HC Deb 05 June 1931 vol 253 cc583-6

I beg to move, in page 8, line 26, to leave out from the word "regulating" to the end of the paragraph, and to insert instead thereof the words any other expenditure of probation committees.

This Amendment, in so far as it leaves out part of paragraph (b), is consequential on the insertion in Clause 1 of the new Sub-section dealing with superannuation. The insertion of the proposed words is designed to meet the complaint that there is insufficient control over expenditure by probation committees and to enable the Secretary of State to make rules regulating such expenditure.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."


The Bill arises out of a Committee appointed when I held office, and I am glad to think that we are hopeful of seeing the recommendations of that Committee put into operation. It is, of course, an experimental Measure. It will be watched with interest by a great number of people, and it may well be that as time proceeds certain alterations will have to be made in it, but as far as Scottish members are concerned, we are glad to think that the deficiency which has existed for some time in the working of probation in Scotland as compared with what it has been across the border has now been made good, and I hope it may be very successful in its operation.


I want to thank Members in all parts of the House for the assistance that we have had with the Bill. All sections of the House have taken considerable interest in it. As the right hon. Gentleman has already said, it is an experiment, and I believe, as he believes, that it will be for the benefit of that class of our young people who require the supervision for which provision is made in the Bill. It may be, as we continue to test its usefulness, that we may require to amend it in certain respects. I hope that the House will accept the Bill and give it the Third Reading.

Duchess of ATHOLL

I should like to ask the Secretary of State, before the Bill is produced in another place, to give attention to a point, which, I am sorry to say, has only lately struck me in regard to Clause 6. Sub-section (1) of that Clause requires the expenses of probation officers, failing agreement between authorities forming a joint area, to be determined according to the rateable valuation in the valuation roll of the respective areas of the local authorities. It seems to me that the amount of work reasonably to be expected in the several areas should have been taken into account and that it is hardly fair to base it entirely upon the rateable valuation, more especially as the amount of work in one part of a joint area may be rather more than in another part. It appears to be inevitable that we shall have a great linking up in Scotland of county areas with burghs, which are regarded technically as large burghs, even though they are not necessarily very large ones. I do not wish to do the burghs an injustice, but I should think that it would be found that there were many more cases of juvenile delinquency in the burghs than in the rural areas. I do not wish to hold up the young people in rural areas as models in everything, but undoubtedly they do not find their way to the police courts as often as some of the young people in the burghs.

I have been able to make a comparison showing the considerable difference in the number of cases put upon probation in a burgh as compared with the surrounding county. In the case of a burgh with a population of about 30,000, in the years between 1925 and 1930, there were 311 cases put on probation by the burgh police court and the sheriff court, and in the same period, in a county with a population of 90,000, there were 62 cases, which is less than one-fifth of the cases in the burgh. These are areas which will very likely be combined in a joint area, and, if there is no agreement as to allocation of expenses, undoubtedly a heavy share of the expense will come upon the rural part, which is not likely to supply as many cases. It is very important, if this Bill is to be a success, that local authorities should combine and work harmoniously together and be interested in the work, and I ask the Secretary of State to give the matter his consideration before the Bill reaches another place and see whether some account cannot be taken in the allocation of expenses of the amount of work which is reasonably to be expected in the several areas, having regard to the number of cases coming before the police court in those areas in the past.


I think that there will be no difficulty in dealing with this problem. I am very hopeful that the expenditure in connection with this new experiment will not be very large. While it is true that you may have a larger number of delinquents from the burgh area than from the rural area, it is equally true to say that, under the de-rating scheme, the rural area will have very little to pay, even if it is based upon the valuation pointed out by the noble Lady. If the principles contained in the Measure—and they represent the aims and objects of all who have helped to frame it—are to be a success, that success can only be achieved by two means. First of all, by getting efficient, able and enthusiastic probation officers to carry through the work under the scheme of probation, and, secondly, by getting upon the probation committee individuals who will take great interest in, and give careful attention to, what is one of the greatest problems in dealing with youthful delinquents. If we can get close association between probation officers and the committees which will have to create the active interest and supervise the work, I feel sure that the work of Parliament in framing this particular Bill will meet with success by improving the conditions as far as young offenders are concerned.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.