HC Deb 06 December 1934 vol 295 cc1806-7

asked the Home Secretary the number of cases, if any, which have occurred during the last 10 years in which serious physical injury has been caused by or has followed the infliction of flogging, or in which the prisoner has been kept in hospital for more than two days following a flogging; whether any record has been kept of the subsequent careers of prisoners who have been flogged either by order of the court or for offences against prison discipline; and, if so, what is the percentage of recidivism among these prisoners?


The experience of the prison medical authorities affords no ground for the suggestion that corporal punishment is liable to result in serious physical injury; in fact, I understand that a prisoner has seldom to be admitted to hospital at all after undergoing such punishment. To discover in what cases, if any, a prisoner has been detained in hospital for more than two days would involve a laborious investigation of records. I regret that I am not in a position to supply the information asked for in the last part of the question, as no special records are kept of the after-careers of prisoners who have undergone this punishment.


Has the right hon. Gentleman statistics to show how long it took the victims to recover from the injuries inflicted upon them, in the assaults for which these men have been flogged?


asked the Home Secretary whether, following on the two recent suicides of men sentenced to be flogged, he will consider the advisability of setting up an inquiry into the whole question of this form of punishment?


I know of only one recent case in which a prisoner's suicide was attributable to the prospect of undergoing a sentence of corporal punishment. If the second case which the hon. Member has in mind is that of a man who committed suicide in Wandsworth Prison in 1930, I would remind him that the published reports of the inquest made it clear that it was the thought of having to serve a sentence of 10 years' penal servitude rather than the fear of corporal punishment that led the man to commit suicide. I cannot regard either of these cases as furnishing grounds for such an inquiry as the hon. Member suggests.


Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the effect of flogging not only on the victim but on the man who has to administer it, on the officials who have to witness it, and on the public, in whose name it is done; and is he aware that a great number of people in this country are most anxious as to whether there should not be an inquiry into the question of whether this horrible form of punishment is necessary in the interests of society? Owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the right hon. Gentleman's answer, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment