HL Deb 18 April 1856 vol 141 cc1145-79

moved for copies of all documents and petitions relating to the discharge of certain convicts upon tickets of leave. The subject had attracted the attention of the House last year, and certain returns had been ordered on that occasion, in connection with it, which had only been recently presented. At the commencement of the current Session, another motion had been made on the same subject, as to which the noble Earl the President of the Council, on being asked what course was intended to be pursued by the Government, stated that it would require an Act of Parliament to alter the existing system; that nothing could be done in the matter without such an Act; and that it was not the intention of the Government to introduce any Bill for the purpose of effecting an alteration. It appeared to him that that assertion had been rashly made, and that the noble Earl, anxious to get rid of a disagreeable subject, answered too hastily that he could make no alteration in the present ticket-of-leave system without a new Act of Parliament. The noble Earl could not have attentively considered the question, or he would have seen that the present system of granting licences to convicted persons was not that which was recommended by Parliament in the Act passed for the purpose. In the Act of 1853, introduced by the noble and learned Lord on the woolsack, with the object of changing the punishment of transportation into imprisonment, there was a clause which the noble and learned Lord particularly recommended to their adoption, for the purpose of enabling discharged convicts to obtain an honest livelihood; but it had never once been acted I upon since the Act was passed. It was stated by the noble and learned Lord to be the intention of Government to establish three grades of probation for convicts, and for that purpose to divide them into three classes; those sentenced, firstly, to close imprisonment for an indefinite period; secondly, those sentenced to imprisonment and hard labour for a certain period; and, thirdly, those to whom were granted tickets of leave extending over the whole or part of the kingdom, as the case might be; and the clause in question provided that where honest employment could not be obtained by the convict so discharged, in the community, employment should be provided for him on the public works. That part of the scheme had not, however, been carried out, and the consequence was that these persons in most instances returned to their old haunts, where they could not obtain an honest living even if they were inclined to work, resumed their old habits, renewed their old acquaintanceships, and became the pest of whatever neighbourhood they happened to be in. No possible employment that could be provided for them would be, in fact, so hazardous or so expensive to the country as the present system. He (the Marquess of Salisbury) was not about to enter into a discussion of the system of retaining prisoners convicted of crime in this country; but he was bound to say that he was not aware of the full extent of the evil of the present system until he saw the returns to which he had alluded. The object of his Motion, therefore, was to ascertain upon what principle, and under what circumstances, the ticket-of-leave system was administered, and licences granted to persons who had been convicted of crime. No fewer than 2,369 convicts had been discharged under the present system, without the means of obtaining an honest livelihood; and he wished to know consequently what became of the clause in the Act of Parliament to which he had referred, and why its operation had been so effectually suspended? It was all very well for the Government to say, that the returns, as regarded the conduct of the persons so discharged, were satisfactory; but he (the Marquess of Salisbury) would venture to say, that though no full and complete returns had been made on the subject, the reverse was the case, looking at the large number of these persons who had been again brought to justice. He had selected certain names for the returns which had been furnished and supplied them by the noble Duke opposite; all he wished was a fair and full explanation on the subject. One of these cases in particular was that of a person who had been sentenced to ton years' transportation, whose conduct for three years and eleven months on the public works had been very good, but whose conduct in other confinement had been very bad, and who nevertheless had obtained a ticket of leave. He should be glad to hear an explanation of these cases, as he was sure the returns would bear him out in all he had stated on the subject.

MovedThat an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, for Copies of all Documents and Petitions relating to the Discharge of certain Convicts upon Tickets of Leave, whose Numbers arc respectively—

"1205, 1897, 2616,
1314, 1918, 57,
1386, 1945, 27,
1533, 1965, 4095."


said, that the Motion of the noble Marquess was for a return of certain cases of ticket-of-leave men in certain counties, and it was on the cases in those counties that the noble Marquess had founded the complaints he had made. A noble Marquess had been kind enough to furnish him with the names of the counties and the cases to which lie referred; he had obtained from the Home Office returns in reference to them, after seeing which he did not suppose the noble Marquess would persist in his Motion, for of the cases he had picked out as being illustrations of the whole system only two or three had any reference to the Act of 1853. The first case was that of Henry Austen, who was a mere child of ten years old when he was convicted. He was tried at the Kent Assizes, and sentenced to penal servitude with the view of getting him placed in a reformatory institution; but soon after the sentence the Judge was induced, in consequence of some of his friends undertaking to become securities for his good behaviour, to make a representation to the Secretary of State, and the boy was released on the required security being given by his friends, and the case had turned out satisfactorily. Another case was that of William Collins; but the noble Marquess had been misled by a misprint, into supposing that the date of his conviction was March, 1854; it was, in fact, in March, 1851—he was sentenced to seven years' transportation. The noble Marquess was, however, aware that under the old system a person who had been transported for seven years, and who behaved well, received his discharge at the end of three years. The case of Collins occurred under the old system, and therefore, at the time of his release, had become practically entitled to his unconditional discharge. All the other cases were those of persons who had been released on medical certificate. Under the Acts of Parliament, seven years' transportation was considered equal to four years' penal servitude. It was true that, in the case referred to by the noble Marquess, the conduct of the prisoner had been good when on the public works, and bad when in close confinement; but there were many cases in which confinement was so irksome as to lead a man to behave ill who would behave well when on the public works; and on the whole, in this case, the man was considered to be entitled to his ticket of leave. These were the whole of the cases with which the noble Marquess had furnished him. If these were the worst cases he could select it showed that the system had worked, on the whole, satisfactorily. There would shortly be laid before Parliament a report by Colonel Jebb, the Inspector of Prisons, going very fully into the system, and there would be a better opportunity of judging on the subject when these papers were in the possession of the House. It was not usual to quote papers not yet laid before Parliament; but he had in his possession the report of Colonel Jebb, which would be presented to the House in a few days, and he could say that he never read a statement more likely to allay all apprehension with regard to the system. Since 1854 there had been between 5,000 and 6,000 convicts liberated on tickets of leave, and the total amount of re-convietions was about 8 per cent on the whole period, or something like 2 per cent and a fraction for each year. There was no objection to the production of the return for which the noble Marquess had moved.


