asked the Lord Advocate, Whether his attention has been called to the remarks of Sheriff Spital, of Wick, in sentencing a boy named Miller to receive twelve stripes for throwing stones at a fisherman; whether it is true that in order to have the whipping administered, it was necessary to send the boy close on 290 miles by rail; whether his attention was not recently called to a similar case by the honourable Member for Forfarshire; and, whether he would suggest to sheriffs some alternative form of punishment which would not add to the sentence the pain of an eight hours' journey in a third class carriage after a smart scourging.
THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. B. BALFOUR)
I have noticed the case to which my hon. Friend refers. The law requires that the punishment of whipping must be inflicted in a prison. The Government, carrying out the determination of their Predecessors, some time ago discontinued the prison at Wick, where serious crime is happily very rare. The substituted Government prisons are 192 Aberdeen, Kirkwall, and Dingwall, to the last of which, I believe, the boy was sent. It may, perhaps, be half the distance from Wick mentioned in the Question. If there was a local prison in Wick, legalized for short sentences, it would suffice for nearly all the requirements of the county; and not only the inconvenience referred to in the Question, but other inconveniences of a more serious character would be avoided. The old prison, which the Secretary of State has intimated his readiness to legalize, is admirably suited for the purpose; but, unfortunately, the local authorities have not thought proper to apply for a legalizing order, and in the present state of the law there is no compulsion upon them to do so.