HL Deb 19 July 1838 vol 44 cc313-5
The Lord Chancellor

moved the second reading of the prisons (Scotland) bill, nd stated, that it was rendered necessary by the defective and insufficient accommodation in the prisons of that country.

The Duke of Hamilton

lamented, that so little time had been given to their Lordships for the consideration of this measure. It was only introduced into the House on Monday, and now, on the third day, they were called upon to assent to the second reading of the bill. It was for their Lordships to consider how far they would be justified in acting in so prompt and inconsiderate a manner.

The Duke of Richmond

hoped that no long delay would be interposed to passing this bill. Bad indeed as were the prisons in this country, with a very few exceptions, those in Scotland were infinitely worse. The prisons in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Aberdeen were very fair prisons, but there were many prisons in Scotland, in which males and females were confined together; very few of them had airing yards at all, and there was nothing like classification in any of the gaols. He should suggest to his noble Friend, the noble Duke (Hamilton), that if the bill were now read a second time, they might defer going into Committee till that day week, and that would give the House time to look into the details of the measure. He did not think that the sum required was much—only 30,000l.—when it was considered, that the object was to endeavour to reform the prisoners of Scotland. He hoped, therefore, that their Lordships would permit the bill to be read a second time now, and then they could consider its details in Committee at a subsequent period.

The Duke of Buccleuch

would not oppose the second reading of the bill, but if it were not for the very late period of the session, he should have requested that it might be postponed for a few days. The bill had been some time in the lower House of Parliament, and he did not understand why it had not reached their Lordships earlier. He was extremely sorry that so important a bill should have come on at the very close of the session. If any person was acquainted with Scotland, he must be perfectly aware that the prisons in that country were in a most inefficient and improper state for the reception of criminals, and especially in cases where confinement was not only intended as a punishment for an offence committed, but also to reclaim criminals from their mode of life. Prisoners in Scotland were often confined for common assaults, or offences against the game laws, or the excise laws, and these persons were mixed with the most hardened offenders. As he had already said, he should not oppose the second reading of the bill, but he hoped that sufficient time would be allowed for their Lordships to look narrowly into it, and consider its provisions.

Bill read a second time.