HC Deb 08 May 1889 vol 335 cc1437-80

Order for Second Reading read.

MR. T. MILVAIN (Durham)

In moving the Second Reading of this Bill, I wish to point out to the House that there are certain offences to which this punishment ought to be extended, and which, in my opinion, and in the opinion of the public generally throughout the country, can only be deterred by the administration of the lash. But when I began to inquire into the law upon the subject, I found that it was distributed over several Acts of Parliament, and that it required some work thoroughly to understand what the law really was. I, therefore, determined to bring in a Bill to consolidate as well as to amend, the law relating to corporal punishment. Now, Sir, with regard to the consolidation of the law, the House will derive some knowledge, first of all, from the fact that it proposes wholly and entirely to repeal three Acts of Parliament, as well as portions of six others, and while at the same time incorporating provisions, in the interests of humanity, for the protection of the subject flogged, it will also restrict the jurisdiction to direct whipping to this and the Summary Jurisdiction Act. It proposes to amend the law, in the first instance, by abolishing the punishment of flogging in the case of incorrigible rogues. My reason for seeking to abolish this punishment is that, these offenders are found guilty by a Court of Summary Jurisdiction, and are sent on from that Court to the Court of Quarter Sessions, to inquire into the nature of the offence and to pass sentence of flogging upon them. It has always struck me that the law is not in this respect quite as it ought to be, because, in the first instance, the incorrigible rogue has not the advantage of a trial by his Peers, or trial by jury, and, in the second instance, because the offence does not come within the category of those brutal or violent offences to which I hope to make the law applicable. I have said "brutal or violent offences," but there is one exception to that designation in the case of offences committed by juvenile offenders. Now, the cases with which I propose to deal in regard to this punishment are two—first, as to juvenile offenders; and secondly, as to adult offenders. The law regarding the whipping of juvenile offenders may be largely but not entirely collected from the Criminal Law Consolidation Acts of 1861, and I think the Courts of Quarter Session or Assize have jurisdiction to whip offenders for the commission of a very great number of offences, though they have not universal jurisdiction. The effect is, of course, that when an offender comes before the Court the first inquiry is as to his age, and then there is a general search among the Consolidation Acts to discover whether his is one of the offences for-which the juvenile offender may be flogged, or whether it is only one for the infliction of a fine, or for his friends to find sureties for his good behaviour. Now, Sir, I cannot help thinking that if the juvenile offender is fined the punishment really falls upon the parents, and that, if they have to find sureties, the punishment falls upon the wrong persons. Again, if an offender under 15 years of age is sent to gaol public opinion is against the punishment, so that, practically, an offender of that age enjoys immunity from all punishment. Now, I propose by this Bill that offenders under the age of 16, lawfully punishable by imprisonment with hard labour, may be punished by whipping, but that the whipping-shall be administered by the birch rod only. With regard to adults, I propose to extend the provisions of' this Bill to three classes of offences. The first class of offenders to which I propose to extend the punishment is that of burglars who, while engaged in the offence, are armed with dangerous or offensive weapons. I do not, however, think it will be necessary for me to prove in this House the necessity of extending corporal punishment to such cases, and in saying this I am supported by the fact that at the present moment there are before the Legislature three-Bills having for their object the administration of this form of punishment to these offenders. The second class of offences to which I propose to extend the punishment provided by this Bill is rape. Of course, Sir, I am aware of the argument that will be used against the infliction of this severe punishment for such offences; and I will say, at the outset, that I am one of those who do not believe that a rape can be committed by one man, but that when the allegation is made in such a case it is generally made with, an ulterior object. But I may state that I have endeavoured so to qualify the nature of the offence as to render it impossible in the last degree that where there has been consent the prisoner shall be flogged. The qualification I propose to place on the offence is when, in the opinion of the Court the offence has been accompanied before, at the time, or afterwards, with aggravated violence. I also propose to flog for the same offence when it has been committed by two or more persons. I have always been unable to discern the distinction made between two or more persons knocking a woman down and stealing from her pocket a few pence, for which offence the law now permits the culprit to be flogged, and the same men knocking a woman down and, instead of stealing money from her pocket, robbing her of her chastity. To my mind the latter offence is the more serious of the two. I also propose, in the category of the second class of offence, to extend this punishment to offenders under the Criminal Law Amendment Act. Confining myself to my own experience on the North-Eastern circuit, I can assure the House of this, that the cases which within the last three years have come before the Courts of Quarter Sessions, and before the Courts of Assize in Northumberland, Durham, and Yorkshire, are absolutely revolting. They have been committed or attempted on poor little children, absolutely ignorant of the nature of the crime, and who are incapable of defending themselves, or of protesting. I have some knowledge of the gravity of the epidemic in the north of England—and I speak only in regard to that part of the country—and I say that during the last three years there has been on an average close upon 90 cases per year, and of these I believe that about two-thirds have resulted in convictions. I am supported in my contention with regard to this state of crime in that part of the kingdom by a letter I have recently received from a clergyman to the effect that not all, nor nearly all, the actual cases came before the Courts, and that, in nearly all the cases which came before the public, the offences were committed by vagrant classes of the population, who are here to-day and gone to-morrow, and with regard to whom the difficulty is to establish their identity. I am encouraged in this matter by the presentments that have been made by Grand Juries and other bodies to the Home Office, asking for the extension of corporal punishment to this class of offence. I may say, generally, that during the last three years there have been presentments made from the whole of the North of England—from Yorkshire, Northumberland, Durham and Westmoreland—and I understand, from further information, that similar presentments are coming from other parts of the country—from Hampshire, Glamorganshire, Essex, and also from the Central Criminal Court. Upon this point I say fearlessly that the amount of feeling in favour of corporal punishment, being extended to this class of offences is absolutely overwhelming. Now, Sir, another class of cases to which I propose to extend this mode of punishment is that which is mentioned in books as one not to be named among Christians—the offences of bestiality and sodomy. I do not think it necessary for me to say a single word on this subject beyond what is necessary to bring out what I may call the economic feature of the Bill. In the present state of the law, when a person is accused of an offence of such a nature, the jury frequently do not convict because the minimum punishment is one of penal servitude for no less than 10 years. What is maintained in regard to this class of offence is that the punishment does not fall so much on the man who is convicted and sentenced as it does upon the ratepayer; and as I propose by this Bill (in the 5th Section) that when the punishment of flogging is administered, it may be in substitution for any part of the said punishment. I take the punishment off the backs of those who ought not to bear it, and place it on the back of him who ought to bear it. Now, Sir, that is the whole of the Bill, and I suppose I may answer, by anticipation, the arguments that are likely to be brought against it. First, in regard to rape and offences under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, the argument is certain to be raised that it will be a prolific source of black-mailing. This argument was used successfully when the Criminal Law Amendment Act was before this House in 1885. It was then argued that this House ought to hesitate before inflicting the punishment of flogging for such offences. I do not suppose that the argument can now be seriously urged, and if it be I do not think the House will entertain it for a single moment—or that this House—elected on an extended suffrage, will allow itself to be in any way biased by the Resolutions of 1885. But when the proposal to inflict corporal punishment was before the House in connection with that measure and in relation to the question of rape, provisions for the protection of the subject were not incorporated in the Bill. Upon that amendment the argument as to blackmailing was raised successfully. It was then said that men would be convicted by persons who were endeavouring to extort money from them. For the protection of the person charged provision was made that the testimony of the person making the accusation must be supported and corroborated by independent evidence, and there was still further protection that the man against whom the accusation was made was himself constitued an available witness who could go into the witness box and deny upon oath the allegations made against him. And, Sir, I am glad to know that there is before this House a Bill which is likely still further to protect the person charged—the Criminal Law Amendment Bill—which, with certain qualifications, I hope may become law and made applicable to the whole of the United Kingdom. By that Bill—and I hope I am not irregular in alluding to it—a man may be able to call his wife—if he have one—and it will also be inadmissible for him to be cross-examined as to any previous conviction or with regard to his past history. Such being the provisions for the protection of the subject charged, I feel perfectly convinced of this, that he will be fenced about and fully protected against any chance of being found guilty of an offence he has not really committed. Perhaps, on this subject, I may be allowed to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary and to ask him whether in his experience of the office he has the honour to hold there has been any case in which a man has been found guilty of any of these classes of offence and has been discharged in consequence of any miscarriage of justice? But in this Bill there is a still further protection. It does not propose to make the punishment obligatory. It leaves it to the discretion of the Judge who tries the case, and if that Judge has any doubt in his own mind as to the guilt of the person who stands convicted he certainly will hesitate before inflicting the sentence of the lash upon him. Another argument used is as to the inequality of the punishment. I cannot help thinking that this is a most ridiculous argument. It is impossible to devise a code of punishment which will fall equally upon all classes of persons. Persons are differently constituted, and are of different nervous temperament. But that is a matter which must be left entirely to the discretion of the Judge, who ought to be able, with a Judge's eye, to discern whether the prisoner who is convicted is able to sustain the sentence, which he deems it necessary to pass as a punishment for the offence. As to the argument about the punishment being brutalizing, in my opinion you cannot brutalize a person who has already brutalized himself by the commission of any of these offences. I cannot help thinking that the class who commit the kind of offences which I incorporate in this Bill, are entirely lost to all moral sense, and I maintain that the only way to get at them is by appealing to their animal feelings. Now, Sir, I do not move this Bill in any vindictive spirit. I believe that its provisions will prove a deterrent to the commission of such offences. I know there is a great conflict, and there has been a conflict going on for some time, as to whether garrotting was put down by the infliction of the lash. I do not say I have come to any conclusion as to whether it was, or was not, but this I will say, that those who argue that garrotting was not put down by the lash, but by passing sentence of long terms of penal servitude, might ask themselves—"How is it that the offence stopped almost immediately?" I maintain that all classes of crime are infectious; that if they are not treated immediately, and with vigour, they are certain to spread and spread into that state of crime which I have already described as an epidemic. But apart from that fact I should like to say that there is independent testimony to the effect that if garrotting is not satisfactorily proved to have been put down by the operation of the lash, robbery with violence and such offences for which flogging is now a punishment, are being put down by the lash in districts where it has been administered. Let me draw the attention of the House to the fact that only the other day a correspondence appeared in the newspapers upon this subject from a gentleman who is a Clerk of Assize upon the South Wales Circuit, and he describes bow, in the early part of last year at the Assizes, there were 22 offences of robbery with violence in Glamorganshire. They were treated by short terms of imprisonment. At the following Assizes there were as many cases of robbery with violence. Some were treated with short terms of imprisonment, and others were treated with the punishment of the lash. At the following Assizes again, there were no cases of robbery with violence at all. I maintain, Sir, upon these statements of facts that the inflction of the lash is a deterrent from the committing of such offences. Sir, I may say that I submitted this Bill to the Howard Association for the opinion of that very praiseworthy body upon its merits, and although faults have been found with some of its details, which I have endeavoured to answer in laying it before the House, they were unanimous in their general approval of the principle of the Bill. They believe that this Bill, if put into operation, would be an act of mercy to defenceless women and children, and in that spirit I beg to move the Second Reading of the Bill.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."

*MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)

In the absence of the hon. and learned Member who had given notice to move the rejection of this Bill, and in utter ignorance of the course which the Government may think right to take upon it, I take upon myself to move, "That this Bill be read a second time this day six months." I regretted very much to hear the concluding words of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has moved the Second Reading of this Bill, because I am one of those who attach the very highest importance to any view expressed by the Howard Society, and I think that Society owes a great debt to Mr. Tullock personally for what he has done in lessening the crime of this country. Without knowing the precise opinion which the Howard Society has expressed, it would be impertinent in me to put anything against it, and I only refer to it because the hon. and learned Gentlemen used it in support of this Bill. We have not the opinion before us, except in that vague way, and I should ask the House to consider this Bill on what really is the proper ground of objection, namely, that it is a step backward in the direction of brutal punishment, and we have reason, therefore, to reject it. The tendency has been as far as possible to make punishment act rather as a deterrent to crime than as vengeance for crime past; and the whole of the history of the criminal jurisprudence of this country shows that as severe punishment has lessened so has crime lessened. I know the hon. and learned Gentleman does not quite accept that, but he has only to go back eighty years in the history of this country to see the character of the punishment inflicted, and how numerous the crimes were, and how often the crimes were committed almost within sight of those who were inflicting punishment. He will see that the proposition which I put is thoroughly justified. Now, I brought the case before this House the other day of three little boys—one of them of very tender years, the eldest, I think, only fourteen—I am speaking roughly—the youngest seven, and I think the middle one nine years of age, at any rate they were somewhere about those ages. The case which happened in Edinburgh was very carefully inquired into by the Lord Advocate. The three boys were flogged for offering newspapers for sale in the North British Railway Station. Instead of encouraging magistrates to the infliction of whipping upon youthful offenders, we should try to prevent the magistrates having any such power, which I think ought not to be entrusted to them. If this Bill only affected punishments inflicted by Judges in the High Court, or Judges of Assize, I could agree that in the bulk of instances they would be very careful in directing the infliction of any such punishment. But I do not think we can say that for the magistrates generally, and I put it that there would be a disposition on the part of magistrates to inflict this punishment of flogging, though I think the tendency of public feeling is against it, and rightly against it. I do not intend to occupy the House with any long speech upon this subject. I intended to have given a silent vote in opposition to-day, thinking the rejection of it would have been moved by the hon. Member who has given notice in his name. I am utterly against all barbarous punishments. I am utterly against any kind of punishments which are intended in any kind of fashion as a penalty and vengeance for past crime rather than as a deterrent from future crime. Unfortunately or fortunately I spent three years of my life at a time when flogging was a legitimate punishment, as a private soldier in the army, and nothing could be more shocking, both in its effect upon the person punished and its effect upon everybody witnessing, than to see the lash used. It was degrading and brutalizing in the extreme; and I appeal to the Government not to consent to this Bill. I appeal to the House not to give sanction to it. Reference has been made to garrotting. But really what often happens inside this House as well as outside was this, that in a period of panic, when public opinion was alarmed by crimes of a particular character, they resorted to anything that they thought might meet them. I do not intend to discuss with the hon. and learned Gentleman whether garrotting ceased in consequence of the imposition of flogging or not, because my allegation to this House would be that if you check any particular crime by the administration of a brutalizing punishment you inflict upon society a permanent evil in excess of the temporary crime you diminish. I beg to move the rejection of this Bill.

Amendment proposed to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Bradlaugh.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the question."

*MR. JACOB BRIGHT (Manchester)

I beg to second the Amendment. In introducing his Bill it appeared to me that that portion of the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech which ought to have been the most important was by far the weakest part of the whole utterance. Everybody, I believe, on both sides of the House would much rather not resort to the punishment of flogging, or not extend it, unless it was felt to be in some respects very advantageous to do so. When any Gentleman brings in a Bill of this character he should give overwhelming evidence that flogging is a punishment which diminishes crime, which lessens the number of criminals, and makes the country more secure. Anyone who heard the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech must be struck with the fact that we had almost no evidence of that kind. The hon. and learned Gentleman referred to garrotting, and to what is supposed to have occurred. I understood him that he had no very clear idea of what was the result on garotting of flogging legislation. But we have the clearest proof from Lord Aberdare, who, as Mr. Bruce was Home Secretary at the time, and who has shown to the public again and again that the discontinuance of garrotting had nothing whatever to do with the Bill passed for flogging. He has shown us again and again that whatever garrotting existed—and he said it was monstrously exaggerated—was put down months before the Flogging Bill passed this House in 1862. Then the hon. and learned Gentleman gave us some fragmentary sort of evidence with regard to some county in Wales. Surely we ought to have known something of what occurred in the whole of the United Kingdom—some much broader facts should have been placed before us. I can tell the hon. and learned Gentleman that if he would refer to the statistics of crime during a number of years after the year 1862, when the Flogging Bill was passed, he would find that, during a period of seven years, the crimes against which flogging had been enacted increased in number, whilst almost every other class of crime throughout the country diminished. Now, does flogging deter from crime? Because if it does I should like to know why the hon. and learned Gentleman is so careful in his Bill to limit flogging to certain offences? If flogging deters from crime it is a blessed discovery which ought to be widely extended, and if it diminishes crime and makes the public secure I should be of opinion that it should be extended to almost every kind of crime. I should not flog men alone, I should let women have the advantage of flogging because if you could reduce the number of women who are sent to gaol, and who are treated as prisoners, it would be a great advantage to the sex. Again, if flogging is so advantageous, how is it that it is confined to this country. So far as I know, there is not another Christian country in the world which adopts flogging in regard to crime. Go to the United States you have thirty or forty independent Governments each acting on the best advice and knowledge it can obtain, and there is not one of those states which resorts to flogging. There is not one of our colonies where such an odious custom exists. I believe there is not one single country throughout the whole of of Europe that flogs; and yet these countries are just as intelligent as ourselves, and if there was this sovereign remedy in flogging which the honourable and learned Gentleman thinks there is, surely he would find it existing in many parts of the world. I agree with everything that was said by the hon. Member for Northampton. I believe this punishment brutalizes the persons who receive it, brutalizes those who inflict it, and brutalizes the society among which it exists. In 1875 I think it was, there was a debate in this House on this subject—a most interesting and remark able debate; and if anyone wants information on the subject, he could not do better than take the volume of Hansard for 1875 and read the speech of Mr. Peter Taylor, then Member for Leicester. He treats the whole subject with the greatest possible care, having investigated it in all respects. I believe the speech convinced, the House of that day of the inability, and folly, and barbarism of this punishment.

