HL Deb 11 May 1854 vol 133 cc126-7

presented a petition from justices of the peace of the West Riding of Yorkshire and from Swansea, praying that reformatory institutions may be established for the reformation of juvenile offenders.


entirely agreed in the opinion that they should make every effort for the purpose of improving the system of secondary punishment, and, above all, of improving it by means of these reformatory schools. He had mentioned lately that he bad deemed it his duty, during a late visit to a neighbouring nation, to repair to Tours for the express purpose of examining that most important institution, the reformatory establishment at Mettray. He had heard it stated in France that the establishment at Mettray was the original of these excellent institutions; but that was not so, because nineteen years before the establishment of the institution at Mettray in the year 1839, namely, in the year 1820, an establishment was formed at Stretton-on-Dunmore, in the county of Warwick. He would not say that it had succeeded so well as the Mettray system had succeeded, because Mettray was established after the experience of the English establishment, and its originators had benefited by that experience, as well as by the results of a similar experiment which had been made with more or less success in the neighbourhood of Hamburg; but it was impossible to deny that the amount of the relapses was less considerable there than they had been on an average of years at Stretton-on-Dunmore. He never saw anything in such a state of order as the establishment at Mettray was, when he had an opportunity of seeing it, and when he examined that school. The whole proceedings of every individual from the moment he enters until he leaves the establishment are registered. An accurate account is kept of his conduct and of his misdemeanors, more or less slight—and most of them are very slight; of the rewards he has received, and the punishment, extremely slight and well contrived, to which he is subjected; and on his leaving the establishment a watch is continued to be kept on the place where he is hired (it is chiefly an agricultural establishment), with the farmers and gardeners in the neighbourhood; so that the returns year after year tell precisely the whole effect of the system of discipline, and not only of discipline, but of kindly and patriarchal management, by which these persons had been dealt with. The plan adopted was to divide the whole of the inmates into families, each being under a chief, who had in most instances been educated in the place, and the persons composing the staff of officers had been taught the system by years of experience on the spot. He regretted to hear that the Strett-on-on-Dunmore establishment had, within the last six weeks, come to an end from the want of funds. It had been supported during the whole period of its successful existence of forty years entirely by voluntary contributions, no aid whatever having been given by Government, or by any public body, and it had now come to an end—he was sorry and ashamed to say—entirely from the want of funds. Funds for the Mettray establishment, and similar ones in France, no doubt were furnished by private individuals; but very large contributions were made to them—without which they must have failed, as well as others—by the enlightened wisdom of the French Government.


said, he took it for granted that if reformatory schools should be established, the expenses would be paid out of the public funds; and then came the very important question, whether they should be maintained out of the national funds or out of the funds of the county in which they should be established. He apprehended that they would not be complying with the wishes of the petitioners unless some public fund was appropriated for the maintenance of such establishments.

Petitions to lie on the table.

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