HC Deb 03 July 1935 vol 303 cc1858-60
47. Mr. McGOVERN

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he can state the number of young persons under 16 years of age who were before the Glasgow courts for each year 1930 to 1935, inclusive, charged with theft and housebreaking; and whether he is aware that no legal defence is available for these young persons whose parents are mostly unemployed?


As regards the first part of the question, I would propose, as the reply involves a table of figures, to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. As regards the second part, Poor's Agents are available for the defence of cases in the Sheriff Court on prior notice to them being given. There are no Poor's Agents attached to the Glasgow Police Courts.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that no legal aid is provided in the Sheriff Courts in Glasgow? The other week I was present When scores of boys were being asked to plead, and no legal defence was available. Will the right hon. Gentleman see that notice is given on the summons where legal advice can be given?


I am given to understand that legal advice is always forthcoming for poor persons. If the hon. Member has any specific case where he knows of such advice not being forthcoming, I will immediately look into it.


Will the right hon. Gentleman inform the House how recently such a procedure has been adopted in the sheriff court, when two months ago the conditions applying to these people were those mentioned in the question?


I can only speak from information received. I will naturally look into the matter in view of the supplementary questions which have been put to me, but I am assured that proper arrangements are available for the defence of cases in the sheriff court. However, I will make inquiries.


If these arrangements are not available in the court when poor people are summoned in respect of offences which their children have committed, they do not know how legal aid can be obtained; will the right hon. Gentleman see to it that some method is adopted when issuing the summonses so that the information may be given?


I will see what can be done under the existing facilities.

Following is the table:

The numbers of children and young persons proceeded against in the courts in Glasgow in the years 1930–33 in respect of theft and housebreaking (including theft by housebreaking) are as follow:

Theft Housebreaking (including theft by house-breaking).
1930 509 181
1931 566 263
1932 742 321
1933 758 430
1934 1,052 552
1935 (to 31st May, 1935). 460 225

The figures for the period to 1st November, 1933, are in respect of children and young persons under 16 years of age, but as from that date the age of "young persons" was raised by the Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act, 1932, to 17 years, and the figures for the period subsequent to 1st November, 1933, relate to children and young persons under 17 years of age.