HC Deb 14 February 1902 vol 103 cc93-110

3. £34,000, Supplementary, Prisons, England and the Colonies.

*(9.15). MR. JOHN HUTTON (Yorkshire, N. R., Richmond)

said he desired to call the attention of the Committee to some of the reasons which were given for the very large increase in this Estimate. It was stated that the cost had been increased owing to the increase in the prison population. which seemed to him to be a very serious statement to make. It was a very unfortunate state of things and one which was very unexpected by the country at large. He should be glad to have some explanation as to this increase which had so suddenly come upon them. It had also been stated that a great many of the officers of the prisons were at the front as reservists, and he would like to know whether the increase was due to the employment of officers in place of those who were at the Front. Was it the intention that the so-called temporary officers should be included in the general staff of the prisons in order to increase the standard number of officers. It was very difficult, according to the Inspector of Prisons' Report, to get persons to fill the place of Warders, and that showed a very serious state of things. There could not be any doubt that the officers who had to look after our prisoners should be of the very highest class of men procurable for the purpose, and if they had any legitimate cause or complaint it ought to receive the courteous and kindly consideration of the Home Secretary and the Government. Two or three years ago the prison warders sent up a memorial to the Home Secretary setting forth their grievances, and no paper had been drawn up with greater respect to the authorities than that memorial. The question of Pensions was set forth with that memorial, which showed that out of the 3,300 prison officers in the pay of the King only three had been able to serve their full term of 40 years which enabled them to retire on a pension of two-thirds of their pay. They asked that the term should be reduced to 30 years, but the reply of the Treasury to the Home Secretary to that claim had been that it was impossible for the Government and the Treasury to make any difference between prison officers and other officers in the Civil Service establishment; that if this concession were granted to the prison officers it would have to be granted to postmen and clerks in the public service. But there was no analogy between these prison officers and postmen and clerks in the public service: there was an analogy between them and the police, and the police were able to claim a pension after 25 years service, and it was only right that these officers who did such splendid service and bore such a high character should have the same privilege as the police throughout the country. The sum required to meet the difference between the 30 and 40 years service had been calculated at £1,200 a year, and if that was a correct estimate he felt sure that the Committee would not allow such a paltry sum to stand in the way of this act of justice to these men, but would grant the sum and enable the country to obtain the very best class of men for this onerous duty. There was another point to which he would also like to draw attention. When the Prison Acts of 1874 were passed these prison warders were promised that they should receive, when they joined the Government service, the same treatment that they had received under the old county service. That was stated by the Authorities to refer only to pay. But at all events, the County Councils and Courts of Quarter Sessions granted these officers the full two-thirds of the retiring allowance, but now the Local Government Board had stepped in and had surcharged the County Councils with those amounts, and he trusted a Bill would be brought in to enable the local authorities to continue these grants. He had seen a good deal of these men, and he could vouch for the fact that no more reliable, respectable, and respected class existed; they had to do duty of a very onerous and important character, and everything that could possibly be done should be done to make these men contented in the positions in which they lived. He hoped the Committee would not object to Vote the extremely moderate sum required for that purpose.

(9.24.) MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE (Bristol, E.)

thought that some of the increase in the prison population might be explained by the increase of the military prisoners in civil prisons. The Report presented in December last on the subject of military prisons was dated from the Home Office, although made by the Secretary of State for War. This rather indicated that there was a double jurisdiction in the matter, which could not be satisfactory, and which ought to be got rid of at the earliest possible moment. The Report stated that the military prisons were crowded to overflowing. In December 1900 there were no less than 800 prisoners for purely military offences, whilst in 1901 that amount had been increased by 774, or an increase in the last two years of nearly 50 per cent. It was quite true that the Secretary of State for Home Affairs had not been instrumental in bringing about this unfortunate state of affairs, because he had transferred the prisoners of Dover and York to the military authorities, for the incarceration of the military prisoners, whilst there was a proposal to erect on Salisbury Plain a military prison, which would undoubtedly relieve the civil gaols of a great many of this class of prisoners. The point to be considered was not so much the duplicate system, and consequently the delay which ensued as the fact that they took a man who had committed an offence, which, if he bad not been a soldier, would have been no offence at all, or a very venial one at most, and they herded him with all the criminals of the country. They shut him up with people, most of whom were steeped in crime, and who wandered from one prison to another. They brought him into close association with all the bad characters of the country, simply because in the heat of the moment he had perhaps refused to carry out the orders of the military superior. They, not only put him into a civil prison, but put hint into convict dress. Nothing degraded a soldier—and most of these men were going back from the prison to the colours—so much as taking away his uniform and clothing him in a dress, which at once stamped him as a criminal, and which was at once degrading to him, both as a man and a soldier. It was true that in the last year or two a happy arrangement had been made for military prisoners in military prisons. They were no longer allowed to wear prison dress; they were compelled to wear their own uniforms; they were drilled and exercised, and though they led. in prison-life a life of greater restraint, they were in no way allowed to forget that they were soldiers, that they must take pride in themelves, because in the end they were to return to their corps of the colours. Such a person ought not to be looked upon as having a stigma upon him like a criminal, but as a man who had purged himself of his offence by the punishment which he had undergone. He ventured to say that the present system of taking these young fellows for purely military offences and placing them in a civil prison was a very unsatisfactory state of affairs, and he was quite sure that the Home Secretary was the last person in the world to desire a continuance of the present system. The efforts which the right hon. Gentleman had already made in transferring two civil prisons to the military authorities was an indication that he was in favour of the complete banishment of military prisoners from civil prisons.

