HL Deb 28 November 1912 vol 12 cc1181-222


Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, the Bill the Second Reading of which I now rise to move presents unusual features. The measure is not the work of any Party caucus or political organisation. It represents the views of no single political Party. It is a Bill brought forward with the general assent of all right-minded persons, because it stands for the heightened sense which the community has of a great evil which obtains among its people. The traffic in young girls is a traffic attended with the most disastrous consequences to the State. The girl who enters on a career of vice can look forward in four cases out of five, in nine cases out of ten only to an end to which an early death were preferable; and when that disastrous result is brought about by organised means, it is the high interest of the community to take such steps as may make those organised means cease to exist.

This Bill has, I think, special interest for this House, because the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885, which it seeks to amend, is an Act which owed its genesis and much of its vitality to what took place in this House. In the year 1882 a remarkable Select Committee sat to inquire into this very subject. It was presided over by Lord Cairns. There sat upon it Lord Salisbury, Lord Shaftesbury, Lord Penzance, Lord Bramwell, the Bishop of London, and other distinguished men, and a Report was made which presented a strong case for the amendment of the law. The subject was in those days regarded as even a more difficult one than it would be regarded now. Into all such questions considerations of personal liberty and the possibility of mistake in the application of justice must inevitably come; and these considerations weighed with the public, I think, even more in those days than they do now, when we have more confidence in our methods and in the unlikelihood of error. At all events for three years the Report of that Select Committee was not acted on, and then in 1885 there was introduced into this House by Lord Dalhousie a Bill which afterwards became the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885. That Bill was begun by a Liberal Government, but the Government went out of office in the summer, and it illustrates what I was saying before, how this subject has become wholly dissociated from political controversy, that the Bill was at once taken up by the Conservative Government which afterwards came into office and passed into law.

This Bill seeks to amend the Act of 1885, and it would probably be for your Lordships' convenience that I should first of all call attention to what the general provisions of the Act of 1885 are, because without some conception of them it is impossible to follow the amendments which the new Bill proposes to effect. This Bill, which received a great impetus from the agitation carried on in the country by the late Mr. Stead—a man to whom, whatever one may say of some of his energetic methods, it is true that the public owes a great deal for what he did in giving an impetus to good causes—may be said in general to do this. It is a Bill directed against procuration, and it contains clauses making procuration a much inure serious and defined offence than it was before and imposing a heavy penalty upon it. A person so convicted is made guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable to imprisonment not exceeding two years with or without hard labour. There are other provisions in the Bill relating to cognate topics, but that is the one with which I am concerned at the present moment. The remarkable feature is that notwithstanding the increased stringency of the law the offence of procuration has become more serious than it ever was before. I think that is partly due to the fact that it is recognised among that section of the criminal class which is of a calculating disposition and takes pains to see what may be made out of a system of this kind that the system is a very lucrative one to those who pursue it successfully. There is no doubt that a great deal of money is made by procuration, and that, if the criminal can escape, it is for a tune at all events a lucrative trade for him to pursue. The result has been that a number of men and women have pursued this trade and taken the risk of conviction, with the knowledge that, after all, the sentence would probably be something considerably less than the two years mentioned in the Bill, and that afterwards they could resume their work.

What is the class of person with whom you have to deal? These are not crimes committed from impulses of passion. They are the work of cold, deliberate, and callous natures, and it is only by sanctions which can be applied to persons of those natures with effect that you can put down the crimes which they commit. Consequently in the foreground of the Bill now before the House there is an attempt to strengthen materially and to sharpen the instrument of punishment. That is done in two ways. The first is by enabling in the case of male prisoners corporal punishment to be administered, and the second by giving a power of summary arrest, which does not now exist—at all events it is very doubtful whether or not it exists at the present time. Those are the two great features of the change in the law which it is sought to make. There are other features in the Bill to which I will come presently. But I wish to point out, in the first place, the relation of this Bill to the Act of 1885. The offence of procurement is defined by the Act of 1885. The present Bill is a police measure dealing with the punishment of that offence, with power to arrest persons suspected of committing it. There are other provisions in the Bill on which I shall have a word to say presently. There are provisions for the suppression of brothels, and there are provisions for dealing with people who commit offences which are cognate to the main offences with which the Bill deals, notably the offence of those who live on the wages of prostitution, and who vary from the violent bully to the woman who practically commits an offence just as bad because she sends the girl out on to the street and lives by her earnings.

Having sketched the Bill, the clauses of which I will come to presently, I wish to say a word on the two great controversial points which arise. I will deal first with corporal punishment. Of course, it is not suggested in this Bill that corporal punishment should be applied to women. We have sought to strengthen the law as regards women in other respects; but it would, I think, be repugnant to the sense of the community if we tried to apply corporal punishment to women. But we see no reason why corporal punishment should not be applied to male offenders. I have read in the newspapers a great deal of almost passionate invective against the proposal in this Bill to resort to corporal punishment at all. It is said that it is a retrograde step, and that we ought not in the year of grace 1912 to be talking of it. I am as much against corporal punishment as most people. When I was Secretary of State for War I was instrumental in abolishing it from the Army, and I think the Army is a much better Army because there is not the stigma of that possibility hanging over the heads of those who join. It has now been abolished in the Navy, and we are eliminating it for every offence of an ordinary kind. But for some offences it is necessary to keep it. Occasionally in our prisons a brutal assault is committed upon a warder by a brute who can be constrained by no other means than fear. No amount of kind treatment has any effect upon a man with the record which most possess who commit those assaults. Under very carefully defined conditions and under the supervision of the justices these convicts are flogged, and without the power of flogging the lives of the warders in many cases would be in a position of great danger. It is a power which we must use sparingly, but which we ought to keep. Then there are cases of robbery with violence. There is a great controversy as to how far corporal punishment is effective in putting down garrotting, but I do not find any large party who say that the offence of garrotting is not one which is properly met by corporal punishment as a deterrent. There are at the present time other cases in which whipping is recognised as part of the law. It is applied, as we know, in the case of male procurers who are taken up as incorrigible rogues and convicted as such and sentenced to be whipped. I mention this for the purpose of pointing out that corporal punishment is no new thing in our low, and though it has been reduced with[...] very narrow compass, still there remains a general sense that corporal punishment is not a thing of which we ought to get rid.

*** If that be so, then the question is whether the offence with which we are dealing, that of the male procurer, ought to be brought within its scope. The male procurer is a callous, cool, deliberate person. His crime is not a crime of passion, it is not a crime from which you can deter a man who is prepared to take the risk of imprisonment because of the large gain which he thinks he is making. He is a man so lost in moral sense that he does not mind condemning the girls who are his victims to a life worse than death in order to make money out of them. We think that in the case of a man of that kind, who is not bold, who is not brave, who is probably extremely sensitive to the fear of personal indignity and of suffering, the punishment is one which is calculated to act as a deterrent, and we think that it is a punishment which may be properly inflicted upon a rascal so bad that there is no hope, or almost no hope, of reclaiming him. Therefore we consider that the punishment which is administered with the birch and the cat is a punishment which is as much justified in such a case as in the case of a convict who commits a brutal assault on a prison warder. That was the general view taken in the other House.

But there has arisen in connection with this a point about which there is more difficulty. It has been said that corporal punishment ought only to be administered for a second offence, and the main reason for saying that is the fear lest somebody should be improperly convicted a first time and unjustly punished in this fashion. On the other hand, the contrary view is that unless you preserve corporal punishment for a first offence you will not get that deterrent against the business of procuration which you desire to secure. Some Members in the other House took one view and some the other, and the result was that by a very narrow majority, the infliction of this punishment in a first offence having been stopped, was put back. By an Amendment carried only by four votes the House of Commons decided that corporal punishment might be inflicted for a first offence. Obviously in that state of things there is a great balance of opinion; and just because this is not a Party Bill but a Bill in which [...]lament and all its members are co-operating, to whatever Party they belong, the Government took the line—I think one which will commend itself to your Lordships—of leaving a certain number of these questions open questions. No Party Whips were used in respect of them. As regards corporal punishment for a first offence some of my colleagues took one view and some the other. We propose to leave that and other questions open questions here for your Lordships as a whole to decide, and all that it is necessary for anybody speaking on the subject to do is, I think, to indicate his own view, carefully prefacing what he says with the statement that he speaks only for himself.