SIR GEORGE RUSSELL (Barks, Wokingham)

I desire, Sir, to give my support to the Measure, on the ground that in the long run the punishment which is most really deterrent in its character is found to be the most humane in its operation. If I am satisfied of one thing more than another it is that if anything will deter and restrain men from the continued commission of brutal crime it is corporal punishment. The hon. Member for Northampton has said that ever since the severity of punishment has been diminished there has been a corresponding diminution of crime. I altogether deny that the decrease is consequent on a lessening of the severity of the punishment. At one time men were hung for sheep stealing. It is no longer a capital offence, and certainly it is not so frequently committed. But why? Because it is almost impossible in the present day for a man to steal a sheep and not be detected. I advocate corporal punishment for brutal crime—in which I include burglary with firearms—not only because it is effective, but because it is cheap. The enormous expense which we incur in the detection and punishment of crime is a disgrace to us. We have a vast class in this country who prey upon society from the beginning to the end of their lives, and who are either kept in gaol at an enormous expense, or out of gaol prey more directly upon us. I represent and live in a county (East Berkshire) which has become notorious for the burglaries committed in it, and I would ask hon. Members to consider what alarm is created in a household among women and children when they know of such a state of things in their neighbourhood, and what danger there is of the house being broken into by a gang of armed miscreants. I was sorry to hear the Home Secretary say the other day in answer to a question that he thought corporal punishment contrary to the spirit of the age. I can only say that I deem it an additional argument in favour of administering corporal punishment. One can be too humanitarian now-a-days, and I hope the Government will on this occasion show courage and pluck and rise to a sense of its duty. I believe the Irish Secretary is so popular because he does not shrink from doing what he believes to he his duty, and I hope that the Government will not be deterred by the supposititious unpopularity of corporal punishment in following what it believes to be the right course that will lead to the diminution of brutal crime and save unnecessary expense to this country. But this is an age of shams, of sham humanitarianism among the rest. I went over a gaol some time ago, and an old warder told me that from his experience and from what he had heard criminals say, the two punishments which they fear are capital punishment and flogging, and I believe that if the flogging wore administered in the presence of all this rascally type of criminals, it would act as a deterrent from rendering themselves liable to similar punishment. I am not afraid of running counter to the humanitarian spirit of the age, and I believe that if the House will boldly face this question and give the Judges power t ' order the administration of corporal punishment in all cases of brutal crime, including armed burglary, it will lead to a great diminution of crime and will promote economy.


I do not propose to follow the hon. Member who last spoke into the question of the popularity of the Irish Secretary, but in dealing with the wisdom of severity of punishment, I wish he had read the book "Pains and Penalties," by Beccuria, published at the end of last century, for if he had I do not believe ho would have advanced the arguments he had laid before the House. I absolutely dissent from every word the hon. Gentleman has said, and for several reasons I deny that severity ever does act as a deterrent. When I was in Texas, horse stealing was very prevalent, and the punishment was generally prompt and complete. The neighbours used to assemble, and when they caught the thief they hung him on the nearest tree. I have myself assisted at several of these entertainments, and although many promising able - bodied male white citizens were thus removed from their sphere of usefulness here below, the punishment did not prove in any way efficacious in checking the crime, for it is still one of the most prevalent in that State. Again, I have another personal experience which will show how a man's humanitarian sentiments are blunted, and how he is rendered hard-hearted. I remember exercising one day with other criminals in Pentonville, when a young man was taken away to be flogged. He had been guilty of the crime of violence and aggravated assault upon an old man, and I know it struck several of us with great horror. But in three or four days another man was removed to undergo a similar punishment, and I confess the incident did not then produce the same keen effect on me. Sir, it is strange that at the end of the nineteenth century we should be asked to check crime by increasing the severity of the punishment. There are two classes who prey upon society — the landlords and the capitalists—who are the heaviest burdens the taxpayers have to sustain, but even to them I would not apply severe measures to turn them from the error of their ways. We must, in my opinion, look to education for the reduction of the criminal classes; we must improve their surroundings. We must get rid of the misery in which they live; we must do away with everything that tends to brutalize and debase their natures; and these remedies—sentimental, as they may be termed—are infinitely better calculated to lessen the great criminal class than any measure of punishment however severe.

MR. J. ATKINSON (Boston)

I believe that criminals do fear corporal punishment. I do not care to accept the hon. Member's recommendation to read a book published at the end of the last century; I prefer to be guided by my own experience, and having been a magistrate for 25 years or more and a visiting justice for a part of the time, I give my support to the Bill.


The object of the writer of the book was to advocate abolition of corporal punishment. He protests against the extreme severity that then existed in that part of Italy in which he lived, and he proved that it acted in no way as a deterrent.


I do not think I said anything to call for interruption on the part of the hon. Member. I say that from my experience as a magistrate and as a visiting justice, I know perfectly well what are the sentiments of the criminal classes, and I contend that crime would be prevented by this measure. The hon. Member for Northampton has told us that he is against barbarous punishments; so are we; but for my own part, I am more against barbarous crimes, and if we have to choose between the two, I think we should rather have barbarous punishments come upon the guilty, than barbarous crimes upon the innocent. If that is so, the supporters of the Bill have made out their case. The safeguards contained in the Bill against excessive severity are quite sufficient, but if necessary they might be added to in Committee. The young are protected, a surgeon is to be present at the infliction of the punishment. Hon. Members opposite talk about public opinion. Let me point out that we on this side represent the majority of the electors, and we therefore are entitled to talk about public opinion. I declare from the bottom of my heart, that, in my opinion, the subjects of Her Majesty are entitled to protection at the hands of those who are chosen as their representatives in Parliament, and that the great majority will be satisfied if the House pass this Bill. I believe there is a general desire throughout the country that it should be passed. It would often be a mercy to a man who developes brutal tendencies to stop him at the outset. If he were flogged in the first instance that would prevent him from again committing an offence of the same kind. If, however, he is not deterred he is a mere brute, and deserves to receive the brutal punishment which is duo to such men, who fear nothing but flogging or capital punishment. Remember that little children are often violated and assaulted by these brutes and ruffians; if one of your children were so treated would you dare stand up in this House and declare that the brute should under no circumstances be flogged? Let us put ourselves in the place of those whom we are sent here to protect. I say if you flogged these brutes you would prevent 99 out of every 100 from ever committing the offence a second time. I hope the Bill will be allowed to go into Committee, and I am sure we are highly indebted to the hon. Member who has brought it forward.

