The first proposition is that the Acts have diminished prostitution. Well, they have diminished the number of registered prostitutes. No one, with any familiarity with this question, could have expected anything else. It is a common experience abroad, where they have been for centuries, that the inevitable result is to diminish the number of registered prostitutes, because registration and examination are against nature. Abroad there is no pretence upon the subject. The experts tell you that they regret the small number of registered prostitutes—they do not pretend that they have diminished prostitution—they regret that they have not registered all the prostitutes that there are. I will address an argument to the House which I think will not be easily answered—an economical argument—the argument of demand and supply. My proposition, and that of the minority, is that the prostitution of women is the supply to the demand of the sensual appetites and vices of men; and I say that this is as absolutely true as any economical truth; and that if you stimulate and increase the demand, the supply will be forthcoming. I say further—and this is the dominant consideration in dealing with this question—that the only possible method, to our minds, of diminishing that supply, is to diminish the demand to which it inevitably responds. But I and the minority undertake to go further, and to tell you how it is that you increase the demand, and how it is that the supply is made to meet that demand. You stimulate the demand; you offer a Government sanction to this sexual vice. You say by Act of Parliament, by an administrative organization and measures, that these natural appetites, as you call them—these vicious and contemptible appetites, as I call them—kave to be provided for by the Laws and the Government of a Christian country; and you deprave especially the young, and thereby increase the disease against which you pretend to be so anxious to provide, and you demoralize the population at large. You do more; you not 763 only sanction vice, you say that it is inevitable; but you do not stop there. You say—" We are a paternal Legislature and a paternal Government, and we will provide for you clean women to satisfy your lusts." Shame upon the Christian Legislature and Government which could so deprave and degrade the legislation and the Government of this country. You stimulate by this sanction, by this guarantee, false and illusory though it is, this temptation of the Devil. You deprave, above all, the youth of the country, the adolescence of the country; and you do the very worst thing in your blind ignorance which it would be possible for you to do, if you thought only of health and nothing of morals, because there is nothing so fatal to the health of the community as infamously to stimulate the sexual propensities of early youth. As to the supply which this iniquitous legislation stimulates—it operates in this way. First of all, you have an increase of clandestine prostitution. We had evidence before the Committee, evidence of official witnesses, to say that the effect of the operation of the Acts was almost the extinction of clandestine and of juvenile prostitution. Imposture! The universal experience of Europe is against you, and there was plenty of evidence before the Committee to the same effect. The favourite witness of the right hon. and learned Gentleman who cheered so, was Mr. Anniss, the well-known Contagious Diseases Acts' policeman at Devonport, and he maintained that he had himself extinguished clandestine prostitution there. I called the local Superintendents of Devonport, of Plymouth, of Stonehouse, and they denied every general and every particular statement which Mr. Anniss made. What you want is to prevent disease; but by this wretched contrivance yon stimulate clandestine prostitution, and this is calculated to beget disease. Human nature revolts against your system of registration and examination. The clandestine prostitute is determined not to be caught; a large proportion of men do not want the mere instrument which you have created, supplied, and guaranteed. The clandestine prostitute is obliged, if she is diseased, to conceal the fact of for disease. She dare not be treated, for fear of being detained, examined, and committed to hospital. And so the very contrivance 764 which you have concocted, with the object of preventing disease, turns back upon you and defeats your purpose, and you increase clandestine prostitution under conditions which induces prostitutes not to avail themselves of medical help. Well then, Sir, there is another way by which you defeat your own object. You have held out a guarantee—I say an illusory one—but you held out the guarantee of supposed immunity from physical evil consequences of sexual vice. What is the result? It is an enormous increase in the clientele of your registered prostitutes. Now, I ask the House to follow mo here. I come to a most serious portion of this subject, which has to be seriously understood and grappled with. You increase the clientele of the guaranteed prostitute class, and with what result? With this result—that the amount of disease amongst the men who consort with that class is increased by means of what is called mediate contagion. I could tell the House, without using phrases that would be objectionable, what I mean by that phrase. What you have done, I warn you. You have deserted truth, you have deserted faith, you have deserted decency and morality. You have built up not merely a wrong system—an immoral system—but an unnatural system, against which the very appetites and faculties of the bodies of men and women revolt; and the consequence is this—that you have created a pariah class, the mere instruments of the most brutal, the most disgustingly sensual appetites of men, and they become the media, without themselves being infected, of conveying contagion from man to man. Now, I tell you, I am speaking of no imaginary evil. I have given many years to the study of this question, and it is a bitter study, and nothing has so deeply impressed and horrified me as this conclusion, and I dare the Medical Faculty to contradict what I say—that the result of this system has been enormously to increase the produce of that which is called mediate contagion in the spread of disease which is the consequence of sexual vice. Then I come to the next claim, as to the moral influences of the Acts. They were said to have suppressed juvenile prostitution. There, again, the witness is Mr. Anniss, and there, again, we have the evidence against him of the heads of the local 765 police of Devonport, Stonehouse, and Plymouth. Not only that, but we have a certain Return—the Annual Police Returns. I do not know Returns which are so misleading as these. According to Captain Harris's Return, in the district of Devonport, between 1870 and 1881, there wore only seven girl prostitutes registered under the age of 17. That is the total according to the Official Return placed upon the Table of this House, year by year, by the Home Secretary. I deliberately say that that is false. I am going to justify that statement to my own mind, and I would not make it unless I believed it to be correct. The London Rescue Society has put in evidence that, during that period, they themselves alone had rescued from that Devonport district, not seven, but 29 girls who were prostitutes, under the age of 17, many of whom were already diseased. At Woolwich, according to Captain Harris's Return, during that period there were only four under the age of 16. But the Rescue Society during that time themselves rescued no fewer than 12 children under the age of 16, and many of them diseased. I come next to the reduction of brothels. A great deal has been made about that. Captain Harris's Return boasts of this reduction year after year. I say, on the other hand, that I know of no parallel case of imposture, I know of no Returns in the whole of my experience which are so scandalously deceiving as these Returns. The only section of these Acts bearing upon the question is the 86th section of the Act, 1866. Well, that section does not give any power to the Contagious Diseases Acts' police to shut up a brothel. Nothing of the kind. It is not one of their objects. What they want is to regulate it, to take care that it shall be so conducted that the women shall be relied upon, as fit for their trade. According to Captain Harris's Return, during the operation of the Contagious Diseases Acts, 140 public-houses and 260 beershops, all conducted as brothels, have been closed in the subjected districts; and Captain Harris, in his Return, distinctly claims that the closing of these public-houses is the consequence of the Acts. I am sorry that my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary is not here, for I would challenge him to contradict me when I say I do not think it creditable that the 766 Home Secretary should allow Returns to be placed on the Table of the House of Commons which are distinctly adapted to deceive the public. These Police Returns, year after year, have credited the Contagious Diseases Acts with the reduction of brothels, and public-houses and beershops used as brothels, as the case may be. It is absolutely without foundation. There is not a section in the Acts bearing upon the subject, except that clause of the Act of 1866, which enables them to fine, not to shut up, a public-house, but to fine the occupier of a public-house, if it is a brothel, "who harbours a diseased prostitute" But my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford called for a Return showing, during the operation of the Contagious Diseases Acts, the number of licensed houses that were brothels which had been closed by the action of those Acts. Now, Captain Harris spoke of a reduction of 140 public-houses and 260 beerhouse brothels; but that Return of my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford simply mentions two in the whole period—one of which was a public-house and the other a beershop. In the case of the public-house, the Contagious Diseases Acts' police proceeded against the occupier for harbouring a diseased prostitute, for which he was fined, and that was the direct consequence of the Act, In the case of the beershop, it was for harbouring a deserter, and the Contagious Diseases Acts had nothing to do with it at all. Next I come to the rescue of fallen women. Well, positively, the advocates of these Acts, and the majority of this Committee, blindly following their counsel, believe that these acts aid the rescue of fallen women. There is no provision in the Acts to aid their rescue; and what we say is—and we produced abundant evidence before the Committee to justify our view—that the operation of these Acts has hardened the women, and made them more difficult to reclaim. The answer that was made was this—that it was not the Acts that hardened, but the length of time that the women are in that kind of life. We accept that, and then we tell you that the Acts increase the length of time during which women pursue this kind of life, and that they will still further increase the length of time; and the figures prove our contention beyond the possibility of dispute. Turning to the Police Returns, I find these 767 figures—in 1866 they had 2,613 registered prostitutes, which number had diminished, in 1881, to 1,796. In spite of this diminution, between these periods—1866 and 1881—the number of prostitutes between the ages of 26 and 31 had increased from 267 to 429, and the number of prostitutes over 31 years of age had increased from 99 to no loss than 386. Well, the majority venture to say, without a tittle of evidence to support it, that, but for those Acts, these women who had remained under the Acts would have died of disease. I say there is no foundation whatsoever for that statement of the majority. I challenge them to produce a tittle of evidence to that effect. I say that it is perfectly well known to everyone familiar with this subject, that in the unsubjected stations, so far from these women dying of disease, they drift back, within a very limited number of years, into more normal and moral and natural relations of life; and what you do by this system is to retain them in a life which they would otherwise leave, because you make it difficult for them to leave it. You tend to create a pariah class of prostitutes, under Government supervision, for the public use; and I have to toll this House that whatever they may think of the advantages, hygenic and otherwise, of that device, it is a heathen and not a Christian device. Well, lastly, I come to the question of public order and decency. There is no clause in these Acts giving any power whatsoever to enforce order or decency in public places in the subjected districts. Wherever order is improved, it has improved under local administration and under other Acts; and we cited Glasgow as an instance of greater order and decency, and of a greater reduction of disease than in any subjected district, without the application or the powers of these Acts at all. But by the form of the Resolution which I and my Friends have deliberately chosen, we brush aside those afterthoughts and pretences which have imposed upon the majority, these "moral influences" of the Acts, which were never dreamt of when the measures were passed. We say to you—" Keep what you can find in thorn which has any moral tendency, if there is anything that you can find; but, if you are to go against our Resolution, then you will have to say before 768 the public that there is something in the compulsory examination of women, to secure that they shall be fit for the practice of the lusts of men, which conduces to morality, or else you will not be justified in upholding these Acts." I have still farther to trespass upon the House. I greatly regret it—it has been a long inquiry, and, after all, the chief burden is upon mo. I have now to address to the House certain arguments or general considerations which, in my view, and in the view of the minority of this Committee, go to invalidate any conclusions whatever to be drawn from the Government statistics in this matter. We regard the whole of the statistics as scientifically bad, and I am about to present to you a few of these general considerations. Now, what should statistics be to be sound? They should not consist merely of accurate figures; they ought to consist of accurate figures grouped and displayed so as to throw a true light upon the subject under consideration. But what is the case here? In the Army medical statistics the comparison is made between two groups of stations—stations under the Acts and stations outside the Acts. First of all, the comparison is made as if the only difference between the two groups of stations was the presence of the Acts in the one case and their absence in the other, as if that was the only difference and the only alternative. I say that is a false way of putting these figures before the public. First of all, they compare groups of stations which are entirely dissimilar; they compare a camp under military rule and away from the civil population on the one hand, and a barrack full of soldiers in the midst of the dangers and temptations of large cities on the other. I say that you cannot compare those places. In the camp3 and large garrisons you have the soldier under strict control. If you place these houses "out of bounds," the soldier will not go there; and if you try to elevate the soldier, and keep him employed, you will help him to subdue these propensities, and save his health in a far better way than with the dirty device of this legislation. You cannot fairly compare a camp and a great city, where you have a small number of soldiers and an immense civil populalation? I appeal to the House as if it consisted of statisticians. I ask each 769 Member to consider whether right rules have been observed in placing before us the statistics of this subject? The first great distinction I find is that, in the subjected stations, there is a superabundance of hospital accommodation for women; in the free stations there is none—practically, hardly any; and there has been no attempt to supply the deficiency. Here is legislation which has existed for 16 years, outraging the moral and religious convictions of largo numbers of people, and no Member of a Government has over dreamt of saying that there shall be fair play between one group of stations and another. You have the hospital in the one case, and none in the other. What did we find at Glasgow, without any compulsion? As soon as they had the hospital with a superabundance of beds, so that no woman was ever turned away, all difficulty disappeared. The women came as soon as they wore diseased, they waited until they were cured, and disease shrank in its dimensions there more than in any of the subjected districts, of which the Committee had evidence before them. In this kind of comparison, statistically speaking, you ought, at least, to make an allowance in favour of those districts where there are no such hospitals. The Army Medical Statistical Department is not responsible for providing hospitals in the one class or the other; but they are responsible for accurate and truthful statistics, and they ought to have called attention to the difference, and made an allowance. They made no such allowance. I come to another consideration invalidating these statistics. A favourite witness for the Acts was Surgeon Major Lawson. He told us that in 1868 and 1869 he went to Aldershot, which was under the Acts; and he found in certain regiments, having no difference whatsoever in their external condition, under the same law, that the disease in these regiments varied from 23 to 142 per 1,000 men. That difference could not be owing to the Acts. The Acts were common to both. Both regiments were under the protection of the Acts. They lived within the same quarter of the camp. There was no possible way of accounting for it, except by a reference to the habits and the conduct of the men themselves. What I therefore say to the House and to the Government is this—"Think a 770 little of the habits of the men; "do not say it is of no use. I hear it stated every day, and I have heard it for years, that they will have their way, and that it must be so in the heyday of their youth. That is false, and it is of use; the law may check or stimulate this propensity, and it is not the business of Government to stimulate but to check it, and these figures of 142 and 23 show the limits within which you may operate. But the fact is that as long as you have those Acts, they divert your minds from the wholesome direction of promoting the sobriety and virtue of the soldiers, and they make that policy impracticable, because by these very Acts you stimulate their vice, and you profess to guarantee their enjoyment. Let me point out to the House that this policy is all the more unpardonable, because of late years you have adopted short service in this country; and therefore what you do is this—you take the 3-outh of the country into your military camps; you train them in the belief that it is the duty of law and Government to provide women for their sexual indulgence; you hold out to them an illusory guarantee; and after a few years you send them back to their homes amongst the general population, almost all demoralized, many diseased, to teach there the lessons which they have learned from you. There is another distinction between these two classes of stations, more extraordinary and more unpardonable still. I had it from Sir William Muir—it came out of my examination of him—that when a regiment, or a company, or a troop, or a single soldier returning from furlough, went back to a subjected station, he or they were immediately examined, and if any man was found diseased, he was put into hospital. I asked why? and Sir William Muir said, lest he should spread disease amongst the women—lest justice should not be done to a great experiment. I said—"What is your rule when a regiment, a troop, or a soldier returns to a free station?—are they examined then? "and he said "No." I say that that is a monstrous thing, and that we are not entitled to place any faith on the statistics or calculations of men who are incapable of seeing the statistical iniquity of a difference of this description. But if I am correct in believing that the House will share my views—that the 771 House will think that the statistics are valueless when such differences are allowed to pass without remark, and that the Army Medical Department are not to be trusted, who do not see fair play between one class of station and another—I think the House will be yet more surprised with the view of the majority of the Committee. Their view is this—that the soldier returning into a subjected district, examined and found to be diseased, would be debited against that district; and therefore they say, on the whole, it is unfair to the subjected districts. And the majority of this Committee absolutely did not see this—that when you are asserting as the very principle of the measure that you need compulsory examination in order to prevent disease, it must be unfair to the districts where there is no compulsion not to examine the soldiers, but to examine them in those districts where you have the compulsory system. I said that the majority recommended the extension of the Acts. In this respect their Report is very extraordinary. Its concluding words are these—The hygienic and other benefits conferred by the Acts in their present narrow application appear to your Committee to warrant the belief that if extended to the United Kingdom generally they would become still more effective for the diminution of venereal disease, and for other beneficial purposes.And then they add—That if practical results were alone to be considered the Acts might be extended with excellent effect.And then the Chairman's draft went on to say that—Having regard to the character rather than to the extent of opinion hostile to the Acts they cannot 'at present' recommend their extension.The reason which the majority assigned for not recommending their extension was that—The public opinion of apart of the community is unprepared for such a step.Now this, I say, was a practical recommendation of the extension of the system to the country at large. It is true that the words "at present" were subsequently omitted without discussion. But the tactical omission of those words did not, in the least degree, alter the character of the Report of the majority; and it was, practically, a recommendation to extend the Acts to the country, "if you 772 dare and when you dare. "It is the old policy. Public opinion is to be prepared by degrees for what we call the demoralization of the public mind. I venture to tell the majority that such policy will fail; and I say that, even hygienically speaking, the system stands condemned by the result of the public inquiries that have been held concerning it. In 1854the Legislature devised a system of the compulsory examination of women suspected of being diseased. In 1806 the Legislature came to the conclusion that this Act was ineffective, and superseded it by the present system of the compulsory periodical examination of all known prostitutes. In 1871 the Royal Commission came to the conclusion that the system of 1866, although theoretically the most effectual, was practically impossible, because it could not be universally applied; and they recommended that it be discontinued, and that the main provisions of the Act of 1864 should be re-enacted. And now, in 1882, the majority of this Committee find and say that the principles of the objections to the examinations of the Act of 1866 apply equally to those of 1864, and that a return to the measure of 1864 would deprive the system of its chief value. Both these systems, therefore, are condemned. The one of 1864 is condemned by the majority of this Committee; the one of 1866 is condemned by the Royal Commission. We, Sir, in these respects agree with both these authorities, and we say these Acts must be repealed and abandoned, and you must look elsewhere than to compulsion, which means Government sanction and Government stimulus and inducement to vice, for the hygienic consequences and benefits which you desire. Now, I have trespassed for a long time upon your attention; but I have practically done, and I have only two or three more words to say. Sir, I have been obliged to speak largely and mainly of hygiene; but I revolt against the task. I have had the weight of this question upon me now for some 10 years past. I loathe its details; I have had to steep myself in the knowledge of them to the lips. What I have done I have done for conviction and for duty's sake, and never will I abandon a duty which I have once undertaken to fulfil, nor will I cease until I have proved the hygienic failure and imposture of these Acts; but 773 no man knows, or ever can or will know, what to me has been the suffering, the burden, and the cost. During the last few years, in consequence of this prolonged inquiry, the agitation against these Acts has been suspended. Some thought it had died out. They little know how to judge the situation. It has been revived by the Majority Report, and it will never flag again; it will, on the contrary, grow without ceasing until these demoralizing laws are torn from the Statute Book for ever. The religious world is beginning to be deeply moved upon this subject. And what they demand at this moment is this—that the Legislature shall address itself to it, but on higher than mere medical or hygienic grounds. I agree with them; but it is not for me to abandon the task which I have undertaken, and which I will never give up, of exposing the hygienic imposture of these immoral Acts. I agree with them; but I must make this reserve—that I cannot admit, and I have never admitted, the possibility of any lasting dissonance between the moral and hygienic law. The law of morals and the law of physical health are but parts of one harmonious whole—that great, that supreme providential law under which we hold our human lives; and it is my profound and absolute conviction that that which promotes morality, and that alone, can be relied on to promote the health of nations and of generations yet unborn. I appeal, Sir, to Her Majesty's Government to take these higher considerations into immediate account. I tell them, and I tell this House, that I can speak with authority, for no man is so steeped in the knowledge of this subject as I am. I tell them that these laws are condemned. It has been well said of late that—There is no instance in the history of this country of an Act of Parliament which has been opposed from the moment that any persons outside the official circle became aware of its having been passed; which its own supporters admit could not have been passed if the public had known that it had been going on; which has been watched and exposed in its operations as evil, and wholly evil; whose repeal has been agitated for without ceasing for a day through its whole existence; and which vet has become permanently the law of the land.This legislation is opposed to the deepest convictions of a large proportion of the 774 most earnest and the most active supporters of the present Government. We are bound to be true, and we shall be true, to what we hold to be the Higher Law; and we ask the Government to remove this stumbling-block from our path. We ask them, in the interest of other questions, to promote our unity and to satisfy our consciences. For myself, I have to say that no personal, no Party political considerations, compared with this Higher Law, can ever rank as high. I beg to move the Resolution which stands in my name.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House disapproves of the compulsory examination of women under the Contagious Diseases Acts,"—(Mr. Stansfeld,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ THE JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL (Mr. OSBORNE MORGAN)
Mr. Speaker, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stansfeld), in his eloquent and impassioned speech, has made an appeal—I may almost say, has addressed a threat—to Her Majesty's Government; and he has also brought some very grave charges against what he called "the Majority Report" of the Select Committee of this House to which this question was referred. That majority, by the way, was in the proportion of 10 to 6; and, what is more, it included every acting Member—because my hon. Friend the Member for the Montgomery Boroughs (Mr. Hanbury - Tracy) was incapacitated by illness—who was not already enrolled as a Vice President or an active member of some Association for the total repeal of these Acts, and who, therefore, did not come to this inquiry bound hand and foot to a particular view and a particular course of action. On referring to the Report itself, too, I find that its discussion occupied a whole day, and that there were no less than 14 divisions on substantial Amendments. Therefore, I think that it is hardly fair to say that the discussion of the Report was slurred over in a short time.
