HL Deb 15 August 1901 vol 99 cc884-5


Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this Bill was introduced in your Lordships' House last session, and passed through every stage, but on its reaching the House of Commons there was such opposition to one clause that the Government felt constrained to withdraw the Bill. That clause was what was termed the "whipping clause." Throughout the whole of my parliamentary life I have been an opponent of flogging as a punishment. I believe it amounts to torture, and has no good effect in the end, and I was therefore very much annoyed to find the Bill treated as a flogging Bill. Nothing was further from my mind. The object of the Bill was to prevent young children being sent to prison, and it was thought that in default of a fine being paid the child should not be sent to prison but should be whipped with a birch rod. Last year the number of children who were sent to prison was 1,200. The object of this Bill, amongst others, is to lessen this number, and prevent young children from being contaminated by prison life. Under the Bill a court of sum nary jurisdiction, on remanding or committing for trial any child or young person, may, instead of committing him to prison, remand or commit him into the custody of any fit person named in the commitment who is willing to receive him, to be detained in that custody for the period for which he has been remanded, or until he is thence delivered by due course of law. The Bill also provides that where a child or young person is charged with any offence for the commission of which a fine, damages, or costs may be imposed upon him, and there is reason to believe that his parent or guardian has conduced to the commission of the alleged offence by wilful default or by habitually neglecting to exercise due care of him, the court may, on information, issue a summons against the parent or guardian of the child or young person charging him with so contributing to the commission of the offence, and when, after the hearing of the case, any fine, damages, or costs are imposed upon the child or young person, and the court is satisfied that his parent or guardian has conduced to the commission of the offence by wilful default, the court may order that the fine, etc., shall be paid by the parent or guardian. These provisions have already received the sanction of the House, and I trust there will be no objection to the Second Reading.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a—(Lord James of Hereford.)

On Question, agreed to. Bill read 2a accordingly, and (Standing Orders Nos. XXXIX. and XLV. having been suspended) committed to a Committee of the Whole House forthwith; Amendments made; Amendments reported; Bill read 3a, with the Amendments, and passed, and returned to the Commons.