HC Deb 05 February 1904 vol 129 c475
MR. J. A. PEASE (Essex, Saffron Walden)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will state the number of men sent into convict establishments in England and Wales during the five years 1849 to 1853, and during the five years 1899 to 1903 inclusive, and the average per 1,000 of the population; whether a greater number of old offenders, in proportion to the total convictions, are convicted now than were convicted fifty years ago; and what are the relative proportions then and now.

(Answered by Mr. Secretary Akers Douglas.) The number of persons sentenced to transportation or penal servitude during the years 1849 to 1853 was, on the average for the five years, 2,632 a year, being 14.64 for every 100,000 of the population. The similar average for the years 1898 to 1902 was 844, being 2.61 for every 100,000. As regards the proportions of old offenders it may be stated that in the earlier period the percentage of persons committed for trial who were known to have been previously convicted was 33.74; and that in the later period the percentage of convicted persons received in prison who were known to have been previously convicted was 58.68. But these figures do not admit of comparison. The changes which have taken place in legal procedure and in the form of the statistics, the substitution of short terms of penal servitude for long terms of transportation, and the great improvement made in the means of identification render it impossible to compare the two periods in this respect.