§ Motion made, and Question proposed,
§ 4. "That a sum not exceeding £10,900 be granted to His Majesty to defray the expense of Martial Law, including the cost of naval prisons at Home and Abroad, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1911."
§ Lord CHARLES BERESFORD
There has been an immense diminution of crime in the Royal Navy within the last few years. I think that the Committee should know that, as it is very satisfactory. I would like it if the right hon. Gentleman would tell the Committee how the scheme for the Detention Barracks is working. I take a very great interest in it, and when I was Commander-in-Chief was a great believer in it, because a man who may be most insubordinate and who may commit a crime of striking an officer, and who loses his temper, very often is the best man in the ship or regiment. Such a man may be quite as severely punished as the man who has done a blackguardly and scoundrelly thing, and that is altogether wrong.
§ Mr. ASHLEY
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman one or two questions with reference to what seems to me to be rather an inequality in salary under this Vote. On page 63 we have to vote salaries for the prison at Lewes. The maximum salary that the governor can receive under this Vote, though he may receive and does, as a matter of fact, receive a pension from a former service, the maximum salary is £400. He is receiving £292 this year. The medical man who looks after the prisoners receives £100. I do not quarrel with either of those two items, but I will put it to the right hon. Gentleman, though I have great respect for the chaplain and the work he performs, that a salary of £500 is undoubtedly a large sum for the chaplain when the local medical practitioner only receives £100 while the medical stores amount to £20, and when the governor only receives £300. Surely with an aver- 846 age of sixty-eight prisoners £500 for the chaplain is an absurd amount, and ought to be looked into. I am fortified in my argument when I see that there are other prisons which do without so expensive an official. At Bodmin, where the average number of prisoners is exactly half that of Lewes, totalling thirty-four, they get on without a chaplain at all, and if Bodmin can get on without any chaplain surely it is rather extravagant to have a chaplain at £500 per year for sixty prisoners at Lewes. It seems to me that Portsmouth, as I am sure the Noble Lord (Lord Charles Beresford) will agree, has set the happy mean between the excessive amount of £500 and nothing at all. In Portsmouth they do not have a chaplain specially for the prison, but they give an allowance of £50 per year to the chaplain of the "Victory" to perform such services as are necessary. That seems to me a common sense and practical way of doing things. It avoids the excessive amount of £500 paid in one prison, and the equally inexpedient course as in another prison of not having any chaplain at all.
§ Mr. LEACH
I presume that this chaplain, mentioned on page 63, is a clergyman of the Church of England. Seeing that prisoners, naval or otherwise, are not all members of the Church of England, and I may mention that I acted as prison chaplain six months in London, I should like to know what provision is made for Nonconformist prisoners in the way of religious services. Has the time come when a Nonconformist can be appointed as salaried officer in connection with any of the prisons to which naval men are sent?
§ Mr. LEE
My Noble Friend (Lord Charles Beresford) asked with regard to the Detention Barracks and as to what progress was being made. I understand that under the Naval Discipline Act, 1909, the' scheme cannot come into operation before 1st January next at the earliest. I remember that the Secretary of the Admiralty met us very fairly with regard to the Bill, but I want to know whether any progress is being made in the meantime, that is to say whether the Admiralty is enabled to introduce a modified system of punishment until the beginning of next year, and if it is so whether they are in the meantime getting the Detention Barracks ready so that the scheme can come into actual working operation at the earliest possible date. I think it is of great importance, 847 now that it is announced, that the change should come into effect as early as possible. I hope everything is being done to bring it into operation as promptly and on as large a scale as possible.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the ADMIRALTY (Dr. Macnamara)
As the Noble Lord has mentioned, I am glad to say that there has been a substantial decrease in crime in the Navy. With regard to the Detention Barracks system, we had hoped under the Act passed last Session to bring them into operation on 1st January, 1911. I need not remind the Committee that the difference between the Detention Barracks system and the naval prison is very substantial. With regard to ordinary offences against naval discipline, the bluejacket will not go to the detention barracks in prison rig, he will not have his hair cut, he will not do shot drill, and will not pick oakum. On the contrary, he will go under naval escort, in ordinary naval rig, and will do physical exercises and naval trainings, the whole purpose being to make the punishment deterrent but not demoralising, and in the hope of turning him out, as I hope we shall do, a better sailor after his detention. With regard to the progress made, the Member for Fareham (Mr. Lee) has stated that we undertook, under the Bill of last year, to bring in this scheme by the 1st January next year.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
We had hoped we would be able to provide permanent detention quarters at the home ports on the 1st January, 1911, but we have not been able to realise that expectation because of the large amount of structural alteration required. At any rate we hope to make provision for temporary accommodation at Chatham and Devonport, so that the system will come into being there on the 1st January. With regard to Portsmouth, we hoped to convert the prison so as to get it permanently ready as detention quarters by 1st January, 1911. There we had some difficulty in the matter of the disposal of the warder staff of the existing prison, and the hope of our being able to convert the prison into detention quarters by 1st January could not be realised. In the meantime we shall use temporary accommodation, so as to bring the system into operation on the 1st January. I had hoped that we might have 848 brought certain features of the system into existence forthwith, and that we might no longer send men to the detention prison in prison rig, or have their hair cut, or that they should have to undergo shot drill. There are difficulties in the way of that. For instance, at Lewes the premises are very old, and do not lend themselves to the routine of the detention quarters, and I am not quite sure whether there are not legal difficulties in the way of bringing the thing piecemeal into operation, such as I had hoped even in the absence of proper accommodation. The matter is constantly before us, and we shall certainly put the temporary premises going by the date of the Act, and the permanent premises as soon thereafter as possible. We shall keep Bodmin as the Naval prison for the time being, because, independent of the civil offences altogether, there may be offences against Naval discipline which may be so serious as to justify the sending of men to a naval prison. For that reason we propose to keep Bodmin as the only remaining naval gaol. At Gibraltar, Malta and Poonah, and perhaps Kandi, Hong Kong and Bermuda, we may use the Military Detention quarters. At Simons-town, and Sydney, the existing naval prisons can be converted into detention barracks, and plans and specifications have been received from the respective Commanders-in-Chief. Therefore I am very glad to say that everything that can be done is being done to carry out this very great reform in the treatment of prisoners who have been guilty of disciplinary offences. With regard to the question of the chaplain, the salary of the chaplain of Lewes of £500 is a salary not for the prison, but as a senior chaplain in the Navy. He has reached that salary by previous service. With regard to the governor, the hon Member for Blackpool (Mr. Ashley) will see, if he looks through the Estimates, that he gets more—
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
The hon. Member will see if he adds up the total emoluments of the governor that they are more than the sum mentioned. With regard to Nonconformist prisoners, ministers of their religion have access to them.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
If the hon. Member will put a question on Report I will find out the precise facts with regard to the point.
§ Question put, and agreed to.