HC Deb 21 June 1901 vol 95 cc1113-30

3. £58,193, to complete the sum for Prisons (Scotland).

[MR. JEFFREYS (Hampshire, N.), in the Chair.]

MR. ORR-EWING (Ayr Burghs)

said he wished to bring before the Committee one or two points in connection with prison administration in Scotland. He would deal first with the matter of governors. Some years ago it was generally agreed that the system of appointing governors was not satisfactory, and an inquiry was made into the matter. It was the opinion of those who conducted the inquiry that the best man who could be appointed governor of a prison was one who had served in the Army or Navy. A very large number of those appointments had been made. No less than twenty-nine of the prison governors in England were colonels, majors, or captains; but in Scotland, where, of course, there were not so many prisons, only three of the governors were discharged soldiers. There had been a few appointments made in the last year or two, but in none of these cases were they given to discharged soldiers or sailors. They were given to men who had risen from the ranks in the prison service. He quite agreed with appointments from the ranks. The fact that it was known a man could rise to the highest rank naturally had a very good effect on the service, but at the same time he thought those appointments should be made only in very special cases, and the men to whom they were given should be very exceptional men. He had not a word to say against those men, but when it was so hard to find employment for those who had served the country, and when there were so many good men amongst them who would make excellent governors, in every possible case the appointments should be given to them. He hoped the Committee would receive some assurance that such appointments were only made in special cases to others. Dealing with the matter of visiting committees, the hon. Member said that in the old, days the prisoners were practically under the control of the local magistrates. There was not the same necessity then for visiting committees, but it was felt by this House that when the prisons; came under direct official control it was absolutely necessary to have some sort of buffer—some sort of safeguard against stereotyped official rule. Official rule had never been popular in this country, however excellent the particular official might be. If the visiting committees disappeared the safeguard would also disappear. The visiting committees were appointed largely to give confidence to the public in the new prison administration. They had done excellent work up to now, and although it might seem to some a sort of dual control, they had never clashed with the prison authorities. He wished to direct the attention of the Committee to a special case of Ayr prison visiting committee. That committee had practically retired, and so far as, the county was concerned they had retired altogether. The committee when appointed consisted of twelve members—five from the Royal and Parliamentary burghs, one from the county of Argyll, and six from the Ayr County Council. The five gentlemen appointed from the Royal and Parliamentary burghs had practically left all the work to the members appointed by the county council. The gentleman appointed from the county of Argyll never attended at all. The duties of the visiting committee were defined in a letter from the Secretary for Scotland, dated 1st January, 1898, as follows— Lord Balfour has decided to call upon the visiting committees to make an annual report to the Secretary for Scotland on the 31st of October of each year with regard to all or any of the matters referred to in the rules with respect to visiting committees, or to any other matters pertaining to the prison that they may deem expedient. That seemed to give a pretty wide margin. In accordance with that rule the Ayr visiting committee made a report, recommending various things. They pointed out the disparity between the salaries of the chaplains and medical officers in England and Scotland, and stated their opinion that an inquiry should be held regarding the position of Scotch prisons as to staff and remuneration.

MR. O'MARA (Kilkenny, S.)

called attention to the fact that there were not forty Members present.


We have just had a division, and I am satisfied that there are more than forty members within the precincts.