*MR. G. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)

If I vote against the Bill it will not be because I do not entertain a feeling of indignation and loathing for the brutal crimes which have been referred to. But it is a singular circumstance that whereas every other civilized country has discarded the use of the lash, there is in England alone a desire to revert to this form of punishment, and I have often, when abused, been asked to explain how that is. The question, especially when accompanied by an uncomplimentary comparison between England and Russia, is not a pleasant one, and is not easy to answer. Of course nobody but a few fanatics advocate corporal punishment for its own sake, and I am quite willing to believe my hon. Friend when he says he brings forward this Bill because he thinks flogging is the only deterrent from certain kinds of crime. Is it a fact, however, that corporal punishment is really a deterrent? If the judicial statistics are any guide my hon. Friend's opinion is founded on as weak a foundation as any popular fallacy can rest upon. The hon. Member has quoted opinions of Grand Juries. Well I am not disposed to place implicit reliance on the opinions of Grand Juries. But even supposing that the opinions which have been quoted are entitled to the greatest possible weight, surely before we legislate in a direction opposed to the whole current of modern legislation, we are entitled to something more than opinions. We are entitled to facts based upon official statistics and concerning which there can be no doubt whatever. By facts I do not mean letters in newspapers or conversations with prison warders. I mean, I repeat, facts based on judicial statistics. I will not go back to the time when men and women were flogged through the streets of London at the cart's tail, and when flogging seemed to act as a stimulant to crime rather than as a deterrent, but I will take three modern cases, being, indeed, the only cases in which in modern times corporal punishment has been resorted to. In the case of the Army and Navy the lash has not proved a deterrent from crime, which has decreased enormously since the punishment of flogging was abolished. Therefore we may assume that it would not prove to be a deterrent to men who do not belong to the Army or Navy. The statistics show that at the time when flogging was of almost daily occurrence in the Army in one year there were no less than 510 men flogged. In those days the Army was a perfect sink of crime, and in the same year as those floggings took place there were 22,852 Courts Martial. That was in the year 1866. In another year the number of Courts Martial rose as high as 26,000. Well, in 1868 a Motion was brought forward for the abolition of flogging in the Army except in time of war. In that debate it was said, as it is said now, that these ruffians would only be deterred from crime by fear of physical pain, and so strong was the feeling in the House that the Motion was only carried by a majority of one. The next year the Government prohibited flogging except when the men were on active service. Crime immediately decreased. The number of Courts Martial fell as low as 12,000, and I believe they have never risen beyond 16,000. In the year 1881 I brought in a Bill for total abolition of flogging in the Army. As to the Navy, the provision as to active service excluded the operation of the order, as men on board ship were always deemed to be on active service. I showed that the result of the abolition of flogging had been that crime had year by year decreased. I am bound to say that some very remarkable speeches by the hon. Member for the City of Cork in 1879 gave a great impetus to this movement, and to him is really due the abolition of flogging in the Army; and the Bill, which a few years before had been thrown out by a majority of 106, eventually passed the House of Commons without a single dissentient. I say it, I hope, with all humility, but there is no single act of my whole life upon which I shall look back with more satisfaction than this. From that moment crime fell again. In 1881, the last year of flogging, the number of courts martial was 91 per thousand men; in 1884 the number fell to 73, and in 1887, the last year for which I have the returns, they fell to 61 per thousand men—or a little over 6 per cent, as against 14 or 15 per cent in the palmy days of flogging. There was an equal reduction in the case of the Navy and the Marines, when Courts Martial on board ship fell from 266 in 1881, the last year of flogging, to 169 in 1886. Yet there are people who tell us that the abolition of flogging in the Army and Navy has led to an increase of crime! I think now I am entitled to assume that what has occurred in the services will not be different from the result in the civilian classes, and that flogging will not be found to act as a deterrent. I will next take the cases of assaults upon the Queen. There have, I believe been six of these dastardly assaults upon Her Majesty. The first took place in 1841, and soon after the distinguished father of the present Speaker brought in a Bill inflicting whipping as a punishment for assaults upon the Queen. But all these assaults, except, of course, the first, and perhaps the second, took place after, and not before, corporal punishment had been authorized. What, then, becomes of the argument that flogging acted as a deterrent? I now come to the last case I am going to cite—namely, robbery with violence. I will ask the careful attention of the House to the facts that I am going to lay before it. It has been stated by the mover of this Bill that robbery with violence has diminished in consequence of the punishment of the lash.


My point was that in the district where the lash was ordered, robbery with violence has been suppressed.


But what is the evidence of that? I will accept only judicial statistics. Individual experience and opinions on this subject are so contradictory that it is not safe to act upon anything but judicial statistics. A quarter of a century ago there was a panic about garrotting, and Lord Norton, then Mr. Adderley, who had a perfect mania on the subject of flogging, by means of which only he seemed to think the world could be regenerated, induced Parliament to pass an Act to punish the offence of garrotting with flogging. But before the Act was passed garroting, in the technical and scientific sense of the word—that which has caused the panic—had been completely put an end to, because the gang who had practised it had been broken up, all its members having been captured, convicted, and sentenced to penal servitude. These are facts for which I have the authority of the late Recorder, Mr. Russell Gurney. The question is, has robbery with violence increased or decreased? The Act has been in force more than 25 years, and surely, if it was to bear fruit at all, there ought now to be a steady diminution in the offences against which it was directed. I have been at some pains to ascertain the facts. I have gone through the criminal statistics for the period of ten years, and I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that that will give sufficient data to enable us to come to a conclusion on a question of this kind. The best judicial statistics are from 1888. They divide the previous ten years into two quinquennial periods, from 1878 to 1882, and from 1883 to 1887, and the result has proved most satisfactory. It shows that in the last five years, as compared with the preceding five years, there has been a great diminution in serious crimes — from 77,576 to 69,918—whereas there has been an increase in those that are punishable with flogging, from 1,372 to 1,390. There is a considerable increase in the number of assaults upon women, but that is to be explained by the passing of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, the consequent vigilance on the part of the police, and the prosecutions that followed. But even these are now on the decline. At the recent sessions of the Central Criminal Court, out of 89 prisoners 15 were charged with robbery with violence, and the Grand Jury called upon the Recorder to inflict the punishment of the lash. It would be instructive to know whether the Recorder agreed with the Grand Jury. It is easy to mislead popular opinion on such a subject. A journalist told me that this was actually done by a leading London newspaper-a few years ago, and a sort of panic created by simply collecting cases of assaults of women, and, by putting them together, concentrating attention upon them, while at the very time this was being done it afterwards proved that there had been a diminution in the number of cases. An American once remarked to me, "Your nation are the greatest set of cowards on God's earth; you are always afraid of something. You are always going to be either invaded or garrotted." If the lash is so effective a deterrent, why do we not go on and inflict it in cases of robbery without violence? And that is what we shall get to, for as Lord Bacon observed 300 years ago, the appetite for these vindictive punishments grows with indulgence. When the Irish Crimes Act was before the House, an hon. Member opposite (Mr. Swetenham) put on the paper an amendment that any one guilty of offences named in certain clauses should be liable to be once, twice, or thrice, privately whipped, the number of lashes not to exceed 50 at each whipping. One of the offences specified was assaulting or injuring a dwelling. One hundred and fifty lashes for "injuring a dwelling"! Why, in no other country in Europe would a member of a representative Assembly have dared to make such a proposal. Yet that is what we have come to in this age of "spurious sentimentality." I mentioned the fact to an Italian Deputy, and he told me that if anything of the kind had been proposed in their Assembly the Member would have been hissed out of the Chamber. I hope there are on both sides of the House fair-minded men who, having listened to the facts I have quoted, will oppose the Second Reading of a Bill which would be tolerated by no other Legislature in Europe, and which our own experience has shown to be not only barbarous, but absolutely ineffective.


I think everybody will admit that the present state of the law with regard to the punishment of flogging is unsatisfactory. We flog in a sporadic and eccentric kind of way that is I think totally indefensible. There is the Treason Felony Act under which, for certain assaults on the Queen, flogging may be be administered; then assaults accompanying robbery with violence and garrotting or attempted choking may be punished in the same way. Then there are several offences under the Vagrant Act for which the punishment of flogging may still he inflicted. For instance, a man convicted for the second time as an idle and disorderly person may be flogged, as may a man who neglects to maintain himself or his family; so may a chapman travelling or selling without a licence, or any person sleeping in the open air without any visible means of subsistence. I should be disposed myself to vote for the Second Reading of the Bill if only because it proposes to deal with the whole question and determine once for all which punishments should be dealt with by this kind of punishment and which should not. These discussions on questions of punishment involve questions of social philosophy which are interesting to us all. I suppose all will agree that any punishment necessary for the protection of society against crime is justifiable, although I do not know whether the opposite of that proposition will be generally accepted. The first question which arises is whether a given punishment is deterrent or not. I have listened with some surprise to the argument of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and as far as I could follow it, it conveyed to my puzzled mind the idea that flogging, so far from deterring from crime, has the effect of leading to the commission of that class of crime to which it is applied, and that a wise Legislature ought to flog for acts of virtue.


I simply stated the facts.


