HC Deb 17 July 1941 vol 373 cc717-8
19. Mr. Silkin

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware of an in creasing tendency on the part of juvenile courts, particularly in reception areas, to commit to an approved school boys who have not been charged with serious offences and boys who have not been previously before a court; that as a result there is undue pressure on the accommodation at approved schools and an unnecessary stigma cast upon the boys; and whether he will take prompt action to prevent this evil?

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Peake)

My right hon. Friend is aware of the pressure on approved school accommodation which appears to be mainly due to a substantial increase in the number of boys brought before the juvenile courts for the more serious offences. My right hon. Friend's inspectors inform him that, generally speaking, the boys now being admitted are found to be definitely in need of the training they are receiving, and when there is any doubt the circumstances are specially considered with a view to early release on licence. The selection of the proper method of dealing with any particular offender is, of course, the responsibility of the courts, and my right hon. Friend has no authority to interfere with the exercise of their discretion; but if my hon. Friend will be good enough to furnish him with any information in his possession, he will make further inquiry.

Mr. Silkin

Is the Under-Secretary aware that there is an increasing number of cases among first offenders?

Mr. Peake

I will look into that point and communicate with the hon. Member.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Will the Under-Secretary be good enough to inquire whether these youngsters, because they are in a reception area, are not being dealt with more severely than if they had been in their own locality?

Mr. Peake

I have no evidence of that, but I will make some inquiries.