§ [The question was as follows:
§ To draw the attention of His Majesty's Government to a motion on flogging inflicted on members of the Sudan Defence Force which he put on the Paper for September 23, 1944, and which he has twice subsequently withdrawn at the request of His Majesty's Government, who informed him that they had not yet been able to obtain the information for which he asked; and to ask when he may hope that they will have received this information.]
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, on December 11 last His Majesty's Government, after consultation with the Sudan Government, supplied the noble Lord with particulars of the sentences of corporal punishment awarded to members of the Sudan Defence Force from October, 1942, until September, 1945. These particulars showed that the majority of such punishments were awarded for indiscipline; and the noble Lord, at the end of December, requested further details of the offences coming within this category. The Sudan Government were accordingly requested to furnish this additional information, to obtain which it was necessary for them to consult their military authorities, many of them in outlying districts. They would in any case have been unable to supply answers to all the questions asked by the noble Lord in com- 42 plete detail without searching all the records of the Sudan Defence Force, a task which was impracticable because of the shortage of staff, due in its turn to the large-scale demobilization in progress. They explained, however, that the word "indiscipline" was used as a compendious term for offences of an insubordinate nature such, for example, as insolence to a superior, petty or attempted theft, or creating a disturbance. It was pointed out that indiscipline was not, of itself, an offence under the Sudan Civil Code, and it was therefore not punishable by a civil court, either by flogging or by any other punishment. This and other relevant information was communicated to the noble Lord, on April 17.
My Lords, arising out of that answer, may I say that of course I am aware—indeed it was I who pointed it out to the Foreign Office—that indiscipline was not an offence punishable by flogging, or even an offence under the Code at all. But it does seem to me to be highly deplorable that we should not be allowed to have full details of the offences for which flogging is inflicted. I should like to ask the noble and learned Lord whether the impression is not given by his reply that flogging is, in fact, used in the Sudan Defence Force rather like lines at school—that is, as a punishment for minor offences? This is in accordance with the information given to me when I was recently in the Sudan, and I am afraid that that is the impression which the noble and learned Lord's reply leaves with me.
I would further like to ask the noble and learned Lord whether it, is not a fact that the right to order flogging by second-class magistrates in the Sudan has not recently been limited to such cases as would be so punishable in this country, and whether, therefore, the Sudan Defence Force is not now out of line with the civil arm? Finally, I would like to ask the noble and learned Lord with regard to the reconsideration of the whole of this question of the infliction of punishments in the Sudan, which, I understand, is to take: place as soon as the Sudan Defence Force has been placed on a peace-time status, whether he can give any indication of the date when that peace-time status will have been reached?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I am afraid that I cannot answer all the many supplementary questions which the noble Lord has put to me. I am rather like the Sudan Defence Force. I would remind the noble Lord that His Majesty's Government really cannot accept responsibility for the Sudan as though they were the sole Government concerned—because, of course, they are not. Article 3 of the Anglo-Egyptian Agreement of 1899, regarding the administration of the Sudan reads:The supreme military and civil command in the Sudan shall be vested in one officer, termed the 'Governor-General of the Sudan.' He shall be appointed by Khedivial Decree on the recommendation of Her Britannic Majesty's Government.Under this Article it is not open to His Majesty's Government alone to give any assurances on matters affecting the administration of the Sudan, nor can His Majesty's Government answer questions in Parliament on the basis that they are solely responsible for that territory. On the other hand, matters upon which the noble Lord has made representations will, no doubt, be considered for I understand that he was right in saying that these matters are under review at the present time.
Arising out of, the noble and learned Lord's reply, may I ask him whether I am rightly informed when I am told by Egyptian authorities that the Egyptian Military Code has, in fact, so far as Egypt is concerned, been revised in this matter of flogging, whereas in the Sudan it has not?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I regret that I have not the ubiquitous knowledge of Macaulay's school-boy, and I have not the slightest idea what the Egyptian Code provides in this connexion.
I believe that I have the right to ask a further supplementary question arising out of the Lord Chancellor's reply, but of course I will bow to his ruling. I would wish to ask him whether, if I put another question at a later date asking for recent figures, these can be supplied, although earlier ones, I understand, will be difficult to obtain. Perhaps I could have the figures for, say, the last six months?
§ 4 45 p.m.