(9.32.) MR. FLOWER (Bradford, W.)

said he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he would not take into consideration the advisability of appointing women inspectors to report upon the condition of female prisoners. Since the right hon. Gentleman had been in his present office steps had been taken to form Committees to visit the prisons, but there was a general opinion so far, as he had been able to ascertain amongst the women who had done this work, that female inspectors should be appointed. He did not think the Home Secretary ought to allow difficulties to stand in the way where prison reform in this direction was possible. He thought the right hon. Gentleman was entitled to the thanks of the community for the steps he had taken in this philanthropic work. He did not ask the right hon. Gentleman to appoint a large number of female inspectors all at once, but if a few were appointed as an experiment they would then be able to ascertain what good results would accrue from the inspection of female prisoners by women inspectors. He did not think the state of the prisons was quite so bad as had been painted, but undoubtedly they were capable of a great deal of improvement; and he could not help thinking that, so far as female prisoners were concerned, the appointment of women inspectors would be a great boon.

* (9.36.) COLONEL BROOKFIELD (Sussex, Rye)

said he desired to return to the subject of receiving soldiers in civil prisons. He thought this was a matter which really concerned more the Secretary of State for War, and was well worthy the right hon. Gentleman's attention in his various schemes which were now being arranged for making the Army more attractive. So far as the Home Secretary and his Department were concerned, he thought this was a matter of the greatest importance. People used to talk of the degradation inflicted on soldiers who were flogged, but he thought it was a greater degradation when a young soldier, who perhaps lost his temper and committed what was a serious military offence, was herded for two or three years with ordinary criminals, He was glad to hear that military prisoners were no longer made to wear convicts' dress. He did not know what other improvements the right hon. Gentleman might have made since the report of the Commissioners on Convict Prisons had been issued, but in their report they complained of military prisoners being sent to the local prisons in violation of an Army order ordering the practice to cease. Of course, the evil must have been greatly aggravated by the war and the large influx of military prisoners from the colours during the last two years. He thought another cause which had aggravated the evil in some localities was that the naval prisons had ceased to take any military prisoners as they used to do. He knewthat was the case with the naval prison at Lewes. He might remind the right hon. Gentleman that probably the practice of which they were complaining applied also to naval prisoners to a great extent, and he hoped the Home Secretary would see the propriety of amending the law in regard to both naval and military prisoners. A great opportunity was now offered to the Secretary of State for War whilst making accommodation for the new Army Corps to erect proper buildings for the reception of military prisoners.

(9.40.) MR. PYM (Bedford)

did not think it was fair to draw a comparison between the position of prison warders and policemen, for the Committee should remember that the duties of the former were very trying indeed and ought to be taken into consideration. The life of a prison warder was often attended by distressing circumstances which prevented him from giving the number of years service which were required before he could attain the same position as other similar civil servants entitling him to three-fourths of his salary as a pension. The Committee should look at the case of the prison warders as entirely distinct from any of the ordinary class of civil servants. The prison warder entered the service at 27 or 28 years of age, and he was employed under conditions which made it almost hopeless for him to live the number of years which were necessary to place him in the same position as his brother civil servant. He thought this class of servants were entitled to every regard and attention which they could give to them for the public services which they rendered. It was for those reasons that he thought they might fairly call upon the Home Secretary to give some attention to the claims of those men for an improvement in their position as civil servants, more especially as the amount of money required was so very small that it was hardly worth considering from the point of view of expense. As they had the sympathy of the late Home Secretary on this matter, he trusted they would have not only the sympathy of the present Home Secretary, but in addition, his goodwill and his powerful influence in obtaining for these prison warders what they had been striving to get for them for some years.