said, he rose, according to a notice he had given, to call the attention of the House to the present state of the law on secondary punishments. As to the immediate matter before them, he thought the noble Marquess was well justified in moving for these returns; at the same time, the noble Duke had given sufficient grounds why it was not necessary, in this particular instance, to produce them. But the present was the second discussion which their Lordships had had this Session upon the ticket-of-leave system, and he saw that there was a notice on the Votes for a third. Now, he confessed that he was strongly convinced that the policy of granting tickets of leave, unless in special cases, could not be satisfactorily argued singly and without a glance at least, if no more, at the whole subject of secondary punishment. They must look not only to the case of England, but to the case of the colonies. They must look not only to the reformation and well-being of the criminals, but to the security and protection of the whole community. During the last fifteen years, he (Earl Stanhope) had devoted much of his time and thoughts to this subject. Therefore he was rejoiced to see that it had attracted the earnest attention of the other House of Parliament, and that a Select Committee of that House was now sitting and prosecuting inquiries respecting it. He did not propose to move for the appointment of such a Committee of this House; but he thought it not unreasonable that to the Members of this House also an opportunity should be afforded of making or of hearing in debate some practical suggestions on the subject. In opening the present discussion, nothing was further from his purpose than to impute blame to, or make any charge against, the existing or any preceding Administration. Doubtless considerable errors had been committed; but they were now passed, and lie saw no benefit that was likely to arise from discussing them anew. Besides, he was sure the House would feel, that even if successive Governments had erred, they had acted upon the most upright motives. Without imputing blame, then, to any Ministry, they must take the question as it at present stood, consider what were the evils that existed under it, and what remedies they could apply to those evils. With regard to the evils which existed, he could not help thinking that tickets of leave were only one feature, and that not the most important feature, of the question. The real grievance was this—that after a certain term of imprisonment had expired, the prisoners, being no longer sent to the colonies but retained at home, were periodically let out of prison, and in a great number—be feared in the greater number—of cases returned to their former courses. But this grievance would exist in some measure if no tickets of leave were granted at all; for the moment the term of his sentence expired, the prisoner was necessarily released, and all the ticket of leave did was to set him free at an earlier period. Therefore, though he thought tickets of leave, as recently administered, were open to great objection, he could not regard them as by any means the principal feature of the case. What was the reason, that when the term of imprisonment expired, and the prison doors were opened, a vast number of convicts returned to a career of crime? Not, he thought, so much from the infrequency of sincere conversion and repentance in the convicts; for, as he (Earl Stanhope) was informed and believed, many a man, when he found that evil courses had resulted only in his being cast into prison and there confined, became disposed to reform his life; but there was this difficulty in the way of his doing so, and it lay at the bottom of the whole matter—the difficulty which a convicted person experienced upon his release of obtaining honest employment. The evidence in all quarters was concurrent on this point—that the released prisoner was almost hopeless in his prospects of honest employment. One of the best-conducted prisons in the kingdom was that of Derby, which he (Earl Stanhope) had visited only a few weeks since, and the governor of that prison had assured him that there was nothing more common than for convicts, on the expiration of their sentences, to come and ask him, for God's sake, to find employment for them, without which they must either I steal or starve. Within the last month, too, very curious testimony had been furnished on the subject by convicts themselves; he alluded to the meeting of convicts which was recently convened in London by Mr. Henry Mayhew. At that meeting, which took place on the 12th of last month, several released convicts assembled and stated their several cases, one of them, answering to the name of "Peter," said— Arriving in London without a farthing, and without a friend in the world, with no prospect of employment, and with no one, if he wanted a meal, to say,' Here it is for you, what was a man to do? Before he could bring himself to thieve, he walked the streets in a vain search for work for three months, until he wore out two pair of shoes, and grew emaciated from having nothing better to eat than a bit of bread and a herring. In this desperate state of things he met with his old associates, and for a period of two months he did very well, as far as money went, for he made £5 or £6 a week. This, however, was earned by practices which he sincerely disliked; but then if the public would not allow him to make £1 by honester means, what was a man to do? This course, as might have been expected, soon led to his apprehension, and he was sentenced to another twelve months' imprisonment, which expired only last Monday. The difficulty in this case was one of constant recurrence, and it was one that would be felt by every one in that House. Let him put a case by way of illustration. Suppose he went to any one of their Lordships and said, "Here is a convict thief who is anxious to reform, and wishes employment as butler to take charge of your plate—or a reformed drunkard, who wishes to take charge of your cellar. They have conducted themselves well in confinement, and I bring you the best testimonials on the subject from the chaplain of the gaol." He had no doubt that any one of their Lordships, if thus addressed, would reply, "We do not at all doubt the reformation of these convicts—we wish them very well—we have every possible respect for the chaplain; but to employ a man who is dishonest to take charge of our forks and spoons, or a man who is never sober to take charge of our port and sherry—how can you ask us to do such a thing so long as men of wholly unblemished character arc pressing for the very same places?" The same feeling ran throughout society, and the result was that the man whose character was once tainted could never again obtain honest employment. And this applied with even more truth to the other sex. So far back as January, 1839, Lord John Russell had drawn up and laid before Parliament a most able Minute upon the subject, and though the date was not recent, it well deserved attentive study at the present time for its application to what was taking place around us. In this minute Lord John Russell said— France is at present suffering from the mass of released convicts, who, after being confined at the galleys join the criminal portion of the community, perfect adepts in forgery and house-breaking, and connected by acquaintance and sympathy with the thieves and swindlers of the community. Now, mark the following words— This must he the case in every opulent and populous community, where crime has every temptation, and industry is abundantly employed. Then, if it were said that Lord J. Russell, who wrote that Minute, nevertheless himself took part in the measure that had led to the cessation of transportation to the colony of New South Wales, all he (Earl Stanhope) could say was, that that only proved the pressure upon him from the colonial side, and how necessary it was to view every side of this most complicated and nicely-balanced question. What he wished to argue was, that the difficulty which the convict encountered in finding employment was not incidental to the system, not one that any improvements in the details of punishment could remove. It was inherent in the system itself. It belonged to the system of retaining convicts at home. And they might alter the details of that system as they pleased; they might station the convicts at Dartmoor and Portsmouth; send them to the convict works of Bermuda and Gibraltar, or try the dismal resource of public hulks. All these expedients had been tried with a greater or less degree of success; but the result had been always the same. The prisoner upon his release, whatever the extent of his reformation, was constantly met with the same difficulty—the difficulty of procuring honest employment. It was, as he had said, inherent in the system. It might be said that it was possible for the convict when released to assume a fictitious name, quit his birthplace, and commence a new career elsewhere. But these deceptions were but a melancholy prelude to a life of intended probity; and in the next place he had heard that there were some parts of the country—in Scotland—where the police, most unwarrantably, as he took it, if the statement were true, for he did not vouch for it on his own knowledge, made it their business to bunt out every convict who was in honest employment, and inform his employer that he was harbouring a felon in his service. Of course the result was, the instant dismissal of the man. The difficulty, therefore, with regard to obtaining employment seemed to he insuperable as long as they retained the convict at home. He could appeal to a great many of their Lordships, how strongly this opinion had been put forth by the most eminent statesmen of France—how often a preference for the English system of transportation had been expressed by these eminent men in the debates of their late Chamber of Deputies. [Lord CAMPBELL: And in private.] I thank my noble and learned Friend for reminding mo how often and how earnestly these statesmen have urged the same views to some amongst us in private conversation also. But as to the state of things in our own country as to convicts, we require no testimony; we might rely upon own observations. Now, let their Lordships contrast the state of things in this country with the immunity from reproach which a man enjoyed in a colony. Two centuries ago the freebooters held that no treaty with Spain was binding south of the line. In the Australian colonies there was a rule something like this in terms, but far better and wiser. The rule was, that no offences were to be remembered against a man that had been committed on the other side the equator. The convict having undergone his term of punishment in the colonies, if on being released he seriously desired to reform, and wished to have employment, he could at once find it. It was, therefore, a mere assumption of the argument—a complete begging of the question—to say that we sought only to fling upon our colonies the crime which we found to press inconveniently upon ourselves. For the truth was, that the energy which was ill-directed here would be well and usefully directed there. The truth was, that the man who was a criminal in England would probably not be a criminal in the colonies. He had no employment here; he had full employment there. He would now proceed to state what were the practical suggestions which he had to offer. And, in the first place, he should wish the Government to consider whether, on their part, some further encouragement and support might not be afforded to those most useful institutions—the reformatory schools for the young. The beneficial effects of those schools had been felt in most parts of the country; and, as an instance, he might refer to the case of Gloucestershire. He held in his hand the striking and valuable Report of Mr. Barwick Baker, with regard to the prisons of that county, and in that Report Mr. Baker said, "That a reformatory school having been opened in Cheltenham, in 1852, the police stated that there were twenty-one boys under the age of fourteen who had been once convicted, and twenty-five who, under the same age, had been twice or thrice or four times convicted." And Mr. Baker added, "I believe I can now say, there is not at present in Cheltenham more than one boy under sixteen who has been twice convicted." But Mr. Baker went on to explain the only true principle upon which those reformatory schools should proceed, and without which principle he (Earl Stanhope) would not hesitate to say that those schools would do harm instead of good. Mr. Baker said, "We propose to give our boys no advantage which the sons of honest labourers could not get if they pleased. Were they to offer to come on the same terms, they would be chosen in preference to our boys." This it was most important to remember, for if any enthusiastic men in their benevolent zeal offered any advantages in their institutions to the criminal beyond that which honest men enjoyed, from that moment they did harm instead of good, and their reformatories would deserve no encouragement. But upon the principle which he had just stated, and looking at the vast amount of good which had resulted from those schools, he put it to the Government that they should take into their serious consideration whether sonic further aid as contributions towards the buildings, or aid of some kind or other, might not be given in addition to the quota that was now paid, according to the number of inmates, so as to increase the number of boys in these institutions. With respect to these reformatory schools for the young the fatal difficulty of want of employment vanished, because a fault committed by boys would not weigh against them in after life; whereas upon the same fault committed by grown-up persons, it would be argued that they were hardened offenders. The next and principal suggestion which he had to make was, that the Government should turn their thoughts to the possibility of founding a new colony for the reception of convicts. That was a point which he was most anxious to press upon their attention. In the first place they would have to consider what resources our present colonies afforded for this purpose. And here he wished to lay down the principle in the clearest and most emphatic terms, that he did not think that any convicts ought, under any circumstances, to be sent to any one of those colonies without the fullest and freest consent of the colonists themselves. Nay, he would go further, and say that the convicts ought not to be sent out until they were asked for; that we should not ask the colonists to take them, but wait until they asked for them themselves. What was more, he thought that this principle ought to he proclaimed by the Government in so clear and decided a manner as to remove all possible cause of jealousy or apprehension in the minds of the colonists upon the subject. Now, the colony of Western Australia had expressed a clear and general wish to receive convicts, and for some years we had been sending there about 300 a year. But he understood, from evidence which was given no further back than yesterday before the Committee of the House of Commons, that the colonists of Western Australia now asked for 700 or 800 a year. The colonists wished to have more convicts: why did we not give them? Because we had most unwisely, as he saw it stated, tied up our hands and precluded ourselves from sending more than 300. Could anything be more injudicious than this? And would it not he desirable to relax the prohibition and be enabled to send as many convicts to a colony as might be required, subject to the condition which he could not state too often or too emphatically, that it should be done with the free and full consent—the spontaneous consent—of the colonists themselves? Then there was the case of the settlement of Moreton Bay, respecting which he hoped the Government would give them some information. As he understood, the settlement of Moreton Bay was also desirous of receiving convicts; but New South Wales, the colony to which it belonged, had expressed an objection to its doing so, and in deference to that opinion the Colonial Office had taken no steps in the matter. Supposing that the resources of Western. Australia and More-ton Bay were inadequate, the Government ought to consider whether a new colony might not be established with advantage. The last Report on prisons contained remarkable testimony as to the good result of the very latest, perhaps, of the cases of transportation to New South Wales. The chaplain of the Wakefield House of Correction stated that he had received a very interesting account from a friend (who made inquiries on the spot) respecting 109 convicts from Wakefield Prison, who were embarked on board the Hashemy, Mountstuart Elphinstone, and Adelaide, all of whom were landed (those by the first-named ship at Sydney, the others at Port Philip) in the year 1849. Those prisoners had all been three years in the colony, and the report of their conduct was as follows—Very good, 77; good, 11; conditionally pardoned, 1; indifferent, 6; bad, 6; very bad, 6; reconvicted. 2. Total, 109. The unreclaimed, therefore, amounted only to 14 out of 109, or not one-seventh of the whole; and he (Earl Stanhope) would ask whether one-seventh or anything like one-seventh—whether anything like one-half or two-thirds of any whole number—could in like manner be predicated of convicts retained at home? What was the real objection to founding a new penal colony? He believed there was only one, and that he admitted to he a forcible one. It was this, that at the outset of forming a new penal settlement they would not have the advantage of diffusing the convicts when released among a free population. He did not deny that that objection had great weight, and he could meet it only by reminding their Lordships that it equally applied to the whole of the Australian colonies when they were first established, and when Mr. Pitt sent out the first convicts to Botany Bay in 1788—when Botany Bay was inhabited only by the savage Australian and the kangaroo—and it was difficult to say which was the lower in feeling and intellect. Look forward a half-century, and see what those colonies had now become—the convicts had been well cared for and the mother country relieved from the charge. Look at the progress they had made; look at Sydney. It was not long since that he saw a letter written by a distinguished man at Sydney, who was well acquainted with European cities, and who said that in the splendour of its buildings and establishments, and in intellectual cultivation, Sydney well deserved to stand by the side of several of the smaller capitals of Europe. In short, the Australian colonies had afforded us the strongest encouragement for the formation of new settlements upon the same principles, while avoiding the errors and defects in detail of the former system. And in saying this lie was not urging upon the Government to do anything that was novel or rash; he merely counselled them to do what Mr. Pitt did in 1788. If any one doubted that the greatness of the Australian colonies was produced by convict labour, he would refer them to what had been stated by one of the most eminent men who had ever held sway in these settlements, he meant Sir Richard Bourke, Governor of New South Wales. Sir Richard Bourke said— From what I have seen effected in New South Wales I am induced to set a high value upon the power of commanding convict labour during the first processes of settlement in a new country. The great demand for labour incident to such undertaking has seldom, if ever, been adequately supplied by free people. Where these have been relied on, and no other description of labour obtained, the progress of the incipient colony has been slow and difficult; hence the striking' contrast between the condition of the Swan River Settlement and that of New South Wales, where, by the aid of convict labour, the industrious and skilful settlers have, within a period of fifty years, converted a wilderness into a fine and flourishing colony. It is sufficient to say that this great and rapid advancement is, under Providence, to be attributed to the command of labour obtained by transportation from Great Britain and Ireland. With reference to the advantage which England derived from her connection with the Australian colonies, he would advert to a very remarkable return, which was quoted at a public meeting held a few days ago by a noble Lord who was a Member of this House (the Earl of Hardwicke); and according to which it appeared that if they took the population of the world and tire amount of British exports they consumed per head, it would be found that in France they consumed 1s. 6d. per head; in the United States of America, 5s. 8d. a head; in Canada, £1 15s. a head; whilst the Australian colonists consumed not less than £7 a head. Such, then, were his views, and such the facts upon which they were founded. He had stated his ease as briefly as the importance of the subject permitted him; and he hoped Her Majesty's Government would believe him, when he said that he had not approached it in any hostile or censorious spirit. He found no fault with them. He acknowledged the difficulties with which the subject was surrounded; but amid all these difficulties, there was one consideration which should cheer and encourage us—the consideration that even our very failures, when once discerned and admitted, would be conducive to our future success; and now that so many able and enlightened men were applying their minds to this question, he trusted that at no distant day we might see the foundation of a system which would promote the reformation of criminals, and at the same time guard and protect the community from crime.


