HC Deb 18 March 1937 vol 321 cc2237-8
21. Mr. Muff

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware of the public concern caused by the action of various magistrates in ordering the birching of young boys for minor offences; and whether he will institute an inquiry into the desirability of abolishing this form of punishment?

38. Mr. Day

asked the Home Secretary the number of cases during the 12 months ended to the last convenient date in which boys under the age of 14 years have been sentenced to be birched and the sentences carried out; also particulars of the police authorities that keep birches soaked and ready to carry out these sentences; and will he consider introducing legislation to abolish child birching?

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir John Simon)

There were 164 cases of this punishment being ordered in juvenile courts in 1936 and 218 cases in 1935. This is a subject on which many people have strong views on one side or the other and in which the practice of different juvenile courts differs widely. I have, therefore, decided to appoint a small Departmental Committee to consider the whole matter. If, however, the report of such a committee is to be of value, its members must be selected with a view to securing that they approach the subject with an open mind, and I shall not be able to make an announcement of the composition of the committee without full consideration of the appropriate personnel.

Mr. Thorne

Do not put me on that committee, because I have not an open mind.

Mr. Macquisten

Will the right hon. Gentleman call the attention of the committee to the wisdom of Solomon, who said that if you spare the rod you spoil the child? Was he a muff?

36. Mr. Short

asked the Home Secretary the proportion of juvenile offenders per 100,000 of the population during 1935 and 1936, respectively?

Sir J. Simon

The number of children and young persons found guilty of indictable offences per 100,000 of the estimated population between the ages of 10 and 17 was 440 in 1934, and 535 in 1935. The figures for 1936 are not yet available.