Now, I ought to say that I have no authority to speak for Her Majesty's Government; it is right that I should 775 put that statement in the front of my speech. At the same time, I hope that, as an individual Member of the Committee, who probably has been the subject of more abuse and misrepresentation than falls to the lot of most men, I may be allowed to state, as temperately as I can, why I am unable to concur in the conclusions of the right hon. Gentleman. He has put the case, of course, as strongly as possible, and he has quoted, from the Evidence taken before the Committee, facts and figures to support his view. But the worst of it is that the Evidence taken before the Committee is so voluminous, extending to about 1,500 pages, and occupying in time nearly four years, and so conflicting, that I really think, judiciously handled, it might be made to prove almost anything. That was one of the great difficulties the Committee had to contend with; they had to disentangle the case from the enormous mass of irrelevant and untrustworthy evidence, if evidence it could be called, by which they were overwhelmed; they had to separate facts from assumptions, and to weigh the evidence of each particular witness, and ascertain on which side the truth lay. I do not claim that, in all respects, they succeeded in doing this—the House will determine as to that; but I do say that the Report drawn up by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Limerick (Mr. O'Shaughnessy)—than whom no Committee ever had a more able, painstaking, or impartial Chairman—was an honest attempt to grapple with the question. Now, I have always given to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax credit for the singleness and sincerity of his views on this subject. I know that he has made great personal sacrifices in connection with it, and I respect him for it. I only wish the right hon. Gentleman, and those who act with him, could bring themselves to believe that it is just possible that men who have been most reluctantly compelled to differ from them may be actuated by motives as pure, as honest, and as conscientious as their own.
Having said so much, I come to the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman; and I must express my regret that, on this occasion, he should have departed from the precedent of former years, and, instead of boldly moving the repeal of I the Acts altogether, should have selected 776 for his attack the most vulnerable, but, at the same time, one of the most vital points connected with their administration. I am sure that all the Members of the Committee would have been only too happy if they could have reported against compulsory examination; but we felt that it was an essential feature of the system; we felt that, if you got rid of compulsory examination, you might as well let the Acts go altogether. To prove this, I must go shortly into the history of these Acts. In 18G4, in consequence of the terrible havoc wrought by these diseases among our soldiers and sailors at certain ports and stations, the Contagious Diseases Act, 1864, was passed; and it really disposes of a great deal of the right hon. Gentleman's argument to say that the particular stations included in it and the subsequent Acts were selected on account of the great prevalence of the diseases at those stations. Now, the Act of 1864 did not in terms authorize periodical compulsory examination; but it enabled a magistrate, on the sworn information of a medical man, or police constable, stating that he had good cause to believe that a prostitute was diseased, to order her examination and detention (if she proved to be so) in a hospital. It also made provision for the voluntary examination of women, and their detention in hospitals if they were found to be diseased. The Act of 1864, however, having proved, in practice, very inefficacious, was repealed by the Act of 1866, which provided for three things—registration of prostitutes at the subjected stations; compulsory periodical examinations; and the detention of diseased women in State-supported Lock Hospitals.
But the Act of 1866 contained a clause to which I wish to call the attention of the House, because the Committee considered—and I think they were supported by the evidence—that this section constituted an essential difference between the English and Continental systems, which are sometimes said to be identical. It provided, by Section 12, that no hospital should be certified under the Act, unless at the time of the granting of a certificate adequate provision was made for the moral and religious instruction of the women detained therein under the Act; and if, at any subsequent time, 777 it appeared that, in any such hospital, adequate provision for that purpose was not made, the certificate was to be withdrawn.
Now, notwithstanding what the right hon. Gentleman has said, the Act of 1866 was followed by a most remarkable diminution of disease in the subjected districts. And here I wish to call the attention of the House to an important Memorial drawn up two years after the passing of that Act, addressed to the Duke of Marlborough, then President of the Council, by the President of the Royal College of Physicians, the President of the Royal College of Surgeons, and some other leading physicians and surgeons in London. The Memorial stated, first, that the operation of the Contagious Diseases Act of 1866 had been very effectual at those garrison towns where it had been applied, not only in diminishing the extent, but also in much alleviating the severity of the diseases against which the Act was directed; and, secondly, that from the evidence of the clergy, medical officers, and police acquainted with the operation of the Act in these districts, it was clear that the condition of the unfortunate women who were subjected to these restrictive and sanitary measures had been favourably influenced, and that a comparatively large proportion of them had been reclaimed. The Memorial also stated that sufferers by these diseases formed a large proportion of the sick population; and that, infected by contagion or by inheritance, a considerable number of innocent adults and children suffered as much as the guilty. Pausing here for a moment, I would remark that it is always assumed by the opponents of the Acts that these diseases only prey upon the guilty parties; but we all know that this is essentially a case in which the sins of the fathers are visited on the children to the third and fourth generation. Well, this Memorial, which prayed that the Acts might be extended to the civil population, is signed by Sir James Alderson, President of the Royal College of Physicians; Sir John Hilton, President of the Royal College of Surgeons; Sir George Burrows, President of the General Council of Medical Education; Sir Thomas Watson, late President of the Royal College of Physicians; Sir Henry Holland, President of the Royal Institution; Sir William Jenner, Sir 778 William Ferguson, Sir James Paget, and other eminent physicians and surgeons. And to this Memorial was appended this still more remarkable rider—We heartily approve of the objects proposed in the letter to His Grace the Duke of Marlborough, and trust the Government will give them its early consideration.The first name attached to that rider is a name which, I am sure, will always be mentioned with respect in this House—that of Dr. Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, then the Dean of Westminster. Then follow the signatures of Dr. Thompson, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridge; Dr. Leighton, Warden of All Souls' College, and Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford; Dr. Godfrey B. Lee, Warden of Winchester College; Dr. William Selwyn, Canon of Ely Cathedral, and Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity, Cambridge; the Rev. William Rogers, Rector of Bishopsgate; the Rectors of Chatham and Dover, both subjected places, and several others. Well, as a matter of fact, the Act of 1866 was partially extended by the Act of 1869. Now, the right hon. Gentleman speaks of these Acts as having been passed surreptitiously, without the knowledge of the public; but I must remind him that he was himself one of the most distinguished and prominent Members of the very Government which passed the Act of 1869; and not only that, but for four years afterwards, he remained a Member of the Government charged with the administrative carrying out of the Acts, although he was all the time engaging in a sort of violent propaganda against them. Indeed, the Acts seem to have worked very smoothly until 1870; but about that time a perfect storm of agitation arose, chiefly fanned by ladies, who considered that they were an outrage on their sex. The result was the appointment of a Royal Commission, which consisted (amongst others) of my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella), whom we are all glad to see again in the House; my hon. Friend the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Hastings), whose interest in these social questions is so well known; my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands); my hon. Friend the Member for Gates- 779 head (Mr. W. H. James); and many other distinguished persons. That Commission, no doubt, as the right hon. Gentleman has stated, recommended that the compulsory periodical examination should be discontinued; but it also recommended that every common prostitute found to be diseased, after an examination by a medical officer, upon a voluntary submission, or upon a magistrate's order, should be detained in a certified hospital until discharged by a magistrate's order, or by the authorities of such hospital, provided that such detention should in no case exceed three months (Report of Royal Commission, p. 19). In other words, they recommended a return to the system of 1864, which had been tried and had failed, and which would admittedly not satisfy the right hon. Gentleman or his followers, who demand the total repeal of the Acts.
But, as a matter of fact, though this Report was signed pro formâ by 23 Members, no less than 16 of those Members, on various grounds, dissented from it (Ibid., p. 21, et seq.), so that the Report was really the Report of seven Members only. And I am not aware that any serious attempt was made to carry out their recommendations, except by a Bill introduced in 1872 by Mr. Secretary Bruce, now Lord. Aberdare, which never reached a second reading. But Bills were brought in, year after year, by my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mr. W. Fowler) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax, and, I think, by Sir Harcourt Johnstone, now Lord Derwent, not to carry out the recommendations of the Royal Commission, but for the total repeal of the Acts. At last, in 1879, in deference to the earnest appeal of the latter Gentleman, a Select Committee was appointed to consider the whole question; and I think that, at the time, it was stated to be the intention of all parties that the Committee should be a thoroughly impartial and representative body.
Now, I have been a Member of about as many Select Committees, for the length of time I have sat in the House, as any hon. Member; and I must say, from a large experience, that I do not think there ever was a Select Committee which worked so hard or took so much pains to get to the bottom of a question. I must add, too, that the evidence called by the right hon. Gentleman 780 added greatly to its labours. For instance, I find that, in 1881, the questions put by him and the answers to those questions occupied exactly half the space taken up by all the other 16 Members put together. Nor can it be said that the opponents of the Acts were unfairly represented on that Committee, for no less than six Vice Presidents or active members of the numerous Associations for the Repeal of the Acts were Members of it; and it is a remarkable fact, too, that, as I have already stated, those six Members were the only Members who signed what is called the "Minority Report." Of course, I do not object to any hon. Gentleman enrolling himself a member of one of these Associations if he pleases; but I do say that men so pledged beforehand can hardly be said to have entered on any investigation with a free and open mind. As to myself, I was not originally a Member of the Committee. I joined it in July, 1880, in an evil day for myself; and I must say that a more distasteful task was never imposed on any human being. Not only is the subject not an agreeable one, but it is not a pleasant thing to be threatened with the undying hostility of all the good women in England, simply because you try to find out whether a particular witness is speaking the truth. However, much as I disliked the duty I had undertaken, having once undertaken it I did what I suppose every other Member of the House would have done—I did my best to discharge it; and from the day I was appointed to the day of the Report, although the deliberations of the Committee lasted for two years, and we sat sometimes three days a-week, I was never absent from the Committee for one single day. I take no credit for that; I simply mention it as a proof that, if I have gone wrong in this matter, it has not been from any desire to shirk the inquiry. In fact, my mind on this subject was like a piece of white paper when I joined the Committee. I then thought, indeed, and I still think, that the burden lay on those who seek the repeal of the Acts to show that in the localities in which they are in operation they are regarded as doing more harm than good. I do not want to know how they are regarded in Halifax and in Glasgow; I want to know what is thought of them in Devonport 781 and Portsmouth and Chatham? We were directed to inquire as to the "operation, administration, and effect" of the Acts. The proper thing, then, as it seemed to me, was to go down to the subjected districts and see how they were administered there, and what people there thought of that administration. I may mention also, in passing, that I was very disagreeably impressed by the revolting letters and pamphlets addressed not only to ourselves, but to our wives and daughters, by some of the opponents of the Acts; and I do wish that some steps could be taken to put an end to what is really becoming an intolerable nuisance.
Well, I was saying that I was anxious to find what opinion people who lived in the subjected stations had formed of the Acts. But, to my great surprise, not half the right hon. Gentleman's witnesses had ever set foot in these districts. They spoke merely from hearsay—not of what they knew for themselves, but of what they had heard from others. No doubt, some of these witnesses had visited those districts six, seven, eight, or nine years ago; but comparatively few could give any personal testimony as to the actual working of the Acts at the present time. Thus, out of 33 witnesses called to discredit the Acts, only 12 actually resided, or had resided within recent times, within the limits of the subjected districts. One of these 12, a Mr. Lark, though he had lived in Portsmouth several months, declined to speak from his own personal knowledge (Ev. 1882, No. 5235). Then, again, three, if not four, of the remaining witnesses, when pressed in cross-examination, declared themselves strongly in favour of the Acts. Mr. Brutton, the Superintendent of the Devon County Police, who was called by the right hon. Gentleman, says (Ev. 1882, No. 769, et seq.)—My opinion with regard to a garrison town is, that these Acts are very good for checking the spread of venereal diseases, and that they also act as a deterrent to prostitution.He was then asked—So far as your own personal opinion is concerned, you would be in favour of continuing the Acts, as I understand?And his answer was—"Certainly." Mr. Cosser, from Portsmouth, called by the right hon. Gentleman, was asked (Ibid., No. 1044, et seq.)— 782Did I understand you aright, to say that 'to that extent'—that is, the extent of exercising a deterrent influence—you think the Acts have had a beneficial operation?—Certainly. Might I go farther, and ask you, whether, in your opinion, it is desirable that the Acts should be repealed as far as Portsmouth is concerned?—I think not.And these are the gentlemen called to discredit the Acts! Like Balaam, they were called to curse the Acts, and they blessed them altogether! There were, indeed, seven witnesses, resident in the subjected places, who did speak very strongly against the Acts. I do not wish to say anything against these gentlemen individually, except that they were all men of one type, and of one school of thought, what we should call in a Court of Law advocate witnesses. There was a City missionary, a Town missionary, a Midnight missionary, a Scripture reader, a Wesleyan Army chaplain, a clergyman from Woolwich, and a Mr. Wheeler, a member of the Society of Friends, who seems to have made it his profession to go about and collect evidence against the Acts for the last eight or ten years (Ibid., No. 1546).
But now observe the witnesses who were called on behalf of the Acts. I put aside the whole of what are called the "official witnesses," and I want to call the attention of the House to the kind of men who, being familiar for many years with the localities, asserted, as their belief, that the Acts had done an incalculable amount of good there. There was Mr. Luscombe, the senior magistrate of Plymouth; the Rev. Prebendary Wilkinson, Vicar of Plymouth; the Rev. Mr. Grant, Vicar of Portsmouth; the Rev. Mr. Tuffield, minister of a very large Congregational church in Woolwich; a man well known to many of my Nonconformist Friends; Mr. Stigant, the Chairman of the Local Board of Chatham; three Roman Catholic priests from Cork; Mr. Baxendale, the manager of the Refuge for Fallen Women at Greenwich; professional men, tradesmen, and representative men, in fact, of almost every type and class, all speaking from their own personal knowledge. All these men joined in bearing testimony to the great good that had been done by the Acts. I may add that they all, to a man, agreed that if you gave up the compulsory examination, you might as well give up the Acts altogether; because, without it, 783 you would never get the women to come into the hospitals. Under these circumstances, the Committee were, as a matter of fact, called upon to chooso between the compulsory examination and the giving up of the whole system; and they reported as follows:—Your Committee are of opinion that, if abandoned women could be induced by any method to submit themselves to medical supervision and care, it would be unjust and unwise to continue the system of compulsory periodical examination. But while the medical witnesses, who support the Acts and understand their administration, assert that the process is necessary, the opponents, when asked to suggest any other means by which prostitutes in subjected districts could be induced to submit themselves with regularity and promptness to the supervision and treatment necessary for their health, have failed to do so. If any such means could be devised and brought into operation, your Committee would not hesitate to recommend the abolition of compulsory periodical examination. No such means being shown to exist, they recommend its maintenance. The Royal Commission of 1870 recommended the abolition of periodical examinations, and the resumption of the main provisions of the Act of 1864. This Statute, while not insisting on periodical examination, subjected to compulsory examination prostitutes reasonably suspected of being infected with venereal disease. It appears to your Committee that the principles of the objections taken to the examination, under the Act of 1866, apply equally to the Act of 1864, and that while the course recommended by the Royal Commission would deprive the system of its chief means of detecting disease and preventing its diffusion, it would not satisfy the opponents of the system. It would be rejected as a half-measure, and would lead to renewed agitation. Your Committee, for these reasons, cannot assent to the recommendation of the Royal Commission of 1870, that the main principles of the Act of 1864 should be substituted for the periodical examinations required by the Act of 1866."—(Report of Select Committee, p. xxix.)But the Committee do not stop here. They go further, and—Recommend the institution, in some of the unsubjected districts, of female Lock Hospitals, supported by State aid and by such charitable contributions as may be obtained, to which entrance shall be voluntary. Unsubjected stations, in which venereal diseases are at present most prevalent among soldiers and sailors, should be selected for this purpose. The adoption of this course would afford an opportunity for testing the value of the opinion, so freely expressed by the opponents of the Acts, that an adequate system of voluntary treatment would be efficacious from a hygienic point of view."—(Ibid., p. xxx.)That is, they offered to try the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman side by side with the existing system; and, if it succeeded, we should be only too happy to give up compulsory examination.
784 But now I come to the further and wider question—namely, whether the Acts in themselves are worth maintaining. This matter has been treated, both by the right hon. Gentleman and by the Committee, as a hygienic, and also as a moral question, and I will adopt the same method. As to the former point, it has always seemed to mo exceedingly difficult to understand that any measure which had for its express object the detection of disease, and the seclusion, while in a state of disease, of persons who were admittedly instrumental in disseminating it, could possibly have any other effect than that of diminishing the disease itself. It would, in my judgment, require exceedingly strong evidence to make out a case of that kind. But, though I am about to speak of the right hon. Gentleman's theory with regard to this disease, I must say that I find it exceedingly difficult to follow the thread of his argument. As I understand it, his contention is something of this kind—he says that syphilis is divided into two kinds, the false and the true. The false, he says, is not followed by constitutional symptoms; whereas true syphilis always is. But this whole theory, called the dual theory, is most emphatically contested by some of the leading medical authorities on the subject; and I am bound to say that to my mind, and in the opinion of the majority of the Committee, the balance of evidence was against the dual theory. Then, founding himself on that deal theory, the right hon. Gentleman says in elfect—" You have, no doubt, shown a decrease in the false or non-constitutional symptoms; but you have shown an increase in the constitutional form of disease, commonly called secondary syphilis." Why one particular form of disease should be increased by these Acts, and another decreased, I never have been able to understand. Two things, however, are certain—first, that secondary symptoms are always preceded by primary symptoms, and in an unvarying ratio; and, secondly, that secondary symptoms can not, from the very nature of the thing, be a true test of the extent of the disease in a particular district, for the simple reason that they often only develop themselves three, six, or even twelve months after the germ of the disease was contracted; and as troops are constantly moving 785 about, secondary syphilis, contracted in an unsubjected district, is very often charged to a subjected district, and vice versâ. It follows from this that the only kind of syphilis from which you can draw any safe inference is the primary.
Now, as to the right hon. Gentleman's figures. Quoting from the official Returns, he gives the admissions to hospital for primary syphilis per 1,000 of average strength in the two groups of stations—namely, protected and unprotected stations—for every year from 1860 to 1878 (Proceedings of Committee, Minority Report, p. lxii.). Taking 1860, the ratio per 1,000 in the subjected districts was 146; in the unsubjected districts, 132. In 1861, the ratios respectively were 142 and 122. It will be seen from this that, at that time, the ratios of disease were higher in the protected than in the unprotected districts—in fact, as I have already said, the districts afterwards protected were chosen by the Legislature on account of the greater prevalence of disease at those stations. In 1884, the numbers are respectively 102 per 1,000 and 101 per 1,000. In 1865, you find the ratios in the subjected districts 95, and in the unsubjected districts 99. In 1866, the numbers are 87 and 84. In 1867, they are 91 and 101: in 1868, 83 and 95; in 1869, 66 and 106; in 1870, 55 and 93. And so it goes on—a steady decrease of the proportions taking place from year to year, until in 1878 the ratio, in the subjected districts, which was 146 in 1860, is only 40, whereas in the stations never under the Acts the ratio has only fallen from 132 to 88; in fact, the ratios at the unprotected stations are more than double what they are at the protected stations. If the House will refer to p. 446 of the Evidence taken by the Committee in 1881, they will find a diagram, drawn up by Inspector General Lawson, that shows at a glance the ox-tent of the reduction effected in each year in the protected as compared with the other districts. My hon. and learned Friend the Chairman of the Committee (Mr. O'Shaugbnessy) worked the sum out very carefully, and arrived at the conclusion that, practically, these Acts saved daily one man in every three to the Army; that, whereas, if you repealed the Acts, there would be three men daily in hospital in the subjected districts, at present there were only two. 786 Putting it another way, he said the normal number of men who ought to be constantly in hospital for these diseases is 16 per 1,000; from that you must deduct 5.38, or just one-third, as the daily saving in efficiency effected by the Acts (Report of Select Committee, p. xvi.). But then the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) says that, putting the difference at not quite 5½ men per 1,000, and calculating the men in the protected districts at 50,000, you get a saving of only 269 men; and that, he says, is a very small result for the cost (£30,000) of working the Acts (Dr. Cameron's Amendment, p. xciii. of Proceedings of Committee). But I venture to point out to my hon. Friend that there are several fallacies in this argument. The first fallacy is this—a man who once goes into hospital for a venereal disease is (as he well knows) not the same man again for a long time—sometimes not for the whole of his life. It is not merely that he may have been the victim of constitutional disease, but that he has been subjected to a treatment which itself impairs his constitution. I have consulted several officers on this point, and they say—It takes a man months, or even years, to eradicate the disease and the treatment from his system, and during all that time he is a very much worse man for our purposes.Therefore, you must add this important immunity to the saving already indicated, which I need hardly say would give a very much larger gain due to the operation of the Acts. Then, there is another fallacy. The cost charged to the Army of working the Contagious Diseases Acts is not £30,000, but under £17,000 per annum. £30,000 includes the sum charged in the Navy Estimates; and, of course, if you charge the Acts with the cost of working the system for the benefit of the Navy, you ought also to credit the Acts with the saving which they bring to the Navy—a point into which the Committee did not inquire, but which the last Annual Report as to the health of the Navy will show to be considerable (See p. xvii.). Then, to that saving must be added the benefits accruing to the Civil population, including many innocent women and children, a matter too often forgotten in this controversy, but upon which some very important evidence was received by the Committee. Moreover, as the House is aware, 787 in 1878 there was a disturbing element, to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, in the shape of Lord Cardwell's Order, which was in operation from 1873 to 1878. Under that Order a soldier could be put under stoppages of pay if he suffered from venereal disease, and that led to much concealment and a large apparent decrease of the malady. In 1879, that Order was cancelled, so that the figures of 1880 and 1881 are really more valuable as affording evidence of the extent of disease, and they show an alarming increase of the disease, at least in the free districts. From the Army Medical Report of 1880 (p. 14), I find that the group of 14 stations under the Acts shows an increase of 27 per 1,000 men on the corresponding rate of the preceding year; while the contrasted group of 14 selected stations not under the Acts shows an increase of 59 per 1,000 men. I have got the figures here, and they are perfectly appalling. At Aldershot (a protected station) the admissions to hospital for primary syphilis in 1880 were 74 per 1,000; Heaven knows a sufficiently large number. But now let me refer to the admissions in the unprotected districts. I find that in that year in London actually 225 men per 1,000 were admitted to hospital for primary syphilis alone. In Manchester the number was 232 per 1,000. In Dublin (where there is a State-supported Lock Hospital open to voluntary patients) it was 216. In Belfast it was 273 per 1,000. I say that these figures are absolutely appalling, and they prove that this disease, so far from decreasing, is spreading, and growing at a fearful rate.
