Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £899,488, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1936, for the Salary and Expenses of the Inspector of Constabulary; Grants in respect of Police Expenditure and a Grant in Aid of the Police Federation in Scotland." [NOTE: £225,000 has been voted on account.]
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ Mr. NEIL MACLEAN
Would it not be advisable and for the convenience of the Committee to take together the Votes for the Police and for the Prisons, as they are related? It might save the time of the Committee. Otherwise the two debates would probably overlap.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Sir Godfrey Collins)
I very readily rise to support the suggestion of the hon. Member. It would indeed be rather difficult to have a debate solely on the Police Vote, and I think it would be for the general convenience of all who are interested in the subject if we discussed the two Votes together, as they are so interlocked.
§ 3.41 p.m.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The discussion of the two Votes together can be done only with the general assent of the Committee. After what has been said by the representative of the Opposition and by the Secretary of State the Committee will probably think that that would be a convenient course, and in that case I raise no objection to it. If that be the general agreement it will, of course, be understood that when the discussion has resulted in a vote being taken on the first Vote, a decision will be taken on the second Vote without any further discussion. I assume that that is the general sense of the Committee.
§ 3.42 p.m.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I am anxious, in view of your ruling, to give to the Committee a survey of the position of the Police Forces in Scotland as well as of the Prisons Department. During the past 12 months there has been much Parliamentary anxiety on certain matters which have been raised by way of question and answer. I will touch on several points of administration which have been dealt with during the past year. First, we have realised that we would like to have more direct knowledge of the exact situation in our prisons in Scotland. We are indeed fortunate with our Governors and with the officials responsible for the Prisons Department of Scotland, but in order to secure more first-hand, day-to-day knowledge we have appointed an Inspector of Prisons, who will visit the prisons and report direct to the Secretary of State as well as to the head of the Prisons Department. Our prisons in Scotland are administered under a number of regulations which go back many years. During the last year my hon. Friend the Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Leonard) has drawn my attention to one aspect of these numerous regulations. It was in connection with the censoring of Sunday newspapers. As soon as he put that question on the Paper I looked into the matter, and I can assure him that Sunday newspapers will be received by untried prisoners on the morning of issue. My attention has also been drawn to the question of the inspection of bedding. Any question on the Order Paper directs my attention to these matters, and I make an immediate investigation. And I can give an assurance to the Committee that all these regulations, which are numerous and go back many years, are to be completely reviewed in the light of modern thought and modern outlook, at the same time safeguarding the interests of the people for whom they are made.
Then the question of privileges arose, as to whether certain privileges should be continued in one prison when they are not granted in another. That matter also is being completely reviewed so as to secure some degree of symmetry and more definite and direct control over the customs which have grown up during many years in our Scottish prisons. We have also directed our attention to the question of the employment of prisoners in prison, to see whether something could 2021 not be done to secure more and better facilities for men and women, so that when they leave prison they may become more fit subjects of the State. We have appointed an industrial adviser who will go to the prisons and make a close inspection of the work done by the prisoners, so as to secure that their efforts will not only be useful to-day but will be of greater use to-morrow.
I have had several questions put to me as to Borstal prisoners being completely separated from adult prisoners, and the question of the Duke Street Prison has also arisen. It is indeed true that the prison is out of date and in many respects redundant. It is also true that the accommodation for warders is insufficient and not up to date. As a matter of fact this very week we are examining alternative sites in different parts of Glasgow, and when a suitable site is secured we shall erect a modern building, with proper accommodation not only for the warders but for the prisoners. Though I cannot make the definite statement that Duke Street Prison will be closed and sold, yet we realise to the full that the prison is completely out of date and that the sooner it is closed and a modern prison with proper accommodation erected in its place, the better it will be.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
The site is all right, but there are certain advantages in getting a site further out. We are examining alternative sites to see if we can get a better one. It will be remembered that during the early part of the year there was some disturbance at Barlinnie Prison. I am glad to say that since the new Governor took charge the discipline in the prison has been satisfactory. I have given orders for the accommodation at Barlinnie to be examined. There, again, the accommodation is not satisfactory either for warders or prisoners, and we are taking steps to see that proper accommodation will be erected in due course. Then there is the prison at Perth. An hon. Member opposite has on several occasions addressed questions to me about that prison. The Committee know that we are buying or securing a site near Carstairs for a modern criminal lunatic building, and when that building is erected there will be a big transfer of criminal lunatics from Perth Prison to 2022 the new accommodation. I have made inquiries as to whether the accommodation left, after that takes place, will be up to date and sufficient for the warders and prisoners. Undoubtedly much of the accommodation of the Perth Prison has been out of date and not in keeping with modern needs. I am assured that there will be sufficient modern accommodation for the warders who will be left there after the criminal lunatics have been moved to the new asylum near Carstairs.
The statement that I have given is brief, but it covers a wide number of subjects—inspection, regulations, privileges, the employment of prisoners, the question of the Borstal prisoners and the accommodation at Duke Stret, Barlinnie and Perth. I think it indicates that we are trying to bring a modern outlook into the prisons administration in Scotland, while maintaining that discipline which is necessary. I took the opportunity a short time ago of examining Peterhead Prison. I went all through that prison and I had an opportunity of testing the food and satisfying myself that it was of good quality and sufficient for the needs of the prisoners.
§ Mr. MAXTON
But there is a lack of variety in it. It is all right for one day but not for six months.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
No, I can assure my hon. Friend that when I visit these places I make sure that I am not on a personally conducted tour.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I am only anxious to make myself acquainted with the conditions applying to these people whose lot must, at all times, excite the sympathy of those of us who are more fortunate. I hope the Committee will excuse me if I have not gone more fully into these matters, but, as hon. Members know, we have been working at high pressure on other subjects during the last few days.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
Has the right hon. Gentleman anything to say about how the trouble arose in Barlinnie—about the question of smoking?
§ Sir G. COLLINS
That is related to the question of privileges. My hon. Friend will remember that at the beginning of the inquiry it was thought that a great deal of the trouble in Barlinnie had arisen because people in the prison had seen untried prisoners smoking, but I think that statement on investigation was found not to be correct. That is one of the subjects which I include in the consideration of privileges because the right to smoke is a privilege which may be granted in some cases and not do others. As I have said, we are trying to evolve a uniform system so as to avoid the possibility of creating any sense of unfairness. Nothing annoys men more, whether they are in prison or out of prison, than a sense of injustice.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
I thought that the trouble had arisen in connection with smoking and I wondered whether there was any proposal that all prisoners including those who are serving terms of imprisonment, should get the privilege of smoking.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
That is one of those questions which will arise on the consideration of the reports, which are at present being prepared, as to the exact situation in the different prisons so far as privileges are concerned. I mention these matters to show that we are really examining all these aspects of prison administration. We realise that the light that has been shed on these matters by means of questions and answers in the House has shown the necessity for investigation. I have nothing to hide from any hon. Member on these points and I am indeed grateful to any hon. Member who at any time directs my attention to what may appear at first sight to be weaknesses of administration, in connection with any of the activities which centre round the Scottish Office.
I now turn to the police administration. There has been considerable activity in this branch of administration during the past 12 months and we have had the initiation of several important experiments. It will be within the recollection of hon. Members that we arranged some months ago for the issue of a Scottish "Police Gazette" for the purpose of the rapid circulation to all police forces in Scotland of information regarding persons wanted by the police, or property stolen in various police districts. Responsible as we are for police 2024 and prisons administration, we are also responsible for seeing that the interests of the subject are safeguarded and I think the publication of this gazette will assist our police in different parts of Scotland. There has also been a development in connection with police wireless. In March of this year the experiment was started of police wireless installation to be operated by the Edinburgh and Glasgow police forces. These are to be available for the transmission of police wireless messages in certain areas in the neighbourhood of those two cities. Regional schemes of this kind are essential, I understand, because of the limited number of wavelengths available for use. Although this is only an experiment, the indications at present point to the experiment being a distinct success and, if it be a success, the system will be generally applied throughout Scotland.
I need not do more than refer to the restoration of the cuts in police pay which unfortunately had to be made under the 1931 Emergency Act. It was a very unpleasant task I am sure to my right hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) to impose the first cut, and I had the unpleasant task of imposing the second cut. I am glad to state that those cuts have been restored in full this month. We have also given our attention to the condition of the police stations and during the last 12 months upwards of 50 new stations and houses have been approved and alterations have been sanctioned to 102 stations and houses. That means to say that a survey has been made of the police stations throughout the length and breadth of Scotland and that in upwards of 152 cases, either new stations have been approved or considerable changes and improvements have been effected in existing cases. That shows that we have had regard to the interests and well being of the police constables and sergeants who are entrusted with the duty of protecting the community.