In this matter you have to balance the advantages and disadvantages judged from the public interest, and I think from the point of view of the public interest it is to the advantage of the State that corporal punishment should be capable of being administered for a first offence. I am speaking for myself individually and not for my colleagues. But we have thought it right to put down an Amendment which stands in my name—I am not bound to that Amendment individually—which raises the point so that your Lordships can express your opinion upon it. Of course, it may be said that there is a risk in the case of a first offence of a mistake being made, but when you come to look into the matter I do not think that is a real risk. To begin with, the defendant cannot be tried and sentenced by a magistrate to this punishment. It must be after conviction by a jury or by a Court of Quarter Sessions, and my noble and learned friend the Lord Chief Justice, who has had great experience in this matter, assures me that under the provisions of the Bill there is no risk of the punishment being inflicted by an incompetent tribunal. In the second place, no Court will administer the punishment of whipping or flogging except upon a very clear case, and I do not think the risk of the first offender suffering is one with which we need trouble ourselves. On the other hand, the police inform me that in a case of this kind second convictions are very rare, and therefore if you want to prevent the great mass of cases which arise in connection with this subject it is the first offence you have to deter. With a punishment of this kind it is believed that there will be very little of this trade left to go on in the future.

So much for the first controversial point in the Bill. I now come to the second—namely, the power of summary arrest. I am informed of cases in which a man, seen and suspected on board a steamer at a port whence he was sailing for foreign parts accompanied by one or more of these girls of whom he was taking charge, has been believed with excellent reason by the police authorities to be about to take these girls to foreign parts as a procurer, and yet there was no power to arrest him summarily, for before the proper information could be sworn and a warrant obtained the man is off with his victims. It is undesirable that the law should remain in that position. There are many of these cases which you can only get at effectively if you possess the power of summary arrest, and therefore there is a strong feeling that the power of summary arrest should be in the Bill. The power of summary arrest is not as uncommon a power as people suppose. The Metropolitan Police possess it under the Metropolitan Police Act for a considerable list of offences, and it is also possessed by the rest of the Police Force of this country for many offences, and I see no reason why it should not exist for this particular class of offence with which we are now concerned.

Then it is said that this power of summary arrest ought to be exercised only by specially detailed Police officers of the rank of sergeant. That sounds very well, but when an Amendment was temporarily accepted in the other House to that effect, what was overlooked was that in the provinces it is not possible to detail constables of the rank of sergeant who are capable of being effectively at work. What you could do in London you could not do there. The result was that by very general assent the power of summary arrest was given to the Police. After all our Police generally are a pretty careful body, and, although miscarriages do at times occur, a mistaken arrest occasionally cannot weigh for a moment against the enormous advantage which it will be if the person who is practising this crime can be taken in the very act and prevented from proceeding further and brought to summary justice. I have spoken of these two controversial points, and now I wish to call your Lordships' attention, very briefly, to what is in the Bill. There are six effective clauses. The first clause is that giving power to arrest without warrant persons offending against the Act of 1885, which deals with the offence of procuration.


Section 2 of that Act.


Yes, Section 2, which deals with the offence of procuration. Procuration is defined in Section 2 of the Act of 1885 thus— Any person who—

  1. "(1) procures or attempts to procure any girl or woman under 21 years of age, not being a common prostitute or of known immoral character, to have unlawful carnal connexion, either within or without the Queen's Dominions, with any other person or persons; or
  2. "(2) procures or attempts to procure any woman or girl to become, either within or without the Queen's Dominions, a common prostitute; or
  3. "(3) procures or attempts to procure any woman or girl to leave the United Kingdom with intent that she may become an inmate of a brothel elsewhere; or
  4. "(4) procures or attempts to procure any woman or girl to leave her usual place of abode in the United Kingdom (such place not being a brothel) with intent that she may for the purpose of prostitution become an inmate of a brothel within or without the Queen's Dominions
shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and being convicted thereof shall be liable at the discretion of the Court to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two years with or without hard labour. That section, which on the whole has worked well, is not altogether free from defects. The Bill, dealing with it, first of all gives power to take into custody without warrant any person whom the constable shall have good cause to suspect is committing or attempting to commit an offence of this kind. The second clause enables the Court, in addition to any term of imprisonment awarded, to sentence the prisoner to be once privately whipped, and the number of strokes and the instrument with which they shall be inflicted shall be specified by the Court in the sentence. The third clause amends the other section of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1885, which relates to brothels, by inserting after the word "occupier" the words "person in charge." The reason for that is that the occupier is often a person very difficult to get at, and the words "person in charge" are inserted with a view to getting at the person—it may be the manager, it may be the head waiter—who is in practical control of the establishment, whatever it may be, and who is the real person who is supervising the conduct of the brothel. Then there is in that clause a provision as to penalties, with which I need not trouble your Lordships at this stage.

The fourth clause is an important one. There is no doubt, I am afraid, that there are a certain number of owners of property in great cities, and London is by no means an exception, who let their houses carelessly, to put it lightly, knowing that they will get an increased rent if they do not inquire too closely how the premises will be used. Of course, we do not want to put anybody who tries to get proper tenants and to do his duty in an unpleasant and false position. What we want to get at is the landlord who lets his premises with a knowledge, or under circumstances which ought to give him that knowledge, that the premises will be used as a brothel. Consequently it is said that on the conviction of the occupier the landlord should be entitled to determine the lease. If he does not put an end to the lease but allows the lease to go on without taking steps to prevent the offence being continued, and it goes on, he is to be taken to have abetted the commission of the offence and is to be liable to penalties accordingly. I think that is a necessary provision having regard to what the Police inform us goes on in London and large cities, and I do not think it is a provision which puts in jeopardy anybody who takes even the most ordinary care of his property. It applies only after there has been a conviction for using the place as a brothel, and the landlord is given the power of putting an end to the tenancy, and if he does not do so and allows things to go on and knowingly permits the old state of things to continue I think it is quite reasonable that he should be taken to be cognisant of the offence that is going on there and made responsible accordingly.

The only other clause to which I need call attention is Clause 6, which deals with the Vagrancy Act, 1898, and the Immoral Traffic (Scotland) Act, 1902. Those are Acts which deal with persons who knowingly live wholly on the earnings by prostitution of some other persons. The words are defective because they do not cover the case of persons who live in part on the earnings of prostitution, and they are still more defective because they apply only to male persons. The purpose of this clause is to make sure that, first of all, everybody who lives wholly or in part on the earnings of the prostitution of another person shall be deemed to commit an offence; and, secondly, to make sure that women, who are just as bad offenders as men, should come within the meshes of the law just as much as men. I repeat that there is no question of administering, flogging to women. To get these things right involves an Amendment in the Bill as it comes to this House, and that Amendment we propose to make. The effect of it would be that the law will be strengthened not only as regards those persons but as regards those who frequent the streets inciting to the commission of unnatural vice, of whom I am sorry to say there are a great many still in great towns. It is proposed to strengthen the law and the punishment with regard to these persons.

I have told your Lordships the scheme of the Bill and its contents, and the reasons why it has been drafted in its present form. This Bill owes its origin not to any one Party. It was brought in this year by Mr. Arthur Lee, a member of the Opposition, and it was only when it was felt that it needed a helping hand that the Government came upon the scene and put Government time and Government machinery at his disposal. His Bill was the same as the Bill introduced in a previous session by another Unionist Member, and it is a Bill which represents the views of Members on the other side who have introduced measures for the same purpose. The Bill is the outcome of negotiations which have taken place between the societies for the suppression of these evils and the Home Office, and the laudable efforts of Mr. Lee and those who are working with him meet with the complete approval of the Government, who have taken up the Bill and propose to give it every assistance they can. That is why we have assumed direct and immediate responsibility for it in this House. But the fact remains that it is not a Party measure, and therefore we do not propose to treat the Amendments as Party Amendments. We propose to ask the House to decide on what is a matter for the House as a whole and not for any particular Party in it. I therefore propose to put down the Amendments not before Monday so as to allow time for those who have views on the subject of what the Amendments ought to be or how far they ought to go to state those views.

We want as little controversy as possible if this Bill should be fortunate enough to pass your Lordships' House and go back to another place. Still, Amendments will be necessary in Clause 6—otherwise women will escape altogether; and there are certain pledges which were given in the House of Commons to put the drafting into better shape which ought to be, if possible, carried out. I am not afraid of putting this Bill into proper shape. I do not believe when its provisions are understood that it will give rise anywhere to much controversy. The Amendments will be put down and your Lordships will have adequate time to consider them, and then I hope that if this Bill is so fortunate as to secure a Second Reading we shall be in a position to part with it after having made it as good and effective a measure as the magnitude of the evil which it is designed to redress requires. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Lord Chancellor.)


My Lords, your Lordships have listened to a speech from the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, a speech of characteristic weight and lucidity, upon a very grave subject. I have satisfaction, and I am sure your Lordships have satisfaction, in knowing that there is no indication of any attempt in this House to deny a Second Reading to this measure. Had it been otherwise I am quite sure that an effort would have been made on every side to render the defeat of the Bill impossible. I can speak at all events for those who sit ordinarily on the Episcopal Bench. Bishops, in the matter of Parliamentary procedure, are at a grave disadvantage as compared with many of your Lordships. Their daily duties far away from London are so onerous, and engagements have to be made so long beforehand that on this occasion, for example, Bishop after Bishop has told me that he had arranged to be here last night when this Bill was down for Second Reading but that it was simply impossible to alter his arrangements at a few hours' notice to be here to-day. That explains the absence this evening of many Bishops, though there would certainly have been more present if there had been any risk of opposition to the Second Reading of this Bill.