said no notice was taken by Lord Balfour in his letter, dated 21st November, 1898, of the recommendation in regard to salaries, and so the committee pointed out to him that part of the report had not been answered. On 18th January, 1899, an answer was received simply acknowledging the letter, and saying it was noted that the committee wished this inquiry made. In the same year an inquiry was granted into the Scotch prisons, and naturally the visiting committee were very pleased that they would have a chance of ventilating their grievances. The Clerk of the Commission wrote to the chairman of the committee asking for a precognition of his evidence. When the Commission came the chairman, Lord Elgin, called the chairman of the committee aside and told him that some of the points mentioned in his precognition were outside the scope of the reference, and therefore he would be asked no questions on them. Well, what was left for this committee to do? They had been told by the Secretary for Scotland to make a report on all matters pertaining to prisons. Having taken evidence, the Commission issued a Report in which they said in the introduction that they understood it was not within the scope of their reference to investigate any feeling of dissatisfaction which might appear to exist among members of the prison staff, and they added— Accordingly we express no opinion on this question, but we cannot ignore the fact of the existence of dissatisfaction in certain quarters. All their efforts having failed, the visiting committee resigned their positions. He asked the Lord Advocate on 7th May last if he was aware that the county council of Ayrshire at their statutory meeting in December refused to appoint members because of the way the recommendations had been dealt with by the Prison Commissioners, and if any steps could be taken to remedy the present state of affairs? In his reply the Lord Advocate said he was aware the county council resolved not to appoint members to the visiting committee, but that no official intimation of the fact had been made to the Secretary for Scotland. As a matter of fact the Clerk to the Prison Commissioners was informed by letter, which he acknowledged. The Lord Advocate went on to say that the Secretary for Scotland did not propose to take any steps in the matter, fie then asked the Lord Advocate if he was aware that the recommendations of the county council had never been inquired into, and the hon. and learned Gentleman replied that some members of the council gave evidence before the Committee, and if they were so inaccurate in their evidence as not to bring the recommendations before the Committee it was their own fault. They were not allowed to give their evidence because of the scope of the inquiry. This position of affairs was extremely unsatisfactory, and in the interest of the prison service it should not continue. It appeared to him to be setting this House at defiance. He trusted they would get some assurance now that full inquiry would be made into this condition of affairs, and that things would not be allowed to go on as they were.

[Mr. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith) in the Chair.]


said he concurred with his hon. friend as to the desirability of choosing officers and men of high social position for appointment to prison governorships. It seemed to him a matter of very great importance that the men should be in an unquestionable social position, and if they looked at the governors they would find no complaint could be made as to lack of quality. He was a member of Lord Elgin's Committee, and he understood that the hon. Member for the Ayr Burghs did not differ from them on the question that the points the visiting committee desired to raise were outside the scope of the inquiry. The Committee, therefore, had no right to go into them, but they indicated in their Report that there were questions they thought ought to be investigated. The Committee investigated certain charges made from various channels against prison administration in Scotland, and he was glad to say that they found there was no foundation for them whatever. They found a very sound condition of things. They found that the prisoners were treated very well all through Scotland, and they formed a very high opinion of the capacities of the Chief Commissioners.

Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present. House counted, and forty Members being found present—


said the Committee formed a high opinion of the officials, and considered that the warders were more humane in the performance of their duties than was the case in England. Certain criticisms were made upon the system, but on the whole the Committee considered that the Scotch prisons were fulfilling their dreary purpose adequately. The Committee felt that the reference was limited in its scope to the actual conditions of life and of treatment, and that they were not free to deal with the wider questions which visits to the prisons necessarily brought to their minds. They saw how little discrimination could be made between the criminal ruffian who was there, and the man who was merely in prison because he had failed to pay the fine for some absolutely non-criminal police offence. They found how little distinction could be drawn between the hardened offender and the juvenile or semi-juvenile of eighteen. The Commissioners thought these questions needed more examination. They were not satisfied with the rigidity of the present system. They felt that there was no danger of physical ill-treatment, and that they need not be afraid of the prisoners being starved or abused, yet they did feel that the existence was a dingy one, and that the reforming element had hot sufficiently come into their life. They felt that foreign ideas might wisely and properly be considered in order to see whether they could learn anything from other countries. In regard to that he was glad to see that the Chairman of the Prisons Board was paying a visit to the United States, and he hoped that on his return they might have his report published.