said, he could assure the noble Earl that nothing was further from the disposition of the Government than to regard the remarks which he had made as characterised by any spirit of hostility towards them. It was impossible to conceive any speech more characterised by candour, delicacy, and fairness, than that which the noble Earl had addressed to the House; nor could anything be more satisfactory than the manner in which the noble Earl had pointed out the real difficulties of the ticket-of-leave system, and where those difficulties existed. He was sure that the whole House went with him in his approbation of a system of transportation when it could be carried out in a populous colony, extending over a large tract of ground, where there would be such- a demand for labour that the convict should, on his discharge, be immediately put in a position to earn an honest livelihood and to regain his character. He (Earl Granville) was glad to hear the noble Earl, in the latter part of his speech, acknowledge the great principle, that it was now quite out of the question for the mother country to attempt to send convicts to any colony which was not prepared freely and cordially to receive them. With regard to the first suggestion of the noble Earl, that the Government should give some increased assistance to reformatory schools, he (Earl Granville) might mention that that subject had for a long time occupied the attention of the Ministry, and some days since a Committee of Council had been summoned for to-morrow, to consider a final Minute upon that point. The other suggestion of the noble Earl was one the adoption of which was surrounded with great difficulty; and with one or two of the observations made by the noble Earl, he (Earl Granville) could not entirely agree. The noble Earl suggested that Moreton Bay should be separated from Australia, and that there should be founded there a new penal colony. It was quite obvious that it must be matter for very serious consideration whether, in dealing with Australia, you could cut out a portion of one of the provinces, in order to apply there a system against which so strong a feeling existed throughout the Australian colonies generally. At the same time, he thought it was worthy of consideration, whether it might not be possible to establish an entirely new colony for this purpose; but in the adoption of any such course, it would be necessary that great care should be taken to avoid the recurrence of those dreadful scenes through which our existing colonies had passed. He did not wish to answer at any length the observations which had been made by his noble Friend, but merely to suggest to his consideration, whether it might not be desirable to appoint a Committee of their Lordships' House to inquire into the whole of this subject? Such a Committee of the other House of Parliament was already sitting. It might be a question, whether the terms of reference to a Committee of that House should not differ from those which had been adopted by the House of Commons; but he was sure that nothing but good could result from the investigation of a Committee composed of some of their Lordships who were well informed upon this subject; and if the Committee were moved for by his noble Friend (Earl Stanhope), it would be an inducement to it to approach the consideration of this subject in the same fair and candid manner in which his noble Friend had introduced it here.