Yes; but the facts are for the purpose of drawing inferences, and as far as I can follow the right hon. Gentleman, they are intended to lead to the conclusion that the punishment of flogging does not deter from but actually leads to the class of crime to which it was applied. If that is a sound argument, I repeat it leads to the conclusion that flogging is a most valuable social instrument for the promotion of virtue, if not for the prevention of crime. That is a question on which we all of us have experience of our own to guide us. We have many, if not all, of us experienced the punishment of flogging, and when the experience of foreign countries is quoted, and it is said that a man would be scouted out of the Senate of a foreign nation if he proposed such a punishment, my short answer will be that those foreign legislators have not been flogged and we have. No man exposes himself willingly to that punishment, and I confess that, bringing my own experience to bear on the question, I cannot doubt that flogging is deterrent. That alone is not enough to say, because torture was deterrent. I am not going to push the argument too far; it does not follow that because a punishment is deterrent, it is therefore justifiable. Let me point out how inconclusive the figures quoted by the right hon. Gentleman are. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out in the comparisons which he quoted two figures only—namely, those for the two quinquennial periods immediatety preceding 1887—of robbery and assaults with intent to rob by persons armed or to the number of two or more together. It is not every robbery or assault with intent to rob which is floggable. In order to be floggable it must be by a person armed or by two or more persons; therefore the figures are misleading. The figures were 1,390 for the second period, and in the first period 1,327. The right hon. Gentleman did not favour the House with any calculation to show that that was more than should have followed from the increase of population or more than accident or local circumstances might have accounted for. Both periods are under the operation of the lash, and if the right hon. Gentleman ascribes the increase in the last period to flogging, those who oppose the right hon. Gentleman may ascribe the decrease on the former period to flogging. If the right hon. Gentleman looks a few lines below in the Return from which he has quoted his figures he will find an analogous class of offence in which the numbers are quite stationary. Let him take another class of cases in which flogging is not inflicted—unnatural offences—and he will find that in the same period the increase is rather startling—namely, 162 in the first period and 186 in the second. A similar increase is apparent in cases of assault with intent to ravish and indecent assaults, where the numbers are 349 in the first period and 387 in the second. See how the right hon. Gentleman's argument can be turned against him. Here are offences which are not floggable which have increased much more markedly than floggable offences. The right hon. Gentleman's opponents may say it is because of the absence of that punishment. I do not put that forward as an argument, but say it is neither any better nor any worse than the argument the right hon. Gentleman opposite has offered to the House. It seems to me that the agument is useless, both as presented by the right hon. Gentleman and in the kind of retort I have suggested. If the right hon. Gentleman had compared the periods before the passing of the Act authorizing flogging and since, the comparison might have been useful, but no doubt those figures are very difficult to extract. Can anyone doubt that flogging is a thing that no man likes, and does anyone doubt that a punishment that a man does not like is deterrent? As far as my experience of Criminal Courts goes I do not doubt that flogging is deterrent. No one who has seen the extraordinary anxiety with which the practised burglar cross examines with a view to minimize the evidence of violence in order to escape flogging, and the extraordinary liveliness of anxiety he exhibits with regard to that subject, can doubt that it is deterrent. A punishment, however, must not only be deterrent. No prudent Legislature would select that punishment unless it is in accord with public feeling, because otherwise juries would evade the law and improperly acquit in order to save the criminal from the punishment. That is not a very high philosophical view, but it is one which no prudent Legislature would neglect to consider. I think that to that extent you must select your punishment, because the whole justification of your penal system. is self protection, and you will not protect yourselves in an efficient and sufficient way if you do not adopt a punishment which commends itself to those among whom you live. If punishments are too severe for the ordinary sense of justice, jurors will acquit. This is the reason why the Draconian system, which prevailed in this country before-the reforms of Sir Samuel Romilly, did not operate to diminish crime. Jurors were unwilling to convict, and criminals could safely reckon that they had nine chances of acquittal to one of conviction. It is, therefore, a question of fact whether or not flogging is too severe, or too brutalizing a punishment for the prevalent feeling of the day. I discard as really irrelevant foreign opinion on the question. I do not believe that public opinion objects altogether to flogging. It it said to be a barbarous and brutalizing punishment; but it is ludicrous to talk about brutalizing some of the classes of offenders to whom the Bill applies, men, for instance, who commit outrages on children of four or five years old. Though I will support the Bill, however, I will not pronounce a final opinion as to the cases in which it is to be applied. I should be inclined to include under it offences involving extraordinary brutality, gross cases of violence against women and children, and nocturnal offences which cause terror to unarmed and defenceless persons. I am not prepared to include burglars who are merely in possession of weapons, unless they use or threaten to use them. Certainly flogging ought only to be applied with caution and discretion, and in such a way as not to shock public feeling. There are many men to whom the very suggestion of extending flogging is shocking. It is, too, to some extent, a retrograde step in modern legislation. But at the same time it is a great evil that the public mind should be in a state of alarm, and that persons should feel that they are not sufficiently protected; and there certainly is such a feeling. The law wants consolidating and to be dealt with as a whole. I support the Bill because it is aimed at a class of offences against which flogging will have a powerful deterrent effect, though I do not commit myself to the schedule of offences in its entirety.


Perhaps I may be allowed to explain that I did not say flogging was brutalizing alone to the criminal, but was brutalizing also to those who witness it and those who inflict it, and I gave my own Army experience to prove that.

*MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)

There is one clause in this Bill which has my entire and cordial approval, and only one clause. That is the clause which says, "This Bill shall not extend to Scotland." I think the framer of the measure exercised a most wise discretion when he excluded Scotland from the operations of this retrograde and disgraceful Bill. In Scotland we find no class of men capable of applying the lash. No man in Scotland will become a warder in a prison, except under express contract with the Government, that he shall not be called upon to use the lash. And I venture to think that that public feeling in Scotland corresponds to the great paucity of brutal offences in Scotland, compared with those in England. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary has asked us whether flogging is not a deterrent. I reply by asking, is imprisonment not a deterrent? Of course they are deterrents. Every pain you can inflict is of the nature of a deterrent. What did the right hon. Gentleman make out for his floggings? Did he prove or attempt to prove by any facts or figures that flogging was a more successful deterrent than imprisonment? He did not attempt to argue the question. He assumed that such was the fact, in obedience to an utterly demonstrable fallacy. The distinction between flogging and imprisonment is this, that flogging afflicts actual physical pain, short in its duration, but extremely acute during the time it lasts, while imprisonment inflicts pain upon the mind, the loss of liberty being the main ingredient in the punishment of the prison. Now, Sir, it is a fact of familiar experience, that bodily pains, however acute, do not d well in the memory. They do not impress themselves on the mind, or influence the imagination, or act as deterrents. I am speaking comparatively and of those pains which are entirely physical in their effects. Take such acute pains as neuralgia and toothache. Nothing is more painful at the time, but nothing produces so little effect on the mind, and that is the cause of the want of sympathy we exhibit for those who are suffering those pains. Therefore, flogging is on the face of it an expensive punishment, in the sense in which Bentham uses the word, that is to say a punishment which inflicts a great deal of pain and gives no adequate return to society. It is difficult to prove the precise value of any specific mode of punishment, but I can give one argument against flogging which would be all but conclusive unless it were proved by actual experience that flogging had such a remarkable deterring power that it destroyed the offences against which it was directed. It is because the contrary is the case, and because the contrary is consistent with human nature that I oppose this punishment, more because it is stupid than because it is barbarous. The argument I refer to is this. Flogging is an irrevocable punishment—it is a punishment which cannot be undone. You must, however carefully you administer your law, have a certain proportion of miscarriages of justice. You must inevitably, in the ordinary course of the administration of justice, have a number of persons unjustly flogged. Now, Sir, this operates on the minds of jurymen very forcibly. I can only judge by the effect it would produce on my own mind. If it were a case of sentencing a man to a flogging I should require evidence such as I should require in a case of murder. I should not be satisfied with ordinary or reasonable proof, inasmuch as a mistake could not be corrected if made. If it were possible that you could gain anything by the physical torture of flogging you would lose that advantage, and more than lose it, in the uncertainty that would occur as to the infliction of punishment. But why stop at the lash? If there be, what experience and common-sense show there is not, any peculiarly deterrent power in this form of pain, why not go on to use all the tortures known in the middle ages? No one can prove by any criminal statistics that flogging has done any good. Reference has been made to flogging at school. That explains to me what I confess has always been a mystery. I have frequently observed in this House that when any brutal sentiment is uttered, or accounts are given of brutal conduct, they are received by many Members with rapturous cheers, and I have come to the conclusion that flogging has done them no good. I thank the hon. Member who proposed the measure for having omitted Scotland from it. I am glad he has not attempted to put this disgrace and scandal upon us, and I shall be surprised if England will accept a Bill which he does not dare to apply to Scotland.