The Lord Chancellor has given reasons why this Bill is necessary and has touched upon the horrors of a great wrong. It is a strange, I think a terrible thing, that in the year 1912 such a Bill as this should be needed at all. I sometimes wonder what those looking at the history of our time fifty years hence, or 100 years hence, will say or think about the records which have sprung to light as to the evils which we are now endeavouring by this Bill in some measure to counteract or prevent. I hope that by that time such things will have come to seem almost unbelievable. I believe that if we now were reading the records of these matters and found that what we were learning about was what had happened, say, in the days of Charles II, we should have said that it was an additional example of how moral bonds and the bonds of even decency had been relaxed at that time in a way which seemed almost incredible now. Yet these are the facts about what is happening in England to-day. Whatever else can be urged on this matter, I am quite certain that no man who has honestly and carefully studied the subject will deny the existence of the wrongs which this Bill sets itself to mend. It is quite possible that there may have been exaggeration on the part of individual speakers as regards either the extent of the evil or some particular instance connected with it. Is it any wonder that it should be so when we think of the spirit that is aroused in those who take this matter in hand? There is aroused an indignation against the wrong itself and against our impotence in dealing with it.

But after you have made any allowance you will for occasional exaggeration in this matter, I say deliberately, as one who has steadily studied this subject, that no man who will give that attention to it, if he looks at the matter quietly, impartially, and thoroughly, can deny the facts which have been brought to light, not on the evidence of enthusiastic workers only, but on the calmer evidence of Police authorities, of the Consuls at the ports abroad and at home, of the managers and leaders of railway and steamboat communication, and of other people who have no enthusiasms on the subject, but whose blood has been stirred by the sights they have seen or the records which they have been obliged to investigate. It is absolutely beyond doubt that at this present time there exists in England as well as elsewhere a systematic and organised system of abducting or procuring girls, not necessarily by force—though sometimes I am not prepared to deny that there is even that—but by lying representations and false inducements, to enter in some great city a life to which, as the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack said, an early death would be ten times preferable. I believe that every member of this House agrees that scoundrels of that sort are so intolerable a pest on society that no effort should be spared, no weapon should be lacking, no machinery should be idle which is capable of punishing them, of thwarting their villainy, and, as a detriment to others, of punishing them as they deserve. If we can in any way bring it about by what we are now doing, this thing, for which "devilish" is not too strong a word, has got to be stopped. Therefore we want this Bill.

The Bill has had a not altogether peaceful or easy course in another place. I confess that I listened to-night with a certain tremor of apprehension to what the Lord Chancellor told us as to the Amendments which it might be necessary for him to move in the matter. Roughly drafted, ineffective in some portion of some of its clauses the words may be, but I would sooner have the Bill as it is with all its faults than run any risk of losing it. Therefore if there be the smallest peril of that, I would rather that we did not pass any Amendments but take the Bill as it is. However, if Amendments proceed from the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack I presume we may take it to mean this, that if such Amendments are introduced into the Bill in this House the Government will hold themselves enduringly responsible for seeing that it passes through the other House not weakened in any measure or degree by discussions which may be caused by any of those Amendments.

I think some confusion in this matter has arisen from a notion that those who promote this measure are trying somehow or other to, if we may use the phrase, cover the whole ground and deal with or redress the vice of immorality generally. As the Lord Chancellor has shown, there is no such idea or purpose in this Bill. Some of us are day by day engaged in that campaign, but it is by other methods than Acts of Parliament. We are fighting that hideous wrong by endeavouring to raise the standard of honour, by appealing to the chivalry of manhood, by denouncing the cowardly cruelty of this vice in all its forms, and in another way—and the point is of real importance—by seeking so to raise the standard of women's wage as to check one portion of this evil at its source. We apply to these efforts the highest and the most sacred sanctions that be know. Our efforts are miserably ineffective, and the fault is doubtless in large measure our own; but those efforts, my Lords, are quite different from these. We are here trying to deal by legisiative enactment with a specific crime which we endeavour to meet by specific means. These means, as I understand, and as I think the Lord Chancellor has pointed out, are two-fold. In the first place, it is certain that the Police and well-disposed officers of our travelling agencies to whom I have referred, sometimes even magistrates themselves, have to look on almost helplessly, perhaps quite helplessly, at this organised wrong because of the limited means we at present possess of investigation or of arrest, and this in a matter where the very nature of the crime renders prompt action the only possible means of stopping it.

It would be quite easy to harrow your Lordships with details of indisputable facts such as those to which the Lord Chancellor just alluded, but I deliberately abstain. It is not needed. I believe your Lordships will be unanimously of opinion that the Police must have increased powers of speedy arrest in these matters. Then, my Lords, some parts of the wrong in its initial stage are undoubtedly facilitated by encumbrances and difficulties which surround questions of the control and ownership of the premises which are used. That is a question of supreme difficulty if we are to make sure, as we ought to try to make sure, that the penalty shall fall on the right and not on the wrong shoulders. But this Bill does make some such endeavour, and we hope it may have the result we desire.

Then the second object of the Bill is to increase the punishment of those who have been found thus vilely guilty. A fine is inoperative. The Lord Chancellor has told your Lordships that the gain is too great, the risk is one easily worth running, and the fine is a comparatively small matter. Even short imprisonment is, from the point of view of these wretched men and women, well worth risking considering the profits that are to be made; and so we want power to increase the punishment, to increase the imprisonment, and in extreme cases to use on these degraded and degrading villains the only argument which will really tell with them—the lash. We want to do that, my Lords, not as an act of vindictive kind but as a deterrent to others who may be tempted to a like offence. The thing is not to work automatically, and a man is not ipso facto on conviction to be condemned to the lash. We leave the power with the Judge, and we believe that the power would only be exercised in cases where the wrong was of so terrible a sort that there could be no question as to that being the right mode of deterring other offenders from the like.

There are, I venture to believe—I speak in the presence of noble and learned Lords, or one at least familiar with this subject—cases which, if your Lordships had the painful experience of going through them in detail, you would find to be so horrible in their character that you would not shrink for a moment in feeling that this is the only mode with which they can be properly dealt. I certainly am no supporter of extreme punishments as a part of our ordinary system in the prevention of crime and the remedy of wrong doing. I have rejoiced to take part in measures of prison and other reform which are all tending in the opposite direction. I want our punishments to be ameliorative as well as punitive. But we have here a specific form of the vilest kind of evil, not the evil to which a poor man may be tempted for lack of means, sheer poverty, which drives him into crime, not a thing which is done in a moment of passion for which a man may be sorry the moment it is over, but something which is deliberate and cunning and absolutely heartless, and I at least feel, without the least hesitation, that a man who enters through callous greed into a cursed villainy of this kind ought to be treated in a manner which alone we feel quite certain will have the sort of deterrent effect that we desire.

I have heard in the discussions that have taken place about this a good deal of doubt thrown in some quarters upon the actual deterrent effect of the use of the lash. I should like to read to your Lordships—I could give many examples—a portion of a letter from a man of wide knowledge both as a parish priest and as a prison chaplain. He happens at present to combine the two functions in a large town. You will notice that his letter refers to the deterrent effect, not as regards the white slave traffic, but the kindred form of evil which is more common in some of our great cities. He says— We have had some experience of the value of flogging. There is little of the white slave traffic, but there are many brothels. Three years ago many of these were kept in the lower parts of the town by bullies. There were fifteen men in prison at the same time for living on the proceeds of the earnings of prostitutes; imprisonment had no effect. About three years ago the Recorder used the power he had under the Vagrancy Act and ordered three men to be birched as incorrigible rogues. The sensation this caused was very great; many of the bullies left the town at once, others broke up their brothels and looked for work. Consternation is hardly a strong enough word to describe the effect this sentence had among the men engaged in this trade. Some tell me that there are now practically no bullies in the town. I think that this is an over-statement, but there is no doubt that the improvement is very great. Two cases of the effect of the mere threat of whipping came directly under my notice through visiting the prison as chaplain. In one case the man was remanded for living on the proceeds. He was a hardened scoundrel, and told me he didn't care what his imprisonment was. I was thoroughly angry with the man, and told him he might be birched. I have rarely seen a man change his behaviour so suddenly. He turned white and said, 'My God, you don't think they will do that to me?' It reads rather dramatic, but the incident is quite true. The other instance was of a man at the end of a term of imprisonment for the same offence. He told me he was going to give up the old life and leave the town—'It isn't worth it now they have started flogging,' or some such words. These men are, of course, of a rougher type than the ordinary white slave trafficker, but probably not so devilish. I could easily multiply that kind of evidence but I do not think it is wanted, because I venture to believe your Lordships will think that the use of that form of punishment is justifiable and more than justifiable if we are to deter men from evils of this coarse and brutal kind. The purpose of our Bill is to catch these scoundrels and to give power so to punish them as to act as a deterrent to others.