said, that the ticket-of-leave question was one of great importance, and one on which much might be said on both sides; but it was quite a secondary question compared with the question of transportation. The real question for their Lordships to consider was, that transportation having ceased, and our convicts being retained in this country, in what way they were to be disposed of. That being the question before the House, and agreeing as he did in some of the suggestions of the noble Earl, particularly in reference to reformatory schools, he regretted that he could not approve of the suggestion of his noble Friend as to the foundation of a convict colony, which he regarded as a proposition to return to a system which the experience of late years had shown to be eminently unadvisable. He believed that the formation of a new penal colony was an impossibility. While Mr. Gladstone was at the head of the Colonial Department some progress was made in the establishment of the penal colony of North Australia; but when, his noble Friend at his right (Earl Grey) succeeded that right hon. Gentleman, he stated, in his first despatch, that under no circumstances would he carry out such an undertaking; and that we must discontinue the occupation of Northern Australia as a penal settlement. He (Lord Lyttelton) did not at the time agree with the noble Earl; but since then he had come round to be entirely of the same mind with his noble Friend. He should now hesitate to begin over again that which he considered to have been one of the great evils—one of the blackest spots—in the history of this country. He had heard with astonishment the argument of the noble Earl (Earl Stanhope), who, he had expected, would point out some means by which his proposed convict colony should avoid evil times similar to those through which our existing colonies had passed. To his surprise, however, his noble Friend seemed to propose that we should found a new colony, intending that it should run the same course which had been run by Sydney, Tasmania, and others, in the hope—which he had no doubt would be realised—that it would in sixty or seventy years arrive at a similar state of prosperity. For his own part, he thought that the evils which had befallen our existing colonies during the period of their early history were such as no one would willingly encounter again; and yet they were evils which would undoubtedly fall upon the colony which his noble Friend proposed to establish. The first requisites were a good soil and a large territory; and this would inevitably become the resort of free settlers, who, after a time, would become discontented, and transportation must be again dropped. The history of this question had shown that transportation could not be attempted anywhere except upon the principle of division or dispersion; there must be a demand for labour; but that was a principle which the indisposition of our colonies to receive convicts rendered it impossible that we should observe. If any colony asked for convicts he would not refuse them. As to Moreton Bay, he believed it impossible, as the law stood, for Government to send out convicts there. If it should ever become a separate colony, and convict labour were then desired by the colonists, the opportunity would arise; but he could not but think that, in every such case, a colony was deliberately sacrificing its best moral interests for mere material and temporary advantages. He was firmly con- vinced that it was owing to the transportation policy of England that her colonies had, until a very recent period, stood so low in the opinion of the world. Now, it was true they stood higher than all others, because they had struggled through the difficulties of their condition by the unexampled energies of our countrymen. He believed that in all our colonies—certainly in New Zealand, which he knew best—there was not a man who would not repel the proposal to send convict labour. He quite admitted that we must be rather disappointed, as far as we had gone, with the effect of the present system in absorbing the expirees, as they were called in the colonies, into the general labour market at home. He could not say that the system had failed, but it could not be said to have been wholly successful in restoring the convicts after their sentences were expired into the general body of the community. He would suggest that for transportation should be substituted the punishment of banishment or exile. He did not mean that system of exile or modified transportation which had been adopted some time ago, under which men were sent with tickets of leave to the colonies; but that convicts who were sentenced to the longer periods of transportation, after having been kept in prison for a certain time, long enough to earn by their labour a given sum of money, should be declared exiles and subjected to heavy punishments if ever found again in this country. In his opinion, the colonies—if these men went there—would not have any right to complain, but it was not likely that they would go to the colonies in any great numbers. His impression was—and he had no hesitation in stating it un-disguisedly—that they would most of them go to the United States of America; but to whatever country they went he could not see that that country would have a right to complain. He was also in favour of another suggestion—namely, that imprisonment should go on indefinitely until the convict had by good conduct earned his discharge—even for life, where there was no appearance of reformation. Of course, there would always remain the power of the Crown to remit the punishment, and therefore the element of hope would not be entirely excluded. There would be no hardship in retaining hardened criminals in prison for life, and he did not think that public opinion would be very much opposed to it.


