HC Deb 26 March 1936 vol 310 cc1394-5
38. Mr. PARKER

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that it is still the practice of certain benches of magistrates to order sentences of six and eight strokes of the birch to children as young as eight years old; and whether he will consider bringing in a one-Clause Bill making this punishment illegal for children of tender ytars?


I am aware that courts of summary jurisdiction sometimes exercise the power given to them by law to order boys under 14 found guilty of indictable offences to be birched, but I have no information as to the ages of the boys so birched. With regard to the second part of the question, I would remind the hon. Member that the question of amending the law was fully discussed in 1932 in connection with the Children and Young Persons Bill, when Parliament decided that the power should be retained. My right hon. Friend is not prepared to raise the matter again at present.


In view of the fact that there is strong objection among reasonably minded men and women to the birching of boys, would the Government be willing to look kindly at Bill promoted by a private Member to amend the law?


I could not give any undertaking, but, when this Act was passed, the Home Secretary brought the question to the attention of local justices in the following words: The power to order a child to be whipped is also retained, although the practice in the most experienced juvenile courts shows that these courts rarely or never need to exercise it.