The last report of the Board showed that a considerable number of the recommendations of the Inquiry Committee had been carried out, and the Prisons Bill contained a good many of the other recommendations of the Committee. He asked how much was being done in the way of properly training nurse warders, who would have to undertake in the prisons the care of those cases that were not grave enough to justify regular medical treatment in the hospital? Hitherto the doctor had just gradually trained a warder to attend to such cases, but the Commissioners considered that the English system should be adopted, and that a six months course of training should be given in the large prisons to some of the warders. He wanted to know whether anything could be done in regard to probationers. Probationers were treated as part of the staff, but, of course, for the first two months after a man came into the prison service he was of little use. In England they were treated as supernumeraries for some months.

In regard to Duke Street prison he mentioned that the hospital accommodation there was inadequate, and although something was being done to remedy that, a great deal more ought to be done. A sum of £250 had been put down for that purpose, but that would go but a very short way towards doing what was required. When the Commissioners were there they found that three ordinary cells had been run into one, and the place was used as a hospital. When the prisoners there were suffering from delirium tremens the noise they made disturbed other people. The Commissioners considered this was a wholly unsatisfactory arrangement, and the only excuse they found for it was the cramped condition of the ground round Duke Street prison. He hoped that his right hon. friend would be able to say that as soon as possible something more radical would be done than this expenditure of £250, and that an effective separate hospital would be established in Duke Street, where all the prison warders from the whole of Scotland could be trained. Then in Duke Street they found that the chapel was a wholly inadequate building, entirely un-ecclesiastical in design, and unfitted for the purpose for which it was intended. The only excuse for that was the difficulty in connection with the want of space. But if the Government were not willing to consider the possibility of moving the great women's prison out of Glasgow and were determined to keep the prison in the middle of Glasgow, near the court house, they should obtain more land in the neighbourhood and make those changes, so as to provide a proper chapel, a proper separate hospital, and improved houses for the accommodation of the staff. Duke Street Prison was in fact starved in comparison with English prisons. In England one saw fine buildings, beautiful chapels with a real ecclesiastical aspect worthy of any place, and when one compared these with the miserable penny-scraping erections in Scotland one felt that the Scottish prisons, from one cause or another—it might be from the parsimony of the Treasury—were not sufficiently furnished for what was proper in public buildings of that description. Without any undue claims on the Treasury one might ask that more money should be spent on them.

Another point on which the Commissioners made observation was in regard to the prison doctors. They found that these were over-burdened with work and underpaid; the work was heavier on their shoulders than they could adequately perform. Some improvement had been made in this direction, but more and more the treatment of prisoners was getting to be a medical question, and more and more they must have doctors with modern ideas as to the treatment of criminals. They had also made a recommendation, which had not yet been carried into effect, that there should be a medical member on the Prisons Commission. That was the case in England and Ireland, and they thought that it should also be the case in Scotland, and it could be accomplished without any great additional expense. There was an inspector who was considered rather a superfluous officer under present circumstances, and he believed he might be dropped and a medical man placed on the Commission, for many questions as to the treatment of prisoners should be decided by a medical officer who could speak with the authority of a member of the Commission. He wanted to know what was going to be done in regard to juvenile and semi adult prisoners. That, they regarded, as an important part of their inquiry. They found that the magistrates would not send boys to prison, and quite rightly; and the Secretary for Scotland had the strongest objection to boys being sent to prison, and quite rightly. But how were they going to punish them? There was far more hope of the recovery from a criminal path of these youths from sixteen to twenty-one years of age than of older criminals. A special place for the separate treatment of these youths was required, like Petworth in England. Could they not find a prison in Scotland, even if it meant bringing all these young men from every part of the country, where this hopeful treatment might be applied to young prisoners separated from the older and more hardened offenders? If they had such a prison the magistrates would be more willing to commit the youths, and these could be treated more effectually and with greater success than under the present system. What was being done to carry out the Inebriates Act? No sum appeared upon the Estimates for that purpose at all. It was thought to use Perth Prison for that purpose, but he did not believe that Perth was suited for the treatment of inebriates. These ought not to be treated in a closed-in place; they ought to be sent into some country place where they could work in the fields, as at Springfield. Another matter he wished to press on his hon. friend was the classification of prisoners. In the English Prisons Act very great power was given in that direction. The second division was intended to be for non-criminal offences, and the court laid down the classification so as to secure separate classes and segregation. That system had been worked in England, and highly approved of by the English commissioners, and there ought to be no difficulty in its being introduced into Scotland.

