HC Deb 27 June 1935 vol 303 cc1253-5

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the case of a boy at Oxford who has been sentenced to six years in a reformatory school, by a juvenile court, for stealing a perambulator; whether he has been able to look into all the facts of the case; and whether he is prepared to recommend a reduction of the sentence?


When my attention was called to this case about 10 days ago I caused inquiries to be made, and I am glad to have an opportunity of correcting the misleading impression which has been given in some of the published reports. The little boy referred to was brought before the Oxford Juvenile Court for having stolen a push-chair which had been left outside a store. He admitted the offence, and it was reported to the court that on two previous occasions he had been cautioned by the police, once for stealing money from a shop till, and on another occasion for being concerned with other boys in stealing money from automatic machines. When a visit was paid to the boy's home no less than 32 empty milk bottles were found belonging to five different firms, and the boy admitted stealing the milk from doorways in various roads and bringing it home. The justices, sitting in the Juvenile Court, had before them a full report of the boy's home surroundings and of the views of the representative of the education authority about him, and they decided, after careful consideration of all the circumstances and having regard to the welfare of the child, as they are required to do by Section 44 of the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933, that it was necessary in the interests of the child that he should be removed from his present surroundings and given a new start. He was accordingly ordered to be sent to a school for young boys, approved for the purpose under the Act, where he will receive the education and training which he needs. The future of this child will be constantly under review, and I am satisfied that the justices acted in the boy's best interests and that there is no ground for any interference with their decision.


While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that reply, may I ask whether it is a fact that the information which he has now given to the House of Commons was refused to the education committee, on their urgent demand for information?


I know nothing about that.


Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest any action being taken against certain newspapers for deliberately misrepresenting the facts?


As far as I am aware, there is no law which enables you to take action against a newspaper for misrepresenting facts. If there were, the courts would have a good deal to do.