HL Deb 11 May 1896 vol 40 cc991-2

Where a young person convicted before a court of quarter sessions or by a court of summary jurisdiction is a male, and in the opinion of the court under the age of fourteen years, the court, if they think it expedient so to do, may, in substitution for any other punishment, adjudge such young person to be privately whipped, and thereupon such young person shall be whipped with such number of strokes of a birch rod, not being more than twelve, as shall be adjudged, such whipping to be inflicted by a constable in the presence of an inspector or other officer of police of higher rank than a constable, and also in the presence, if he desires to be present, of the parent or guardian of such young person.

LORD NORTON moved to omit "fourteen years," and to insert instead thereof in each place the words "sixteen years." His Lordship said that his object was to make the law consistent on this subject, and in the Criminal Consolidation Act of 1861, 16 was the age up to which boys might be corporally punished. He was quite sure that it would be a great advantage to keep boys up to the age of 16 who were guilty of such offences as larceny, malicious injury, and a great number of other offences specified in the Criminal Consolidation Act, out of prison, and to give them a punishment which would be short, sharp, and efficient. Imprisonment had been proved to be a very inefficient punishment for a certain class of offenders, and there was not a prison in which many of the prisoners had not been re-committed several times. In the case of boys, especially those not committed of grave offences, it was most important to give them summary punishments which would, if possible, prevent the commencement of a criminal life, and keep them from the corrupting influences of a common prison.


said, he was not able to accept the Amendment of the noble Lord. If the question were simply one of general application to the criminal law, there might be a good deal to say in regard to the matter. The Bill, however, had certain distinct provisions which were applicable only to very young persons, to question which would be very inappropriate.

Amendment negatived; Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.