House Of Commons
Thursday, 1st June, 1876.
Ordered, That Standing Order 131 be suspended, and that the time for depositing Petitions against Private Bills, or against any Bill to confirm any Provisional Order, or Provisional Certificate, be extended to Thursday the 8th day of this instant June.—( The Chairman of Ways and Means.)
Palace Of Westminster—Mr Herbert's Picture—Question
asked the First Commissioner of Works, If he would state to the House when Mr. Herbert, R.A., received his commission to paint a companion picture to the "Moses Delivering the Tablets of the Law" in the Peers' Robing Room; what is the sum he is to receive; what money on account has been paid to him; what are the dates of such payments; and, what progress has Mr. Herbert made with the work?
, in reply, said, the picture had been ordered in 1866, and the sum to be paid was £4,000. Since that time Mr. Herbert had received three instalments of £1,000 each. When he received the last in- stalment the work was three-fourths finished. Mr. Herbert then moved from one studio to another, and in the course of the transmission of goods from one studio to the other the picture was so seriously injured that this distinguished artist had to put it by and begin to paint another. The hon. and learned Gentleman he (Lord Henry Lennox) was sure would agree with him that it did not behove his Office to be too severe with regard to time. He might say that Mr. Herbert had, within the last year, rendered him much valuable time and service with regard to the preservation of the frescoes in that House, and he had rendered these services gratuitously. He hoped that towards the close of the year, notwithtanding all these delays, the work of this great artist would be completed.
Endowed Schools—Tideswell Grammar School—Question
asked the Vice President of the Council, If it be true that the Grammar School at Tideswell has been closed for three or four years past; and, if so, to state to the House why it has been closed, and whether any steps are being taken to have it re-opened?
I have referred the hon. Gentleman's Question to the Charity Commissioners, and I am informed that it is true the Grammar School at Tideswell has been practically closed for three years and some months. I am also informed that it is understood it has been closed principally on account of dissensions between the master and other members of the Governing Body. A scheme for the future administration of the school has been framed by the Charity Commissioners and has recently been passed by the Lords of the Committee of Council on Education, so that I trust after a short time the school will be re-opened.
asked the Under Secretary of State for India, If it is true, as stated in a letter published a few days ago, that prisoners in many of the Indian gaols are locked up at night in scores together, in single rooms; that the prison officers are in most cases convicts themselves, and that the prisons in India are manufacturing criminals through a general neglect of moral instruction, and of the simplest provision for separation, at any rate, by night; and, if the statements referred to be true, whether any steps have been taken to remedy the evils complained of?
There is no doubt that overcrowding is an evil which has been complained of in Indian gaols, but in the new gaols steps have been taken to remedy this evil. The prisoners are, however, classified with great care. In certain prisons convicts are employed as gaol servants, but never in greater proportion than 12 per cent of the average strength of the prisoners. The various Governments in India have done much during the past few years towards improving gaols, both as to accommodation as well as to moral instruction and superintendence, and the hon. Gentleman may rest assured that this important subject will still continue to occupy their attention.
Malay Peninsula—The British Resident In Salanpore
asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, with reference to Despatches from and to the Governor of the Straits Settlements, lately published—viz. No. 19, of March 18th, 1875, and No. 23, of May 17th, 1875, and also with reference to a previous Despatch, No. 74, of January 30th, 1875, and enclosed letter from Mr. J. G. Davidson, Whether Her Majesty's Government has permitted an officer holding the appointment of British Resident in Salanpore to remain interested in private financial transactions with the Chief of that State, and to obtain commercial concessions from him?
There has been a good deal of correspondence of a confidential character upon this subject, which in the interest of the public service it has not been considered advisable to publish. I may mention, however, that it was suggested to the Governor by the Secretary of State that, in consequence of commercial arrangements with the native officials, it would be preferable that some employment should be found elsewhere for Mr. Davidson, who is believed to be a most efficient public servant. I regret, however, to hear that this gentleman's state of health is such that his return home is expected very shortly.
Elementary Education Bill—School Fees—Question
asked the Vice President of the Council, Whether, under Clause 24 of the Elementary Education Bill, it is intended to give the different local committees authority to decide the ability of the parent to pay the ordinary school fee; and, whether it is the duty of such committees, if satisfied of the inability, to give the parent sufficient money to pay the said fee?
It is certainly intended in the Elementary Education Bill that Boards of Guardians only should have the power of deciding as to the ability of parents to pay the school fee and of paying such fees, and not the committees which they or the Town Councils may appoint. If there is any uncertainty as to the wording of the clause, I shall take care to set it right in Committee.
Public Health—Medical Officer To The Privy Council
asked the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education, Whether he is prepared to state the intentions of the Government in regard to the vacancy caused by the resignation of Mr. Simon as Medical Officer of the Privy Council? He also wished to ask the President of the Local Government Board, Whether he is prepared to state the intentions of the Government in regard to the vacancy caused by the resignation of the Medical Officer of the Board, Mr. Simon?
It is not proposed to fill up the post of Medical Officer to the Privy Council which has lately become vacant owing to the resignation of that most distinguished public officer, Mr. Simon. Any advice which the Privy Council may require upon medical questions will be obtained from the Medical Department of the Local Government Board.
, in reply to the second Question of the hon. and learned Gentleman, said, he had ap- pointed Dr. Seaton, the second Medical Officer, to be Medical Officer of the Local Government Board in the room of Mr. Simon. The office would not be exactly the same as that held by Mr. Simon, which was constituted by an Act of Parliament.
Railway Accident Commission—Case Of Frederick Harcombe
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been directed to the case of Frederick Harcombe, a goods guard lately dismissed from the service of the Taff Vale Railway Company, without the usual recommendation of character, in consequence of having given evidence before the Railway Accident Commission; and, whether he can suggest a remedy for such a proceeding, or any means by which Harcombe can be compensated for the loss he has sustained?
, in reply, said, that he had received a complaint from this man, who said that he was dismissed by the railway company in consequence of the evidence that he gave before the Commission which was appointed to inquire into the question of Railway Accidents. It was quite clear that, as Secretary of State, he had no power to say what coursethe man ought to take in order to procure compensation if he had been wrongfully dismissed, nor had he the slightest power to inquire whether the railway company had sufficient justification for dismissing him. All he could say at the present moment was that he represented the man's case immediately to the railway company. Their statement was that they dismissed this man because he gave untrue evidence. That was a question which must be decided elsewhere, but he (Mr. Cross) thought it his duty to write a letter to the railway company, which, with the permission of the House, he would read—
He must throw the whole onus on the railway company; but they ought to be able to make a very strong case before taking such a proceeding as this."The Secretary of State, while he is unable to give any direction, or offer any opinion as to the merits of a matter which is not within his jurisdiction, feels it his duty to point out the evil results which will follow if the notion were to get abroad that the fact of a servant in the employ of a railway company having given evidence before the Railway Commission, even if not quite in accordance with the views of his employers, were deemed a sufficient ground for his not being employed any longer by the company. The Secretary of State must further remark that in his judgment the responsibility incurred by any company adopting such a course would be serious, unless the grounds upon which they acted were very strong. It is obvious that a serious obstruction would be thrown in the way of the proper investigation by the Railway Commissioners of the questions brought before them if servants were to be under the dread of dismissal for the discharging faithfully a public duty, even though something might come out in evidence which was distasteful to their employers."
Navy—Condemned Provisions—The Return—Question
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, When the Return showing the sales, &c. of Condemned Provisions by the Admiralty, which was ordered by the House at the commencement of the Session, will be laid upon the Table of the House?
, in reply, said, that he could not say when the Return would be ready to be made public. Its preparation involved a great many inquiries, not only among Admiralty officials, but among auctioneers and others, and therefore he feared it would not be ready for some time.
