HC Deb 10 June 1907 vol 175 c1082
MR. CLYNES (Manchester, N.E.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to a number of petty robberies committed by boys in Manchester, and to their punishment by strokes with the birch rod; whether he is aware that the boys are children of poor parents who reside in districts where there is little facility or space for wholesome games and recreation; and, as one of the birched boys, who stole some biscuits and chocolate, is but eleven years old, whether he will consider the advisability of introducing legislation to prevent the infliction of birching in such cases.


I find on inquiry that in the case of juvenile offenders convicted of stealing, birching has been used in Manchester to a considerable extent as an appropriate punishment instead of fine or imprisonment. I may point out that it is usually poor people who suffer from the depredations of boys, and they have to be protected. I am not prepared to bring in the Bill suggested by the hon. Member, but I hope that the additional facilities afforded by the Probation of Offenders Bill now before the House may diminish the number of cases in which punishment is necessary.


In this case the theft was from a large warehouse not owned by poor people.


I think birching is a very useful form of punishment, and, honestly, I deem it better than sending a boy to gaol or imposing a fine on parents who cannot afford to pay.

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