HL Deb 05 April 1867 vol 186 cc1167-8

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, that some formal alterations had been made in the Bill at the instance of the Judge Advocate General, which it would not be necessary to detail; but on the 22nd clause, by which the infliction of corporal punishment was governed, considerable discussion had taken place in the other House, and after some contradictory decision, a new clause had been substituted for that contained in the usual annual Bill. The effect would be to limit the infliction of corporal punishment in time of peace to two offences only—mutiny, and insubordination accompanied by personal violence. He should be very glad himself, as everybody else would be, if corporal punishment could be dispensed with altogether. Like capital punishment, it could only be supported as a painful necessity. The preamble of the Bill explained in reasonable language why summary powers should be placed in the hands of courts martial, and these powers were quite as necessary for the protection of the citizen as for the restraint of the soldier. Law and custom had selected corporal punishment as the mode in which these summary powers should be exercised in preference to carrying into execution sentences of death, which might be the alternative. He did not think it would be judicious at this moment to weaken the authority of those who were responsible for the discipline of the army by abolishing corporal punishment; but their Lordships might rest satisfied that it would only be resorted to when necessity demanded.

Motion agreed to: Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday next.