Merchant Shipping Acts—Grain Cargoes—Question
asked the President of the Board of Trade, If it is true that the order given last year to the Consul at Alexandria to expend a sum not exceeding two pounds per vessel, in seeing that sufficient shifting boards were used in British ships loading grain cargoes, has been withdrawn; and, if so, for what reason; and, if the same order has been withdrawn from any other port in the Black Sea or the Baltic?
The order given to the Consul at Alexandria was withdrawn for a short time but renewed. The order has been withdrawn from Kertch and Taganrog on the Black Sea, because of the impracticability of any constant or general system of inspecting ships lading grain from thence, and from St. Petersburg, Memel, and Stettin, on the Baltic, because the grain export to England is very inconsiderable from those ports.
The Vicar's Rate At Halifax
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether it is his intention to introduce during the present Session a Bill in accordance with the recommendations of the Select Committee on the Vicar's Rate, Halifax?
, in reply, said, the evidence had only lately appeared, and he had not as yet had time to go through it.
The Factory And Workshops Acts—Legislation—Question
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether Her Majesty's Government intend to take any steps this Session, or early next Session, to give effect to the recommendations of the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the working of the Factory and Workshops Acts?
, in reply, said, it was not the intention of the Government to bring forward a measure founded on the Report of that Commission during the present Session. The Government were of opinion that it was necessary the country should have time to study all the recommendations of that Report, which was very voluminous. The question would have to be dealt with in the next Session of Parliament.
Elementary Education Act, 1870—School Boards—Question
asked the Vice President of the Council, Whether he can lay upon the Table of the House, Returns showing, by Counties, the number of School Boards which have and which have not schools under their management; also showing the number which have appointed visitors for such schools, and in the girls' schools lady managers, together with the cost of the staff of such schools?
I will put at the disposal of my hon. Friend the various Returns which we have bearing upon the subject of his Question, and I will at once lay upon the Table those which he thinks are likely to be of public interest.
The Suez Canal Shares—Payment Of The Interest—Question
asked, Whether it is true, as reported, that the half yearly interest on the Suez Canal shares has been paid to the credit of Her Majesty's Government?
I believe that it has been paid. I received a communication that the money had been ordered to be paid, and I sent to the Financial Department of the Treasury.—[Mr. W. H. Smith made a remark to the Chancellor of the Exchequer]. The money has been paid to-day.
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury whether, before the House rises for the Whitsuntide Recess, it would not be convenient for the public service that he should give us some information as to the present state of affairs in Turkey?
Sir, I have nomaterial information to give as to the present state of affairs in Turkey, beyond that which was communicated to the House on Tuesday by the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I have, however, received a telegram from Constantinople since I came into the House, but it contains nothing interesting except this—that everything is tranquil there, and apparently the population is quite content. The Note described generally, I believe, as the Berlin Memorandum, has not yet been brought before the consideration of the Porte; and I should express a hope that it may not be necessary that it ever should be so brought. There is no doubt that the state of affairs is critical in that quarter; it would be affectation to deny it. Her Majesty's Government have taken such measures of precaution as they thought were necessary to maintain the honour and the interests of this country; and that policy of precaution they intend to pursue. At the same time, I wish most decidedly to state, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, that it is their opinion that the interests of the country will be most studied by maintaining peace, and that the honour of England can never be more efficiently vindicated than by taking a leading part in contributing to the accomplishment of that object.
Parliament—The Whitsuntide Recess—Arrangement Of Public Business
moved that the House, at its rising, should adjourn till Thursday next.
asked what business would be taken on Thursday next, and also whether the Government intended to proceed with the second reading of the Education Bill on Monday, the 12th, as had been previously intimated?
said, they would proceed on Thursday with the Commons Bill, if it was not finished to-night, and after that either Supply or the Poor Law Amendment Bill. On the Monday he hoped to be able to give further information as to the order of Business. It had never been formally announced that the Education Bill would be brought on on Monday, the 12th. There was other business which was still more pressing. He should feel it his duty, as he had stated on a former occasion, when they had concluded the Committee on the Commons Bill, to ask the House to consider the second reading of the Appellate Jurisdiction Bill—an important measure which ought not to be delayed; and after that he thought they ought to proceed with the University Bills, and then with the Education Bill. In answer to further Questions from Mr. W. E. Forster and Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT,
said, it would not be convenient to fix the Appellate Jurisdiction Bill for the first night after the holidays, but if the Commons Bill was concluded they would then take Supply.
Motion agreed to.
House at rising to adjourn till Thursday next.
Orders Of The Day
Ordered, That the Orders of the Day subsequent to the Commons Bill be postponed until after the Notice of Motion for leave to bring in a Bill for amending the Law relating to Prisons.—( Mr. Disraeli.)
Commons Bill—Bill 51
( Mr. Assheton Cross, Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson.)
COMMITTEE. [ Progress 29 th May.]
Bill considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
Part I—Law As To The Regulation And Inclosure Of Commons
Applications in relation to Commons.
Clause 4 (Explanation of adjustment of rights).
moved, in page 4, line 11, after "land," to insert—
"(4a.) The confirmation of any exchange of any portion of any Common for any adjoining land of equal or greater value, or any sale of any portions of any Common for the purpose of purchasing adjoining land of equal or greater value out of the proceeds of such sale: Provided, the Commissioners are satisfied that such exchange is beneficial to the interests in the Common affected by such sale or exchange, and that such exchange has been or shall be approved by the vestry or vestries of the parish or parishes in which such Common is situate, and provided that, in the case of any such sale as aforesaid, land of equal or greater value adjoining the Common has been or shall be purchased and thrown into the Common, or an equivalent improvement or benefit to the Common carried out."
did not object to the principle of the Amendment, but said there were certain legal difficulties in the way which he did not at present see the way to overcome, but he would give the matter further consideration.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved, in page 4, line 22, after "Common," to insert—
His object was to prevent any person from being deprived of any privilege which had been enjoyed from time immemorial, and he trusted that nothing would be done to prevent the free enjoyment over the broad expanse of mountain tracks which had hitherto existed."Provided always, That no such adjustment of rights shall prohibit the use of any Common or uninclosed land for the free passage of a person or persons thereupon for the purpose of going from place to place, or for the enjoyment of air, exercise, or scenery on foot or on horseback, in such, manner, freedom, and extent as such person or persons or other persons have heretofore been accustomed to enjoy."
objected to the Proviso, and said he thought it would be better to leave the matter as it now stood in the Bill.
hoped the Amendment would not be pressed. At present no express right was enjoyed by the public, and he did not think it desirable to confer upon them a right which did not now exist.
apprehended that there was danger of those rights which had been acquired by custom being withdrawn in the absence of legal sanction, which the hon. Member for Kendal aimed at obtaining.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 (Explanation of improvement).
moved, in page 4, at end, to add—"5. The appointment from time to time of Conservators of the Common for the purposes aforesaid."
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 6 ("Inclosure" means inclosure in manner provided by the Inclosure Acts) agreed to.
Clause 7 (Provisions for the benefit of a neighbourhood applicable alike to orders for regulation and orders for inclosure).
moved, in page 4, line 40, to leave out "may," and insert "shall."
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 8 (Sanitary authorities to be represented in the case of commons in the neighbourhood of towns).
moved, in page 5, line 22, after "situate," to insert "either wholly or partly in any town or towns or."
Amendment agreed to.
moved, in page 5, line 22, after "Common," to insert "or any part of a Common."