Various other points, he was glad to say, were met in the, Government Bill, which he hoped would be passed, such as additional visiting committees for the convict prison and for Perth Prison. It was provided, he gladly recognised, that women might be made members of the visiting committee, for the commissioners found that it was women prisoners who were most susceptible to the influence of women visiting them. He was also glad to see that the Bill contained provision for the remission of sentences for good conduct in the case of all prisoners. What was a prison for? Most people would say it was to hold criminals in seclusion, and to punish them. But they had no longer a great criminal population. Serious crime was steadily decreasing both in England and Scotland, but the number of committals of prisoners was rapidly increasing. These consisted of people who were sent to prison for trivial offences. They were received into prison, kept there, and were generally sent out in a better state of health than when they went in, but from a criminal point of view they were no better and no worse. The habitual criminals, on the other hand, went out ready to commit crime in the shortest time possible. But those who were really not criminals went out with a stigma of the prison upon them. The committals were increasing to a terrible extent. In 1897 they amounted to 51,000; last year they were 60,000. They had been increasing much faster in Scotland than in England. In England they had been standing still for many years. In 1898, in England, the number of people per 100,000 imprisoned on indictment was 25.7, and on summary conviction 470. But in Scotland the number who were sent to prison after full committal, which roughly corresponded to indictment, was 37.6 per 100,000, and the number sent summarily to prison was 1,356—that was very nearly three times as many as in England. The number of committals in Scotland in the last forty years had trebled, but at the same time the daily population of the prisons had remained very much the same, because the sentences had come down so much in that time. He did not believe anyone realised for what trivial offences people were sent to prison in Scotland. The average duration of the sentences in Scotland was only fifteen days, whereas in England it was nearly twice as much Out of nearly 57,000 imprisoned in Scotland, 44,000 were imprisoned for not more than a fortnight, and only 4,400 for more than five weeks. The number of people sent to prison in Scotland on account of not paying fines was something like 40,000. Out of 94,147 who were fined in Scotland in 1898, 58,320 were fined in not more than ten shillings, and in half these cases the money was not forthcoming and the person was sent to prison instead; and only 2,112 were fined in more than forty shillings. The offences were mostly drunkenness, common assault, or offences against various police regulations. The figures were very striking. Out of 40,775 who were fined for breach of peace, 15,287 underwent sentence. Out of 22,629 who were fined for drunkenness, 14,215 underwent sentence. Out of 11,313 who were fined for miscellaneous police offences, 4,169 underwent sentence. Now, in England far fewer people, in proportion, who were fined went to prison in default—only amounting to one-sixth as against nearly one-half in Scotland. Several reasons might be alleged why that was so. Some people said it was the thrifty habits of the Scotch, who preferred to work it out in prison rather than pay. He did not believe that that was the case. He thought that in Scotland they used the criminal law and the system of imprisonment for much too trifling offences, and that the tendency was increasing to a very dangerous extent in the way of enforcing new statutory offences, and in a new strictness in enforcing old offences. He sat lately on a Committee where one of the Scottish authorities asked power in a Bill for a month's imprisonment for everyone who dropped a piece of paper on the street. Of course, the Committee did not pass that clause; but that was a typical case. This was a matter that should be watched by the House with the very greatest care. These multiplied short sentences were absolutely useless, and did no good whatever to the prisoners. That was accepted by all prison authorities. It had been stated emphatically by all the Committees which had sat on the subject, and by all other authorities, that it interfered very greatly with the discipline and the working of the prisons. Com- pare, for instance, Glasgow and Liverpool. There they had much the same class of population, but the number of persons who were taken into custody for drunkenness and breach of the peace in Glasgow was eight times more than those in Liverpool, although it could not be said that Liverpool was better or worse in that respect than Glasgow. Multiplied short sentences were useless, and were no good to the individual, and were not necessary to good order. The offenders learned to despise the prison and he or she returned again and again. Last year in Scotland 550 prisoners had been in prison more than fifty times, and four-fifths of them were women. That was not a satisfactory position and could not exercise any reformatory influence. It made the prison discipline very difficult. The only thing was, as one of the doctors said, to give them a smart saline purge and then let them out again. It was quite true that this was a matter of magisterial and judicial discretion with which the House should not interfere; but there was one thing which the Committee pressed strongly, and which Mr. Ruggles-Brise, in his most interesting paper read before the Penal Conference at Brussels, urged, and that was that all those who committed persons to prison should be familiar with what went on in the prisons, that they should visit the prisons and should form a judgment of what effect the sentences they were giving were likely to have. It was more and more necessary when they had got fresh ideas on classification introduced into practice. Magistrates who were in the habit of sending batches of people every Monday morning to prison would then be much more familiar with what went on in the prisons.