During the past year questions have been asked on the possibility of making compulsory the employment of police women by police authorities. After careful consideration I did not feel justified in making such an order compulsory. It is a deep principle in British law and British justice that police authorities must be left to determine 2025 these matters for themselves in the light of their own local conditions and it seems to me fit and proper that the custom which has come down to us through the ages, of entrusting police authorities with large discretion in local matters, should be continued and should apply to the question of the employment of police women. But I asked local police authorities to keep this matter in view and to consider favourably, where the conditions in their district justify it, the introduction of police women or where police women are already appointed, an increase in their number. I thought that was as far as I could reasonably go at the moment. I have received more than one deputation on the subject, and I know it excites some interest in the minds of hon. Members. That is why I mention the subject this afternoon. These are some of the matters which have engaged our attention during the last 12 months. I have also here some figures as to the actual daily number of prisoners in our prisons during the last five years. The number of convicts, I am glad to say, has decreased, but there has been a slight increase in the daily average number of ordinary prisoners in our prisons during the last five years. The numbers are not large, but they show, unfortunately, an increase, though at the same time the average daily number of convicts has shown a decrease.
These, then, are the tasks which our police forces and our prison department have to undertake. I have sketched out to the Committee very briefly the many activities which have taken place during the last 12 months. We are hopeful that during the current 12 months we can bring to fruition a complete review of the regulations which govern the administration of prisons, and which affect the lives of thousands of our people, and we hope to review in a proper spirit the privileges which exist. I have already stated the large changes which are taking place, or are about to take place, in the prisons of Scotland, so that it can be said in future that our prisons in Scotland are in keeping with modern thought, and in touch with the sentiments of the House of Commons.
§ 4.3 p.m.
§ Mr. N. MACLEAN
The Secretary of State for Scotland, in his review of the work of the prisons department and the constabulary of Scotland, has indicated very clearly certain reforms which are to be made both in regard to the constabulary and also in regard to prison discipline and prison administration generally. I am certain that everyone in the House will be glad to learn of the proposals he has made regarding the administrative reforms in the prisons, because in many quarters, not only in the House but outside as well, following upon the disturbances which took place in Barlinnie Prison and at Peterhead, fears were expressed as to what was being done and what were the causes of those disturbances. The inquiry which followed, while it may not have been satisfactory to everyone who has read the report, will at least have served its purpose if the reforms which have been indicated by the Secretary of State are carried out with all the thoroughness with which we are certain he will do the work, and if they enable those persons, who have been sentenced for misdeeds of which they have been guilty, to have some chance of redeeming and developing their characters to such an extent that once they get outside they will not return to those paths which, in the first place, took them to prison.
I am sure that everyone in the House will be glad of that, but there are certain matters with regard to our prisons in Scotland and our procedure which are in very real need of reform. I have had to take up with the Secretary of State cases of young lads who have been sent to prison at a very early age—17 years—who have not been treated properly. It is the only thing I have to hold against the Secretary of State for Scotland, that he has not in the cases I have placed before him moved with that sympathy which I know is a part of his being. There must be something behind it, from my knowledge of the family of a lad concerned, and also the knowledge of the circumstances of those other people whose cases I have placed before the right hon. Gentleman from time to time. In the report of the Prisons Department, page 48, we find that certain prisoners were certified under the Mental Deficiency and Lunacy (Scotland) Act, 1913, during 2027 the year 1934. The number includes quite a number of youths as well as men. There is one case in which I was interested, and which I placed before the right hon. Gentleman. It is an outstanding case. A lad of 17 years of age was sentenced, in lath April, 1934, to 60 days imprisonment, and was transferred to Stoneyetts certified institution on 17th May in terms of an order by the Secretary of State under Section 10 of the Act to which I have just referred.
I have had communications with the Secretary of State regarding this case, and I wish to recall one or two particulars about it. It is the case of a lad who may, perhaps, lack intelligence, but is by no means mentally defective. He was treated in one of the special schools in Glasgow. He was found trespassing upon some property, and was taken before the sheriff on an accusation of stealing some small articles. The family were sufficiently interested in the innocence of the youth to engage legal defence, but although the lawyer intimated to the procurator-fiscal that he had been engaged to defend the case, no notice was sent to him of the day of the trial. The young lad was brought before the sheriff with no one to defend him. None of his relatives had any knowledge or intimation that the trial was to take place on that day, and he was sentenced to 60 days imprisonment. Before the 60 days were completed, he was examined under the order of the Secretary of State, and it was considered that he was mentally defective. They sent him from prison to Stoneyetts certified institution, and, to the best of my knowledge, he is still there on this day of July, 1935.
I have submitted the case to the Secretary of State for Scotland, and have endeavoured to obtain the lad's release, but have not obtained it—at least, no information has been sent to me that he has been released. I do not wish to mention the lad's name, because names mentioned on the Floor of this House get into the Press, and though it may mean the bringing to light of what may be considered an injustice, it very often has the effect that the relatives are brought before the public eye, and feel their position very clearly when they consider that other people are whispering that the case has been raised on the Floor of the House of Commons. 2028 Therefore, I leave out the name, but I think the Secretary of State knows the case without my mentioning the name. I want to know what has been done in that case; why a case of this character has been managed in the way it has; why the lawyer who was engaged for the defence; and notified the procurator-fiscal, received no information that the trial was to come on at a particular date so that he could be present in court; why the relatives were not notified that the lad was being brought up on that particular day, and why, when the relatives, on the expiry of the 60 days, went to the prison to which the lad was committed they were told that he was not due to be released, that he was no longer in prison, but had been transferred to a certified institution under a, Mental Deficiency Act as a lunatic? I should imagine that, to a certain degree, the lad is looked upon by the Scottish Office as coming within the category of a criminal lunatic. This lad having been deprived of his defence by some carelessness, perhaps, on the part of some official in the courts, is sent to prison, and then again, perhaps owing to some carelessness on the part of prison officials, his relatives are not notified of the change in his condition, that he is to be examined by doctors, and then he is transferred to another institution without any intimation being given to his relatives.
I would like to know what is being done with regard to that case, what inquiries have been made into it, and whether they intend to release this lad, if he has not been released? Although the lad may be, as we say in Scotland, "slow in the uptake," he is by no means deficient so far as mental capacity in other things is concerned. There is no incapacity in the family. The father is a decent, respectable working man in the shipyard in my own constituency, capable of stating a point clearly so that one can understand it thoroughly as he states it. The lad's brothers are the same. They come to me and I say, "Yes, it is high time this sort of thing should be inquired into." I hope it is only one individual case, and that no other similar cases have arisen or will arise in the history of our procedure in Scotland. I trust, therefore, that the Secretary of State, or whoever may reply 2029 later on, will make some statement to the Committee.
I have several cases which bear some resemblance to this case, and I entertain grave feelings about what is likely to happen if the Secretary of State obtains the further powers for which he is asking under the Criminal Lunatic Bill which is passing through the House. I shall watch it on the Committee stage to see that sufficient safeguards are put in to prevent cases of this kind arising in future. I hope that the Secretary of State will be able to give me an assurance that this case, which I consider to be a case of grave maladministration of justice, will end at once by the release of the lad, and that an inquiry will be made into the reason why no intimation was sent to his relatives or the lawyer who was engaged to defend him, so that he had to appear alone and helpless in a court of law; and also why he was asked to plead guilty and found himself separated from his family and friends at 17 years of age for a theft for which, as a first offender, he should have been placed on probation.
§ 4.17 p.m.
§ Major Sir ARCHIBALD SINCLAIR
It is a long time since we had an opportunity of discussing this important Vote, and we are indebted to the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. N. Maclean) and his friends for this opportunity. The speech of the Secretary of State confirmed the impression, which is conveyed by the report of the Prison Commissioners, that the difficult problems which arise in the administration of His Majesty's Prisons in Scotland are receiving his earnest study. There are only two to which I would refer. The aspect of prison administration which most concerns those who have studied it is the reformation of the prisoner and the opportunity of giving the prisoner a chance to regain his character and to start earning his living afresh in civil life. That is, and ought to be, the chief object of our prison administration. The report of the Prison Commissioners refers to the extreme difficulty of the problem, particularly in times of unemployment as grave as these. It also refers to the fact that a departmental committee has been appointed and is studying this very question. I would ask the Secretary of State whether he could give us any information about it. Has that committee yet reported, and can he give us an assurance that, pending the 2030 report, he is giving the fullest possible support to the Discharged Prisoners' Aid Society, which, in circumstances of great difficulty, are doing their best to fulfil this vitally important function of giving these unfortunate men and women the chances of regaining their self-respect and the respect of their fellow citizens.
The other aspect of prison administration about which I would say a word is that concerning the question of privileges. Public opinion in Scotland has been mildly shocked by a series of unfortunate outbreaks at more than one Scottish prison within the last year or two. The suggestion has been made, and it is made in the report of the investigator who inquired into the outbreak at Barlinnie, that some of the prisoners believed they were not being justly treated. Obviously, justice must be the foundation of prison discipline, and the rigid discipline which is necessary in prison must not only rest upon justice, but it must clearly rest upon it. I am sure that there is a misconception among the prison population of Scotland, and I hope that the inquiry into the question of privileges will be rigorously pressed and that the regulations will be drafted so as to give to every class of prisoner an assurance of fair and equal treatment.