said, he thought their Lordships were deeply indebted to the noble Earl opposite (Earl Stanhope), who had commenced this discussion, and he trusted he would adopt the suggestion thrown out by the Lord President of the Council, and move for a Committee to inquire into the whole subject. The short discussion which had taken place had shown that a deliberate inquiry would be highly useful, and that there were many points upon which but little information existed, and some points on which opinion had been imperfectly formed, and which would require to be carefully considered before any determination could be arrived at. He wished to make a few observations on the question. In the first place he cordially concurred in the description which had been given by the noble Earl of the real value of transportation. The strictly penal part of that sentence could be carried on much better at home under the eyes of the Government; but, as a means of disposing of those who emerged from a state of punishment, the Colonies were invaluable. It was not merely the difficulty of obtaining employment in this country which prevented these discharged men from becoming useful members of society, but also the strong temptation they had to contend with of returning to their former associates and former habits. In the Colonies all situations in which convicts were placed under these circumstances were altered, and the system of tickets of leave, as formerly adopted, combined, he thought, every condition calculated to promote their reformation. They were then scattered through a vast extent of country, and employed in a description of labour—the taking care of flocks in Australia—the best calculated to separate them from former associates, to break up former habits, and to give them that power over their own actions, which alone could enable them to take their places again in society. The result showed that transportation, as latterly carried on, did produce in a very large majority of cases the reformation of the convicts. Nay, more, if the conduct of the convicts sent out under this system were compared with the conduct of the free emigrants sent out by the Government, without any restraint upon their actions, he was prepared to say that he believed the convicts on the whole turned out the better. Nor was that at all improbable. The reason was that when free labourers were sent out they did not consist of the best sort of men, because these being always sure to pet employment at home, were seldom willing to leave their native country, so that emigrant labourers for the most part consisted of persons who, from various reasons, found their position at home unsatisfactory, as, for instance, men suspected of poaching, or who had got into difficulties about illegitimate children. Though these were very often the most energetic portion of the population, they were undoubtedly not the most steady or moral; and when they got to the Colonies, being entirely their own masters, getting high wages, and living in the neighbourhood of a town where intoxicating liquors could be had cheaply, it was undoubtedly the case that a very large proportion of these free emigrant labourers did take to habits of drinking and profligacy, and were not that very moral class which many supposed them to be. So much was this the case in his opinion, that he entirely disputed the correctness of the assertion as to the great superiority in moral character of those colonies founded without convicts over those founded with convicts. Indeed, a very largo number of the earliest and best settlers in New Zealand went originally to Australia as convicts. No doubt, a great body of highly respectable settlers went out also to New Zealand, hut the first foundation of the British settlement was by the escape of convicts from New South Wales and by desertions. He, however, admitted, that whatever might have been the state of things formerly, it was now too late to retrace the steps taken, and that practically the means of disposing of convicts in those Colonies was to a great extent cut off. He could not conceal from himself that that was a great misfortune, due to those persons who, perhaps, from benevolent motives in this country, raised upon the subject a cry, which ultimately produced its effect in the Colonies. In 1838 and 1839, when the objection to transportation was first brought forward, those who raised it were denounced in the Colonies as public enemies for attempting to stop the supply of labour; but, unfortunately, the cry gradually produced its effect in the Colonies, and led to the ultimate discontinuance of transportation. He would not, however, now enter into the question of the wisdom of that step; but, at all events, he would say that he agreed with the noble Earl who had originated this debate, and with the noble Lord who had just sat down, in expressing his conviction that this country could not now use its superior power to compel any colony not founded as a penal colony, or which had ceased to be one, to receive convicts as labourers. Then the question arose, how was the advantage which had been lost to be regained? The noble Earl (Earl Stanhope) suggested that the number of convicts sent to Western Australia might be increased; but he (Earl Grey) hoped that their Lordships would not conclude too hastily that that could be done; they must be very cautious as to the steps they took in that direction; for, if the Government, in sending out convicts to that colony, went beyond the demand for labour there, they would inevitably create a state of things which would tend to the cutting off the means now possessed of sending out convicts. He feared his noble Friend was mistaken as to the number of convicts who could be sent with advantage to Western Australia, and a gentleman, lately at the head of the Government there, had told him that, though the success of the experiment had been very great, caution must be used with respect to sending more, for already a certain number of ticket-of-leave men began to be left on the hands of the Government.


said, that the statement he made he believed to be unimpeachable. It was taken from the evidence which had been given yesterday by Mr. Waddington, the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department, before a Committee of the House of Commons.