There were a good many things which might be remedied in administration by those responsible for the government of the prisons. Improved classification would do a great deal. There was hope, also, in regard to juvenile and semi-juvenile offenders, and in the remission of sentences for good conduct. Then if inebriates were treated in a proper way, and for a long period of time in inebriate homes, the prisons would be relieved of one of the most hopeless classes of prisoners He also thought that they ought to increase the use of sureties. In regard to fines everything ought to be done in the way of accepting payments by instalments. Costs ought also to be reduced, because they often brought up a small fine to a very considerable sum. In Scotland they had a system of a man taking out his punishment half in time and half in a money payment, which was working very satisfactorily. He apologised for taking up so much of the time of the Committee, but he felt that he knew something about this subject, and that it was important that hon. Members should look into this matter each for himself and see what was going on. He did not think that much patching in detail was needed, but it was of the greatest importance that they should get into their minds that the prisons were comparatively little used for serious criminals, but as places for detention for people who had committed small offences, or who had been overtaken in a moment by an indiscretion—either by getting drunk, or in consequence of getting drunk, assaulting someone else, or using improper language which in their right senses they would not have used.


said his hon. friend had very effectively used his experience as a Prison Commissioner. From his own experience he could corroborate all that his hon. friend said about the treatment of prisoners. They were well found, well fed, and well looked, after. What had struck him, as it had struck his hon. friend, was the great number of people who were sent to prison in Scotland for small offences. In visiting Glasgow prison he found a boy who had been there for three weeks. He asked him, "What are you in for?" and the boy replied, "I am in because I kicked a football in the streets." Probably the ball hit someone. He was bound to say that the local regulations in Glasgow were about the most string gent and oppressive in the world. He had been instrumental, when sitting on a Committee which considered a Glasgow Corporation Bill, in striking out of it a large variety of offences which would have made life in Glasgow miserable, if not absolutely intolerable. Then there was a great inequality in the punishment for some offences. There were many good men, excellent in private life, who sat on the magisterial bench and who masqueraded as lawyers. The sentences which these bailies imposed were unequal, absurd, cruel, and harsh. He knew that poor women were bitter at the inequality of the treatment they received. Then, again, from their infrequent incarceration a certain class of people got hardened, and they much preferred to go to prison than to go to work. When they got out of prison on Monday they broke a window on the Tuesday in order to be sent to prison again, where they were much batter treated and were more comfortable than in the workhouse. Prison doctors ought to be engaged to make a serious study of their profession. There was much complication in the cases with which they were called upon to deal, which made it difficult to tell whether a man was shamming or not. There should not be a hard and fast cut and dried rule, and every prisoner should be a special study for the doctor. He thought the hon. Gentleman was well advised in making the claim that a doctor should be a member of the Prisons Commission, not; only called in to give evidence, but having an accredited position, which would enable his opinion to carry weight. There was a very mysterious condition of things which had been going on for some years one prison had been abandoned and another built; that was, he thought, a great waste of public money. He could not see the reason of abandoning the prison at Perth and building another at Balmeney, which was shockingly overcrowded. Anybody who knew anything about criminals would know how dangerous it was to put two or three prisoners in one cell. Yet this was done at Balminy, while the Perth prison stood empty. He hoped the Lord Advocate or the Solicitor General for Scotland would be able to give some explanation of the matter.


