HL Deb 25 January 1819 vol 39 cc79-80
The Marquis of Lansdowne

said, he had, towards the end of the last session, moved for certain papers relative to the state of the prisons of the country. Those papers had not yet been presented; but every thing, that had fallen under his own observation since the dissolution of the last parliament, relative to the subject of prisons, was of a nature to shew, that a farther inquiry into the subject was highly expedient, and all that he had heard from others had served to confirm him in this opinion. As soon, therefore, as the papers to which he had alluded should be laid on the table, he would move the appointment of a committee to take them into consideration; and he would also move, that all the acts relative to the management of prisons be referred to the same committee. He was happy to find that this subject was to be taken up in another place; but when he considered the advantages their lordships House possessed for the successful prosecution of an investigation of the kind he had in view, he should not be induced, by any thing which might happen elsewhere, to abandon his intention.

Lord Sidmouth

wished to remind the noble marquis, that the information he had moved for at the close of the last session comprehended the state of the prisons for the year 1818. The accounts of course could not be made up before the end of the year. Every effort had, however, been made to complete them, and the greater part were already prepared, but the whole could not be finished before the end of the ensuing month. When the motion for these accounts was before their lordships at the end of the last session, he had intimated his intention to submit to the House a proposition relative to the state of the prisons soon after the meeting of parliament, and he hoped to have had an opportunity of doing so before any other public notice should be taken of the subject. It had long been his most anxious wish to see the state of the prisons fully investigated; and under that impression, it was his intention, had he not been anti- cipated, to move that the documents which were in the course of preparation should, when on the table, be referred to a committee.

The Marquis of Lansdowne

said, he was far from wishing to anticipate the noble secretary of state. If his majesty's ministers were desirous of taking up the subject, he should not stand in their way, but would, on the contrary, always be ready to concur with them in the course which might appear most effectual for the attainment of the important object he had in view.