Amendment agreed to.
moved, in page 5, line 38, after "aforesaid," to insert—
He thought there was no valid public reason for facilitating the conversion into private property of common land that was furnishing health, recreation, and enjoyment to the weary inhabitants of smoky towns. The powers of regulation would enable lords of manors and Commoners to improve waste lands for pasture without shutting out the public by fences, or transforming them into villas and streets; but if the alternative of inclosure or of regulation was given, the pecuniary profit of the former to individuals would outweigh the advantages to the public of regulation."Provided that after the passing of this Act the Commissioners shall not entertain an application for the inclosure of a suburban Common."
In page 5, line 38, after the word "aforesaid," to insert the words "Provided, That after the passing of this Act the Commissioners shall not entertain an application for the inclosure of a suburban Common."—(Mr. Cowper-Temple.)
opposed the Motion, urging that there were a great many commons to which the Amendment would not apply, and that it would be a very unjust, very injurious, and very inconvenient course to take, to decide by a hard-and-fast line, that no commons within a certain distance of a town should be inclosed. Every case must be judgedon its own merits; and there were several strong provisions in the Bill to enable the local authorities to prevent these commons being inclosed if they ought not to be inclosed. In his opinion, they had very much better leave this matter to the discretion of the local sanitary authorities.
supported the Amendment, which he thought an extremely important one. He felt satisfied that unless they drew a cordon round the large towns and said these commons should not be inclosed, there would never be any application for their regulation. There might be an absolute prohibition of the inclosure of commons within a certain distance of populous towns. The principle in this clause had received the sanction of both Houses of Parliament, and although the different Bills on the subject had been lost, the clauses they contained embodying it had been agreed to.
urged that some latitude should be allowed to corporations, who should be empowered to appropriate portions of their funds to the preservation of suburban commons in cases in which they thought it desirable to adopt that course.
pointed out the difficulties that would arise if a hard-and-fast line were drawn which should apply to commons within six miles of towns having 5,000 inhabitants equally with those which were within that distance from towns having 500,000 inhabitants, and stated that in his view the Committee should not hastily lay down an arbitrary rule of that character, which would disregard all local peculiarities and requirements. It being difficult to argue a point of this kind without having some particular case in view, he would take that of Windsor and Eton in illustration of his contention. Windsor and Eton contained some 14,000 or 15,000 inhabitants, to whom Windsor Forest, with its beautiful scenery and everything that conduced to their enjoyment, was always accessible, and could the Committee suppose that any great hardship would be inflicted upon those persons by some small and almost unknown common six miles away being inclosed? A similar observation might be made with reference to the commons near Richmond, the inhabitants of which town, also had the enjoyment of a fine park. For these reasons he was unable to support the Amendment.
did not attribute the same importance as the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) did to the argument founded upon Windsor Forest and Richmond Park. For his own part, he preferred to walk over a common, because he could go where he liked and felt as if it was his own property. Words could be inserted in the Amendment which would restrain it from applying to small towns in the same way that it would to large ones. He hoped it would be pressed to a division. It had twice been accepted by both Houses of Parliament so far as its principle went. Without the Amendment it would be impossible to work the scheme of the Home Secretary, because the proposal to improve a common would be vetoed, and when nothing else could be done application would be made to Parliament to have the common inclosed.
regretted the proposal had been made in so short and crude a form. He suggested that it should be withdrawn; but if it were pressed he must vote in its favour, as a protest against the inclosure of suburban commons.
Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 91; Noes 135: Majority 44.
moved, in page 6, line 34, after "expedients" to insert—
"Where any Common (whether situate within six miles of any town or not) is situate within six miles of any village or villages, or other populous place or places, containing in the aggregate not less than five thousand inhabitants, but not constituting a town, notice of any application under this Act in relation to such Common shall be served as soon as may be on the urban sanitary authority or authorities, or the rural sanitary authority or authorities having jurisdiction over any such village or populous place, and all or any of the powers conferred by this section upon the urban sanitary authority having jurisdiction over any town may be exercised by any urban sanitary authority or rural sanitary authority having jurisdiction over any such village or populous place.
"When more than one sanitary authority is entitled to exercise the powers conferred by this section in respect of the same Common, the Inclosure Commissioners may consign the future management of such Common, under any order for its regulation, to a body composed in such proportions as they deem advisable, of representatives of all or any of such sanitary authorities, and may decide that certain parts of the parish or parishes in or near which such Common is situate shall be a contributory district for the purposes of this Act, and may make such rules for the election or nomination of such representatives by such sanitary authority as they think fit."
objected to the proposed Amendment, on the ground that it was not necessary. With respect to the mention of villages and places comprising 5,000 inhabitants, he might say there were no such places. This question had been discussed two years ago, and he was very sorry he could not now assent to it.
said, he was sorry to have heard the Home Secretary express himself so. He could not understand how the inhabitants of a village, or place, or places in the neighbourhood of a common, and not having 5,000 inhabitants, should not have a right to appear as a representative body. It seemed to him altogether wrong, and he should certainly support the Amendment.
considered the Amendment unnecessary.
said, there were many places having populations amounting in the aggregate to 5,000 and upwards, and it would be right that they should have a voice in the matter. The object of the Amendment was to give those somewhat scattered inhabitants the benefit they would have if more densely situated. They were anxious to have their commons regulated and improved, and were willing to bear their share of the expenses.
said, if there was one thing which was more necessary than another, it was to give the scattered rural populations the same advantages as were given to the populations of towns, and on those grounds he should certainly vote for the Amendment of his hon. Friend; but if the Government would bring up a clause having a similar object he should support it.
said, that hon. Gentlemen opposite, in the many Bills they had brought in on this subject, never introduced any such provision. What were rural sanitary authorities? They were here to-day and away to-morrow. He had no intention of doing what he was certain would lead the ratepayers into endless litigation.
remarked that it was no answer to say that this provision had not been contained in former Bills which were introduced when people were ignorant of the extent of the common lands in England. He was ready to admit that it was a defect in former Bills that they did not contain this provision. He thought if there were several villages and places, the inhabitants of which amounted to 5,000, that they might apply to the Commissioners.
suggested that application might be made to the Guardians. He considered them a proper body through whom representations should be made, and he hoped the Home Secretary would give to all Boards of Guardians the power to make representations, and to have a voice in the matter. He thought the right hon. Gentleman ought to take the Guardians by the hand.
contended that if this Proviso were adopted they would be opening up a frightful source of public expenditure on the part of Boards of Guardians.
thought nothing more than was reasonable and desirable was asked.
said, the Government had so much time at its disposal as to introduce a Bill that never was asked for. He was surprised to hear the Home Secretary speak of the Guardians in the manner he had described them—as "here to-day and gone to-morrow"—thus indicating that they were a body not to be trusted. He (Mr. Fawcett) submitted that the Guardians were the official persons; and if it was proposed to inclose a common they were the proper authorities to whom power on the question should be given. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary addressing the Members who sat on the front Opposition bench, used the tu quoqueargument, saying—"Why did ye not bring forward a measure of this kind when ye were in power?" He maintained that the course taken by the Home Secretary was singularly unfair; and the moment they proposed anything that was not in the Bill of 1871, the Home Secretary said—"Oh, but that was not in the Bill of 1871."
explained that the object of the clause was to empower the rural sanitary authorities to contribute to the funds for the improvement of the commons, and give compensation for the rights of the commoners. The question of notice would be dealt with in Clause 10.
said, he was surprised that the Home Secretary should treat the Board of Guardians with contumely. In the Education Bill he had not treated them as bodies that were "here to-day and gone to-morrow," but had entrusted them with the permanent administration of the educational affairs of the rural parishes.
congratulated the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) on the change of his views in regard to the rural authorities, and inquired of the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) his authority for saying that there were only 1,500,000 acres of common in England. He hoped the Home Secretary would stand to his guns and not make the concession asked for, because the more concessions he made the more were required.
trusted the Committee would insist upon the carrying out of two objects—first, that notice should be served upon the rural sanitary authorities as authorities, and not merely as individuals; and, secondly, that they should have the power to do certain things which at present they had not the power of doing for the benefit of those whom they represented.
expressed a hope that the Government would adhere to their proposition, for he was quite convinced that the sanitary authorities had quite a sufficient number of matters to attend to at the present time.
explained that he had taken his figures from Doomsday Book, and judging from the Returns given for the Home Counties, with which he was personally acquainted, he was induced to think the total correct. The Inclosure Commissioners who, in 1870, stated that there were between 8,000,000 and 9,000,000 acres of uninclosed common land, now stated that there were only 2,500,000 acres; but he thought their estimate was still too large and that the Doomsday Book was nearer the mark.
Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 55; Noes 79: Majority 24.
moved the insertion of the word "three" instead of "five" in page 6, line 41, the object being that the word "town" in the clause should be held to mean a place with 3,000 inhabitants, and not the greater number.
Amendment proposed, in page 6, line 41, to leave out the word "five,"
in order to insert the word "three."—( Mr. Whitwell.)
thought that by adopting the number of 5,000 the Government had gone quite far enough.
Question put, "That the word 'five' stand part of the Clause."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 64; Noes 46: Majority 18.
moved, in page 7' at end of line 4, to add—
"The powers conferred by this section upon the urban sanitary authority of acquiring by gift and holding any suburban Common, and any rights in such Common, and of purchasing and holding any saleable rights of Common or any tenement of a commoner having annexed thereto rights of Common, may be exercised by the mayor, aldermen, and burgesses acting by the council of any borough constituted such either before or after the passing of this Act (whether they are the urban sanitary authority or not), with respect to any Common within seven miles of such borough, whether the borough have a population of not less than five thousand inhabitants or not."
pointed out that the Amendment might have the effect of giving these burgesses power to charge rates outside of their district, but promised that it should be considered before the Report.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
On Question, "That the Clause do now pass,"
asked why the urban authority should be compelled to purchase the land as well as the rights of common in respect to such places within a certain distance of towns? Why should they not have power to purchase the rights of common and hold them for the benefit of the people?
observed, that any right whatever could be purchased under the Bill as it stood; and he thought that it would be sufficient to meet everything that was required.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 (Issue of forms by Commissioners) agreed to.
Clause 10 (Rules as to application to Commissioners) agreed to.
Clause 11 (Rules as to local inquiry) agreed to.
Clause 12 (Rules as to provisional orders).
moved an Amendment, the object of which was that whilst the assent of two-thirds of the commoners should be required before any common could be inclosed, and while the lord of the manor should have a veto on that transaction, that the assent of one-half of the commoners should be sufficient to regulate the common, and the veto of the lord of the manor should in the case of mere regulation be abolished.
Amendment proposed, in page 12, line 25, after the word "order," to insert the words "for the inclosure of a Common."—( Mr. Shaw Lefevre.)
said, he did not see why the veto should not apply to regulations, considering that the same rights were involved as in inclosure, and he objected to reduce the proportion of assents because liability to be rated for improvement would follow.
observed that regulation would not deprive the the lords of manors of their rights in the soil, nor the commoners of their use of it, as inclosures did.
supported the Amendment.
Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 43; Noes 74: Majority 31.
moved in page 14, line 42, after "Commons," to insert "with such modifications, if any, as to Parliament seem fit," the object being to enable such defects as might be found in the original scheme to be amended.
Amendment proposed, in page 14, line 24, after the word "Common," to insert the words "with such modifications, if any, as to Parliament seem fit."—( Mr. Shaw Lefevre.)
could not accept the Amendment. The scheme would be drawn up after certain consents had been obtained. If a power of altering it were given, the scheme might become altogether different from that to which the consents had been given.
supported the Amendment, on the ground that in the original scheme some minor points might have been overlooked which it would be desirable to provide for.
opposed the Amendment.
said, that the original design of the Home Secretary was to bring all the details of a scheme under the review of Parliament. As the Bill stood the Standing Committee, no matter what the defects of the scheme, would not be able to add a single acre to the recreation ground of the public or the allotment grounds of the poor. They must either accept or reject as a whole the Provisional Order. Considering that the very essence of the Bill was to bring these schemes under the review of Parliament, the measure would be a perfect farce without such provisions as he had proposed.
said, under the existing law when Provisional Orders were passed by the Inclosure Commismissioners, the Home Secretary had to bring in a Bill for their confirmation, and he did that with the whole strength of the Government in the House of Commons at his back. It was to that he objected. He therefore fell back upon a Standing Committee who would go through all the details and see whether those schemes were such as in their opinion ought to be presented to Parliament. The bringing in of a Bill in that case would be purely a Ministerial act. But if they were to say that this Standing Committee might alter what had been agreed upon that would be quite another thing.
opposed the Amendment, on the ground that if they passed an Act saying a scheme should be dependent on certain consents, they should not turn round when those consents had been obtained and allow something else to be done. He would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary that the measure should be so altered as to provide for schemes being adopted which had the assent of all the persons interested in the commons to be dealt with.
said, if the Amendment were adopted, it would be unsafe for persons to apply for an inclosure, as they would be completely in the power of the Committee.
pointed out that Committees on Private Bills had power to alter the schemes submitted to them. It was possible that as this Amendment was now worded, the parties would not be able to withdraw from their proposal if they disapproved of the changes made; but that difficulty could easily be met by an addition to the Amendment.
believed the Home Secretary would have met with stronger opposition at the earlier stages of the Bill, if it had been understood that he meant to leave everything to the Inclosure Commissioners, whose decisions the Standing Committee could not revise.
suggested that the Home Secretary should bring up a clause which would place the parties to an inclosure before the Select Committee in the same position as the promoters of a private Bill, and enable them to withdraw the scheme if they did not like any change which was made in it. If the right hon. Gentleman would not assent to that course, it would be desirable that the hon. Member for Reading should divide the Committee on his Amendment, though it did not fully solve the difficulty.
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary proposed to give to a Standing Committee powers which he objected to confer upon the House. For his part, he objected to any such power being given to the proposed Committee, and he hoped the proposal would be rejected.
thought the clause as it stood proposed a convenient as well a reasonable mode of procedure.
objected to the method proposed by the Home Secretary, that these Provisional Orders should be submitted to a Standing Committee of that House, simply for acceptance or rejection, without giving such a Committee the power of going into details, and making such alterations as they might think reasonable. A doctrine of that kind, if acted upon, would furnish a very unsatisfactory precedent for the conduct of Select Committees, and one which, so far as he knew, was altogether foreign to the practice of the House of Commons.
said, the object of the Bill was to put the Select Committee in the place of the Secretary of State, who at present could make no alteration in schemes and could only refuse to bring forward the Bill embodying them. If the Select Committee had power to alter the particular schemes, it could only be after hearing the parties; but the result of such an arrangement would be much in favour of the rich man, for the poor persons interested could not afford to appear. A local inquiry, where all parties could be heard, was the cheapest and simplest way of making any changes in a scheme. Sir George Grey, when at the Home Office, would not allow alterations to be made in an inclosure scheme even in this House, because the parties interested had consented to the scheme as it stood, and it would be unjust afterwards to alter the scheme without hearing them. In the same way he proposed when the Bill embodying these schemes went before the Committee that they should have before them the documentary evidence and say whether a particular scheme was one which, in their opinion, Parliament ought or ought not to accept. He was willing to confer with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dodson) before the Report; but he could assure the Committee that there were practical difficulties, and meanwhile he hoped the Amendment would be withdrawn.
said yes; the subject was one of difficulty, and here was a defect in the measure to which there were great objections. The observations which the right hon. Gentlemen addressed to the Committee were an argument against the whole Bill. It seemed to be a Bill for relieving the Secretary of State from responsibility and throwing it upon the Standing Committee. It was going very far to say that a Select Committee, of this legislative body, should have no power to alter and modify a scheme because the Secretary of State, who was an Executive officer, had no such power.
opposed the Amendment.
still retained his opinion that a Parliamentary Committee ought to have power to deal with the details of schemes. He had always understood until now that the intention was that the Committee should have the power of making modifications.
Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 56; Noes 99: Majority 43.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 13 to 17, inclusive, agreed to.
Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday next.
In reply to the Marquess of HARTINGTON,
said, that the Commons Bill would be taken as the First Order on Thursday, after which Supply would stand next if the Bill was got through in sufficient time. Then on the following Monday the First Order would be the second reading of the Appellate Jurisdiction Bill, and if there was time afterwards they would proceed with the University of Oxford Bill. On Thursday, the 15th, they hoped to take the second reading of the Elementary Education Bill.
Leave First Reading
, in rising to move for leave to bring in a Bill for amending the Law relating to Prisons, said: In a paragraph of Her Majesty's most gracious Speech it was intimated that a measure would be introduced into Parliament, in the first place, for promoting economy and efficiency in the management of Prisons; and secondly, at the same time for effecting the relief of local burdens. I therefore now rise to lay before the House the measure we have to propose in regard to England. Of course, some analogous measures will follow in due time, both with regard to Ireland and to Scotland, which will be brought in respectively by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland and by the Lord Advocate. I shall confine my observations to-night entirely to the case of England. The subject resolves itself into two questions; first, the condition of our prisons, and, secondly, the expense of their management. Both of these matters have been brought before my notice not only as a Member of Parliament, but as a magistrate of some standing. They were specially brought before my notice in 1874 by a deputation which waited on me at the Home Office from the Social Science Association. That deputation pointed out that, although the Act of 1865, which has done so much to improve not only the discipline of our prisons, but their entire management, has worked very well—and in its main features we do not propose to interfere with it, subject to certain exceptions—still there was a great want of uniformity of discipline in the prisons throughout the country, a great want of efficiency in many of those prisons, and a great amount of unnecessary expense, owing to the excessive number of our prisons. Further, that there was a great mistake made in having regard too much to penal labour as opposed to industrial labour; and perhaps the result of that may be traced and may be seen very visibly, not only financially, but also morally, as far as our prisons were concerned. Therefore, this matter demands our attention with the view to two objects—first, to secure more uniformity of discipline in prisons, and secondly, if possible, to reduce expenditure on their management. The subject was brought forward in a different shape in 1872 by my hon. Friend the Member for South Devon(Sir Massey Lopes) when the celebrated Resolution upon Local Taxation was passed by the House. And one of the main points that was insisted upon by my hon. Friend at that time was the fact that all the expenditure incurred for prisons, and which amounted, as he gave it, on an average of the previous four years, to £590,000 a-year, less, of course, the sum which must be deducted as being the grant from the Treasury—namely, about £99,000 per annum, was fairly an Imperial and not a local charge—that is to say, that our prisons and our whole system of gaol discipline were kept up for the safety not only of real property, but of personal property, which did not pay its share, and not for the safety of property simply, but for the protection of life. The great aim of my hon. Friend's speech was to show that many charges were Imperial charges and not local ones merely, as they had been hitherto regarded. Now, both of those considerations must be borne in mind when we come to deal with the question of prisons. I have certainly no wish to squander public money in any way that is not useful, neither would I ask the House to consent to give any money from Imperial funds except for Imperial purposes. I do not think that money ought to be granted from the Imperial Exchequer, unless there be good reason for granting it, and unless it can be shown that not only will it improve the discipline in our gaols, and also reduce the expenditure upon them generally, but likewise that some substantial advantage will accrue to the country from the Imperial Exchequer giving greater aid than it now gives. Now, what is our system of gaols in England at present? We have 116 county and borough gaols. That gives one gaol to an average of 22 square miles, and one to about every 200,000 of the population. The average cost, I think, this year or in some previous year, for all the gaols, is about £27 2s. per head for the prisoners. The greatest number of prisoners in gaol in England at one time was 52,500, while the daily average number in gaol was 18,500. But when you come to look at the question of gaol accommodation you will find it very unequally distributed throughout England. I will take, in the first place, the distribution and proportion of prisons that exist to the population. I find that in Rutlandshire there is one gaol to 20,000 inhabitants. In Lincolnshire there are seven gaols, or one for every 48,000. In Worcestershire there is one gaol for 338,000. In Lancashire there are six gaols, or one for469,000. In Middlesex there are five gaols, or one for 507,000. In Surrey there are two gaols, or one for 445,000. In Stafford there is one for 858,000. But the distribution does not quite stop there, because I find that in some places the proportion is different. In Leicester there are two gaols, one for the borough and one for the county. The county gaol is for 174,000 inhabitants, the borough gaol for 95,000. There is sufficient room in the county gaol for the whole of the prisoners, so that there is a great waste in respect of the gaols in Leicestershire. In Northampton the county gaol is for 199,000, and in the borough for 5,000. Therefore, all the borough prisoners could be accommodated in the county gaol. In Lincoln there are not less than three prisons— one for the county, one for the city, and one for the parts of Lindsey; but the county gaol at Lincoln is capable of accommodating all the persons in the other two prisons. If we look at the distribution of the gaols you will find a very great difference in the way they are accommodated according to the population and the number of prisoners in those gaols. Take another test as to whether the gaols are well distributed or not at the present moment. Take the average daily population of prisons; there are only 12 which have an average population of more than 400. On the other hand, there are 12 which have an average population of 12 or under 12, and there are about 49 of the small prisons whose daily average varies from 49 to 2. We find that some of the prisons are very large. In Coldbath Fields there is room for 1,674; in Liverpool for 1,016; in Wakefield for 1,253; whereas in Rutland the average proportion is 5, and in Tiverton 2. Therefore, when we have to consider this matter and compare the large gaols with the small ones, it is evident that there must be a great waste about our gaols. In 40 gaols there is a daily average of 15,000 persons. As you might expect in this state of things, the expense of the prisoners in the different gaols must vary very much, and it could not be expected to be otherwise. Take some of the larger of these 40 gaols and the average number of prisoners, the expense of each in Stafford is £22 19s.8d.; in Manchester, £17 1s.5d.; in Salford, £15 1s. 1d.; whereas, in the smaller prisons—as, for instance, in Tiverton—the cost per head is £104 11s. 7d., in Lincoln it is £114 11s. 7d., and in Oakham it is £150 4s. 2d. You have not to go very far before you find the reasons for these heavy charges. You have, first of all, a staff of officers for the small prisons which must be more expensive in proportion to the population than those for the large prisons. I find that in Tiverton there are five officers for the daily average of less than two prisoners; in Lincoln there are nine officers for a daily average of 11 prisoners; in Oakham there are six officers for a daily average of five prisoners. That is to say, in 30 small prisons there is one officer to every two prisoners, and in the large prisons there is one officer to every nine prisoners, and in the Lancashire gaols there is one officer to every 12 prisoners. The result of this difference in the proportion of the staff to the number of prisoners is that there is a corresponding difference in the amount of the cost of each prisoner. Another reason why the expenses are so great in some gaols is that in the smaller gaols it is necessary to keep a larger staff to provide for the fluctuations in the number of prisoners than is required in the larger gaols. It is also quite clear that the smaller prisons cannot command the services of such an efficient staff as the larger gaols, and it is also self-evident that from want of occupation the staff of the former must occasionally be subject to deterioration. I think that I have, at all events, shown the House that there is room for improvement, and that if we are to make any grants of money, we must expect to see a better prison system established. But there is another matter as important—that which regards the discipline of the gaols. Every one knows that the Gaols Act of 1865 was most carefully drawn, and that its provisions were very carefully considered, and that it has worked well in every way. But there is no doubt that the subject of discipline is a difficult one. There is a conflicting jurisdiction given to the Secretary of State as opposed to the Justices. In some instances the Justices have too many restrictions imposed upon them, and in some cases the Secretary of State does not possess sufficient power. It is, however, difficult to draw the exact line. There is a very great difference in regard to the sentences on prisoners. When a man is sentenced to 12 months' hard labour the Judge supposes that he will receive the same treatment as other prisoners. But the contrary is the case, for what is hard labour in one