With regard to the police grants, I see that there is an increase this year of £20,000 in expenditure, and that there is a total increase for the last two years of £54,500; indeed, that brings us to a figure which is £15,000 in excess of the Estimate for 1931. There are some factors which make for increases in that Vote and certain others which, I would suggest, make for decreases. The first of the factors which make for increases is the restoration of the cuts in pay. The Secretary of State referred to the fact that I was responsible for the imposition of the first cut and that he was responsible for the imposition of the second, but that that was an inheritance which he had received from me; it was a damnosa hereditas for which he was not responsible, but to him has fallen the lot of restoring the cuts. I told the men when I felt it my duty to impose them that the financial measures which we would have to take would result in the restoration of the cuts at no distant future. I am glad that that is being done, and I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on being able to 2031 do it. That restoration would account for a considerable part of this increase.
Among other factors, there is the provision of equipment which is necessary to keep pace with the modern scientific criminal. Then there is the necessity for bringing police stations up-to-date and making them efficient as headquarters of the police organisation and adequate for the accommodation of the policemen themselves. That is a proper direction for expenditure at this time of unemployment, and if the Secretary of State would tell us that he had, say, a three or four-year plan for overtaking the arrears of work on police stations, I should certainly be disposed to support him. His Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland draws attention in his report to the inadequacy of this accommodation, and I think that it is of importance that this work should be undertaken at this time when there is so much unemployment and when money is cheap. Now is the opportunity. Let the work be done in the next three or four years, and let economies be made at a time when prices are rising and rates of interest are higher.
Another factor making for increases is the necessity for supplying telephones in police stations. The Inspector of Constabulary makes a particular point of that, and recommends that a telephone should be installed in every police station, and he puts the word "every" in italics. This is a time when that policy could be actively pursued, because under the Jubilee concessions which have been made by the Postmaster-General, the telephone is being taken to every post office in the country. It is obviously to the rural districts that His Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary referred, because I cannot doubt that in the towns every police station must have its telephone. Now, when gangs of men are out in the country districts, when the material is collected there and the work is going forward under the Postmaster-General's scheme to supply telephones to all the post offices in country districts, is the time to undertake the installation of telephones in police stations.
If these are the factors which make for increases, there are a number which make for decreases. There is, for example, the amalgamation of forces which has been going on slowly during the past four 2032 years. Although modern equipment may be expensive, its installation does result in economies. For example, the telephone box system in the towns is resulting in considerable economy in personnel in those large towns and cities which are actively adopting it. A number of towns and cities, however, are hanging back, and His Majesty's Inspector says that he feels this system might be and should be still further developed. I hope that the Secretary of State will see that it is pressed on with. Then there is the question of the provision of motor cars for the patrolling of the roads under the Road Traffic Act, and these enable economies in personnel to be made, at any rate, in country districts. That should be a matter making for reduction in expenditure. Traffic lights ought to be used far more extensively than they are for the control of traffic in the towns. His Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary states that a disproportionate amount of the time of the police is still taken up by traffic control duties, and that in his opinion many constables could be relieved of this work by the installation of automatic or electro-magnetic control signals. I ask whether action is being taken in this matter, as it would result in increasing the efficiency of police work and at the same time bring about a substantial saving in the cost of the police. Apart from this, I am sure we are all glad to know from the Secretary of State that all is well with the police forces of Scotland. They are splendid forces, with a morale and a high character which give the people of Scotland the most complete confidence in them.
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
I must say that I am unable to agree with the concluding statement of the speech made by the right hon. and gallant Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair). It is true that in all police forces there are men who are to be trusted, whose word can be taken and whose actions may be just, but I certainly do not agree that that applies in all areas in Scotland. I wish to offer some criticism of police forces in certain areas and to ask the Secretary of State, after he has heard the case which I shall present, whether he is prepared to have an inquiry into the action of the police in those areas. I wish to begin with a reference to the conditions in Glasgow police stations. It has been said by the 2033 right hon. Gentleman that prisoners have a right to decent treatment. In Glasgow persons arrested are frequently held in custody without being allowed bail, in many cases on only trivial charges. I take it, as has been stated by the Lord Advocate in previous discussions, that when a person is arrested on a charge of a trivial nature the only question in considering bail is that of ensuring the presence of that person at the police court on the following morning. If the person arrested is a citizen who has a home, and perhaps a job, a position, surely we are entitled to expect that he should be allowed to proceed to his home. In many cases men and women have been afterwards found not guilty of the offences with which they were charged, yet they have been detained unnecessarily in the police cells over night, when they had a home to go to and when there was a guarantee of a practical kind that they would turn up at the police court in the morning. I ask the Secretary of State to see that the police officers in charge of stations in Scotland do not go out of their way, in an inhuman manner, to demand large sums of money as bail, often at times when the money cannot be procured, and if bail is not forthcoming to detain persons unnecessarily in the cells.
I also wish to raise the question of the accommodation provided in the cells. There is at the Glasgow Central Police Station and at other police stations a bare cell, a very large cell, and individuals who are arrested, men and women, are compelled to lie on a concrete floor throughout the night. I know what the official answer will be—that there is a bed. Let me describe the bed. The bed is a concrete platform rising from 6 inches up to 15 inches, with a pillow made of concrete. That is termed a bed. They are given blankets, which are generally what we call in Scotland "lousy." I have put questions on the subject in this House on two occasions, and I was told that there was a complete furnishing of the cells—that there was a bed, a chair, a table and a mirror. I have been in three of these police cells myself, and I never found any furnishing of any kind. I had to spend three nights in Glasgow Central Police Station cells, and I could only rest by sitting on the lavatory in the corner. That is extraordinary treatment for men and women 2034 citizens of Glasgow, whether they are guilty of an offence or not.
People are amazed at the official statements which have been made in this House. Many men have been arrested when gambling clubs have been raided and have been taken in batches to the police station and thrown into the cells. When they read these official answers about the bed and the furniture in the cell they say, "What is the Scottish Office thinking of? What is the Secretary of State thinking about?"—because a statement has been made which everybody who has been in those cells knows is positively untrue. After being kept in the cells I was removed to Duke Street Prison, and it is a strange thing that a man who is found guilty and sentenced finds himself more comfortable in prison than a man who may be innocent and is kept in the police cells. Frequently men who have had experience of the Glasgow police cells say, "If I am to be detained, Mr. Stipendiary, please send me to prison and not to the police cells." The sheriffs have asked why it was that prisoners ask to be detained in prison instead of in the police cells. I want the Secretary of State to investigate this question, because if men and women are kept in the cells they ought to have as much comfort, if not more, than they have in prison after they have been found guilty.
I want to go into another question. I shall not deal with anything done by the bench, because that would be out of order in this House, but in my division of Glasgow recently the home of a man was searched because, as the police officer stated when searching it, he was suspected of stealing a large sum of money. No money was found in the house; the allegation was found afterwards to be entirely wrong. The house was entered by the police without a warrant in an illegal way. In view of the advertisement he had received as a suspected person the man sought to obtain the redress which every citizen in the land is entitled to claim. He wanted to go to the courts and to sue the police constable for a breach of duty in entering his house in this illegal way. The legal agents of that man went to the chief constable to ask the name of the police officers who had made the raid, but they were consistently refused the names, and 2035 at considerable expense the man was compelled to appeal to the courts that the names of the police officers should be divulged to him. The courts decided that the chief constable was wrong and must disclose the names of the constables, so that the man could have an opportunity of taking them to court.
I am referring to the chief constable of Glasgow. I have nothing to say against the chief constable of Glasgow. I have met him, and I think he is a fairly decent type of man. He is responsible, of course, for all that goes on under his charge, although I do not believe that he would willingly agree to anything that is wrong being done. I say to the Lord Advocate and to the Secretary of State that it ought to be an established rule that if an illegal raid takes place, if the police are prepared to take the risk of entering the home of an innocent man in the dead of night without a warrant, they ought to take the consequences. Instead of the aggrieved citizen being compelled to spend vast sums of money in going to court to get a decision it ought to be the rule that he should have the opportunity of getting the names of the constables making the raid and, if necessary, taking action against them.
Another subject I wish to raise is the police terrorism in the Garngad district of Glasgow which has resulted in a large number of people being brought before the court. I do not intend to comment on the decisions of the court, except to say in passing that we intend to take other measures. We intend to put down a Motion for the removal of the sheriff who tried the case, because of the biased and prejudiced statements he made during the course of the proceedings, in which he used some of the most violent expressions that I have ever heard and I was present in court. Let me recount some of the happenings. In that district, on the 26th May, seven persons were arrested charged with various breaches of the peace. When they were brought before the court they were found not guilty of any offence. Following on this rebuff the police, on the following Saturday evening, instituted a system of beginning with the assumption that there were bound to be people arrested in that area and they brought a "Black Maria" into the area before disturbances of any 2036 kind had taken place. It is a serious thing, after men have been before the court and have been found not guilty, that this action should be taken by the police. It was prejudging the situation to move a police patrol van into this area and to assume that there would be trouble there on that Saturday night.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
Reasonable precautions or anticipation. If everybody had wings sprouting out of their shoulders it would not be the earth they were walking on. This patrol van was moved into the area and then there was a breach of the peace. We find that one man was arrested for throwing a bottle at the police patrol van. I am not judging what took place. My job here is not to judge that. The man was found guilty and sentenced to eight months. Then others were arrested; five of them, Coughlan, Shields, Kane, Hackett, Hetherson, were sentenced to 12 months. A man named Kerr, 71 years of age, a blind man of indifferent health, was arrested for taking part in the rioting mob. He was sentenced to four months' imprisonment. This man of 71 was an inmate of the mental ward, and he is still there, months after the sentence has expired, and seems, according to my information, not likely to be restored to ordinary civil life again. Then there was another young man, Kerr, a cripple with only one leg. He was charged with waving his crutch in a threatening manner against the police. Another man, aged 69, McGlennon, was sentenced to four months' imprisonment.
