HC Deb 20 April 1926 vol 194 cc1035-6

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide for the appointment of women justices of the peace to act as assessors in Juvenile Courts in Scottish burghs. In asking leave to introduce this Bill, I am not asking the House to accept any principle which it has not already accepted. All I ask is that the principle accepted by this House in 1920 in relation to juvenile courts in the Metropolis, shall be extended to the Scottish burghs. As the Memorandum of the Bill, if I am allowed to introduce it, will explain, it is intended to provide for the appointment of women justices of the peace to act as assessors in juvenile courts in the Scottish burghs, and the magistrates, in nominating a panel of such women, would have regard to their experience in dealing with the problem of juvenile delinquency and their special interest in the training of young people here is only one Clause in the Bill. I believe it will he non-contentious, and if permission be given for its introduction, the Bill will be backed by members of all parties in this House. In the four great burghs of Scotland at the present time—in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Greenock and Stirling—we have women magistrates, but they are not always called in to the Juvenile Courts. If this Bill is introduced and passed through its various stages, it will give effect to the principles contained in a circular which was issued by a predecessor of the present Secretary for Scotland and a Conservative Secretary for Scotland, namely, Lord Novar. He issued Circular 1933, Clauses 18 and 19 of which contain a special plea for the appointment of women Justices of the Peace in connection with the work of Juvenile Courts in Scotland. With the permission of the House I will quote from that circular: It is generally admitted that the problem of the delinquent child is different from that of the adult, and needs special treatment. Success in dealing with children who are charged with offences, depends largely on the personality and experience of the Judge. It is therefore, desirable that except where such cases are extremely few, there should be assigned to a juvenile court, where the number of Magistrates or Justices who ordinarily attend the Court admits of it being conveniently done, a separate rota of Magistrates or Justices which should include those who have gained experience in the problem of juvenile delinquency as social workers or teachers or who are otherwise specially interested in the training of young people. The purpose of this Bill is to use such means as lie to our hands to try to bring back into the paths of rectitude juveniles in Scotland who have gone astray. I believe the help and guidance of women magistrates in these Courts will help to bring back many of these children.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Westwood, Mr. Thomas Henderson, Dr. Drummond Shiels, Mr. William M'Lean Watson, Major-General Sir Robert Hutchison, Mr. Barr, Sir Harry Hope, Mr. Macintyre, Mr. William Adamson, Mr. Johnston, and Mr. Scrymgeour.