HC Deb 03 June 1867 vol 187 cc1490-1

said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, If it be true, as has been asserted in the Hants Telegraph, that Corporal Punishment for Naval Cadets has been revived on board the training ship Britannia; and, if so, whether it has been sanctioned by the Admiralty, and under the authority of what statute?


replied, that he wished to remark, in the first instance, that the corporal punishment referred to by the hon. Member was not of the kind authorized by the Mutiny Act, but simply flogging with a birch rod—a punishment with which most hon. Members who had been to a public school were tolerably familiar. That punishment was inflicted under the authority of a Board Minute passed on the 16th of November, 1858. In that year four cadets on board the Illustrious, which was then the school ship, were guilty of gross misconduct, which would have subjected them, or, at all events, the ringleaders, to dismissal from the service; but it was suggested that the milder punishment of birching should be substituted. Accordingly, the following Minute was made, and it still continued in force:— Their Lordships are of opinion that young gentlemen in the Illustrious must be regarded as in training for their future profession, analogous in many respects to the period passed by other young gentlemen at a public school, and only preparatory to taking their position as officers in seagoing ships, and that they therefore will hereafter intrust the Captain of the Illustrious with the power of inflicting corporal punishment with a birch rod in such cases as he may think deserving of it, such punishment being inflicted in the schoolroom in presence of the other cadets, and at least two officers of the ship, and every case of such punishment, with the offence which led to it, to be reported to their Lordships. There had not been a single instance in which it was proved that the power thus given had been abused.


said, he wished to ask what was the age of the cadets?


said, the boys were qualified for admission between twelve and fourteen years of age and they remained on board the Britannia eleven months, Consequently, some of them might be fourteen years and eleven months old, and a few still older, because if a boy failed to pass the examination he might go up to be examined a second time.