(9.44.) Sin ARTHUR HAYTER (Walsall)

assured the Home Secretary that he could confer no greater benefit upon the status of the soldier than the change he was making in regard to the use of civil prisons for military offences. From his own recollection of what used to happen, there was more degradation attached to a soldier returning to his comrades from a civil prison than from a military prison, and he thought it was desirable that the Home Secretary should avoid this evil as much as possible, because the herding together of soldiers with ordinary criminals for simple military offences ought not to take place. He understood that it was the intention of the Government to build a large prison at Salisbury Plain. He felt sure that the right hon. Gentleman meant to do anything he could to remove military prisoners from civil prisons.

There was one item in particular to which he desired to call attention, and it was the Vote for escort and conveyance. There was an increase of £6,000 under this head, on account of the more numerous transfers of prisoners, often to a great distance, to prevent over-crowding, and he would like to know whether there was, under this item, any expense in connection with the removal of Boer prisoners from South Africa. Then there was another item on the first page which provided for seven additional officers for the State inebriate reformatories. They had some discussion as to these reformatories last year, from which it appeared that they were not taken up very much by the counties, and he wished to know whether they had now become more popular and were being taken up by the counties.


My hon. friend the Member for the Richmond Division of Yorkshire has drawn my attention to one or two matters mainly connected with the position of prison warders. Before I deal with that subject I will touch upon certain other questions which have been addressed to me. I am asked how it is that there is an increase in the Vote for temporary officers, and whether the appointment of additional temporary officers is owing to the increase in the prison population, and what is the explanation of the latter fact. Of course it is a very difficult thing to say exactly how it is that crime is greater at some periods than it is at others. Naturally in a population of that kind there must necessarily be a fluctuation which it is very difficult to account for, but some portion of the increase is accounted for by the increase in the number of military prisoners. One hon. Gentleman stated in his speech that the military prisoners have during the last two years increased to a considerable extent, and that is quite true. On January 1st 1900, there were 376; on January 1st 1901, 792; and on January 1st 1902, 774. This is an increase which accounts to some extent for the total increase which undoubtedly has taken place. In addition to this increase in the number of military prisoners, while there has been a certain decrease in serious crime, there has been an increase in crime of a lesser degree, and that also, of course, has tended to increase the prison population. I will say a word or two presently about the military prisoners, but I think my hon. friend may take it that the increase in the prison population is accounted for by military prisoners and by the fact that the number of offences of a lesser degree have somewhat increased. My hon. friend also asks me why we require an increase in the staff of temporary officers, and I may point out to him in reply that that increase is to be accounted for mainly by the increase in the prison population. I have no doubt that there are some of our officers at the seat of war, but it may be taken that this increase has been largely called for by the increased population of our prisons. Of course when a population increases in this way in our prisons you must have a larger number of officials to supervise them, and the appointment of temporary officers is the right way to meet a sudden increase, especially with the possibility in view of a decrease again, to which I think there is now a slight tendency.

But the main subject to which my hon. friend referred was the question of the warders., and these he divided into two classes—the "old" warders, as I may call them, who were taken over when the prisons were transferred to the Government and the new warders who have joined since that time. With regard to the "old" warders, I entirely agree that they have a very strong and legitimate grievance. They undoubtedly considered when they were taken over that their position would not be in any way injured and that they would get the same terms both as to pay and as to pensions. The Treasury deny that that was the understanding—so far, as least, as pensions are concerned. The local authorities, I understand, are willing to contribute whatever amount will be required to make up the difference between the old terms and the new, but they are impeded by the fan that by the audit of these accounts under the Local Government Board it has been found that they are not justified in making such a contribution. My hon. friend has asked me whether I am prepared to introduce legislation to legalise these contributions. As my hon. friend knows, I have already promised to bring in a Bill of that kind, and I hope I may be able to do so within a day or two. I trust that when I do so the very moderate nature of the Bill and the really legitimate grievance which it is desired to remedy will be so appreciated by the House that hon. Members will allow it to pass through without any serious discussion.