There were 70 people who were all prepared to swear, when a dispute arose as to whether the arrests took place in a certain street or not, that the arrests were not made where the police said that they took place. The allegation was that there had been indiscriminate arrests of men who had got together in the area because of the rebuff that took place a week before in the discharge of the prisoners by the sheriff. I heard the cases tried, and I know something about them. Men and women were arrested because they gave evidence that the accused were not arrested in a certain street but in another street, and other people who had come forward to give evidence were also arrested. A system of terrorism was set up as the result of which a large number 2037 of people who could give evidence said they were not prepared to go to the court because the police had made it known that everybody who dared to swear against the police would be arrested for perjury. That is a serious state of affairs which arose from an ordinary case of breach of the peace. Wholesale arrests have gone on in this area, arising simply out of the original discharge by the sheriff, in a proper manner, of a person found not guilty. Whether the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Lord Advocate or any other official of the Scottish Department has an official answer for Glasgow or not, in connection with these cases, there should at least be not an inquiry held by the people responsible for the administration of the police force in Glasgow, but an outside inquiry, in order to satisfy the minds of Glasgow citizens who believe that police terrorism is being instituted in the city.
There are cases entirely outside Glasgow which I have pressed in a large number of questions in this House, but I was confined within narrow limits. They are in connection with the Lanarkshire police. The Secretary of State for Scotland has had a document placed in his hand from Lieut.-Detective Anderson who is now outside the Lanarkshire police force, and who, in that document, calls for an inquiry into the police administration of Lanarkshire. I have been asked to present a petition to this House by thousands of citizens in the Cambuslang area demanding an inquiry into the administration of its court and Chief Constable Keith who is responsible for the administration. The first case I would mention is that of two constables who were alleged to have batoned and brutally maltreated a man, Frank Hillhouse, in the Cambuslang area. I did not know that this Vote was coming on because I wanted to have the papers before me.
In this case Sergeant Craig was alleged to have batoned a man. It arose in this way: Sergeant Craig and a constable came along when Hillhouse was on the road with a motor car outside the Employment Exchange, and they placed a label on the windscreen of the motor car to say that they had examined it. Hillhouse objected that they had no right to interfere with the car. They immediately seized him and took him to the police station. They say that he resisted 2038 arrest, and he was taken to court. His statement was that he was brutally maltreated in the cells. Immediately after release he went to a Justice of the Peace in the area, a county councillor, and to a doctor who examined him and found him to be suffering from very severe wounds and bruises, which he alleged were inflicted when he was batoned in the cells by Sergeant Craig and the other policeman. The case went to court because of the protest which had been made, and the sheriff decided that Hillhouse ought never to have been arrested and had some very startling observations to make regarding the action of the two police constables. He said that, in his estimation, there was something seriously wrong, and he called for an inquiry into the state of affairs at the Cambuslang police station.
Hillhouse then took action in the court. The case came to the court, and I want the Secretary of State for Scotland to remember the stand he has taken for the last two days in this House in regard to perjury. I want to know whether there is one law of perjury for the police and another for the citizens. I have, beyond a shadow of doubt, established a case in the statements I have made in this House. Sergeant Craig and the other policeman went into the witness box, when Hillhouse was charged with a breach of the peace and resisting arrest, and swore that they had never placed any label on the car. Hillhouse stated that the label was placed on the car and was initialled by Sergeant Craig. Hillhouse sent from the court to the garage for the windscreen of the motor car with the ticket on it, and there was then a hurried consultation between the Procurator-Fiscal and the bench. The Procurator-Fiscal deserted the charge and asked that Hillhouse should be admonished on the charge and found "not guilty." I have in my home at the present moment the label that was placed on the motor car and signed by Sergeant Craig. The two policemen undoubtedly swore on oath that they did not place the label on the windscreen of the motor car. I have asked the Secretary of State for Scotland to take action for perjury against the two policemen, and I would remind him that to-day, at Question Time, he said that perjury is a serious crime; it must be as serious for the police as it is for the individual. I am not inclined 2039 to allow any person in this House to ride on their high horse, in a case in which poor persons are defending themselves in a case of perjury, because of the position of privilege occupied by police officers and because the Lord Advocate has failed to take action in a case of this kind.
That is not the end of this case. Sergeant Craig and the other constable were removed from their duty for two months by the chief constable of the area. They were suspended, and they both received civilian jobs, driving a motor car. When I was asking questions in this House about this case, I received information that Craig took his car into a garage, and, when the man in the garage asked him to remove the car to a certain place, Craig responded with most abusive conduct. I received a communication from the garage man in respect to Craig's conduct, even in his second employment, saying that no man of that character ought to be employed in the police. I placed the letter in the hands of the former Lord Advocate, to show that, while the other case was pending, there had been further conduct by Sergeant Craig of an abusive kind, indicating that he was an irresponsible character. Immediately the man's letter was placed in his hands, the Lord Advocate said that inquiry would be made. Inquiry went to the garage, and a week later I received a letter, not written by the man, but typewritten, and containing the statement that he apologised for his previous statement which he had made, and he signed the letter. On inquiry, I found out that the man had been told that unless he signed this statement he would be discharged from his occupation. Pressure was being put from the police authorities over the head of the proprietor of the garage to get at the man. Actions of that kind are intolerable in this country.
I do not care what the motives of Lieut.-Detective Anderson may be, but his document asks for an inquiry. He makes allegations against a large number of people in the area and says, for example, that the chief constable has policemen engaged as domestic servants in his house, that they are paid from the police roll, that they clean windows, keep the fires going, do the work and are employed in driving his wife and friends 2040 round the country in a motor car and that stolen goods have been used for the motor car, and he makes other wholesale allegations of the most horrible kind. I submit that an inquiry ought to be made into these allegations, even though they come from an ex-member of the force who has now retired on salary. There was also the question of the surroundings of the house. Many people are involved, such as procurators-fiscal and town clerks. An inquiry ought to take place. I am not prejudging the issue, because I do not know whether the allegations are true or false, but they are made by a man on pension who had a standing, and they are put down on paper. A former Lord-Advocate when allegations of graft had been made, said: "Reduce your charges to writing, and we will have an inquiry." In turn, I say that to the Scottish Office. The allegations have been put on paper and we are entitled to have them examined at the earliest possible moment, in order to clear the chief constable, if he is unfairly charged. If he is found guilty, he ought to be cleared out lock, stock and barrel from the Lanarkshire police force, as an undesirable person.
I admit the necessity of administration and of a police force, but a police force ought to be above suspicion. I know there is provocation at times. An officer may have a bottle or a brick thrown at him, and because he is like any other human being he will resent it in the course of his duty, and may even take action in a fit of temper at any moment that presents an excuse, because of something that had occurred; but a cold-blooded line of action is persecution. Let me tell the House of a case I remember a number of years ago. There was a policeman in the Shettleston area with whom I had crossed words because of some of his actions, and he had said that as far as he was concerned he would always attempt to get one back against any person who came as a witness against him. He was reduced from the rank of sergeant to constable because witnesses had testified to his brutal action against a man who, it was stated, had never attempted to raise his hand against the officer in any way, and after the sheriff had dealt with the case the officer was reduced to the rank of ordinary constable. In telling me that story, the constable said: "I kept that in my mind 2041 for a time. One evening I was going through Glasgow Green, and was passing along with my mate in the gloaming. I saw a young man and a young woman, and after I had passed them I began to think I knew the young man's face. I suddenly remembered the individual as the one who had given evidence against me. I went back with my mate, and charged them both with immoral conduct, and they were brought up to the court and fined £5 each." He said: "I got my own back on them." That kind of conduct is not conduct that any individual in this House or in this country can justify. I want to hold the scales evenly between the people who may be termed the criminal classes and those who have to look after them. There can be respect even between the so-called criminal and the policeman who is doing his duty in a just and proper manner, because respect can even be had from the very lowest in the land if they feel that a man is carrying out a difficult task in the best possible way.