Then, here is a Return which reached hon. Members yesterday morning. It is for the year 1881. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) did not refer to it; I will do so. The group of 14 stations under the Acts showed the same ratio as in the previous year; but the selected stations not under the Acts showed an increase of 14 per 1,000 (See p. 2). In 1881, in London, 219 men per 1,000 were admitted to hospital for primary syphilis alone; in Sheffield, 279; in Manchester, 228; in Dublin (with its State-supported voluntary Lock Hospital), 259 per 1,000. I have worked out the figures carefully on the same principle, as the corresponding figures are worked out 788 in the Report for the preceding years; and I find that the daily loss to the Service, calculated on that principle from men constantly in hospital, would be 6.53 men per 1,000 in 1880, and 7.99 per 1,000 in 1881. In other words, the daily saving to the Service becomes not, as before, one man in three, but nearly one man in two. Taking 50,000 men as the strength of the garrisons of the protected districts, you would, if these Acts were repealed, practically strike 400 men constantly in hospital off the ranks of the Army. What will be said to that? Repeal the Acts, and on any given day 400 more men would be detained in hospital, and thus struck off the strength of our "dangerously small Army" (as Lord Wolseley has called it), to say nothing of the great additional loss arising from treatment in hospital and constitutional injury. In the Evidence (App., p. 471) there is a letter from Lieutenant-Colonel Tucker, commanding the 80th Regiment, dated April, 1881, which contains this passage—Since the arrival of my regiment in Dublin, there have been the enormous number of 166 admissions to hospital of men suffering from primary syphilis, and the admissions from gonorrhœa amount to 118, making a total of 284; thus, during a period of 10 months, considerably over 43 per cent of the unmarried portion of my regiment have been incapacitated from duty. I submit, for the sake of economy, if not for the benefit of the soldiers, some steps should be taken to wipe out this easily preventible but terrible scourge.Mr. Macnamara, surgeon to the Dublin State - supported voluntary Lock Hospital, was called, and I read the contents of this letter to him, and said (Evidence, 1881, No. 6450)—" Are you surprised to hear that?" He replied—"I am not the least surprised to hear it. The same thing applies to every other regiment in the garrison. Is that borne out by your medical experience?—Yes." And recollect that in Dublin the system of State-supported Lock Hospitals, the admission to which is voluntary, has been tried under the most favourable circumstances, with what result we here see.
So much for the hygienic aspect of the question. It is, perhaps, a question for medical experts, and there are several Members who have a professional knowledge of the subject, and I hope they will be able to give us their views upon it. All 789 I can say is this—let anyone who wishes to obtain the opinion of a medical man ask his own doctor as to the value of these Acts. He will, if he knows anything of the subjected districts, tell you (as a great medical authority told me) that generations yet unborn will rue their repeal. I happened to speak to one of the most experienced members of the Medical Profession in London—a gentleman who is well known to many Members of this House—on the subject, and he stopped me and said—"If I were to put you in a cupboard in my consulting room, and you could see the mothers who bring me their children rotten with disease—I know perfectly well what is the matter with their children, but I dare not tell them—you would be amazed that anyone could be found who would wish to interfere in any way with the operation of Acts which have, at all events, done something to check this terrible disease."
But I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should have laboured this part of his case as he has done, for, as I understand the arguments of some of the opponents of the Acts, the very last thing they would desire to see is the stamping out of venereal disease. They regard it as a scourge sent by God to deter men from sin—they affirm that if you could eradicate this disease from the world men would be more prone to sin, as there would then be less to deter them from it. At any rate, Dr. Osborn and Mr. Gillett were asked the question by me, and they said that the more efficacious the Acts were in a sanitary point of view, the more objectionable they would be in a moral point of view. [Mr. Stansfeld dissented.] Here is the evidence of Dr. Osborn (No. 4,867 of the Evidence of 1882)—I take it that your view would be that the more efficacious they (the Acts) were in a sanitary point of view, the more objectionable they would be in a moral point of view, and that that is for the reason that they would give rise to more sin?—Exactly.And then he expounds his views. Then there is the evidence of Mr. Gillett (No. 5,046)—Would you go so far as the last witness, and say that the more efficacious the Acts were from a sanitary point of view, the more objectionable they would be from a moral point of view?—Yes; I think they would be.Indeed, I cannot help thinking the right hon. Gentleman himself has also taken 790 that view, for I find that in a speech: which he made on the 25th of October, 1881, and which is reported in The Shield of the 1st November, 1881, after a great deal of personal abuse of myself, he says—I have always said, and I repeat it hero, that to my mind the most damning evidence against the Acts would be the proof of their complete hygienic success." (Loud cheers.)As I understand his position, the right hon. Gentleman holds that the Acts are an outrage on morality, and that, therefore, they are, on principle, to be condemned on that ground, whatever may be their value in a sanitary point of view. But, if that be so, I do not see what was the use of our sitting all these years to decide a foregone conclusion. It was a mere farce, I say, under such circumstances, to admit the medical evidence at all, if we were bound to shut our eyes to that evidence and repeal the Acts simply on the ground of their involving, as the right hon. Gentleman puts it, the "State regulation of vice." Why waste time in inquiring whether, from a sanitary point of view, they are efficacious, when they are so mala in se that, irrespective of any good effect they may produce, you are bound, on grounds of public morality, to repeal them?
Now, in dealing with this part of the question, I have endeavoured to consider, first, what is the position which the State, quite irrespectively of these Acts, does, as a matter of fact, maintain towards this great social evil; and, secondly, what is the position it ought to maintain. I hope I shall not be misunderstood. The subject is a very delicate one; but in all these cases it is better to look facts in the face—there is nothing so foolish or so mischievous as to bury your head, ostrich-like, in the sand, and ignore facts which you are unwilling to acknowledge. I have endeavoured to find out whether there exists in England any penal law against what we call vice, unaccompanied by any aggravating circumstances. Of course, a prostitute is subject to certain penal consequences if she exercise her trade in a certain way; as, for instance, if she behave in a disorderly manner or solicit passersby; but, as far as I can find out, there is no penal law against vice per se. I may add that I am borne out by high authorities (See 1 Russell on Crimes, p. 428, 1 Hawk. P. C. 74) in saying that, by the law of 791 England, prostitution is not in itself a criminal offence. And, as a matter of fact, it is impossible for anyone to walk down from this House to his own residence, through St. James's Street or Piccadilly, at night, without seeing vice flaunting itself at the corner of every street unchecked and almost unreproved. Now, I maintain that, as long as you tolerate prostitution, so long you are bound to minimize, as far as you can, the frightful evils resulting from it. Or, to quote the language of the Committee's Report—It is not denied that the State permits prostitution to exist. The prostitute is punishable if she carries on her trade in such a manner as to outrage public decency, or violate certain laws and regulations not directed against the habit of prostitution, pure and simple, but against the habit, under certain aggravating circumstances, of disorder. Simple prostitution is at present not connived at, but openly tolerated. Women known to be engaged in it are permitted to appear in public, notoriously with a view to plying their trade, provided they abstain from solicitation and indecent and disorderly conduct. If there he any law prohibitory of prostitution, pure and simple, it is a dead letter."—(Report of Select Committee, p. xix.)And now as to the attitude which the State ought to take on this question. All I can say is, that I asked every witness against the Acts to suggest any way in which the State could stamp out prostitution? And not one witness ventured to say it was possible. Surely, then, the Committee was right in saying—That, if it is admitted that the State cannot suppress the evil, it is difficult to see how those who make this admission, and thus absolve the State from the obligation of suppression, can consistently deny the State the right to take effective measures for the purpose of minimizing the injurious results of the evil. The Acts do not give prostitution more toleration than it enjoyed before their existence, or than it now enjoys, where they are not in force. It is not the Acts, but the administration of the ordinary law, that gives it toleration. All the Acts have done is to insist that the toleration permitted by the institutions of the country shall be exercised with less detriment to public health."—(Ibid.)Then there is a further point to consider. If it is wrong to contribute public money for the purpose of these Acts, surely it is wrong also to give any State aid to Lock Hospitals at all. Several surgeons of voluntary Lock Hospitals told us that women constantly come to them, and say, in effect—"I want you to cure me, in order that I 792 may go on carrying on my trade of prostitution;" and yet they cannot refuse to admit a patient asking avowedly to be admitted for such a purpose. Now, if it is wrong to devote public money to these Acts, then it is equally wrong to give it to any institution for the cure of unreclaimed prostitutes, or, as the Report of the Committee puts it—It is obvious that if the argument against enforced examination and cure, founded on the impunity it offers to sin, be valid, it is in principle available against any aid being given by the State for the treatment of unreclaimed prostitutes in common hospitals, as well as for the erection of separate hospitals, and not only against the grant of such aid by the State, but against its grant from the rates and from private individuals. Your Committee are of opinion that the objection to the system on the ground of the alleged encouragement or facilities given to vice involves fundamentally the opinion—which, however, tire opponents of the Acts strenuously reject—that prostitutes who have no intention of leaving their calling should not be provided with the means of cure, lest their freedom from disease should encourage men to associate with them."—(Ibid.)But then the right hon. Gentleman says that in practice, and as a matter of fact, the effect of these Acts is to encourage men in vicious habits, and so increase vice by "making it safe." Now, it is exceedingly difficult to say what are the motives which impel different persons to this particular vice. No doubt those motives differ according to circumstances and temperaments. But if, as their opponents say, these Acts have no hygienic value, if they tend to increase disease it cannot also be said that they make vice safe. You cannot blow hot and cold, and say in one and the same breath that they increase disease, and yet that they hold out to men the prospect of increased immunity from disease. That is impossible; the two propositions will not stand together.
Another objection often raised against them is this—it is said that they operate unfairly, inasmuch as they are applied to women and not to men. I confess I do not understand the argument. The Acts are directed not against women, but against prostitutes—that is to say, against a class which, as a matter of trade and profit, carries on an occupation which admittedly tends to propagate disease. Where is the analogous class among men? Would you examine all men? You might almost as well propose to examine all women! If you could show that in a single case a virtuous 793 woman, or even a quasi-virtuous woman, has been molested under these Acts, then the case would bear a very different aspect; and I told the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stansfeld), when I first joined the Committee, that if he could produce one authentic case of any respectable woman who had been molested under the Acts, or brought before a magistrate, it would go far towards converting me to his views. But there was not one case of this character brought before us which a lawyer would for a moment admit to be proved. Mr. Wheeler, indeed, in a leaflet published by him, and afterwards before the Committee, said there were hundreds of cases in which "terrified," and, I presume, innocent girls had to submit to examination; but, when pressed, he could only name one case—that of Caroline Wybrow (Evidence, 1882, No. 1810, et seq.), which occurred eight or nine years ago; and, from what I have lately heard of the subsequent career of that girl, I am not disposed to place much reliance on her story. There was, indeed, a case, known as the "Dover case," which, as it occurred recently, we determined to investigate, and we did investigate it thoroughly. We had all the parties called, and examined every witness who could throw any light upon it. I will not say what conclusion the House ought to come to; but I will say to those who have any doubts about it—" Read the evidence—(Ev. 1882, No. 627a—8235)—and judge for yourselves."
Then it is said that the Acts have encouraged clandestine prostitution. That is an easy thing to say; but, from the very nature of it, it is very difficult to prove or disprove it. My impression is that the evidence decidedly showed that clandestine prostitution had decreased. All I can say is, that most respectable and reliable gentlemen living in the subjected districts gave evidence to that effect. But one thing is certain. Whether the Acts have increased clandestine prostitution or not, they have certainly diminished open prostitution, the number of known common women in the subjected districts having, according to Captain Harris's Returns, fallen from 4,852 in 1864, to 1,796 in 1881. (Annual Report, 1881, p. xiv.) And I will tell you another thing, and I say it in the presence of the right hon. Gentleman, and defy him to contradict it—the 794 operation of the Acts has almost killed juvenile prostitution. Sir, it has always struck me as a terrible reproach to our modern society that, while our own daughters are being scrupulously guarded from the slightest breath of impurity, the children of the working classes should be left exposed to temptations to which every day a larger number of victims succumb. For the Report of the House of Lords' Committee bears me out in the statement that—Juvenile prostitution, from an almost incredibly early age, is increasing to an appalling extent in England generally, and especially in London."—(Ibid., p. iv.)So unquestionable is the evil, that a Bill is, I believe, about to be brought before the House of Lords for imposing heavier penalties for the seduction of young girls. By all means pass that measure. Our Committee has made almost similar recommendations; but I think this is a case in which prevention is better than cure, and I cannot but think that in these Acts we may be said to have found the prevention. The House will pardon me if I read an extract from the evidence taken, not before our Committee, but before the Committee of the House of Lords, which was thought important enough to be published in an Appendix by itself—Having lived for some years in a garrison town (Portsmouth), where the Contagious Diseases Acts are in force, the writer cannot but add his earnest conviction of the inestimable value of these Acts, judiciously carried out, in lessening juvenile prostitution. If the Acts were quite inoperative as to reducing the amount or the virulence of disease, they would still find their justification (more especially until brothels are more easily suppressed, either by the police or other competent authority) in the beneficent results mentioned above."—(Mr. Pares' Minute, Appendix A. to Report of House of Lords' Committee on Protection of Young Girls, p. 51.)And now let me show how this is brought about. I suspect but very few of us know how easy it is for a young girl to disappear in a large town. She runs away, gets into bad company, and is as much lost as if she were drowned in the ocean. The Police Reports are full of such cases. Witnesses told us that it was quite common for girls to disappear in our great towns without anyone knowing what had become of them. Now, see what, in such a case, takes place in districts where these Acts are in force. 795 I quote from the evidence of Mr. Grant, the Vicar of Portsmouth. He says (Ev. 1881, No. 5207)—I could give an instance of a servant girl being absent from home, and being afraid to return home, because she was too late, and keeping company with a soldier, and being taken to a house, and being found there the next day through the operation of these Acts, and brought back, and so saved. I have no doubt that there are many such cases.Then I say—That is precisely the case which suggests itself to my mind; that, I suppose, you would attribute to the fact that under these Acts a body of police visit these brothels, and are able to trace these girls?—Within three hours they knew where to put their hands upon this poor girl, and brought her back. That is a very striking case indeed. The story is told to the police, the girl is described to them, and they almost know at once where to put their hands upon her, and, practically, save her.Now, there are innumerable cases of the same kind spoken to from Devonport, Plymouth, Cork, and other places. The result of this surveillance, and also of the deterrent operation of the system, may be read in Captain Harris's Annual Report on these Acts, from which it appears that there has been an enormous and continuous reduction in the number of juvenile prostitutes in all the subjected districts. I have the figures hero, and must be allowed to refer to them shortly. (Annual Report, 1881, p. xiv.) Take the ages of known prostitutes in the subjected districts in 1866, before the Act of that year came into operation, and their ages in 1881. In 1866, in these districts, there were two of these unfortunate creatures under 13 years, in 1881 there were none. In 1866 there were two, over 13 and under 14 years of ago, against none in 1881. In 1866 there were 27, over 14 and under 15, against none in 1881. In 1866 there were 104, over 15 and under 16, against only six—too many I grant—in 1881. In 1866 there were 242, over 16 and under 17, against 11 in 1881. And so the Return goes on. Now, if those figures are not a mere fraudulent concoction, you must attach some importance to them. I think they justify the finding of the Committee on this point, which is as follows:—It is to be remarked that, while a constant decrease in juvenile prostitution has gone on in the subjected districts, the Committee of the House of Lords appointed to consider the subject and other kindred topics in 1881 states, in 796 its Report, dated July 10, 1882. that 'juvenile prostitution, from an almost incredible early ago, exists to an appalling extent in England generally, and especially in London.' Their Lordships attribute its prevalence mainly to certain specified causes. Every one of these causes has been proved to your Committee to be vigorously and effectively counteracted by the administration of the Contagious Diseases Acts, so that the alleged reduction of juvenile prostitution in the subjected districts is borne out by the fact that the influences stated by the Committee of the House of Lords to be its principal source are deprived of much of their strength, where the administration of the Acts is brought to boar against them.The causes referred to are:—But I should like to say one word about the innumerable cases of reclamation of women of all ages brought to our notice through the operation of Clause 12 in the Act of 1866. I would refer particularly to the evidence of Miss Webb (Ev. 1882, No. 10066–10221), the Lady Superintendent of the Chatham Lock Hospital, and to a letter from a very benevolent and excellent lady, Mrs. Grant, the wife of Archdeacon Grant, until lately Archdeacon of Rochester, which will be found in the evidence of Miss Webb (Ibid., No. 10119). It is as follows:—
- "1. The want of parental control. This is remedied by the information which the police give parents as to the dangers of their daughters, and by the authority which the police exert for the reclamation of young girls.
- "2. Residence in brothels. As already shown, it has been proved to your Committee that the police exert their power with excellent effect to prevent brothel keepers from harbouring young girls.
- "3. The example and encouragement given by girls slightly older. The deterrent influence of the system acts effectually against the temptation.
- "4. The state of the streets 'in which little girls are allowed to run about and become accustomed to the sight of open profligacy.' Your Committee find that the Acts have much improved the condition of the streets, and repressed public disorder and indecency among fallen women, thus removing much of the bad example which was formerly to be seen in subjected districts."—(Ibid., p. xxv.)My dear Miss Webb, you ask me whether' as far as my own experience goes, 'I think the effects of the Contagious Diseases Acts hardening or softening.' Of the effects on the population outside I have had no means of forming an opinion; but on the inmates of the hospital, I have no hesitation in pronouncing them most beneficial, not only looking at the large number who through their means are rescued, but also observing the improved bearing and demeanour of those who yet return to their way of life. By the compulsory provisions of the Acts, a class is brought inside influence which parochial 797 machinery cannot reach, women, who if found (which is rarely the case), are in a state of constant semi-intoxication, which makes appeal fruitless. Many such I have seen, on first entrance, bold and defiant, who, after a week or two, have become docile, willing to listen; and in some, conscience has seemed to re-awaken, so that before leaving they have requested to be 'sent to homes, while others, who returned to the old life, have shortly after abandoned it. Again, many are brought in who had given up all hope, felt themselves lost, and for whom, indeed, no visible means of escape existed till offered them here, and joyfully embraced. The matron of the Medway Union told mo she never had trouble with girls brought here from the hospital. I have been much struck with the grateful attachment to yourself, and to the nurses, which I have found among these girls years after they had left. I may also mention the valuable and cordial co-operation I have met with from members of the police in cases which I could not have reached without their aid.Believe me to remain yours truly,Julia Grant.Case after case was brought before us of girls who would not have had an opportunity of returning to a good course of life but for these Acts. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the evidence of the Secretary of the Rescue Society, to show that the operation of the Acts is a sort of artificial feeding of juvenile vice. Now, the question I would ask is—"Is it possible that, if these Acts have had such immoral results, men like Mr. Luscombe, Mr. Wilkinson, Mr. Grant, Mr. Tuffield, and others, of all opinions and professions, all having experience of their operation, would have borne unequivocal testimony to their good effects?" That is really what converted me to the opinion of the majority—the almost unanimous opinion of the intelligent and educated population in the districts where the Acts are in operation. Indeed, it may be said that the strength of the opposition to the Acts in any given place is in exact proportion to its distance from the districts affected by them. I hope some hon. Gentlemen representing these districts will testify to that opinion. I do not want to know whether Halifax or Glasgow is in favour of them or against them—I want to know what the people of Chatham, Portsmouth, Windsor, Plymouth, and Devon port, who have seen them in operation, think of them. I should like to hear what my hon. Friend the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock), who so ably represented Maidstone, has to say upon them. As far as I can learn, I believe that intelligent persons in the subjected dis- 798 tricts are practically unanimous on the subject—it is not seriously contested in the Minority Report, and it was certainly admitted by several witnesses who were called to discredit the Acts. Let me call the attention of the House to two Memorials addressed to the Admiralty last year.* One is from the magistrates, clergy, medical practitioners, and others, in the boroughs of Plymouth and Devonport, and township of Stonehouse. It says—We are decidedly of opinion that, both from a physical and moral point of view, their action has been most beneficial. We believe that although, if extended, their usefulness would soon he greatly increased and more universally recognized, they have been the means of relieving a great amount of physical suffering, while they have opened the road to reformation to many fallen women who, were it not for the existence of these Acts, would never have had the opportunity of returning to a respectable course of life. We cannot too strongly express our opinion that the repeal of these Acts would be a great misfortune to this district, and to any other community where they exist at present."—(Return to Order of the House of Commons, dated Aug. 9, 1882.)That is signed by the Mayor, and ex-Mayor, 35 Justices of the Peace, 23 clergymen, Roman Catholic priests and Dissenting ministers, and 85 professional men, surgeons, bankers, &c. There is another Memorial—I will not read it—even stronger from Portsmouth.
