§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, he rose to ask permission of the House to introduce a Bill for providing for the further security of Her Majesty's subjects from personal violence. The Bill was a very short one, but he thought it would be effectual. The punishment provided by the existing Act of 1861 for the crime of robbery with violence was penal servitude for terms ranging from three years to life, or solitary imprisonment, with hard labour, not exceeding two years. He proposed to make the same addition to that punishment for robbery with violence which was made by the Act of 1842 to the punishment for attacks upon the Queen, and by the Act of 1845 to the punishment for malicious injury of works of art— namely, corporal punishment. He did so for the same reasons, with the same object, and he was convinced with the same result which attached to those two Acts. It seemed to him that in the long and dreary vista of broken-down experiments in penal enactments during the last fifty years those two Acts stood out in striking contrast of complete success. The proposition was made in no retrograde spirit, but it followed precedent, proof from experience, and, he must say, the dictates of common sense. In the Larceny Consolidation Act of 1861 corporal punishment of adults was deliberately retained in the case he had alluded to, which he held belonged to the same category as robbery with violence. He attached no weight whatever to the opinion of those who opposed corporal punishment as degrading. These men argued from their own innocence to the feelings of degraded humanity. The question was not whether corporal punishment was applicable to men of honour, but to the correction of men of the lowest motives. According to the philosophy of punishment, to be effectual it must be addressed to the motives of the punished; and if there were those who would only be deterred from crime by fear of pain, it was surely far better to visit the crime with the punishment which would 786 put a stop to its commission rather than by inefficient punishments lead to the perpetual repetition of the crime and the punishment too. He in no way trenched on the ground fenced off for the Royal Commission instituted for inquiring into the operation of the Acts on penal servitude and transportation, and the manner in which they had, or rather had not, been carried out. Even if the House was content to suffer an embargo to be laid on its action, and that public opinion should be obstructed just when it was ready for action on recent experience, the Minister could scarcely plead such an embargo as an excuse from discussion who had continued to deal with the question himself, and made considerable alterations by circulars from his own Department, pending the inquiry which he had himself instituted. He proposed not in any way to affect the operation of the two Acts of 1853 and 1857 which had been referred to the Commission, but simply to make an addition, or, he would say, to supply an omission in them—namely, to add another crime to the list which had been reserved for corporal punishment in aggravation of the penalties provided by those Acts. He had not only the great success of the Acts of 1842 and 1845 to adduce in favour of his proposition, but wherever else corporal punishment had been tried, or was still in use, they found it had precisely the same results. He might quote the high opinion of the Duke of Wellington as to the efficiency of corporal punishments in the army; for when he gave evidence against the excessive use of that punishment, he guarded himself against being supposed in favour of its abolition. Not only for deterrence, but as an exemplary punishment, in certain cases, he considered it was absolutely necessary. As to the use of that punishment in prison for purposes of internal discipline, he could adduce the high authority of Major Fulford the governor of the county goal at Stafford, who stated that, in thirteen years' experience, having had every species of ruffian under his care, however inefficient other punishments might have been, he could say with regard to corporal punishment alone that he never on any occasion had to repeat it a second time. He did not think public opinion in this country would be content, especially in the existing extremity for efficient secondary punishments, to throw away one which had proved so effectual; and if it had been successful in protecting Her Majesty from 787 violence, and works of art from malicious injury, would they be acting like sensible men if, from any feeling of scrupulousness, based, he believed, on a perfectly false philosophy, they allowed themselves to be exposed to the most rampant violence when such an effectual remedy lay idle in their hands? He begged to move for leave to bring in the Bill.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, that on the part of Her Majesty's Government he would not offer any objection to the bringing in of the Bill, but he wished, however, to guard himself against being supposed to assent to its principle. The right hon. Gentleman had not explained the manner in which he proposed to effect his suggested alteration of the law. The House should bear in mind that only two years ago the Criminal Law was revised and consolidated, and that, upon the recommendation of the Select Committee to whom the revision was intrusted, the House decided that the punishment of flogging should be abolished in respect to offences to which it formerly attached by law, with the exception of the two or three cases to which the right hon. Gentleman had adverted. The House would, therefore, have to carefully consider, when the Bill came before them at a future stage, the grounds on which it was asked to retrace its steps. He did not collect from the right hon. Gentleman's speech whether he intended to make the infliction of corporal punishment imperative, or to leave it to the discretion of the Judge. In the latter case he would do well to remember, that when that punishment was attached to certain offences, it was very rarely inflicted. When a particular judge, in the exercise of his discretionary power, sentenced a prisoner to be whipped, juries were found reluctant to convict, and prisoners often escaped. The Judges very rarely sentenced prisoners to corporal punishment, and past experience led to the belief that if they were again to be intrusted with the power of doing so, they would rarely exercise it. The Bill might thus alter the theory of the law without producing much effect on its practice. On the other hand, if the infliction of flogging was to be imperative, the right hon. Gentleman had not stated whether he meant it to be a cumulative punishment, in addition to imprisonment and penal servitude, or in substitution for them. Again, a prisoner's health, age, or other circumstances might make it impossible to inflict the punishment, though he 788 had committed an offence to which it might attach. Nor had the right hon. Gentleman, very accurately defined the crimes to which he desired to affix that punishment. He had spoken of offences attended with violence, but it was not very clear whether he meant to include burglaries with violence. Moreover, if flogging was so effectual, where was the line to be drawn? Was one man, who knocked down another to rob him of his watch, to be subject to this punishment; while another, who knocked down a woman to violate her, was to be exempt from it? In the army and navy flogging might be necessary in certain cases; and in gaols, when violent outbreaks suddenly occurred, he believed it was the only effectual mode of suppressing insubordination; but it was a different thing when inflicted on men who were to be tried for a crime weeks, or perhaps months, after its commission. He would not oppose the introduction of the Bill, and he should be glad to hear fuller explanations from the hon. Gentleman at a subsequent stage.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill for the further security of the persons of Her Majesty's Subjects from personal violence, ordered to be brought in by Mr. ADDERLET, Sir STAFFORD NORTHCOTE, and Mr. GARNETT.
§ Bill presented, and read 1°. [Bill 35.]