said, he had no doubt whatever that Mr. Waddington said that Her Majesty's Government had stated that 300 convicts were as many as they could pond to Western Australia. But he (Earl Grey) would venture to throw out the following suggestion—that the number of convicts that could be absorbed by the colony might, by degrees, be increased if Her Majesty's Government took some moans of assisting the object. It could not he done without expense, but he thought it would be a wise and good policy on the part of the Government. By making new roads—possibly railroads—by opening better means of access to the interior of the country, and by carrying out the wise polity of Lord Bathurst's administration, they would offer inducements to free settlers to emigrate into the country, and thus, by the expenditure of no very large sum of money, it would be quite practicable to extend the means of absorbing convict labour. He thought, too, that the Government might take measures by which other colonies might be induced to accept convicts; and he thought this might be done in such a manner as to promote the real interests—not only the pecuniary, but also the moral interests—of those colonies. There was no necessity for returning to old abuses. His noble Friend (Earl Granville) said a question was pending with regard to the reception of convicts at Moreton Bay, to which an opposition had been raised by the inhabitants of other parts of Australia. That opposition could not be justified upon any ground, and ought not to be allowed to prevail. What were the circumstances? The whole wealth and property of Australia had been created by the profuse expenditure of this country in sending out convicts. Was it, then, reasonable that those who were now enjoying that prosperity should now tell their fellow-colonists some hundreds of miles distant that they should not have the benefit of the same advantages they had derived from the system—that because they themselves no longer chose to receive convicts, others should be deprived of the advantage they had formerly enjoyed, but no longer required. Another view of the case was this—was it consistent with Christian principle that the other colonists of Australia should hold this language? To what was it they owed the advantages they possessed? Why, to the fact that their ancestors were convicts, and that they had been sent out to a place where they might have an opportunity of re-establishing their status in society, and of becoming the ancestors of those who were now prosperous colonists. Were those prosperous colonists, for the sake of their pride and vanity, to refuse convicts of the present day that opportunity which their ancestors had enjoyed of regaining their status in society? Their pretensions were utterly untenable, and if the colonists of Moreton Bay desired to receive convicts there was no reason why the Government should not send them. In the Act passed for the regulation of the Australian colonies, a clause was inserted giving power to Her Majesty's Government to separate the northern portion of New South Wales from the remainder to form a separate colony, in precisely the same manner as Port Phillip had already been separated from it, and was now called Victoria. The interests of the inhabitants of the Sydney district were totally distinct from those of the inhabitants of Moreton Bay, and they ought not to he allowed to exercise an authority over their fellow-colonists, which they held ought not to be exercised over themselves even by the mother country. His noble Friend opposite (Earl Stanhope) had suggested the formation of a new penal colony; but he agreed upon that point with his noble Friend who had spoken last. All the advantages of transportation arose from the dispersion of convicts among the free population of a colony. The assembling of convicts by themselves was a fearful source of moral contamination. Long after the formation of the colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land their moral condition was frightful. When did an amendment take place? Only when free settlers were induced to go out. After the peace Lord Bathurst gave strong inducements to free settlers to take land and to employ convicts, and the moral improvement and the prosperity of the Colonies dated from the adoption of Lord Bathurst's system. But if a new penal colony were now founded it would be very difficult to accomplish what Lord Bathurst then accomplished. At that time there was no great stream of emigration of free settlers flowing elsewhere; Englishmen had not yet found out the advantages of emigration to the United States or the North American colonies, and comparatively very few settlers went to either of those places; and there was also at that time a pressure upon men of small means in this country which happily did not now exist. Circumstances were now altered in many respects. The superior attractions of the Australian colonies, Canada, and New Zealand would come into competition with those of any new penal colony that might be formed, so that there would be little probability of obtaining for it more than a very limited number of settlers. He did not, therefore, believe that it would be practicable to carry into effect any plan of the kind suggested by his noble Friend. Again, it must be remembered that the foundation of a new colony was a most costly operation. Many sanguine people believed that a system could be found out of enabling colonies to pay their own expenses. His noble Friend (Lord Lyttelton) was at one time a great believer in the practicability of some system of that kind; but he was now probably convinced that he (Earl Grey) was not far wrong when he said that all such self-supporting schemes, from the time of Sir Walter Raleigh downward, had proved to be illusions. [Lord LYTTELTON: Every farthing has been repaid.] He should like to know how many of the original speculators had come home without a farthing in their pockets. Some friends of his were in this unhappy plight. He was persuaded, as he had said, that the establishment of a new colony was very costly and required a large outlay, and that it would be better to extend their operations in a colony like Western Australia, where convicts were already received, than to begin operations in some entirely new place. There was one other question to which he wished to refer—that as to the propriety of granting to convicts what were called tickets of leave. He feared that the exaggerated alarm felt by the public with regard to that class of persons was likely to lead to the adoption of hasty and erroneous conclusions. He saw a statement in the newspapers that men who were now sentenced to penal labour were to work out their whole term of imprisonment, and that a sentence of four years was to be equivalent to a former sentence of seven years, and was to be entirely fulfilled. He heard great complaints also of the hypocrisy produced by allowing the men to be discharged for good conduct at an earlier period than they would otherwise be entitled to their release. He believed that these opinions were founded in error. Parliament had made a great mistake, when in 1853, against his remonstrances, it had, in abolishing the sentence of transportation, reduced the length of the new sentences of penal servitude, as compared to those of transportation previously passed for similar offences. Parliament then determined that convicts should be sentenced to four years' penal labour instead of seven years' transportation. What had been the effect? When a man had been sentenced to seven years' transportation it was never intended that he should pass that entire period in penal labour. The whole foundation of the reforms that up to 1853 had been made in our penal establishments was to make the length of a man's punishment depend, to a great extent, upon his conduct in confinement. Their Lordships would no doubt recollect that a plan for determining the duration of the punishment of convicts by their conduct, by requiring them to earn a certain number of marks before they were discharged, had been proposed by Captain Maconochie. This scheme had been tried under the direction of that gentleman in Norfolk Island. The experiment had failed, as might have been expected, because, in adopting that system, Captain Maconochie had too much relaxed the discipline under which the convicts were placed. The scheme, as Captain Maconochie had adopted it, was abolished, but the principle on which it was founded was justly regarded as a sound one, and was accordingly made the foundation of a new system for the management of convicts, which was commenced by the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby), and modified by him (Earl Grey) when he had the honour to hold the seals of the Colonial Department. Under this plan convicts were enabled, under strict regulations, to obtain their enlargement from penal labour at an earlier or later period, according to the length of their original sentence and their subsequent conduct. It depended chiefly upon their own conduct how long their confinement was to last. The effects of this system of management had been in the highest degree satisfactory; by bringing to bear upon the minds of convicts the great motive of hope, it had become possible to dispense, in a great measure, with the lash. It had formerly been held that discipline must be preserved and industry enforced almost exclusively by severity, and the state of the hulks under this system had become, as was well known, most dreadful; but by the system to which he referred, where, without relaxing discipline, the motive of hope was brought to bear, and industry and good conduct were made the means of limiting the duration of punishment, our penal establishments at home assumed a totally different character. He had himself examined the working of the system at Portsea and Dartmoor, and it had been found, by the sure test of the amount of work actually done, that the industry of the men so treated had been most remarkable, while their general conduct was such as scarcely to call for the infliction of any of those punishments which were formerly continually taking place. So great was their industry, that they actually, in some cases, did more work than free labourers employed with them. He had himself observed this in the case of a pair of convict sawyers, who had performed more work than two free mechanics employed at the same time on the new building at Dartmoor. The great breakwater at Portland was a standing proof of the efficiency of convict labour when well directed. He regarded the reduction of the length of sentences which took place when transportation was abolished, as most unwise, because it rendered impracticable the system of management which he had just described. Convicts sentenced to only four years' penal servitude instead of seven years' transportation could not he allowed to obtain their discharge by good conduct at the end of half the period for which they had been sentenced, without reducing the punishment far below what was required for serious offences. Nor was there the slightest reason for reducing the length of sentences in consequence of the change. On the contrary, the fact that a man, when relieved from penal labour, was to be allowed to remain at home, would have been rather a reason for prolonging than abridging his original sentence, since ultimate exile was a great aggravation of the punishment. For these reasons, he earnestly hoped the Government would consider and amend the law so as to re-establish the periods of sentence which prevailed before transportation was done away with. It was said that to discharge men for good conduct before their period of confinement expired was offering a premium upon hypocrisy. Now, it was impossible to look into men's hearts. They could never know whether a reformation was real or simulated. But whether they were really reformed or not it was a good thing to make these men behave well without the use of severity in our prisons, and to establish industry and outward decency of demeanour among them, without having recourse to the lash. He would rather that there should be some hypocrisy than be compelled to use the whip, as was done formerly, with all its brutalising and demoralising effects. He trusted that the Government would amend the Act of 1853, so as not to break down the mainspring of hope which had sustained the convicts, and caused them to behave well under the system abolished in 1847.