But hon. Gentlemen who doubt the beneficial operation of the Acts say—"If you think them so beneficial, why do you not extend them to other districts?" Well, apart from the difficulty of finding in every place picked men fitted to carry out the delicate task imposed on the Metropolitan Police, we know what would happen if they were extended. Persons would go down to those districts where the Acts were intended to be applied, they would hold meetings, they would publish leaflets, and ladies and gentlemen ignorant of the merits would raise against them that wild and unreasoning agitation by which their introduction in places like Chatham and Plymouth was originally met, and which; it has taken 16 years of actual experience of their working to allay.
And now I am happy to say I have got to the end of this most painful subject, and I thank the House very sincerely for having heard me so patiently. I only wish I had it in my power, as an honest man, to vote for the Resolution of the right 'hon. Gentleman. I have everything to 799 lose and nothing to gain by the course which I have felt it my duty to take. I represent a constituency of Nonconformists, and we all know how strong their feeling is on this subject, though I am bound to say that, as far as I can ascertain, their views are based on a very partial knowledge of it. I must also say that I deeply regret being obliged to sever myself on this one occasion from many of my hon. Friends below the Gangway, with whom it is, as a general rule, my pride and my pleasure to act. But I cannot help myself. I do not say that no effectual substitute for these Acts could be devised—all I say is that no such substitute has yet been suggested, for the case of Glasgow is not in pari materiâ. Under these circumstances, knowing what I have learned in the course of the inquiry before the Select Committee, I should be utterly unworthy of the responsible Office I have the honour to hold if I did not raise my feeble protest against any attempt to impair the efficiency of a system which, say what you will against it—and, no doubt, much may be said—has done much, very much, to alleviate the severity and check the growth of one of the most terrible diseases by which humanity is scourged, and has also done something to mitigate, in its worst forms, one of the most baleful and, at the same time, one of the most prevalent vices of modern society.
§ MR. STANSFELD
I rise to explain that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has, I think, as far as I can gather from his speech, misrepresented, because he misunderstood, an expression of opinion of mine with regard to the evidence, and in a speech of my own. I cannot go back to the evidence of those witnesses; but he seems to impute to me that I would object to the cure of disease, and that the greater the success of the Acts in that direction the more I should be opposed to them. That is not my opinion. I entirely approve of the cure and prevention of disease in itself, however it may be caused. But I do not approve of this method. I prefer the Glasgow method of a voluntary hospital.
Sir, I do not shrink from expressing my opinion upon this matter. The Acts, as hon. Gentlemen are aware, have been handed down from one Administration to another; and they Lave been administered, I believe, in the same manner and in the same 800 spirit by Administrations, whether on the one side or on the other side of the House. But it is reserved to us to-night to hear what I cannot help thinking was a very painful commencement to the arduous task of the right hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down, when he felt himself obliged, in the very first sentence which he uttered, to say that he had no mandate to speak on behalf of the Government; and, although that was a sentiment that was cheered—and not unnaturally cheered—by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax and those who agree with him, yet I must say that it fell as a surprise, and to some extent—speaking apart from the merits of the question itself—as a very unpleasant surprise, to find that the doctrine of devolution was to be carried still further than it has been of late, and that Her Majesty's Government—which, as I conceive, has the duty, either to carry out the law of the country as they find it, or else to institute measures for its repeal—were content, up to the present time, to shelter themselves by treating this as an open question. When the right hon. and learned Gentleman, holding, as he does, a responsible position as a Member of the Government, having been a Member of a most important Committee, which has been sitting for the last two years, and having been connected—at all events, to some extent—with the administration of those Acts, rises and tells us that what he has to say upon the proceedings of this Committee is irrespective of the views of Her Majesty's Government, then I think that it is a positive duty imposed upon us to ask who is to speak from the Treasury Bench the mind of Her Majesty's Government; and who is going to tell us the course which the Government is going to pursue; and who is to say; whether they are going to carry on the administration of the law? Let me go back for two or three years into the history of this question. The Act has been in operation for 15 or 16 years. Four years ago I felt it my duty to consider whether the case of the opponents of the Acts could be made out, and whether there was any ground for doubting that the Acts did all the good which, from a hygienic and a moral point of view, we believed they did effectuate. We, therefore, thought it right that a Committee should be appointed to inquire into the 801 administration of those Acts, and that the Committee should be framed as impartially as possible, and that it should not be a packed Committee, but one against whom nothing could be said on the ground of partiality. That Committee, having taken important evidence with the utmost diligence, having examined witnesses from almost every section of the community who had anything to say on the point—they, having done that for the last four years, have made a Report, which I think, considering the care with which it has been drawn up, and the careful way in which the arguments for and against the Acts have been brought forward, will bear comparison with almost any Report which has been placed on this Table. The right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Osborne Morgan) has proved, I think, conclusively, that the operation of the Acts has been entirely successful in the direction in which it was originally intended. I share the belief of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, that where you deal with complicated figures like these—where you deal with varying conditions, and conditions which, under no circumstances, can be defined—where the incidence of disease may have been greater at one station than another, but where the secondary results have to be brought into the tables of figures as much as the primary causes, difficulties undoubtedly suggest themselves in the examination of those figures; and I admit fairly what I have a right, on the other hand, to say to those who oppose those Acts that there is, in many cases, room for forming different opinions even from the very statements upon which either party ma; rely. But we have a right to claim from hon. Gentlemen, who oppose us with conscientious opposition, that it is no from any light or paltry spirit that we have administered or supported these Acts; but upon the firm belief that the balance of moral and of physical advantage has been, and is, in favour of these Acts. The figures show very clearly that disease at the protected stations ha very much diminished as over those which are not under the Acts. But there is a point which, to my mind—though it impossible to prove it by figures, is, never the less, one which is barely second importance to the primary object of the Acts. The right hon. and, learned Gentleman, in the course of his most ad- 802 mirable speech, towards the end touched the prohibitive part of the Act. From what I have seen of various stations, from what I have seen before the passing of the Act and afterwards, it is almost impossible to overrate the preventive part of this Act so far as relates to juvenile immorality. Those who recollect some 25 years ago the persons who were the common inhabitants of camps know that they lived in a state which is not too strongly characterized by the Commission as being that of the lowest and deepest degradation. All that has been entirely swept away. I believe this statement is fully borne out—so far as I have examined the evidence—that, in many cases, those unfortunate women have been put within the reach of reclamation of which they have been glad to avail themselves; and had no other result followed the operation of the Acts than the diminution of juvenile prostitution—the interference of constituted authority in respect to the conduct of young women bordering on the line between levity and immorality—I believe that the value of these Acts has been unquestionable, and in that alone they have done very great and good service to morality. I am fully aware of the very serious objections which are constantly urged against these Acts by those who look upon them on moral grounds. I know, on the other hand, that it is perfectly true, as stated in the Report of the Committee, that in many cases those who object upon principle, and those who urge the abolition of these Acts, have no knowledge of the practical working of those Acts. I fail to follow the arguments of those who say that this vice is promoted in any degree by the administration of the Acts; and the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Osborne Morgan) was perfectly right, to my mind, in pointing out to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax that he could not use both arguments at the same time, that the Act was objectionable on the ground of the protection which it gave, and, on the other hand, that it was no protection at all. I hope that we shall shortly have the Secretary of State for War informing the House whether the intention of the Government is, as has been stated by some, to assent to the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax, and suddenly, as it 803 were, to repeal that which, is the existing law; and, if he does take that course, that he will let us understand on what grounds he has deferred any statement upon the subject up to the time when the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman came forward. This Report has now been before the Government, and was printed, and was probably in the possession of the Government before the close of last Session; and I think that there could be only one explanation—namely, that the noble Marquess, his Predecessor, and the Government are yielding to the pressure of what some believe is not only a Party, but a powerful Party; and, in that way, they are avoiding some of the responsibility which rightly attaches to those who hold the reins of Government. I only hope that the noble Marquess will dispel that.
§ MR. THOROLD ROGERS
I wish to state, in a very few words, my view on this question. I would not intrude upon the House; but, as a matter of fact, it struck me that it was my duty, though not under any pressure from without, to place my views before the House, and to state the reasons which I have for coming to the conclusions to which I have arrived. I believe that this debate is conducted entirely on the ground of the public good; and I have no doubt that everyone who speaks for and against these Acts is influenced by what he thinks it is advisable to carry out for the good of the people of this country, and what is good for the Services which are especially protected under these Acts. I have not the smallest doubt that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Stanley) believes his view to be as just, as generous, and as true as anything that can be alleged on this side of the House. But, Sir, I understand that the motive which has induced the maintenance of these Acts is the protection of, not only some of Her Majesty's Services, but, if possible, the whole of Her Majesty's subjects, from the consequences of this hateful and horrible disease. Shortly after I had the honour of a seat in this House, knowing that I should have to vote on this question, and knowing how much the judgment of experts differs on questions of this kind, I took the opportunity of consulting a gentleman who, I believe, was one of the ablest, most conscientious, and most laborious stu- 804 dents of pathology, now, unhappily, no more. I know of no man whose courage in the examination of scientific questions and whose sympathies for humanity were so keen as Professor Rolleston's; and I know of no man who would have sooner sacrificed even the strongest sympathies with any particular class of persons—or, indeed, opinions—if he believed that the general good of humanity would be attained thereby. He told me that every test had been applied in this case, and the result was that, in his belief, the Acts were absolutely and totally illusory; that they were worse than useless; that they constantly suggested a state of health that did not exist; and that, therefore, they were hopelessly misleading. If that be the case, then we, in maintaining these things, are maintaining that which is entirely useless and illusory, and even worse. It may be that a more energetic police, and a more careful supervision of the conduct of people in the streets, and a variety of other causes, are the true cause of the improvement to which my right hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Osborne Morgan) has referred. I have been told, not long since, that in one great town they have brought about results in the improvement of the morality of the town, and the modification and chocking of disease, which is far in excess of those reputed results which we are told operate from these Acts. Well, Sir, that is not all. I have another reason. I do not think it is the women who are most responsible for this evil. I remember, some time ago, speaking to an extremely shrewd and intelligent Member of this House—Mr. Kirkman Hodgson—and I asked him whether he could give me any facts about this disease. He said it was always most intense in the Western towns, beginning with those towns that have a trade with the New World, and particularly with the tropical parts of it. He specified the several ports, and said that as you went from those infected districts you had a diminution of the number of cases of disease. I believe that that can be maintained by the evidence; and I can well recollect the surgeon of the old prison at Oxford, into which unfortunates are sent, under the authority of the University Proctors, speaking as to the extent of the disease in the purely inland towns; and he said that, although he had been a medical 805 officer at the prison for 20 years, he had only one case of the special disease against which these Acts are directed. We ought to debate a good deal before we commit ourselves to accept and endorse the opinions of the Medical Profession. For that Profession I entertain the profoundest respect. I am the son of a physician and the grandson of a physician; I was brought up to it in my early days; I hold that it is a most beneficent calling; and I am behind no one in admiring the constant and laborious efforts of those who carry on that profession. But, at the same time, there is always, and especially in these days, when this mania for scientific dogmatizing is so rife, constantly a tendency on the part of those gentlemen to look with the greatest possible intolerance upon those who doubt the sufficiency of the inferences they draw. And, furthermore, there is another matter. These Acts are met by the constant and most persistent hostility of those who are best known for their philanthropic endeavours, by those who have striven most of all to reclaim and to help those who have fallen belonging to their own sex, and to do the best they can for them. It is hardly possible for anyone, whatever be the form of the Christianity to which he belongs, to find anyone who is not of one mind with his brethren on this matter; and I am bound to say that that, in my mind, counts for something. We are, I suppose, what we are, by the fact of our adherence to the principles of Christianity; and it is the opinion, universally held by those who are the warmest and the most philanthropic advocates of those principles, that these Acts are immoral and mischievous. It is under these circumstances that I have broken my silence in this debate to state that I feel it to be my duty to oppose these Acts.
§ MR. O'SHAUGHNESSY
As the Chairman of this Committee, after Mr. Massey's death, it was my duty to consult with other Members of the Committee who shared my views, and to frame a Report in accordance with their own views; and it now becomes my duty, as briefly as I can, to state the main reasons which influenced the majority in adopting the Report to which they subscribed their names. I should like to say a few words in reference to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld). He spoke 806 of the absence of the Navy from our deliberations and our statistics; but I think it was understood that the Army was to be taken as an evidence of the effect of these Acts. There was no strenuous effort made—and, if I remember rightly, no effort made at all—to discuss the introduction of this evidence from the Navy; and if we had introduced evidence from the Navy, I do not think that the existence of the present Parliament would have seen out the deliberations of the Committee. Well, the right hon. Gentleman said that the majority did not appear to deliberate sufficiently over the contents of the Report which they adopted. But he must remember that this is a Committee of long standing, all the Members of which felt and showed the deepest interest in what they were discussing; that they had the Report before them for many days, and amongst ourselves we discussed the topics—we of the majority; and perhaps my hon. and learned Friend will remember that the majority did not silently adopt the words of the Report, because certain provisions at the end of the Report, to which I individually attached very great importance, were rejected by a majority of the Committee, although they were supported by the hon. and learned Member, I believe, and I believe also by the right hon. Member for Halifax, and by the other Members of the minority. These little things may be small; but they show that the majority did exorcise their judgment. And I do not think it is fair of the right hon. Gentleman to say that we virtually recommended their extension. We said that, if these Acts were extended, we believed that better and greater hygienic results would accrue from their being so extended than would be the case now in their limited scope; and although we of the majority, in the state of public opinion, thought that we should be justified in doing so, we deliberately stated that, having regard to the strong public opinion which we knew to exist on this subject, we did not recommend the extension of them. We thought that it should not be grievously out of accord with public opinion. As to the rest of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, I have only to say that, considering the bitterness with which it was fought out—and this was not confined to one side or the other—that nothing could have 807 been fairer than the way in which the right hon. Gentleman put his propositions and put his case; and although, from my point of view, he did not succeed, I must say that he allowed me great latitude in the way I attempted to put my case. Now, the first thing as regards these diseases which presented itself to the minds of the majority was that this disease of syphilis—and it applies also to the other diseases—is subject to fluctuations like other diseases which we know of. The meaning of that is this. If you take a country where there are no Acts in operation, you will find that from year to year, and from period to period, the number of cases of the population affected with this disease will vary—going up and down. These are not accidental changes of the moment; these fluctuations show a gradual rise and fall; and this shows that there is some cause which medical men do not attempt to ascertain with regard to this disease, any more than they do ascertain the cause why some other diseases rise at one period and fall at another. Suppose you take a country where there is a special mode of getting rid of it, and take the proportions in the parts which are subjected to special treatment and in those which are not, and you will get a very fair idea of what the special treatment is doing. You will find throughout the country, in the subjected places, the downward fluctuation, the diminution of the disease, going on at an increased rate as compared with the un-subjected district; and you will find the upward fluctuation, the increase of the disease, diminish, or perhaps be annihilated, in the subjected as compared with the un-subjected districts. You will find in the subjected district that the special treatment resists wholly, or partly, the disease, and that the un-subjected resist it to a much less extent. There is, however, another element which has to be borne in mind. The subjected places wore, previous to the introduction of the Acts, in a worse position in reference to this disease than the un-subjected. There was a larger amount of disease in the subjected districts, and they were selected to be brought under these Acts for that very reason—because, the disease being larger there, there was a greater necessity for dealing with it. It was not by accident that it was, at a particular moment, greater in 808 the places subjected. We find that the greater amount of disease existed there over a series of years; and this proves that the subjected districts were enormously more liable to the disease—of course, I am now talking of the time before the Acts were passed—and therefore it proves that, in these places, there was a greater tendency to cope with as regards the Acts than there would have been found in the unsubjected; and this element must be borne in mind, because it is an imperfect contrast to take two places at any moment for any series of years pending the operation of the Acts. If you want to measure the effects, you must measure the obstacles through a greater number of cases. Taking six years antecedent to the introduction of the Acts, we find in the subjected stations primary disease at the rate of 109.7 per 1,000. We find that in the unsubjected stations for the same time they stood at 103.0. But when we take the six years after the introduction of the Acts, we find the 109.7 of the subjected stations had fallen to 65.4, and the 103.0 of the unsubjected was only reduced to 93.6. That is to say, that there was a fall of 9 per cent in the un-subjected, and a fall of 40 per cent in the subjected districts; and if you attribute the fall of 9 per cent to natural causes, it leaves a diminution of 31 per cent in favour of the operation of the Acts in this particular kind of disease. We did the same from the years 1860 to 1863, and the subjected period of from 1870 to 1873. The same system of calculation was adopted; there was a balance of 34 per cent as the net gain of the Acts in these three years; and remember that 34 is sufficiently near 31 per cent in the other years to show that this is no accident. Well, the right hon. Gentleman says, as some of his witnesses said, that all the improvement in the subjected stations was before the Acts, and was the result of the rate of improvement which they had already attained, and there was a diagram prepared to illustrate that, and this diagram said nothing about the subjected stations, and nothing of the strength or weakness of the obstacles in the subjected stations; and, therefore, it did not furnish any very valuable material for the strengthening of their case; but Mr. Lawson, accepting that diagram, prepared by the opponents of the Acts, 809 supplemented it, and added lines, showing the course of disease in the subjected and unsubjected stations before and after the Acts; and then it came out clearly, that before the Acts the subjected and unsubjected districts improved in a very parallel manner. They both improved; and that showed that there was a natural downward fluctuation. After the passing of the Act, there was a natural fluctuation upwards, because the disease went up. There was a rise after the passing of the Act of 1869. In the unsubjected districts, primary disease had then risen from 84 to 106, while in the sujected districts they had fallen. Then in 1869 there was a general downward fluctuation, and the result was that in 1871 the unsubjected stations had fallen to 81; but the subjected stations had fallen far more, to 51. Then, in 1872, everything fell considerably. Then, in 1877, the unsubjected stations were 68 and the other 35, and then the next year there came out the Reserves, which disturbed the calculations. That year raised the unsubjected from 68 to 78, and it only raised the subjected from 35 to 40. Now, as to the constitutional form of disease, and taking the same comparison of years, and thereby testing what the Acts have done as distinguished from natural causes, I find that there is a diminution in favour of the Acts of 29 per cent in the subjected stations. Then, in the periods between 1860 and 1863, and between 1870 and 1873, the ratio per 1,000 of admissions for secondary syphilis in unsubjected stations was in the former period 30.5; in the latter 27.5, showing a reduction of 10 per cent. In the subjected districts the corresponding ratios were 40 and 20.3 per 1,000, a diminution of 49 per cent, from which, if the natural reduction of 10 per cent in the unsubjected be subtracted, there remains in favour of the Acts a diminution of 39 per cent. But the right hon. Gentleman says that there were discrepancies between the Returns on which our evidence as to the stations are founded. This is rather a complicated subject; but I will endeavour to deal with it as plainly as I can. There were originally Tables handed in by Sir William Muir, and I think he was corroborated by Mr. Lawson. These Tables only included disease which was supposed to be caught in the country. It excluded all regiments that had not 810 passed one year in the country; and then a Member of the Committee, the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. G. Palmer) asked for Returns which would show what was the entire amount of secondary disease introduced by soldiers in 12 months in the country, and it is on that Return that the calculations made have been drawn. It was the intention of this Gentleman to go on the Returns which Sir William Muir had asked for, and then that was adopted. Well, then, the argument of