HC Deb 11 February 1930 vol 235 cc229-35

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide for the abolition of corporal punishment. 4.0 p.m.

This Bill has for its object the abolition of corporal punishment. It proposes to repeal various obsolete Acts and the Sections of various Acts which give the power of corporal punishment. I want to do this because I regard corporal punishment, particularly the use of the cat, as an old-fashioned and thoroughly out-of-date method which comes from mediæval days, when our whole penal code was merely a system of mutilation and torture. As a matter of fact, the cat as used to-day is a system of mutilation and torture, for the simple reason that the back of the individual who is flogged, when the flogging is finished, is a bleeding pulp. He carries the scars to the day of his death. This punishment is so savage that it cannot be inflicted on any man unless he has been carefully examined by a doctor to see that he is strong enough, and has to be administered in the presence of a doctor to see that he does not collapse under the lash. Flogging is rationalised brutality.

Apart from offences against prison discipline, there are only two Acts under which the cat can be administered to-day. There is the Garrotting Act for robbery with violence, and there is the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1912, for procuration and living on the immoral earnings of a woman. Those two Acts are unique. They are the isolated exceptions of a tendency for 100 years towards the amelioration of our penal code, and both of those Acts were passed in moments of panic and hysteria, and were not the result of careful consideration. Take the Garrotting Act. This is the most important Act because nearly 95 per cent. of the sentences of flogging are given under it. It was passed in a moment of panic, and it is important because it gave rise to the legend that flogging is a deterrent against the crime. I wish to quote the words of one of the most famous Members of this House, the late Lord Asquith, who, speaking of the Garrotting Act in 1900 said: As to garrotting, that crime had been brought to an end as a serious danger before the House of Commons in a fit of panic, due to one of its own Members having been garrotted, resorted to legislation. Garrotting was put down by Baron Bramwell largely without resort to flogging. The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1912, was the result of an extraordinary outburst of hysteria on the part of the women suffrage movement. At that time, this movement suddenly seized upon this question. I was actively engaged in it, and I remember the meetings. Meeting after meeeting for months on end was nothing but a series of tales, fantastic and impossible tales, about procuration. Procuration was suggested as a common, regular thing, whereas, as everybody knows, it was, before the passing of the Act, and still is, a comparatively rare offence. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Look at the figures. The case for flogging depends upon two attitudes of mind, first, that the offenders deserve it—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—well, I am not prepared to dispute that; and, secondly, that it is a deterrent. With regard to the question of deserts, I would point out "eye for eye" and "tooth for tooth" were forbidden by Christ; and that our penal code does not exist for the purpose of giving people their deserts, but for the purpose of maintaining law and order. Flogging is one of the worst possible methods of doing that. As to deterrents, I am not concerned to admit or deny that flogging is a deterrent, but I say that there are far better deterrents which are free from the grave evils which are associated with flogging. Mr. Justice Hawkins, a Judge of wide criminal experience, said: If you flog a man you make a perfect devil of him. A prison governor, who wrote a book called "His Majesty's Guests," says: What I would like particularly to emphasise is that I never in all my long experience knew of a single case in which the 'cat' did not brutalise a man. I never knew one of its victims who was not a worse man in every sense afterwards than he was before. To give the 'cat' is pure vengeance and nothing else. After that reform is hopeless, they become as hard as nails. The fantastic thing about it is that, if a Judge orders the "cat," he reduces the length of the sentence. That means that you turn a man into a devil and make him as hard as nails, and then you set him loose upon society earlier than you otherwise would—surely a penal code worthy of "Alice in Wonderland." Flogging is an unnecessary evil. 95 per cent. of our floggings are carried out for robbery with violence, but that does not apply to Scotland. There is no flogging for robbery with violence in Scotland; there is no greater amount of robbery with violence in that country; and there is no demand for flogging from the Scottish authorities. The ordinary penalties have proved effective there, and they will prove effective in England. Flogging for penal offences, again, is not a deterrent. Wandsworth Prison holds the unhappy position of having the heaviest record for flogging, 30 per cent. of floggings taking place there. It is the only prison except Parkhurst, which comes next, where there has been a tendency for flogging to increase. Flogging has been abolished in the penal codes of Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Hungary, and from all the States of the United States of America except two. [An HON. MEMBER: "Russia!"] Is Russia your example? In Scotland, it is practically a dead letter. Those Members who are prepared to vote for the continuation of flogging, "are saying to the world, "Of all the peoples of the earth, the English alone require the crack of the whip for the maintenance of order, decency and law."