MR. C. W. R. COOKE (Newington, W.)

I shall vote against this measure not on any special humanitarian grounds, but for this one reason, that the measure proposes to extend a form of punishment that ought certainly net lightly to be extended to a new class of offences, and no evidence has been produced to show that that class of offences is extending. That is my sole ground for voting against the Bill. I have no doubt whatever in my own mind that flogging is a strong deterrent, and when I am told that you cannot undo flogging when once inflicted, my reply is that you cannot either do away the effect of imprisonment or capital punishment. This Bill proposes to do more than consolidate the law as to flogging, because it would extend the punishment to a class of cases of a very doubtful character indeed, in which the defendant is often placed in an extremely difficult position, and would be almost unable to prove his innocence by his own testimony. When, therefore, it is proposed to apply this particular form of punishment to these offences, we ought to have, not perhaps an investigation by a Select Committee on the subject, but, at all events, the production of some stronger evidence to justify the proposed change in the law. I agree with the Bill so far as it continues to punish and to flog those guilty of serious and brutal crimes, but I cannot support it, because it proposes to extend flogging to offences which have not been shown to have increased lately.

SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)

I very much regretted to hear from the Home Secretary that the Government intended to support the Second Reading of this Bill, even with the limitations, important, as I fully admit, they are. I should have thought it would have been well for the right hon. Gentleman to have been guided by the experience of his predecessor. The House will recollect that in 1875 Lord Cross, who was then Home Secretary, introduced a measure dealing with this subject. He proposed to extend the punishment of flogging, by no means to the extent proposed in the present Bill, but yet to an important extent. The measure proved to be a most unpopular one in the country and it led to very important debate in the House. The rejection of the Bill was moved by Mr. P. Taylor the then Member for Leicester, and I think the general feeling of the House, after listening to Mr. Taylor's speech and to the debate which followed, was that the case against the Bill was conclusive; at all events the Government dropped the Bill. Now, I fully admit that this matter must not be decided purely by sentiment, but by something harder, namely by experience, and the query really is whether the experience of this and other countries shows that flogging tends to deter people from crime. If it had that effect I would be disposed to abandon sentiment and vote for the Bill, but I firmly believe that when the matter is thoroughly investigated it will be found that flogging has not been a deterrent of crime. Certainly it is a remarkable fact that flogging was almost universal throughout Europe for something like 300 years—in this country it was inflicted for almost all offences against the criminal law—but that within the last 50 years it has been abandoned, not only by this country but by other countries. Even Russia has now abandoned the knout. We are the only country which has made any retrograde step in the matter, and that only in the case of robbery with violence. The Home Secretary scarcely did justice to the argument of my right hon. Friend (Mr. G. O. Morgan) who showed that while offences generally have diminished, the offences to which corporal punishment applies has actually increased. It is true that corporal punishment may be applied in certain cases under the Vagrancy Acts, but as a matter of fact it is never applied. The Home Secretary recommended us to study the statistics of offences against the person before the Act of 1863 and after that Act. It so happens that I can supply the right hon. Gentleman with statistics on the point. I took part in the debate in 1875 and the figures I then gave were not challenged and have not been challenged since. For the five years proceeding the Act of 1863 the offences against the persons with violence averaged 200 a year, while the average of such offences after the passing of that Act was 383, an increase of nearly 100 per cent. I believe it is the opinion of many people that garrotting was put down by corporal punish- ment, but that is not the fact. It is beyond all question that garrotting had ceased altogether before passing of the Act of 1863. [An hon. GENTLEMAN: "No."] It has been stated publicly and in the most positive manner by Mr. Bruce, now Lord Aberdare, who was Under Secretary for the Home Department at the time, that garrotting had wholly ceased before the Act of 1863 was passed into law. Although the crime had ceased, for weeks afterwards the Home Office was besieged by people who professed to have been subjected to garrotting, but in every one of the cases it appeared there was a mistake. But although garrotting had ceased, other crimes of robbery with violence increased. Now, I must say that the statement of the hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Hunter) with regard to Scotland was most important; it was that in Scotland public opinion would not justify a change of the law in this respect, that it would be impossible to get people to serve in prisons unless it was well understood that flogging would not be allowed. The Act of 1863 did not apply to Scotland, and although under the common law of Scotland flogging is permissible, yet for 40 years previous to the Act of 1863 flogging had fallen into disuse, and two years after the passing of the Act of 1863 flogging in Scotland was specially abolished by Act of Parliament. Personally, I am content to take my stand upon the general experience of mankind, and I do think it is one of the strongest arguments against flogging that it has been deliberately abandoned by every country in Europe after the experience of ages. I will not say that flogging actually increases crimes of violence, but I do maintain that it does not act as a deterrent. I believe it brutalizes still more the brute who commits these offences, and that it also brutalizes the people who have to administer the punishment. Certainly the experience of the army and navy in which flogging formerly existed is conclusive against the practice of flogging.

*MR. SWETENHAM (Carnarvon)

When I came down to the House I did not think that the Second Reading of this Measure would be reached to-day, or that a personal attack was going to be made on me. I should have prepared myself with facts and figures to show that corporal punishment properly administered has a very salutary deterrent effect in many cases, and to have shown what my Amendment to the Crimes Act really embraced. I don't think there are many men, either in or out of the House, who have had so many opportunities as I have had of attending trials of prisoners and of watching the effect of punishment upon them. For about 28 years of my life I annually attended the prosecution of about 500 prisoners, and, therefore, if I speak upon this subject I do not speak entirely in ignorance. This Bill deals with two classes of persons. The third section proposes that in certain cases a Court of Assize or Quarter Session may order the flogging or whipping of male youthful offenders. This is a most beneficial and also a most humane proposition. There are no persons who have acted as Chairmen of Quarter Session, and no persons who have acted as Judges of Assize, who have not from time to time felt most painfully the duty of being obliged to commit young boys under the age of 16 to prison, having no opportunity of administering instead the salutary punishment of a good flogging similar to that administered in schools, and we know that a boy is never degraded or brutalized by a flogging at school. The Bill proposes that flogging shall be administered under certain given restrictions; it is to be administered with a birch rod, and the number of strokes is to be limited. Surely such a moderate flogging would teach a boy under 16, who had committed an offence, a lesson that would be useful to him in after life; whereas, if he were sent to prison where he would have to associate with criminals, he would probably come out worse than he went in. Then, in regard to flogging adult -prisoners for the classes of offences con- templated by the Bill, it is idle to suppose that flogging has not a deterrent influence. The opinion of Lord Aberdare had been quoted; but why should not that of Lord Bramwell be also cited? When the Act authorizing the flogging of garrotters was passed the sentences awarded under it by Lord Bramwell had a most salutary effect, and crimes of violence greatly diminished. In Cheshire we have an enormous number of criminals tried every year, and after the passing of the Act of 1863, and after the sentences administered by Lord Bramwell, the crime of garrotting and and acts of violence of that nature, if they did not absolutely cease, were very greatly diminished. It is said that flogging is brutalizing. You cannot further brutalize the persons upon whom it is proposed that this punishment should be inflicted. The arguments advanced from the opposite benches appear to show that the sympathy is with the criminal. [Cries of "No."] Do not misunderstand me. I do not say there is absolute sympathy with the criminal, but all the arguments of hon. Gentleman opposite have been in the interest of the criminal. [Cries of "No."] It appears to me that sympathy ought to be afforded with the poor young girl under 13 and with the defenceles women who are raped, frequently with violence.. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Denbighshire (Mr. G. O. Morgan) have alluded to flogging in the Army. I entirely agree with them that the flogging in the Army was a disgrace to the system, because the men rose up from the flogging with mangled bodies and distorted figures. But nothing of the kind is contemplated by this Bill. There is corporal punishment and corporal punishment, and what I advocate it the very moderate punishment advocated by Mr. Tallack, the Secretary of the Howard Association, who in his book upon this subject says that the chief defence of that punishment of a moderate description consists in its mercifulness. Mr. Tallack, after enumerating some of the horrible and brutal crimes frequently perpetrated upon helpless women and children, says that these are the sort of outrages—and their name is legion—that are com- mitted constantly by a class of wretches at once cruel and most cowardly. It is absurd to talk about degrading the creatures who can commit such crimes as the terms of the Bill are directed against. I will not say that I am prepared to support the Bill in every detail; it will require the most careful consideration in Committee; but in the interests of humanity and of the unhappy and helpless victims of these brutal ruffians, I pray the House to read the Bill a second time. I must say one word in defence of myself against the attack made upon me by my right hon. Friend the Member for Denbighshire (Mr. G. O. Morgan). I am only speaking from memory as to the terms of my Amendment. I am quite sure my right hon. Friend did not mean to misrepresent me, and I am convinced that the House will believe me when I say that the object, at least, of the Amendment which I had on the Paper when the Crimes Act was under consideration, whatever its effect may have seemed to be, was to give the Judges in Ireland power similar to that conferred by the Bill before the House, in punishing persons guilty of shooting and maiming men and women or of cruelly mutilating cattle. If I referred to assault in dwelling houses such reference applied only to shooting into dwelling houses for the object of maiming people therein.


