HL Deb 02 September 1835 vol 30 cc1243-5
The Duke of Richmond

brought up the Report of the Select Committee on Prison Discipline in England and Wales, and took occasion to observe that, by a Bill which had recently received the Royal Assent, the Secretary of State for the Home Department was empowered to remedy the abuses existing in the several Prisons throughout the kingdom. He hoped most sincerely that the Government would do so; and, in justice to the Committee, he was bound to say, that no pains on their part had been spared to bring their labours to a useful and satisfactory conclusion. They had not only visited the Prisons in the metropolis and elsewhere, but had examined every person who had any evidence to give; and certainly every member of the Committee who had seen the state of these Prisons, concurred in thinking with him that it was high time the attention of the Government took some steps, with a view to the correction of the abuses which abounded in every one of them. It was not his intention, on the present occasion, to go into any details of these abuses; neither did he mean to find any fault with the Governors. By a great number of persons it was said, that the mal-administration of the Prisons arose from their being crowded; but although this might be true in some cases, it was not so in all. It would, he thought, be hardly believed by their Lordships, that even prisoners under sentence of death were not allowed cells to themselves, even though no hope could exist that the law would not be carried into full effect upon them. This was the case more particularly in Newgate. The condemned man was there placed in a cell with two persons under sentence, perhaps, of transportation, and the consequence was, that his mind was diverted from the proper consideration of the awful and inevitable fate that awaited him. Remonstrances had been made against the system not only by the Chaplain to the Prison, but in many cases by the unhappy criminals themselves; but those remonstrances were not attended to, and for no other reason than because some years ago, a man confined by himself contrived to put a period to his existence, and thereby defeat the sentence of the law. This, however, was not a reason which could justify the system at present adopted; and, therefore, he hoped the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who had the power to put an end to it to-morrow if he pleased, would forthwith issue an order to that effect. The noble Duke, in conclu- sion, moved that the Report be received and printed; and that instructions should be given to the Assistant Clerk of their Lordships' House, to send three Copies of the Report, and the Evidence on which it was founded, to each of the Prisons, in order that the Magistrates by whom the rules for regulating them were made, should have an opportunity of consulting them.

Lord Carbery

said, that the noble Duke deserved the thanks not only of their Lordships, but of the country at large, for the attention which he had paid to the subject.

Motion agreed to.

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