HC Deb 28 November 1944 vol 404 cc2401-3
Mr. Keeling

(by Private Notice) asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the public interest in the evidence regarding L.C.C. remand homes, he will arrange for the Press to be admitted to the inquiry on the same condition that they are admitted to juvenile courts, namely, that the names of children and young persons shall not be published.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

The mere suppression of the names of children and young persons detained in these homes would not sufficiently safeguard their interests, which is the paramount consideration. Daily reports in the Press of the progress of the inquiry and of ex parte statements of conflicting points of view could not fail to be an upsetting influence, and it is the considered view of His Majesty's Government that the public interest will be best served by the publication of the report of the inquiry.

Mr. Keeling

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it is equally important that the public, who are disturbed about this matter, should not feel that evidence damaging to the authorities is being concealed?

Mr. Morrison

I think when the report is published the public will be able to judge on that matter. It would be a reflection on the two eminent and honourable people I have appointed, if it is suggested that they would suppress evidence which might be material to their conclusions.

Mr. James Griffiths

In view of the publicity given to this London case, is my right hon. Friend satisfied that remand homes in other areas and under authorities of different political character, are all that is to be desired?

Mr. Morrison

I would not like to prejudge the issue and I do not think I can make any statement about it, but I follow my hon. Friend's point.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Would my right hon. Friend be prepared to receive representations about such institutions elsewhere?

Mr. Morrison

I am always prepared to receive representations about these places.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

Is it possible to arrange that the secretary of the committee will be a gentleman who has not previously been involved in these questions, and who will approach the whole subject anew?

Mr. Morrison

The secretary is not conducting the inquiry but is merely acting as secretary. It is for the two members of the committee to conduct the inquiry.

Mr. Nicholson

Is it not undesirable that the secretary should be a man who has previously been employed by the Home Office on these matters?

Mr. Morrison

I do not think so at all, and it would be perfectly usual for that to be the case.

Sir Joseph Lamb

Will a record of the evidence be taker, so as to have it available for publication, if that should be necessary at a later date?

Mr. Morrison

I have given the Government's decision about publication of daily reports, and that must stand. I have no doubt that the usual steps will be taken to obtain a record of the evidence.

Sir J. Lamb

Will the right hon. Gentleman give the House an assurance that that record will be taken?

Sir W. Smithers

Why hush it up?

Sir J. Lamb

May I have an answer to my question?

Mr. Morrison

Whether the evidence is published or not, I have no doubt that a full record will be taken of it. So far as I know, that will be done. I have had no notice of this question and I have not had time to think about it, but as I say it is highly probable that that will be so.