What are the objections that have been raised to it either in Parliament or outside? Some of you have heard the expression used that this is sentimental legislation. I can only believe, I rather say I only hope, that the man or woman who uses that phrase has not closely studied the facts, so utterly inapplicable is it to what we are endeavouring to do by a practical measure for dealing specifically with a specific wrong. What is much more common is to hear it said, with regard to flogging at all events, Do take care; an innocent man might be convicted. I speak in the presence of those who are far better able to judge as to the degree of probability of such a thing. I should imagine with regard to this kind of offence that it was improbable in the very highest degree; but about that others know more than I. But grant that it is conceivable that Once in a generation some man who was innocent might be mistakenly accused, might be mistakenly arrested, might be mistakenly convicted, what are you to argue? How does it run on? For fear that that might happen let this cursed thing go on? Is that the argument? Is it, Give no increased power, let these innocent girls run that awful risk, if need be, but preserve us men at any rate from a conceivable danger that some innocent man might some day be arrested. I am prepared to go without hesitation as far as to say that even if the risk were greater than I believe it to be—for I imagine it is quite infinitesimal—that kind of argument is unworthy of our manhood, and that if there be a conceivable risk, In Heaven's name let us run it. I trust we shall hear no more of the argument that because such a thing is just conceivable therefore we are helpless to move in the direction that we want. The evil is there, it is certain, it is specific. We know now how, in some measure at least—we know it by the testimony of all those who understand the subject best—we could meet it, and it is our clear duty, I venture to say it is our solemn and sacred duty, to use that power to the uttermost.


My Lords, the Bill which we are discussing this afternoon is one on which I hope we are all agreed, and therefore it is not necessary to say very much about it. I do, however, want in a very few words to express my deep gratitude to His Majesty's Government for having at last taken up this question. The changes in the law which the Bill will bring about have been urgently demanded for a great many years by those who are concerned in trying to remove the blackest stain from the history of civilisation. Of all the evils which attach to civilised society the most detestable in its character and the most pitiable in its consequences is that which is known as the white slave traffic, and I agree with the most rev. Primate who has just spoken that it is almost inconceivable that this particular trade should be as prevalent as we know it to be at the present time—inconceivable, too, because, in regard to its worst features at all events, it is pre- ventable, is removable, if only sufficient powers existed in the hands of those who are engaged in suppressing it. Hitherto those powers have been insufficient, and this Bill is required in order to place increased power in the hands of the Police who have to deal with the evil. It has been demanded a great many times. On a number of occasions this Bill has been brought up in the House of Commons and failed to get beyond the First Reading stage, and it is only because the agitation in the country this year became so strong that the Government at last felt it their duty to take up the question, and in doing so they have earned the gratitude of all those who realise the gravity of the evil with which they are seeking to deal.

I said just now that the worst features of this particular traffic were removable. Lest there should be any misapprehension on the subject may I say one word as to what this Bill does and what it does not do. Immorality is not a crime in the eyes of the law, prostitution is not a crime in the eyes of the law, and this Bill does not seek to suppress either the one or the other. It makes no new offences, it establishes no new principle of law. It merely seeks to amend in certain respects the law as it exists to-day. There are three things which are crimes at Jaw with which the law to-day endeavours to deal, and it is only in respect of those three things that this Bill deals. The first of these is the procuring by deceit and false pretences and against their will of innocent girls for the purpose of immorality. The second is the crime of living on the earnings of prostitution. With the immoral man and the immoral woman the law is not concerned. But with the procurer, the kidnapper, the souteneur, the trafficker in human life, the person, man or woman, who fattens on the proceeds and earnings of another's degradation—with those persons the law fortunately is concerned. Those persons are the lowest, meanest, the most cold-blooded class amongst the criminals in any country. They ought to be exterminated, and it is with the object of exterminating them that this Bill has been introduced, and if any one says such persons and such crimes are necessary to society or cannot be suppressed by law I say the person who will say that does not deserve to exercise the rights of citizenship in a Christian civilised State.

Clauses 1 and 6 are the clauses of this Bill which deal with these two classes, and it is not necessary to add anything to what has been said about them. Hitherto the law has been inadequate in this respect, that although the nature of these offences is known to the Police, although pitiable stories and hundreds of pitiable cases of kidnapping are brought to their knowledge, and although men and women who are permanently engaged in this odious trade are known to them personally, they are at the present moment powerless to deal effectively with the evil. As has already been pointed out they cannot arrest without a warrant, and by the time the warrant is obtained it is already too late; the traffickers with their victims have passed out of the country, and the former are already beyond the reach of punishment, the latter beyond the reach of redemption. Clause 1 of this Bill gives this power of summary arrest on suspicion that an offence is about to be committed.

The noble and learned Viscount who introduced the Bill spoke of this power of summary arrest as a matter of controversy. It is strange that it should be so. But as it is a matter of controversy it is necessary to repeat again that this power already exists with regard to a number of offences which, in comparison with what we are dealing with under this Bill, are comparatively trivial and insignificant. It exists, for instance, in cases of pocket-picking, petty larceny, and poaching. I ask if it be right to arrest a person who is suspected to be about to steal a purse or pick a pocket, how can it be denied that it is right to arrest a person who is suspected to be about to steal a woman? If it is right in such trivial cases as those of persons loitering about a wood in search of game it should surely apply to persons loitering about a railway station, or a quay, or a harbour, in search of their human quarry. Inasmuch as these powers exist to-day in respect of quite trivial matters it is strange that it should be a subject of controversy that they should be extended to deal with this appalling evil.

The third offence with which the law deals to-day and which this Bill seeks to amend is the crime of keeping brothels or disorderly houses. This particular offence is one which arouses very different feelings from those as to which I have hitherto spoken; but since it is a crime at law, since the law does seek to deal with it, I claim that the law should be made effective, because if the law is not effective for the purpose for which it is passed it ought to be amended or removed from the Statute-book. In this particular case the law is not effective to-day, and I would quote to your Lordships one instance of the insufficiency of the law in its application to this particular offence. A man was arrested, tried, convicted, and imprisoned for the offence of keeping a brothel. The trade was a lucrative trade to him; he could not afford to forego the proceeds of it even while he was in prison, and he therefore employed another person to take charge of this lucrative business of his while he was in prison. The man so employed carried it on for his friend who was serving a term of imprisonment for this particular offence, and when that man came out of prison he said to the Police, "You have taught me something I did not know before"; and as a result of this experience he immediately opened two other large establishments in the neighbourhood and placed two persons in charge of them to carry them on just as his old business had been carried on while he was in prison. Therefore I say the law is not effective to-day for dealing with this particular offence, and it is the object of Clause 3 of this Bill to make the provision in the Act of 1885 effective by adding the words "or person in charge" to those already recognised by the law—namely, the proprietors, lessees, and managers.

In conclusion I want to say a word about Clause 2, which deals with the penalties for procurers. I say it not because I want to add anything to what has been said by the two previous speakers, but because on this question I disagree with them. But even if I thought myself in a minority of one in this House I still feel bound to say that I regret the introduction of the penalty of flogging into this Bill. I say so not—I am sure it will be believed—out of any sympathy for the offenders to whom it is to be applied, because if flogging is a legitimate and desirable form of punishment then there is no class to whom it could be more properly applied and no class which is more richly deserving of the punishment than the cruel and mean wretches who drive women into a life of prostitution and live upon their earnings. I deplore it because I do not think it is in itself a desirable form of punishment, and in defence of my view I will only use one argument. The noble and learned Viscount who introduced the Bill said, and said rightly, that the public sense of the community would not stand the application of this punishment to women. Well, my Lords, if it is justified on the ground of the enormity of the offence or on the ground of its effectiveness as a deterrent, every argument so justifying it would justify its infliction in the case of women. I myself feel that a woman who procures another of her sex and brings her into this life is even more detestable than a man who does a similar thing, because she, at least, ought to have some knowledge of the consequences upon her sex. Therefore I say that every argument which would justify flogging in the case of a man would justify it in the case of a woman, and, equally so, every argument which would justify it on the grounds of its deterrent effect m the case of a man would justify it in the case of a woman. I hold that every reason which has been brought forward to forbid its application in the case of a woman ought also to forbid its application in the case of a man. I am quite aware that in saying this I may be accused of maudling sentimentality—not in this House, because none of your Lordships would apply those particular words, but these have been the epithets applied to those who hold the views which I hold. But in my case it is not a matter of sentiment at all. I believe that the punishment of flogging is not a punishment which ought to form part of our Penal Code for any offence.

