HC Deb 06 May 1887 vol 314 cc1118-20
MR. POWELL WILLIAMS (Birmingham, S.)

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether the flogging of prisoners in Hong Kong, which had been abolished under Sir John Pope Hennessy's administration, has been re-introduced with the consent of the Secretary of State; and, whether it is a fact that the day after the Legislature of Hong Kong had passed an Ordinance permitting flogging, 24 Chinese prisoners were flogged in Hong Kong Prison for mere prison offences, by order of Mr. Mitchell Innes, a junior Civil servant, who is at present acting as Governor of the gaol?


In the new set of Prison Regulations for Hong Kong, passed last year, a Regulation was included restoring to the Superintendent of the gaol the power of sentencing prisoners in his own authority to corporal punishment not exceeding 12 strokes of the rattan in cases of mutiny, incitement to mutiny, personal violence, repetition of threatening language, or any act of insubordination requiring to be suppressed by extraordinary means. Each case of the exercise of such power to be reported to the Governor. The power was restored upon the Superintendent of the gaol reporting that without it he could not safely introduce certain prison reforms, which included reduction of diet, the existing diet having been considered as much in excess of the requirements of health. The Superintendent considered that any such changes were likely to lead to mutiny among the Chinese prisoners, which would require to be promptly quelled. The Regulation was recommended by a Special Commission, with one dissentient, and by the acting Governor, and was approved by my Predecessor in December last. On January 31, the reduction in diet having been brought into force on January 20, a mutiny broke out, and the Acting Superintendent (Mr. Mitchell Innes) ordered 54 out of 135 mutineers to receive 12 strokes each; subsequently, after an inquiry before the Superintendent and a Police Magistrate, under a power which has never been suspended, 11 of the ringleaders were sentenced to 18 strokes. The Governor appointed a Special Committee to inquire into what had happened; and they reported that the action of the Acting Superintendent was necessary, and justified by the cir- cumstances. The Acting Governor re" ports that latterly there has been a decline both in the number of prisoners and in that of prison offences.

MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

Cannot Her Majesty's Government recommend any alternative punishment instead of flogging?


said, there were alternatives; but flogging was considered necessary in certain cases.