said he could neither complain of the manner in which this subject had been introduced nor the time which had been taken up in discussing it, because everyone would recognise the importance of the question. The hon. Member for Ayr Burghs had dealt with two matters alone. In the first place, the hon. Gentleman had expressed his views as to the necessity of the governors of prisons being in the main drawn from the ranks of retired naval and army officers. That was a view with which the Government was entirely in sympathy, but it would be out of the question to say, so far as the governorship of prisons was concerned, that a hard and fast rule should be laid down which might result in the idea being generated in the minds of those serving in those institutions upon the ordinary staff that they were not entitled to look forward to the highest positions which their experience entitled them to occupy. So far as that question was concerned, the Government would not be backward in recognising the claims of retired officers, but each case would have to be treated upon its own merits. The Government did not at all accept the view of the hon. Member for Ayr Burghs when he said that the opinions of visiting committees were ignored, or when he contemplated the possibility of the visiting committee disappearing. He need hardly say that in the view of the Government, and all those who had been concerned in the administration of prison affairs in Scotland since 1877, the visiting committee had carried out most important functions, and it would be most unfortunate if the idea got abroad that the views of such committees should be otherwise than entitled to the most serious and cordial consideration. It was regrettable that certain members of the visiting committee at Ayr should have entertained the idea that due regard was not paid to their recommendations. He thought it was a mistake on their part, and that on further consideration they themselves would admit this. The duties entrusted to them were most important duties, and the recommendations made by them so far as related to those duties were considered with all respect. It would, however, be incorrect to think that they had a roving commission; the visiting committee had certain important duties committed to them, but necessarily there must be a limit, and he did not think the visiting committee themselves would desire to extend the scope of their duties beyond the very wide limits already ascertained. The hon. Member for the Partick Division had spoken with special authority upon this matter, having regard to the experience he had gained, not only as a member of the Departmental Committee in the previous year, but in many other ways. He had spoken upon a good many matters of general importance. The Departmental Committee presided over by Lord Elgin did much excellent work, and the Government had been very quick to appreciate the value of the recommendations they had made. The Report of the Committee was only dated 26th May last year, and a great many of their recommendations had already been carried into practical effect. This seemed to show that the Government recognised that there was room for an inquiry, and they had determined, as far as possible, to carry out the recommendations made. He agreed with his hon. friend that the visit which the Chairman of the Prison Commissioners had made to America was likely to result in considerable advantage in the matter of prison administration in Scotland. There were a great many questions dealing with prison administration to which more attention had been given in America, and a better result had been obtained with regard to them than in this country, and he hoped that the Report on this question would be made public in the ordinary course, and that it would be of advantage to those interested in carrying out every improvement with regard to prison administration. The Prison Bill which was at present before Parliament was also so framed as to carry out further recommendations of the Departmental Committee. In particular, that Bill made provision for two of the most important matters referred to by his hon. friend—namely, the classification of prisoners and the remission of sentences for good conduct.


said the classification he alluded to was the classification by the court.