As I say, I have no pity for these particular people, and I would apply, if I had my way, quite a different treatment and a treatment which, in my opinion, would be much more deterrent in its effect and much more consistent with the principles of a sound Penal Code, and, moreover, applicable both to women and to men; but unfortunately it is a proposal which would probably shock much more greatly the public opinion of the country than the penalty of flogging. The treatment I would mete out, my Lords, would be this—to place upon those persons an indelible mark which they would bear as a symbol of the calling they have undertaken. I would say to them, "You have deliberately chosen this odious trade; then you shall bear upon yourselves the mark of that trade, a mark which, when you approach your victims, shall scream out a word of warning to them as to the intentions which are in your mind." But I say no more upon that particular point because I agree with the most rev. Primate that this Bill is so valuable even as it stands that I would not risk endangering its passage into law by proposing any change which might risk its passing. We have waited a long time for this Bill. It represents an irreducible minimum, and I sincerely trust your Lordships will pass it substantially as it stands. I feel that in its present form, even with certain shortcomings, it will place in the hands of the Police a weapon which will make this calling so hazardous that even those who are most careless of the consequences and of the miseries which it entails, and even those who are most greedy for the large profits which undoubtedly are to be made out of it, will hesitate before they embark upon it.


Your Lordships will probably expect that I should say something upon the Second Reading of this Bill, not only because I have considerable experience as a Judge with reference to some of its provisions and the provisions which it amends, but also on personal grounds, because I had the honour of conducting the Act of 1885 through the House of Commons. It was the first Bill that I had to deal with as Attorney-General, and I have, of course, watched carefully its working and the working of kindred measures which have been passed since. I think it right to utter one word of warning. This debate has rather proceeded upon the lines that nothing whatever has been done since the year 1885. I quite agree that from the point of strengthening the particular provisions of the Act of 1885 nothing has been done, but it is quite unnecessary for me to remind your Lordships that in the Acts for the prevention of cruelty to children and other Acts that have been passed at various times—in the year 1889, and the year 1904, and the year 1908—there are a number of clauses touching kindred offences which have materially strengthened the law; and therefore it is right that this Bill should come forward as dealing with particular crimes of that character which have not formed the subject of consideration as much as other offences against women and children.

The noble Earl who has just spoken was quite right in saying that many attempts have been made before to deal with this particular evil, though not so strenuously to deal with it as it has been dealt with on this occasion. It is quite unnecessary for me to occupy your Lordships' time at any length because the speech of my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor and the speech of the most rev. Primate have covered the ground, and except upon one point, as to which I will say a word in a moment, there has not been any expression of dissentient opinion. The object of the first clause of this Bill is not for the punishment but for the prevention of crime. It is a clause which is to save the victims from becoming the subject of the cruelty, the abominable wickedness, to which they are subjected by those who procure them for this vile traffic. It is quite right to say that where an offence is committed in the particular case of a felony or misdemeanour the Police have a right to arrest. That is not the effect of the clause. The effect of the first clause is to stop the attempt—that is to say, to prevent the evil while at the same time you may be able to punish the offender.

I no more than the most rev. Primate wish to harrow your Lordships with details of crimes which have come within my personal knowledge or that I have read of in the literature dealing with this matter, but it is the fact that in the case of the most successful of the offenders it is practically impossible to stop the trade unless you have the power to arrest. Take the case which is most common—of girls being induced to come up to London on a statement that they are going to get employment, to be met at a railway station by a woman who will take them off to some place, and, not infrequently, within twelve hours those girls are on a steamer and out of this country. Therefore it is quite impossible to suggest that the power to go and get a warrant is effective for the purpose of preventing that class of traffic. Clause 1 of this Bill will be most valuable, because offenders who carry on this trade are known to the Police, and disappear only from time to time for a period of weeks or months when they have taken their victims abroad, and not infrequently they come back and are traced and are seen to be at the old game again. That is what has been noted by the Police. Therefore what is absolutely necessary to make the Police protection for these poor girls effective is to give the Police the power of arrest at once when they see the man about the haunts where he has been before. It is very often not difficult to obtain evidence if there is the power of immediate action when they are again at their old haunts and trade. All I say is that I believe this clause which will give a constable power to arrest without a warrant a person whom he has good reason to suspect is committing or is attempting to commit an offence of this kind would be found most valuable.

I now come to the matter which forms the subject of the second clause. The noble Earl who has just spoken most eloquently and with great feeling desires to take us back some four or five centuries. He desires that we should restore the law of branding, and that in addition to punishing the man by great physical pain there should remain upon him for ever—I suppose upon his forehead, because I cannot imagine where else it would be visible to the intended victim—the letter "P," I suppose it would be. The noble Earl does not hesitate to recommend it. I am afraid I could not go into the Lobby with the noble Earl in support of such a punishment as that. I do hope that even for these wretched beings there is some chance of amending their lives, and I do not see why they should carry the brand upon their foreheads when they have amended their ways. That is a little practical difficulty in the just application of such punishment.

But, my Lords, I do want to say a word or two on this question of whipping. I have been a Judge now for twelve years and have tried a great many criminal eases, and during that time I have never myself inflicted the punishment of flogging. I therefore do not speak on this matter as one who is at all given to deal with this punishment. I have had representations, I should think dozens of representations, from Grand Juries who have had before them cases of this and a kindred kind—that is to say, crimes against women and children—suggesting to me that there ought to be an increase of punishment, and that for these offences against women and little children flogging ought to be a part of our Criminal law. This is not in any way a new subject or a new idea. With reference to the deterrent effect, not only could I endorse exactly what the most rev. Primate said with regard to the effect of it on prisoners—I happen to have had experience of it myself in visiting prisons—but I have heard of criminals who howled even at the sentence being inflicted upon them weeks before it was actually carried out. I have also spoken to many prison officials and warders and people of that kind, and with regard to its being a deterrent nobody who has any experience of it can have any doubt. With great respect to the noble Earl, if he had had any experience of the working of it I think he would agree with what I have said.


I never denied its deterrent effect.


Quite so; but still it would not have as deterrent an effect as the "P" upon the forehead. I have served a great many times in the Court of Criminal Appeal and the sentence that is most appealed against is the sentence of flogging, and I do not think if it had not terrors for the criminal we should hear so much about it. But there is one problem in this case that has not been touched upon by the Lord Chancellor or the most rev. Primate or by my noble friend Lord Lytton behind me, and that is this—that in many of these cases, speaking from knowledge of cases I have tried and heard on appeal, great cruelty is inflicted on these poor girls. I have known instances proved in evidence of their being beaten and injured and cruelly treated because they attempted to resist the carrying on of this life; and I do say, all sentiment apart, it does seem to me that there ought to be some sympathy for those who suffer physically as well as for those who inflict these crimes and sufferings. I do not know why, when the criminal who has been brutally cruel to some poor girl, when he has beaten her to force her to go out and earn these earnings or sometimes when she has returned wounded and half starved has beaten her again because she has not brought back enough—I do not know why we should have so much sympathy for the man who has done this and so little for the poor person who has been the sufferer at his hands. I assure your Lordships I would not in this House tell of the horrible evidence which has been given before me, and which I have had to read in trials before other Judges, as to cruelties inflicted upon girls who get into the hands of these procurers. I only say that because, averse as I am to extending the punishment of whipping, if there is an offence for which it ought to be inflicted it is upon such brutes as the men who are carrying on this traffic. If we are going to amend the Bill, I would point out that for some reason or another the Bill with regard to these offences deprives the Court of the power given tinder the Vagrancy Act of punishing the offender as an incorrigible rogue, which is the greatest distinction that can be acquired in the criminal world. But this Bill proposes that the persons offending should not be punished as incorrigible rogues. I think there must be some mistake, and if we me going to amend the Bill that is a matter which, in my opinion, should be put right.

Now with regard to the amendment of the law applying to brothels. This Bill will do more to stop brothels than all the Acts that have been passed. It is the fact that this lucrative trade is generally carried on by managers, women as well as men, who are not the occupiers in law of the house but who are merely put in to manage. They are not the tenants and they are not the owners, and though it seems a very small amendment to treat the person in charge as a person who can be punished, it is an amendment which will strengthen the hands of the Police very materially. Therefore I welcome the amendment of the law which will cover the person in charge as well as the occupier. In the same way the increased punishments for keeping brothels are most desirable amendments of the law. That leads me to endorse what was said by my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack with reference to punishment by fine. A fine is no deterrent to these people bearing in mind the enormous amount of money they derive from the trade. It is very much the same as what happens in the case of betting prosecutions. They pay the fine readily, and go out of Court and start offending in the same way again immediately. Therefore I am in favour of making the person in charge amenable to the law, and also that there should be severe punishment.

