HC Deb 20 July 1914 vol 65 cc149-51

(1) Where imprisonment is imposed by any Court in respect of the non-payment of any sum adjudged by that or any other Court to be paid the imprisonment shall be without hard labour.

Where a person convicted by or before any Court of an offence is sentenced to imprisonment without the option of a fine, the imprisonment may, in the discretion of the Court, be either with or without hard labour, notwithstanding that the offence is an offence at common law or that the Statute under which the sentence is passed does not authorise the imposition of hard labour or requires the imposition of hard labour.

(2) If no direction is given by a Court in pursuance of the powers conferred by Section six of the Prison Act, 1898, as to the division in which an offender is to be placed, the offender shall, subject to the provisions of that Section, be treated as an offender of the third division unless the visiting committee on the application of the governor of the prison consider the case suitable for treatment in the second division, and direct that the offender be so treated. Sub-section (2) of that Section shall be amended by the insertion after the words "without hard labour" of the words "or committed to prison for non-payment of a fine."

(3) A Court or visiting committee shall not direct an offender to be treated as an offender of the second division if his character and antecedents are such that he is likely to exercise a bad influence on first offenders.

(4) The provisions of Sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section six of the Prison Act, 1898, as amended by this Section, which relate to the classification of offenders sentenced to imprisonment for offences, shall apply to cases where the person is sentenced to imprisonment for failing to do or to abstain from doing any act or thing required to be done or left undone.

(5) Sub-section (3) of the same Section (which requires that certain prisoners shall be placed in a separate division and treated under special rules and shall not be placed in association with criminal prisoners nor be compelled to wear prison dress unless their own clothing is unfit for use), shall extend to persons committed to prison for contempt of Court, and accordingly the words "for contempt of Court" shall be inserted in that Sub-section after the words "hard labour."


I beg to move to leave out Sub-section (1), and to insert instead thereof— (1) Without prejudice to the power of the Secretary of State to make rules with respect to the labour to which pri- soners or any particular division or class of prisoners are to be or may be put, no person shall be sentenced to imprisonment with hard labour, and the punishment of bard labour is hereby abolished. I move this Amendment to draw attention to a point in connection with the imposition of hard labour. I am informed one effect of the provision would be that the doing away with hard labour would increase the number of drunkards and persons of that sort, who would prefer imprisonment without hard labour.


Old offenders know too well the difference between hard labour and imprisonment without it. In the great majority of cases imprisonment already cannot be with hard labour for the nonpayment of a fine. What we propose to do is to make the law uniform.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.