the right hon. Gentleman was that in the years before the passing of the Act there was a vast deal more importation of the disease than in the years after the passing of the Act, and that would give us an unfair advantage. But in doing this the right hon. Gentleman includes before the passing of the Act three years, from 1866 to 1869, when the Acts were partially in operation. Now, there was a very large amount of disease, and we actually burdened ourselves with this imported disease. Now, there is another matter which I shall touch upon very briefly. We alleged that in the subjected districts we are charged with secondary or constitutional syphilis, which comes from unsubjected places. Our allegation is that the imports of secondary syphilis are larger than the exports from those towns. Woolwich is a remarkable instance of this. Woolwich is a town with soldiers coming and going, and it is a town where they come to London and are likely to contract disease. Now, it must be borne in mind that the proportion of secondary to primary disease is generally about one to three; while with regard to Woolwich you will find that that proportion is departed from, and the secondary disease is two to three on the primary disease, and in many years the secondary disease is larger than the primary disease. Now, that proves absolutely that there must be an enormously larger amount of importation into that particular town than there is of exportation, and that that protected town must influence very largely the apparent effect of the Contagious Diseases Acts. These secondary cases which are in Woolwich cannot originate in Woolwich, because there are not a sufficient number of primary cases to generate them. This shows what a large balance of secondaries there is where there is a large amount 811 of migration, and the same thing will go on in a lesser scale in other stations. Now, the right hon. Gentleman spoke of the percentage of secondary and primary disease in the protected stations, and said that it had increased; and his inference was that a man was more likely to be affected constitutionally—that is, with a dangerous form of disease—in protected than in unprotected districts. But, in the first place, it must be borne in mind that there is this large importation of secondary disease of which I spoke that would account, to a large extent, for the increase of secondaries; and there is a decrease of primary disease in those stations. But the right hon. Gentleman said nothing of the figures which appeared in the next column; figures which show that we began in the subjected stations in the six years before the Acts were passed, and that then there were 37 per 1,000 of secondaries, while the unsubjected began at 30 per 1,000; and when they came down to the period of 1872, the subjected stations were 22 per 1,000; while the unsubjected wore 30; less than they stood at with regard to secondaries in 1866. These figures show the amount of disease that they had to cope with in the subjected stations and the course of this disease in the unsubjected stations, and it would have shown an increase if the Acts had been useless, or if there had been no Acts at all. The Minority Report winds up by stating that men are more in danger of secondaries in subjected than in unsubjected stations, and anyone reading this would fancy that a man going into those stations was absolutely more liable to got the disease; but all the figures quoted by the right hon. Gentleman show that, if a man gets any kind of disease, it is more likely that he will get the secondary disease in the subjected stations than in the unsubjected. That is all that it proves. We had the evidence of Mr. Lane, surgeon of the London Lock Hospital, a man of the very highest authority in these matters, and his evidence is that this mediate contagion is not frequent, and that it is quite exceptional; and we had the opinion of Dr. Barr, the surgeon at Alder-shot, who states that the mediate contagion is not likely to occur with women who take care of themselves, while among men who take care it is. Now, if the danger of mediate contagion does 812 exist, there can be nothing better to prevent it than these Acts, which inculcate care, and get over the unwillingness on the part of women, and so diminish the chance of convoying disease. Well, now, I should like to say one or two words upon the classification of disease. There are some attacks that end in constitutional disease—secondary disease—and there are some attacks which do not. And why does not the Army Medical Department classify them? Simply for this reason—it is impossible to classify them; you cannot toll for a considerable time—and I am about to give the evidence of it—whether those things will lead to secondary disease. It is necessary, for all purposes of statistics, for every kind of disease to make weekly Returns in the Army. Now, Mr. Lane, Mr. Lawson, and Mr. Macnamara—and both the latter are independent men—showed the impossibility at one period of classifying cases, and showing whether they will or will not lead to secondary symtoms. It is said that these primary affections are not of importance, and that really the only thing that these Acts are to be judged by are the secondary cases. I should like to say a very few words on the effect of these Acts on the efficiency of the Army. I will tell the House very briefly how we proceeded. We took the daily loss in the subjected and unsubjected stations. We found that it was greater in the unsubjected stations than in the subjected by one-fifth. In the period subsequent to the passing of the Act we found that it was less in the subjected stations in the proportion of 11½ to 13½; but this did not represent all that was done in the subjected stations, because you should add the difference and the advantage which they originally possessed, and in that way they were brought up to 5.37 per 1,000. But the entire loss in these stations is 16⅑ per 1,000; and therefore this disease is cut down by these Acts by one-third—that is by no means a small reduction. But that does not represent all the good it does. There is the Navy, and there is the Civil population. England is divided into several districts, for the purpose of registering deaths. Now, all the subjected stations, save two, are in the second and fifth districts—these two are outside. In the quinquennial period, between 1875 and 813 1879, the reduction of deaths from syphilis was 14 per cent in those districts; and as you went away from the stations you find everywhere, excepting in one district, an increase of syphilis. In the districts more to the north it increases to 16 per cent in deaths from syphilis, and still further north ward there is an increase of 37 per cent, and in the most central places there is an increase of 15 per cent. We say that this increase had taken place in places out of the range of the Acts; and, therefore, we are justified in attributing the reduction to the benefit of the Acts. I had intended to say something about the state of the disease amongst women. It is said that the disease is increased in the subjected stations amongst women. But mind, you have to ask yourselves about these women in the subjected stations—How long have they been in the subjected stations? Where did they come from? Did they come from subjected or unsubjected stations? I test it in this way. In the Return for 1880, showing all the women who came to Aldershot from other places, and who, on examination, were found diseased, it is shown that women coming from the subjected stations are much less likely to be diseased. Now, there was something said about what was done by Glasgow without subjecting themselves to these Acts. Well, there was a most excellent Act passed in 1870, and there was a well-conducted Lock Hospital there, and there was a great falling-off in the number of women, comparing 1870 with 1881, and that must be the result of the care which is taken by the Civil authorities in Glasgow. I do not deny that. But then I asked Dr. Patterson, who gave his evidence so clearly and so fairly on this subject, I asked this—What proportion did the number of women who came in in 1881 bear to the number of prostitutes who were going about Glasgow diseased at that time? and he told me that he could not say that, but that there must be a considerable reduction, inasmuch as there were 598 in 1869, and only 349 in 1881. We had it in evidence that Glasgow was a perfect hot-bed of vice and licence, and that there must be an enormous amount of disease at that time, and that the 598 cases that came in in 1869 to the hospital there must have been but a small proportion to the entire amount of 814 disease which then existed. The form of the Motion is to get rid of compulsory examination, and to substitute whatever voluntary efforts may be made. The answer of those who administer Acts, and of those who take the view that experience has taught them, is that, without compulsion, women will not attend with such regularity and at such a time as to prevent the dissemination of the disease. They might attend when the disease was in its troublesome stage; but they would not come early enough. They would not submit to a periodical examination for the purpose of preventing its dissemination amongst the soldiers and others. It is our opinion that they will not do anything to prevent it; and, therefore, we must disclaim those voluntary efforts as being a successful mode of diminishing disease. The evidence on this subject is this—Dr. Lowndes, the surgeon of the Liverpool Lock Hospital, where the voluntary system is at work, says that women do not come in regularly. Mr. Macnamara told us that in Dublin they came in too late—they wait until they become intolerable to themselves; and even Mr. Patterson says that one section of the women in Glasgow do the same. It was said that the Royal Commission was against cumpulsory examination. But there has been a large experience since then. That Commission only came into existence in 1870, and reported in 1871; but it is quite evident, from the tone which the opponents of these Acts have taken up, that the right hon. Gentleman does not come here merely to get rid of compulsory examination; but it is admitted by those who object to these Acts that their aim is to do something far wider. Anyone who has listened to their evidence must know that they want to get rid of any special means being adopted in the garrison towns or anywhere else to save soldiers from the results of this disease. They regard, in general, assistance coming from rates and taxes as a licence and as an encouragement to sin; and they are bound to suppress, not merely compulsory examination, but everything of the kind. For that purpose they think it convenient to attack the system of compulsory examinations; because they know very well what we all know—that if compulsory examination were at once abolished, the attempts to carry it on by voluntary 815 effort would not be allowed to succeed. I would like to say a few words as to some remarks which have been made with some persistency in the course of the sitting of the Committee, and by the Press; and, although it is not very clear, it is the point and essence of these Acts that voluntary hospital accommodation would be insufficient to cope with the disease. By voluntary hospitals is meant such as are supported, not by the rates, but voluntarily, and at which the attendance of the women should be voluntary. We have heard upstairs a great number of objections, on moral grounds, as to the rates and taxes being used for this purpose. I ask the right hon. Gentleman—Can we expect witnesses who object to this system of giving any help from the rates and taxes, as an encouragement for licence to vice, to be in earnest in depending on voluntary charity? Experience has shown what charity can do, and what it cannot do, in both unprotected and protected stations. In Glasgow, Mr. Patterson said that moral feeling was strongly against a Lock Hospital, and that it was difficult to get any subscriptions to it. He told us that that was the normal state of things. Then, in Dublin, Mr. Macnamara said that though the people would subscribe to reformatories, they would not give 1s. to the Lock Hospital; and I find that the same difficulty arises in Devonport. That shows that the voluntary system would not be applicable. Well, now, if the opponents of the system are logical—and I know that they are logical—they will be driven to oppose these hospitals, as far as they can do it, not only in this House, but, as far as their social power goes, to prevent voluntary contribution to Lock Hospitals, just as much as to State-aided hospitals. ["No, no!"] I am drawing an inference; but, for a certainty, many of the witnesses whom the right hon. Gentleman examined gave evidence to show that, in the main, the people of Glasgow and Dublin declined to support hospitals of this kind. If it be immoral to support them out of the rates and taxes, it is equally immoral to support them from the private purse; and every charge against supporting them by the rates and taxes would apply equally to discourage any attempt to raise money for voluntary hospitals. I wish to say a word or two on the moral aspects of the 816 question. I do not pretend to deal with it exhaustively. I think that my right hon. Friend has done that. I quite admit that I do not think any converts will be made on either side, even if this debate last for months, on the moral aspect of this question; but, nevertheless, I am free to admit that the real burning point of the debate with most men—it ought to be with all men, and certainly would be with me if I thought that the Acts were immoral—is, not whether these Acts are useful, but whether they are or no a violation of morality. If I thought that these Acts were such a violation, the more efficient they were the more I should be bound to condemn them as giving encouragement to vice. But let us consider the question—is there anything wrong in the principle of these Acts? We found prostitution existing, and doing an immense amount of physical injury and an immense amount of moral injury. We found that the administration of the law openly and plainly tolerates prostitution, and that all attempts to suppress it had completely failed; and we found that no man of the present day, who has had any experience, would say that it is possible to suppress it. If it ever disappears, it must be under influences which have never yet been brought to bear against it, and it must be at a time remote from the present. If the moral evil is tolerated as a matter of principle, is it justice not to diminish the physical evil. So far for the principle of the thing. But now we have a question of fact—namely, whether the effect of these Acts is to increase or encourage vice amongst women, and that is a very different question from the question of principle, with which I have endeavoured to deal. Well, now, you have evidence on this subject that these Acts do not encourage vice. You have evidence of clergymen of all denominations, who have lived where these Acts are at work, and who have seen them administered, and who tell you that they do not encourage vice. I am not talking of persons officially acquainted with the Acts, but persons living in places where they are in force. We have the testimony of medical men and others, and that was met with the testimony of opponents; and, therefore, it may be said that those were simply matters of opinion, and could not be 817 relied upon; but I rely upon the evidence of those clergymen—the Vicar of Portsmouth, Canon Wilkinson of Plymouth, and the Rev. Mr. Peed of Cork—who have seen these Acts administered, and have found them useful in preventing women going wrong, and who say that they have not increased temptations to vice. But there is another kind of evidence. If it be true that these Acts diminish the number of prostitutes and the number of brothels, and that they reclaim those who have gone on the streets and prevent them from remaining in that life, then it must follow that they diminish, instead of increase, temptations to vice. They give the clergy great facility of checking this vice, and I think it will be found that they tend in a different direction from that spoken of by their opponents. Well, I would like to say a word to the objections to these Acts on constitutional grounds. It is said that you must inflict considerable injury upon those women. But, then, those women are inflicting a great injury on society. You are to consider, not the men who are participating with the women in their sin, but you have to consider innocent people—the wives of those men and the children of those men, unto the third and fourth generation, who are affected by this disease; and when you are dealing with the Acts you must consider the loss to the Army and the Navy, and not the mere question of supposed injury to those women. These two matters are primâ facie to be considered, and it is necessary to have a certain amount of compulsion. Now, I ask, is there anything in the nature of the examination which renders it repulsive? So far as the examination goes, it is simply what other women undergo. It is simply what good women—a very large number of good women—undergo voluntarily for their health. The difference is in the compulsion, I admit. I am bound to say that if my hon. Friend took this up he would find that virtuous women do undergo this examination. ["How many?"] The hon. Gentleman says, "How many?" and then he says you put no question about that. The hon. Gentleman has asked one question, and I have said a very large number of virtuous women undergo this examination voluntarily; and the hon. and learned Gentleman says that it is not so, and then we are at issue. But 818 then the real difference is the compulsion that is implied. Well, that compulsion is only upon those women who embrace this life, and who inflict injury on man. I know that many ladies of excellent intentions—the best ladies and most disinterested—regard this as an insult to their sex. I have always endeavoured, in carrying out my painful duties as Chairman of this Committee, to treat with the greatest respect those ladies; and I trust I have not been wanting to them in that respect. But I am bound to say that I cannot follow their reasoning. Those women give themselves deliberately up to this kind of life. Nobody, except as a figure of rhetoric, says that the pure woman is degraded by them. Well, the compulsion which these women undergo under the Acts we think is necessary in order to prevent them doing more harm; and surely that compulsion cannot be more degrading to the pure woman than the contemplation of the evil effects which would arise if these Acts were not in force. I hope that the House will not lose sight of the evidence. Those who say that the Acts are demoralizing have not got much help from those towns where they are at work, and where there is experience of their moral effects. No one can say that those towns are less moral than other towns; and everyone will admit that their inhabitants are in a better position to form an opinion on this one important feature of the question for and against these Acts. It struck me, and I think it struck most of us, that many of the witnesses against the Acts were relying upon theory, and that they had closed their eyes to the fact that many persons had been rescued from their evil courses, and that decency and order had prevailed in the towns where the Acts were in force, and that they had become the means of reclaiming fallen women. I submit that these Acts, considering the limited districts which they cover, and the disadvantages under which they are working, are efficient. I submit, too, that in strict theory they are not violations of the moral law; and I submit that, so far from being the enemies of morality, they are the allies of morality and reformation.
MR. GEORGE RUSSELL
Sir, there was much in the speech of the Judge Advocate General (Mr. Osborne Morgan) 819 to which, had I immediately followed him, I could have replied; but my object is to be as brief as possible, and I shall mainly confine myself to wider considerations than those on which he dwelt, and to one or two points which have fallen from the hon. and learned Gentleman who has preceded me. There are many points of view from which this subject may be treated. I, for one, as a mere matter of individual opinion, am not satisfied that the beneficial material results of the Acts have boon made out. At any rate, there is a largo body of opinion in the opposite direction; and I hold that, when it is shown that there is an invasion of Constitutional rights, when the departure from our ordinary practice is so clear and remarkable as in these Acts, there ought to be no possibility of denial or doubt as to their beneficial effect from the hygienic point of view; the mere existence of a second opinion seems tantamount to a condemnation. It is not, however, on the physical question only that I base my hostility to these Acts. It rests on a much deeper ground, for I believe them to be fundamentally immoral. The first respect in which they offend the moral sense is their miserable injustice as between man and woman. The whole view of life and society upon which this wretched legislation rests loses sight of the fact that impurity is as infamous in a man as in a woman. It may be said, in too many cases, that it is more heinous in man. The woman may be reduced to it by the bitter necessity of living; but the man reduces himself to it in obedience to a selfish lust. The guilt being equal between the two sexes, how differently are they treated. The man suffers no loss of position, no interference with the ordinary comforts of his life; it is not even a bar to a respectable marriage. But how different the lot of the woman! the first fall is often irretrievable, and she is cast away and abandoned to the passions of man. In the words of one who has been to many of us a teacher on this subject, I would ask hon. Members to follow me in imagination from the case of a man who, after drinking the deep draught of unlawful pleasures, has, at last, from motives of self-preservation, abandoned them and betaken himself to the comforts of home life, who is embraced by a pure woman and surrounded 820 by innocent children; and I would ask them to go with me from his house where he lives in case and affluence to the place where the woman, the victim of his passion, lives in hopeless misery. What was his sin? What was hers? What is the difference between them? And how unequal is their fate? At any rate, whatever the pangs of conscience—and I do not think that, however sensual, a man loses all pangs of conscience—he has still his friends around him, and a position in the world. Surely that difference in the case of the sexes is enough. But when you superadd to it the infamy of this Act, it becomes unbearable. How can it be said that to compel a woman to undergo this abominable examination is a parallel case to that of a virtuous woman who voluntarily submits to inspection for the sake of her health? There is no more parallelism between the case of a woman who is compulsorily examined and a virtuous woman who undergoes it for the benefit of her own health, than there is between a lawful marriage and the criminal violation of a woman. The act is the same in each case. The difference is the consent. One is the agreement from a pure and lofty motive, and the other is to gratify an unclean desire. Under this Act we all but close the paths of regeneration against these women. We efface the divine stamp upon them; we stamp them with the signet of the State, which marks them as the common prey of animal desire; and we condemn them to continue there, practically to the end of their days, in the same bondage which the selfishness of man has reduced them to. My objection goes deeper and further than that. The existence of these Acts?—their continued existence—involves recognition of prostitution. The principle was enunciated by Milton, and has been accepted by all philosophic writers from that day to this—that where the State deals with moral wrong, except to punish that moral wrong, it is more or less directly sanctioned by the State; and here we do more than sanction it—we make it more seductive and more easy. The Judge Advocate General seemed to think that if the Acts had failed hygienically they could not be alleged to have encouraged vice. I say that the two things are not incompatible. We say, from careful examination, of the evidence, that 821 the promised hygienic benefit has failed, and yet the promise of it has misled the wretched dupes. I desire, publicly and emphatically, to give the strongest protest of which I am capable against the doctrine that in a civilized State prostitution is to be recognized as a necessity, or that we can morally tolerate that which is not necessarily an accompaniment, but the degradation of our manhood and the degradation of womankind. As regards the health of individual men, that has been sufficiently dealt with by those who have gone before me; but I lay stress on the moral ruin which is involved in the sacrifice of self-control, and upon the moral ruin which it brings upon men and upon society in general; and surely the voice of history is clear enough on that question. If we allow ourselves to go on in this way, then history tolls us that as Rome was shattered before the strong sword of the barbarian, we shall crumble away as did the nations of old. Nature and reason have spoken to us, and history has spoken to us; and there is a third voice which ought to be attended to in this House, which is so jealous of its orthodoxy, and that is the voice of God and Revelation, and especially the New Testament, which I think ought to be clear enough and final upon this question. But it is, in a measure, hopeless and useless to set up standards of that kind, for although we are scrupulous about our theoretical orthodoxy, there is a vast amount of practical Atheism amongst us. Not long ago, within the precincts of this House, a certain number of believing women prayed that God would bless and further the effort of tonight; and I thought that that would be something worthy of sympathy and respect, even from professed unbelievers. Instead of that, what did we find? Those efforts are met with filthy smoking-room jokes, which are a disgrace to our common humanity. I say, whatever their station in or out of this House, I would rather have such people for my opponents than my allies in any possible contest. We will fight these Acts to the death. We must be prepared, as the late Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright) said, to endure measureless insult, and to submit to hurricanes of abuse. I do not shrink from those consequences; but what I do shrink from more than anything else 822 is the miserable cowardice which acquiesces, without a protest and without a struggle, in what it believes to be moral abomination.