The clause with regard to the landlord taking more care about the house will be very useful, but I am a little doubtful whether the Bill in this respect does not, perhaps, go a little too far, because it will be so difficult to prove that the landlord has allowed it to go on, or has not turned out the tenant, or has not taken steps to prevent the brothel being kept. I do not know that we can do much at the present stage, but I think the point must be considered. There is a matter to be considered also in the last clause of the Bill. I will not call it a slip, but, curiously enough, this is a slip which I made in the House of Commons some fourteen years ago. This Bill repeats in terms the clause about a wife being called as a witness and not compellable to give evidence. This House decided—I must not say wrongly, of course—that the view we had all taken with regard to the law was erroneous and that a wife was not compellable to give evidence. I desire to say, with regard to these offences of procuration of girls and of keeping brothels, it is very important that the evidence of a wife should be compellable, because if a man is carrying on these practices there ought to be no cutting off the sources from which evidence could be obtained, and I would suggest to the Lord Chancellor that that simple Amendment might be made when we come to deal with that matter.

I thank your Lordships for listening to me, and I hope that I have not merely gone over ground which has been travelled by other noble Lords. I have received many representations begging me to do what I can to get this Bill passed without Amendments, in order that there may be no question about its becoming law. I am sure His Majesty's Government will be as determined as the promoters of the Bill are to see that anything which is done to improve this Bill does not delay its passing, and I gather from the attitude taken up by my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack that His Majesty's Government practically tell us that they will see that if this Bill is only improved—if I may use the expression—it will be passed in the House of Commons with the Government behind it. It is, in my opinion, most important that the clause as to the power of arrest and possibly the power of punishment should be passed as soon as possible, because we want to do all we can to drive these procurers out of the country. But I for one would rather have this Bill as it stands, with, of course, the power of amending it in future sessions, than do anything that would imperil its passing by a single day.


My Lords, there is nobody who cannot realise that humanity, justice, civilisation, and every reason which prompts us to pass an Act of Parliament of this kind demands that this Bill should be passed without delay. I fully appreciate the reticence shown by noble Lords who have spoken this afternoon in disclosing the painful details of this terrible crime which we are trying to repress. It is quite easy to understand that in an Assembly of this kind it is not necessary to adduce details of that sort. But I do suggest to you, with great respect, that this debate will be read with the greatest interest by every procurer in the country, and I hope that it will have some kind of educative influence on the public opinion of this country as well. Public opinion has at last awakened to this evil in England, but it is exceedingly doubtful whether a great many people who ought to know do know the appalling things which are taking place. I have had—I was going to say the advantage, but it is such a terrible document that I can hardly call it an advantage—but I have had the opportunity of seeing an exceedingly rare book called the Report of the Vice Commission of Chicago. It is a very difficult document to get hold of because, as you will not be surprised to hear, every single available copy of it was bought up at once by those interested in this horrible traffic. Some extracts from that Report have been published in a small book which I hope will be in your Lordships' hands, not officially but privately, in a very few days, and I believe it will be read by the general public with the greatest interest. If the general public only knew the number of men who frequent these establishments in Chicago and have access to one girl in a single night I believe that even the most ardent promoter of this Bill would be astonished and appalled even more than he is at the present moment. But although the immorality and degradation and hideous part of this crime must appeal to everybody, the real thing that seems to me to be at the bottom of it is the greed for money. It is only another phase of that tendency of the money-grubbing classes in pursuit of the lust for gold. I was very glad to hear the most rev. Primate say that this question was connected with the low wages paid to women in this country. Without making the slightest suggestion—Heaven forbid that anybody should do such a thing!—it must set us thinking that any employer of labour in England who is responsible for and countenances giving his girl employees anything like a wage which might drive them to this terrible life is incurring an indirect responsibility of a very serious kind.

That there is money to be made out of this trade is unfortunately only too true. In this same Report that I have seen it is also stated—this is not idle hearsay which the man in the street tells you or that you hear at a London dinner party, but evidence from the Chicago Report—that the profits from this trade during one single year in Chicago amounted to something like £3,000,000 sterling. There is no doubt at all that for England to assist, either directly or indirectly, in a traffic of this kind is a national disgrace. Public opinion in this country and every other consideration demands that it should be put a stop to forthwith, and I was delighted to hear that every speaker brought into hold relief the urgent necessity that this Bill, in spite of its being defective in some ways and perhaps not entirely exhaustive, should pass into law at the earliest possible opportunity. My information is—and it tallies with what you would expect the wretches engaged in this traffic would do—that pending the passing of this Bill the procurers are making a special effort to draw London, so to speak, in order that they may obtain during the short time which is going to elapse between now and the passing of this Bill as many victims as they possibly can.

It is not an exaggeration to say that almost every hour, almost every day certainly, is of importance before this Bill passes into law. A special effort, as I have said, is being made by these dreadful people to recruit as many victims as they possibly can before this Bill is put upon the Statute-book. There are other reasons why it would be dangerous to insert into this Bill Amendments likely to jeopardise its passage in the House of Commons. I am not going to attempt to make any Party points on an important measure of this kind, but we cannot get rid of the knowledge that we have no power of insisting on our Amendments in the Lower House. But I shall oppose any Amendment—because after the speech of the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack I do not think any one will say he has not already defeated his proposed Amendment—I shall certainly oppose ally Amendment to make flogging the penalty for the second offence only. I hope that that part of the Bill will stand, and that we shall carry in this House by a large majority the defeat of any Amendment to postpone this punishment of the procurer until he has committed a second offence. I was glad to hear from the noble and learned Viscount exceedingly cogent reasons why this Amendment which is to be placed on the Paper in his name formally and technically for the consideration of this House should be defeated. I do not wish to speak in terms of contempt of these people, but I cannot imagine that there is any strong body of opinion in this country who thinks that a procurer ought to be allowed to commit his vile offence at least once before he is flogged. It is a frame of mind which is difficult to approach or to penetrate, and it is a frame of mind which I am absolutely certain is not in consonance with British instinct or with British taste or opinion. I ask any one of you to go out into the street and ask the first man you meet, having explained this properly to him, whether he thinks a man ought to commit this offence at least once without being flogged, and I have no doubt whatever what answer you will receive.

We must recollect that we are now placing in the hands of the Police increased powers to arrest and get hold of the procurer. If the Police are fortunate enough under this Bill to get hold of any of the people who are plying this horrible trade it may be the first time that the man is unlucky enough to be caught but it will probably be about the five-hundredth time that he has done the thing for which he has been arrested. Therefore there will be no question at all in these cases of its being the first offence; and I say here and now that as an ordinary citizen I am perfectly ready in my own person to run the risk of being arrested as an innocent man—and I believe that any of my friends will say the same—sooner than that there should be the slightest chance of one of these miscreants getting a loophole for escaping from the punishment which they so richly deserve. I cannot understand how the idea that you will be running the risk of punishing an innocent person—which is a terrible thing—fits in with the idea that a criminal under this Bill should be branded. If you do happen to have the misfortune to flog an innocent person for a crime under this Bill he will not bear the mark of it in a place which is conspicuous to his fellow-countrymen; but, on the other hand, if he is branded you then absolutely stamp him for life, or if you do not brand him so that he is absolutely stamped for life then you must brand him in a way that the punishment would not have the effect desired.

I am grateful to your Lordships for permitting me to make these few remarks about this Bill with regard to which we all feel so deeply, and I sincerely hope that the Bill will pass substantially in the form in which it has been submitted to your Lordships. But because we pass this Bill do not let anybody think that we have washed our hands of the whole question of the white slave traffic. There is a great deal more that requires to be done, and that in a direction which is exceedingly important for British authority and British prestige in other parts of the Empire and in parts which come under the indirect as well as the direct influence of the British flag. Therefore it is my intention, if your Lordships will give me an opportunity at some future time, to introduce a Bill indicating a method by which it is proposed to further strengthen the law against those who are interested in the white slave traffic. I am not going to make a Second Reading speech about another Bill which is going to be introduced at some future date. I will only indicate one or two points which are not dealt with in this Bill and which I think we ought to deal with. One of the ways in which it is highly necessary to strengthen the law with regard to this is to put increased powers as well as increased responsibilities upon the owners of our shipping companies with regard to girls carried out of this country to other ports. It does not seem too much to ask that special police should be detailed for this purpose, and that if the owner of any steamship or other owner carries a girl to another port knowing that she is being taken there for the purpose of plying this traffic on her arrival he ought to be required to repatriate her at his own expense. Those are some of the points which it will be necessary to deal with in the future.

But one of the most important points seems to me to deal with eases which happen, shall we say? in the Asiatic Dependencies of this country—for example, in India. It is quite true that if an Englishwoman plies the occupation of a prostitute in India she is in some cases deported from the country. There is power to do that. But we have not got power, as I understand it, to deport other European women, and to a great many natives one white woman is just the same as another. For instance, they draw no distinction between—I do not want to single out any nationality, but for the purpose of my illustration I will say a German woman—between an English woman and a German woman who can speak a little English, and it is most damaging to the prestige of this country in India that any black man should be able to have access to any white woman of that description who is plying this trade under the British flag. So far as the white slave traffic is concerned I think special representatives might be appointed abroad to deal with this matter. I have not had time to verify the quotations and therefore will not read them to your Lordships, but there are some exceedingly interesting passages in one of the Reports of the late Sir Edwin Gorst dealing with the question of the white slave traffic in Egypt. I have indicated briefly one or two ways in which a further extension of the law will be necessary in the interests of humanity and of justice, and I do hope that our country will endeavour to make this an international matter and combine with other countries in putting this horrible trade down, or at any rate make it quite impossible that anything of this kind shall take place in spheres which are influenced, directly or indirectly, by British authority.