I put this case to the Secretary of State for Scotland and ask that an inquiry should be held into the administration in Lanarkshire, because no reply has been made to it. He did say that an inquiry was a matter for the Lanarkshire magistrates, and if he tells me that it, is their job and that he can do nothing, and if he says it is a case for the Glasgow magistrates to inquire into the conduct of the police in the Garngad area, then we shall require to press for it elsewhere. But I believe that the right hon. Gentleman's position is to see that justice is meted out to all classes of the community and that nothing unfair is done. I therefore ask that in the Garngad area, in connection with this whole problem, an inquiry should be set up, and that in connection with the police administration of Lanarkshire, when there have been so many far-reaching complaints and when there is so much unrest throughout the area, there is need for a searching inquiry as to whether the allegations made in a wholesale manner throughout these areas are justified or not.
§ 5.3 p.m.
§ Mr. LEONARD
I want to make some observations with reference to His Majesty's prisons and in particular reference to the prison that I live close to. But may I first of all thank the Secretary of State for Scotland for the manner 2042 in which he has responded to some of the points I have put to him through the medium of public questions? There will be special appreciation of what he has done with regard to the issue of Sunday papers to untried prisoners who are in custody, and that appreciation will also extend to the relatives who have gone to so much trouble to get the papers and to see that they are delivered. I am pleased to hear that the regulations are to be under scrutiny in the near future, and I want to introduce some points which I should like to be taken into consideration when those regulations are under review. I realise to the full that the regulations will have to ensure the good conduct and the sequence of duties in prison, but I think that can be done without endangering or taking away the comfort of the prisoners themselves.
I want to return to a point upon which I have touched already in a question, with regard to the sequence of events that take place when a person is introduced into prison, and particularly into Barlinnie Prison. I understand that the formalities are that a person receives a badge and other things connected with his admission into prison, but he is not immediately put into the cell that he may have to occupy. I am informed that he is not put into a cell in the proper sense at all, but that he is put into what I will call a reception box. I am not sure that that is the proper term, but I am informed that, so far as dimensions are concerned, they are not much more than boxes. In one of those detention cells he has to wait for a medical examination, and I am informed on good authority that the period between his being put into the reception cell and the time when the medical examination takes place is sometimes an extended period—say, one hour or two hours—and that the conditions under which the prisoner is in that cell are anything but comfortable. In addition to that, we have to visualise the possibility of the man having had a rather warm bath and being taken from the bathroom and placed in this detention cell to await his medical examination. I am informed that the result is that, because of the wait between the initial formalities of the reception and the medical examination, on a number of occasions men get into their proper cells shivering with cold.
2043 There is another point on which I wish to touch, and that is with regard to the food of men who are received in prison. I am informed, also on the same authority, that sometimes it is possible for a man to be received in prison immediately after the prison meal has been finished, and occasions have been known when an individual has received nothing to eat until the next meal. That might not have been much of a hardship to bear if we could receive assurances that the prisoner had had a meal at the place from which he came immediately prior to being received into the prison. I therefore trust that if that has happened in the past, as I am assured it has, steps will be taken to see that no prisoner who is received in any prison immediately after a prison meal shall be kept without food the length of time that ensues between that meal and the next.
I also want to refer to the question of men working outside in fields and quarries. The Secretary of State has already courteously informed me that efforts are made to keep in a fit state the water that is necessary to quench the thirst of these men, and he has agreed to look into the matter of installing adequate tanks, if not in the fields where work takes place, at least in quarries; and I press that something should be done in this matter. I know for a fact that the receptacles that contain that water are not always all that they should be. They are not even enamelled, I am informed, but are ordinary tin receptacles which contain considerable rust, and in addition they cannot be kept as clean as they should be kept for men who require to quench their thirst under the conditions applying especially to quarry work.
Now I want to touch on what I believe to be a most important matter, and that is the question of the medical inspection of prisoners. I received from the right hon. Gentleman in reply to a question a list of the duties of medical officers, and Rule 225 (8) states:A medical officer shall see every prisoner at least once a week, so as to ascertain his general state of health, physical and mental, and whether he is clean in his person and free from disease, and if his clothing and bedding are sufficient, and shall record the results of his inspection in the journal.I think that rule is quite explicit, easily understood, and commendable, but I am 2044 informed that these things cannot be done by any medical officer if the practice that holds good in Barlinnie Prison is the practice that is adopted in prisons elsewhere. I am informed that this weekly inspection is somewhat in the nature of a single-file parade past the medical officer, and if that be the case, it is totally inadequate, and no medical officer, in my opinion, irrespective of any ability that he may have, is capable of attending to the details in the rule to which I have referred by such a cursory survey of the people under his charge. Therefore, if the regulations are not sufficiently explicit as to the method by which these details are to be ascertained, I trust it will be made clear to medical officers that details of this character, which are so necessary, can only be performed by visiting the prisoners, not as they pass by in single file, but under conditions which, if not possible in their own cells, will give more time than that.
I notice that in the report there is a statement taken from the medical adviser to His Majesty's prisons. I will not say anything about some of the details, except that I think they are very comprehensive and well put together, but I notice that it states:With regard to food, there is a total absence of complaints. Occasional grumbling does occur, but it is usually by prisoners who make a practice of complaining without any sufficient reason.I hope that does not display a tendency to pay no attention to prisoners just because they seem to be grumblers. Even a chronic grumbler can grumble about the right thing at times; furthermore, there is a reluctance on the part of prisoners to complain of anything, in the hope that somebody else will do it for them, and generally the person who does it for the communal well-being, so to speak, is the man who is ultimately called the chronic grumbler.
With regard to complaints, I wonder if it would not be possible to devise a better method of gathering complaints, because I remember on one occasion, when I was a, member of the Glasgow Corporation, accompanying a visiting committee to Barlinnie prison. I am not aware of the details of their duties, but apparently a part of the duty was to receive complaints, if any, and I was amused, though rather perturbed, at the perfunctory manner in which this duty was performed. 2045 All that happened, so far as I could see in the various buildings that we went into, was that the person in charge of the building uttered some formula which was less understandable than the usual command from a sergeant-major. The result was that there was a clattering of feet on the stairs, and eventually a number of men farmed up in a straight line. The person in charge said, "Any complaints?" and immediately a man turned and, saluting the visiting committee, said, "No complaints, Sir." That is not a condition under which complaints can be voiced by individuals, and while I know that factors of time and discipline must come under review, I trust the present Secretary of State for Scotland will see to it at least that those possibilies of misunderstanding and of a sense of injustice creeping in shall be eliminated as far as possible from the new regulations that are coming under review.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Mr DUNCAN GRAHAM
I do not think the Members of the Opposition on this occasion can be accused of failing to fulfil their function as an Opposition as they appear to be almost the only Members taking part in this Debate. There seems to be a very curious silence from the Government Benches. I do not know much about prisons, and the only thing I know about Barlinnie is that I see it occasionally from the outside. There was a very eminent Member of this House, now Lord Tweedsmuir, who had the quality of being able to write poems. He has written one poem in particular that fits the present case, and, while I have not the gift of memorising poetry, the last couplet in that poem remains in my memory:There is nae man deid honest,I ken by ma'sel.Few of us will agree that it is due to anything more than mere mischief that many of these lads are in reformatories or prisons. The case which has been raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Govan (Mr. N. Maclean) is expressive of that fact, and I am inclined to believe that the vast majority of juvenile, offenders, particularly in the industrial centres of Scotland, are offenders through mischief and not through vice, and that in general character they are not very different from other lads who 2046 manage to keep clear of these offences. I suggest to the Secretary of State that it would be very much to his credit and to the credit of the Department over which he presides if they would adopt some method by which it would be possible to dispense with sending lads of tender years either to prison or to a reformatory. I am not able to say what line should be taken, but I believe there is sufficient capacity in the Department to find means of dealing with this question.
I would like to put one or two points to the Secretary of State with respect to the position of the people who are known as squatters. According to an answer which I received from him a week ago, 39 persons have been charged in the courts with this offence. Thirty of them have been convicted, and of that number 16 have had to go to prison, while 14 have the fear of prison hanging over their heads. These men, until comparatively recently, were decent, capable citizens of the community in which they live. They were guilty of no ordinary crime; they were merely in a state of poverty. They were out of work, and, because they were out of work, they were unable to pay their rent. Because they were unable to pay their rent, the landlord took them to the sheriff's court. I make no complaint against the sheriff; I recognise the difficulty of his position as well as that of the poor men whose case I am trying to put before the Committee this afternoon. The sheriff in such cases has no choice but to make an eviction order. Most of these men are married, and most of them have fairly large families. I would ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, and his supporters in the Government, what would they do if they were placed in like circumstances, with a wife and children dependent upon them, and were turned out of their house with no place to go to?