§ MR. CAVENDISH BENTINCK
said, he would not trouble the House with any lengthened observations upon the lecture which had just been delivered by the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. George Russell), because, as the hon. Member had evidently neither read the Acts nor the Report of the Committee, he did not appear aware that the Acts were applicable only to prostitutes, and that any woman might at any time relieve herself from consequences by a bond fide abandonment of prostitution, and without any difficulty being interposed by the authorities. But, leaving the hon. Member for Aylesbury to become a wiser man, he (Mr. Bentinck) desired, in the first place, to enter a strong protest against the proceedings of the right hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld). Having himself attended 66 out of 70 Sittings of the Committee, he claimed to know something of the matter; and he desired to give a distinct contradiction to the allegation that the action of the majority of the Committee had been marked by carelessness or undue haste. He could not, however, part with the conduct of the right hon. Member for Halifax without severe animadversion, for the right hon. Member had thought tit to bring a charge of great gravity against the Judge Advocate General. At a meeting held at the Neumayer Hall in London, on the 25th of October, 1881, the right hon. Member said—In exchanging Mr. Shaw Lefevre for Mr. Osborne Morgan we have lost a trustworthy and intelligent friend, and have gained an opponent; and the mischief and the bitterness for the Liberals amongst us lies in the fact that this opponent is the nominee on the Committee of Her Majesty's Government. Mr. Osborne Morgan has, in my opinion, played the part on that Committee of a partizan advocate. Mr. Osborne Morgan has so played his part as to outrage Members of the Committee who are opposed to these Acts. He sat there as the advocate of the Acts. He has neighboured with those who agreed with him, and turned aside from those opposed to this legislation as if they were beneath the notice of his new official eye. You can imagine that he has not been allowed to pursue this course without an occasional reminder; and what I say about him I say simply because he is the Representative, on that Committee, of the present Government. ['Hear, hear!'] I have made representation to the Government upon the subject, and what I said 823 to them I now repeat to you to-day. Either he represents them, or he does not; if he does represent them, it is time for them to look after him, lest he should commit them too far.Now, he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck), without hesitation, and in the presence of many Members of the Committee, denounced this charge as uncalled for, unjust, and untrue. It was without the shadow of a foundation. The conduct of the Judge Advocate General had been just and impartial throughout, such as might be expected from an honourable and upright man desiring of eliciting the truth, without fear of any consequences; and the Judge Advocate General had, moreover, shown an amount of patience and forbearance under the persistent attacks of the right hon. Member for Halifax and the hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood), which he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) would certainly not have exhibited had he found himself exposed to similar vituperation. But how could the right hon. Member for Halifax dare to bring any charge of unfair dealings, when his own antecedents on this question were so singular? He would appear to have forgotten that he was a Member of the Governments which passed the Acts of 1866 and 1869. Although he was a Member of the Cabinet from 1871 to 1874, he never took any step to repeal the obnoxious traffic. To borrow his own language—He neighboured with those who disagreed with him, and turned aside from those opposed to this legislation, as if they wore beneath the notice of his official eye.And, indeed, there was but one conclusion at which the impartial mind must arrive—namely, that at that period, at all events, the right hon. Member preferred his place to his principles. But the attacks on himself (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck), and the majority of the Committee, were not confined to the above. He had that morning received a paper called Salient Points, in which he was accused of partiality because he had held the Office of Judge Advocate General. This allegation might be treated with contempt, except that it proceeded from a certain Dr. Nevins, of whom few Members of the House would have ever heard; and this Dr. Nevins was a Provincial physician, employed by the right hon. Member for Halifax to prepare voluminous and unintelligible statistics 824 in opposition to the Acts, but who admitted, in cross-examination, that he had never attended a primary venereal case in his life; that he had never visited a certified hospital, though every facility had been offered him for doing so; and, finally, he candidly admitted that even "ocular demonstration would not persuade him." Surely the House would agree that it was absurd to rely upon such witnesses as this Dr. Nevins. But leaving these collateral incidents, and coming to the main issue, he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) desired to explain his own action in supporting these beneficial Acts from the time of their first introduction. He had been actuated not by the expectation that the health of the Army and Navy would be improved, but by the expectation that a large class of degraded women would be relieved from want, disease, and physical and moral suffering. It had been his (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck's) fate to have lived in London all his life; and from an early age his pity had been so keenly moved by the helpless condition of the London prostitutes, that he had always determined, whenever he had the chance, to do his utmost to improve their condition. It was not, therefore, for the sake of soldiers or sailors that he had advocated this legislation; but for the sake of women only. Now, the opponents of the Acts hid their heads in the sand, and refused to see what was staring them in the face. Prostitution might or might not be a necessity; but, nevertheless, it was a fact. It had existed, as a leading Dissenting minister admitted to the Committee, ever since the days of the Patriarchs, and it existed still. In the interests, then, of humanity, there were only two alternatives before the Legislature. Either to prohibit prostitution by law, and make its practice an offence, or else to mitigate the evils and horrors which were consequent and incidental to the status. Now, so far as he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) could gather, the right hon. Member for Halifax and his friends were not prepared to put down prostitution. Mr. Shaen, the chief Pharisee of their body, admitted to the Committee that, if he were a doctor, he would not attend any practising prostitute, but would tell her to go elsewhere to be cured, yet this pious, moral, and charitable individual also admitted that he would not desire the law to interfere with 825 any woman so long as the profits derived from her trading were received exclusively by herself; and Dr. Osborn, the chief of the Wesleyan Body, testified to the same repugnance to strengthen the law against prostitutes. If, then, all parties were agreed upon this point, the only alternative for the relief of these unhappy women was not to persecute them, not to hunt them from place to place, for by such means their recklessness and disease was increasing; but to care for their health, and endeavour, by good influences, to reclaim them from the evil ways into which they had unhappily wandered. To carry out this principle, compulsory examination and compulsory cure were both absolutely indispensable. Now, the argument of the right hon. Member for Halifax, that the compulsory examination of a woman was abhorrent to all modern ideas, was based upon a fallacy; because, prostitution being not compulsory, it was clear that if a woman accepted the position of a prostitute she must take the consequences, and, in relieving her from some of such consequences by the prevention of disease, it was the spirit of true humanity, which watched over the poor woman and assisted her far more effectually than the spirit of false sentiment, which would leave her to perish. To maintain that the periodical examination had, in fact, any hardening effect upon prostitutes was opposed to all reason; for if the examination were conducted with delicacy, as was always the case, surely it could have but little effect upon the nature of women, whose practice was to solicit daily and nightly in the streets. To prove that assertion, it was sufficient to refer to the evidence of Mr. Macnamara, of Dublin, who had been cited as a witness not too favourable to the Acts, and yet who, in reply to Question 6,500, distinctly stated that his opinion of compulsory periodical examination was an absolute necessity. Then, again, as between compulsory and voluntary cure, it was easy to show that the voluntary system had failed practically, and without prospect of ultimate success, so far as human intelligence could foretell. The Minority Report, it was true, asserted that the "system of free hospital was quite practicable and completely successful;" but that allegation was knocked over by the facts. The evidence before the Committee established 826 that women came in too late and left too soon; and Mr. Macnamara—Answer 6,461—said—Almost all patients come in an advanced state of disease, and the majority leave before cured, and go back to their original condition." [6,579.] "Would detain all till cured.But the best proof of the failure of the voluntary system was, when tested, the boasted Glasgow case itself. A pious Scotch doctor was summoned to prove that the Glasgow Lock Hospital, without compulsion, was a perfect success; but in cross-examination he was compelled to admit that Glasgow, with 700,000 inhabitants, overflowing with diseased prostitutes, had given him, in the course of the year 1881, only 349 patients, of whom but 35 were prostitutes; and that, on the night of the 31st of December, 1881, the hospital had but 25 inmates, of whom two only were prostitutes; and he further confessed that there existed in the city a vast amount of prostitutes that never came near him at all. The confirmation of that reluctant testimony came from a more reliable source at Liverpool. Mr. Lowndes, one of the most learned and intelligent witnesses before the Committee, stated that in the Liverpool voluntary Lock Hospital there were—Twenty-five beds not always full. They were filling better, but were not so full as might be, and had accommodation of which women would not avail themselves. But if the Acts were applied he could not only fill the wards, but multiply them 10 times over, because, undoubtedly, there was a vast deal of disease amongst prostitutes, which was not attended to.These considerations brought up the vital question whether the interests of humanity would be served by the repeal of the Acts. He (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) was satisfied the House did not know the miserably insufficient amount of voluntary Lock Hospital accommodation in the United Kingdom, or they would pause before agreeing to the Resolution then before them. He would tell the House that, at the present time, the voluntary Lock Hospitals of the United Kingdom only contained 157 beds, which were never full; while the Government, or "certified" hospitals, provided 650 beds, which were always full. The Minority Report said—That there would be no difficulty in getting necessary funds to establish a large system of voluntary hospitals;827 but this statement was flatly contradicted by the Rev. Mr. Gledstone, an Independent minister, who stated—He would not subscribe to any place where disease was treated in an exceptional way, and that he was the representative of many.He (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) was afraid that this was the exact truth; and, as a subscriber of long standing to voluntary Lock Hospitals, he deplored the apathy of the charitable public towards these excellent institutions, and was the more confirmed in his opinion that, if the Resolution were carried, the female prostitute class must be relegated to the horrors of the past, and those terrible scenes renewed which had been so graphically described by reliable witnesses. There could be no question but that, for the last 12 years, the Acts had worked most satisfactorily, with the acquiescence of all the parties concerned. Two main objections had disappeared altogether. First, no case of oppression or mistake had been sustained against the officials administering the Acts; and, secondly, it had been demonstrated that the provisions of the Acts wore not repugnant to, but appreciated by, the women in the subjected districts. That being so, whence came the opposition to the Acts? He (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) would toll the House that it proceeded from a combination of three discordant elements of opinion. First, those who believed that venereal disease was a "God-made" punishment for vice—and the Judge Advocate General had sufficiently shown that this opinion, held by Mr. Henley, was extensively prevalent amongst certain religious bodies throughout the country; secondly, those who held exaggerated ideas concerning the rights of women; and, thirdly, the ultra-revolutionary party, the followers of the late Mr. Mazzini, and of the pro-sent Municipal Council in Paris, who were prepared to sacrifice public health rather than accord any special powers to the police. These three classes of opinion combined were small in numbers, but noisy and energetic in action; and, by the expenditure of some £5,000 per annum, had kept the agitation against the Acts alive. He (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) did not quarrel with them for the opinions they professed. He would not even object to the obscene publications which they distributed broadcast throughout the country; but he pro- 828 tested strongly against their unscrupulous conduct in fabricating false and scandalous charges against honourable and upright men and women to whom the administration of the Acts was confided. As a leading case, he would mention the conduct of a Mr. Frederick Wheeler, of Rochester. This individual was a Quaker, and, as such, while he eschewed the carnal weapon, preferred to adopt the devices of "Don Basilio," and to defeat his enemy by a baseless calumny. He had, therefore, published a "Leaflet," headed, An Authenticated and Shocking Illustration of the working of the Contagious Diseases Ads, in which he alleged that one Caroline Wybrow, after having been improperly detained some days in the Lock Hospital of Chatham, had been discovered to be a virgin. The case of Caroline Wybrow was fully investigated by the Committee, and the evidence, speaking for itself, would show that no blame rested with the officials; but the "Leaflet" went on to state that—Hundreds of terrified girls had signed the voluntary submission form under the threat and terror of imprisonment;and yet, when pressed upon the point, this Wheeler was unable to cite one single case in support of his assertion. So much for truth and morality. He (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) had called the attention of the hon. Member for Bristol (Mr. S. Morley) to this Wheeler's conduct, and had told him he ought either to retire from the Society for Repealing the Acts, or to drum Wheeler out of it; but the hon. Member for Bristol had replied that "he had no time to investigate the question, though he admitted it had two sides." So much for morality and truth. Then, again, the Rev. Mr. Gledstone had asserted, at a public meeting at Whitehaven last year, that the officials—Had at their mercy females of all kinds, and their cowardly and brutal conduct made it absolutely dangerous for a decent woman to answer any question put by a soldier, be it over so proper;but, when cross-examined, he, too, was unable to cite any case in support of his proposition, except that of Caroline Wybrow; and it was desirable that the House should know that, according to a Report of the Commissioners of Police, which he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) then produced, this virtuous and exemplary victim, Caroline Wybrow, was now keep- 829 ing a house of convenience at Chatham. Finally there was the case of the Town Missionary, Krauss, who had the audacity to tell the Committee that from the footway on the public street at Woolwich passers by could see all the details of the examination of women in the examination room, and the doctor's head between their legs. He (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) was so struck with this astonishing evidence, as it was styled in the Minority Reports, that he himself went to Woolwich to ascertain the truth; but he found that the distance from the footway to the window of the examination room, which was on the first floor, was 45 feet, and that the window was backed by a thick gauze blind, so that Krauss's statement was simply a barefaced and impudent falsehood. He (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) felt it was sickening to press these details upon the House; but he was bound to do so in the cause of truth, and he would trouble the House no further, except on behalf of Inspector Anniss and Miss Webb, whose reputations had been shamefully attacked by the opponents of the Acts. At a meeting of the "Threefold Cord Society," an Association for the relief of fallen women, held in February last, at Plymouth, with the Archdeacon in the chair, and at least a dozen clergymen of the Church of England present. The Secretary, the be v. F. Gurney, said—He did not think anyone need take the trouble to defend these special Acts in Ply-month. Hypothetically, a great deal of feeling might be got up against them; but they had unquestionably been very much to the good of the town. They knew that in Plymouth their administration was in charge of an earnest Christian man, with a large and zealous desire for the saving of girls, and for affording protection to those who were on the brink of ruin! Mr. Anniss had many opportunities of bringing suitable cases under the notice of the Committee, and always did so.He (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) thought the above was amply sufficient to repel the aspersions cast upon Mr. Anniss by the right hon. Member for Halifax. With reference to Miss Webb, he would do no more than read a letter which he had received from her that morning, and which he felt must touch the hearts of all present—I earnestly pray that the debate on the C.D. Acts will not end in Parliament repealing them. Nearly 13 years ago, I offered my services here, to devote my life to the reform of poor women brought under the provisions of the 830 benevolent Acts; and I solemnly declare my conviction of them of this long experience to be greatly beneficial to the class affected by them, both morally and physically. With regard to the examinations, not only are they necessary for the work of the medical officer to be effective, but have no hardening effect whatever; besides which, any woman who chooses to change her evil courses frees herself at once from them. It will probably be said that those are the utterances of a 'paid official,' to meet which, it is only just to myself to tell you, I have been implored, more than once, to give it up for an easier post, with the same salary and every home comfort and freedom; but I have preferred remaining at my post, and that amidst violent persecution from the agent for the Society for the Repeal of the 'C.D. Acts '—Mr. Wheeler, of Eochester—who has continually sent me 'Leaflets' wherein I was shamefully libelled by him, and also their paper The Shield, of June, 1878, wherein, among other scurrilous remarks, they classed me with the keepers of houses of ill-fame. Trusting these 'Acts' may be retained.He would only conclude with the remark that facts were stubborn things.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I shall not take up much of the time of the House with the few observations I have to make, and I shall not attempt to make any premature disclosures, the Members who addressed the House have simply been Members who have been on the Committee, to whom, I think, the House is deeply indebted—whatever our opinions are as to the merits—for the time and devotion they have given to the subject; for it must have been a most painful subject to them. Sir, in the few observations I intend to make, I shall enter only very cursorily into the questions that have been raised. The merits, whether for or against the retention of the Contagious Diseases Acts, have been very fully and amply discussed by those who preceded me; and they can be more advantageously discussed by those hon. Members who have had an opportunity of hearing the evidence brought before the Committee, and who have taken part in its deliberations. I should not have risen, except for the questions very naturally and legitimately addressed to me by the right hon. and gallant Member for North Lancashire (Colonel Stanley) as to the position the Government had taken on this question; and I propose to give a statement on this subject. I must ask the House to consider what was the position of this question when the Government took Office in 1880. The House will remember that at the last 831 time the Liberal Government was in power it made an attempt, in 1872, to deal with the whole subject. I need not detain the House by recapitulating the provisions of the Bill introduced by the Government in 1872; I will simply remind them that that Bill proposed the repeal of a great part of the Acts which are now known as the Contagious Diseases Acts, and to substitute for them an amendment of the general law relating to questions of prostitution. That attempt of the Liberal Government of that day failed, partly for want of time, and partly because the proposals of that measure did not meet with the enthusiastic support of either Party. They did not satisfy the opponents—those who were for the repeal of the existing Acts—neither did the new provisions which they proposed give satisfaction to the other side. Shortly after that time the Government went out of Office, and were no longer called upon to do anything. At the General Election of 1880, as is well known, a large number of Members of the present Government were pledged deeply to the total abolition of the existing Acts. My right hon. Friend who preceded me in the Office I have the honour to hold (Mr. Childers) was, as the House is aware, opposed in principle to some of the most important provisions of the Contagious Diseases Acts, and had expressed his disapproval of the compulsory periodical examination of women, and his opinion that a great part of the good effect obtained by the advocates of the Act might be obtained by the amendment of the general law, and, at the same time, by the repeal of the compulsory provisions of those Acts. Well, Sir, probably, under these circumstances, my right hon. Friend would have been prepared to have made some proposal to the House in the direction of those opinions which he had advocated in 1875. But a Committee had been appointed, at the instance of the late Government, to inquire into the whole subject. That Committee had not concluded its labours, and it was thought desirable by both Parties that at opportunity should be given, by the reappointment of a Committee on the subject, for that matter to be brought to a close, with a view to learning the feeling of the House, so as to have some final settlement of the question. The 832 Committee reported last year; but I am bound to say that, although their labours have been of great value in collecting and arranging a vast amount of information on this subject, the Report of the Committee has not tended in any degree to an amicable settlement which can be accepted by both sides—by those holding different views on the subject. The majority have agreed to a Report which, in substance, unequivocally agrees with the existing law, but has not made any recommendation for the modification of that law. The minority have put in a Report which, in equally unequivocal terms, condemns the whole of the existing Acts. It is quite evident, from what has taken place since the publication of the Report of the Committee, that nothing but a complete repeal of the Acts will satisfy their opponents; and, on the other hand, there is the Report of the majority of the Committee, and it does not furnish the Government with any argument with which it could, with a reasonable hope of success, put forward any modification or a compromise in regard to these Acts. Well, Sir, under those circumstances, Parliament will have to decide virtually whether it is prepared to defend the Acts substantially in the present form, or whether it shall give up either the whole or the most essential portion of those Acts. It is also evident that this inquiry has not afforded to the Members of the Government—amongst whom, as I have already stated, there was an entire divergence of opinion on the subject—any ground for arriving at an agreement among themselves. Under these circumstances, the difference of opinion to which I have already referred exists, I am bound to state, to an equal extent at the present moment. Those who have been, like myself, brought into contact with the administration of the Acts, and who are more directly responsible for the efficiency of the Army and Navy, are, in general, disposed to support the Acts. That is my view; and that is the view of my noble Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty, who is responsible for the administration of the Navy; and that is also the view of my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, under whose administration those Acts are carried out. The other Members of the Government who are brought less into contact with the ad- 833 ministration of those Services, and who are more impressed with the insufficiency and the impolicy—and, perhaps, I do not use too strong a we rd when I say the immorality—of this legislation, do not see their way to making themselves responsible for the continued maintenance of legislation to which, any opposition had been offered. Well, Sir, under these circumstances, there is no alternative, except so far as the Government is concerned, but to treat this question, as other questions of not loss importance have before now been treated, as an open question by the Government. I am perfectly aware that of late years the number of subjects of importance which have been treated as open questions by the Government have not been numerous; but there are questions of great social importance, and of infinitely greater political importance than that which we have been discussing, which have been for years made open questions, upon which Members of an Administration differ. We, therefore, cannot advise—and it is impossible, under those circumstances, for the Government, as a Government, to advise—as to the course to be taken as to the extension or the repeal of those Acts. But, Sir, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Stanley) not only asked what course we should take with regard to the Motion, but what was our intention with regard to the administration of the law. Now, with regard to that point, I think there can be but one answer. So long as these Acts remain on the Statute Book, I conceive it is the duty of this Government, or any Government, to administer those Acts and to put into execution the provisions of the law. The laws cannot be altered by a Resolution of either House of Parliament, and it may, for anything I know, be the will of Parliament that these Acts be repealed; but until that repeal has taken place, I think undoubtedly it will be the duty of the Government to administer the Acts in the spirit in which they were passed, so far as Parliament gives us the means necessary for that administration. Having said so much—and I began by saying that I did not want to enter into the details of this controversy—I desire to make one or two short remarks upon the discussion which has taken place, and especially upon the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Hali- 834 fax (Mr. Stansfeld). My right hon. Friend, with most intense earnestness and warmth, appears on this subject to have been led away into one or two exaggerations almost amounting to misstatements. My right hon. Friend said that these Acts had been condemned by repeated Commissions; and he said that the Commission of 1871 had condemned the Acts of 1866, and the Committee which had lately reported had condemned the Acts of 1864. I think that it is entirely inaccurate to say that the Commission condemned the Acts of 1866. If the House will allow me, I will road to the House what that Commission said. The Report was unanimous, although they appended separate Minutes. That Report was that they had come to the conclusion—That although periodical examination of common prostitutes was the most effectual mode of dealing with venereal disease, that it is practically impossible to make the system general, even if on other grounds it was desirable to do so.How can any impartial person come to the conclusion that that Report condemned the Acts of 1866, when the Commissioners unanimously reported that the previous Act of 1866 constituted the most effectual mode of dealing with disease? Well, then, my right hon. Friend devoted a great portion of his speech to the examination of the hygienic aspects of prostitution; but I think that the House must have felt that my right hon. Friend almost wasted his strength upon this, because the conclusion of his speech showed that it was absolutely impossible for him to approach this or any other branch of the subject in anything but the spirit of a partizan whose mind had been fully made up before he heard the evidence. Well, my right hon. Friend admitted in his speech that, whatever had been the result of his inquiries as to the effect of these Acts, it would not have made the slightest difference to his vote; and when I heard my right hon. Friend twisting the statistics, I admired the ingenuity of the pleader; but it was scarcely worth his while to give such attention to an examination of a branch of the subject, while he showed that he was absolutely and entirely indifferent to it. The House has to thank the Committee who have devoted so much time to the inquiry into a painful subject; and more especially, I think, they are in- 835 debted to the Judge Advocate General, and to the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. O'Shaughnessy), who, in the opinion of a great majority of the House, entered into this inquiry, not with the pre-conceived views of a partisan, but with the earnest desire to learn the truth; and I think the House would be disposed to accept the conclusion which, after a careful examination of the question and from an examination as to the hygienic branch of it, the right hon. and learned Gentleman and the hon. and learned Gentleman arrived, rather than accept the conclusion and the ingenious utterances of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax. My right hon. Friend the Member for Halifax accepted, for the purpose of his argument, the method adopted by the majority of the Committee, and said that at the best they could only make out a daily saving of 5½ per 1,000 men secured to the Army by the operation of these Acts, and at the most an addition of daily strength of from 250 or 300 were all that could be claimed for the Army. If the right hon. Gentleman accepted this for the purpose of his argument, I should like