With regard to the new warders the matter is somewhat more difficult. My hon. friend says that the difficulty arises because the new warders come into the service at a later period of life than they ought to do if they are to be able to obtain their full pension. There is no doubt that if a man comes into the service at 30 years of age and retires at 60 he can only receive a pension of one-half instead of two-thirds of his salary. But after all their grievance is not a very real one, because they know perfectly well upon what terms they enter the service; and therefore they cannot he said to be suffering from a grievance in the same sense as the old warders are suffering. My hon. friend says that we should require a very small sum of money to put these officers in a position somewhat superior to the position occupied by ordinary civil servants, which would entitle them to their full pension at 60 although they only joined at 30. It may be true that it might not require a very large sum of money to meet the difficulty in connection with the warders, but he must remember that if the Government depart from the recognised system of pensions with regard to one class of persons whom they employ, they cannot possibly confine that departure to that particular class. Therefore, I say that if we were to alter the terms of, superannuation for those servants of the Crown who are engaged in prisons, it would be impossible to resist an extension of the same privilege to all the employees of the Government of at all a similar class. Take, for instance, postmen. If you are going to adopt this system in regard to prison warders it would. be very hard to resist the same demand in the case of postmen. I think I need only mention that fact to show my hon. friend that the adoption of his suggestion would not mean a small increase hut a rather large one.

My hon. friend says also that it is difficult to obtain these men at the present rate of pay. I may say that I am having that matter inquired into, but I cannot admit that that is the ease generally. There may be some ground for that statement in some parts of the country, but I am inclined to doubt whether it prevails all over the country. I am making inquiries into the matter, and if it is right and possible to improve the position of the warders we shall do so. I shall see what more, if anything, is necessary in order to obtain such a class of men as is necessary for the very responsible and very difficult and anxious task which they have to perform. They are certainly entitled to our full sympathy for the work, which they do and do so well. I would paint out, however, that if anything is done I scarcely think that it will be in the way of reconsidering their terms of pensions or superannuation, but rather in the direction of considering whether or not any improvement can be made in their rate of pay, and I think that would be an advantage which they would appreciate and which they could use to get for themselves something in the nature of an additional pension if they chose.

The hon Member for East Bristol has referred to a very important and a very difficult question at the present time—I mean the question of military prisoners. I at once say that I am in absolute sympathy with him and also with the right hon. Baronet the Member for Walsall upon the point which they have raised. But there are two classes to deal with. There is the class of prisoner who commits an ordinary civil offence, and there is the military prisoner properly so called. We are very careful to do all we can to keep the latter class of prisoners separate, and to treat them in some respect differently, and we try to keep men who commit military offences as far as possible free from what undoubtedly is a contamination when they are associated with the ordinary class of civil prisoners. We do this as far as we can, and military prisoners are not now clothed in the same dress as ordinary prisoners, and they are kept as far as possible separated. The difficulty of carrying out this policy of separating the purely military from the civil prisoners is greatly increased owing to the fact that our prisons are very full at the present time, and we are not able in consequence to do as much as we should like to do in that respect. Of course the real solution of the problem is to have separate prisons for them. The right hon. Baronet has very truly stated that this is a matter in which the Home Office have not got full control, but we have never ceased to urge upon the military authorities the necessity of providing accommodation in military gaols for prisoners who commit military offences. The hon. Gentleman has stated truly that the Home Office have given over two prisons for the exclusive use of military prisoners, but notwithstanding this there are still a large number of military prisoners in the ordinary civil prisons. I am able, however, to state that accommodation is now being provided for them by the War Office. For instance, accommodation is being provided at Aldershot for 68 prisoners, at Colchester for 13, at Devonport for 16, at Dublin for 20, at Dover for 380, at Woking for 300, at Shorncliffe for 15, and on Salisbury Plain for 100. Except in the case of Salisbury Plain, this accommodation, I believe, will be ready in a few months, and much of it in a few weeks; and when these are ready the accommodation for purely military prisoners, I am informed, will be adequate for any demand which is likely to be made upon us.


asked in what relation the Inspector General stood to the War Office and the Home Office.


I confess that I have always thought the position an extremely anomalous one. It is rather difficult to explain exactly what the Inspector General's position is. I have already had some communication with the Prison Commissioners upon the subject, and I hope to communicate with my hon. friend the Secretary of State for War to see whether some change could be made by which the position would be made somewhat different from what it is at present.