said that that was a question which the Bill made provision for, in as far as it gave the court power, if they thought fit, to order a prisoner on conviction to be placed in a particular class, and in that way it approached the standard of regulations already existing in England. The question of the treatment of sick prisoners, and especially of the provision of adequate nursing for them, had been considered and dealt with since the Committee reported, and very considerable amelioration had been made in the condition of matters so far as that was concerned. He regretted that he was not able to deal with all the points raised by the hon. Gentleman, but not having anticipated them he had not looked up the detailed information to enable him to specifically reply as to all of them. With regard to the state of Duke Street prison, Glasgow, that had been under consideration by the Prison Commissioners since the Committee reported. For instance, the state of the hospital had been under consideration, with the result that alterations were to be made. With regard to the chapel, there was a good deal of difficulty in making improvements without further accommodation, so far as ground was concerned, than at present existed; but the views of the Commissioners would be carried out as opportunity offered, and funds were included in the Estimates for the coming year for that purpose. With regard to the remuneration of the medical officers, he thought the hon. Member would agree that so far as the most serious case was concerned it had been adequately dealt with. The question with regard to the appointment of a medical man as one of the Prison Commissioners was one of more difficulty. The Committee would remember that at the present moment not only were there medical officers for all the prisons, but there was a very competent medical adviser to the Commissioners. The question of requiring one of the Commissioners themselves to be a medical man raised much larger issues, and he was afraid that the Government were not entirely in accord with the views of the hon. Member for Partick or the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire. The recommendation of the Committee, however, would be considered. The question of the treatment of semi-juveniles, or lads between sixteen and twenty, was a difficult one, and he hoped that the experience which Colonel M'Hardy obtained on his visit to America would enable the Government to propose some practical scheme which would secure a better chance for the reclamation of these young lads than the present system afforded. In regard to the administration of the Inebriates Act neither the Prison Commissioners nor the Government could do much—the initiative lay to a large extent with those who had to deal with the prisoner on conviction. Not much had been done in Scotland with a view to providing inebriate reformatories. Glasgow had provided one, and the Government had thought it right, with a view to showing an example at any rate to local authorities, to do what they could in the matter as speedily and economically as possible, by making a portion of Perth Prison available for this purpose. As yet, however, they had not succeeded in finding an occupant for that part of the premises. As for the number of committals and sentences for small police offences, to which reference had been made, these were hardly matters with which the Government or the Prison Commissioners could deal, though the matter undoubtedly deserved consideration by those who had the duty of practically administering the law. The observations which had been made on both sides of the House would, he had no doubt, be received with due regard by those responsible for the administration of the law. With regard to the question of costs he would only say that that abuse was not so flagrant in Scotland as it appeared to be in England, because under the Scotch system there were no costs at all in the vast majority of summary public prosecutions, and that was a point in which the law of Scotland was in advance of that of England. The only other point to which he would allude was the suggestion of the hon. Member for Partick as to the desirability of magistrates who committed to prison visiting the prisons to see the sentences carried out. There was every desire that as many magistrates as possible should frequently take the opportunity of visiting the prisons. The Commissioners and the Government would be in entire sympathy with the visitors.


asked whether the hon. Gentleman could clear up the matter of the prison at Bulminy.


said that that matter, as he understood, had been before the House on many occasions, and he would ask his right hon. friend the Lord Advocate to deal with that.


The hon. Member may say this question has not been satisfactorily answered, but I have myself during the last ten years answered it five or six times. The Perth Prison was originally a convict prison, but in late years, with the more enlightened views which were entertained with regard to the manner of treating convicts, it became evident that this prison was unsuitable for that work, because in that prison it was impossible to give the convicts work. Therefore the whole convict establishment was removed to Peterhead. Then there remained the other Glasgow prison, which was used for prisoners serving short sentences. It is quite true that, the Perth Prison remained practically empty, because that prison is now used for female convicts, and owing to the decrease in female convicts it remained practically empty.


thought that everyone would be gratified at the manner in which the Solicitor General for Scotland had answered the questions put to him, which left nothing to be desired. He thought the discussion had been a very full one, and in his opinion the Government were entitled to the Vote.

Resolutions to be reported.

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