I had no intention, when the hon. Member began his speech, of saying anything upon this question. After all, these Ten Minutes Rule Bills are in rather a peculiar position, because, even though a Member may be given leave to introduce a Bill, there is no prospect whatever of its ever getting any further than the introduction. There is, therefore, always an element of artificiality about discussions which take place under the Ten Minutes Rule, but I felt, while the hon. Member was speaking, that, even though it may be a matter that will never be heard of again, it was a matter which should provoke some counter statement in an important assembly like the House of Commons. The hon. Member said truly that corporal punishment was a terrible and fearful punishment. I agree, but it is inflicted as a punishment for terrible and fearful crimes. Neither this country, nor indeed, so far as I know, any portion of the civilized world, is yet a community of saints. There are black sheep in all communities; there are people who commit the most appalling crimes and atrocities, and you must maintain in any penal code, which is going to stand the test of time, the power in the last resorts to inflict a terrible punishment of this kind. [HON. MEMBERS: "Burn them!" and "Rack!"] Robbery with violence, some forms of procuration, and other terrible crimes deserve terrible punishment. The hon. Member stated that there vas no instance, of which he knew, where the imposition of flogging had resulted as a deterrent.


I did not say that.


I understood the hon. Gentleman to say something of that sort.


I said that I was not concerned to argue the question whether it was a deterrent or not.


May I give an example within my own knowledge where the imposition of flogging led to an immediate amelioration where there was a terrible outbreak of crime. Not long ago, during the troubles in Ireland, there was very prevalent a series of armed raids, people being held up at the point of the revolver, and being murdered for robbery. That outbreak of crime was crushed in Northern Ireland by an Emergency Act passed to legalise the infliction of flogging for those crimes. I wonder whether the hon. Member would suggest that corporal punishment should be done away with in the schools? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I do not suppose that there is an hon. Member who has not in some period had corporal punishment inflicted on him; I have had it administered on me—[HON. MEMBERS: "Is there any improvement?"] —and I consider that the administration of corporal punishment of that kind is undoubtedly a good thing for improving the character of the younger generation. I sometimes think that, if we were to follow the suggestions of hon. Members opposite in some of these matters, we should soon become a

namby-pamby race of softies out of touch with the realities of a very human world.

Question put, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide for the abolition of corporal punishment."

The House divided: Ayes, 226; Noes, 164.