I hope I may not be charged with making an unfair attack upon anyone. Of course, if the hon. Gentleman says he did not intend what he put on the Paper and what his Amendment would most certainly have done, I have nothing more to say.

*SIR J. PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)

I have always voted againt what I call an excess of corporal punishment. I had always thought there was a flaw, a great flaw, in carrying out our laws; that we did not attend in our prisons to ameliorating and softening influences so as to bring our prisoners—men and women—out of prison better than they went into it. I believe I have voted for all the Bills which have proposed to do away with flogging, but on the present occasion I desire to give the House a little of my own experience of a certain class of offences which are dealt with in this Bill, because that experience induces me to vote for the Second Reading, much as I dislike the whole process of increasing rather than decreasing corporal punishment. It has fallen to my lot for many years past to serve, almost annually, as fore man of the Grand Jury in the county of Durham. At one Assize we had brought before us at least 11 cases where men had committed rapes of the grossest character on little girls, children so young that we could not administer the oath to them. Little children brought in by their mothers, who described the injuries done to them, and who, in several instances, had been contaminated with foul disease. The Grand Jury on one of the last occasions went to the Judge with a presentation asking him to influence the Home Office to support any Bill that dealt with such offenders by flogging. It has been said that flogging has been a failure. I believe that in a great majority of cases flogging has failed, but here is an. offence so utterly brutal that I am very much inclined to try the experiment. I believe you will have to resort to flogging in order to bring this class of offences to an end. I do not approve of many of the paragraphs of the schedule of the Bill. I think additional instructions to the judges are requisite. I think a stronger definition is required, but I shall support the Bill in the hope that in Committee we may deal with it as the House approves. Let me remark that in making the presentation to the Judge I was anxious not to commit myself to any course of conduct or proceeding contrary to views I had expressed or votes I had given. I excused myself from expressing the view entertained by every other member of the Grand Jury, but in looking into the question soberly and quietly, I came to the conclusion that it was my duty to support any measure which would have any influence whatever in deterring men. from committing the offences which I have mentioned. I trust, however, that the experiment may at least be tried for three or five years.

*MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green)

I put down the notice for the rejection of this Bill and I must thank the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) for having in my absence moved the Motion. I am at a disadvantage in not having heard the debate, but I should like to refer to the hon. Gentlemen who have backed the Bill. My hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Milvain) has thrown his net pretty widely, and yet ho has only succeeded in bagging two very respectable Chairmen of Quarter Sessions (Sir Matthew White Ridley and Mr. Wharton), and the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Flint-shire (Mr. Samuel Smith). How the hon. Member for Flint-shire came in such company we shall see by-and-bye. I notice that the names of the hon. Member for Blackpool (Sir Matthew White Ridley), and the hon. and learned Member for Ripon (Mr. Wharton) are upon the back of another Bill now before the House, namely, The Assizes Relief Bill. The object of the Assizes Relief Bill is to diminish the criminal work which Judges of Assize perform, but the effect of this Bill will be to increase the criminal work which Judges of Assize now perform. I am aware that the majority of the offences with which this Bill deals are not triable at Quarter Sessions, but there are SOME that are so triable. I said I thought would not be difficult to indicate why is we find the name of the hon. Member for Flintshire on the back of this Bill and when I turn to the second part o the first schedule I find the explanation. It is provided that persons guilty of indecent assaults upon young girls under thirteen years of age shall be liable to the punishment of whipping at the discretion of the Justices at Quarter Sessions, and I can quite understand, (knowing the very peculiar views of my hon. Friend), why he should have assented to a proposal of this kind, but it really does pass my comprehension how (unless it be from a desire to conciliate the support of the hon. Member for Flint-shire), my hon. and learned Friend, than whom no one has had more experience Cof riminal Courts should have thought for a moment of giving this enormous power to Quarter Sessions, because he must know perfectly well that these are cases of a peculiarly difficult character in which an innocent man is most liable to be convicted by the false oath of a wicked girl. Yet my hon. and learned Friend knowing this, and having many such cases within his experience, is prepared to give power to Quarter Sessions to inflict this degrading punishment. I dare say those who have preceded me have referred to the epidemic of garrotting which occurred in London in 1862, and, not really knowing the facts of the case, supporters of this Bill may have had the audacity to tell the House that the Garrotters Act, which Mr. Adderley introduced put down garrotting in London, but what are the facts? I quote the authority of Sir George Grey on the subject, and he says that garrotting in London was put down at the Sessions held at the Central Criminal Court, in November, 1862. It was not until February 1863, that Mr. Adderley obtained leave to introduce his Bill. I am sorry to learn that the right hon. Gentleman who now presides at the Home Office, is disposed with certain limitations to look favourably on this Bill. I should like respectfully to commend to him the wise remarks made by his great predecessor, Sir George Grey, in opposing the Second Reading of the Garrotters Bill. He was speaking in March 1863, and he said:— In 1862 there was an exceptionally large number of robberies with violence in London, and in consequence the police were increased and a certain number of them were employed in the streets in plain clothes with the result that many of this class of criminals were apprehended, brought to justice, tried and convicted at the Central Criminal Court, at the November Assizes. Now, I ask the House to mark these words, the words be it remembered of the Home Secretary of the day responsible for the protection of life and property: The consequence is that the number of robberies with violence in London does not at the present time exceed the usual amount. Where then he asked was the necessity for Parliament to alter the law when the vigilance of the police and the administration of the existing law had been found sufficient to put down the crime. I submit these are wise words, they indicate the methods to apply to epidemics of crime that occur from time to time and have never failed if properly put into effect. I regret exceedingly that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary has not given heed to this example set by his predecessor. The right hon. Gentleman might have also taken warning from the experience of another of his predecessors, Sir Richard Cross. Surely he is aware that in 1875 Sir Richard Cross introduced a Bill to inflict the punishment of flogging for crimes of violence and that Bill was supported as this proposal is supported now by the opinions of Judges and presentments of Grand Juries and endorsed no doubt by any number of Chairmen of Quarter Sessions. Yes, Sir Richard Cross introduced his Bill, but ho did not succeed in passing it, he had to drop it because he found that the feeling of the House and of the country was against it. I venture to think the present Home Secretary will have a similar experience now. Now let me revert to something that was said by the hon. and learned Gentleman who is sitting on the front bench opposite. He contended that flogging deterred from crime. Now therein is a great fallacy. No sensible man will deny for a moment that criminals are afraid of flogging, everybody dreads it who has seen how terrible a punishment it is. But it is one proposition to say that criminals are afraid of flogging, and quite a different proposition to say that the liability to flogging is a deterrent from crime. Let me give an illustration. I suppose at the end of last century, and the beginning of this, no one will deny that men were afraid of death; most men are afraid of death. And yet the liability to capital punishment was not found a deterrent from the crimes of shop lifting and sheep stealing. Why? simply because of the uncertainty of the punishment, the criminals knew that they had a fair chance of escaping the capital penalty and so the liability had not a deterrent effect. Will anyone contend that the criminals of to-day will not have at least as great a chance of escaping flogging for crimes of violence, as the criminals of those days who stole sheep had of escaping the capital penalty? I should like to quote a Return which was obtained by Sir Farrer Herschell, a Return giving the number of persons convicted of crimes of violence, and the number of those who were subjected to the punishment of flogging, and the point to which I would draw attention is the uncertainty of the punishment. I find the greatest possible variation in the proportions of those flogged to the number convicted at the different assizes. For instance, at the Central Criminal Court, 615 persons were convicted, and 127 flogged; on the Home Circuit, 118 convictions, 17 floggings, and so on, until we come to the Western Circuit; and there I find that 114 persons were convicted of crimes with violence, that is to say, of whip-able offences, and only one of them was whipped; so that it appears—on the Western Circuit at any rate—that even with a law of this kind, there were 114 chances to one against any particular criminal who committed an offence of this description being after all punished by flogging. Now what is the logical conclusion of this Bill? Let me ask the two hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite, whether they are prepared to advocate the whipping of women, who are guilty of crimes of equal atrocity with those of which they have given illustrations to the House? If my memory serves me, that appalling case to which the hon. and learned Member referred in my hearing, of putting a dying boy in water—I say if my memory serves me—that crime was committed, not by a man, but by a woman, and anyone who has any experience of our criminal courts must know, that some of the most awful fiends in human shape are women. Then I ask the hon. and learned Member for Durham why does he not propose the whipping of women? I do not think the hon. Member can give any logical answer to that question. Indeed if you reject the considerations upon which we oppose this Bill, if you reject considerations of humanity, considerations of decency, considerations not for the persons flogged, but for the community which flogs, then I say you cannot logically stop until you have revived in this country the whipping of women. Then again I would ask how are you going to limit the crimes to which this punishment is to be applied? At present the hon. Member for Durham proposes to limit the punishment of flogging to burglary and crime of that character on the one hand, and to sexual crimes on the other. Why? Simply because he has got a certain amount of popular feeling at his back with regard to these two particular classes of crime. Owing to a few notorious cases of burglary, and particularly the case at Highgate, this crime has attracted a good deal of attention, and has excited the public mind. Then as to the other class of crime during the last few years there has been a great awakening of the public conscience with regard to sexual crimes committed against women and children, but depend upon it as you now have epidemics of this or that particular class of crime, so at some future time you will have epidemics of some other classes of crime, which will equally appeal to the public imagination, which will equally excite public indignation, and exactly the same arguments will be advanced in favour of extending the punishment of flogging to crimes of such a description as are now advanced in favour of this Bill. Indeed at the present time there is the greatest possible difference of opinion among men who have only one opinion in common—that they approve of flogging—as to the character of crime to which flogging should be applied. For instance there is or was a learned Judge, who thought the firing of stacks a crime to be appropriately punished by flogging. But I think in this respect the right hon. Gentleman who is now Postmaster General bears away the palm, for in bygone days that right hon. Gentlemen distinguished himself in this House by promoting two Bills the object of which was to punish with flogging the crime of libel. In conclusion, I submit the hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite have totally misunderstood the grounds upon which we oppose the Bill. I heard the hon. and learned Gentleman say that we sympathized with criminals. I wholly repudiate that statement. I think, indeed, it needs no repudiation; it answers itself. It is not the criminals we regard, but it is those who are not criminal. We have regard to the effect of a brutal punishment of this kind on the Judge who passes the sentence; upon le people in Court who hear it pronounced; upon the people outside who discuss the sentence; and the officials of the prisons, who are most unfortunate of all in having to inflict the punishment. In fact, it is not the criminals for whom we care, but the community. Yesterday afternoon, the Grand Jury of the County of London made at the Central Criminal Court a presentment in favour of some such Bill as that which is now in our hands. Possibly my hon. and learned Friend has reminded the House of that, but I should like to carry the matter a little further and quote to the House the grave and dignified reply made to the Grand Jury by the learned and respected Recorder of the City of London, who was once a respected Member of this House. He pointed out to the Grand Jury that there "was not in the history of the Legislature a punishment so deliberately abandoned after very long and most anxious discussion as this." That is a consideration I urge upon the House to-night. This Bill is a reactionary Bill; it is a return to a brutal punishment of the past. It is not a final Bill; you cannot stop where the hon. and learned Member for Durham purposes to stop, and I think he knows that as well as I do. The House having deliberately abandoned the penalty of corporal punishment, I ask it, though this Bill has received the sanction of the Home Secretary, to have regard to its former deliberate decision and the words of a former Home Secretary, who, without disrespect I may say, should have more influence than the present holder of the office, and reject this Bill.


