HC Deb 18 January 1940 vol 356 cc202-3
18. Mr. Hannah

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will inquire into the case where a coloured boy was sentenced to six months' imprisonment on 10th December, his fourteenth birthday, at the Old Bailey, with a view to remitting the sentence and providing for this boy some sort of remedial treatment?

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

I am in full agreement with the general objections to sentences of imprisonment for young offenders, but the inquiries which I have made show that this is a wholly exceptional case. The youth concerned is in character, build and appearance more like a young man of 18 than a boy of 14. In view of this and of all the other circumstances of the case, the court came to the conclusion that he was not suitable for admission to an approved school and that the case was one which ought to be dealt with under the special provisions of Section 52 (3) of the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933. The importance of remedial treatment is fully recognised and after consultation with the judge and the prison authorities, including the medical officer, I have come to the conclusion that the best course in the youth's own interest is to let the sentence stand and to arrange that he shall receive certain special training during his term of imprisonment with a view to giving him a fresh start on his release.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear that this method of dealing with this boy was not adopted because he is a coloured boy?

Sir J. Anderson

There is no question of that at all and I am glad to make that point perfectly clear. The case is wholly exceptional.

Mr. Messer

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that had the Bill that was promised been passed into law this would not have been possible, and would it not be well to accept the spirit of the Bill?

Mr. Speaker

That raises quite another matter.