to ask him why ho did not take that branch of the subject further from the latest information? The latest statistics which the Committee had under their consideration were the statistics of 1878; but the statistics of 1881 are now available, and the latter show that the saving of efficiency to the Army has gone on progressively increasing since the Report of the Committee, and that in 1880 it amounted not to 5½ per 1,000, but to 6½ per 1,000, and in 1880 to 8 per 1,000; so that, in that case, with an average strength of 50,000 men, the saving would be, in 1880, a saving of 325 men, and in 1881 of 400 men. But I do not at all admit on behalf of the Army that the saving of efficiency is represented by these figures. Those calculations take into account only a number of men actually in hospital and suffering from the effects of those diseases. I will not say that everyone bears with him either temporarily or permanently the results of this disease; but there is no doubt that a very large number of them after a very considerable time, permanently and for life, render themselves less efficient soldiers and sailors and useful members of society. It is impossible, from statistics, to ascertain what is the 836 actual loss, and what is the actual effect in the Services from this consideration. The same idea of it may be obtained from the latest statistics that had been laid on the Table of the House as to 1880–1. In the protected stations, on an aggregate strength of 39,500, the admissions for primary syphilis were 2,920, or a ratio of admissions of 71 per 1,000. In all the unprotected stations, with a strength of 35,000 men, there were 5,673 admissions, or a ratio of 126 per 1,000. If the ratio of admissions had been the same in the protected as in the unprotected, the number of admissions in the protected districts would have been, not 2,520, but 4,920, or an increase of 2,000. I say that this part of the subject cannot be accurately arrived at by statistics, because it is impossible to see how much the larger proportion of those numbers are permanently affected. The medical evidence can leave no doubt upon the mind of any impartial person that a very largo number are rendered inefficient for a proportion and probably for the remainder of their lives. Well, the right hon. Gentleman said that these Acts were only passed with the view of achieving great results. Whether the expectations that were formed by those who originally passed these Acts have been disappointed or not—very probably they have—I think it is certain that, so long as their operation is confined to a few stations, it must be limited. I entirely deny that this House is bound to abandon these Acts simply because they have not attained great results. It is sufficient for us that they have attained an adequate result. They have obtained a material increase in the health of the Army and Navy and in the general population, and these results have been obtained, I believe, without any interference whatever with the morality of the people. On the contrary, I believe they have been obtained with results most favourable to morality. I do not desire to detain the House. I will only say that I entirely concur with the position that was taken up by my right hon. and learned Friend the Judge Advocate General in the statement as to the position which the law assumes towards those interested, and as to the position which the law ought to assume. Whether it ought to do so or not, the law does not grapple with this vice in any manner whatever; probably it would 837 be impossible for the law to grapple with it. In my opinion, we must accept it as a necessary evil; but there is no reason why we should abstain from attempting to mitigate one of its most frightful effects. More especially is it our duty to mitigate the evil effects of this vice as regards our soldiers and sailors, and to use every means in our power to mitigate the evil in the case of large masses of young men, who are brought into a position where they fire exposed to temptation and to the indulgence of passions in which we know they will indulge with consequences fatal to the health, not only of themselves but of their descendants. Having brought together the so large bodies of young men into positions where they are, not by the desire of their own free will, exposed to temptations and risks, it seems to me that it is the duty of the State to do all in its power to mitigate the effects of the temptations that these young men labour under, as far as it can be done without injury to public morals. Of course, it would be more satisfactory to me if I were able to speak, not only as the Representative of the Army in this House, but also as the Representative of Her Majesty's Government. The question is one, however, for the reasons I have explained, which must be decided by Parliament; and I sincerely trust that the decision of Parliament will be, not to interfere with the beneficial operation of these Acts until, at all events, some Members are able to propose some more complete and satisfying method of dealing with this evil.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, he wished to remind the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War that when he rose to address the House he had stated that it was not his intention to bring the debate to a premature close. It seemed, however, that the noble Marquess rose to make a premature disclosure, which was one of a very remarkable character. He would, therefore, press upon the Government the importance of making a clean breast of it, and tell the House what it was that they themselves intended to do. It was all very well for the noble Marquess to say that, under the circumstances, Her Majesty's Government proposed to leave the matter in the hands of Parliament. He (Sir Stafford Northcote) could not 838 help saying that Her Majesty's Government were becoming far too fond of leaving matters in the hands of Parliament. It was most strange that a Government which had come into Office with so large a majority at its command, should, at the end of its third year of Office, announce that it must leave a question of such high importance as this to be decided by Parliament. Every hon. Member must feel that the matter was not only one of peculiar importance, but one which it was particularly undesirable to leave open. Everybody felt the drawbacks and disadvantages of extraordinary and exceptional legislation in the matter; but, these Acts having been in operation for 15 or 16 years, they were only to be altered in case overwhelming advantage was to be gained by such a course, not only in Parliament, but throughout the country. The question had been raised and discussed in a manner, he would not go the length of saying there was no justification for, but which certainly had sometimes been pushed by methods it was very hard to justify, and which had, no doubt, caused a great deal of pain and scandal in what he could not help feeling was sometimes an unnecessary manner. He did not wish to enter into that matter, because he was aware that those who had preceded him had already done so, and that those who had adopted the methods he had referred to had done so under the sense of what they felt to be their duty, and in the desire to put an end to a very disagreeable question by bringing about what was considered to be necessary reforms. If the Government were of that opinion it was their duty to come to Parliament and say—"We will put a stop to these scandals by proposing an alteration of the law." But if the House had these proposals in a tangible shape before them, and were able to see if it was intended to propose the absolute repeal of the Acts, or only the modification of them, or something else, they would then be able to form a judgment upon the subject; but at the present moment all they had before them was that the Acts had worked satisfactorily to those Members of the Government who were charged with the special administration of the Departments to which they more immediately applied. It was not intended, as far as he could see, to propose any change of the law; but 839 surely the Government ought to be called upon to decide what was to be done in the face of a Motion made by a distinguished Member of that House, who had taken a special interest in the question, and which Motion aimed at the destruction of the whole of these Acts. Although the words of the Motion simply pointed to one particular part of the matter—namely, the compulsory examination, there could be little doubt that the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) pointed to the overthrow of the whole system. If that was so, were the Government prepared to vote with the right hon. Gentleman, or were they prepared, as the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War was, to vote against him, or were they prepared to take some intermediate course, which they might well do if the Speaker left the Chair, in order that they might, by deliberation and proper agreement among themselves, close this open question and bring forward, in some shape or other, some proposal of their own? He hoped the House would be told by some of those Members of the Government who disagreed with the noble Marquess and the First Lord of the Admiralty and other Members of the Ministry, what they proposed to do—whether they really meant to pass the Resolution now before the House and condemn the Acts while still keeping them in existence without doing anything to modify them? Did they mean to follow up their vote by proposing themselves, or assisting the right hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) to bring in and carry, a measure on the subject? He thought they had a right to ask for that information. He was bound to say that the conduct of the Government was feeble and vacillating. He did not wish, however, to dwell upon that matter, but rather to point out the injury which he imagined must be done to the Public Service if the matter was to be left in doubt with the present vote of the House upon the Motion. Therefore, without entering further into the consideration of the question, he trusted that, after having listened to this long debate, which began, on the other side, after the Motion had been moved by an able speech from the Judge Advocate General, who told them he could not speak for the 840 Government, and which had now culminated in a still more important speech from the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War, who told them that the matter was to be left an open question, the House would not be satisfied until they had some further explanation as to the intentions of the Government. As the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister was not in his place, he hoped to hear from some one of the right hon. Gentleman's Colleagues—perhaps the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to whom the subject was not new, as he had for some years been acting as Secretary of State for War—what it was that Her Majesty's Government intended to do, and what the actual course of proceedings would be. It did seem to him that in a matter of this sort, in regard to which many Members of Parliament had been in the past induced to give votes of a character necessarily trying and painful to their feelings, and had incurred much reproach and misrepresentation because they had been induced by successive Governments to believe that there was a strong and overwhelming necessity for these Acts and for the vote they gave—it did seem to him that those hon. Members had strong reason to complain if they found the Government now turning round and leaving them in the lurch, and saying that they could decide neither one way nor the other, but that they must leave it in the hands of Parliament, in the hope that Parliament would decide it for them.
§ MR. WHITBREAD
said, it was not his business to make any remark on the speech which had just been delivered to the House; but he wished to make one or two observations upon what had fallen from the noble Marquess who was sitting below him. He did not intend to indulge in recriminatory charges, and he thought the noble Marquess was to be congratulated upon having called the House back to the calm consideration of the real question at issue. His right hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) had dwelt upon the alleged hygienic failure of these Acts. But he had admitted, at the same time, that, failure or no failure, he should oppose them. The House, however, knew the sacrifices which his right hon. Friend had made upon this question. He had sacrificed time, peace, money, and every 841 other ambition, in order to deal with this one question. He did not know any other instance, within his own experience, or that he had read of, of a man who had occupied the position of his right hon. Friend, who had so completely severed himself from every object of ambition in order to devote himself to one question in which he felt a deep interest. The subject had been argued too much on all sides, and especially by his noble Friend the Secretary of State for War, as if it was a question of these Acts or nothing at all. That was not the question; and he would ask the House, although he would promise not to detain them long, to travel with him, even at that late hour, to the state of things which existed before these Acts were passed. Hon. Gentlemen knew that before they were passed, successive Governments were in the habit of asking Parliament for Votes of money for the maintenance of Lock Wards at the seaports. Those wards were always full, and the contributions by the State were paid only on the certificate that the beds were occupied. But the beds were always full, and were always full in the way in which Lock Wards were never full now. There was no registration, and no policemen. we men of different classes, not only the street outcasts, on whom they were now able to lay their hands, but others, went into those wards. No questions were asked. The patient went in, was cured, and went out again. The aid of no policeman was called in. Even at that time the doctors, he admitted, were always pressing the authorities at the Admiralty and the War Office to pass some stringent Act. The doctors thought they could stamp out the disease; but, in his (Mr. Whitbread's) opinion, one of the things which Parliament ought to be most watchful about was when doctors asked to have policemen at their backs. At that time, some 20 years ago, the Government appointed a small Departmental Committee, in connection with the Admiralty and the War Office, to inquire into the subject; and among other evidence the Committee had before them, and which they received through the Foreign Office, were numerous Reports as to the state of things, and the ratio of disease in foreign ports, where severe Acts were in operation. But there was nothing learnt 842 through the Reports from abroad that justified the hope that a compulsory Act of this kind would produce the desired result. There was nothing in the evidence which the Committee got, voluminous as it was, which justified that expectation. In point of fact, the Report of the Committee upon that point was to this effect—that, after the closest investigation they could give to the matter, it turned out that the prevalence of disease in foreign ports was very often in inverse ratio to the stringency of the registration imposed. That ought to have been a warning to us; but there was a single instance of apparent success, and that one single instance was made the justification of these Acts. That was the case of Malta. Malta had, a few years previously to the time he was speaking of—about the year 1859—suddenly adopted police regulations bearing on the question of prostitution, and there was a sudden increase in the amount of disease. Very severe regulations were then passed upon the subject; and, for a short time, it did appear as if the authorities at Malta would be able to stamp out the disease. He (Mr. Whitbread) happened to have an opportunity at Malta of inquiring into the question on the spot; and he was told by a very able official that what was applicable to Malta would in no way be applicable to the English seaports. In point of fact, the class of we men to whom the soldiers and sailors had access in Malta were as distinctly known and as distinctly separate from all other we men in Malta that the police were able to lay their hands on every one of them, and in that way they might be able to stamp out disease. But he wondered what would be said now as to Malta? Had anybody since, or would anybody now, hold up Malta as a successful example? On the contrary, he believed that disease had been as rife there as anywhere else. There was another matter which had, perhaps, a great effect on the minds of persons who had been considering the question, and it was this—that although the Lock Wards at the seaports where they were established were always full, it did happen on a particular occasion, when one of our ships came home from foreign service, and the men had a considerable sum of money in their possession, she put into Devonport, and the women, 843 who at the time were under treatment in the Lock Wards, immediately left of their own accord. In point of fact, there was no power to detain them. That was exactly the view which the Government took. They said—"See, your whole system is broken down." As a matter of principle it was a very different thing to enact that when once a woman had gone into the Lock Wards, and placed herself under medical treatment, she should remain there until she was cured. That was a very different thing from the principle of requiring, under strict police regulation, a compulsory examination and registration; and what he said was, that if they were to rely upon a voluntary system, they had better rely upon it altogether, and, in the long run, they would find it more satisfactory than having a system that was half-voluntary and half-compulsory. There were one or two points which he was anxious, if he could, to impress upon the noble Marquess who had recently addressed the House, and he hoped his noble Friend would consider them carefully between now and the next time they had a debate of this sort in the House. First of all, he wanted the noble Marquess to consider that it was most unfair to compare the ratio of the disease in protected districts and the hospital with the ratio of disease in the unprotected districts. In point of fact, they were comparing the Acts with nothing. If they would make him an allowance for what would have been done if they had had voluntary Lock Wards in districts scattered all over the country for the last 16 years they had had this Act in operation, then ho would be prepared to argue the question. He hoped the noble Marquess would consider the subject, and apply his mind carefully to it; and, in that case, he knew very well that his noble Friend would be able to sweep away all the extraneous matter which had been imported into it, and to grasp the central fact, which was this—neither a voluntary system nor a compulsory system would probably entirely eradicate this disease from the land. The question was, which would do the most good? His noble Friend would know, as well as ho did, that the question of order in the streets had nothing what ever to do with the matter. Of course, the clergy, the doctors, and the police in some districts approved of those Acts. 844 And why? Because it gave them quieter streets and more apparent morality, and it was feared that if the Acts were not compulsorily enforced it would require a larger body of police to keep order in the streets. But that question had nothing to do with compulsorily examination and registration, and would be attained as well under a voluntary system as it was now under the compulsory system. Then, again, as to the rescue of the we men—why, what on earth had that to do with the police? Surely good people, who now entered the wards of the Lock Hospital, and endeavoured to lead fallen we men back to a better life, would go into those wards were there were no policemen and no registration as freely as they entered those in which there were a policeman, examination, and registration. He thought these Acts had no bearing on that part of the question. And then as to the diminution of juvenile prostitution. If juveniles were driven off the streets by a policeman, why could not the policeman visit the brothel, whether the Act was there or not? And it was part of their business, and the business of any good man, to send back those children to their parents. The real question was, what did they gain by the Acts? They had abolished the system formerly in force, and what had they gained, and what had they lost? They had tried the experiment out, and they had come to a deadlock. The noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War admitted that they could not go much further in the reduction of disease. They had had the Act applied to a certain number of districts, and they knew that the country would not allow them to apply these Acts everywhere. Therefore, it might fairly be said that they had tried the experiment out, as far as they could try it; and now it was necessary they should ask themselves whether, if they had relied upon the voluntary system during the last 16 years, they might not have achieved more satisfactory results? They would then have had a system that was capable of expansion, and a system which might be applied to every town or district, "without arousing this storm of indignation and feeling throughout the country. Those who remonstrated against the existence of the Acts, and the people who felt so keenly about them, were amongst the best and most moral people 845 of the country. He contended that the feelings of these people ought to be regarded by Her Majesty's Government; and they must themselves see that the time was not far distant when they would be compelled to provide some new system to take the place of these Acts. He asked Her Majesty's Government to examine the evidence, even with the assistance, if necessary, of those who were opposed to the Acts, and really endeavour to master the question. If they did that, in his opinion they would come to the conclusion that if they reverted to the old system of State-assisted wards, the results would be far more satisfactory than those produced by the working of the existing Acts. He fully admitted that the health of their Army and of their Navy was a matter of great national importance and concern. He had always supported the grants of money which had been made in that House for the maintenance of Lock Wards, and he should do so again. He saw no harm in the application of the public money in that direction; but what all of them wanted to get rid of was the Police Clauses of the Acts. They thought they could do as well without those clauses as with them; and he believed, if they had never been enacted, the ratio of disease under the voluntary system would have become long ago less severe than it was now.
said, he should have very much liked to give a silent vote upon the Motion; but as no Member had yet adddressed the House who represented one of the districts in which these Acts were enforced, and in which the population had, therefore, had some practical experience of their working, he thought he might be able to give the House some assistance by making a few observations; and he believed the House would want all the assistance it could get before it arrived at a decision upon the matter, seeing that they were left without that assistance from the Government to which they were constitutionally entitled. He ventured to say—and he thought that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) would not contradict the statement—that the morality of the people who lived in the places where these Acts were observed was not inferior to the morality even of the people of Halifax; and although the hon. Member for 846 Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) had spoken of the doctors and clergy and magistrates of these places in a sneering tone—[Mr. WHITBREAD: No.]—and although he (Mr. Gorst) was unable to consider the question in the grave and philosophical spirit in which it was considered by the hon. Member, he ventured to tell the hon. Member that there were gentlemen in the places in which the Acts were applied quite as capable of looking at the question in the same philosophical spirit as the hon. Member was, and quite as competent, from education, experience, and knowledge, to arrive at a just conclusion. How did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax, who addressed the House so vehemently, and those who supported him, account for the fact that in the places in which the Acts were applied public opinion was almost unanimously in their favour? He had no right to speak for any place except the borough which he represented; but he said, without hesitation, that the borough of Chatham, which he had the honour to represent, was universally in favour of the maintenance of the Acts. And he believed, as far as he had been able to ascertain, that in the other places in which these Acts were enforced public opinion was greatly in their favour. His hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth (Sir H. Drummond wolff) reminded him that the Vicar of Portsmouth went before the Committee for the purpose of giving evidence in favour of the Acts, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) had read to the House a most touching letter from a lady in Chatham who had devoted 30 years of her life to the service of a Lock Hospital. These were facts which those who so vehemently opposed the operation of the Acts had to get over. But they were not the only facts. Another strong argument used against the operation of the Acts was that they were unjust and injurious to the wives and daughters of the people. Now, was it supposed that the people of Chatham were not just as jealous of the honour of their wives and daughters, and would not resist just as keenly any infringement of their personal liberty, as any people in the United Kingdom? How did they account for the fact that not a single working man in any of the 847 places in which the Acts were in operation had ever come forward to denounce their operation? During the time he had represented the borough of Chatham he had had many questions put to him at public meetings and at election times, and he had been called upon to answer questions concerning Mr. Bradlaugh, about vaccination, and various other matters; but he had never, during the whole course of his experience, had a single remonstrance made to him by any working man in the borough of Chatham as to the maintenance of those Acts. These were facts, and ho commended them to the attention of the House. They were facts which ought to be controverted and got over before the Acts were denounced in the unmeasured language they had heard that night. But he must confess that it appeared to him the House was in a most difficult position at the present moment for coming to any decision Upon the subject. He had been very much astonished when his right hon. and learned Friend the Judge Advocate General (Mr. Osborne Morgan) addressed the House, at hearing him say he was not speaking on behalf of the Government. He thought the right hon. and learned Gentleman ought to have been speaking on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. His astonishment, however, was considerably increased when the noble Marquess who represented the Army in that House (the Marquess of Hartington) also rose to address the House, and intimated that he did not speak on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. The noble Marquess went further than that, and informed hon. Members that there were a considerable number of persons in Her Majesty's Government who were opposed to the further maintenance of the Acts, and were, therefore, he (Mr. Gorst) presumed, going to vote against them. But, notwithstanding that, when the right hon. Baronet the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote) challenged the Members of the Government who were opposed to the maintenance of the Acts—alluding specially by name to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer—to state their reasons for taking that course, the Treasury Bench maintained an ominous and an obstinate silence. They had had statements from the noble Marquess as to the efficiency arising from the main- 848 tenance of these Acts. They were told that the great Departments of the Army and Navy were not in favour of the maintenance of these Acts. They were also told that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary, who was charged with the execution of the Acts, was not in favour of their maintenance, and they knew that the constituencies, or, rather, every constituency in which the Acts we re enforced, was in favour of their maintenance. That was very strong and very satisfactory information; but ho thought they had a right to know something more than that—namely, what was the opinion of Her Majesty's Government as to the maintenance of the Acts? Where, he should like to ask, was the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister? The House was accustomed to hear the advice of the Prime Minister, and to listen to his arguments, before it arrived at a decision on any question of great importance. Why, he asked, had the Prime Minister gone from the House, and left them to come to a conclusion on the Motion of the right hon. Member for Halifax without one we rd of advice or explanation as to the views of the Government upon this question? The noble Marquess had treated the subject rather cavalierly; but it, nevertheless, involved some of the most important issues that could be conceived. One of the least important of those was the welfare of the Army and Navy; yet that was a tremendous and most important issue, and upon it the Government of the day ought at least to have an opinion. But there was an issue of much greater importance than that—the question of public morality. They had been told, in eloquent language, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax, that public morality was involved in the question. They knew that many people in the country were greatly exercised in their minds with regard to these Acts, upon the ground that their maintenance constituted a national immorality. Did the Government have no opinion upon a question of that kind? Was national immorality to be an open question in the minds of Her Majesty's Government? But that was not all. 'This matter also involved the question of personal liberty—the liberty of the subject. Would Her Majesty's present Government treat the liberty of the sub- 849 ject as an open question? As a Government they were bound to have an opinion upon so great an issue. He had shown that this matter involved three of the most important principles that could be conceived, and yet they had only had speeches from two Members of the Government, who were careful to tell the House that they spoke in their own names, and that their Colleagues did not agree with them. When those dissentient Colleagues were challenged by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford North-cote), they maintained a discreet silence; and, finally, the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government left the House to settle the matter as best they could without him. ["Divide!"] The cry of "Divide!" convinced him of what he already suspected—namely, that the House was at the present moment not in a fit condition to decide upon the question; and as he thought it would be most lamentable and unfortunate if they had to proceed to a division with the information they possessed, and without the advice they were entitled to have from Her Majesty's Government, he would move the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Gorst.)