I take some pride in the fact that I am descended from people who a few generations ago were described as caterans. I do not know that they had very good houses to live in, and I am not sure whether they were any better than they should be, though possibly they were as good as the vast majority of the people who inhabit Scotland at the present time. A great many very prominent persons in this country to-day, and in the Government of the Empire, are 2047 descended from people of the same type, and only a few generations ago their ancestors were living in black houses. If their character were to be decided by the kind of house they occupied, their descendants would never have reached the high and responsible positions which they now occupy. I suggest to the Secretary of State that many of these men who are in the unfortunate position of not being able to pay any rent, and are therefore unable to secure accommodation for themselves, have absolutely no choice but to take shelter wherever they can get it. The Town Council of Hamilton and the County Council of Lanark have been compelled, because of the quite necessary legislation which has been passed during the time of the present Government, to make closing orders with respect to quite a number of houses that are now more or less derelict, and these people, deprived of the right to get a house for themselves, and being unable to get any house from the local authority, went forcibly into these derelict houses. In doing so they were guilty of a crime, which again brought them before the Sheriff, but I am sure no one would say that it was an immoral act on their part to attempt to find shelter for their wives and families. They were, however, guilty of a breach of the law, and again the Sheriff had no choice but to fine them or send them to prison. It is no use fining these men. I understand that only one of the 39 persons referred to in the reply to my recent question has been able to pay a fine; the others have either been sent to prison or have the threat of prison hanging over them.
Cannot the Secretary of State take some action to ensure that these people will get the offer of a house, either from the local authority or from some other source which may be within the knowledge of the Department, though certainly it is not within my knowledge. I agree that in the existing circumstances no landlord, knowing that these men are unemployed and have practically no income other than what they draw from public asistance or unemployment benefit, can afford to let his houses to them. The result is that these men are being sent to prison, and their wives and families are being separated all over the place, some of the children in one house and some in another; and, if they try to keep 2048 in direct contact with their own families, they can only do so by breaking the law. That is an impossible position for these men, and I hope the Secretary of State will be able to give us some assurance that it will be remedied. He has told me in answer to a question that inquiries are being made, but I hope there will be more than inquiries—I hope there will be an assurance that these people will be provided with accommodation which will make it unnecessary for them to be brought before the Sheriff and threatened with imprisonment. The only cure that the Sheriff can offer is to increase the sentence. I am not casting any reflection whatsoever on the Sheriff, because, as I have already said, I quite appreciate the difficulty in which he is placed in cases such as I have described; but I want to impress as strongly as I possibly can on the Department and on the Secretary of State that these men are in that position, not because of any criminal tendencies on their part, but because of unfortunate circumstances that might happen to many thousands of men who at the moment are free from that particular difficulty.
With regard to the matter which was raised by the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern), who wants an inquiry into the administration of justice in, I think, both Lanarkshire and Glasgow, I would include in any such inquiry the question whether the procurator-fiscal in Glasgow is the authority for both Glasgow and Lanarkshire, or whether he has any right to interfere in the administration of justice in an entirely different area from that over which he himself presides. I would like also to know whether private individuals have the right to institute criminal prosecutions against anybody whom they may personally dislike or against whom they may have some political prejudice. I am particularly interested in this point, because I am sure that the prosecution to which I am referring was the result of political prejudice on the part of political opponents, and I do not think that the administration of justice should be mixed up with a matter of that sort.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. Jamieson)
Surely the hon. Gentleman does not suggest that, in giving instructions regarding the prosecution in question, I was in any way animated by any political prejudice at all. I gave my instructions 2049 because I thought that the prosecution ought to take place.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
If there is, in anything that I have said, any suggestion that the Lord Advocate was in any way responsible, I unhesitatingly withdraw it. As a matter of fact it was only due to his action that these men were not kept in prison until they were tried, because the procurator-fiscal of Glasgow, in fixing the bail on which these men could be set at liberty, fixed the impossible sum of £200, and it was only the action of the Lord Advocate, for which we are extremely grateful to him, that led to the bail being reduced to a reasonable amount which made it possible for the men to be released until their case was tried. The point that I am anxious to impress upon the Scottish Office is that here are four men against whom, when they go to trial, there is no evidence upon which a jury can convict. It will cost these men £200 or £300 to defend themselves. They are ordinary working men. I submit that there is a case for an ex gratia payment to cover their expenses. I should like to know whether there is any change in the method of administration of the law, because I have always understood that a procurator-fiscal was the only person who could institute a criminal charge, but this procurator-fiscal is in an entirely different area. He gets no information from the responsible authorities of the other area, and he must have taken up the case on private information supplied to him by someone who had an interest in the matter. If it had been in England, the accused would have been entitled to take proceedings for defamation of character and might have got some solatium for the loss that they have sustained. For days newspapers all over the country exhibited on their posters and their front pages the charges against these men, but when it comes to court the Procurator-Fiscal of Glasgow cannot produce evidence to obtain their conviction. I consider that method of administration absolutely scandalous, and I sincerely hope that the inquiry will be wide enough to include the functions of these individuals so that they will be made to mind their own business. The police administration should be as nearly as possible in blood relationship to Caesar's wife. It should be free from any suggestion of partiality or favouritism or 2050 anything of the sort. Unfortunately that is not the case. I am sorry that it should be necessary for me to raise this matter, and I hope that this will be the last occasion on which the Glasgow authority will endeavour to override an authority which is as capable of doing its work as the Glasgow authority itself.
Finally, I appeal to the Secretary of State to give serious consideration to this matter of the squatters and to see whether it is not possible for him to exercise clemency in that case, so that the men who are in prison can be released and this inquiry that is being made may produce some method by which the whole question of squatting shall be removed from the position that it now occupies and these men may be free from the constant apprehension of a sentence of imprisonment or a fine which is far beyond their means.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
The hon. Gentleman has made a somewhat severe attack on the Procurator-Fiscal in Glasgow, and although, strictly speaking, that has nothing at all to do with the police administration, I should like to be allowed in fairness to the Procurator-Fiscal to answer what has been said. The Procurator-Fiscal is concerned with criminal administration in Glasgow, but he acts directly under the instructions of the Lord Advocate. The prosecutions which have been referred to were taken, as I told him in answer to a question to-day, at my instance, and I take full responsibility for having instructed them. In all that he did the Procurator-Fiscal was acting under the instructions of myself or those in my Department.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
Certainly. I do not get the information myself. The information has to be supplied by procurators-fiscal throughout Scotland and, after due consideration, instructions are given as to whether a prosecution is to be taken or not. With one or two minor exceptions, all prosecutions other than prosecutions in a police court are taken at the instance and on the instructions of the Lord Advocate or at the instance of procurators-fiscal. In this case the matter was carefully considered before any prosecution was ordered, and it was only after it had been fully considered 2051 that instructions were given and proceedings were taken.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
Will the Lord Advocate address himself to the position I took up, which is that the Procurator-Fiscal of Glasgow had nothing whatever to do with the administration of the law in Lanarkshire. He occupies an entirely different position. Surely the Lanarkshire procurators-fiscal are capable of doing their own work without being interfered with by an outside authority.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
The Procurator-Fiscal of Glasgow is Procurator-Fiscal for the Middle Ward of Lanarkshire. The alleged crime was said to have been committed in Glasgow, in the offices of the County Council of Lanarkshire. It was, accordingly, the duty of the Procurator-Fiscal in Glasgow, acting on the instructions of my Department, to investigate the alleged crime, and that is what he did, and for all that he did I take full responsibility.
§ 5.39 p.m.
§ Mr. BURNETT
I had not intended to intervene, but I was interested in what the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Graham) said in connection with juvenile delinquents and the advisability or otherwise of sending boys and girls from the police courts to reformatories or approved schools. The question is a very difficult one. I had occasion not long ago to put a question with regard to the treatment of a boy who had been sent out on licence from one of these approved schools to a farm, where he was ill-treated. In the course of the inquiries that I made I called at the approved school, and I should like to say how much impressed I was with the system of education and with what I saw there. The whole idea of treatment in these schools seems to have changed very much from what it was 35 or 40 years ago when terror formed so great a part of it. Now they appear to try to draw out and reform the boys. I went over the punishment books and read a good deal of correspondence which boys have had with the school and which showed how they regarded it as a home and how they came back to see it after they had left.
At the same time, the question of these schools is a very difficult one, for, on the one hand, we get boys sent to them 2052 from the police court who have a considerable police record, and on the other hand, boys who are more or less mentally defective are sent to them, and to have these two classes mixing with one another is not always for the best, and it is a matter that should have very serious consideration. But, apart from that, I think these schools are doing a great work and great care is being taken when the boys leave school to see that they are put into some occupation where they will get on. The system could be developed a good deal, but it has that one defect which has to be considered, that boys are sent there from the police court and, if there are boys who are in any way mentally defective, the atmosphere of the school may do them harm and not bring about the result that is intended. The whole question of juvenile delinquency is one in which we are developing very much. It is a great work which will mean much in connection with the future of prisons and the future of boys who are beginning to drift into the police courts and whom we want to keep away from them so that they may have a useful future as citizens of the Empire.
§ 5.43 p.m.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I am sure that those who are in charge of the approved schools will be glad to hear of the hon. Member's unsolicited testimonial to their work, and it will be an encouragement to them to proceed along the lines that they have been so successfully following. If any Members of the House are interested in these activities of the State and would like to visit any of these institutions, I will very readily provide facilities, and I am sure a visit would be greatly appreciated by the managers of the institutions. The hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Graham) asked me what I would do in certain circumstances if I happened to be in the unfortunate position of a squatter. I am afraid I shall have to fall back upon the proper Parliamentary answer, that the question has not yet arisen. He stated with truth that many of our juvenile offenders are often led astray not through vice but through mischief. Let me remind him that in the treatment of such individuals the courts who hear the cases send them to approved schools which have been so well spoken of just now, or, as is sometimes 2053 said, to a course of institutional treatment. This shows that the treatment of juvenile offenders is connected with modern thought, and I hope that the methods which are being adopted to-day may be more fully adopted in the future. No doubt it is the first step which leads people astray, and yet after the first fatal step is taken, if other influences can be brought to bear upon them, the lives of these people can be much improved in the future.
The hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Leonard) asked several questions as to Barlinnie Prison and the way prisoners are treated on their arrival. He also directed my attention to the quality of the food, to the time which elapses between meals, and to the working conditions which exist outside. He read accurately the regulation which the medical officer is supposed to carry out. I am grateful to him for having directed my attention to certain aspects of administration. He cannot expect me to-day to answer the detailed questions which he has put to me, but I assure him that they will be examined. The scrutiny will be applied firmly in dealing with the practical administration of Barlinnie Prison, for in this matter we wish our prisons and their administration to be beyond reproof and in keeping with the desires of all parties in this House.
The hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) has raised several points of large issue this afternoon, though the first point was a relatively small one. He spoke of the condition of Glasgow police cells, but from information which I have received, they are comparatively modern and are kept quite clean. I will, however, direct the attention of the proper authorities to this matter forthwith so as to make sure and to satisfy hon. Members that what I have stated this afternoon is in keeping with their desires.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
It is the question of the opportunity for the individual to have a night's rest. Surely, the right hon. Gentleman will take it from me that, if the only place on which a prisoner has to sleep is a concrete floor or a lavatory seat, it is not a desirable state of affairs, and I ask that it should be remedied.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
Without knowing anything about that matter, I readily agree that no person at any time should 2054 be allowed to sleep on a concrete floor, and, as the hon. Member has described it, with a concrete pillow as well. That should not be allowed to continue. The hon. Member raised large issues as to the character of the police in Glasgow and Lanarkshire. As he knows, the Secretary of State is not responsible for the discipline of the police forces. Parliament has entrusted that responsibility to the police authority in each area, and these authorities are responsible for the discipline of the police. In addition, if any subjects think that they are unfairly treated by the police, they have the right of bringing a civil case against the police. These police forces are under the responsible authority of the chief constables. Knowing many of these men as I do, I am convinced that if at any time any constable exceeds his authority and is unfair to the subject, the chief constable will deal justly with that man and will not allow any conditions to continue which are not in keeping with British justice. The hon. Member referred to the Lanarkshire police, and, as he knows, I have referred the allegations against the chief constable of the maladministration of this force to the police authorities of Lanarkshire.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
The local authority. In Glasgow it would be the Glasgow police authority, and in certain other areas it would be the police authority in those areas. It would depend upon the area concerned as to whom the exact police authority would be.
§ Sir PATRICK FORD
Will my right hon. Friend tell us how this authority is appointed, who is responsible for its appointment and so on; and is there any overriding authority on the part of the Secretary of State?
§ Sir G. COLLINS
The Statute has laid down the geographical area of the police authorities and the composition of those bodies. That, I think, answers the two points put by my hon. Friend the Member for North Edinburgh (Sir P. Ford). In Lanarkshire it would be the county council which would be the police authority for the county. I understand that that police authority are awaiting the result of a civil action between the Chief Constable and another party which has a bearing on the allegations before 2055 deciding what they will do. It seems, therefore, that steps are being taken to clear up the alleged maladministration of that force. No doubt in the course of time, after decisions have been given, should they not be agreeable to the hon. Member or to others in the authority, the ratepayers in those areas will have the right and power of bringing pressure to bear upon the police authority which is the county council in the area, and I have no doubt that that will be done.
§ Mr. N. MACLEAN
Did not the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) yesterday suggest that that would be corruption?
§ Sir G. COLLINS
No words of mine would ever suggest that actions which ratepayers are entitled to take would at any time be corruption. I do not think that my right hon. Friend conveyed the thought of corruption in the sense suggested by the hon. Member.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
The right hon. Member for Hillhead yesterday suggested that influence brought to bear on representatives by any particular constituency amounted to corruption.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
Not corruption. I am responsible for my own words, and I have tried to interpret the words which my right hon. Friend used yesterday afternoon. This is my answer on the general issue.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves that point, I would remind him that I have given him another very definite case. I gave him the case of two police constables who went into the witness box and committed perjury in an attempt to get a conviction against a civilian. Here is my point. The allegations which are made against the chief constable are also made against the procurator-fiscal, and I want to know if that procurator-fiscal is to have the right to refuse to proceed against these two constables upon a clear case of perjury? The Lord Advocate and the right hon. Gentleman take a very high stand when civilians are prosecuted on the same sort of issue, and I want to know whether there are two laws, one law to allow police to commit perjury and another law not to allow citizens to commit perjury. I have raised this issue by questions from time to time, I have been raising it for 2056 12 months, and I have no opportunity of putting my point except in Debate, and if I am not to receive a proper answer then this House becomes a farce.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
The issue really between us is this. The hon. Member suggests that the course of justice is applied unfairly.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
The hon. Member may prove it to his satisfaction, but the law is put into force in Scotland only by the Lord Advocate, and he has this afternoon, in connection with another case, clearly shown that no such thought ever entered his mind, and that he judges things entirely on their merits. It is immaterial to him whether they be peers of the realm, or private individuals or policemen, either in Lanarkshire or wherever they may be. The law of the land is enforced fairly without fear or favour by the Lord Advocate, and if he at any time deviated from that narrow and straight course which has always characterised justice in these matters, he would be unfit to hold his office, and he would be quickly seized upon by the House of Commons as unworthy of the high office he holds.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
I want to be quite straight in this matter. I have given a specific case here, and I have put it to Members of this House fairly. I have raised the matter from time to time by asking questions. Here are two policemen who go into the witness box. I have an actual document in my possession in respect of which they swore on oath that they placed no label on a motor car. I have the label signed by the policemen and the date on which they attached that label to the car. I say that the procurator-fiscal should have made the charge against the two policemen who committed perjury. It is nonsense to say that he could not establish his case. It is no use the Lord Advocate shaking his head. I know the facts of the case. I am not going to be diverted in any way. When the Secretary of State says that justice is carried out equally in regard to all citizens, I say that here is a specific case for inquiry. If the Secretary of State is prepared to say that the Lord Advocate will have an inquiry made I shall be satisfied. If I cannot get satisfaction the proceedings here will be a complete farce. 2057 I am only demanding justice in this House.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
The hon. Member very properly represents the interests of those with whom he has come in contact, and he thinks that the course of justice has not been carried out.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
The hon. Member is positive in his statement this afternoon, but he may be mistaken.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
The Lord Advocate, I feel sure, would have put the whole force of the law into effect if he had thought that a case had been made out. It is easy sometimes to see one side of the case from one point of view and not from the point of view of those who are responsible for the administration of justice, and I think that we must leave it there. I suggest to the Committee that the Lord Advocate would have put the law into force against those constables or anybody else if he thought that a clear case had been made out, and that, having put the law into force, a conviction could be secured.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
Might I ask the Lord Advocate to give us an answer? Has he inquired into this case? No answer has been given. This matter has been treated in an abominable fashion. Is the Lord Advocate satisfied that there is no ground for a charge being made against these two constables?
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I have no desire to shirk the issue. My right hon. Friend will reply later. I have in my hand the reply to a question by the Lord Advocate on 25th June, and his answer concludes with these words:An allegation by Frank Hillhouse shortly after the trial that the police officers had committed perjury was fully investigated at the time, and it was found that there was no ground for prosecuting."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th June, 1935; col. 952, Vol. 303.]
§ Mr. N. MACLEAN
It is impossible to give full facts in reply to a question, and the House would be interested to 2058 know by whom the investigation was made and what was the nature of the investigation. Until the House knows that, I am sure that it will not be satisfied that a full inquiry has been made.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
There is a feeling abroad that the police can ride away and do anything they like in Lanarkshire. I have drawn attention to the fact that the procurator-fiscal charged Hillhouse with a breach of the peace and resisting the police. When he placed his two witnesses in the box they stated that they had not placed any ticket on the motor car, but Hillhouse proved his case, and on the windscreen of the motor car it was found that tickets had been placed. It was also found that tickets had been issued. Thereupon, the procurator-fiscal hurriedly withdrew the charge and the prisoner was found not guilty. The procurator-fiscal who had initiated the charge against Hillhouse ought to have proceeded with a charge of perjury against the two policemen, but he failed to do that. Therefore it was not the Lord Advocate but the procurator-fiscal who was the responsible person, and who made the inquiry.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I will ask my right hon. Friend to answer the hon. Member when I sit down. I will turn to one or two questions which were put to me by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair). His first question was as to the second report of the Committee on the Employment of Prisoners which dealt with the subject of employment on discharge from prison. It is true, as my right hon. Friend said, that the report has been published, the recommendations of which are being actively considered in consultation with the Prisons Department and the Scottish Central After-care Council. The report is critical of the existing arrangements in Scotland and is probably resented by the members of the After-care Council. The report will be very closely examined, and we must have regard not only to those who prepared the report but those who have experience of these matters throughout Scotland. My right hon. Friend also directed attention to the necessity for telephones at police stations in Scotland. Wherever the Postmaster-General instals a postal telephone service we will secure that the 2059 telephone service is available at the police station as well.