gaol will be found easy for the prisoner in another. So far as regards the tread-wheel, the ascent at Carlisle is 14,000 feet per day. At Edinburgh it is only 9,600 feet. At Derby it is not more than 7,500 feet. In some prisons the hard labour is three hours per day. In others I find it to be 10 hours. In the case of stone-breaking in some gaols, a prisoner has to break 10 cwt. daily, whilst in others he has to break 20 cwt., whilst in other gaols there is no particular fixed quantity. In some prisons a prisoner is allowed an interest in work, whilst in others he is allowed nothing of the kind. Then, with respect to another kind of work—the crank—there is a great difference in the way in which the prisoners are treated. In 36 gaols they are employed in this manner, and in 75 they are not employed at all, in some cases only for a few days, and in others for a few months. The result is that anyone who examines into the subject will find that what is called hard labour is not uniformly carried out in our gaols. Then again in the matter of diet there are great differences. It is true the dietaries are sent to the Secretary of State, and they are drawn up by the Visiting Justices, guided it may be by the supervision of the medical officer; but anyone who goes through these dietary tables will find great differences which have escaped the notice of the Secretary of State. Then in the case of discipline; in some cases there is entire separation; the men work in masks, and no speaking at all is allowed; in some the labour is done in association; in some there is imperfect separation. There are just the same differences in education, punishment, and supervision. I do not for a moment contend that all gaols should be carried on according to one stereotyped pattern; but I think there should be a greater approach to uniformity in our gaol management throughout the country. On the whole, it is pretty clear that the public pay more for their gaols than they ought to do; and it is equally evident that they do not get the best article for their money. But the great difficulty of dealing with this question arises from the fact that these prisons are maintained mainly out of the local rates raised under local jurisdiction. It would be very easy for us to do what we are often asked to do—namely, to pay the Treasury allowance for convicted prisoners, which amounts to 4s. a week, for unconvicted prisoners, and to increase that allowance. Such an increase, however, would in no way increase the efficiency of the gaols, although no doubt it would tend largely to increase the expenditure. It cannot be doubted that great waste results from the maintenance of the smaller gaols by the local authorities, and that that waste is so great that the Government would not be justified in asking Parliament to grant a further charge upon the Imperial revenue, unless they stated their intention to adopt a course which will materially improve the discipline of the gaols, and will reduce rather than in- crease the expenditure upon them. The Government have seen these great discrepancies in the numbers of the populations for which the prisons are built. They have seen that it is perfectly impossible in the present state of things to alter this, because you cannot expect one district to build with a view of accommodating its neighbours. It would be absolutely impossible, as things are now, to bring the expense of each prisoner to the same level, and it is therefore better to make considerable changes. It is proposed, therefore, that the Government itself, instead of supplementing local rates for the purposes of prisons, shall take the whole expenses of all prisoners from the moment they are committed, and take the management of all the gaols into their own hands. That, of course, would give the Government this power. It would enable the Government so to arrange that there would not be waste in the first instance in building prisons where they are not wanted; it will enable the Government so to arrange the prisons that they shall be adapted to the populations in which they are situated; it will enable the Government to save all the waste of staff appointments, and practically enable them to carry out a system of discipline equally in all the goals in the country. Besides that, there would be a great saving of expense, and I think I shall be able to show that by this proposal there will be saved to local jurisdictions a much larger sum than will be charged by the Government to the Treasury. The first item in which saving would be effected is the closing of unnecessary prisons. This was done to a limited extent by the Gaols Act of 1865; but the Secretary of State had no power under that Act to order them to be closed. If the measure which I am now explaining to the House is passed, we shall be able to close over 50 of the 116 prisons now in existence, the remainder being quite ample for the reception of the prisoners we have lately been in the habit of having in gaol, or we are likely to have for some time to come. This would effect a great saving of money in many ways, and, among others, in reference to the staff of officers it will be necessary to maintain. We have considered the question very carefully, and we do not think that the abolition of the prisons to which I have alluded will materially increase the cost of conveying prisoners from the places at which they are committed to the prisons in which they will have to serve their sentences. The next item on which a saving would be effected is the earnings of the prisoners. I find that in one prison the earnings of prisoners are close upon £10 per head per year; in another the sum is a little over £6; in a third the average earnings amount only to 6s. 9¾d. per head per annum; whereas in the Convict Prison at Pentonville each prisoner earns, apart from the labour on buildings, which would materially increase the amount earned, on an average £9 a-year. We have no reason to doubt that if all these prisoners were under the same discipline and properly grouped together the amount of money they earn would not be as large as is now earned in the best managed convict prisons, and we believe also that it would go on continuously increasing. Again, it is quite obvious in the small prisons they cannot afford to pay for instructors to teach the prisoners. The third item of saving which will arise from doing away with 50 prisons will be considerable—that is to say, in the cost of repairs. The result of all this, if the House sanctions the scheme, will be that we shall not make any serious inroad on the Imperial Exchequer, and we shall save very much more to the local jurisdictions than the present charge. The total average cost for 1872, 1873, 1874, and 1875 of the county and borough prisons is £592,390; and deducting from that the interest on the loans obtained for building prisons—namely, £42,472—it will leave the actual cost of the prisons at £549,918. Now, the funds that have hitherto been made have run as follows:—The profits upon prison labour amount to £50,312, and some small contingent receipts, in round numbers £8,000. From the rates there have been paid £392,000; from the public revenue £99,100. We propose that the gaols shall be handed over to the Government, and it will be carried out in this way. We have no doubt that by closing superfluous prisons we should be able to effect a saving at once of £50,000 or £60,000. We have no doubt also that there will be an increase in the value of labour of £50,000. This, therefore, would only leave a charge upon the public revenue of £385,000. Taking the small contingent receipts into account, this will be somewhat increased, so that practically there would be a saving from local rates of £392,000, and only an additional charge upon the public revenue of £285,000. In doing this, therefore, we should, in round numbers, save to the local jurisdictions something like £100,000 more than the expenditure which we propose. I think that this alone would be a satisfactory result, taking into consideration the improvement which will, no doubt, be brought into existence in discipline and good management, and also in the good conduct of the prisons and of the prisoners themselves, for we should go much more into the question of industrial as against penal labour, and this would practically be a great matter, and would, we believe, tend very much to the diminution of crime. Of course, two or three questions will be asked, and I would very shortly state the provisions of the Bill that have been framed to carry out our scheme. We propose that this Act shall come into operation at the commencement of the next financial year. It will be quite impossible that in undertaking this scheme you should take immediately all these things over. You must have a certain number of months for carrying out your scheme of reduction, therefore we do not propose to take the matter into our own hands until the end of March, 1877; but from that day all the expenses incurred on prisons and for the prisoners therein will be defrayed out of monies to be provided by Parliament. As to local jurisdictions, from the time of a man going to prison as a committed prisoner they will practically cease. Of course, we have no notion of buying the gaols, for if we did that we should have to pay a very large sum of money; and therefore we say that the prisons and the furniture and effects belonging thereto shall be handed over to the Secretary of State for the purpose of keeping prisoners there. Although I say that they are to be handed over to the Secretary of State, and he shall act in reference to the appointment of all officers, and shall have the control and custody of the prisoners and all the power of the Quarter Sessions and the Visiting Justices shall be primarily vested in the Secretary of State, I do not mean to propose that the Secretary of State should administer a matter of this kind. I propose—following the recom- mendation of the Commission that sat a long time ago—that there shall be established Prison Boards, which shall practically carry out all the details of this question. I propose that there should be Prison Boards composed of a certain small number of members for this purpose, and to be called Prison Commissioners, and that they should have the general superintendence of prisons under this Bill vested in them, but