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. Childers)
said, he had intended to address the House on the question proposed by his right hon. Friend; but, By the Rules of the House, when a Motion for adjournment was made, one had to confine himself to that subject. The observance of that Rule was strictly pressed by the hon. and learned Member for Chatham only a few nights ago, and that he (Mr. Childers) was bound to obey. He trusted, however, that the House would not adjourn, and would allow those to speak upon it who wished—and no one wished to speak more than he did, having been challenged by the Leader of the Opposition, and to make such observations as it appeared to him to be his duty. He hoped that the Motion would be withdrawn.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
I think it is of so great importance that we should have the opinion of the Her Majesty's Government upon this question, that I trust my hon. and learned 850 Friend will be willing to withdraw his Motion for the adjournment of the debate.
said, he was only waiting for a hint from Her Majesty's Government, and, having received it, he would ask leave to withdraw his Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. Childers)
said, he felt that a new practice had been recently introduced into their debates, and that was, that when an hon. Member sitting on the Treasury Bench, or elsewhere in the House, was called upon by another hon. Member to give his opinion, he was bound there and then to get up, no matter how many other hon. Gentlemen were anxious to take part in the discussion. He would have risen before; but as he had observed that the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) showed a disposition more than once to address the House, he refrained from interposing until his hon. Friend had spoken. He considered it his duty, after the appeal made to him by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, to state to the House, as one of those whose opinion had been expressly called for, the course which he proposed to take on the present occasion. In the first place, he would say that his noble Friend beside him (the Marquess of Hartington) had expressed most clearly what was the position of the Government, not only with respect to the Motion before the House, but with respect to the larger question of the Contagious Diseases Acts, only one-half of which was touched by the Motion of his right hon. Friend. It would be hardly proper for him to travel again over the ground taken by his noble Friend; but, with the permission of the House, he would, in a few words, state what was the position of those who, with respect to this question, did not agree entirely with his noble Friend. For his own, part, he might also state that he was one of those who did not entirely agree with his right hon. Friend who brought forward this proposal. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had said that the Government had been urging the overwhelming importance of supporting, and even extending, the present Acts as they stood. But that was not the case. So far as he was aware, no Member of the present Government had taken that posi- 851 tion, and it was certainly not the position which he himself had occupied with regard to the Acts for some years past. Let him remind the House of what had taken place with respect to the policy of the Acts since the appointment, in 1870, of the Commission over which Mr. Massey presided. That Commission, which sat during 1871, brought up a most valuable Report, which was presented to the House; and, as a consequence of that Report, the Government, in 1872, introduced a Bill for the repeal of the Acts. He remembered very well the framework of the Bill. Three-fourths of its provisions dealt with prostitution generally, and with juvenile prostitution particularly, as also with disease. It provided that prostitutes brought before the justices and committed for offences should not be liable to examination any more than other offenders. But this Bill, which embodied the proposals of the Government, did not pass, mainly owing to the pressure of Business before Parliament. After the introduction of the Bill, he did not think any Paper upon this subject came before the House until the year 1875, after a change of Government had taken place. After that Return had been presented, a Motion was brought forward by Sir Harcourt Johnstone, proposing to repeal the Acts altogether; and in the debate upon it Mr. Maseey spoke, who presided over the Committee of 1870. He was not aware whether the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) took part in that debate; but perhaps the House would allow him to say that he himself, in speaking on the question, explained how, agreeing with the Bill introduced in 1872, it appeared to him that, without altogether repealing the Acts, it would be possible to do away with compulsory examination, and that, by applying the sub-section of the Bill which related to the prevention of prostitution—especially juvenile prostitution and seduction—and to houses of ill-fame, the object of the Acts might be carried out, and, at the same time, the immorality of compulsory examination altogether avoided. The proposal was not at all well received by a large body of the House, who had never been satisfied that the Acts had done good, and who were not prepared permanently to retain them. Since that time his opinion 852 had altered very little. The hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) had alluded to him as having held certain views on the subject in connection with the Army, and as being responsible for legislation connected with that Service. It had been his special duty to study the Acts with reference to both the Army and Navy; and during the last two or three years it had not been a pleasant, although a necessary, task for him to read carefully the whole of the evidence given to the Select Committee and to form a judgment upon it; but he was bound to say that he had seen nothing to shake the opinion which he formed in 1875. He could not agree with his right hon. Friend (Mr. Stansfeld) on some points, and with regard to one or two others which his right hon. Friend had brought forward in his speech he differed from him entirely. He did not think it had been shown that the Acts had failed with reference to the diminution of prostitution in connection with the Army and Navy; and he was obliged to say that he did not share his right hon. Friend's opinion on that subject. On the contrary, lie thought the Acts, as explained by his noble Friend the Secretary of State for War, with whom upon this point he agreed, had resulted in a diminution of disease, certainly as far as the Army was concerned. Further, he thought the Acts had had a good effect in reducing the element of juvenile prostitution that was the curse of certain towns. Anyone who remembered the state of Portsmouth, Devonport, and similar towns, must be aware that there was a marked diminution of what he had just spoken of—girls from 11 to 15 years of age having almost entirely disappeared from the streets. That improvement, he believed, was not due to compulsory examination; but, as he had said before, and repeated now, ho considered it to be the result of the other provisions of the Acts—the good police administration, without which the Acts could not have been applied in the towns referred to, and the care that had been taken to carry out the Acts not formally, and on red-tape principles, but kindly, and in their true spirit. Looking, then, at the benefits which had resulted from the introduction of a good police system, he should regard it as the greatest of all misfortunes if they were to go back 853 from it. This was the opinion he held, and upon it he was prepared to base his vote. He was not prepared to repeal the Acts without the substitution of some such provision as was contained in the Bill of 1872. In acting otherwise he thought they would be doing a great wrong, both to themselves and those unfortunate we men contemplated by the existing law. Therefore, if the Motion of his right hon. Friend were a Motion for the repeal of the Acts, he should be unable to support it. But the Motion was in these we rds—"That the House disapproves the compulsory examination of we men;" and as he conscientiously believed now, as he did in 1875, that compulsory examination was not a necessary part of their policy in this matter, believing that they could do all that his hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) suggested by maintaining Lock Hospitals as they were formerly, and looking to the benefits which had developed since the passing of the Acts, he considered himself in a position to support the Motion of his right hon. Friend.
MR. TATTON EGERTON
said, he was sorry to hear shouts of impatience and cries of "Divide!" from the other side, because it was only a few minutes since the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War had stated that hardly anyone had spoken during this debate who had not been a Member of the Committee on this particular subject. For that reason, he thought it only right that the subject should be ventilated by other Members who had not been on that Committee. He wished to put one further view of the matter. The Government had always placed under restriction trades of a dangerous character, and he wished to ask whether this was not a trade of a dangerous character, and whether, therefore, the Government should not be prepared with some sort of legislation upon it? One hon. Member had stated that Lock Hospitals were of some sort of use. But why should they wait till the disease had reached a condition that a hospital was required? Was it not better to nip the disease in the bud? Was there any reason to object to compulsory examination? Did not hospital doctors make compulsory examinations when the patients were in the hospital? Why, then, should examination be deferred? The 854 Secretary of State for War and the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given testimony as to the value of these Acts both to the Army and to the Navy; and he, therefore, did not see any reason why the law should be altered.
said, the right hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) delivered a most eloquent and sincere speech in raising this question, and he sympathized with very many of the right hon. Gentleman's points; but there was one point against which he felt bound, on the part of those whom he represented, to enter a protest, and that was that the right hon. Gentleman represented his view as an exclusively Christian view. Ho, however, claimed to have as much right to be called a Christian as the right hon. Gentleman; and he would venture to say that when there was a Memorial, which was in the hands of hon. Members, from the towns of Plymouth and Devonport, where these Acts were in force, in favour of the Acts signed by 120 persons, including many ministers of religion, magistrates, and other persons of considerable weight in those towns, it was not fair to represent the right hon. Gentleman's view as the only Christian view. He sympathized with many of the right hon. Gentleman's motives, but he could not agree with the Motion. He agreed almost entirely with what fell from the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but he could not but feel that as the question was now presented to the House it came simply to this—Were they to pretend to ignore that vice which stared them in the face every time they walked through the streets of their large towns; and were they prepared, by simply carrying this Resolution, to say that we men who made a trade of corrupting our young men were to be allowed to do so with impunity and without repression?
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, stand part of the Question."
§ The House having been cleared for a Division,
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
(remaining seated and speaking with his hat on) said: I wish to ask you, Sir, on a point of Order, whether, when the Motion is that you do leave the Chair in order that the House may go into Sup- 855 ply, that is not a Government Motion, and, therefore, the Tellers ought to be officials of the Government?
MR. SPEAKER (speaking without rising)
I received the name of one Teller, and the other has been named by that hon. Member.
COLONEL STANLEY (seated and with his hat on)
May I ask, Sir, whether it is competent for anyone but the Government to move Supply?
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS) (seated and with his hat on)
I think there have been precedents in which the Motion for Supply has not had Government Tellers. I will name one—the Motion for Local Option in 1881, which was brought forward on the Motion for Supply, and there were no Government Tellers.
MR. SPEAKER (speaking without rising)
Undoubtedly there are precedents for the course about to be taken.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON (seated and with his hat on)
Is it not a fact, Sir, that the Prime Minister moved that you do leave the Chair?
§ MR. THOROLD ROGERS (seated and with his hat on)
I wish to ask whether it is in the power of the Chair to call upon any two Members to act as Tellers on a subject of this kind without first knowing which way they will vote?
MR SPEAKER (speaking without rising)
I consulted the hon. Member on this matter, and asked him to name a second Teller; and the course taken by me is entirely not without precedents.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 110; Noes 182: Majority 72.857
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Cole, Viscount|
|Acland, C. T. D.||Compton, P.|
|Allsopp, C.||Coope, O. E.|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.||Cotes, C. C.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Crichton, Viscount|
|Bellingham, A. H.||Cross, rt. hon. Sir R. A.|
|Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C.||Cunliffe, Sir R. A.|
|Beresford, G. Be la P.||Daly, J.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Davenport, W. B.|
|Boord, T. W.||Dawnay, Col. hn. L. P.|
|Broadloy, W. H. H.||Dawnay, hon. G. C.|
|Bruce, rt. hon. Lord C.||De Worms, Baron H.|
|Brymer, W. E.||Digby, Col. hon. E.|
|Bulwer, J. R.||Douglas, A. Akers-|
|Burnaby, General E. S.||Egerton, hon. A. de T.|
|Buszard, M. C.||Egerton, hon. A. F.|
|Callan, P.||Elcho, Lord|
|Cartwright, W. C.||Emlyn, Viscount|
|Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.||Estcourt, G S.|
|Churchill, Lord R.||Farquharson, Dr. R.|
|Clarke, E.||Fellowes, W. H.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Morgan, rt. hon. G. O.|
|Findlater, W.||Moss, R.|
|Fletcher, Sir H.||Murray, C. J.|
|Fremantle, hon. T. F.||Nicholson, W. N.|
|French-Brewster, R. A. B.||Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H.|
|Glyn, hon. S. C.||Onslow, D. R.|
|Gorst, J. E.||Paget, R. H.|
|Gower, hon. E. F. L.||Price, Captain G. E.|
|Grantham, W.||Puleston, J. H.|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.||Raikes, rt. hon. H. C.|
|Guest, M. J.||Rankin, J.|
|Halsoy, T. F.||Repton, G. W.|
|Hamilton, right hon.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Lord G.||Ross, A. H.|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J.||Russell, Lord A.|
|Hartington, Marq. of||Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.|
|Hayter, Sir A. D.||Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H. J.|
|Herbert, hon. S.|
|Hicks, E.||Severne, J. E.|
|Hildyard, T. B. T.||Shaw, W.|
|Hinchingbrook, Vise.||Smith, rt. hon. W. H.|
|Home, Lt.-Col. D. M.||Stanley, rt. hn. Col. F.|
|Hope, rt. hn. A. J. B. B.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Kennard, Col. E. H.||Sykes, C.|
|Lawrance, J. C.||Thornhill, T.|
|Leighton, S.||Tomlinson, W. E. M.|
|Lennox, Lord H. G.||Tottenham, A. L.|
|Lever, J. O.||Walrond, Col. W. H.|
|Lindsay, Sir R. L.||Warton, C. N.|
|Long, W. H.||Williams, S. C. E.|
|Lowther, rt. hon. J.||Wilmot, Sir H.|
|Lyons, R. D.||Winn, R.|
|Macartney, J. W. E.||Yorke, J. R.|
|M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J.|
|Maitland, W. F.||TELLERS.|
|Making, Colonel W. T.||O'Shaughnessy, R.|
|Martin, R. B.||Wolff, Sir H. D.|
|Agnew, W.||Clarke, J. C.|
|Ainsworth, D.||Clifford, C. C.|
|Anderson, G.||Cohen, A.|
|Armitage, B.||Colman, J. J.|
|Armitstead, G.||Corbet, W. J.|
|Arnold, A.||Corbett, J.|
|Asher, A.||Corry, J. P.|
|Ashley, hon. E. M.||Courtney, L. H.|
|Balfour, A. J.||Cowen, J.|
|Baring, T. C.||Creyke, R.|
|Barran, J.||Cropper, J.|
|Baxter, rt. hon. W. E.||Cross, J. K.|
|Bective, Earl of||Crum, A.|
|Bolton, J. C.||Davey, H.|
|Brett, R. B.||Davies, R.|
|Bright, J. (Manchester)||Davies, W.|
|Bright, rt. hon. J.||Dilke, rt. hn. Sir C. W.|
|Broadhurst, H.||Dillwyn, L. L.|
|Brogden, A.||Dodds, J.|
|Brown, A. H.||Dodson, rt. hon. J. G.|
|Bruce, hon. R. P.||Dundas, hon. J. C.|
|Bryce, J.||Edwards, P.|
|Buchanan, T. R.||Egerton, Admiral hon. F.|
|Caine, W. S.||Ewart, W.|
|Cameron, C.||Feilden, Maj.-Gen. R. J.|
|Campbell, J. A.||Ffolkes, Sir W. H. B.|
|Carbutt, E. H.||Firth, J. F. B.|
|Chamberlain, rt. hn. J.||Fitzwilliam, hon. H. W.|
|Chambers, Sir T.||Fitzwilliam, hon. W. J.|
|Cheetham, J. F.||Foljambe, F. J. S.|
|Childers, rt. hn. H. C. E.||Forster, Sir C.|
|Forster, rt. hon. W. E.||O'Connor, T. P.|
|Fowler, H. H.||O'Donnell, F. H.|
|Fowler, R. N.||O'Kelly, J.|
|Fowler, W.||Palmer, C. M.|
|Fry, L.||Palmer, G.|
|Fry, T.||Palmer, J. H.|
|Gladstone, H. J.||Parker, C. S.|
|Gladstone, W. H.||Pease, Sir J. W.|
|Gordon, Sir A.||Pease, A.|
|Gourley, E. T.||Peddie, J. D.|
|Grant, Sir G. M.||Pell, A.|
|Grant, A.||Pennington, F.|
|Grant, D.||Powell, W. E. H.|
|Gray, E. D.||Power, J. O'C.|
|Greer, T.||Power, E.|
|Grey, A. H. G.||Pugh, L. P.|
|Gurdon, E. T.||Ramsay, J.|
|Hamilton, J. G. C.||Ramsden, Sir J.|
|Henderson, F.||Rathbone, W.|
|Herschell, Sir F.||Reed, Sir E. J.|
|Hibbert, J. T.||Reid, R. T.|
|Holden, I.||Rendel, S.|
|Holland, Sir H. T.||Richard, H.|
|Hollond, J. R.||Richardson, J. N.|
|Holms, J.||Richardson, T.|
|Howard, E. S.||Roberts, J.|
|Illingworth, A.||Rogers, J. E. T.|
|James, Sir H.||Round, J.|
|Jenkins, Sir J. J.||Russell, G. W. E.|
|Jenkins, D. J.||Rylands, P.|
|Kennard, C. J.||Seely, C. (Nottingham)|
|Kenny, M. J.||Sexton, T.|
|Kensington, Lord||Shaw, T.|
|Labouchere, H.||Sheridan, H. B.|
|Lambton, hon. F. W.||Shield, H.|
|Lawrence, Sir J. C.||Slagg, J.|
|Lawson, Sir W.||Smith, A.|
|Leake, E.||Smith, E.|
|Leamy, E.||Smith, S.|
|Leatham, E. A.||Spencer, hon. C. R.|
|Leatham, W. H.||Stanley, hon. E. L.|
|Lefevre, rt. hn. G. J. S.||Summers, W.|
|M'Arthur, Sir W.||Taylor, P. A.|
|M'Arthur, A.||Tennant, C.|
|M'Carthy, J.||Thomasson, J. P.|
|M'Clure, Sir T.||Tillett, J. H.|
|Mackie, R. B.||Torrens, W. T. M.|
|Mackintosh, C. F.||Tracy, hon. F. S. A.|
|Mappin, F. T.||Hanbury-|
|Marjoribanks, E.||Trevelyan, rt. hn. G. O.|
|Maskelyne, M. H. Story-||Waddy, S. D.|
|Master, T. W. C.||Waugh, E.|
|Molloy, B. C.||Webster, J.|
|Monk, G. J.||Whitbread, S.|
|Morley, A.||Williamson, S.|
|Morley, J.||Wilson, Sir M.|
|Morley, S.||Wilson, I.|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Wodehouse, E. R.|
|Northcote, H. S.||TELLERS.|
|O'Brien, W.||Hopwood, C. H.|
|O'Connor, A.||Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.|
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Resolved, That this House disapproves of the compulsory examination of we men under the Contagious Diseases Acts.858
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
asked the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War, as representing the Government, whether it was the intention of the Government at once to introduce a Bill to give effect to the Resolution just passed?
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, he could not answer that Question now, as he had not had time to consider the point.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
said, that before the Government considered that question he would like to suggest to them another point. There were two right hon. Gentlemen in the Ministry, the late Secretary of State for War and the present Secretary of State for War, who had had full opportunity of considering this question, and they had arrived at diametrically opposite conclusions. Therefore, before the Government introduced a Bill upon the subject he supposed Her Majesty would be favoured with the resignation of that Minister for War who had voted against the Resolution, and who, therefore, could not agree with the Bill which, upon their Executive responsibility, the Ministry would present for the consideration of the House.