Division No. 153.] AYES. [4.29 p.m.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Hayday, Arthur Murnin, Hugh
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Hayes, John Henry Naylor, T. E.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley) Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Alpass. J. H. Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.) Noel Baker, P. J.
Ammon, Charles George Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow) Oldfield, J. R.
Angell, Norman Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)
Arnott, John Herriotts, J. Palin, John Henry
Attlee, Clement Richard Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Paling, Wilfrid
Ayles, Walter Hoffman, P. C. Palmer, E. T.
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Hopkin, Daniel Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley) Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Perry, S. F.
Barnes, Alfred John Isaacs, George Peters, Dr. Sidney John
Batey, Joseph John, William (Rhondda, West) Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Bentham, Dr. Ethel Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint) Phillips, Dr. Marlon
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Picton-Turbervill, Edith
Bowen, J. W. Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne) Pole, Major D. G.
Brooke, W. Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd) Potts, John S.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield) Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Price, M. P.
Buchanan, G. Kelly, W. T. Pybus, Percy John
Burgess, F. G. Kennedy, Thomas Quibell, D. J. K.
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.) Kinley, J. Rathbone, Eleanor
Caine, Derwent Hall. Kirkwood, D. Raynes, W. R.
Cameron. A. G. Lang, Gordon Richards, R.
Cape, Thomas Law, A. (Rosendale) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Lawrence, Susan Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Charleton, H. C. Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge) Romeril, H. G.
Chater, Daniel Lawson, John James Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Cluse, W. S. Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Leach, W. Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)
Compton, Joseph Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.) Sanders, W. S.
Cove, William G. Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Sandham, E.
Cowan, D. M. Lees, J. Scott, James
Daggar, George Lewis, T. (Southampton) Scrymgeour, E.
Dallas, George Longbottom, A. W. Scurr, John
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Longden, F. Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Denman, Hon. R. D. Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Dickson, T. Lowth, Thomas Sherwood, G. H.
Dudgeon, Major C. R. Lunn, William Shield. George William
Ede, James Chuter Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Shillaker, J. F.
Edmunds, J. E. Mac Donald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Shinwell, E.
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Simmons. C. J.
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) McElwee, A. Sinkinson, George
Egan, W. H. McEntee, V. L. Sitch, Charles H.
Foot, Isaac McKinlay, A. Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)
Forgan, Dr. Robert MacLaren, Andrew Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Freeman, Peter Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan) Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham. Upton) McShane, John James Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)
Gibbins, Joseph Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Gibson, H. M. (Lanes. Mossley) Mander, Geoffrey le M. Smith, Tom (Pontefract)
Glassey, A. E. Mansfield, W. Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Gossling, A. G. March, S. Snell, Harry
Gould, F. Marcus, M. Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Marshall, F. Sorensen, R.
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Mathers, George Stamford, Thomas W.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne). Matters, L. W. Stephen, Campbell
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Maxton, James Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)
Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro'W.) Messer, Fred Sullivan, J.
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Middleton, G. Sutton, J. E.
Groves, Thomas E. Mills, J. E. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Grundy, Thomas W. Milner, J. Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)
Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton) Montague, Frederick Thurtle, Ernest
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Morgan, Dr. H. B. Tinker, John Joseph
Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.) Morley, Ralph Tout, W. J.
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South) Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Hardie, George D. Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Turner, B.
Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon Mort, D. L. Vaughan, D. J.
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent) Viant, S. P.
Haycock, A. W. Muff, G. Walker, J.
Wallace, H. W. White, H. G. Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Wallhead, Richard C. Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood) Wise, E. F.
Watkins, F. C. Whiteley, William (Blaydon) Wright, W. (Rutherglen)
Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline) Williams, David (Swansea, East) Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Wellock, Wilfred Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Welsh, James (Paisley) Williams. T. (York, Don Valley) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge) Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe) Mr. G. Benson and Mr. Ernest Brown.
West F. R. Wilson, J. (Oldham)
Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J. Wilson R. J. (Jarrow)
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Fermoy, Lord Penny, Sir George
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.) Fielden, E. B. Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Aske, Sir Robert Fison, F. G. Clavering Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Atkinson, C. Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Power, Sir John Cecil
Baillie-Hamilton, Hon. Charles W. Ganzoni, Sir John Purbrick, R.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Balniel, Lord George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Ramsbotham, H.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Rawson, Sir Cooper
Beaumont, M. W. Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Remer, John R.
Berry, Sir George Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.
Bird, Ernest Roy Gunston, Captain D. W. Ross, Major Ronald D.
Blindell, James Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Hamilton, Sir George (llford) Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Hanbury, C. Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Hartington, Marquess of Salmon, Major I.
Boyce, H. L. Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Bracken, B. Haslam, Henry C. Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Briscoe, Richard George Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Savery, S. S.
Brothers, M. Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Sawyer, G. F.
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham) Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C.(Berks, Newb'y) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)
Buchan, John Hurd, Percy A. Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)
Buckingham, Sir H. Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R. Skelton, A. N.
Butler, R. A. Iveagh, Countess of Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Carver, Major W. H James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert Smith, R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Castle Stewart, Earl of Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Kindersley, Major G. M. Somerville. D. G. (Willesden, East)
Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R.(Prtsmth, S.) King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D. Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Chapman, Sir S. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Christie, J. A. Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton) Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Courtauld, Major J. S. Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Thomson, Sir F.
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Tinne, J. A.
Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro) Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Llewellin, Major J. J. Todd, Capt. A. J.
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey Train, J.
Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Logan, David Gilbert Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Davies, Dr. Vernon Long, Major Eric Turton, Robert Hugh
Davies, E. C. (Montgomery) Lymington, Viscount Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil) Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I. Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) MacRobert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M. Wayland, Sir William A
Dawson, Sir Philip Makins, Brigadier-General E. Wells, Sydney R.
Duckworth, G. A. V. Margesson, Captain H. D. Westwood, Joseph
Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Marjoribanks, E. C. Wilson, G. H. A. (Canbridge U.)
Eden, Captain Anthony Mason, Colonel Glyn K. Windsor-Clive, Lieut. Colonel George
Edmondson, Major A. J. Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Elliot, Major Walter E. Millar. J. D. Womersley, W. J.
Elmley, Viscount Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Wood, Rt. Hen. Sir Kingsley
England, Colonel A. Muirhead, A. J. Worthington-Evans, Rt Hon. Sir L.
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Nathan, Major H. L. Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Everard, W. Lindsay Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrsf'ld) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Falle, Sir Bertram G. Oman, Sir Charles William C. Major Sir Hugh O'Neill and Sir
Ferguson, Sir John Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William Samuel Roberts.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Benson, Miss Wilkinson, Sir Robert Newman, Mr. Leif Jones, Captain Hall, Mr. Ernest Brown, Mr. Dukes, and Mr. Graham White.