The right hon. Baronet the Member for Walsall asked whether any amount in the Supplementary Estimate stands for the conveyance of Boer prisoners. No, there does not. The increased charge for conveyance; etc., is accounted for in this way. Some of our prisons are much fuller than others, and we have to transfer prisoners from one to another. The right hon. Baronet also asked about the State Inebriate Reformatories. He said they were not very much taken up by the counties, but as there were to be seven additional officers he presumed that they were being more taken up now. Those seven officers have nothing to do with the County Inebriate Reformatories. These places are provided by the counties, though they get a certain allowance from the Government for each inmate. I agree with the right hon. Baronet that the counties have not been coming forward quite as rapidly as we hoped they would do, in providing this accommodation; but I do not think too much blame should be attached to the local authorities for not doing their duty as long as the Government did not do theirs. It is only quite recently that the Government have done anything to perform their part in providing accommodation for inebriates, who are not fit to go into the ordinary County Inebriate Reformatories, but who require to be restrained by measures which are rather more of a prison character. During the last twelve months, we have begun to do something in that direction. We have now started a State Inebriate Reformatory for men, and also made temporary accommodation at Aylesbury for women inebriates. It is for these places that the officers to Whom the right hon. Baronet refers are required. What we have to dell with is prisoners who are violent, and we are providing accommodation at Warwick for inebriates of that class. We have also commenced to clear a large piece of ground near Aylesbury for the purpose of erecting an inebriate asylum for women. It is a curious fact that there seems to be much more demand for accommodation for women than for men. There are more women committed than men, and therefore we require more accommodation for them. I do not wish to go into the reasons for this, because it would take a considerable time. I want to encourage the local authorities in every way we can. I think it is most important to encourage them to provide accommodation of this class, and for the Government to aid them by providing accommodation for those who cannot be received into County Reformatories. We intend to do all we can to make the Act operative, and I am confident that the result will be a good one. My hon. friend the Member for Bedford spoke of the position of the prison warders. He will understand that I induded him in what I said in reply to another hon. Member on that matter. My hon. and gallant friend the Member for the Rye Division referred to the question of military prisoners, and I think I have dealt with his point also. My hon. friend the Member for West Bradford has touched upon another experiment we are making, and which we regard as most hopeful. We are providing, as the hon. Gentleman knows, for taking into the prison at Borstal what are called "juvenile adults," that is to say, prisoners over 16 and under 21; and we hope by a system of training and of teaching them trades, by general instruction and help, to take these prisoners away from the con tamination in which they have lived, out of the atmosphere of crime in which they have been reared, and make them fit to be useful members of society when they leave prison. I am glad to be able to say how much we appreciate all the efforts that are being made by Prisoners' Aid Societies, who are doing a great deal at the present time for young prisoners and others, by taking charge of them on their release, because that is the trying time. However good their intentions may be, and however good the influences brought to bear on them in prison may be, they are, on getting out, at once subject to contamination by old "friends," who may drag them down again into a career of crime. I cannot say too much in praise of the splendid work which the Prisoners' Aid Societies are doing by taking hold of these prisoners when they come out, and endeavouring to carry forward the good work we have done for them in prison, thus taking them out of the atmosphere of crime. I hope and believe that by taking crime in its youthful stage, and by, I trust, at some future time taking steps to prevent habitual criminals from being let loose upon the population, something material may be pone to reduce crime in this country. My hon. friend the Member for West Bradford, spoke also about women inspectors. I think he said that however good the administration of prisons was, they were still open to improvement. There are no institutions or individuals of whom the same might not be said, and as to women inspectors being necessary, in order to effect the improvement, I may say that I had an opportunity three months ago of going down to Aylesbury and going over the prison there. I cannot dispute the fact that there, as everywhere else, there may be room for improvement, but I was amazed to see the kindly and orderly attention that was paid to the prisoners. Of course, we can never hope to make it agreeable to them, but still they were all busily occupied, and I saw nothing degrading in the employment in which they were engaged, and so far as the attention paid to them was concerned, I do not think there was anything left to be desired. I confess, although I have the greatest confidence in women inspectors as regards the work they do generally, I have not seen any reason for appointing women inspectors for prisons. The women confined in prisons have the advantage of lady visitors. At Aylesbury there is an excellent committee containing lady visitors. At any rate, no lady inspector could possibly, in my opinion, do anything like the good work which is done in a prison like Aylesbury by the exceedingly kindly and sympathetic lady visitors there. If I thought that there was any advantage to be derived from carrying out my hon. friend's proposal, I would gladly adopt it, but I feel satisfied from inquiries I have made that the necessity does not exist. At the same time, if at any future time the necessity is shown, I shall not be at all disinclined to consider the question. I can only assure my hon. friends who have brought forward the variaus topics to which I have referred, that I have a great deal of sympathy with much that they have said, and anything that I can do in my office, either for the immediate advantage of prisoners, or generally to get those who are sent to our prisons as far as possible out of the atmosphere of crime in which many of them have been reared, I shall be extremely glad to do. I think the discussion will he useful, and I hope I have dealt with the subjects which have been brought forward in a spirit which will commend itself to hon. Gentlemen.