subject to the control of the Secretary of State. One question to be considered will be the appointment of officers, for the question of patronage will, no doubt, be considered. As Secretary of State I have no wish to have the slightest amount of patronage more than I can help, for nothing more encumbers a Minister or gives him more trouble and anxiety; but I propose that the appointment of the superior officers should be in the Secretary of State, of course taking the opinion of the Visiting Boards, but all the rest of the subordinate officers shall not be appointed by the Secretary of State, but by the Prison Commissioners themselves. This will take a vast amount of patronage from the Secretary of State, and the Boards would administer it more satisfactorily than he could. One advantage of this will be that, by being all together, there will be a much greater flow of promotion in the service, and a much greater inducement to officers to work well than there is at present, and practically you will get a much better staff of officers than you have had down to the present. I do not, however, find any fault with the existing officers, who I think are exceedingly satisfactory. But there is another question which hon. Members will be asking—What are you going to do with your Prison Inspectors? It is quite clear that there must be Inspectors. You cannot well work even 50 gaols from London without some one to visit them. We propose not to keep up the Prison Inspectors as at present, but to give the Prison Commissioners certain assistants, who will visit periodically the gaols, reporting to the head quarters in London. There is also one valuable body that I should be very sorry to lose, I mean the Visiting Justices. It is absolutely necessary when dealing with prisons of this kind that there should be that supervision and constant visiting that you cannot get except from the Visiting Justices. You must have an army of Inspectors without this; and although the whole control of the prisons and officers will be in the Prison Commissioners, or Assistant Commissioners, yet I do propose that in the counties and boroughs there should be, though in a somewhat different way, appointed by Quarter Sessions, Visiting Justices, as heretofore. I propose that this committee should not have the same extended powers of actually ruling the prisons as at the present moment; but the Prison Commissioners should visit from time to time any prison and report upon it. It is also quite necessary that prisons should be under the constant action of the visiting Justices, so that the public should be satisfied that the prisoners were properly taken care of, and that there should be an independent body of Justices, who would inform the Secretary of State if there was anything wrong. There is another point, and that is about the prisoners themselves. The House must know very well that counties are divided for prison purposes, that there are for this purpose boroughs, cities, and divisions of counties, and in every such case the Prison Board is bound to provide by the Act a prison. Most counties have built their prisons; but many places not having prisoners enough to build a prison for, have very properly not thought of building a prison, but have put their prisoners out in some neighbouring jurisdiction, paying a certain sum, not merely for their board, but also for the accommodation they have in the prisons. We propose that this Bill shall not come into operation until the end of the financial year, and we shall have time to see how this work is performed. We should then say to these places that if it could be shown that they had provided accommodation fit for the daily average of prisoners for the last five years, when they had done all that the law required of them, that the Government should take possession of the gaols. Those places which have not provided this accommodation, but have put out their prisoners into other jurisdictions, we should say this to them—We would take the daily average of prisoners for the last five years and that they should pay the equivalent of the cell accommodation that they would require. I would, however, also say that we should not propose that they should pay in cash, but that we should be perfectly ready to lend them money from the Public Works Loan Commissioners and that they should pay interest upon it at a certain rate. There are, of course, some jurisdictions which have provided prisons, and some which have not. Yet the latter have practically done so by contributing to the prisons of their neighbours. Where that course has been followed we propose to take that into consideration. When the prisons are discontinued we shall, of course, be perfectly ready to let the jurisdictions have their prisons back again under specified conditions. Or if it be preferred, we shall sell the prisons for them, and any surplus that may be received we shall hand over to the jurisdictions. I do not think I need trouble the House further with the provisions of this Bill. All I can say is that I believe if it is carried out we shall do exactly what was stated in the Queen's Speech—namely, produce a measure which will undoubtedly "promote economy and efficiency in the management of Prisons, besides being a measure which will largely relieve local burdens."
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill for amending the Law relating to Prisons."—( Mr. Assheton Cross.)
said, that, in so far as the Bill would secure greater uniformity in the management of prisons, and would enable them to shut up many costly and practically useless gaols, he thought it was a good measure. He was delighted to think that the Government were inclining more towards industrial than towards penal labour. He admitted that there would be a difficulty in shutting up these prisons and grouping them unless the Government took the matter up. The localities would not easily agree to a proposal for grouping the small prisons, and he really believed they would make a harder fight before giving up their gaols than in parting with one of their Representatives. The right hon. Gentleman had certainly bid high for the surrender; but he must enter his protest against the way in which he was dealing with this question of local government. He did not intend that the taxpayer should not be called in to the relief of the rate- payer. That must be the case; but when he was so called in he was entitled to make conditions that the relief given should be accompanied by such reforms that he should not be called upon for further contributions. He against rendering all these gifts from the Imperial Exchequer without insisting on those reforms which could be made palatable and possible by means of those gifts only. The right hon. Gentleman was proceeding in a very dangerous course in thus touching the question of local government here and there, and fragmentarily, instead of dealing with it in a statesmanlike and comprehensive manner. The Government gave largely out of the Exchequer last year, but had there been an equal corresponding diminution of the rates? He was afraid that an attempt was to be made to pass a Highways Bill without even that Valuation Bill which had a little modicum of reform in it, and without which it would only intensify the inequality between one Union and the other. He trusted that if the House surrendered the public money in proposals of this kind, it would insist on some useful reforms as part of the consideration.
said, he agreed with a good deal that had fallen from the hon. Gentleman, but he had omitted to apply his remarks to the Bill. The Home Secretary had clearly shown the enormous waste in prison management and the inequality and want of uniformity in the treatment of prisoners. The scheme of the Government would, he thought, effect an enormous saving of expenditure on local funds by means of a comparatively small contribution from the Imperial funds. He had himself reckoned up from 55 to 60 small prisons that might be disposed of, and which had only 1,600 prisoners among them, although they had a staff of 487 officers. This gave an average of three officers for 10 prisoners, a number for which in larger prisons one officer would be sufficient. The reduction in the number of prisons proposed by the Government would leave an adequate proportion of prisons to the population. In some prisons the prisoners were maintained for 1s. a-day, and their earnings still further reduced their cost from £16 to £10 a-year; but at Lincoln the cost was 6s. 3d. a-day and there were no earnings at all. No Government could rightly permit this state of things to continue without making an effort to change it, and if it involved any charge upon the Exchequer it was for purely national purposes. There could be no valid objection to the principle of the Government assuming the cost of maintaining prisons. So far as he understood the proposal of the Home Secretary, it appeared to be good, proper, and timely.
complained that the Home Office did not co-operate with the Justices in matters of this kind, and hoped the House would not be deluded by statements such as those made by the Home Secretary, for the design seemed to be to carry out further the system of centralization. The practical effect of centralization had been to disqualify the local bodies from managing their own affairs, and the right hon. Gentleman was now seeking to carry the system further. He never heard such a weak and inefficient case put forward for centralizing the management of matters which were now regulated by the magistrates, and of all business taken in hand by the Government there was none that, according to his experience, they administered so unsatisfactorily as that relating to prisons, so that there was the greatest danger in the transfer of authority which had been proposed that evening. The perversion of central government, in some cases, where the management of prisons was under the control of the Roman Catholic party was notorious. The Home Secretary had exercised most unwarrantable strictness in respect to a certain remarkable case, and he could only attribute that to special influences brought to bear upon the right hon. Gentleman outside the House. In the three counties in which he took part in the management of prisons he had heard of no complaint which could not be remedied by local action.