If the House will allow me, I will explain in a very few words why I purpose to take a different course to that adopted by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary in respect to this Bill. This, of course, is not in its nature and never could be a Party matter to be decided in any sense by a Party Division, and my right hon. Friend did not say that the Government were going to take part in in it, though phrases have been used that seemed to carry that impression. I was teller with the right hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) in 185, the last year when the question of flogging came before the House for decision. I think it was to this occasion the hon. Baronet, the Member for Barnard Castle (Sir J. Pease), made allusion in respect to that part of the schedule which has induced him to support this Bill. In 1885 we had a discussion on the point, a long discussion in which many Members of the House took part, and the refusal of the House to accept corporal punishment as applied to cases to which this schedule refers, was supported by Sir Farrer Herschell, the right hon. Member for Bury (Sir Henry James), the hon. and learned Member for Stockton (Sir Horace Davey), and by the Recorder for London, who testified to the results of an official experience extending over many years. If I could think this would be a deterrent punishment and would check the progress of offences of this very serious class, I should not discuss the humanitarian question or the question of sentiment or taste, but no one ever succeeded in proving that in any class of offences the punishment of flogging had a deterrent effect. I believe this is altogether a retrograde proposal, and I shall certainly resist it in every form. I am, of course, very sensible of the fact that crime is—I will not say is prevalent, because it is diminishing—but that there is a great deal of crime amongst us, but I look for remedy in other directions, to improvement in the means of detecting crime, to making the conduct of criminal cases more fair to persons unjustly accused, and to making your sentences a little more equal in char- acter. Let us have more certainty of detection and of a known and equal punishment, and I believe we shall do a great deal more than we shall effect by such a measure as this. At all events I shall vote against the Bill.


The right hon. Member for Bradford has made a statement with an amount certainty that calls for a word or two in reply. The hon. Member asserted that Sir Richard Cross's Bill was withdrawn because of a unanimous feeling in the House against that measure. Now, I happened to be Under Secretary at the Home Office at that time with Sir Richard Cross who prepared and drew the Bill, and I may say we obtained for the Bill the sanction of every Judge in the Kingdom but two, and practically of every Quarter Sessions in the country, in favour of an alteration of the law in this particular way. It was only because at that time—just after the abolition of flogging in the Army—a certain section of the House, led by Mr. Hopwood, took up a line of opposition to the Bill, that it was delayed, and afterwards, from stress of time, Sir Richard Cross was compelled to drop it. But he was convinced, as I was from investigations that we then made, that some change in this direction was necessary. I can confirm what has been stated by the hon. Member for Carnarvon. As Chairman of Quarter Sessions I have had, over and over again, most painful cases to try in which a measure of this character would have applied with the most salutary effect. I do not want to detain the House beyond making my protest against the manner in which the right hon. Member for Bradford has referred to the Bill I have mentioned. We had the almost unanimous feeling of Judges and of Quarter Sessions in favour of the Bill, and it was only abandoned for the reason I have stated. I only wished to state this in correction of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, made with an assumption of accuracy the facts do not justify.


I do not wish to detain the House at length, but as I have had a great deal to do with corporal punishment, I may be allowed a few words. I am surprised to find the name of the hon. Member for Durham on the Bill, seeing that he has long been engaged in the investigation of a peculiar case that exemplifies the danger of inflicting this punishment. I have had great experience of corporal punishment—(laughter)—I do not mean corporal experience—and I must say that of all punishments, it is the most unequal and most uncertain, both as regards on whom it is inflicted, and by whom it is inflicted, and it may be inflicted lightly or with great severity. It seems to me it would be dangerous in the extreme to follow the oscillations of public opinion on the subject, now sweeping it away, now reintroducing the punishment and it would be very inconsistent that we, having made a boast of abolishing the Kourlash in Egypt, should reintroduce corporal punishment into England. I admit it is very useful for juveniles, and it may be very useful for women, but I think it is a dangerous and doubtful policy to introduce it in this piecemeal kind of way. We ought to consider it more deliberately in relation to our whole criminal law, and for my part I am disposed to pay considerable attention to the suggestions of the Solicitor General, though I know the difficulty of securing certainty in detection and punishment. It may be that corporal punishment is best inflicted by the whip, but it is very uncertain and unequal, and, upon the question as it has been brought forward, I think it is safer to vote against the Bill.

Main Question put, "That the Bill be now read a second time." The House divided:—Ayes 194; Noes 126. (Div. List, No. 99.)

Bill read a second time, and committed for June 19th.

The House divided:—Ayes 195; Noes, 140.