MR. HALDANE (Haddingtonshire)

said the tone in which the right hon. Gentleman had discussed matters was eminently satisfactory. In 1895 a Committee reported in favour of teaching prisoners trades, such as shoemaking, which would be useful to them when they went out, placing them in a better position than when they went in. He was sure the right hon. Gentleman would feel that this was one of the most important things the State could do. He wished to know whether steps were being taken to carry out the recommendation of the Committee.

* (10.15.) MR. DUKE (Plymouth)

said it would be a satisfaction to those interested in the administration of the criminal law if his right hon. friend the Home Secretary would give some information as to the phrase "increase in the prison population," which occurred with disagreeable frequency in the Supplemental Estimates under consideration. Those who had been concerned in the administration of the Criminal Law had apparently been under a mis- apprehension in believing that crime in this country was steadily diminishing. Humane changes had been introduced with regard to the treatment of prisoners, and many first offenders now escaped without imprisonment. He should like if his right hon. friend could tell the Committee whether the increase of the prison population was a casual increase, such as might be expected to arise from temporary causes, or whether the facts pointed to an increase of offences which was progressive or likely to be permanent.

MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)

said he would also like to ask whether the increase in the prison population was not partly due to the extra leniency now shown by magistrates to offenders. There was an increase of £34,000 on the Prisons Vote, and he understood the Home Secretary to say that that was very largely, if not entirely, due to the extra burden put on the police department by the transfer of military prisoners to civil prisons.


No, no.


Well, that was a point that needed elucidation. At any rate, the increase was partly due to the transfer of military prisoners, and he thought it would be very desirable in the future that the extra charges in connection with prisoners from South Africa should be put down as a separate item in the Vote. When the expenditure of a department. had considerably increased it was difficult to get back again to the economical basis which had previously existed; but he was quite sure that when the war was over, there would be an endeavour to retrench in the matter of expenditure. Extra charges on account of the African war should be set out as separate items, and for this reason—that when the expenditure in a department had considerably increased it was not a very easy matter to bring it back again to the economic basis which existed before the war. The right hon. Gentleman had explained that increased expenditure had been put on the Department because of the fact that the War Office had not sufficient prison accommodation for military prisoners. He would not pursue the inquiry as to why there should be such a large number of military prisoners; but he hoped that at some time there might be a Return showing for what offences and crimes the military prisoners were incarcerated and the duration of the terms of imprisonment.


said it was rather difficult to say what the military prisoners had cost, but he thought it probably did not amount to more than about £7,000 of the total Estimate. He hoped they should not have any more purely military prisoners to take care of after some three or four months. In reply to the remarks of his hon. and learned friend the Member for Plymouth, he had made inquiry and was told that the increase of the prison population to which he had referred was not to be accounted for at all by the more lenient treatment of prisoners. No one knew better than his hon. and learned friend that offences were always increasing. There was hardly an Act of Parliament passed which did not increase offences, and, as the population was always growing, these two things acting together, naturally led to some increase in minor offences. At the same time he thought it was eminently satisfactory that the larger offences were undoubtedly decreasing. He had to say, in reply to the hon. and learned Member for Haddingtonshire, that, whenever they found prisoners who had a trade, they employed them accordingly, and if there was in any particular prison an opportunity for exercising the trade to advantage, that would be one of the considerations which would govern the transferring of prisoners from one prison to another. In this way every effort was made to ensure that they were made more fitted than they otherwise would be to carry on their trade when they came out of prison.

Vote agreed to.

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