My Lords, I believe I am the only survivor of the Committee which was appointed thirty-one years ago to deal with this matter and to which allusion was made in the opening of this debate by the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack. I therefore cannot refrain from congratulating the Government with all my heart on introducing this Bill, apparently with every reasonable hope of its successfully passing into law. Thirty-one years ago the country suddenly woke up to the enormity and stupendous nature of the traffic with which this Bill is concerned, and a Committee was appointed to examine witnesses on the subject. The Blue-book containing the proceedings of that Committee is, no doubt, in the archives of this House and may be compared with the Blue-book of the Vice Commission in Chicago to which the noble Lord who has just sat down alluded. In a debate in a House of Parliament on a subject of this kind to expatiate upon, and go into details upon, a matter of this kind is altogether out of the question; but the Blue-book to which I have alluded contains details, and those who care to look into it can investigate for themselves the proceedings before that Committee in 1882.

But although that Committee sent in a full Report to Parliament very little was done at the time, and there was a great danger of the whole agitation getting shipwrecked as year after year went by without anything being done, and those who wished for legislation to be introduced were disappointed at the silence of the Government. I recollect myself asking more than once in this House whether there was any prospect of the Government of the day having leisure to deal with the matter; and on one occasion I remember the late Lord Beauchamp said that the responsibility for the delay rested with the House of Commons — the House of Lords had long been prepared to deal with it. Thirty-one years have elapsed since the Committee reported, and those who recollect that time and who took part in that movement are only too glad to see this Bill before your Lordships' House materially strengthening the existing law, although they regret that it could not be sanctioned before. The difficulty of passing such a Bill as this at that time was very great. The country was more slow then than it is now to take an interest in these things, or at least an intelligent and active interest in them with a view to legislation being brought forward; and there was not only the opposition to it at the time that had to be overcome, but the popular indifference which then existed. Therefore it is with all the greater pleasure that we who took an interest in these matters so many years ago see these clauses in the Bill now before us, which so materially strengthen the operation of the law.

Summary arrest is an admirable introduction into the measure; it was one that we could not carry at that time. The provision for the arrest of those in the occupation of premises formerly designated as brothels but better known now as flats, and premises of that kind, is also an admirable addition to the law. Allusion has been made to the possibility of introducing legislation to enable the Police to arrest the culprits against whom this Bill is directed on steamers as they carry away their freight to a foreign country. I hope will be carried, and at no very distance[...] it date. If there was any Amendment that it I could suggest to this Bill before us it would be that the 1st of January should be altered to the 15th of December, if that were possible, in order that the law might take effect at the earliest moment. With regard to corporal punishment which has been the only point, I think, this evening that has given rise to any serious debate. I am heartily on the side of the Bill. I believe that corporal punishment acts as a deterrent Where every other punishment,even prisonment with hard labour, would quite fail, and it acts as a sudden deterrent, a deterrent which is powerful enough to strike terror into the culprit to whom it is adjudged. One word more, my Lords, of congratulation to the Government on having introduced this measure into Parliament. I hope it may very speedily become law. I trust that any Amendments of the nature foreshadowed by the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack will not militate in any way against the abject of this Bill. If they are brought forward and they do so, it will then be the duty of this House to consider them seriously and vote against them. But I hope and trust that nothing of that kind will be in store.


My Lords, there are, I take it, three points on which everybody in this House is agreed and on which there has been no difference of any sort or kind between us. The first is that this traffic exists, the second that it is an infamous traffic, and the third that we ought to do what we can to stop it. That being so, there is no occasion to dilate on what we are agreed upon, and I propose to turn at once to the Bill that is before us. With regard to the first clause, I must frankly say that I have been rather surprised at the great opposition that has been raised to giving power to a constable to take a suspected person into custody without a warrant. Such a power is common in the case of exceedingly trivial offences. Of course, one of the difficulties felt may have been that the power here is given where the constable suspects that the person is attempting to commit an offence. May I point out that he has the same power where he suspects a person who is loitering about of attempting to commit a felony. I am prepared to associate myself with the observation of Lord Willoughby de Broke, and say that[...] willingly suffer the inconvenience [...] being arrested by mistake, and so, I think would be any of your Lordships, rather than that one of these guilty persons should go free through the delay occasion [...] by having to apply for a warrant for arrest.

I feel very strongly what has been said about the danger of amending this Bill. We are late in the session. Parliamentary time is short. The Bill has been constructed at odds and ends of time and not in a very perfect way, and there are no doubt, many ways in which it might be amended and improved, but I think all of us feel that if by attempting to amend it we were running the risk of losing the Bill we would rather pass it, however imperfectly it may be drawn, than run that risk. But in case Amendments should be passed I would call attention to one or two points which have struck me—passing over for the moment Clause 2. In Clause 4 it is provided that in certain circumstances the landlord shall be entitled to require the person so convicted to assign the lease, and then there is a proviso that if he does not assign it the landlord may determine it. If the landlord does not determine it, and a second offence happens the landlord is to be deemed to have connived at that offence. That is a very difficult way of doing it. I should have thought that the conviction should forfeit the lease to the landlord, and that there should be an end of it. I do not quite see why a person convicted of such an offence as this should be allowed to make money out of the assignment of his lease, and it seems to me it would be perfectly simple if you provided straight away that that conduct should forfeit the lease. It would then be the landlord's business to inquire into the character of the person to whom he let the premises again.

I now come to the question upon which the only difference has arisen—the question of corporal punishment. In the first place, there is a difference between the occasions on which it is to be inflicted. I think that has already been pointed out. In Clause 2 it is to be inflicted for either the first or the second offence. In subsection (4), Clause 6 it is to be inflicted only for a second or subsequent offence. That is not a very reasonable proposition, and if corporal punishment is to be inflicted at all I am bound to say that I agree with those speakers who say that it ought to be inflicted for the first offence. If corporal punishment is a deterrent there can be no reason, I think, for not inflicting it for the first offence. We heard something about the danger of an innocent person being convicted. Honestly, I think most of us would believe that danger to be very small in a case of this sort and not a very likely thing to happen. But I think there are objections, which were perfectly put by the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, to the infliction of corporal punishment at all, and personally I regard that as the one blot on an otherwise excellent Bill. I regret very much that we should be re-enacting and putting into a new measure corporal punishment, which we had been rapidly getting rid of in our Penal Code.

The noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chief Justice, said that he could not conceive any one having sympathy with offenders of this class. I am sure the noble and learned Lord knows that none of us have any sympathy with offenders of this class, and I am sure that any one of us who saw an offence of this kind being committed would then and there take upon himself the duty of inflicting severe corporal punishment upon the offender, and I do not think he would be sorry for what he had done afterwards. But there are other considerations besides the feelings of the natural man and what we should like to do in a moment of heat or in a moment of anger, and while realising the enormity of the offence with which we are dealing we must realise the advance of civilisation itself and the class of punishment which civilisation is to sanction. There are cases as bad as this of cruelty to children, for example. There is a case lately reported in the papers from Ireland which is as bad almost as anything of this kind can be, and where I am sure if corporal punishment is a proper punishment it ought to be inflicted. But our policy has been for many years to give up corporal punishment as an essential part of our punitive law, and I regret that it should have been reintroduced, no doubt as the result of a most natural wave of indignation and horror at the offence with which the Bill deals and in the hope that it will act as an effective deterrent. But, my Lords, if it acts as a deterrent in this case why should it not act as a deterrent in other cases, and why should you not restore it to the Statute-book in other cases as well? Moreover, there is the point put so strongly by the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, that if corporal punishment is a deterrent why should it be inflicted on the male procurer only when we know that the female is quite as bad, and, in addition to that, is a traitress to her own sex for bringing her own sex into this horrible life. Yet she is to go free. I would also point out that that gives an opportunity for evading the Act by the putting forward of females to carry on this trade.

There is this other point. I think most, people who have at all considered Penal Codes are now satisfied that the certainty of punishment is more important than the quantum of punishment, and has, on the whole, a more deterrent effect than the actual punishment itself. It has been pointed out that the people who live on the immoral earnings of women have hitherto escaped on account of the wording of the existing Act, which makes it necessary that they should have no other means of subsistence. They have escaped punishment, we are told, although they are known to the Police, because of those words. But I think it would have been wise to have left those words in, and tried the effect of bringing them within the net of the law and so enlarging the certainty of punishment rather than adding corporal punishment. The question of corporal punishment is a very difficult one. Occasions sometimes arise when one feels strongly inclined to inflict corporal punishment oneself, but most careful people, when they think about its being applied to the criminal, have come to the conclusion that corporal punishment is not an advantage to the criminal himself and does not result in making him a better member of society. I think all your Lordships must feel that it is not an advantage to the community either to make itself a party to a punishment of that sort. My sympathy is not with the criminal. My sympathy is with the community that inflicts the punishment, and in my opinion the inclusion of corporal punishment in this Bill is a blot upon it and I wish it could be removed.