said, whatever might be the difficulties surrounding this question—and no doubt they were great and numerous—there appeared to be this inestimable advantage, that there was manifested among all parties, both in that and in the other House of Parliament, an earnest desire to approach this subject in a spirit wholly apart from all party considerations, and in a calm and dispassionate spirit. Whatever, too, might be the theo- retical opinions entertained in regard to secondary punishment, there was, he believed, no difference whatever amongst their Lordships as to the necessity of some alteration in respect to it. His noble Friend near him, with singular ability and clearness, had laid before them the many difficulties with which they had to contend in dealing with this question. There were, in the first place, the difficulties arising from the inability and reluctance of the colonists themselves to accept our convicts, and who, therefore, compelled the Government in a great measure to abolish the system of transportation. And, in the second place, there were the difficulties arising from the danger of discharging these convicts, either before or at the expiration of their sentences, and letting them loose upon society—their inability to procure an honest livelihood, and the mischief of their again mixing with their old associates, and being surrounded by those upon whom the taint of their former crimes would have its natural influence in occasioning in them a great unwillingness to employ them. He was quite ready to admit that, practically speaking, a great improvement had been effected by the substitution of what was intended to be the reformatory portion of the sentence in this country rather than in the colonies. The first part of the sentence was more under the immediate control and supervision of popular opinion here, as well as of the Government; and consequently, the operation of it was much better known than if it were to be carried out at a distance. At the same time he could not but concur with a great deal of what had fallen from the noble Earl who spoke last (Earl Grey). He thought that there was a very serious danger to society from the very early period at which prisoners were discharged from custody, after having been sentenced to imprisonment for a long term of years. He supposed that the shortening the sentence of transportation was mainly caused by the feeling of the Government, that it would be impossible to deal for such lengthened periods with the number of convicts that would be thrown upon their hands; but the shortening of the duration of the sentence, in his opinion, did greatly increase the difficulties and danger. He concurred with the noble Earl, in the first place, in regard to the advantages, if carried out, of the old system of transportation. He believed that no description of punishment had such dread upon offenders, and yet at the same time, notwithstanding its difficulties, bad tended to give such encouragement to real and substantial reformation, as the transportation system. And as to the assignment system—the most abused of any—although no doubt it was open to much objection, he was of opinion that it had been much too hastily abandoned. A great deal of prejudice had induced the abandonment of it. He concurred with the noble Earl in the impression that a system of transportation by which the convict was placed in an entirely new condition of circumstances, among a free and sparse population, where labour was valuable, and he had no difficulty in obtaining an honest livelihood, was one that was most favourable to the development of the reformatory principle. He much regretted, not that the assignment system had been abandoned, but that circumstances following one another had rendered transportation to Australia a matter almost of impossibility. With regard to Australia or the North American colonies, he was afraid it would be impossible to overcome the fixed determination of the colonists not to accept our convicts. There was, therefore, no use in looking back as to what might be the advantages of the old system. They were driven then to the necessity of sketching out the best mode of dealing with our convicts, now that permanent expatriation among a free population was no longer possible. With regard to the probationary system, of which the noble Earl (Earl Grey) had described the advantages, in which there were four or five stages of punishment, by means of which the prisoner could very quickly pass from a punishment of great severity to one of a much lighter character, and ultimately to the obtaining of a ticket of leave; there could be no doubt that great advantage might be obtained from such a system. He concurred with the noble Earl as to the benefits arising from the moral effect on the conduct of prisoners produced from a feeling of hope. At the same time he must say that, as a principle, this was a system which should be adopted with extreme caution. Setting-aside the abuse of a mere pretended reformation, it was liable to work unequally and unfairly, unless much judgment was exercised by the authorities, and even then it was impossible to have any actual test to measure the comparative merit of individuals. For example, take a man well instructed, but convicted of a serious of- fence, and another man, whose hand never did more than handle a plough, and who was convicted of a trifling offence. Surely, if those two men were set to work at skilled work, the latter convict would have no chance beside the other. In the same way might bodily weakness or other infirmity operate to the disadvantage of the more deserving. Unless, then, the greatest discretion was exercised by the governors or superintendents of these convict establishments, they would practically commit a great injustice in measuring the merits of an individual by the power of his performing certain works. The present system was, first solitary confinement, then hard labour, and then a ticket of leave. He could not help thinking that that system was capable of many modifications, to prevent the immediate transfer from hard labour on a breakwater to a ticket of leave. He was of opinion, too, that when a ticket of leave was forfeited by a recurrence to crime the relapsed convict should be returned, not to the same building or establishment from which he had been released, but to a different establishment, where he would be placed under a severe system; so that there might be kept up a broad distinction between those who were undergoing their first sentence and the relapsed convicts. He knew that this question was under the consideration of the Government in 1852, when it was thought practicable to obtain some island or place at no great distance from the shores of this country, which from its situation and character might be regarded as a natural prison, to which we might transfer the more hardened and less deserving of our criminals for any length of time—even for life. There was Lundy Island, for example, in the Bristol Channel, that might be used for that purpose, and which might, he believed, be purchased for a small sum. He thought that the Government might establish a permanent prison there for the most hardened offenders, without the slightest danger of being obliged to resort to permanent imprisonment, strictly so called. But that which was the most important question to be considered was, the danger to society from the turning loose of a number of men with tickets of leave, and who necessarily found it most difficult to obtain honest employment. The noble Earl the President of the Council had put an end to all hope of getting rid of these persons, by showing that there would be no advantage in send- ing those persons to a colony where there was not a free population; and where there was a free population they refused to receive them. It they were to assume the truth of that doctrine, they could do nothing but retain the convicts in this country under the existing system, with all the danger of their being thrown back into guilt and incurring, without their own fault, a perpetual recurrence of punishment. But he thought his noble Friend and the noble Earl (Earl Grey) had somewhat mistaken the intentions of those who had proposed to establish the colony of Northern Australia. He quite concurred with the noble Earl (Earl Grey), that there was a great advantage in the admixture of a free population, who were naturally the employers of labour, with the convict population; and there was no doubt that it was to the introduction of a convict population the Australian colonies, in the first instance, owed their great prosperity and rapid progress. But the fact was, that with regard to Van Diemen's Land, at the time to which the noble Earl referred, that colony was exposed to the identical difficulty now generally apprehended; for, in consequence of the discontinuance of transportation to New South Wales, and the outcry which had been most justly raised against the use of the hulks as a secondary punishment, the whole of the convict population was thrown upon the comparatively small island of Van Diemen's Land, and at a time, too, when, through the losses occasioned by a heavy murrain amongst the cattle of the colonists, their amount of capital available for the employment of labour had been sensibly diminished, and there was consequently already a glut of labour. Under these circumstances, no doubt, the Government did what it could to diminish the evil, in the mode now suggested by the noble Earl (Earl Grey), through the opening of roads, the clearing of the country for fresh settlers, and the employment of convicts upon public works which would ultimately prove beneficial to the colony. But for all that the complaint of the colonists still was, that the convict population remained in superabundance; while that of the convicts was, that they were actually in a worse position than those who were employed at compulsory labour upon Government works. It was under those circumstances, and not with a view of establishing a new penal settlement, that the colonisation of Northern Australia was entered upon. He quite agreed with the noble Earl (Earl Grey), that if any colony separated from others by a considerable distance, protested against the introduction into it of a system of convict labour, it asserted pretensions which were quite unreasonable, and which, if raised at this moment on the part of any of the Australian colonies in regard to Moreton Bay, he hoped the Government would have the wisdom and the courage to resist. [The Duke of ARGYLL: Moreton Bay is not separated.] It could be separated. In any case, however, the district of Northern Australia lay to the northwards of Moreton Bay, and was distinctly separated from the parallel taken as the extreme boundary marking the territories to which convicts should not be sent. With that portion of Australia, therefore, the Government was free to deal. As he before stated, it was never proposed to establish in Northern Australia a new penal settlement, to which persons should be forwarded from this country, the intention always being to create there a new colony, that would relieve the inhabitants of Van Diemen's Land of that surplus population, which, having in great measure redeemed their character and undergone their period of sentence, might thus be transferred to a colony where, under a certain amount of local superintendence and surveillance, they might, through the cultivation of the soil, have the means of providing for themselves and their families, so that thus these people would either prepare the way for fresh settlers perfectly free, or for fresh convicts, similarly circumstanced as themselves. He confessed he always thought, while he was disposed to do every justice to the views of the noble Earl, that it was a matter for great regret that the noble Earl, upon his accession to office, had interposed to put a stop to a project which had been approved of by his two immediate predecessors, and which could not, as he (the Earl of Derby) believed, but have led to the foundation of a most useful settlement. Now, the Northern Australian districts were still open, and therefore free to be dealt with by Her Majesty's Government as they should think fit; and he could not but think, agreeing also with the noble Earl the Lord President of the Council, that though there might be an advantage in the admixture of a convict with a free population, yet with a fertile soil, a good climate, and a boundless territory, he could not help thinking that great advantages might be derived in affording facilities for the establishment of a new settlement in the northern part of Australia, to consist of persons who had undergone the first period of their punishment, and had thereby entitled themselves to tickets of leave. Such persons, he thought, who were now useless, if not dangerous, to society, might very usefully act as the pioneers of civilisation in those districts. Looking at all the difficulties of the case, seeing the impossibility of persons like these being absorbed into the labour market—seeing that, as the existing system went on, our difficulties would increase day by day and year by year—looking to the advantage to the individuals as well as to the community by their expatriation in some mode or other, and deprecating the system of turning ticket-of-leave convicts loose upon society, with a prospect—as his noble Friend had said—of a great portion of them going to the United States to become the subject of disquietude to the two countries—and observing that with regard to persons so circumstanced, one of the great evils of the old system of transportation, arising out of the inequality of the sexes, might be thereby surmounted by ticket-of-leave men being allowed to take their wives out with them—seeing all that, he could not help thinking, that if it was impossible to obtain the consent of the colonists—and without their consent it was clearly out of the question to force upon them our surplus convicts, or those who had gone through a portion of their sentence and had obtained tickets of leave—in that event it would be well worthy the serious attention of the Government, whether they ought not to avail themselves of the resources at their disposal to relieve society from these persons, and at the same time to give these unfortunates the opportunity of obtaining an honest livelihood, and of founding in North Australia what might hereafter become a prosperous colony. He concurred with his noble Friend the Lord President of the Council in thinking that much advantage might be derived from referring the question to the consideration of a Select Committee; and if, therefore, his noble Friend who had introduced the question to them with so much ability (the Marquess of Salisbury) was prepared to make a Motion to that effect, he should be most happy to support him. And of this he was thoroughly convinced, that whatever their differences of opinion might be in the first instance, every one of their Lordships who might be a Member of that Committee would enter upon the inquiry with a determination and earnest desire thoroughly to sift and examine the case without prejudice or passion, and in a spirit of calmness and deliberation to see whether it might not be possible to devise some plan that would prove effectual for the remedy of that which was already a formidable, and which threatened to be a most dangerous, evil to society.


