HC Deb 22 April 1937 vol 322 cc1903-4
28. Mr. Short

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that nine boys were ordered to be birched by justices in the West Riding juvenile court, Doncaster, on 7th April; whether the sentences have been carried out; and whether, seeing that a committee is being appointed to consider the question of birching, he proposes to advise magistrates and others not to order birching between now and the committee reporting?

Sir J. Simon

Yes, Sir, nine boys were ordered on 7th April to receive three strokes of the birch. Eight were birched on that day; a medical officer certified that the ninth was unfit for the punishment. As it must be widely known that I have decided to appoint a committee to consider the question, I do not think that further action on my part is required.

Mr. Short

Will the right hon. Gentleman go a little further than that and advise magistrates not to order such sentences, having regard to the fact that a committee of inquiry is being appointed?

Sir J. Simon

I do not think I can do that. The duty of the committee will be to ascertain and to advise, and I am hurrying up the appointment of the committee in every possible way. In the meantime I am sure that benches of magistrates will realise that I regard this subject as one which needs investigation.

Mr. Leach

Has the right hon. Gentleman decided upon any of the members of the committee, and have any of them been birched?