My Lords, I do not desire to stand for a moment between the House and the Second Reading of this Bill, but it would be unfortunate if it were to be inferred from our silence that we were hostile or even indifferent to the measure which we are discussing this evening. We feel every whit as strongly as the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack that the time has come when the law dealing with these offences should be materially strengthened, and in our view it should be strengthened upon the lines of this Bill. Having said that I have really said all that I greatly desire to say. I will only make one, or perhaps two, observations upon the clauses of the Bill. In the first place, with regard to Clause 1, I have been convinced by the arguments to which we have listened this evening that power of arrest without warrant is indispensable if this Bill is really to be effectual for the purpose for which it has been prepared. That, I think, was made clear to the House by the speech of t he Lord Chief Justice. Then with regard to flogging, my instinct is entirely against the resort to corporal punishment. As the noble Earl who spoke just now told us, this is a punishment which, as an ordinary rule, is neither beneficial to the person on whom it is inflicted nor desirable in the interests of the community. But in this case we are not dealing with ordinary criminals, and it seems to me that a punishment which may not unfairly be described as a brutalising punishment is a proper punishment when you are dealing with men who are brutes already. There is one other observation with regard to the punishment of flogging which I wish to make. I own that for my part I greatly hope that if this Bill becomes law the punishment of flogging will be very rarely inflicted, and for this reason. I feel little doubt that the passing of this Bill will have the effect of driving away from our shores these obscene creatures who, among their other despicable qualities, possess a large share of the quality of cowardice.

One word with regard to the question of Amendments. I listened with attention to the earnest appeal made to the House by the most rev. Primate at the beginning of this debate, and with much sympathy. We cannot, of course, at this moment announce that we intend to forego our right of examining this Bill and amending it if any serious blots are revealed in it. On the other hand, I should greatly deprecate any attempts to amend it merely with the object of making it a more symmetrical piece of legislation and in that way improving it. The measure has been navigated with infinite skill and patience through the shoals and quicksands of the House of Commons, and it would be a great misfortune if, owing to any counsels of perfection here, we were to increase the risks which the Bill will run when it returns again to that House. I hope in any case that if Amendments, indispensable Amendments, are inserted in this House we may have an assurance from His Majesty's Government that, having supported the Bill up to this point, they will make it their business to support it throughout its career and see that it becomes law during the present session. I sum up what I have to say by observing that I believe it to be the opinion of all right-thinking men that it is a scandal that this country should have become the headquarters of this despicable traffic, and that we are determined that, so far as our efforts can avail, it shall be driven from our shores.


My Lords, I think that those who are in favour of this great measure of social reform—and they certainly include all who are now in the House and all who have been present during the course of the debate—must be satisfied with the course that the debate has taken. But with regard to what has just fallen from the noble Marquess on the question of Amendments it is quite true that there are certain points upon which it will be desirable to amend the Bill. One point was mentioned by my noble friend behind me, Lord Russell. He called attention to the fact that the penalties under Clause 2 aimed at the procurer and those under subsection (4) of Clause 6 aimed at the souteneur are of a different kind—that in the first case flogging may be inflicted for the first offence and in the other only for the second offence; and there does not appear to be any precise or logical reason for that difference. The two clauses, of course, could be assimilated by one of two courses, and if it is proposed to bring them into harmony, as I understand it is, the proposal may, of course, lead to some discussion, but I have no doubt that the House will arrive at a fair solution of that difficulty. In response to what fell from the noble Marquess, I am able to assure him that the Home Office and His Majesty's Government will make it their business, so far as lies in their power, to see the Bill into a safe haven in another place. We shall consider it our duty, after the pains which have been taken with the details of the Bill and being fully convinced of the vast importance of the subject, to give the Bill every facility that lies in our power.

I confess to have observed with some relief the general assent which was expressed just now by the noble Marquess opposite to the provisions of Clause 1. I was not without some fear that an argument might be used, as, indeed, was used in the course of the discussion in another place, that it was dangerous to give the power of summary arrest to any constable; that there were serious possibilities of error; that people might be complained of, perhaps, with a view to blackmailing them, and that an inexperienced or stupid constable might bring about a serious insult or injury to innocent persons by arresting them. But I entirely appreciate what fell from the noble Marquess opposite that he was convinced, and I am sure he was right, that the possession of this power, having regard to the special character of this infamous traffic, is absolutely necessary if a real stop or deterrent is to be applied to it.

When we come to the question of the penalty, I do not find myself altogether in close agreement with my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack. The view which I hold on the subject of the flogging penalty approaches more nearly to that which has been expressed by my noble friend behind me, Lord Russell. That, of course, is a purely personal view. It has been generally agreed in both Houses that this particular question of the character of the penalty cannot, and ought not, to be treated as in any sense a Party question, and, while holding my own view, I quite expect to find myself a member of a very small minority in your Lordships' House in holding it. The noble Earl opposite, Lord Lytton, was so desirous of clearing himself from any charge of mawkish sentimentality that he proposed to substitute for flogging the antique and long-dropped penalty of branding. I cannot follow him in his desire to see that particular penalty introduced. At the same time, I equally desire to be cleared of any charge of excessive or sentimental humanitarianism. On the contrary, I confess I do not very much care what physical or what mental suffering may be inflicted upon convicted persons of this kind, and it is not from that point of view that I regret that the penalty of flogging is introduced into this measure.

We all know that on the question both of punishments and of deterrents humane people hold singularly diverse views. I noticed in a newspaper the other day a letter from a well-known gentleman who, I suppose, would be considered to belong to the extreme humanitarian school—Sir William Byles. Sir William Byles objected to the introduction of the punishment of Hogging in these cases, and in the course of that letter went so far as to say that he very much doubted the right of society, or, at any rate, of the individuals who composed society, to punish anybody. "Who are we," he asked, "that we should judge other people and inflict punishment upon them?" Well, I suppose there is nobody who has ever sat in the humblest capacity on any form of tribunal who has nor at one time or another appreciated the force of the famous saying of the sixteenth century divine—who was himself, by the way, finally burnt—who, on seeing a man going to execution, said "But for the grace of God there goes John Bradford." I have no doubt that every Judge and every magistrate has felt something of the same kind in the course of his experience. But the extreme form of that view as expressed by Sir William Byles hardly seems consonant with the holding together of society at all. It is a curious point, and that is why I mention the honourable gentleman's letter. He is in favour of keeping people altogether out of mischief by imposing upon them what is known as an indeterminate sentence. A great many other people, equally humane, are simply horrified at the notion of the indeterminate sentence and regard it as one of the most brutal forms of punishment that can be inflicted. I do not mind saying that I myself rather approve of the indeterminate sentence. I believe it is, like all other punishments, capable of abuse, but I cannot help thinking that it would prove almost more of a real deterrent to a certain class of criminal than any other form of punishment, not absolutely brutal, which could be devised.

But as regards the particular penalty imposed by this Bill I confess I share the view of the noble Earl behind me that the punishment of flogging is a punishment belonging rather to barbarous times than to the particular state of society in which we live. Punishments of that kind must not be confused, as unobservant or ignorant people are apt to confuse them, with the cruel forms of torture which in former days were used to extort evidence or to extort confessions. But besides those cruel inflictions there were also cruel punishments such as the one advocated by the noble Earl below the Gangway, or cruel forms of death such as those of burning or breaking on the wheel, and it may be argued, and is argued no doubt, that society in some of its strata, in some of its manifestations, is still so barbarous that it is necessary to retain certain relies of those barbarous punishments, of which flogging is practically the only one left. It may be so. There is no doubt that the Police think so. They have expressed a view in relation to this particular Bill that a punishment of this kind is necessary, and it is a serious matter to set one's opinion upon such a subject against that of the Police, to say nothing of the opinion of an experienced Judge like the noble and learned Lord opposite. But however that may be, I confess that I cannot myself regard with approval any addition to the list of crimes for which this particular penalty is to be imposed. I therefore regret its appearance in this measure at all. As I have hinted, I would gladly see the indeterminate sentence substituted for it, but that, I know, is a difficult question, and although I myself cannot support the proposition in this Bill, which in all other respects I most heartily approve of, I have no doubt from the signs of assent that were given to the expressions of opinion by the most rev. Primate and others on this subject that the House of Lords will agree with the House of Commons in maintaining this penalty. It only remains for me to express, on behalf of the Government as a whole, my warm satisfaction at the reception which has been given to this measure at your Lordships' hands.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday the 9th of December next.

House adjourned at Seven o'clock, to Monday next, a quarter before Eleven o'clock.