said, he rose with great pleasure to support the recommendation that the matter should be referred to a Select Committee of their Lordships' House. From the office he held he had peculiar opportunities of judging of the nature and effects of secondary punishment in this country. The present state of secondary punishment was most deplorable and discreditable. Nobody could tell what would be the effect of any sentence a Judge might pass. He found that it was a very difficult task to judge what sentence to pass upon a convict. If, for instance, he passed a sentence of transportation beyond the seas for fourteen years he knew perfectly well in his own mind that that sentence would never be carried into execution. If he ordered a man to be sentenced to seven years' transportation, or four years' penal servitude, to which it was now altered, he had never the most distant idea of its being carried into effect. In fact, he never had any idea what punishment any person he sentenced would really have to undergo. Was that, he would appeal to their Lordships, a right state of things? Of all judicial maxims that most generally received was that punishment ought to be certain; but punishment under the present system was entirely uncertain, and it was impossible, while this uncertainty continued, that a sentence could produce the salutary effect which was intended to follow it. He had heard with unfeigned delight the sentiments expressed by their Lordships on this subject on both sides of the House, and he trusted the inquiry it was proposed to institute would have the result of inducing a return to the old system of transportation, a punishment of all others the most salutary. He had lately returned from circuit, where he had been pleased to find that reformatory schools were very generally in course of formation. There was now in existence an Act of Parliament in which he felt considerable interest, and in virtue of which the Judge was empowered to order in addition to punishment for an offence, that the criminal, it under sixteen years of age, might be sent to a reformatory school, to remain there for any period within five years. He believed that that would be found to operate very beneficially, because by the time the period passed in the reformatory school had expired, the person who was the subject of it would go forth to the world well educated and well trained, and, moreover, would have obtained a character which would enable him to be admitted into any service. He would not be considered like a ticket-of-leave man, whose difficulties, he could not help thinking, were of a serious character. For the adult criminal there was nothing left but to send him out of the country; for, even if reformation were possible, there was little chance of his getting employment. A noble Lord opposite had referred to the experience of continental States. He (Lord Campbell) had passed a good deal of time in continental cities, and had conversed with the most eminent jurists there, and he had found a general concurrence of opinion as to the inestimable advantage enjoyed by this country in having colonies to which to send her convicts; and the superiority of the police of London over that of foreign cities was also universally attributed to this circumstance.


said, that the Reports lately sent in to the Government showed that under the existing system there had been a greater amount of reformation than under any other. During the three years this system had been in force, the recommittals of ticket-of-leave men had been at most 10 per cent, while of those who issued from the reformatory school at Mettray, at least 12 per cent relapsed into crime. Much had been said as to the difficulty of ticket-of-leave men finding employment. That might be true of the agricultural districts and in small parishes, where men with branded characters would undoubtedly meet with difficulties when in search of employment; but he did not believe such was the case in Lancashire and the other busy hives of industry throughout the country, where a man who came out of prison, with a good pair of arms, was always sure of work, and after a time to receive even the reward of industry.


said, he rose to make two observations, which had not been sufficiently adverted to, and to which he thought it most desirable that attention should be called. In the first place, he thought it was capable of demonstration, that to whatever cause the present unsatisfactory state of punishment was attributable, it could not be attributed to the ticket-of-leave system. That might look like a paradox, but he thought it was capable of demonstration. It was true that tickets of leave had been given to persons whose conduct, it had been found, had continued bad; but those people, against whom such complaints were constantly made, were not turned upon society in consequence of the tickets of leave granted to them, for they would have been turned upon society without those tickets of leave. The alteration that was made three years ago, and which came into operation in October, 1853—two years and a half ago—provided that persons who after that time should be sentenced, and who under the old system would have had seven years' transportation, should undergo four years' penal servitude. With regard to persons convicted since that Act had passed, he did not say that none of them had been released; some of them had now been returned to society; but it was not of them that complaints were made, for the complaints respecting the ticket-of-leave men had extended over the last year and a half. Rather more than 5,000 persons had been released upon tickets of leave, and almost the whole of these were persons who had been sentenced to seven years' transportation previous to 1853. What would have been the case with those persons if no alteration in the system had taken place? Why, at the end of four years they would have been turned loose upon society without tickets of leave. If persons with tickets of leave relapsed into crime there was immediately a confusion in the public mind between the post hoc and the propter hoc; and all the evil was attributed to the ticket of leave, it being forgotten that the same men would have been released under the old system precisely at the same time without the ticket of leave. Nothing could be more wide of the mark than to say that the ticket of leave did the mischief. The tendency of the ticket of leave was rather to keep men strict, although it had not always that effect, for sometimes evil habits and communications, as might be expected, were too strong for any restraints, however powerful they might be. He (the Lord Chancellor) was very anxious to correct this prevailing delusion on the public mind, that the ticket-of-leave system produced the evils of which there had been so many, and perhaps so just complaints. There was only one other observation he wished to make, and that was in reference to a remark which had fallen from the noble Lord the Lord Chief Justice. The noble and learned Lord had stated that when a Judge passed a sentence of seven years' transportation, he did not know what he was doing. It was true that when a Judge passed a sentence of seven years' transportation he did not know whether the Secretary of State might not commute it for four years' penal servitude; but he could not understand what the noble and learned Lord meant when he said, that when a sentence of four years' penal servitude was inflicted, the Judge did not know whether or not it would be carried out. It was the very object of the change in the law that a sentence should he certain, and that when a person was now sentenced to four years' penal servitude it was certain to be carried out, except perhaps in a very few peculiar instances. In reference to the proposal of the noble Earl (Earl Stanhope) that the subject should be referred to a Select Committee, he trusted it would be acceded to, as be believed it would he productive of the greatest possible benefit.


said, that at first he did not entertain any idea of a Select Committee being appointed, but the recommendation had come from so many quarters of their Lordships' House, that on an early day he would move for a Committee on the subject.

Motion (by leave of the House) withdrawn.

House adjourned to Monday next.