HC Deb 27 July 1944 vol 402 cc946-7

Lords Amendment: In page 31, line 34, leave out from beginning to end of line 35, and insert: (3) Where the court before which a prosecution is brought for an offence against the last foregoing section is satisfied that the child in respect of whom the offence is alleged to have been committed has failed to attend regularly at the school at which he is a registered pupil then, whether or not the parent is convicted the court

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

Mr. Creech Jones (Shipley)

I think we welcome the Amendment so far as it goes but I would like the President to reassure me on one point. I gather that the arrangement which was made under the 1938 Rules by the Lord Chancellor, the "Juvenile Courts (Assignment) Rules," aimed at a certain procedure in respect to cases of prosecution for the truancy of children. It was then the intention, I think, that all cases should be referred to the Juvenile Courts both in respect to any prosecution which might be thought desirable in the case of the parents and also any action as to the treatment of the children concerned. Reference to the Juvenile Court is the most appropriate method of handling the case from the point of view of the child. I believe the intention of the Amendment before us is to avoid the double procedure, of the case being heard in the ordinary court as well as in the Juvenile Court. The ordinary court may now refer the case to the Juvenile Court so far as the child is concerned but presumably, under the Amendment, the ordinary court will still deal with the parents.

I think it is generally admitted that the procedure inaugurated by the Lord Chancellor in 1938 went a long way to meeting this class of difficulty, by the Juvenile Court having before it both the parents and the child. The procedure became very general so that all such cases were dealt with by the Juvenile Court and not by the ordinary court at all. I would like to be assured that the procedure as laid down by the Lord Chancellor in 1938 is not now going to be modified by the Amendment. I am concerned to know if my interpretation of the Lords Amendment is a correct one. It seems to me to fall short of the intention of 1938 and goes back on the excellent experience which has been gained in the Juvenile Courts since the Rules of 1938 were made. I would like to be reassured that it is the intention to follow the single procedure of referring both parent and child to the Juvenile Court instead of having two courts dealing with the same offence.

Mr. Butler

I can assure the hon. Gentleman at once. The Government were approached by the Magistrates Association and we have decided to revert to the Juvenile Courts (Assignment) Rules 1938 procedure as suggested by the Lord Chancellor. Therefore, the hon. Gentleman may rest assured that in response to the representations made to us, both my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and I have agreed that we ought to revert to that procedure, and that brings the Juvenile Court into the picture as the hon. Gentleman desires.

Question, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment," put, and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords Amendments to page 31, line 45, agreed to.