remarked, in answer to an observation made by the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) that the proposal of the Government was to relieve certain rate papers from the exceptionally unjust contribution they had hitherto been required to make. There was no reason why owners of real property should be required to contribute more than other classes to the maintenance of prisons.
said, the financial proposals of the right hon. Gentleman offered what was per se a distinct advantage; but the price they would have to pay for it was centralization; and, without committing himself now to a final criticism upon the scheme, he must say that he should have liked to see relief given to local rates by some measure which, instead of weakening, would have strengthened and extended local self-government. The proposal of the right hon. Gentleman would not only weaken, local self-government, but would actually lead to the suppression of a branch of it that was by no means an unimportant one. It was true that the Visiting Justices would be retained, but a great deal of their present power would be taken from them and they would be in reality unpaid Inspectors. He would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman when he had reduced the number of prisons from 116 to 66, what he was going to do with the surplus staff of those prisons—governors, gaolers, chaplains and other officers. Were they all to be absorbed under the now system, or were they to be pensioned off; and, if so, at whose cost? A great fear was that the maximum of the existing salaries would become the minimum of the future salaries, when the officials now employed by the different local authorities were taken into the service of the Government. He foresaw that the right hon. Gentleman would find it more difficult than he supposed to reduce the number of prisons to 66, because considerable pressure would be brought to bear upon him on all sides to induce him to maintain existing prisons. He gave the right hon. Gentleman credit for having made his calculations with the greatest care and skilfulness; but recollecting what had been the result of the Government undertaking heavy responsibilities of this nature in the past, bearing in mind particularly what had happened in the case of the Telegraphs, he doubted whether, without the exercise of the greatest caution, the experiment would prove a financial success. He hoped the suggestions he had thrown out would be carefully considered by the right hon. Gentleman who had charge of the Bill before the House was asked to proceed further.
said, he thought there was point in the observations which the right hon. Gentleman opposite had made in reference to the question of compensating officials in existing prisons whose services would be no longer required if the Bill which had been described by the Secretary of State for the Home Department became law. In his speech, the right hon. Gentleman had only given a slight sketch of the Prisons Commission which was to have the management of the prisons after they had passed into the hands of the Government. It would be satisfactory to know whether the members of the Commission were to be paid for their services, and, if so, where the money was to come from. On the whole, he was much pleased with the statement which the right hon. Gentleman had made, in that it was a redemption of promises contained in the Speech from the Throne with which the Session commenced, and was, moreover, a continuation of the policy which in the past had worked well. Nothing was more thoroughly national than the making of provisions for the security of life and property; and, if one branch of the public was more interested than another in a measure of the kind, it was that branch which owned personal as distinguished from real property. It must be clear that if the Commission to be appointed did their work as well as the local authorities who at the present time had charge of the administration of prisons, the whole cost must be much less than if the existing number of prisons was maintained. This was undoubtedly a very bold measure, especially when they considered that it was brought in on the 1st of June. He did not know whether they could look forward to its being carried this Session. He foresaw the usual block of Business, and Heaven only knew which of the measures now before the House would be carried. He hoped the Government would not be dismayed by the denunciation of the principle of centralization which they would hear from the other side. He was quite ready to accept the centralization with all its drawbacks, when it was accompanied by a substantial pecuniary benefit. On the whole, he believed the Bill would largely improve the management of our prisons, and the Government had done well to introduce it.
thanked the Government for having introduced the Bill. It would, he believed, contribute to the better management of our prisons, and that was an object of greater importance than the mere saving of money—though, of course, if the two things could be combined, so much the better.
said, there was no doubt that the principle and details of the Bill carried centralization still further than it had been. The question was whether it was a good or bad direction. As far as he understood the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman, though it might be exceptional in some respects, it was a step in the right direction. They could not have an Imperial grant without at the same time submitting to Imperial interference. He did not approve of the management of the prisons as proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, as he had a strong objection to the administration of public affairs by Commissioners.
considered it would be unfair to take the second reading of this Bill before the Irish Bill was in print. In fact, unless the Irish Bill were printed in time the Irish Members would be voting in the dark.
said, he did not object to the measure on the ground of centralization, or because of the transfer of the cost from the local to the general taxpayer; but he did regret that the Government did not undertake to reform the whole system of local self-government, especially as the present Administration was, from its experience in such matters, peculiarly qualified to deal with it. Every day's delay would create a greater chaos, and render the work a more difficult one.
regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had not gone further, and taken the matter entirely out of the hands of the Visiting Justices, who, under the Bill, would be reduced to the position of mere Inspectors. They had a precedent for it in the case of the convict prisons, which were entirely administered by the central Government. He entirely approved of the principle of the Bill.
said, he thought it scarcely fair, Session after Session, to transfer the local charges to the Imperial Treasury. To that portion of the Home Secretary's scheme which dealt with prison reform he did not think there could be any objection; but the other portion, which dealt with financial re-adjustment, would be unpalatable to the country.
, in reply, expressed his conviction that when hon. Gentlemen came to consider the Bill they would find all the objections urged against the measure entirely vanish. As to the question of centralization, even now the local justices had very little power in the management of prisons. If a prisoner were sentenced in Liverpool, it did not at all follow that he should serve out his sentence in Liverpool Gaol. He might, according to the circumstances of his case, be sent elsewhere, but be brought back and discharged there at the expiration of his sentence. The Government proposed that when the Bill became law the prison officers should come under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of State. Any officer whose office would have to be abolished would, of course, be pensioned, very much in the same way as those officers were pensioned who belonged to the prisons that were discontinued by the Act of 1865. Practically, however, few of them except those who were aged would be deprived of their employment. The new prisons which might be required would be built with Government funds, but with prison labour. The Prison Commissioners would be in direct communication with the Home Secretary; their number should not exceed five, and he would be responsible for them. He did not propose to take the second reading of the Bill until the 22nd of June; and he had no doubt that before that date the analogous Bill for Ireland would be in the hands of Members.
Question put, and agreed to.
Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Secretary CROSS and Sir HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 180.]
Army Corps Training Bill
On Motion of Mr. Secretary Hardy, Bill to facilitate the assembling and training of certain Army Corps, ordered to be brought in by Mr. Secretary Hardy, Mr. Stanley, and Mr. William Henry Smith.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 182.]
Metropolitan Commons (Barnes) Bill
On Motion of Sir HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON, Bill to confirm a scheme under "The Metropolitan Commons Act, 1866," and "The Metropolitan Commons Act, 1869," relating to Barnes
Common, ordered to be brought in by Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson and Mr. Secretary Cross.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 181.]
Waterford, New Ross, And Wexford Junction Railway (Sale) Bill
Ordered, That the Select Committee on the Waterford, New Ross, and Wexford Junction Railway (Sale) Bill do consist of Five Members, Three to be nominated by the House, and Two to be nominated by the Committee of Selection.
Ordered, That all Petitions presented against the Bill be referred to the Select Committee on the Bill, subject to the decision of the Court of Referees on questions of locus standi if any objection be raised to the locus standi of any Petitioner, and provided such Petitions are presented three clear days before the meeting of the Committee; and that such of the Petitioners as pray to be heard by themselves, their Counsel, or agents, be heard upon their Petitions, if they think fit, and Counsel heard in favour of the Bill against the said Petitions:—Power to send for persons, papers, and records; Three to be the quorum.
Ordered, That Mr. Ridley, Captain Hood, and Mr. Blennerhassett be Members of the Committee.—( Mr. William Henry Smith.)
House adjourned at half One o'clock till Thursday next.