HL Deb 06 July 1877 vol 235 cc875-8

As to Obligation to Maintain Prisons.

Clause 16 (Termination of local obligation to maintain prisons), agreed to.

Clause 17 (Compensation to be made in place of prison accommodation), agreed to.

Clause 18 (Compensation to be made to prison authority in respect of accommodation provided for prisoners of some other authority).


pointed out that by Clause 17, where the prison accommodation was insufficient the prison authority was to pay into the Exchequer £120 for every additional cell that was required; and the clause in the commencement recognized the principle that where the accommodation provided was more than was required, the prison authority should receive compensation of the same amount. What was thus given, however, with one hand was taken away with the other, and he therefore moved the omission of the words which so took it away—namely, from the words "Secretary of State" in line 18 to the word "that" in line 20.


said, the Proviso, the omission of which was moved, was directed against a different case from that to which the noble Earl alluded—namely, where the county had been extravagant, or had through miscalculation built largely in excess of what was required. In such a case the loss must fall somewhere, and it was considered that the county, and not the Imperial Treasury, should bear the burden.


was understood to say that when the Government took over a prison with excessive accommodation, they ought to pay in the event of their being able to make that accommodation available for prisoners from another county.


reminded the noble Earl that the effect of his Amendment would be to throw upon the public funds a charge which it could not be supposed would be sanctioned by the other House.

Amendment (by leave of the House) withdrawn.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 19 agreed to.

Clauses 20 to 23 (As to contracts and debts), agreed to.

Clauses 24 to 29 (As to classification and commitment of prisoners), agreed to.

Clauses 30 to 32 (As to jurisdiction), agreed to.

As to Discontinuance of Prisons.

Clause 33 (Power of Secretary of State to discontinue prisons).


moved an Amendment, with the object of restoring the clause to the form in which it was introduced in the other House. The clause as it stood empowered the Secretary of State to abolish the local gaols in counties having less than a certain population. In his opinion, one gaol should be kept up in all counties for the convenience of untried prisoners, who might otherwise be conveyed to places far distant from their homes, where they would be unable to communicate with their legal advisers and their witnesses without incurring considerable expense and being otherwise subjected to disadvantage. It would not cost much to keep up one or two of the smaller gaols which it was contemplated to abolish, the expense of maintaining a small staff of officers and of keeping the premises in repair being very slight. In this case area was quite as much a matter of consideration as population. The loss of the gaol would certainly lead to the abolition of the Assizes and Quarter Sessions, and so seriously affect the constitutional position and completeness of the county.

An Amendment moved, In page 12, lines 40 and 41, to omit "unless the Secretary of State otherwise order, for special reasons to bo stated in his order."—(The Earl of Powis.)


thought that the arguments of the noble Earl went far to prove the necessity of the words which he sought to strike out of the clause. The noble Earl appeared to think that inconvenience might arise from the Secretary of State making such Orders as would inconvenience the public; but he had never known a Secretary of State who was likely to disregard the convenience of the public. The provisions of the Bill, by requiring the Order of the Secretary of State to be laid before Parliament before it could be enforced, afforded an efficient guarantee against an abuse of the power by that Minister. He declined to accept the dictum of the noble Earl, that requirements under this section should be regulated by the extent of the area of the county. The case of the gaol of the county of Rutland, where a few prisoners were maintained at an expense of £117 per head per annum, was an instance showing the necessity for abolishing prisons of that class. The noble Earl had drawn a harrowing picture of the untried prisoner being unable to communicate with his friends and his legal advisers; but he must submit that such inconvenience must necessarily be occasionally endured, because it would be impossible to keep up gaols in all parts of a large county like Lincolnshire in order to the convenience of untried prisoners. The Bill contained provisions that mitigated the hardship upon the prisoners who were to be removed out of their own counties, and to enable the Visiting Justices of their district to have access to them at all times.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 34 (Effect of discontinuance of prison), agreed to.

Clauses 35 and 36 (Status of prison officers), agreed to.

On Clause 35,


said, it enabled the Secretary of State to take over the present officials of prisons, who at present were local officers, and to redistribute them as he might think proper, for the performance of the same or analogous duties. It was feared by many that great hardships would be caused to them if they were moved from place to place. He hoped that some assurance would be given that all the circumstance of these officials would be fully considered.


promised that great care should be taken in carrying out the provisions of this clause so that no injustice should be done to the present officials.

Clauses 37 to 54 (As to miscellaneous matters), agreed to.

Clause 55 (Arrangement and arbitration), agreed to.

Clauses 56to 61 (Definitions),agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Bill reported, without Amendment; and to be read 3ª on Monday next.

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