My right hon. and gallant Friend also referred to amalgamations of police forces. I was questioned about the amalgamation of police forces last year, and I decided against it on the general ground that although in some cases amalgamation might lead to efficiency yet, on the other hand, it would tend to undermine the authority and power of the local authorities in Scotland. The Government value the public spirit which is being shown by the different burghs in administering so many of their services, and we think that it would be unwise to take away from them the control of the police forces in their areas.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
I did not wish in the least to criticise the right hon. Gentleman on that point. I knew that there had been some amalgamations carried out in recent years, and I mentioned it as one factor which tended towards economy. I know that in some cases where there is a good case for amalgamation there are difficulties. I did not mean to criticise my right hon. Friend for not carrying out amalgamations more quickly.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I hope that I did not indicate that I thought my right hon. and gallant Friend was criticising me. I referred to the matter in order to make some remarks on the larger subject. My right hon. Friend also asked what steps the Government were taking to secure modern traffic control by lights rather than by the police. We will encourage that in every way possible so as to divert the police from that service to their proper business of safeguarding the interests of the public in other ways.
Now I come to the question addressed to me by the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. N. Maclean). He referred to an individual, whose name we agreed should not be made public, who pleaded guilty in Glasgow to a charge of theft. It is undoubtedly true, and I regret it, that intimation of the removal of this young lad was not sent to the relatives by the prison governor, and we have taken steps to see that such a thing will never occur again. I do not think, however—at least I hope not—that the interests of this particular individual suffered. Maybe they did. During the last few 2060 months I have made thorough inquiries to find out whether he could be released, but my present information is that it would not be in his interests to release him. While I am speaking on these matters I should like to make a confession to the Committee. It is my most difficult task among all my various tasks to adjudicate on the question of letting people out, whether from Borstal institutions or from approved schools or prisons. I try to hold the balance fairly, and I endeavour at all times to approach these problems with an unbiased mind, and to deal justly with the cases put before me by hon. Members in all parts of the House. If I have refused their requests it has not been from any lack of sympathy with their cases. With regard to the case to which the hon. Member for Govan referred, I will consult an outside doctor completely untrammelled by departmental influence, so that he may give a decision. I tried that principle in a case two months ago. It is immaterial what the case was. I thought that the man should be let out, and I applied the principle of employing a doctor who was outside the Government service and outside any of its institutions, so that he might bring a fresh mind to bear. I sent him specially to investigate the case, and he confirmed the judgment of my own advisers.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
No. I will, however, make further inquiries and find out whether this young lad can be released.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
May I put this to the right hon. Gentleman, with due respect, that this case has been mismanaged from the commencement by the authorities. His agent was not notified that the case was to come on, and therefore he did not appear. His relatives were not informed that the case was coming up, and, therefore, they did not appear. This young lad of 17 years, who is made out by the department to be mentally deficient, had to stand alone, helpless, in court, and was asked to plead guilty to a crime which, so far as we know, he may never have committed. If he is mentally deficient, who is to judge whether he knew what question was being directed to him? The whole matter from the very beginning has been a scandal and it must be gone into, otherwise it 2061 will be raised here until justice has been done.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I have read the case again this afternoon, and from all accounts it appears that the lad should be still retained, but I will give my hon. Friend the assurance that I will employ a completely detached individual to make an examination and to report.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
May I ask that the medical individual or individuals whom the right hon. Gentleman intends to ask to examine this case should do so away from the environment of Stoneyetts Certified Institution; that they should be asked to certify free from the surroundings of a lunatic asylum? Will the right hon. Gentleman remember that I put before him very definitely the fact that this lad has relatives who are prepared to give every guarantee that would be required by the Department to ensure that proper guardianship by his relatives was exercised over him? He is not a criminal lunatic. He is only a helpless, light-minded individual.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
I will have inquiries made, but I must not be taken as agreeing that the inquiry shall be outside a particular place.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
Everything will be done over and above board to inquire whether this youth should still be retained where he is. I think I have shown a real desire to approach this matter from a humane point of view. With regard to the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern), I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Lord Advocate will be very glad to have an opportunity of dealing with the case that he raised.
§ Mr. LEONARD
There is one point in regard to the police to which I should like to draw attention. In the report of His Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary there appears the following statement:I should like to emphasise once more the fact that there are police stations still without telephones.I feel strongly on this point. I think it is a great reflection on our prison administration that telephones should still be wanted.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
The right hon. Gentleman has not dealt with my point regarding the renovation of police buildings to which His Majesty's inspector refers in his report; particularly in the country districts.
§ Sir G. COLLINS
In my opening remarks I dealt with new police stations and alterations, and with the question of improved accommodation for the police which is engaging the attention of the police authorities. I hope that by next year we shall have been able to cover the whole organisation and to have made the internal accommodation of these police stations adequate to meet modern requirements.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
The hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) raised a question of very considerable importance and, although it does not affect the Vote under consideration, I crave leave of the Committee to give an explanation with regard to it. The facts of the case are these. As far back as 2nd October, 1933, one Frank Hillhouse was arrested by the police on a charge of committing a breach of the peace. He was taken to the police office, and he alleged that when there he was assaulted by the police. The charge did not come under the Lord Advocate's department, it was a matter which was dealt with in the local courts, and he was tried in the justice of the peace court on a charge of breach of the peace. There was a conflict of evidence as to whether a breach of the peace had been committed, and in view of this conflict of evidence the justice of the peace fiscal—the hon. Member must not confuse him with the procurator-fiscal—suggested to the magistrate that he should find the charge not proven, and that was done.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
After evidence had been taker. I do not know whether there was any more evidence to be taken.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
There was a conflict of evidence as to whether a breach of the peace had been committed, and in view of this the justice of the peace fiscal suggested that the magistrate 2063 should hold the charge not proven. Following that, a complaint was made that Hillhouse had been assaulted while in the police office. That complaint was investigated by the procurator-fiscal, and on the information which was supplied by him my predecessor in office gave instructions that these two members of the police force should be charged with assault. They were so charged and tried before the sheriff substitute. The sheriff substitute held the charge not proven. There was also a complaint made by Hillhouse that in the course of the trial in the justice of the peace court these two policemen had committed perjury. As I informed the hon. Member in answer to a question on the 25th of last month, that complaint was fully investigated at the time by my predecessor—
§ Mr. McGOVERN
I know the Lord Advocate says that technically it was investigated by his predecessor, but I say that all that was done was that the fiscal in the area was asked, and he decided that there was no case for a prosecution.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
I must beg leave to contradict the hon. Member. When last month he put down the question to which I have referred, I sent for the papers from the Crown Office, and on these papers I saw a note of my predecessor. It was considered by him, along with myself. We had to consider whether or not, assuming that the police had falsely stated that they did not attach a label to the car, it would constitute the crime of perjury. In order to constitute the crime of perjury, the false evidence which is given must be evidence which is material to the question which is being tried. In the justice of the peace court Hillhouse was being tried on a charge of breach of the peace, and the view, after full consideration, was taken that the question whether or not the label had been attached to the windscreen of the car was not material to the issue as to whether or not Hillhouse had committed a breach of the peace. It may have been that the attaching of a label to the windscreen was illegal, but that is not the question. It may or may not have been illegal, but it was not material to the question as to whether or not there had been a breach of the peace; it was not material to the question which was being tried. For these reasons, while instructions were given to prosecute the 2064 men for assault it was considered that no charge of perjury would lie in law, and because of that no prosecution was undertaken. The hon. Member has suggested that proceedings will be taken against one class of person and not taken against another; that they will be taken against persons in the Garngad part of the town and will not be taken against persons because they happen to be members of the police force. I hope the Committee will take it from me that that is not the way in which the criminal law is administered in Scotland.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE
It is not the way in which it is administered. I have not been a Law Officer very long, but I can assure the Committee that my predecessor took me fully into his confidence with regard to most of the work which passed through his hands, and that since I have been a Law Officer, whether as Solicitor-General or as Lord Advocate, I do not take into account the position of any person who is accused of a crime, but consider whether or not a crime which ought to be punished has been committed and, if so, give instructions for a prosecution to take place.
§ Mr. McGOVERN
I did not attempt to cast any reflection on the Lord Advocate or his predecessor, as to their being influenced by the position of a person, but I did say that in connection with this case—and this is my final word—that undoubtedly in the police court false testimony was given by the two policemen of not having attached this label to the motor car. I have the evidence given in the court and the label in my possession, and I say that, wriggle out of it as you like, the two policemen went into the box and influenced the magistrate, and that they were not prosecuted on what was a 100 per cent. case of perjury. I say that they were treated differently from the people of Garngad.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.